It feels really good to be able to write about Eagleman 70.3. This race was as close as I've ever gotten to "the perfect race"...you know, that race where everything comes together and you have an amazing day. Well, Eagleman wasn't perfect, but it was pretty close! This was a definite shocker as I questioned my fitness and preparedness over and over again leading up to it. Why? Well, I've been working 50-60 hours a week in the past couple months and trying to train 15-18hrs a week, I was managing a possible stress fracture in my big toe (turns out is was sesamoiditis - still very painful!) and dealing with some other stressful issues. So, I am incredibly grateful that everything came together on the day.
To what do I owe my success? Pacing. This race what not about racing others, it was about racing to my potential. After 7 years of competing in half-ironmans, and 5 years coaching other long course triathletes, I have learned that an athlete will not have a magical day on race day where he or she can race beyond his or her ability. The athlete will only race to the level that his or her physiology allows. I believe the best predictor of whether an athlete is racing too easy or too hard is heart rate. Not speed, not power, not pace, not RPE (though this is closely linked to heart rate). What proof there is that heart rate is so important for long course triathlon is a topic for another blog post. For now, I will just say that this is the first race that I have focused solely on heart rate and I believe that this was the most well executed triathlon I have ever done. Not sure why it took so long, as I've always told athletes to pay close attention to their heart rate in long course racing, even though I have never done so!
If you stop reading this blog now you will get my basic takeaway from the race :) If you want to know more, read on:
Friday: Drive to Cambridge, Maryland (~10hours), load up good food for fuel, drink 3-4L of water (pre-hydrating before a super hot race is important!), post-drive easy 30 minute bike and 10 minute run and then healthy supper
Saturday: Adam to bike the 90K bike course, Miranda to do a 50 minute bike and 15 minute run with some pickups, drink 3-4L of water, super intimidating pro meeting, swim in the river and then chill, salty dinner - no tomatoes.
Sunday: Race, drive back to Toronto so I could work on Monday!
WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED:
Friday: Drove to Cambridge, Maryland ( actually 12 hours), loaded up on Bulk Barn chocolate/snacks for fuel, I did drink 3-4L of water (made for lots of pee stops!), post-drive easy 20 minute run and pizza for supper
Saturday: This went according to plan, except for me finding a HUGE hole in my speedsuit! Luckily I found one a new one at the race expo - thank you TYR! Pro meeting was even more intimidating than usual - nerves super high. I had bowtie pasta with alfredo sauce and chicken, and a small salad for dinner. Drank 3-4L of water.
Sunday: The Race, Drove to Painted Post (almost made it home) - luckily I didn't work till 1:30pm on Monday
- Woke up at 4:45, had oatmeal bread, PB, banana, coffee and water. I was well fuelled enough that I didn't need a big breakfast. Thank you Bulk Barn!
- Biked over to the race site for 5:30am, set up transition, did some pre-swim activation (arm and leg swings - good to open up shoulders and the hip flexors), tested out my speedsuit for the first time (eek!) and then lined up for the start!
The goal: Don't kick too hard
Firstly, this was a non-wetsuit swim for the Pros. The age-group athletes were allowed to wear wetsuits. I started out fast to the first buoy to catch some fast feet. My "fast" is not that fast though so I did miss the pack I wanted. I swam with another girl for a bit and then did a surge to catch up to the few swimmers that were about 10-15m ahead. We all swum together the rest of the swim and I tried really hard to kick less as part of my pacing strategy (you do have to kick a little as it's important for your rotation in freestyle). Anyway, I tend to kick too hard and this causes my hip flexors to tighten up and, I believe, causes me to fatigue more easily later in the race. So, I wanted to be sure that my speed was coming from my arms and not my legs. I think I did this pretty well. I made a mistake at the end of the swim, though. The other girls picked up the pace and I was daydreaming or something, because they were able to put a 10 meter gap on me in the last 150m of the swim.
Time: 29:14, Garmin says: 2100m swim, 1:23/100m pace (right on CSS!), 36 strokes per minute.
