RR: Eagleman 70.3
I've had a shaky several weeks since about a week before
the Columbia tri after having survived several of marathons
and ultras since mid-February and then badly collapsing my
ankle on a rinky-dink little trail run that cause a lot of initial
pain but mainly a lot of swelling and lack of stability after that
point. It set my running and riding back by about 75% and
it kept me from getting many of the key runs and rides I wanted
to get in. All-in-all, I only got in 2 brick workouts other than
the Columbia tri, but at least they were decent ones, a
57 mile ride-8 mile run and a 57 ride- 13 mile run. After
cutting my mileage at everything way back, I was feeling really
good the week before eagleman, so I decided to squeeze in
a training cram session, to rebuild some endurance and get
in some heat acclimation. Ankle swollen like crazy but no
pain at all. Eagleman would be it for me to finish up the first
half of the year with some sinus surgery coming up a few days
later (no exercise at all for around 3 weeks after), so I've got
plenty of forced recovery time coming. During the week leading
up, I was able to get in 67 miles running, 140 biking, and 5
of swimming, including the one 57-13 brick. I knew after that
brick, that I needed more of them, but I'd have to live with what
I've put in the bank. My cycling miles have been sorely lacking
and I'll just have to try make up for them with my running miles
from the season. I haven't been able to get through some major
neck pain issues that I get from long bike rides.
My only eating rule is to cut back on the jalapenos and habaneros,
so I did. For lunch I fired up the grill and had a couple of these
great quasi-healthy red-pepper cheese sausages. Dropped my
daughter at a birthday party, picked up a friend who was racing
as well and headed on the road at about 2 pm.
Very smooth and fast ride to Cambridge gave me enough time to
get through packet pick up, check the bike, put it on the racks and
go for an easy 4 mile run in the heat of the day on the first couple of
miles on the course. I at least felt ready for whatever heat would
come. I then hopped in the choptank river at the race start. Wow,
was it warm! Warmer than my last swim in the supreme sports
club pool, especially in the shower area. At least I didn't see or
feel any nettles. I swam out to the second buoy without my wetsuit
and I had to fight a pretty good current coming back. Ok, I'm now
comfortable with the water. How would it be in the wetsuit? Hopefully
it will be cooler in the morning. Checked into the hotel around 7 or
so and we went to Olive Garden for dinner. Had a great steak
gorgonzola pasta dinner, breadsticks, salad, and about 6 or 7 cokes.
This time, however, I would not overload myself with pasta as I
usually do, so I actually left some in the plate! I did eat all of the
steak - wasn't going to waste that. Of course I had to finish off with
a nice big slab of chocolate tuxedo cheesecake! Got back to the
hotel around 9-9:30 or so and got everything ready for the morning.
Set the alarm for 4:15, giving me 45 minutes for my morning,
pre-race ritual. Hopefully that should get us there by about 5:30
to possibly get a space in the close parking lot. Turned everything
off around 10:15. I was relaxed but I really didn't sleep very well.
I woke around 3:45 and decided just to get up and start getting
ready. Since it was more than 3 hours before my start time of
7:13, I ate a power bar (all I had - from the race packet). We ended
up leaving around 5:10 or so, which put us at the race area at
5:50, just in time to get into the big mob of cars. We would not be
in the close parking lot! At least we didn't have bikes to haul. I set
up my stuff - somewhat lucky to have an end spot on the rack (although
not on the convenient end). I was set up right near DC mayor Fenty's
rack spot so I had DC protective security on both sides of my rack.
I did my best to set everything up to I wouldn't forget but that also
I can avoid taking forever in transitions as I always do.
(I came in about 1 minute or so ahead of Mayor Fenty at the Columbia
tri - how would this one go?) Fortunately, the guy across from me
was a no-show, so we weren't too cramped. I got myself marked up,
slipped on my wetsuit and headed to the swim start at about 6:45.
The temperature was about 66 or so and the sky was overcast. Seemed
like the weather would be perfect as long as any rain would hold off.
Fortunately, with my swim the day before, I was very comfortable getting
in the water. With the cool down in temperatures, the water had cooled
slightly as well, so it was comfortable in the wetsuit. The tide was very
low and you could walk out almost half a mile. In fact, when he started
the race, many of us just walked out until the water reached our necks,
then we started swimming. There was a strange current that I couldn't
quite make out that was constantly sending me of course on the outbound
stretch. I was frequently bumping into others and getting bumped into
and it was sort of rattling me. I'd say every 2 minutes or so, I would find
that I was drifting off course again. The water was a bit choppy, but
certainly livable. I was sighting regularly, but the chop was making it
difficult when I was past the second buoy. I started to employ my sighting
rule - after three attempts to sight without seeing the next buoy, I would
switch to breast stroke for a few seconds. I was doing this regularly
since I was bouncing around a bit as I became further from the shore.
