Beach2Battleship Race Report (but not really)

b2b imageConfession time. I hate other people’s race reports. Honestly, I don’t care how fast you were in T1, or how many watts you produced on your bike. What I like to hear about was your day, how cool your volunteers were, how you felt, so be forewarned, that is my race report.

Let me just start out by thanking Canada and the Gulf Stream for the lovely cold snap. Waking up to frost on one’s windshield on race morning is never pleasant. However, with cold air comes a beautiful sky of bright stars, so I took that as a good first impression. Still, 34 degrees on race morning is not a comforting forecast.

My folks came down Friday night to make sure I crossed the finish line in one piece since C and little C were in Winston Salem for a soccer tournament. It was wonderful to have them there. After trying not to wake them up, I was off.

What I loved about this day was the following. I loved the woman at the body marking who said to me “It’s so nice to see a familiar face!” and then she gave me a hug. It cracked me up but left me smiling the whole day. Did she recognize my thighs? My calf? Have I really done that many races? In any regard, it made me smile.

I loved seeing my friend Tracy at the swim start. She had problems getting to the start on her bike so she lied to the police and told them that she was heading home. She and I ran Thursday pm and that really helped center me. She and I go way back with races and our friendship and it was wonderful having her there.

I loved Gordon’s heated truck. Gordon is Paula’s husband. He was doing water support on the course, so while everyone else was freezing, we were nice and toasty warm. Thanks Gordon. That was awesome.

I loved the swim. Let me say that again. I loved the swim. The sun was shining and every breath I took I saw golden droplets. It was beautiful. It was thrilling to be in a pack (a first for me, a slow swimmer), and the water was the perfect temperature. I was sad to climb the ladder out.

I loved the hot showers after the swim. There is nothing better than getting salt water off your face.

What wasn’t optimal? The head wind. From the north at 10-15 mph, it slowed me down on the bike considerably. Once I realized that all dreams for a 6 hour time were over (realized it when I realized the current wasn’t optimal) I decided to settle in and just enjoy the day. I worked hard for my bike time, but had some tightness in the shoulders/back and couldn’t get super comfortable in the saddle. At transition 2, I was glad to be off the bike and thought that I’d be happy if I never saw it again.

The run was so much better than last year. The course directors removed the Bermuda Triangle (an extension of the course that went around three streets twice and formed a triangle) which was a huge improvement in terms of having a straight out and back course. Once I knew I reached mile 7, I knew I would be halfway done. What I didn’t know was that once you reached mile 7, you were entering Kona. The volunteers at this aid station (aid stations were every mile) had the whole area decked out in a Hawaiian theme. They even had a guy playing the bongos! The race director said that there were 1,500 volunteers for the race and I can honestly say that everyone I ran into was just amazing. It made me proud to call Wilmington my home.

Other highlights include seeing my mom and dad at the finish line. This is the second race they’ve seen me finish and it’s just so wonderful to have them there. Also seeing Tracy, Kate, Melinda, and so many other friends along the course was just wonderful. To say you feel like a rock start is an understatement.

After the race I went home, took a hot bath and then went back downtown to celebrate the full finishers. Two friends of mine and training partners, Stan and Lance, came in within minutes of each other to complete the full. I was in awe to watch them finish. After that I went to my friend Sara and Bruce’s house and a seed was planted. A friend of hers was talking through the logistics of doing a full Ironman and how long you would have to finish each segment. At dinner last night with Paula and Julie we started discussing upcoming races. The iphones came out and we started googling full Ironman race locations and dates. I have a nagging feeling that this is not the last time you hear me talk of a full Ironman.

In the near future I’ll continue training for the Myrtle Beach Half Marathon. My goal is to break a sub 2 hour. It’s achievable, I just need to step it up a bit. And it’s another half, something which apparently I’m fond of. Little C is talking about doing another 10k and working his way up to a half marathon as well. Maybe this winter I’ll take him on some longer runs with me and see how he does. As long as he enjoys it.

