I’ve never heard anything but good about the REV3 Triathlon events. So last year when I was planning my 2016 triathlon schedule, I added the REV3 Cedar Point 70.3 to my roster. I figured it would be a great event for me & a fun trip for the kiddos. Each race entry comes with a free park pass for the weekend for the athlete & then a voucher for a $45 weekend pass for each family member/friend who accompanies you on the trip. Win, win!
Rev3 is notorious for putting on a series of events to include the entire family. This weekend at Cedar Point they did a Sprint & kids triathlon on Saturday, then a full & half iron distance triathlon & a GLO run on Sunday. All events, plus the expo started in the Cedar Point parking lot in front of the park. The expo was small. Packet pick up was smooth. The race meeting was informative. Then off to the park with my munchkins.
Saturday was extremely windy. Thankfully they waived the mandatory bike check for the full & half athletes. I was seriously concerned that my bike would blow away overnight. It was difficult to roll my bike thru the parking lot on SAT, I wasn’t sure how to anchor it in transition. Fortunately, I didn’t have to worry about it. But then I had my bike in a hotel room full kids. Made things a bit tight but they rolled with it. However, getting it back to transition on SUN morning wasn’t fun. We were told that the best way to get to transition was down the beach from the hotel. I didn’t realize that the boardwalk ended shortly after the hotel and that I’d really be hiking the beach …. with my bike …. and all my gear.
Due to that famous wind, the swim start had been moved from Lake Erie (in front of the Breakers Hotel) to the Cedar Point Marina. I wasn’t really sure why. The water looked calm to me. I mean, honestly, I’ve been swimming in Lake Michigan all summer. I’ve raced every event except Cedar Point sans wetsuit. Lake Erie was calm. Rev3 said they couldn’t’ secure the buoys in Lake Erie without them floating off to Canada. Pic from the Breakers Hotel of Lake Erie on race morning (courtesy of David Standley).
So the Marina swim it was and the water there was very calm and very warm. I would hazard a guess that the water was too warm for wetsuits BUT I race mostly Ironman events which has a lower water temp limit (76.1 degrees) verses non IM branded events who use the USAT limit of 78 degrees. Regardless, I was warm. Pic of the marina water by Jill Kromer.
The swim venue change also changed the start. Instead of a wave start, it was a self seeded rolling start. I was pretty sure I would swim around 50 minutes. So I seeded myself around people who were thinking the same. I was a bit nervous about the new swim. Not because of the swim itself but because I couldn’t see all the buoys. It was a blind swim to the right toward a narrow channel in the marina. One side of the channel was docks & big fancy boats. The other side a rock wall. I had no idea how far we had to swim in that channel. No idea how many buoys were on course. No idea when I hit half way. And honestly, I didn’t even know where our swim stopped. I just followed the crowd, buoy to buoy. They did have orange turn buoys so that was good. And then once I got toward the end, I saw a red buoy that was our stopping point. First half of the swim was great. I was swimming well. My back wasn’t bothering me. I felt strong. I was passing people. But I was really warm and started overheating. At some point on the back side of the course, possibly around half way, I felt a wave of water enter my wetsuit. Strange sensation but it had a cooling effect. I couldn’t really figure out what was happening but water kept coming in and was actually ballooning in my wetsuit, I could even see it ballooning in the sleeves as my arms would come out of the water for each stroke. I was also slowing down although I wasn’t sure why I was slowing. I felt good. I was calm. I was sighting well enough. Oh well, just keep swimming, right? Once I stood up to exit the water & reached for the cord on my wetsuit, I realized why I was so slow on the back half and why I had so much water in my suit. It was unzipped. All the way down to my hips. We had zipped it up when I started but it must have come loose. Swim split: 50:47
Rev3 had wetsuit strippers who helped us out of our suits (and me off the ground when I couldn’t get up). Nice touch. Then we had a half mile run back to transition with our wetsuit, goggles & swim cap. Fortunately, some Rev3 Cedar Point alums warned us about this possibility and I had a pair of extra shoes to put near the swim start. Yes, there was a whole staging for shoes, by race numbers, at the swim venue.
Onto the bike. This was the part for which I was most nervous. If you read the last post, you know that I haven’t trained much in the last month. My bike has been broken on & off all summer but Felt finally sent new shifters and the bike was ready to roll. But my body wasn’t ready. Long story short, I’ve been going to physical therapy for my back. They believe that I have at least one disc that is bulging from the front and the back of my spine. So instead of a circular disc, they think it is now oblong, like an oval. Then to make things extra fun, its pressing on some nerves & causing issues with my legs, lack of power on the bike, etc. I’m sentenced to 6 weeks of therapy before insurance will pay for the MRI, then after that, I can see a pain specialist for injections to reduce whatever is left of the swelling/pain. For now, I live with it. Rev3 was my last ride of the season & I’m not allowed to ride or swim til we get this all figured out.
