This was my redemption race after the 70.3* that was Steelhead. I knew that I needed to get the full distance in this year and have a race at that distance without the *. My training had continued to go well and I was feeling good and hopeful about this race. My anxieties this time were around whether I could pull off what I had accomplished at Steelhead and prove to myself that it wasn't a fluke.
Unfortunately, three days before the race I woke up in the morning with that "swallowing hot knives" feeling in my throat. Oh no! Sydney had been sick for the last week and I had been trying to avoid her all the other sick people at work and everywhere else but it caught me. Shitty timing. I instantly called my doctor and begged them to get me in for an appointment. I called in sick to work and spent the day in bed drinking my weight in hot water with lemon and honey. My doctor said it was too early to tell if it was strep throat but prescribed me penicillin anyway since it couldn't hurt. She wouldn't weigh in about the weekend but said I'd just have to see how I felt. By Thursday night I thought I was out. I was so sick and knew that there was no way I could race that distance feeling the way I felt. Friday morning I woke up feeling worse and spent the day in bed again feeling very sorry for myself. I waffled between just not making the trip at all to Sandusky or going and at least cheering my friends on.
I had to make a decision by Friday evening since Sydney and I were driving up Saturday morning. I decided to pack my stuff, go along for the ride and see how I felt. Worst case scenario I would be there to cheer everyone on. Best case scenario I would feel well enough to race and give it a go. Fortunately I felt a little better on Saturday as long as I kept my rotation of medications going on a timely basis. Unfortunately I had started to develop a cough that had kept me from sleeping much Friday night.
The trip to Sandusky was pretty uneventful except for some wonky weather and a detour that resulted from a boobing up of the directions on my part. Once at Cedar Point we met up with some local friends and did the packet pick-up thing. It went very smoothly since there was hardly anyone there. Syd and I checked into our hotel and commenced the extremely thorough and diligent bed bug inspection that comes with rooming with Sydney. Happy to find no bed bugs we sorted our stuff out and made plans to have dinner with some friends. After dinner we made a quick trip into town to get a few things, made our way back and hit the sack by 10. Fortunately we were 5 minutes from transition so didn't have to be up until 6. Unfortunately I didn't sleep much because of the damn cough. The cough syrup helped me to stop coughing but then kept me from sleeping. Ugh.
The morning went by uneventfully. We had breakfast in our room, got dressed and tattoo'd with the temporary tattoo race numbers and packed up our stuff since we were checking out. We got to transition with lots of time to spare and I loaded my bike with my nutrition, pumped my tires and chatted with the people I knew. Before long it was time to hit the beach to warm up.
Swim - 50:54 (31/34 AG 174/221 OA) 2:38/100m
I seeded myself about halfway back and in the middle which in retrospect was a very bad move. Once the gun sounded it was a flurry of dolphin diving and flailing arms and I got hit alot. I'm not a fast swimmer but I'm fairly steady if I can get into a rythm. Once I started swimming my cough started in full force. I hadn't wanted to take cough medicine before the race, not knowing how it would effect me. Unfortunately my swim consisted of me trying to cough during my exhales but every time I would take a breath I would start to cough. It was a mess. About halfway through the swim the men's wave that started 5 minutes after us started to catch up and I got pummelled and dunked by alot of guys. I was so happy to see the beach after what felt like forever. I was certain I had been in there more than an hour and was surprised to see that there were actually a couple of pink caps behind me when I got out. Very disappointing swim considering the amount of time I've spent working on it.
T1 - 3:08
The timing mat was just out of the water and I ran over it and up the beach. Once I ran through the shower I was surprised to see wetsuit strippers since there was nothing mentioned about them in the athlete's guide. I already had my wetsuit down to my waist and as I ran toward them one of them pointed at me and yelled "sit down!". He and a girl in a purple wig grabbed my suit and stripped it off of me in two seconds. They each grabbed an arm and pulled me up and tossed my suit at me. They hurled me almost into the transition area (I'm not that big)! Wetsuit strippers are awesome! Once at my bike I got into my shoes, grabbed my bike and ran out.
