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Race Result

Racer: Steve Smith
Race: Eagleman
Date: Sunday, June 13, 2004
Location: Cambridge, MD
Race Type: Triathlon - Half Ironman
Age Group: Male 30 - 34
Time: 4:25:06
Overall Place: 54
Age Group Place: 8
Comment: Ouch, not my best day ... 30:07/2:15:50/1:34:49

Race Report:

The five best things about my first Eagleman

5. Perfect racing weather
4. Lot's o RATS in da house
3. Racing behind pro women :)
2. Getting into a groove w/ two other strong bikers
1. That porta-pottie at the run turn-around. Heaven.

The five most challenging things about my first Eagleman

5. Letting a day of perfect weather pass my by
4. My sore butt on the bike
3. My sore butt on the run
2. Convincing myself to not walk
1. The awards ceremony :)

All in all, I will have a few races worse than Eagleman '04, and I will have many races better than Eagleman '04. I've been expecting a blow-up race. For too long I've made a strong, steady upward progress in my performances, with a few minor plateaus or virtual no steps backward. At mile 9 of the run I was asking myself, as I jogged along at my typical *training* pace, whether I had my much predicted blow-up. I figured no, I just didn't get a chance to light the fuse. By mile 11 I had changed my mind. I really struggled against the urge to start walking.

So, it was something like a bad horror movie. When you expect the monsters to jump out, it really isn't that scary is it? Knowing this was coming made it a bit easier to deal with on the race course. I imagine the blow-up that will really stir me up is the one I'm not expecting, the one that comes when work-stress is low, training is solid, and race goals are high (the reverse of which pretty much describes the last few weeks for me).

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm pretty happy with a 4:25 at Eagleman. I felt great on the swim ... I felt fast and was passing guys toward the end. I was expecting a split faster than my 30:07, but oh well. Then again, I haven't been swimming much. I was pleased with my bike split of 2:15:50, but not thrilled. I believe, for me, that time is soft by at least 2-3 minutes. As for my 1:35 run, I can certainly do better. In the end, my average HR on the run was about the same as my easy training runs (146). In fact, my max HR on the run wasn't much higher (153).

Kudos to Frosty for pulling out a stellar race (fastest RAT of the day) and to Brady, who would have had the race of his life if it wasn't for a flat tubular. Congrats to Gwen & Brad for getting their first Half out of the way. Congrats to RAT Mike Guzek and friend-o-RATS Lindsey Fitzgerald for overall wins in the Clydesdale & Athena categories, and to Bill Goodrum who got some award in there. Maybe they'll've finally figured out which one by this morning. Friend-o'RATS Hope Hall picked up some hardware and Gary & Tamara finished with smiles, and Pete Gaaserud put a smile on my face when I really needed one around mile 10 of the run. Tony Panizza came out to stretch his legs a few weeks after IM-Brazil and even picked up some hardware. I'm sure there are more RATS out there with more stories.

When they finally sorted out the awards, I got what I went there for: a slot to Ironman Florida. (FWIW, no one took a single slot for Ironman USA; all of the Wisconsin and Florida slots were taken, but only a few people who wanted them missed them).

The Swim
I got right behind Brian Benda and Anthon Von Lierop at the swim start. Why? I have no idea. Benda would go on to post the fastest swim of the day, pro & amateur alike. I saw him dive in the water and wouldn't see him again until T2. I was a little worried about getting beat up on the swim, but I got away from the pack decently. I ended up 16th in my wave, nearly six minutes behind Benda's 24:08. Sighting was a little hard; I was wearing heavily tinted goggles and while that helped reduce the sun's impact, it made finding the buoys difficult. I think I sighted okay, just catching myself missing one of the turns (unfortunately the two guys ahead of me didn't figure out). After making that last turn, I started passing guys and then found myself in no-man's land. Once in transition I saw Eric Sorenson throwing on his helmet. I figured I had an okay swim, gathered my bike gear and headed for the bike course.

The Bike
The number of guys that I end up passing in the first 100m of any bike race just astounds me. Not because they are slower than me, but because they're still dorking with their shoes. If you're gonna keep your shoes in your pedals, you damn well better practice, practice, practice. Yet again someone nearly plowed into me as they zigged across the width of the road getting their cycling shoes on. Grrrr. Pet peeve extraordinaire.

