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Race Result

Racer: Brady DeHoust
Race: Eagleman
Date: Sunday, June 10, 2007
Location: Cambridge, MD
Race Type: Triathlon - Half Ironman
Age Group: Male 30 - 34
Time: 4:08:00
Overall Place: 5
Comment: Enfuego

Race Report:

The subject line theme was pretty consistent when I opened my email the Sunday night of Eagleman: '4:08!?!' Not only was I surprised with my race, others were clearly surprised as well.

I've been waiting for a day like this year's Eagleman. It is rare, as triathletes, that we find ourselves in that sweet spot where each of the swim, bike, and run disciplines all seem to be firing. It's hard to find that perfect balance to improve your weaknesses, sustain your strengths, all while continuing to build your confidence and mental fortitude (the latter becoming the tortilla of the entire enchilada). Going into this year's Eagleman, my swimming was stronger, my strengths were where I thought they should be, and my confidence and mental fortitude was high.

I build my training and training periods around one big race; this year, it's Ironman USA Lake Placid at the end of July. I have found that a consistent focus on long course training has improved my confidence, strength, and [ironically] speed for the shorter distances. However, don't mistake this focus with logging ridiculous weekly miles and five hour brick workouts. Training sessions have a focus on quality, and not so much quantity. I do what I can, when I can; always maintaining some level of consistency. Deidre is also an integral part of any success I have in this sport. Sometimes, it's Deidre who pushes me out the door for a workout when I don't feel up to it -- often, to relieve a state of grumpiness that I may be stuck in at the moment.

I remember a discussion that Mike Guzek and I had after completing Eagleman one year. Had we combined the best of both of our races, we still would not have cracked the top five in our age group (remember, too, he is a top-ranked triathlon swimmer). This is a fast and competitive race. I had an unimpressive run at the Kinetic half iron race in late April. I had a PR at Cherry Blossom a few weeks earlier, so my run fitness felt good. I believe it was lack of bike strength that left me flat starting the run at Kinetic and this was a problem I was confident would be solved in the following weeks with a stronger focus on bike volume.

What was my plan at Eagleman? Race hard ... from the start to the finish. I felt I could race the half iron distance at a notch or two just below the intensity of an olympic-distance race. With the flat terrain of this course, the only thing that should slow you down is overall muscle fatigue, nutrition issues, or a combination of the two. I wanted to go under 4:20, and thought a really good day may have me on the podium in my age group.

As my wave corralled over the timing mat, just off to my left, I hear a quaint, yet very recognizable, "Daddy, daddy. Where is your swim cap daddy"? My son Kyle clearly concerned that all the people around me had a silver cap on their heads, but I did not. I wear goggles under the cap, so I waited 'til I scooped the goggles through the water before putting on the cap. Kyle's concern was shortly put at bay.

I had a good swim. I swam buoy to buoy and never really felt as if the current or lopsided stroke was pulling me off course. The wave spread out quickly, and it was nice not having a kick-jab-slam-punch swim start. Somewhere around the 2nd or 3rd buoy, a jet ski with two riders cut directly across the line of the swim about ten feet in front of me. That took care of the four gulps of gas-fume breaths that you get as part of your entry fee to Eagleman. New this year, I wore the Desoto speed tube wetsuit bottom. Its 5mm thickness and is designed more like tights. The biggest benefit of the speed tube is ease of removal. The foot holes are designed to come to mid-calf, making for a quick and struggle-free for removal.

On Saturday, I flipped-flopped between a HED Alps front wheel and a HED3 front wheel; it was pretty windy and I wasn't sure whether the 3-spoke front wheel would be a pain to handle. I wound up riding the HED3, and ironically, felt more cross-wind effect on the rear wheel than the front. I tend to ride so far up on the saddle that I had little weight on the back of the bike. There were times when I had to scoot back on the saddle to get more weight over the rear wheel to minimize the cross-wind effect. With such flat terrain, I made sure to shift to a high gear on every turn and get out of the saddle for twenty pedal strokes. Once I was through the first hour, I felt that sustaining the hard effort without the fear of "too hard" was doable. I'd break things up by pushing beyond what I felt was a comfortable effort for 10-minutes, then throttle back a bit and regroup. The harder efforts made the steady riding feel easier.

