In case you're interested in the current water temperature of the lovely (or not so lovely) Choptank River -- site of the Eagleman swim -- you can visit the webpage at the Maryland Dept. of Natural Resources:
The graph shows that the water was warmer than average this April. Actually the April temperature was the warmest for any April since at least 1985. The average water temperature for mid-June seems to be about 78F or 79F. (Hard to tell on the graph.)
For you science geeks, you can also check the dissolved oxygen levels, salinity and pH levels too. I doubt that will have much of an effect on the race. The water is also murkier than average, almost setting a post-1985 record for lack of water clarity. Again, that shouldn't affect the triathletes in the water but it might make it more difficult to see that jellyfish up ahead!
You bring up interesting points, but I don't see how it's very helpful... I think no matter what, people will be swimming at Eagleman. Warm or cold, high pH or low pH, high or low dissolved oxygen levels, high or low salinity levels, there's not really a way to get around the swim.
And the jellyfish just want to be a part of the race. Don't hate on the jellyfish.
I just find it interesting for mental preparation. I've found that it's easier to handle particular conditions if I'm expecting them.
Some people may also decide between a sleeveless or full wetsuit, depending on the water temperature. Or no wetsuit at all, for stronger swimmers.
As for the jellyfish, I don't think I'm hurting their feelings. I don't wish them any harm either. I just don't want them within 5 feet of me.
I'm adding on to an old post, but does anyone know if this site is an accurate predictor of the water temp for Eagleman?
It looks like the water is already 81.3, which would make me doubt that it would come down to reasonable wetsuit temps of 78ish in 10 days (considering the weather predictions).
Anyone have any thoughts?
If you want to mentally prepare for the Eagleman swim (especially given these water temps), you should be thinking that this will not be a wetsuit-legal swim. As many DC Tri members will recall, that was a surprise announcement the morning of the race last year. Also, I would be prepared for unexpected currents that will make the swim course longer/slower (this is apparently what happened last year). Everybody I came out of the water with had the same "WTF!?!?" reaction when they looked at their watches for swim splits.
x2 on what Matt said.
My thought is that wetsuit legal this year, per USAT, is 76.1 not the 78 of yesteryear :) It was 79+ last year, 77 the year before that, and I believed 77-78 three years ago.
If there are currents, like last year, the buoys will not be aligned ... like last year. It makes for an interesting swim for those of us who can't swim.
If last year is any indication, trust NOTHING the race director has to say as far as wetsuit legal swim is concerned during the day before briefing. They kept mentioning wetsuit legal, wetsuit legal, wetsuit legal, and wetsuit allowed between 78-84 for non KQ seeking folks. Two hours before the race, they announced that no wetsuit period, even though the water temp (79) fell within the USAT rule of wetsuit optional swim ... the same rule that they quoted on their web page.
Emotionally I'm in a better place now, but I'm still bitter :)
x3! The swim was a total disaster last year. Oh, the run is mega HOT too! After 4 consecutive years, I am skipping the race in 2011.
Given that jellyfish were mentioned, i've got to ask... what kind of jellyfish are we talking about? Are we talking chance encounters or packs of jellyfish? Do they sting? If so, anyone have tips to keep them off of you? I've swum through my share of jellyfish and it definitely isn't my favorite way to start a sunday morning.
No jellyfish that I saw last year. That was more of my pre-race jitters, and never having tried a Half Ironman before.
Turned out, my downfall was my goggles. There was some sort of lotion in them. I couldn't get them clean. Before the race, I couldn't see people two feet in front of me, while standing on land. In the water, I had no idea where the buoys were. Between the messed-up goggles and the currents (or shifted buoys), my swim was a mess. I was one of the many who got DQ'd last year, although they didn't tell me until AFTER I finished the full 56 miles on the bike, in the brutal heat. I only missed the cutoff by 90 seconds though.
Because of all the complaints last year, the swim cutoff rule is different this year. In 2010, the cutoff was 1:10:00 from the start of your individual wave. In 2011, the rule is 1:10:00 from the end of the FINAL wave. Much more forgiving, especially for those who are better cyclists and runners than swimmers. (Despite that, I'm not racing Eagleman this year. This is my year of shorter races.)
