Eagleman 70.3 race report

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Posted by: Heather Leiggi 7/1/2015 6:58 AM

Every now and then something amazing happens....Wow!! Second place at Eagleman!!!! It was a pretty spectacular day for me. 4th out of the water, 3rd off the bike and then 2nd at the finish. I think getting out of the water in 4th might had been the biggest shocker of all... I could've just ended the day right there and been happy...ha!  Glad i didn't though :)))

Eagleman and I have a long history. It was the place of my first ever half. I finished 4th OA amateur in my first attempt and thought half ironmans were going to be my calling. It must been a bit of beginners luck though because after that, my amateur half ironman performances were just sort of average and I fell back into Olympic distance racing.  I was more comfortable with the distance and I really them. Once I turned pro, I very quickly realized my focus was going to have to change. My swim was too much of a weakness to be competitive at the Olympic distance pro level (we won't bring up my Chicago Triathlon pro performance...yikes!) and so my quest to nail the half ironman distance was back on. I have raced Eagleman 5 times since.  In the beginning it was mostly because it was close but racing hot windy flat races are one of my favorites now.  So, when given the chance to race at Eagleman, I always do. And since the ironman gods seem to be against me this year (IMSA-food poisoning, Challenge AC-canceled pro purse), Eagleman ended up back on the schedule.  I was feeling a little more pressure going into Eagleman this year. After having a solid day at Chattanooga, I really wanted another strong performance to back up that result and Eagleman always attracts a strong field. 

One awesome perk of racing Eagleman is that I have the best homestay in town. Getting the chance to catch up with Dave and his other annual homestay guests was great and has become a bit of tradition. The rest of the lead up to the race was uneventful. Having done this race so many times I knew the venue inside and out. I also got the chance to meet up with my local athletes who

were racing Eagleman also for a pre-race swim and chat. Sunday morning I woke up bright and early and ate my pre race standard: coffee, bagel with PB, a banana and a bottle of sports drink. This race, I downed some extra sports drink on race morning just to ensure I was hydrated and electrolyte loaded. The day was expected to be scorcher (as usual for Eagleman!).  I set up my stuff in transition and headed out for a short pre-race warm-up run. The temps weren't too bad yet but it was already really humid and I was drenched in sweat when I returned back to transition. It was gonna be a scorcher for sure! I headed over to the swim start and got myself ready to go. The water temps were hot too-78degrees! I knew Sarah Haskins and Lauren Brandon would be untouchable during the swim so once the gun went off, I kept my eye out for some slightly slower but still fast feet I could catch. I saw someone pulling away out of the corner of my eye, accelerated and latched on. Drafting was a challenge in the Choptank River. The water was murky and there were all kinds of crazy currents. I just barely managed to stay on. When I exited the water, I almost fell over in shock when I heard we were 3rd and 4th out. I glanced over my shoulder quickly expecting to see the rest of the women right on our heels but I didn't see anyone. I got out of transition first and realized I was in 3rd place already.  It was a bit daunting to be honest. I am much more used to havingwomen ahead of me to chase down and having to work my way up through the field. I knew Sarah and Lauren were already far up the road so it was going to be a lonely bike ride! I had to switch my focus to hitting my power/HR numbers and making sure I was hydrating. The benefit of being out on my own was I could also devote lots of attention to my fueling and hydration. Temperatures were rising quickly and I made sure to get down tons of fluids and salt. By the time the bike was over, I had gotten in 6 bottles of sports drink 3 salt tabs and 3 gels. I knew there some strong cyclists behind me and I had expected to get caught at some point on the bike but while I managed to not get caught, I did spy Sarah Piampiano coming into transition as I headed out on the run. Time to run fast!!! It took quite a while for my legs to come around. The first 3miles were not pretty and I felt pretty awful.  Fortunately after a few miles they came around and I was able to find a bit of a rhythm. Still, it was hot and I was not running very fast which had me worried, but time checks back to Sarah had me holding my ground. My sole focus up until the turnaround had just been on holding onto to 3rd place. As I approached the turnaround, I saw Sarah Haskins run by and as I got closer, I realized I had still not seen Lauren. I was starting to think perhaps I missed her but then I saw her and I realized I had a shot at 2nd place...I dug a little deeper and by mile 7 had managed to move into 2nd. Sarah was still running strong behind me so it was back to trying to hold my position.  Somewhere around mile 9 or so, my focus turned to just getting to the next aide station.  I was still feelingpretty good but I was starting to feel like I couldn't get enough fluids in. I was thankful for bring my handheld Fuelbelt for some extra hydration in between aide stations but even with that, I was still anxious for fluids and I grabbed everything I could get my hands in through those last few aide stations.  Finally I made the turn back along the water and down the to the finish. I saw my dad who gave me a look like, “what happened out there?!”... I gave him a shrug and a smile...I was surprised too dad! :).  

This was for sure one of my best results to date.  A second place against a strong field and at a race I love.  It's amazing to see your hard work pay off and some of your dreams start to get realized.  And honestly, it's not just the result that made this race so good.  It was my fastest time at Eagleman with PR's on the bike and run.  That's what this journey is all about-pushing my own limits.  Onward!!!

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EMAIL ME at heather@heatherleiggi.com