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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Beach 2 Battleship Ironman Distance Race Report

After a hectic few days at work, Jennifer and I left Thursday for Wrightsville beach. We made it in enough time to check in to the hotel, get changed and head off to the athlete dinner. After making our way from the Wrightsville Beach to downtown Wilmington, we just missed packet pickup and then went next door to grab some food. The food wasn't great but we only paid $10 for it so we're weren't too disappointed. We ate and promptly left and headed to the nearest Wally world for bagels, PB, some snacks, a bottle of wine, and a case of water. The water that comes from the spigot in that area is not drinkable. Back at the hotel we enjoyed our room which was really like a suite with a big jacuzzi tub in the main room.

Our hotel, the Holiday Inn Sunpree
Friday morning Jennifer and I split up for our workouts. She went for a run on the beach and then some working out in the hotel gym. I went for an hour and 15 minute ride around the island (a few times). It was a cold but beautiful morning. I took some great picture of me and my bike at different places around the island with a film camera (so they aren't posted here yet). I went easy on the bike and scoped out T1, swim start and swim exit and also met an athlete and chatted while cruising easy. In a way, Wrightsville Beach was a little like I picture Kona during Ironman week ... people out constantly running and cycling and swimming. I'll have to say the Wrightsville Beach is definitely our kind of town. Very laid back with the locals on beach cruisers and skateboards enjoying life. We'll be back for sure!
After our workouts were over we went to packet pickup / expo and then to a Mexican restaurant for lunch, a little bit of shopping for Jenn while I snoozed in the truck, and then it was time for a practice swim in the ocean. We decided I should do this because I was getting very nervous about the water temperature and couldn't relax. We figured the best thing to do was go swim so I would at least know what to expect. To my delight, it felt good after a few minutes in the water.

getting ready to go for a practice swim

feels cold at this point

I really enjoyed the swim and could have stayed in for a long time. The water was very clear for the east coast north of central FL. I could see the bottom the entire time and thought I was shallow, but when I went to go stand I realized I was still very deep and needed to swim another 100 meters before I could stand up.

After the swim it was time to get all the bags together for T1, T2, pre-race, post-race, and bike and run special needs. Then we needed to get the bags and bike checked in by 7:00 PM.

Jennifer was such a huge help. Here she is helping me get my bags stickered.

Loading up the bike to take to bike check-in

Putting my bag in the correct bin

It's hard being apart but I'll see you tomorrow my dear

With nerves in full swing it was off to dinner at the hotel restaurant. I ordered a pizza but only ate 3 pieces. I didn't want to get too full.

Our heads at dinner. Can't you feel the nervous energy?

After dinner it was off to bed. I didn't sleep very well and was up promptly at 4:00 AM. It was time to check the weather (again), eat breakfast, the requisite potty time, some light stretching and then lube job (Flanders is the bomb ~ snagged from my youngest top drawer) and getting dressed. For breakfast I had coffee, a bagel with PB and two bananas and some some water.

Give me some privacy woman!

Dressed to brave the 37 degree temps

We then left and Jennifer dropped me off at T1. I filled my water bottle, put my gel bottle in it's cage and stuck two cut up Powerbars to my top tube. They looked nasty and I even got a "gross!" from the crowd later when I was mounting my bike after T1.

Yummy Powerbar on top tube
From there it was time to hop a trolley from T1 to the swim start. And what do ya know I'm on the trolley with two other SCTS racers (one a potential long lost relative and the other a fellow FCAer) Bubba Brunson and Frankie Valley (yes, like the singer).

swim start location

Once I got down to the swim start I put on my wetsuit and began trying to get warm by jogging around. Just as people began heading down to the beach I spotted Jenn who had ridden her bike from the hotel. We walked down the path and between the dunes to one of the most spectacular triathlon scenes I've ever had the privilege of witnessing. The pictures don't do it justice. We were on a large beach with huge dunes that went out to a point with the Atlantic on one side and the channel on the other. It was a vastly open area filled with the a sea of freezing, nervous, wetsuit clad triathletes in bright green swim caps. It was surreal.

5 minutes 'til the start. Getting ready to wash down that gel.

Jen and I saying our goodbyes

In the crowd of freezing athletes waiting for sunrise

Even with all our shortcomings, there's no place like the USA!

Dawn. It's almost go time!

Lined up waiting for the horn. You can almost taste the energy.


The pack heads for the channel

Swimming down the channel

The swim leader, a local life guard racing on a relay team. He went 39 and change

The turn at the "wiggly man"

While my swim wasn't 39 and change, it was good swim for me. I kept the effort nice and easy and looked for feet to draft on. I was born and raised on the beach so I love salt water. I got a mouthful or two and enjoyed the taste. Once the marina was in sight I picked up the pace a little and finished in 52:24 after having my wetsuit stripped.
The run from the Marina to T1 was was shear misery. My feet were completely numb but somehow the pavement felt like broken glass.

That's not a smile, I'm in pain!

Into T1 and the changing tent I grabbed the first chair I could find and dumped my changing bag and began getting dressed. My arms were wet and my hands were numb so I couldn't get arm warmers on my arms. I opted for no socks and managed to get a pair of gloves over my hands. Off I went.

Where's my bike? Jennifer gets my attention and points to it.