Photo: We don't look nervous at all!

Pre-Race at packet pick up. Me, Paula, Julie. The Three Amigos.

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It’s time

This week is finally race week. Race week is akin to going on an unknown vacation. You don’t know what to pack, you don’t want to be at work, you just want to get there. I can only imagine how people feel who haven’t done this course umpteen times. I think I’d go nutso on Google maps. I am intimately familiar with the B2B route. I know all it’s slippery bridges, cracks in pavement, road that looks like it would be smooth for biking but jars the crap out of you (I’m looking at you, Pender County) and yet as I write this, I realize that I’m terrified.  Seriously butterflies, OMG, what have I gotten myself into. As much time as I’ve spent, I know that come Saturday morning I will be nervous as all get out.

Compounding on that fact is my foot, my skateboarding trip gone awry. Friends of mine are already all to familiar with this, but for the rest of you, let’s just say I’m not 20 anymore and road rash hurts.

photo (3) (1)Exhibit A-

This is what an infection looks like

This is what an infection looks like

So there’s that. I was able to do the Color Me Rad run on Sunday with little C. He loved it but what eight year old wouldn’t.

I’m worried about my foot not healing in time and gimping through a half marathon after a 56 mile bike ride. I know that if my mind wasn’t preoccupied on my foot I’d be worried about something else. Like the fact that it’s going to be in the 30’s on race morning with a high of 62 (eeek!!!). Good thing for us halfers is that we don’t get into the water until 9 am so maybe the sun will warm things up for us a bit.

Tonight is an easy bike ride down at the beach and Friday the weekend begins with race meetings, packet pick up, expo, bike drop off, etc. C and little C are heading to the Piedmont for a soccer tournament but I have my mom and dad coming down to hang out with me. I’ll miss them, but I’m kind of looking forward to finishing a race and not having to go directly into “MOM” mode. Does that sound selfish? Probably, but how nice will it be to hang out and watch my fellow triathletes cross the finish line. I’m sure I’ll have one more post before race day. Until then…

Change

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Southeastern North Carolina in the fall is just lovely for a runner. After the oppressive heat of the summer, it feels like a joy to be able to run in temperatures in the 60’s or 70’s. It makes me yearn for a tri that I can train through the fall. It’s also time when people start getting serious about their training. With 26 days left, my friends and I talk of long runs, bricks, nutrition, currents, and race day conditions. We go to bed early on the weekends in order to meet up at 7 am for our long runs or bricks (bike followed by run). We get “on the wagon” and focus on eating healthy, eating clean. We see the irony that getting up during the week to go to work is considered sleeping in. I love these people though. They are new friends to me but they are the reason why I get up while it’s still dark. They challenge me, they push me, they laugh with me, they have become my family.

On yesterday’s ride we were dealing with quite the head wind. We pulled/drafted off each other, replicating geese, pulling for five miles then dropping back to rest. It was cold and my ambition was not present. My toes were cold, my nose was running, my core was cold. We stopped to use a gas station restroom and I complained about not being in the moment to which both Julie and Paula began lamenting with me. Standing outside under a very warm kitchen grill vent that smelled of butter and biscuits, we joked about how much the morning sucked and how crazy we were to not be in bed or eating breakfast. Julie said something to the effect of she wasn’t feeling it either, but she was going to push on and those were the words I needed to hear. It changed my outlook and made me realize how fortunate I was. I could be in a hospital tending a sick family member. I could have bad knees. I could want to go shopping instead. Instead, I chose to wake up and ride, and I might as well enjoy it.

This is Paula. She'll keep riding until her garmin says to stop.

This is Paula. She’ll keep riding until her Garmin says to stop.

With fall comes changes in daylight. We are now unable to swim Friday mornings, which saddens me. I love waking up early and meeting my friends in the dawn. To watch the sunrise over the channel is beautiful. Now, I watch it set, and race to get out of the water before it gets dark, the sky a ball of red, surfers in boats coming back from the barrier island beach. Last week I saw a tourist boat on a sunset cruise and wondered what they thought of the string of pink and green swim caps slicing the water. Where they envious? Curious? Did they think us insane?

