Monday, June 25, 2012

They were right: Eagleman 70.3 Race Report

I bet you thought I was dead.  Well, hopefully you didn't think that.  Sometimes I felt a little close to heat exhaustion over these last few weeks, but luckily never that close to keeling over.  I've been training, I've been working and I've been waiting for my wonderful husband to clip a few pictures from video so that I could FINALLY write my race report from Eagleman, my second professional race. 

They always said racing as a professional would be different.  
They said it would be much lonelier.
They said sometimes it wouldn't even feel like a race.
They said it all comes down to the swim, if you lose the pack there, you'll spend all day trying to find someone else to race.
They said the pressure you put on yourself would be so great that sometimes, if you weren't careful, you could crumble under it as a rookie pro.
They said if you were in it for the money, you should go and do something else, and fast because it would be a long long road that way.
Finally, they said if you wanted to become a better athlete, race against the top women in the world and learn more about yourself than you ever thought possible, then this was the next logical step. 

They were right.. on just about everything.

It's been a humbling, humbling year so far.  There have been many ups and downs, but more ups than downs in my mind which is nice.  Eagleman was no exception.  It's helped so much to working with my new coach Jesse and  QT2 in terms of having a plan and just sticking to it like glue during the race.  In fact, I really don't have any decisions to make at all (which is good!).  He has told me time and time again "we're not at the place where you get to race strategically yet" so until that time, I do what the man says, to a T.  

There were a big group of us headed down to Eagleman from Pittsburgh and Kyle was coming along with me so I was excited to get out there and test myself once again.  The weather was scheduled to be a toast 94 degrees with high humidity.  Lovely for racing your hiney off right?!?

The water was calm at the start and even though I was nervous, I knew I was more than prepared so I just needed to go out there and do my best.  My last post right before getting set up in transition is really how I felt "I am truly blessed, I don't need times or places to tell me that.  Good luck to everyone racing out there today at Eagleman!" 

I said goodbye to Kyle, gave him a kiss and then spotted Matty Mo, a fellow Ballou Skies athlete and good friend standing by the side of the swim start and I got an extra hug for encouragement.  I don't know how I got to be so lucky as to have friends like this in my life, but man am I thankful.  It was that last little boost I needed!!  Thanks Matty!!

Jesse had told me that I would have to swim and swim HARD to make it into a pack to swim with.   I looked around Mirinda, Meredith, Suzy, Sarah P and so many other great pros around me.  As we treaded water it was pretty surreal.  They were all right there and I was really doing this, once again.  I was a pro.  It was pretty freakin cool. 
A quick horn and we were off.  I was KILLING myself to go as hard as possible.  Stroke, breath, stroke, breath, don't loose them Kim, harder, PUSH!!  After the first 400 I was still with a few bodies.  
I knew I was going to have to fight this entire swim to stay with people and to stay on feet so that's just what I did.  They zigged, I zagged.  I was NOT losing them.  If there were bubbles, I was following them and gasping for air in the mean time.  There were small pockets of not killing myself, but for the most part, I felt like my heart rate was as high as it's ever been in a swim.  I had NO idea about my time but when I got close to the swim finish I was just so pleased I had made it through with a FEW people and not swimming completely by myself.  Running into T1 I was hoping for an under 30 swim and I made it (barely).  29:XXish.  Maybe it was the Blueseventy wetsuit, but either way, I was HAPPY!  I smiled!  My day was going pretty dang well!
Just so you know, this girl SMOKED me out of transition.  I mean like see ya later, like what felt like 15 seconds later!  She was so gone.  Note to self, practice with shoes on bike eventually!!
Headed out!  Everyone who knows Eagleman knows the bike course is completely flat, often windy and  just hot as blazes.  I knew my power numbers that coach had told me to hit so honestly, I did just that.  I didn't worry about reeling any girls back in (aka the old me), I just focused on what I was supposed to do and NUTRITION.  The goal still remained, will I pee on the bike, would today be the day.  The fluid goal was 2 bottles per hour of Powerbar Perform (that would be 42 oz / hour for those of you counting).
The bike was fairly uneventful because I seriously saw 4 people, one red fox, two dead snakes and a groundhog on the course during my 56 miles.  I of course did see Kyle at the turns and it was fun to look forward to him being around a corner cheering and videoing.

One thing I've found is that I'm going to have to know the courses much better in this particular style of racing.  TWICE I pulled up to an intersection with someone standing there and they must have just thought I knew which was I was turning.  NOPE :) I would go to turn left and they would start screaming and pointing "RIGHT!!".  Instead of swooping around corners I would have to pull big U-turns almost taking out a cop at one point.   Yikes!  "Sorry!!" I would yell.

All in all, the wind wasn't too too bad and I manged to get 1.75 bottles per hour down the hatch.  You would think that would have gotten me to pee on that bike.  What a bummer!  If I don't watch it, I am definitely going to see that on a training plan before Ironman Lake Placid next month.  I was hoping to bike a little closer to 2:30, but honestly, I follow the wattage and whatever that brings, it brings.
In the end my bike was 2:34.  For this course, not spectacular by any means, but not terrible.  Just solid.    This day would be decided on the run anyway.  That is part of the key to success and on a day this hot if you can still run decently well, your day should be considered a success!! I headed in T2 on a mission to run well.  I had no idea where I was place-wise, but again, the goal is to race my race and not worry about what everyone else was doing.

