share. learn. thrive!
The 2012 triathlon season got off to a bit of a rough start. Back in March, I had a cycling accident in Santa Barbara in which I fractured my left wrist (scaphoid) leaving me in a cast for several weeks and in a brace for several months following. Then in April, I developed a mysterious swollen ankle during a business trip that prevented me from running for over a month. When your wrist is in a cast and you can't put much weight on an ankle, it would make the prospect of competing in my upcoming triathlons for which I’d trained (Columbia Triathlon and Eagleman 70.3) rather daunting. But I've been learning a lot in the process and leaning on my faith more than ever to seek direction. What I've learned is that even though things might not be going as we've planned, doesn't mean they aren't going as planned.
Perspective is everything. These obstacles I was facing also meant opportunity. With my freed-up time spent healing, I was able to pursue other interests and goals. Slowly, I was able to start re-building my fitness with renewed focus and appreciation. In the grand scheme of things, those injuries were just minor obstacles.
By mid-May, over a month had passed since the onset of my initial injuries, and after much thought and consideration as to whether I would physically be able to compete in the Columbia triathlon, I decided I had to forgo it and instead supported friends competing at the race. However, I still held out hope that I’d be able to compete in the Eagleman 70.3 triathlon three weeks later. By early June, my wrist and ankle were feeling like they made progress, but I was only up to running a 10k at a relatively easy pace.
Since Eagleman also serves as the USATMA Championship for the AquaVelo event (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike), I decided to take on a new and different challenge and was able to switch my Eagleman registration to the AquaVelo event, which simply excluded the 13.1 mile run portion of the race. Even without the run, I wasn’t sure how my conditioning would stack up as my training had been far from ideal leading up to this race, but decided to truly enjoy the event and weekend, and give it everything I had on race day.
On Friday June 8th, I headed out to Cambridge, MD for the Eagleman race weekend. For me, the draw to this place is its simplicity, history (established in the 1600s) and quaint location by the water. Of course, it's also home to the 70.3 Eagleman Ironman which has a course notoriously known for being beautiful, flat, windy, and very hot with little shade. This race also tends to pack high caliber competition year after year due in part to it being a qualifier for 70.3 Worlds in Nevada and the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii. What brings this experience full circle is Vigo's stellar management as the race director, the community support and spending time with great friends year after year.
Arriving in Cambridge Friday afternoon, I met up with some friends for a great seafood lunch, followed by race packet pickup and a swim of the Eagleman course. The weather was stunningly beautiful, but as usual, hot humid conditions were projected for race day. I then went to check-in with my host family who truly make the race weekend what it is with their wonderful hospitality. At that point we had a great dinner, spent some time relaxing and strolling through town.
Race day arrived and I felt exceptionally relaxed, but I knew I wasn't fully healed from my injuries and was going to need to compete with care. Admittingly, holding back while competing was a struggle all day. This was my 5th year in a row competing at Eagleman, and I always hope to improve upon prior year’s performances. My AquaVelo wave was the last one of the day and by 8:30 when we started, it was already really hot. After waiting a couple hours to start, I finally finished drinking the last of my Vega Pre-workout Energizer, took a Vega Endurance Gel to top off the glycogen stores, put my swim cap on and got into the water with close to 80 other men.
Everyone seemed to be vying for position early in the swim. I wasn't able accelerate as quickly through the cluster of swimmers to get into an appropriate pack as I’d done in the past, as pulling hard through the water was putting a lot of pressure on my wrist and was making my hand go numb. Additionally, the swim was extremely physical from the start and stayed that way until the first turn of the swim. With lots of physical contact early on and being concerned for my wrist, I backed off from the pack and swam solo without the benefit of a draft. I came out of the water in 28:13 and ran through the shoot hearing Gloria (my host for the weekend) cheering me on.
Once I got through transition, I tried to hammer on the bike but had to take the turns easy to protect my wrist. In a couple situations by left hand went thumb causing me to lose grip and nearly, control of the bike. Knowing that another crash was NOT in my race plan, I backed off and didn’t take any more turns out of the saddle.
My plan for the bike was to keep my heart rate steady and focus on my race strategy: blow through the first several aid stations to save time as I had enough nutrition with me. At the halfway point I was feeling stronger than I expected which was encouraging given my injuries. Averaging 25.25+ mph, my goal was to only hit up the last aid station since I wasn't going to need to run after this leg of the race and thus I didn't think finishing a little de-hydrated would be much of an issue.
Unfortunately, the temperature was climbing and after I passed the 2nd to last aid station I realized that I was losing fluids too rapidly and that three bottles of nutrition (in fluid form) wasn't likely enough for these conditions. At mile 40 entering the Black Water Nature Preserve I felt like I had a flat tire, as I was hitting a headwind and trying to push through it. This is a great reason to have a power meter, to be able to monitor perceived effort vs watts. Pushing through this stage I felt like I couldn't drink enough but I only had a partial bottle left from the last aid station. Knowing I had to make do with what I had, I put my head down and tried to push through it. Within the last 10 miles my average pace dropped off big time and my wrist was swollen and uncomfortable.
Watching the miles tick away I was thrilled to be in the last 5 miles of the race and tried to surge again to finish strong and not give anyone the opportunity to pass or edge me out. With the finish in site, I dismounted at the line and ran across the mat in 2nd place overall (qualifying me for the AquaVelo Nationals).
I grabbed my Vega Recovery Accelerator and headed to the awards ceremony. Made it onto to the podium feeling blessed for being healthy and having such awesome friends to share the day with. Huge congratulations to everyone who finished and thanks a million to the wonderful community and volunteers who made it all possible.
Special thanks to Vega for the phenomenal nutritional products, which are an integral part of my daily lifestyle.