Monday, December 20, 2010

Ironman Beach 2 Battleship – 12:23

First off, thanks to my wonderful and amazing wife Nikki for putting up with my insane “hobby”. My awesome Coach, Karen Holloway (ProK), for constantly pushing me to work harder and smarter. And to my sponsor GU, for supplying me with the best nutrition available to push myself further in training and racing. If you haven’t tried GU products, do yourself a favor and give them a go! Now sit back and enjoy your favorite GU Energy Gel while you read my race report from the Ironman Beach 2 Battleship.


Deanna B and I arrive in Wrightsville Beach in the early afternoon, Thursday, before the race. An aside, the Wrightsville Beach area is awesome! And the food at the local restaurants is amazing! Highly recommend staying there sometime. The house, The Sand Crab Cottage, was beautiful. We picked rooms and started to unpack. We didn’t have a workout on the schedule, but both of us decided to don our wetsuits and go for a swim. There was so much chatter about how cold the water was and whether or not to wear booties. This turned out to be one of the most beneficial decisions we made prior to the race. While the initial surge was indeed cold, after about 2-3 minutes of swimming, it was totally bearable. Despite all the fears I’d read about the water temperature, I felt very confident out there.

Friday was a busy day. We got a second swim in that we talked the others, especially Molly, into getting in and feeling it for themselves. This second swim followed by a short bike, helped me make the final decision on my race attire. I was going with my tri top and tri shorts for the swim, put a cycling jersey and arm warmers on top for the bike, and lose the cycling jersey either at bike special needs or T2. The two swims also helped me realize that with the salt water, I needed more Body Glide around my neck to prevent chafing.

Getting the bikes and bags checked in and Nikki getting into town to help and watch, rounded out the day. Got it all in early to allow for plenty of downtime and we’re now chillin’, ready to race! DB’s Sherpa, Carmen, cooked us all chicken and rice for dinner. Delicious! I’m usually very nervous the night before and the morning of, but I can say with 100% honesty, that this was the first time that I have been completely relaxed and ready, both physically and mentally. I’ve never felt this ready for a race! More thanks to my wonderful Coach, Karen, for working hard getting me prepared for what would be a huge PR!

Alarm goes off a little after 4am. Cook up my standard 2 scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast, while sipping on CarboPro. Feeling really good this morning. Nik takes DB and I to T1, where we load our bikes with nutrition and then catch a trolley to the swim start. I realize that I’ve forgotten water for my aero bottle! I knew that I couldn’t go 25-30 miles without water till the first aid station. Yet, I’m surprisingly calm. I mention to Nik if she could head over to the food trailer and get me a cup of water to throw into my aero bottle. This lady standing next to her over heard and handed me a full, unopened, bottle of water. I couldn’t believe it! I said “thank you” many times, walked over to my bike, and filled my bottle. When I came back to hand this nice lady the remainder of the water, she was gone. Like a Guardian Angel, just gone. Finally, I listen to Enter Sandman on my iPod, hand it over to Nik, and we catch a trolley to the swim start. Having plenty of time to get our wetsuits on and pre/post clothes bags dropped off.

The Swim – 1:16

The beach walk from the parking lot to the swim start was very long. Felt like a couple miles, but I’m sure it was only a quarter of a mile or so. Boy was it cold standing on the beach! I am glad that I listened to someone’s advice to wear old socks to the start and while standing around waiting to start. As the cannon went off, we headed into the water a few hundred meters, then made a hard right at the first buoy. That was a complete cluster. There wasn’t enough time to spread out as everyone was charging for that first turn. However, once around, there was plenty of swimming room and I quickly settled into my rhythm and stroked out a pretty good swim. Turns out that we had a stale current this year and not the huge incoming current of previous years. I tried to pee once, but just couldn’t do it. It was gonna have to wait until T1. No idea how others can pull that off. I lost some time at the end as I was heading toward the final turn buoy, which I was later told wasn’t a buoy that we needed to actually turn at. It wasn’t until I was almost on it and changing my sight line that I noticed everyone else, save the few of us who headed to that buoy, were making a straight line toward the dock. Cutting the last corner.

Once at the dock, it was difficult to find the actual ladders to climb up. Glad the volunteers were extremely helpful and pointed me to a ladder. Headed to the wetsuit strippers and made no hesitation on obtaining help getting out of my wetsuit. No way was I going to struggle with it in transition. The quarter mile run to T1 was tough. It was on asphalt and it…was…cold. I had to look down at my feet numerous times as I couldn’t feel them at all. I had to ensure that I was keeping them in front of me, so as not to face plant.

The Bike – 5:59

T1 was pretty uneventful for an Ironman. I remember my first in ’08 and how much I was like a “deer in headlights” when I hit the tent. Today, just smooth and calm. In and out in 10 minutes. Really good, given that I was putting extra clothes on. What was funny, was watching folks put full Under Armour gear on for the bike, knowing that it was gonna get into the 60’s in just a few hours. I put on my bike jersey over my tri top and put my arm warmers on about a quarter of the way. Slammed a GU, hit the port-a-john, and then pulled up my arm warmers as I jogged down the rows toward The Mistress. She was happy to be mounted and ridden hard for one last time this year.

