I had a hard time leading up to this race. I was coming off a very bad sprint at Devilman, which had been my longest triathlon to that point. The bike went terribly and I had to convince myself to finish the thing at all. At that point, I wanted to throw in the towel for Eagleman and try again next year. My mentor Michele convinced me to wait to Memorial Day weekend when we were heading out to ride the Eagleman course. She told me if I still felt I couldn’t do it after that, she would listen to my arguments for quitting. When we did the ride, I realized that I could probably still finish even if I took over 4 hours on the bike, like I did that day. My only goal was to finish this race.
The entire week leading up to Eagleman got even worse. My nerves started getting the best of me and I stopped eating and sleeping. Poor Michele kept getting phone calls with me panicking on the other end of the line! I got some really good advice from an Ironman co-worker when he told me to relax because there was nothing I could do at this point. Either I had trained enough and I was ready, or I hadn’t and there was nothing I could do about it now! Even driving down to Cambridge, I was still wondering if I was really going to go through with the whole thing.
Once I hit Cambridge, I tagged along with Chip, Kristen, and Shaun through a quick swim in the Choptank, a bike ride down to the race site, and a quick run. I think this really helped ease a lot of my pre-race anxiety and chewed up some of my extra energy. After lunch with Kristen, Rick, and Shaun, I checked into the Hyatt, went through all my stuff one last time, and packed my transition bag. I went out for dinner with Kristy and her family and it was great to be around them! They were really funny and helped keep my mind off the race for a change, although I’m not sure I would recommend Denny’s for pre-race food!
The morning of the race, I woke up at 4 am without the alarm and decided to just get up and get moving. I was hoping to be at the transition area by 5:30, but I ended up getting there a little after 5 and got a great parking spot. I carried all my stuff over and set up my transition area. It was great to see Kristy, Arnat, and Jellyfish in the transition area as I was wandering around. It was even better to head over to the MMTC tent and see all the smiling faces there! I got my club tattoos and headed over for the start of the swim with Kristy, since she’s finally old enough for my age group.
Swim = 45:27
My swim time was a little worse than I expected, but that might have had something to do with missing the first turn. All of a sudden, I heard people from the boats yelling at us to turn! I felt pretty good when I got out of the water and I reminded myself that I was exactly where I was supposed to be time-wise. I remember Melissa yelling at me to start taking off my wetsuit, but all I could think was, “Why would I take off my wetsuit? I’m busy running!” Maybe next time I’ll be able to multi-task!
T1 = 5:11
I got out of my wetsuit and slapped on all my bike stuff. I forgot to reapply sunblock, which would turn out to be a big mistake by the end of the day. I had allowed 15 minutes total for transitions, so again, I was on schedule.
Bike = 3:39:21 at 15.4 mph
The bike actually went pretty well for me. I felt much stronger throughout this ride than I did at Devilman, even thought that was only 23 miles. I focused on keeping my average up and pushing through the tough spots. I definitely slowed down during the second half, but I got a great surge as I was coming in and all the runners were going by. I saw a lot of MMTC people running as I was biking in, so it was great to cheer for them!
T2 = 4:44
I really can’t tell you what I was doing during these almost five minutes … I was kinda tired by then. I started to head out on the run with my biking gloves on, so I turned around and put them back. Eventually I made it out of the transition area to start my most-dreaded part of the race …
Run = 3:15:18
This is where I fell apart. When I was less than a quarter mile into the run, I lifted my right leg to take a step and my quad seized up on me. I lifted my left leg and that quad seized up, too. So I started walking and tried to relax them. When I tried running again, they both cramped up again. At this point, I stopped to stretch and I pulled my heel up to my butt to stretch my quad. Bad idea! My hamstring cramped up. So now I was really wondering how I was going to finish the run at all. I started walking, hoping my legs would come back. Each time I tried to run, my legs would start cramping and I was forced back to a walk. At this point, I started calculating whether or not I could make it to the finish in time if I had to walk the entire thing. Fortunately for me, Kristen and Dave came up behind me and they were run/walking, too. I walked with them for a while and they got me to try running a bit more. Just after the turn-around, my legs starting cramping at a fast walk and I figured I would never make it. Then I saw Michele waiting to cheer for me. As I approached her, I guess it was pretty obvious that I wasn’t doing so well. She started walking behind me, giving me lots of encouragement. Somewhere around this point, Kristen got her second (or third or fourth) wind and took off at a jog. Dave decided to stick with me and see me through to the finish. I don’t completely remember the last four miles or so, but I remember Dave saying, “Stay with me, Cat” a lot and Michele telling me I could do this. Once I saw the tents near the finish, I started thinking I might really be able to make it! Next thing I knew, I was coming down the final stretch and there were lots of MMTC people cheering me home, starting with Melissa telling me to run! Dave and I ran in together with Michele running beside us inside the fencing. When I finished, I was completely overcome with emotion because this was the hardest I had ever worked for anything in my entire life. I was almost last as far as standings, but I couldn’t have cared less!
A big thanks to everyone that was at Eagleman for making this one of my most memorable days ever! We have a really awesome club and I have the best mentor in the entire world!!
Total = 7:49:58
FINISHING YOUR FIRST 70.3 = PRICELESS!!!