June 11, 2019 -
As I add another finishers medal to my rack after Eagleman 70.3 (69.1 actually – more on that later) – I am already looking forward to the next race on my schedule a short 11 weeks away when I race at Maine70.3 for the second time. Focus on nutrition, flexibility and running will be paramount as I just need to maintain my swim and bike to rerack my end of season goal – a PR at the 70.3 distance after six years.
Heading into Maryland – just like my race in Chattanooga was partly to scope out the full distance course – Eagleman like the Nooga half is doubled for the full distance and with 4 of 12 done for a legacy spot I am hopeful that my body will continue to hold up and that I can someday break the 14 hour barrier that has eluded me the first four attempts. After racing in Maryland – despite the weather and wind – flatter courses are what I will undoubtedly perform best at so the masochist part of me has to embrace a new type of suck – the endless pedaling.
I saw the kids off to school Friday, enjoyed a leisurely breakfast – reviewed my gear a final time (and still missed something) then on to Cambridge. I figured if I left at 9:30 rush hour would be done … nope … after the hell that is the belt parkway and Staten Island for 2 hours in stop and go the rest of my ride was a rocket to the race site. Since new years I have been drinking a gallon of water a day – after 5 hours I was a little more than a half gallon in and ready to explode. I stopped to relieve myself and ate a non healthy lunch of an Arby’s roast beef which isn’t as bad as most fast food but I topped it with the orange milkshake which while delicious didn’t make me feel any better about my choices when I showered later that evening.
10 minutes later I arrived at the race site and walked to athlete check in as they were just starting. Giveaway was a similar sport tech shirt and backpack that they gave away at Chattanooga. I need a lesson on how to use this backpack as I assume they will give the same style out at Maine and Atlantic City and I have no clue how the opening side of this bag is supposed to work. Bumped into Jay and Bill who gave me the parking tip to get a spot at a house up the block for $20 for the weekend and avoid the chaos of shuttles – great tip and I jumped right on that. Less than a 5 minute walk to transition I would definitely do this again if I return for the full or another go at the 70.3.
As I was staying 15 minutes away in Easton and down there solo my next stop was the hotel. Now if I travel with my family I stay at good hotels – solo I go for cheap. Cheap has bit me in the ass before (cigarette burns on bedsheets, chalk outlines on the floor – Quassy 2014) but this Econolodge reminded me more of an episode of Law and Order about drug dealing then an episode of Homicide. After checking in I wanted to do a shake out run but the general area had no side walks so I did a “reconnaissance hike” around the area instead. Tons of fast food and other food options on the main strip, a Walmart a block away (my second ever visit in a Walmart) and an Aldi next door (my first time in an Aldi). Stocked up on water and some snacks and settled in with a book until dinner time. Dinner was takeout from Hot off the Coals BBQ (passable – not great) and then a final gear check. Surprised to find no race number belt but after a facebook red alert fellow Long Islander and Tobay swim buddy Gloria told me she had me covered.(Thank you!!)
Good solid 8 hour sleep and I was up early Saturday. After checking the race page and seeing the swim course had been altered due to projected high winds and that the water temperature was getting closer to wetsuit legal the first order of business was a swim. I parked at my very convenient spot on Somerset and walked to the swim area. Got wet for 15 minutes – no issues, the wind was causing some slap but I felt strong and tested some sprints and alternative breathing. As I headed to shore I was psyched to swim and then promptly kicked a rock and cut the side of my foot and big toe on my right foot.
I met a guy at the swim practice from the Philly Tri Team named Gerard and decided to join him on his quest to find the athlete breakfast. Spent the next 45 minutes or so exploring the neighborhood, watching the ironkids start their race and talking about racing and family. Enjoyed meeting him and he had a solid time in his first 70.3 – sorry you didn’t get the swim part in.
Next up on Saturday was the shakeout bike ride – did the run course loop plus an extra 5 or so miles – running through gears and taking it easy. All felt good but the cockpit was extremely loose – dangerously loose when I was in aero – figured I would attend the 10am race briefing, service the bike, and drop my bike off. Bumped into Doug who told me he would never race in Maryland again - I was happy to see you.
At this point I started bumping into a ton of people from long island – a huge squad from the Wildwood Warriors, and a strong contingent from Ohana Endurance. Nice to see so many friendly faces and after the bike tech lent me a wrench my bike was road worthy again and I checked it in.
