Before you read on, click to listen to That Smell while you read.
Eagleman is a big weekend full of planning, schedules, preparations, people, fun, and racing. The excitement builds until one is nearly exhausted by the time the race starts at 0645, but not really. Racing jitters go away after one finds his rhythm on the swim.
I had a plan, an actual printed out piece of paper with my plan for this race starting on Thursday...what to eat, when to go to bed, when to be where. There was volunteering on Friday afternoon at the packet pick up, a great way to meet other athletes. The Expo and talks were fun at the Ironman village set up at Sailwinds Park. Final anti-jitter swim and bike at T1-Bike-Racking on Saturday afternoon led me back to Wittman for a planned 7pm bedtime. Well, I was packed, dog fed and walked and in bed by a little after 9...oh well. Up at 0200 for a meal, back to bed. Up for good at 0400 and out the door by..."Oooooh that Smell, Can't you smell that smell...."
At 0600 my transition was set up and I was checking things off my paper list. ANNOUNCEMENT: "This will be a wetsuit illegal race" and "men must wear a shirt on the swim". As the panic rose through transition, I shifted gears a bit with wardrobe and was set to go. Pictures with team was followed by my first gel and water as I entered the Choptank for my warmup. Luckily I could hear the DJ/Ironman announcer from out in the middle of Hambrooks Bay and realized they were starting every wave 5 minutes early from their posted times. I made it back to shore, climbed the rocks, ran to the boatramp entrance and caught my wave setting up for the start. I went to the far buoy of the starting line...alone....no one within 80 feet of me. The other 150+ of my friends were crammed at the other end of the line...what a mess. Horn blew and we were off. Finding my own rhythm in a bout 2 minutes I found a potential draftee. He was slightly faster than me...perfect. I successfully drafted him for most of the race, following his tiny bubbles made by his hands. Drafting helps: less sighting and its faster.
We swam into 2 or 3 waves, maybe 4. I couldn't see very well with some fog in my goggles and bright sunshine and poor vision to start with. One could stand at any point of the swim course. Near the finish it was very shallow and some people were walking instead of swimming; swimming was faster. This was a PR for me with a non wetsuit swim of 38:42. I was 19 of 158 in the swim.
I heard my name as I came out of the water and slapped a few hands of friends going into transition. So much fun, but my heartrate (HR) was racing. Off on the bike the goal was to hydrate/nourish for the upcoming run, but first I needed to slow it down and get the HR down to a reasonable low zone. The ultimate dangerous carrot was having my coach, Tracy MacCherola, pass me on the bike while I was slowing it down in the beginning. Despite the urge to hammer it and chase her (can you imagine the email on that one), I was good and stuck to my plan.
Lower Dorchester County and Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge rock! Gorgeous! The wind went exactly as I saw was predicted. It was in our face most of the way to mile 30, with the exception of some time on the Hudson Road and the last part of Dailsville Road. Then things got faster, especially on the Golden Hill and Egypt Roads; I was hitting 25's. The ride was quick and done before I knew it. I had my thoughts in my fuel, but didn't execute very well; I misjudged my hydration and got off the bike in a hydration deficit. PR EM bike at 2:37:06....Yay!! At this point there was potential for me to break five hours in EM. Was it to happen?.....
An aside: There's a young professional triathlete, Jesse Thomas, who I met at Poconos 70.3 (he won). He was here at EM this year and became the champion of the alternative 81.3 course. Yes, he missed the Smithville turn while looking at a friend in the penalty tent, then proceeded to tour Taylor's Island....11 miles out of his way.
A great bike dismount was met by cheers for CMS (me) and I elbow-high-fived to Brad and Jim and friends. Awesome! Felt some pains in my legs dropping my bike off. BAM, left ham and right quad were yelling at me to not run. Boy did they yell. Despite this pain, I kissed Carita before leaving Great Marsh Park, off for 13 fun miles with legs that were under hydrated...I was in trouble.
"...one little problem that confronts you,.....got a monkey on your back,.... " go with the plan. Slow down the HR for miles 1 and 2, zone 2 for miles 3 and 4, then the run will unfold well from there. AND, there was a good moment there after mile 4, but it was just a moment. I hydrated and fueled well enough during the run to stay out of further decline physically. But, the clock was ticking and I was only making 9:30 miles, if that. I kept running and never stopped except to drink fluids at the aid stations.
The aid stations were great; kids and adults all working together to help the athletes. Every kid wanted us to take her cup of refreshment. And, there may have been a CMS member at nearly every aid station. So good to see everyone, sorry if I seemed too out of it to say a proper hello, especially to Nita and Beth.
Mile 12 was my hardest, "....Just one more fix (mile), Lord,..... might do the trick..., One hell of a price for you to get your kicks!...." The finish mile was easier that I thought. Reinke at the corner and Trevor...Dean somewhere and others...I could only manage a mouthed "O M G". But I think I smiled too. The finish chute was a welcome scene...Laura, Carita to the right, water in hand, finish medal around neck, timing chip off, Coach Tracy, more water, photo with Tracy on podium, new finish hat and shirt....all great.
I had disappointment to not meet a target. My time was 5:24:45...a great time, but I wanted more. It took me a while to shake the feeling, but I got there. I was puzzled about my legs and there was a lot of speculation, but I'm sure it was hydration. Maybe a culmination of other things too, but, hey, it was a great race. I learned to not focus so much on my time; it took too much away from the event for me. Luckily, I will have all this figured out by July 27th for Ironman Lake Placid.
There are sooooo many people I love and appreciate for their support on this weekend. You know who you are...family, CMS teammates, friends, Coaches, organizers, and my fellow athletes and volunteers. This is an awesome event that we're all blessed to have in our lives.
So much fun to have the CMS team and supporters all over the EM course. Congratulations to all the CMS'ers who raced yesterday. AND, to all of you who are pondering whether to do Eagleman next year, Lynyrd Skynyrd says it best, "....say you'll be alright come tomorrow,..... but tomorrow might not be here for you.... HEY YOU!" SIGN UP FOR EM 2015!!! Cheers.