11 years ago, Lou Laflamme and I went down to the Blackwater Eagleman in Cambridge, Maryland for the famed race.
On that day, I raced in the pro division and had a super day, except for three small glitches that came back to haunt me. The first was that I was not adhering to the stagger rule for pros, which they sometimes apply in races, and sometimes do not—I was riding far enough outside the draft zone, but not to the side. Truthfully, I did not even know of this aspect of the rule. I was riding at and around the front of the race, drifting from 1st to 5th on a regular basis. For that infraction, I was given a yellow card, which I thought was a 1:30 time penalty.
This was glitch number 2, but will get back to that one later.
A group of us came off the bike in quick succession, one of whom was Christian Bustos from Chile, Christian was the holder of the fastest marathon in an IM at 2:36. He had also finished 2nd in Kona and had a best time for an IM of an astounding 8:02. And I was running with him..
We ran hard, and stride for stride until 6.5 miles when I started calculating my energy level and ability to put 1:30 on arguably the best runner in the sport. I tested him once and he did not respond. I tested him again, and still nothing, so at 8 miles, I went for it, thinking I had 4 miles to hammer. This would be glitch number 3, and I will get to that one later as well.
I ran for all I was worth, pulling away quickly and surely. He was gone. The only question was whether or not I could put the 1:31 on him I needed to win.
Eventually, I looked back and could no longer see him. I hammered some more, budgeting my energy to the finish.
At 11 miles, 3 after my attack, it dawned on me that I had 2 miles to go, not the 1 I had calculated and based my effort on. See glitch number 3.
I instantly imploded. My confidence was shattered and my energy level dropped by half. I ran flat footed and struggled, still in first, to within 200m of the finish line when another triathlete, Rob Hacker, went flying by me for the win. He crossed in 3:59:50, and I wobbled my way across in 4:00:02.
I had put enough time on Bustos, but my power fade in the last 2 miles let Hacker run me down.
Unfortunately, and this is glitch number 2, the penalty in a long course race was 4 min, not the 1:30 I had thought, so I went from almost crossing the line first, to 6th in an official 4:04:02. Still a great time, but it left me with some great motivation to go back the next year.
That’s part 2.