We arrived Wednesday with a couple of our folks, Miguel and Lorraine. Margaret and Corey were already there with our bikes. They graciously drove our bikes in a van across the universe to this new home called North Carolina, where there is so much oxygen you feel like superstar when active. Soon the rest arrived and we settled into our 1970's version of a beach house. Comfortable, but old. The views from the house of the ocean was amazing! So we had Mark and Lorna, DP, Tim, Miguel and Lorraine, Margaret and Corey, Michael and Michi, Mark T. and Naomi, Orlando, H & I.
Athletes=12 Sherpas=3. The sherpas were so amazing, I cannot begin to tell how much of a difference they made! Lorna made us all cookies (twice) and dinner on Friday night. Now that is a sherpa! Corey kept us all organized on race day-he rocked!
On Thursday, we went swimming in the ocean channel for practice. The water was cool, but not impossibly cold. I ran into Vickie from blog land and that was a great surprise! Later, we went to check in and go to the athlete's dinner. Everything was extremely organized in the check in process, I think NAS could learn a lesson or two from the B2B folks in this department. The pre race dinner was great food, OK speaker (something about "recycling our passion"-kinda corny but OK). Loading 15 people into our "passenger van" was quite an art and Mark drove us downtown for the experience in Wilmington. I felt nervous all week about the logistics of getting us all everywhere. But it really did all work out like it was suppose to, despite with my anal retentive barking of orders..Our house on the beach was about 10 miles from downtown. I was really glad we opted for the quiet beach house as opposed to staying downtown with the nervous athletes. It was a good decision..
Friday was rather low key. Some went to the pre-race briefing and filled us in. We found T-1 and dropped off our bikes and "stuff" Again my nerves about ever seeing my "stuff" again were high, as this was a point to point race. The energy at this pre-race was much different than "Ironman" races (official ones). People did not seem as uptight-atmosphere more relaxed. Again Corey, Lorraine and Lorna had "a plan" on how to get us all to the race start and picked up. I was so grateful someone was in charge of this aspect as I had nightmares about not getting to the start on time or not getting us all home in one piece. We took a walk on the beach, had great food, entertainment per MG, who quizzed us all on deep and not so deep subjects post dinner conversation..It was so much fun..we had the best group of people I can ever imagine living under one roof for this experience. The memories of that will stay with me forever..
Sat. AM, the 7 Ironfolks were taken to T-1 at 5:00 AM. There was a "cool front" that had come in making the air temp in the 40s. That actually made for a cool start but perfect race day temp later..Corey came back and got the rest of us and we headed to T-1 way too early but "they" said T-1 would close at 7:00. Which made for a bus trip to the half IM start-there we were 90 minutes before our start time. That kind of sucked but we sat around and laughed and watched the Ironman swimmers ZOOM by with the current. Ahhhh, an easy swim I thought. And I was right. When my wave took off, the current was so strong I could hardly hold the line in the water but BOOM, we were off! I was trying to sight but having difficulty because of the sun. So I followed the two women ahead of me and thought Wow, I think I am third in this wave (new experience). Everytime I turned to breathe, I was acutely aware of the extra oxygen and this just gave me more encouragement. I did not have a watch on at this point so you could have told me I did the swim in 25 or 45 minutes. Come to find out the former was true. I climbed out a the ladder, they pulled off my wetsuit, I found my shoes, ran about 50 yards and crossed the mat.
Swim time: 27:51
The run to T-1 was 400 yards (thus the shoes). Then into transition, where I found my bike and proceeded to dink around trying to figure out whether to wear all the clothes I had brought. I made the quick decision to not put anything extra on, I felt warm. This turned out to be fine..Out of T-1 after what seemed to be a 10 min. transition.
