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Race Result

Racer: Kevin Kunkel
Race: Eagleman
Date: Sunday, June 11, 2006
Location: Cambridge, MD
Race Type: Triathlon - Half Ironman
Age Group: Male 30 - 34
Time: 4:52:09
Overall Place: 120 / 1592
Age Group Place: 20 / 148
Comment: First half (I mean 70.3) great race, bad transitions!

Race Report:

This was my first foray into the Ĺ Ironman world (Iím sorry Vigo...I mean 70.3óthere is no more half). Thatís a very long story. You would have had to be at the Saturday pre-race meeting to understand that one. Back to the race report, I figured Eagleman was a good place to start. I ran the run last year as part of a relay, and despite the humidity, heat, and lack of shade, I thought letís do the whole thing next year. Other than the exorbitant cost of the race, and that both the bike and run lacked any variation in topography, I figured this would be great for a first timer. Being the active RAT that I am I used our network of friends to discover that everyoneís good friend Keith Bohnenberger was doing the aquavelo (no run). Heíd be a good person to share the cost of the 220 mile ride in my 15mpg Tundra to and from the race. Since we were both late in getting around to actually planning this thing we ended up camping at the high school which was about 3 miles from the race. You pretty much have to stay the night there local because they require you to rack your bike the night before. This is the first time for me having to do that as well. As the designated campsite for the race, the high school wasnít all that bad. There is plenty of space to spread out yet we were still only 50ft. from the locker room which had a bathroom and showers. Not bad. Iím also a big time camper so this really wasnít roughing it for me. We split the tent which was tough for two light sleepers like Keith and myself but I managed OK. I canít speak for Keith. For all I know I snored the whole night keeping him up!

Now on to race day, we were pretty casual getting up and ready since our bikes were already there. A little too casual I came to find out. By the time we packed up, drove to the race site and walked to the transition we had less than five minutes to set-up. I didnít realize they completely close transition at 7AM. I managed to just pump up my tires before they kicked me out. Good thing I did. I only had 80lbs in each! Then I realized that I didnít bodyglide or sunscreen up. This was going to be a costly mistake. I also didnít get to set up my transition with by usual type ďAĒ formality. I couldnít even remember if I had put my sunglasses in my helmet. Suffice it to say, you arenít supposed to start your longest triathlon to date so haphazardly. Live and learn I guess. I did manage to find a lot of familiar faces from the RATS (Nick Karim and Katie Davison) as well as Worldgate (Brian Crow, Seth Flory) milling around the start area. I was so behind I didnít even get to use the port-o-johns prior to the race.

SWIM (40:40, 66/148 AG)

From look out at the Choptank River the day before when there was the ever-present 25mph winds I could tell if conditions held up this was going to be the toughest open water swim ever. Race day conditions didnít disappoint. The race started OK on the outbound leg except for two things. My Velcro band on my Ironman Timex decided it had itís day so the watch fell off within 100meters. It had taken itís lickiní and decided it wasnít going to keep on tickiníóif you remember that ad campaign you are old like me. Luckily I caught it with my other hand and tucked it in my neckline of my wetsuit. My second problem was that I was using the mast of the sailboat at the turn to sight only to find out that within 100meters of it there was another buoy about 100 meters away in about a 90 degree angle to the right. Thus I swam at least an extra 150 meters for that mistake. Once all of us 145 or so in the 30-34AG made the turn we really hit the rough water. We were swimming right into the wind driven chop. I swear sometimes it felt like I was body surfing. I would come off the top of a wave and crash head and chest down 2-3ft into the bottom of a wave. That, and the Red Bull I chugged just before the start was starting to make me feel sea sick--and Iíve never been before in my life. The other problem was that some of the buoys were cockeyed along this part. I felt like I was zig-zagging all over the place. Another tip for race promoters: Donít give bright yellow volunteer shirts to your kayak crew when the buoys are the exact same color. I ended up sighting on a kayaker nearly miss the turn to shore. This probably cost me another 100m of swimming. Oh well. I was glad to be out of the water until I actually got out. Now on to T1...

T1 (4:15, 100/148 AG)

You see, when I pulled my leash my zipper brokeóstuck closed. I had a passer by attempt to help me with it for about 30 seconds, then I ran into transition and saw my friend Seth from Worldgate standing by my rack. He managed to get it unstuck after about another minute. All and all I probably lost another 2:00 thanks to the POS wetsuit from QR. Iíve only worn the thing like 5 times and the leash and zipper are fíed up. Thankfully I did leave my sunglasses in the helmet so not all was bad. It took over 4:00 for T1. Thatís atrocious in my book.

BIKE (2:28:57, 12/148 AG)

As I started the bike I felt pretty fresh. I was worried. The last time I rode the bike in a race I had the chain drop off two times and was a little weary of my front derailleur. I took it the day before to Ward at Trinergy and he fixed it right up. I rode it around the parking lot and shifted it at least 10 times with no problem. Of course, the first time I shifted it to the big ring a couple miles into the race if fell off the big ring to the outside. I did mange to stop pedaling and simply lift it back on while riding. From then on out I left it in the big ring. Anyone out there great at adjusting front derailleurs? I need help. A new Dura Ace derailleur shouldnít have this much trouble.