Headed back to Easton to prep my Infinit Nutrition for the bike and run. I do 3 24 ounce bottles for a 3 hour ride so that was step one. Next I prepped a run mix as part of my prerace beverage and another for my run bottle. Other then potentially supplementing with salt tablets this was my complete nutrition plan same as in Chattanooga. I head lasagna from the Italian spot up the road (Giovanni’s) was good – and then I planned to read but watched a Star is Born instead which put me to sleep. I woke up at least ten times to check my clock before finally rising Sunday morning at 4:00am.
Wow long story so far and not even into the dirty of the race – well if you are still with me here it comes. I arrived at my super awesome parking spot at 4:50 having eaten a granola bar and drank 24 ounces of Infinit. I pumped up my tires and laid out all my gear then hit the portapotty. Now it was just time to wait before getting ready to swim. The announcement came at around 6:10 – no swim – small craft advisory – the kayaks and paddleboards could not maintain position and swim safety could not be protected – we were now going to race 69.1 a duathlon with time trial bike and then run.
I spent the next two hours plus socializing with the many long island folks as I got more and more hungry – thankfully Sherin hooked me up with a prickly bar (it was good). The pro men and women went off first – one at a time beginning at 7:10. Since I was in the second to last rack as number 2364 I had to wait a long time … rather than sit around I went to the bike mount area and yelled for everyone I knew as they headed out. Finally at almost 8:30 it was time for me to mount up and as I was getting ready my sunglasses snapped in half – no biggie I figured I can race with no glasses as long as it doesn’t rain, that’s a new one for me.
This course is pancake flat. My initial plan here was to have a solid swim of 36 minutes and then get on the bike before 8am and go for a 2:35 split with the sun and wind as my challenges. When I mounted there were 2300 people on the course already and as I started making my first pedal cranks the sprinkles of rain started. My tactic would now be drink my Infinit every 10 minutes and maintain a steady cadence while keeping my HR in zone 3. It became clear at the three mile mark that I would be spending most of my race yelling ‘on your left’ while passing sometimes packs of people. As the intensity of the rain picked up I had to look down and there was no thought of ever drafting as the few times I came up on people too fast I was blinded by the kick off their tires. Unfortunately I could not see my watch but as it vibrates every 10 minutes I knew I had my nutrition on point. I tucked in and hammered from start to finish. 2:39:53 bike split was good for a 21.12mph average averaging 22.02 over the first 35 miles and then 19.30 for the remainder into the heaviest wind and rain. In looking at the data now I spent 95% of the ride in the HR I wanted to – nutrition was on point – and my fastest segment was miles 15-20 that averaged 26mph (assume that was wind aided).
Ended up changing my socks and my transition was slow as is my standard of late. On to the run as the rain had finally stopped just leaving a lingering mist. My plan for the run was run 8 minutes walk one … this worked for the first four miles when I had to hit a porta potty. I guess my hydration was too good with the cooler wet weather and nailing Infinit all day. From mile six to eight I was down to a run four minutes walk two not due to cramping but just because. Hate giving everything back on the run and it’s the big thing I need to work on over the next 11 weeks before Maine. The last 4 miles I was playing games with the cones – run 12 cones – try to run 3 more – walk 3 run again. Wish cones went all the way to the end. That final mile watching the choptank river in full fury with wind whipping was something else – run time 2:25:39 a 11:58 pace ugh – I know my weakness.
Volunteers were fantastic I yelled thank you to all of them on the bike though I never slowed through the aid stations – those folks got POURED on and were still out there being rockstars so we could race. I saw some people down from crashes and mechanicals on the bike – in every instance they were already being tended to by someone – again awesome support. The run aid stations had enthusiastic soaked kids and snowcones! The finish boxed lunch with the massive cookie was the best finish line food of any race I have done – easy no mess and tasted great.
I want to thank all the members of Ohana Endurance and Wildwood Warriors for your hospitality and friendship this weekend. To the folks that rented me the parking spot was awesome driving on your lawn. All the volunteers and the locals on the route who came out to cheer much appreciate your supporting our sport and your community. Thank you Nicki for taking my picture towards the end of the race since I am always too cheap to buy race pics. Of course thanks to Lydia and my boys for your support from a far and allowing me the time to pursue this expensive hobby. Can’t forget Nexcare for a medical grade tape that protected my nipples from carnage – and Infinit for the best race nutrition on the planet.
Hit me up if you are racing at Lake Placid – Gus and I will be volunteering and we’ll look for you.