I did the Eagleman AquaBike in 2011 and decided to sign up for it as my first half. It was my “A” race, and all my training this year has been working towards completing the race. Devilman in May was a practice run and that went pretty well aside from mild GI distress on the run. I decided superconcentrated Skratch wasn’t going to work for my nutrition at Eagleman. I didn’t have a good race at Columbia and thought that signing up for it was a mistake since it bears no similarity to Eagleman and the race didn’t do anything for my confidence levels. After two rough swims and what I considered a disappointing day at Columbia, I was nervous about Eagleman. I also have been struggling with some sciatic issues and what may be a pulled oblique muscle for a few weeks and this added to my worry about how Eagleman would go. I had simple goals, have a good swim for the first time this year, hydrate well on the bike in preparation for the run, and finish the race.
Leading up to race weekend I was very happy with the forecast. Heading to the race start from our homestay on Sunday morning I was feeling anxious but very happy with the conditions, low wind and calm water. The mud pit at transition was pretty disgusting, but I’ll take mud over heat and wind any day! My swim wave was late, starting at 8:05 so I had a long time to wait and felt like I wouldn’t have any adrenaline left to burn racing since my anxiety level was so high leading to the start. I felt better once it was time to get in the water, the wait was finally over.
Swim – 43:20
Since my Devilman swim was rough because I had no time to acclimate to the cold water before having to start, and the first half of the Columbia swim was bad for no good reason, I stayed to the back at the start. It didn’t matter, once the horn went off there was a lot of contact for quite a while, but finally we spread out and settled into the swim. I felt comfortable right away and stayed that way and just focused on swimming strong and easy. I was a little further outside the yellow buoys than I’d like, I should have stayed to the right at the start so I could get inside the buoys, live and learn. After the first turn I was swimming pretty close to another woman for a while but she eventually veered left away from me. I think she was headed for the yellow buoy to swim around it – her mistake! I continued to head straight for the next turn buoy and to the finish. The swim was good, but it felt like it took forever. There were very slight waves, at least until I was swimming toward the finish and a big guy from a wave ahead of me started dolphin diving and about drowned me! I swam as close as I could manage to the swim exit before finally standing up and walking in the rest of the way. Goal #1 down!
T1 – 4:15
Definitely not my fasted transition, but I wasn’t in a hurry. I had a great rack spot that wasn’t in the mud and was right near the bike out, but it was at the opposite corner from transition from the swim in. I had been planning on carrying my socks and shoes out and putting them on once I was on the other side of the mud pit in the bike in/out, but I saw a bunch of guys running out in their shoes and decided to just do the same. I sprayed on some more sunscreen since I didn’t want to reinstate my Eagleman tramp stamp from the 2011 race, put on gloves since it was a long ride, glasses, helmet, socks shoes, and out. Smiled at Lynn on the way out, tried to find the most shallow spots on the mud pit and finally made it to the road and got going.
Bike – 3:15:18
I’m still riding the same old road bike I had in 2011 but was about 7 minutes faster on the bike. I recently got a cadence meter and realized my cadence is really slow, so I tried to keep a relatively kick cadence that I could maintain. I made sure to sit up and stand up periodically to relieve the pressure on my back which started aching from the sciatic issue pretty early on. Got passed by Liz at the first water stop and said hi, then started waiting for everyone else to pass. Had a near miss with a dead raccoon on route 16 and thanked the woman in front of me for pointing at the obstacle! That would have been a heck of a thing to hit. Eagleman sure has a lot of roadkill. My intention was to drink 5 bottles on the bike. I had 2 bottles of Infinit and bottle of water at the start and did a good job with steady fluid intake. I kept waiting for Tim to pass me and started getting worried that he hadn’t passed yet. Finally saw him around the halfway point and was relieved and kept pedaling. Egypt road was blissfully uneventful, uncharacteristically devoid of wind. It rocked. Apparently my hydration plan was working because I already had to pee, thought idly about peeing on the bike but no, that’s just gross! I didn’t want to stop at the water stop on Egypt Road and figured I could make it back to transition. Sharon and Aleah passed me once we had turned back off of route 16 which was great. Sharon told me I need to get a new bike and Aleah gave me a big smile and an enthusiastic wave which was a pick me up! As I came back into town and saw the runners I wasn’t feeling very enthusiastic about the long run, but had to get to it!
T2 – 3:58
I’m really not sure where the timing mat was in the muckfest, I have to think it was before the mud pit though. The mud was even worse on the way back into transition, and I just got through the best I could. I don’t have a nice light tri bike, and didn’t want to attempt hoisting my bike onto my shoulder to carry it across. I took the time to apply more sunscreen (though I neglected my legs figuring they didn’t need it and got a bit of a burn there) and changed my socks before putting my shoes on. I almost ran out the transition exit instead of the actual run out, whoops! Volunteers steered me quickly to the right and I didn’t see Susie but I heard her! Beth & Ben Olvey were on the run out of transition which gave me a boost! I had accomplished my second goal of needing to hit the portajohn after T2, but there were none on the run out! I wasn’t sure if they expected us to leave the course to use the ones at the swim start or what, so I just decided to head for the first pair of johns around a half a mile into the run.
