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EagleMan Ironman 70.3 Triathlon - Triathlon1/2 Ironman


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Cambridge, Maryland
United States
Columbia Triathlon Association
Total Time = 00m
Overall Rank = 21/1382
Age Group = M30-34
Age Group Rank = 2/125
Pre-race routine:

Long-term Pre-race background: This was the first triathlon I competed in since Kona in October of 2006. In January of 2007 my wife, Elizabeth, and I welcomed the arrival of our first child, Elle. I took the entire 2007 season off from competition so I could focus all of my attention on our new, ever-changing family structure and dynamics. The time off also allowed me to really evaluate my value system for multisport and where competition fit in that value system. I realized over the course of my time away, particularly in October of last year when Kona came around, how much I did miss competing and how much I really wanted to make another attempt at getting back to Hawaii. I knew that I didn’t have enough time in my life to allow me to devote the necessary training to qualify at the IM distance, race IM distance at Kona AND be the spouse and father I wanted to be for my family. Accordingly, I analyzed the 70.3 races that offered slots, past times, conditions, courses, roll-down history etc, and decided Eagleman offered the best opportunity for me to focus on my family and prepare appropriately to have a shot at qualifying for Kona this fall.
Event warmup:

Immediate Pre-race background: As a race day approached it was clear that the heat conditions were going to be pretty difficult. It had been in the 90s for a couple of weeks down here in Atlanta, so I felt like I was going to be more acclimated than most for these conditions. My strengths are not in speed, so the conditions were favorable to extending out the race and making it more of an IM attrition event as opposed to an Olympic foot race. I had an excellent mental outlook about the conditions going into the day and adjusted my pre-race plan accordingly. I left the HRM at home knowing that the data would be rather useless. I had done at least half of my training on RPE, so I had no qualms in making this decision. I started salting my foods a couple of more days in advance of the race than I normally would. I revamped my nutrition plan to take in more sodium and electrolytes. When I awoke at 4:30 AM on race day, I immediately took in 3 E-caps with breakfast. 30 minutes before the swim start, I took in another 3 E-caps and got ready for the day ahead.
Swim
  • 24m 19s
  • 2112 yards
  • 01m 09s / 100 yards
Comments:

The swim start in the Choptank extremely pleasant as in-water starts go. There was plenty of room at the front with ample space between athletes. After the start three of us immediately grouped together as we headed out for the first buoy. The pace took me a bit by surprise as I knew going into the race that my swim was in good form. I made the smart decision about 300 meters in to drop back and stay on the feet of the other two swimmers. This choice allowed me to sight to the other two athletes’ feet which was much easier than looking for buoys. As we made our way around the first turn buoy we began to catch up with prior waves. The decision to drop back again proved prudent as the two lead swimmers effectively acted as blocking backs, cutting through the prior wave and allowing a pretty clear channel for me to continue moving forward. Around this same time I began to feel some effects of the warmer-than-expected water temps and our current pace. I had brought a full-sleeve wetsuit expecting 72° temps but on race day the water had already reached 76°. The 4 degrees made a world of difference. Coupled with the quick pace I had assumed with the other two athletes, I could feel myself over-heating as we made our way back into shore. At this point I made the decision to slow my pace down knowing that :30 on the swim might cost me a couple of minutes down the road on the run later in the warm day. In retrospect it was a good choice.
What would you do differently?:

Wear a sleeveless wetsuit
Transition 1
  • 03m
Comments:

The run up to T1 from the Choptank confirmed what I had felt in the water. As I headed towards my bike I could feel my calves slightly seizing. I hoped for the best as I reached down to pop 3 more E-caps, throw in my toe spacer, get my shoes on and get my new Giro helmet on.
Bike
  • 2h 20m 38s
  • 56 miles
  • 23.89 mile/hr
Comments:

Immediately out on the bike course I didn’t have any issues with the slight cramping I had experienced in T1. I settled into a nice smooth pace and took in small sips of water for the first 15 minutes of the ride before getting into the heart of my nutrition plan for the bike. The plan called for a front-load of calories in the first hour of the ride while my HR was lower and I could digest calories more readily. 15 minutes into the bike, I started eating the first half of a Cliff bar of which I needed to consume in its entirety by the 45 minute mark. My pacing plan for the bike was to take the first 45 minutes of the ride out in an upper Zone 2 effort, allowing me the fuel platform for the day. However, 30 minutes into the bike a group of 3 athletes in my AG passed me, and I immediately made the decision to re-vamp the pacing plan. If my goal was to qualify and there were two slots for my AG, I had to balance the line between racing my competition and staying within my own race plan. I was confident in my training, confident in my bike form and eager from 18 months out of competition so I made the decision to respond and race. I stayed about 100 meters back from the last of the 3 athletes who had passed me for a good twenty miles. At this point I passed the first of the three and kept pushing a challenging, yet fairly comfortable gear. I made sure to keep taking in fluids – all water for the entire ride coupled with 8 E-caps in my Salt Sticks. Around the 40 mile mark I came upon the 2nd rider in my AG and made a pass on him, keeping the same steady rhythm I had been holding. I was enjoying racing again, enjoying the beautiful day and the unique scenery of the Maryland marsh lands. It was affirmation of why I enjoy multisport and competition so much.

I gained confidence from the pass and the chatter that often goes through my mind throughout the race picked up volume. I began to think about the run and day dream about a great result. As I recognized what I was doing, I looked to center myself and immediately turned to the strength of my wife, Elizabeth. In a mantra-like chant, I told myself “Stay [here] with Elizabeth. Stay [here] with Elizabeth.” My wife is the centering force in my life. We both dream about the future together but do so knowing that those dreams are only as good as the time you enjoy in the present. She keeps me, our family, focused on the present, and it’s one of the millions of things that make her such a special, unique partner. I would go back to this mantra throughout the rest of the race when my mind would wander. Thinking of her provided me both focus and an additional source of strength – spiritual nutrition if you will.

Around this same time I could also feel the heat of the day picking up. It wasn’t stifling, but you could tell it was getting warmer. I continued being diligent about my fluid intake, polished off the last of 4 GUs I had brought in my gel flask for the ride (mixed with 2 E-Caps). At approximately the 50-mile mark I was passed for the first time since the beginning of the ride, and it was by an athlete in my AG. He was going at a good clip and I made the decision to stay within my own pace and bring the race down to the run. My legs were ready for a change of motion from the pancake flat roads we had been pedaling on for over two hours. My left hamstring/glute was beginning to get uncomfortably tight, and I got out of the saddle several times in the last 5 miles trying to provide it some relief through a different pedal stroke. My legs wanted to run and I was mentally prepared for the next leg.
Transition 2
  • 02m
Run
  • 1h 36m 40s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 07m 23s  min/mile
Comments:

Getting off the bike and heading into T2 I was gimpy from my left hamstring/glute tightness. I can’t say it was a full-on cramp but it was close to it. I limped my bike back into the race, downed another 3 E-Caps, got my socks on, slipped on my Zoot Ultra TTs, grabbed the race belt and the Zoot-GU visor and headed out of T2. I was still crampy so I stopped for 10 seconds or so to try to stretch out the glute, bringing my left knee towards my chest as I stood on my right leg. I knew the stretch wasn’t doing much good, so again I headed out on the run hoping for the best.

The first two miles of the run were tough as I dealt with an imbalanced stride due to the tightness in my glute. I kept moving forward and could feel the glute loosening up with each successive step. As the glute loosened up and I was able to assume a normal stride, my confidence improved and I was able to pick up the effort. I knew that the heat of the day was going to take its toll on everybody, and it was calming to accept the conditions for what they were and focus on taking what the day gave us. My plan for the run was to keep it steady both from a pace perspective and a mental perspective. Like an NFL quarterback, I didn’t want to get caught up in roller-coaster highs and lows (throwing TDs, throwing interceptions) that I knew would probably be coming our way due to the conditions. From the first aid station to the last, I hit the same nutritional series: cola for calories, sugar and caffeine, ice in the race suit and to hold onto in both hands to help with the core temp and some water for my head.

