Well the day came and went and it was truly amazing! Everything about my first 70.3 Half Iron Distance was more than I dreamed up in my head! Yes I said first...there WILL be more...I am addicted!
As you may remember the logistics around this race were not exactly as we had initially planned. My husband was racing Ironman Maryland 10/3 however the threat of a hurricane pushed this race to 10/17...the same day as Beach 2 Battleship. He wanted to be there to enjoy in the celebration and watch the three people he coached over the past six months reach their goals...however his goal had to be met as well. We divided up our children and with the amazing help of family and friends figured it all out. I headed to North Carolina on Thursday morning and he would head to Maryland on Friday...we would make this work.
Arrived to the convention center on Thursday afternoon after a long six and half hour drive and it was pretty quiet as most people arrive to packet pick up on Friday. Grabbed our packets and left with an amazing orange trucker hat. I was pumped. The atmosphere was pretty tame but still got my juices flowing for what was in store. We went to the house we rented for the long weekend and hit up the grocery store. My training partner and I did a quick three mile run through the streets of Wrightsville Beach, we could tell this was a fun place to be. Pasta was made and we relaxed on the porch of our house...it was a great day.
Friday morning we went to the swim at your own risk meet up at the channel we would be swimming on Saturday. There were about 60 of us and it was a great stress reliever. After our .8 mile swim with the current I felt like Saturday would not be an issue, swimming is not my strongest leg but I knew I could power through it. That afternoon we packed up our transition bags, marked them with bright orange tape and was ready to drop them off at the transition areas along with our bikes. The weather was supposed to drop in temp for Saturday morning so I made some sleeves out of old socks and felt ready for whatever was going to happen.
Friday afternoon we had a late lunch in the town of Wilmington and we sat next to a couple who were also triathletes. The woman was racing on Saturday and she looked like she was going to take names...sure enough she was the 4th female finisher...third in her age group. I was impressed by her before the race even began. It was not until my conversation with her that I realized I was probably going to go a bit faster than I thought on this course...I was getting excited! We headed home to relax and have a calm dinner. We spent the afternoon on the beach in the beautiful sunshine.
I went to bed at 9:30 and was up for about an hour and then fell asleep...I slept until 6:15. It was a great night sleep. I talked with my husband before he headed into the water for his swim...we wished each other all the best and final I love yous were spoken...It truly sucked so badly to not be together for these races...but we embraced the suck and pushed through. My daughter rolled over and wished me luck on my race as I headed out to get my tattoos on and breakfast in my belly. My training partner and I decided we would walk to the start from our house even though there were shuttles, our house was positioned in the middle of the two. It was a beautiful calm morning and we were both in a great place mentally...very relaxed.
We stood in a parking lot as we watched the full swimmers start their day and then the 8:34 start for my training partner was up...he headed to the other side of the road and was ready...it was going to be a great day. My group was 8:54 start time...I waited for my other friend and we walked over together. Standing in the water and waiting for room for us to get in for our wave I started shivering and just wanted it to begin. I went out to our starting point and positioned myself to the left...as I knew I would have a left hand turn at the buoy...clearly this was everyone else's plan as well.
The swim started and I felt okay...my goggles were not as tight as they should have been and water started seeping in pretty quickly. I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the swimmers around me but knew I just needed to find my lane. The goggles were not getting any better and I knew I could not handle it for thirty plus minutes. I decided to flip onto my back and kick and take off my goggles and fix them. I did this but seeing all the swimmers coming from behind freaked me out a bit. I quickly turned back over and found my groove. I made it to the first turn buoy and the current made it very challenging to make the turn as I was already to the left of the buoy. I made my way around as I didn't want to get dinged for not going around it. The rest of the swim was great...no issues and no anxiety. I was in my lane, my groove and I felt great. Made it to the ladders and out to the strippers and to the swim mat 34:35.
It was probably a quarter mile to the transition area but I made sure to stop in the warm showers to rinse some of the salt water off. I ran up the street in my bare feet chatting with the other woman around me complaining about those horrible first five minutes of the swim and how the water was so choppy. We made it and was happy that portion was behind us...now to find our bikes! My cheering crew was there to greet me as I entered T1...gave me huge smiles and high fives. Well, I thought I knew that mine was in the row by the tree and in the middle of all the racks on the left side. Well when the front racks are now empty my visual was all messed up and I was freaking out that I could not find my bike. My training partner's bike was gone from our rack and I finally did find mine and was debating on going to the bathroom but decided to just power through and get on the bike and go. T1 was 5:55. A bit longer than I wanted. Next time will go in the am and get my shoes and helmet out and on the bike ready to go so I don't have to open the bag and find all that stuff. I would then only have to put my wet stuff away.
