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San Francisco, California and, Carrboro, North Carolina, United States

Thursday, June 14, 2012

EAGLEMAN 70.3 11th Professional

Eagleman 70.3 Race Report

Eagleman 70.3 is a great race put on by Tri Columbia.  If you're looking for a 70.3 in the Central Atlantic area, this is it.  

SWIM -- 23:18
The past few races I have had sub par swim performances and in each case, the race did not start nor end well.  For this race I changed my game plan a bit; instead of going all out in the first 100 meters, I planned to hold back the first 100 meters.  I thought I could still swim with the first group, but did not want to be in the lead after 100 meters, but rather seating in 5th or 6th position. When the gun sounded, we were off, I followed my plan, took the first 100 meters at a more relaxed pace, and found myself swimming next to Craig Alexander and Richie Cunningham and in 6th place. I was really happy with this position: I was swimming with two of the greatest athletes in the sport and right in the middle of the first group.  I've been swimming well in the pool and it showed in the race, the pace felt easy and I felt great coming into T1.  Competing right next to the top guys is always a thrill.  When I'm finished racing, I'll remember coming out of the water within a couple of seconds of some of the best athletes in the world.  I came out of the water in 6th, right with the first group and looking ahead to a great race.     
Coming out of the water and happy to see Richie Cunningham,
Greg Bennett and Craig Alexander only a couple seconds ahead. I think that might even be Richie's foot in the picture. 

BIKE -- 2:10:41
I got onto the bike with Craig Alexander and Richie Cunningham.  Greg Bennett had a quicker T1 and was off hammering away.  Within the first mile Alexander put down the hammer (he is really the complete athlete, a great swimmer, great cyclist, and the best runner around) and gapped Richie and me; I did not even try to match the pace.  Richie and I soon caught David Kahn, who had about a 25 second lead out of T1, and the three of us road together for the next 10 miles or so.  As I came around Richie to take a pull, my rear shifter broke.  I was shocked, I could not shift anymore!  I yelled a few expletives and kept riding along.  Eventually I had to jump off the bike to reset my back wheel.  The broken shifter left me alone, I had lost the pace of Richie and David, and could not match the pace of TJ Tollakson as he rode by.  Fortunately when James Bowstead came along, I was riding well, my wheel no longer rubbing the brake, and I was in a position to change the my perspective on the race.  No longer was I thinking of not finishing, but now my plan was to ride with him as long as I could, and see if he could bring back into contention, even though I only had use of one gear.  When James passed me I let him know I would likely be unable to help with the pace, since I was stuck in my 53x16.  James Bowstead is a great cyclist and pulled me back to Richie and David.  This was great, a race that could have resulted in a DNF because of a mechanical, was looking up.  However, the single gear riding was taking its toll, even though the course is relatively flat.  When riding with the wind, I was spinning about 100-115 RPMs, and when riding into the wind, I was spinning about 70-80 RMPs (either too high or too low for me).  With about 10 miles to go, James and Richie dropped me, and I rode solo into T2 in coming into 6th.  Even though the bike was not great, I was in striking position to get a top 5 finish and hoping for a breakthrough performance.          

Coming in on the bike.  Check out the right shifter
it broke at mile 10.  Riding in the 53X16 was not too
bad, but not ideal either. 
Eagleman 70.3 is flat as a pancake, so if there's a time
to break a rear shifter, it was this race. 

RUN -- 1:36:45
My run plan was to put together a 1:20 or so half marathon.  Richie and James (4th and 5th respectively), had about 1:10 lead out of T2, and I (6th) had about a 3:00 lead over David Kahn.  The next athletes were all more than 6 or 7 minutes back, so I felt confident that I was going to have a top 7 performance. 

It was HOT, the temperature at the start of the run was 93 degrees and there is no shade on the run course.  I knew if ran well I may be able sneak up to 5th or 4th.  The first three miles went perfectly; I was holding back, running a 6:20 mile pace and feeling great. I thought, "This it, I've finally put together a good race."  I passed James Bowstead between miles 2 and 3 and was in 5th place.  Awesome!  However, my optimism fell as my body temperature rose: I slowly started over heating and running slower and slower.  Miles 4, 5 and 6 were not great; I held a 7:10 mile pace.  James Bowstead had passed me to move into 5th and right before the turn around, David Kahn passed me as well.  I was in 7th, and finished the first half of the 13.1 miles in 44 minutes. I told myself that I could run a 1:28 and still take 7th.  However, the rest of the run was a real struggle.  I eeked out a couple of 8:00 minute miles, followed by a run/walk horrible mile 12, which took over 11 minutes.  I was beginning to fear I'd not finish: my vision was blurry (the only way I could see was keeping one eye closed) and I began cramping in my hamstrings.  Lucky for me a spectator was out in front of her house spraying athletes with water.  I shuffled over to her hose, asked for the the hose, and drank water for about 30 seconds.  After filling up a bit and cooling off, I ran a 7:00 mile to finish the race in 11th position in the professional field.  A 1:36 is pretty much a horrible run time for me, but I'm very proud to have finished this race.  Without that friendly spectator with the hose, I'm not sure I would have.    

Running well here at mile 2 or so.  Mile 2 was a 6:15 mile. 
I thought I had a 5th place showing coming my way. 

Limping across the line in 11th as the hamstrings both don't want to run any more.

The legs just stopped working about mile 4 and the result looks like this. 
Proud to have struggled through and finished this one.

I want to thank my better half for cheering me on throughout the run course.  It was fun to have you out there.  I also would like to thank my excellent homestay (Deb and Greg).  Thanks so much for the wonderful hospitality, it was great to meet you guys. And also thanks for making my icebath possible, it made all the difference for my recovery!

Next up Muncie 70.3 and Racine 70.3!  I know I am good for a top 10 finished, now it's time to put a couple together!

Time for an ice bath.  My little friends thought I was crazy.