My first Triathlon
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Beach 2 Battleship - TriathlonFull Ironman
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Wilmington, North Carolina
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I am writing this mainly to remind myself of the good and document the bad as motivation for IMCA 2011. My husband and I were doing this as a 2 man relay: Cheaper Than Marriage Counseling: myself swim and run
(1st attempt at a marathon
) him bike. We had several friends racing the full and thought this would be fun to participate in some way - what were we smoking? I have been fighting a running injury for 6 weeks leading up to the race. Torn muscles in the calf as a result from a hip issue. This is important later.
We arrived at the beach Thursday. Got in a great ocean swim with the group - swam over a little sting ray! Went for a short bike ride on Friday without wrapping the calf. It felt fine during the ride but burned for about 10 minutes afterwards.
Never having done a relay and this race being point to point with 2 different transition stations was a very stressful sitation for me. Too many bags and too many places to be.
Race morning was f'ing cold!!! 38degrees! We racked Doug's bike the night before but checked all our bags that morning. We took the Hilton shuttle to T1 at 5am, I saw Carol at her bike and met up with Chris, Katie and Mike. Kissed Doug goodbye and got on the trolly. Actually I put my wetsuit on up to the waist standing in line for the trolly to add another layer of warmth.
Once at the beach we all suited up and headed to the water. Thank God for the booties. Don't know how Mike managed in bare feet and arms. I decided to wear the neoprene cap under the race swim cap, just to keep my head warm prior to the start. Glad I did. Once at the water people were asking about the water temperatue. My thought was, "who cares, it is certainly warmer than the air!" I went in the water to check my goggles, turn on the personal water heater, and do a quick lap to get my face wet and check the water temp. I had trained in Jordan Lake at home the week before and it was at least 10 degrees colder at home so this was great.
01m 31s / 100 yards
Sadly it was time to get out of the water and line up for the start. I chose a spot about halfway back while Katie, Mike and Chris were closer to the start. I didn't want to be that aggressive and have people swim over the top of me so I wished them good luck, hugged Chris, and settled in. As I looked around me the faces were something to remember. Most of them either looked cold or nervous. There was a group of Virgina Tech boys that tried to pump themselves up with a little buddy jumping yelling circle - kind of entertaining. The national anthem played and then Eminem's Loose Yourself song - great lyrics. The whole beach started jumping up and down with the music
(or trying to keep warm
). I didn't hear a gun go off but the announcer said something to the effect of And There They Go. I was expecting a mass sprint for the water but it was more of a fast walk. The first dive into the water and initial strokes were amazing. I was surrounded by people but not being bumped at all. I remember Steve's comments about making memories and this was one of those moments. Very cool and I can't wait until IMCA 2011 where it is even more intense. The pack only had to swim to the buoy in the center of the channel, turn right and then spread out and head straight, but apparently that was too complicated. There was such a mass cluster at the turn buoy. People were crammed in so tight as if being the closest one to the buoy was important. Several people rode up on my back but no one tried to pull me under. At one point the swim pack stopped moving because they were packed in so tight and the group was vertical. I had to laugh at these idots and swam 2 feet to the left and got right past them.
So now it is down the channel. I breath to my right so I got to see the sun come up with every breath. Again, a memory making moment. I knew I would be out on the course to see the sun go down as well. After a while I found myself alone
(not a surprise for me
) but I was in the middle of two main groups. There was a large pack in front of me and one behind me -that made me feel better. At least I am not in the back. I checked my watch underwater
(beautifully clear water
) and it was only 7:36! Great, I was making super time. A few times I breathed to the left to see where people were around me and then got an air bubble in my right ear. So there I am looking like a total idiot trying to swim with my finger in my ear, under the neoprene swim cap and chin strap, trying to pop the bubble. I bet that looked quite comical from the kayaks.
At 7:45 I knew I was approaching the docks, but for the life of me I never saw the wiggly man to mark the turn. Thank goodness I happened to sight long enough to see a pack on my left otherwise I would have overshot the turn big time. But I was able to cut the corner nice and close and then followed the red and orange channel markers to the docks. Once you made the first turn left the current was lost and I noticed a drop in my speed. I tried to make up the difference and reach the docks by the hour mark. Got to the ladder at 1:04, good enough for me. I had a hard time getting my legs to bend to climb up the ladder, then had to use the hand rails on the ramp to the strippers as my balance was a little off. Saw Keith working as a wetsuit stripper and gave him a big high 5. I learned later he stripped Katie and sent her husband a text saying, "I stripped your wife and she looked great." I by-passed them and rinsed my eyes and mouth at the showers. It was so great to have the booties on for that long run to T1. Down the dock, through the parking lot, down the road, accross the street, down the sidewalk, and finally into T1. Saw the fan club along the way. Grabbed my changing bag since it was on the way and got to Doug. He already had his bike off the rack so I had to bend over and transfer the timing chip. Ha, that was interesting. My hands froze on the run from the water to Doug and I couldn't get the velcro strap off. But the transfer was made, a quick kiss for luck, and he was off. Saw Carol leave right behind Doug and was able to send her good wishes. Then I sprawled on the grass for a while to catch my breath.
