Well hello world, I’m back from attempting to catch my white whale again. And once again that slippery little bitch alluded me. The end of the story is: Eagleman remains my white whale and I will return to the battle next June to fight yet again.
But, I’m struggling with writing this report, because it was so clearly not the race I wanted or the race that I was capable of–and I cannot figure out why. In my head I have like 70 billion excuses. Shall we list them out?
The Sunday before the race I woke up with a Staph infection in my eye (f-ing working in jails). My eye was swollen shut and I was put on a 10 day course of antibiotics (to extend through race day). I still had bits of an active infection on race day.
The antibiotics gave me tummy troubles and shall we just say, I was losing A LOT of water during the week because of that. AND, my body wasn’t absorbing any nutrients because food was just, well, on a fast course through me. I did try as hard as I could to stay hydrated, get nutrients in the form of juice, and keep my belly full of good probiotics.
I sliced my foot open on rocks 15 minutes before my wave start as I climbed out of the water after warming up. I spent the next ten minutes in the med tent because the toe was bleeding profusely and didn’t get out of the med tent until 3 minutes before my swim wave went off.
I got an F-ing drafting penalty (although, it sounds like A LOT of people did).
According to some sources, the swim was “long” and there was a bad cross current.
They are all potential legit reasons for my bad race–active infection, on antibiotics, blah blah blah.
In all honesty, do I think any of these things contributed to my shit race? Maybe. I don’t know. Do I know enough to have a legit excuse? No. Do I really have an excuse? No. And that is the most fucking frustrating thing ever. Without a cause, how do I stop this from happening again?
The day was what the day was. So what happened?
After many years of combined Eagleman experience, Josh and I managed to pull off the best executed Eagleman logistically this year. We actually booked a hotel in Cambridge and managed to not almost miss the last shuttle/the closing of transition like last year.
We got there early and were setting up when I went to check out my tire pressure. And f. Somehow on my trip up from GA, my bike tire got scuffed and it ripped away a chunk of my 3 month old front tire. I frantically ran to the mechanic tent to see if (a) I could ride like that since it didn’t seem to be bulging and/or (b) they had an extra tire. After being told that I should be ok, I decided to let it go and deal with getting a new tire after the race. I just crossed my fingers that it wouldn’t blow out on the course (fortunately, it didn’t).
Then I loaded up with my “I’m on antibiotics and have had diarrhea all week and I’m still racing my A race” survival kit. It includes all kinds of forms of electrolytes, advil, a probiotic or two, and the very very important imodium.
Like I said before, I climbed over the rocks to swim a little warmup before my wave. But as I was getting back out, I stepped on a sharp rock or something and cut my toe open. I honestly didn’t think anything of it until, as I was talking to a friend, I looked down and there was a very large bright red puddle under my foot. At that point, I decided to take a quick trip to medical to see if they could stop the bleeding (they couldn’t) or bandage it for the race (they kinda did until it came off first thing during my swim). Fortunately, it didn’t really hurt too bad and with the blisters I acquired during the run to distract me, I didn’t even notice it again until after the race.
Swim: (40:00, 23 AG)
The swim was wetsuit legal (yay) and the water appeared not to have too bad of a tidal current. Turns out, however, that most people were slow. I thought I was having a good swim–felt strong and long and figured that I should come in right around where I came in at TryCharleston. So, when I came out of the water in 40 minutes, I had a brief “what the f?” moment. I was 7 minutes off my time. At that point, I knew that unless some miracle happened, my sub5 was out the window.
Bike: (2:51:19, 22AG…includes 4min penalty)
Transition area (as documented here and here) was a mud pit. The bike exit has a little run on the grass, but with tropical storm andrea passing through a couple of days before, the field was a swamp. Like entire feet submerged in muddy, watery, grass swamp. As I hopped on my bike, my first order of business was to settle my HR between 150-155bpm. But, even at what felt like RPE 3-4, my HR was over 160bom. I made the, perhaps bad, executive decision to just race there and hope for the best.
I managed to stay pretty patient and my riding was pretty even throughout. I saw many packs pass me by and instead of being pulled into the illegal drafting and potentially overcooking my legs to stay with those ladies, I just sat back and rode my race. By mile 35, though, I knew that, unlike my coaches predication and my hope, I wasn’t going to be close to sub 2:40. At that point, a pack of blatantly illegally drafting 25-29yo ladies passed me by and I decided to go with them but hang back a few lengths. The problem with that is that being in wave 20, the course is already so crowded that there was almost nowhere to go to not draft. And so, that was when I got a drafting penalty. Sigh. Was I on someone’s butt like the riders I’d been seeing all day? No. Was I likely between 3-4 lengths back? Yea. Unfortunately, yes, that’s still illegal.
So, knowing that I would now be spending four minutes in the penalty tent before I could run, I just tried to stay strong on the rest of the bike. Unfortunately, I knew then at this point that a PR was out of the window.
Run: (2:24:28, 35 AG)
I started out on the run feeling good…and that lasted for .8 miles. I don’t run well in the heat. And, with both a PR and sub5 out the window, my motivation started to wane. I tried to run slowly and steadily, but, I just kept wanting (and giving into) walk breaks. By mile 4 when I figured that even 5:20 was slipping away, I just decided that I didn’t really care and would just enjoy the rest of the trip. What that meant was doing a lot of walking and meeting people on the run. The only issue was that I had gone out on the run without socks (which I always do) but something about the humidity and running through the muddy swamp water, led to tearing the shit out of my feet. So, the last 6 miles were basically hobble/walking/running. I realized that I would be cutting the 6 hour time close about one mile out. And did I race that last mile in? Nope. I just could not get myself into the pain cave and stay there on the run.
I couldn’t get in there. And that’s what happened on the run. I was in the pain cave for approximately 15 minutes.
And then I finished up, nearly 1 hour slower than my race 6 weeks ago in 6 hours, 1 minute, and 20 seconds (I think).
Moral of the story: Unlike every other bad race, I actually enjoyed myself. I legit was happy to be out there. I didn’t have any of the “you are a fraud and a slow piece of crap” thoughts that normally enter my head when I have a bad race. That, my friends, is a win. Because, honestly, I’m not a pro. I do this because it’s “fun” and I “enjoy” training. Fun, even slow fun, makes this race maybe not such the personal worst that it technically is.
And, lets not forget that Eagleman 2010, raced two weeks after a concussion, was the beginning of my two horrible years that I’m finally coming out of. It was my first ever DNF. It began two of the hardest years of my life as I struggled to figure out why I physically couldn’t keep up anymore. So, yea, that’s a win too.
I’m trying to focus on those two big wins and not the epic fail that was my attempt to spend my 30th birthday racing Kona. I’m disappointed in myself because, sure I could have run faster. No doubt. I probably even could have finished under 5:40. But it wasn’t going to be a day that was anywhere close to a PR. And I have this lingering frustration like–what the F? Yes I mentally imploded on the run and cost myself 20 or 30 minutes. But even with that taken away–I was still no where near my PR or what I should be capable of and I don’t know why. I have all of those above excuses, but honestly.
And, even worse–why do I struggle getting into and staying in the pain cave? No seriously, guys? Why?
In sum, I had a couple of wins. And a couple of “WTF happened”s? But, let’s focus on the wins.
And–thank you to Soas Racing for the most adorable and comfortable team kit!
Next up? Running (jogging?) the Baltimore 10 miler tomorrow, just 6 days post Eagleman. And then 3 months to focus for the fall races: Augusta 70.3 and the Beach 2 Battleship Half Iron.
Btdubs, anyone out there reading this who might have some ideas why I sucked, please let me know. I need outside ideas!