Ironman 70.3 Eagleman
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Ironman 70.3 Eagleman - Triathlon
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My biggest risk in any race is wearing a full wetsuit in warmer waters, cause I dehydrate easily. Have a DNF from Lake Placid full 2012 to prove this. Additionally, I was torn on two different Castelli Tri suits to wear for this race. The Casetlie San Remo 2 and the Castelli PR Speed suit. The San Remo is the much lighter and breathable suit; but the PR Speed suit would be much faster on the bike. In my mind I always leaned toward the San Remo 2 just because from past history Eagleman has been hot. The PR Speed suit has very thick arms due to silicone ribs and it's also a heavier suit as a result; so although I loved wearing it for some cooler training days I didn't think it would be cool enough to wear on race day. But sure enough it was. Long story longer, I realized I'd never swam with this suit beneath my full wetsuit and I knew the fit around my arms would be snug as I'd have to swim with the jersey part up as there was no way I was pulling these thick silicone-ribbed sleeves on over wet warms while running through transition.
Seeing as this was a half Iron swim, and speed was the focus, I took the risk. As I stood in the semi-socially distant corral I could feel the snugness in my arms, but hoped for the best. They sent us off every few seconds 3 athletes at a time. I had my new Roka R1 mirrored goggles on and and they were awesome -- no leaking great field of view. My Xterra wetsuit on the other hand was very "meh". I'd swam in a Roka Maverick for the last 5 years, but ultimately the neoprene in the armpits literally began disintegrating so I was forced to get a new suit. I tried to save money with the Xterra and I shouldn't have. The few open water swims I'd done in the Xterra my 1:30 per 100 yard pool swim avg over the last 5 months dropped to a 2:00 per 100 yard avg in the Xterra suit.
All in all because of the time trial start the swim was spread out nicely. The chop was minimal, I sighted really well, but my arms (biceps oddly) felt tired immediately and I knew it was a combo of the Xterra and silicone-sleeved suit. Thankfully my swim fitness pulled me through and a race disaster was avoided.
What would you do differently?:
For the effort I should have been 3 or 4 mins faster but BOTH my wetsuit and tri suit choices made this discipline more of a chore then it should've been. In retrospect, I could've had my suit rolled down and the time I would've save swimming would've given me extra time to wrestle pulling it up in transition. I also need to ditch the Xterra suit and go back to Roka. My arms and shoulders will thank me.
I've also really worked on drafting during the swim leg and have been quite successful but this year I wasn't. Again, I'm going to blame the wetsuit cause normally when I draft I have to surge onto a pair of feet, then slot in behind and lengthen my stroke and glide. And I couldn't glide, nor surge in this suit. It was more of a high cadence, muscle my way through this kind of technique.
I knew Dale was watching my Transition times so I had to make it quick! I actually put my helmet on backwards, too. I could've been quicker but nerves slowed me down a little.
When I awoke at 3:30 AM race morning and looked at the hourly weather report, I was happily amazed to see the wind forecast was even better with winds forecasted for only 3 MPH at 9AM!! I was so excited I saved it as a screenshot. Heat and Wind are par for the course at Eagelman and today it was mid 60's and no wind. Mind blowing!
Other then my race suit/ wetsuit choice, the other question mark was my Power Meter. After a bad crash to end my 2018 season, I had to replace my Garmin Vector 3 pedal body and it's never worked right since. Despite a million tries it won't calibrate and I've spent so much on this sport, I just didn't have it in the budget to buy new power meter pedals. I figured using recent TT efforts vs older efforts that the pedals were reading about 23% low so I used HR, RPE, Cadence, and then a ballpark guess of my Watts to gauge my effort. Especially without winds, the pancaked flat Eagleman course was easy to pace.
There was one peloton of riders who caught me around mile 35 and I stayed behind them via legal 6 bike lengths. But around corners they kept bunching up, and when someone moved around in the pace line everyone got screwed up and they ended up illegally drafting for some stretches. I got fed up with it and just zig-zagged in and out of the group legally passing everyone in the required :25 seconds. I was also feeling fresh to do this having sat at the very back of the Peloton, and even at legal distance there's a considerable draft. Despite leaving the peloton in the dust, 10 miles later they caught me. At this point I just let them go.
In 2019 with a freak rain storm for about 1/4 of the ride, and 10lbs heavier @ 235 watts, and a cancelled swim, I rode 2:27:38. So having swam and cycled easier and only being :32 seconds slower was a win.
