Here’s Part II of my race recap. To read Part I, click HERE. I did forget to mention that the night before any big race or training run, I eat a big burger. So I had a burger and then the morning before, I had a bowl of Grape Nuts. Yeah, lots of fiber, but it seems to work for me!
I was all ready to go. The trolleys were leaving T1 to take us to the swim start, so I figured I might as well bid adieu to my sister and get on with it. I had my wetsuit over my tri onesie, my goggles, swim cap, and really, I didn’t need anything other than that. I had socks and flip flops and a sweatshirt on to help keep warm. I saw many of my teammates and we all wished each other good luck. I had just gotten in line to the trolley when my friend, Jack, stole me away to ride to the start with him. I was ok riding by myself, strangely calm, but it WAS nice to talk to someone. Much appreciated, Jack.
It was a gorgeous day! The sun was rising, music was blaring, and it was a great atmosphere to be in. We saw the full distance swimmers fly by (I swear the first place guy had fins on but he was actually staying with my sister and found out he is a world class endurance swimmer), and was impressed with the current. Time quickly passed, I ate my peanut butter sandwich, and soon it was time for the waves to start. I was in Wave 7, 24 minutes after the first wave was to start. It was very organized, and I was still surprised I wasn’t nervous!! Off went Wave 1 and, at that point, I was regretting giving my heavy coat to my sister! I was fffreezing! The announcer called the wave to be ready to go, the wave to get in the water, and the wave to be waiting. It was a smooth process. Soon, it was time to get in the water. I had to have a “hair strategy” since I have long, fine hair that can tangle itself without even trying. I had a low pony tail that I braided and would fit through the straps in the back of my helmet. The water wasn’t cold, but it certainly wasn’t warm – I think it was 74 or so. But I was so cold! Shivering and teeth chattering. I worried that I was wasting energy shivering. I worried about what I was about to do. I had to pee soooo bad! Ahhhh…. The enormity of the entire thing was slightly overwhelming, so as I had all week, I just broke the race into bits. The swim was first.
It was time for my wave to start, so we swam to the start “line” (it was invisible although he kept telling us not to cross it – ??). Then the current pushed a bunch of people across said invisible line, so he made everyone swim back, which made me in the front of the pack. Hells no on that, so I swam to the back of the pack. The horn sounded and I took off. I knew that the current would be fading, so I headed to the middle of the channel where the current is stronger, so I could swim mostly straight until our big turn. I was surprised to find myself pretty much alone, so I concentrated on being slow and steady. The sun was blasting straight into my eyes as I breathed (I only breathe on my right), so that was slightly annoying, but otherwise, it was pretty uneventful. I felt like we still had a good current pushing us as we turned left, and I was able to avoid getting kicked or kicking someone else. I don’t know why, but I ended up swallowing a lot of water. I don’t remember exactly where, but I even gagged under water (a year ago I’d have started to panic), swallowing even more. I just hoped that it wouldn’t cause me GI distress for the rest of the race. I did NOT want to be one of those athletes with an unfortunate poo. 🙂 It was breezy (it wasn’t supposed to be so I was already mad about that but then again, it IS the beach so all bets are off on an accurate weather forecast -see, this was my stream of thought), so the water was a little choppy because of that and with the hundreds of swimmers hashing through it. I thought that it could have been much worse so was happy with our conditions.
I was going with the flow of the other swimmers, not really seeing or noticing the sight buoys, but swimming towards the channel marker where I knew I could start turning again. I felt the current wasn’t as strong right there, or maybe I was distracted, but I did a lot of sighting to make sure I was going in the right direction and wouldn’t run into anyone. Soon, I saw the flailing arm of the finish. OMG, I’m doing it. I’m going to finish the swim, and well under my allotted time. At that moment, I sort of laughed and thought to myself that Gary was indeed correct, I overreacted for nothing! Silly me! I heard the music or some noise at the finish, I heard the volunteers on the docks, and I noticed that many of the swimmers were blowing by the get-out point. I actually stopped and let a few criss-cross right in front of me (should I have tugged on their feet to tell them they were blowing by the dock to get out?) and then stopped again so I could pee and save time in transition/bike.
