The Rev3 Half – Steph’s 9/11/2011 Race Report
Here’s a total brain dump of everything I can remember, while it’s (relatively) fresh! I warn you now: these are not organized thoughts!
The Rev3 half (iron) triathlon was a completely new experience, unlike anything I’ve ever done before. This was my first half and the longest tri to date. When I wrote the Bartleys Tri
series, I was 2-3 sprint triathlons deep. There seems to be some major transition area logistics when you increase to the half or full distance, but I haven’t quite figured it all out yet.
So for those who asked, a half iron distance triathlon (not to be confused with a half Ironman — Ironman is a brand) is 70.3 miles = 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run. This was called the “half rev.” I like the cool-ish Gu graphic!
Saturday began with an easy 3-mile run with Shiva around Westlake in the morning. It was rainy!! This was a good opportunity to “practice” wearing a hat. After grabbing lunch with my family, we headed from Westlake to Sandusky, just in time for the mandatory pre-race meeting. We met up with Rick there, and got there in time for him to explain that the bike course had changed quite a bit.
Here’s a quick shot of the registration/expo area, which includes a bike mechanic, LOTS and LOTS of Muscle Milk, and some gear for purchase. Since we arrived kind of late, there wasn’t much time to spend there because we had to check in our bikes to the transition area by 6pm, where they’d stay overnight.
I signed up online and paid on Tuesday, but my name wasn’t on the roster. No big deal – they gave me my race packet on the spot. The woman who helped me just wrote down my name and age on a scrap sheet of paper, and then I registered in their timing system in the check-in tent. They take a picture of you so that they can put it on the jumbo-tron when you finish! I went through this just fine, but the guy registering me went through the fields so quickly I couldn’t tell which event I was in. He got my address wrong too. Anyway, the whole process was pretty fast, considering all of the logistics.
|Colored caps for each wave/event at check-in
I went for a quick 4-mile ride with Scoop before bike check-in and that was it! A run and a ride in the day before a long race – who does that?! ha. We also scoped out the swim course with Rick.
|“Holy crap that’s really far!” You could barely see the farthest buoy.
We caught a late dinner at Cooker (who knew these restaurants were still in business???) and went back to the hotel to get our race things together. Ben had lots of stuff, since the “full rev” involves such things as changing tents, transition bags, and special needs bags. I just had the regular transition setup, which was fortunately less stressful/new. Shiva was nice enough to teach me how to change a flat, just in case, using his bike…. and me giving him a pinched-tube flat in the process. (thanks)
|Prepping my stuff!
Ugh. On race mornings, including marathons, I usually don’t sleep well through the night. I usually wake up to the race day alarm with this horrible sense of… impending doom. We must’ve woken up around 5am or so to get Ben to his 7am start, stopping by Burger King on the way to pick up his breakfast sausage/egg/cheese Croissanwiches for breakfast and during the race.
|“Shiva, what are you – my dad? Quit taking pictures of me!”
Ben got ready and took off for his start, and at the same time I realized that I’d left my goggles (and swim cap) at the hotel, in true Steph fashion! Long story short, I forgot that I’d put it in a different pocket of one of my bags — again, in true Steph fashion. I was able to catch the pro and mass start for the full. The water looked SO GROSS! The athletes were able to wade in the muck all the way past the first buoy… that stuff looked thick. It was unbelievable to see the pros lap the mass start athletes before the 1.5 mile mark on a two-loop course.
|If you step in the muck, you sink in at least a foot.
Sidenote: If you wondered how they treated this, there was a tastefully-done 9/11 memorial display of rows of flags set up on the beach behind the start area. Bib number 911 was placed here.
