2013 Eagleman 70.3 Race Review

Prerace preparation

Race morning

We got up at 4:00am and I had my breakfast.  I had a new nutrition plan this year.  I’ve never bonked, but I almost always have a locked up stomach after my 70.3 races.  After a lot of researching into this, I decided to try 2 new things for this race.  First, I wasn’t going to eat as much before the race.  I’m always terrified of being short on calories, but the information I had read lately made my question if I had been eating too much on race morning.  My typical routine had been to drink 2.5-3 Ensure plus, eat a banana and a bagel about 5 hours before the race start.  Then I’d get up and have breakfast (usually oatmeal, a bagel, a banana, and water) about 2 hours before race time.  However, this year, I cut out the midnight meal entirely and went solely on a breakfast.  For this race, I had two Ensure Plus, two bananas, and water.  I had calculated that this should top off my glycogen stores and give me enough fuel for the 4-5 hours of upcoming racing.

We were on the road by 4:45 with the intent to make it to the transition area by 5:45.  I wanted to make sure I was there by 6am at the latest so that I had an hour to set up my transition area.  Note to anyone thinking of doing this race: don’t drag your feet on getting a hotel.  If you got in, you signed up for the race early, go ahead and get a hotel too.  I waited and had to stay over near Delaware.  It wasn’t terrible, but it definitely would make things easier if we didn’t have to stay so far away.

So, anyways, we were on the road at 4:45 and we made it to transition in plenty of time.  Parking was known to be somewhat scarce at this even, but we didn’t have much of a problem.  We parked at Mace’s Lane Middle school and took the bus to the event.  It really wasn’t any issue as there was plenty of space and the buses were stacked up waiting on us all to arrive.  We made it to the transition and quickly realized this was going to be an interesting day.  The transition area was already a complete mud pit.

I got bodymarked, found my rack spot and set up my transition area.  Then I went and finished the tent setup for our families in the driest area I could find.

The Swim

Short Version: Goal 30:00, Actual 39:34

The race was wetsuit legal, but I decided to try something a bit different and see if it helps my swim performance.  I had a theory that perhaps I was a bit uncomfortable or claustrophobic in my wetsuit, so I was going to do this race in a speedsuit only.  So, I donned my speedsuit and Bryan got his wetsuit on, we watched the pros take off, and we waited for our waves to go off at 7:40 and 7:45.  Thankfully the water was smooth.  I heard other people say that it was the smoothest they’ve ever seen it.  I have to say the conditions were perfect.  Very little current, only a slight wind, perfect temperatures, and no rain in the forecast.

The time came, the gun went off and it was time to hit it.  I told myself to swim within my abilities.  The way I had been performing at swim practice, I felt like I could sit back, swim a comfortable pace, not tax myself too much, and come out of the water with good energy and a decent time.  The first leg of the swim is nearly directly into the sun, but it didn’t turn out to be much of an issue.  The second leg was across the current and the bad news was that just as I approached the second turn, the buoy broke loose.  The course marshals were yelling to go ahead and turn because the turn wasn’t really marked.  As I made the turn, they started yelling that we had to go back and go around the buoy.  So, I had to turn around after they had already directed me otherwise and backtrack to go around the buoy that they had newly secured.  I want to make sure I don’t get any penalties (or worse DQ) so I turned around and caught the last turn buoy and headed down the backstretch to the swim finish.  I swam all the way until I could stand up and I checked my watch as i stood up.  39:xx

What?!?  What just happened?  I still to this day have no idea why the swim took so long.  My Garmin data doesn’t say that I swam too long, so my only guess is that I just took it way too easy.  However, I got out of the water feeling good, so now that I had survived the hard part (for me), it was time to race.  I slide my speed suit down off my shoulders and ran on to the transition area.


Time: 1:20 – 15th overall

I jumped out of the water feeling good.  I ran on up to my bike and stripped off my hat and goggles.  I put on my sunglasses and helmet, took two Enduralytes, grabbed my bike and I was on my way.  I sloshed through the mud carrying my bike so that I kept the mud off of it.  There’s a picture of me coming out of T1 with mud up above my knees.  It was the muddiest race I’ve ever seen.  I hopped on the bike and tried to get into rhythm.