Just after starting the bike, I noticed that I couldn’t feel my toes, at all. It would be about 40 minutes before I could feel them again. I just kept curling my toes up to get some blood down there. This bike course is flat and fast! The highlight of the bike was getting to ride on Interstate Highway 140. In the left hand lane, the fast lane! That pavement was really nice and super fast! We had headwind for most of the first 60-70 miles and a very nice tailwind for the last 40 miles. Every 17 minutes (yes, I set my watch timer for a 17 minute countdown so I don’t forget to eat), I get to enjoy a piece of PowerBar, a sip of CarboPro, or the crown jewel of my nutrition, Mint Chocolate GU. I’m very thankful for the shipment my sponsor, GU, got to me in time for this race. Those Mint Chocolate GU’s are the best!

When I hit the special needs bag drop, I laughed at the copious amounts of athletes struggling to shed all their Under Armour gear ‘cause they were heating up faster than they thought. I grabbed my bag, racked my bike and went to work. Only thing I had in my bag was a CarboPro bottle, which I poured into my GU nutrition bottle, and a 3Muskateers bar. An extra minute to apply an additional coat of lube (Chamois Butt’r) to the undercarriage, and I was off. Only spent a couple of minutes here as I didn’t want to be off the bike long. Last half of the bike went really well. Those 40 miles of tailwind were on a single straight road back to the Battleship. I was passing so many folks with all kinds of aero gear. I could tell that they went too hard into the head wind and were gassed. Me? I was rolling! Felt confident, really good, and strong.

The final climb to T2 was on a huge bridge that went over the Cape Fear River. There was a ton of traffic and we were forced to the shoulder of the road. Lots of debris to navigate through. I was unafraid and relentless at this point. Charging up the shoulder, dodging rear view mirrors, and passing other cyclists. About half way up, we got directed to the other side of the road and had a free lane into the Battleship. Only one more problem. Giant trucks were delivering support beams for a bridge, blocking the bike lane. We were forced into the outgoing/incoming runners. With 112 miles on my legs, it was tricky to navigate this section without plowing into anyone. I arrived at T2 safely and ready to run.

The Run – 4:51

Since this was a point to point race, this was the first time I was seeing T2. The volunteers were again great. They pointed me in the right direction and handed me my T2 bag quickly. Got out of T2 pretty quickly, slightly under 5 minutes, just shed my bike jersey and arm warmers (though later, I’d wish I still had the arm warmers on).

Started the run right where I wanted to be, around 9 minute miles, and was feeling really good. For those that train with me, you know that I’ve had numerous crash and burns with GI distress. When I finally switched to GU and GU Roctane as my primary source of nutrition on the run, I’ve been good to go with no GI issues. GU’s with salt tabs and water for the run keeps my gut from going crazy on me. Only problem I had this day, was waiting an hour and fifteen minutes before taking my first GU. Afterwards, I spoke with PK about it, and it became evident that since I’m already in a deficit, I should begin taking calories earlier. I can’t treat this marathon like a standalone marathon. No wonder miles 13-18 felt like I was running through hell and back. It was during these tough miles that I tapped into the GU Roctane I had. Thanks again to my GU Sponsor! They included a couple GU Roctane packages of their Island Nectars flavor in my most recent shipment. The special edition flavor for Kona this year. Now I admit, I was scared to try a new flavor in an Ironman race, but these turned out to be amazingly delicious! And provided a much needed kick in the tri shorts.

Four things about this run course; it’s not flat, roughly 2 miles of cobblestones is interesting, it gets really dark in the park section, and there are a crazy amount of spectators and fans cheering you on. Our polka dot ProK team kits were a huge hit with these spectators. So a word of warning. All this talk about B2B being crazy fast does not include the run. It’s a very challenging run course. There was one hill coming out of downtown that I just stopped and laughed at. It was at an insane incline.

Picked up a long sleeve shirt from my special needs bag since it was getting chilly as the sun dropped (here is where I wish I had my arm warmers). It was nice to have it, as I just wore it when I was cold and tied it around my waist when I warmed up. Kept alternating the last half of the run. After mile 18, my nutrition had caught back up and my pace was starting to drop. The last two bridges I had to climb, I lowered my GU visor so that I couldn’t see the top and just focused on “it’ll get here when it gets here”, “just keep clipping away”, and “you’re not walking anymore”. That helped me not walk the last two climbs and keep good momentum. Finished up really strong with a 12:23 flat. A PR by just over an hour and a half! I know I have a 4 hour marathon in me off the bike, just need to fine tune that nutrition so the middle miles don’t kill me. I now know that I need to start taking a GU earlier, sliding my whole plan up, which will garner me an additional GU or two. Yummy!

Looking forward to Ironman Coeur d’Alene in 6 short months…