Time to ride

Getting up to speed

I feel like I executed this ride perfectly. The first 30 miles were shear agony however. It was so cold it's hard to describe. I thought about quitting because I was so cold. I worried about hypothermia and frostbite. I wouldn't feel my feel my feet for a few more hours.
Within the first 15 miles I caught a couple of guys that decided to keep my pace, legally drafting on me. We exchanged leads a few times until we reached the first aid station at mile 23. I tried to grab a water but my hand wouldn't close so it just knocked the water bottle. The next bottle I sort of scooped it into my body with my hand and arm and was able to refill my aero bottle. I don't remember seeing two of the three guys after that. The one that stayed with me (Curt) was really cold. When he would pass me or I would pass him I could hear his teeth chattering. We caught another guy who hung with us for a while who mentioned that he had bought his Scott from Harrell's. I need to look up his name so maybe we can get together for some training. He was with us for a while and then dropped off. We later caught two other guys that stayed with us so we were a pack (legally) of four. I set the pace most of the time unless I stopped pedaling to pee at which time the other 3 would pass me. I would then catch them and sit in for a while before getting frustrated with the slower pace and move to the front to set the pace.
My nutrition plan was working great. I pee'd 6 times, ate the two powerbars before mile 60, and took a shot of gel with water every 20 minutes. For miles 0 - 80 mile ceiling HR was 148. I went above it for short periods to catch the pack after peeing but that's it. After mile 80 it was time to up it 2 beats to 150 at which time I dropped the other 3. I came into T1 a few minutes ahead of them feeling great. Curt would go on to run his way to 4th overall. I was told by the bike catcher that I was "in the money" meaning I was in or near the top 10 coming off the bike. My average HR was 145 with a max of 162. The split was 5:19:24 for a 21 mph average.

Coming off the bike

T2 seemed slow because I opted to put on that ridiculous knee brace. At this point I'm 6:20 into the race and only needed a steady 3:39 marathon to break 10 hours and stay in the top 10. The guys from the pack caught me within the first two miles of the run and all gave me compliments and thanks for the work I did on the bike. I told them to go get 'em. I think they could see by the brace that my running was not at the same level as my bike and tried their best to encourage me.

Onto the run

Mile 2.5 still feeing good and finding a good pace

Things were going well until mile 10 of the run. The brace was cutting the back of my leg and I needed to adjust it. I stopped to pee and make the adjustment and when I started back running I felt the IT band. Darn!!! I was pissed. 16 miles is a long way to hobble in pain. I saw my wife at mile 15 and gave her the thumbs down. At this point I was nearly in tears from the pain and was upset in knowing that 10 hours or even 10:30 wasn't going to happen. Jennifer sent out a text and got on the phone with family to pray for me. It hurt so much to be passed by people that I knew I could and should be beating, especially when they were in my age group. I had a choice to make. I could either give up and walk it in or push through the pain and make the best of it by trying to beat 11 hours. I decided fight for sub 11 and by mile 23 I noticed that I was running a little faster. By mile 25 I was running sub nine although it hurt. I brought it on home in 10:49:59.

Coming down the chute

Disoriented at this point but glad to be finished

After the race I felt really weird, kind of dizzy. I sat for a while and ate some pizza then went to the medical tent to have the wound on the back of my knee cleaned. After that I ate some more pizza and had my free beer. Curt found me and thanked me again for the help on the bike. When I found out he ran his way to fourth I told him to look into qualifying for his pro card next year. We then caught the ferry back to downtown and headed back to the hotel for a hot shower, jacuzzi and a glass of wine before bed. The next morning I was starving.

Eating breakfast the next morning

Our view from the breakfast table: surfers. I used to love to do that

After breakfast we headed over to Wilmington for the awards cruise. I knew I wouldn't be getting any awards this day but we thought a river cruise would be fun. We sat with Chris and his wife again (we sat with them at the SCTS awards also). Like me, Chris didn't have the race he was hoping for but still managed 6th overall, sub 10 hour and won the 35-39 age group. Not a bad miss if you ask me!

On the bow

On our way home we witnessed an awesome sunset. It was very fitting as this race was the sunset of the '08 tri season for us.

Sunset coming into Columbia

In the end I was proud that I was able to finish my first ironman but disappointed that I wasn't able to race to my potential not because of pacing or nutritional mistakes, but because I built my run volume too quickly and brought on ITBS. Now I will take a 3 weeks off running and then rebuild. It's all 5k or less until Festival of Flowers in June of 09. My plan is to build my 5k pace to near 5:40 off the bike so I can compete in the Open division next year. Also, I'm already scoping out my next Ironman. Bring on the '09 season, I have unfinished business!


TriT said...

Awesome job Nick! Congrats again on your Ironman finish!

Thanks for the post and the pics. Enjoy your R&R :)

Kevin said...

Great job. You did awesome considering all the IT Band trouble youve dealt with.

Wes said...

Like I said, man, you are awesome!! You have no control over you ITBS at this point, and you gritted out a sub-11 in pain!! That's huge. The experience is invaluable. 2009 had better watch out. You'll be bringing it strong!! Congrats again!!!

Bill Lawrence said...

Sub 11 is strong and you really tore it up on the bike. For being only your second year in the sport and the first time you have ran 26.2 that is tremendous!

Bill said...

Great job Nick! What an accomplishment. Nice work pushing through the IT band issues. Awesome race report!

Palmetto Solo said...

Congrats Nick, You fellas make this stuff look easy. Hope to meet you at some of these winter 5ks

JB said...

Good race. Loved the race report! Each one is a learning experience. Next time you will be even faster and smarter!

Mendy said...

So sorry to hear about your painful run, but I think you had so much of God in your race, to pull through that. Simply amazing. He was right with you. Sorry, so late at congratulating you, so Congrats! I know 09 will have some more amazing race reports coming from you.

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