Monday, June 30, 2008

Race Report: General Smallwood Triathlon

Sunday was the General Smallwood Triathlon, a local race put on by Setup Events, that offered both a Sprint and Olympic distance race. I did the Olympic, while Rebecca did the Sprint. Going into this race, I wasn't sure how my body was going to respond. I timed my peak in training around Columbia and Eagleman, so I was hoping to have enough oomph to maintain my training in the 3 weeks following Eagleman and leading up through this race. I'll be the first to admit that I did not keep up my training, but I still put in a few solid workouts.

As race day approached, I found out that the water temperature was going to be in the mid 80s. Yes, you read that right. Race morning, they announced that the water temperature was 85! Whoa nelly, talk about a sauna. Unfortunately, that meant no wetsuit for moi. I've been fortunate in all of my Olympic distance races to have water temperatures cool enough to stay within the wetsuit legal threshold. But this was far from it. So, a first. 1500 meter swim, sans wetsuit. To be honest, I was kind of interested to see how much of an advantage it really does give me. I also didn't want to find out the hard way.

After a few extra minutes getting the boats and swim officials in place, the elites wave went off. The next wave was mine, 39-under. Since I wasn't wearing a wetsuit, I decided to wait till the last possible moment to get into the water, so I didn't have to waste energy treading out there for 5 minutes before the start. This worked out well and I jumped in with a little less than a minute to go and managed to find a spot close to the front on the far right side, which was on the outside of the buoy. With the horn sounding, I started my swim through the dark murky waters. There really wasn't anything I could see in the water. I barely saw bubbles from other people as I was trying to draft off them. Drafting seemed to work for a while after we hit the first turn buoy. I found someone of similar speed and stayed on his feet. Then he stopped and I bumped into him, but moved around and kept swimming away. The next turn was the diagonal swim back to the start buoy for the 2nd lap. All was going great, and I was even thinking about how great of a swim I was having, until I got a little less than half way down the segment. The Swamp Thing began attacking me. The Swamp Thing is also known as green stringy plant life that would wrap around your arms, legs, hands, face, etc. Whatever it could touch, it managed to tangle itself on my. Swimming became a struggle. Every time I would pull in my stroke, I'd hit more Swamp Thing. I tried pulling with a more bent arm in the hopes that I wouldn't be pulling as deep and avoid the Swamp Thing. But that didn't help. It was everywhere. Once I finally made it to the beginning of the 2nd lap, I was freed from the Swamp Thing and began the get into a rhythm again. As I did on the first lap, I found someone to draft off and kept swimming away. It was a little more crowded this time though, because people from the previous waves had been incorporated into the 750m swim loop, so I had a little contact. I even had someone grab my ankle and not let go for about 30 seconds as I pulled him along. The only way I broke free was when I stopped, flipped over and gave him the look of death and a big WTF! I finally got back into my rhythm again, but was soon greeted by the return of the Swamp Thing. It was while swimming through this mess that I realized I did not like this swim course AT ALL. I just wanted it to be over. I felt fine, but was truly frustrated because what should have been a great swim, turned to mush because of...mush in the water. I was in heaven once I reached the boat ramp, because I knew I'd never have to see that Swamp Thing again.

Time: 34:53

(Turns out, Winz, who was photographing the event, noted how much green crap people were covered in as they exited the water. And I'll add that my trisuit turned green down the white portion of it on the back. Nasty!)

After the swim exit, it was a long run up hill to the transition area. I'd guess close to 1/4 mile. I took my split on this because I wanted to know how much time this took me, as opposed to other races that have much shorter runs to transition. It took me 2 minutes to get there and I was running at a decent clip. Once in transition, I put on my usual gear, but I changed on thing. It has been typical in my races this year that I have gotten bad hamstring cramps in the first mile of the bike. Usually, a couple of Endurolytes will make it go away almost immediately. So this time, I popped a few of them while I was on transition, in the hopes that I wouldn't get the usual cramps. Sure enough, no crampage! I spent 1:29 actually getting my bike gear on and exiting. Not bad.

Time: 3:29

The ride out of the park had a short but steep climb, which led to the next 10 miles of steady hills. Nothing crazy, but pretty relentless. I was pushing pretty hard on them, playing cat and mouse with a couple of people. At some point around 10 miles in, I had a slight shifting issue when I was trying to shift into an easier gear, but my rear derailer didn't want to. I shifted a couple of gears until it finally moved, but it jumped 3 gears easier, which threw off my cadence. This caused a pretty harsh cramp in my right calf and for a moment I panicked. My first remedy was to pedal with only my left leg like I was doing 1 legged drills, but I knew I couldn't do the rest of the race like that. Then I reminded myself that I had Endurolytes and took a few as quickly as I could. This solved my problem immediately and I was back to both legs! At this point, I was pissed, so I really kicked it into high gear and tried to catch the people I was riding with before. When I finally found them, I stayed with them pretty much for the remainder of the course. It kind of kept it interesting at least, since I had someone to focus on. In doing so, we passed a good number of people, especially once we hit the section that joined up with the Sprint distance racers. For those last 8 or so miles, I pretty much had to stay to the left, since I was passing a lot of people. I cruised into the transition area with my feet already out of my shoes and managed to successfully complete my first flying dismount in a race. Woo!

