Monday, June 9, 2014

Eagleman 70.3 Race Report

Coming off of Raleigh 70.3 last weekend (and Rev3 races the previous two weekends), I had just a few short days to recover and prepare for this weekend's stacked field at Eagleman 70.3.  In full disclosure, there were more than one conversation with Ashley about potentially pulling out and starting my mid-season break early but the stubborn, competitive athlete in me wouldn't have it! Friday afternoon, I packed up the Subaru and hit the road for the supposed 3 hour drive...  6 hours of DC traffic later, I arrived at my home for the weekend and met with my fantastic hosts Steve and Sandy Whelan.  Thankfully, I was immediately relaxed upon seeing my accommodations!

A little slice of heaven
I truly enjoyed my time (and sleep) leading up to the race and it helped me to get my mind right leading into what I knew was going to be a very difficult day.  Not only was the field extremely strong, but my body was teetering on the edge of rebellion from the racing and lack of sleep in the past seven weeks.  After a eating great dinner on the harbor, watching the Triple Crown attempt, and basically living in my NormaTec Boots,  I hit the hay early to squeeze in every bit of rest.

Race day started early and seemed to have a bit of a Pittsburgh theme.  First off, when I was starting to race, a bunch of the Pittsburgh 'veteran' triathletes would do Eagleman when I would never dream of completing a half!  It was a bit surreal to come full circle and do the iconic race myself.  Second, I was thinking of Steve Jackson (one of my athletes both now and from Pitt) who was sitting at home with a broken elbow when he was supposed to be at the race primed for the overall AG win.  Third, I saw a large contingent of Pitt athletes including perhaps the most amazing athlete I know (and my wife's favorite), 80 year old Kona King Rodger Brockenbrough.

Race Morning... Focused... Kinda
The non-wetsuit swim worked to my strength and I pushed the pace from the gun.  In my mind, I swam with a chip on my shoulder after being reminded that I'm the Pitt school record holder in the mile and I should act like it!  The fast pace of the swim ultimately created the winning break that brought four of the top five finishers out of the water with a good gap to the rest of the field.  I led out of the water, yet again putting BlueSeventy at the front of the highest level of racing!  On the bike, our small group set a quick pace with the two Andrews (Starykowitz and Yoder) keen to chase the 2 hour bike split.

I settled in nicely as we came through the first 40k in roughly 55 minutes.  Bevan Docherty was popped for a drafting penalty, so our group was decreased to the two uberbikers, Tim O'Donnell and I.  Eventually, the Andrews opened up a gap while I decided to stay with Tim and keep a more sane pace.  If the past weeks had been different, I would have jumped on the chance to go with the leaders and hammer, but the confidence in my legs was almost nonexistent.  I chose to play it smart and hope that I could buy a few more miles of good running.  We still rode relatively quick, but lost a few minutes and came into T2 with a 2:05 bike split and 3 minute gap.

On the run, I settled into what I hoped was a sustainable 6 min pace.  Normally, that would be conservative, but I knew it would be a tough ask to hold on for the 13 miles.  I focused on taking in fluids and the fantastic First Endurance EFS-HP prototype over the opening few miles and came by Andrew Yoder who was cramping pretty badly.  At the 6.5 mile turnaround, I found myself in 3rd with a decent gap back to Leon Griffin and Docherty.  Not in a million years did I think I'd be able to pull off this type of performance when the day started!

Still looking good... For now
I was encouraged on the back half of the run and had visions of holding onto a podium position.  Around mile 9 however, the last few weeks started to catch up with me.  I did my best to maintain my stride, but it turned into a bit of a shuffle.  I went up to 6:20 for the mile split and knew I was in full damage control.  Adding insult to injury, Leon came by me and I had absolutely no response.  4th isn's so bad I told myself if I could just hold off Docherty in the last 5k...  Going into the last mile, I heard footsteps and immediately knew that I was going to be a 5th place finisher.  The two-time olympic medalist known for a solid finishing kick is not someone you like to see with 5 minutes go to race!!!  I did my best to stop the bleeding and came across the line with a solid 3:53 and a completely exhausted body.  I did a Blazeman Roll across the line in tribute to Jon's parents who were in attendance and in a nod to the courage of the Blazeman that I drew on to not throw in the towel in the last hour of the day.
Beautiful day to Race!
Given that I was on the fence about even starting the race, I am extremely pleased with the outcome.  Knowing that I'm far from my peak condition, I don't think I could have expected much more out of myself.  I desperately need a good break and a bit of a reset before starting my preparation for Challenge New Albany and IM Mt Tremblant.  If I can get to the starting line fresh and ready, I have the confidence that I can complete with anyone who toes the line.  It's going to be a good second half of the year!

Thank you to everyone who has helped me to endure and thrive over the past two months.   It really has been a life changing time for me and I'm very lucky to have the support.  I have needed every bit of it!  I seem to always be thanking my sponsors, friends, and family but I don't think you can be thanked enough.  Any success I have racing is truly a team effort.

Look for a few baby updates in the coming weeks, but no racing for me until the end of July.  I'm not sure what it feels like any more to not be sore and tired, but I'm looking forward to finding out!

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