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Beach 2 Battleship Iron Distance - TriathlonFull Ironman


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Wilmington, North Carolina
United States
Setup Events
40F / 4C
Sunny
Total Time = 11h 16m 21s
Overall Rank = 44/442
Age Group = M40-44
Age Group Rank = 9/86
Pre-race routine:

I woke up around 4:15, ate a bagel with almond butter, put on body glide, sunscreen, and got dressed. Misty and the kids drove me to T1 and Samuel and James had a great time being my sherpas while I got the bike in order and dropped off bags. Then goodbye to them, a little more sorting out, and time to put on the wetsuit. Mistake #1 of the day: forgot to put on body glide around my arms and neck. Chafing would ensue...

Last year at IMKY the morning of the race felt like the end of a long journey -- 15 months all aimed at getting off the couch and across the finish line. This day felt much different. I had signed up on a whim, and B2B wasn't even my 'A' race -- more of an afterthought done on the coattails of Myrtle Beach fitness. It did not feel 'epic' at all. I guess Ironman (oh, sorry, 'iron distance'!) has a way of exacting revenge on those who take this attitude. (Yes, that was foreshadowing.)
Event warmup:

Shivering in my wetsuit at the swim start. Staring jealously at those who had gloves.
Swim
  • 1h 20m 54s
  • 3862 meters
  • 02m 05s / 100 meters
Comments:

Prior to the start people were saying that one could look out at the kayaks and see that they were actually having to paddle ever so slightly -- backwards! -- to stay in place. I chose not to look. Even if they were right, however, pretty quickly I think it became a completely slack tide; no current in either direction. I have to confess that the lack of any current was a little disappointing as we were all expecting the 'tailwinds' of previous years. But hey, this is ironman (er... 'iron distance') and you deal with it.

This race was my first mass-start of any size in the swim, and I was a little nervous about it, but I've never been afraid of contact in the swim (more subtle foreshadowing), so I went for it, running from the beach and diving out there right in the thick of everything. For about 1K things were going pretty well. Because we were in a huge pack, very little sighting of buoys was required -- just make sure you're still in the pack and keep swimming. I was actually swimming strongly. My shoulder did not hurt, and I was breathing every cycle, which meant I was working hard (and, it was to be hoped, going 'fast', for me), and still I felt great.

The wind started to make things choppy, which meant that every so often, you'd turn to breathe and have to abort the mission, but as I was breathing every stroke cycle, these occasional missed breaths were not a problem. Until...

I turned to breathe and at that very moment the person swimming next to me apparently (at least, I think this is what happened) switched to a breast stroke kick and WHAM! I caught a heel squarely in my gut, at the very same moment that I was going to breathe. I took on a lot of saltwater into my sinuses, lungs, and gut. And then in some odd reflex action, I attempted to breathe again. It was very strange, because I was thinking "don't do that!" but at the same time, my body just did it. It all happened in slow motion, about 1 second in real time. With my face in the water, of course I sucked in another load of saltwater. My day was about to turn 'epic' after all.

I had to stop and move off to the side. I was disoriented. At one point I was literally seeing stars. A kayaker asked whether I was alright, and I knew that 'no' meant my day was over, so of course I said 'yes'. I then proceeded to throw up twice. Thank God for wetsuits. At least I could just float there instead of treading water while this was going on. I think I must have floated there for 5 minutes, but I really don't know. Eventually, spurred by I don't know what -- animal instinct? -- I rejoined the fray.

The rest of the swim felt awful but was otherwise uneventful. There was contact here and there all the way to the end. Apparently waiting 5 minutes (or whatever) meant that I just exchanged one pack for another. I got off course a little bit a few times -- I was still a bit disoriented and having trouble sighting -- but honestly I don't think it cost me much time. In fact, at one point I think I might have actually taken a better line than the pack that I was with.
What would you do differently?:

Wear body armor.
Transition 1
  • 10m 10s
Comments:

Needless to say, T1 was regrouping time. I didn't bother to have the wetsuit stripped. I knew I wasn't going to be worrying about the 10 seconds saved from that. I peeled the top off and jogged to the tent. I felt pretty nauseous, and could barely remember my number when the volunteer asked. I needed to sit down, and that's what I did.