What would you do differently?:
Thanks to weight loss, a vEverest in March w/ my buddy Dale, and lots of other Zwifting, as well as weekend training rides on pancake flat Dune Rd w/ my buddy Matt H who was also racing today, I was more than prepared for this ride. The Power Meter was the big X factor but using HR and RPE was fine. I also believe I got decent free speed from my Castelli PR Suit which is just super form fitting and fast for a Tri Suit.
Nutrition-wise I switched to Tailwind from Infinit (it's easier to drink, has more sodium, and it's much cheaper!). I stayed well above my minimum nutrition plan of 90 carbs/ 360 cal per hour, along with 900 mg of electrolyte per hour. I knew nailing my nutrition would be key for the Run. Speaking of nutrition, I drank 3 bottles of Tailwind during the ride. Each bottle contained 3 scoops which equals 300 calories, 75 carbs, 909 mg Sodium. 1st bottle was Mandarin Orange/ no caffeine, final 2 bottles were tropical buzz with total of 105 mg caffeine. I had one Clif Shot block pack at the very beginning (180 calories/ 48 carbs / 100mg sodium) and one full pack at the very end. So ACTUAL TOTAL for 2.5 hours I avg'd 1170 mg Sodium per hour; 504 calories/ 126 carbs per hour ; 124mg caffeine. These numbers might be a touch on the high side for many, but it's what I've trained and practiced with a lot on the Trainer and in long weekend Bike/Run sessions. Although I'm 166 lbs, 46 years old, my Diesel engine runs hot and burns a lot of calories. Granted this is probably the max my system could handle and it's what I needed to have enough fuel for a solid run. In the past I've other over-biked or under-fueled. Today was truly the first time I got both exactly right.
I had a perfect dismount and ran well with my Bike. I passed a lot of people in transition. Immediatey I knew the running legs were in good shape. The transition was a bit long because they designed it so everyone had to run around the outside of transition and enter through the back.
What would you do differently?:
I wouldn't do anything differently. I put on socks because I didn't want to get blisters. I put elastic laces in my Nike Next% shoes months ago and practiced transitioning into them with no issues.
As the Pro's say: Bike for Show. Run for Dough. I always knew it was about biking within yourself so you could set yourself up for a good run. But with sixteen prior Half Ironman races, dating back to 2008, I've never ever been able to Run well off the Bike on race day. And by well, I mean I had ONE out of sixteen 70.3 races races were I just barely went sub 1 hour 50 minutes. There were years I ran a stand-alone 1:29 half marathon, and several low 1:30 stand-alone half marathons, but then on Half Ironman race day = *KABOOM* -- head-down, death march on the run.
But not today!
I started my run with a hand-held bottle of Tailwind in hand (300 cal/ 75 carbs, 909 mg sodium/ 105 mg caffeine). And for the first time I only had one single metric showing on my Garmin watch: HEART RATE. Not time, distance, pace... just Heart Rate. I knew my threshold I had to stay under and I knew my Zone 2 I needed to push to stay above. The first mile was getting the HR under my threshold and then it was about maintaining that dead-center zone 3.
The run was reasonably Hot (and getting hotter as it grew closer to noon) with almost zero shade, but I'd actually trained in hotter conditions 4 weeks out. My biggest Training week was 4 weeks prior to race day with 13 hours total SBR. The Long Run during that Peak Week was 2 hours in 90 degrees. Aside from the volume of that week, more importantly the Intensity was considerably high compared to prior weeks. I'd actually dug myself a deep fatigue hole that week and even though I had another big week scheduled for the following week, I was forced to reduce my SBR volume to 6h 41' 3 weeks out in order to shed the fatigue. Luckily it worked out because the temps here on Long Island cooled and I didn't get a chance for more heat acclimation running till Race Week itself.
The entire Run I just focused on sipping my Tailwind, ticking off the miles, and keeping my HR even. The Aid Stations and ice were plentiful but I didn't need them on the first loop, which really helped me keep my rhythm.
On the second loop my HR actually dipped a few times as I began to fatigue. My legs felt amazing, the heat was still manageable, but my energy was waning. I made small talk with a bunch of other triathletes, commenting on awesome-looking kits and pointing out others who were also donning the Next %'s. I also started drinking Coke from the Aid Stations and put some ice on my head which both immediately revitalized me.
A funny recurring theme on the Run was seeing what appeared to be the same athletes at totally different places on course. Because it was also the Tri Club championship race, many athletes had the same exact kits on! And with the out & back, 2 loop format, at times I thought the same athlete had passed me twice or I was passing the same athletes several times. Quite confusing and funny.
