Name: Kenrick Smith
Division: M 30-34
Date of Race: September 8, 2013
Location: Sandusky, Ohio - Cedar Point Amusement Park
Distance from home: 410 miles
Accommodations: Best Western Plus-Sandusky
We arrived on Thursday for the Sunday race. We skipped doing the amusement park so I could concentrate and save my energy for the race. The whole family came along for this race - wife and three kids. Always nice to have the whole crew together. Since we skipped the park, I decided to research some other places to visit that were a little bit more low key. We ended up heading out to Marblehead Lighthouse State Park and Kelley Island State Park. Both are small but worth a look see. The kids really had fun driving around in a golf cart on Kelleys Island and thought the lighthouse at Marblehead was really cool. The ferry ride to Kelleys Island from Marblehead was a highlight as well. Mission accomplished - family time, had fun, saved some energy, and was an affordable way to spend the day.
Race Day (Morning)
Overcast: Cool - 68 degrees
Windy - 20MPH
Slight fog on water
Woke up early snoozed my watch once to get that critical 5 extra minutes of restless sleep. I hopped up out of bed and glanced out the window to see if it was raining. It was suppose to rain overnight and then clear up mid-morning. It looked as if it had rained but most spots looked pretty dry by this point. I quick got changed and wrestled the others out of bed before I started breakfast. I was feeling good, had a good night sleep and was confident in my training to have a good race. We were going through our morning getting, all of our stuff/gear gathered for the day - I was checking and rechecking my transition bags and special needs bags while Jodi was checking the snack bag and activity bags for the kids.
She was preparing mentally and physically just like me for a long, hard and mentally draining day as well. I might have been the one racing but she had the real job to do, I knew she was going to have her hands full for the next 10 or so hours. She is amazing at how she can handle all the stress.
With that being said, as we were making our last preparations before leaving the room, Jodi dropped a bomb on me. She turns to me and says, " I don't think I am going to come out to the run. I don't feel comfortable out there on those roads." I tried to understand and tried to keep my emotions at bay. The first thing that crossed my mind was how am I going to get through the deepest and worst part of the race without seeing a familiar, smiling, yelling face. I kept calm and didn't let it phase me at the moment and reassured her that it was fine and what ever decision she makes is fine. Just please be there at the end. I did say to her though after she asked if that was OK, "yeah that is fine. I would really like you out there for all of the above reasons but understand. I did ask her though that if she does change her mind to remind me to smile out there when things start to look grim."
We hopped into the car and headed over to Cedar Point Amusement Park as we had done so many times previously in the days leading up to the race. My bike was already there and my transition bags were already packed so I basically would just needed to clip my shoes into my bike, hang up my transition bags and put my run special needs bags in the appropriate bin. We arrive on sight and we pull into our parking space. I open up the door and look straight ahead at the illuminated amusement park, as it was pitch black out, and stared at the American Flag at the entrance of the park. The red and white horizontal stripes were completely straight pointing from right to left. This was a huge flag. The flag was not ripping through the wind it looked as though it was stiff. The winds coming off of Lake Erie, blowing towards the marina, were so strong that the flag did not have a moment to relax. The days leading up to the race the winds were very calm, if any. Made a mental note and had a game plan on how to handle these winds and continued with my morning.
As I was dropping off all my gear, Eric the Race Director made an announcement that the swim was going to be changed and we were going to swim in the marina. Didn't phase me, as long as I knew where I needed to swim. The one downside to the swim being changed to the marina, we now had a 1/2 mile run through the parking lot to transition. The other change to the swim was the start was going to be time trial start instead of a mass start, two athletes at a time going off every 3 seconds. Again, no big deal.
Swim: 2.4 miles in the Marina
Location: Lake Erie Marina
Water Temp.: about 69 degrees
Wetsuit: Legal - Zoot Sleeveless
Water quality: Poor visibilty - maybe 1'
The swim start was self seeded. I heard the people around me talking about their swim times and adjusted accordingly. I don't like to show my hand so I just quietly took my position in the second grouping and before I knew it the first group was gone. The clouds were so thick and it was relatively dark out yet. The swim course was pretty straight forward we needed to swim around this island twice before heading to the swim exit. As I watched the lead group enter the water and saw the whites of the bottoms of their feet as they dove in from the boat ramp, I looked around at all the spectators cheering and ringing their cowbells. What a sight as they lined the boat ramp that I was about to dive off of and start my long journey. I took a step forward to the line that was made out of yellow duct tape, that signified my starting point, basically mile 0.0 of 140.6. I took one last deep breath shook the guys hand next to me, wished him luck and told him I would see him on the course, and I dove into the water after getting the OK from the race official.