What would you do differently?:
Maybe line up close to the front? Overall this was a great experience and I am glad to have been a part of it.
Setup screwed something up and there aren't any T1 times. I am guessing a few minutes at most.
6h 03m 40s
Doug did the ride so I can only report what he told me. First off he had a real tough time getting started. He is having some pulled hamstring/glute muscle issues and had his thigh wrapped. The wrapping kept slipping and/or was too tight and that caused him to stop and work out cramps and wrappings several times. He said TONS of people were drafting and riding in packs. There was one pack that he had to cross over the yellow line to pass and then when he stopped at an aide station they passed - giving him concern about having to pass them again. Said there weren't nearly enough drafting/blocking/overtaken penalties assigned for the amount that occurred. That is too bad.
Said he saw a sign around mile 40 that read, "Taint Hurt?" How awesome is that? Hwy 421 had a strong head wind and of course that was the last 40 miles in, so it was tough going. He was having some GI/nutrition issues and was glad to get off his bike.
When he got to T2 they had just assigned a volunteer to the full run turnaround spot. She stopped Doug and asked him if he was on his first or second lap. Now anyone who has done a full knows you are not thinking straight at this point and just kept yelling at the volunteer, "I'm doing the full." She kept repeating the question and all Doug could think was you are crazy if you think I'm going to do that lap again. Finally a spectator yelled that the bike dismount was up ahead so he just ran the remaining 50 feet with his bike.
What would you do differently?:
It wasn't his best ride but I am super proud of him. He said he almost called it quits at mile 25 due to his leg issues. Knowing what was in store for me during the run I almost wish he would have.
I got to T2 way too early but I didn't want to sit around my hotel room. But combining that with Doug being late, I was standing for 3 hours in the sun before a marathon. Not a wise move. I saw Mike come in first and thought Doug would be right behind him. I grew quite worried when it took him another 40 minutes. Plus all the other relay runners had their bikers come in - so I was very concerned and glad to see him arrive.
What would you do differently?:
Not stand in the sun - but there wasn't anywhere to sit in the shade.
14m 30s min/mile
Right from the get go I started getting weird cramps in my abdomen - places I never cramp. I realized it was from the twisting out of my hips. If I run with my calf taped the muscle is protected but the resulting twist from my hips plays out in my back and IT attachment on the outside of my left knee. But I worked through the cramps and motored on, feeling pretty good. The cramps went away around mile 2 and I was over the bridges at that point and approaching down town = cheering spectators! I was disappointed at the number of people cheering on the course but thought maybe it would pick up as the night went on. My nutrition plan was a gel and electolytes every 3 miles with water and some type of food at every station. I did that until mile 13. but more on that later.
At the 3rd aide station I saw our cheering section and my daughter's friend Emma was working the aide station. I wasn't going to take a water this time but how could I refuse Emma. Hit the cobbles and turned up the steep hill. Ran about half of it. Saw Mike somewhere along the course going towards the park - he looked great.
(Boy did the whole race on PB&J's - there is lesson to be learned there.
) Saw Deana about that time - didn't know she was racing the half. Looked like she had a new prosthetic leg on for it attached much higher. She looked like she had a strong limp but the girl was doing it!
Was glad to reach the park. I had done a training run here earlier and had good memories. Chet called my name around mile 5. I didn't think my race number was visible but then realized who else has their leg taped like that. It was great to see him. I stopped for the bathroom at mile 6, then kept looking for the turn around. Why do those always seem so far away? Volunteers at the turn around were very dead - disappointing.
Got into a good rhythem for miles 6-8. The wedding party that was going on at the park were annoying. Large groups of people were standing around and blocking the sidewalks. Seriously folks, don't you see what's going on? Headed out of the park and back into town. Saw my girls Chris and Carol, both looking strong.
When I reached the cobbles the restaurants had people eating outside. How cruel was that?! I told a group their food smelled so good and they laughed at me. A few feet later someone cheered me on and I said, "How come I am the only one out here?" He called back it was b/c I was kicking major a**. I laughed at him but said thanks. Crossed paths with a racer wearing a shirt that read, "Please yell, Go Lee." I think that was brilliant! End of the cobbles and saw Emma waiting at the aide station with water for me. Tried to talk her into finishing the run while I handed out water, but she wasn't going for it. The group was cheering and I whined, "this really sucks." Doug was standing at the top of the ramp outside of our hotel a few feet down the road. He took my picture and asked how I was doing. I told him I was cramping in weird places due to the twisting.
