Every time I try to get back to posting here I end up insanely busy elsewhere in my life and slack off. The past week was a whirlwind. I was really stretched at work and attempting to prepare for another weekend away, this time for a race. It was not only my first of the season, but it was my first since the ill-fated Ironman and injury last year. It was also my birthday weekend, so I wanted to: (A) Finish; (B) Have fun; (C) Enjoy some non-race time. Was I successful? Yes on all fronts, but not without a fight.
I've done two other 70.3s, New Orleans and Providence. Both were challenging in their own ways and both were quite hot. But Eagleman elevated challenging and hot to new levels. I'd been warned the race was known for scorching heat and high winds, but the warnings were gross understatements. It was balmy at the start and the first blow of the day was the call for no wetsuits. I'm a mediocre swimmer when I'm actually training and I've been to the pool about 4 times in the last month. But I didn't let it get me down. I got into this sport to conquer fears and test my abilities so this was just another thing I thought I couldn't do that I needed to check off the list.
The swim was actually fine without the suit. I was cruising along and really enjoying myself, thinking "hey, maybe I'm not as slow as I thought." But then as I walked out of the water and glanced at my watch - 57 minutes - I was shocked. I know I haven't been diligent with training, but to go from my usual 45ish to 57 was a huge drop. But what can you do? I stopped for some support from my boyfriend in the swim exit chute and took my time in T1. I wanted to regroup before the bike.
The plan going into the race was to let it rip on the bike just in case I couldn't pull out a good run. I've only done one brick this year and it was on a 100 mile ride. Not exactly the most optimal training for an HIM. I also haven't raced on my foot so there was the chance it was going to be a death march even if the conditions were ideal. But the conditions were far from ideal so I'm glad I gave the bike everything I had. I pushed a higher HR range the entire ride and never stopped pedaling. The course is dead flat but totally exposed so it's hot, sunny and windy. The wind never relented and at times my legs burned as if I were riding uphill. I wanted to finish in less than 3 hours so I never let up regardless of how tired I was and it paid off. I was off the bike in 2:58, a really great accomplishment for me.
The run. Oh, the run. As I rode the final few miles we were passing runners just starting the half marathon. A majority of the field was not only walking, but shuffling along in pure misery. I felt a little ill at the thought of joining them. When people are that broken down in the first few miles you know it's going to be a struggle. I started out with an easy pace and went 100% on RPE. With the heat, sun and humidity (actual temperature 96, real feel 108) it was the only way to go. There were no mile markers and I was thankful for that. I just had my eye on reaching the turnaround as the only benchmark for how I was doing. I was able to run the entire course with very slow walks through each aid station where I dumped as much ice water over myself as I could and struggled to get fluids into me. My stomach was sloshy and I was battling side stitches the entire time so after the 6th or so aid station I couldn't ingest any more fluids. I held ice in my mouth and continued to douse myself. A debilitating side stitch totally destroyed my finish chute run but I was able to hobble in. It took 2:16, my slowest half marathon ever but my proudest finish.
The race wasn't about PRs or time goals, it was about making a comeback and putting a little more distance between my injury and recovery. I sometimes feel like I'm training on a time bomb and any given workout might be my last. As a result I'm undertraining compared to the machine I was last year. But I'm enjoying my life in a different way and if I can still toe the line, feel good and finish, it's enough for me in this phase of my life. Next year may be a different story.
I have some catch up posts to share and will get moving this week. The weekend also included some birthday fun and there are, of course, photos to be posted as well. Congrats to everyone who endured and finished Eagleman!