Eagleman & Birthday Fun

June 15, 2011 § 4 Comments

Two years ago I raced Eagleman 70. 3, won my AG (sort of – the first place girl got bumped up to 3rd Overall Amateur),  and earned myself a spot to 70.3 World Championships in Clearwater. Knowing that I would be aging up the next year I had glanced at the 25-29 age group. It was glaringly obvious that if I ever wanted to have the same fate at this race I had some serious work to do.

A question mark remained over my head this past weekend as I prepared for the race. I’m no fool and my googling skills are quite good these days so I was well aware of the girls in my age group and the fact that this was going to be far from an easy day. Not only was the competition Tyra Banks-style fierce, but the Eagleman Gods were shining down on us in full force and the weather forecast was high humidity and upper 80s/low 90s. Due to the high temperatures as of late, the water in the Choptank were well above 80 degrees and there was no question that wet suits would not be an option. I knew that meant then that speedsuits came into play, but in my little naive mind I truly thought that a zipped up tri top and tri shorts would be pretty much the same as a speed suit. I mean, they both cover about the same surface area and are tight and stretchy. Alas, Hillary informed me that is not exactly the case and I swear she took a little joy in letting me know that since I had yet to acquire a speedsuit, she would prefer I race in a bathing suit. Luckily I actually have no shame so while this was a daunting prospect it was a little exciting for me. I feel like racing in a swimsuit (or speedo for dudes) is kind of a rite of passage in the triathlon world. Who needs all the fancy schmancy gear when at the end of the day a swimsuit does the trick? I appropriately warned all those coming to spectate that they would be getting a little more than they bargained for in terms of the view though.

Fast forward to the race day. My wave was going off at 8:22. We got there just before 6am – this meant there was quite a bit of waiting. I hung around with Ryan, OJ, Pat and Tommy for a good portion of that time. I also had a slum-dog millionaire-esque experience in one of the porta pottys. And then it was time to get in the water which was cool because the sun was out and it was already getting quite toasty. The race started and I swam what I perceived tobe a pretty hard effort, but was disappointed with my 36 and change time exiting the water. However, the sight of champion spectators Carly and Jen cheered me up and I got ready to go on the bike.

Ah, the bike. Eagleman is known for being a very flat course, which means constant pedaling. My main concerns in the first half of the race was keeping it “comfortably uncomfortable” and maintaining my calorie intake. After I hit the 28 mile mark I reved it up a bit and went all out. This was good as we did have a headwind for a decent portion of the loop returning home, so it actually kept my split fairly evenly paced. Because I started the race as the 2nd to last wave, I spent the majority of the bike passing people. This is a big help on that course as there isn’t much else to look at. In the last 10 miles of the ride 2 girls caught me and we spent the remaining miles leap frogging and using each other to pace in.  I came in to T2 seconds behind them and we all headed out for the run.

My hope for the run was to be able to find a pace in the realm of 7:45 that felt comfortable for the first 8 miles, then use what was left to get home. This was a shortlived dream on Sunday though, as my legs right off the bat felt very heavy. I knew the temps were high and I could feel the sun beating down on my practically-naked backside, so I didn’t stress it.  After all, at least I was still running. Then around the 5k mark things changed, and I felt the life come back into my legs. Maybe I had finally shook out the 2:33 bike split, but I felt like a new person. The heat was still present – so I was walking through the aid stations and taking the water/ice to cool off – but I was keeping a good pace between them. At mile 8 I turned it up a little and really I only felt stronger. I knew my sub-5 hour race was out the window at this point, but I had that 5:05 in sight. With 2 miles to go I caught my old Navy Marathon coach. When he let me go I knew he was hurting, so I high fived him and set off to catch the next person. This was a girl from NJ in the age group above me and we were able to chat as we came through the last aid station. We helped each other push in to the finish line and I came through in 5:05:25, a 14 minute PR on the course, and 6ish minutes faster than I even did at Clearwater in 09.

I was really happy with my result but was a little bummed to see that only put me 8th in the AG. However, the rolldown gods were granting me a birthday present this year and somehow the Vegas spots got rolled down to 7/8th place. I took the spot without question – Hillary and I had already discussed that it would be a fun opportunity to just have a fun no expectations race, and after all – who turns down a chance to go to the World Championships? SOMEONE has to take it 🙂 NOTE: As I have continued to make plans for this race, the logistics have become increasingly challenging so if you are going to the race or know someone who is and may be interested in splitting a room/car/etc at the race site please get in touch with me!

All in all, it was a good day. I had what I feel was an incredible bike, and a strong run where I actually negative split – I’ve never, ever done that in any running event! I believe that this race was another big stepping stone in my progress towards my “real” goal later this year.

Post race included some good food and bevs at Abbey Burger and Andrew was in town for the night before his flight out which was a good time. Monday was birthday, and true to my worst fears this included a “birthday swim” granted to me by Hillary. 26×200. Also known as 5200 meters. Also known as 3.3 miles. Also known as really, really far to swim. Luckily I was able to dupe Ryan into swimming it with me and while my pace was painfully slow I did in fact get in done well in time for a great birthday lunch in Fells Point!

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