Sunday, September 15, 2013

Cedar Point Half Rev Race Report

I returned to Cedar Point this year with the great memories of my first full distance triathlon (FullRev or Ironman) one year ago.  This year I was ready to "smoke" the HalfRev (half-ironman), or at least that was my hope.  Coming off of Ironman Lake Placid at the end of July and a full summer of training, I was banking on being more fit and ready than any other time in the year.

Just like last year, my family would be there to support me in full force.  With an entourage of 12 adults and six children ranging from 8 weeks old to almost 7 (Tyler's birthday is on Sept 24), the weekend was a bit hectic, but a lot of fun.  We arrived in Sandusky at the Hotel Breakers late Saturday morning and after a longer than anticipated lunch, walked over to Cedar Point by mid-afternoon.  Tyler, Rylen, Luke, Reese, and Aidan were so excited to be with each other going from one ride to the next, or in some cases, just running around.  Our little Matty was well behaved and wide-eyed at times as he was strolled around the Park.  The day's fun was greatly enhanced by a special, but still secret announcement from a certain sister...:)

Tyler, Rylen, and Luke at Lunch

Riding race cars! Luke's favorite!

Blast off!

Wow! A Merry Go Round!

After sharing a bed with Luke (I love this by the way), I awoke Sunday morning wondering what my body had to give.  I doubt many other athletes walked Cedar Point for several hours on Saturday, and I know its not the ideal plan before a race, but I awoke Sunday morning feeling rested and ready.  I got to sleep-in until 5 am since the HalfRev didn't start until 8:20.  I didn't sleep any later than 5 because I wanted to get down to transition and make sure I had plenty of time to take care of any unforeseen circumstances.  Boy was I happy I did that.  It ended up that Rev3 decided overnight to move the swim course from Lake Erie to the Bay because of riptide warnings.  There was no doubt this was the right call.  You could have surfed on the waves.  However, I had left my wetsuit, goggles, and swim cap at the hotel thinking I would return there after setting up transition and have an hour or more to relax before putting my wetsuit on and heading to the beach directly behind the hotel for the swim.  Combined with forgetting my water bottles for the bike in the fridge, I ended up making three trips down to transition (about a mile walk) before walking 3/4 of a mile over to the bay for the swim.  By my calculations, I had walked or jogged about six miles prior to starting my race.  Oh, by the way, I got Luke up and dressed him to try to help Laura out.  So after walking Cedar Point the day before and my hectic morning, I was really starting to wonder how my body would react in the later stages of the race.

A rough Lake Erie forced the swim to be moved to the bay.

The Swim

With the swim taking place in the bay, we had a time trial start with two swimmers starting every three seconds.  There was no opportunity for a warm-up swim, and you couldn't see much of the swim course because we swam around an island.  But, none of this bothered me after the morning I was having.  I stayed calm and focused.  Once in the water, it took me a few minutes to get comfortable.  Without having a warm-up in the water, my body and mind just weren't properly prepared.  Once I found my rhythm though, I did my best to push myself.  Too often I'm too comfortable in the water.  I know I need to become more accustomed to greater effort in the water, and that's what I was shooting for.  Once I circled behind the island, I could feel the rise and fall of the current as if I was a boat out at sea.  I could also feel the current pushing me forward as if I were body surfing in the waves at the beach.  The most challenging part of the swim presented itself, when the swim course came around the other end of the island and worked back against the current to the swim exit.  As I sighted the final buoy, I realized I wasn't making much progress.  I amped-up my effort level and really started digging for home.  With small waves crashing over my face with every breath I took, I did my best to keep a good line towards the exit.  When I exited the water with a swim time of just over 35 minutes, I didn't let myself get discouraged.  Honestly, that's not my worst time even considering everything up to that point.  I ran the 3/4 mile back to T1 trying to preserve every second and was now ready to take the hot-rod out for a spin. :)

