Seems that the theme of my blog this year is disappointing races. I am hoping to turn this around, sooner than later.
My friend (and client) Devon and I decided on doing Eagleman waaaay back in October. That’s a LONG time ago! It was going to be her first 70.3 and I thought it would be fun if we went up together. In the last few weeks, we incorporated Leigh-Ann (my new coach…more on that later) and Sebastian in to the mix as they planned to do the race also and I thought it would be fun for everyone to go together. We left Thursday after work and went straight to my parents house about 2 hours closer to the race. We were up and at ’em early Friday and after sitting in more traffic than I prefer, we checked into the house and headed to the race site for as swim and a quick run.
My parents ended up coming in their RV and somehow finagled themselves to a parking spot, literally, at the swim exit! I don’t think we realized how awesome it would be to have an air conditioned bus, essentially, within 50 yards of transition! V.I.P Eagleman! I was so glad to have them there too…they had a ball volunteering most of the day Saturday checking bikes in to transition and by the end, we referred to the RV as “Eagleman Race Headquarters” as it seemed my Dad was virtually the race director. Not surprising 🙂
After a quick swim again Saturday and a short ride on the run course, we were hanging out after “waiting” for D-day. I felt absolutely wonderful in all of my workouts and was really focusing on my hydration given I knew the heat would be a huge factor. I was ready to go and super excited to race!
We woke up at 5 on race morning and were out the door by 5:30. VIP Eagleman also allowed us to park at the RV, about a 1 minute walk to transition. I set up my entire transition area in the RV on Saturday and all I had to do was move it to my bike rack Sunday morning. Talk about spoiled! I had the typical nerves, but with the announcement that the water temps were 75.8 and wetsuits would be allowed, much of my anxiety subsided. It was great to have all of us together, with swim waves within 16 minutes of each other to occupy our minds and keep each other focused.
Swim: 34:03 (1:45/100m)
I am very pleased with this swim. I lined up on the front line and got out with the fast group. By the 3rd or 4th time I looked up to site, I honestly thought I was totally off course because I didn’t really anyone ahead of me (yet). I settled into a groove and tried to find a pack or some feet but there just never seemed to be any “good” for me to draft off of. I’ve been working on my open water swimming quite a bit this year and my times are slowly improving but more importantly, I’m feeling more and more comfortable and efficient in the water. It is a good feeling to see some improvement. The mat at the swim exit was a bit away from the end of the water and when I stood up I saw a 32:4_ something on my watch. That’s a pretty big PR swim for me and I feel very happy about that. 🙂
I don’t remember much about T1 other than fumbling a little with my helmet. Otherwise, it was fine.
Bike: 2:31:07 (22.23mph)
I rode my little tail off, I’m not gonna lie. This was a ~2 min 70.3 PR and it was awesome to ride with my power meter. I nailed 188 watts for nearly the entire ride. It increased slightly to 190 average while in the headwinds despite trying to back down my effort, but you just work harder in the wind. Not unlike most other people in the race, I was ready to be done riding by about mile 50 but I put my head down and just pressed on.
Throughout the ride, when my watch beeped every 5 miles, I stood up, added a gear, and did a “run” to be sure my legs got a stretch. By the 50 mile stand up, I could feel some cramps creeping into the left quad. I had stayed on my fuel strategy to a “T” taking in one sip of my gel/water/salt stick combo and a big sip of water every 10 minutes. I took my “emergency” gel to try to get some additional electrolytes in and hold off the cramps. I began to stand and stretch more after mile 50 praying what I was feeling wasn’t a cramp and just a stiff leg and some muscular fatigue. It was nearing 90 degrees by this point and I had officially began to “drip sweat” on my bike which is when you know its hot when you can drip sweat despite sailing along in the wind at 20 some-odd mph. The course was windy but I didn’t feel that it was windy as White Lake several weeks ago and the wind didn’t get to me too much until the last 3-4 miles. I had passed A LOT of girls in my age group on my bike, though I had no idea where I stood out of the water or just how many people I had passed. I really had no idea where I was. Turns out, I was 7th off my bike.
