As the title of this post suggests, this is a race report! Yay! And as I mentioned on the D.R. facebook page, I was thinking about shutting this down, but I got a lot of great feedback about writing when I could and keeping it up just to go back and read about past shenanigans. And we all know there are many of those!
Since I haven’t written in so long, let me back track just a bit. I’ve been back in tri training land for a while now and did a few sprints, an aquathlon, and some running races over the past year. I don’t think that my two years off of cycling were such a great idea at this point, but I’ll get to that. Just know I’ve been training and feeling the tri love again. Now on to the race report!
The S.O. and I left late afternoon on Wednesday to break up the long drive from Florida to North Carolina. We stopped a little past Jacksonville to sleep and then got back on the road Thursday morning. Since this is a Saturday race, we needed that extra day to get there. Our good friend Hugo was also heading up and we had planned to do most pre-race stuff with him. Plus, there were about 900 athletes from the Tampa Bay area racing so we were fortunate to see lots of friends at this event.
Upon arriving in North Carolina we checked in at the athlete village and listened to an athlete briefing. I HIGHLY recommend going to these as they are typically mandatory and if you are racing a new course, it’s always helpful. For example, at this one we learned of the three scary grates and the numerous train tracks we’d cross on our bikes. It was super helpful for my bike anxiety! Yay! (Yes, sarcasm, but it was helpful to make a mental note of where they would be on the bike course. Foreshadowing here.)
Fast forward to Friday. There were shake out runs & rides and then bike check in and run gear bag check in. This NC 70.3 is interesting since they sort of shoe horned the race into the Wilmington area. And because of this there are separate transitions. The swim is point-to-point, then the bike starts in one location and finishes in another. It’s a wee bit confusing, but we figured it out. And to be honest, I didn’t mind this at all. I loved that my bike got back close to finish and that all my swim stuff magically appeared with it.
After check in, we headed to dinner with mine and the S.O.’s Tribal teammates. It was a great dinner and it was one of the quickest group meals I’ve been to. Normally I feel like large group dinners can be a total cluster eff, but this went very smoothly and I didn’t start sweating because I was in a rush to leave and panic in my hotel room. In fact, there was very little panicking on my part before this race in general. I’ve entered a very zen like pre-race mindset lately. Zen like for me anyway, which includes only having to pep talk myself once or twice versus the full blown freak outs of ye olden days. B.o.B. is all growed up! *tears*
Saturday – Race Morning
After a very early wake-up and taking various shuttles to various transition areas, we all found each other at the swim start staging area. It was dark when we first arrived so Hugo dubbed it “Ironman refugee camp.” Triathletes were lying around everywhere in random warm up clothing and it wasn’t until it became light that it looked more like a triathlon and less like a place that Red Cross was needed. Every race lately, I try to stave off taking an Imodium. I eat less fiber, I stay away from fried and overly fatty foods, but, le sigh, it never fails. Nervous poops happen. So I took my standard pre-race Imodium and had no issues the rest of the day. I say this now because the porta potty lines got super long! On the plus side, I “raced” my extremely fast friend Joey in my porta potty line while he was in his and won. First and last time I’ll ever beat Joey at anything. (Yes, Joey, especially with this attitude.)
I saw the S.O. off, then it was my turn. I said goodbye to Hugo and made my way down the chute onto what can only be described as an underwater ramp that felt as though it was lined with pure butter. I thought for certain I was going to bust my ass, but I did not. Whew! First almost whammy of the day avoided. My fellow pink capped and wetsuited 7:53 AM start time ladies and I were ready to go. We bobbed around and then we were off!
Ah, the swim. The love of my life. Make no mistake, this was a fast swim. It’s an awkward course but I just kept the buoys to my left as told and only managed to run smack dab into one of them. I swam hard the first 200 meters and then I just found a groove. It got a little congested here and there and at one point some woman aggressively pushed my leg down. I popped up and started to pull off my big hoop earrings but then I remembered I wasn’t wearing big hoop earrings and this was not B.o.B. circa 2001 at da club. I kept swimming. And swimming. And then – WHAM! Right into the back of some dudes from the wave in front of me. I got a little nervous for them as they were doing some interesting strokes but seemed generally ok. I kept swimming. And swimming. And then finally I saw the ladders out. Hooray! (I love swimming but doesn’t everyone want to be done with each leg that they are currently in?)
