Tag Archives: Race

Philadelphia Marathon 2011

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3:06:06, I have mixed emotions from this one. I “technically” qualified for the 2012 Boston Marathon, it just happens to already be sold out which I knew ahead of time. So that means I would have to meet the new 2013 qualifying times which for me meant 3:05:00 which as you can see I just missed.

This is an hour faster than the last Marathon I did in 2008 but I had some bigger goals and thought Boston Qualifying was going to be a no brainer. In the training leading up to the race we had targeted at 2:57:30 or 6:46 pace and all my workouts had been built around that.

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The build up for the race was a quick month and half crash course after the Poconos 70.3 in October and the inability to fit in the ideal number long runs was the one of the things that contributed to my demise the last seven miles.

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But I think the first thing was my inability to trust the plan and that I wasn’t going to blow up. The idea was to run my 6:46 pace and let the HR build as the race went on but not to exceed 181. I went through the first two miles and was bumping up against my HR limiter so I backed off the pace and my HR settled down, but from looking at the graph I was probably too conservative in what I did and my HR went way down, I probably could have been 5-6 seconds per mile faster and been fine. I made it through the first half in exactly 1:30:00 so I was only 1:15 behind “A” goal even with backing off the pace a bit and was feeling fine.

The next 9 miles are when I think I let things get in the way and doubted my ability to hold up the pace. My HR went way down, 6-7 bpm compared to earlier in the race and my pace slowed which means I was easing off the effort. Usually if the pace was going down and my HR was going up or staying constant (which happened later) that is a sign of getting tired, or if the HR is going down and you feel low on energy it means you need more calories but I was on top of my plan so I don’t think that was issue.

 

The last five miles were very frustrating as the wheels seemed to fall off and paces dropped to 7:18, 7:30, 7:38, 7:45, and 7:26. A slowdown is almost certainly going to happen at the end of a Marathon it was just extremely frustrating to see the pace drop off 30 seconds per mile and doing the math in my head to see the Boston Qualifying slip away and not be able to run any harder.

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I thought the race was very well run. I was able to stay downtown and walk to the start line which I found to be very organized and I had plenty of space to warm-up. There was tons of crowd support out on the course and all the aid stations had plenty of supplies. For a race that has the half and full shares the course up to mile 13 the second half of the run can get lonely sometimes but I didn’t find that to be the case here. There were still plenty of crowds and the out and back of for the second half helped some too.

One thing that I always find interesting is to look at my GPS data and see how far I actually ran during the race. A marathon is 26.2 miles but you almost never run that exact distance do to crowds, moving over to get water at aid station, etc…there is an interesting right up of it here: http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2009/03/racing-line-understanding-how-courses.html

So I was very happy to see that I ran 26.33 miles which for a race this long is about as good as it gets.

Eagleman 2011

This was my third, and what will be my last time at Eagleman. This was my most disappointing race and first Did Not Finish (DNF) of any race I’ve done. I think I’ve decided that I don’t race well in the extreme heat/humid so why keep doing it when I have plenty of other races in cooler weather to choose from?

Swim (40:00)

The swim was a non-event. It was a non wetsuit swim so I wasn’t expecting a low 30s swim but thought I might have been a few minutes faster, but all in all not to bad. I was 3 minutes faster then last years also non wetsuit swim, but it’s hard to compare times since it’s a river swim with varying current and chop. But I moved up a few places overall and in the AG compared to last year so the swim is getting better.

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The start had some contact and pushing but settled down quickly and I took a good line around to the first turn buoy. The water was very calm this year without much chop and I didn’t have any trouble sighting. After the first turn I started catching up to stranglers from the earlier waves and had to do some weaving but it wasn’t to bad.

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One thing about this year was the water was very shallow. In fact if you really wanted to you could have walked in the last leg of course. I choose to swim in most of the way and only start walking about 20 yards from the finish.

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T1 

Was quick without having to worry about getting a wetsuit off and I was on my way.

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Bike (2:29)

The bike was what I expected. I had three section according to my race plan. The first section was 10 mile to get the HR back down after the swim and settle into a good rhythm. This section went well and I was right on plan and average 22 mph.

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The next and longest section was a bump up in HR for the next 30 miles. I was trucking along for this section still feeling great and average 23.4 mph for the this section.

