Sad but true. My Great Lake Escape experience last Sunday had a lot to do with spending too much time in the transition area. Without a question the course at this race is one of my favorites ever, even when it’s pouring down rain. Somehow every time this race pushes my limits farther than I ever thought possible. Not because the course is changed every year but because the weather has been very different the last three years I found my way to Lakeside Marblehead to take on this race. The first year it was a picture perfect day with sunshine and clear skies, last year the wind and the cold made for a duathlon instead of the planned race, and this year we had some heavy downpours we had to deal with. All things considered I am VERY LUCKY to have the chance to race so I am going at it regardless of the conditions out there.
This year, Mrs. Clot Buster and I decided to give camping a try before the race. We went up to Lakeside Marblehead on Friday night and met up with our friends Sara and Donovan at the East Harbor State Park and started our camping experience. We had a good time hanging out Friday night and all day Saturday. We explored a great deal of the park both on land and water. We brought our kayaks along and we spend a number of hours out in the water just paddling around. Liz had a rough start to the paddling experience when she turned over her kayak but thanks to Donovan’s help we were able to get her back above water and let her continue with our exploration. Sara and Donovan were the brave ones on Saturday as they fought their way through the access channel (they had to contend with some heavy boat traffic that day) to reach the waters of Lake Erie. They were rewarded for their efforts with a serious pre-race Clot Buster style dinner and of course a well deserved s’mores dessert. I even had my share of dessert by the campfire, I could not resist!
So, with my stomach full and a light rain falling off and on I packed in. At around 2:30 in the AM the rain beating down on the tent woke me up along with Liz. It was really coming down and I thought to myself that in these conditions I would not race. I just did not think it was worth my while to put myself through this. After falling back to sleep my alarm went off and to my surprise it was not raining so it was time to go. Sleeping on the ground made me a little stiff but I was able to get my act together and ride my bike to the transition area without waking too many of my fellow campers. But as soon as I got to transition the skies opened up and it did not stop until the next day… Luckily I has some trash bags with me so I was able to keep most of my gear relatively dry under the circumstances.
Once in the water you only have one choice, swim to shore. That of course if you can figure out which way shore is. All of us were aiming for the white beach house between rock piles 1 and 2 from the left. Well, good luck with that! If you have the misfortune to time your sighting when you are the bottom of the waves you are not going to see much other than water and sky. I wish that I could have a video recorded from above me so that I could see my “true” route on this swim. So, after a 28:38 split I was finally touching bottom and running towards transition on the knee deep water that lead us towards the beach. Here is where I started my championship fight with my wetsuit in route to an ALL TIME SLOW 3:13 T1!
As I was attempting to get out of my suit I could hear Liz’s encouragement turn into concern and wonder, what is taking him so long she asks Sara and Donovan. Before I continue I need to give Liz, Sara, and Donovan A HUGE THANKS for their support during this race. They were out there enduring the down pour from the start and I CANNOT THANK YOU ENOUGH for words of encouragement and the cheering. I can’t say much when I am flying by but I DO APPRECIATE IT very much! Same goes to all the volunteers who probably are still drying off from all the rain THANK YOU!
Yes, usually my transition times are well under 1:30 if not under 1 minute but during the race I was going for a world record in slowness. Finally, after much struggle I get on my machine and head out telling my self to watch my turns because in this rain anything can happen. Although the rain was coming down I was able to be as aggressive as possible. All together, the bike split came out to be 1:12:06 but once again I had to go into transition. After spending the time on the bike my fingers and arms were more less locked in place and I could not move them fast enough. So, once again this transition time came to be one of my slowest ever clocking at 2:23. It was frustrating not be able to put on my running shoes. So, after a grand total of 5 minutes 36 seconds worth of transition times I had to go on the run.
I never know what to expect from this run course. It is a lot of fun because of the different terrain. Amazing enough my legs felt good and I was able to keep a faster than normal pace for this course and I clocked the 10K distance in 47:46 which is more than a 2 minute improvement from my previous results on this very same course.
Coming across the finish line on this particular day was a great experience. All of us who were out there under those conditions will have some fond memories of this race. So a time of 2:34:06 was good enough for 28th place overall and 7th in my age group. The results would have been different if my time in the transition was to be shorter. I guess that is something I will need to improve upon next year.
As the mercury around these parts is reaching for new heights our tent and the rest of our gear are finally drying.
Hard to believe that I COMPLETED my 300 Miles of racing for the year. It is been a blast having the opportunity to do it and tell you about it as well. The polka-dot colors have been everywhere this season spreading the word about NATT and looking to raise funds. Please consider matching a donation to the total number of miles I raced this summer so that together we could help NATT. A nickel, dime, or a quarter per mile can go a long way as we continue our work to spread the word about blood clots and blood clotting disorders. Please think about it! If you decide to participate, please make checks payable to “NATT” and let me know so that I can tell you my mailing address.
Well, what to do next? There is one race in Akron coming up in September that I would like to do. In many ways, I want to improve my transitions times. More less I have a thorn on my side that I need to get out.
Thank you for reading,
The Clot Buster