Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Eagleman 70.3 Race Report


We got to Cambridge, MD early on Saturday morning and did all the pre-race logistics of picking up our packets, racking our bikes, stuffing our faces with pasta and bread, and hitting the hay early. To my surprise I was able to fall asleep around 10pm and woke up full of energy when my 3:45 am alarm went off.

When I looked at my phone I had several texts, tweets, facebook posts and emails wishing me luck. I responded to my best friend Jenna and to my surprise she responded back immediately telling me to go back to bed. I told her I was up and getting ready to head to the race site so she called me to wish me luck. She was drunk and still out at the bar. It gave me a good laugh and started my day exactly how I wanted- with a smile.

I finished prepping all of my hydration and we headed to the race site where we set up transition and then sat around for several hours. Transition closed at 6:45 am but my wave did not get into the water until 8:20.

I was holding myself together pretty well until Phil told me he was going to go get in the water and gave me a huge hug and kiss and I began to cry. He laughed at me like he always does when I cry for silly reasons, kissed me again, and walked away. It's go time.

The Swim:

With a water temperature of 82 degrees the swim was non-wetsuit. We waded into the water and luckily we were able to stand where the start buoys were (treading water for 8 minutes not in a wetsuit would have tuckered me out!). I positioned myself on the far left away from the pack to avoid any kicks to the face.

When the horn sounded a bunch of girls in pink caps darted forward with their arms flailing. My tactic was to stay calm and just swim at a pace I was comfortable with. To my surprise I was keeping up with the pack and therefor getting kicked, swam over, and swimming over people. It took about 300 or so yards for me to find my own water space.

I was keeping pace with another pink cap so I dropped into her draft zone at her right hip. I stayed with her until the second turn and then passed her to swim in to the finish. The water was very shallow for the last 300 or so yards and a ton of people were standing up and running through the water. I decided to swim until I got closer to shore because even though the water was up to some people's waist, it was still up to my shoulders since I am a munchkin.

As I got closer to shore and I was still swimming, I could hear my mom screaming every time I turned my head to breathe. I finally stood up and ran out of the water and smiled and waved at my parents who were jumping up and down flailing their arms.

My swim time was 43:28 which I was not disappointed with at all. Considering I learned how to swim less than a year ago, and I didn't have to side stroke or flip onto my back a single time during this swim, and I exited the water feeling strong, I'll take this as a win.


Uneventful except for the other 25-29 year old trying to chit chat with me while I am trying to get my bike off the rack. Move out of the way, woman! I rudely ignored her and successfully did a flying mount (with my shoes on my feet...not on my pedals! Im not that bad ass yet) onto my bike and began my journey through the Blackwoods Wild Life Reserve.

The Bike:

The bike course was a single 56 mile loop that was pancake flat, windy at times, and totally exposed so there was no shade at all. The prep ride that Emily and I did a few weeks before the race mimicked the actual race course perfectly.

I had a few hiccups on the bike but I am happy with how I handled them. The first hiccup came when I totally screwed up the multi-sport mode on my Garmin and therefor had no concept of how fast or slow I was going. I reset the watch but then quickly screwed it up again so I just left it alone. Lucky for me I had a $10 waterproof stopwatch on my left wrist that I started at the swim so I had an idea of what my total time was. I spent the next 56 miles doing math and calculating my speed.

My biggest complaint about my bike ride was not that I didn't know my speed but that I was totally uncomfortable in the aero position. I would get down onto the aerobars and within 5 minutes have sharp pain in my shoulders and have to sit up. I would say I spent about 20% of the whole ride in the aero bars which obviously costs me a few minutes as well as a ton of energy getting into and out of the aero position at least 60 times. Pink Lady and I are going back to the bike shop for another fit because this problem has to be solved ASAP.

My plan for the bike was to hold back a little so that my legs had some energy left for the run. I did not bike my hardest or fastest and I finished the 56 miles feeling energized and ready to run in 3 hours and 15 minutes which is 17.21 mph average. Not too shabby for holding back and not knowing your speed. I was very diligent on the bike to take in salt, nutrition, water, and calories. I nailed my nutrition to set me up for a great run. Or so I thought...


Nothing special here. I racked my bike, took off my tri jersey so that I was only in a sports bra, put on my running shoes and ran out of transition. On my way out of transition I saw my parents and friends cheering.