I found the bike course to be very different than anything Iíve ever ridden before. It was truly flat. I felt like I could keep my heart rate and cadence in check at all times. I knew going into the Ĺ that nutrition was going to be the key to a successful race. In the sprint and intíl distances of the past I never really felt like that was a big deal. I decided since it was probably going to be hot, and that I donít take well to eating solids while racing, I would keep it with the fluids. I only carried the 28 ounces of my aero bottle (I never understand while people weigh down their superlight $5K race bikes with 8lbs. of fluids). I knocked off the 28 ounces of powerade by the 12th mile. I grabbed my first water bottle at the first aid station and used it through 40 miles by using it to help swig down a 1/4 of my hammer gel bottle every 12 miles. When I got to about 40 miles the bottle was finished and I wanted to ward off the electrolyte crash I was headed for since I saw salt stains all over me.
As for the winds, they didnít seem to both me that much. It may be due to the fact that Iíve entered the world of full tri-geekdom by now. You see, Iím going with a disk and a aero helmet now. I think this really helped when I was going into the wind. I noticed the rate by which I was passing people on the bike increased when I was going into the wind. As for the helmet, I know it was helping because usually when I get over 25mph the air whirling through my helmet can be deafening: this timeósilence.

I was shocked by how well I did the bike. I was expecting a time around 2:40. Even in trials out on the roads I never thought I could go that fast. To boot, I took it pretty conservative out there. I had my pulse around 70% the whole time. I feel like I could have carried that pace for a full IM. It really served as a confidence boost for me. The most exciting part of the race for me was that it looks like I finally have my bike fit dialed in. Iíve been having back pains once I get over 30 miles. I shortened my stem by 10mm and that has really seemed to do the trick. I was comfortable and relaxed in the upper body the whole time. That really is a fast bike course.

Now on to the disgusting part of the bike ride. Since I was getting all my calories through fluids, and it really wasnít that warm, I had to take the peleton nature break if you know what I mean. I tried three times and being the rather modest person that I am (yea right) before I got it right. Actually the pain of my thigh coming up each pedal stroke was killing me. I found a nice break with about a 100m behind me to the next rider and a side of the road that was downwind and let it go. Itís tough. Iíve never gone on the bike before. As I was going I slowed down enough that a CAT that I had been leap frogging with went by and he yelled, ďTour de France baby!Ē I have no idea why I shared that. Interesting note, that same guy became me pacer for the rest of the day. More on that later.

T2 (2:57, 81/148 AG)

Now I came into T2 saying the bad transition behind me: letís go! My transition was in the most remote part of the transition. I was in the bend of the ďLĒ for those of you whoíve done the race. I quickly put on running shoes and the first time putting on socks. I got that done quickly. I started running and felt great. I get way over to the exit when a volunteer says, ďwhereís your number.Ē Apparently the wind blew it a couple feet away from my shoes so I had to run back and get it. Oh, well...two bad transitions it appears.

RUN (1:35:21, 24/148 AG)

As soon as I started the run I see the top three pro men sprinting to the finish line. They were all haulin! Once I got about a mile into it and out of the whoopla of the start/finish line it was time for another nature break on a telephone poleósorry Cambridge residents. As soon as I started back I saw Mike Boorstein (the CAT I saw on the bike). He was running a similar pace so we decided to split the wind. We were both pretty comfortable and reserved. I was in uncharted territory here. I had never run off a 50+ mile bikeóever! The legs felt light so I figured I would take it east until 10 and then push the last 5K. As soon as we past the first aid station her comes Ms. Smiley herself, the venerable champion, Natasha Badmann. She finished only 17 min behind Chris Legh the male pro winner! Sheís simply awesome!

The course was pretty uneventful. I ran this part at least last year so I kind of knew what to expect. Since it was out and back I looked forward to seeing other people I knew. I managed to see both Nick Karim and Brian Crow. They seemed to be motoring along. I also saw Katie Davison coming back in on the bike on her aquavelo. If you know here sheís easily recognizable. Mike and I past the time talking about all kinds of things: the future of the RATS with Steve leaving; the fast nature of the RATS vs. the sheer number of CATS. Mike must have yelled out go CATS 20 times. I couldnít have found that many RATS to save my life. Oh well...maybe next year.

We got to about 11 miles and decided to start pushing it. I still felt quite good no sign of bonking. We were running consistent 7:15 miles and then at 11 we dropped to 6:40. Thatís when I knew I was just before red-line. I would say for me that day red-line was 7:00. We both started to feel a little shaky and backed it back down. Once we made that last turn I just stated sprinting like in my 400m high school days. People were yelling someoneís got to win this one. You seem Mikeís 33 and Iím 34, so in a way we were racing each other I guess. I put about 6 seconds on him over the last 200m. I felt bad after crossing the line knowing that I sucked on Mikeís heels on some of the windy parts. He didnít mind at all. He said it was me that kept him pushing.

I was really satisfied with the run. As many of you know Iíve had a number of injuries and I havenít run more than 25 miles in a week in over a year. Even still I managed a perfect negative split (48 going out, 47 coming back). Even more nuts was that I ran this run faster than last yearís when I was simply doing ONLY the run as part of a relay (only seconds faster mind you)!

Lastly, remember that watch that fell off in the water, well I left it in T1 to not see it again for the rest of the race. So when I crossed the line I had no idea how I did. My A goal was 5:00. I thought at the worst I would get 5:10. So when Mike told me, ďyou did great for your first, a 4:52 isnít bad.Ē I was shocked and elated. This was probably my best race ever! I couldnít be happier...oh...thatís right...damn transitions. Keith and I headed out before the awards ceremony. Apparently I got a slot to the 70.3 championships. I want to do that race. It looks like Iíll have to get mine at Steelhead in August.