I started climbing up the ladder out of the water and was freaking thrilled. I ran up the dock on wobbly legs and got my wetsuit down past my rear and sat down on a bench for the wetsuit stripper. I have never been stripped before, but it was pretty fabulous. 🙂
I got up and started running towards the transition. We crossed the timing mat to where there were nice warm showers. I rinsed as much as I could and enjoyed the warm water falling on my cold skin. There was a few hundred yards to run to transition, so I went as fast as I could without
falling on my face risking injury. There was a nice crowd there and their cheering made me smile. OFFICIAL SWIM TIME: 38:23
In transition, I rinsed my feet and stood on a towel, dried myself the best I could with another towel, put a t-shirt on, spread sunscreen on my arms and legs (forgetting my face), and started eating my big meal bar I had in my bag.
Chapstick, gum, 3 salt tabs. On went my socks, shoes, and sunglasses, and I was ready to go. I’ll never know what happened to the ibuprofen that I thought I put in my bag… I assume they never got put in there, but they were crossed off my list, so I really have no idea. Good thing I had taken three before the race had started. With my helmet on, I hugged my friend Stacey and was off. OFFICIAL TRANSITION TIME: 8:39
I was off on the bike! We slowly wound around the side streets of Wrightsville beach to be able to exit the island the safest way. I had planned to get off my bike to cross the metal grated bridge since I knew other bikers had fallen there before. Everyone seemed to be doing fine and the volunteers steered us to the dry side of it, so I went for it. A few wobbly seconds later, I was over the bridge. Whew! I was getting into the groove as we headed out of town. I wanted to take it relatively easy with the car and bike traffic, and soon, I was going probably 16-17 mph. The time seemed to fly, and all of a sudden, it had been 15 minutes. I knew I needed to eat a little more of my nutrition, so I got it out and started chewing on it. Blech. Chew, chew, chew, chew, I felt like it was rubber and that I was a cow chewing cud. Hmmmm, this chewing thing, that seemed to be fine in the planning stages, just wasn’t working out in reality.
Car traffic along this road was a nightmare. For them! Haha! I thought they were kind of stupid to be on that road anyway because everyone should’ve paid attention to the signs the past week telling them of traffic issues on triathlon day. Oh well, we bikes just whizzed right by them. Miles and miles of cars. We headed to the interstate and when we got on, I was surprised that we were in the left lane. We were to stay to the right in the left lane, which left us fairly close to the traffic going by at 70 mph. That’s all good and fine unless some moron driver decides to pick their
nose phone up and ram their Hummer into one of us. As you know, I’ve never done a triathlon before, so I’ve never ridden along a race course before. I didn’t know if there would be officials out looking for rules violations. I didn’t know I’d see so many dropped water bottles and empty Gu packets on the road. I only saw a few bikers getting help, so that was good. We followed this interstate until about mile 20 and turned north onto Hwy 421, which is where I have ridden many times before. It’s flat. Very flat. I kept drinking my water and had a few squirts of the concentrated EFS, but I just didn’t want to eat the bonk breakers at all. Too much chewing. Two miles after we turned onto 421, I found the first support station. I had to pee, so I knew I had been drinking enough. I had warmed up, so I decided to stop, pee, and take off my extra t-shirt. I rearranged my little food bag by taking out one baggie of the thick bonk breakers I knew I wouldn’t want to eat, which freed up room to bring the chomp block things up to the top. I also topped off my water bottle, which wasn’t very far from the top. Crap, need to drink more! It was warm.