After a couple of minutes, I resolved to get moving again. I put on the leg warmers and the arm warmers and the gloves and a cycling jersey, and shoved a trash bag up my shirt. The hardest part was getting socks on -- my hands were pretty numb. Anyway, I got it all on in reasonable time and hopped on the bike.
What would you do differently?:

Under the circumstances, taking it easy was the right choice. It's easy to second-guess in hindsight, knowing that a few minutes saved would have had me on the AG podium, but really, I had no choice in the moment.
Bike
  • 5h 25m 28s
  • 112 miles
  • 20.65 mile/hr
Comments:

Once out of the transition area and onto the roads, I began to assess. I knew that I needed to take in some nutrition -- I had absolutely nothing in my gut. I tried a sip of sports drink and thought I was going to gag. I think the problem was that Heed was a bit too much like saltwater, and I guess it goes without saying that saltwater was not high on my list of desirable refreshments at that moment. I was still quite nauseous. So 10 minutes later, I tried a little gel (from the flask -- probably less than 1/2 a serving) with water. That seemed to be better. I waited 20 minutes and tried a little more gel with water. So far so good. Then I started to feel my stomach gurgling. It got worse and worse until I knew I was going to puke. I pulled over and threw up in a ditch on the side of the road.

OK, friends, today is going to be a lesson in nutrition-management under tough circumstances....

Puking made me feel a little better. Hop back on the bike. But what to do about eating? If I can't get anything down, I'm hosed. Still, no sense in trying to eat if it's going to just come back up. So I just rode for a while. Needless to say, I was not riding at my originally hoped-for 5:15 pace.

At around hour 2 of the bike I gathered up the courage to eat again. Gel with water. 20 minutes later, OK, it stayed down. Repeat the process. 20 more minutes...still OK. By around hour 4 I was feeling pretty good. My change in mood no doubt had a lot to do with the fact that the wind had become a tailwind. I found my legs and some motivation and turned it on.

The motivation came in the form of a train that had apparently formed behind me. I came up behind it at one point (between hours 3 and 4) and got tired of watching the drafting (not all of them were, but some were -- I should add that apart from this train, I did not see any drafting; not that I was looking). I passed them all and continued what, at the time, I thought was enough of an effort to drop them, and indeed thought I had dropped them. A little while later, a guy came up behind me -- I recognized him from earlier and recalled that it seemed that he too had been unwillingly caught up in the train. As he passed me he said "are you Michael?" Yes. He told me his name as he passed, but it took me a while to figure out that he was someone from SC whom I had never met, but had watched closely in the past because he is a strong AG competitor in my AG. He said "You've got quite a train behind you. Let's break this thing up." Shit. So I hadn't dropped them after all. I let him complete his pass and followed (legally!), though he was, for a while, riding a good 100 feet in front of me. A little while later I started really feeling good and turned it on. We turned on to an out-and-back section and there I turned it up another notch. I passed him and on the return I could see that I had put quite a bit of time into the train. Then we hit the tail wind and I felt great. I averaged about 24mph, maybe more, for the last part of the ride. In the end, I finished the bike about 10 minutes ahead of the train.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing, really. I think. I guess taking in calories early might have been a mistake . I don't know. I do feel that if I had felt good all the way, I would have easily hit my 'A' goal time of 5:15, and quite possibly better than that.
Transition 2
  • 04m 13s
Comments:

I felt good coming off the bike, and T2 reflected slightly more attention to speed than T1 did. I could have focused and gone a little faster, but this T2 was OK, especially considering that I entirely changed my top. (I could feel that the chafing had already been bad, so took off both the bike jersey and the tri top.)
Run
  • 4h 15m 37s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 09m 46s  min/mile
Comments:

I was feeling good coming off the bike, but I still had a big problem. I had taken in only around 1000 calories. This was a huge problem for me, because I am not great at taking in calories on the run -- I rely on getting 300 per hour or more on the bike, then minimal intake on the run to get through. That plan was obviously not on for today. I felt sure that if I didn't get a lot more calories in I would bonk by mile 15 and end up walking the rest, or worse. I would not resign myself to that fate.

So, I immediately began taking in calories, at first in the form of gels. I was going to aim for around 200-250 per hour, which is a good bit more than I would have done had the bike nutrition gone to plan. For about 6 miles that plan seemed to be working well. I was running in the 7:30s and feeling pretty good. Right around the turnaround for the first loop, I could feel myself getting a little queasy. The legs were fine, but the stomach was not. I slowed down a little, both on the calories and on the pace. Then I slowed down a lot. Over the remainder of the first loop, it got worse and worse. At the end of the first loop, I seriously considered bagging it, but quickly set that thought aside.

