So, last year, about August/September friend of mine(Amber) says hey, Eagleman registration is open. Well, having missed Eagleman 07 and then the Patriot Half 07. I jumped on it since I knew it would close quickly.
My biggest fear was the swim. Especially since the Eagleman swim is in something called the Choptank River. Which is notorious for choppy water. Goal number one was going to be enable myself to stand at that start on June 8th 2008 and minimize my swim anxiety. Only way to do that was to really focus on my swim skills throughout the winter. Be confident that I could handle whatever was thrown at me in the water. In October I joined a masters swim team. Which wasn't bad. It got me swimming with real swimmers. But the coaching was somewhat limited. So in January I joined a masters swim team at Virginia Wesleyan. This one had a coach on deck who provided verbal motivation, critiqued your stroke and designed workouts. Plus it was mostly triathletes which meant freestyle swimming almost exclusively. I made a commitment to this, 3 times a week, 6AM to 7:30AM, swimming, kicking, drilling, suffocating. Some weeks I'd swim the 3 days with master's then go to the YMCA and just swim distance 2 other days of the week. It really made a difference. Funny thing is that you swim with people and it's not supposed to be competitive, but it is. And that's good, it challenges you and gets you out of that comfort zone. Still can't say I'm fast but I plan to keep going and hopefully I can find some speed somewhere. One thing is clear fear is a very good motivator.
The whole experience of Eagleman was great. I felt so blessed to be able to be out there even though it got alot tougher than I thought it would.
Race: Eagleman 70.3 - 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run = 70.3 miles
Date: June 8, 2008
Location: Cambridge MD.
Temperature: upper 90's and humid
Swim: YES! This was the highlight of my day. First of all my peeps were standing there at the start, My sherpa par excellence, Madia, My Mom, My Aunt and my Daughter(who is going to do this with me some day 8-) ) were standing there. That feels good! I had heard so much about the Choptank chop and sea nettles. I was prepared for all of it. Bought a new 2 piece wetsuit (actually 3 pieces, longjohn bib, long sleeve pullover and sleeveless pullover). You wear the bib and then whichever pullover suits the day. Thinking I'd wear the long sleeve in case of sea nettles. But ended up wearing the sleeveless since it was 900 degrees out there and no nettles reported(I could have used the wetsuit I already had but I do love the 2 piece). Anyway, there was no chop and I never even saw a piece of seaweed(riverweed?). I was rolling along until I was accosted by a couple of zigzaggers. The same 2 guys just kept bumping into me. One minute they're on the right, next minute on the left, next minute they're kicking me or I'm kicking one of them. I think I was able to sprint away from them on that last long leg. I felt great all the way, never felt panicked or tired. I think I've overcome my tendency to breath only on the right, every stroke. This time(and last week at Breezy Point) I was comfortable breathing both sides every third stroke. Which also helps with being able to see all around you. Running out of the water I thought... "I've got this!"
Goal time: around 45 minutes
Actual time: 46 and change
T1: 5 minutes and something... slow. There was a longish run out of the water to the transition area. Saw my peeps standing there cheering, loved that. They were yelling at me to run on the grass and not the gravel. I was on cloud nine so it didn't matter. Plus a little bit later I was going to be running in fire so what's a little gravel?
Bike: This Sucks! Right from the start I was just uncomfortable. Just not feeling
right. See, goal number 2 was to be able to fuel and hydrate adequately on the bike to prepare myself for the run. I didn't think the heat was much of a factor at this point, I just couldn't get into any kind of groove. It never got better. The water and gatorade on the course was good but warm. I just kept wishing it was cold. It's one thing to ride 60 or 70 miles with a group, quite another when you're out there on your own!!!! When you're in a group you can draft and rest a bit. When you're out there on your own there's no rest. And of course there's no drafting allowed in long distance triathlon. I admit I thought about latching onto the back of someone a few times. Heck, a few minutes in the penalty tent would have been a welcome relief. But somehow I was able to keep my wits about me and had a shot at going under 3 hours. In about the last 10 miles I wanted to be off that bike in the worst way. My back hurt, my neck hurt, I kept having to stand up on the pedals to keep from going numb in nether regions. Why did I sign up for this misery, NEVER again. Etc. etc. Then I got a cramp or stitch in my side that persisted through T2. That got me thinking I was drinking too much. I did drink quite a bit but I get an F for fueling on the bike. Only had half a mojo bar and maybe half of my carbo-pro/gatorade endurance concoction. I admit that I was a bit afraid to take the endurolytes since I hadn't used them in training. Maybe that's what did me in. As always, I passed some, some passed me. By the end I didn't care.
