My last race report for MMTC. Beware.
I’ll get the statistics out of the way at the start.
Swim : 31:27 1:29/100 pace 30/194 in AG
T1 : 2:26
Bike : 2:37:18 21.4mph 60/194
T2 : 2:16
Run : 2:03:38 9:26 pace 58/194
Nutrition – about 500 cals of INFINIT and 2 bottles of water on the bike. A few gulps of coke on the run. Ding a-ling ?
My second Eagleman and a PR by 3 minutes but it certainly did not feel like it on the day. My race went south in the same way as George Schlossnagle and Mark Yost have described their experiences. Several days later I am not sure whether I pushed too hard on the bike for my fitness level, took in too few calories on the bike, didn’t drink enough on the bike, or perhaps it simply wasn’t about the bike at all.
Eagleman is a tough race. It embraces you with a stellar field of pros/age group elites, Vigo and crew’s well-oiled race logistics and a pancake flat course. It then slaps you in the face with heat and no shade. I can’t decide whether I really like it or not. Is it worth putting myself through that experience just to ride a yellow school bus from the Middle School parking to Great Marsh Park ? (Rob Weddle suggested I ask to drive the bus at it was my last time ….)
What I do know is that this race has found me out two years in a row. This year I thought I had set myself up to push close to 5 hours even though I haven’t managed to be as consistent as I would like with my training. We move back to the UK in mid July and that has consumed some energy. We also have had a mad scramble to visit some other places in this great country that we failed to get to in the previous 3 and a half years (Grand Canyon / Sedona, New York (again !), Nashville, Memphis .. at last I’ve got to the Mississippi). Caroline, my wife, was also training and completed her first triathlon – the Annapolis Tri Rock event. So as Crowie might have said ‘there wasn’t much hay in the barn’. With that context thinking I might have a stellar race on one of the hottest days of the year was an elegantly constructed castle in the air.
Being in a later wave I was able to see the pros come out of the swim and through transition. There really were no revelations there. Apart from having more space around them and getting their wetsuits off nearly in one motion, it was standard transition stuff. But Crowie did temporarily get his wetsuit stuck on his heels. You and me both brother.
Waiting around was a pain. But when it came the swim was utterly uneventful – I lined up on the far side as I saw the pros do it (but hey at least I was BEHIND the white buoys) and just got into a rhythm and swum smoothly. My T1 was slowed because I failed to take the knife to my Xterra wetsuit and like Columbia, like Crowie, the suit stuck on my heels. Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result.
And so to the bike. I remember last year being in pain after about 40 miles – this year because of the Princeton fit I had for IMFL last November I was fine. I kept the HR to high Z2/low Z3 and cruised through the first 30 miles taking Inifint every 20 mins and drinking regularly. I was certainly annoyed by a couple of pacelines but I did see a few in the penalty tent subsequently. I kept expecting the wind but it never came, even on Egypt Road which was calm compared to most of the other times I’ve ridden it. Coming into T2 after taking 4 minutes off last year’s time, I thought I was set for a battle to go sub 5hrs – my stretch goal. Little did I know.
I was thinking in T2 that surely a 1:45 half marathon wasn’t beyond my abilities. After all I had broken 20 mins for a 5k earlier in the season and run 6:50 mile for the first 8 miles of the Frederick half marathon relay. Hubris. Having started relatively brightly on 8:00 pace I was walking the aid station around 3 miles. In hindsight I don’t recall a decision making process in my head. I just did it. Given that I didn’t walk the aid stations until mile 16 in Florida, this was a significant blow but one that I was unable to rationalize on the day. After that I ran or shuffled between aid stations in a rather Mr Bean-like way and then took on ice, water and – when available – coke. Saw plenty of people worse off than me but I was in my own incubus of resignation. It’s a strange place. I caught up with Rob Weddle at mile 11 and we shuffled together for a bit. I then headed off for the final two miles : by that time I was physically and mentally squelching in a quagmire of wet shoes and a wet brain. As I rounded the final turn into the finishing chute I received some invisible electric charge that sent me sprinting to the line. I covered the last 0.1 mile at 6:30 pace. I did the same the previous year and it bugged me for weeks after. Insanity striking again. After the finish I spent an hour in Dawn’s fantastically welcoming tent wondering what had happened. Lassata nondum satiata recessit. (Beware if you Google that).
And so farewell Eagleman. You got the best of me .. again. But finishing is winning as Vigo would say.
Farewell TriColumbia. You put on great races. The volunteers were fantastic – as were the people with sprinklers and buckets on the run. Let’s hope the Atholton Kids Tri is as well run and well supported with volunteers !
And farewell Mid Maryland Tri Club. I have had a blast. Thank you to the friends I have made – you have been a great support to me and my family. Thanks for the advice posted on this board and the wisdom around the club. Thanks to everyone who has volunteered or run the tent at the races I have participated in.
When we arrived in the US in July 2008 we hoped to have some great experiences and meet some great people. We have camped on the Big Sur, off-roaded through the Rockies, cruised through the Alaskan inner passage, helicoptered over the Grand Canyon. So of my best memories have been training in the various places we have visited : a run through Silverton, Alaska on the trail of Soapy Smith, a swim at Vancouver’s Olympic pool, a bike ride along the highway in the Outer Banks. We have made some fantastic friends. Our lives have been enriched. Thank you.
Four years ago if you had said that all four of us would return to the UK as triathletes I would have laughed. But here we are. We have embraced the multisport lifestyle. As a family we are healthier. And now we head off back to the UK (via New Zealand , Australia and Japan) - anyone up for a European Ironman ?