I started out on the bike again. According to my Garmin, my average pace ranged from 16.6 to 17.5 mph. I paid special attention to cadence and kept it between 85 and 95. The one thing I was really thinking about was if there was wind. Since I’ve been on this road several times, I knew it was tricky. There could be no evidence of breeze in your face, but you can feel a resistance. Then you turn around and it’s obvious there was “wind”. I really had no idea what was going on with the wind or lack thereof, but I felt good and strong. Then my knee tweaked. I actually made a noise, because dammit, it hurt. What the hell? I didn’t know what it was and why it decided to show up during the race, but I just dealt with it and pushed through. It was on and off, so I ignored it the best I could and kept going.
Random thoughts went through my head. Of course, I watched the people fly by and me fly by others, and I really did try to pass legally. I wondered if I should buy a friend’s newer, nicer bike. I wondered how the race was going to end. I wondered if I would want to do a full iron distance. Which one? Should I do this one? Should I do an IM? Should I do this race again next year? I can’t wait to marathon train. How am I going to take a full week off? I need to drink. I need to fart. Yes, I started getting stomach cramps. Not the “I need to poo myself” cramps, but “I really need to fart” cramps. All I wanted to do was lay on my side a few minutes and let it go, which is what I do at home when I get that feeling, which is fairly often, especially during training season. They were stuck. And it hurt. So my knee hurt and my stomach hurt all the way up to my shoulder. Wow, how am I going to run with stomach cramps? Maybe I can just lay down a few minutes in transition and fart a little….
I kept at it as we went along the course. I just thought about this, and I thought about that. I made sure I kept eating and drinking. I said, “I’m doing this. I am really freaking doing this!!!” many times to myself. Then at about mile 40, here comes this biker going so fast it was like Blueberry Road was the autobahn. Amazing. Maybe what, 30 mph?? It was the first place guy from the FULL iron distance along with his motorcycle escort. Wow, my brush with fame. The volunteers were awesome. There were many as we turned, and I really appreciated the one who told me to not be in aero when turning since it was a right angle turn. I think that saved me some skin.
We turned south and I was on my way back to town. Wow. Close. I’m DOING THIS!!!! That’s when it hit that the “wind” was BEHIND me. I was pedaling at 19 mph, 20 mph. Holy crap. I couldn’t do the math to actually figure it all out until I got closer, but all I really wanted was a sub-3:30 ride. I kept passing people. I still don’t understand why, but I knew I was less than 12 miles away from the finish, so it was time to go while I had energy and we had a little push. Fart (or lack thereof I should say) and knee pain aside, I pushed myself. Garmin said I was going between 19 and 20 mph the last 15 or so miles. I remembered to eat and drink, especially my EFS, because baby, it was hot out!
I soon saw down town. Wow. Holy shit, I’m really freaking doing this!!! I choked up a few times and was just happy. This is MY day! If I could just fart….
We came over another metal grated bridge and weaved our way to the convention center, which is where T2 was. We passed some runners in our last few blocks, and the vibe was electric!!!! We headed down a fairly steep hill, turned a corner, and were to immediately slow down and prepare to dismount.
I didn’t see my family at that point, but was hoping they were there. I handed my bike off to a volunteer and walked about a hundred miles to get my transition bag. OFFICIAL BIKE TIME: 3:15:08
Now for the FUN part – THE RUNNNNN!!!!!!!
I changed into my comfy running clothes, put on my shoes, peed, put my hair in my hat, took out my braid, grabbed my chomps, handed my bag to a volunteer, changed my Garmin to the run function, wound around the whole entire inside of the convention center toward the exit, and took off. CRAP! It funkified itself! WTH??? Eh, gotta go, so I pushed start and headed out to my 13.1 mile run. OFFICIAL TRANSITION 2 TIME: 7:36
Because this is turning into a novel…. I’ll post the run and post-run in my next post. This is so cool. Everyone who does a race should have to write a recap. It’s so fun to think back over the entire thing, piece by piece and re-live it. Let me just say that post-race euphoria hasn’t hit, but I feel a squall moving in….. (honey, hide the credit cards!).
So proud of you on the bike!! Great swim too. can’t with to read about the run and the finish!!