Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Race Report: Rev3 Full Rev Cedar Point 2012

Race: Rev3 Full Rev 
Date: September 9, 2012
Location: Cedar Point Amusement Park, Sandusky, OH  
Race Type: Iron-distance: 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run 
Division: Age Group 45-49
Time: 15:42
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Race Report:

Pre-Race/Do you really want to read this? 
Some of you will get bored and stop after you read the "race report" section. Some of you will think "Tracy is a nutcase." Some of you will soak in every little word I say. Some of you will think "Tracy is a nutcase." Some of you will cry. Some of you will laugh. But, most of you will think "Tracy is a nutcase!" 

I've been asked for details so, here it goes... (BTW, I have some impatient friends...not going to mention any names, Wendy...oops...Anyway, I'll be posting a finish-line video here later).

Update: Here is the video! Thank you SO MUCH Lauren Glickman for creating this wonderful memory!!!

Over a year ago, I wrote an article about the Rev3 series for I had heard great things about this series but, interviewing Charlie Patten (owner of Rev3) and hearing all the excitement he has about the race actually got me more excited to sign up for my first full-distance! 

The whole signing up process is really something that shouldn't be overlooked. The amount of nerves shooting through your body as you press the "enter" button really takes a toll on a person. I recall talking on the phone with my good friend, Sandy Brown, the day we both registered for Rev3 - we were both basket cases! It wasn't enough that we had already gone through these feelings when her husband, Mike, signed up for his first full - Ironman Lake Placid - just a few months earlier. Oh, no...we had to go through it ourselves...we had to reach Zone 5 (that's triathlon speak for "my heart was about to jump out of my chest!") on day one!!! What did we just do? Oh my gosh - we're going to be training all summer! Will we be able to do this? It cost us HOW MUCH? Should we hire a full-time nanny? OH MY GOSH....WHAT DID WE JUST DO???!!! That energy pretty much carried over into the first 3 months of training!

For me, training began in May. I had just completed my 6th marathon at the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati, OH. Looking back, my race calendar for the year wasn't really laid out well. But, I was thankful to be able to complete both a marathon and an Ironman in the same year (as well as a few other races thrown in here and there).

When I began my training, I thought the scheduling of Ironman training couldn't be much worse than a half Ironman. I knew it would be longer - particularly on the weekends - but surely the weekday schedule couldn't be that much more difficult. So, let me give you an idea of a typical workout week:

Monday: 3-5 mile recovery run
Tuesday: 1 hour hill work on the bike, 1 hour swim (swim increased to 1.5 hours toward the end)
Wednesday: 1-2 hour run
Thursday: 1 hour speed work on the bike, 1 hour swim (again, swim increased...)
Friday: Off
Saturday: Long bike ride - anywhere between 30 - 120 miles depending on the week
Sunday: Long run - anywhere between 8 - 18 miles depending on the week

Rinse. Repeat.

Although I was thankful to cross the finish line of my race, it's really the day in and day out workouts that are the hard part. But, let me say right here before I continue...IF I CAN DO THIS, YOU CAN TOO! Remember, I'm the girl that didn't have the word marathon in my dictionary! Obviously, if you have certain medical reasons for not doing an Iron-distance race, that's different. But, if you don't have medical reasons then you have no excuse! Racing an Iron-distance race is all about getting a training plan, following that plan, and executing that plan on race day. If you have a good plan, you'll succeed! Will it be hard? Yes, at times. Will you have to juggle a tough schedule? You betcha. Will there be days you want to quit? Absolutely. Will you quit? NO! Why not? Because, YOU WILL BE AN IRONMAN in the end!

Anyway, back to the race...

One of the things I liked best about the Rev3 series is the fact it was so family and spectator-friendly. Growing up, I had been to Cedar Point several times. So, I was excited for my children to experience it as well. We had plans for them to be involved in the Kid's Adventure race and everything.

There is so much I would love to tell you in this race report but, seriously, you would all be sleeping before I even began talking about the race itself. Now would be a good time to grab a cup of coffee if you find yourself nodding off already!

