Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Eagleman 2009 Race Report - Willie

Here's my Eagleman Race Report - Had a nice taper leading up to the race, where I was able to just focus on food and drink - my favorties! It's funny though, when you lay off for just a few days how your body reacts, you feel like you haven't trained enough - go figure.

Drove down to Cambridge early Saturday - met up with Chris and drove over to the registration. I look up my name and see I have a great number, 255 - wow, I liked it. I then go to registration with my number and she keeps looking at my license and address in comparison to the name on the registration, and finally I burst out - is there a problem?

She says do you live in Orlando, FL? I say no - she says, you're not registered!

Thus it all began the fun I was to have over the next few hours getting all this straigthened out - my mantra for the day was to simply relax, take it easy...oh well!

Once this mess was cleared up - we went and racked our bikes, all the while totally worried about the borrowed race wheels and what to do about getting them pumped up, etc. I had borrowed an 808 tubular on the front and a 999 disc on the back - both way over my head!

Anyway, it would take a while to make sure I knew what I was doing, since I had already spent the entire morning trying to change the disc tire out to get a smaller stem in to make it easier to inflate the tire - only to find out it already had the small stem in!

Oh well - so much for Saturday and taking it easy!

Got to bed early after attending the Team In Training Inspiration Dinner. As usual I'm blabbing my mouth about why I do these things and the people at the table were quite impressed, so when Julie from TNT asked "does anyone have an inspirational story to tell?" The fine people at my table, of course volunteered big mouth me to tell my story.

It was very moving for me to tell the reason why as is mentioned in an earlier article here - to remember Ron, Alan and Matthew and others, I struggled to maintain myself.

Race Day Morning - Slept very little, always anxious to make sure I wake up on time -got up at 4 AM right away - ate my breakfast cookie, peanut butter and bagel, and was out the door ay 4:45 where Chris was ready to go with me.

We get to the park and we are not allowed to park there - so had to park several blocks away and carry my 100 lbs of tranistion gear - whew! Not an easy or fun task at all.

I was completly nervous the whole morning - I was to start with the 'seniors' at 6:45 - on one hand happy to start so early to get in before its too dark, I mean too hot :) - but on the other, I had to get it together in time and with the doggone new wheels it was a challenge. Had trouble with both stems and wound up getting help from TriSpeed to pump up the wheels.

On with the wetsuit and into the water. This time I was focused on starting very slow and build in the swim, so as not to overdue it in the swim and keep my heart rate down. This went great, swam great, swam strong - I just swam 1.5 miles instead of the 1.2 which is what everyone else did. I'm sure of it cause I can swim a mile in the pool in less than 26 minutes - I just happen to wiggle alot when I swim and in open water I'm all over the place and in the pool I can see where I'm going because of that big black line on the bottom of the pool...if they could only give me a line or something in the open water...

Got out of the water feeling great, thought I had a good time, only to be reminded that I swim a lot more by zig-zagging - something to practice.

T1 went well for me and got on the bike feeling great - completly focused and noticing the other triatheles freaking out!

Started off on the new bike, a Cervelo P2 and wheels definety felt fantastic and fast right from the start. I noticed without really trying I was going 18 MPH, and thought to myself, oh boy is this going to be great!

There were many, many people cheering TNT, and this made it all worth it. At one point after hearing a loud cheer, I went on to pass at leat 10 people in a row averaging over 25 MPH - of course a little adrenaline along with a great new fast bike and wheels really helped!

First 20 miles or so, I noticed I was averaging 20.2 MPH and was getting totally pumped...and then at some point about that time, I felt the left knee starting to feel sore and tried to focus on positive things...I was able to keep the 20 MPH or so for the next 20 miles, and then when good 'ol Egpyt Rd came the wind was there and I tried to press on that left leg and there it was - I'm pretty sure I had another Medial Pop in the left knee - evey hard stroke hurt and it wasn't going away...I think I dropped to 15-16 MPH for most of the way in...I was at first thinking I would finish the bike in less than 2:45 and wound up at 3:05...pretty bummed about that, because I had it in me...oh yea, I'm reminded that I am on 55 yr old knees, but I will fix this and be back faster! Especially now that I'm not riding that Fred Flintstone Bike! NOBODY TOLD ME!

Felt great otherwise when I finished and carried the bike into T2! Picture to follow...

Started the run, and saw Coach Kevin and he asked me how I felt - I said great except for the knee and by now I had looked at my surgery leg and saw how swelled up it. It didn't feel good either because when it swells up like that the entire area moves and its quite uncomfortable. I was concerned at first if I was overdoing it again and thought it would be a very long 13.1 miles walking.

