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Race Result

Racer: Brad Payne
Race: Eagleman
Date: Sunday, June 13, 2004
Location: Cambridge, MD
Race Type: Triathlon - Half Ironman
Age Group: Male 35 - 39
Time: 5:46:32
Overall Place: 958 / 1373
Age Group Place: 168 / 208
Comment: Thanks again to my wife and the RATS crew for their support!

Race Report:

Swim: 39:36
T1: 5:27
Bike: 2:45:41
T2: 4:24
Run: 2:11:47

My first Half-IM, and a team effort--Thanks to fellow RATS for their encouragement during the race, but especially to my wife who had to put up with me before and afterwardsÖ

I was really nervous Saturday night. I knew I could do each of the three events separately, but could I do them all on the same day? I had trained properly, but in the past few weeks I had been distracted by "real life:" flooded basements, collapsing drywall, contracts closing at work, etc. So I had a "forced" taper and had not slept well in the two weeks leading up to the race.

Parking seemed to be an issue as we pulled into Cambridge. We thought we had left early enough to get into the park, but we ended up parking several blocks away. Still plenty of time so Iím not freaking. I get set up in transition; things are fine as I head over to the tent to get my wetsuit on. First wave starts, and then, as it always seems to be, "The Bus" decides to stop by. The last three races Iíve done: Columbia, Reston, and now Eagleman find me scrambling for a portajohn with less than fifteen minutes before my wave leaves. At least this time I didnít already have the wet suit on. And it could be worse, The Bus could pay a visit DURING the swim. Yuck. After determining that the line will not clear in time, I run back to the RATS tent, and it is as if my wife has ESP--she has set up my changing tent, which I decide will have to be my own personal latrine! [This is probably TMI, but this sort of "adversity" is actually becoming the most stressful part of pre-race for me.] By the time I emerge, I only have minutes to get to the starting area. Lisa becomes a quick expert in how to assist me into the wetsuit, getting me zipped, handing me my goggles and cap, and pointing me in the right direction.

My wave is already in the water waiting for the gun while Iím dashing across the park. My heart rate monitor is already chirping. I sound like Otter from the movie Animal House, "Pardon me Excuse me Pardon me..." as I cut through the waves on deck and cross the mat and jump into the waterÖjust as the gun goes off. I pull my swim cap (hate those things) on and begin 50 yards behind my wave.

Now this is how adversity sometimes is a good thing. Normally I get too excited and adrenalized by the crazy starts, so in a way, Iíve seeded myself away from the psychos and begin my swim with no bodies to bump into. Iíve a nice stroke going, and Iím caught up to the back of the pack in no time. Actually I rear-ended him. "Blackwater" is an apt title, as I couldnít see anyone unless they were within a foot of me. Hard to draft on feet when you canít see them. Swimming in open water had been a source of anxiety for me before the season and having done Jim OíDonnell and Columbia this spring had really helped alleviate that fear. This was still the longest swim Iíd ever done, but the biggest problem I faced was, to be perfectly honest, boredom. I wanted to be out of the water and onto my bike. I felt like a little kid, "OK, Iíve proven I can do this...geez, still a quarter mile to the shore, ARE WE THERE YET?!"

Finally I got my wish and exited the water. I didnít feel like I had killed myself out there, but once again, I lacked the energy to run to my bike. I really didnít spend that much time dorking around with my gear as I had been prone to do last year, but I was doing way too much WALKING. I see Brady and Steve have T1 times of two minutes, and then I see me at over five. My wife made an interesting observation that I will get to in T2...

Once I got out of Cambridge, the fog in my head cleared, and I hunkered down for a long ride. My heart rate settled in to the 157-162 rangeÖa little higher than my training rides, but I had a hard time convincing my legs to go slower. I liked what I saw in the speedometer, 20+mph.

This part of the race was exciting and mysterious. I was thrilled that I had kept a steady pace, as I had never averaged 20mph on a training ride before. I had also never been in a race in which I actually used the bottle exchange. Like a doofus, I dropped the bottle on my first attempt. However, on the second try, it was a perfect hand off, and I celebrated with a triumphant "YES!" that made the whole aid station chuckle. I also couldnít have asked for better weather. I know there was wind out there, but I never really noticed it such that it affected me. If I noticed my speed dropping, I just moved down a gear, bringing it back when the effort subsided. The nearly three-hour ride went quickly. It was quite scenic when I took my eyes off the road. At one point I nearly joined the swamp as I failed to notice a slight curve in the road. Since I didnít wear my normal bike pants, my backside started complaining. Brady had advised me to change positions often during the ride so when someone did pass me, I let them get their space as I stood on my pedals, giving the backside a rest and pedaled for a few minutes in a standing position. I was pleased with my bike, but I knew I had to run a half marathon and wondered what was left in the legs.

Normally I have good T2s, but once again, my legs were not responding to the running thing once I got off the bike. It seemed like I was in the furthest corner of the transition area (excuses, excuses). My wife would tell me later that, during the race, they would post updates that would rank athletesí cumulative rankings and times. These do not show up on the official results. She said that I was ~500th when I left the water, but thanks to my slow T1, I had dropped to ~650. It really hit me how just a few minutes can affect your overall standing. I spent nearly ten minutes of my race in the transition area. If I cut that in half, I move up over 100 slots...