Friday evening, however, storms moved into Sandusky that changed things rather quickly. Our trip to the amusement park was canceled and the kids weren't really prepared to participate in the Adventure race in the rain. I was saddened by this but, before I had a chance to feel sorry for myself I began thinking about others that were effected by the storm. My amazing coaches - Ed and Alexis - had spent the better part of two days setting up our Team Z "camp" at the finish line. All the tents, etc. had to be taken down due to the high winds that had moved into the area. Also, my Z-mates that were there to race the Sprint triathlon on Saturday morning were surprised with the change to a 5k run. High winds + Rip Tides = No triathlon. :(

I am super impressed by the support my team brings to any race. When no other team was there, Team Z stood, in the pouring rain, at the end of the Sprint-turned-5k, and cheered on the very last racer. And, of course, Rev3 folks were out in full force, too. Lovin' those guys more every day. Check it out:

This would not be the last time I would see such a huge outpouring of support from my team...or Rev3. More on that later...

Saturday afternoon we were supposed to have a pre-race workout but, again, thanks to the weather many things changed and we just rolled with the punches. My good friends Andrew and Jessica Jones allowed me to hang out with them as they drove part of the bike course and then we headed down to the expo area for some last-minute needs and to check out the water. While we were there we ran into Charlie Patten. We talked about how the buoy's for the race were now in Canada and that our swim course would be drastically different the next day! Yep, the storm had really created problems for the Rev3 folks but, you know what they did - they got the job done, worked through the night and had a FABULOUS race for us the next day...and we didn't even have to swim to Canada (thankfully! That much swimming would have REALLY thrown me off! LOL).

Charlie Patten and I

Jessica and Andrew Jones, Sandy Brown and I

I will briefly mention that the pre-race dinner was quite amazing. Tears all around, best-wishes videos sent out to a huge group of our team that raced Ironman Wisconsin the same day, good food, a coach "forcing" us to drink beers (just joking, Ed!), goofball moments, honoring the sprint-turned-5k racers, honoring the teammates who stood in the rain to support that race and, best of all, I got to almost get myself killed by taking the pic below. Fun times. Fun times! 

Race Morning:
Alarm: 3:30 am. Eat a few bites of peanut butter sandwich, drink water. Back to bed.
Alarm set: 4:30 am. Seriously, I wasn't sleeping so what's the point. I got up before my alarm.
5:00 am - at the race site.
5:15 am - Eating Nutella and pancakes!
6:00 am - trying to calm down
6:30 am - The pics below

Swim (2.4 Miles): 1:47:09
7:05 am - Swim begins. 
What a gorgeous day for a swim! Let's start off with a little picture or two from the swim course:

Photo by Jean Donnis

I was super pumped to begin my first full Iron-distance triathlon! I didn't want to rush into anything on the swim, though. Keeping my heart rate in Zone 2 was very important.

The swim course consisted of two 1.2 mile loops. The first loop I successfully completed in 48 minutes. It was really cool to stand up (yes, I said stand up - there was no way to swim because it was so shallow) at the turn-around buoy for the second loop and see two of my teammates - Sandy Brown and Linda Dunn. It made me realize I wasn't out there all alone! I was pretty excited about the 48 minutes and started calculating in my head what time I would be getting out of the water. But, as anyone who has read "Sex, Lies, and Triathlons" knows, it is impossible to do math calculations during a race! (Triathletes: This is a must-read book. You'll laugh so hard you cry! Thank you, Leib Dodell for such an entertaining read!). Anyway, double that 48 minutes and I'm out of the water in 1:30'ish. Of course, things never quite work out that way for me. And, as it turned out, my leg started cramping and I had to turn on my back and massage it. It's at that point I realized I hadn't taken a gel before my swim. That's okay, I thought...those things don't always settle well in my stomach. Besides, I had some Team Z breakfast of pancakes and NUTELLA - that should give me enough energy to get my through this swim...and it did! Now, on my list of race day "must eats" - NUTELLA!!! I mean, seriously - who WOULDN'T want to eat Nutella??? It's not just for breakfast, folks!

I was pretty excited when I exited the water. I estimated I would finish in 1:45'ish and my finish time of 1:47 was pretty dang close. Yeah, the swim is OVER!!!