As for the temperatures, expect it to change between now and race day. The last 2 or 3 days before will have the greatest effect. Since it's June, I would plan on the race not being wetsuit-legal. If it's not, think about whether you want to wear a tri jersey on the swim. It might slow you down. It will also get very muddy. On the other hand, it could be difficult to put a jersey on in T1. Practice putting the jersey on after standing in the shower at home. If it's too difficult, then don't try it on race day. Personally, I was able to put a jersey on in T1 at the Washington DC Tri last year without any major problems.
Thanks for all the advice and info guys. This is my first race wearing an actual tri top, so I will definitely take your advice and trying putting it on in the shower. It looks like it may be another hot race this year.
Putting on a tri top while standing in a shower is not indicative of what it's like in a real live triathlon situation. If you want a real life simulation, go to the practice swim at Eagleman on Saturday, get out of the water, walk quickly with your transition bag toward your bike rack in the transition area, and put on your top. When you are putting on your top right after a shower, you are soaking wet. When you are in a triathlon, the time it takes you to get from the water to the transition area, you are not as soaking wet. If there is moderate wind or if the air temp is warm, you may find yourself quite dry by the time you get to T1.
I have never had any issues putting on my top from any race distances from sprint to IM. I'm not saying that it's the same for everyone. I'm just saying that standing in a shower tub while soaking wet may give you a false positive reading :)
Just another FYI, a tri top is designed for you to swim with it in the water. One of its many purposes is for you to not have to put it on during T1 so that you can save transition time. If you have a poor fitting tri top that constrict your swim breathing or floats off of your body like a parachute, you may be better off doning on a properly fitted bike jersey in T1.
At Eagleman last year, I swam in my tri top and felt it did slow me down (or slow me down more). So at Steelman later that year I swam without my tri top on and then really struggled to get it on in T1. I probably spent two minutes as it rolled up... a total disaster. On the plus side, I was so pissed that I hammered out an aggressive bike split! Problem solved for Louisville this year, I bought a skinsuit to wear over my tri gear!
Silly question - are you treading water at the start? Just thinking about the whole no wetsuit thing.
Two years ago you were standing waist deep (counter clockwise swim). Last year you had to swim to the start buoy, which was too deep to stand (clockwise swim). I just hung onto one of the buoys.
The wave starts pretty quickly. If you are not a fan of treading, get into the water at the very end of your wave. By the time that you get to the start buoy, you are only a few seconds from the gun start.
Treading water is pure misery for me, so I will employ my usual back of the pack water entry technique that you suggest. Not to hijack the thread, but any others words of wisdom you want to impart before I attempt my first half? I just re-read your race report from two years ago which had me laughing all over again.
to respond to various questions I read:
1) jellyfish - sea nettles are the variety that they have there. last year there were none to speak of (fortunately as we were not in wetsuits); 2 years ago they were everywhere. Yes, they sting. How you react is dependent on you. I'm not allergic and I found it mildly annoying but the prickling/tingling sensation on the arms and feet went away momentarily. The one that I got on the face was a different story and that stung for the rest of the day. there's some sort of map that tracks activity to tell you whether they're out in force or not, no idea what that site is.
2) reading the athlete's guide makes me wonder if Vigo has learned from last year's mistake of having no plan B for wet suit optional conditions. The guide states that if you wear a wetsuit you'll be in the last wave. Who knows, that may just be a regurgitation of the rules and he may not have anything in place - so be prepared to go without.
3) 2 years ago the swim start was different bc the boat dock was under repair. Last year we walked down a fairly slick boat ramp into the water and treaded until the gun went off. Most races are in-water starts, so might as well get used to how it works.
I see that you've read one of the classics ... "Confessions of a Bike Pee-er."
Here are some advice
1. I tend to get to races in general pretty early to take in the experience. I have been at Eagleman on race day for 3 different years and have never had any issues parking in the streets near the transition area. If you are there around 5:30 AM-ish, there will be plenty of parking ... lots of people will be doing that.