OK, how do I get through this? Think! I knew that the second loop would be slow and it was getting chilly. In what I can only describe as a shockingly good decision, I grabbed my special needs bag and threw on the long sleeve shirt in there. The nice woman who handed it to me was obviously concerned about how I looked. "Are you OK? Do you want to sit down? I have a chair." Stand back you evil temptress!! If I sat down my day would be over.

Miles 13 to 17 were pure hell. My stomach was in full revolt. Every time I tried to run or even walk fast I felt that I was going to throw up. Those 4 miles took me well over an hour. Around mile 17 I said "Screw it. I'm not walking any more. I'd rather puke." So I ran, and shortly after stepped into the nearest porta-potty. I thought I would puke, but no.

If I were a 19th century novelist I'd probably describe what happened next by saying something very clear but nonetheless vaguely polite and oblique, like "and then I was purged". But the 19th century did not, to my knowledge, have porta-potties. In the rather less delicate 21st century, in the nick of time, I turned around and dropped my drawers and for the next 5 minutes had what can only be described as a gut-emptying bout of "summer complaint" (look it up).

I emerged from the porta-potty into the fresh air and I swear I could hear birds chirping and colorful butterflies were singing zippity-doo-dah. I felt 1000% better. OK, 9 miles to go. I'm not going to worry about nutrition. Just run. And run I did. Slowly at first -- and I did pause at the aid stations to take in a little Heed and OH THOSE SUGAR WAFERS TASTED SO GOOD. But mostly I just ran. By the end, I was running sub-8s again, and I finished very strong.
What would you do differently?:

I don't know. Maybe go old-school and eschew all food and drink as 'unmanly'? Honestly, though, the first six miles and the last nine miles were quite good -- around 3:20 pace all told. The middle was the ugly part. I have little doubt that a different approach would have been better; I just don't know what it would be.
Post race
Warm down:

I collected my things and we took a water taxi to the car. Back to the hotel and wash up. We walked to a nearby restaurant but I couldn't really eat much. I ate a few bites of dinner and went to bed.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

The kick. I'm going to claim that I made good decisions in this race, but honestly I don't necessarily know. They felt right at the time, under the circumstances, and I see no reason to second-guess myself now.

Event comments:

Setup Events is awesome. This race is logistically about as complicated as can be, and yet they pulled it off beautifully. I heard a few people whining about 'lack of support' on the bike. Huh? Grow up! It's ironman (er...'iron distance'). I think there were 5 aid stations on the bike for crying out aloud. So stop crying. If I do another 140.6, this race will be high on my list. The quality to price ratio is very very high.




Last updated: 2010-06-01 12:00 AM
Swimming
01:20:54 | 3862 meters | 02m 05s / 100meters
Age Group: 35/86
Overall: 163/442
Performance: Bad
Suit: Wetsuit
Course: Salt water channel, supposedly with an amazing current. Not.
Start type: Run Plus: Shot
Water temp: 64F / 18C Current: Medium
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Below average
Breathing: Good Drafting: Average
Waves: Navigation: Average
Rounding: Average
T1
Time: 10:10
Performance: Below average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
Biking
05:25:28 | 112 miles | 20.65 mile/hr
Age Group: 5/86
Overall: 35/442
Performance: Good
Wind: Some
Course: Flat. Mostly head or cross winds for the first 75 miles or so. Cross winds then tail winds coming back. Roads were mostly good, with a few stretches of rough road.
Road:   Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks:
T2
Time: 04:13
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
Running
04:15:37 | 26.2 miles | 09m 46s  min/mile
Age Group: 15/86
Overall: 73/442
Performance:
Course: Mostly flat or false flat with a few larger hills and a few short but steep hills. A very nice course, apart from a few spots running on big roads.
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Evaluation
Course challenge
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

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2010-11-14 7:47 PM

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Champion
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Columbia, South Carolina
Subject: Beach 2 Battleship Iron Distance


2010-11-14 7:52 PM
in reply to: #3210618

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Extreme Veteran
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Subject: RE: Beach 2 Battleship Iron Distance
Tough day out there. I think the swim threw us all for a loop! Pity about the lack of current but as you say, its ironman (uh, distance). Sorry you had such a rough swim but that is a blazing bike and solid run. Nice job!!
2010-11-14 8:07 PM
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Subject: RE: Beach 2 Battleship Iron Distance
Outstanding race, especially with the boot to the gut! It was a pretty day to puke your guts out, though
2010-11-14 8:34 PM
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Master
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South Alabama
Subject: RE: Beach 2 Battleship Iron Distance

Michael-loved the "epic" race report.  Sounds like you endured some rough spots in swim, bike and run.  Way to stick with it.