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The last part was another bump in HR for the last 16 miles. This section didn’t go as well as I couldn’t sustain the higher HR but was only a couple of BPMs below where I should be so I wasn’t to concerned. The speed dropped a bit down to 22.2 mph but that was more a result of riding into a headwind during a long stretch and being on some bumpier roads.

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What I’m more interested in is the drop of 30 watts average power during this section. I have noticed a lot of drift in the power #s during my longer training rides and I think something might be wrong with my powertap or could be an actual drop-off in power, but I find it hard to believe I averaged over 22mph on only 206 watts.

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T2

In and out quickly with no issues

Run

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This is where it all fell apart. On the bike I followed my nutrition plan just like I have been doing on my long rides and I’ve never had issues in the past. But I was a little worried how the run was going to turn out because around mile 50 I got a little cramp in my foot while biking but it managed to work itself out.

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The run started with heavy legs as expected but I started moving along at just under an 8 minute pace which was where I wanted to be at this point. I got through the first two miles fine and was starting to feel better until getting near the mile 2 aid station when my legs started to feel really tight in my hamstrings and both sides of my knees (IT band?).

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I slowed down to pick up some water and my legs locked up and cramped really badly on me. Remembering my med tent adventure from last year this had me really worried. I grabbed a banana and some Gatorade and kept walking for 2-3 minutes and my legs finally loosened up so I could start “running” again but now my stomach was mess. I made it two more miles before my stomach was on the verge of revolting and starting to cramp. My legs didn’t feel too bad and my HR wasn’t out of control but my stomach just wouldn’t let me run. I was reduced to running until my stomach wouldn’t let me and then walking until I could start running again. I did this until about 8 when my stomach just wouldn’t let me run anymore. I walked for the next 2 miles but I started to feel some cramps in my calves coming on so I made the decision to drop out of the race and end my day.

Post Race

Obviously I’m very disappointed in my race. I’ve done a number of 4 hour rides with race intensity for the last hour this spring and hopped off the bike to run sub 7 min per paces without feeling wiped out so I know I was in great shape for this race. It’s just tough that my body decided to quit on me today. This was especially disappointing because my run has been the most improved and consistent part of my races so far this year; I got off the bike in 15th place in my age group and really thought I was capable of running my way into the top 10. 

But after my med tent trip last year and disappointing race this year I think I have finally learned my lesson that I don’t race well in the heat and humidity and will not be back at Eagleman next year. I’m leaning towards doing Mooseman or maybe another race. I’m also going to stay away from heat and go to the other weather extreme and do what is sure to be a cold race at Ironman Poconos this October.

2011 Rumpuss in Bumpass Olympic Distance Triathlon Race Report

Overall 2:23:59 (11th AG, 60th Overall)

I’m bummed out about this race, the weather was bad so that had something to do with the results but I know I am capable of a much faster time than yesterday’s race. This was the third year I’ve done this race, and was 3 minutes slower then last year. The 2010 and 2009 reports are: here and here.

Heading into this race I didn’t exactly have an ideal taper. I was in Atlanta all week for work, flew home Friday afternoon and then woke up at 4:30 to drive to the race site.

The weather forecast all week did not look promising with some strong thunderstorms and heavy rains forecasts for race day. Fortunately the thunder held off until later in the afternoon but starting around 7 it rained most of the day in varying intensities. 

Swim 29:56 (17th AG, 106 Overall)

The race directors were keeping an eye on the forecast to decide if they would need to delay the start for lighting but with 15 minutes to go they gave the go ahead for an on time start, so I got in the water to do a 10 minute warmup.

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The water wasn’t horrible with a temp of 68 degrees but I decided to use a thick swim cap warmer underneath the regular cap they give out to keep some heat in and seemed to workout fine.

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My starting wave wasn’t very big so I lined up on the front line on the inside which looking back was probably a mistake. I wound up swimming the first leg of the triangular course mostly by myself with no feet to draft off of and added some extra distance getting to the first buoy.  

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During the second leg of the triangle the water started to get a bit choppy and I had trouble finding the next turn buoy and probably added some extra distance and again had no feet to draft off of, which turned out to be the theme of the swim.

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Coming back to shore on the third leg was fine, and I think I took a good line in but was still swimming on my own most the way.