The crowd noise disappeared as did all visibility except for all the bubbles that were now in my face. I kicked hard to get away from the ramp and popped to the surface and took my first initial strokes and things felt great. I picked my head up and couldn't make out much of anything as it was still pretty dark. I went towards the splashing of the athletes in front of me. The water was pretty calm and made my way around the island. When I got to the back side of the island I took a couple strokes with my head up to get my first glimpse of the course. I came up with a plan and started heading towards the farthest guide buoy I could see. The guide buoys were in the shape of an upside down banana, so I figured I could shave some time off by making a direct line and it seemed to work. I also noted as I got further into the course that there was a boat with a flashing blue light that was close to the next turn buoy. I made this note so I could adjust sooner and be able to navigate on the second loop when I had more athletes to deal with. So I headed straight for the boat turned at the turn buoy which directed us towards the second lap and it got choppy for about 200 meters. Plowed through the choppy water and made my way for the second loop I was pretty much alone for the whole first loop and 1/2 of the second loop till I made the turn to get to the backside of the island. I turned around the buoy and saw nothing but yellow caps bobbing in the water - same color as the guide buoys. I adjusted and instead of looking for the next buoys, I looked for the boat with a blinking blue light. This wise decision on the first loop really helped me out for this loop. I passed quite a few swimmers on this loop and made my way to the swim exit. I felt calm, relaxed, strong for the whole swim. I was feeling good. I came up to the boat ramp braced myself to stumble up the ramp but my legs followed suit and went right with me.
I ran up the ramp and directly to the wetsuit strippers. Laid down and I was freed from my wetsuit. I hopped up, through my wetsuit over my arm and I started my long trek to T1. I passed one of the guys from the grouping in front of me as he looked like he was laboring pretty good, which meant I was now in second place as we entered the transition and the changing tents. I quickly dumped everything on the ground stuffed my pockets with all my nutrition and I was out of there. I quickly found my bike and heard the race announcer say that I was 2 minutes back from the leader. No big deal, still a long way to go. I then realized I didn't have my sunglasses. OH NO!! I thought 112 miles in this wind with no glasses - not fun. I wasn't about to turn around and get them or find them. I didn't want to sacrifice any time. I would just have to suffer without them.
Bike: 112 miles
Terrain: Flat to slightly rolling
Winds: 15-20 mph - constant
Temperature: mid 70's
Weather: Overcast with occasional sprinkle
I head out to the course which is like a lollipop where we needed to complete the pop part twice before heading back to transition. As I headed out onto the course we took a road that stretched along Lake Erie and I saw for this first time why they canceled the swim. The wind was whipping so hard off the lake that the waves where probably about 3-4 feet high with white caps rolling in one right after the other. Great decision by Rev3 for moving the swim - Thanks!! So this road turned to the right and we entered my favorite section of the course.
For the first loop of the bike course I only saw one other racer as the number 3 three guy, Todd Shellenberger overtook my 2nd place position. I was cruising around the course anxious to see my family again and they weren't where we had talked about. No worries, they have to be out here somewhere. They'll find me. I kept plugging away and at about mile 30 after a right hand turn and right before a short looper, I saw the K-Krew.
I finished my first loop and as soon as I made the turn for the second loop I hit bike traffic. This race was taking place right along with the Rev3 Half Ironman that started an hour and twenty minutes after us. So this is the traffic I was dealing with now. I was ecstatic! People, other racers, athletes, I didn't care who or what it was, it was just nice to be seeing other people. I stuck to my game plan as I entered the second loop. I tried to stay consistent. I was drinking every 7 minutes sipping my GU Brew and taking water at the aid stations, and was eating about every 20-25 minutes. I ate 3 packs of Fig Newtons, 3 Honey Stinger Waffles, 4 Honey Stinger Gels, and 2 Gu Gels Pineapple. That is a lot for me. By about mile 80 I was ready to get off of my bike. My butt was starting to really get sore and same with my shoulders. Not used to being in the aero bars for so long (my training is usually on hilly courses). I saw the family one more time before I made my way back to Sandusky, after I went through this quaint little town. Pretty cool small town USA with all the American Flags.
