Let me start by saying I thought it would be “romantic” for Susie (my wife) to do an Ironman together. Secondly, I am an idiot. Started a new job, two active kids, Susie’s first IM, etc etc etc. So, when WTC bought Beach2Battleship…perfect, this is the race! Late season so her peak weeks would be while the kids are in school and I’ll just do my shit whenever. Or, at 3am. Or not at all (see marathon). Both sign up, and here we go. Disclaimer: this will be a challenge to keep this separate from Susie’s report, as this was really HER day.
I had come off a decent (4:43) IM Atlantic City 70.3 a few weeks ago, but still wasn’t feeling 100%. It all came crashing down with a 104 temperature 10 days prior to today. Add travel to Canada then straight to Wilmington Thursday night. Yes, this will be AWESOME!
The rub: North Carolina was hit badly by Hurricane Matthew 2 weeks ago and flooded much of the bike course. All the while everyone was wondering how, if, when this race would happen (think IMMD 2015, IMTX 2016). Tuesday before the race, they (the Ironman mafia) sent an email the bike would be shortened to 56 miles due to the lack for first responders for the bike course. So this turned into a bit of a hybrid race distance. But, let’s face it, the marathon is hardest part anyway. Big karma kudos to Lauren Scafidi for coming to Duxbury to help out Susie as I was traveling. That is a good friend right there.
Now, I am not going to incite a debate. First and foremost the safety of those directly affected is paramount, however IM got lazy and mailed it in on this one. They bagged the AWA check in, etc. There were other nuances that would never pass the bill at IMLP, MT or other….but I’ll spare you.
Swim 55:51 1:26pace 15th AG (PR)
My parents were awesome and shuttled us to T1 so we could stay out of the wind (20+mph) and cold (45 at 6am). So we hung out with them for awhile. Their support is seriously amazing. The point to point swim is in the Masonboro Inlet in the channel from the beach to a marina. It was, well….awesome. Susie and I had a master plan to help each other on the swim and that went out the window after 100 yards (rolling start). We were just checking out the sunrise when the gun went off…whoops. Anyway, it was as confident and “fast” as I have ever felt in the water. I was actually ENJOYING this. Passing people on the swim is fun. All I had heard about this race was the monster current Beach2Battelship has. As luck may have it, it was slack tide and no current (I know this may not mean anything to you landlocked people 🙂 ). The massive wave of athletes did create a vacuum of sorts, or at least if felt that way mentally. Anyway, get out of the water feeling good and just thinking how this headwind and cold is going to feel on a 150lb soaked body that is still partially sick.
It’s a ¼ mile run from the exit to T1. Put on the shoes and helmet and go. People were dressing as if it were the arctic. It looked like a f’ing ski lodge in the tent.
Bike 2:44 20.5mph pace 14th AG
The point-to-point nature of this race bit me (and everyone else) in the ass here. Add the shortened course (to 56mi) and you now have 40 miles going into a (documented) 18-20mph headwind, with the remaining 16 miles enjoying a tailwind. The same power for those 40 miles at home would translate to 22-23mph. This 40 miles, not so much…19.34mph. 19.34mph?! Is this B2VT? Nope, it is pancake flat. That’s how demoralizing it was. Averaged 24mph for the 16 miles back in a recovery HR zone. Got to see Susie twice which was awesome. Otherwise, I only got blown over 3 or 4 times by crosswinds on the bridge. That confidence I had on the swim….GONE. WTF, this is supposed to be my strength!? Probably cooked it a little to stay small in the wind but had to burn a match here given the distance.
After a bit of cyclocross to get my bike to the transition, ate my banana and left.
Run 3:38:18 8:19 pace 16th AG (IM PR)
The two loop run course is the highlight of this race. It is very “chunkable”. Town, flats, trails and back for each loop. Tons of support in the downtown bars and along the Riverwalk and enough turns and small inclines to keep you interested. The trails section was very peaceful and scenic. Felt I had decent legs to pull one out of my ass except for the fuel I lost in my fuelbelt somewhere in the initial miles. I took a chance and it came around to lash me like a bitch. Ran the first 13.1 in 1:36…which was a minute slower than my 70.3 half 4 weeks ago, when I was healthy. Yup, you’re screwed. Held on until mile 18 when survival mode hit. Started to hit the coke when I could and shuffled along at 9-10 min/mi for the last 7 or so. Seeing Susie was always amazing. It was her day and I was so impressed with her discipline. Look up her splits if you like, seriously surgical pacing. Got through the finish with my family cheering and could not WAIT to see Susie cross the line. If you can’t tell, I am so proud of her.
Finish 7:27:42 (whatever that means) 16th AG, 68th Overall
I/we raced the course that was given to us that day. And I will tell you right now those 56 miles were harder than the full 112 in Texas last year. Nothing to do with fitness, it was just plain old suffering. The kind of shit that we all train for and revel in sometimes. Susie has some unfinished business with Ironman over this distance (for the record, she came in 12th in her AG with a 59 minute swim and a 4:15 marathon…her first marathon ever). Overall, Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach are very cool spots and we made a wonderful mini vacation out of it with our family. I’ll forward along Susie’s version if she writes one and thanks to you all of you for being out there with me. One of the highlights: sitting in Charlotte awaiting our flight to Boston some lady says to Susie: “Hey which Ironman did you do?”, then immediately looks at me, and at my TP hat. “Oh, you’re hardcore.”