Eagleman Ironman 70.3 – pretty much a perfect race!
Swim 1.9kms, Bike 90kms, Run 21.1kms
I’ve been trying to reflect on the days leading up to, and including race day to try and find some kind of interesting story, or drama to entertain you with. But I really can’t. It was just completely drama and incident free and a great race. I’ll take you through my race day anyway – as there is always something to learn and reflect on (and laugh at) – and it may help those of you out there who are looking at doing this race.
So Eagleman is held in Cambridge Maryland – about an hour and 40mins drive out of Washington DC (depending on traffic of course). It’s an absolutely stunning location on the Choptank River. By the time we (that’s me and my partner in TriCrime Amanda aka CaveGirlTri’s) signed up for this race all the cheaper accommodation in town was sold out – so we were (luckily) forced to stay at the Hyatt which was just stunning. Anyway back to the race…
Eagleman is quite a popular race as it has 30 slots for Kona along with 40 slots for the 70.3 World Championships. It is also a very flat bike and run course which appeals to a lot of people. So this race sells out pretty quick every year, and this year was no different with around 2100 competing on the day. Race morning was a crazy sea of activity – with everyone setting up their stuff next to their bikes – and then the blind panic from some competitors when it was announced that it was NOT a wetsuit swim. Apparently it can vary year from year – and this year the river was very shallow so the temperature was in the “no wetsuit” zone. You could see some people getting very anxious at this stage – for me it was a relief.
I actually hate swimming with a wetsuit on. I feel like it’s slowly trying to squeeze the life out of me and it makes my arms feel like they are made of lead for about the first 500 meters (yes I know I should practice open water swimming with a wetsuit on more – got it.). So I was relieved to be honest, but not overly excited about having to do a shallow water start in what I still considered cold water (such a baby I know). Anyway the adrenaline kicked in and I hardly remember the cold water. We were off and I felt like I was having a pretty good swim, rhythm was good, breathing was good, no-one passing me, I was passing a few people. All seemed good. I reached to the last bouy with 100 meters to go and realised that people where standing up next to me and running to the swim exit. Was the water really that shallow – wow. I kept swimming as I think it takes more energy to try and run through water than continue to swim, but at about 25meters this was impossible so I had to run with everyone else. This is where I looked down and saw 36 minutes. What!? Crap…why so slow? Anyway I got myself on to dry land and just headed for the bike – I hope there was some kind of weird current to explain my swim time (there wasn’t – I was just slow). Then to add insult to injury on my swim time, I apparently somehow picked up an after five shadow of river scum on my face – which made for some interesting finisherpix shots – great!.
On the bike and off – no issues. It was pretty much like that for 90kms. Flat – yes, windy – kind of. I felt really good on the bike – probably cause I took it so easy on the swim. So I passed a few other women in my age group on the bike in the beginning, then as the ride went on a few caught me. Everytime a chick would go past me in my age group (oh in case you’re wondering they write your age on the back of your calf) I would be like – damn it. I think about 5 chicks passed me, but I must of passed about 7 as I went down in my category position. There was one nice chick who caught me at about the 80km mark. As she went passed she spoke to me – she said “are we there yet?”..it made me giggle – then she turned and she said “you’ll catch me on the run – see ya then”.