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I got the dock and was very disappointed to see 29 minutes for my swim time. I knew I didn’t have a great swim but was really expecting to see 25-26 at worst. 29 minutes  for 1500 meters is a 1:50 per 100 yard pace and when I’m in the pool doing a long set or warmup I usually swim around a 1:40 per 100 yard pace. And in theory a wetsuit should give you a 10 sec per 100 yard time savings not a disadvantage, so I really don’t know what my problem was but it’s something I need to get fixed.    

T1 1:57 (13th AG, 76 Overall)

Because of the cold and rain I decided to wear a jacket but other than that it was a normal transition.

Run to bike while taking wetsuit top off:

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take off rest of wetsuit:

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put on coat:

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put on helmet:

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run out of transition area putting feet into bike shoes after getting up to speed:

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Bike 1:10:11 (17th AG, 111 Overall)

The bike course was two loops of a rolling/flat area around the lake.

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The race plan was ride first loop at a certain HR and then bump it up into the next zone for the second loop.

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The first lap was fine and after settling the HR down in the first 1/2 mile I stayed right in zone for the lap but was surprised to see an average speed of only 21 mph. The roads were wet and it was a bit windy but I had on my race wheels and aero helmet so I would have expected to see a faster split. 

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The second lap I was never able to consistently stay in the next zone and  as a result only averaged 21.3 mph for the loop.

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I didn’t find the weather to be much of a problem, there weren’t a lot of puddles and the road didn’t get too slick (I only saw one person go down). The part that was a bit unnerving was the crosswinds on the some of the bridges. I had a disk wheel on the back and deep section rim on the front so I got pushed around by the wind. But knowing that it was coming made it possible to account for. 

One thing that didn’t work as well as I thought it would was my rain coat. The only one I have is a couple years old and at least a size to big. This leads to a lot of flapping in the wind which is bad and wastes energy, so I thought I was being clever and pulled some of the seams in and duck taped it together.

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But I didn’t really get the shoulders right and the sleeves were still way to big so I was riding with what was effectively a sail.

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T2 1:06 (4th AG, 13th Overall)

T2 was quick: just the normal flying dismount, rack the bike, slip on the shoes, and put on the race belt while starting the run. The rain had really done a number on the transition area, turning it into a mud pit. This is what my shoes looked like after the race:

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Run 40:52 (5th AG, 37th Overall)

This was far and away the best part of the day. The run course was two loops and I got out in the first 1/4 mile and knew I had a good run in me. 

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The run plan was to run the first two miles a certain HR, bump it up for the next 3, and then increase it again for the last mile.

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I got going and averaged a 6:29 pace for the first 2 mile section feeling great, like I hadn’t even biked or swam.

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The next three mile section I slowed a bit to a 6:34 pace but that included an off road section on some slick mud. It was really tough to navigate and keep up the speed in my racing flats that basically have no traction.

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Then I picked it up for the last mile and brought it in with a 6:34 pace including the off road section again. I was getting tired and never really hit the high HR levels the plan called for in the last section but I was still pushing it.

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After crossing the finish line I was initially very disappointed with my results but after thinking about it more I’m still not happy but I can at least rationalize the bike results. This winter / early spring was spent really focusing on my run and I have made big time progress, this was a 5 min triathlon 10k pr, but it has been at the expense of some biking. It wasn’t until after the Atlanta Half marathon that things switched from bike maintenance mode to really adding some serious intervals and long rides. This was first race of the year and is not really a priority for me, so if the run can stay where it is and the bike gets back to or past where it was at the end of last season I’ll be happy.

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The swim, I have no excuse or rational for. I just needs to get better if I want to reach some of goals I have.     

2011 Georgia Half Marathon Race Report

1:29:15 115th overall

This was the 4th time I have done this race (2009 report here), with last year’s National Half Marathon being the only time I have missed the Georgia Half. This result was good for a 6 minute PR overall and a 10 minute PR for this course.

I stayed downtown near the start which made race morning a breeze. I took care of all my morning stuff at the hotel and walked the 1/2 mile to the start with 30 minutes till the start. I got in a warmup around the Georgia Dome to get the legs and heart pumping again.

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With my predicted time I was in the sub-seeded “B” corral towards the front so I didn’t have any trouble getting to the right spot with a couple minutes to spare. That’s a big deal because a race with more then 10,000 people can become very hectic when it gets close to start time.