The Run:

The run was a flat out and back on a blacktop road with no shade and aid stations every mile. As soon as I began my run I noticed that 80% of people on the run course were walking. Not jogging, not taking a break, but walking. It looked like a death march. I ignored the silly walkers and kept running- my legs were feeling great! I had 2 hours to complete a half marathon to finish my first 70.3 under 6 hours. I can do this.

I kept jogging along and saw Phil on his way back from the run which made me smile. We passed each other with a high-five and an I love you. Seeing each other made me happy because I was able to tell him that I was ok and was going to make it to the finish, and I was able to tell that he had a great race (he finished in 5 hours!).

I kept plodding along and started to not feel so well around mile 2. I decided to walk the aid station- grabbing ice and putting it under my hat and down my shirt. I dumped water over my head. I slowly sipped a Gatorade. There were a few people sitting at the aid station under the shaded tent...one girl in my age group asking for a medic.

I left the aid station and began to jog again but quickly stopped when I instantly felt light headed and my heart rate sky rocketed. I walked until my heart rate calmed down and then tried to run again. No luck.

I got to the aid station at mile 3 and had some water, pretzels, and put more ice down my shirt. My legs wanted to run so badly but my stomach would not allow them. I would give myself land marks to run to- "Lauren, just jog slowly to that mailbox and then you can walk for 2 minutes." I kept this up until mile 5 but then the running got more and more infrequent and I too began the death march.

I was frustrated and sad as I looked at my watch and new that 6 hours, even 6:30 was not attainable for me that day. I walked along by myself and I cried. I wallowed in self pity that all of the training hours and miles I put in for the past several months went to waste. I was calculating how much water and salt I took in on the bike and where I could have gone wrong with my nutrition. I even tried to run again but I couldn't.

Then I remembered a word of advice about this race. A family friend who is a great triathlete told me that "Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional." I quickly came to terms with the fact that maybe 6 hours wasn't in the cards for me that day. Hell, maybe 7 hours wasn't in the cards for me. I quickly thought back to the girl from my age group I saw a few miles back asking for a medic. I dried my tears, pounded a Gu and began speed walking...because I was going to get to that damn finish line.

I spent the last 6 miles of that run catching up to other walkers and talking to them. I met a 62 year old woman that was going to miss the 8.5 hour cut off but she told me how proud her husband was of her whether she made the time cut off or not. I met a 21 year old guy who spoke no English but we walked together for 2 miles not saying a word.

Finally, with the finish line in sight and not a moment before, I began to jog.  I heard Julie Moss announce my name as I crossed the finish line and had a medal hung around my neck. I burst into tears as I grabbed Phil and said "oh my god that was so hard but we did it. We did it!" He laughed at me, like he always does when I cry for silly reasons :)

That half marathon took me 2 hours and 53 minutes for a grand finishing time of 6:57:28.


It took me a while to gather my thoughts about this race. I was happy I finished. It is a huge accomplishment in and of itself to say that I completed a half Ironman. Yet I was disappointed with my performance. I still have questions of why my stomach crippled me from running.

Maybe this race was not a physical test for me, but a mental one. You rarely read triathlon blog posts about the mental struggles dealt with in training and racing. I am proud of myself for getting out of my suffer-fest at mile 7 and finishing the race with a huge smile. It may not have been my best performance. It certainly did not show my athletic capability. But it shows my drive, determination and heart.

Ironman Cozumel may not be the fastest executed Ironman, but I'll get to that finish line one way or another...even if I have to talk to every single person on that marathon course!


  1. I'm super impressed! You were definitely hauling for the first two legs, and stomach issues and insane heat can happen to anyone, especially 4+ hours into a race!! I love that "Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional" and I am totally going to steal that from you sometime. Congrats on completing your first 70.3!!

  2. I think you did a great job and should be really proud of yourself for finishing and pushing yourself to the finish line. It may not have gone as planed, but you still had an awesome race!

  3. You learned how to swim a year ago and did a half Ironman??? That takes determination. I'm impressed.

  4. Honest race report!

    Despite your bike fit issues, you executed the bike perfectly.

    It was the heat. If EVERYONE out there is walking, its the heat. Are you doing another HIM this season before Cozumel? I betcha if you were do another HIM RIGHT now in cooler conditions, you would shave an hour plus off your time.

    I see revenge in your words from this post. You are going to eat your next HIM alive!

  5. I love this post! I know the run wasn't what you wanted but you're 100% correct that it was a huge mental win and that's a big thing to take with you into an IM. And, you completely rocked the swim and bike, which has to feel good. I agree with Jon - you'll get your redemption.

