I have been looking forward to this event and put some ridiculous amount of hours training for it.  I love this course and it is one my favorite 70.3 events and was anticipating a good showing. I knew this course was going to be HOT as it has been in the past so I prepared myself for the heat as much as I could. However, living in cold Cleveland and the unusually cold days the week before the race made it a little bit of a challenge. I started heat acclimating a month before the race, spending time in Sauna, staying away from air condition, keeping windows closed in my car, and exposing myself to hot conditions as much as I can. I knew I am acclimated when 90 degrees felt comfortable. So even with the cold conditions we had here I knew I am ready to tackle the heat and was looking forward to it.

However, Eagleman had something else planned. I made few mistakes that I paid for dearly at the end. So here is how my day started.

First mistake:

I decided to go for my favorite breakfast which is full of calories and have proven to give me boost in training days. My wife made me Belgium waffles and I took two large waffles with me. The morning of the race I ate both and added honey and that filled me up. Fine but that’s one more waffle than I usually eat. About 30 minutes before race start and drank mix1 drink, that’s 200 more calories on top of the 1400 I already ate for breakfast, then 10 min before the swim I grabbed one Clif shot and ate that, that’s another 100 calorie. So a total of ~1700 calories before race. This is more than I ever eat and too close to race time and will never repeat that.

Second mistake (this is where my day  almost came to an end):

The race organizer decided to make this a wetsuit legal. I think that was a big mistake since the water temperature was well above the 76.1 mark. However, when they measured it at 4am it was around 75.8. We raced about 3 hours later and the air temp was already above 80 degrees. Now I only have one wetsuit and that is a full body wetsuit. I put that on few minutes before we got in the water. Jumped in the water to do my quick warm up and immediately opened the wetsuit to put water in to cool me down. However, the water felt warm so that didn’t help. Kept pulling on the wetsuit to let water in everywhere as I waited for the start horn. Kept pulling on my kneck, sleeves and just trying to let water in everywhere. About 5 minutes later we started swimming and I started hard and was feeling comfortable and got into my pace. Half way through the swim, I started feeling really hot and felt very uncomfortable in my wetsuit. All I kept thinking about is stopping and ripping it off but just kept swimming and stuck with my plan. As we got closer to the shore, I started feeling cramps in my legs. Not a good sign. I never cramp when swimming. As we got closer to the shore I stood up and tried to do a dolphin dive and that’s when both legs locked up and a dolphin dive ended up looking more like a cow drowning. Made it out of the water and started ripping that wetsuit off and immediately felt nausea and everything in my stomach wanted to come out. My HR was very elevated around above 170bpm and decided to stop and take few breaths before getting out of T1. Didn’t want to try jumping on my bike feeling like that. Now during hard intervals, it is very hard for me to get my HR above 160 so 170 is a mark I haven’t seen for a very long time.

Putting a full wetsuit in that kind of heat with warm water temp is a big mistake. I wish I used my speedsuit instead and maybe come out of the water a little slower but feeling good rather than dehydrated and on the verge of collapsing. Never ever again!

Had few issues on the bike but these are attributed to computer technical issues which I have no control over and losing my water bottle didn’t help either.  Temperature reached low to mid 90s while biking and losing a water bottle is the last thing you want to happen. I was licking the sweat off my face just to get my mouth wet. It was that bad. Still managed to finish in 2:30 which is still a huge PR for me on the bike. At least I knew all the hard biking sessions I did over the winter have paid off even on a off bike day. I probably could’ve crushed that bike course if I didn’t have these issues 🙂

Now the run and this is where you pay dearly for any mistake you’ve made earlier. I started the run feeling already dehydrated. Still licking water off my face. I don’t recall seeing a water stops at the beginning of the run. Maybe there was one but I missed it. Couldn’t wait to get to the first water station after mile 1 which felt like an eternity. At that point my run turned into a jog then walk until the first aid station. Grabbed all the water I could and started running again and looking for the second aid station. At this point the temps were way above 90 and probably over 100 on the tarmac. The first half felt very slow but started to feel ok after mile 5 and decided to just run till the finish and just grab water, pepsi, and lots of ice at each aid station without stopping. This worked until mile 11. The distance between aid station 10 and 11 felt like 100 miles. Once I reached mile 11 aid station I decided to stop and hydrate as much as I could. I felt sick to my stomach and almost collapsed. First time I thought I might not be able to finish this thing. I was looking at the side walk next to the aid station and felt like sitting down but I knew if I do that, it will be the end of my race. Instead, I grabbed probably 6 cubs full of ice and started dumping it all over my body and drank tons of water and pepsi. Resumed the walking and then jogged till the next aid station and finally made it to the finish in 5:20.

Lessons Learned:

– Pre race nutrition: the best races I have had involved my normal breakfast with additional calories in the form of sports drink till race start. No need to fill up that much.

– Need to get myself a sleeveless suit. When air temps are high and the sun is strong and water temp is borderline or anything above 70, swim with either  a speed suit or at the max a sleeveless wetsuit. The next time I will put my full wetsuit on is if I ever do Alcatraz!