My first Triathlon
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Beach2Battleship Iron Distance Triathlon - TriathlonFull Ironman
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Wilmington, North Carolina
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75F / 24C
= 7h 30m
Age Group Rank
I’m not really sure where to begin. When did this all start? I think the concept of doing an iron distance event has been in the back of my mind since I was a little kid. I remember watching Paula Newbie-Frazier crawl across the line. I remember my Dad talking about how impossible a feat it was. I didn’t make up my mind at that point to do an ironman, but the seed was planted.
Fast forward twenty-something years and I am landing in Wilmington North Carolina to attempt to go 140.6 miles in a single day. I’m nervous, I’m anxious, I’m excited, I’m terrified. I can barely sit still, but I know that I need to conserve energy. This is going to be a long weekend.
On Friday morning I went to the channel to do some swimming. Swimming in the salt water by myself was not something I was looking forward to. Luckily, I found a group of 5 people who were just about to go for their swim. I asked if I could join and we were off. They were a family from Georgia. The son
) and his father
) were going to do a double ironman next year. Amazing. I swam around for about 30 minutes just trying to get a feel for the water.
I drive to the airport to pick up my wife and my sister. We get their bags and head back to the hotel. We are stopped at a red-light when . . . Bang. I car hit the car behind us that caused the car directly behind us to hit our car. Less than 24 hours before race time and I’m in a car accident. Fortunately, no one was injured. I spent the day worried that my back would tighten up. This is going to be a long weekend.
After the wreck I go to the mandatory meeting regarding race logistics, then head out to do a quick bike and a quick run. Pretty uneventful. Drop off my transition bags and head to dinner with my sister and wife. I fall asleep to the Cardinals getting shellacked in game 5 of the NLCS. As I drift to sleep I remember what the race director said “be prepared to suffer out there.” This is going to be a long weekend.
Woke up at 4:00. Ate a yogurt and had some G2. Drank a Naked Green Machine. Drank another Naked Green Machine and had a cup of coffee. Headed down to the shuttle. I ran into the same family that I swam with on the elevator ride down. We chatted and wished each other luck as we got onto the shuttles. I had to jump on the next one so we didn’t ride together. Ate a banana and discussed the race with a guy who had driven from Houston to compete in this race. It was his first too. You could feel the tension in the air on the ride over. Everyone was talking nervously, laughing too quickly and too shortly and generally being fidgety. We finally got to the transition area.
Dropped off my bag at the transition area and then headed down to the beach on another shuttle. I sat next to a guy from Maryland who told me about a race he did where he lost his chip during the swim and they made him stop. He then told me he knew a 19 year old kid who had a heart-attack on the swim and died. Possibly the worst person to sit by on the ride down. Nerves are now officially out of control. This is going to be a long day.
I sit around listening to people talk. I’m too nervous to talk to anyone and too nervous to go stand off by my own. I just linger by a group and lurk. I have no idea what time it is, I just know 7:30 can’t get here soon enough. Suddenly, my wife and sister come walking up! I had no idea they were going to come down to the swim start. They do a tremendous job of keeping me calm. We walk down to the beach and pass the race director as someone on his walking talkie screams “This is Becky!!!! I finally got a walkie-talkie!!!!!” The race director laughs, looks at us and says “that’s why she is only just now getting a walkie talkie.”
I set up for the swim and listen to the national anthem. The race director starts playing Eminem’s Lose Yourself over the loud speaker. I don’t usually listen to music when I work out, but when I do, I prefer to start with Eminem’s Lose Yourself. I am not the most interesting man in the world. The horn starts and the day begins. This is going to be a long day.
