Deer Creek Fall Challenge Triathlon Race Report

I believe it was Aristotle that said “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. That saying is definitely true for this race.
This was my second “destination race” of the 2013 season. The first was Rev3 Knoxville, which you can read about here. That trip was fun for the family, but it literally rained for two straight days…so it could have been better. This trip up to central Ohio was full of “what else could go wrong” moments, similar to watching a National Lampoons Vacation movie!

It never got quite this bad…

If you follow my blog, you know that after the Tri For Sight race a few weeks ago, I had planned on packing it up for the season. I heard about this race from a friend of mine and with the goal of racing the 2014 Age Group National Championship, I still needed a race to qualify. I mentioned this race to my wife on Monday or Tuesday of last week and she said that I should look into it. So I checked it out and it looked like a race that was well organized and in a fun location, so we pulled the trigger. We registered for the race and booked a hotel on Tuesday afternoon.
The race takes place at Deer Creek State Park. The park/lake is about 45 minutes southwest of Columbus, Ohio. So the drive from Louisville is a little over 3 hours, straight up I-71. Of course, with three kids you have to allot for some extra stops on the way. We left Saturday around lunch time and made it to the race site for packet pick-up around 4:30pm. I was really impressed with the set-up. The transition area was set up with three rows of racks for the bikes and was well labeled with large inflatable arches at the entrance and exit. The swim buoys were already in place on the lake, so I was able to scout things out.
The closest town to the race is a little, and I mean little, town called Washington Court House. The town name is Washington Court House. Is it just me or is that a weird name? Why not just call it Washington? Anyway, it’s about 20-25 minutes from the park. So after I got my race packet, we headed down to our hotel. Of course, as I try to take the most direct route to the hotel, out of nowhere the road I’m on ends. They are repairing the road and literally have a sign saying “Road Closed”. The road just stops with no previous warning. So I had to turn around and backtrack about 10 miles to find another way. Corn field after corn field. Small farm houses and literally nothing else for as far as you can see.
Finally around 5:30, we made it to Washington Court House. With very few choices of places to stay, we settled on a non-chain place because they had adjoining rooms available. We planned to put the two older kids in one room and we would stay in the other with the baby. So we make it to the hotel and are immediately concerned because there is only one other car in the parking lot. We get checked in and are thrilled to open the door to the first room and be smacked in the face by the smell of stale urine. The AC wasn’t on either and it was hot and nasty. The second room was in better shape. So we turned on our diffuser and pumped some essential oils into the air while we headed off to find some dinner.
Small towns have two options for food. Fast food or Mom and Pop restaurants. We opted for the local “steak house”. Prime Rib special was only $16.99 (includes salad bar)! So we got the 8 ouncer and the kids got cheeseburgers. I lost my appetite when the meat showed up. It was probably 60% fat. I poked around it a little bit and decided that it would not be in my best interest to eat all of this the night before a race. So I just ate my green beans and some of the meat. The kids refused to eat their burgers and settled on some applesauce from the salad bar. This was the worst $50 meal we’ve ever had…by far!
After dinner, I dropped Momma and baby off at the hotel and the older kids and I ventured out to find a park to play for a while. I actually found a really great park. Twisty slides, see-saws, tire swings, rock walls, it was pretty awesome. They needed to get some energy out and this was the perfect place. Our two year old dropped a deuce in the diaper after we had been there a few minutes and since all of the diapers and wipes were back at the hotel, I decided to just let him play. Result? Horrible case of diaper rash. Parenting failure.So I had to make a run out to CVS to get some diaper cream.
Everyone finally got to sleep around 9:45pm. The urine smell was just about gone, so we settled in for a night of sleep on the lumpy beds.
I woke up around 5:45am and get myself ready before waking the kids up. We needed to be out the door at 7:00am to make it to the race site on time. My wave started at 8:50am, but transition closed at 8:30am. Jessica grabbed herself and the kids some items from the continental breakfast in the lobby and we were loading up. After strapping my son into his car seat I noticed some drool coming out of his mouth, which is unusual for a two-and-a-half year old. He had a distressed look on his face. I immediately thought that he was choking on something. So I did a finger sweep of his mouth – nothing there. Then he proceeded to vomit all over himself and the car seat.
We got him cleaned up and I wiped off the car seat as good as I could. He was acting normal, so we decided to head on to the race.
Despite the little incident at the hotel, we still managed to get there in plenty of time. I set up everything in transition, got body marked, and we headed to the port-o-pot line. Having only 5 port-o-pots for over 560 athletes and their families is unacceptable. The line was at least 100 people long and was moving slowly. We managed to get through the line and down to the swim start a few minutes before my wave.
I pulled my wetsuit on and jumped in the water for a quick warm-up. The water was probably in the high 60’s, so I didn’t really NEED the wetsuit. But since it was only a sprint, I wasn’t worried about overheating. The swim was a beach start – which I was really excited about. I had never done a beach start before. My wave consisted of about 50 people (Males age 39 and under and Elites). I positioned myself right on the front row, edge of the water. I knew I wasn’t the fastest swimmer, but I also knew I didn’t want to get caught up in the craziness that would take place heading for that first buoy. So when the horn sounded, I ran into the water and started doing some dolphin dives. I’ve never practiced them, so I’m not sure how I looked, but it got me out into the deep water quickly. I was punched a few times and had my goggles hit once in the first 50 meters, but after reaching the buoy and turning to swim parallel to the shore, things thinned out. I went out very hard and was with the leaders for the first 100 or so. Then I couldn’t keep up, but I kept them in sight. The swim was a 750 meter rectangular course. I was kind of in no-mans land for most of it, caught between the really fast swimmers and the rest of the age groupers. I exited the water about 45-60 seconds behind the lead pack. The swim time includes the run up from the beach to the transition area. Which is about 200 yards of uphill grass. Not exactly a fun place to attempt to get out of a wetsuit.