Time: 1:13:24 (20.4 mph - PR!)

I raced into the transition area with my bike in tow. Threw on my run shoes, grabbed my bag of Endurolytes, and started on my way. On my way out from my rack, I spotted by dad and waved for the camera. Then, in an instant, I did a mental check to make sure I had anything. Shoes - check. Visor - nope. Race belt - nope. Uh oh. I was still wearing my bike helmet! So I turned around, threw my helmet down, and grabbed my other gear as I headed out. My time was still pretty quick, but it would have been even faster if I didn't make that mistake.

Time: 1:07

By now, the course was getting heated up. Temperatures were into the 80s and with a ton og humidity, it made it pretty brutal. I started out at a good pace, with a quick cadence, before we hit the same hill I had to bike up before. It was tough, but I pressed on and opened up my stride once I hot the top. Then it was up and down a series of large hills, along the same route as the bike course. I crossed mile 1 in about 8:45, but considering the hill I climbed, I was ok with the time. I figured there wouldn't be much more difficult hills out on the course. I was wrong. What irked me the most though, was that I was a little bit thrown off from the course description online. It read: "Once you have laced up your shoes you'll head back to the road for a fast out and back 10K with aid stations every mile." Umm...hate to break it to you, but up and down hills does not equal flat or fast. Nothing I could do but push along. I felt good, but just grew frustrated at each hill I'd come upon after cresting the one before it. The other thing was that I only saw mile markers on mile 1 and mile 4. Tons of people I was running with were confused about where we were on the course. I tried to use the water stops as my best guess, but they weren't as each mile marker either, so there was no way to tell. I felt like I was moving at a good clip and finally found the turnaround, at which point I picked it up a bit. I hit the last water stop and then turned into the woods for the rest of the course. Since there was no mile markers, I wasn't sure how long it would last. I was running pretty hard, and thought it was only a mile to go, but I believe it was longer, because on my recollection of the amount of time I spent running that section of the course. The surface varied from gravel, to roots, to packed dirt, to a few spots of sand. All I kept waiting for was the sounds of the finish line. I figured it had to come soon, but it wasn't until I had about 1/2 mile to go, that I finally heard it. The run to the finish came up the same hill as the swim run toward transition, which I was not excited to do again, but since it was the finish, I picked it up again as I cruised to the finish.

Time: 51:38

Final Time: 2:44:30

I was happy to have finished in the time that I did, even though it wasn't a PR. I missed my PR by only 57 seconds! Attacked by the Swamp Thing sans wetsuit, a 2 minute run to transition, leaving my helmet on as I began to exit T2, and a hilly run course made for an interesting day. Given all of that, I still managed to put in a good time. Plus I PR'd the bike course, with my first Olympic distance race where I averaged more than 20 mph. That was my last goal of the year at this distance. If only I can put together a race where I put them all together.

Thanks to Winz for the photos!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I Survived a Japanese Game Show/Wipeout Review

Tuesday night was the night I had been waiting for. Ever since I saw the first preview for the summer show line up for Tuesday night on ABC, I was really excited. Memories of college days where we would sit around drinking beers on a Thursday night, while watching Most Xtreme Elimination Challenge (MXC) on Spike TV started to come back to me. This was a ritual for my friends and I. First, there was a preview for a show that resembeled one of the most popular shows from Spike TV, only the ABC version was called Wipeout. The 2nd show was called I Survived a Japanese Game Show, which looked more like some of the stupid, ridiculous game show clips you see on YouTube. Needless to say, I was excited for both!

So at 8 pm, I tuned in for both shows and here is what I thought of them:


Wipeout is a show that features a number of contestants who perform in a series of physical activities. For example, last night contestants stood on small platforms suspended high above the water while a massive rotating bar forced contestants to hop over it when it passed by their platform. The bar would speed up after each round, while contestants got more tired. Eventually, a contestant with little energy left would sadly jump and get slammed by the rotating bar and knocked off their platform and into the water. As with the old show on Spike TV, color commentary, post production voice overs, and enhanced sound clips are added in for effect. The show was amusing at first, seeing the contestants get knocked down, but it seemed like the producers were trying too hard to imitate the Spike TV version. It didn't work in my book. It came off as a less serious version of Fear Factor, but without the gross pig testicle eating contest. I can't imagine this show stays on TV for too much longer based on the pilot.

