Reston Area Triathletes RATS.net Logo

Race Result

Racer: Erik Melis
Race: Eagleman
Date: Sunday, June 14, 2009
Location: Cambridge, MD
Race Type: Triathlon - Half Ironman
Age Group: Male 50 - 54
Time: 6:17:37
Overall Place: 1145 / 1504
Age Group Place: 62 / 81
Comment: 70.3 distance PR by 16 minutes **long report**

Race Report:

Race Report - Eagleman Triathlon, Cambridge, MD, June 14, 2009

Pre-race activities

This race was an interesting one for me. It was the first of three 70.3 distance races that I had scheduled this year in preparation for Ironman Arizona. It was a new venue for me, although I did ride the bike portion of Eagleman during the Character Counts 6 Pillars ride in May. This race also coincided almost exactly with the start of my wife’s two week mid-tour leave from Afghanistan (I actually suggested to her that I back out of the race but she insisted that I go ahead and do it to represent Team TriSpuds (our little two person triathlon team)).

I drove to Cambridge early on Friday to avoid the crush of traffic anticipated for the beach weekend. After checking into the hotel, I drove out to Sailwinds Park to take advantage of the early packet pickup. Got checked in, wrist banded, made my rounds of the expo, and then went over to Great Marsh Park to scope out the transition area and see if the swim course buoys were up so that I could get a sense for where I was going to be swimming. It had rained for several days (and weeks) prior so the transition area was a little bog-like to say the least. I decided that if the Red Cross could have figured out how to harvest and milk the blood from mosquitoes just at the race venue, then there would be no blood shortages.
Went back to the hotel, went out for dinner, and then just had a relaxing night.

Saturday, I went back to Sailwinds to listen to the pre-race briefing. I left it a little early to get a jump on all the cars heading for Great Marsh to rack bikes. I could tell early on that parking was going to be an issue on Sunday if you wanted to be anywhere near the venue. Got my bike racked, deprived the mosquitoes of their blood feast by putting on bug spray first, and headed back to the hotel to make sure all the rest of my stuff was ready for race day.

Race morning

Got my usual pre-race night sleep, that is to say, very little of it. Got up very early (about 3:30) and got my stuff together including my pre-race breakfast and headed out to Great Marsh. I managed to find a parking spot right near the venue which was my plan. With my race wave not going off until 1:15 after the first wave, I was going to follow my Columbia strategy, get there early, get setup, go back to the car, and crash for a bit until time to get ready for swimming.

Swim (42:44)

Again, as with Columbia, an interesting and eclectic makeup for my swim wave - Men 15-19 & 25-29 & 50-54 & Clydesdales. Okay, so the first that happened is that you couldn’t get from the transition area to the swim start as easily as I had hoped. You had to go down to the finishing line and around the chute to then follow the masses queuing up for the respective waves. The swim was wetsuit legal but the water was warmer than Columbia so I debated about wearing my wetsuit but then heard there were jellies in the water and decided to wear the suit for that reason and since I need all the buoyancy help I can get. The swim karma was not with me this morning. I went to put my wetsuit on and managed to rip a big hole in one of the legs. Since it appeared that the hole would be on my calf, I decided I could live with it and just squeezed it together as best I could. Then when it was time to put my upper body into the suit I realized that I had either started putting the suit on backwards or somehow that morning my legs got totally twisted around from front to back. Had to pull the suit off being careful not to tear the whole bigger and then put it back on with the hole more visibly on my shin. Decided it was better to try to explain the hole than to explain wearing the suit backwards. Then I went to put my swim cap on, stretched it against my forehead and “sproing” it went backwards right into the middle of the finishing chute. Lucky for me, someone had jumped over the barrier to get to the swim start and was able to retrieve the cap for me. Cap on, securely this time. Suit on, right side front this time, ready to go. My wave entered the water finally. Seeded myself to the side and not too far front. Horn sounded and we were off. Settled into a rhythm fairly quickly and managed to steer clear of most of the congestion until the first turn buoy where I ran smack into a group doing synchronized breast strokes or it seemed. Got away from them and kept going buoy to buoy. Made the second turn and either I was having more than my usual issue sighting or there was a current pushing me slightly to the side away from the buoys since I kept finding myself drifting to the left. Made the third turn and it became ever more apparent when I couldn’t swim a straight line to save my life. Made the fourth and final turn and found myself swimming directly into this little chop. As I approached the swim exit, I noticed for the first time that there was a rock breakwater around the swim exit and I was headed straight for it. Luckily, there were volunteers frantically waving red flags standing on the rocks. Once I came to the realization that they weren’t my personal cheerleaders, I adjusted my heading and went through the opening in the breakwater to the beach. Got out of the water, pulled down the top portion of my suit and ran to the transition area, giving my feet a well-deserved mud bath on the way. Good thing I had some water in my transition area to rinse my feet.