T1: 5:49 
Transition for a full Iron-distance is much different than any other distance race. For Rev3 we had a "clean transition" which meant all our bags of transition stuff were hanging on hooks like the pic below instead of right beside our bike. When we came into transition we grabbed our bags, went into a gender-specific tent, changed our clothes (if desired), had a snack (if desired), put on sunscreen (next time I'll remember this for my face, too! OUCH!), put on Body Glide/Vaseline to prevent that annoying chaffing (next time - MORE!!!!), etc. Then, we ran out of the tent with all our bike gear on and headed out for our ride. (Special thanks to Cris Howard for the idea of the duct tape on my bag! Team Z green duct tape made my bags much easier to find!!)

Bike (112 mi): 7:21:35
The bike course was going to be my toughest leg of the race. Not because it was so long. Not because it would take me the better part of the day to finish. But, two things would be really important on this leg: 1) Making sure I stayed in Zone 2 by going slower than I knew I could go and 2) Making sure my nutrition was spot-on.

My goal time on the bike was to keep a 16 mph average which would give me a 7 hour bike time. There were a few things that kept that from happening but the biggest factor was getting a flat at mile 105. I had been messing with my tire for a few minutes before a sag driver came up to me and, even though he fixed my tire for me - PRAISE GOD - I still lost about 15 minutes over that ordeal! :( 

Another factor involved in my bike was the malfunction of my Garmin. After coming out of the water I supposedly swam 9.5 miles! Huh? No! Then, at one point I accidentally hit the "stop" button and it wasn't calculating my time for a few miles. So, I was confused as to where I was, how long I had been there, etc. The thing that scared me the most was my nutrition plan. I had made (again, at the suggestion of Cris) a nutrition plan to carry with me on the bike. 

Unfortunately, I had broken down my food by miles rather than time. So, when my miles came up incorrectly on my Garmin and I had to do math in my head again, I was screwed!

When it came time to pick up my special needs bag, there wasn't much I wanted/needed. I ate 2 oreo's, about 4 potato chips, and a few sips of coke. But, other than that, I just stuck with my typical gel/bonk breaker/Gu Roctane stuff.

I did feel that, overall, my nutrition was pretty good on the bike. I think, however, that I might try to increase the pace when I do it the next time (yeah, you heard time...!!!). 

T2: 9:07
I felt good coming off the bike and getting ready for the run. I accidentally grabbed the wrong bag so a volunteer went out and got the right one for me. It took me a while in T2 because there was only one volunteer in the tent helping at the time. I'm sure she was probably really tired by this point (4 pm'ish) but I'm not going to be concerned about being 1-2 minutes slower in my day because of it. Just not that big of a deal. Next time, though...I'm going to be hard core in those transition areas. I could have shaved off about 10 minutes from my time had I just done my typical fast transitions!  

Run (26.2 miles): 6:21:56
My slowest stand-alone marathon was my first marathon (Marine Corps Marathon 2004) where I finished at a blazing time of 6:30. Now, give me a little credit here - that was after throwing up 9 times on the course! So, throughout my training, my goal was "do better than MCM 2004." I knew if I came close to my anticipated swim and bike time I would have the pleasure of taking it easy on the run and that's exactly what I did! I hadn't had good sleep for about 4 days prior to the race and, two days prior to the race I had only had a total of 6 hours sleep. So, I wasn't sure if I was feeling the fatigue of the race or the lack of sleep. I felt it was the sleep because my legs were still feeling good. Either way, I had 26.2 more miles to put in my book on this day!

I started out on the run and there were still tons of people on the course - both full and half rev folks. It was great passing so many of my teammates out there. And, by "passing" I mean, they were heading into the finish line and I was heading out for my first (of two) 13.1 mile loop!

I felt pretty good at first. I think the adrenaline and the crowds of people were what really kept me going. I came to realize later in the night that it truly was the crowds that pushed me. When I found myself on a dark, lonely street I would begin to walk. I didn't have the energy to do it on my own. I NEEDED those crowds. I NEEDED my team. I NEEDED those cowbells and vuvuzela's that had annoyed me so much in the past! Because of the course layout, we ran up and down city streets for the bulk of our run. Hearing my team in the distance pushed me. But, the one thing that pushed me most were my kids.

