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Beach2Battleship Half Iron Distance Triathlon - Triathlon


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Wilmington, North Carolina
United States
Set Up Events
66F / 19C
Sunny
Total Time = 6h 59m 43s
Overall Rank = 743/1060
Age Group = 35-39
Age Group Rank = 76/93
Pre-race routine:

IM 70.3 NC was a short 14 months after my first sprint triathlon. I started training in late May for the event with a focus on swim and bike endurance. I began my taper following a 60-mile/10-mile brick workout four weeks before race day. The week of the event had me traveling to Portsmouth VA for a couple days of meetings for work. I hoped to get a few more easy training days in during the week but that didn’t happen. On the plus side, I could make the drive from northeast NC to Wilmington with my brother (and coach) Michael. We arrived in Wilmington late morning on Thursday and checked in early at the Hilton Riverside, which is only a couple blocks from IM Village. No line at check in, and we were in and out quickly after signing a couple dozen disclaimer forms. I don’t remember when we heard the bike course, which was shortened from 56 to 50, would be back to 56. But, we didn’t find out the final course until Friday. I stepped into the IM store and bought a shirt, visor, and towel. It was great to see my name alongside my brother’s this time! After a late quick lunch, the first wave of Sherpas (sister-in-law and nephew) arrived. Before dinner, I joined a short bike ride with about eight members of my brother’s tri team (Fat Frogs out of the Hampton Roads area) closer to Wrightsville Beach. We definitely could tell it was rush hour, so we spent most of our time on the Cross City Trail. We closed the day with dinner at the Front Street Brewery and dessert at Kilwins.

Friday morning started with breakfast at Panera, a quick practice swim, and a short run. The event would have been wise to have a protected time (and space) for the practice swim. As it were, me and the group from Fat Frogs shared the water with some speeding boats. I stuck close to shore and tried to get used to the wetsuit. It was only my second wetsuit swim after a short practice swim the day before my Sherpa duty at IM MD the previous year. I was surprised how quick my arms got tired. Turns out I didn’t do the best job getting my wetsuit on properly. I’m glad I realized that on the practice swim and not race day! I didn’t swim long…only about 750 yards. Out of the wetsuit and into some running shoes for a 15-minute easy run. I enjoyed the flat terrain and company. I was pleasantly surprised when I looked down and saw my chocolate croissant leftover from breakfast while we waited for the bridge opening to close. Race lesson: always have food on hand!

We headed back to Wilmington and got the bike and run gear bags ready. It helped to have my brother there to make sure I had everything in my bag and that my bag was water tight given we were assured of an overnight rainstorm. We went back to IM Village to catch the athlete briefing and see the updated bike route. I wish the aid station mileage on the bike course had been updated…more to come on that! We dropped our bags, drove back to Wrightsville Beach to check our bikes, then enjoyed dinner. I waited for the second wave of Sherpas (wife and 5-year-old daughter). They arrived a little after 10pm, so I got to bed as soon as possible.

Event warmup:

I was up around 5am and planned to meet my brother to get on the shuttle downstairs around 6:15. I didn’t realize that was the last shuttle. I was the last one on and almost missed my ride! Since the course was point-to-point-to-point, we took a shuttle to T1, put hydration on our bike, and hopped on a shuttle to the swim start. We had about an hour to wait before we started. I wish I packed a protein bar or something to eat. Race lesson: always have food on hand! Luckily my brother was extra prepared and I had a quick bite to eat before I got my wetsuit on. I didn’t leave much time to stand around after my wetsuit was on and almost immediately stepped into my wave for the walk across Waynick Blvd and into the water.
Swim
  • 37m 29s
  • 2112 yards
  • 01m 46s / 100 yards
Comments:

I was in the water for just a few minutes before the horn was to blow. I adjusted my goggles, checked my watch, and began my race. I handled the crowded water very well…it was definitely the largest swim wave I’ve experienced. I never looked at my watch to check my time or distance and stayed in freestyle the entire way. I took the Dory approach and just kept swimming, only stopping briefly to sight. I studied the course on paper but never saw the buoys until I was swimming. I did my best with the course once in the water. Only breathing to the left finally paid off since that’s where the buoys were. I was excited to swim into previous waves (never had that happen!). Of course, faster swimmers from later waves swam by me, too. There were more turns in the course than I anticipated. I kept waiting for the swim to be over…not because I was tired but because I genuinely thought I should have been done.
What would you do differently?:

I would have paid more attention to the swim course before I got in the water. It would have been helpful to see the turns once the sun came up on race day. I imagine my time would have been better if I had taken better lines!
Transition 1
  • 07m 28s
Comments:

