|Solid Swim...not too far back!|
The biggest challenge of this race for me, and basically everyone who raced, was the hot and humid conditions. The heat was over 90 degrees and the humidity was over 90%. It was basically hell. The Devil in Milton’s Paradise Lost said “The mind is it’s own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell…” but I can attest that the mind is part of a physical organ, trapped within the body, and it eventually breaks down with the reality of its surroundings in the full realization that hell is, in fact, hell. The person who actually wins the race is usually the person who (1) gets the most comfortable with being in hell (i.e. the best at embracing the suck) and (2) does all he/she can to slow the body’s unavoidable break down (i.e. heat acclimation, hydration, cooling off). Of course, it also helps to be super fit and talented. Great job to Cody Beals who was clearly the best at dealing with hell on this dreadful day…he went on to win the race!
The hot conditions made it a challenging day, but I think the humid conditions are really what stressed my body the most. I think I acclimate to hot conditions as well as anyone else. When I went down to Tuscan for training, I went from the Sub-30 degree Connecticut weather to 70-85 degree weather in Tuscan and really didn’t have an issue adapting after the first few days. Leading into Eagleman, I felt like I’d been well acclimated. The heat in Cambridge, MD during the race was in the 90’s, but I’d also been training in 90 degree heat leading up to the race. The real difference was in the humidity at 90%. When it’s that high, the sweat dripping out of your pours doesn’t effectively evaporate to cool your body. The body can cool itself somewhat more effectively on the bike because of the wind that comes with moving at a higher rate of speed. On the run, however, there is very little relief...at least at the speed that I was going.
|Finishing the bike and feeling strong!|
I think I did a decent job with my hydration. I drank 4x 24oz bottles of fluid on the bike and drank every chance I got on the run. I didn’t cramp up which suggests that (1) I had enough electrolytes and (2) Cliff has tailored my training to make sure I’m strong enough to race a 13 mile run off of a hard bike. Where I think I can improve the most is in cooling my body in humid conditions. Ice down the pants was not enough. Since the race, I’ve begun to experiment with different head gear (hats and cloth bandana’s) to keep the sun off and keep cool. I’m also investing in a sleeve of cloth that I can fill with ice and put around my neck, Ben Hoffman style.
|Feeling good at mile 1!|
Despite my disappointing run, I was still in striking distance of 6th pace and one spot out of my goal of the top 10th pro. This is a position that I’ve never been in before and the place filled me with confidence. I’m getting better and better with each race.
|Suffering it in!|
Thanks to Zane’s Cycles for getting my bike prepared for this race. Thanks to Dr. AJ Gagliardi of CT Muscle and Joint Performance Chiro for his work on my body. Thanks to Cliff English for preparing me to fight. Thanks to CT Cycle Center for helping me get stronger and faster. Thanks to C3 for your thoughts and support. Thanks to Dave Ellis, his aunt Carol, and his mom Joan, for hooking Amber and I up with the sweatiest of home stays! And thanks to Amber and my parents for being there when I need them!