Side note: In all honesty – I didn’t really “care” where I was in my AG. Don’t get me wrong, I 100% wanted to do my absolute best at this race and kick some 30-34 year old bootie. That said, IF I managed a good race and earned a Kona or Vegas spot, I would not have been able to take it anyway since Kona is the same time as Worlds and I don’t have additional time to take off work to go to Vegas. So, my spot would have rolled down even if I did earn it. I was hoping that would play into my favor as there was really no “pressure” (other than the immense pressure I put on myself).
So I exited my bike feeling good about my split. However, running into transition didn’t feel all that good. Race Director and Master Bike Checker-In-er (my dad and mom) were, of course, standing AT my transition spot cheering me on as I came through. It was pretty cool. My transition was fine, no records set, and not too detrimentally slow. It was a long run around the back to get out.
Walk: 2:35:22 (embarrassingly slow/mile)
I set out of transition at a blistering, oh, ~8:55 pace thinking “holy shit, WHAT IS WRONG WITH MY LEGS? They’re just stiff. WHY AM I CRAMPING??!! It’s all ok, the stiffness will lighten up. OUCH!!!!! You will not quit though”. Flying through my head just as I came out of transition!
I “jogged” along and thought about all of my long, hard training, all of the people who support me, all of my athletes, my family, on and on. I thought of everything I could to keep me running. It was not working. About 1/2 mile in, I succumb to, what I planned to be, a quick stop to stretch my quad. Pull up foot to stretch quad and, OUCH, entire hamstring locks up and I literally yell out in pain. After massaging out the hamstring cramp, I opted to avoid any more stretching. I attempted to continue at least a jog in an effort to just get out of the heat quicker, but I could not manage anything more than a walk/run. I came up on a 55 year old woman who was also walking and by the time I got to her I began walking also. She said “you don’t look like walker, you look like a winner” and I used it for motivation to do my best and try to run. My legs would not have it! 😦 I turned my Garmin off at that point and set my sites on finishing – no matter how long it took or how bad I felt. There would be no DNF’ing at this race.
I decided to spend the next 2+ hours that I would be out on the course to cheer on alllll of the people who would be passing me throughout the day – some running strong, some struggling, others puking. I cheered on the 30-34 year old girls the most because I have respect for those that are stronger than me on days when I am not strong. Well, and even days that I am strong, for that matter.
The run is an out and back course, without an OUNCE of shade, like not one leaf, and the sun was just relentless. By this point, it was approaching 95 degrees and that doesn’t include whatever heat index is involved. It was just plain hot. Given I was walking the heat wasn’t affecting me as much as the runners but I still took in tons of water and ice and coke periodically to be sure my sugars didn’t get too low. I resorted to a 100 steps of running, walking for about 100 steps. I jockeyed back and forth for the last 3 miles with a 65 year old man; that was not really great for my battered spirits but I cheered him along every time he came by me and encouraged him to keep going if I “surged ahead”. He thanked me at the end.
Total time: 5:44
Am I happy with this time? NO! Is it my slowest 70.3 to date? Yep! Is it my slowest by ~40 minutes? Yep! Am I really struggling with DNF’ing and then have my worst half IM within 6 weeks of each other? YES!
Will I be back?
WITHOUT A DOUBT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This weekend was bittersweet, but mostly sweet 🙂 Devon, Leigh-Ann, Sebastian, Sean and my parents and I had an absolute blast! It was one of the more fun race travel experiences I’ve had. Devon has trained so hard over the past 5 months and she hit her goal race ON THE NOSE! As a coach, there is nothing more awesome than to be there with someone experiencing her first Ironman event.
Leigh-Ann had an absolutely perfectly executed race and despite not having the results she hoped for, she has absolutely nothing to be ashamed of! She rocked it.
And I’m pretty sure there are a lot of people who dream of a 4:34 half Ironman with a “bad run” as Sebastian pulled out.
And I technically beat Mirinda Carfrae 🙂 So overall, there was a lot to be happy about this weekend.
As always, thanks to everyone for calls, texts, emails, messages and wall posts. It’s what has and will keep me from just quitting because that would be the easier thing to do at this point. Onward and upward!!