Run – 2:20:09
I’ve never been so happy to use a portajohn in my life. Apparently I was properly hydrated! Goal #2 met. Now all I had to do was finish this thing. I had passed Michelle Motsko in my rush to the john and she said to come catch her. I caught her after a while and ran with her for a bit before continuing ahead. I was feeling pretty good and was planning on trying to run between the water stops as best I could and walk the water stop. This worked for the first few miles but I had to start taking extra walk breaks when it seemed like my heart rate was getting too high and I was out of breath. I saw a lot of MMTC folks and fellow Team Inspiration teammates and tried to give them all a shout out. I saw Tim along the way, maybe around mile 5 and got a quick kiss before we continued on our ways. Next I saw Sharon who looked great and gave her a cheer. Got passed by Lizzy who gave me some encouragement and continued along – though I did see her pause to give Sue a hug up ahead! I finally saw Liz as I was heading to the turnaround and wondered if I could catch her, but it was not to be, oh well. The company would have been nice! At each water stop I took some water or Gatorade and put ice in my hat which felt great. One stop actually offered Coke and I decided to give that a try – boy did that taste great. At the last water stop before the turnaround I saw a bottle of Endurolytes on the table and decided to take 2 out of an abundance of caution, though I hadn’t had any sign of cramping. Shortly after the turnaround I was passed by Heather Beutel who told me to come on, but my side had started hurting more and more so I was taking a walk break and let her go. It was nice to see her ahead of me for a long ways after that, but I was making no attempt to catch her! A little bit later I came upon George Roldan who’s a Lifetime swim group buddy and walked with him for a while before continuing. On the second half of the run I seemed to be passing a lot of guys who were complaining about the heat and how hard the race was. Are you kidding me? It was hot, but given the conditions considered normal for Eagleman I kept thinking about how this day was a gift! I caught up with Sue as we turned back into the “Eagleman Lava Field” (according to the sign) and walked with her for a while trying to loosen up my side. Finally I continued on, running as best I could. Getting back to Jenkins Creek was a trip, that neighborhood has a serious party on race day! I was looking forward to running through the mist tent they had set up, but the best part was the lines of people cheering us on that we ran between giving high fives as we went. Their enthusiasm was contagious and though I wanted to walk I at least ran to the end of the road! I passed a guy and asked him if he thought that whole group was drunk, he said he didn’t know, but they gave him a sip of beer and it was the best beer he ever tasted! I walked from the end of Jenkins Creek and through the next rest stop trying to loosen up before picking it up again. I really wanted to run more, I felt like my legs could do it, but my side was hurting. About a mile and a half out from the finish I ran into Sergio and walked with him for a while before trying to run again for a while. Continued the walk run until about the last quarter mile which I finished at a run, I definitely wanted to be able to run to the finish, and I did! Apparently Andy Potts gave me my medal but I was oblivious, oops! I think I was happier to have a cold towel put around my neck than the medal! But I was finished. Goal #3 accomplished! I did my first half marathon at Disney back in January and amazingly my run at Eagleman was only a few minutes slower. I have no idea how I pulled that off!
I was so grateful to get back to the MMTC tent, Beth and Ben jumped right in and asked if they could get me anything, and Tim got me the best freezer pop I’ve ever had. Beth made sure I had a plate of food, which was a nice change of pace since I’m in late waves at CTA events these days and have gotten back to the tent more than once to find not much left! What a spread! Elysia did an amazing job as tent captain, and Joanne even went and got massage tickets so we wouldn’t have to wait as long! I have never been so grateful for the club tent and all the friendly faces. I felt amazingly good at the finish aside from some sore feet and a blister, and of course my aching side.
Tim asked me post-race if I would sign up for Eagleman again and I said probably not, I know what the conditions are usually like! That crowd on Jenkins Creek may make me think twice about that decision someday, you miss them on the AquaBike! Time will tell. Many thanks to Beth and Ben for their support, hugs and encouragement before they went off to start their own races, they knew I was nervous! Thanks also to Kim Sheridan, Cathy Tucker and Aldona Glemza for their advice on how to handle race day nutrition. Thanks to Mark Yost who gave me his opinion on my plan to switch from my typical PB&B breakfast sandwich to the fruit & veggie smoothie I’d been having for breakfast which I think worked great for me, much lighter, and hydrating to boot. Again I can’t say enough to thank the girls running the tent! I will sign up for that job next year and pay it forward.