The race booklet for Beach2Battleship arrived in my mailbox Saturday. It’s getting real, it’s getting closer, but honestly, I’m feeling stronger than last year. I’m not panicking like I was last year, worried about finishing in time. I’m putting in my time, I’m preparing my body and mind. I am thinking “I am strong, I am strong, I am strong”.

Tick Tick Tick Tick

There’s something to be said for ignorance, especially when it comes to triathlon. You pull up the race website, you look at the cutoff times, and you think to yourself “No problem! I can do that. I’ve been biking at x miles for x hours and I can swim x distance in x time and plus, I’ll have a wetsuit on so that will make me faster, plus there will be a current, so I’ll be fine. Oh, and the run? No problem! I can always walk it if I have to. La dee da, this is going to be great, this is going to be just fine. I’ll train when I want to, still have a summer, la dee da”.

And you do. You train during the summer, you go on bike rides occasionally, you get your long(er) runs in, you swim almost every week, you got it.

Then race day comes. And somehow it’s an absolutely beautiful day, with a gorgeous sunrise, not too hot, not too cold. You see a friend of yours who is doing paddleboard support and he tells you that the current is flying(!) and you think “Oh, I got this.” You breeze through the swim, see a girlfriend doing paddleboard support (you stop and say hi(!)), see your friend you trained with throughout the summer (who’s even in your corral-yipee!) getting ready to get on the bike as you make it to the transition, and off you go. You finish the bike course with no problems, no flats, no instances, and you get ready to knock out the run.

Until the dreaded wall hits.

Have you ever read Dr. Seuss’s Oh The Places You’ll GoImage

That’s till mile six. And then, you run into this:

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From what turned into “Wow, I’m feeling great, I can keep up a sub-9 minute mile the whole run, it’s only 13 miles!!” Turns into “Walk through rest stop, run to next mile” turns to “Run 20 steps, walk 10”, to the dreaded “Walk 20 steps, run 10” to even “F**k it, who am I kidding? I just need to show some respect and be able to cross the finish line running”.

That was last year. This is this year.

This Year

This year is a real training plan that is actually followed. It’s long bikes and runs on the weekends. It’s missing beach time with the kiddo. It’s getting up at crack of ass to go swim. It’s not sleeping in. It’s making wonderful new friends and looking at their finish times from last year and wanting to be in that same time bracket. It’s wanting to do better, to move faster, to work harder. It’s swim clinics. It’s work. It’s worrying about the weather, and looking at the tide charts, and wondering how much push we’ll really have on race day.

But maybe, with all that work, it’s like climbing a ladder. Maybe all those rungs will bring me to the top. Maybe I’ll be able to finish faster than last year. I know that I’ve met some amazing people this year and have even made some new friends. There are people that I look forward to seeing each week and if I’m going to miss it (son’s birthday trip and party next two weekends- TWO??? what about my training????) I try to see them during the week.

However, there’s a nagging feeling in the back of my mind, like an ominous cloud, like that Dr. Seuss book when the main character gets into the darkness.

What if:

1- It’s raining

2- It’s cold

3- I have to pee

4- I don’t drink/eat enough

5- I get a flat

6- I hit a wild turkey (only mention this cause we saw a few last weekend)

7- I’m sick.

8- The tide is going the wrong way

9- There’s a 40 mph head wind. BOTH WAYS.

10- Add any irrational concern to the list here

You see where I’m going with this.

Trust. Trust in the mind, trust in the body. Trust in the training. Will the world end if I can’t make two weeks of bike rides? No. Will my training suffer. Hopefully not. I’ll add some weekday rides. Will I miss my friends? Yes. Will I have a very happy eight year old who asked me last night if i was going to do a long ride on his birthday? Yes.

Tick tick tick tick. Time to throw out the clock. And dig up my copy of Oh, The Places You’ll Go again.