This was about the time we saw the first person wading through the muck and out of the water from the group of full rev swimmers. Melissa commented that it was fortunate this person was getting out of the water under their own power and it’s completely true. The unfortunate part was that that person, who was very clearly wearing a heart rate monitor strap coming out of the lake, turned out to be Rick. With the situations that unfolded in Louisville and New York, to not feel 100% when you’re swimming 2.4 miles could be fatal. While I know Rick will tell you he “quit, pure and simple,” it takes more intelligent thinking and guts to make the decision to pull yourself out of the water when you’re not feeling ok. I’m not sugar-coating this either — some/many people (me included) don’t have the common sense to call it a day when the time’s not right. Rick, you’re a good friend for sticking around for Ben.
My start was at 8:20am, over an hour after Ben’s start. So many thoughts going through my head! I’ve never been to a beach start triathlon, nor one this large, and being a complete beginner I felt even more inadequate when I realized I was the only one without a wetsuit. Crap! I spent some of my nervous pre-race waiting time mentally shaking my fist at Ben, thinking, “Ugh! Why did I let Ben convince me I didn’t need one?” The emcee was actually pretty entertaining, comparing sprint triathletes to a.d.d. 6-year-olds with the shortness of their event focus. Melissa H. even pointed out that he was choosing some good jams. Shiva was documenting and snapping photos, but I was way too scared/nervous to enjoy the pre-race excitement. I think I just stood there, half frozen, anxiously irritated that all of these people around me looked like they were having a good time while I was scared stupid. You could not have joked around with me at that point in time – I was not having it.
|See the teal in the back? That’s me SANS wetsuit!
My swim wave finally got going, and the water was COLD! …at first. It was fine once we got moving, but I literally felt like such a dork for not having a wetsuit. Seriously. Erin Clark taught me to sight earlier this week, and also pointed out a few other form-related fixes that could help me be more efficient in the water. Somehow, almost all of this went out the window when I got into the water. Even though I waited & swam at the very back of my wave, the choppiness of the water and the fact that I couldn’t see through it just threw me off. I’m pretty confident I can fix most of this with practice, so I know that the swim is a huge opportunity for improvement. I got swallowed up by not one, but two waves behind me, getting kicked and legs pulled down (intentionally – not cool) every time I would start to get into a rhythm. I even tried chanting “stroke, breathe, stroke, sight, stroke…” to try to get a consistent pattern going. After a while, I started realizing that I was still not sighting well at all… I was definitely swimming in zigzags, coming extremely close to some of the kayaks at times. I was trying to stay away from the main drag where there would be a lot of traffic, but I realized that didn’t quite work out when I kept getting kicked and pulled. Ugh – pick on someone who isn’t a drowning risk!!
Here’s the map:
The first two buoys came and went much quicker than I expected! That was exciting. But then, as I rounded the last turn, I got excited that the end of the swim was coming near! Have you ever seen that scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail where the knight is running toward the castle?
Do you see any forward progress? (nope. It’s the same clip on a loop, if your’e reading this at work!) Yeah, it was like THAT. This only a lovely sample of some of the whacked out thoughts that go through my head while I’m racing. Monty Python. I even felt like I could hear the sound of those drums in that scene as I kept sighting and realizing that it was going to be another ten years before I reached the shore again. It took an eternity!! I was about 10-15 minutes behind most of the women in my age group already at this point; most of them took around 40-45 minutes, and I’m not sure if I was out any faster than 54 minutes. Ick.
The one positive about not having a wetsuit is that I didn’t have to spend so much time taking it off during the transition. I spotted Shiva, who snapped a picture as I got out of the water. At the transition area, I decided to put on my super-padded bike shorts on top of my tri shorts to make the 56 miles as cushy as possible. It’s definitely worth the extra 1 minute to put on those shorts for the amount of discomfort you could be experiencing! I also put on socks so I wouldn’t blister and totally wreck my run.