In my effort to be more focused on a steady effort, I wasn’t keeping track of my mile splits. I knew my pace for the first 6 miles of the run was below what I had hoped for going into the race but also knew that this was probably the same for everybody out on the course. When I hit the turnaround, I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was around 46 minutes. Not what I had planned for all along, but I also hadn’t planned for race temps that were more like Phoenix than D.C. At mile 8 I passed two competitors who I had clocked at a minute ahead of me going into the half-way point. I was confused because both of them were in the 25-29 AG and I hadn’t noticed anybody with race numbers in the 30-34 AG when I was running toward the turnaround. Honestly, I was starting to get a bit loopy at this point, so I couldn’t really make a good assessment for where I stood in the race. In fact, I felt like I very well could have been in the top 2 and hadn’t noticed a pass on one of the athletes in my AG while I was going through an aid station.

Around the 9-mile mark the wheels started to come off. I could feel my stride shorten, the fatigue began to weigh more heavily and my mental outlook was beginning to worsen quickly. I was ready to be done with the race. As my thoughts became progressively more negative and internal screams for relief from the fatigue grew louder, I went back to my mantra, “Stay [here] with Elizabeth.” I also looked to the voice of my 17-month old daughter for strength: “Go Da-Da, Go!” Over and over again, I repeated these words, getting the strength to put one foot in front of the other from the two most important people in my life. Elizabeth and Elle wouldn’t want me to walk, I implored to myself, not now after preparing as well as I had prepared. Not now after racing like I had raced up to this point. I had to keep moving forward for them, for me and for my family.

Miles 10 and 11 were more of the same – extreme fatigue and mental warfare. I found additional strength in the kind and generous looks of encouragement from the other Zoot-GU’ers out on the course. I don’t know who you are but if you read this know that you played an important role in getting me to the finish line when I did. Thank you! Around this same time Chris Engels, my friend and an athlete whom I coached for this race also came by, giving me a needed high five and a more-needed spiritual boost. Between Chris, my other friend Drew Marlar and the Zoot-GU’ers I started to turn the corner ever so slightly towards a more positive outlook and the solace of a good finish. At the 11 mile mark I made a deal with myself: put in a minute of a good, solid paced effort and you could take a minute to recover. I told myself I would repeat this until I got to the finish line. As the first minute expired, I thought to myself, “You’re doing better, let’s go for another minute and then we can rest.” The minute lapsed and I knew I was improving, so I stopped looking at my watch and just started to go. My pace wasn’t anything special but compared to where I was 2 miles previously, it was drastically better.

The last mile of the course you could see the finish area off in the distance. The haven of rest was like a siren of hope and the final source of fuel I needed to get to the finish line. Entering the final stretch, I took one glance behind me, something I hadn’t done the entire run up to that point in my effort to stay focused on the present, to make sure there was nobody behind me. Fortunately, I was alone (I don’t think I could have responded to a dash effort at the end) and I was swept by relief and the euphoria of knowing that I had put it on the line, left all I had in me on the course and finished well. I wasn’t sure of the place at this point, but I knew I had done well from a placing perspective.
Post race
Warm down:

Massage and little swim in the Choptank

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Immediate Post-Race: After a massage and kicking some of the soreness out of my legs in the Choptank with some breastroke kicks, my best friend Jeremy and I waited for results and a finish for Drew and Chris. I recapped the race with Jeremy and he indulged me patiently as I digested the challenge of the day through recounting the race with him. When they finally posted the AG results my euphoria returned, as I had placed 2nd and thought I was a lock for a spot since there were 2 in the 30-34 AG. What I hadn’t looked at was the Overall Amateur Top 5 list. I immediately called my wife to tell her the news and let her know that we were going to Kona again in October. We exchanged congratulations to each other for the team effort our family put together for the day. Smiles and some watery-eyes, it was a great to briefly share the challenging, gratifying day of true physical and mental endurance with Elizabeth. I really felt like she had done the race with me, as she was the source of the mantra that kept me balanced when my mind wandered and provided strength to battle through fatigue-induced negativity.