First 5 miles on the bike away from Cedar Point was rough. Bad road. Nobody will admit to owning it so Rev3 can’t find anyone to repave it. Same route for the last 5 miles. Most of the first half of the ride was with the wind. I was moving pretty well. Got loose a couple times in the wind & actually thought it would sweep me away at the bottom of one hill where there was an opening in the trees on both sides of the road. Good news, I didn’t crash. Lots of turns in the course. As soon I got moving pretty well, then I had to brake & turn but that worked out when the wind was really bad on the back half. Some hills but not horrible. Not much spectator support but lots of awesome volunteers & the police did an excellent job of keeping the road clear for us. Last half of the course was significantly slower, back into the wind, plus I had some serious knee pain which is related to my back issues but still irritating. 3:21:15 bike split. I believe there were 4 aid stations on the bike. That’s one more than most IM 70.3 courses, if you’re counting.
Time to run. I had Biofreeze in transition. Slathered some on the aching knee. Slathered more on my aching back. Off to run. I realized quickly that it was going to be a “long” run. I saw people running back to the finish and I was just getting started. That felt a bit defeating. I normally just focus on my race but there wasn’t a lot going on and it kinda felt like a training run. Not a lot of spectators out on course. The highlight was definitely the aid stations positioned at every mile. Such awesome volunteers. Aid stations were stocked with gels, power bars, powerade, bananas, coke, water & ice. One even had broth. I utilized the ice a lot and dumped some down the back of my tri kit at every aid station. Between the biofreeze & the ice, I was numbed out and just focused on one foot in front of the other. I thought overall the run course was cool. They ran us over the Cedar Point causeway, into town & back toward the water where we got to go thru a couple other marinas that had walking paths, bridges & one even had a swimming pool. We could even see Cedar Point across the water. The course did get a bit confusing for those of us on our first loop. The course wasn’t a full double loop but there was one section that had a double loop. I could see varying distances signs for the full and half that didn’t make sense. As soon as I finished the first loop, I was okay. The course was extremely well marked and there were volunteers helping direct runners. No confusion on where to go, just a bit of doubt initially that I had messed something up due to the signage. I won’t lie, turning away from the marinas & heading back toward town and the finish line made me one happy lady. I was ready to be done. I was ready to be reunited with my family. I just wanted to finish. Run split: 2:21. Finish 6:43.
Swag bag is below & included a personalized note in each bag. A full sized towel from Gatorade. Rev3 Cedar Point visor. Gender specific tee.
So, I know a lot of you are thinking about your first 70.3. I get asked over and over again, Ironman or “off brand” triathlon for the first 70.3? The bottom line is that if we don’t do these off brand races, they just won’t be available in the future. In case you haven’t noticed, Ironman (World Triathlon Corp) is trying to buy up as many triathlon companies as possible. The non IM branded races are cheaper. Smaller. Less competitive. They are family focused & will most likely let you run down the finishers shoot with your kids, baby, dog or hubby. They will bend over backwards to make sure your race is as good as they can make it. And your fellow competitors will be there for their own reason, which probably won’t include attempting to qualify for the 70.3 Championships or up their position to All World Athlete status. If they bump you on the swim, they will probably apologize verses pushing you harder under the water so they can swim over the top of you. It just a different feel at these events vs an IM event. Way more relaxed. They try to personalize the experience for you. When I crossed the finish line on Sunday, the Rev3 announcer said my name, told everyone that I blog at TooTallFritz.com, that I’m a Marathon Maniac & that I’m currently attempting to run a marathon in every state. I would get lucky if my name were even announced at an IM 70.3 event. That being said, there would be people to cheer my down the shoot & along the course in an IM event and at Rev3, it was pretty lonely. I’m pretty sure Rev3 had more volunteers than actual participants and spectator support was virtually non-existent.
What do you get for your extra $$ at an IM event? Consistency. Accurate distances on the swim, bike & run. Accurate info in the Athlete Packet for race meetings, transition opening/closing. Larger group of competitors. Spectators. A community that is “all in” to support the race. Finisher swag. Free athlete tracking. World class venue. Large expo. Insurance for the race registration in the event you are injured prior to the race, plus insurance on race day to cover any issues on course that may require emergency care. Numbered swim buoys: the first half yellow, the second half orange. Ironman is like the fortune 500 company that is well polished & sparkling. Off brand races are like the mom & pop business. What’s right for you is really about what YOU want out of a race experience. I go both ways depending on the day. I was on edge all weekend with Rev3. Partially because I was rushed getting there with it being Cross Country & Soccer season for the kids. Both had meets/games on SAT before we could leave. I felt like crap with my back. It hurts to do the very basic things like sit, drive, bend over …… so I’m CRABBY and trying to pretend like I’m “fine”. Then I felt pulled between being with the kids at the park & doing what I needed to do for me & my body. The last minute changes that Rev3 had to make then put me further into crabbiness. BUT, nobody swam over me, ran over me or even bumped me at all during the race. And let’s just say my body couldn’t take anymore jostling. I was in the right spot with Rev3 this weekend and applaud their willingness to make last minute changes to keep the racers as safe as possible. I just wish I felt better and could have enjoyed it a bit more.
Rev3 offered a great race at a great venue. Great fun for the entire family. I hope that you give them a “TRI’.
** Cheers – Amanda – TooTallFritz **