2. The run is blazing hot on asphalt with zero shades. It might be a good idea to wear a hat during the run. They give out ice on the course, so you can put ice inside the cap and the cap over your head.
3. I ran with arm coolers last year. The beautiful thing about that is that you can put ice from the water station into the arm coolers and it makes life so much better.
4. The wind and current may cause the buoys to not align. Don't worry too much about trying to swim straight from one buoy to another. That will just cause you to zigzag. Aim for the orange turnaround buoys. If you are not aligned with the yellow ones, don't worry.
5. The wind can be brutal at times. Try to stay low and aero (even on a road bike) for as long as you can. Otherwise you will be riding like a parachute. The thing that I keep telling myself during the bike was to "ride small."
6. On a course as flat and windy as Eagleman, draft legally if you can. By that I mean if you are going to pass someone, stay in their streamline for as long as you can until you are about a bike length's away. Once you've reached that point, swing around them. It's called legal drafting because you are in and out of the draft zone within the allocated time. It may not sound like much, but doing that over and over again for 56 miles can save you some energy. I've read somewhere that there is a drafting effect even up to 8 bike lengths away, so the more that you can legally draft, the better you will be.
7. There are "bottles up" station every 10 miles on the bike. Grab a water bottle and throw it on yourself.
8. Have a solid nutrition and hydration plan. Take electrolyte caplets if you can. That sun, heat, and humidity along with the HIM distance will expose any flaws you have in your nutrition plan once you begin the run.
You are and remain the benevolent king. Hope to do you pround out there on Sunday. Thanks for the great advice.
yes, Tuan is a kind and benevolent leader.
I've got 2 years experience with EM and can vouch for his assessment/advice.
Typically the bike will be very windy throughout... often only moderately so until mile 40 when you will turn into a wall of wind that lasts about 12 miles. That said, last year (and my practice ride out there a few weeks ago), the pattern was the opposite. it was very hard wind riding for the first 40 miles and the wind sort of let up at that turn. In any event pacing is key. Remember you still have to run a brutal half mary afterwards. Don't let the flat fool you, the wind makes it a very tough course and it's very easy for people to leave it all on the course and implode when it comes time for the run. Treat wind like you'd treat hills, downshift and give yourself a bit of a break to save your energy. No such thing as a good bike split if you're walking the run. Better to lose a few minutes on the bike than half hour plus on the run bc you have nothing left and have to walk.
The run is torture. Hot, humid. Zero shade. Inexplicably the wind that was always on your face on the bike is gone and you will just suffer. With that in mind, nutrition and hydration are key on the bike as you'll be working very hard on the run and may not be able to tolerate much in the way of calories on the run without GI distress. The water stops are plentifully stocked with water, gatorade, ice, soda, chips, cookies, etc. Use the ice to your advantage. Consider wearing a hat only so you can fill it with ice and put it back on. Put ice in your sports bra and/or running shorts. Consider carrying a sponge or towel to douse with water and put on your head or whatever. Keeping your core body temperature low will be a big advantage. You will see a lot of carnage on the run course if the weather is anything like it's been the last few years. If you set yourself up with a evenly paced bike ride you'll be passing lots of folks who are struggling to shuffle along. I kid you not - I think I've averaged a 10mm pace the past 2 years bc of the heat and ended up among the top 1/3 of my AG.... the run destroys a lot of people.
Don't want to scare you, but want you to race smart. It's not a technically tough race, it's all about strategy and pacing.
In the past, a group of spectators put up a slip 'n slide on the run. You pass it on the way out and back, so at about miles 2 and 11. It's very tempting to slide down to cool off (plus, it's fun :-)). If you do, be sure to keep your feet up so your feet and shoes don't get wet and you get blisters on top of everything else.
Other than that, ditto what Tuan and Becky said. Just don't let all this information mess with your head. Trust your training and make smart decisions based on the conditions you find on Sunday. Above all, have fun!