01m 22s / 100 yards
I start right around the middle of the pack. 20 yards in and a lady next to me is breast stroking. She kicks me in the ribs. I get by her and get toward the middle of the channel. Long easy strokes. A breath every two strokes. Find a rhythm, stay within yourself. Glide through the water. Glide. Smack. A foot to the face dislodges my goggles. Luckily it was just a glancing blow. Fix my goggles and continue on. A few bumps and minor contact but really felt good during the swim. I began to think that the swim was taking forever when I see the turn buoy. Not much farther now. I swim toward the docks. I’m doing an ironman. I’m about to be out of the water and onto the bike in an ironman. I grab the ladder and a volunteer grabs my other hand and pulls me out of the water. I run around a corner where a girl rips my wetsuit off of me in about 20 seconds. Wetsuit strippers are the BEST. I run toward transition with a lady who has an ear to ear grin. She tells me this is the best day of her life. I couldn’t have asked for a better person to run to T1 with. See my wife and sister as I enter T1. Maybe this day won’t be so bad.
What would you do differently?:
nothing really. Be a better swimmer.
T1 - Grab my bag and into the transition tent. I realize the weather is warmer than I thought. Maybe the arm warmers won’t be necessary. I stuff them in my back pocket just in case. Put on my compressions socks and take a gel. I run to my bike where 2 volunteers see me and start going crazy. “Go 37! You’re a wild man!” I thank them and they ask me where I’m from. I tell them KC and they ask if I have any Arthur Bryant’s in my special needs bag. I joke and tell them it’s in my hotel room. I run through the timing mat and hop on the bike.
T1 Time – 7:52
What would you do differently?:
nothing. I could have moved more quickly, but I wanted to make sure I didn't forget anything.
6h 03m 51s
I get on my bike and think about what my coach has been drilling into me for the past 10 months. I can’t win my race on the bike, but I can lose it. I take a salt tablet at mile 10. A gel at mile 20. I run into one of the people who I swam with. We ride side by side for a minute or 2 and talk. Things are going pretty well for both of us. I notice on my watch that my speed is going really well. A little push and I would break 6 hours no sweat. Maybe something like a 5:40. I start to push, then I think back to what my coach said: “If you feel like pushing think about how bad you felt at the Kansas HIM.” I ease up. I am drinking an aero bottle worth of G2 for every aid station. Before the first aid station I empty one of my bottles into the aero bottle, chuck the bottle and grab another one. Unfortunately, the one I grabbed was nearly empty! No big deal, I have plenty of fluids with me to get me to the next aid station. I continue on and take a gel at mile 40. At mile 50, another salt tab. The special needs bags are at 51. My aero bottle is almost empty. I only have a couple swigs in the bottle I grabbed and I have a water in my back bottle. Mile 51 comes and goes without the special needs bag. Curious. We turn into a head wind. Nothing major, but enough to make you notice. Mile 52 and 53 come and go without the bags. My aero bottle is now empty. I have about 4 sips of Heed left. I pass a biker and ask him where the special needs bags are. He says, he thinks mile 56. Ok, I can make that. Not 100 yards later we round a corner and special needs is right there. I hear him yell behind me “What I meant to say was 500 yards!” Pretty funny. I yell out my number and stop to get my bag. I have one more bottle of G2 in my bag which I can fill my aero bottle with. After that I would switch to HEED. Only one problem, they can’t find my special needs bag. While they are looking I switch out HEED bottles for a full one. After another minute with no luck, I grab another HEED, fill up my aero bottle and go.
Mile 60 comes and another gel. The miles are going more slowly, but the heart rate is way down. I’m topping out at 2.4 and most of the time it was between 1.9-2.2. At least three different times I took a little time to ease up, look around and soak up what was going on around me. I was doing an ironman. Inevitably, this would lead me to think of the hours of training, the early mornings, the late nights, the feeling of fatigue. I would think about how great the finish line would be. Then I would look down, see my heart rate up around 2.5 and ease back down again. At mile 70 I was aware that 6:00 was within reach.
Mile 80 I took another gel. Mile 90, a salt tab. I’m drinking a lot of HEED. I’ve gone to the bathroom 5-6 times on this ride. Mile 95 comes and goes. Then I hit 100. I think that I’m done. That last 12 miles reminded me I wasn’t nearly as close as I thought. The last 12 was a false flat. Just a slight inclination. I saw the goal of sub 6 slowly slipping away. Occasionally I would think to push it up, but then I thought that every minute spent pushing it on the bike, would cost me at least 5 times that on the run. It’s a long race.
