Friday, September 12, 2014

2014 Rev3 Cedar Point 140.6 Race Report - Part 2 - A Lesson in Humility

I knew it was going to be difficult to complete my first 140.6 race but never in a million years did I expect it to be as difficult as it was. It was the hardest thing I've ever done. Physically and mentally. Even though almost everyone I talked to said to "just finish" this one, I had higher hopes for my finish time. I can't help it. As a competitive person I want to always do my best. I know I shouldn't care what other people think about my performance but I do care. So when things started out so rough for me Sunday I battled my mind for hours and hours. Sure I might not have the time I had imagined but I would under no circumstances not finish this race! It meant too much for me. And it meant something to the people that love me and all of the people that supported me along the way including my Rev3 teammates, friends and family members. I didn't want to let them down.

Prerace setup in Transition

Steve and I got to transition around 6am with plenty of time to setup our bike fuel and our gear bags. It was dark and we were both more quiet than usual - probably the fear of the unknown stirring in both of us.  Transition buzzed with activity but all I could hear were my thoughts...We did the training, we practiced open water swimming at Mentor Headlands, we put in the long rides and the long runs. We should be ready for this. We have to be ready for this. We said hi to a few of my teammates and friends and got ready for the stroll down the beach to the swim start.

As daylight neared it was clear that the water was not as calm as I had hoped it would be. It sounded more like Ocean Erie than Lake Erie. I drowned out the worrisome thoughts and focused on my breathe. When we arrived to the start we had a little time for a warm up. The waves weren't too bad in the warm up and I felt good. The water felt pretty warm to me and I was ready to get it started. The waiting is always the part I dislike the most. They called us back out of the water and my teammate Rachel snapped a quick shot of us before the start. We saw some teammates and CTC friends and we all prepared for the start.
Almost go time! 

The Swim: 2.4 Miles of FML

I entered towards the back left of the pack with Steve and as we started to enter the water it seemed like the water grew more wild. Waves were smacking against our bodies and I tried to make it fun like when you're at the beach and you wave jump. After a minute of running in and a couple dolphin dives the swim was on. I could tell that it would be challenging swimming against the current with the waves and chop but I felt ready to take on the day so I kept calm and freestyled for what seemed like forever to get to the turn around bouy. I looked at my watch, which read 52 minutes. I was 10-12 minutes behind my goal pace so not great but not terrible in a rough swim such as this.

The second loop was definitely worse. The water was rougher and after seeing my teammate Susan backstroke I decided to do the same. It was a nice break from having the waves blast me in the face. The only obvious problem with this is the lack of sighting. Occasionally I'd flip back onto my tummy and freestyle or breaststroke to position myself. Even moving straight ahead it was very difficult to see the buoys and even other swimmers. There were a couple points in the race where I was just
The Swim start
treading water in the middle of the lake trying to decipher which way to go. I'd wait for a swimmer or kayaker to point me and I'd be off again. I looked at my watch and was shocked to see that I had been in the water for an hour and 50 minutes as I saw the last set of candy corn looking buoys I knew I didn't have much time so I did my best to push through despite being tired and feeling seasick. It felt like it took me forever to get to the shore and I looked at my watch in disbelief as it read 2 hours and 10 minutes. Most of my practice swims of 3500-4000 meters at headlands had taken me no more than an hour and 15 or 20 minutes so I of course was pretty fatigued not to mention sick to my stomach from taking in numerous gulps of tasty Lake Erie water. I have never been so thankful to finish a swim. I never thought I would drown or anything but I wanted to quit so many times on the second loop that I just had to keep my mind on the task at hand.


I had a long T1 at 12+ minutes and at the point after the long, disappointing swim I really didn't care how long I took in transition. I was frustrated and sick to my stomach. Fortunately my Rev3 teammate Laura was in the women's changing tent to help comfort me and get me ready for the long ride ahead. She helped me get my head into a better place. I'm thankful to have teammates/friends who genuinely care about me and my well being.

The Bike: 112 Miles of Blah

I love the bike. Some days I even love it more than the run. This day however was not one of those days! It was a long, sufferous ride for me. For the first hour I was seasick and throwing up so I was not able to get in any nutrition. Once I started to eat I felt better but I definitely felt fatigued from swimming a lot longer than I had anticipated. And there were some funky winds as usual that I just
Beautiful, sunny day for the ride albeit windy!
didn't have much energy to fight. My plan had been to average at least 18, which I did only for the first split. My second split quite frankly sucked but I was able to get back on track somewhat on the second half. The special needs bag at mile 50 was a godsend. I chugged an iced coffee and ate some chocolate and that was a real pick-me-up! The last 30-40 miles of the ride my neck and back were killing me and I could not wait to get off of the bike and start the run. It seemed to take forever. Finally after 6 hours and 57 minutes I got off the bike. Not the time I was shooting for or capable of but I was elated to be onto the run. The run is my thing. I was actually looking forward to ending the day in my best event.


Again I had a long T2 at 10+ minutes. If you just add up my transition times alone I could have had a better race. I was exhausted and disappointed in how the day had went so far. In the women't tent this time I had my teammate Jaime and some others helping. I was again happy to have some friendly faces around this late in the day.