Around Mile 8 I caught up with my training buddy Matt who was looking great in only his 2nd 70.3. He'd done Lake Placid 2 years prior and due to the frozen tundra conditions had a rough day at his first half ironman. But today he'd finish strong with a 5:41 compared to a 6:39 at LP 2018!! Seeing Matt gave me a boost.
I ran miles 9 to 12 with a really nice guy in my AG from Brooklyn. Even though he was on his first loop he kept me engaged and he kept motivating me to hold the pace. I really love the Triathlete community! We connected later on Strava.
And then there was only 1 mile left. I had no idea my overall time, placing, or anything... but I knew I'd paced as well as I could and now it was time... the first time ever I could 'open it up' on the final mile of a 70.3 half marathon. I extended my stride and I glided down the beautiful Cambridge road. The water views to my left and beautiful waterfront homes to my right. I could hear the announcer and see a glimpse of the finish banner in the far distance.
A 70.3 half marathon never felt so good and gone by so fast. What a day. On the final mile I really pushed, and found I was catching a ridiculously lean and muscular looking runner. A type of triathlete that I'd often see coming into his final miles while I was on my first of the run.
When I made the left for the final run to the finish chute I finally changed screens on my Garmin and saw the OA time of 4:46... I couldn't believe it!!! Elation filled every cell in my body! 13 years, 17 half Ironmans, and I'd finally paced it all right. Nailed my nutrition. After a 7 plus hour half Ironman debacle in Harryman; a near-miss 5:06 at Poconos 70.3 in 2012, and an 6 hour 50 minute meltdown at Eagleman 2015 -- I finally, finally got it all right and went sub 5 Hours at a proper Half Ironman! HALLELUJAH
For my finish line salute I took off my Eagelman hat and I tossed it over the finish line banner and caught it on the other side. Totally unplanned and just out of pure jubilation.
On the other side of the finisher chute I thought of my Dad who we lost at the very beginning of the Pandemic and I knew he was with me. I felt a cool breeze all day on the Bike and even the Run, and I knew that was him keeping me cool and ensuring I had a good day. Thanks Dad.
What would you do differently?:
Crazy as it sounds, I probably could've gone just a touch faster on the Run... but it wasn't worth the risk. My A+ goal was a Worlds Slot and Top AG placing. But my only true goal was to race MY BEST RACE possible, and I knew that was a Sub 5. I just wanted my Damn Sub 5!!
And the reason I say I could've gone faster was based off my training. I worked from home the last 720 days and the amount of BRICK Runs I've done in preparation is obscene.
I spent my cool down with Matt's dear wife Lauren. She is such a good wife, the day prior was her birthday, but she knew how hard and persistent Matt had trained and she let the weekend be all about him and his achievement.
What limited your ability to perform faster:
For anyone wondering here are my SBR totals for 2021 leading into the race. And my 2020 totals. This volume and specific-focus on 70.3 intensity far exceed anything I'd done before. I also slept on average 9 to 10 hours a night the last 720 days. So the "good" thing about the Pandemic and working from home was I was able to train my butt off and recover just as well.
The overarching strategy was consistency and Base Building in 2020. In 2021 it was about putting in the volume and intensity having built a very broad and solid SBR base.
2021 Jan to June
Swim: 21h 49m 25s - 78052.34 meters
Bike: 141h 21m 14s - 2599.85 miles
Run: 95h 14m 56s - 680.36 miles
Total 2020 SBR:
Swim: 16h 24m 22s - 52138.73 meters
Bike: 270h 49m 31s - 4922.55 miles
Run: 168h 43m 52s - 1151.79 miles
Over the last year and a half 95% of my swimming is in a 25 yard pool ; 90% of my cycling has been on my Trainer (TrainerRoad and Zwift) ; 100% running has been outside.
Dating back to 2008 I've done 47 Triathlon races. Now eighteen 70.3's, six 140.6's and the rest sprints and olympic distance. First I figured out how to run a Sprint Tri well. Then just a few years ago at Mighty Hamptons I finally nailed an Olympic distance Tri run. My Dad was there for that race thankfully. I finished 4th in my AG at that race in a solid/deep field, only missing the Podium by a few seconds. Having finally put together a properly-paced 70.3 where I executed on my nutrition plan as well.... Now there's only one distance left for me to achieve personal success at. All of my full Ironman Runs but one have been complete disasters. Hopefully in 2022 I can change that.