Short Version: Goal 2:15-2:20, Actual: 2:21:08

I knew the bike was going to be flat and fast.  I had hoped to hold just over 24mph and I knew I could do it based on my previous workouts.  But, I had to convince myself to hold back at the beginning.  it’s so easy to jump on there and start cranking out 27-28mph.  It feels so easy and so good at first.  I don’t have a power meter, so I watched my speed for the first 30 minutes.  Just as I get out of the water my heart rate is always high when I first hop on the bike, so I knew that I couldn’t rely on my HR at the start.  So, I tried to hold an average of 25 through the opening portions of the bike and I did a good job as my first 4 miles clicked off at 10 minutes exactly and then the next two were at 9:41 and 9:41.  However, I had one major problem that I just realized once I got the bike rolling.  My heart rate monitor wasn’t working at all.  I didn’t have false signals.  I didn’t have anything at all.  It wasn’t too much of an issue as I have trained enough to know what it feels like to race at my intended exertion, but it’s very frustrating to have your gear fail you when you count on it.  My plan was to hold my HR at 155 for the balance of the bike.  Instead, I ended racing off of perceived exertion.  I held a pretty constant pace as my first 9 splits (I auto split every 4 miles) were all just below 10 minutes.  However, after that, I faded a bit and my last 5 splits were all just over 10 minutes.  It could have been fatigue or it could have been inability to hold a constant pace without seeing heart rate.  Since I don’t have the heart rate data nor power, it’s nearly impossible to differentiate and determine what caused the drop in pace.

Because I started late, there were lots and lots of people on the bike course before me.  That gave me a lot of people to pass out on the course so I had no lack of company out there.  I was able to keep my energy high and keep my fluid intake and nutrition on track.  On the course I had 4 scoops of Perpetuem, 3 powerbar gels, 8 Endurolytes, and about 80 oz of water.

I finished the bike course feeling relatively good I thought.  However, coming off the bike, my quad cramped just a bit when my feet hit the ground.  I dreaded what was about to happen.


Actual: 1:45

Jumping off the bike and into the slop wasn’t a very good feeling.  I once again carried my bike through the mud, but because of all the extra traffic through there, it was much worse than when I left.  It was really a mud pit now.  I carried my bike all the way to the rack this time.  At this point I noticed another big issue.  I had something around my waist…. my speed suit.  I never took it off in T1.  How stupid.  Oh well, I slid it off now and moved on.

I had no idea how to run through this, but I had no option.  I slid my socks on top of my mud covered feet and slipped my feet into my shoes.  This was going to be interesting.


Goal: sub 1:40, Actual: 1:46:00

As I came out onto the run course, my plan was to hold back at the beginning and I expected that holding back would set me up for 7:30s for the first 3-4 miles.  Then I was going to run by heart rate until mile 10 or so at which I would give what bit I had left.  That was the plan.  Of course, just like the rest of the race, nothing goes to plan.  My heart rate monitor still didn’t work, so I had nothing to go on other than perceived exertion.  I was holding back and my first mile went by at 7:02.  I had planned to pick up gatorade at each aid station and switch to Coke around mile 8 and then play it by ear from that point by what I felt like I needed at the moment.

Miles 2 and 3 went by at 7:30s and then miles 4 and 5 slipped back a bit to 7:45s.  By mile 4 I started to realize my feet weren’t feeling very good and my level of exertion was a little higher than I had planned for it to be.  This is an out an back course so it’s really the first time in the race to see where you stand relative to others.  My friend Bryan that I mentioned earlier is also in my age group and we’re almost always very close to each other in the standings.  He started in the wave behind me, so I knew I’d be looking to see where I stood at the turn around.  I made it through the first 6 miles and I was really starting to heat up and my feet were becoming painful.

I hit the turn and that’s when things started to go a bit south for me.  My first mile over 8:00 was mile 7 at 8:16.  I watched to make sure I was at least 5 minutes ahead of Bryan and after that, I lost track of exactly where he was and how far ahead of him I was.  I dd see him and he looked like he was running well, so I tried to keep my pace up, but my run was failing me.  The back half of my run only had one split that was less than 8:00 and it was exactly 8:00.  The rest were between 8:14 and 8:54.  The pain in my feet as I ground the dirt and grime into my skin was becoming worse with every step.  At this point, I just wanted it to be over, so it was a struggle just to keep moving.

