This story really goes back to October, but as it is a “race report” and nothing more, I’ll spare you all the details of my training, nutrition and psychological roller coasters. Oh and by the way, the weather for the day was forecasted to be 93* and sunny. I do most of my training at 4:00 am and am not used to oppressive heat (foreshadowing).
I met up with Diane and her friend Tammy around noon. While I’ve been friends with both of them via facebook, twitter and Daily Mile for a while (no rhyme intended) this was the first I actually met either of them and they were brave enough to split a room with a relative stranger. We made the two and half hour from Media, PA to Cambridge, MD. When we got there, we picked up our packets and racked our bikes. I have to admit to being a bit star struck as my bike was directly next to the pro racks, so I figured I’d be rubbing elbows with Crowie and Rinny.
We were lucky enough to get a tip about a great buffet that was being held at the Hyatt (aka: the hotel that I can’t afford to stay at). It turned out to be a pretty amazing spread put on for the athletes and we filled up on an early dinner of pasta and rice and beans etc. I even indulged in a little dirt pudding. I don’t know what that stuff is (and apparently I’m the only person who doesn’t) but it was great. Following dinner we set off back to the hotel for the anxiety-fest otherwise known as three triathletes in the same room double, triple and quadruple checking every bag they have. Eventually we were able to settle down and we got to bed in the area of 8:30.
My alarm went off at 4:15, although I had been lying awake since 3:30. Quick shower, bagel with peanut butter, banana and out the door, you know the drill. We drove to the local middle school where there was a shuttle to transition. By the time I got body marked, I had about an hour before transition closed. I was able to set everything up and get ready in plenty of time to stalk Rinny and Crowie who were only a few feet away. The pro men were starting at 6:45 and my wave wasn’t until 7:47. I watched a few waves to get an idea of how many people were in each, unfortunately, this didn’t calm me down much as it looked like a couple hundred in each one. Eventually we made our way into the water which was barely wetsuit legal, but beautiful and lightly salted as the we were swimming in the mouth Choptank River (I’m not making that name up).
SWIM: 32:09 Despite the name, the water was calm and me and 208 of my closest friend set off. Smooth sailing the whole way. I swam slightly to the left of the clockwise rectangle to avoid excess contact. My sighting was pretty good and the course was marked good, but not great. They definitely could’ve used smaller intervals between buoys. Before I knew it, I was slicing down the orange corridor of volunteers that marked the swim exit and into T1. I can’t complain about the swim time but I tend to inflate my ego sometimes regarding swimming, and it’s humbling when I think I’m awesome and only finish 48/208 AG. Oh well, there’s room to improve here I guess.
Bike: 2:39:46 I had heard horrible things about this bike course, about how it has deceptive false flats and how the headwind seems to be in your face the entire time at 25 mph. I can’t say that I agree the other’s assessment. I thought the course was pancake flat, and the wind was nothing like I had been anticipating. Most of the bike course in through the Blackwater Wildlife Preserve, so it’s fairly remote. There were times when you didn’t see a car for miles. I did see a few ambulances that were attending to cyclists which is always upsetting. We do this for fun and when it becomes threatening to our health because of a crash, or other medical issue, it really makes you think. Anyway, I can usually ride my bike in hot weather without much of an issue, and this was no different, but I’d say that I was very aware of the increasing heat. My plan had been to take it easy on the second half of the bike in order to set myself up for a decent run, but with the weather in mind I started to think that the run was gonna suck no matter what. I made the decision to continue hammering on the bike and finished feeling good, I was by no means bonking or anything like that. I had consumed about 60 oz of gatorade and 20 oz of Nuun. Plus I had about 5 oz of Hammer Gel in my flask. I was well fueled and hydrated. I knew my bike split was going to be one I was happy with, but I didn’t think I would be averaging over 21 mph. I’m pretty thrilled with that.
Run: 2:25:50 This is where my race report turns into a grim Edgar Allen Poe work. Prior to racing I thought that holding a 9:00/mile pace was a good goal, maybe a little conservative, but probably about where I should aim. I chomped on a Clif bar as I headed out of transition and by the time I got to the first mile marker, I was feeling the heat. I looked at my watch and saw 9:00 exactly. The problem was that it was very clear to me that 9:00 was not going to be a sustainable pace. Over the course of the next 12.1 miles, my pace got slower and slower. Around mile 4 I began to walk through the aid stations. I crossed the half way point with a 10:23/mile pace, which I’d have been happy to keep. But my death march only worsened. I was getting passed by so many people that I had to look down and make sure my feet were still moving because I’d have sworn I was standing still. The closer I got to the finish line, the more medical issues I was seeing. As we entered the neighborhoods close to transition, people partying in their yards were tending to people who had collapsed in front of their houses. After asking if there was anything I could do to help, I was encouraged to keep running. Afterwards it dawned on me that the people probably didn’t want another body on their lawn and looking at me, figured it was only minutes until I went down too. Anyway as I got to mile 12 I was able to pull myself together a little bit and finish strong. Crossing the finish line was totally surreal, not so much because of the accomplishment, but because of how over heated I was. I really is a blur to me right now. I literally walked straight through the finish line and into the water with my medal around my neck. I stayed in there for about 10 minutes. My final time was 5:44 which was 16 minutes faster than my baseline time I had given myself. I’m happy to have come in under 6 hours. I’ll take as a good day’s work.
Aftermath: I’m still digesting this whole thing, but there are a few things I’m very clear about. Eagleman is great race, it’s a fast course in a beautiful part of the country. Ironman puts on a top notch race. The only complaint that I have is that they said there would be Endurolytes at the aid stations and there weren’t. I definitely could’ve used some. I’m very pleased with my swim and my bike, but I’m sure that I have a ton of work to do on my run. I need to work on my sensitivity to heat and also probably need to drop a few pounds. I’m at least 10 pounds heavier than where I’d like to be and that showed on the run. I had a lot of anxiety leading up to this race. It was a destination race, I was staying with people I didn’t know well, I’ve never raced an Ironman event before and I didn’t know if had what it takes. All in all everything turned out awesome. It was an amazing experience that left me hungry for more. I’m uber-grateful to everyone who has supported me through this, particularly my wife, who feigns interest like nobody’s business. It ain’t her thing, but she pretends with the best. Also to my twitter crew who are a constant source of knowledge and inspiration, Jason, Greg, Chuck, Kc, Jenn and Dave (@Dtrmn8r). The folks on Daily Mile are too numerous to mention, but you know just the right moment to call me out or kick me in the ass and it means the world.