I did it, I finished. That was the goal and I that is what I did. I finished, and I finished well.
(Let it settle that I don’t aim to do things “well”. I usually have great as a goal, so we will get more to that in a minute).
So, my last Eagleman was in 2018 and I walked off the run course and just didn’t finish, did not have it in my heart to even try. There were mental and physical reasons and I think I honestly made the right choice for me in 2018 by dnf’ing. And then taking time off of Eagleman. I promised myself I would NOT sign up in 2019 and then of course came covid.
So, it has been since 2017 since I have finished Eagleman, and that is a long time of not doing this distance. It was GOOD to get back to it this year.
That being said, I’m going to back up. I didn’t know if I should register- for covid reasons I was nervous but I also remember how I Just lost “heart” the last time and didn’t want to get there mentally.
I decided to sign up for a marathon in March and then do this in June as 2 goals kind of step-stoning on each other. I think that worked well to get me back into this long course tri thing again. After the marathon, I got back to pool once a week and ENJOYED IT! And since I had been on my feet for hours, being on my bike for longer and longer amount of times didn’t feel too bad mentally as I was just really enjoying the new-ness of it all and even if it was just once/week going longer on my bike, I let myself enjoy that time out! I really had about 8 weeks of being on my bike, so it wasn’t what I used to do for Eagleman training- which was a FIERCE BEGINNING ON JAN 1st. I was then going ALL OUT training, and for this, I didn’t want myself mentally to put that much pressure on myself.
Morning of Eagleman had some snafus with me waking up to my car with literally all 4 windows all the way down and sunroof open. (which I did not leave it like- that is a story for another day), it rattled me then I got back into my headspace and got to race.
Swim: It wasn’t yet raining and I was thankful to not have lightning/thunder issues, although I was not a fan of the “seed yourself” and go 3 at a time every 4 seconds. I have a definite dislike to that- not only personally, but I don’t think it is good for crowd control or the safer way AT ALL. It was a rough and aggressive swim. Many green caps (MEN…) being aggressive/ not somehow being able to sight/ going zig zag, ugh. I really wanted to be done with it and was very glad to be seeing the final red buoy to turn. I really had no idea how I was doing because I was just tired of fighting for some of my space in the water, but I Just tried to stay unaffected and get out. When I got to my feet and looked down, it was 35 minutes which I was 100% happy with. I would have been fine with literally 40 minutes, so this was a bonus.
RAIN happening right away, on land, ugh.
Got on bike and knew right away: #1 priority is SAFETY on wet roads. I sometimes push literally 9.9/10 on the bike, I do like to get gritty and muscle/power my way through. Not ever on wet roads though with oodles of people around. So, I was especially first 5-6 miles with lots of turns and crowds super conservative. Once I got into the bigger spaces of roads, and the rain and winds intensifying I found my forearms slipping on my wet soaked aerobar pads. *it reminded me of bootcampers saying their forearms were slipping during planks! So, I just tried to hold on and feel secure on my bike. I had a focus of also trying to remind myself to drink and begin to take in some calories even though I didn’t really want to lift a hand off of my bike to do that in the wet conditions. First 20 miles was “fine.” 20 mph. this is slow for me on this course. But again, it was kind of just what it was. Mile 20-30, I was feeling my left hamstring doing something odd. Left side for me isn’t normally problematic so I was like, hmmmm….just something to notice. Mile 30, I knew I needed to get in some calories, I don’t like to do too much after mile 40 of foods. So I was doing bonk bar bites plus water. From 30-40, I definitely had a major issue come up. All of a sudden- left hamstring was no longer an issue, it was BOTH INNER THIGHS, GROIN, but it wasn’t a subtle feeling, it was like, 9/10 something is OFF. I initially thought maybe my swim suit was like pushing on some nerve that was like inhibiting my hip flexor inner thigh? And I could barely pedal. I’ve had this happen AT EAGLEMAN years ago as well. The year that it happened long ago, I actually had to pull to the side because I couldn’t pedal. (I always thought back to that year thinking- was that when I tore my labrum?) So, I was concerned that maybe I Was tearing my hips somehow? But I was so uncomfortable where the edges of my swimsuit were pressing/ couldn’t get comfortable in my saddle and never had this happen before with swim suit (I had on swim suit plus bike shorts over it). I actually reached down the pants to try to move my swim suit sideways a bit to see if I could get off of a nerve if that was it? I don’t know what happened, but we did get a tailwind at like mile 40 that I was SO THANKFUL FOR, and it helped that there weren’t crosswinds. I still don’t know what the inner thigh issue was, a main cause I am wondering is if because I was maybe gripping with my inner thighs since I felt like I was sliding off my forearm connection to aerobars? Like maybe I was just holding all those muscles super tight and they just locked up? (either way- the day after, I can barely walk bc inner thighs are screaming at me).
As we come to transition, I think, how am I going to run 13 miles. It is for me a mental thing I think, to be like I got this HUGE bike ride done, but Now I have something else HUGE to do. Plus zero leg function it felt like. I NEVER do this, but got off my bike and just walked it through transition. I don’t do that, I am FAST in transition. Not today. In facte I leaned my bike against a port a pot and went to pee,. And then continued walking. Felt kinda weird. Typically I think I”d be embarrassed by that but n ot today.
Got my run shoes on and again, I kinda walked through transition. Now I was maybe slightly embarrassed so I started this little shuffle (because this is where people are cheering/ cowbells and I am looking like a lazy bum walking). So I was able to shuffle! So that was great because I honestly didn’t know if I could. Then it turned kind of into a nice little jog! Sooooooo thankful!