The other girls were running much faster than me out of the water and towards their bikes. Although they exited the water only a few seconds ahead, they were already running with their bikes by the time I reached mine. Something to learn from and do better next time. Other than having a slow transition, everything went smoothly: speedsuit, goggles, cap off, helmet on, grabbed bike and then an easy mount and ride.
The goal: 155bpm avg HR, which I believed would lead to a 200W NP
Once on the bike, I could see a group of girls about 500m down the road who I made it my goal to catch. I thought, "OK, push the power for the first 10-15K and see if you can catch them. If you can, ride with them (legally) and if not, settle into your target heart rate of 150-160bpm". Unfortunately for me, there are a lot of turns at the start of the bike course there. I'm not a very technical rider so they were able to pull further and further ahead. Also, if they were working together, they would have had an advantage versus me working solo. Nonetheless, I was able to catch up to one girl at around 20K by pushing about 215W and holding a HR of 160-163bpm. Probably owe a bit of this speed to my new P5 and my new Blade Wheels!!! Once I caught her I stayed at a legal distance behind her and made her my carrot. When I did so I was between 195-205W and a 155bpm heart rate, which was right within range. So, I stayed well back of her so be sure I wasn't drafting (I got a drafting penalty in 2014 so am super careful not to do that again!). At around 70K a few other females caught up to us and passed us, but we were able to hang on with them for a bit. In the last 5K though, my hip flexors started cramping and it was an uncomfortably ride from that point. I just wanted the bike to be finished!
Time: 2:25:44, Garmin says: 90km, 37.2kph, 200W NP, 196W avg power, 86rpm, 155bpm avg HR
Very uneventful except for the fact that I became very aware of how tight my hip flexors were.
The goal: Pace this properly, run the first 12km under 165bpm avg HR
I started out on the run very uncomfortably. The hip flexors were cramped and my heart rate was high (170s) and it was SO HOT! I didn't know how I would finish. But I saw Adam at the 1K point and he said that I looked good and that the other girls ahead were breathing much harder than me. I thought, "OK, relax, focus, HR < 165bpm, take water and dump ice and water on you at aid stations, that's the only way you will get through this". So I tried not to look at my pace. At the 12km mark I felt comfortable at a 165bpm avg HR and decided I would push it a bit, but no higher than 170bpm. It was a bit more uncomfortable, but only 9km at this effort seemed doable. With 4km left I decided that I felt pretty good, so now was the time to push. And I did, all the way to the finish!
Time: 1:35:40, Garmin says: 21.1km, 4:31/km, 168bpm average HR. (first 12k: 165 bpm, 4:28/km| from 12-17km: 4:34/km, 170bpm | from 17-21.1km: 4:30/km, 173bpm)
If you recall, in 2015 I had knee surgery and the surgical residents who operated on me told me I would never run more than 10km ever again. So, the fact that I could even compete in this event, let alone place in the top 10, amazes me! And there's no way I would be able to do that without the amazing help of my friends, family, sponsors and supporters.
- Our homestay hosts, Brenda and Paul and Bella (their dog), who were incredibly welcoming and had the most comfortable bed!
- My parents for their continued love and support throughout this crazy adventure of mine.
- My sisters for being my inspiration to work hard and never give up
- Adam for keeping me calm when I get anxious and for making me want to be the best version of myself. It helps so much to have him there on race day.
- TYR for getting me a speedsuit very last minute!
- My health care team of Dr. Mark Schofield, David Lamy (RMT), Bill Wells (Chiro) and Michael Hong (Acupuncture). I wouldn't have been able to race this one without you.
- Kim Lumsdon at KLSC
- All my readers for their support and for following me in my triathlon endeavours
- Ironman and all the volunteers!
- Fellow athletes at the race and training partners, especially Kevin McCormick for really pushing me on those race simulation rides and everyone at WattsUp and TTC!
- Endurosport for building me the perfect bike and all your mechanical help
- Nick DiCristofaro at Velofix for helping with my last minute requests!
- My sponsors: Title Sponsor:High Rock Capital Management, WattsUp Cycling, MultiSport Canada, Blade Wheels, The Urban Athlete, Fitt1st Bike Fitting