I Survived A Japanese Game Show

I Survived A Japanese Game Show is a reality show that brings Americans with dominant personalities (go figure) to Japan, where they are forced into the Japanese lifestyle and eventually on to a Japanese Game Show. I really liked the way the producers approached the show, by not telling contestants what they were going to be doing. In the first show, after getting settled in Tokyo, they were brought to "tour" some production studios. When they walked through the doors, they were surprised to find out that they were on stage to be contestants on a Japanese game show. I liked the total shock and surprise on the faces of the contestants and thought it seemed genuine, unlike other "reality" shows that all appear to be set up before hand. Teams were split up into 2 groups: Green Monkey Team and Yellow Penguin Team and introduced to their first challenge: Conveyor Restaurant. Taking a page out of previous Japanese game shows I've seen featured on You Tube, Conveyor Restaurant is game that requires one team member to run on a treadmill with a waiters serving tray attached to their head, while the other team member has to eat the food (in this case mocchi balls) off the tray without using his hands. Once the food is grabbed, the eater hits a giant red button and the team member on the treadmill must then drop down flat and let the treadmill throw them into a sandbox full of flour. Teams had 3 minutes to complete the challenge. The winner was Green Monkey Team, with 10 eaten moochi balls. The 2nd game featured on the show, which was the elimination game for 2 of the team members on the losing Yellow Penguin Team, was called Big Bugs Splash on Windshield. In this game, contestants were dressed up as yellow jacket bees and they had to jump onto a trampoline and slap 3 different areas on the "windshield", to see how could be the most accurate in each area. The winner was the contestant who scored the most points by being more accurate than the other. In the end, it came down to overtime and the first player was sent packing.

What I liked about this show was that it was more than just stupid embarrassing stunts (which there definitely are plenty of). It was a reality show, so they added they dynamics of a bunch of random people being forced to be together in closed quarters. And of course, they all have dominant personalities and many of the contestants come from non-diverse backgrounds, which makes it even more awkward for them to be in Tokyo. During the clips when they are on the game show, you see both the view from how it would be shown if you were watching the game show, but you also see what happens when the cameras go off for a commercial break. I thought that was a nice touch to see more of what goes on behind the scenes.

The only thing I didn't like was that there were only 2 challenges featured during the hour long show. It seemed like they tried to cram a lot of typical reality show drama into it, rather than focus on the fun to watch challenges. I was really hoping for Human Tetris. One day...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Million Dollar Olympic Bike

Cycle maker Koga Miyata is hoping that a one million dollar bike built for Dutch track cyclist Theo Bos will secure him a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics

Koga has spent three and a half years developing a revolutionary frame for Bos, who narrowly missed out on the gold medal at the Athens Olympics four years ago.

Eagleman Part 4: The Run

As I entered T2 with my bike in tow, I seriously questioned my stupidity for continuing on with the race. It was 100 degrees and was only going to get hotter, I was already sunburnt (despite 3 players of sunscreen), and people were dropping like flies. When I came through the last few miles on the bike and saw the runners out on the course, I could see the pain of the heat in their bodies. But, just like the rest of the race, I pressed on, one foot in front of the other.

A quick jog back to my transition spot with my bike, threw on my running shoes, visor, race belt, some more Endurolytes and a couple of emergency gels in case I needed them out on the course, and I was on my way. The start of the run forces you to pass the finish line first - a very difficult thing to do, when you know you have 13.1 miles to go and others are finishing. Forutnately, the only people finishing at the same time I was passing by were the top 5 men, so it was actually encouraging to me that everyone else was still out on the course. I saw Rebecca and my parents, and then began the assault on the run course.

I actually ran the first 3 miles without walking. This was a feat for anyone that day. At the first 2 aid stations, I took my ice, water and/or Gatorade and shuffled along. As I passed the 2nd mile marker, I got to see Joanna Zeiger coming through the end of the course. I've done a few races now where there have been a lot of big name pros in the race, but this was actually the first time I've been able to see them in action while I was racing. Very cool! So as I continued on toward mile 3, I saw the rest of the top women, who all really looked strong. Being able to watch all of this unfold really took my mind away from the heat. It also helped that the first 2 miles of the run course had the only "patches" of shade on the course. Made me actually think the rest of the course might have a few other spots. Nope! Everywhere else was just wide open and brutally hot. After I hit mile 3, I decided to start walking the aid stations to make sure I got enough water/Gatorade into my body and gave myself the opportunity to cool down with ice down the front and back of my trisuit. Having a one piece really helped keep myself cool. When walking, the ice would stay in my chest and back area. Once I started to jog, the ice would drop down to the lower nether region, which was quite refreshing at the time! This remained my strategy for the rest of the run course. It made the miles tick by and simplified the mind games going on in my head. With only a mile between aid stations, I knew I could make it to the next one. And for making it, I was "rewarded" with ice, water, Gatorade, and WALKING. Plus, because the course was so flat and open, I could pretty much see each aid station from the previous one, so it gave me a landmark to keep track of and focus on.

I made it to the turnaround in 1:06 and was pretty surprised to see that I wasn't too far off 2 hour pace despite walking each of the aid stations. I wanted to pick up the pace as I began the road back to Cambridge, but I had to show restraint because I didn't want to overheat with 6 miles and change to go. I saw Winz around mile 4 as he was heading out toward the death valley section of the course that continued straight until the turnaround point for what seemed like forever. In actuality, it was about 3.5 miles out and 3.5 miles back. But in the heat with no shade whatsoever, running in pretty much a straight line takes its toll mentally. I wished Winz well and continued to plod along toward the last few miles. The heat just got hotter and my walk breaks began to get longer. I was still running about 3/4 of the mile to each aid station, but I took my sweet time nursing that ice all over. My shoes, along with everyone else around me, were soaking wet from dumping water and ice all over. They would just squeak along with each stride I made. With all that squeaking going on, we could have made a musical out of all the noise! Lots of local residents in the neighborhoods we ran through were outside cheering us on and many of them had their sprinklers set up along the run course, which helped keep us cool as well. Some were even giving people spray downs from their hoses, but I was already wet enough at that point, so I opted out of the full body spray down.