The Run: 26.2 Miles of Happiness

I was so happy to be on the run that I went out too fast the first few miles and then it caught up to me with a little walk break. I did not want to walk the marathon. I take the most pride of all in my run and I was determined to at least put in a decent run split to end the long day. I got to see Steve a few times including at mile 14 for me where he just had a mile to go until his finish so that was exciting and gave me a much needed boost. The run was by far my favorite. I had so many teammates and rev3 staff and friends cheering me on that it kept my mind off of the pain. I had been worried about my foot but it held up pretty well and really didn't even begin to hurt until later in the marathon. I kept to my plan to run and only walk the aid stations. Probably my favorite parts of the run were later on when they were handing out hot chicken broth, which was indescribably delightful for someone that's been working out already for 13 hours and then later when it got dark and I was running along the road to Cedar Point I could see the park lit up and all the cars driving by would beep at me and yell motivational things at me. I'll never forget that image. It gave me abundant energy. At a time when many were walking I just kept running. I finished the run in 4:51. Not bad for the end of a 14 hour and 21 minute day. I was at least happy with one of my three sports.

The Finish: Finally

Crossing the street to the finish a number of my Rev3 teammates were there running with me. I took everything in. The sights, the sounds, the smells. I was tired but awake. I had accomplished my goal of completing my first iron distance race. Not as fast as I wanted but I had perservered. I didn't let the sucky swim stop me or the lackluster bike. I went for it on the run and took back my race.

At the finish my friend and Rev3 announcer Sean English played a special song called "Rose Tattoo" by the Dropkick Murphys to honor my late cousin Danielle who loved the band. I was able to raise more than $2100 for the American Brain Tumor Association and hope it will make a small bit of difference for someone else that is fighting cancer. My battle for the day was hard but certainly nothing in comparison to those who must fight cancer.

Post Race:

After the race Steve and I hung out for a while with our Cleveland Triathlon Club friends. I devoured some Pizza and had a special post race IPA from my friend Phil and then we headed over to the Rev3 team tent for a while. On the way back to our hotel we found a 24-hour diner and both devoured a couple of hard-earned cheeseburgers!

My fast husband and me at the finishers brunch
The next morning Rev3 had a nice Finishers brunch and gave out awards for the Full athletes that placed overall and in their age groups including my husband! Steve ended up finishing in 12:09 and placing third in his age group out of 26 people. I'm so proud of him and glad that at least one of us made it to the podium.

Closing Thoughts:

An iron distance race is more mental than physical. You have to dig deep and ignore the aches, pains and negative thoughts. In my mind I wanted to quit a number of times but I knew that I couldn't succumb to those moments of weakness. I had to be strong. I worked too hard to let it slip away. Pain is temporary, pride is forever.

We are all capable of so much more than we think. We just have to decide that we want something and go after it. Such is the case with the 140.6 training. Just pick a race, commit to the training and do it. Don't overthink it or you'll always find a reason to get out of it. Sure there will be sacrifices along the way but in the end you'll be glad you did it.

Let your time be what it will be. If you show up on race day and go home a finisher then you succeeded. It's more about the journey than the destination anyways. I know I'll go back at it again for a faster time when I am ready but I now have the confidence to know that I have already done it. I took on the 140.6 distance and I survived it. Perhaps the adversity of the day made that finish just a little sweeter.


  1. Congratulations! As you said, it doesn't matter how long it takes you, you did it. That kind of perseverance goes a long way for all things.

    So sorry to hear about your brother - hope he's going to recover alright.

    That swim sounds terrible. I'm not sure I would have had the desire to keep going. Way to stick it out!

  2. Thanks Ryan, It was surely a lesson I'll not soon forget. I am proud to be a finisher. I definitely earned that finish!

  3. I have been following your blog for about a year now. I don't think I have commented before but we also live in NE ohio and you know our cousin, Nate Looman. Didn't realize it until I saw his pic on your blog at dinner one time!

    How awesome for you to have accomplished this feat! You did something most of us would never even dream of attempting. We have a friend who did his first ironman in Wisconsin on the same day as you in Cedar Point! You went in with A LOT more background (he had never even done a marathon or a half ironman and is built like a lineman) so I'm not sure how, but he finished too. I think you are right about it being so much of a mental challenge! I couldn't even imagine! I am in awe of you, your hubby, and our friend! Outstanding!

  4. PS I was so saddened to hear about your brother's accident. Praying for fast healing for him.

  5. Anonymous,

    Thank you for your comment and for following the blog! It sure is a small world in NE Ohio! Thank you for the prayers for my brother, he is doing much better now!


  6. My favorite part was the run as well. I did a 1:33 swim, the breast stroke really helped but that water was torturous! ouch. My bike split was 7:11 so you nailed that one. But when I saw Laura Kloepper out on the run course it totally made my day. Then I found her and MattyO at the finish! more awesome.

    Any finish is a time you can be proud of. We are crazy people. Great job!

  7. John, nice swim time on such a tough day. Sorry to hear your bike didn't go as well as you wanted. I think most of have at least one thing not go as we well as we planned it and for me it was definitely the swim but I am happy to have done it. Congrats to you and sorry I missed you at the finish!