Race Review: Lighthouse Triathlon (Fairport Harbor) 2018

I signed up for the Lighthouse Triathlon in Fairport Harbor about a week before it. I’ve been wanting to do this race for a few years now, but I always seem to have something else the same day. This year I was able to swing it, plus it was one of the club races for Cleveland Triathlon Club.

Fairport Harbor earlier in the summer on a clear morning.

We ended up going out the night before on Saturday and I was actively watching the weather for race morning. It looked very likely to be raining when I woke up on Sunday. I figured since it was only $40 and since it was only a sprint, that if it was raining when I woke up then I would cut my loses and just skip the race. We were out until 1AM on Saturday night and when I fell asleep I figured I was more than likely skipping the race…

When I woke up at 5AM on Sunday it was 70 degrees and dry. I was a bit groggy, but I knew I would feel guilty if it wasn’t raining and I didn’t go. I had nothing packed, but got myself together enough to arrive at the beach around 6:45AM. The race was scheduled to start at 8AM. I hadn’t planned to wear my wet suit, but at the last second I grabbed it in case the water was cold due to the rain.

This is what your car looks like when you DON’T pack for a triathlon the night before and you throw everything together and hope for the best.

When I got to the beach it instantly started raining. Of course.

I tried to plaster a smile to my face and gave myself a pep talk. I was already there, no turning back now, so I made my way to packet pickup. This is such a low key triathlon that there was no body marking, nor were there numbers attached to your transition spot — it was basically first come first serve. The ankle timing chips were made out of plastic and I think I spotted only two porta-potties. It was fine though since registration was so cheap.

It started raining pretty heavily and my gear was instantly soaked in transition. I had a few plastic bags with me, which offered some assistance but not much. I was silently thanking myself for grabbing my wet suit because the wind and rain made the water quite choppy. I watched the waves nervously from shore during the pre-race briefing.

It was an age group start and my wave was at 8:15AM. We started in the water, which was pretty cold. I was racing with one of my triathlon friends, Kara, who had done this race numerous times before. She told me that because this race is really newbie friendly — which is great let me add — it just tends to make it a little more difficult for people who know what they are doing. (I.E. slow swimmers who don’t seed correctly, blocking and drafting on the bike, not getting over on the run, not setting up transition correctly, etc.) Kara told me to expect stuff like this all day, which I was thankful for because throughout the race I tried to have more patience for the athletes I saw committing these “crimes”. (This race also has a kayak option for newbies or people who want to compete but don’t want to swim.)

Got to race with my friend Kara for the first time this season!

The Swim: 12:56
The gun went off for the swim and right away I found myself in the middle of combat. In the five years I have been doing triathlon this was one of the most panic inducing swims! Newbie athletes thrashed about, hitting, kicking and pulling. No one was sighting correctly and zigged and zagged all over. Numerous swimmers were just treading water in the way. At one point I even heard a scream! It was a down and back course and when swimmers ahead of me made the turn around a buoy, they started swimming into the direction they just were and head on into other swimmers. It was mayhem. At one point I felt panic rising in my own chest as I was getting pulled down and swam over. I fought with myself  to get it under control because it was only going to be 10 minutes. I swam a little off course to be more by myself and things seemed to calm down a bit. Finally I could see the swim finish and I was relieved to hit the sand, even though it was still raining when I got out of the water.

The Bike: 45:02
I couldn’t believe that a sprint triathlon bike was only 12 miles. (I hadn’t raced a sprint distance since 2015!) It felt like nothing. By the time I got warmed up it was over. It rained off and on during the bike, but it was a flat and fast course that I had ridden before. A couple times I found myself shouting (nicely) at bikers who were riding side by side or down the very middle of the road — making it difficult or impossible to pass. There is one big hill at the very beginning and end of both the bike and run and it was very slippery because of the rain. On the way back in from the bike I could see and feel my tires slipping on the road. It was nerve wrecking!

A picture of me biking NOT in the rain.

The Run: 28:45 
By the time I reached the run I was pretty cold and I didn’t feel like running. I told myself to suck it up because it was only 3.1 miles. We ran another familiar route that I had run before. I saw a bunch of other members of Cleveland Triathlon Club and we all cheered for each other, which added some excitement. The finish line was small and uneventful but I expected it. It has been well over a year since I haven’t raced an Ironman or bigger event and I was used to pretty epic finishes. I almost forgot what these smaller races were like!

Overall: 1 hour 26 minutes
In general I feel like I would have enjoyed this race a lot more had it not been cold and raining. I also wish I had gotten a little more sleep the night before to push harder. I was happy to see teammates from Cleveland Tri Club, but happier to go home and take a warm shower. This race is an excellent newbie friendly triathlon and I will be recommending it to those looking to get into the sport!

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Milton Man Triathlon 2015 Review

This weekend was the Milton Man Triathlon in Lake Milton, Ohio. Per usual Northeast Ohio weather, of course it was cold and rainy (my nightmare race weather). I’m not glad it happened, but I’m relieved I finally experienced racing in terrible weather and was forced out of my comfort zone. At one point, standing on the dock shivering, I told myself that I didn’t have to do it. That I could walk away, pack up my stuff and go home. Luckily I didn’t quit, but the thought crossed my mind, especially because I was only one of a few people without a wet suit on. (Note to self – suck it up and buy a damn wetsuit already!)

