The song “Hot, Hot Hot” aint got nothing on race day at Eagleman. For some reason, every year the weekend of Eagleman, the temperature rises to levels in between white hot flame and molten lava. To put It in perspective, the week before the temperatures were 74 degrees and perfect and the days after Eagleman the temps went back down to 76 degrees. So what were they on the race day? A nice cool 96 degrees with the feeling of 114 coming off the asphalt. Yeah, fun race conditions. But you know what, everyone had to deal with the same elements so we were all in the same boat.
How’d the race go? Let’s find out.
I headed down to Maryland Saturday morning on a 4.5 hour drive to get there, check in, get my packet, rack my bike, and get in a practice swim. I was able to practice in my Speedsuit just in case the water temps became nonwetsuit legal. I was freaking out about it all week, since clearly swimming with a wetsuit makes you faster. After having a quick dinner by myself, I headed back to my hotel to try and get some sleep
By the time I woke up at 3:45am, it was already 82 degrees outside. Since I stayed about 30 minutes away from the race, I grabbed a cup of coffee and headed to the venue. I have to say, it was a very nice drive and got my nerves to calm down. Once at the venue, I set up my transition area, met some of my Big Sexy Racing teammates and a few others that I knew and just relaxed. With the Pro’s going off at 6:45 and my wave going off at 7:16, I didn’t have too long to sit there and bake in the sun. So I jump in the practice swim area and warmed up and was ready to go.
My goal for the swim was to go under 36 minutes. It’s not a great time, but I still haven’t became a great swimmer so I knew I could make up time on the bike and run if I stayed in that range. The swim bouys were set up about every 100 yards so I felt great and was just mentally checking off bouys in my head and counting down until the swim was over. Looking at my watch every so often I knew I was having a good swim for me. I wasn’t flying, but the swim felt easy so I was happy. The water so so shallow that by the time we got to about 75 yards out, everyone starting walking. Not me. I learned my lesson a few years ago. So I kept swimming and dolphin diving and passing a lot of people. I have no clue why people were just walking and making it harder for them.
Swim time: 35 minutes
This course is flat. When I say flat, I mean like so flat that a teenage boy with a face full of pimples has more bumps on it than the course. So it was time to get on my bike and go. All my long rides this year have seen me average about 23-24 mph on a much hillier course so I really wanted to test my bike skills here. After the first few miles clicked off, I was in this some times things felt great and I was cruising at 27-28 mph, and others, I was struggling to keep a 19 mph pace. I have no clue as to what was going on. Not to mention I had to stop for about 30 seconds since the shield on my aerohelmet came off and I had to clip it back on. So weird. That has never happened. Anyway, I felt good until about mile 43 and then just couldn’t keep a good rhythm going. After that, I was struggling. My fluids and gels were on point so I know it wasn’t that, so it was probably the heat affecting me. But, I was able to crank out the last 13 miles and get on to the run.
This is where I wanted to be. Heading out onto the run and catching as many people as I could. The only problem with this is that it was soooooo hot at this point everyone, including myself, was so drained from the heat. Normally, I am ok in the heat and can run through it. Not here. I knew within the first 2 miles it was going to be a brutal run. At that point, it was just get to the next aid station, grab sponges, ice, water and douse myself to keep my body temp down. While I was running, I was able to hold a 6:50 mile pace but I spent so much time at each aid station that my miles ended being about 8 minute miles. I didn’t care. I needed to cool down no matter what. And when I saw pro’s walking, I didn’t feel bad either. Anyway, as slow as I was going, I was still able to pick off 25 people in my age group and manage the 11th fastest run time of the day. Kind of weird since it was 20 minutes of my PR. Like I said earlier, everyone had to deal with the elements.
Overall, it was not my best race day, but it was good considering the heat. I wanted a higher Age Place but it was not in the cards and there were some quality racers this year. I was able to meet a bunch of my Big Sexy teammates and was actually the first finisher so I’m glad I got to represent that way. All in all, I’m happy I did the race and would recommend anyone do Eagleman.