I noticed as I crossed the mile 12 marker that the music from the finish line was faint in the background. Spectators cheering along the course were telling us that with the last turn coming up, we'd be able to see the finish line. Sure enough, there it was. With a little less than a mile left, I trudged along with my 3 lb wet shoes toward the finish line. I made sure to hold back a bit, because I wanted to make sure nothing unexpected would happen as I came running down the finish chute. I made the last turn to the finish and was met by tons of spectators lined along the last straightaway. With about 50 feet to go, I heard the announcer say my name, and I made sure to take in the moment. I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face and was met by Rebecca and my parents at the end. My final time for the run was 2:18, which gave me a 1:12 2nd half. I can deal with that. Plus, when they posted the results, I found out that I moved up 600 places overall on just the run! Although not a speedy time by normal standards, it just goes to show what it was really like out there that day.

Once I did cross the finish line though, I saw people laying around all over the place. Some were sitting on the chairs on the side, others were being treated as they laid on the ground. It was an absolute ER zone. I was happy that I was able to stand on my own two feet and speak coherently. I looked around for a volunteer to take my chip off my ankle, but it seemed like they were all busy tending to people struggling at the finish line. Then sure enough, a couple of seconds later, one of the volunteers asked if they could take my chip off for me. Little did I know, IM Able was that person! Although I felt fine, I was a little bit out of it at the moment, so I didn't know it was her until much later when she emailed me to let me know. It was nice to sort of meet you!

So that was it. After getting hosed down at the end of the race, I grabbed some food, posed for some pictures, and got a great post race massage. Both made me feel MUCH better! After that, Rebecca helped me pack up my stuff and we made our way home. In all, a successful day despite the harsh conditions.

Final numbers:

- Swim: 46:07
- T1: 4:01
- Bike: 2:56:06
- T2: 2:51
- Run: 2:18:41
- Final Time: 6:07:46

Friday, June 13, 2008

Eagleman Race Report Part 3: The Bike

With me on my bike, I brought 3 bottles (2 with GU2O, 1 with water mixed with Nuun), 6 Clif Shots, 2 spare Nuun tablets, and 8 Endurolytes. The plan was to finish off the 2 GU2O water bottles first to get the majority of my calories in early, and continue to stay hydrated by the Nuun. I would also be taking in Clif Shots every 30 minutes, and Endurolytes every 30 minutes opposite the Clif Shots.

So off I went from T1. After only a few pedal strokes, it happened. My darn hamstring cramped up. At first, I just shifted into an easier gear, but that didn't stop the cramping. Every single rotation would cause it to cramp more. This was just like Columbia. I don't know why it happens, but it seems like whenever I hop on the bike, the hamstring starts to cramp up. So I stood up, stretched out, and tried to do anything and everything to get the darn thing to go away. Meanwhile, people were wizzing by me. I stupidly looked down at my monitor to see how slowly I was going. 6 MPH! I was 1/4 mile into the race and I was not able to pedal. Thoughts started running through my head, like if I would be able to continue the race. What would I tell people? How could this have happened? And then my mind cleared, and I remembered, just like at Columbia, the magic pills: Endurolytes! I reached into my bento box and grabbed out 3 Endurolytes. I sucked em down as quickly as I could and sipped some drink to make sure they got down safely. Within 15 seconds, sure enough I was able to start pedaling again! And within about 5 minutes, I was back to full strength, and moving at 20+ mph. I need to remember to take those Endurolytes ASAP after the swim to hopefully avoid these cramping issues in the future.

Shortly after picking up the pace, I started picking people off, one by one. I came upon Winz, gave him the thumbs up, and pushed forward. I really wanted to hammer since I had lost time due to the cramping, but I knew I needed to hold back some if I wanted to survive any part of the run course. So I just settled in on what felt like a hard steady pace. For the first 15 miles, this was right between 20-21 mph. Around this time, I came upon a yellow bike that I recognized. Sure enough, it was Nancy Toby! I rode with her for a bit and introduced myself as we chatted for a minute. Nice to finally meet you! Then I was off on my way. Around this time, the top age groupers from some of the later waves were really screaming by with their carbon wheels. I'd here that rolling sound of carbon several times a minute for the next 30 minutes or so. I mean, I was pushing low 20s...I can only imagine what they were doing! I had to really force myself to race my own race though and pace it since this was my first half and I didn't know exactly how hard I could push and still have enough left in the tank for the run.