The bike was a little windy, but perfectly flat. I saw Eric around mile 5, the first pro women around mile 20, the last M55+ around mile 30 (holy COW!!!). Around mile 8 I passed the last guy that I would pass (from the results, Im guessing it was Brain Halusan). For the next 30 miles we worked together in a completely legal way. He would pull a little closer when we going into headwinds, I would pull a lot further ahead with the tailwinds. In general we would keep 50m or more between us; we used one another as rabbits, and we would naturally drift ahead and behind. Somewhere in this, my butt got incredibly sore, right on the sit bones. At one point, it was excruciating as I dropped back 200m or more from Halusan. I have no idea where this pain came from, but it was bad. I managed to find a position on the saddle that didn't make me cry and I think I numbed the situation out of my mind.

Around mile 40 some dude (Im guessing Chris Gebhardt) went screaming by me. Looking at the results, I cannot figure out why he was passing me so strongly, we were out of the water in similar times. Perhaps I faded more than I realized toward the end. Perhaps he was dorking with his shoes or some other mechanical. Anyway, when Gebhardt (or whomever) went by, I used him for a rabbit for the remainder of the race, evenutally dropping Halusan. Unlike my first rabbit, I would never gain on the second guy. I kept the distance somewhat stable for 10 miles before he disappeared in the last 6 miles. With a little time to myself, <gross> I tried peeing on the bike, but it wasn't easy. I tried standing up for a few seconds, as this is what I've read works best. As soon as I started, uh, well, I felt like I was pissing fire. Maybe I did piss fire, because I don't think I pissed any liquid.</gross>

Anyway, all-in-all, it was fun to have strong bikers out there to keep me going. With only the M55+ and W45+ ahead of us, we had pretty clean roads. Im looking forward to coming back to Eagleman in A-race condition so I can see what I can do on this bike course.

The Run
I was fourth out of transition, less than a minute behind the wave leader. After that, it was all downhill (which is tough on this course). My ass, now off the saddle, was loosing its numbness. And oh my, did it hurt. Oh well I thought, I'll just run easy until it's better, and then I'll speed things up. On the other side of my torso, my bladder started complaining again. I passed Van Lierop, suffering cramps, in the first mile and then Benda in the second mile. Halusan, my first riding buddy, passed me by at mile two. Two more guys blew by me (and him) soon after. And then it was a long lonely run for the next four miles. Halusan sloooowly creeped away and so did my race.

I jogged along, just barely reaching my typical easy-mod running HR of 150. Nothing really hurt other than my butt. I just couldn't move my legs any faster. Around mile 5 my butt started hurting less and my bladder started hurting more. I started dreaming of the porta-potties at the turn-around (course previews are quite useful in SO many ways). Finally, at mile 6.55, bliss was mine.

With my bladder empty and my butt no longer sore it was time to pick things up a bit. If "a bit" means 3-4 seconds per minute, then I succeeded. But it was not meant to be. I knew if I picked things up to actual race pace I would pass out before finishing. Maybe I was bonking, I don't know. And I really didn't care. I just plodded along. It wasn't that I blew up, it was that I just never got the fuse lit. I remember thinking as I saw Pete, "Well, I don't think I would call this a blow-up." This was mile 10 or so. At mile 11, it was official, I had exploded. I had to really stay on top of myself to avoid walking. I could see the finish line, but it seemed so far away. I told myself I could make it, that if I jogged it would all be over much more quickly (I was never reduced to the dreaded shuffle). As I finished, I smiled. For some reason, in spite of myself, I kinda of enjoyed blowing up. It reminded me about what I love most about this sport: exhaustion. There's just something deep inside me that loves to be completely spent. The interesting thing about Eagleman was that I got there on 7:15 min/miles, when usually it would take a lot more effort :) So, I guess, it was something of a bargain.

It was a bittersweet day. Id come only wanting a Florida slot, so Id achieved my main goal. Id had such a string of continual improvements that I was disappointed to see that streak ended. But I still had fun and, if anything, I released myself from a little bit of self-induced pressure. But just a little.