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As for the race itself I had a plan from my coach which was based on heart rates instead of pace because the hills on this course make trying to maintain a consistent pace counterproductive.

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The start was a bit frustrating and more crowded then I would have expected, I got boxed in behind slower runners a few times and then was stuck behind a big group following the 1:30 pacer. But I guess it’s just another lesson learned to make sure I’m closer to the front.

The first 2.5 miles were suppose to be at a lower HR to ease into the race  and take advantage of the initial downhill section but I had lots of trouble with my HR monitor and was getting some bad readings. I spent some time messing around with the strap but backed off the pace a bit just make sure I didn’t go out too fast and sabotage the rest of the race. This is the section where I probably lost at least 30 seconds in my overall time because my perceived level of effort for this section was not very high.

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After the first 2.5 I bumped the HR up and got into a good rhythm by keeping the HR in check and not going to hard up the hills and then bombing down the hills. I got into a good flow and the miles just ticked away.  One interesting note is I finally figured out how to drink from the water cups at aid stations while still running which is something I’ve never been able to figure out until now.

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Atlanta was a lot hillier then I remembered it being. The hill out of Piedmont park was very tough and then running through tech was very hilly as well. There are hills in Maryland that I run so I wasn’t unprepared, but the difference is Maryland is more rolling hills on a gradual incline and things in Atlanta are usually shorter and steeper.

After the hill on Tech Parkway at about mile 11 I bumped the HR up again. This is where they played a mean trick with the race clocks (was probably a just a mistake and not intentional). I was only using HR on my watch as that was all my plan cared about so I wasn’t seeing my total time. When I came to the clock at mile 12 I saw 1:17:xx which mean if I ran a 7 minute mile I could break 1:25:00. The problem was I should have recalled that the mile 11 marker was 1:13:xx and I didn’t just run a 4 minute mile, but I will blame that lapse on being tired from the race and not wanting to do mental math. That meant the mile 12 was several minutes behind so I was very shocked and disappointed to see 1:29 on the clock as I entered the finish chute.

This is the table my coach made for me about how well I was able to execute my race plan and it looks really good. The only exception being .5-1 where I got caught up in the crowd and spent a lot of energy trying to pass people and find open road.

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With the half marathon done it’s time to recover for a couple days and then start the build up for the triathlon season. Eagleman is three months away and the first race of the year is less then one month away!

George Washington Birthday 10km race

Net time: 40:00.04, so close to hitting that sub 40 goal. It’s better then my last 10k and still a PR but taking that time in context it is much better then it looks because today was not a good day for running fast….

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The plan for this race was to run a 6:20 pace until the turnaround capping my HR at 193 and then run 190-193 the rest of the way back regardless of pace.

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I got in a warmup and it was very obvious to see the first half of the out and back course was going to be slow since it was right into the wind. Because of this trying to run with a group and having other bodies to block the wind would be a big deal.

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The race started and I was able to stay in a pack and get through the first mile right at 6:20 without going over my HR limit but a quarter mile later I started to bump up against my limit so I backed and fell off the back of that group.

I hoped another group would catch up to me but it never happened. I got one or two people coming past me I could draft but I ran mostly by myself until the turnaround,  and it’s easy to how that impacted my race, with 6:54 and 7:02 as my mile 2 and 3 splits.

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Coming back was obviously faster with the wind at my back  and I was actually able to run a wind aided 5k PR if you used just the second the half of this race.

The last .2 miles went over a bridge and then a short straightaway to the finish. After coming over the bridge I saw the finishing clock and thought I still had a chance for sub 40 but…

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I got hit by a nice swirling gust of 50mph wind that brought me to a stop and almost knocked me over, and yes that is sand, dirt, etc getting blown around by all the wind

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So I missed sub 40 but 4 1/100ths of a second.

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Sea Colony Olympic Distance Triathlon Race Report

Overall (2:18:34, 1st AG, 11th Overall)

This is a 2 min personal best on a course with a 41 km bike leg instead of the traditional 40 km distance and a very long run from the end of the swim to the transition area, about a minute extra. This is also my first age group win and highest ever overall finish. So you can probably guess I’m very happy with this result and all my hard work the last few months has been paying off.

Pre Race

I stayed at a condo in the Sea Colony resort and was able to watch them setting up the swim buoys the night before so I had a very easy morning.