Nutrition was:
2 *PowerGels (1 vanilla, 1 [caffeinated] strawberry/banana)
1 Cliff bar (consumed over a 30-minute period)
40oz of Cytomax
20oz bottle of water
3 or 4 Endurolytes
*PowerGels are now packed with 200mg of sodium. It's a nice compliment if you use Endurolytes, which have less sodium compared to Succeed or Lava Salts (341mg & 255mg respectively), yet are a good supplier of the other essentials like potassium & magnesium.

I try to finish with the solid food twenty minutes before getting off the bike and stick to water only in those final minutes. The thought there is to eliminate the need to take any solids during the run, which is never really appealing when the effort kicks up a notch and heart rate increases.

At the Kinetic half-iron race in April, I knew it wasn't going to be a great run day after 10-steps. I felt flat and stuck in 3rd gear without the ability to shift. Off the bike at Eagleman, I knew it *could* be a great run. I felt smooth -- turnover felt quick, and effort felt hard but maintainable. I had some calf problems that started a couple weeks prior that had me a little concerned -- I just hoped they'd hold up for 13.1 miles and Id deal with it later. Between miles 1 and 2, I caught up with my friend and last year's age group winner, Alex Sherwood. He wasn't moving as comfortably and fast as he normally does. I offered some encouragement to keep it together and hold strong. I asked how many were ahead, and he replied, "Not too many". That answer was a little too ambiguous for me. Not that it mattered. It wasn't going to change my pace or effort whether there were two or twenty ahead of me. After 3-miles, I had logged splits of 5:50, 5:45, & 5:50. I had no intentions of toning things back. Whether a smart approach or not, I like to bank as much time as I can. You can only identify how you feel at *that* moment. I had no idea how I'd feel in the miles ahead.

My calves started to show signs of tightening up around mile 4. I ran each stride not knowing whether my race would end. I hoped they'd just hang on 'til the end.

Just before hitting the turn-around, I knew there was one in my age group ahead of me, and suspected at least one other. Again, it didn't matter -- I was going as hard as I could regardless. Calories came from coke and Gatorade. I grabbed something at every aid station normally, whatever the first and last person were holding. Encouraging words like, "Great pace" and "Looking strong" came from those I passed on the back half.

Around mile 11, the one thing you *don't* want to see as much as you *do* want to see appeared ... someone in my age group. To race side-by-side for 2-miles hurt to think about, but I was clearly running a faster pace as I moved up to his heels. I increased my effort beyond my limit to try and put an immediate gap and dissuade him from tagging along. "Don't look back", I told myself. Not until the next turn did I glance to see if I had gapped him, and he was not in site. After the race, a friend and training partner who happened to be at the point of pass said that the guy blew up about five seconds after I went by him. Thank God.

Other thoughts:
I felt better running the 13 miles at Eagleman than I did in April at the Cherry Blossom 10-mile open road race, and the pace was just about the same. With long course training and focus on triathlon, do we tend to do and feel better after the swim/bike "warm up"? That's odd to me. I assume a lot of it has to do with the training between April and June.

While my focus is Ironman USA Lake Placid in July, I still don't see the need to "train through" a race. I don't race enough during the year to go into a race tired because I chose not to properly taper. I don't follow the 'A, B, C' label of races. If I sign up, its 'A' all the way.

The two days following the race, I was almost to the point of immobility. My calves felt like they had a tourniquet tied around the top and bottom and my muscle had no room to contract. I knew I'd likely have to deal with some level of soreness, but not to the extent that it was. All the limping caused other areas to hurt. I decided to take 10-days completely off from running. In the week following the race, I had an acupuncture session, a visit to the chiropractor with electro stimulation treatment, and three visits to the yoga studio. Things are coming around.