Bike: It was suppose to be "pancake flat" Not so sure about that. There were about 4 little bridges to go over although I will say for the most part it was flat. There was suppose to be an aid station at mile 25. I had drunk all my water and when I did not see one I was pissed. The aid station ended up being at mile 30 but I suppose that was OK because I hauled ass to get to it. I stoppped, took off the plastice bags I had put on my aerobottle, which I had forgotten to take off, readjusted everything and it all felt like a new race. My Garmin HR monitor was not working, I do not know if this was the salt water or what but my HR either said 52 or 182. So I decided just to go at a pretty hard pace until it worked. It never did. At the turn around back to town we encountered the wind, of course but hey..we train in wind all the time..I told myself..About 6 miles from the end, a woman in my AG passed me. Oh no you're not! I thought and passed her..I knew I had probably PRd the swim, was PRing the bike and was going to walk/run the half marathon. I knew she would probably be a runner but damn if I was going to let her get me on the bike! We crossed over a bridge into transition (ow!). I crossed the mat and saw the Battleship. It was impressive all big and in the water..Didn't have much time to enjoy..
Bike time: 3:13 (this includes T-1 because the timing chips were screwed up or something) I think my real bike split was 3:04.
In this transition they guided me to my stuff-there it was! Magically had made it across town over the harbor into a new transition area-magic! I dumped it all out, sorted what I wanted and boom, was off on the run.
Run: Now I had to got the the BR-bad! So I waited until the first aid station and had a nice little break, ate, drank, etc..even though my feet were kind of numb as the blood rushed to them, I felt great! Woman from bike in my age group passed me early on the run and I never saw her again-as expected..I planned my run, ran my plan. Run 2 minutes, walk 1 minute. My running was pretty fast for me, between 9 and 10 min miles. I loved doing it this way. My feet became un-numb. I was able to mentally stay focused and just chugged along. I met up with a few Outlaws going the other way. Caught up to Orlando and we walk/ran together for awhile. Two more pit stops and I felt so good. At the turn around I was so GLAD I was only doing the half. I knew I had it in me to finish the half, but to run a whole marathon like this, after pushing the bike, I knew would be tough. (Note to self: do NOT push the bike that hard in IMWA). The last hill was brutal before the last mile of the race. Now I started to see some of our Iron folks out on the run-that was really AWESOME! I knew we were all having good races. Being in kind of a race fog, I could not for the life of me figure out what my time was. I had fiddled with my Garmin at the beginning at the run (note to self: read the instructions) and finally got it to work in run mode but still could not get what the hell my time was..
At last I crossed the finish line and the clock said 6:50. So I was thinking, OK, I need to add 20 minutes to that since I started in a later wave. No that was not right, I had to subtract the 20 minutes..Duh!
Run time: 2:46
Final race time: 6:31-PR by 14 minutes!!
Wow! I was really happy about that. There were our sherpas and sweet Courtney at the finish line..It was a party! Pizza, doughnuts, lots of PRs. H finished not too long after me for his own PR. I heard in the background they were doing awards but didn't think much of it at first. Then Michi found out she WON her age group and I thought well maybe there is a chance? I had not seen anyone else on the race course except the one woman. There were 7 women signed up in my AG. Could I have placed? After some time they finally gave out the awards for my age group. When I saw bike woman go up for first place, H & I looked at each other and whooped! I got SECOND place..oh yes I did!! I do not think I have ever been so excited before in my life..I have not gotten an award in so long..this was surely a surprise! The award plaque is a piece of the original deck of the Battleship we were standing next to. And some dude in a military uniform gave me my award.. how cool is that..
Wow..very long story short, we managed to get back to the car eventually (the logistics of this is a nightmare Mr. Race Director)..Somehow got back and gathered all the Ironman folks, who many had a PR, finished there first and Miguel even won his age group! We made it "home" by 10:30. I was so exhausted but happy. All of us were abuzz with the day's events. It was a very well run race (except the post race wait to get on a trolley to the car)..Everyone had their stories, it was hard to go to bed!
After a slight meltdown when I realized there was no coffee the next morning at the house ( I went and got some) we were off for the long trip home...
As I sit here today, I am pooped, sore and happy. Next stop-Australia!! We leave in 17 days!!