I eagerly waited at the slot distribution to confirm the spot in Kona. Unlike everything else at the race, the slot distribution was extremely disorganized and pretty disappointingly unprofessional. There was little process and nerves were tense for both the athletes waiting to see about the slots and the officials distributing them. About 25 minutes after the posted start time of slot allocations, one of the officials announced 30-34 Clearwater distributions and I asked when they were going to do Kona allocations. She said that they were already distributed, and I immediately panicked. I had been there since the 1:30 PM start and had only seen/heard them distribute one Kona slot. I was seriously confused and calmly said that I was second in my age group and it didn’t make sense. She asked me my name, looked at her result sheet and in a very understanding, sympathetic tone said that the first place finisher in our AG had finished 3rd Amateur OA and had not been posted in the 30-34 AG results. For slot allocations I was technically 3rd in my AG. And both the top two finishers had accepted the Kona slots – no roll down. Crestfallen, I smiled and thanked her for being so nice about explaining the situation. She apologized and I assured her there was nothing to apologize about. Chris and Jeremy who had been waiting for me had perplexing looks on their faces, as I left the allocation area, and I explained what had happened. They both were extremely sympathetic and propped my spirits up. I was in a good period of shock for about 4 hours after the race. In my analysis of the 70.3 races, I couldn’t recall an instance where both the top 2 finishers at Eagleman had taken their slots. Using a financial analogy, it was as if there was a correction in the market for Kona slots – no roll-downs this year, as the “inefficiencies” in the Kona slot market were corrected. I was right there, had the slot in my hands, at least I thought I did, and now my plans for early October had changed instantly.

Post-Race (24 hours later): It’s been a full day since the up and down of the Kona distribution has settled. I’ve done enough reflecting to have a comfortable amount of closure today. After my first IM in Brasil in 2006, the gratification I felt for that race was based in the fact that I had a commensurate return for the investment I had put in to prepare for the race. I had appropriately prepared and was rewarded for that preparation with an outright slot to Hawaii. It was one of those rare moments in life that we all seek in our professional and personal lives where that return is truly equal to what we put in. It’s one of the many reasons why athletics, and multisport, is special and allures so many of us to participate in competition. What I know now, having been through this experience at Eagleman is that I have spent the last two years with a partially inaccurate assessment of my race down in Brasil. I have mistakenly associated the return with the Kona slot. In reality, the return really was the knowledge that on that day two years ago I had delivered a performance that was the best I could deliver for the preparation that I put forth in the time leading up to the race. I could look myself in the mirror and know that I had left every bit of my physical and emotional energy out on the race course. It happened to also come with a slot to Hawaii. I know this now having been through the race this weekend. As I type out this race report which I hoped would be cathartic, it has brought a clarity in vision and assessment that I didn’t expect. I missed a true second place finish for my AG by about 2 minutes. I am blessed by the calming, assured knowledge that I couldn’t have found two more minutes out on the race course yesterday. There are no decisions I made that I am second-guessing, there was no moment in the race where I backed-off because it was too uncomfortable and couldn’t handle the fatigue. I left every bit of emotional and physical energy out on the course. And if I am honest about the actual placing result, it’s my best finish in a race of that magnitude ever – better than IM Brasil, significantly better in fact. I now have the ability to hold each race in the same place, though, because I know that they were the best performances I could deliver on the day. That’s so special because it’s so rare. I’m grateful I realize this now.

I’m also grateful to my wife and daughter for their support in getting me to the start as prepared as I was this weekend. It truly was a team effort. I will blog about the preparations in more detail later. Training intensely for 70.3 can be done without sacrificing more important aspects of your life, namely your family and profession. As it relates to family, in short we made it work with communication and compromise. As a result, the preparations were so smooth that reflecting on it now I have an even better appreciation of the process. Our family is closer as a result, and I feel like I haven’t made compromises on the most important roles in my life: husband, father and partner.

Event comments:

Very well-organized race. Process for slot distributions needs a lot of work. Volunteers and race staff were top notch.