I started the course on my bike and felt like there were 50+ year old guys just flying by me every few seconds. Crazy! When I run long or run hard, the last thing I want is something sweet. That stuff is just hard to choke down. Instead, I brought some Ritz Bitz and taped them to the tube of my bike, which I pulled off about 1 mile in. Only part I didn’t foresee: I can’t control my bike well one-handed. It was almost impossible to eat while I was riding, so the bag stayed tucked in my sportsbra/shirt the majority of the time. Rick’s beef jerky idea would probably work so much better next time!
|Heading out for 56 miles
Parts of the bike course were nice and smooth, while others were difficult. The chip and seal section slowed me down to about 15mph, and while the course was mostly flat, there were some not-so-enjoyable sections that were just windy or somewhat hilly. There was nothing so bad you had to get out of the saddle, which was fortunate. While I was riding, I could see the 70 and 80 mile bike markers, and every time I saw one, I felt nothing but sorry for Ben and the others doing the full…they would see this scenery not once, but twice.
Going back a few weeks, all of my bike miles in late August and September were ridden two weeks earlier during the Go Girl sprint tri
at Eagle Creek in Indy… 10 miles. (Well, correction: I rode 4 as a “shake-out” with Scoop the day before. Does that even count as a shake-out?) I hate to keep saying this, but if I’d put in some quality bike miles, I feel like I could have gone faster… I wasn’t completely flying by people, but I was able to make a few passes — but definitely not enough passes to balance out all of the people who zoomed by me!
The bike miles went by pretty quickly, and I was really happy that my back and butt weren’t killing me by the end (my back tightened up so severely that I almost couldn’t walk after Go Girl). I feel like I fought some really bumpy roads and got buzzed by a few cars along the way, but I survived! Eating a honey stinger, a waffle (which was both scary and challenging with only one hand on the handlebars), and half of a bag of Ritz Bitz was challenging, and every time I rode one-handed and hit the tiniest bump, I braced to fly over the handlebars. On the bike aid stations, I went through a bottle of water and drank nearly all of the water in my Speedfil. Above all, it paid off to take the time to put on my real bike shorts, as opposed to tri shorts.
Honestly, this bike portion was a blur (hence the horrible lack of recall, unlike Ben’s
mile-by-mile playback). I remember telling a few people “good job” as I passed, or as they passed me. I know asked one guy where he got his Ohio State bike jersey and was really disappointed when he replied that it was a gift, still leaving it a mystery. I remember holding my pouch of honey stingers for what seemed like forever as I choked them down, hoping I wouldn’t run out of gas. I also recall being so happy I actually had something left when finishing the 56 miles! My bike needs to be fitted, and Ben and I had made some arbitrary adjustments without testing them, so the ride was a gamble (like wearing new shoes for a marathon). Oh– and most importantly, I remember being EXTREMELY thankful that I didn’t get a flat. Sorry to disappoint, but no deep or profound thoughts really go through this head while I’m in motion!
As I began the trip out of the transition area, I took a portajohn stop, only to realize that I’d forgotten to take off my super padded bike shorts. Decision time: I entertained the thought that I could potentially run the 13.1 miles in my
bike shorts, but ultimately decided that they’d have to go. I don’t know what’s exactly on the floor of a portajohn, but I that’s where I took my bike shorts off, shoes on and everything. Blech. Since I wasn’t about to run carrying my bike shorts, I had to run back
to my transition area to drop the shorts off again. Those shorts are gonna go through the wash twice…
Leaving the transition area, Shiva caught up with me in time to show me his dry-erase board to let me know that Ben had passed the 60-mile marker, which was a relief…. so good. He was still somewhere out there.
On the run, I tucked two pouches of honey stingers in my back pockets and planned to ration them the whole time. I also grabbed a Vanilla gu and some salt pills at two of the aid stations somewhere along the way when I got water. As I ran, I consciously thought about how a full would be so much more difficult because of nutritional needs during such a long event. I feel like I barely made it through with what I had, but would have had much more trouble had the run – or any of the events – been longer.