Off Water Street and back on the bridges around mile 10. This is where things started to go to hell. The sun was going down and I was getting worried. I don't do well in the cold and I knew I would be walking much more from here on out. My feet were killing me, as was the attachment point of my IT band on my left knee and my back at the hip on my right side
(Sound like someone was twisting?
) At least my calf felt okay - at the sacrifice of everything else. Sonny
(Chris and Katie's coach
) passed my at the base of the bridge. You know you look bad when the spectators and volunteers stop cheering and get quiet looking at you when you pass. I started limping and crying as I crossed the bridges. I took my water and electrolytes at mile 12, don't remember if I ate or not. Saw Carol coming back out for her 2nd lap at that point. She still looked great. Good for her. I made it to the turn around and started to put on my warmer clothes from the special needs bag. A race worker came up to me and tried to give me a pep talk. Very nice. She said the crying is a sign of low blood sugar so I thought okay, chicken broth at the next mile. I asked if a med tent would give me Ibuprofin for my leg and she said no. Crap.
I tried to muster up some courage and ran back out past the special needs bags but limped away after that. A racer passed me and asked my name then did a prayer right there. God , did I really look that bad? So I got to mile 14 aide station and the broth was cold! At this point I started to really panic b/c I was starting hypothermia due to lack of running and the temp drop. I was planning on the broth to warm me and then was scared the broth would be cold at all the stations.
(turns out it was just that one but I didn't know that at the time
). That was when I really didn't want to race anymore. It had taken my over 2 hours to hit the half way point and there was no way I could do at least 3 more in the cold with my feet, back and knee hurting the way they were. But I couldn't just stop on the side of the road. Doug was over the bridge and waiting with our friends downtown so I had about 3 more miles to get to him. I made it over the bridges, down Front Street, turned onto Water Street and squated down. God my body hurt. A racer who had already finished asked if I was okay and if it was cramping. I said I was just trying to give my feet a break. Somewhere along here I saw Katie on her way back for her first lap.
Chicken broth was warmer at the next aide station but at that point it was over for me. I put on my strong face and smiled at the spectators. A lady yelled at me that I must have changed clothes at least 4 times today.
(pathetic that I looked bad enough to be mistaken for a full and not a relay racer
). I borrowed Chris's joke and said "I've seen enough naked womam butt today to last a life time." She got a good laugh at that and it made me feel better. I might have been able to push a little farther if there were more racers and spectators, but I knew I was facing at least 3 more hours in the dark and cold and alone.
A friend who was traveling along the run course on this silly little scooter found me and did a great job on trying to cheer me up. He was singing - badly - saying things like, this road is the road to IMCA 2011. I was so miserable I said, "but I don't want to go to Canada, I just want to stop moving." At mile 16 I saw Doug coming towards me and I literally collapsed in tears in his arms. I kept saying "I don't want to do this anymore, I am so embarrassed but I don't want to do this anymore." He sat me down and let me cry for a while. The worst part was at that time Chris, who was having a fantastic race, came by and tried to pull me with her saying we'd finish it together. The last thing I wanted was for her to have this horrible image of me or to slow her down. She plowed on and ended up with a PR finish!!!!
Doug took me into the hotel and as we were waiting for the elevator the lady at the front desk asked if I needed anything- I was still crying. She personally brought some tea to my room. I got into a hot bath with my hot tea and a coke and sent Doug back to the finish line to cheer on our friends - all of which did fantastic. Chet 11:44, Mike 11:41, Chris 12:58, Katie 14:49, Carol 12:10.
People keep telling me it took more guts to know when to quit than it would have to finish it - I'm trying hard to believe them.
What would you do differently?:
I know this is only the second year of the race, but I was very disappointed by the spectator support. There was suppose to be a competition between the aide stations for most spirited but that wasn't really evident. The race course was not well lit. However I can't speak to the finish or the bike course. My overall impression was this wasn't any different than any other Setup olympic or half distance race. I thought their only full would have more hype.
I recorded my personal story not as a plea for pitty, but I hope as an inspiration to others. Choosing to quit was the hardest thing I have ever done but now that I've had time to look back it was the best thing that could have happened to me. I've learned so much about myself, both mentally and physically, about what and Ironman distance takes, and how much I want IMCA 2011. I am more focused and determined than ever and I will NEVER experience this again.
COURAGE ISN'T ALWAYS A LION'S ROAR. SOMETIMES IT IS THE HEART AT THE END OF THE DAY SAYING....."I WILL TRY AGAIN TOMORROW."
Last updated: 2009-06-05 12:00 AM
01:04:00 | 4224 yards | 01m 31s / 100yards
full with booties and neoprene cap
up the intercoastal waterways with the current, then snake through the harbor to the dock
67F / 19C
Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
06:03:40 | 112 miles | 18.48 mile/hr
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Shoe and helmet removal
03:56:00 | 16.28 miles | 14m 30s min/mile
13.1 mile loop, over 2 bridges, up a few steep streets and through town.
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]
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