I keep my feet moving and I finished it out.  I was happy to be done and I was actually hungry (which I had never been before b/c my stomach was always locked up at the end of every previous 70.3 race).  I wanted to get off my feet, but I was terrified to take my shoes off and see what was waiting for me under my socks.  Once I found my wife and grabbed a bit of food (well, truth be told it was a lot of food, but it only took me about 2 minutes to scarf it all down), I made my way back to my tent and got my shoes off.  It was bad.  It was really bad.  My feet were completely covered in blisters.  I had blisters running across the outer ridge of both feet from just behind the toes nearly to the heal.  There were also large blisters across the middle of my forefoot where I land.  Thankfully none of them were popped, but it was painful nonetheless and I knew it would take quite a while to heal them all.

Finish time: 4:49:47

Nutrition Plan:

As I hinted at earlier, this race came with a new attempt at correcting my minor nutrition flaws.  After reading multiple stories about what different pros eat, I felt that I was probably eating too much prior to the race.  I wanted to take in around 600-800 calories at breakfast and then 1000-1500 more during the race.

So, my breakfast was two bananas, two ensure plus and water about 3.5 hours before my start time.  After that, I drank water as needed and took a bottle of gatorade to drink for the last few minutes before the start.  I had read several places that low salt intake can also cause the symptoms I usually experienced (locked up stomach), so I added a bit of salt to my plans.

During the race, I took two Enduralytes in T1.  I wanted to take in between 1000 and 1500 calories during the race and I wanted to take 2/3 of that in during the bike portion.  My bike bottle contained 4 scoops of perpetuem, 3 powerbar gels, and 8 Enduralyte capsules for a total of 850 calories.  I planned to use this as my nutrition and drink water as thirst required.  For the run, I didn’t carry anything, but planned to grab gatorade for each stop and coke as the run dragged on for caffeine and sodium.  I ended up drinking about 8 small cups (cups as in Dixie cups) of gatorade and 4 small cups of Coke for what I’m guessing is around 300 calories.

The good news is that all the changes seemed to work well together.  My stomach had no issues taking everything in and processing it as it didn’t lock up at all.  In fact, I was actually hungry not too long after the race which is a first for me.  The only minor adjustment I might make would be to find a way to get a bit more water in.  I was a bit thirsty at times on the bike and this was partially due to my bottle setup on my bike.  I have one cage between my arms and one cage on my frame, so I’m limited to two bottles.  One of those is my nutrition and that means only one is pure water, so I depend on the aid stations to fill up my water.  I was never truly overly thirsty, but I felt that if I had been better hydrated perhaps the end of my run might have gone a bit better as it was overheating toward the end of the race.


I obviously missed my goal, but I can’t be too upset.  I had expected to PR b/c it was such an easy course, but it didn’t happen.  The upside is that I can locate where I lost the time I hadn’t expected to.  My swim was 39 minutes.  I know I can swim 1.2 miles in around 30 minutes (I’d have to average 1:25 per 100 yards to get 30:00).  This year, I swam olympic open water (no wetsuit or speed suit) at 25:30 which is just a touch over the 30 minute pace.  So a 30-32 is realistic I believe.

On the bike, I know having the speed suit hanging around my waist and dragging all the way around didn’t help me any.  I can’t say how much it hurt, but my goal was to finish under 2:20 (above 24mph).  My watch showed that I finished just under 2:20, but the official clock said just over.  Either way, I’m confident that if I hadn’t made that mistake, it would have made me faster.  Perhaps not much, but even if I gained 30 seconds, that would have easily met my goal.

For the run, once again, I know I can run under 1:40.  The challenge for me is doing that at the end of a 70.3 race.  I need to average 7:38 per mile to hit that goal.  I also need to be able to hold my heart rate down while doing so.  I can do that in training, but I think my flaw this year was lack of bike training.  I know that seems counter intuitive, but I think my run suffered b/c I wasn’t in the shape I needed to be to pull off the bike.  I had put too much fatigue into my legs to hit the run target I wanted.

So, if I pull myself together by picking the intensity up on the swim, execute my transition correctly, and do the bike training I had planned, I believe a 4:30 would be a realistic race goal for me.  So, now I know my mistakes in this race.  Time to focus on finishing out this season strong so that I can recover and rest up for making another run at it next year.


Posted on June 22, 2013, in Race Report and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

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