I entered this race after reading the tales of woe from last years Eagleman, thinking, “That sounds horrible. Where do I sign up?” At that point, I hadn’t even entered, much less completed an Olympic distance tri. I ended up completing Savageman 30 in September (GREAT race, can’t say enough good things), signing up for E-man in early November, I think.
The next order of business was to actually run my first half marathon. I had at least completed the other distances before, but never run more than 10 miles. So I targeted the B&A half in March as my first half-mary, figuring I’d back off a bit and ramp back up through Columbia with confidence.
That part didn’t go so well.
I had a great race at the RRCA 10 mile run in late February but soon after fell victim to a left IT band injury that only affected me while running, and then only after 2-3 miles, forcing me to DNF the B&A. After 4 weeks of therapy and no running, I was able to run short distances (~2 miles) with no pain in late April. This left Columbia tri and Eagleman just on the borderline of feasible, Columbia more so.
Columbia ended up being a pretty good race, with a near 6 min improvement for Oly distance, although my knee didn’t like the downhills very much at all. However, I only had 3 weeks left to build from a 6.5 mile long run to 13.1! I don’t have years of long distance running experience, so I felt I needed to build up more mileage. So I ran 8 miles one weekend, and 10 the weekend before E-man and hoped for the best…
My parents watched the kids so that Lynn and I could go focus on the race. In addition to helping me, she also volunteered for Tricolumbia and arranged to bring down coolers, etc. for the tent. We had a nice dinner in Easton and then headed off to stay with family friends in Easton.
That went fine, except for the fact that Lynn got sick and spent most of the night on the bathroom floor. I checked on her a couple of times, but she just encouraged me to get my rest. Fortunately, she felt somewhat better in the morning and we left for Cambridge around 5 am.
Swim 49:37, AG 204/267, OA 1507/1894
I was in the 7:30 swim wave. I feel lucky that I haven’t got hit with a late start yet. I know its coming as I get older.
Anyway, this swim time sucked. No real excuses here, as I’ve done some developmental masters work, and I’m faster than ever (but still slow) in the pool. It’s all about swimming straight and sighting. I felt strong, conditions were relatively favorable—I just need to sight more often and get some anti-fog in the goggles as I was having trouble locating buoys in the second half of the swim.
As you can tell, I wasn’t in a rush. The mud didn’t help- I carried my bike for most of the way—a good idea on a muddy day—but I wore my bike shoes through transition. I actually use Crank brothers mountain bike cleats for my road bike, so there was no problem clipping in and staying in—mud clears out pretty easily in these.
Bike 2:41:50 (20.76mph), AG 138/247, OA 945/1894
To tell you the truth, this is a long and boring bike ride for me, requiring a lot of mental toughness to keep the power up. I much prefer hills. Everything was going pretty well, but about 45 minutes in, when I noticed I was having trouble holding the power I was targeting (I bought a Powertap this year). This didn’t make much sense since I thought I was pretty well rested, and I was only trying to hold a power level a little higher than I had practiced on no rest. It just seemed like my left leg (the one with the IT band issues) couldn’t push too hard while I was in the aerobars. In any case, there was so little wind that even when I backed off, I was able to hold a pace higher than I had done in practice. It was really nice coming up Egypt with no wind in my face and seeing 22mph on the computer.
In the end, on a (relatively speaking for Eagleman) cool day, I took in 4 bottles of fluid, 6 or 7 salt sticks and 4 GUs—around 900-1000 calories.
Once again, I took my time. It took a while to get into T2 through the mud, and it took much longer to clean the mud off my bike and shoes once I got home. I tried to spray myself with sunscreen to avoid sunburn. Nice idea in theory—at least the sunburn didn’t show up until after the finish.
Run 2:15:42 (10:21 min/mi), AG 139/247, OA 979/1894
Oh, the run. Everything started out so well. Ran out at 8:30 min/mile pace, hit the conveniently placed port-o-potty in mile 1 and continued on.
Things steadily declined from there. Some people will turn their heads to see a car wreck. Others want the GPS data. Since we’re all triathletes here, I know which group I’m talking to, so here are the mile splits:
1 – 9:36 (port-o-potty break)
2 – 8:28 (cool, that’s pretty quick actually)
3 – 8:38 (still pretty good)
4 – 9:13 (uh-oh)
5 – 9:29 (um…where is the turnaround?)
6 – 10:09 (Still no turnaround? Seriously?)
7 – 10:34 (I’m never doing this again. Ever.)
8 – 10:44 (I think that’s an aid station in the distance…)
9 – 10:52 (Screw it, we’re walking aid stations now.)
10 – 11:21 (Apparently we are now walking in between aid stations, too)
11 - 11:19 (I don’t know where this burst of speed came from)
12 – 12:28 (Lingering in the sprinklers)
13 – 11:21 (Inspired by sight of the finish in the distance)
.16 – 1:32 (9:38 pace for finish line photos—set your shutter speed properly or I might come out blurry)
BUT – Goal #1 (FINISH EAGLEMAN) accomplished. Goal #2 (FINISH EAGLEMAN under 6 hours) accomplished, even though I know we’re not supposed to have time goals on our first races, I’m just like everybody else.
So I’m walking away from this VERY happy, knowing that there are plenty of ways to improve (despite my thoughts during run mile 7).
1) Build slowly. I’ve become more convinced that the 10 mile run the week before E-man did me in. It’s the only way I can explain the left leg bike problem, and in the end, the left knee forced me to slow down and walk on the run more than general fatigue.
2) Walk aid stations. I felt a lot better once I started doing so. It’s the only way to get a full dose of fluid (at least for me).
3) Thank your friends and family. I couldn’t have done this with out Lynn’s support through months of training. There is a long list of home/car repairs I have been putting off until after this race…. And thank you to all the volunteers—the MMTC tent was amazing and everyone was so helpful. I’ve already signed up two volunteer opportunities to help make up for all of the help I’ve received in the last two races. Thanks MMTC!