I was excited to start T1 and get out of the water. The ladder climb proved my arms were tired but my legs felt okay. My first wetsuit stripping experience was a good one. I didn’t feel violated, and my questionable nutrition habits during training ensured I was properly anchored. I slowed down through the shower (not sure this made any difference) and began the long run to my bike gear bag. It was great to hear and see the crowd entering the transition area. I looked for my sister-in-law because she was going to alert my wife that I was getting on the bike. I didn’t see her, so I thought my wife and daughter may have a hard time seeing me at the arranged location on the bike course. I hopped on my bike with just my trisuit to keep me warm. That turned out to be the right decision.
What would you do differently?:

A little more urgency in transition wouldn’t have been a bad thing. I appreciated the volunteers handing me my bag. If I had to grab my bag by myself, marking it with tape so it would be easy to find would have been wise.
Bike
  • 3h 38m 59s
  • 56 miles
  • 15.34 mile/hr
Comments:

I was never sure how my training rides would translate to race day. I trained in rolling terrain with a few steep climbs on my regular route. I traded those hills for wind. I was hoping to average 17+ mph, but I focused exclusively on my cadence (~90) and heartrate (~Z3). Given the strong wind, I knew I would be disappointed or push too hard if I concerned myself with my average speed. After a few turns getting away from T1 and a short ride over a steel grid bridge, I hit open road. The plan was to have my wife and daughter set up around mile three but I never saw them. That was a slight bummer, but I put my head down and pedaled into the wind. Around mile 6, I accidentally advanced my 920xt to T2. I rode a mile trying to see if I could back track on my watch. When I realized I couldn’t, I ended that triathlon session, started a new one, and quickly advanced the watch through T1 to the bike. I wasn’t sure how much my miles were off, but it gave me an opportunity to test my math skills over the next three hours. The worst part of the watch issue was my nutrition. My plan was to drink one bottle of Infinit every hour supplemented by a Gu chomp every 5 miles, an Uncrustable every 20 miles, a saltcap every hour, and water as needed. I did my best to stick to this plan, but left some Gu on the bike at the end of the ride.

I ran out of water around mile 20. That shouldn’t have been a big deal because the aid station was supposed to be at mile 22. However, the change to the bike course added six miles to that number (or more than 20 minutes at the pace I was riding). I was excited to get a bottle to refill my aerobar hydration and another to put in my seat cage for later. I ended up not needing the second bottle and enjoyed it the next day on the drive home.

Based on the math I worked out in my head, 37 of the first 40 miles on the bike were into a head wind. I was very excited to make the turnaround! I didn’t have a frame of reference, but the bike course seemed crowded. I passed a few people, got passed by some, and witnessed a lot of drafting and side-by-side riding. I watched as two women up in the distance rode side-by-side for 10 to 15 miles on US 421. I wondered what the infamous motorcycle referee would think. I don’t remember seeing one on the course, but I can’t say I was looking. I did see a lot of motorists that probably wished they had followed the signs and changed their route to avoid sitting in long lines of traffic. The course had us crossing traffic in several locations, which wasn’t ideal. A truck darted out in front me as I made the left turn from US 421 at the Isabel Holmes Bridge near the end of the ride. That was the closest call for me.

What would you do differently?:

I have a habit of rotating my watch on my arm when I’m on the bike so I can see my stats easier when in aero. But, this causes me to occasionally advance the watch accidently. Outside of triathlon mode, it just adds an extra split. In triathlon mode, it ends my bike session. I need to keep my watch on top of my wrist. I also need to send a stern email to Garmin telling them that they should figure out a way to let you backtrack to bike mode if you accidently advance the watch. I’ll add that to my to do list.
Transition 2
  • 07m 18s
Comments:

With both transitions, I struggled to understand where the transition officially began and ended. It was a long jog with bike in hand from the dismount line to the bike catcher. One athlete tried to run around the line saying he was trying to make up time. I saw him walking on the run! I was thankful that someone was willing to volunteer to rack my bike. I grabbed my run gear back and headed to the changing tent. I’m glad I put all of my run nutrition in a ziplock bag. I was able to get in and out relatively quickly and knew I had everything I needed. I’m also glad my brother convinced me to double-bag my gear so I didn’t have to start the run in wet shoes. I felt like I should get credit for some of the running I had to do before the run officially started.
What would you do differently?:

Again, a little more urgency in transition wouldn’t have been a bad thing.
Run
  • 2h 28m 29s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 11m 20s  min/mile
Comments:

I enjoyed the great crowd support at the beginning of the run, but I was surprised at how many turns there were and how narrow the course was in a few spots. Luckily, my pace was conducive to turns and traffic. My goal was 11 minutes per mile on the run. I felt good off the bike, ran up the hill on Walnut Street, turned on Front Street and got a jolt of energy from seeing the family waiting at the corner of Front and Grace Streets as planned.