I walked most of the first mile after running past everyone, and when I slowed down I just thought is this really worth it and is my running finally over? It's just not normal to be this uncomfrtable running where I felt so good swimmimg and biking. At this point I was feeling quite distressed looking at my knee and leg and feeling bummed and then I fnally looked up and saw an ICE MACHINE at the first station! I decided I would stop and ice both the knee and the leg and then see how I felt.

I had decided to run with my compression socks, not caring what they looked like, since these really help keep my compartment syndrome in tact. It was a great decision because I was able to put ice in the sock and it would hold it in place for miles. I was then able to apply the ice to my knee...

It worked beautifully, took away most of the pain and keep me from freaking out entirely, and I was able to run a majority of the time as opposed to just walking.

It was hot out there and in addition to staying hydrated, I had to keep putting ice in my hat, leg and knee, all the while moving along and focusing on beating my goal of 7 Hours.

Again, many cheers along the way for TNT - some of the people very vocal and thanking me and others for what we are doing. One said thank you, and I said thank you back - and then she said again - THANK YOU - REALLY!

At my age and condition, and since I ain't winning any of these - I can't think of doing these events without a purpose and higher calling - it just wouldn't make sense.

At one point one of the photograpers said WAY TO GO TNT - Thank You TNT! When I saw him again on the way back - he thanked me again, and then he asked me, "Hey TNT, who are you doing this for?"

I answered, "Ron R".

It was another emotional moment for me as I remembered Ron again and why I do these things.

I'm doing it because I will always rememember Ron, and its through Triathlon, Love and Service that I remember him best.

For Fun, For Health and For Love!

-- Willie B

On to Ironman Arizona!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Eagleman 2009 Race Results

Willie set a PR for a Half Ironman distance today at Eagleman. He had a good swim, of course, followed by a strong bike. The run was tough, and I'm sure we'll hear more in his race report.

I didn't make it down to the race site.. I wanted to go but tomorrow is my 13th wedding anniversary so Linda and I agreed that it would be best if we spent time together this weekend. Worked out pretty good as I was still able to get in a 75 mile ride this morning. Don't worry... I was home by noon and we were able to hang out by the pool together this afternoon. Very nice...

-- TJ

Friday, June 12, 2009

Eagleman 2006 Race Report - TJ

Wednesday, June 14 2006 @ 08:26 PM PDT

I just saw “Cars” this evening with my 8 year old daughter. There was a great line in the movie that prompted me to write my Eagleman Race Report *tonight*. Here is the line:

“Life isn’t so much about getting from here to there as fast as you can, but also about enjoying the ride along the way.”

OK, it is not a real original line but this evening, it just kind of hit me like a ton of bricks in the context of triathlon.

I love triathlon. It is great to get to the finish line fast. But, the swim, ride and run is so much fun for me that I sometimes wish the finish line didn’t come. Some days, it seems like I could stay out there all day.

Eagleman 2006 was one of those days for me.

Last year, I did Eagleman. It was my “A” race for the year. Unfortunately, I contracted a sinus infection about 10 days before the race. I didn’t shake it until about June 20. The height of the illness was the 4 days around race day. I was in bed sick the day before the race. I finished the race, but I was very disappointed with my 7.03:14 time. I had wanted to do it in under 6 hours.

As soon as I could sign up for the 2006 race, I did. I really wanted to train to do better the next time out.

I stayed at the Hyatt and woke up at 3:45 am. I poked my head out the balcony and didn’t like what I felt and heard. I could hear “waves” from the river and the wind was very gusty. My hopes that the wind would die down overnight did not seem to be in the cards. In the shower, I could hear the sound of howling wind against the little window in the bathroom. Well, we had done a lot of training in the wind at Hains Point so I felt like I would be prepared. At least it wasn’t going to be cold, too.

I slathered on the Butt’R and Body Glide and I proudly put on my DC Tri uniform. While watching a DVD of the movie “The Endurance”, which is about Shackleton’s trip to Antarctica when his team were stranded for over 700 days, I ate a Clif bar, a banana and drank a bottle of Accelerade. That movie kind of pumps me up for times on the swim, bike or run when I feel challenged. I can always say, “hey, this will be over soon. And, I ain’t cold.” I got lost in the story (it really is unbelievable if you aren’t familiar with it) and didn’t leave the hotel until 5:55 am to head towards Great Marsh.

I was able to take some shortcuts through town and not get stuck in too bad of traffic and made it to the park by 6:10. I parked in the normal parking area and get into transition. I condensed stuff into a bag that also held ice so I could keep my 4 Accelerade and 2 water bottles cold. I tried to find Chad but that crazy numbering system they had in transition bamboozled me more than my wife does and I gave up. Vigo announced that because of traffic, everything was going to be pushed back 5 minutes. So, I headed over to the porta potties by the bike exit.

