Swim, bike, run, lobstaah!
After stripping my cranks at Rev3 Quassy, I rode that very hilly course, unable to shift out of my big ring due to a defective part. Some days we play the hand we’re dealt but at OOB, this was the race that I’ve been waiting for. This is the race that Quassy could have (mentally) been for me. I am ready for this!
The Weather: 65 degrees +/- a few at sunrise – both the air and water – perfect conditions, even if the temps were a little hot on the run, later in the day. The tide is coming in but the waves are easy and fun.
The Course: Calm “open water” swim with a beach start. Residential / farm ride on many recently paved roads and some major roadways with good policing / traffic control and townies cheering from their driveways. Out-and-back run that is mostly along the Eastern Trail through beautiful salt marshes – some of it smells like a salt marsh but all of it is scenic with outstanding volunteer support and plenty of aid stations.
Saturday’s Practice Swim: Boats, jet skis, and paddle boards are watching over the three buoys that bring you into swim finish. There are some waves rolling in and a surfing class is 30 yards south of us. The waves look bigger than they are and the buoys look farther-out than they are. I’m procrastinating by making small talk with people in the water that are hesitant to get started – I offered to buddy-swim with some people that seem worried but no one can race a triathlon for you and people recognize the “need” to muster the courage and swim on their own. I respect that and try not to be intrusive.
My source of encouragement came the prior day when my 9-year old asked me to swim with her to the first yellow buoy. When we got to the buoy, she asked to swim to the next, red buoy! We headed back to shore instead but she had no fear of the swim and all of a sudden, the buoys weren’t too far away. From that moment, the swim course seemed much smaller than it was.
I swam out-and-back to each of the buoys then parallel to the shore, back to the hotel. My wife surprised me on the shore – while having a coach has been great for training, my wife has been the one pushing me out the door and encouraging me to get my workouts done. My wife is the foundation in my life that enables me to achieve and become more.
Saturday’s Briefing Session: Out of hubris, I was going to skip the session but my wife is always right and I promised her that I would always be safe and do the right thing when racing. I attended the briefing session and am so happy that I did …
Whoopie Pie eating contest to start the briefing session! My wife raised my hand for me, so I’m up on stage and this Wicked Whoopie Pie is gigantic – its was Big Mac size!
I happily (but not intentionally) lost to John Young, an inspirational triathlete who races in the physically challenged group. If you haven’t read any articles about him, take a few minutes to do so because he is a cool dude with a great story… He qualified to run the Boston marathon, twice. And he took down that Whoopie Pie in four bites! I was barely done with half of it and he was licking his fingers and trying to swallow the last bits. I’ve been reading about him for years and here he is, next to me inhaling a Whoopie Pie with ease!
Speaking of great stories, Team Hoyt was in attendance. I wanted to say hello and tell them how inspirational they are but they looked preoccupied and I didn’t want to be a distraction. As a father, I understand the willingness to move mountains to create better life experience for your kid(s) and their story touches my heart. Check out one of the many YouTube videos if you haven’t already… and bring a tissue.
Seeing the inspirations and down-to-earth people I’ve been reading dozens of stories about was awesome. I also had the opportunity to meet some of the outstanding Rev3 staff and training friends I’ve made through the Rev3 venue FaceBook pages for race registrants. This was a win for me and I felt both proud and humble to have the opportunity to toe the starting line with these people.
The real reason to attend the briefing session is to try and win some swag … and maybe learn about the hot corners that require extra precaution. Two Rev3 OOB hats and two hot corners on the bike (mile 34 and 40) later and the briefing session is a success!
Sunday 28 August 2016: Transition opens around 5am. Practice swim at 6am. I’m in Wave 1 with a 6:20am start time.
Overall Results: 9th in my age group, 80th mens division, and 97 overall … With a finishing time of 5:19:36, this set a personal record for a 70.3 distance race!
Swim 1.2 miles … Be aggressive!
