Monday, June 15, 2009

Matt is an Eagleman

As is my new tradition now, I am posting Matt's account of his Eagleman performance from what he wrote on Beginner Triathlete:

Pre-race routine:
Arrived in Cambridge late Sat. morning. Did a quick swim in the Choptank, the water felt really good. Felt like one or two jellyfish got me, but it didn't seem to hurt or affect me at all, which was comforting. Did packet p/u, listened to the race meeting and pro forum (which was really cool and fun to listen to). Headed back to the hotel and just tried to relax. All in all, I had been doing a pretty good job of keeping my nerves in check going into my first 70.3. Life had been kind of crazy the last month going into this, I made the mistake of promising my wife I would build a pool deck, which cut into training time a bit. But hey, I've got a pool deck now.

Event warmup:
Woke up at 4, ate a Clif bar and sipped 32 oz. of Gatorade up through the start. Despite the overcast skies, I put on some sunscreen, which ended up being a blessing, since despite telling my wife I would reapply at every transition, I didn't and am paying for it in spades. My wave went off at 7:27, which gave me the chance to watch the first pros get out of the water.

Swim (1.2 miles - Completed in 40 minutes 03 seconds)

Despite being slow, I've been very lucky to be comfortable in open water swims. I started to the far left, since it seemed like it was a shorter distance from there to the first buoy. Sighting was a little rough after the first turn, but nothing insanely difficult. Followed some feet, and, shockingly, actually had a couple people drafting off me. That's a first. There never seemed to be much of a current or chop, except for the very last leg coming in to the swim exit. Of all three events, this was the one area that went just like training and my expectations.
What would you do differently?:Nothing. My time was right on line with my training and previous race results.

T1 (transition 1, swim to bike)
So, I always bring a bucket to sit on in transition, and as I'm running up with my wetsuit half off, do I sit down to finish? Noooooo, I try to get the first leg off while standing which results in 1) almost falling over onto my bike, and 2) a (temporary) massive cramp in that leg. Duh. Sat down, get the suit off, and was able to get out of T1 in a fairly respectable time.
What would you do differently?:Sit dummy, sit.

Bike (56 miles - Completed in 3 hours 08 minutes 50 seconds)

Felt pretty good leaving transition, anxious to see how the wind would be as compared to riding the course 2 weeks ago. Things were going smoothly, had a gel about 20 minutes in, and was drinking plenty of water and Gatorade. Also had 2 Clif bars during the ride.
I was very happy in that when I turned onto Rt. 16, the wind that was there 2 weeks ago didn't seem to be present. BIG relief. Speaking of relief, it was right about at this point that I really had to take a leak. Lesson learned: all that fluid, plus I think the aero position's effect on my prostate, equals the pee pee dance on the bike. Thought about trying to go on the bike, and realized that 1) it wasn't gonna happen, and 2) It's not like I'm going to win this thing, just stop and take a piss. So, at the 2nd aid station I stopped. Another guy finished up at the same time as me, we joked that our podium finishes just went out the window.
Shortly after this I had another fun moment, they had set up nets at the end of aid stations for you to aim empty bottles at. I aimed, threw, and shouted "Score!" when it went in. The cop doing traffic control 20 feet away got a laugh out of it. I felt much better, but within 10 miles had to go again. The sensation wasn't nearly as bad, so I held out in the hopes that it was from being in aero (which it was).
As soon as I turned north to head back towards Cambridge, the wind arrived. Yes, it sucked, but it still wasn't as bad as a couple weeks ago. As soon as I hit it, I realized that combined with my rest stop a sub-3 bike was out the window. The last 10 miles I was really ready to be off the bike, to the point that I was actually looking forward to my least favorite part, the run.
What would you do differently?:More, longer training rides. But, without having a bike computer (which was a conscious decision on my part), I just rode at a pace that felt comfortable, and in line with my desire to save something for the run.

T2 (transition 2, bike to run)
Was actually able to jog with my bike, got racked up just fine, and then enjoyed the slow jog through the mud out of transition. And hey, I remembered to sit down to change shoes.
What would you do differently?:Nothing.

