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Race Result

Racer: Kevin Kunkel
Race: Eagleman
Date: Sunday, June 10, 2007
Location: Cambridge, MD
Race Type: Triathlon - Half Ironman
Age Group: Male 35 - 39
Time: 4:33:18
Overall Place: 120 / 1609
Age Group Place: 27 / 231
Comment: Better, but not good enough

Race Report:

I guess it time to finally muster up the time and energy to write my first race report of the year. I donít know hatís wrong with me. Here it is my 4th race of the year and the garrulous guy that I am, has not been able to put down on paper how the season has unfolded thus far. Here goes.

Eagleman 70.3 they call it now. This was the first time I have returned here since my 8th place last September at ChessyMan. Although the courses are technically different, they are virtually the same: flat. This year instead of it being my first half wherein I was very conservative effort never having raced over the distance, I was trying to use this race as a fitness test with the transition from shorter faster (sprint and Olys) efforts into my next period of longer distance training gearing me up for IM-Loo come the end of August. Coming in I thought I should certainly PR. I figured I was capable of improving in each discipline with the greatest improvement coming on the bike portion: how wrong could I be! More on that later.

I headed up Saturday afternoon after being the chief scorer of my sons swim meet. I arrived at Sailwinds Park to see the festivities well on their way. It seemed much more crowed than last year. This was clearly evident as I had to wait in the 150yd long line to get my bike inspected. It wasnít too bad. It took about 15 minutes, and my bike inspector ended up being none other than Troy Jacobsen of Spinerval fame. He gave it a good shakedown and I told him it better be in good shape otherwise I was going to blame him because other than to race I never ride this bike except during the winter when itís on the trainer and Iím using his DVDs!

Vigo (RD) had some really great panels and information sessions. He really knows how to not only put on a good race, but he knows how to preface the race with a good informative expo with lots of free goodies. The pro panel was the highlight because our own Shawn Clark is in love with Desiree Ficker (who wouldnít be for that matter). I told him I was going to get a picture with her to make him jealous and sure enough I did. It didnít end there. She talked to me for about 5 minutes during which I told her about Shawnís infatuation with her and that he couldnít put last monthís Inside Triathlon issue down, and how we both ran the 2nd annual marathon in parks together back in 2001. She laughed and ended up signing a photo for him that reads. ďShawn...Where are you?! Love, Des.Ē I know heíll like that!

Another new dimension to this yearís race was me organizing the RATS campout at Cambridge High School, as well as the meeting spot at the race which is always separated from all the other Club tents which are jammed together in the very load finish line area. Steve Smith used to take care of this so since heís no longer around Iíd take it on. Thanks to Steve we always set up awning right at mile marker 13. From there you can watch people coming into transition from the bike as well as watching people starting their run (some better than others) as well as the final sprint for the finish. Itís a nice location indeed. It was pretty easy coordinating it all but it wouldnít have been possible without the help of the Tinesí (Mike and Karen) as well as Will Waskes. They all lent a handóliterally to getting the cooler, shade, and banner moved from Cambridge High School (site of the camp) to the race site at Great Marsh Park.

Saturday night we (Miro, Brett DeWitt, Mike and Karen Tine, Will Waskes, and I hug out at the school). We managed to set up our tents and hang out for a bit after eating over at the Greek/Italian place known as the Palace. Things were great until I decided to retire around `10:30. When I opened my transition bag to get stuff ready for the morning I noticed an entire flask of Hammer Gel had emptied in my bag. The sticky goop made it way onto my pre race and post race clothes, my bed, and all over the inside of my bag. I was furious to say the least. Remember (tip to self): put the flasks inside a zip lock bag from now on. I was up until after midnight attempting to clean it up. Not the easy relaxed night you want before a big race. I didnít know if this was the cause but I didnít manage to sleep as well as last year. I maybe got three hours of sleep. Miro was antsy to get out of there in the morning so he woke up at about 4:30. I probably would have slept until 6. Call me a slacker I guess, but Iím not crazy about getting to a race site before light.

My pre race festivities the morning of were marred as it always itówaiting for a porta pottie to open up prior to race start. As I waited in the line I got to see the proc start to my right and they exited to my left as I was actually in the loo. I managed to run through the arch to get out with my wave literally a minute before the start. I was certainly the last member of my wave to get into place. I donít mind this kind of stuff really. I simply swam the 100 yds. out to where we started and I was ready to go. I guess Iím not as type ďAĒ has some would content.