Aside from a few changes in scenery and a few turns every 5-10 miles or so, the bike course was pretty nondescript. It was very scenic, but it just went on and on and on. The only excitement I had was at the bottle exchanges. After going through my first 2 GU2O bottles and onto my Nuun bottle, I tossed my 2 empties at the 2nd bottle exchange and had planned to grab a water, to make another Nuun bottle. This the first time I've actually used a bottle exchange, as I usually bring my own. I was a bit nervous as I approached the handoff, because a bunch of people in front of me were having a hard time and I had to dodge a bunch of bottles from failed handoffs. Sure enough, I got it without having to slow down much! At the next bottle exchange, I decided to grab a Gatorade, since I was through all my calorie bottles and still had a good bit of course left. I felt a bit bloated from all the liquids, but knew I'd have time to processes it all toward the end of the bike so I don't go running with a water belly. I only sipped about 1/4 of the bottle, because me and orange Gatorade in 90+ degree heat do not get along. Finally, I grabbed another water bottle at the last exchange, which I used to lightly sip on the last 10 miles of the bike and dump on my head to cool me down for all of 3 seconds before the sun made it hot again. After checking my watch out, the top reading of the day was 100 degrees!

I will say that wind wasn't too much of an issue until the last 15 miles of the bike course. Not sure if this is normally the case, but once I hit that point, it was truly a headwind. I went from riding most of the course between 20-21 mph to being stuck at 17-18, and at times barely holding 17. I was also tired of being aero. Prior to the race, I was excited about the prospect of riding a completely flat course, as opposed to all the other races I do, which always have hills. However, what this course made me realize was that there are no breaks. No coasting. No sitting up. No stopping. You stop pedaling or sit up and your speed drops dramatically. It takes it toll.

So I was forced to remain aero for as long as I could. I was really looking forward to the end though, but at the same time thinking about how hot the run would be. So I rolled on in to the transition area, happy to see Rebecca and I was surprised to see my parents who made it out to see me, and got ready to get my run on. I even tried one of my new transition tricks by taking off my shoes before the end of the bike to save a few seconds in T2. Worked like a charm!

Final bike time: 2:56:06 (19.08 mph)

Note: Click the link to see the full collection of photos that were taken by Rebecca

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Eagleman Race Report: Part 2 - Pre-Race and Swim

Race morning came at 4 am. Actually, 3:58. I woke up 2 minutes before my alarm was set to go off. (Amazing how our internal body works when we have something set in our schedules.) I was pretty much ready, with all my stuff laid out the night before, bottles pre-mixed in the refrigerator (freezer for bike water bottles). I packed up the car with everything, and Rebecca and I headed down to breakfast at the hotel, which amazingly opened early for all the Eagleman triathletes. I popped my frozen gluten free waffles into the toaster, pulled out my jar o' peanut butter, and syrup bottle and smothered it on once the waffles were toasted. I really do look forward to this meal. Where else can you say you need to cram 1000 calories into your system at 4:30 am and follow that up with a couple of 200 calories mixed drinks!

Following breakfast, we finished loading up the car and made our way over to Cambridge. We were able to find a parking spot a couple blocks away from the transition area, so it wasn't too long of a walk with all my gear. Once we got there, I set up my transition area and had all my gear laid out and ready to go. I quickly got body marked and lathered on layer one of my sunscreen. After a few minutes of walking around and talking to a few people, one of the body markers noticed that my numbers were already smearing off. This is what happens when it is so hot and humid that you sweat just at the thought of blinking. So she wrote another layer on my arms in the hopes that would stay on. I'll note that it was only about 30 minutes later when I realized that both arms had completely lost the body marking. (I will say its much easier to sweat off the numbers than to scrub them off post race like I usually have to do.) It was just that hot. Plus, I had to lather on 2 more layers of sunscreen and I wasn't going to wipe around the numbers. That just would have been weird. I would have had sunburn in the shape of my body marking numbers, 313. idea for next time if I have a good sequence of number (hopefully not three 6s).

At about 6:40, I took my wetsuit and swim gear over to the swim start to watch the pros go off. My wave was only the 3rd wave, so I was up only 15 minutes after them, at 7:00 am. I started putting on my wetsuit, and more sweating occurred. Finally, they started calling for us to enter the water. For the first time in....ever...I was looking forward to getting into the water and cooling off (mind you, its not even 7 am yet!). I walked my way out to the start buoys and gave a few waves back to Rebecca (she has all the pictures of this and will hopefully be posting them shortly...cough, cough). I decided to seed myself off to the right, since all the turns were left turns. I figured this would give me a pretty contact free zone to just swim and if I swam a little extra distance, thats fine.