T1 (4:36)

I was still a bit wobbly coming out of the water but kicking hard at the swim end seemed to help. The runout to transition, the transition itself, and the bike runout was made even more fun by the muddiness of the ground. I was a little slower getting my wetsuit off than I should have been so will have to practice that more. Good thing I had cleat covers on my bike shoes or never would have been able to clip in after the run out in the mud.

Bike (2:59:07 – 18.9 mph)

The bike course at Eagleman is nice and flat. This has its plusses and minuses. The plus, especially this day when the sky was overcast at the bike start so that the air was cooler, was that I could see what it felt like to feel like a biking stud. During the first half of the course, I was cruising at 20+ mph and having a lot of fun. The minus of the course flatness is that if there’s a wind, as there was for the second half of the course, there’s very little on the course to block it except us riders. As the sun started to come out and heat the course up a little and as the wind provided us with a humility check, all I could do was stay down in aero, gear down so that I was maintaining an even cadence and hope that I wasn’t losing too much time in the wind. One problem I ran into on the course was my new saddle. I had a number of rides under my belt on my new saddle but I rode those rides in my more-padded bike shorts. Lessson learned – ride more training rides in tri shorts or my trisuits to toughen up. Got to the bike finish in more time than I thought I would at the bike start but in less time than I thought I would once I hit the wind.

T2 (5:41)

The run in from the bike in the mud was a challenge but luckily I didn’t have to worry about muddying up the cleats. T2 is still way too slow for me so I’ll need to work on getting the kinks worked out on that.

Run (2:25:31)

I wasn't sure what to expect on the run. The Eagleman run is flat and, while the wind shouldn’t be too much of a factor, the fact that the sun was out and there was no shade on the course was of concern to me. Of course, I also had to wonder how my feet would hold up and whether or not my neuromas would allow me to have a decent run. I tried to maintain and steady, albeit not very fast, pace…one that I thought my feet could tolerate. I walked through the aid stations, drinking Gatorade, pouring water in my hat and dumping ice down the front of my trisuit. I found that my heart rate monitor strap which I wasn’t paying much attention to anyway did serve a secondary purpose of keeping the ice around my upper body. Well, it didn’t always work out that way. Just like one of the other racers reported, there was a point where I must have hit critical mass on the ice in my trisuit and some cascaded down into the crotch of my suit. I think for a while that actually added a hitch in my gait that kept me from thinking about my sore feet. The further I got, the sorer my feet got and the more determined I became that I would try to keep moving. If I needed to slow the pace down, then I did that. Since I knew that I would be seeing my wife again within hours or at most a couple days of finishing, I had an added amount of motivation to get this race in the books. My overall run was slower than I had hoped for but faster than I expected if that makes any sense.

As I enter the finishing chute, I knew that I was going to PR despite the issues I had had and that made this race a success. I was very happy to accept the finisher’s medal knowing that I had taken 16 minutes off my prior 70.3 distance PR. Next up – Timberman in August.

Post race, the true prize is awarded.

After cooling off and getting some grub, I gathered up my bike and gear and headed for the car. I wanted to go check my cellphone to see if I had any updates from my wife on the status of her travel from Afghanistan to the US. Got back to the car, turned on the cell and it rang. It was my wife. She had actually landed earlier than I expected at BWI where her sister had picked her up and she told me not to move because she was almost at the race venue. Within a few more minutes, I was thrilled to see her running down the middle of the street toward me still dressed in camo uniform from the flight. That was way better than any PR and any finisher’s medal!!!

Summary and lessons learned

Swim: pay more attention and take more time putting my wetsuit on so that I don’t rip it and so I don’t embarrass myself my putting it on backwards again.

Bike: ride more training rides in race gear so that I know earlier what issues might arise.

Run: work on finding the right pace that I can sustain that doesn’t cause my neuromas to flare up, try new orthotics in my running shoes to make sure that I have well placed metatarsal pads which really seem to help.

Transitions: practice these more to figure out where I’m keep slowing down in them

Overall, it was a PR for me at this distance and I’m hoping to improve on that with Timberman in August and with the Patriot’s Half in September. It was a good preparation race for IMAZ.