Sunday, June 17, 2012

CTR vs. The Sun: An Eagleman Story

Goal race of 2012: Eagleman 70.3. I got to Cambridge at 11am Saturday. Met up with my favorite race-buddies, Ryan McGrath and Alyssa Godesky. We swam, rode, ate, rested, ate, went to sleep... and they dealt with my incessant nerves. Good people to deal with a jittery rookie. Race day was sunny, hot, even at 8:15 when I made my way to the water for the swim...
SWIM: 29:13, 1:28/100m, 158th (9th AG) -- Pretty average swim for me as of late, which is all I wanted. I had no trouble as I rarely ever do with being beaten by other racers, but I let the lead group get away early, which stunk. About 400-500m I noticed a guy swimming alongside me so I slowed up a touch to get behind him and behind him I stayed for a long time, I think until the final right-turn to head back to shore. It was helpful as he was also a good navigator, specifically going around slow-moving or still bodies of the older men/women in the two waves before us. I got out of the water and saw 29:XX on my watch and knew the swim was mission accomplished. My goal was 29:30 and I think thanks to the draft I was pulled a few seconds faster, although really the guy I was swimming behind was the same speed as me. The current was weaker although it made the swim a touch slower I bet. Never worried about arm ache or bad form as my Xterra Vendetta suit always feels really good, even in 75.5 degree water.
Ed called out that I was near the front of my age group, so I was pleased but also worried I'd lose spots during my weakness, the bike. Transitioned fairly quick but dawdled near the end and lost 15-30sec.
BIKE: 2:22:47, 23.5mph, 102nd (4th AG) -- This part of the race made me the most nervous leading up, as I had never raced on a truly flat course before and therefore had no idea what my target wattage would produce speed-wise. I was pleasantly surprised when I found myself holding 24+mph in the light crosswinds. I was even more pleasantly surprised how good it felt! In the meantime I nailed my nutrition, taking in 2xbottles of EFS, a bottle of Gatorade, a bottle of water, and 3.5 Strawberry Clif gels w/ caffeine, the best gel out there! Lots of drafting and blocking out there too. Funniest part of the ride was when I was drafted off of by some old guy for a while and on a couple more occasions by guys in my wave. Me?? Drafted off of?? For real, me??? Hhahaahah! About 35mi in I reassessed and felt good and thought about turning up the power a little but decided not to... I really had no clue how I would feel off the bike, so I stuck to what was working. Around 40mi I turned into the headwind, which while not strong, was enough to slow me down a little. I was holding 24.1 up to that point, and was brought down to 23.7 with 2mi left to go, which I guess was expected. Nevertheless I held a very even wattage, rarely ever seeing my power average go over 222 or under 218. I couldn't have asked for a better ride! I was expecting 2:25-2:28, so to get under 2:23 was great to see. With a good swim and even better bike, I was setting myself up for a good run!
Totally bungled T2, had everything right until I was leaving transition and a kind volunteer asked "Hey man don't you want your number?" Oh yeah, that would be a good idea, since I don't want to get DQ'ed. Ran back to the other side of transition to get it. Wasted minute!! What a nonsense.
RUN: 1:34:01, 7:11/mile, 80th (5th AG) -- Well, it started according to plan, 6:15-20s for the first 5k and it felt pretty good, just like I thought it would. I love my shoes by the way, K-Swiss Kwicky Blades, EA$ILY the best running shoes I've ever worn. No joke. Then like a switch being flipped my body's cooling systems shut down. Fuel cells OFF. I suddenly felt like I was in an oven. Well, I was. It's pretty exposed out there and then without a cloud in the sky and 92+ degree heat... trouble. I soon found myself walking through the next aid station... then the next aid station... and then the next. And then every aid station until the finish. Just walking through them to get down as much water/gatorade/pepsi as I could during the walk. Ran between them, which was helpful, held 6:30-:45 pace, but those 30-50sec walks were killer for my pacing and time. I saw some 25-29 AGers pass me but I caught a couple as well. Unfortunately I began counting and soon I counted myself out of top-5 podium. RATS.
O well, just gotta finish respectably from here. I wasn't cramping so not all was bad. I was just really hot. Some stud kept passing me when I was walking through the aid stations, only to get re-passed by me whenever I started to run again. Got tired of it. I threw down an epic miracle final 2 mile straight run at 6:30 pace to put him behind me for good. SLAAAAM DUNK. I just preserved ... 7th place in the AG. Well it's something.
O hey, there's the finish line! DONE.
4:31:37, 73rd OA (7th AG), 97 seconds off from what I wanted, but goal #1 was finishing and feeling "good". Well, I didn't feel that good, I was hot and blistered and sore as hell. But I got the primary objective done. Not so bad for a first half, I reckon. And oddly it was the bike that got me in contention (makes all that bike training seem worth it huh?)... and the sun run that put me out. Next time I'll get that top-5 AG and maybe a Vegas spot. Oh, big ups to fellow Sidwell alumni Ken-Ichi Hino on the 25-29 win. HUGE day for the guy. Good to catch up with him.
That was hella fun. Can't wait for the next 70.3, and that is fo $ho.
Big thanks to DC Tri Club and Team Snapple (Bart Forsyth is the MAN, I'm telling you) and their sponsors (Xterra, K-Swiss, Clif, Elite Bicycles, Hed, Rudy Project, Champion Systems) for the gear and support; Coach Todd for his usual bang-on coaching and Matias, Ryan, Michelle, LJ, Alyssa G and (coach) Alyssa M for their advice and wisdom that I desperately needed. Can't forget my Dutch boy friends Dirk and Paul who support and keep me honest 24/7. And Brian Shea at Personal Best Nutrition, man knows nutrition and he got it right... he does the job so well he doesn't allow the athlete any nutrition-related excuses. Shout out to Elite Bicycles for building me the coolest bike in the world and Smiley El-Abd for squeezing me in for some emergency fitting leading to the race. Oh, and Martina for dealing with all this triathlon hooey, of course!