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I still got up at 5:30 so I could eat breakfast and give it time to settle before the start of the race. And then I rode my bike the short 1/4 mile to the other side of the resort and transition area.  

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Swim (23:38, 5th AG, 54th Overall)

The swim was point to point so everyone had to walk a mile down the beach to the start line.

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This was a good swim and was about a 5 personal best for this distance. The swim was with the current so that had something to do with the time improvement but I’ve been doing a lot more swimming lately so I’m sure that played a big part.

The swim started on the shore with everyone running in and swimming 50 meters to the first buoy. The swim was crowded getting to the first buoy with lots of kicking and running into people.

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But after turning left  to swim parallel to the shore I got into a good rhythm and passed a lot of people and things thinned out until turning toward shore at the last buoy.

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Then it was a run out of the water and up the beach.

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T1 (2:25, 2nd AG, 25th Overall)

It was a long run from the beach onto one of the condo decks and then through a fresh water shower.

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Nothing to exciting happened and I was off on the bike. 

Bike (1:06:22, 1st AG, 13th Overall)

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I had a very good bike ride averaging 23.1 mph for the 41km (just over 25 miles). The course was pancake flat but had some challenges with some wind and a stretch of 3 miles on some not so great roads.

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I had a race plan to stay in a specific heart rate range for the first 15 miles and I settled in and was cruising along comfortably at 21.8 mph with some headwinds during that section.

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The plan was to bump up the heart rated for the last ten miles and with a little help from the tail wind at sections and an increased effort I flew into transition averaging 25.7 mph for the last 10 miles!

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I passed a ton of people on the bike and when I passed someone 3 miles from transition I didn’t see anyone the rest of the ride and all the volunteers at the intersections seemed surprised to see me. I was thinking I might be in first place overall, but when I got near the bike finish I could hear the announcer saying I was 7th overall.

T2 (0:50 1st AG, 7th Overall)

I have been practicing my transitions the last two weeks and felt comfortable enough to doing the “flying dismount” coming into T2. This is where you slide your feet out of the shoes and then swing one leg over the bike so you are balancing on one side of the bike. Then you brake a bit and hop off running into the transition area. It’s much quicker then the alternative of stopping, unclipping your shoes and running into transition and then taking the shoes off. Here I am reaching down to slip one of my feet out.

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Run (45:23, 4th AG, 21 Overall)

The plan for the run was to start out at lower heart rate and build into a harder effort later into the run. Unfortunately I got a little too excited and ran a 6:30 min/mile pace for the first half mile which was faster then I should have.

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Being at the front of the race made the out section of the out and back course very empty but any local spectators and the people working the aid stations were very enthusiastic and cheering. I could see the guy ahead of me but he was about 1/4 mile ahead and pulling away from me so I had no chance of catching him. Also on this section I got passed about 2 mile into the race by someone not in my age group and he was going fast enough that it wasn’t worth trying to keep up.

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After the turn around I was able to see I had about a minute on a group of about 3 people behind me.

After the first two miles I was suppose to bump up the heart rate but because of my over excitement at the start and increasing heat (it got up to the high 80’s) my increased HR just meant I was staying at the same pace instead of speeding up.

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The back section of the course was tough and I was putting out a lot of effort and the crowds of people starting the run were very encouraging with good things to say. I did get passed by two more people in the last 2 miles but they had the 2nd and 3rd best run splits on the day and neither was in my age group so I don’t feel to bad about that. 

The finish line was nice with a clock over the finish and a small grandstand with spectators that was filled up.

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Post Race

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I stuck around to check out the results and saw I came in 11th and won my age group. Another benefit of staying at Sea Colony was I had enough time to go upstairs and drop my stuff off, take a shower and still go to post race picnic before the award ceremony.

The award ceremony was very nice, the race supports Make-A-Wish and before they gave out any of the race awards they recognized the top fundraisers. Some people raised more then $40,000 which is awesome. And for the awards they had Pearce give a speech about her wish granting experience and how much it meant to her. She also gave everyone their awards which was a nice backpack with the race logo and finishing place.

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I went back to condo to drop things off and then spend the rest of the day at the beach.

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Eagleman Race Report Part 1

5:51:27

This was my most disappointing triathlon race so far, I had a solid  four months of training this spring. I was 15 lbs lighter then last years race  and to have this dud of a race is very disappointing.  