 Out on the run course it started to hit me.. the pavement was radiating heat and it was only 10:30am.  Coach had told me how important it was to not overcook myself early and to really load up on ice at that first aid station so I took those words seriously. I actually ran out of T2 with another pro female and it was fun to actually see someone else on the course.  YES!  After the first aid station I FINALLY had to go a little so I stopped in a port-o-pot and went quickly before heading back out.  Not ideal, but we do what we can do!
I seemed to holding a bit faster pace than her so even though she passed me while I was in there, I came out and passed her again within the next half mile.  I was running right at 6:40 pace and thought that was conservative enough considering the heat and my heart rate.
I saw the men coming back and Crowie was in the lead.  I actually got off the road into the grass so that the bike and he could get by me without having to think about where they were going.  I mean, he was winning the race.. I just needed to get over! Finally around mile 4 I caught my first glimpse of Meredith who ended up winning the race.  She looked amazing and was chugging away at what seemed like a blistering pace!  I gave each pro that passed going the other way a nod or a "good job".  It's pretty bleak out there sometimes with not many people around.
I was feeling pretty good until I turned around at mile 6.5.  I could see I was in 8th and I just didn't seem to be making any ground on any of the other women.  I started REALLY feeling the heat and man did I feel like I was running on the sun.  I saw Kyle and he yelled for me to keep fighting and that he was proud of me and I tried to draw on that.

By mile 8.5 I was seriously in pain and on fire.  My heart rate started creeping up and I knew I was starting to hang out in the red zone.  I had free rein to race from 7 miles on, but it was all I could do to even maintain a 7 min mile at that point!  Now it was time to just push as hard as I could and get IN where there was cold ice and a place to sit down.  Each mile passed so slowly, but I did hear lots of awesome cheering from Aaron, one of my athletes, Ellen and many more friends out on the course.  Heck, Joe V from our Ballou Skies team tried to hug me! I was like "no no, too tired, high five" lol!!

Finally, I knew I was almost home.  Running through the neighborhoods I just keep thinking about the finish and going from 29th in my first pro race to 8th.  Finally, I was going to crack the top 10 and that was something I really really wanted to do today.  I finished the run with a 1:31.  Again, not exceptional compared to the other ladies or one of my best times, but solid.  A solid day.  Sometimes, that's just what we need.  Solid.

 I hung with some PTC'er like this amazing lady who finished her first half at Eagleman!  Jill S. has lost over 150 lbs, that's right, another PERSON and has developed a love and passion for our sport.  She's ON FIRE for triathlon and just the sweetest person.  So happy she did it and she did well! Go Jill!!
 Team Schwabenbauer, couldn't do it without him.  Thanks for being there Kyle, for taking all these shots and for just loving me and supporting me no matter what.
Awesome job to all the PTC athletes of Pittsburgh and to everyone who raced in that hot hot sun for 4+ hours.  It was not an easy day to race 70.3 miles and you DID it.  You should be very proud that you crossed that finish line in such tough conditions!!
 Great job to all of the other professional females out there today.   You are an inspiration to me and I am so thankful to share the course with each of you!  Maybe someday I'll be up there, until then, I'll just have to be patient and work the plan.
 Crowie, a true champion class act.  He's just such a good guy.  Great to see him take home the win.

Thanks for all the support out there in Blogland and Facebook land.  It's so fun to share this journey and get to be a part of this sport with some of the best people anywhere.

Other THANK YOUs!!!!!!!!!!
Ballou Skies for allowing me to be part of this great team that does so much good for boys with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.  Power bar for fueling me with delicious products that never fail me on race day.  Newtons  for helping me run with good form and hopefully, get speedier with time. Top Gear for outfitting me with a bike that works and helping me learn how to fix it along the way. Jesse my coach at QT2 Systems who I cannot say enough good things about!  You are providing the tools to make this dream possible.  Blueseventy for supporting our Ballou Skies team with super fast wetsuits and speedsuits!!  You all keep me in the game, faster, longer and stronger – I can’t thank you enough! 


Beth said...

Yep, I think you pretty much summed up pro racing. :-) Congrats Kim!

Katie said...

Great job, Kim! It's so hard to stick to a plan, but at the same time, it takes all the guesswork out of it :) Maybe if it's cooler at IMLP, we'll both make the pee goal!

Kurt @ Becoming An Ironman said...

I like how you've put it - solid. No strategic moves to pass anyone or play tricks, just a solid all around performance.

Keep it up and I'm sure we'll be seeing the podium soon enough!

Kim said...

Excuse my language but FUCK YEAH kim. So well deserved. Bravo friend.

Alison said...

Congrats - sounds like you had a great day!

Damie said...

congrats! Glad to see you moving up, learning, battling. I am sure it isn't easy, but you are getting to do it. :))))