Although I really didn't want to be out there, I never felt particularly
uncomfortable. As I rounded the buoy that sent us back toward the
shore, I noticed much better water conditions that enabled me to swim
more consistently. I finished up in just over 36 minutes, 9 minutes
better than last year and feeling much better, so I was quite happy and
surprised. Average heart rate was 156, much better than last year.
I took the long putter to the bike racks, grabbing a cup of
gatorade along the way and started the transition. At least this time
I whipped my wet suit off without a problem (zipper stuck at the Columbia
tri)! I didn't have any
problems that I recall, but since I'm so paranoid about forgetting something,
I somehow managed to waste 5 minutes in T1.
Still overcast at the start, around 68 deg or so, no appreciable wind,
and most of all, no rain, so everything seems perfect. I carried two
bike bottles with accelerade as I did last year and I knew that would
be sufficient for the 56 miles. However, these were the same two
accelerade bottles that I brought along at the columbia tri, subsequently
brought home after the race, refrigerated for a couple of weeks, then
brought on the trip to Cambridge, kept overnight (unrefrigerated) then
put some ice cubes in in the morning. A bit risky? Perhaps. Oh well.
We'll see what happens. I really didn't know what my heart rate
strategy would be, but I do know that my anaerobic threshold is
something over 177 and my best marathon heart rate is about 172.
I went out in the low 160s, which had me at around a 24 mile per
hour pace. I knew I could tolerate it aerobically, but I wasn't sure
if my legs could given my lack of bike training. I hit the halfway
point (28 miles) at 1:14 and at the time was holding about 160
heart rate. Quite a low heart rate, but I started really getting worried
about running after the ride with my limited bricks, so I started to
cut back and kept in the high 150s. It's a shame to waste my endurance,
but I don't want to go beyond the training I've put in and anyone who
knows me knows how distraught I would become if my run were to
be the worst event! The second half of the course had its windy
spots, but all-in-all, the wind was nothing like last year, and never
slowed me down below about 18 mph. I finished up my two bottles
of accelerade, fortunately with no stomach issues, and cruised in
at 2:35:28, 21.7 mph pace. Happy with that, 1.7 mph faster than
last year, but still a little bit bugged that I had to keep conservative.
Ran the bike into the transition area, slapped on my hat, packed my
stuff away, put my shoes on, and headed out. The wrong way. No
race volunteers were looking at me until I just about headed back
out onto the bike course, which is what I thought we roughly did last
year. Should have thought through this one before hand. Oh well,
finally got back on track, wasting another 4+ minutes plus running
up and down the whole transition area. Gave me plenty of time
to think about how tired my legs were from the ride!
I put three accel gels in my shirt pockets, just in case, but didn't
expect to use any, since I rarely take any gels. After about 1 mile,
one popped out, donated to the local environment.
For the day before, I kept thinking about how I should be able to
hold marathon pace for the run part of a half iron, which would be
7-7:15/mile. When I started the run, I noticed that my heart rate
would be good for it, but my legs would not. I tried hard to run to
keep my HR above 165 and work towards 170, but I just couldn't
get it there. I was maintaining around 160-162 and I simply wasn't
up for the pain of keeping it higher, even with plenty of energy and
plenty of good breathing left. My splits started in the high 7s and
started creeping sadly into the 8s. I would throw in little bursts to
get my heart rate up, hold for 20 seconds or slow, then slow down
a bit, on and off. I was just telling myself - at least don't let the
run be slower than last year (1:47 and change). I passed the
halfway turnaround at about 52:50 or so, just ahead of last year,
but while my pace was still slowing a bit. By about mile 9, I noticed
that if I kept going as I was, I might just end up slower than last
year. It gave me a little bit of a kick in the seat. I kicked it up a
few notches and got back into the 7s for the last 1.5 miles or so,
with the last 1/2 in the 6s, just beating last year by a minute or so,
in just over 1:46.
All-in-all, with the horrible transitions, I finished in 5:06 and change,
24 minutes better than last year. I'm certainly happy with the time,
but I can't help but feel a little bit disappointed that I couldn't push
myself more. One thing's for sure, this race will likely never have
conditions like these again!