EagleMan was my opening race of the 2012 Tri season. I was eager (and nervous!) to test my tri fitness since it’s been a while since my last multisport event more than 9 months ago. Based on a couple marathons run earlier this year, I had a good idea of my run fitness. However, I was unsure of my swim and bike fitness rolling into this race.
Mark Yost picked me up Saturday afternoon to drive across the Bay Bridge to Cambridge to check in for EagleMan. Afterwards, we headed to our hotel in Salisbury away from the hubbub of race central. We had dinner at Zia’s with Linda Giampalmo and Amy Krupka. The highlight of my weekend was getting to wear a plastic bib at Zia’s so you don’t splatter your pasta all over yourself. The waitress even ties it around your neck for you! It made dinner so much fun!! It came in handy at the dinner table since I found specks of pasta sauce on the bib after the meal. I probably should have raced with it to keep my kit clean on the bike and the run. I’m always such a mess when I cross the finish line.
My pre-race meal was a banana, a Balance Bar, half of a power bar, and water. Despite the heat, the uncharacteristically calm winds made for quiet waters and fast bike weather. Another saving grace was the lack of humidity. The water temperature leading up to the race was borderline wetsuit legal. Race officials made the final call a couple hours before the start to allow wetsuits. I was really surprised that it was wetsuit legal. My hypothesis is that the water temperature was above the 76.1F limit for wetsuits, but race officials would prefer to have competitors use wetsuits for liability purposes. Regardless, I pulled my wetsuit out of my triathlon bag instead of my speed suit.
Swim – 32:16 (50 AG, 379 OA)
I hopped in the water with the rest of my age group for our wave start, which was the 7th of the day. The water was a little chilly for me waiting for the start gun. The swim is basically 3 legs of a rectangle. I swam in a large pack and got jostled around a bit to the first buoy, but we were swimming in a rather straight line. After the first right turn, the field began to thin out, but that meant I had to do more navigating on my own. I reached shore in 32:16 which is decent for me. My goal was to swim sub-33 so mission accomplished.
T1 – 2:31
I scurried out of the water unzipping my wetsuit and taking up my swim cap and goggles. I ran to my bike and put on my race belt with race number, helmet, and sunglasses. I then stuck my 2 gels, salt capsules, and an extra bike tube in the back pockets of my racing kit. Lastly, I dried off my feet with a small towel, threw on my socks and shoes and then headed out on the bike course. I still haven’t tried to clip my shoes into the pedals before the race and then put the shoes on once you mount the bike. I need to make my transitions quicker because I’m wasting precious seconds freshening up in between legs.
Bike – 2:19:50 (11 AG, 64 OA)
This was my first attempt at EagleMan, but I practiced on the course 3 times leading up to the race to get used to pedaling on the pancake-flat, the winds, and the heat. Consequently I had the comfort of knowing the course. Thanks to George Schlossnagle for keeping me honest during the intervals on those training rides. On the drive to EagleMan, I decided to race this triathlon on perceived effort and skip wearing my heart rate monitor. I’d have to carefully listen to my body for signals of distress and overexertion.
The entire bike I felt strong and the miles clicked off quickly. I could feel my hip flexors really engaging on each pedal stroke and the ride seemed easy. I was using a disc wheel for the first time thanks to my friend Michael Sanchez from California who shipped me his race wheels to use for this tri. Due to the multiple wave starts I passed a whole lot of competitors on the bike course. I don’t think anyone passed me the entire route. With every turn we made, I kept expecting a headwind to hit and slow me down, but that never materialized. The last 12 miles of the ride I slowed down 1-2 mph, which could have been fatigue, but I was also trying to relax my legs to prepare them for the run. As I approached the final straight of the bike, I un-velcroed my shoe and slipped my feet out of them. I finished the bike leg in 2:19:50 (24.0 mph), which just made my goal of sub-2:20. I was so thankful that I didn’t flat or have any mechanical issues on the course.
During the ride I ate 2 gels and 8 salt capsules. I also drank 2 water bottles of fluid with one being water and the other being Infinit (about 600 calories). In hindsight, my fluid intake was my downfall on the run. I should have either carried a third bottle of water or picked one up at one of the aid stations on the course. I could have used another 24 ounces of fluid on the bike. I finished off my allotment of fluids with 3-4 miles left in the ride and I was rationing it the last hour.
T2 – 1:57
I ran my bike to my transition spot and racked my bike. I took off my helmet and emptied my back pocket of my spare bike tube. I slipped on my running shoes and picked up my hat holding 3 gels and more salt capsules. As I started running, I stuffed the gels and salt capsules in my back pockets and put on the cap. As I exited the bike transition there were volunteers handing out fluids. At this point I came to the realization that I should have drunken more on the bike. I tried to squeeze between a competitor and a volunteer to grab a cup of water, but the competitor bumped me out of the way and took the cup. So I drifted to the other side of the exit chute to get fluids from another volunteer. But the same guy drifted the same direction and took the cup of water I was aiming for. In the end, I headed out on to the run course without getting any water.
Run – 1:28:30 (9 AG, 41 OA)
My legs were a little stiff to begin the run but nothing unusual. I hit my first 2 mile in 6:22 and 6:18 respectively which was right what I was hoping for. I continued to run the next 3 miles at 6:30 pace, but I could feel a small twitch in my left hamstring. This twitch was preventing me from opening up my stride. From miles 5-10 I ran a fairly consistent 6:50 pace and it was during this stretch when 2 guys in my age group passed me. Up until then no one on the run had passed me. One of the guys was someone I passed earlier on the run, but I couldn’t hold him off as my legs began to stiffen. A bit after mile 11 there is a quick right and then a left. The deceleration and acceleration into and out of the turn made my left hamstring cramp so I stopped momentarily to relax the muscle and then continue on. I felt better after getting some more fluids at the next and last water station. I took gels at about miles 3, 7, and 10, and took 8 salt capsules along the course. I cross the finish line with a run split of 1:28:30, which was 6-minutes slower than my goal. My overall time was 4:25:03 which is a PR by a few seconds (have a Half Vineman time 5-minutes faster but the swim was a little less than a mile).
After hitting the finish line I recovered under the finishing chute tent with lots of water and Gatorade. I then headed over to the MMTC Tent to refuel. This was my first experience with the MMTC tent and it really ROCKS!! I was stoked by how much food and fluids were available.
Overall it was a decent race, but I am disappointed in my hydration error that was a preventable error. I was hoping to crack 4:20 for the race and came up 5-minutes short due to a horrible run. I was in good position coming out of the bike-to-run transition in about 2:57, which gave me 1:23 to run my half. That’s exactly where I wanted to be. I wanted everything to come down to the run, but my run legs failed me that day. However, this is a lesson learned about hydration for my next race (IM Louisville). Thank you to Coach Mike Matney of Fitness Concepts for developing my workouts and working with me to race EagleMan. I was surprised at my bike fitness level that has been developed through his workouts.