The countdown began from 1 30 10, 9, 8...3, 2, 1! I don't remember if it was a horn or a gun, but off we went. I walked for as long as I could, since the water wasn't deep at all and began swimming after about 10 steps, thus beginning my first half ironman. The swim course was in the shape of a U, where you swam straight out to the last buoy, took a diagonal left, and then took another left to come back the other way, which took you in between 2 boat piers. In actuality, the swim was slightly different than the way it appears in the graphic - the bottom part of the U was much longer (about 2-3 buoys long). The way out was going smoothly, just one stroke after another. The sun was out, but didn't really impact my sighting too much. I was bilaterially breathing, so I saw people on both sides of me and figured I was in pretty good position. Not too close to the inside and far enough outside to avoid significant contact. As I neared the last buoy before the first turn, the water got a little choppier and I began to get pushed away from the turn buoy and toward the boats sitting on the outer parts of the course to prevent other watercraft from entering the swim area. Once I made the first turn, I kept getting pushed out. Not only that, but I felt like I was swimming against the current. You see, I'm not a strong swimmer by any means, so any current not working with me, seems to make things tough. My other problem was that although I was bilaterially breathing, one side of my stroke was much stronger than the other, which helped force me out even further. At one point, I almost was close enough to touch one of the boats. And they were sitting pretty far off the course! So, I just kept stroking away at the water. It got very discouraging every time I would sight, because I would be farther off course from the buoy and have barely made a dent in covering the distance to the next buoy. Finally, I made it to the end of the buoys at the bottom of the U and made the left to the final long stretch toward the finish. At this point, all frustration went out the door, because either there was a slight tail current, or the constant flighting against the current in the earlier part of the swim made me feel like I was cruising. My focus came back and I was actually enjoying the last part of the swim. I passed several more buoys and started sighting for the series of orange buoys leading to the boat ramp. As I neared the orange buoys, I felt like I was getting pushed again to the outer part of the course. I fought to stay inside the orange buoys and just barely squeaked to the inside of the outer of the 2 buoys leading to the finish. I did notice others who struggled to make that turn as well, some of which were swimming back upstream, because they were forced past the buoy. By this point, I joined many other swimmers as we congregated in the 10 foot wide and probably 100 foot long swim chute leading up to the boat ramp. I felt my hand touch the sand with my last stroke and stood up a happy man to finally see land again.

I looked down at my watch and it read 46:07. I was hoping for something closer to 40 minutes, but given my sighting and water current issues, I was happy to have made it out of the swim safe and unscathed. It was about 200 meters to the transition area along the gated path. I did my best to jog it and try to get my land legs back. A quick run under the fire hose to wipe off any sea water and I spotted Rebecca standing along the fence snapping shots for me. After Columbia, where I was lectured at how I need to smile more for the camera (or at least acknowledge my wonderful photographer's presence), I decided to throw Rebecca a little surprise. I stopped running as I got closer and gave her a big smacker right on the lips. I could tell she was surprised and never expected me to do that. Of course, now she expects it every time. We'll see... And don't accuse me of not smiling in this picture, its not from her. I only smile for Rebecca. Thats my rule and I'm sticking to it!

I entered T1 and ran another 100 yards or so to my transition rack and began taking off the rest of my wetsuit. Threw socks on (I need them if it is longer than an Olympic distance race), shoes, sunglasses, helmet, and grabbed 3 GUs to shove into my back pocket as I ran my bike toward the bike out. At about the same time, I saw Winz exiting T1 as well. Looked down at my watch and read 4:01 for my T1 time. Considering the longish run, the stop for a kiss, putting on socks, and taking my sweet ass time since this is a much longer race, I'm pretty happy with that.

I hit the lap button, clipped into my pedals, and began the bike...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Eagleman Race Report: Part 1 - The Day Before

My race weekend began Thursday afternoon because of a wedding I was attending just over the Chesapeake Bay that was being held on Friday. This worked out perfectly as it gave me an extra day to relax before the big race. Friday rolled around and our hotel for the wedding was only about an hour or so (not including ridiculous traffic just to get out of DC) to get there. It was also right about half way between Arlington and Cambridge. Rebecca and I met up with some friends for some lunch on the water, which was awesome. Friday night we attended the wedding, and proudly, I served as the DD for the night. Let's just say that someone was glad I was there to be the sober one. Being 2 nights before the race, I was hoping to get a little more sleep than I did, but what can ya do. I ended up with about 6 hours of sleep, but felt well rested the next day.

Waking up the next morning to already scorching temperatures, we knew we were in for an even hotter weekend. With the sun shining down, the short hour drive to Cambridge had us thirsty for some water. The last thing I wanted to do was go into this race already dehydrated. We stopped at a CVS in Easton and picked up some Gatorade and a large bottle of water.

Finally as we made our way into Cambridge, we crossed the Choptank River, for my first glimpse of the swim and what was to come tomorrow. The water looked calm and race officials were starting to set up the buoys. We first stopped at the registration check in to get my bike inspected and all the race packet information taken care of. With a minimal line, I grabbed my bike to get it inspected first, because I knew lines would be forming later. A quick once over and my bike had its yellow dot sticker on it, which meant it was good to go. Back into the registration area, we grabbed my packet, which included some nice schwag. A nice tech tshirt, water bottle, M dot socks, and a Power Bar were part of the deal. Now thats what I'm talking about! We need more race schwag like that. Lately, its been a tshirt and a whole bunch of fliers for other races and thats it. I am still waiting for a race to give me a technical hat. I've got the visor, just need the full hat. Would certainly have been helpful to give away a heat for a race like Eagleman, with the heat the way it was out on the run course, but I'm getting ahead of myself. The description about the run will come at a later time.