My run mindset was: first 4 miles is like a “chunk.” So I was not to think of anything except the first 4 miles. Within that first 4 miles, it went from ok that I was jogging to feeling actually kind of good! Except I did have to stop at like mile 3 to go to the bathroom. In my mind I was like, OK, got that done..
When I got to 4 miles, my plan was “4-8 miles is next chunk.” Well, that was all good except those miles were HARD. I didn’t try to go faster, just maintain what was at least decent effort (not fast, but just running). But.. I also had to go to the bathroom again at mile 6 AND 8. I had felt a little like I was going to throw up each of those times, I definitely needed those bathrooms and was so thankful they were regularly there at the mile markers. I was SUPER fast in and out of them, but, that being said, it was at least probably 40 seconds-60 seconds.
Mile 8-10 was another segment. I knew when I got to mile 10 I was on the countdown just mile by mile to the finish.
Mile 8-10 was the hardest segment energy wise. I was low energy, feeling like I was slowing down. I had been taking in alternating pepsi and red bull at the alternating aid stations and then supplementing that with water that I Was carrying. I did have some stinger blocks as well and needed a few of those, but not as many as I am used to. I think I was just relying on the sips of pepsi/red bull. A few times I really could tell that those things kicked in and helped give me a boost of energy. To get me to mile 10, I told myself maybe I could walk 30-60 seconds at mile 10 before the 3 mile push to end. However, before 10, I had another episode, this probably worst GI of the race and definitely started to worry about what the heck my stomach was doing. BUT after I left the port o pot- luckily it didn’t linger- that was the saving grace- it was like bad stomach, but then after going to the bathroom I was up and good to run. At mile 11 I took 30 seconds to walk and then I knew it was running it all the way in. There were tons of people on the run course which was actually HELPFUL. The run course has been changed so it is now 2 loops beginning about ¾ mile from start to finish, so you have people who are on their first and second loop out there. Lots of people to see. I have done Eagleman previously where the run is so far out and back and a DEATH MARCH OF HEAT. I honestly laughed quickly 2x during the run this year when I couldn’t believe I was COLD. Yes I was cold, had goosebumps. (I’m also weird, so there is that). I was constantly conscious that this lack of oppressive heat was an actual GIFT at this point. And may never happen again. To do Eagleman without 90+degrees and sun scorching your soul is literally laughable. I always try to remind myself of the blessings at the time: I wasn’t dying of heat. In the times my stomach was OK, my GI system was not in demise. I didn’t have blisters. My legs were ok it was just my energy. The volunteers were amazing. The other runners were so strong. Everyone was out there: DOING THEIR THING. Literally, this is where it is the ESSENCE OF THE RACE. Everyone in competitition with oneself! Truly doing all they can at that time. I did notice some people back and forth that looked happy and at ease (relatively). I strived to channel some of that inner joy and “ease”. I saw (slight gag) a couple – one on the way out one on the way back- stop to check on each other and have a lil smooch in middle of the road. Still processing what I think of that and that is just NOT MY CUP OF TEA, but good for them. Literally everyone was just FINDING WHAT THEY ARE MADE OF. AND THAT IS MY CUP OF TEA.
And, so I finished.
And, so I have now had 24 hours to finish and figure out what this all meant to me.
I used to have a big mental focus and fierce hold on my goals. This year it was lightly held and “it is what it is.” I thought maybe when I finished this race that I would think- ok, now I could end Eagleman without it being a DNF- I finished, I persevered, I fought and I found what I was made of again. But… even within an hour or two. I don’t know that I am done fighting. I love the essence. Literally, I love the shitty shit part where you scrape your inner inners. Your soul is scraped. Your heart is pissed at you and exhilarated at the same time. Ahhhh CRAP. I am so sucked into this stuff. I love the training, and then I love the racing- even when it is rainy, cold and not even FUN. I love the humanity. What I learn about myself, about where I am in my stages, what it means to me, what my values are, where my heart is.
As the time goes on, I struggle a bit with how to reconcile this race in my head and heart. Finishing was obviously good, but of course… OF COURSE…. I fall into the trap of wanting to be better/faster/ more fit. I Have to remember, in all honesty, I trained really for this actual result. I didn’t train to be FIERCE as I used to race. I trained to come back and finish. My days were not full force focused on Eagleman for 6 months, as I used to really set my sights on this as my REASON, A RACE, #1 priority. So, it is a question I need to settle on—am I okay with finishing this way, or do I want more, and am I willing to do that work? When I think of it logically, I am kind of happy with the balance and effort I put in to my training. I trained enough to do this big event and finish without injury, all while being pretty balanced in life and being able to do other things that mean a lot to me, including be restful and SEATED at times😊!
I do feel this lingering “pang” of anxiety, or unsettled itchiness, of still needing to let this settle and be good to myself, which I know it will. All in all, isn’t this one of the main reasons we race- to learn about ourselves, to ask questions and be curious if we are living in alignment with our values, doing what we ask of ourselves, whether that means attack something full force intensity, or maybe learn to practice being okay with being more moderate. (I’ve never been awesome at moderate). So, I think I’m in a good place, happy that I completed an Eagleman. I won’t be there next year- I know it’ll be too much with Phoebe graduating and I don’t want to take anything away from that for my family with me being too busy, or myself, with myself just having the time to enjoy the landmark of that excitement to come. But I do have some other big goals on the radar for that year already which will fit in nicely to the big plan.