MM3Sprint female was the last group to go (of course) and as we all stood there in the rain waiting for our turn, the wind really picked up. Soon the waves were blowing and the buoys were all over the place. A little part of me was even hoping for them to cancel the swim as we were waiting.

I was miserably cold and just standing there in the pouring rain. I saw a tree and ran over to stand underneath it to try to keep warm and dry (since we had 40 minutes to wait for our wave to go). The nicest lady came over to me and held her umbrella out for me. “If I’m cold I know you are even colder.” She said to me. Another lady joined us and we all three just stood there for about half an hour chatting and trying to keep warm under her umbrella. Eventually my saint, as I like to call her, went to go watch her husband come out of the water from the swim. I stood there in the pouring rain again for another 10 minutes and chatted with some other Cleveland Tri members. It was so insanely cold and I was really starting to freak out. I kept trying to take deep breaths and calm myself, but with a shivering spine and legs I found it nearly impossible.

Finally it was our turn to head out onto the dock and it felt good to just walk and go somewhere. We had three minutes to all jump in the water and get ourselves situated. This was a lot easier than I had anxiously anticipated. There was plenty of room and the water seriously felt like a hot tub compared to being out in the rain just standing there. My goggles were on top of my head and I put them down and swam around a little. Finally the horn blew and we were off.

MM2The Swim
The swim felt like it took forever. I was frustrated when my Garmin didn’t connect and I missed starting it with the horn. I decided I would just swim by how I felt. At the halfway point I was annoyed at how long it was taking. I silently thanked myself for still doing sprint distances as we only had to swim one lap. I was tired and a little flustered during the swim. I tried drafting off another swimmer like we had covered in a swim clinic I had attended earlier in the week, but I wasn’t sure if I was doing it right. I felt like I was just swimming annoyingly close to the other swimmer. Coming out of the water, we went up a little ramp and I struggled a little to climb up since I was tired and it was slippery and wet.

MM4The Bike
This course was 16 miles compared with a normal sprint bike distance of 13 miles. I was kind of disappointed by this since I wouldn’t be able to compare it with my other races since the distances would be different. I heard the course was fast and flat and I was happy to find that it was. Sprinters did two loops and Olympic did three. It cleared up a little on the bike, but was still fairly cold and everything was wet. About half way through the bike course my eyes started to burn and itch. They felt tender and crusty and my vision seemed to be focusing in and out. I tried to ignore it, but I didn’t know what was wrong. I thought maybe I lost or ripped a contact in the swim or maybe the sand had irritated my eyes somehow. I kept going and tried to ignore it.

The Run
I was dreading the run since I had only done one brick workout in the past month since my last race. Surprisingly it went well though and I finished in 25 minutes. (My 5K PR is 24 minutes so this is actually really good for me.) The run course was beautiful and I wished it would have been warm and sunny. You ran out over a bridge overlooking the water. It was very scenic and had a beach atmosphere. It was a down and back course and I felt like it wasn’t that hard, in fact I actually enjoyed it compared to my last race. The finish line was a straight shot in the grass and there was mud and puddles everywhere. I cringed as I ran through the mud in my brand new Brooks, but I told myself to shut up and suck it up. By the time I finished the run my eyes were on fire. I could barely see and I was convinced I had lost a contact and the lake water had irritated my eye.

MM1I was on a tight time crunch as I had to be at a bridal shower for one of my best friends at 1PM that day, so I basically power walked back to transition to pack up my things and leave as soon as I was done. When I got to the car I looked in the mirror and my eyes were both blood red. I racked my brain trying to think what it could have been and then it hit me. While waiting the 40 minutes for my wave to start, I sprayed “no fog” spray on my goggles. You are supposed to let it sit for about a minute and then wash it off, but since it was a dock start and I didn’t have direct access to the water I never washed them off before putting them on my face. You would think something that was purposely intended to go near your eyes wouldn’t be so harsh if used incorrectly, but that was it and man did it hurt! My eyes were blood shot at the shower and pink at work on Monday. When the fiancé saw me on Sunday evening he immediately ran up to hug me and asked me what was wrong since it looked like I had been crying since my eyes were so red!

MM5Overall the race was good and I’m glad I did it, but obviously I could have done without the bad weather and the stinging eye pain. I’m relieved I finally swam in scary conditions, although I’m sure some triathletes would laugh at me calling this race scary compared to some of the other swim stories I’ve heard! I was happy to talk to so many Cleveland Tri club members at this race too (one of the main reasons I wanted to do it). Having only been involved in the club the past few months I wanted to get out there and participate, plus I need to get a lot more triathlons under my belt.

Next up is (supposedly) the Cleveland Triathlon Olympic distance on July 26. I say “supposedly” because I haven’t actually signed up yet. I really believe with all my training and having done 4 sprint distances I can now do the Olympic, it’s just scary to think about and commit to. I need to sign up soon though as prices increase any day! Stay tuned for more information on that. The good news is I might be buying a used wet suit off another Cleveland Tri club member this week, so that should help calm my nerves for more open water swims.

On the training schedule for this week:
Monday – PM 5 miles
Tuesday – AM run 3.5 miles and 1/2 mile swim
Wednesday – Cleveland Tri Club brick workout (19 mile ride + 2-3 mile run)
Thursday – Stairmill at my work gym on lunch
Friday – No work so planning a long workout in the early AM (I can’t decide over a long bike ride, a long brick, or a long run)
Saturday – AM 5 miles
Sunday – Rest