Last weekend was Eagleman 70.3 in Cambridge, Maryland which was to be a tune up race for IRONMAN Cork in Ireland 2 weeks later. I had raced at Eagleman 2 years ago in a string of 70.3’s that pretty much all resulted in me falling apart in the second half of the run. This was a common theme in 2017 in my first full season as a Pro, with Eagleman resulting in a brutal 1:36 half marathon consisting of run/walking. I’m glad I can say that I’ve now put that time well behind me.
Since moving to Grand Junction, I’ve gotten in one of the most consistently solid blocks of training that I’ve ever had. With only a couple hiccups to speak of, I was able to consistently build training over the preceding 8 weeks without being over trained. Charleigh did attempt to get me sick about a week prior, but I was able to shake that in just a few days with plenty of time before the race. I had secured Friday and Monday off for travel to and from the race, flying from Denver to Philadelphia and driving the remaining portions. Everything went pretty smooth on the way there and I rolled into my homestay a little before midnight.
I had the pleasure of staying with former SC rival Ricky Flynn and long time accomplished Pro Justin Park. Everything stayed pretty relaxed and as planned Saturday with some openers on the bike and run that had the legs feeling fresh and ready to rip! It was great seeing old and new friends at the Pro meeting. New buddy Ben Deal and I got a particular amount of attention from a lot of people as we rolled our new unique bikes (my TriRig Omni and his Ceepo Shadow R) to the meeting!
The 4:30 am wake-up hit me like a bag of bricks the morning of the race with the time difference, but by the time I arrived to the race site I was ready to kill it! Just as I was about to get to the water for my swim warm up was when the announcement was made that the swim was being cancelled. This didn’t surprise me much with the current rough water conditions and forecasts for only increasing wind and rain. I headed back to my bike and soon drew my starting number for the upcoming bike time trial start.
I drew 20 for my starting position with Pro athletes being separated by 45 seconds each. I thought this was super fair and was glad that this would help prevent any “group” riding on the bike. Though a number guys were still attempting to talk “strategy” while on the start line. My time eventually came being one of the last athletes to start. The main upside of this being that every athlete I passed on the road I would already technically be ahead of.
My goal for the ride was to ride smart and hard without getting too obsessed with the numbers. The majority of the beginning sections were assisted by some stronger tailwinds. The first athlete I caught was Michael Hoffman around mile 15 of the ride and just kept it steady as I came by. Next up I approached Ben Deal around mile 25 which I was pretty pleased with. We both knew that we would be somewhat close in abilities, so being 1:30 ahead already was a good sign! I knew he would be motivated to not let me get up the road, so I put in my biggest surge of the day to solidify the pass and create a gap. By this time the tailwind was gone and a solid rain was starting to develop. I soon then saw Alex Vanderlinden, who had only started 45 seconds ahead of me. I was slow to reel him in, and by the time I came around him, I was not able to shake him. I had some hard pushes but he was able to hang for a solid few miles at probably 25 meters back. Just as I put in one more solid, steady effort, he popped and was suddenly much further back!
By that point it was pretty much a steady headwind most of the way in. I spotted Elliot Bach just up the road a bit but decided to not go crazy attempting to make a pass in the final couple miles. In the final slight downhill, I decided to let my bladder loose to prepare for the run. Unfortunately, between the rain and my now urine soaked shoe, I had difficulty undoing the boa on my right shoe. Meaning that I was unable to get my foot out for a flying dismount and ended up very awkwardly running into transition with one bike shoe still on. I was able to remedy this once I got to my rack and headed out with the goal to slowly build into the beginning of the run.
For the data geeks: http://tpks.ws/6UESWC5K4PXF5UPMVF7OJKQROE
I’ll preface my run by saying that I had no real idea how things would go. I have been running more and staying more consistent than I ever have. But I also haven’t ran a mile under 6 minute pace since Oceanside in early April! I held myself back a bit and tried to stay steady and smart in the opening miles. I soon realized that there were a number of athletes just up the road from me, and I was steadily gaining on them. I had no idea what place I was in at the time, but ran knowing that my best shot was executing a perfectly paced run and fueling well along the way. I stopped to walk nearly every aid station but otherwise just kept clicking off miles in the 5:40’s.
As I began heading back on the second half into town the rain and headwinds were back and I began passing the spots that I had broken down just 2 years prior. But nothing was stopping me this time. I slowly kept cranking up the effort and refused to let anything slow down the pace. The final miles had many tempting moments to back off but the fear of losing by only a couple seconds kept me running scared. The wind got particularly stronger in the final mile approaching the coast again but I was still able to increase the pace and finally came into the finish completely spent.
I took a minute to regroup, but then went about trying to figure out how I finished. Nobody seemed to have the results and I had about given up on finding out. Until one of the officials was getting the athletes for the podium celebration and said “Joe first, Cody second, Adam third.” It took me a second to remember that there were no other Adam’s there and to wrap my head around the fact. I knew I came into the race well prepared. I knew that I executed to near perfection. But I simply couldn’t process it at first. Something that I knew was possible and within my reach had finally materialized and become reality, and I was ecstatic!
Immediately after grabbing my bottle of Champagne, I realized I had no idea how to appropriately pop the top and definitely lost the ensuing Champagne battle. After the podium pic to follow, I spent the rest of the day on a high. I spent a lot of time with Justin Park who had unfortunately had issues with his heart condition during the race causing him not to perform to his potential. I gleaned a lot of wisdom and advice from him and his many years in the sport as well as making a great new friend.
Immediately, this result doesn’t change much of anything for me except my mindset. I will still be going to work full time, and I will still be doing my best every day in all the tasks that I set out for myself. But it certainly gives me confidence in my future performances, and particularly for IRONMAN Cork in less than 2 weeks. The competition will as always be stiff there as well with a number of notable names on the start list. But I’m more excited than ever to see what my best executed performance will bring me on the day!