Monday, June 13, 2011

Eagleman 2011

Okay it was hot, and long, but I lived!  Eagleman 2011 was my first Half Ironman (can we think of another name for that it seems like I only did half a race).  If people don't know the distance it is a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and a 13.1 mile run (for the math geeks double all that and you get a full Ironman distance).  Well the weekend started out well dinner Friday night with some friends at Jo Jo's Pizza where we basically talked about kids, and triathlons.  I got a good night sleep Friday, got up at a reasonable hour, and got the car loaded for the trip.  I went over to my British friend Ange's house, met up with her and her boyfriend, Jeff, and had a chat. I saw her new road bike which looks good.  Then we were off to Cambridge, Maryland.

We got to the expo around 2 or so, Ange and I signed our life away to the Columbia Triathlon Club (You actually have to sign a waiver saying you relinquish the right to sue any of the sponsors or the clubs or blah blah blah, I wonder if this would hold up in court, since suing is a right in this country). So I signed it got my race packet and my shirt.  We strolled through the expo, it wasn't too large, but they had some stuff, even though I didn't need anything.  We met up with Lindsey and James Leigh, and some other people we know from the Harrisburg area.  After the expo we went and racked our bikes, I got the race talk from Lindsey there, so I didn't have to go to the race talk at 5.  (Lindsay did this race like every year since it started or something like that, and I know the rules, like pass on the left stay to the right on the bike, swim to the left of the yellow buoys turn right at the double orange ones and so on and on).  Well anyways Ange, Jeff, Lisa, and I picked up one of Ange's many Australian friends Andy, who has done a number of these events, so we all caught up and went to the hotel.  We stayed at the Hampton Inn in Salisbury, Ange reserved the rooms in August or so, and for some reason they didn't have the rooms she requested.  I will stop there and if you want to hear the rest of that story ask Ange, she has some choice words for the hotel management that evening (some of them would probably be shite, rubbish, and other british words that most american wouldn't really know anyways).   

After we unpacked, we went to dinner at the Olive Garden, I had the chicken parmesan and endless bread sticks (they are free why not keep eating them).  Will after dinner Andy told me some horror stories of his at triathlon career, which I will not repeat (and Andy if you are reading this, I still don't blame the guy for hitting you in the head for 200 meters in Singapore).  Well after dinner we went back to the hotel and I got my stuff out and went over my check list, and packed everything up for the next morning.  Went to bed around 10 and slept well until 4:30 in the morning, then I got up and met up with Andy, Jeff, and Ange (Lisa stayed in the hotel with the baby, and she took Bex swimming in the hotel pool, and planned on going to the race later in the day so Bex wouldn't have to stay in the heat all morning) and we drove to the start. 

Well we got to the transition area sometime before 6:45 (that is the time it closed), I unpacked everything, filled up my tires with air, and dried off my bike. I double checked everything and went to meet up with Ange, she was just finishing her area up, and then we were out of the transition area, and the long wait until our start times.  We meet up with some other people we know from the Harrisburg area, had a chat or so and before we knew it, it was about time to start.  Ange started in the wave before me, and the waves were 8 minutes apart.  

For some reason at this point I got nervous, yes me Keith Evans the calmest guy some people know got nervous.  There was a 1.2 mile swim between me and my bike, I never swam that far in open water with a huge number of people starting with me.  I didn't know what to do I really didn't want to swim at this point, but you have to it is a triathlon.  I tried to calm myself down, and to tell myself I have done this distance before in the pool and at Pinchot Lake, but I kept thinking I never did this distance in a race.  I remember last year that in the Philly triathlon a person died in the sprint swim, I thought am I prepared for this.  Then for some reason, I remember a conversation that Couch Andy, from the HAMS, was having with Sean (I forget his last name so we will call him Sean), it was a conversation about distance swimming.  I remember Andy asking Sean "How long do you think you could swim without stopping?"  Sean seem to have thought about it for a while, and Andy answered "probably all day if you had to, and you weren't going all out." I thought to myself, you know if I can find a rhythm I could swim all day if I had too (or at least that is what I kept telling myself), it won't be pretty, and I may zig zag a bit, but I can swim for at least an hour if I had to.  So I calmed myself down to get into the water, and we got in from the boat loading area, and the water was about 6ft deep in the entrance, and the nerves came right back.  I said oh crap I have to treed water for 6 minutes until the wave starts!?!  Well we got a little farther out and the water got shallower and I was okay again.  I heard the announcer say 3 minute till the start, and I decided to swim a little about 20 yard just to see how my stroke was (this was because at Mt. Grenta I couldn't find a stroke until the last 100 yards or so), it was good and I felt ready, the nerves seems to have gone away for the swim.  I started way in the back, and eventually the gun went off and we started.  