Randy

2010-11-14 10:18 PM
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Extreme Veteran
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Maryland
Subject: RE: Beach 2 Battleship Iron Distance

Still a pretty fast race, good job!

2010-11-15 5:20 AM
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Expert
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Raleigh
Subject: RE: Beach 2 Battleship Iron Distance
We had very similar days. Ofcourse I was a couple hour slower, but very similar. Nice race.


2010-11-15 6:23 AM
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Subject: RE: Beach 2 Battleship Iron Distance
Egad... that's an incredible blow by blow report, Michael, and your ability to persevere never ceases to amaze me.  Have you considered running for Congress?  Anyone who can handle having that much thrown at them and still come up saying it was a great race has my vote, plus, the ability to purge oneself is certainly a necessary skill.  But your race report brought an epic personal battle back to us at BT... I look forward to the movie... umm... maybe not.  And why is it that the triathlon Gods always choose one's weakest sport to exploit for their entertainment value?  Congrats on an incredible race... you are an "Iron Distance Finisher"!
2010-11-15 7:06 AM
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Champion
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Columbia, South Carolina
Subject: RE: Beach 2 Battleship Iron Distance
Thanks everyone.  It was a memorable day.
2010-11-15 7:06 AM
in reply to: #3210854

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Champion
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Columbia, South Carolina
Subject: RE: Beach 2 Battleship Iron Distance
titeloops - 2010-11-15 6:20 AM We had very similar days. Ofcourse I was a couple hour slower, but very similar. Nice race.


Details please!  We want to hear about your suffering!
2010-11-15 7:10 AM
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Extreme Veteran
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Tennessee
Subject: RE: Beach 2 Battleship Iron Distance
Way to hang tough! Congrats on a great race effort!
2010-11-15 7:18 AM
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Master
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Raleigh
Subject: RE: Beach 2 Battleship Iron Distance
great report! solid finish time too!


2010-11-15 7:53 AM
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Subject: RE: Beach 2 Battleship Iron Distance

I think you managed the situation in your race of what was and were able to continue.

Ingesting salt water is a big reason for GI issue and DNFing in IM races. You managed through it knowing there is a fine line between calories in and getting sick and bonking from lack of calories.

You adjusted both your intake and pace based on how you felt.

I'm impressed with your ability to problem solve and keep moving forward and finish really strong.

It's not the day you hoped for but one you should be proud of. When things are tough inner strength is revealed.

Congrats!~

2010-11-15 10:06 AM
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Master
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Atlanta, Georgia
Bronze member
Subject: RE: Beach 2 Battleship Iron Distance
Fast Ironman!

I have no idea how you can go so fast given how few calories you took in..Love the purge/summer compaint paragraph in your RR - I get the picture perfectly!

Congrats on your day - sounds like you overcame alot but finished strong.
2010-11-15 12:21 PM
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Expert
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Raleigh
Subject: RE: Beach 2 Battleship Iron Distance
Experior - 2010-11-15 7:06 AM
titeloops - 2010-11-15 6:20 AM We had very similar days. Ofcourse I was a couple hour slower, but very similar. Nice race.


Details please!  We want to hear about your suffering!



http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=233793&posts=1&start=1



There ya go!
2010-11-15 2:41 PM
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On your right
Subject: RE: Beach 2 Battleship Iron Distance
You're a stud, man.  I had a miserable day, but expected it.  Luckily just cramping and no summer complaints.
2010-11-15 5:54 PM
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Extreme Veteran
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Oshawa, Ontario
Subject: RE: Beach 2 Battleship Iron Distance
WOW! Nice race/battle Michael.  Perseverance is certainly part of your dictionary.  You have found a way to battle the many obstacles that you have been hit with this season, including your accident.  I'm speachless. 


2010-11-15 6:04 PM
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New user
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Washington, DC
Subject: RE: Beach 2 Battleship Iron Distance
What an awesome race report!

I feel your pain on the time that could have been saved. A lousy T1 cost me a podium spot in my AG as well. 
2011-05-15 5:40 PM
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Master
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Central Indiana
Subject: RE: Beach 2 Battleship Iron Distance

Great RR!!  Seriously considering doing B2B as 1st IM this fall. 

Michael- Since you took in a great deal of salt water, did you consider drinking just plain H2O at 1st on the bike?  I hear plain water is a recovery trick of distance swimmers in ocean events.

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