SWIM (31:18; 432/1609 Overall)

The words comfort and swim donít usually exist in the same sentence for me, especially at Eagleman. The Choptank rive usually lives up to its name every time Iím here. This year was no exception, but instead of be created by surface winds or crazy tidal flows, it was created by swimmers with the worst since of direction Iíve ever seen. If for no other reason that I want to improve my swim would be so that I donít have to swim with these meandering souls. I got punched, pulled, swam over, had my goggle ripped off: that was only in the first 400M. Once we managed to make the turn both the current helped and the crowds thinned out a bit. I knew I was having a good swim because I was passing a bunch of red caps from the wave before. This year there were not nettles or jellies to speak of. One less thing I had to think about. I managed to exit is just over 30 which is usually a mile swim for me not a 1.2 so I knew the current was helping. My swim has improved this year but Iím still solidly a 25th percentile swimmer as you can see from my splits above.

T1 (3:17; 341/1609 Overall)

I have no idea how my transitions are this slow. I know itís a long way from the water to the new transition area but I was running past a bunch of people but still only managed a top fifth time. I have got to work on that. My transition times should be commensurate with my actual race split placing. I wish Steve was still around for help with this. He was the master at quick transitions.
BIKE (2:25:19 [23.2mph]; 122/1609 Overall)

Coming into the race I thought for sure this was going to be my strength. The course fits my style of cycling (consistent hard effort, no coasting with very little HR spiking due to hills). I spent the off-season and so far this season devoting 70%+ of my training time on the bike so I thought this will have to be my real strength. Early on it felt that way. We must have had the wind with us over the first 20-25 miles because I was avg. 25+ mph and it felt like a piece of cake. I did come upon our own Mike Tine but he was taking in the scenery and enjoying the day. I was passing people like crazy except for to large fellow 35-39AG who decided to pretty much draft on me the whole day. Iíve decided I cannot waste my energies getting upset at those who cheat off me. That will only serve to take my mind off the task as hand. Itís difficult to do this but I figured these two guys have very big bodies so they would not be able to hang with me on the run. More on that later....

My first Ĺ ever was Eagleman last year and because of that I was very conservative. This time I went harder but I wasnít nearly pushing it as sprint/Oly type pace. When I got from miles 30-40 we were running into a solid 15mph headwind. This made 20 mph feel like 25-56 mph earlier in the race. Last year we had the rare fortune of having virtually no windóquite unusual for this area. At the same time I started getting a little cramping in the hip flexors so I took some endurolytes and sure enough within 20 minutes they were gone. I managed to come into T2 feeling about the same as last yearóready to run. I quickly looked at my time and realized that those headwinds took my avg. from 25+ to 23.2. Ouch! I only managed to take 3 minutes off my time which was a disappointment to be honest. I thought under the same conditions as last year a 2:20 time was possible. I attempted to look on the bright side and said, ďwell I should be better rested for the run.Ē

T2 (2:24; 240/1609)

Once again, Iím way back in the 200s. Other than putting on a pair of socks I thought I went pretty fast. I guess not.

RUN (1:31:07 [6:58 pace]; 99/1609 Overall)

I have a new approach to long distance racing when it comes to the run. Since it take 1-2 miles to really get your running legs I donít like to obsess or even look at my early run splits. I just try to find a good rhythm that mentally I know I can sustain for around an hour and half. This approached worked last year where I settled into a 7:15 pace by mile 3. This year I did the same thing to find that I was right at 6:50 pace. Nice! I figured if I can knock off 25-30 seconds a mile Iím golden and that exactly what I did. I kept my pace between 6:50 and 7:00 the whole race. I still find miles 8-11 as the most difficult. Not because of the course as everyone knows the run course at Eagleman is flat. Itís just the mental side of knowing youíve been out there running a while and the race isnít simply going to end any minute. I did manage to run about 6:30 for the last mile so I know I still had something left. As Will would comment later as he was watching from the RATS tent, ďyou didnít go hard enough.Ē Easy for him to say.

TOTAL: 4:33:18; 120/1609 Overall; 27th 35-39AG)

Coming into the finish line I was ecstatic that I took 19 minutes off my time. I managed to pass the guys who drafted on me. Although, I did get my energies out as I waved to them as I past, one other guy who past me on the run at mile 3 was dying with about 1.5 miles to go. So it felt good to pass these guys in my age group. Not until after I finished did I realize that everyone did much better. This tempered my feelings (last year I fished 20th in my 30-34AG, and this year 27th in the 35-39). So in some respects, I did worse. I finished with a slightly higher place overall but still marginal; thus, Iím left with the insatiable feeling that I could have done better. I think you need this feeling to continue to improve. So Iíll spend the next couple months plugging away and training hard getting ready for IM-Loo. I did mange to take time off all three disciplines so that has to be good (9 in the swim, 3 on the bike, and 4 on the run).

It was awesome to have everyone at the RATS tent cheering me and everyone else on. Brady had a phenomenal race and it was nice to hang out with him and his family after the race. Other than the epic drive home that took longer than the race to complete it was a good weekend. I just need to keep it going. No let up...no let up.