Gotta tell this story...My kids have been real troopers throughout my entire training. Joshua is now old enough to babysit and he did a lot of it this summer. It was obvious to me that, toward the end of my training, Celeste was really starting to need me more. My kids knew what I was training for but I don't believe they truly understood what an IM was all about until race day. They were there with me when I started my journey into the water at 7:05 am. and it was now already dark outside and I was in the last 6 miles of the marathon. I was walking so they came by my side and walked with me. We chatted and they both told me how proud they were of me. But, the one thing that really got me was what my 6 year old said. She said: "Come on mom, you're doing great. Can you just start jogging with me a little? I know you can do this, mom. Come on. Just jog a little. I believe in you. You've got this!" So, I started jogging and they both jogged beside me. Then Joshua asked if I wanted them to jog with me to the next aid station (about a mile away by the course, 1 block if you cut the course). I said, "No, you just go there and cheer me on when I get there." And that's what they both did. As they left, I continued to re-live that moment in my mind for the next 6 miles. I even lifted my pace to around an 11-minute mile (which was my average long-run, zone 2 pace during training). I was flying past all the other triathletes who, by this time, were mostly walking. They were all cheering me on. The memory of "coach Celeste" and the encouragement from my 13-yr old son kept me focused all the way to the finish line.

When I came up to the finish line I saw a sea of green! That's my team!!! They were yelling so loud you could probably hear them in Virginia! It was so exciting to cross that finish line with such great support. Celeste had always planned to run across the finish line with me but, after the little talk at mile 20, Joshua wanted to cross the finish line with me as well. So, that's what we did!

Above three pics taken by Jordan Applebaum

Summary and lessons learned 
Rev3 helped to make my first-time Iron-distance race a huge success. I have to share this story, too... Cancer survivor, Patti Jackson (a teammate) was diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma a week before the race. Long story short, she knew going into the race she would have to really pay attention to her medical needs and just focus on finishing. Rev3 put it ALL OUT THERE for Patti. I can't even tell you the extent to which the OWNER of Rev3 (Charlie Patten) went to help Patti cross the finish line 19+ hours after she started. See, the "other guys" would have closed down the course in 17 hours and made Patti go home. But, that's not what Rev3 did. Matter of fact, they threw one of the biggest finish-line parties known to man! You've got to check out this video to believe it:

Next time I race an Iron-distance, I'll go for time. This one was just about finishing the race. I know what worked and what didn't work this time and I can hopefully put those same practices into play for the next one. 

Thank you's

So, so, SOOOO many people to thank and I'm going to try to name them all one by one...

MOST IMPORTANTLY: God! I can't tell you the amount of times I prayed and prayed and prayed to stay injury free during my training, to be able to muddle through a workout, to be able to be someone's inspiration. I give all my credit for this entire race and my ability to finish to Him!

My family: Wow. I don't know where to start. For all the hours I was training and away from the home, for all the hours you stood on your feet to support me at the race, for taking my place as the race photographer, for grillin' burgers for the team, for putting on a clown outfit (Yep, my 13-yr old son did that...proof below...), for saying encouraging words to me during my race rather than those phrases I encouraged you NOT to say, for giving me the energy to get through mile 20 - 26.2 of the marathon...THANK YOU!

Novia Plummer - without you, I would have NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER have begun this journey! I wouldn't have stepped one foot out the door for a run. I would have never gone on to race triathlons and then to the ultimate of all triathlons - Ironman! I don't know if you will ever understand what a huge impact you made in my life. I love you, girl!

My coaches and workout leaders: I've had a few. Laurie Bickart, Brian Crow, Susan Hefler, Jessica Jones, Ed Zerkle, Ryan Pettengill and Alexis Lopez-Buitrago. You have all taught me so many amazing lessons along the way. I appreciate all you did for me to get me to the point of even having a desire to race an Ironman. 

To my current Team Z were so amazing and had SO MUCH ENERGY every time I saw you on the course. 

Alexis - I think you need to bottle that energy and sell it - it's so contagious. You are one of the biggest reasons I decided to join this team (you and your sappy writing skillz!) and I am so glad I made the decision to join! I think you were also part of the reason my son got into a clown outfit. Seriously, how did you make THAT happen. We need to talk! Our discussion Friday night really sealed the deal why I joined this team. It went something like this:
Me: I might be the last Z'er on the run course. I have my family here so you can go ahead and start back to the finish line instead of waiting out here on the course for me.
You: We aren't leaving you out here. You are not alone. You have no choice in the matter. I'm out here until the end. 
Thank you for not leaving me out there alone. Thank you for not leaving ANY of us out there alone. You rock! 