Run (13.1 miles - Completed in 2 hours 29 minutes 28 seconds)

I felt surprisingly good starting the run, probably running 10 minute miles. I knew leaving transition that my optimistic goal of going sub-6 was gone, but again, I was ok with this.
The wind along the water felt great, but I was worried that once I left the neighborhood the wind would go away. Fortunately I was wrong, and the wind actually helped quite a bit in keeping me cool. The first couple aid stations, I tried the ice in the hat trick which worked great. I also alternated water and Gatorade. By the third station I was thinking food might be a good idea, so I grabbed some cookies. This turned out to be a great thing, and one of my mistakes later was in not continuing to eat at every stop.
Here's the funniest (and least appropriate) part of my race. The ice in the hat trick was working so well, I thought it would be a good idea to dump some down the front and back of my trisuit. I figured it would sit on my chest and back, melting slowly, etc. Nope. The ice down the back went straight to my butt crack, the ice down the front straight to my crotch. Oops. About a mile after this, I noticed that I no longer had any sensation in my nether regions. I tried to nonchalantly feel around a bit, and began to wonder if there was an endurance related complication I hadn't read about before. At least this gave me something to think about for the middle part of the race, and I apologize to anyone on the course that was offended by the guy grabbing his junk every hundred yards or so to see if it was still there.
In the end, I guess it was a combo of the bike de-sensitizing, the ice, and slight hallucination. One slight disappointment, I was looking forward to a sno-cone at the turnaround, they had the shaved ice but didn't seem to have any syrup. Not a biggie, and I made up for it at the next stop by trying cola for the first time in a race, it was pretty tasty. Shortly after I saw my nastiest sight of the race, a guy just 100% losing his lunch on the side of the road. I felt really bad for him, he started running again just as I was going by, but only made it another 20 yards or so before peeling off again.
It was kind of scary, knowing that could be me, and that finishing was by no means in the bag. I kept hydrating well, but with about 4 miles left I could tell I was starting to lose it. I was just ready to be done, and it was everything I could do to keep (slowly) running. I had been thinking about doing a full this year, and it was around this point that I realized in a full (Ironman) I would still be out on the bike.
The full (Ironman) might have to wait a year or two. The crowd support in the last couple miles really helped, hoses out spraying the runners, etc. But, I was really in my own little world at this point. Thinking about how crazy it is that 2 years ago I finished my first sprint in over 2 hours, that 3 years ago I'd never run more than a mile at a time. And that all of this training has had the best benefit of all, giving me the energy and ability to do more and be more for my wife and baby.
I wish they had been there at the finish, but 8 hours outside with a 20 month old is _not_ something I wanted my wife to have to go through, so they were at home tracking me. I made the last turn, and felt really, really good coming down the stretch. Saw the finish, felt the waterworks starting up, but managed to hold it together until after I crossed and got my medal.
What would you do differently?:In terms of my training, abilities, etc., not a thing. Other than a couple of aid stations, I didn't walk.
Finish Time: (6 hours 24 minutes 33 seconds)

Post Race
Warm down:I felt a little short of breath the last 1/4 mile of the race, so after finishing I made sure to keep walking and just tried to get my breath back. Grabbed some food, but didn't eat much of it. Somehow I just wasn't hungry. Headed into transition to call my wife, and drink my traditional post race beer. Yes, I was able to hide a small cooler under my bucket with enough coolie packs that it was still cold after the race. I had a couple of beers in there, so I shared with some of the folks around me and talked about the race. Packed up, drove home (ugh to Bay Bridge traffic), arriving just in time for dinner followed by a swim (using the new pool deck!)
What limited your ability to perform faster:I am 1000% confident that I did the best I could given my training and that it was my first time out there. I thought I would be disappointed by anything over 6 hours, but thankfully that is not the case.

Could I have trained more? Yes. Would it have taken away from time with my family and the ability to help my wife with baby care and house upkeep? Yes. So, this was a no-brainer. If it means I don't do a full (Ironman) for a year or to, so be it. But, you just can't fake it at this distance. I can gut through (and do pretty well) at sprint and olympic distance races. This was a completely different animal. The nice thing is, I had experience it before, the first times I did a sprint, the first time doing an olympic, and the first marathon. I know I can get better, even at this distance, and it's great having that knowledge and motivation to keep it up.

Event comments:Such a well run event. The crowd support, the well stocked and manned aid stations, everything. There was not a single thing I experienced that could cause me to say anything negative about the support and event, it was an absolute blast!

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