750 Meter Swim
14:39 (1:57/100m pace)
3rd out of 10 in my Age Group
18th out of 171 Overall 

Running up the hill from the lake to T1

T1 wasn’t bad considering I haven’t practiced getting out of my wetsuit in several months. It took me a few tries to get my feet out, but not more than a few seconds were lost. I put on socks and my helmet and headed out.

2nd out of 10 in my Age Group
21st out of 171 Overall

As soon as I mounted my bike I felt a thud, thud, thud from my back tire. A flat?!? I pulled off to the side and unclipped my shoe. I check my back tire and it still had pressure. I lifted my bike up and spun the tire. There was just a piece of sticky plastic stuck to the tire. I flicked it off and got back on. I was relieved that it wasn’t a flat. I’m pretty fast at changing a flat now, but a few minutes of time is a killer in a sprint. So I got settled in and started riding hard. I had looked at the course map, but I honestly had no idea where I was going. Even with four different races going on, the course was well marked and I had no problems. There were two stretches where the road turned to packed gravel. It was a rough ride and there was also lots of loose gravel in sections. I really had to slow down on the turns to play it safe. I pushed the bike hard (as I always do in a Sprint) with no regard for power or heart rate. It’s basically red-line for the entire 20K. There were a few rolling hills over the last few miles that forced me to stand, but other than that, it was big chain ring and aero position the whole ride.

20K bike
35:01 (21.3 mph)
Nominal Power = 248W
2nd out of 10 in my Age Group
9th out of 171 Overall

As I rolled back into the park entrance, I pulled my feet out of my shoes preparing to dismount. I made the final turn and thought that transition was only a few feet away. I had already taken my right foot off of the shoe by the time I realized that I would need to pedal a few more times to make it to transition. I started to pedal and then realized that my shoe had already flipped over and was upside down on my pedal. This is kind of hard to explain unless you’ve had it happen, but when I went to pedal, my shoe hit the ground and went flying off my bike. I managed to keep control of my bike and rode into T2 with only one of my two bike shoes.
I racked my bike, took off my helmet and slipped on my shoes. I started to run out of transition and then realized that I was heading toward the wrong exit. I had to run all the way around the bike racks and back down to the other end to get to the run exit. So I lost another few seconds running around in transition.
2nd out of 10 in my Age Group
20th out of 171 Overall

As I started the run, I went past Jessica and the kids. It’s always cool to have them at races. I love to see the look on their faces as we lock eyes when I run or ride by. As I ran past I yelled to Jessica that I had lost a shoe. She of course immediately looked down at my feet. So I then realized that I needed to clarify that I had lost a bike shoe. I was hoping that she would be able to find it (which she did). I knew pretty early into the 5K run that my legs were not feeling it. During the Tri for Sight two weeks ago, my legs felt strong as I started the run and I was able to get faster as I ran. This was not the case on Sunday. They felt heavy and I was struggling to hold my pace under 7 minute miles. My breathing was very labored and I was constantly looking at my watch trying to force myself to run harder than I wanted to. The course starts on the road and then cuts over onto some grass as runners cross the dam. It was a cool view, but I wasn’t able to enjoy it. I made the turnaround and then just started telling myself that it was only a little over a mile and a half. Then it was just a mile, then just half a mile, etc. I felt the urge to vomit as I sprinted the last quarter mile. I was frustrated that my run split had fallen off so much in just two weeks time. I was hoping that it was still good enough for a top 2 finish in my Age Group – which was the goal.

