My family and I drove down to Mohican State Park on Saturday the 27th of June, 2015. The weather was cloudy and there was rain off and on. The weather forecast for the weekend looked like it would only get worse Saturday night and Sunday morning. We got to the park early and were among the first to packet pickup. After picking up my packet and examining the course map, we walked around the park, trying to make heads or tails of the swim course, transition area, the beginning and end of the bike course, and the run course. Once we thought we had it figured out, we decided to drive the majority of the bike course on our way to find something to eat.
The bike course was well marked. This year’s course looked to be a lot straighter than last year’s course, with fewer 90 degree turns, which is always nice. State Route 95 was freshly paved, which HFP Racing had been working out in the days leading up to the race. There were some concerns that it wouldn’t be done in time. It was nice and smooth all the way to State Route 39, which was not overly rough, but a normal Ohio State Route. The entire course was smoother than a lot of the Facebook chatter made it seem. My wife was pointing out all of the great scenery on the course and all my son and I saw was hills, followed by more hills! After driving the course, we had a good lunch at a steak and rib place, and then checked into the hotel. After lounging around the hotel for a few hours we went to dinner with Nate and Laurie. After all the training, the final day before the race involves a lot of eating and sleeping!
I got up Sunday morning at 4 am, after a rough night’s sleep. My left knee was hurting and it took a while to fall asleep. I warmed up the 24 ounce coffee that I had picked up Saturday night at the gas station. Once I had some coffee in me I went outside to see what the weather was like. It was cold and rainy. After getting dressed and preparing my water bottles for the day, I began to eat my prerace food. I normally have two Cliff Bars and two bananas, but I did not bring any bananas, so I had to improvise. I ate one bar before leaving the hotel, one on the way, and one before the race. I spaced them out a bit because I would start the swim later than normal due to the race having a mini, sprint, and Olympic distance triathlons all starting before the Half distance.
The race was running 10 minutes late due to all the rain that had fallen. The swim start was flooded and the race director had to change the course. The water was six or eight feet more inland than normal, and was all the way past the beach, up into the grass. It was freezing cold all morning, and as I walked around in the cold, shallow water, I thought about not even starting. Once I walked out further, I realized that the deeper water was warmer than the air temperature, so I stood in chest deep water to stay warmer than I would be standing around on the beach. The new start time was 8:25, so at about that time I went and got in line. The swim was good since the water was not too warm or too cold. There weren’t a lot of people in my wave, which was nice. I actually swam straighter than normal and was feeling good for once, instead of just trying to suffer through it. The course was a little short, but I was still very happy with my time. I know that I still need improvement before Cedar Point, but it’s a start. My Garmin swim file:
I did not speed through transition because I was seriously considering dropping out of the race. It was cold and it was raining. I was not looking forward to getting on the bike, but I told myself that I would do the first of the two laps and see how it went. If I thought it was too wet or too slippery, I was prepared to dismount and call it a day. Once I got on the bike and got out onto State Route 95, I started to put some power into the bike and was feeling good despite the rain and the cold. I made the turn off of State Route 39 and there was the first hill. I went to shift the front derailleur and nothing happened. I’m not sure if it was due to the bike sitting in the rain all morning or if it was because I have been doing most of my training on the trainer, where I sweat all over the derailleur. I thought for sure that my day was over, but after riding for a couple of miles messing with the shifter, and two climbs later, I got it to shift. It over shifted the front and I threw the chain to the outside, so about 15 minutes into the ride, I had to stop in the middle of a nice climb and put the chain back on the bike. That was the only time on the course that it did that. I kept a close eye on it for the rest of the day. So, I was back off to ride and climb in the rain. It did stop raining at one point and I was feeling better, but the roads were extremely wet. I managed to get my head into the game and then came a hard rain and I was not happy. It really looked like I was going to DNF for the first time, considering that besides having to stop to fix the chain, I also managed to fly off the course four times, all during the first lap. I never went down, but if you’ve ever ridden in the Mohican State Park area, you can imagine what it was like. Fast downhills on wet pavement and turns that all have guard rails and drop offs had me a little shaken, which all seemed amplified by the cold temperatures. At the end of the first lap it had stopped raining, so I grabbed a water bottle from the aid station and off I went. Halfway through the second lap it was warming up and I started to sweat. The roads were still wet, but dry enough to ride with some speed, and I managed to stay on the course the entire time. I averaged 212 watts for the ride with a mix watt output of 553 watts over 54.63 miles in three hours and four minutes. My bike Garmin file: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/817990942/3
Once I was off the bike, I no longer considered DNFing. I was not impressed with my time at this point in the race, but I was fine with it. My legs were smoked from the ride, but I got my running shoes on and grabbed my hat and sunglasses and headed off to run. I did some running and walking to try and relieve some of the soreness that I was feeling. My left knee was hurting and the downhills were wrecking it. The run course was in and around the campground; I had to do three laps of it. The course had three aid stations on it, one about half a mile, one at about a mile, and another about one and a half miles in, so I passed each station twice on each lap. It was a cool day, but it was starting to warm up as the day went on, and it was humid. I was glad that it was no longer raining, and that the run course wasn’t as hilly as I thought it would be. It was well marked and paved the entire way. I was a good course, but I was not in shape to run as hard as I wanted or needed. I did manage to finish 3rd in my age group, with the individual who finished 2nd passed me in the final mile, beating me by only 40 seconds. My run Garmin file:
In closing, I always enjoy races put on by HFP Racing. This was my second year doing this event and this bike course was definitely harder without the rain, and the rain made it even harder. If you are looking for a challenging course in Ohio, this definitely fits the bill. It’s a great course with great people and definitely a must do race for those who are looking to be challenged.