aka beach to battle ship
Friday was a busy day with driving almost 4 hours to check in just 2 hours before registration closes. The first time that my All World Athlete status actually paid off.
Even though a prior email had announced there wouldn’t be space for an AWA check-in, while all the other athletes had to stand in a line that took 45+ minutes to clear, I was able to walk up to a desk and basically cut the line. Need something else to be motivated? After run bag drop off, lunch and a very late bike check-in with swim location check-out, I was simply too tired to drive the bike course and felt that some time to chill was much more beneficial. It was a simple out and back course, so I studied the map and felt comfortable that I would know I was on track. Weather forecast promised “cool and breezy”.
After a great night’s sleep (seriously, don’t know how I do it!) and a wake up call that was later than any other HIM I’ve done, I realized the weather had turned to cold and windy. IM 70.3 NC is not a particularly spectator friendly race (until you get to the run section), so for the first time we decided that my husband didn’t need to tag along to freeze at T1 as no spectator was able to get to the swim start (unless you stayed on Wrightsville Beach). Anyway, let me share one particularly funny moment while setting up my bike. Announcer: “Athlete #4561 (not sure of exact number)! We have found your bike! It was racked on 3561 – we made sure to re-rack in the right spot for you. Have a great race!” Ooops, glad that wasn’t me! The morning was indeed freezing, so I quickly finished setting up the bike, getting body-marked to then wait in the transition tent (aka out of the wind) for the first busses to leave for the swim start. Not gonna lie, getting to each transition area was a hassle and the transitions as such added a good mile to the race.
So, I made it out to the beach as one of the first athletes and while the start was on the west side of Wrightsville beach making us swim up the inter coastal, the sun (obviously) comes up in the east. I headed away from the crowds to enjoy a peaceful sunrise despite the very windy conditions.
We were told to head out more to take advantage of the current around the first buoy, but I got caught not only in the wave of the swimmers, but also the buoy line… I now know how people can potentially drown, if they don’t feel confident in the water! I’m glad I have that confidence. One hand and one foot on the buoy rope and I was able to clear myself from the mess of 15-20 bodies getting washed into me. (Wish I’d have that confidence with the wind. Will have to keep practicing that.) But hey, can’t fall in the water and get road rash, right?! Anyway, after I got myself out of that mess and swim freely for most of the rest of the way, I decided to take on some extra salt and water…hum… yes, the chop was that significant, but so was the current. To date this was my fastest swim in a HIM …., this one was done in 31′ minutes and I came out of the water in 10th place in my AG. (provided the results I’m looking at are the final ones)
My worst transition ever. First I forgot to take my Garmin off, so the wetsuit got caught on that. Found the shoes I had left the day before and was thankful to have those, but then the wetsuit strippers were half way to transition, so I needed to get in and out of them twice. It was still worth it though, as I easily jogged past all others whose feet were hurting as they ran across the gravelly road. Once in the tent, transition smoothed out a bit.
I mean the bike section… oh Lord, that [insert curse words here] wind! The first 8 miles afforded me some time to truly settle in and let my heart rate settle down. I made sure of that after my experience in Raleigh. Again, I thank my trusty power meter for keeping me in check, but I was able to maintain a decent speed. The next 13 miles were with heavy crosswinds which blew me over half the lane at times and made me drop my speed. Then there was a short reprieve with tailwinds which already made me dread the next 15 miles which were going to be all into a headwind. My speed dropped drastically. At times, it made me slow to 10 miles per hour! I never wanted to quit a race so badly in my life, even starting conjuring up all sorts of excuses. but that’s just what they were and of course, giving up is not an option. In case you lost count, that means it was basically 40 miles with crosswind blowing me all over the road or headwinds that beat me up just as bad. I lost quite a few spots as cyclists kept passing me, but I knew I would see a few of those again. And sure enough, once we turned, with the wind now in our backs again, I flew right on home, whereas others had already spent all they had and were visibly suffering. My mood was improving. I’m also very happy with how I stayed tuned in to proper nutrition and hydration all the way and I knew I had set myself up for a great run.
Another long one. Seriously, between swim to bike, and bike to run, the transitions come just short of a mile! It was a single track to the bike hand off, but then opened up a bit. Other than forgetting to take off my bike gloves which I therefore promptly lost, transition went ok.
I immediately dialed in to my goal pace, because I knew I could. I felt great and it only took the first couple miles to settle in. I continued to stay focused on hydration and nutrition and am also particularly proud to – for the first time – having been able to forego the coke on the last few miles to the finish line! At about mile 8, I tried to start pushing a little more, but that’s when it also started getting a little dicey. Mile after mile, I was able to maintain a steady pace though. On the last 2 miles, I really wanted to push, but started cramping up right away. I knew, I was now walking a fine line between cramping up so bad that I would have to walk it in or run a little slower, but run it all the way! Running it was and despite having had to slow a little bit, I’ve had my best run split to date in any HIM!
So, despite not having reached my goal of a sub-6 hour HIM (TBC work), the conditions with that wind really didn’t allow for it with my current strength on the bike. Having had the best swim and run splits since starting to race HIM attests that I am on the right track and overall I am very happy with my result. While having lost about 29 AG spots during the bike, I made up 12 thanks to my run and ended up 27th in my AG. Fingers crossed this will afford me enough points to claim another year of All World Athlete!