Ignorance is bliss...
I can honestly say that my E-Man 2010 experience was nothing short of fantastic. Being my first HIM, I simply had two goals: finish; and, finish under 7 hours. I accomplished both! However, that is not to say I set simple goals. Based on my training, previous injuries, and respect for the 70.3 distance I knew that to break 7 hours would require a strong spirit. Little did I know that my race number (1513) would be close to my finishing placement.
Pre-Race: First and foremost, I really could not have done this event without the dedicated assistance of Geoff Matrangola. He has already written in his RR about picking me up and putting me up in his camper; great to also have the company of Arpad Romandy in the camper. I must have asked these two experienced HIM guys a million stupid questions prior to race day. Also, the MMTC pre-race meal was a blast. Sure, the food took a while, but I just filled that time with eager chatting with anyone who would listen. My only regret was not finding time to socialize with folks on the other side of the room (Chip, Bill, Kim, etc.). Melissa... Thanks for the coordination!
Race Morning: Camped at Dorchester High School, but they had us drive to a middle school to catch a shuttle bus. Bus was nice, but why could they not pick us up and the high school? Once at the transition area I met up with the Trakkers rep and received my GPS unit. Bigger than I thought. Well, at least my friends/family can watch me slowely navigate the course. Set up my stuff in the transition area. My spot was in the middle of the transition zone and at the very end of the rack. Sweet. Spent some time at MMTC tent; then, when pros went off, got in porta potty line... took 45-min! I then headed toward the boat ramp.
Swim: 49:04. I was in Wave 8 (Orange Cap) as an old, fat guy (Master’s Clydesdale). For some reason, young (30-34) fast guys like Matt Jacobson were mixed in with us! Blue cappers went down the boat ramp before us, and two ladies made a mad sprint back because they had somehow failed to walk across the timing mat… both fell hard as their wet feet slipped on the rubber. Another blue cap lady sprinted down the boat ramp just after the horn sounded. I positioned myself at the front of the orange cappers, but as I entered the water these guys were already pounding me as they swam fast to the start. Still, I found room at the front near the far white buoy. I cannot see the first orange buoy (first turn). Long swim ahead. Horn sounds. Only one thing in my head…. find and easy pace and conserve. I did so. It helped that I was so far left of the field that I rarely encountered anyone. Few bumps until I hit the orange buoys where people bunched up. Passed a number of blue cappers, but as I rounded the second orange buoy some purple cappers (women 40-40) blew by me. Impressive! The swim from the second orange buoy to the finish is what seemed to take forever. I also experienced small stinging sensations on by waist and neck. I thought it was chaffing, but later deduced as probable baby sea nettles. When I got out of the water I just took my time and walked a bit to regain my balance. Crossed the first timing mat at 49:04 (7 min slower than avg pool time), but was satisfied because I had taken it easy and there were river currents. Ignorance can be bliss.
T1: 2:48. Jogged to my primo spot. Took time to dry feet and put on the cool socks I had picked up at the expo. Jogged to bike start.
Bike: 2:49:34. Really looked forward to this leg. This is my time to rest prior to my difficult leg. But, I got off to a bad start that likely further harmed my run. Mounting the bike, a volunteer yelled to me that I had dropped a fruit bar (I carry two). She handed it to me and I placed it back in my hand-made Binto Box (a water bottle with the top cut off and placed behind my seat). Close call. I was off. I quickly established a comfortable cadence and made up my mind to achieve one goal: arrive at T2 feeling good. When winds were encountered, I had no problem downshifting and watching the mph drop... I just did not care. I did care when, about a half-hour in, my aero-bottle broke loose from its mount and threatened to fall between the aerobars. Its sideways cant allowed sticky red sports drink to spray on me at every bump. I VERY much cared when, an hour into the ride, I reached back for a fruit bar and to my horror found nothing. Nada. I did not know I could grab a banana at an aide station so I just continued on. Matt Jacobson, whom I had trained with on the E-Man course before, did offer me a Cliff Bar, but in glancing over it looked like he had only one. Class act offer, but my problem was not about to become his so I passed. Did feel too hungry at the time anyway. Upon entering the finishing chute for the bike I actually was happy. I felt great, ready to run. That mindset changed when I got off the bike. My fresh legs immediately locked up and forced me to walk the bike to the rack. Ignorance is truly bliss.
T2: 4:35. Tried to walk some life back into my thighs. No luck. Walked out of transition.
Run: 3:09:47. I jogged the entire first mile in an attempt to get some life back in the thighs. I was going to Galloway the run anyway… jog a mile, walk a minute, etc. At the aide station, I poured ice water over my head and wondered why it was not so refreshing…. I still had my hat on. Duh. A sign of things to come. However, once I began jogging again past mile 1 my legs actually felt worse. I lasted maybe a quarter mile before walking two minutes. The jogging intervals only got shorter and the walks longer. By mile 5, I could jog no more. I ended up walking non-stop from mile 5 to mile 12.5. Yes, you read that correctly. I estimate I walked about 10 of the 13.1 miles. But I really did not care! On a long, hot road your thoughts take over. I thought about my 10-year old daughter’s brain tumor, operations, and chemo. How I am fortunate to just have Epilepsy. I thought about folks battling their own personal or family issues (they know who they are)... and still others that would kill just to be in my shoes... as painful as they were. On a far smaller note I also reminded myself that any finish was an automatic PR. So, I just looked for MMTC singlets and became a cheerleader! At first, a Go MMTC from me would nothing more than a small wave (I have no MMTC gear and they likely assumed I was a volunteer, etc.). But, when I would follow that with a It’s me, Lance, the friendly spirit of the club would show itself. Great people! I really liked the people and music on the run course, but the mobile DJ in the cemetery was odd. On the way back to the finish, I got to the cemetery just as Michael Jackson’s Thriller was booming from the speakers. I was walking like a zombie, past a cemetery, to a zombie song... hmmmm appropriate? Once I got to 12.5, and I realized I had a shot of going under 7 hours, I found a way to hobble in averaging 14:30/mile (rank: 1421; did I beat anyone?) to achieve that goal. Ignorance may be bliss, but eating on the bike probably would have helped my run a bit.
Conclusion: Nothing but good thoughts. If anything, I am more eager than ever to tackle E-Man 2011. The glass if half-full for me baby!! If I were to do nothing else than have my thighs back and manage my typical 10-minute miles on the run next year I would lower my time by nearly an hour (sub-6 hour). However, as I am still new to triathlon I only see my swim and bike getting better too. Seeing a new PR within reasonable reach is exciting! Ignorance is bliss... but so is the experience called life.
Again, a big thanks to Geoff, Arpad, Matt, and the club. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I would not have even tried E-Man without your support. LBJ