The run through downtown was great. As I ran along Front Street, I couldn’t help but be disappointed that the shortened bike ride was going to rob me of the experience of cheering on the final IM finishers at midnight closed in. The run had just enough terrain to make it interesting. It definitely wasn’t completely flat but nothing too steep at all. My legs felt okay, so I just focused on running the first few miles conservatively. My nutrition plan was to walk some of the aid stations and take a Gu Roctane every 3 to 4 miles. I settled into a decent pace and waited for the miles to tick by. It was amazing that my thought process at the beginning of the run was “I only have a half-marathon to go”!

At some point, I started to notice an athlete with a run/walk strategy. I would pass him when he walked, then he would run by me. I noticed he was in my age group, so I decided he would be my motivation. This strategy worked okay until he stopped to talk to someone and mentioned he had another loop since he was doing the full. I would not be following him! I was excited to see my brother on the out-and-back run (he was a couple waves behind me at the start and passed me around mile 10 on the bike). I made it to the turn around, ran through the very odd aid station staffed by high school girls in prom dresses, and started the run back to downtown.

My pace picked up and I felt like I was getting a second wind. It was false wind. I hit the wall around mile 11, took an ego check, and walked for the first time outside an aid station. I got some encouragement from a Fat Frog (I wasn’t sure if he knew me from my brother or if was just a nice Frog encouraging a stranger). He gave me the motivation I needed and I picked my pace back up. It was good to hear the cheers in downtown and make the turn off Front Street.

I knew my finish line was near, but I wasn’t prepared for the dozen or so turns that awaited me. It was mixed emotions knowing that my 5-month journey was drawing to a close. Little did I know I had a few more turns to contemplate this! I saw my brother and he hurried off to the finish line to let everybody know I was close. My biggest training race was the international distance at Rev3 Williamsburg. I ran hard through the finish at that race and didn’t slow down to enjoy the moment. I wasn’t going to make that mistake! The crowd was great and the finish chute had a lot of energy. There was a 180-degree turn and then it was about 50 yards to the finish. One of the highlights of the day was seeing my brother lift my daughter high above crowd, so she could ring her cowbell and cheer me on. With the finish line behind me, I turned my attention to eating something other than an Uncrustable and Gu.
What would you do differently?:

I hope to start my next training period with a stronger run base. I felt my nutrition on the run worked okay, but a little more training and confidence (mental toughness) may have been all I needed to push through the wall.
Post race
Warm down:

I felt better than I thought I would in the immediate aftermath of the race. I was comfortable and enjoyed a slice of pizza and some Gatorade.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

The wind and fighting through the wall on the run.

Event comments:

As my first Ironman event as a participant and my first 70.3 race overall. It was a good learning experience dealing with the logistics of a point-to-point course. I’m glad I had a coach/brother to help me through the process. I enjoyed competing in a longer distance, especially with so many Ironman competitors on the course. I don’t have a good frame of reference, but the event went about as smooth as I could expect. It certainly helped to have Julie, Emma, Sherry, and Justin there in support.

It didn’t take longer for the triathlon bug to bite. I went from cheering my brother on at IM Maryland in 2014 to a sprint tri in 2015 to a half IM in 2016. There’s something about the shared experience of training and competing that can bring you closer to someone you’ve looked up to your entire life. My triathlon journey will continue for a variety of reasons and motivations, but at the top of the list is maintaining that closeness and comradery with my big brother. I heard many references to the Ironman widow. Even though I was only training for a half IM, I could feel the phenomenon playing out. There’s a special understanding that’s either stated or implied when a spouse takes on the challenge and commitment of a longer distance event. Julie was the model triathlete spouse, and Emma encouraged me as only a 5-year-old can. With a full IM in the works in 2018, I can only hope I haven’t already worn out my welcome with them.





Last updated: 2016-12-22 12:00 AM
Swimming
00:37:29 | 2112 yards | 01m 46s / 100yards
Age Group: 69/93
Overall: 696/1060
Performance:
Suit:
Course:
Start type: Plus:
Water temp: 0F / 0C Current:
200M Perf. Remainder:
Breathing: Drafting:
Waves: Navigation:
Rounding:
T1
Time: 07:28
Performance:
Cap removal: Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
Biking
03:38:59 | 56 miles | 15.34 mile/hr
Age Group: 532/93
Overall: 765/1060
Performance:
Wind:
Course:
Road:   Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks:
T2
Time: 07:18
Overall:
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
Running
02:28:29 | 13.1 miles | 11m 20s  min/mile
Age Group: 517/93
Overall: 743/1060
Performance:
Course:
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall:
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Evaluation
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

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2016-12-22 6:47 PM

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Subject: Beach2Battleship Half Iron Distance Triathlon


2016-12-28 8:29 AM
in reply to: #5207985

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1007
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DeLand, Florida
Subject: RE: Beach2Battleship Half Iron Distance Triathlon
Great work and congrats on the finish!
I was there (as a sherpa) for my wife who was also doing her first IM 70.3. I just wanted to second the comment about the wind. #1 topic post race of all competitors I talked to was how crazy the wind was on the bike course.
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