I thought I had survived my routine-busting pre-race pit stop with minimal consequences. Wrong! I had forgotten sunscreen. I realized this during the ride and rationalized that it was still early in the morning to ride "unprotected" safely, and that my "run" fuel belt did have a small tube of SPF 30 waiting for me. So as I puttered out of T2 Iím slathering on the sunscreen and making an awful mess. I saw my reflection in a car window and laughed at how I looked like a first grader who has covered himself in paste.

As I went down the first of many LONG straightaways on the course, I begin to have mid-race doubts. "Ah [expletive], Iíve pedaled too hard, and Iím not going to make it...its too far, I donít have enough base...Iím surrounded by superior athletes, and theyíre just blowing by me now..." Just then Steve appears closing in on the finish line, and I canít remember what we said, but I felt a lot better afterwards. The benefits of having a RATS jersey (even if it is two sizes too big ;-) continue to pay off as a couple of miles later, Mike Guzek introduces himself to me, Steve Giorgis a few minutes later. Brady runs by headed back to the finish line wearing a purple PBN jersey...so thatís who was encouraging me on the bike leg! Iím finally putting faces with names Iíve read about for the past year. Better yet, it takes my mind off how badly my legs are starting to cramp up. I managed to avoid walking in between aid stations, but I did take advantage of the aid stations to give my legs a break as I desperately tried to get the fluids my body was craving. I drank on my bike almost to the point of being bloated, but five miles into the run, the situation was dramatically different. My body wanted water: in it and on it. Pouring ice water on my head and back felt amazing each time I did it. Despite changing positions as much as I could on the bike, Iím developing a cramp in my lower back that is making my run even more difficult as my quads and hams begin to shorten.

[One thing is keeping me going besides me own personal drive to finish this race: out there, somewhere, my old boss is lurking. His wave started well after mine did so I have a head start, and I have no chance of beating him under ideal conditions (he finished 50th at Reston, I was 313th), but Iíll be damned if heís going to catch up to me.]

Its been a few minutes since Mike and Steve went by, and I keep waiting for them to come back from the turn around point so I know that the seemingly endless line of bobbing heads in front of me does have an end. I wait, wait, and wait. Finally, I see Mike, and Iíve got enough cerebral activity to calculate a long ways to go to the turn around point. When I finally get there, itís a welcome sight. That became my milestone that I would finish the race. The confidence buoys my ailing legs, and I put several good miles together. My pace had been erratic, miles splits were ranging from 8:37 to 11:15, and now I was able to string together some good 9:30s. Slow--but progress. I saw Gwen, my fellow "Eaglevirgin," on her outbound leg, and we high-fived each other. The euphoria began to subside shortly afterwards, as I no longer had any RATS to feed off until I finished. The cramps in my back began to assert themselves at mile 10, and at mile 11, the hams were in full revolt. I donít know how I kept moving. Looking back it must have been a Death March as my pace is now dropping to 10:30, but it feels so much slower. Finally I round the corner where I saw Natasha Badmann coming in for her record performance, and Iím elated and dismayed at the same time: I can see the finish line, but it is so FAR AWAY!

I just kept doing what kept me moving in the first place, trudging along, holding onto my wits like Grim Death, telling myself to smile as its supposed to make me feel better...or some BS of that nature;-).

Finish line is now 50 yards away, and Iím feeling pretty good. I see my wife, and sheís a wonderful sight. I can see her pride, and then it melts away as she quickly shouts, "Brad, look out!" Sneaking up behind me is my old boss, Jim, and then he shouts out my name with an unspoken, "Iím gonna get you!" My legs are in tatters, but I still manage to pull on a reservoir of untapped adrenaline that make my legs move like my old days of anchoring the high school relay team. I charge across the finish line but not after yelling back, "Oh no you donít!!"

I was done. I had made it. Jim and I both agreed that perhaps we were better suited for the short stuff as he cursed himself for warning me of his approach, and then I politely went over to our tent and fell to the ground so that Lisa could help stretch out my fried legs.

The left over pasta from the night before at Sailwinds had been pretty mediocre during the initial serving, but after the race it was Nectar of the Gods. I could have eaten an entire carrot cake if they would have let me. For some reason, Coke tasted much better than normal too.

After the race I finally got to meet Antonio and congratulate him on his performance at Brazil, and I finally met Bill and got a first hand explanation at what OFB stands for. I really enjoyed the community feeling after the race, but waiting for the race officials to get Guzekís victory straight was almost a fourth endurance event in itself, as my wife put it as she continued to massage my back. The fifth event turned out to be driving home in the Ocean City traffic. We swore we would order a pizza when we got home, but after unpacking and showeringÖit was an early bedtime. I havenít gone to bed this early since I was 12.

Now itís the day after, and the sixth endurance event, writing, leads to the seventh event reading! Jim and I swore weíd never do this again after we crossed the finish line, but Brady said something to me yesterday about letting it sink in, and 24 hours later, I find myself thinking, "You know, I can break 5:00 if I..."