I saw some buds over there and chatted while in line. The line was going nowhere fast so I stretched real good and did some pushups, sipping Accelerade the whole time. At 6:55 they announced that transition was closing in 5 minutes and I had moved all of like 5 feet. All my swim stuff was still in transition. So, I bailed and got my gear and headed to the swim area. I took a Gu with me and a little bottle of water. It seemed like the black caps were out there forever waiting to start. I stretched some more, ate the Gu and washed it down with water. The having to go to the bathroom sensation left me except for going #1.

Finally it was time for us purple caps to get into the water. I walked out quite a ways and relieved myself of that #1 sensation. I felt eerily calm and the water felt warm and did not look that bad. I even suggested to others that the wind seemed to be dying down. I had on a brand new pair of googles and doing some test swimming revealed that I would have no problem with leakage or fogging.

Vigo yells “GO” through the bullhorn (no whistle or horn?!?!?) and we were off. I was out front and to the left and my strategy was to go straight to the boat with the flag, go around it and come back. Stay to the left and go straight. After the second bouy, the water got real warm. I was swimming on what I thought was a good clip and was breathing on the left side only. It just felt more comfortable. A couple of strokes caught what I first thought was seaweed but when I felt stings on my arms, I knew it was jellyfish. I was wearing a sleeveless wet suit. Some people who were swimming the day before when I was racking my bike reported jellyfish. So, I wasn’t surprised. I wasn’t happy either. If anything, it made me swim faster.

When I got to the first triangle bouy, I headed for the boat along with the 6-8 other guys in the little cluster I was in. The smell of gas tipped me off that the jetskis were nearby and I looked up to see them pointing away from the boat. I looked over and damn if there wasn’t another triangle bouy to the right. What the heck?!?!? Vigo had said, first triangle bouy then go around the boat. So, it turns out there are 2 triangle bouys, THEN look for yellow. So, that’s what I did. Swam around the second triangle bouy and tried to pick up sight of the yellow bouys. It dawned on me that they were hard to spot and the reason was the waves seemed a little more choppy at this point. I kind of got into an up-stroke, down-stroke rythym and made some progress. About the second yellow bouy in, the water got strangely warm again and I started feeling the jellyfish again on my strokes. One got on my neck on a down-stroke cycle and stung me pretty good right away. It really made me pick up the pace again.

Sighting the “exit” was not so easy. By this point, I saw two blue cap dudes pass me on the my left. They had picked up 8 minutes on me so I figured they knew what they were doing. I got in behind them and got into the boat ramp area. I stood up and walked as soon as I could because this is the area where you get the “mud face”. Because I wear booties. I don’t worry about cutting my feet. Out of the water, through the hose and on my way to T1.

Swim Time 41:45

I am too slow in transition. I took my booties off. Took off my wet suit. Dried off my feet. Put on my socks. Put on my bike shoes. Put on my sunglasses. Put on my helmet. Ran the bike out of T1 and put my gloves on after I started riding. 4:33. Sheesh.

I cruised out to Horns Point at a 20 mph clip and HR in the low 130s. I took a Gu about 4 miles in and washed it down with some water. Horns Point almost was a disaster because a deer came running out of the woods from the right. The rider in front of me kind of freaked but didn’t drop his bike or anything. But, we were close enough that if he stopped or veered too much, we might have wrecked. The wind was pretty stiff and I was happy to get to the left turn at Lover’s Lane.

I believe that the wind was pretty much against us all the way to Smithville Road. I was feeling good and made it out there in just over an hour so I was on a 20 mph pace into the wind and my HR was in the low 140s at this point. When we made the turn, you could feel the “quiet” of the wind when it is behind you and I really started flying. About 4 miles down this road, I felt like I was getting a flat. I asked a rider that I passed if my tire was flat. He said no, it looked fine. Was my seat moving? Nope. The bar didn’t seem to be moving down. Was it moving side to side? No. It was strange. What I realized AFTER the race was that it was crosswind blowing me. I know what it was now but did not put it together at the time. This actually made me slow down a little bit for a 2-3 mile stretch.

Egypt Road. Egypt Road is not my favorite road. I knew what was coming and my strategy was to not slow my pace down too much in the certain stiff head wind. At one point, I was going about 16 MPG and saw my HR was at 131. I told myself, “come on, pick it up you baby” and got my speed, and HR back up. I went small chain ring mostly on this road and tried to keep the RPM in the 92-96 range. It was really a head wind all the way back to 343 but then there was a great tailwind for the last 5 miles. I think I was up around 27-29 MPH that whole stretch to Leonards Lane and my HR actually dipped down below my low target range. I felt real strong and noticed that I had only gone through 1 ½ bottles of Accelerade and about ½ a bottle of water. I had taken a Gu every 45 minutes (so that is 3 after the one at mile 4) and ate 2/3 of a Clif Bar about 90 minutes into the ride.