Swim Time: 29:34
Division Rank: 18
This was a long transition from swim to bike but I did my best to cover it as quickly as I could. The wetsuit strippers were fast and the volunteers at this race were just fantastic in general.
T1 Time: 6:22
Ah, the bike. The bike is like that really awesome guy who everyone loves and checks all the boxes, but I just don’t love him. (This is not the case of the S.O., obvs. He is great and I love him.) I got going on the bike and wasn’t as chilled as I thought I would be which was a pleasant surprise. I didn’t lose my mind at the start of this bike leg because I wanted to get stronger as I went and not vice versa. I was aided in this by the first set of m#@%er f#$king grates on a bridge. As I came up on it, the volunteers were yelling, “Cyclist down up ahead! Slow down!” W. T. F. This does not calm down a person who is already a wee bit skittish on a bike. Instead, I slow to a crawl and see folks walking their bikes across the grates. Should I do the same? OH HELL MOTHER EFFING YES. I get off and walk. All the while I’m thinking about how Coach Jon would be like SERIOUSLY? But, yes. I could see the guy who had crashed sitting on the curb rocking back and forth. Nope. Not me. Not today.
Once I got past that grate situation, I calmed down a little and tried to avoid the 652 people who were passing me at tremendously fast speeds. Well. Maybe not tremendously fast, but I got passed a lot. I’m certain that folks were nervous for me (like I was for them on the swim) as one person gave me that moderately irritating, though well intentioned, “Good job! You got this!” as they sped by. Sigh.
Ok, so I have been training. However, after two years off of the bike, plus travel to Europe, and a hurricane, and life in general, it clearly hasn’t been enough. I had a great swim and a slow bike and as I mentioned in the title of this here blog post… some things never change.
On the plus side, I did get faster as I went and the bike course was flat as a pancake. The first 45 miles went by very quickly and I enjoyed seeing so many friends on the course. The course is not exciting to look at, but I wasn’t there for the views. I did joke to another cyclist that the bike dismount line was my favorite part of triathlon. Oh, yes. I am so funny. And, I actually passed more than a handful of people the last 10 miles which was interesting to me.
Bike Time: 3:16:52
Division Rank: 53
I was naturally very happy to be in T2 and was quick with racking and changing my shoes. I did, however, stop to pee as I really didn’t want to pee while running. (I’ve done this before and it’s fine, but ruins your running shoes.)
T2 Time: 3:22
Ah, the run. Let’s keep going with the dating analogy, shall we? For me, the run is like the boyfriend who totally gets you. He finishes your sentences and never argues with you about how cold you want it in the house because you are hot godammit and why can’t we sleep with it at 70!?! This is totally just a random example. Ahem. Anyway, I got to the run and saw the S.O. within the first mile. I was all peppy and high-fivey and he was like “I hate everyone, I’m at mile 13.” I took note of this as I had a feeling I’d feel that way by the end of this run too.
The run had some small hills but for the most part was shady and lovely. I again saw lots of friends and cheered for them. I was happy to be running but was definitely searching for the turn around point on this out-and-back run course. Again, great volunteers and plentiful aid stations. I took in water, Gatorade, and a tiny bit of soda. I also raced with the world’s most expensive salt and this seemed to help as I didn’t get a massive head ache post race, which is always nice. I tried not to slow down but I did start to get tired and did my best to hang on.
As I got to the last mile, it was straight up a hill. I found this more than a little rude but a volunteer told me the finish line was down hill so that was nice. I finally saw the chute and chugged right over my actual favorite part of the triathlon – the finish line!
Run Time: 2:02:56
Division Rank: 31
I went into this race with the hopes that I’d break six hours or go right around six hours. My Garmin said 5:55 so I thought this was my actual time, but it was not. I wound up going sub 6 by a whopping 53 seconds. Whew! I had some loose goals, but mostly I wanted to do my best and race to my potential on that day. I think I did a fairly good job. I probably should have (could have?) pushed a little harder on the bike, though my power meter says I did what I was supposed to. I would have liked to run 2:00 but I just couldn’t hang. Ultimately though, I am happy with this race and I really enjoyed both the venue and the course.
I have to report that the S.O. broke 4:30, with a time of 4:29:48! He got 3rd in his age group and scored his ticket to worlds. Hugo had a 70.3 PR and said he had one of the best races he’s ever had! I may be back for this race next year. And I certainly don’t plan to take another two years off of cycling again!
Final Time: 5:59:07
Division Place: 35
Thanks for reading!