Most of us have felt it at some point, the knowledge that no matter how hard you dig, your legs simply won't turn over on the run. You're left barely lifting your legs as you trundle towards the finish line, which suddenly seems way more distant than the other 10Ks/Half-Marathons/Marathons you've ever done before. Two weekends ago, at the Eagleman 70.3 in Cambridge, MD, in 97 degree heat and almost complete humidity, I found myself doing the survival shuffle. It was the first time since my Boston Marathon meltdown of 2004 (1:24 first half...2:51 second half!), and it reminded me, once again, just how careful you have to be in the heat. I'd gone out and pushed it on the bike, getting rewarded with the fastest bike split of the day (2:06:17), but as soon as my feet touched the ground, I knew things weren't going to turn out well.
After coming off the bike in 3rd place, I faded quickly. Richie Cunningham, consistent triathlete extraordinaire, passed me about 1.5 miles into the run, right at an aid station. I told him to go get the front runners, who were just up the road out of sight. By way of thanks, he told the volunteers at the aid station we passed seconds later "The guy behind me needs some ice. Badly." It was true. I was in the middle of a meltdown.
From failures, however, sometimes great things arise. I faded to 10th in the pro field and 15th overall, subpar performances for me (and a 1:42 run split; eeesh). But I managed to get 4th place American, which puts me on the National Long Course team for the LC Triathlon World Championships, in Holland later this summer. It's a long race for me (4K/120K/30K), but I seem to get better as the distance gets longer, so maybe it'll all come up roses.
This weekend it's off to the Philly Tri in, yes, Philadelphia. Updates to come, as well as some reflections on riding 112 last weekend in LP.
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