a Bri Gaal's Blog: Eagleman Weekend

Monday, June 9, 2008

Eagleman Weekend

Did you all like the hacker that got into my account yesterday morning?!

What can I say? It was hard to get excited for a race when I knew I wasn’t doing the whole thing. It was fun watching everyone else come out of the swim before I finally made my way over to the start of my wave, the final of the day. The water temperature was 76! I was glad that I had a sleeveless wetsuit on. Waiting to get into the water we were all sweating bullets and it was very refreshing to make our way to the line. I lined up front and center…with no one else. There were a couple of people who lined up near the buoys, but everyone else just kind of idled several feet behind the line. I realized that the start was not going to be cutthroat at all. The horn blew and I took off. I saw an athlete off to my side who was obviously swimming at warp speed but not many others. I had clear water and just tried to get into a groove. I never had anyone to draft off and tried to pull hard, but I’m still unsure of what exactly ‘hard’ is in the open water. The first turn buoy was quite a challenge to see since the sun was right behind it, but I don’t think I got too far off course. I swam through waves ahead of me, but everyone was pretty strung out so it never got terribly crowded until the last turn buoy. And now a Public Service Announcement: Breastroking around a buoy is not advisable. It not only slows your forward progress down greatly, but it also increases the chance of one of your fellow competitors getting an unexpected kick to the stomach. Please keep swimming and turn by sweeping your hand under and across your body thereby turning your entire body. Thank you.

I got out of the water and for some reason had it in my head that I wanted to be under 30 min. I glanced at my watch and realized I had just missed that mark. By the time I crossed the official timing mat I was more around 30:40. Oh well, still a PR for the distance.

I ran into transition which was quite a far ways, and finally got to my bike which was one of the first racks at the bike exit. My foot did hurt, but that is not going to stop from running 10 minutes tomorrow. I’m sick of this.

Here I am running out of transition with my bike.

Off on the bike after navigating and waiting for some dude to take his time getting through the chute. The first five miles didn’t feel all that good, but I figured I was just warming up. The next five miles also didn’t feel all that good but I pushed harder. And so it went. I passed a ton of people out there but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going fast. Since I don’t have a computer on my bike I was trying to judge how fast I was going by 5 mile splits. I was on track for about a 2:35 split, which I realize is not stellar (especially since I would be done after that) but it’s all I could do. Then my lack of long rides hit me around mile 45. I was expecting this and knew I would lose some power, but what I didn’t think about was the lack of long rides in the aero position. My back and neck were killing me. The last 10 miles were very tough for me. I resigned to sitting up on the bars and stretching. My saddle and I also had a huge fight out there and I don’t foresee reconciliation in the near future. He hurt me and I’m mad at him. I know I lost a lot of time the last 10 miles, but there really wasn’t any way around it. I was not super psyched up which can help you through the pain in big races, I really just wanted to get off the friggin’ bike! Around mile 48 another competitor in the aquavelo passed me and I just watched her go. That is so not my style in any type of competitive arena and now I’m disappointed in myself for it, but when I think about how I felt, I know there was nothing I could do. I came upon the transition finally and decided that taking my feet out of my shoes and hopping off on the concrete would probably be one of the stupidest decisions with my foot right now. So I did it the slow old fashioned way and racked my bike. Then I kind of stood there and was like, huh, I guess that’s it? Some guy walked over and put a medal around my neck and I went and found food and Marty. My shorts were caked in salt and I couldn’t even begin to imagine running at that point. I would like to think that if I was doing the entire 70.3, I would’ve been more prepared, but right then all I wanted to do was sit down and drink coke. Bike split was 2:40:45. Didn't see much drafting back where I was which was nice.

So things I thought about on the course. Why did I sign up for this?! I have done 3 half ironmans before – 2 miserable experiences at the Duke Half (2004 & 2005) and one okay experience at White Lake last year. That one was still miserable, but I was in good shape so I was able to limit the pain and torture. I have never been a very good long distance anything – I can’t fake that stuff. Even long runs! My longest run to date is 13.1 miles and my pr comes from White Lake :) My longest bike ever in my life is 75 miles. I just don’t like sitting on that thing for that long. I think that it’s easy to get caught up in the 70.3/ironman following. Hawaii is like the holy grail of triathlon, but it doesn’t have to be and I’m not sure it ever will be for me. I read a lot of blogs and get excited for the long stuff and then of course how can you not get excited when you watch the broadcast? I truly think that if I had a lot of time and really trained very meticulously I could do well – but for the most part I am happiest doing sprints and Olympics. And right now I would be happy just to be out there competing for the entire time! A huge congratulations to all competitors yesterday – you are all my heroes for slugging it out in what had to be one of the toughest on record for that race.