The beginning of the run was painful!!!! (Surprising? No.) If you know Cedar Point, you drive in on a long causeway… the same one we ran out on for our 13.1. It was difficult because this stretch was not only full-out sun, but you could also see the people who were finishing the 13.1 mile loop coming back in, having completed what you were about to experience. Obviously, quadrupling my longest bike ride in the last month just before this run didn’t really help things in the fresh-legs department. It’s shameless, but I relied on my running strength and running confidence to get through this… again, I felt like I could have been more prepared for this event with some more focused training that I should have done over the Summer (shoulda – coulda – woulda, right?).
The run course was mentally challenging, since it doubled back on itself a few times. See below — those little “fingers” on the left side of the map are actually mini out-and-backs. The nice thing about the course, though, was that there were aid stations every mile, offering things like pretzels, gatorade, salt pills, Coke, and gels.
Just like in the bike, the only thing that got me through the run – weirdly enough – was all of the Ohio State apparel I was seeing everywhere. People in the race ahead of me were wearing OSU jerseys and singlets, and since I don’t see much of that here in Indiana, it was strangely comforting and motivating. I spent a decent amount of time distracting myself by running from Ohio State jersey to Ohio State jersey.
The run started out slowly, and got better as I went. “I’ve run xx miles even on a bad day, so I can do this now,” went through my head as I ran and willed the tired-legs feeling to eventually go away. It was cool to finally see other girls in my age group at this point, too. Again, I was secretly very glad that I didn’t have to do a second lap. I talked myself into running c until mile 7, then walked through a few water stops after that. Besides that, I felt well enough to push on. Since this was my first half, I didn’t want to push myself to the point of really uncomfortable — the plan was to go in conservatively and not crash… you know, enjoy it.
At the last half of the race, I’d consumed so much sugary stuff that I felt like my teeth were rotting away with every mile… yet another weird anxiety & thought that plagued my mind during the run. In the later miles, I really felt that if I ran out of Honey Stingers, I’d run out of juice. It was getting pretty warm out too, with only a few minutes of cloud cover. Wasn’t it supposed to be cloudy and cool today?? I used up so much water just to dump it over my head and cool off!
I chose to wear my Newton MV2 racing flats for this run. It resulted in an untied shoelace 2 miles in (not a fan of the Yankz – they didn’t fit right), but besides that, they felt super light and I didn’t feel any injury pain for the entire duration of my run. Yay!
I ended up passing a girl in my age group about 400m before the finish, and I did like that the run course routed us back through a blue-painted handicap parking area so that it seemed like the terrain was changing or that we were actually starting to make the final approach. From a distance, the visual anticipation and glimpses of the finish line arch was enough motivation to get me to pick up the pace for the last mile. You wouldn’t think it, but there were plenty of people walking in the last 1 mile or 2 miles of their race. Actually, most people walked a good number of miles during the run.
The other cool thing about the finish in Rev3 triathlons is that family members can run with you into the finish line for the last ~100 meters! While I didn’t have any with me, it was nice to see the guy in front of me finish with his two little daughters. The race organizers also had volunteers posted near the finish line so that you could cross holding an American flag, if you wanted to.
This finish was like none I’ve seen. In most races, you try to power it to the finish because time matters. But in this – where you’re racing over the course of hours and hours – a few minutes to stop, grab your family, grab a flag, or do whatever you need to to prep for your picture and finish, is not a big deal. Huge difference from regular road races/marathons.
As I came toward the finish line, I spotted Rick and Shiva cheering. It worked out. It was good. It was finally over!!! It was over for my race, but still felt like there was some unfinished business until Ben crossed the line.
All I wanted was an ice bath! (Is that weird? I’ve never even had one before!) I felt unbelievably fine when I was done, accepted my finisher shirt and medal, a Gatorade and a bottle of water, and kept on walking. It was good to be finished, but more than anything I was just starting to get impatient with being on the move!
