On Saturday, September 10th, I rode up to Cedar Point with Kevin Petty, after we watched my son run in the largest cross country meet in the country (a different blog on that later). It was an uneventful ride up to the race expo. The skies were getting dark as we approached Sandusky, and the wind was picking up. As soon as we got to packet pickup, which was underneath a tent in the Cedar Point parking lot, the skies opened up and it poured down rain for 30 to 45 minutes. After we picked up our packets and timing chips, it started to rain again. We opted to not attend the athlete’s briefing, which was being held outside. After 12 years serving with the U.S. Army Infantry, standing in the rain when I don’t have to is not going to happen. They informed us that our runner, Will Rivera, would have to pick up his part of the packet in the morning before the race. Will had to work, so he was not able to get there in time. We headed to the hotel, but we realized that we forgot to pick up the Quark tracking device (I will also blog about that later), so we had to go back to the expo.
After a quick bite to eat at Dairy Queen, we went back to the hotel to relax and prepare for the race. I alternated between sleeping and watching college football. We were still waiting on Will to arrive, and after a couple games of football and off and on sleep, I lost track of time. At some point I heard Will come in. Kevin gave him a bed and told him that he could catch up on sleep in the morning before he had to run, but also informed him that he had to be at the expo at 5am to pick up his packet. Kevin woke us up at 4:45am and that is when I found out that Will did not arrive until after 1am.
It took us only about 20 minutes to get up, dress, and eat a little something, and chat a little bit. We took two vehicles to the race site. Kevin had booked a hotel within a few miles of Cedar Point, so we were there in no time. We got Will’s packet and discussed our final plans for the race. The three of us walked my bike up to transition, and this allowed us more time to chat. I hadn’t seen Kevin since Toughman Indiana, in May, and I hadn’t seen Will since I retired from the Army, in May of 2012. Will was able to head back to the hotel by 5:45am, since he didn’t have to run for several hours.
After Will left, Kevin and I got our stuff together. It was still a little early. Kevin has his own prerace routine and I knew that there were some other friends around, so I made my rounds and chatted with them before going back up to transition to wait on Kevin. I knew the race started at 7am, and that it was a rolling time trial start, but I didn’t know exactly at what time he would get started. I knew about how long it should take him to swim. We had been in contact a lot over the last few months to discuss our training, since our goal was to win. The time that we had estimated, with the rough water and the distance up to transition, was very close to his actual time. It was 1 hour and 20 minutes when he entered transition. This was my first relay and I will tell you this, it feels like it takes about five times longer for the swimmer to swim than it actually does. I’m not sure of our actual transition time, because the time listed on the result site counts from when he stepped out of the water. There was a quarter mile run to transition, from the marina, and then he had to pass the timing chip on to me. I had to get the chip and run back to my bike and get out of the gate, as quickly as I could.
The weather forecast predicted 8 mph winds out of the NNW, which meant a tailwind going out and a tail crosswind for most of the first 30 miles. The course has a lot of turns and switchbacks and this would mean mostly cross tailwinds, and crosswinds, but not too many headwinds. It was a cool morning and it was a nice ride. I started off with straight water and got a bottle of water at the second aid station, about 22 miles into the ride. I only got half the water in the aero bottle between my aero bars. I had planned on taking a gel every 10 miles, to fight off cramps, but I hadn’t eaten any by the 22-mile mark, and didn’t until about mile 50.
So, can anyone guess what happened around mile 50? My right thigh was starting to get tight. I took in two gels at the aid station and took a bottle of water and a bottle of Gatorade. I drank the Gatorade down as fast as I could before switching back to water. My leg loosened back up and at the next aid staion I grabbed another Gatorade with hopes of staying in front of the cramps. At one point I went to shift the small ring in the front and the road was so rough, due to chip and seal, my chain jumped off the rear derailleur. I quickly jumped off the bike and put it back on. There was an athlete who rode by and asked if I needed any assistance, which is always appreciated, but I got it back on and was headed back up the hill in less than a minute, but it felt like forever.
The rest of the ride was about the same, pushing on the bike and fighting off tight legs. I had cramps in my upper right leg and my left hand was cramping a little, as well. I normally take salt pills the night before, morning of, right before the race, and during the race, but I left the house without them. That, combined with abandoning my plan for taking gels, made for a rougher day than necessary. Lesson learned-double check the packing list and stick to the plan at hand. I finished the 112.1-mile ride in 5 hours and 24 minutes, with a 20.7 mph average. I will include the splits at the end of this blog, along with the course.
After getting back into transition, I made the hand off to Will, and he was out of the gate in a flash. He had a great run, taking off with a 7-minute lead and finishing 2 hours in front of the next relay team. He also finished in front of the solo male champion, making our team the first to finish the full distance race. Will’s total run time for the 26.2 miles was 2 hours and 56 minutes.