In prior races, I would hang at the back of the pack, take the course wide to play it safe, and not get trampled in the surf. Not today. Front and (almost) center at the start – I’m ready to be aggressive. I’ve worked too hard to take it easy now. For a first time, I made it to the preview swim on the prior day and I’m feeling very confident. I over-sighted on the swim but I’m very happy with my results and came out of the water in good position and feeling fresh. Despite this being a competitive race, swimmers were exceptionally polite and I didn’t see anyone get clobbered. While a few people touched my toes, no one attempted / accidentally swam in top of me.
Bike 56 miles … This is where I fly!
Time-wise, I came out of the water 128th and 102nd out of T1 but by the time I’m off-the-bike, my timing puts me in 58th overall. I know this in retrospect while reviewing the results.
In the moment, I was guessing there were a dozen or two people in front on me coming out of the water and I passed a handful of guys on awesome-looking bikes wearing nice tri kits. I don’t think anyone was able to pass me and hold on to their lead. Maybe there are a dozen people in front of me that I won’t see until they make the turnaround on the run?
The athlete briefing session was clutch because at mile 34 there was a very sharp turn that I was prepared for and at mile 40 there was a narrow bridge leading into a sharp turn and a hill climb – I almost got pinched between a pickup truck and the bridge railing but I was prepared, thanks to the briefing session.
- Preparation: Lots of interval sets on the trainer and lots of climbing on the roads! I’ve been preparing for a 140.3, so I’m more than ready for this.
- Planning: I spent over 4 hours previewing the course on my bike in the two previous days.
- Positive thinking: I decided that NO ONE can match me on the hills today and that is when I will attack. Once I catch you on the flats, I will crush you on the next hill!
I am a competitive person but I try to cheer for and encourage anyone that passes me, as well as anyone I pass. I’m having so much fun in this moment and I want the people around me to enjoy it as well.
Run 13.1 miles … Just keep running!
Coming off the bike, there are 5 people in my age group ahead of me. I was a legit competitor on the bike today but my legs feel like I just raced an average 22mph pace for 56 miles. I know they will catch me on the run, it’s simply a question of when.
Realistically, I know there are people targeting 1:40 range and below – my personal goal is to PR the run by breaking 2-hours and maintaining an average pace of at least 9:30/mile. So, I expect that bike finishers over the next 20-30 minutes will catch me before the finish line.
Guys are now catching me but they’re really cool – everyone is complementing me on my ride. A few of the guys pace with me to chat until I politely tell them to stop holding back and get back to their race plan. These are people that understand that to be successful, you need to race your own race. They arrived with pacing and nutrition plans and they intend to execute on those plans.
Although I feel slow, I’m actually on target into the turnaround… and yes … that was me sending selfies to my wife so she knows how far out I am and when to expect me at the finish line. My favorite part of the run is the camaraderie and encouragement. FYI – if I see you with your chin down, you better be ready for some cheering, clapping, and words of encouragement from me!
My family has been sacrificing a lot for me and they have earned the privilege of running down the finishers chute. Some days, I feel like they sacrifice more than me to make this possible. After 2 hours, 4 minutes of running – a PR run for a 70.3 race and overall 70.3 PR – my girls are waiting for me in the finishers chute and my support crew is alongside!
Side note: It’s awesome that Rev3 encourages people to run down the finishers chute with you, gives them a medal (different from the finishers medal), then gives you a free photo of that moment. It’s a seemingly small detail buts it’s reflective of Rev3’s approach to the entire event – every venue is focused on your experience AND the ability for your support crew to have a fun time. If I could, I would race every Rev3 venue available. I can’t recommend them highly enough and I am filled with gratitude for having found them! Check out my other post about how this wasn’t just a race, OOB was a family vacation!
We are only two weeks away from Cedar Point. The road has been eight months of sacrifice but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Today, the road to Cedar Point brought us through Maine and filled us with lobsters, saltwater taffy, and memories of a well-deserved family adventure that will outlast any finishers medal!