5K Run
20:57 (6:45/mile pace)
4th out of 10 in my Age Group
7th out of 171 Overall 

The family was waiting for me at the finish line and were enjoying some of the post-race snacks. The organizers had a trailer set up with several TV screens that were scrolling live results. I had a feeling that my poor run had cost me. I ventured over to the monitors and waited for the Sprint Race results to scroll by. I was pleased to see that I was second in my Age Group!

It’s been a long time since I felt this bad at the finish line
Total Time
2nd out of 10 in my Age Group
5th out of 171 Overall

Overall I’m happy with my race. A podium finish in my Age Group and top 5 Overall are a good way to close things out. I know that my bike and run were better at the race a few weeks ago, but I think my body is trying to tell me to start my offseason and rest! Diminishing results are a good indication of fatigue.

Closest we could get to everyone looking at the camera

I loaded up the car and then I went back and convinced them to give me my plaque so that we didn’t have to wait around for the awards ceremony. We needed to get back to the hotel so I could shower and we could get on the road!
We decided to hit up the good ‘ol Bob Evans because it was about 100 yards from the hotel. We scarfed down some lunch and hit the road to Cincinnati. The plan was to get down to the Newport Aquarium and spend some time there before continuing home.
The drive down I-71 to Cincinnati isn’t tough, but doing it in a constant rain isn’t fun. We were only one exit from the Aquarium and traffic came to a stop. We crawled along and eventually made it to the exit. As we pulled down the ramp into the Aquarium parking garage, I remembered that the stroller was strapped on the top of the truck. As I pulled up to the parking ticket machine, I knew that we were not going to fit in the garage without taking the stroller off. So I had to back up the ramp and pull onto the sidewalk to remove the stroller…in the rain. I squeezed it in the back seat and we finally made it into the Aquarium.
We had a great time and the kids loved it. Sharks, turtles, jelly fish, penguins, tropical fish – all very cool stuff. After the Aquarium, we decided to have dinner at the Mitchell’s Fish Market since it was right next door. Jessica and I were very excited to have some real food after eating some questionable stuff over the last 24 hours. We had ordered our food and the kids were coloring when I looked across the table and saw a look in my son’s eyes…he was about to get sick again. I warned Jessica and she managed to turn his high-chair away from the table just in time. I won’t go into details, but our “good” meal was eaten very quickly as we tried to get him out of there. I gave our server a little extra tip since he had to mop up puke…twice.
We decided to leave the stroller in the back seat instead of taking the time to strap it back to the roof after exiting the parking garage. We only made it one exit down the interstate and poor little guy got sick again. So I got off and found a Target. Jessica went in to try and find some Children’s Anti-nausea medicine and some clothes (he had just gotten sick all over the last clean clothes we had packed for him). While she was inside Target, I was in the parking lot putting the stroller back on the roof, in the rain. We got him changed and got some medicine down him – which he immediately puked back up. We were kicking ourselves for not bringing all of our essential oils with us. We’ve had great luck with them for belly aches and nausea.
With the stroller back on the roof, Jessica was able to ride in the back seat and lean back into the third row to catch puke in a bag the rest of the way home…a very long hour and a half!
We made it home on fumes, but I was not going to stop for gas. By the time we got the kids to bed and I had unloaded the car and attempted to get the smell of vomit out of my truck, it was after 10pm. What a long day and a memorable way to end my 2013 Triathlon Season!

Gear used:
2XU C:2 wetsuit
Aqua Sphere Kayenne goggles
Pearl Izumi Select Tri Suit
Garmin 910XT watch
Argon 18 E-112 Triathlon bike
Bike Javelin aero helmet
Adidas Adizero Adios 2 running shoes

Nutrition used:

  • (1) banana



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