My last triathlon was the challenging and mountainous Savageman 70.0 where I practically froze to death. So it is only fitting that this race was flat and intensely hot. (Actually I was just looking for flat not hot.)
I chose Eagleman over Miami 70.3 because I enjoy racing with my MMTC friends and seeing them throughout the day. It is an important and fun aspect of racing to me. I am glad I did! As a result a lot of unexpected cool things happened.
I honestly thought Eagleman would a non-wetsuit race so the first thing I did was look into swim skins. In the process I found a company that made really cool tri outfits with similar ultra water repellent properties that would be more versatile than the single purpose swim skin. It was from Kiwami and it looked super cool! (Ben used their suit at Kona and was very pleased with its performance). So I picked out my favorite model and contacted Andre. He said I could personalize the tri outfit with my name and sponsor. Obviously I am not a sponsored athlete so I decided I would become a supporter of a cause that was very important to me: The National Park Foundation and make the effort to fund raise and promote the National Parks to the triathlon and running community. I got permission to use their logo and everything worked out great! I got a tri suit that I really loved and was very much me! It is black and red with white trim and has an open back for cooling purposes and it matched my bike perfectly! It was also pretty cool to have my name on it! That was a first for me.
This was the unexpected and very cool part: The Ultra distance runner that I admired the most agreed to do a speaking engagement for me as part of a fund raiser benefiting the NPF. Michael Wardian turned out to be super cool, extremely kind and very inspiring. It was a meaningful event for me and some of the ultra distance runners in our club and the local racing team; and we got to become friends. He will also be speaking to the club at the September meeting. This never would have happened if I hadn't signed up for Eagleman.
I did do one ride of the course with Lizzy and Hector; it was nice to remember our ride during the race and all the laughs we had at our stops.
I had an excellent taper for Eagleman! Got to see my daughter Susie graduate Washington & Lee University (Biology – Cum laude), went on a fantastic hike with my daughter Christina on the Appalachian Trail through some very lush green forests of Shenandoah National Park, and got to see Jenny graduate elementary school. Did some short swim, bike, runs and tried not to think about the impending heat. Although the weekday's temps were perfect for racing the weekend's forecast was mid 90's.
Knowing it would be so hot I made sure I had things to look forward to other than the actual race. Susie let me borrow her car, which is a Mustang; so it was really cool driving in the convertible out to the Eastern shore. Did packet pick up and was amazed at the unmistakable caliber of fitness this race brings: KONA bound folks. Met up with Amy, dropped off my bike and had a great pizza lunch. Relaxed a little then went to dinner with Mark, Shawn and Amy at a really great Italian restaurant in Salisbury called Zia's. The food was awesome and the talk was fun!
Had a very lucky omen: The guy whom I helped finish this race last time was best buddies with Danny S & was doing the race again, and in my hotel! I saw him in the morning when I was getting ice at the hotel, on the run, and at the finish. Happy to say he had a much better race this year!
In the morning I enjoyed seeing so many MMTC folks at the tent that I hadn't seen in forever! Including Teresa who is headed off to Kona and my buddies Gwen and Heather. It really is so wonderful to have a place to hang out before the race and socialize! It was fun to hear my name get called over the PA! Got on my wetsuit and waited with Amy and Aleah for their wave, then went into the water with Sandi who was in my age group.
Didn't think it would be wetsuit legal but so glad it was! The water felt refreshing but the course seemed long to me. I normally do lots of OWS but this was my first of the season and I was fine with that.
I had a better swim wave so there were actually lots of folks biking with me (last time I was one of the last waves and alone for most of the ride.) Being surrounded by so many other cyclists was definitely more fun. Saw all the pros on their way back to the finish including Suzie S, lots of MMTC folks and even Ben zipping past. Leap frogged with a few of the same riders and towards the end one guy from CMS said he was glad he at least would have some company on the run. That was music to my ears. I was truly dreading the run so it would be nice to run with someone! I raced it a bit at the end cause I was so glad to finally be done with the bike! It too seemed long.
Read the really cool book: Deep Survival by Laurence Gonzales. So many times extreme weather can turn a simple outing into a case of survival. He characterized the people who survive as those who stay positive, stay aware of their situation, and make choices that improve their outcomes. Stress affects your decision making abilities and dehydration is an intense stress on your body. The 95 degree temps at noon were pretty intense when I started my run and I knew that I had to “race smart” and do things that would improve my outcome. The first mile is always the hardest.. but my heart rate was soaring after the bike and getting off my wetsuit (which I hate more than putting it on.) So with the heat I felt like my heart would burst if I kept trying to run. I knew from experience that if I walked my heart rate would go back down and I would bounce back after however long it took but I would be able to finish. Plus with all the fabulous ice I had a strategy for continuing on. At the first aid station I saw Bill, the guy on the bike. He was in as bad a shape as me since he wasn't feeling too great on the bike. So I gladly walked/ran with him. It turns out he was an upstanding citizen in the Cambridge community and knew everyone! Every CMS racer, every local resident, every volunteer and every police officer! It was like running with a celebrity! It was actually pretty Fun! for being miserable. So thankful for the company! I shoved Ice down my cool tri suit and it worked wonders but the best was pouring the ice cold water over my head. Thankfully all the aid stations were well stocked! I was feeling better but Bill was not improving as quickly. I enjoyed his company and it was really just too hot to care about times. At the halfway turn he said he would stop and assess his situation. That turned out to be very smart. Your personal health is more important than a race finish. He said I should continue on and I really didn't want to pressure him to continue if he really needed to stop so we split up. I knew he knew folks at the tent so I thought he would be safe. I had recovered a few miles back so I was able to run pretty decently the way back (considering the heat.) I think it took me 2 hours to get to the half way point and only one hour to get to the finish line.
However in hind sight I wish that I had sacrificed more of my time and stayed with Bill. That way I would know his condition and if by chance he did want to continue it would have been better for him to have the support. But I had honestly thought he might be stopping and I didn't want to obligate him to finishing when he shouldn't. I would absolutely have stayed with him longer if I could do it over. Which was much better than waiting at the finish to see if he ever arrived. I found out later that he did have to stop and got a ride to the medical tent for an IV. That at least was very good news because I know how wonderful they are for recovery. It was a bummer that the heat was so intense cause it would have been very cool to finish the race together safely.
Amazingly the run turned out to be my favorite part of the race! And the part I felt was the shortest. I guess it was the great company I had for half the run and seeing so many friends along the way with the out and backs. That is one of the better aspects of Eagleman. I had wanted to catch up with Gwen but she was just too speedy and I had to stop at every rest area and ice up and cool down.
Glad to finish!
I highly recommend staying the night after the race if you can and avoid the traffic. Was able to go back to the hotel, take a shower, and sleep in bed for a while and then go out with Amy to celebrate at Snappers. I had gone there with my friends Yvonne and Jen after my very first Cambridge ride a few years ago. It was the celebration dinner I always wanted! Very cool!
I did get a PR of 16 minutes but I would have preferred that I had used that time sticking around at the halfway point. An important lesson is some times to survive you do need to forfeit your adventure; at least you will have your health and can attempt it again. It is smart not to finish when your health is at risk; there can always be another race.
I had bought my tri suit because of the swim – but it was fantastic on the bike and for the run.
My next tri is the Half full. Hoping for perfect weather! At least I will be on my home turf!