As usual – ouch – when those legs hit the ground coming off the bike. I kind of fumbled around in transition, trying to get stuff in my pocket, put on some sunscreen and of course most importantly my shoes and hat. Off I went and I was surprisingly able to to hold a nice sub 5min pace for the first 2 kms. This seemed to get the legs sorted out and I settled in to a more comfortable pace at around 5mins to 5.15mins. All felt good – just needed to keep my head strong, I was technically done and I had some chicks to catch that passed me on the bike. I caught a few of them and that felt good – but I hadn’t seen my chatty friend yet. The run at Eagleman is an out and back – the reality of this hit me just before the turn around – crap I have to run all the way back now. I looked down and of course, my pace was slowing. My mind was getting lazy and straight away everything slows down. Then who should I run up next to – yep, my chatty friend. She asked me “what’s our pace” of course I only know metric so I said I had no idea what we were doing in miles – luckily she had lived in London for a few years so knew the metric system. I told her we were holding a 5.20 pace. She said “cool – we are going to finish in 5hours 25min if we can keep it up”. Wow – really. I hadn’t done the math, so if I could just keep this pace for another 10kms I will come in under 5hours 30mins. This was awesome news – kind of. Anyway we chatted about where we were from, other races, etc etc….but for the most part it was a great mental distraction and I knew we had to keep that pace up. After chatting for a while, we ran side by side for a long time in silence. It was comforting in a strange way. We hit an aid station about 3kms out from the finish and she had to stop, she told me to go – that I should have my moment on the finish line alone. What an amazing person, and to add to it, she had told me just before the aid station that she suffers from Lupus. Geez this sport attracts some amazing people. Anyway with the hard part over I focused on the finish and pushed my pace as much as I could. 2kms out my legs, knees and hamstrings where screaming at me – I didn’t listen. After almost tripping over some random dude who cramped up 10 meters from the finish line (that’s got to suck) I finished in 5hours and 20mins. 41 minutes faster than Phuket only 6 months earlier.
I was so happy to see Kaden and William waiting in the crowd. The first thing William asked me was – so could you do that all again (i.e. do double the distance for a full Ironman) I said “no F%@ing way – I’m never doing an Ironman”. We then waited for Amanda to come through – she did an amazing job and shaved almost and hour of her last time. Wow. I went to give her a big hug – guess what was the first thing she told me? She said “that’s it Hon, I’m not doing this again”. I laughed!
Funny…….it’s now been just over a week since the race…and we have both already picked our next races……how quickly you forget the pain and agony, but you can not forget that amazing feeling of personal accomplishment that comes with long course triathlon racing. It’s addictive – and I love it.
Swim 1.9kms :37.02 (PACE 1.55/100m)
Bike 90kms: 2.47.33 (PACE: 32.2kmh/20.05mph)
run 21kms: 1:50.33 (PACE: 5.15/k, 8.23/m)
Transitions: T1: 2.23 T2: 2.45
Finish Time: 5.20.16
Age Group Place 23rd/165
So what the heck am I talking about. Well it kind of goes like this.
Girls decides to do a triathlon, doesn’t do particularly well but feels the coolest she has in years. Girl gets addicted to triathlon, buys all the gear along with a ridiculously expensive bike and colour coordinating kit and helmet. Girl signs up for a 70.3 after only doing 2 sprint triathlons. Girl does well. Girl gets an online coach and goes to Australia for 2 months – trains like a beast. Girl starts doing some races and gets on the podium twice. Girl gets cocky – thinks she’s awesome. Girl moves to the USA. Girl falls apart, gets injuries, falls off bike while stationary – and then has the biggest crash for absolutely no good reason – breaking favourite (and expensive) Fluro Pink Rudy Project Helmet and obtaining a concussion.
So is that the end of the story – no way.
After “the crash” I had to take 2 full days off training and maintain a pretty low heart rate for about a week to ensure that I was fully recovered from my mild concussion. I think this was the rest I was needing and I bounced back in to my training with enthusiasm and energy for the last 12 days. I have had some of the best session so far and am feeling quite good (considering). Wish I didn’t need to bang my head to get this outcome – oh well.
I now have just under 3 weeks till Eagleman 70.3. Realistically the likelihood of me showing up to that race as well conditioned and prepared as I was for Abu Dhabi International in March aren’t great. But I have luckily been able to test my mental toughness over the last 8 weeks, and with a few ups and downs I have managed to keep going and keep trying and to stay strong.
It’s not the fall that defines you, it’s how well you recover and get back up from the falls and set-backs that we all face from time to time. I think this has been a great lesson that will only make my triathlon racing better. Hopefully next time I don’t need to hit my head quite that hard to realise when I need some rest and recovery time.
Keeping Tri’ing Chicks x