After going through the expo, I FINALLY found a bottle of Endurolytes! You may have recalled from Columbia that Endurolytes saved me from sure race day failure when my legs cramped up as I began pedaling within the first minute of the bike course. I now cannot race without them. However, my trial amounts of them have run out. Only 1 of the 3 vendors had them at the expo. I went to 3 LBS in Arlington to look for them and none of them had them either. Why is it so hard to find them? I don't know. All I know is, I paid about $7 more for the bottle than Hammer Nutrition advertises on their information sheets and website. But what could I do? I needed them. So screw you Mr. Eagelman expo vendor for upcharging me on a much needed supplement. Oh yea, and I also over spent at the same place buying Rebecca a pair of cycling socks with ducks on them. But thats ok. Rebecca really wanted them. She likes ducks and I'm nice like that.

After the expo, Rebecca and I went for a not so enjoyable lunch at a sports bar place in Cambridge. My meal was fine (grilled chicken sandwich), hers was not (burger). There is something about those pre-made burger patties that make a burger's consistency go to crap. Maybe we are burger purists, but I CANNOT buy pre-made burger patties from a store. They must be hand formed from ground beef. But I digress.

The next hour and half was spent driving the bike course. Now I know that this course is pancake flat, but I still needed to see it for myself. I didn't want to make the 2 hour drive (I probably should have) to Cambridge to pre-ride the course during training, so the least I could do was drive it to get an idea of what my day would have in store for me. The drive of the course was pretty uneventful. Flat straight section here, flat curvy section here, blah, blah...Then we got to the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and things got much better. Lots of varying plants and birds everywhere was a nice change of pace. We stopped the car a few times so Rebecca could take some nice shots of the scenery. At one point while we were driving along the course, I came to a screeching halt, as we spotted Ernie the Eagle sitting perched high on a limb of a bare tree. He posed for Rebecca and let her take some solid shots of his profile. (I'll let her post most of the pictures, since she shot them). We continued on our way and finished the bike loop. My takeway from the ride was that it was going to be hot, with no shade, and possibly some strong winds. At least I was a little more prepared for the race, knowing some of the course landmarks.

We came back to Cambridge and went to the transition area to check my bike in. As I entered the transition area, I noticed all the low numbers in the front. Seeing as my number was 313 (out of about 2400 numbers), I knew that had to be a good sign that I was going to get a money rack spot. I found myself on one side of the 3 row wide transition area, only 5 rows back from the bike out/in. Awesome! Since I am was in an early wave, it made sense that they placed us there. After that, Rebecca and I walked over to the calm Choptank River and dipped our feet in to try and cool off. While it felt much cooler than the air temperature, it definitely felt on the warmish side, but still refreshing. I gazed over the swim course and tried to imagine myself swimming the course with ease at each section. In my head, I worked out a race day strategy for how best to navigate the course.

Rebecca and I drove back to the expo to listen in on the race preview discussion. The theme of the discussion was hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Go figure. So, I continued to drink my water throughout the day. They said water temperatures were expected to be between 74-77 degrees, which are wetsuit legal (at least for us age groupers, thank goodness!) and that the run and bike courses would be hot, so make sure to plan to take in more water, salt, etc than you would at a normal race. There was a heat advisory through Monday, so while the temperatures may vary by a few degrees, the heat index on race day was going to be at or above 100 F. Just have to expect the heat, prepare for it, and embrace it, because its nothing that can be controlled on race day.

After the race preview, Rebecca and I met up with Winz to head out for some dinner. We ended up going to this great place right on the main street in Cambridge. Even better, they were airing the Belmont Stakes on the screens, so we could watch the race. We all know the outcome, but it was exciting the watch nonetheless. Trying to avenge what would be Cambridge's reputation for a bad burger based on Rebecca's experience, I ordered one from this restaurant and it was delicious! So, I'll no longer hold that against Cambridge. You have fine foods.

After dinner, we headed back to our hotel in Easton about 20 minutes away. Upon checking in, we found out that not only was the entire guest list at the hotel all racing Eagleman, but the hotel was opening their continental breakfast early at 4 am, just for the race! So for anyone looking to stay at a quality hotel (the rooms were very nice too) in the future, stay at the Days Inn in Easton. They really went out of their way to accommodate all the Eagleman triathletes.

Next up: Race Day

Monday, June 9, 2008

Eagleman Press Release

This is the press release of the race from yesterday. Check out the last photo at the bottom of the page. Now thats a way to finish your race.

Amey and Zeiger win hot, humid Eagleman

Post-race update from Eagleman Ironman 70.3

Published Sunday, June 8, 2008

Amey and Zeiger win hot, humid EaglemanOn one of the hottest days in the race's storied history, Paul Amey and Joanna Zeiger won the 2008 Eagleman Ironman 70.3, overcoming both the challenging conditions and a competitive field.

With temperatures in the 90s (Fahrenheit) and humidity numbers to match, the conditions were "just like Kona," according to race director Rob Vigorito.

