My first 70.3 is in the books!! I made my own training plan based off of the “Ironfit” book and will share that in another post. I got a Garmin 935 halfway through training so I don’t have all the data I want – but I will next time!
Pre-Race: Eagleman takes place on a Sunday so we headed down to Cambridge early Saturday morning to check-in, rack my bike, and visit the expo. I could not have done this without my husband – having a crew/sherpa is huge. I got him the VIP pass so he had access to bathrooms, food throughout the day, special spots at the finish line and the swim exit. At the expo we picked up his VIP bag which came with an IM branded coffee tumbler and his passes. The registration was so smooth and I was in and out within 10 minutes. Registration included: my swim cap, my bib, stickers for my bike and gear bag, the event shirt, my timing chip, and awesome event backpack, and goodies from Red Bull and Cliff. We walked around the IM store and bought the shirt, coffee mug, women for tri gear, and Eagleman bumped sticker. I eyed the finishers jacket…but as a very superstitious person I was convinced that if I bought it before the race that I wouldn’t finish or would get hurt. So I didn’t! We racked my bike and listened to the pro-panel before heading down to old town Cambridge for lunch. The downtown area has a lot of cute stores and restaurants with signs and specials for the athletes. We went to Rar Brewery for lunch and it was delicious! There are not many hotels in Cambridge but the town of Easton is about 20 minutes away and has a lot of chain hotels (Marriott, Holiday Inn, Hilton, etc.) so we opted to stay there. I spent the rest of the afternoon taking a nap, getting my gear bag in order, and staying off of my feet. With a 3am wake up looming we opted for a 4:30pm dinner so we could be in bed by 7pm. A dinner of grilled chicken, a baked potato, and green beans HIT the spot! I was surprised at how quickly I feel asleep and for once I actually felt like I slept well before a race – thank God.
Transition: I was lucky enough to race with several people I knew from college friends to childhood ones. Catherine and I met in middle school in Madrid, Spain where we were next door neighbors. Our dads were (are lol) big cyclists and triathletes and while we played on weekends they cranked out miles on the bike together. It was only fitting that we competed in our first HIM together all these years later! We were set up a few bikes apart. I laid out my wet suit and a towel on my bike. I would grab the wetsuit (plus by goggles and swim cap) before I left transition. I like to set up everything buttom up meaning the bottom of my transition mat has my bike gear and the top has my run gear. I place my helmet in my aero bars with my glasses, 2 uncrustables and 2 packages of Tailwind in my helmet. On my mat I place my bike shoes with socks and above those my run shoes with extra socks and my hat and belt with my bib number.
Swim: The swim was wetsuit legal this year thanks to pre-race rain and cool weather the week before. I wanted it to be…but it was more of a mental thing! I had one good wetsuit swim and had it in my head that that must be the reason why (it was not lol). The swim was a rolling start which was MUCH better than the chaotic runs I have been apart of in the past. I still had my first 200 meter panic but was able to settle into a good groove about 300 meters into the swim. The water is murky and the current was pretty strong I never felt like it was “with us” more like it was always pushing us sideways. I swallowed WAY more water than I wanted to which results in me throwing up a bit on the swim but other than that I was fine. There were the usual kicks and punches but I seeded myself in the 35-39 minute swim wave and came out of the water in 39 minutes, just as I expected. I knew I was capable of a faster swim than a 2:04 pace but with sighting problems and drifting off the course and the current I knew realistically to put myself into the 35-39 group. I am glad I did!
T1: I used a real towel to dry off on the swim because I hate all the water dripping down off my tri kit into my shoes on any tri longer than a sprint. The swim in to bike out was not too bad distance wise. I ran down the wrong aisle at first and needed to swing back round so I lost some time there. Placed my food in my pockets, grabbed a pickle juice shot, and off I went.
Bike: Coming out of the swim everyone around me looked REALLY strong and I was VERY intimidated. Aero helmets…quads of steel…you know the deal. I held 18-19mph on the bike and felt good despite some wind. This course is FLAT so the bright side if you don’t have to climb but the flip side of that is you never get a break and you are constantly peddling (often into head or side wind). Nutrition wise I started with 1 bottle of Tailwind and 1 bottle of water on my bike There were aid stations every 15 miles so my goal was to finish an entire water bottle and half a Tailwind bottle between every 15 miles so I would only need to stop and mix Tailwind at the mile 30 aid station and could do a grab and go on the move for the others. I ate my honey and peanut butter uncrustable at mile 10 and my second at mile 30. I carried gluten free pretzels in my bento box in case I need them but didn’t really need to dip into it. As a general rule I don’t let myself eat anything for the first 10-15 minutes on the bike to let my stomach settle and get used to being on the bike and not in the water sloshing around. The headwind picked up on the back half of the loop, as expected, but my pace didn’t suffer too much…until I hear the car behind me. We were on partially closed roads so when I heard the car behind me as I was in the middle of passing a line of 4 women I yelled “car back” and moved in between them to allow the car to pass. Well the car was a moto ref and said I was too close to the bike in front of me and got a drafting penalty. I thought it was unfair but rules are rules. At the mile 53 mark I was forced to stop at the penalty tent and stand there for 5 minutes as every muscle in my leg cramped. Good times! Lesson learned….don’t move in for a moto…keep passing -_-. I should have finished the bike in 3:17 but had to dd 5 minutes so 3:22 it was. I saw Max right after the penalty box and he was trying to figure out what happened to my time on the tracker because it had me stop, haha! The end of the bike course really bottle necked with so many people coming into the bike and heading out on the run at the same time but before I knew it the bike was over. Where was the day going?! It had zoomed by!
