I was excited to head to my first half-distance race of the season at Eagleman 70.3. While working on speed in an Olympic distance race is essential, the half-distance is still my favourite.
My goals for the race were as follows:
- Be in the chase pack, exiting the water within 2.5minutes of Jen Spieldenner and anyone who is with her.
- Bike sub 2hrs24min (factoring in the slightly long course, heat, and wind)
- Run an even split or slight negative split
- Top-3 result- attainable if 1-3 are done.
Heading into the race my preparation was nearly perfect. My biking was the best it has ever been, my swimming was improving weekly to where it once was, and I was feeling fit and fast on the run. I was confident, calm, and focused the week leading into the race- I knew what I needed to do to achieve my goals and knew I was capable of doing it, all I had to do was execute on the day.
As is typical of Eagleman 70.3, the hottest day of the month in Cambridge, Maryland was race day. The forecast was for 33 degrees + humidity, and the weatherman was right, perhaps even underestimating the thermostat. This didn’t bother me too much as Miami was hot and humid last year and I seemed to be okay.
The swim was fairly uneventful. I started out quick and then settled into my pace, finding myself in a group of 3-4 others. There were some waves and chop to deal with, but not too bad. Exiting the water I saw I was with Laurel Wassner (a very good swimmer) and a couple others, and heard that we were about 2 minutes down on Jen (who swam solo). Jen had the fastest swim of the day (of both pro men and pro women). Heading into T1 I was pumped- Goal one received a check mark.
Onto the bike I quickly found myself at the front of the group from the swim. The key for me was to remain patient and make sure to keep the cadence up (as I have found myself starting to favour the lower cadences, which destroys the quads for the run- not good). Somewhere around mile 13 I caught up to Jen, which surprised me, but I knew she was coming back from an injury and may not be biking to the best of her ability yet. We exchanged pleasantries (“hey, how are you? Nice course eh?” etc.) and then I was on my way to the front of the race. Around mile 25 Carrie Lester passed me, and I went with her for a little bit but knew that wasn’t going to be sustainable for the second half of the race and went back to my own effort level. In hindsight, I made a couple of mistakes on the bike- 1) I should have opted for a road helmet in the heat- my thick hair causes my head to heat up enough as it is, so some ventilation would have been helpful. 2) My plan of getting 2+ bottles of water on the bike course at the aid stations did not go as planned as the water bottles had the flip cap (rather than the ones that pull up), and were not undone already- this meant that I had to rip it open with my teeth and drink as much as possible in the remaining seconds before chucking the bottle at the end of the aid station- normally I would grab the bottle and immediately squeeze it into the aero drink bottle on the front of my bike. And that is just my very long way of saying that I should have slowed down more in order to get the water I needed, but I didn’t and ended the bike portion already in a deficit with regards to hydration. However, I got the pacing and effort level pretty accurate, with a 2hrs21min bike split and getting off the bike ready to run- goal number 2 got a check mark.
Onto the run I didn’t feel too bad. I was hot from the get-go, but figured this would be manageable with ice and water at every aid station. The first 1.5miles are by the water before heading inland, which meant a nice breeze to start with. I focused on a steady pace, one mile at a time. I exchanged high-fives with Cody Beals who was coming back and with a significant lead while I was on my way out- I was feeling decent, he was doing great, things were good. But surprising how quickly things can go downhill. By mile 5 I was starting to feel nauseous and soon after I got to re-taste those shot bloks I consumed on the bike. So delightful. I wasn’t keeping water down anymore and there was not a lot of thought processes going on by the half-way point. Of course, it doesn’t take genius to figure out that I was losing a lot of electrolytes and minerals in my sweat, and should have been drinking something other than water long before I was feeling like that, but I evidently didn’t bring my intelligence with me on the run. Next time I’ll put it on my T2 checklist. Anyways, two people passed me in the second half of the run and I ended up 4th– goals 3 and 4 receive an ‘F’.
It is disappointing to not meet my goals, especially when the reasons for it were completely within my control. However, I will have more races in similar conditions this year so will have another attempt to be successful.
I signed up for Mont Tremblant 70.3 as a last-minute decision, so will be racing again in 12 days. I’ll let you know after the race whether that is a good or a bad decision.
A huge thanks to my homestay Bill and Amy Craig, to Kristen Pawlick and Dr. Scott Christie for helping with the on-going hamstring issue, and to my sponsors for their continued support: C3 Canadian Cross Training Club, Alto Cycling, Skechers, Rudy Project, Riplaces, and Neworld Cycle.