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Saturday, June 18, 2005

Eagleman Half Ironman

Race Date: June 12, 2005

Race day dawned with clear skies, high humidity and warm temperatures. The same as it had been for the past couple of days. Talk the day before the race was that wetsuits might not be allowed, because the water was very warm. I wondered if that would be the case.

I woke up around 4am and ate a PB&J on white bread. It was delicious and went down easy. I dressed in my Hammer Nutrition clothing and adorned it with a yellow ribbon my daughter gave to me. I also found a small bracelet in one of my bags that belonged to my daughter, which I wore on my right wrist. I finished putting my gear together and headed to the race site with another athlete from my Home Stay – Andy.

For this race, all of your gear was stored in a single location. The bike rack area was tight, but I managed get enough space and lay out my gear in the order I would need it. I was determined to have fast transition times.

I was in the 8th wave of the day. This consisted of men in the 40-44 Age Group whose last names started with the letters O-Z. This meant I had over an hour wait from the time that the professionals started the race.

The officials decided that wetsuits would be allowed, so I waited as long as possible to put on my wetsuit. I was sweating just standing around and didn’t want to make myself warmer than necessary. Finally, my wave was called to the starting line and I was able to get in the water to cool off and take a few strokes. Truth be told though, the first thing I really did was take a nice long piss – along with many other athlete I am sure. This was not a location where I wanted to put my face in the water.

I lined up in the front and sprinted at the sound of the horn. I only got kicked one time, in the mouth, and I felt a slight fat lip brewing. I hoped that the cool water would keep it from swelling.

Several times during the swim, I could smell diesel exhaust from nearby boats. The smell was a bit nauseating, but not too over bearing. I was having a good swim and no problems spotting the line of buoys. I made the turnaround point without a problem and was pleased to see only swim caps from the athletes who started the wave ahead of me. I picked up my pace and started to swim hard for the finish.

The swim exit was up a boat launch that was marked with two large red buoys. I found this to be the most difficult part of the swim. For the life of me I couldn’t line myself up between the two sides of the launch and I had to keep correcting my position. I felt like the Staten Island ferry that plowed into the dock of the marine terminal.

When I exited the water my HR was pounding at 96 percent of my max. This was way too high, so I tried to calm down and keep my wits about me. I found my transition spot without a problem. I had marked it with a medal my son won in a recent pee wee race.

I ran out of transition, hopped on my bike and headed out for the 56 mile ride ahead. I pulled on my cycling gloves as I settled into a rhythm and spit up some river water. My HR was still high, around 88 percent, but I was feeling very good. I decided to hold it at this level to see what happened.

Once I got going, I immediately started passing many riders. I passed some guy on a tan colored Felt, who took exception to my maneuver and soon re-passed me. We played this game of cat and mouse for a mile or so. Each time I passed him or he passed me, I made it more and more difficult for him. Eventually, I grew tired of the game, so I dropped the hammer and left him for good.

The next 50 miles consisted of gusting winds, high heat and hundreds of riders passed. For the entire ride, only two other riders passed me. I couldn’t have counted how many times I needed to warn a rider up ahead that I was about to pass on the left. Most riders that I passed offered encouragement and it made me feel real good.

I slipped out of my shoes on the last quarter mile of the bike and started to run through T2 as soon as my feet hit the ground. I made a good, clean change and made it out of T2 in just over 2 minutes. My HR was still high and my legs felt good. This was the high point of the run.

The next 13 miles could only be described as pure hell. It was brutally hot, humid and sunny. When the wind wasn’t blowing, I could feel my face starting to fry. You had no way to escape the heat. The black asphalt radiated it right up through your body. I looked forward to every water station that I could reach.

Despite the conditions, I was managing to hold it together. I didn’t really start suffering until I reach the turnaround point at the 6.5 mile mark. This is where I took my first walking break. I followed it up a short time later to take a piss on the side of the road. I could have held it in, but the urge to go gave me a nice excuse to take a time out.

I started thinking to myself how it would be possible for me to complete an Ironman race. What I was doing at the moment was so physically difficult and I was in such discomfit that I could not imagine completing a full Ironman. The miles were dragging on and the heat, sun and humidity were relentless.

As I started to reach mile 11, my mind was telling me to take a walking break. I desperately did not want to walk, but once I hit the water station my body stopped running and made me walk through it. I goaded myself by asking where my mental toughness was that I bragged about just a few days ago. After dumping a bunch of ice in my shirt I started to run again.

The death mile – mile 12. I only had 1 mile left, but I was reduced to walking. I thought for sure it would take me at least 20+ minutes to make it the remaining 1.1 miles if I could do it at all. I walked about 100 yards passed the 12 mile aid station and managed to get running again. When I started to hear the music at the finish line I somehow picked up my pace.

I finished the race strong, but completely wiped out. I walked over to the medical tent just in case I started a collapse. They let me lie down and gave me an ice pack to put behind my neck. After a few minutes I felt better and left.

Post Race –

I drank my recovery drink, grabbed some food and put my gear in the car. I then hung around for over 4 hours to find out if I won a spot to the Florida Ironman. I had to stay to the end to find out I missed it by 1 spot. I thought back to the sprint to the finish and I wondered if I only kicked and caught that one runner ahead of me, would I have gotten the spot.

I didn’t dwell on this misfortune as I had better things awaiting me. My Home Stay was also where Natasha Badmann, the winner of the female race, was staying. She was going to be at my Home Stay for a post race celebration. She is an amazingly nice person and I felt incredibly lucky to have been invited. I am not sure what good dead I done in my past to deserve such a treat. The evening consisted of great company, great food and beautiful surroundings. Natasha and her partner/coach answered any question and we spent the night discussing, racing, training, and life in general. I didn’t leave until close to 9pm with Jason, the person responsible for my good fortune.

Here are my race stats:

Data Value Unit
Duration 5:06:00
Sampling Rate 5 s

Energy Expenditure 4638 kcal
Number of Heart Beats 48667 beats
Recovery -81 beats
Minimum Heart Rate 82 bpm
Average Heart Rate 159 bpm
Maximum Heart Rate 183 bpm
Standard Deviation 9.4 bpm

Minimum Speed 0.5 mph
Average Speed 21.6 mph
Maximum Speed 28.5 mph
Distance 54.9 miles
Odometer 3162 miles

Minimum Altitude -1274 ft
Average Altitude -329 ft
Maximum Altitude -209 ft
Ascent 2360 ft

My official results.


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