Half Ironman NC – B2B Race Recap

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Warning…this might be long 🙂

Preparations almost done for Beach to Battleship Half Ironman.  One last very important thing to do, one very pathetic thing.  Time to meet up at Poe’s Tavern with some of my triathlon group, the Pathetic Triathlon Group.  I so wanted to wear my Pathetic shirt, but I was already out and about and the meet up time crept up on me.  But seriously isn’t this shirt awesome, its a classic retired design.

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So time for the meet up, a few of us were able to coordinate our schedules so that we could meet for beers and burgers, fairly early after bike drop off. Met some amazing people, the kind of people that make that group great, though it does have it share of trolls, these people were amazing! We even had a very high quality yet pathetic sign marking the spot.  A lot were local, so it was good to get some insight on the swim course from local experts.  Then we were off to view the swim course exit.  Talked to the Ironman official there, which was good.  Then off to our respective homes and hotels.

I had a super hard time getting to sleep. My body was still on Alaska time. But wake up at 4 am was going to come fast, so I tossed and turned and before I knew it, boom time to get up.  Start my usual morning race prep.  Bathroom, Quest protein shake, diet coke, and a energy bar.  I fail at nutrition so badly its actually comedic. But my body is not used to eating before 10 am. I just cannot do it.

Now comes the hard part, which kit to wear.  I guess I should have figured this out the night before.

Team kit won.  Felt I needed to represent my other Tri Club, Tri-It Together out of Temecula, California.  I felt that a Cali kit would summon the warm sunshine.  Grab a jumper, because it was cold, and headed over the Hilton to grab the shuttle to Transition 1 and onward to the swim start.  Load up and low and behold who comes sauntering down the aisle?  My high school friend Charlie!  How awesome. I had hoped to run into him while I was here as we have been talking about this race for the better part of the year.

Once in T1, we both check on our gear bags and our bikes. We are down at this point near the swim exit. It is cold, even this alaskan girl is cold.  Charlie and I wait for our turn to load up on the bus for the swim start. We both quickly put on our wetsuits on the lower half to keep warm.

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Swim start time. We had to wait about an hour after we got there, we were early, but thats better than late 🙂  I was given the wrong colour swim cap, so I was very confused about when I should swim. I got florescent orange instead of dull orange. So I start asking people, what age group are you….over and over till I figured it out.

Swim start time. I line up in the last 1/3 of my wave.  I didn’t feel like getting run over.  And we are off, congestion and flailing arms, per the usual swim start.  I tried hard to get out deep near the fastest current channel, but I could not get past the wall of people. So I ended up in the slowest swim current channel.  Had a decent swim not great but not as good as it should have been with the current assist.  I ended up swimming 2,171 yards in 36, but I had to wait a while to get a ladder and got pushed around a bit there as people clammered over me, which was pretty spot on, so my spotting was much better this time.  Honest, I have not swam sine July.  I know…..I should swim more but my pool has been either closed or on weird hours.  The transition to the bikes was about 0.25 miles with no shoes on concrete and asphalt.My tender baby feet did not like that.  I ran through the showers, careful to wash off the “channel beard” and did my best to trot over to T1.

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T1, grab my bike bag and head to the changing tent.  I get my shoes and towel out. Had to put socks on because it was pretty chilly and I did not want to get cold feet.  Its so damn hard to put injinji socks, aka toe socks, on wet feet!  Drats! I forgot my chamois butter, but thankfully the lady next to me had and extra one use packet and offered it to me. Thank you most awesome lady person!  I dry my arms enough so I could get on arm warmers. Then trot into the sea of bikes to find mine. Boom, there he is and I get everything secured down and make way to the bike exit.

Now things get fun and not in a good way.  The first 10 miles of the course were so congested.  You could not help but to draft.  I am a strong biker and I had a hard time passing people as many would not give way and let you past.  The wind was also playing havoc on those with deep dish or disk wheels.  The wind was about 12mph for 2/3 of the bike course. UFDAH!  Finally we got off the big overpass, which was the worst. The concrete was grooved and the wind was howling. It really pushed me around and I was only running Zipp 404, which are a moderate deep dish wheel!  I can only imagine what it was like on a rear disk!  Once we got off that overpass and onto the highway, things got a little better. Still lots of packs of riders but much more manageable.