Bike - 3:16:25 (28/34 AG 155/221 OA) 17.1 mph avg
Once out on the bike I felt awesome. My legs felt great and I was flying. I passed the 10 mile mark at just under 30 minutes and was excited that things were looking and feeling so good. The course wasn't as flat as advertised but I like rolling hills so it didn't bother me. Unfortunately, once mile 25 hit things started to go south. Here is where my tale should be repeated to all newbie triathletes as a big fat what not to do the week before a race. While out on a group ride the Sunday before this race someone mentioned that I could get alot more aero if I took out a couple of spacers from my stem and lower my bars. I hesitated because of the upcoming race but let him do it. BAD.MOVE. By mile 25 my neck and shoulders started to really bother me. This is so unusual because I love being in aero and can stay there for a 3 hour ride with no problems normally. The change to my position, without any time to get accustomed to it was race suicide. Within a half hour my shoulders and neck were seized and I could not look forward it hurt so badly. I was riding with my head lowered trying to peer up ahead. This was of course very unsafe and made for slow going. I couldn't even ride on my hoods. By mile 35 I thought my day was over. I was in so much pain that I was crying and it was starting to result in numbness in my arms and hands and an inability to control my bike. I almost rode into the gravel shoulder. I finally stopped and got off my bike thinking my day was done. I stretched my neck and contemplated what to do. Do I sit on the side of the road and wait for a SAG vehicle? After about 5 minutes I got back on my bike and although I couldn't get into aero I could ride on my hoods. This only lasted about 5 miles. The remainder of the ride consisted of me riding about 5 miles, getting off my bike and stretching my neck out, and rinse and repeat. Finally, with about 10 miles to go I figured out that I could put my right arm in the aero bar and put my left elbow on the pad of the aero bar, then prop my chin on my hand to keep my head up. I must have looked like a complete fool and am so thankful there were no photographers out on the bike course. This was of course less than ideal but at least it allowed me to finish the bike without having to stop again. I am kicking myself for this idiotic mistake to this day since I was on my way to a really great bike split.
T2 - 1:57
I was so happy to be done with the bike but once I got off and ran into transition I realized that the damage I'd done to my neck and shoulders would effect me on the run. I threw my socks and shoes on and went on anyway. I've DNF'd once and it was the worst feeling in the world. I would do what I could on this run.
Run - 2:14:44 (21/34 AG 123/221 OA) 10:17/mile
It was going to be a long half marathon but I resolved to just put one foot in front of the other and finish it. Within the first mile I saw a friend who was on his way back and was having an awesome race. This made me smile since he deserved to have such a great race. Another couple of miles after I saw another friend who asked how I was doing. I almost started to cry and said, "It's not been a good day." He said I looked good and encouraged me to finish strong. I started taking nutrition at every stop and contrary to Steelhead had to walk through the aid stations to make sure I got it down. I finally saw Syd and she looked great. I told her I wanted to stop so badly. Finally, with about 5 miles to go I told myself to HTFU and do this. I picked my pace up a little and was surprised to see Syd up ahead. I went past her and I know she said something to me but to be honest I was in a bit of a daze. I kept going and passed another local friend that I was surprised to see. With about two miles to go I started to feel really bad. I had cold chills and had stopped sweating and my face felt tingly. Weird. Finally, the turn back into the park and the end was in sight. I ran down the finish chute and across the line. It was done. 70.3 in the books.
I collected my medal and finisher's shirt and waited for Sydney. A couple of volunteers continually asked me if I was okay and whether I needed medical. I must have looked like a train wreck. I was determined to be there for Syd at the finish and was happy to see her. After a couple of minutes we stumbled to the food and sat down.
Total Time - 6:27:09
AG - 21/34
OA - 123/221
I was very disappointed with how this race went. Some factors were beyond my control (my getting sick and coughing my way through the swim) and some were completely my fault (screwing with my bike fit a week before a race). Not the way I wanted to end the tri season - and this is why there is one more race report to come. Stay tuned, and if you've read this far you're a trooper!