T2: This one I did not like…we had a really long run with your bike from the bike in to the run out. Basically around the entire permitter of the transition are which is quite wobbly after 56 miles on the bike running in cleats. I changed my socks in T2 and grabbed my run gear but made one crucial mistake…I did not body glide my feet before putting my shoes on. I would pay for that later.
Run: By now the sun was feeling hot-hot-hot. Still less hot than previous Eagleman races but…hot and humid is still hot and humid. My plan as to run 2:1 run walk and finish in 2:50 like I did in training. I set off and was on pace to do that for the first mile until I hit the first aid station and tried to take on real food…nope…nope…not staying in me. Ok I thought….so water it is for the entire 13.1 miles. I was cramping, it was hot, and I was not keeping down fuel but I knew that I needed to just keep moving forward one step in front of the other. Aid station to aid station. Mile to mile. I carried one emergency bottle of pickle juice electrolyte shots and took that right away. I also carried a plastic ziplock bag which was recommended by a fellow triathlete…why? To pour ice into it at every aid station and keep in my tri kit or hat to keep my body temp down and core cool. It worked! This course is SO well run and the RD Gerry has aid stations about every mile so there is not a need to carry anything with you (and I hate holding things). I grabbed water and ice at every station and kept moving forward. I ran into Catherine’s family at mile 2 and Max just before mile 3 which was great. He walked a bit with me because I was ready to cry. Mile 2-4 were what I call my dark place…mentally I just was not my normal positive self and was doubting myself and breaking down. I tried to shake it but nothing was working and I was just really freaking hot. At mile 4 I ran into a friend from college who is a beast of a triathlete as she was coming back in (so bout mile 9 for her) and she gave me the confidence boost I needed. She reminded me that even tho I am hurting that I will finish this and that would feel amazing. I decided to try real food at the mile 4 aid station so I grabbed a few chips, pretzels, and a cookie. Chips = pretty yummy, pretzels = pretty mealy not a fan, cookie = that did not stay down. Back to water and ice it was! Mile 7 had ice cones which was awesome – I got a cherry one and ate about half of it. I kept a good power walk pace when I needed to walk and made friends with everyone I could. A little hello, seeing how people were doing, really I needed the company! I needed the distracting convo! I knew I wasn’t dehydrated because I had to stop 2 times on the run course to pee but I think I was just simply overheated my temp was just high, high, high. Miles 7-10 went by quickly but I could feel blisters forming on my heels and balls of my feet from all the water/ice dripping down and the lack of body glide in T2 (big mistake). Once we made the turn into mile 10 I started to get my groove back as we were off the highway and into the residential/waterfront area and I knew there would be crowds and sprinklers to cool off. Max and his mom were waiting around mile 10/11 for me and that was huge for me. I was so close to the end and so emotional and needed the distraction. My awesome mama in law power walked with me and kept me distracted which was such a gift. Before I knew it we were at mile 13 and into the finish line chute! Right as I started to run when I could see the finish festival I felt a pop on the bottom of my foot and my shoe fill….yuck. I knew a blister had popped. Every step stungggggg. But I was so damn close! So into the chute I went, tears flowing, disbelief that I actually finished. WHAT?! I had a bit of a garmin malfunction so my times were all separated and I did not actually know what my time was until I got a hold of Max’s phone and the IM tracker. My A goal for this race was 7:30 which I knew I was capable of on a good day, my B goal was 8:00, and my C goal was 8:30 and not getting a DNF, haha. I finished in 7:43 just between my A and B goal!
Swim: 39 min
Bike: 3 hour 22 min
Run: 3 hour 26 min
Post-Race: Catherine found me at the finish line and we hugged it out – she finished about 30 mins ahead of me and kicked ass. When you finish you get your medal, a finishers hat, and water. I skipped the food and a volunteer helped me into the medical tent because I was having trouble walking on my right food. They got my shoes off and cleaned the blisters that literally covered my entire bottom of my feet (yuck). His mom had beautiful flowers waiting for me and I wiped off and changed clothes before getting in the car. Max packed up my bike and transition gear and we hit the road home. 2- hours in the car after that was a bit painful because everything cramped up. By then I was starving and my victory meal of a burger and a side of mac’n’cheese was SO worth it!
So its 48 hours later and I am absolutely still hurting. The blisters are the worst part but the muscle pain gets better each day. I am still confident in my ability to ride a century this weekend and biking feels better than walking right now anyways, haha. Don’t worry…Max ordered the finishers jacket! I’ve got a few more sprints on my mind for this year but I promised Max I would keep it to one HIM a year (that are expensive, y’all, and take time for me to recover from). I will 100% do another 70.3…I don’t know if I have it me to do a full 140.6 (yet) but man do I love this community, this sport, and long distance racing!
If you are thinking about signing up for IM 70.3 Eagleman…
- Just do it, the race director is the best and prepares you for everything from Facebook live sessions to briefings to shaking your hand when you enter the water
- Train in the heat
- Use the ziplock bag trip, it will keep you cooler
- It’s a 50/50 wet suit legal shot so prepare for both
- Get a hotel as soon as you sign up
- Eat/shop local the community is great and so supportive
- Train in aero… I got a lot of training in aero in but still was surprised to spend ALL 56 miles in it
Thank you Gerry, thank you Ironman, thank you to my family and friends who got me here! So much to improve on but now I have my baseline and can finally say I did a half freaking Ironman! Click here for more photos of my Eagleman 70.3 journey on Max’s Flickr page.