Eagleman was a tremendously fun race and already I’m putting it on my calendar for next year—it’s flat and fast, the food choices are fantastic in all price ranges and the drive to get there is pretty darn easy. The weather was really rainy and crappy leading up to the race, but it looked like it was going to break the day of so we were hopeful but decided to drive down a day early to avoid what can be a nasty traffic infused ride in bad weather. We were so glad we did–unfortunately our friends from Boston added an additional 7 hours to their 7 hour drive due to accidents while we thankfully we able to have a complete day of chilling out and checking out the area.
Backing up, I was a little concerned that I was going to have my first DNF in this race. If you remember, I injured my peroneal tendon at the MORE 1/2 marathon and had only really resumed some light run training 2 weeks prior. I hit 8 miles the week before and decided I didn’t need to push it further. My podiatrist was confident that I’d probably be able to finish the race, but since this wasn’t my first time the dance, I was okay with cutting things short rather than ruining my summer with injury. Due to the rainy and cold spring we had, my outdoor bike training was less than spectacular as well. This didn’t concern me too much, as last year I’d done hours of indoor training for Florida. And since Mike had recently asked me if I was going to ever get off that darn trainer, I figured I was getting my time in (it didn’t hurt my foot and I was going nuts not being able to run!). So with a training plan that was slightly off and a foot that was recently healed, I adjusted my expectations to have fun with what I could do and perhaps just show off my Trisports.com team kit for a bit longer than expected if I felt I needed to walk.
After a day in the rain relaxing about town, I put on my nifty rain boots and Fran and I went to check-in. Not only did we get some sweet TYR backpacks as a goodie bag then we met up with a college buddy of mine for a stellar meal at 208 Talbot in St. Michael’s which is only 20 minutes away and well worth the trip because it seems many restaurants there are very good. The next day, all we really had to accomplish was bike check in and of course the pro panel because this is really part of the fun isn’t it? We got to meet one of our favorites – Pro Andy Potts – who always has a huge smile, positive attitude and is up for pictures. Of course, for such a chummy guy, he is truly a bad ass and won the race that day. I’m predicting he’s the United States best chance at Kona. It’s always fun to go to the pro panel and then take a few pictures. What was nice is that they said how awesome this race was and how well they were treated there which means there will continue to be a great pro field at this race, which is nice. I spoke to Rinny, Meredith Kessler and Laura Bennett. Laura is the only on that finished. Rinny had some bad cramping and poor Meredith, who was in the lead on the bike, was plowed into by an age group male who crossed the double line and hit her so hard that she not only crashed but passed out with a concussion. She’s recovering well and should be at Vineman and I heard the guy did actually find her to apologize. I’m not sure he got DQed, although he should have been.
After we racked our bikes and checked out the swim (without swimming mind you because it’d been raining all morning and we just didn’t have the time), Fran and I met 2 sets of friends we’d met at Timberman 70.3. Janice and Tricia came down from Boston and Sara and Misty came up from North Carolina. We went to have a simple pub dinner that was just fine but the service was hilariously bad. Needless to say, that provided even more laughter to an already fun evening with a bunch of amazing women. We all headed back to our craptastic hotels for one last sleep. Mind you, we enjoyed our stay at the Days Inn, it was simple and clean and honestly just perfect for what we needed to do and I would stay there again.
Race morning I woke up feeling pretty great. I had no idea what I was capable of doing except that it was going to be a lot of fun and enjoy doing what I love to do, a simple plan. I had over an hour to wait for my swim start, so Misty, Sara and I went over to watch the pro’s get out of the water. Andy came out first and did some incredibly beautiful dolphin dives as he reached the shallow water. Greg Bennett was not far behind, but clearly, Potts was the man to beat. My swim start was just fine and my swim uneventful. That said, I realize that I need some open water practice to get these jets moving, although my swim wasn’t bad and my breathing was fine, so I was ready to brave the mud-bog and get on my bike.
Now, I have to tell you my friend Fran is not only a fun person to travel with but an awesome pal. She got herself a new bad ass bike to prep for the Florida Ironman (her first) and since she’d already bought herself Zipp wheels she gave me her Bonetrager Zipp-like wheels that came with her bike. Since I wasn’t really riding to much outside, once again, I tested fate and had the bike shop throw those babies on my ride and basically talked to my mechanic on the different feel because I wasn’t going to be able to test a big ride with them prior. After the swim, I knew I had a bit of catching up to do so I pressed a bit and tried to get in my groove. I was feeling awesome and when I looked down I was going 19-20 mph! Whoa! Don’t go to crazy now just because you’re feeling good, I said to myself. Ride your own race. I got into a pace I felt I could manage and I couldn’t believe it when I saw 19 mph! (normally I’d probably be 16-17 or so). Now, I wondered. Was it the race wheels? My fitness? My weight training and trainer riding? Was it that the course was just that flat and fast? Or perhaps a combo of everything! In any case, I felt that after many years of trying to grow into my P3, I was finally riding her the way she wants to be ridden and that’s just plain fast. And, I wasn’t scared, which is often what thwarts me from going faster. I knew the key to riding this race was not to coast and I had confidence now that my fitness would enable me to do that. Honestly, it was the ride of my life and I couldn’t have had a better time marking and passing people because I’m usually the one getting passed.
As I entered the mud-bog with my bike I did do one stupid thing. I forgot to reapply sunscreen! This was dumb and against my very own rule of spraying it on between transitions. It was a product of feeling just so darn great after my ride, but I paid for it with a terrible sunburn on my back! My run was a-okay. I saw Misty and Sara out there cruising along and was holding my own at a steady pace. To be honest, with the doubts I had in my training, I was thinking that Ironman is coming soon for me. The journey is as fun as heck and I’m hungry for more.
Fran unfortunately had a bummer of a mishap and had a very challenging finish even though Andy Potts hugged her as she started the run. (Told you he was a sweetheart!) With all the mud in transition, I can only assume that mud got caught up in her tires and brakes because she had a terrible ride and felt like she was towing a trailer. (I actually carried my bike into transition and didn’t think my bike shoes would recover from how much they were filled with mud. This however, was a better choice than putting muddy feet into clean run shoes!). The lesson in this is that it only takes a minute to stop and check your tires and breaks if you feel like something is really wrong. I told her this was something everyone can learn from and something that none of us will ever do again. She also should have been able to go very fast so this mishap was extremely disappointing and did have me worried because I thought I would have caught up to her early in the run. In fact, we figured I must have passed her in the late stages of the bike but we didn’t see each other. It was definitely a tough break, and I hope that it wouldn’t break her spirit about Ironman Florida. I’m confident it was mud and not her ability and told her so. Later on, with some tasty Mexican food and a beer, along with more laughs with our Boston friends I can only hope that the muddy wheel mishap would stay as exactly that. My foot felt a little cranky, but nothing that had me too concerned. My mind was ticking about Ironman and the confidence, along with the thrill, that one day I will do it.
So, the Eagleman is in the books and headed back next year without injury to see what I can really do with some seriously proper training!