Goal time: 2:50
Actual time: 3:00
T2: 4 minutes and something. Seemed like a long way getting around to the run start mat. Damn happy to be off that midevil torture device known as a bike. Very happy about that, until I start thinking about running a half marathon. uh, whose idea was this again. Note to self, stop listening to Amber.
*note2: did I mention that it was the hottest day of the year? Well into the 90's high humidity?
Run: Hell no!!!!! "This is going to be a long walk" is all I could say to myself after I got off the bike. Usually I'm in the bottom quarter of my AG for the swim, a little bit better than the middle on the bike and in the top third on the run. So I rely on my run to pull me up in the standings. But this was my first HIM and by the time I got to the run my body said... uh, no can do. So I started off walking thinking maybe I'll be able to run after I get to that first aid station and get some ice water. Got there and then through the second aid station, still no sign of my run. Lot's of people walking, talking, melting. One lady said, if I can't walk you can't walk, so we played leapfrog a while. Met a guy who had traveled from Kazakhstan for this race and a lady from Boston with Asthma. Saw a lady walking with one of those air casts on her foot. People would just introduce themselves. Just a whole bunch of inspiring folks that I never would have gotten to fully experience if I had been running. I didn't even want to think about how far the turn around was. The half way point. I think I saw every single person I knew who was in this race, on that run course, probably about 15 people. Some running, some walking, most just shuffling along. Finally I would start to run but just couldn't keep it going. Then I was playing leapfrog with the 70 year old guy. But ultimately he was a much faster walker than me. The ice and ice water and pepsi, every mile were lifesavers. Also had part of a cookie. I would just dump ice in my cap and down my shirt front and back. Everytime I'd run the ice in my clothes would make a jangling sound. I had this crazy idea that people would think I was weird if I ran by and they heard that sound. Then team member Shannon goes by me at about mile 10 and gets me to run with her a while but by that last mile I was walking again and she was gone. I wasn't actually feeling that bad just couldn't make myself run for any significant time. I finally crossed the finish line and am kind of amazed that the run time was only 2:58:58. Seemed like a month in hades. Longest, hottest, toughest 2:58:58 of my life. Really good to see my peeps there at the finish, a few shades darker but there nonetheless. Anyway, lady at the finish says, "want me to walk you over to the med tent". I think, does she ask everyone that or do I look that bad? I politely decline thinking "I don't need no stinkin med tent". Get my medal, have my picture taken, then swoon... off to the med tent.
Run goal time: 1:55
Run actual time: 2:58:58
Sunday I was done with 70.3(and beyond). Today, I'm challenged to figure out how to do better. Think I might try Eagleman again next year. It can't be that hot. Can it? But Lake Placid in 09, having some real doubts about that. It took me 7 marathons before I was able to run the whole distance. Now I've done it twice in a row. Hope it doesn't take me that long to figure out how to do 70.3, I'll never get to 140.6 at that pace.
1) keep on swimming, you're making progress. The structure of masters is good. And those long bay swims are also invaluable.
2) more rides without the benefit of the group. Maybe a few solo 40/50 milers. As much time as possible in the aero position.
3) Nutrition, Nutrition, Nutrition. This is so important in endurance sports. I think I need to start keeping track of calories and making sure I eat enough for what I burn. And then carrying the proper nutrition over into racing. fuel/hydration/fuel/hydration/fuel/hydration during races. Might as well stop now if I'm not going to seriously pay attention to these things.
4) Running/MultiSport/EnduranceSport people are Fantastic(I already knew this). Amber(you really know how to make the impossible seem like nothing!!!!). Team Final Kick(a whole lot of great people). Team YMCA(Brian, Mary, Mark and a whole lot more great people) These are the folks who got me going on this journey. Team CTA(Vanda, Pat, et. al., more great motivated people!!!, be nice to have group going to Eagleman some year soon!)