Last updated: 2008-06-12 12:00 AM
Swimming
00:24:19 | 2112 yards | 01m 09s / 100yards
Age Group: 3/125
Overall: 4/1382
Performance: Good
Suit: Blueseventy Helix (Full)
Course:
Start type: Wade Plus: Waves
Water temp: 76F / 24C Current:
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Average
Breathing: Good Drafting: Good
Waves: Good Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
T1
Time: 03:00
Performance: Below average
Cap removal: Below average Helmet on/
Suit off:
No
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: Yes
Getting up to speed: Average
Biking
02:20:38 | 56 miles | 23.89 mile/hr
Age Group: 5/125
Overall: 30/1382
Performance: Good
Wind: Little
Course:
Road: Smooth  Cadence: 98+
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills:
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Just right
T2
Time: 02:00
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes Good
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Below average
Racking bike Average
Shoe and helmet removal Average
Running
01:36:40 | 13.1 miles | 07m 23s  min/mile
Age Group: 6/125
Overall: 49/1382
Performance: Good
Course:
Keeping cool Average Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Yes
Evaluation
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

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2008-06-12 3:13 PM

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Regular
58
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Atlanta, GA
Subject: EagleMan Ironman 70.3 Triathlon


2008-06-12 3:33 PM
in reply to: #1463200

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Expert
844
50010010010025
Denver, Colorado
Subject: RE: EagleMan Ironman 70.3 Triathlon
That was awesome, everything about it. Great race! I'm doing my first HIM this weekend, IM Kansas 70.3 and this only excites me more!
2008-06-12 7:59 PM
in reply to: #1463200

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Veteran
202
100100
Arlington, VA
Subject: RE: EagleMan Ironman 70.3 Triathlon
Great race and report!
2008-06-12 8:22 PM
in reply to: #1463200

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Expert
1168
10001002525
Lansdale, PA.
Subject: RE: EagleMan Ironman 70.3 Triathlon
Wow...What to say.

I can feel the dissapointment in your writing and although I am not likely to ever experience it I can empathize. I am truly sorry for your hard work coming ever so close.

All that said what an awesome race. The conditions were really difficult but I was really amazed at the capacity to endure that some of these athletes displayed, you included.

I have no doubt you'll get a slot elsewhere and I'll track you at Kona.

Congrats on a great race.
2008-06-13 9:15 AM
in reply to: #1463251

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Regular
58
2525
Atlanta, GA
Subject: RE: EagleMan Ironman 70.3 Triathlon
Climbin5414 - Good luck with the 70.3 this weekend! I'm sure you will love the experience. Try to stay in the present and really soak it all in. A race is a special place to spend a couple of hours of your life.

mbologna & sgillen - Thanks for the kind words. I really, really appreciate it and am always moved by other triathletes and their passion for the sport.

Warm Regards and Best Wishes to All of You -

Matthew

http://www.enduright.com



Edited by EnduRight 2008-06-13 9:18 AM
2008-06-13 9:51 AM
in reply to: #1463200

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Veteran
216
100100
Calgary, Alberta
Subject: RE: EagleMan Ironman 70.3 Triathlon
What an amazing race report and recount of such a challenging, heart wrenching day.

Congratulations on a fabulous race, and amazingly positive perspective and ability to pull more out of the race than perhaps you'd imagined.

What a great read to start my day, thanks!


2008-06-13 10:03 AM
in reply to: #1463200

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Cycling Guru
15134
50005000500010025
Fulton, MD
Subject: RE: EagleMan Ironman 70.3 Triathlon

Great report and sorry to hear about the lack of roll down!  So close ........ and yes, there is almost never a 1-2 acceptance of the slots there.  Would have to be the one year it happens.

Superb race though and a great overall result on a really tough day!

2008-06-13 12:51 PM
in reply to: #1463200

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Regular
117
100
Gettysburg, PA
Subject: RE: EagleMan Ironman 70.3 Triathlon
Great Race!  Quite a few strong performances from the 30-34 age group on BT. Yours takes the cake though. Sorry to hear about no roll-downs.  Looks like you won't have a problem qualifying in the future though.
2008-09-11 3:03 PM
in reply to: #1463200

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Elite
5313
5000100100100
Alturas, California
Subject: RE: EagleMan Ironman 70.3 Triathlon
Smoking race in all 3 events. Way to nail that run in the 7s.
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