Sunday's Eagleman was my first 70.3 and second triathlon; this year's Columbia Triathlon being my first. I was feeling good especially upon hearing that the water temperature was 75.6 and the swim was wetsuit legal.
The swim went well. I was more relaxed in the water than Columbia. I think the open water swim session the prior Sunday really helped. I held the proper body position and kept my slow and steady pace. My sighting needs work as I zig zagged my way through the course. It did give me the opportunity to greet a few of the kayakers and paddle boarders.
I felt good out of the water. But I started feeling light headed and short of breath when I reached my bike. I had to take a moment and a few slow deep breaths to pull myself together. Once it passed, I was off on the bike.
The heat was brutal. I decided to go easy as my goal was simply to finish today. I knew I would be sweating more than usual and would be pressed to replace enough fluids and nutrients. My hydration / fueling strategy was a 22oz bottle of sports drink every 45 minutes (drink every 15min) and a gel every 25 minutes. An hour into the bike and my stomach started feeling bloated and gummy. I started to alternate between water and sports drink to try and flush some of it out. I felt better and finished the bike without incident.
As soon as I dismounted I nearly collapsed. My right arch cramped up and I stumbled. That was my first warning sign that the modification I made to my fueling / hydration was going to haunt me. Once the cramp passed, I made my way to my rack and prepared for the run.
What I thought would be my strongest leg was the most disastrous. From mile one I could feel both my legs threaten to cramp up. It was a 13.1 mile run / walk / run, with the last 4 being mostly a walk. I knew I wouldn't be setting any records, but I also knew that I would complete it in time as long as I didn't try anything stupid. So I did an easy shuffle until I felt my legs tighten and then started walking. I wasn't alone as the road looked like a scene from "Day of the Dead." Everyone digging deep just to carry themselves closer to the finish. My thanks to all those volunteers who suffered the heat to pass out fluids and encouragement. And to my fellow triathletes who managed to maintain such great attitudes under the worse conditions.
I never walked across a finish line until Sunday. By the time I reached the chute, everything from my buttocks to my arches was cramping up. Being very familiar with the pain of both legs locking up and the amount of time for it to clear (happened shortly after finishing the Disney Marathon in January. Dropped to the ground like a gun shot victim.), I swallowed my pride and limped across the line.
I'm happy and thankful that I was able to finish my first 70.3, especially under these conditions. I applaud all who entered the water that morning. Regardless of your outcome, you have to take pride in attempting such a task.