All I have to say about Ironman Eagleman can be summed up in three words:
flat, gorgeous, hot
No, I actually have an (extensive) race report below, but can I reiterate hot for a moment? I thought I was acclimated to running in the heat before, but that was just child’s play compared to Eagleman. I, cockily, thought I could handle the heat. I was in for a rude awakening.
Thankfully my parents drove down the night before and stayed with me in DC. They were the best support team ever. I got so many backrubs, and they made dinner. They also woke up with me at 3:30 to drive to the race site (thanks guys!). Arrived at transition to find my beautiful bike survived his camping night. Set up my transition, and double and triple checked it. I’m starting to get into the flow of transition set-up, and it felt weird knowing what to do. One of these days I’ll get too confident and forget something major, like my running shoes. Got body-marked, and hung out with my parents for an hour +, waiting for my swim wave. Naturally, my age group (25-29) is the very last to go, so I had plenty of time to relax and eat beforehand.
The swim ended up being wet suit legal (yay!) and we filed into the swim “chute” a little before 8 a.m. The swim chute was really just a boat ramp, and we were able to stand in the water for our in-water start. A few minutes of waiting, and we were off. There were about 70 people in my age group, and there was quite a bit of jostling in the beginning. I started in the back of the pack, and still jostled with people for the majority of the swim. I finally have gotten my open water swimming down. I have a (healthy) fear of open water, and the aspect of racing just increases the adrenaline I feel in the water. However, I finally found my groove and had a great swim, besides the current we felt on the one turn. I swam an extra 50 meters or so just from not noticing the current at first.
Swim split: 42:25
T1 went really smooth. A nice easy run up into transition, and I got my wetsuit off easily by myself. Bike shoes on, shirt on, grab nutrition, helmet and sunglasses on, and I was off.
T1 time: 3:48 (I know it’s slow but I’m getting faster!)
I was so happy to get on my bike, I just love the wind on my face and spinning my legs. I really do, biking is by far the most enjoyable aspect of triathlon for me. However, when you have a headwind for 50 miles, it’s not as much fun anymore. I’m just whining, but the headwind on the Eagleman bike course was rough. It was manageable the first half of the bike, but the second half, when you’re tired, low on water, and getting sunburnt, it’s mentally debilitating. I had a great bike ride, until a certain five mile stretch of nonstop headwind around mile 40. I was low on water, and without water you really can’t take your nutrition or salt. Coming up to the last aid station on the bike, around mile 44, I slowed down for some desperately needed water. The lady biking in front of me slowed down as well, but slowed wayyy down and had a special request for her water bottle. So I went past her, and looked for the next volunteer with water. But there was no one else holding water, and I disappointingly rode past the rest of the aid station, knowing I screwed myself for the last section of the bike. I ended the bike ride in a poor mental attitude, dehydrated, low on nutrition and salt. But otherwise the ride was great and the course was beautiful, headwind aside.
Bike split: 3:19:52
A quicker T2 was strategically slowed because I took the time to chug my scalding hot water bottle in transition, and stuff my face with some chews on the way out of transition. But shoes on, hat on, race belt on, and off I went, pausing to take 10 seconds to get mobbed by volunteers with sunscreen. Didn’t realize it, but that sunscreen saved my shoulders during the run.
The first couple miles of the Eagleman run wind through a cute neighborhood, where the residents turn out to watch the racers and set up sprinklers you can run under. While I was hot, I repressed the urge to play in the sprinklers to save myself the wet shoes for 13 miles. Thankfully Eagleman has aid stations approx. every mile on the run, and I took full advantage of the stations. Pretzels, chews, gels, water, Gatorade, ice, coke, etc. Anything you could have wanted, they had. I stuck to water, ice, some chews and a handful of pretzels. I was hurting, so I only walked through the aid stations at first, but by the end, I had to do intervals of walking and running. After mile 2, I had some serious self-doubt, but just kept looking forward to the aid stations and being able to walk through them. Around mile 8, I really had to pee, so I made that happen at the aid station porta-potties. It was so hot, it was like a death march. I saw a few people dry heave and saw one person get pulled from the course onto an ambulance. Around mile 9, I saw a lady snap at her husband who was functioning as her support team, and I figured she was low on motivation (as was I) and low on water. So I strode up next to her and we made some conversation, finding companionship in the “suck.” We stuck together for the rest of the race, running predetermined intervals, and walking when necessary. The comradery really helped with the abysmal heat. Running back through town, we got to run through the sprinklers and pulled motivation from other runners and the spectators. I even was surprised within the last mile by the guy I’m seeing. I knew he was coming, just didn’t expect to see him randomly cheering me on. Thankfully we were running the last mile, and I kind of looked badass, instead of the miserable heap I was five miles before. Rounding the last couple turns, you could hear the finish line, hear them announcing people’s names. The sound of the finish chute made it so worth it. I was so relieved to cross that line, so relieved it was over. I had a medal around my neck, timing chip off, a finisher’s hat in my hand, two water bottles, and water dumped over me before I even knew what happened. The volunteers were so efficient and friendly! Saw my family, hugged them with my sweaty, road-dirt covered self, and we caught up with the boy. After a whole water bottle, some socializing and a couple pictures, I felt like I hadn’t raced 70.3 at all and instead like I had just had 3 shots of espresso. I was wired and ready to go! That feeling wore off after we grabbed lunch and a couple beers in Cambridge, and I barely stayed awake for the drive back to DC.
Run split: 2:50:44
The run did NOT go how I wanted it to. I expected to run around 2 hours, not almost 3. But that heat really beat it out of you. I came out of the water in 40th, finished the bike in 30th, and finished the run in 40th. It was so unfortunate to pass people on the bike, then watch the same girls re-pass you on the run, knowing there was nothing you could do. I tried to keep up with a few as they passed me, but I got dropped within half a mile every time. Note to self: need to run a lot more. A LOT MORE.
Immediately after the race, I was asked, “Would you do it again?” and “When are you going to sign up for a full?” Haha I laughed at the questions; at the time I didn’t want to think about another tri. But, here we are, a few days later, and I’m looking at the schedule for this fall, and next year. I’ll probably go for a full next year. Triathletes sure are crazy. I haven’t even recovered from my chafed legs yet, and I’m already looking at next year’s schedule. And I’m anxious to get back on my bike and get back out there.