Race Date: June 5, 2016, transition opens at 5:00am
Weather: mid 60s, overcast, 40% chance of rain with “chance for torrential rains and damaging winds” and potential thunderstorms after noon.
Swim 1.2 miles: 41:33, pacing 1:49/100y
In prior races, I started on the outside and tried to hang onto the current without being trampled. Today, I started on the inside and decided to be more aggressive. Also, I was wearing a new pair of goggles to avoid fogging. Within the first 100y, I was trying to swim around people (crossing into the pack) while one goggle filled with water and the other starting to fog. I eventually made it to the outside the pack with little benefit from current. Despite the extra 200 yards, I’m happy with my pacing and to be honest, I could have pushed harder – I’m still getting a feel for balancing the pace and fatigue with “comfort” in the water.
Lesson learned: Nothing new on race day!
Bike 56 miles: 3:49:23, pacing 14.7 mph (moving time 3:32:58, with estimated power at 195 watts)
Wet roads and potential rain had me cautious from the start. My plan was to crush the climbs and be safe on the descents, while staying aggressive on the flats.
– Sidenote: I had the chain and chain ring replaced last week because they were getting worn and shifting gears was getting choppy. I wanted smooth, buttery shifting.
I exited T1 feeling strong and was on the attack. I was passing people in my age group and moving up – until around mile 3. There’s a smallish but steepish climb – I decided to put in a lower gear ratio to crest the hill then crush the flat – that’s when I found out my chain wouldn’t seat onto the small ring. I didn’t drop the chain but I had zero power, heading uphill, slowing down dramatically … Oh $h!t … Don’t fall over! I unclipped just in time. Phew! But now I had to walk uphill and think about how to climb nearly 4,000ft without a small ring. Is my race over? Seriously? 14 minutes and I feel like a failure.
– Flashback: It’s a beautiful day in April, my CycleOps trainer is setup in the garage and the door is open so I can enjoy the sun. Fan is blowing, tunes are blasting and my trainer tire won’t grip if I push my watts over 200w – I’m racing the virtual route for Quassy. I was planning to crush my PB and log a 3 hour ride. Seriously? Should I just quit?
Everyone is incredibly nice – guys are calling out, asking what supplies I need, is everything ok, you need help? My buddy passes me. Wave 2 passes me.
So that’s how it’s going to be – we’re going big ring, 4,000 ft climbing, ALL DAY LONG – LETS GO! The only easy day was yesterday. I’m off the hill, getting real angry, and mentally really to crush it.
Beast mode – out of the saddle on every climb and constantly on the attack. Let them catch me on the run because I’m not going to save a drop for the run.
Mile 13-ish and something strange just happened. There was a really loud zipping sound and I’m about to fall over again. WTF just happened? I’m unclipped and flipped my bike – chain is ok and then I see it – my pedals … They’re next to each other. While climbing that hill, I managed to wrench the left pedal arm and nearly strip the arm off the bike. It stopped a few centimeters short of being directly next to the right pedal.
My day is over. I can ride the big ring but I can’t ride one-legged in the big ring. I start walking my bike because what else am I going to do?
Mile 15 is the first aid station. They call the bike truck for me. The volunteers are really nice. One of the riders is grumbling that there’s no “ice cold” Gatorade. First world problems.
The bike mechanic arrives. He’s cool, I actually know him – he’s from the shop where I bought my bike.
Him: I’ve seen it all and I’ve never seen this!
Me: Can you fix it?
Him: Let’s try.
15 minutes later
Him: I don’t know if it will last the day but it’s good for now. You might want to take it a little easy on it and definitely get it replaced ASAP.
The weather is actually kind of chilly in the rain. It’s cold enough to wear a rain coat without getting sweaty or uncomfortable. The women’s waves have been passing me.
I’m moving again but my legs are cold and feeling some fatigue from riding only in the big ring earlier and then standing around. I’m passing people again but with the rain, I’m taking it cautious on the downhills. I wonder what these riders are thinking when they see me grind past them on the climb in my big ring at a cadence around 45rpms.
I made it up the big climb.
I’m rolling on the out-and-back segment.
I’m settled into a pacing pack – there’s a guy in a yellow CycleNauts kit, a woman in a pink kit, and a woman in green and black. They’re toast on the climbs but they keep catching me on the descents.
Finally – I’m close enough to the bike finish that I don’t have to worry. I can run from here, if needed.
Dismount line and into T2. There are my girls with big smiles on their faces. I’m 45 minutes behind my goal.
Me: I just rode the whole thing in my big ring. Gears … Crank is bent … Pedal … Broken.
Wife: This is just practice for Cedar Point. You’ve got this!
She’s right. She didn’t even have to think about it – she knows.
Lesson learned: Nothing new on race day and Never Surrender!
Run 13.1 miles: 2:07, pacing 9:47/mile
Shoes are on my feet and everything else is in my hands. Race belt, hat, sun glasses, nutrition. Where’s run out? My left laces are loose.
Finally – I’m out of T2 and I’m running and I have no intention of stopping. If there’s lightening and the shut the race down, I’m going to run through it and finish. I don’t care.
Mile 7 – there’s a guy with a bull horn cheering for people and high fiving every single person. He’s under a tall bridge and spectators are on the bridge above clapping and calling out runners below. This is the start of the downhill-to-uphill climb that everyone will be talkin about. I remember it from last year. It’s overcast but the roads are drying out. It stopped raining while I was on the bike.
Bullhorn guy: What about all that rain we were supposed to get – so much for those “weathermen” and their “forecasts” – this is beautiful!
And with those famous last words, the skies opened up and the movie-rain commenced. Sunglasses are off and visor is on – no stopping today.
Mile 8: There’s my buddy that passed me at mile 3 on the bike. High five! He’s almost done – good for him.
Mile 9: Legs are starting to get tired.
Mile 10: Moving uphill.
Mile 11: This is the mile I needed to walk last year. Not this year.
Mile 12: No stopping today. Heart rate is strong. Legs are really tired. I pacing about 6 minutes behind my personal best for a half marathon. She was right – this is a training day and I am going to crush the run at Cedar Point.
Back onto the main road and pushing into the final uphill stretch. I can see the turn-in to the finishers chute up ahead. There are my girls – standing in the rain – smiling – the bright lights of sunshine in my day.
I have all the strength in the world right now. I’m crossing the finish line with the three greatest inspirations and motivations in my life at my side.
Celebrate: The rain is pouring down. Kids want to ride the bumper cars. I’m going to grab my finisher’s meal and get a drink. The beer tent is open but I’m happy with water. Time to clear-out transition and head home.
My wife wanted me to have a warm, dry shirt to wear – I aspire to be a fraction of the awesome that she is.
The weather wasn’t perfect. My goggles and bike didn’t work like I was hoping. I almost set a personal best on the run. There’s no such thing as a “perfect” race but there is a perfect attitude.
The road to Cedar Point won’t be perfect but I will strive to find the opportunity in every moment to learn from my mistakes, practice gratitude, and become a better version of myself.