The Bike

I had a good feeling going into the bike!  Last year, I had a solid bike split going under five hours on the FullRev bike course (112 miles), and I knew the course layout for the HalfRev and terrain with its rolling hills was a good setup for me.  Although it was a windy day, I expected to ride well.  I didn't know how far ahead the lead swimmers were, but I started picking off cyclists one-by-one.  I wanted to push the pace, but also was trying to keep my cadence around 90 rpm to ensure I wasn't wearing my legs out.  Mile 25 came quickly and I was feeling really good.  When the HalfRev and FullRev bike courses split, I found myself riding more alone, occassionally passing cyclists that looked more capable.  This told me I was most likely toward the front of the group.  I didn't know how close to the front, but I thought within striking distance of the leaders.  I continued to push the pace, while being fully aware that I would need to run well to keep or improve my position.  With about 10 miles to go on the bike, a spectator informed me I was in tenth place.  I had hoped for something better (like 1st), but knew there was still time to catch one or two more.  With about seven miles to go and headed back to the last stretch along Lake Erie, the wind really picked up.  It was brutal.  I was leaning into the wind and bracing for the frequent gusts that nearly take your bike from right underneath you.  In the last seven miles, I passed two more riders, which put me in 7th place heading into the run.  I knew I would have to run well.  As I pulled into T2, my family was there in full force.  They were screaming like crazy providing me with an unbelievable boost of motivation and emotions.  T2 was mostly empty.  This is the greatest site for a triathlete.  When there are very few bikes already racked, you know you're having a good day.  I finished the bike averaging just over 24 mph with a time of 2:18.  I was ready to lay it all on the line on the run!

Headed out on the bike.

The Run

As I began the run, my family had crossed the parking lot from where they cheered for me coming in on the bike and now gave me an equally exciting send-off for the run.  As Laura held Luke, I gave him a quick high-five followed by one for my sister, Jess.  This was quite emotional for me knowing that I have such great support.  I had to calm myself and refocus on the task at hand.  Coming off the bike, I anticipated running around 7 min pace, when I looked at my first mile split and saw 6:23/mile, I knew I had it in me.  In the first half-mile, I passed an athlete that was struggling.  He actually had slowed to a walk as I went by him.  I figured this put me in 6th place for the moment.  A mile later, I passed another competitor.  He wished me luck as I went by so I knew he didn't think he had it in him to make a comeback.  I ran strong in 5th place seeing the top four on the out-and-backs setup through the streets of Sandusky.  This is one reason I like the run course for this race.  There are plenty of opportunities to see your competition and know exactly where you stand.  When I got my first look at the runner just ahead of me in 4th place, I thought I had a chance to catch him.  Trying to get into his head, I made sure my stride was extra strong and my face was determined each time we passed one another on the first two out-and-backs.  I could tell he was waivering and with about four miles to go, I went by him and took over 4th place.  As well as I was running, there were others behind me running better.  I knew I couldn't let up.  I kept thinking about my family and their support.  I wanted badly to finish on the podium for them.  With three miles left, I decided not to stop or even slow down for anything else to drink at the aid stations.  Until this point, I was trying to refuel with a combination of gatorade, coke, and water.  Caffeine and sugar baby!  However, the last few miles would hang on guts alone.  My hamstrings were very sore as my pace started to creep over 7 min/mile.  With just under two miles to go, I was passed by a competitor.  His stride was much stronger and quicker than mine.  I tried desperately to run with him, but it wasn't worth the risk of blowing up myself and losing the great race I had to this point.  I kept my stride as smooth and strong as possible finishing with a personal best half-marathon of 1:30 and an overall race time of 4:31.  Good enough for 5th place overall and 1st place in my age group!

Hi-Five for Luke!

Hi-Five for Jess!

Thanks for all the support!


  1. Came out a little hot on the run 'eh?!! :) Love it!! Love to see your success Ben. Congrats on a race well run - made especially awesome by having your family there to support you!

  2. BEN -
    My first time to visit your blog. What a great read ! CONGRATS !

    work / win !