I did qualify for 70.3 Worlds. And I'd love to go to Utah... but after a good nights sleep I can't justify the cost for a single weekend, especially when my wife is a teacher and both kids are still in school, so September alone doesn't work for a trip. Plus, I really wanted to go to 70.3 Worlds with my pals Dale and Rusty -- both whom have already figured out the 70.3 distance and given me much-needed blunt advice.
A special thanks to Dale who I've done some epic, epic training and adventures with -- Including Casco Bay Swim-Run long course in Maine (6 miles swimming/ 14 miles running across several islands). And on March 13th Dale and I completed a virtual Everesting on Alpe du Zwift. If there's one mostly all-day endurance event I've done that I can compare to the difficulty of a full Ironman, it's an Everesting.
Between the vEveresting training and event itself; Zwift racing; and the Slowtwitch 100 Runs in 100 Days where I ran 10k every single day from mid-November to early March, I went into this race with the best fitness I've ever had before. I also committed to eating healthy during the Pandemic. I switched my sugar cereal breakfast for oatmeal/ maple syrup and fresh fruit. I switched my lunch and dinners to simple Whole Foods, soups, salads, and limited myself to one serving of bread or pasta a day. And I cut out 99% of my ice cream and cookies at night. The result was a race day weight of 166 lbs. Throughout my 13 year triathlon career I avg'd 173 to 178 pounds on race day, and spent a lot of training time in the 180's.
In 2008 I put down alcohol and I picked up Triathlon. I haven't looked back since. Now 13.5 years clean and sober, You can even listen to my BeginnerTriathlete podcast here from 2010 -https://beginnertriathlete.com/cms/article-detail.asp?articleid=2004
The BeginnerTriathete community has been amazing as well. I have so many friends that still inspire me on this platform and that I've connected with on Strava. Amy, Marcia, Jeremy, Mike, George, Charlie -- thank you all!!
A special thanks to mscotthall who was my first training buddy whom I met through his site. Funny enough it turns out Mike knew my wife and they were in high school together! Mike also drove with me to several Eagleman races. I missed him a lot this year. We gotta do another EMAN American Triathlete Michael Scott Hall!!! Let's Gooo!!
Like many of us, my goal is Kona. Whether by qualifying through a top AG slot at a race, or eventually racking up enough races to qualify for the legacy program, or just being the oldest in my AG. God Willing I'll get there.
Eagleman is one of the longest-standing 70.3 races in North America and for good reason! The spirit of Gerry Boyle, the late Race Director is now the namesake of the Park where the event was held, and the new race director Angie Hengst carried on Gerry's legacy brilliantly! This is a true Racer's course. The swim is fair. The Bike is pancake flat and super fast on super smooth, non-technical roads. The Run is just as flat and fast. If your lucky as all of us in 2021 to get a day with cool-ish temps and mild winds, if you pace correctly and nail your nutrition, you're almost guaranteed a ridiculously fast time.
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World Triathlon Corporation
68F / 20C
Overall Rank = 94/1617
Age Group = M45-49
Age Group Rank = 5/153
I was up before my alarm, at around 3:45 AM. I slept terribly, but the night before I slept well and I know that matters more. I ate 2 packets of oatmeal and downed 3 Black Magic Keurig coffees. I sipped on a Precision Hydration 1000 and I'd also drank the same electrolyte concoction the day prior. (I've found, for me, a key part of pre/during/ and post racing/ training is maintaining consistent electrolyte levels. I'm what you would refer to as: a Heavy Sweater)
Ahhhh... race morning. Two years in the making! For Eagleman 2019 the goal was my first Sub 5 and I knew I'd trained well enough to possibly and finally achieve that goal. But alas a swim cancellation crushed the possibility altogether. I finished the Bike/ Run that day in 4:19 so I would've been right on the cusp too. So it's be a long 720 straight days of Training and Dreaming for my next sub 5:00 70.3 attempt!! And oh my, it's Eagleman race morning and it's chilly out?!? O. M. G pinch me! Cool temps and no wind .... OH It's ON like Donkey Kong's Thong!!
Unfortunately they didn't have a practice swim. I did a short 1/4 mile shake out jog and spun the arms a bunch. I was so nervous I actually put my wetsuit on backwards in transition. My friend Matt, whom I had trained and was racing with, his wife took a pic of us before the swim start. Immediately after when I tried to pull my suit up from the waist to put my arms through did I realize I had put it on backwards, and now there's photo proof to boot.
15 mins prior to the Swim start I at a Clif Mocha Gel w/ 100 mg of caffeine.