Pre Race

Unlink most races the pre race activities were actually very busy for me. It was a very early morning with the alarm going off at 4am. I stayed in Salisbury so I had a half hour drive to the race site but because my Dad was volunteering at the race we got to park inside the Great Marsh Park and I could sit in the car and see my bike in the transition area.

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The problem was when I went put the rest of my racing stuff with my bike I was surprised to see that my back tire had blown out and gone flat. That’s not too big of a deal as it is usually just a quick inner tube change. But this was different, the wheel cover that I use to turn my power meter training wheel into an aerodynamic disc had cracked. I think the tire just blew out and the force cracked the plastic cover.

This left me with a difficult choice, I have an older deep section race wheel from before I got my power meter. So I could either take the cover off and use a standard wheel with the powertap or I could use my old race wheel and not have power to pace myself. I have ridden the course multiple times and had a good idea of what my goal watts should feel like so I decided to go with the aero wheel without power meter since it would give me the fastest setup. 

Swim 43:12

The other interesting prerace news was that the water was 79 degrees which means no wetsuits. That’s not a big deal for me, I’m a decent enough swimmer. It just means that I would swimming a few minutes slower.image

This year’s swim course was a bit different then last year. Everyone swam out to the end of the boat ramp and we had a deep water swim start.

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The swim start was actually very calm for a big Ironman and I only got kicked once or twice in the first couple hundred yards and then it was clear sailing until I would catch up to the stranglers in an early wave.

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I was feeling really good during the swim and took what I thought was a good line. So I was very disappointed when I got out of the water and saw 42 minutes, I was really expecting to see 35-36 minutes.

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I think what happened is I took the long way back to shore after the last turnaround. You can see what I’m talking about in the picture below. The red buoy is the swim finish and you can just make out the orange turn buoy if you look into the background. Instead of going right to the red buoy (which you are allowed to do) I tried to stay closer to the yellow sighting buoys which you can see obviously added some distance to my swim.

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T1 1:44

I didn’t have a wetsuit to take off so this was quick.

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Bike 2:34:20

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The race plan was to take it easy for the first half hour at around 210 watts for the first half hour and then go up to 220 watts for the rest of the ride. But because I didn’t have my powermeter I had to improvise and go by heart rate and perceived effort. I biked the course 3 times this spring and this was the calmest I have seen the wind.

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Being in one of the last waves the course can get really crowded and this year was no exception but most people were good about staying to the right and letting the faster people pass. I spent most of ride passing people and for the middle twenty miles found someone going about the same pace as me so I kept him about ten yards in front of me and let him make sure people were moving over to the right to pass.

I was expecting a big headwind like usually for the last 10-15 miles but it wasn’t there which was nice. Mentally it seemed like the bike just flew by and I was back to the park and done before I knew it.

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Because of the lack of wind I managed to average just under 22 mph for the ride which is a couple minutes faster then last year, but since I didn’t have the power data I don’t really know if this ride was truly better then last year or not.

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Looking at my hear rate chart I did a good job of following the plan I improvised and I don’t think this was what lead to my run performance. 

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T2 1:49

Another quick transition but the fact that my back is covered in dry salt from my sweat is a sign of the bad things that are on the way.

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Run Death March  2:30:22

This was a complete and utter disaster. 

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The plan was to run ~ 8 min miles for the first 3 miles to get my legs under me and then drop the pace down to 7:30. I didn’t feel to bad coming out of the transition and got through my first three miles at an 8:15 pace.

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I tried to pick up the pace up after three miles and my legs were having none of that so I settled back in at an 8 min per mile pace for next mile and then I just blew up.

This was the worst I have ever felt during a race, my legs would not let me run. The heat and humidity just wore me out and I was done. I was only able to run for a quarter mile at a time and then I would need to walk again. It was so frustrating because I knew from all my training I was capable of these paces and I wanted to keep running but it just wasn’t happening. It was a run/walk suffer fest for the next nine miles.

My heart rate would start to shoot through the roof when I would try to run at an easy pace and I would start see one or two spots out of the corner of my eye until I started to walk again. Once I got to mile 11 it turned into mostly walking for the next mile. 

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I walked until I got to the finish tunnel and then jogged down the finish line to a disappointing finish time .

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Post Race

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And this is where all the fun starts. But that will have to wait until part 2.