Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Eagleman 70.3 Race Report (Part I) -- June 10, 2007

Well the race is done. I've been procrastinating writing my Eagleman race report for many reasons -- I guess mostly because the race didn't really rock my world...like I had hoped it would. ...Like so many races before have rocked my world for me.

I'm not sure why but I suppose I thought since I was attempting something so difficult (something that many days I doubted I could actually accomplish) something so big, that surely it would have a bigger impact on my life than smaller less important races. I guess I don't want to dwell on it too much...but I supose it is a combination of not performing as well as I had hoped and realizing that I'm not as strong as I thought I was. Pretty ironic for a race that is supposed to test your limits (and it did) and when you complete it (which was your goal) you actually feel weeker.

I guess I will tell my story. Perhaps when I am done, I'll have a better understanding of it all and my feelings. (And yes, this is a long one, so for your sake and mine I'm gonna break it up a bit).

Leaving the kids.

The anxiety gods were kind....I didn't worry about leaving my kids....even though I had only slept without them both once before, for only one night (when I was doing IronGirl). They didn't seem to mind to much that I was leaving (since Gramma and PopPop where here) and actually Redfish didn't even want to talk to me on the phone when I called on Saturday night. I guess maybe he was secretly mad at me for leaving.

Race morning, I was surprisingly calm. Our homestay rocked and was only about half a mile from transition and on the run course. I could have walked, but Mr. Preschool didn't want me to carry all of my stuff. Got to meet Nancy Toby again (we met the afternoon before at the expo when I recognized Buttercup, her bike with Nancinator written on the top tube). She was very nice and tried to alleviate any last minute fears I might have had. That was pretty cool, since she's kind of a mentor for me in a strange sort of way. And Mr. Preschool took this photo of us before the race.

Swim 1.2 Miles.
The weather gods were kind. On race morning it was actully cold enough to want pants and a sweat shirt. The Choptank river was not as choppy as it had been the night before and white caps were few and far between. Despite many jellyfish tales, they were just tales, as not one was in sight. After watching several waves I picked the spot I wanted to start in, just in front of the left bouy -- surprisingly I didn't really have any company! Everyone seemed to bunch in the center, and I had no trouble with anyone kicking, pushing, or swimming over me. Unlike the IronGirl start, where we had to tread water for 5 minutes before the race in a holding pen-- the in water start was so shallow that we could just stand and wait for the count down. Endorphin's Michael Harlow had taught us at a recent open water clinic to basically go after hearing the count of 2 (instead of 1 and then going) and that seemed to be what everyone was doing. I had planned on "dolphining" until I could no longer stand, since it was so shallow, and since I saw the leader in several of the waves was either the person dolphining or running in the water. This worked well until I realized that my wetsuit was biting me in the neck. I sure felt like the velcro teeth were digging in deeper with each stroke and with each turn of my head...but after several times of standing up and refastening the back of my wetsuit I realized that it couldn't be the velcro teeth digging into my neck but the wetsuit itself. I could tell I was drawing blood, but what was I going to do? Stop? No.

With every turn of the head and breath it worsened. Sort of like a rubber rug burn. Despite the pain I was able to draft off of several Athena's shoulders....changing drafters only when they slowed down too much or swam off course. The chop in the water was unpredictable. I definatly swollowed way more water in Eagleman than I ever did in any other open water swim. At Sandman the ocean waves were huge and rough, but none-the-less predictable. At Eagleman there was no logic to the waves. I have a hunch that many were caused by the wave runners and rescue boats and the taste of diesel fuel filled much of the swim. Strangely, the water out in the river was warmer and it was cooler close to shore. I stayed close to the buoys and there always seemed to be a jam up of people at everyone I passed. At one point after the turn (day glow orange bouy) I started swimming back to the yellow buoy I had just passed, but a man on one of the rescue boats told a handfull of us that that was the wrong bouy and we turned again. I could see really well with my prescription goggles and they are the best $20 I have ever spent! Without them I would not have even been able to see any buoys!

Who cares if I look like a dork...or a fish for that matter.

The problem with the chop was that you were just sort of unable to see much in general because you always seemed to be lower than everything else. I got in a good rhythm several times during the swim but that was usually interuped by a back-up at the buoy. As I started to see people from one and 2 waves ahead of me, I realized I was actually doing pretty well. I looked up at one of the yellow caps from the wave ahead and realized it was TRIgirl MaryJo. MaryJo had been pretty nervous about the swim and I told her she looked great and that we were almost there. I couldn't believe I found her in the water in the middle of all that chaos and all of those people. As I came up on the boat landing, a blackness replaced the light brown water from before. I had checked out the slimy, rocky swim exit and knew I had to swim all the way up the ramp. Mr. Preschool was waiting out on the pier and as I took my last 5 breaths I could see him with each one, cheering for me and I even waved. One of my favorite memories of the race...and he got it on film!

I chose not to run in transition...something I had read on the IronStuck website. That worked for a while. And then I saw Laurie Mehler, our local race director...and in her excitement of her cheering me on (while she was racing the aquabike), It seemed like she was telling me I better run, and I did. Now I was going against 2 pieces of Ironstruck advice....1. don't run in transition on your first Half-Iron or Iron race and 2. Have a game plan, which I did....and stick with it -- which I didn't.

30 seconds later I was changing the game plan again -- grabbing my asthma medicine from my race hat...that I had planned to use on the run and sticking it in the back pocket of my tri suit. At the time I was worried that I would forget to grab it on the run (and I knew I would need it) but that was foolish, I wouldn't forget it if it was in my hat! Oh well. I grabbed my race belt, because they were requiring that we wear them on the bike. Mr. Preschool announced that I was in the top quarter of my heat....actually I was 4th out of the water for the athenas -- so that was great. I grabbed my bike and I was off.

I'll post more tommorow. Thanks for reading about my journey.


Melissa said...

you make us proud

TriGirl 40 said...

Sounds like your post race blues may have hit a little early. So much of your heart and soul went into preparing for the race. So many sacrifices.

You are always an inspiration to us all! Take pride in your amazing accomplishment - even if it is not the race you treasure most.

Anonymous said...

We probably all wish we had the speed of Liz & Amy, but we just do what we can do.
As my brother reminded me, few people can say they've ever attempted something as difficult as a half-ironman. Think of what a fantastic role model you are for your children. And read Cyndi's blog - you'll love it.


Nancy Toby said...

Thanks for the kind words!!

You did wonderfully!! MUCH MUCH MUCH faster than my first attempt at the course!

I'm still exhausted, I don't know about you.... :-)