Looking back, I definitely felt like I could have gone faster. I always do though, and I should probably quit racing when I feel like I couldn’t have done any better. I guess that what keeps me signing up and competing in these things!
I waited around with Rick and Shiva to see Ben finish his bike ride and transition to the run, which took a little longer than we expected. Meanwhile, lots of full guys arriving back offered to sell us their bikes, looking worn down and swearing to us that they’d never do another full ever again. You could’ve gotten a pretty sweet deal on a tri bike that afternoon!
We finally spotted Ben, and all was good… sorta. He looked worse for the wear, no lie. His full race report is available here
so I don’t want to spoil any of it or be redundant. When he said he wanted to walk the whole marathon, I wanted to help so bad, but wasn’t sure how without majorly breaking USAT rules and disqualifying him from the race.
Right as Ben was leaving to start his run, we saw Scoop, who was standing outside of the transition area. He had obviously had a pretty gnarly bike wreck at mile 60- which we found out later happened as he was going our a tight turn on a wet road. After that, he started feeling not-so-good, like nothing he ate or drank was kicking in. He had the medical team take look at him when the bike portion was over. They decided to give him an IV, and fortunately he felt better. Unfortunately, that was the end of his day.
Still feeling good, Rick drove us out to the town area where most of the run course was taking place so we could see Ben. I ended up running little segments with him (a cool-down?) during miles 7 and 9 when he was running 7-7:15 miles. We had to do a little of changing around with cars, but I kept Ben company on his second lap too, during miles 17 through ~23. I might’ve logged about 20+ run miles on the day – energy/miles I probably should have taken off the table and put into my own race. Ah well.
I made it back just in time to finish the last 100m with Ben:
|Holding hands across the finish
|Yay! He did it, and all before it was completely dark! So proud.
Surprisingly, after Ben finished, we both stayed conscious and went in search of food. I ate my weight in Chipotle and he had a CiCi’s pizza. What a great end to a ridiculous(ly awesome?) day!
: My results show me as DQ, or disqualified. If you remember my earlier comment, I think I was entered into the full event. For part of the race, I actually led! You’ll see below that I dropped some sub- 4-minute-miles to win it, after riding ~33mph on the second loop of the bike.
* I sent an email note a few days ago and am hoping this will get fixed soon. Since I’ve sat on the other side of the fence as the race timer, I wouldn’t care if my time or place was wrong, but this appears to be the difference between finishing legitimately and not. While I’m sure mine’s not the only error to iron out, I’ll be a little disappointed if this effort was all for a big DQ.
: Results have been updated, so that’s one big sigh of relief! I emailed back and forth with a very helpful individual at the timing company. My results are posted
, placing my finish at 6 hours and 12 minutes and 10th of 15 in my age group.
Final thoughts – because I like lists:
- I need to be more prepared for stuff like this (i.e., run, bike, and swim training)!
- A longer distance would require a more intense nutritional plan.
- I recommend the Rev3 tri half/full because it’s flat compared to many others. Trade-off: it’s
mind-numbing mentally challenging. I’ve heard that Rev3 is more family-friendly and less structured/stringent than Ironman, so the laid-back atmosphere is nice.
- Unbelievable the types of people doing the full – they are so inspiring! Most of them aren’t cut or built and you’d certainly not peg them as athletes if you passed them on the street. Which is even more awesome.
- Because of bullet #4, I’ll eventually do a full myself – as long as I have the whole 17 hours to finish – and maybe 1 or 2 halves from now.
- Thanks to Rick, Melissa, and Shiva for being the best cheering squad-support crew ever. Scoop, it was great to see you, can’t wait to see ya around Christmas!
- To everyone who followed us and cheered for us or thought about us throughout the day, thank you! You are the best!!
Psst – Ben finished the full rev, 140.6 miles! See Ben’s race report here.
Psst – Want to see lots more race reports for Ironman, marathon, 5k, bike, and swim races? My other blog is dedicated just to that: My Race, My Story