Thursday, August 2, 2012

Giant Eagle 5i50 Race Report

It's been almost 4 months since I've toed the start line, so this past weekend's race in Columbus, OH was a bit of an unknown.  Would my injury hold up?  Would I be able to race at full speed?  Would I even have speed?  I drove up to the race with a lot of unanswered questions and not a whole lot of expectations.  My goal was to test my body before diving into long distance training for Rev3 Cedar Point in early September.  As long as I could finish the race with limited pain, I'd be happy.  I enjoy coming back to Ohio to see friends and family, so I figured it was worth the time even if the race turned out to be a bust.

The lead up to the race went well as I caught up with my in-laws and did a bit of light training with one of my up and coming athletes, Mark Wade.  As the early morning of race day came, I was confident that I'd make it through the race and maybe even be fast.  The alarm went off at 3:30am and I drove down to drop off my shoes at T2 before driving up to the swim start roughly 20 miles away.  The race is a point-to-point race, so the logistics are a bit more complicated.  Thankfully, I had First Endurance Pre-Race/EFS to get me moving.  I enjoy these type of races, especially when there is a bit of a net downhill on the bike!  I spun out the legs in the dark before racking the bike and then hit the water for a quick warm up on the course.  I'm always amazed how fast I feel with the BlueSeventy swimskin and this race was more so as it'd been so long since I last put it on.  When the gun went off, I knew at least the first 1/3 of the race was mine.

The swim was a two loop course and I planned to negative split (2nd half faster than the first).  I was in the lead group coming around the first loop when all of a sudden I was surrounded by guys dolphin diving on a shallow part of the course.  With a questionable injury, I wasn't about to do extra work by jumping around, so I watched as I faded to the back of the front pack.  Once we got back to deeper water, I pushed the pace and pulled up to the front of the race just in time to get to the dolphin dives!  I came out of the water in 3rd or 4th within 2 seconds of the leader and hopefully with a bit fresher legs.
Through transition, my timing chip ripped off (not sure how), so I shoved it down the front of my suit before taking off on the bike.  This prevented me from getting official splits for the bike and run, but my total time would hopefully still come through.

I started the bike and felt a bit sluggish.  The high intensity first few miles of a race are always tough, but I was prepared to hurt a bit.  By mile 3 I had moved up to the lead just before Dave Thompson blew by me.  He would hold on to win the race, but I was able to stay in 2nd through the rest of the bike until Kaleb Van Ort passed me heading into transition.  Throughout the very fast ride, I sipped on First Endurance EFS, but didn't need much with the cool weather and short time on the bike.  I was really happy to make it through the bike feeling strong and pain free.  My trusty ISM saddle helped keep me comfortable where it counts. The fast course led to a 53 min bike split at 27.7 mph and 335watts.  I am pleased with the numbers, especially since I was able to push the pace coming out of T2 and onto the run.

I knew Kaleb was a much faster runner than me, but I wanted to maintain contact as long as possible.  The first mile was 5:03 and I knew I was a bit over my head.  The next one was 5:23 and I settled into a steady 3rd place through mile 4.  Heading into the last two miles I started to feel my right side starting to lock up.  I knew that I had a choice between pushing through the pain or pulling back and being conservative.  With a long month of training ahead and being a bit gun-shy from the past 4 months, I settled down to a moderate pace as just as I was passed by Kyle Lee for 3rd place.  I took a look behind me and saw that I was safe for the next 1.5 miles, so I put it into cruise control and headed home.  I came across the line in 4th place with a 1:48 total time.  The chip didn't pick up immediately, so the official time is a bit off, but I could care less!  I was thrilled to finish in one piece and even come away with a bit of money!  My time is almost exactly the same as last year when I was healthy and ready to go, so I couldn't ask for much more!

Finishing with no chip and no pain!

Now that my first test is out of the way, I'm immediately in preparation for a good bit of long distance training heading into Rev3 Cedar Point.  This included a post-race massage and ice on the hamstring...  The massage went well (very well!) with no real problems other than just being tired.  The ice is a different story.  I made the mistake of putting an ice pack on my skin while sitting through 'The Dark Knight Rises'.  Through the whole 2:45 movie, my injury site was numb and feeling good.  As I pulled off the ice, I realized I had a bit of new pain in the area...  FROSTBITE!  My skin blistered up and now I have about 6 inches of open wound on my hip.  Great for the hours of bike riding that are coming up!

A little bit of heaven

To add insult to injury, I drove home (painful) just in time to have an ingrown tonail removed!  So, after a very successful stress test on the body, I've got two new setbacks that keep me in pain.  Luckily, neither of my two new issues are keeping me from training, so preparation is in full speed for Sept.  9th.  I'll be updating the site a bit more frequently with training updates, so stay tuned.

Thank you to Aaron and Irene for the hospitality over the weekend and the HFP Racing for putting on a great event.  The Sport Factory helps me out with getting the most out of my training coming back from injury along with Advanced Wellness in Richmond.  3Sports is my local bike shop who take care of my equipment needs including my race wheels.  First Endurance fuels my rehab/training/racing with perfection and BlueSeventy helps me keep my edge as an ex-swimmer.  I'm lucky to have the great support around me!

I'm also luck to have a bit of prize money so I can finally donate to the Blazeman Foundation once again.  It's not much, but I will be donating $30 to the cause.  If you're reading this, please click on the link to the right and match my contribution.  John Blais is an inspiration to me and has been since I saw his story in the 2005 Ironman.  If you don't know his story, take the time to find out!

Raise your hand if you're just happy to finish!


  1. Love you baby, you are amazing. Mom

  2. Hi Eric,

    Happy to hear that you are back in the race game again!!!
    Stay safe and we wish you a great event at Cedar Point...
    I believe one of our Blazeman Warriors will be there...Dr. Jeff Galvin...he is a converted marathon man...he has lost a friend to ALS and has another battling the disease...introduce yourself...
    Great report!!