I came upon the dismount area and hopped off my bike. I ran to my transition area parked my bike and ran to get my bike to run bag and made my way to the changing tent. I dumped everything out hoping to find my sunglasses but they weren't there among my race shoes and all my running nutrition. I put all my bike stuff back in my bag and asked a volunteer "how far back am I?" He sighed then blew a bunch of air out of his mouth and said, "Probably about 15minutes." His tone came off as if there was no chance for me to catch them. I was up for a challenge and didn't let it discourage me.
Run: 26.2 miles
Terrain: Flat to maybe false flats
Winds: 15-20 mph - constant
Temperature: mid 70's
I made my to the run course. Something that was nice about the run course is that almost all the athletes who were doing the 1/2 Ironman distance were on the course. It was so nice to be able to race and be around other racers. My game plan for the run was to hunt down the leaders and give myself the best opportunity to be in the mix at the end of the race. How I was going to do that was first encourage all the athletes I passed on the course to keep up the great work- they were doing awesome and I wanted them to keep pushing for that finish line. I figured if I did this, by the time I got to my second loop, they would hopefully share the love by encouraging me when I needed it the most. I always love being a part of a supportive atmosphere, where all of us as athletes support one another. That is huge when times get tough. Secondly I wanted to stay strong and try to keep a consistent pace throughout the run portion.
As I headed out on the first mile, my legs felt fresh. I guess I biked alright but time would tell as the race unfolds. I hit the first mile marker and was running a 6:30 pace felt good but knew I wouldn't be able to maintain that so I slowed it down. By the time I came up on the 2nd mile marker I slowed it to a 7:00 minute mile pace. I decided to not look at my watch again till the halfway point. The run loop had 3 out and backs in it so I knew I would be able to see the leaders numerous times on the course. This was huge, I could keep tabs on the leaders often.
As I pushed and stayed comfortable for the next few miles, going through some parks, some really nice areas, I kept to my plan and encouraged everyone I saw. I was always thanked and sometimes got huge smiles of appreciation. I knew what they were going through. When you're near the end of a race, it is so helpful to have a supportive atmosphere out there and those "you got this" and "you're almost there" always help me so I hope I helped others too.
I made my way through all the out and backs saw the family a few more times before I hit the road to go back to the park to start my second loop. By about mile 10 I couldn't hold back anymore and was still feeling good and slowly overtook the lead. Todd and I had a short exchange of words, encouraging each other and wishing each other the best. I kept my pace and was feeling good. I was eating HoneyStinger Energy Shots, drinking water, dumping ice. I turned left down the road back to the amusement park which was tough. You could see the park right when you make that left but it is still 2 miles away. Tough to take, not to mention the stiff wind that was still blowing hard.
I hit the turn around point and was off for lap number two. As I curled back around I gave Todd a high five and told him to keep up the great work. He was close (maybe a minute and a half) and looking very comfortable. I took my special needs bag and stuffed my pockets with some more nutrition. I wasn't saying much of anything anymore and was relying heavily that the athletes, volunteers, and spectators on the course would send me some energy. My stomach was really starting to change its tune now. I knew this wasn't good. I still had about 10 miles to go and it felt like my stomach was inside out, upside down and in a knot. At the same time I was so hungry I was nauseous. I decided to take a banana because I knew I needed something. I milked that banana for about 3 miles. I mushed that banana up in my hand and basically drank that thing. Not the most pleasant thing - drinking a warm banana, not a fan. At some different points I was able to check my lead and it was increasing, slowly but the gap was getting larger.
As I head into the park the 1/2 ironman triathletes were starting to dwindle and the course was being overtaken by the full triathletes, most of whom were still on their first lap. I made a turn to head up the first out and back and I saw nobody and I mean NOBODY!! Not a single sole other than me, my bike escort and a couple of park goers that probably had no idea of the pain that was being felt by most of the competitors coming through. As I made this turn I remembered something a good friend of mine said before I raced. She said, "remember this is a celebration of all the hard work you have put in through out the year to get you to this place." I was like I am ready to celebrate but where is everybody else. I began to smile and chuckle a bit, which was good, as I came up to mile 18-20, probably the toughest miles of the Ironman distance race, as you can see by my expressions in the pictures below.
A link to me crossing the line: www.youtube.com-Rev3Overall-crossingline
Here is a link to my post race interview: www.youtube.com-Rev3overallfinisher
I want to thank Fitness Central for always having my bike primed and ready to go. Best Bike Shop Ever!! Thanks to PX Triathlon, Walabax Construction Services, PopEye 21, GU Energy Labs, Honey Stinger, Saltstick, Bridgeton Group, and REEBCO, LLC. I truly appreciate all the support you all have given me this season so far.