My back is aching at this point. My saddle is becoming an instrument of torture. I want off this bike. Mile 110 comes. Sooo close. Stay calm. Stay within yourself. The bike is almost over. I come around the corner, see my wife and sister and dismount at the line.
Bike Time – 6:03:51
T2 - I hand my bike off to a volunteer and run for quite a ways to my bag and then into a changing tent. I move quickly but don’t rush. Slather on sunscreen. Hear some people talking about how the pushed it too hard on the bike and could tell their legs weren’t going to hold up. I realized at that point I felt really good.
T2 Time – 4:23
4h 27m 38s
10m 13s min/mile
Run – I’m off and I’m running. I feel good. I see my wife and sister as I head out for a little ½ mile loop. Then off to the main portion. The main portion is 2 loops. Going out is almost all uphill. Going back is almost all downhill. I run the first 5 miles with little to no incident. I take a gel at mile 5. I head out for the turn around. I think it is going to be close. It was not. I think it was approximately 2 miles, I thought it would be a ½ mile. I’m passing people who are walking. I’m passing people who are barely jogging. My feet are killing me. My back has tightened up. Where is this turnaround?!?! This was as bad as I’ve felt all day. I finally see the turnaround. Grab some water, a salt tab and some Tylenol. I begin to run back down. I’m at mile 8 all of a sudden and I realize that this might actually happen. Stay within yourself. I am walking 1 minute every 2 miles
(plus a brief walk while I hit aid stations
). I am no longer looking at my watch to check mile splits. Heart rate zone is my sole focus as far as statistics go. I reach 13.1 miles and look down at my watch. I figure in my head I need to run a 2:47 ½ marathon to break 12 hours.
Turn around to start loop 2 occurs at roughly 14 miles
(honestly at this point, I couldn’t tell you how far I was or where I was, I just knew to keep running and the second time the watch beeps, walk for 1 minute
). I see my wife and sister twice in this section. Now it is back up the soul sucking trudge. I keep moving.
I start to take in chicken broth around mile 16. Mile 18 I take another gel. I start to run to the turn around point and a girl next to me asks what mile I am running to. I tell her 20. She tells me she is going to 11. She is going the wrong way. I tell her she needs to run back down to the finish area and the come back up. Probably added 500 yards to her run. I make mile 20 and take some salt, some chicken broth, some HEED and some water. It’s all downhill from here. My legs are starting to lock up. My back is a giant knot. Run to mile 22, run to mile 22, mile 21 comes and I want to walk. I refuse to listen and keep going. Mile 22 comes and I walk for 1 minute. “I am a machine” I think to myself. I grab a gel at 22, some chicken broth, HEED and water. I run to mile 24. I am a machine! 2.2 miles to the end. 2.2 - not even a warmup jog. Run to the end. You can run all the way to the end. Just keep running. You are unstoppable.
As I am walking up a slight incline at mile 25 I wonder if I should have stopped and walked earlier. Oh well, at the top of this hill is a steep decline and then it is flat through a cheering section of people to the finish line. The top appear, I kick into a run again.
Down the hill I go, I am done with form and am just carelessly flinging my legs forward and essentially falling down this hill. I feel like a kid. I make the turn and see the people lined up on either side. I wave my arms up to get the people to cheer louder. I see the finish line. It’s all I can see. I’m not really sure what the guy with the microphone is saying, but I’m fairly certain it is my name. The finish line is soooo close. I raise my arms in triumph and cross the line.
Run Time – 4:27:38
What would you do differently?:
I think I could have pushed a little more on the run. My heart rate was down in zone 1.8-2.1 the whole way. I was extra cautious because my goal time was in sight and I didn't want to screw it up.
Great course, great race, great volunteers. Amazing experience.
Last updated: 2012-10-22 12:00 AM
00:57:17 | 4224 yards | 01m 22s / 100yards
point to point.
72F / 22C
Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
06:03:51 | 112 miles | 18.47 mile/hr
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Shoe and helmet removal
04:27:38 | 26.2 miles | 10m 13s min/mile
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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