The swim is sort of a shape of an upside down U, you swim down X yards you turn right and swim Y yards and you then turn right and swim Z yards to get out of the water (and for the math nerds x + y + z = 1.2 miles and 2X + 2Y + 2Z I hear equals the swim at Chesapeake Man) The X swim went really well I was probably swimming with the stream and the swim couldn't have been easier.  I was even passing a few people (yes me the guy you learned how to swim 18 months ago was passing people in his first ever half ironman).  We got to the first turn and this is where the water got choppy, but I stayed calm and just kept swimming I did break rhythm once or twice, and got a foot in the nose and the stomach, but I survived, and then the Z leg happened and that was a little tougher but I fought through it and eventually got out of the water in about 49 minutes or so.  I was kind of expecting to be out of the water in 45 minutes, but 4 extra minutes I can make up somewhere else.  

I got out of the water and off to my bike, thinking to myself why the hell was I scared of that, it was long and somewhat tiresome but it wasn't that bad.  So I got to the transition, ate a gel and drank some gatorade and then I got my bike shoes on and out of the transition I went.  Got on to my bike and hoped for the best (which was no flat tires, and I had Ange praying for me so I knew I would be ok).  About 10 miles in to the ride my stomach started hurt, and I knew I needed to stop to go to the bathroom, the stop took about 2 minutes of my time, while getting back on the bike I grab some Cliff shots and off I went.   I grab some gatorade at the next water station, and hoping I won't have to stop anymore for the race.  I was successful until about mile 45 or so, were I lost a spoke on my front wheel.  Damn I thought, my bike has been a real pain this year first the shifter and then the front deraileur, and now this.  Anyways I fixed that and off I went.  I finally got back to transition and my watch only said 3:07:52 (yes I had my watch for this race, it didn't fall off in the beginning).  I wanted to be off the bike in 3:30 so I accomplished that and made up the time I was off on the swim.  People told me it was flat, but I didn't think it was that flat, I mean pancakes are not that flat.  Got my bike shoes off and my helmet off, and put on the old faithful running shoes.

I was off on my favorite leg, and the leg that most people hate for some reason.  It was hot now, and I knew I would need to take on plenty of fluids for the run.  Before I left transition I grab some more shot blocks and I started chewing them on the way out.  I was running about a 7:45 pace or so for the first part and then the heat got to me I walked at every water station to drink gatorade and water, and to pour the ice down my tri suit.  At about mile 4 I grab a hand full of gels, and decided to eat one every time I made it to a water station.  I kept running water station to water station, and eventually got back to the end, I ran about 1:45:09 according to my watch, which was about were I wanted to be.  I kind of did a best worse case for the run, since I didn't know how I would do running in that heat or how I would do after a 56 mile bike ride.  I was hoping for about 1:35 or so for the best case and 2:00 for the worse case.  So I was somewhere in between.  I was also told I was smiling on the run (I rarely smile when I race so I must have been happy which is a bonus).  I did feel happy for most of the run, I was telling them "good job", "they can do it", and other positive sayings.   Actually come to think of this except for the bathroom break and the broken spoke I was having a really good time.  I got back in one piece.  I didn't feel like crap either, not that I wasn't completely tired, but I wasn't completely dead. I finished in a respectable time 5:49, I think it was respectable anyways.

I walked through the finishing area, found my beautiful wife, and the cutest baby ever, Bex.  I signed up for a massage and waited for about 20 minutes for one, and it was great.  I grabbed a Pepsi, and ran into James and Lindsey we had a chat about the race and looked forward to the next races.  I have Musselman next in July which is another half ironman, then the Nation's Triathlon in September which is my fund raising for Team in Training, and if you have some spare money laying around (I know that it is rare to have money laying around when the economy is like it is) please think of donating.  Team in Training is part of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society which raises money for blood cancer research, and helping services for people fighting blood cancer.  I am racing in memory of my Aunt Dotty's granddaughter Adrienne, who lost her battle with Leukemia at the age of 10, please visit my fund raising page at  Or if you would be interested in doing an event for Team in Training let me know and I will get you in contact with some of the fine people at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Well to end the day, the ride home took about 5 hours since there was a storm, and a few accidents, but eventually we got home, and got to bed, and noticed how burnt I was.  Note to self sun block on the back next time the tri suit doesn't cover all the back.