Marty and I hung around a bit after I was finished but soon packed up the car and started our drive home. We decided to take a bit of detour and check out Ocean City, Maryland for future summers, but decided pretty quickly it wasn’t our scene. We walked on the boardwalk for a bit and got a burger and generally just enjoyed the ocean and each other’s company. We also looked very cool; me in my very bright, obnoxiously colored Eagleman race t-shirt (and I still had on the sports bra I raced in!!), all numbered up and smelling like…I’m not sure but think of the worst smelling thing and that was me. And Marty in his big floppy hat that made him look like he was ready for a safari. We milled around with the 17 year olds in their bikini’s and ball caps.
Not to be too complainy, but I have to be honest I was a bit disappointed in the race itself. I guess my expectations were high seeing as it is such a popular race and it sells out so quickly. The swim was nice enough but the bike was boring and a lot of the roads were choppy. And the run just looked miserable. Even without the oppressive heat, just out and back on blacktop and not much scenery so to speak. Sometimes I don’t understand why races are so popular when there are lots of other races that have nicer courses and venues. The set up was fantastic, as were the volunteers and no complaints there. I imagine a lot of it has to do with the fact it’s a qualifier for Hawaii as well as it being around for a long time.

I was pretty tired on the drive home and Marty graciously carted me up and back so I could relax in the passenger seat. We finally got home a little after 10 where I promptly went to bed and was asleep about 1 minute later. No morning swim for me this morning! I barely moved until my alarm went off at 7am.


At June 9, 2008 10:46 PM , Blogger Courtenay said...


i am in maryland right now and it's f'ing HOT. i have no idea how anyone could race in this nonsense. great job!

i like the 70.3 distance quite a lot but i think if i hadn't come to the sport from bike racing i might not have the patience for it. i have logged a lot of long days on the bike and i love it. also there's something so peaceful about just focusing on yourself out there, without worrying constantly about someone attacking or who's in the break or sprint points or GC standings or blah blah blah. but like i said, that's my perspective.

also, if i could swim like you i'd probably love the shorter faster (and therefore in several ways funner) sprint and olympic races way better.

and i agree with you on the scenery factor in races. i haven't done eagleman but i grew up partially in maryland - there are areas of the eastern shore that are just gorgeous, and others that are pretty boring. and there aren't any hills to spice things up.

At June 10, 2008 4:58 PM , Blogger The Tylers said...

I am very proud of you Bri! You just sound really discouraged from your injury...please hang in there and don't be a quitter like me:)!

I do love your racing report. Take care of yourself and don't overdo it. Keep the updates coming.

At June 10, 2008 5:50 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good job, Bri. I am sure it was not easy NOT to run...but I am glad you made the best out of it. :) Congrats on your PR swim! Jen H.

At June 10, 2008 6:23 PM , Blogger Beth said...

I can understand how hard it is to get "up" for races and even training when you have an injury holding you back. I have spent MANY a season with just this problem! But hang in there because it will get better...usually when you least expect it!!

Either way, great job for getting out there at Eagleman and still getting in a great race effort! And a swim PR to boot! Congrats!

At June 13, 2008 9:08 AM , Blogger Kona Shelley said...

Great job, it was a tough tough day out there..but finishing sure is sweet on days like that!

At June 14, 2008 5:07 PM , Blogger Maijaleena said...

Congrats on your swim PR and toughing it out on that tough Eagleman bike course. I did it in 2005, and just because it is flat that doesn't make it easy!

I feel the same way you do about 70.3 and ironman. I have done 4 of them. 1 was good (Duke Half 2003), 1 was so-so (Timberman 2007), and 2 were down right miserable experiences (Eagleman 2005 and White Lake 2003). Everyone once in while I get the itch to do one, and then I remember that they were really not that much fun and that is why I am doing this, so I just stick to the Olympic and shorter for now. In a couple more years I may try another and maybe it will be fun then.


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