Off onto the bike. This part was making me the most nervous...I am lucky to train at home on a great trail when I get outside but never really feel like I maintain a high rate of speed for that long. I trained at 50 miles in about three hours. The bike was feeling amazing. My legs felt fresh and ready to tackle these 56 miles. I had no clue if I would feel like death when it came to the run but I was just going to push as hard as they would let me. I also realized while going out to bike that I had hit stop on my watch instead of lap...so I was all messed up there but finally got it to show me my speed in a rotating screen...it was annoying but I was seeing what my output was....at least every three screens. So we were in town for a bit and then got out onto a highway...that is when the headwind was in full force...it was crappy but I keep pushing. The faster folks in the older age groups that started the swim after me were plowing past me...but then I was passing some of those younger age groupers...it was a give and take on the bike. I found my training partner at mile thirty...gave him some encouraging words to keep going. When we did the turn around and headed back to Wilmington we now had a tail wind...I was flying and legs still felt great. I had eaten three gus on the bike and kept very hydrated with my profile design mounted water bottle. Our final little bridge into town I was behind another woman from Florida...she was so funny complaining how there are no hills in Florida and that this was not a flat race...We made it over the grates on the drawbridge, our second bridge like that and turned into town. We cheered each other over that uphill..it was a great ride....managed 2:49:47.
Headed into the convention center for our next transition. Right at the dismount line my cheering crew was there...all smiles and waving and high fiving. Made the hard ride worth it! Ran my bike up and then a volunteered grabbed it. They called my number to help me find my run bag and headed into the changing tent. Debated the bathroom again but decided to just go and start running. Sneakers were on and I had my gus and orange visor on...I was ready to go! Headed out of T2 and saw my cheering crew again...3:09.
The run started great...I knew the turn around was at mile 7 and it would take a lot of work to get there. The first mile was a fast one at 7:52 which was a little add on loop right outside the convention center. Took a bit to make the legs feel human again but was working through it. There were a few hills to get out of downtown before we ran along a nice shaded path in a wooded area. It was a great spot and the volunteers were awesome at the aid stations. I felt like it was a false flat all the way up to the turn around. I saw the first woman coming back and was just amazed...they were hauling! I caught up with a 28 year old and tried to hang with her as best as I could....I needed her help to get me to that turn around. Finally the turn and run back...I had taken my first gu at mile 3 and then my second at mile 9. I was taking water at every station, dumping one on my head and one to drink. I was starting to feel a chafe on my left armpit was just trying my best to not think about it. I did have the thought that my husband and I were now running at the same time, and I saw a guy running in the same kit he was wearing...it made me feel a little better on the last half of the run.
Taking the turn back into town was wonderful...I knew it was less than three miles til I was done and on any given day I can run three miles. One of the last turns to get along the water and there was a woman that was going strong and she told me to stay with her, that I could do it. I love this sport...I love the community...she helped through that last mile. Made it to the final left and there was a girl ahead of me...I had to get in front of her and I did. Saw my crew in the shoot with their hands out and lots of waving and cheers. Crossed the line and finally could stop...Run was 1:52:43...Total time 5:26:07.
I didn't know what my time was until I got over to the after party area where they were flipping through the results. I found my two slices of pizza and some cookies and grapes...lots of water and a seat. I sat with some people and discussed the day, the chopping start, the crazy headwind and the false flat of the run. I then asked if I could track my husband on their phone to see where he was in his race...and he was crushing it! Made it back to my crew after I felt a bit rested, got some Vaseline for my chaffed armpit and got lots of hugs and congrats while we waited for my training partner to come in.
We grabbed our bikes and bags and wobbled back to the car. It was a long day but one we were very proud of. I would do this race again in a heartbeat. The community was amazing and the level of sportsmanship from all participants was awesome. We drove back to our house to finally get a shower and put on cozy clothes...was able to watch my husband finish his full due to awesome technology...3rd in his age group, next day a Kona slot he had worked so VERY hard for was handed to him.
Goals are not always clear when you start something but as you progress through the process of training, and you feel yourself working so very hard, those goals become crystal clear. The daily training and time away from my people was tough, doing a swim at 5:30 in the morning not ideal, not feeling my toes after a long ride on the bike hurt, getting a sore bottom from a super duper long ride...all these things are worth it. It is not about winning or being the fastest but about testing yourself and see what you are truly capable of. As adults we don't get to have weekends filled with soccer tournaments and field hockey matches. It is so very thrilling to go through the training and work, hard hard work, and get to "play" and see what you can still do. I think it's very important to remember to play and always keep testing yourself.
Thank you for reading my ramblings and hopefully this will encourage you to start something...to move towards a goal...to set that big nasty huge audacious goal. You will fail, it will be difficult, but it will be so very worth it when you make it!
Embrace the Suck....Choose You!!
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B2B 70.3 10/17/15