    I've been exactly where you were (ok, not in a HIM but in a marathon). Also, I cry for all sorts of silly reasons and always get laughed at by Lauren!

  6. Holy hell I love this race report. I'm so incredibly in awe of your mental strength -- I can just picture you out there saying "no, I'm gonna finish this damn thing..."

    I agree with everyone else -- now you're prepped for what to expect next time, and you're that much stronger mentally and physically for surviving such a tough race.

    (also, I was almost in tears reading this -- think Phil would laugh at that too?)


  7. Alright... I never post anything but I need to. Definitely an amazing race report. I was so happy to see a huge smile as I passed Lauren. I seriously did get a little misty while reading this and fully understand the mental and physical struggle. I know Lauren has put forth a huge effort, both physical and mental. I live with the daily questioning and excitement of ability, progress, and comparative measurement. Congratulations on a huge achievement!

  8. Great job on a tough race, and pulling it together when things were not going as planned. I hated, HATED my first half ironman - my run went terribly wrong, I'd never felt so sick and off during a race before, and I remember thinking to myself that I could still get a refund for the full ironman I had signed up for, because if it was going to be anything like the half I was doing, I wanted nothing to do with it. Fortunately, subsequent races did get better. You will love Cozumel and if anything, Eagleman has made you mentally stronger, which will come in handy. Good luck with the rest of your training!!!

  9. What an amazing race report - your strength shows in every word!

    You stuck with it, you finished, and you've inspired me for sure. :)

  10. I'm really proud of you. When I was stalking your splits, I knew you weren't getting the race you wanted, but to push through and finish anyway takes some serious courage. Way to go, girl!!

  11. You should be really proud of yourself! Look at all the people who probably couldn't finish. And I can't believe your swim time when you've only been swimming a year!
    Also I'm keeping this quote in mind for my next race: "Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional."

  12. You rocked it! I'm so inspired by you!! Keep on working hard; you will be rewarded!

  13. This is one of the best race recaps I have read. And the most inspirational. It is races like these that make you a true athlete. Congrats girl :)


  14. LAUREN!! You ROCK! Thank you so much for your yell! I was dying!!! I needed that and I promise next time we will slap fives and I will get ya back out there for what you did for me! You lifted me up and helped me make it to that finish line! A HUGE congrats for your first very hot, very tough 70.3!! You did it girl!! Way to go! I'm following your journey now!

  15. Lauren, this race report is awesome! No, this wasn't an easy task for you, but you never gave up. You got stronger during this race... and one step closer to being an Ironman. Sounds like the day was unbelievable tough and you maintained that smile! I love it... and yes...

    YOU DID IT!!!

  16. Congratulations on finishing 70.3! It may not have been the race you wanted, but I'm sure that it will help you have an even better Ironman race. As much as they hurt at the time, I think we sometimes need races like these to help us move forward (and make the great races feel all that much better).

  17. Sorry again for being so late to the party, but great race report! I am sorry your run was so rough to you, but you are still a total bad@ss for taking control of your mental state and pushing through to finish! This is a HUGE accomplishment and you should be so proud of yourself.

    I love that you and Phil did it together and that you got to see him on the run course, so cute! And congrats to him on an awesome race, too.

    I also love that you could hear your mom cheering when you were swimming, haha!:)

  18. Fabulous race report! Way to persevere and finish! Even though you didn't finish in the time you wanted the time you finished in was awesome!! If you figure out where you went wrong with nutrition I would love to hear it, I too had a similar failure at Mooseman.

  19. Congrats on the 70.3!!! Its amazing what we can do, 5 years ago, did you ever imagine traveling 70.3 miles by water, bike, and foot? Congrats on the great race

  20. I just read this as a link from your most recent post. I did Eagleman and had a very similar race (although I finished about a half hour after you thanks to a nasty head wind on the bike and just lack of good training for that).

    What you talked about on the run course, I know EXACTLY what you are talking about. I played a mental game with myself to keep me running. It was brutal.

    My husband did the race last year (2010) and his run was worse. It was so hot he couldn't breath due to asthma but he walked himself in and got it done.

    You are right, people don't understand the mental part of racing, be it triathlon or running. But, once you've been out on that ugly edge with yourself during a race it brings a whole new meaning to what you accomplish. And I promise you, next year you'll read a blog with someone else's Eagleman race report talking about their run and you're eyes will well up with tears of pride because they did it and so did you!