Zeiger led from start to finish, coming out of the water more than 30 seconds ahead of Dede Griesbauer. Zeiger then put together the fastest women's pro bike split of the day to enjoy a solid lead off the bike. Griesbauer lost another three minutes to the eventual winner during the ride, but held on for second. Kelly Handel made up some time during the run, but would finish just over a minute behind Griesbauer in third, while New Zealand's Fiona Docherty ran her way to fourth. Jacqui Gordon rounded out the top five.

After trailing last weekend's Ironman 70.3 Boise champ, Terenzo Bozzone, out of the water by just a second, Amey rode away from the Kiwi to lead the way into T2. After trailing by over two minutes out of the water, Chris Legh put together a blazing 2:06:54 bike split, but couldn't follow that up with a quick enough run to win another Eagleman title today. Amey's 1:15:31 bike split was enough to net him the win by almost three minutes over Bozzone. Legh would finish third, a minute ahead of Richie Cunningham with Viktor Zyemtsev rounding out the top five.

Top five professionals:





















































Photos courtesy of Action Sports International






Sunday, June 8, 2008

Back From Eagleman!

Phew...that was a doozy. Only two words can describe the course: hot and HOT. That was one SOB of a race. But. Its. Over.

Final Time: 6:07:47

Not as fast as I would have liked, but all expectations flew out the window the second I saw the forecast for temps in the 90s, with the heat index in the mid 90s. Thank goodness for the event staff and volunteers. They kept the race safe and made sure there was lots of water and ice everywhere.

Race report to come...

Friday, June 6, 2008

Da Plan for Eagleman 70.3

Well folks, this is pretty much it. Its race weekend for Eagleman 70.3. All this build up has lead to this. And what do all of us fellow triathletes in training get rewarded with? This. Not much else to do at this point other than say, it is what it is. Each day I go back to check to weather (more like every 15 minutes), the temperatures go up for the forecast. So for the benefit of everyone else racing Eagleman, I will no longer be checking the weather. No need to thank me.

The constantly changing weather has me on my toes about my nutrition, if one can look at a benefit from this. Each change I see in the forecast has resulted in re-examining my plan. So now that it is just going to be effing hot, my updated "Effing Hot" race plan is going into effect. Here are the details of this plan:

- I'm sticking with the pre-race nutrition plan that seemed to work for me at Columbia, by taking in about 1000 calories in the form of GF pancakes smothered with peanut butter and now sugar syrup. Mmmm.

- Once at the race site, I'll be sipping from my GU2O sports drink to take in another 200 calories, followed by a granola bar (another 200 calories), then just plain water, with a GU 20 minutes before my wave goes off. Oh yea, and I'll be taking a sun block shower by rubbing sun block into every place possible on my body. In case you can't find me, I'll be the one lathering my scalp with sunblock (though I may not be the only person doing that).

- To start the bike, I plan to carry 2 bottles of GU2O (200 calories each) and one bottle of Nuun. I plan to go through at least 4 bottles of liquid on the bike, so I'll be grabbing another water at one of the bottle exchange points on the bike and adding Nuun to it. I had toyed with 3 bottles of GU2O and 1 bottle of water with Nuun, but since the "Effing Hot" plan is in effect, I am thinking it will be more important to remain hydrated. The rest of my calories on the bike will come from GUs, which ill be taking at least every 30 minutes. I will also be taking 2-3 Endurolytes per hour to ward off any impending cramps. In total, I should be good for 1000 calories on the bike.

- On the run, I don't know what I'm going to feel like since I haven't raced in anything this hot. My plan is to continue to take Endurolytes and make sure to drink and/or pour water on myself at each water stop. For calories, I'll be taking GUs or something from the course that appears appetizing at the moment.

So there you have it, the "Effing Hot" race plan. Good luck to everyone else racing or spectating. Hope to see you all out there!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

2008 CSC Invitational

Once a year, a big time cycling race shows up at my doorstep called the CSC Invitational. Its a pro/am race that features some of the top mens and womens teams in the world, along with supporting the local community by having races for kids. The pro course is a 100 laps of a twisty 1k loop around the Clarendon neighborhood in Arlington. Its pretty impressive to see these people moving so fast, with so many hard corners and turns.

Last year (also with some good shots and a video), Rebecca and I were able to watch the men's race, but due to a chaotic Sunday schedule (including Rebecca's first tri of the season), we watched the womens race and the kids race, before taking off. It was just as cool as always to see these people flying by.

As always, spectators can walk around the center area of the course, where all the teams have their gear trucks set up. Here are a few pictures from some of the big teams that were there. Strangely enough, CSC wasn't in attendance this year.

The best part though was something we witnessed as we were leaving. At this point, the little kids race was going on, which ranges from kids on small road bikes to little ones on tricycles. This little girl had made it to the last corner before the final straightaway, when her chain seemed to drop from her tricycle. At this point, she didn't know what to do. Amazingly, one of the pros who was warming up stopped to help her out and put her chain back on. Unfortunately, super dad decided to show up at the same time, grabbed the bike, and started turning the pedals before the pro was done fixing the chain, which caused the chain to snap. Leave it to super dad to intervene while a pro fixes his little girl's bike. What a jackass. For future reference, if a pro stops to fix your bike, stand back and let them. I'm just guessing that they probably know more about it than you.


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