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