Cruised into T2 and noted my bike time. 2.46:37.

Easier than pulling off a wet suit, huh? Took off the gloves, helmet and sunglasses. Took off my bike shoes and put on my Nike Shox NZ. I remembered I had put two pieces of gum into the left shoe so I had to take it back off. I put on my race belt, grabbed two small Fuel Belt bottles full of Accelerade from the ice bag and hoofed it out the run exit. 3:42

Last year, I walked the first 4 miles of the run. This year, I ran the first mile in like 8:30 and my HR locked in at 151. I felt good and didn’t take a drink until I ran past the 2 mile marker. I wanted to run fast (for me, folks) out to 343 but then dial it back for that 5.9 miles out 343 and Horns Point and back. Chad passed me with a “POPPA GANOOSH” at about mile 5 and he damn near freaked out the guy we were both passing. I picked up some ice and put it under my cap at mile 5 water stop and decided to wait to the turnaround before taking another drink.

At the turnaround I slowed to a walk by choice, picked up a chocolate chip cookie and some ice in a cup. I poured one Accelerade into the ice cup and sipped on it. I saw Chris Manning approaching (he was heading out to the turnaround) and yelled out words of encouragement. After about two minues of walking, I ran again and it wasn’t long until I sensed a #1 coming along. I decided to run down to the porta potties at the Texaco and go there. Chris would probably catch up to me by then and we could run back together… if I could keep up with him.

That is what happened and we go back to Leonards Lane running at probably 9:30 mile clips. We made some movie references along the way and gave shouts out to DC Tri folks who passed us going the other way. At about mile 12, I wanted to walk for two minutes, take a final sip of Accelerade and then run the last mile into the chute. And that is what I did. I had run almost the whole 13.1 miles, didn’t feel all that bad and was actually kind of sad that the race was now over. So, happy (I DID IT!!!) and sad (DANG, IT’S OVER) at the same time.


The wind that was a pain in the ass on the bike was quite refreshing on the run. The swim was a distant memory at this point. When they posted the times, I was very happy by what I saw. I had done the race in 5.44:26. Average HR 147. An hour nineteen minute improvement on last year and 15 minutes better than my goal. Not too bad.

I don’t know what it is about this sport. I got hooked on it the first week I took up training. It is challenging as hell. It truly is a test of endurance and some varied athletic skills. But, for me, it has a spiritual quality. I feel happy when I “tri”. I feel serene. Other people, even when they are obviously struggling, seem happy. Many people are faster than me and while I pass my share of people, I get passed by even more people. Either way, we are friendly with each other. “Keep up the good work!” or “You’re looking good, kid!”. I don’t get that playing basketball or lifting weights.

I really just enjoy the ride.

-- TJ

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Eagleman Weekend

Willie finally surfaced. He's busy prepping for Eagleman this weekend. I may join him on Saturday or I may just go down EARLY Sunday morning. His swim wave goes off right after the pro's. I think he gets in at 6:50 am. As an FYI, this will end a two year hiatus Willie has had from Triathlon. I think his last tri was Eagleman 2007.

Here is an excerpt from our email exchange today:

From: TJ
Sent: Thursday, June 11, 2009 5:11 PM
To: Willie
Subject: Re: Report


Don't do anything crazy... like post on the blog.


TJ Collins

From: Willie
Subject: RE: Report
Date: June 11, 2009 5:17:30 PM EDT
To: TJ

Hey we can put this on there.


Willie Brennan
Custom Print Now • Web-to-Print Without Limits

Riveting, I know. We'll try to calm this blog down... too much excitement.

Stay tuned...

-- TJ

Monday, June 8, 2009

Where's Willie?

Has anyone seen Willie? Perhaps because he now owns a Cervelo P2 and has outfitted it with a disc wheel and a 999 on the front wheel, he is moving so fast, his presence is imperceptible to the human eye. I did receive a couple of emails from him but have not seen hide nor hair from him in a few weeks. Clearly, he's not updating the blog.

I do plan on seeing him this weekend at Eagleman this Sunday. I plan on going down and perhaps blowing out the pipes on the run course. Jessica Ann and her husband Gary are racing, too. I'll be cheering them on.

I rode this weekend down at the beach in Delaware. Yesterday, I clipped in for a 45 mile ride with Paul Timmons, a 6 time Ironman... 3 times at Hawaii! He was doing three 45 mile loops around Delaware Bay. I joined him on loop 2. It made me feel good when he commented positively on my riding (he drafted off me most of the way) and even suggested that I may have been going a little too fast.

TJ & Jessica in Rehoboth Beach, DE 6/6/2009

Gary & Jessica at Bethany Beach, DE 6/6/2009