Monday, June 14, 2010
Tough day at Eagleman 70.3!
Here at Ocean City, MD (downy ocean, hon!..with my Baltimore accent :) for a little R&R with the family after Eagleman Ironman 70.3 triathlon and enjoying the beach prior to heading up to Lake Placid for camp this coming weekend. I thought I'd post a quick race report.
The last time I did Eagleman was in 1998 before it became an Ironman 70.3. I was just turning 29, racing pro and at the peak of my athletic career. I won and posted a sub-4 hour finish. Flash forward 12 years later at the age of 41 (in a couple days) and I was back to give it another shot! I love this sport in how it allows you to keep competing and pushing your limits, no matter what your age might be. Granted, we don't have the same physical strengths as we had when we were younger, but the determination and desire remains the same. Awesome!
The day promised to be typical Eman... hot, humid and windy. It started with a twist as the announcer said wetsuits were NOT allowed, a first in the long history of the event. I'm a big fan of wetsuits as a non-swimmer... but it is what it is... let's roll!
The 40-44 AG was the largest wave with over 300 athletes (WOW!). The gun goes off and we attack the river, which has a strong current. Yes... big time current! The Choptank river is very unpredictable and swim times can be fast or slow. This year, they were slow across the board and many didn't meet the cut off time. There are even some rumors that the buoys marking the course shifted overnight and that the course was 200-300 Meters long...but it doesn't matter... we all swim the same distances (if navigation is good). I exit at around 36 min. and think, "hmmm... shoulda done more than 1000 yd workouts in training." :)
T1 was slow as my lower back was stiff from the swim and I had to put a tight lycra tri singlet over my wet torso, which took awhile. I headed out on the bike and had the plan to be patient and not to hammer so as to avoid my constant nemesis as of late...quad cramps! I started out at a nice controlled and relaxed tempo/cadence on the bike.
I also adhered to my nutrition plan of consuming 4 (yes four) 20 fl oz water bottles per hour on the bike due my freakishly high sweat rate (and I sodium loaded all week). I also took 3 enduralyte caps each hour and ingested three powergels and 4 shot blocs during the ride. My riding rhythm was fine but my left glute was extremely tight... likly due to inadequate time in the aero position on my awesome Kestrel airfoil. EMan's 56 mile bike course is flat and fast... so one needs to shift position once in awhile, which I did, but perhaps not enough.
Entering T2, i had already consumed 80 Fl oz and had ingested around 600-800 calories, a ton of nutrition. I hobbled off the bike due to my left glute pain, but had no quad cramps (yet!). As I sat down in transition to put on my socks and shoes, I couldn't help think that I was going to have a hard time running. ugh. I was right as my running gait was off immediately and I couldn't stride out or run 'fast'. bummer
I started hitting the aid stations for fluids immediately and the glute started to loosen up and was not as painful at around mile one. I was actually feeling like my 'old self' and started to hit a 6 min. mile pace but then just after mile 2, things took a turn for the worse and the all-too-familiar quad cramps kicked in. Aggghhh!! So frustrating! I thought the race was over for me and even contemplated walking back with a dnf. Nope... gotta finish. Several people passed me from different age groups and waves as I stood and massaged the quad, trying to get the spasms to subside. They did, and I slowly started running again after what seemed to be an eternity.
I reeled back the folks who had passed me, but couldn't run at 'tempo' because that would have brought the twinges back. Then, at around mile 6, someone told me I had two guys ahead in the 40-44 AG. Cool.
Just after the turnaround of the out and back, I caught the first place masters athlete. All the while, I'm running with the knowledge (and fear) that each step could be the last before I cramp again. Then, it happened as predicted and I had to stop with a cramp in the left inner quad that made my hair stand on end! 30 sec. later, I was passed by my competitor and he was running strong. I had a feeling I could reel him back...but only if I could resume running asap. Finally, after another eternity of over 90 sec., I could start jogging and gradually pick up my pace. With about 4 miles to go, I took the lead again. As I approached the final turn towards the finishing stretch to the line, I could feel the cramps coming on again and thought how funny it would be to skip or crawl to the finish line in front of a 'home' crowd... even my kids and parents were there. I didn't want my 6 yr old to see daddy seize up in pain... not a good race memory for her! I slowed to an easy jog to prevent that from happening and held off the hard charging second place athlete to win the division and as 10th OA amateur. I declined the IM Kona slot as there's no way I'd be ready for it until I figure out these darn cramping issues... and i'd rather someone else get the slot whose dream it is to compete there but has not yet had the chance.
I really enjoyed racing the 'half IM' again...what a great distance as it combines speed with the unknowns (like cramping!) associated with long course racing. Also, it was great to be involved as a sponsor and as an athlete with my hometown race after so many years of not racing. I saw a ton of familiar faces and really appreciated all of the encouragement and support I received out there on the course too. Awesome!
My next 70.3 is Racine in July. I'm hoping to make progress in figuring out my cramping woes and to test them at Racine. I know that many of you also struggle with cramping and would welcome any advice or personal experiences you may have to offer.
Thanks for reading and congrats to everyone who finished EMan 70.3 on a really tough day! My next race is the Life Time Fitness Tri in MN and then Racine 70.3 ... so hopefully I'll see you there!