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I wish I had photos, but there was a railroad crossing, which was rough, that you passed over twice. It was bike bottle carnage. There were at least 15 bottles and various bike parts there when I passed over it!  I so wanted to stop and pick up some of the ejected goodies 🙂  But I pedaled onward.  The first 2/3 of the bike were that horrible headwind. I saw my speed plummet on flat ground trying to keep abreast of the wind. OMGERD. It was harder than hills for sure. I love hills, hate wind. At least with hill I see my progress, with wind I feel helpless going forward.  Bike was uneventful until about mile 20 right after the first aide stationand rats!  I have a flat.  I am not good at changing flats. Its usually lots of cursing, beer, and about an hour of me fussing with it.  Okay Susie, you got this. I pop off the bike and get my tire gear out of my jersey.  Lever it off, pop in a new tube, and one chance with the CO2. Thank you tire gods,I got it done in less than 5 minutes. That is amazing!  And with no help.

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The rest of bike was uneventful. Finally once we hit the turnaround of the loop section, we got the blessed tail wind.  I was seeing speeds on the flats of 29.5 mph. I am flying past everyone now. I was surprised how many I passed. I think a lot just blew themselves out in that headwind and had nothing left.  I paced myself in the headwind, buying time for the tailwind. I had a half IM PR of 3:08 even with a flat. My last half IM bike was 3:40. Take that!

The transition in T2 was pretty long. You dismount quite a way and have to motor your bike down a long rubber path in the middle of sand and rocks.  My legs were like drunken sailors. I could not get my feet and legs to obey me.  The lady behind me was a royal pain and kept running her bike into the back of me. She was not pleasant at all. As I was about to give my bike to the bike handoff person she rammed me in the back with her elbow as she tried to get in front of me while I was handing off my bike. Seriously lady, be nice!  So I stumble with my bike and about take out the bike handler. Sigh…..But I run as quickly as I can in cleats in the dirt to my run bag. Head over to the changing tent, get my race belt, shoes, and cap.  Then I am off down the long run transition, which was about 0.45 of a mile.  Whew.

The run, well that is always where I struggle.  I give to much on the bike usually and that leaves me little gas for the run. I did my best to pace myself and start off doing intervals.  I kept up with intervals for the whole run portion.  Run 5 @ 10.30 per mile (roughly) and power walk 2 @ 13.30 per mile. This strategy worked pretty well. I was passing people even when power walking!  There were a lot of runners, shuffling…they should have power walked and saved the energy and actually moved faster doing that!  Course ran out roughly 7 miles then back to the start and finish area, minus some distance.  I ran mostly with myself, but during races where I cannot have music, I make my own.  I admit, I sing a lot during races.  I can’t help it.

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Around mile 11 I ran into John, who is the chapter captain of another  RWB group.  Best sight all day. Chris from my chapter hooked me up with the Wilmington group.  Seeing John cheering and so upbeat, really gave me a lift to get the last 2 miles done.

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Power through the last 2 miles and there is the finish line. All I can think of is pizza and soda.  I wanted that finishing soda so badly for some reason.  I throughly enjoy a nice cold diet coke after my runs!

And then, I hear Mike Reilly announcing my name over the PA and I have crossed the finishing line.  6:56.  Under 7 hours, which is great. But I know I had more in me and without that flat or the wind, could have easily broken 6:30. Next time, I will do better!

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I hung around at the finish for a while, then went to collect my gear. Now I know why people bring others to help with this part. Its hard when you are so tired, to grab your 3 gear bags and you bike!  Next time I need a handler! I did make it back to my apartment, showered and notified my people that I finished!

I went back out to cheer on the last of the full finishers. Got to cheer on a few eagles, one of which was the racer that John was supporting. She finished looking strong and amazing in her new black/white RWB kit.  She looked sharp.

Finished the evening with a relaxing dinner with a fellow racer, who has done what seems like a billion Iroman’s, which is totally awesome!

Now to plan for my next adventure.  Hopefully soon there will be some official race photos to share!

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