|Eagleman Ironman 70.3 RACE REPORT||June 11 , 2006
In any event, after an early group dinner with my parents included we set off for an early to bed plan. Low stress and good vibes. I was fueled and ready to get my good nights rest. And for the most part I did. An air mattress is just not as comfortable as your bed, especially when it looses a tad of air overnight. Then at what seemed like 2am someone starts packing their car. I can only imagine this goof ball with all their gear on ready to race in the middle of the night- what maniac needs to get ready this early? In reality it was closer to 4am but my plan was to get up at 5.30, get to the start at 6, and hang out for an hour after setting up, then start in my wave at 7:13am. Of course one maniac spurs a campsite panic attack among every other type A and before you knew it we were all up competing to see who could pack up first. I got up at 5 and half the camp was gone when I stepped out of my dome and the other half was close behind. Did they change the start time and no one told me? Was my watch wrong? More importantly my wave was one of the very first and there were waves starting as much as an hour after mine. So it was likely nobody needed to be at the start earlier than I did- unless you were a pro, and frankly they probably weren't camping!
Oh well, a couple peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a banana later we were off to the race. The breeze was picking up.
Swim - 1.2m
We wade in. Get ready. The water was very comfortable and calm on the protected beach. We walk out farther and farther. The water is - well, black. And we continue to walk out to what seems like half way to the first buoy. I take full advantage by getting up front in the pack, no reason to swim what you can walk. Then we get a "You have 45 seconds, oh wait, you have 10 seconds, my math was never really that good! GO!"
That's when all the serenity of the morning disappeared. Flailing arms and kicks churning up the water. The pack was so wide that the biggest issue was getting people from the left and people from the right trying to squeeze in closer as they drew their lines out to the first buoy. Meanwhile I was just pushing ahead thinking we'll be more than spread apart by the time we have to turn around at what seemed like a pinpoint on the horizon. The swim out was with the wind - or rather with the waves, for the most part. It grew to be more from the side the farther we got out into the main body of water.
And then we turned into the chop. Head on. It got nasty. Taking in *some* water was inevitable but it got to a point that I wondered exactly how much could I take in without being seriously sick when I got out. It was just about every stroke some water would splash in. At times full mouths of water with no air. Switching sides didn't help any as the chop was mixed but relatively head on. And sighting was difficult to impossible. With a yellow marker on the horizon I did my best to shoot right at it. Unfortunately the buoys weren't the only yellow things out on the water- kayakers also had yellow vests (on the outside of the course) so I added some distance to an already tough course. But that wasn't all- the jelly fish (or sea nettles) were out in force. I don't know what the differences are between them but you don't need to know when you're getting stung. One thing is certain, getting one in the face would not be good. I got a few stings on my arms but was spared from the face plant.
Overall it was a slow and tedious effort. The disappointment of
a long swim wasn't what I wanted to think about as I got out to face
the wind on the bike course. But getting out of the water, after
finding the ramp, was a relief.
Bike - 56m
The first third of the bike course was the easiest with a couple small section of tailwind to help change the pace. At times I was rolling at 27 mph without pushing super hard. But there were the sections that slowed to a crawl as we battled the head wind. Every now and then a speed demon would pass at mach 3 but for the most part I kept passing people.
The landscape was flat. Some say its beautiful. I tend to differ in opinion. I think it's better than, lets say, Iraq, but not by much. Ok, that's a stretch, but it is boring and monotonous. The physical aspect is only part of the challenge- the mental struggle against the wind and holding the same position for hours wears on you more. I actually stood up (on a perfectly flat course) for at least a minute just to change it up and stretch out.
By the end of the ride I wanted it to be over- I was ready to run.
The second half of the course was predominately head wind with some
really stiff sections. I started to feel bloated from what I thought
was my liquid fuel so I upped my salt and water intake and eased
off the liquid calories. Getting back into town for the last couple
miles was a thrill and the closer I got to transition the faster
Run - 13.1m
And before I knew it I was half way at about 52 minutes. So I dialed it up just a notch to keep this good rhythm and not burn out to early knowing that the last three miles or so I would dial it up again. I wanted these increases to happen smoothly - something I've been working on in my run. And sure enough I took my HR to about 149-151. At this point I was forgetting my mile calculations so I wasn't sure of my pace but comfortable with knowing that I was about even. And somehow I calculated that I would end up with 8mm which was my target. So I was right on pace and relatively comfortable- that was the weird thing.
At mile nine I was passed slowly by a tall runner and I decided I could increase my speed some now while drafting him into the wind (back into town). I kept right on his feet and by the time we hit the 10 mile mark we were on a 7mm pace. My HR was at 152 and I was getting excited at my ability to keep this up all the while getting closer to the finish line. I joked with my pacer and confirmed I wasn't annoying him, and he was happy in front just so long "you don't pass me in the sprint finish" - agreed. But he took off not too much after that. And the next thing I see is the 12 mile mark! What? Where is 11? I clearly missed the 11 mile mark- possibly from my focus on the feet in front of me. Who cares, pick it up, I kept my pacer in my sights about 50 yards up and slowly tried to gain ground but he was in overdrive.
The finish chute was there before I knew it. I sprinted through
with ease, and passed a few on the way but didn't see my pacer. Absolutely
no stops and a pretty consistent pace throughout. This was a huge
breakthrough in my running.
Overall I hit my mark. 5:10. A slower than expected swim and bike but a great run. Very happy to set a new PR. The awesome cheers and the DC Tri Clubbers out on the course was a great diversion. Huge thanks to everyone that was out there, especially my parents, Kelly and Stella!
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