Tips for your first Eagleman 70.3

Eagleman: Tips for a first timer

This past weekend was my first 70.3 of the season, Ironman Eagleman 70.3.  Eagleman is located in Cambridge, Maryland and was a solid 5 hour drive from my home on Long Island. Instead of boring you with intricacies of my race I figured I would provide "tips" to others thinking about toeing the line at Eagleman.

Everyone thinking about racing or participating at Eagleman should be cognizant of the conditions.  This course is flat.  It is the only race on the Ironman 70.3 circuit that does not provide an elevation profile. In addition the weather is notoriously hot and humid, typical East Coast weather, so prepare accordingly.

Although the lodging in Cambridge sells out immediately there are plenty of hotels in the surrounding towns.  I was initially nervous about staying in Easton do to its relative distance from the start of the race however those fears were put to rest. I stayed at the Econlodge which is 15 miles to the race site and 14 of those miles were on one road, 50.  Please know that there is a 55 mph speed limit and the cops love to enforce it so, make sure to drive the speed limit (you have been warned).

There isn't much to do for children in Cambridge and Easton so if you are packing up the family for a race weekend make sure you bring some board games/iPads etc or get a hotel with a pool.

In terms of eating, a quick search on Yelp will reveal plenty of reasonably priced places to eat.  My wife and I did discover that some of the more lunch oriented establishments are closed on weekends so make sure to call and check their hours of operation.  There are plenty of Duane Reeds and Walgreens for any last minute needs or solutions for things left home.

Training/Race Specific a Tips:

Getting to the Race:
The race director and athlete packet strongly encourage athletes and spectators to utilize shuttle services at a near by middle school because parking close to transition is extremely limited.  Unless you are swimming in the first couple of waves or one of those people that like to be the first in transition, use the shuttle.  The shuttles leave every 15-20 minutes and run virtually all day.  They are free and the ride is very short, roughly 7 minutes.  The one catch for The shuttle service is that they do not allow bikes on it. Therefor one must figure out a way to get your bike back to the middle school. There are two simple solutions: one, throw your transition bag Over your shoulder strap on your helmet and mike the 3-4 miles back, two, have a friend/significant other/member of your support crew take the shuttle back and then pick you up a few blocks from transition.

The Swim:
The Choptank River is choppy and murky but the water is very warm and the swim is always a race-day call in terms of wetsuit usage. The course is a clockwise direction around a rectangular course.  The sun is rising on your left hand side so if you breath to your right then the first two lengths are not an issue.  Where the sun can become an issue is on the last third of the swim.  The sun will be an issue on this section depending on the time of your wave, the earlier the wave the lower the sun.  My training recommendations would be to work on bi-lateral breathing and build your strength and confidence to swim the distance without a wetsuit.

The Bike:
Since the course is pancake flat there are a few things to keep in mind.  First you should have the endurance to put pressure on the pedals for the entire 56 mile distance. I do 95% of my bike training training on a trainer and found it extremely beneficial in prep for this race.  In addition be prepared to throw it in the big boy chain ring and leave it there for the entirety of the race.  Next, develop the strength in your lower back to remain aero for the entire ride.  There is no need to get out of that position since there is no climbing or any concerning, technical turns.   The longer you can maintain an aero position the faster you will be.  If you train and race with a power meter make sure you correlate your power output with your speed.  There are points during this race where you will hit higher than average speeds. Don't get greedy and chase numbers ( watts or mph)  If you can hit the top end of your speed range while producing less power than let your legs rest and save them for the run.  There is a ton of drafting on the course, the Marshall's know this and are out in force to give penalties.  There was a twenty minute stretch where it appeared that the Marshall gave everyone around me a drafting penalty.  Do yourself a favor, know the rules and regulations of drafting to avoid any unnecessary penalties.  My last piece of advice is to make sure you hydrate properly.  The course is extremely exposed and offers little shade from the sun meaning you will be sweating more than usual to cool down.

The Run:
Adhereing to the theme, the course is flat and totally exposed to the sun. The first 5k is scenic as you run along the water and then through a neighborhood. After that there is nothing to look at.  All of the aide stations are well stocked and I strongly suggest utilizing them.  I highly recommend strategically placing sponges in your race kit and carrying a cup of ice with you as you leave the aide station.  I typically run with a visor but do to the nature of this course opted for a hat, great idea.  The hat kept the sun off my head and was a great "pocket" to keep ice in.  Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen for obvious reasons.

Most athletes believe that a flat course is a fast course.  If this was the case then Eagleman should have the fastest doesn't.  A flat course offers it's own unique challenges, should be respected and requires specific training.

A plus for this race is the number of qualifying points for the pros.  It carries with it 750 points which makes it one of the more desirable races at the 70.3 distance.  With a high amount of points up for grabs, the pros come out in force.  It always adds another dimension to the sport when you can rub elbows with the pros.


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