Alexis running by Patti Jackson at the cheer station on the bike course

Ed - I can't even fathom the weight of the world you hold on your shoulders. All the logistics you have to deal with - particularly on this weekend with a huge part of our team at IM Moo and the huge storm that rolled through. You kept your cool, rolled with the punches and moved right along. As I've told you several times, I'm so glad to be part of this team and I will forever be grateful for all you have done and are doing to make us better and make us feel more  like a family every day! Are you getting misty yet? time can you warn me a little in advance when you're going to put my life at danger, though? :) Ahh...the life of a photographer...always an adventure! LOL

 Ed cheering at the Sprint-turned-5k

Ryan - dude - I LOVE your new haircut! I wish you could have been in two places at the same time. But, you've been there for me every week for the past six'ish months. Thank you for putting up with me when I thought I couldn't do it, for listening to my complaining and moaning all the time...particularly on uphill climbs and with my crazy swim stroke. Thank you for encouraging me to join the team YEARS ago and for never giving up on me! You totally rock! 

Coach Ryan cheering on athletes at IM Wisconsin - Photo by Michael Schmidt

Jessica - girl, you are amazing! I may not be super fast in my swim yet but you have really helped me more than you can imagine. We've got a long way to go still but you're helping me get there! 

Me and Jessica - Photo by Jordan Applebaum

Thank you to Charlie Patten and the entire Rev3 staff for putting on a fabulous race. I knew this would be a great experience and I was totally right. Let's see the "gang signs," folks!

Rose Fisher, Tammy Crowder, Christa Garoutte, Jan Stover, Brooke Rivera, Rebecca Hall - I know how hard you have been praying for me and supporting me in SO MANY WAYS!!! Your friendships mean the world to me and I can't imagine having gone through all this without you!

To my business partner and great friend, Sandy Brown. Girl, I don't think I could have done this without you! We started this journey together and we ended it together and now we are stronger than we ever thought we could be!  You have been an inspiration to so many - including myself - and I'm so proud to call you my friend...and an IRONMAN!!!

To my cycling girls who pushed me almost every weekend during my training - Sandy Brown, Mayra Krueger and Renee Remillard  - I got stronger on the bike this year just trying to keep up with you three (and a lot of help from Susan and Pierre over the winter)! We've laughed, we've cried, we've sweat together and I love you all for it! Now, let's celebrate!!!

To all my workout buddies: (this is where I might forget someone...) who have, at some point over the last year, pushed me to accomplish one (or more) of my daily workouts and, in turn, gave me much-needed companionship on this long, long journey! Molly Steele, Mike Reyes, Elena Steinke, Cindy Reevesman, David Green, Lester Benitez, Lisa and Eric Mackem, Janet Choi, Claudia Centeno, Melissa Gilkes-Smith, Dawn Danner, Christina Tragle, Leigh Schafer and all the teammates who I see regularly that push me to attain my goals!

Marce' Willard - you may not realize this but you were the ONLY triathlete I knew before I started doing them myself. Watching you do those crazy pushups while waiting for our kids karate was actually a really warped inspiration to me!

Transition Triathlon - Alex Korab and Steve Makranczy - You guys have been SO HELPFUL during my training. You've been sincerely interested in my progress. I'm so glad to have met you and that you have been part of my Ironman journey. You have become more than just "store owners" to me - you have become my friends and I am forever grateful! 

Bicycle Outfitters (particularly Rick!) - Thank you guys for always being there for me when I needed even the most minor of help with my bike. I'm no gear head but I'm slowly getting there because of you!

To all my friends who have supported me during my training and who have had to listen to my excuses of "I have a workout" and can't hang out on that day...THANK YOU! 

Michelle Mixell with Yin Yoga - I seriously don't know how I would have made it through the last six months without your classes! Thank you for offering them to me and for being such a kind, sweet face for me every Tuesday!

Thank you to Robin Dennis at FitPro Massage. I was in some serious pain the week before the race. I didn't let anyone but you know. You worked out those muscles and I was able to successfully complete my race. Your are my hero!

For those who made it to the end...THANK YOU! You rock!