IMNC is Ironman #2. I have a training partner, a new coach, a new goal. I just wanted different and I got it all in one big shit storm. Marcus and I decided to train together as it would likely be our last full Ironman. We are happier with the 70.3 races and want more flexibility and to travel to races in different countries. IMNC was recommende
d. It's flat and fast and scenic with loads of support which was especially good for Marcus who finished his first Ironman 11 months ago. (insert WIND always when a course has this flat description). Our original goal was to finish hand in hand. As my body parts started breaking down, Marcus continued to improve through our training. We cancelled this hand in hand goal and decided to let him go get his PR. I basically spiraled into living hell wondering if I could even be described as an athlete. I felt more like a fighting rooster missing a lot of feathers but still moving forward.
Our training schedule was modified and my body hurt 24/7. It sure seemed I was in peak training although it didn't show in Training Peaks. Once we moved to the new house, I had to get organized. I wanted to wait until after the race but I just couldn't do it. The long rides and runs arrived and I was sore all the time. I couldn't get past 100 miles on the bike without a complete breakdown in severe pain. For the first time, I threw in the towel on the long bricks and then the long Sunday runs. I was ready to quit and sleep forever. I'll just be a sherpa. No, I'll just switch to the 70.3 race on the same day. Ironman Feds said no. I wrote them three times but no change. So finally after some realigning of goals with the coach, I took a deep breath and Marcus committed to holding my hand through the entire full race. We went back to the original goal and decided a DNF is ok if you know you gave your very best on race day. A DNS is quitting before the start line. This is a formula for regret and the whatifs for a lifetime. Remember pain is temporary, pride is forever so just do your best. The Ironman Feds finally wrote back and said ok, you can race the 70.3. O.M.G. seriously? I just talked myself into the Full, memorized the entire No Regrets mantra, changed my goals and now this?
Nope, I. AM AN IRONMAN. period. I know what it is to persevere and that is the definition I need to remember, I'm not going to race the 70 and cry my eyes out on race day with the thought that I just threw away my full Ironman race, for what? not a PR race , going slow as hell? OMG nope I will just blackout on the full course and be in happy painful pride that I gave my best. I declined the transfer and merrily went into taper mode, more chiro visits, added 12 trigger injections in my shoulders x 2 visits, acupuncture, and foot injections every week to try to dissolve scar tissue so the marble in my footbed would diminish, added a knee band and IT band to the left leg and started packing. Then the sinus infection arrived. Whatever.. added the netty pot 3x a day to training peaks.
Packing for a destination full Ironman is chaotic at best. Packing for two is just plain nuts. I had to let him pack his stuff. What if he forgot something?? Let it go... I labeled bags, I prepared the fuel for us both, I gave him his checklist and we commenced the pack-mule exercise. Basically, a bomb went off in the house from the start but eventually, all the trashbags and ziplocks and bottles were filled by swim, bike, run, morning, special needs run, special needs bike, workout/everyday clothes.
We bought new wheels for the bike cases because the airport had banged them up pretty bad. Of course we waited to install the new wheels and they were the wrong model. I knew this would end bad but hell, we'd carry them on a cart as much as possible and roll when required. (in the end, only the last leg back to SD gave us one broken wheel. The worst part was spending $40 to ship them back to the UK to buy the correct model). SO Tis' the night before leaving and what could go wrong?....ummm after 10 months of menapause bliss, Aunt Flo arrived, and it was bad. Please throw me more curveballs! I'm in the corner ring with Mike Tyson Round 10 at this point. Oh yea, the dentist says you need two more crowns.
Dear Ironman racer, we can't support the 112 mile course due to road restrictions from Hurrincane Matthew so how about 50 miles? See ya soon! WHAT???!?!?! Is this the 70.3 I mean 78.6 race of my dreams? F' NO. I am mentally in for 112 no matter what. Why not two loops? oh it's a point to point... so what !fix it! I demand it! sniffle ..sniffle.. One more uppercut punch. thank you.
We arrived at the host hotel for a tiny cramped room with no microwave, no frig, and a coffee pot on its last leg. Not one welcome sign for athletes anywhere. "Hey are ya'll here for that marathon thingy.. umm sure. thanks."
We went to the Convention Center for the athlete briefing and expo. Super tiny expo and YEA! all the 70 stuff is 10% off and 140 stuff is 25% off...hmmmm that feels weird... where's the 78.6 stuff?
At the athlete briefing, the rep says you all get $150 towards 2017 Ironman races...(yea! that makes another 70.3 race a lot cheaper! ...you didn't hear the whisper that it doesn't apply to halfs? oh shame on you. it's not meant to be convenient!)
We basically rested as there is nothing to do in Wilmington but cycle around the neighborhoods which we did twice and we did a pre swim in the channel, We figured out all the logistics of all the drop offs. You can't do this race without a car. You never start and stop at the same place. T1 is 20 miles away from the finish. It all works but it's a bit nuts. The practice swim was pretty exciting I must admit. We met our FB friends and started at 8am. My first 500y buzzed in at 1:11. I immediately thought that was the time of day.. 1:11 pm..wait what? no its 8am... what the hell is wrong with my watch? is it possible that I JUST SWAM 1:11 per 100 yard pace? I just kept swimming in the current that felt as fast as this picture and then, wham into the back of a person.. why are you stopping? wham again.. wham again. WTF is wrong with you people? I KNOW IT IS A RULE SOMEWHERE. There is no stopping in swimming ESPECIALLY WITH CURRENT...stop breaking the golden rule people! (geez I learned this to be a recurring nightmare on race day). I finished about 1500 yard swim in under 20 minutes and felt like I had just ridden the best ride of my life. WOW. this is what it feels like to be a fast swimmer without effort...I could drink that koolaid all day long! I can't wait for race day! The water temp was 73 degrees. It was bliss.
Then we walked the 1/3 mile transition run...OMG my feet are going to scream and swell on race day. Marcus brilliantly found a dollar store nearby and we bought flipflops, came back and strategically placed them in the shoe rack, (I mean fence posts with everyone else that was a type A planner)..Here is where Marcus said he would meet me after the swim on race day. My eyes teared up with guilt. He had become such an awesome swimmer...I was .. alas.. the same...maybe worse with neck pain. He promised me he didn't care. At least he would run across the timing mat for his real swim time for the record.
Before we left, we found a person from Ironman explaining the buoys. The swim is an S shape. The buoys would shift from one side to the other during the swim but the kicker was 1) the tide was at 8:30am so the full swim would not get much benefit from the current but the halfers would motorboat into the dock. 2) they changed the buoys for the full and cut off the 90 degree turn into a 45 degree turn. this made the swim short for the full distance...you mean you already KNOW it's short? wow...I have no words. There is no explanation either. Garmin distance on race day: 3800 yards instead of 4224. So yes, I still swam 20 minutes faster than normal but that's because the distance was so short.
We never bothered with reviewing the bike course. It just kept changing and all we knew was it wasn't what we expected. At the athlete's dinner, they said 6 miles were added so the halfers got their complete race...again why can't we race two loops? out and backs? just let it go. The run? hell I don't know actually. it's 2 loops I think.. whatever. This race is a soup sandwich.
Race Morning breakfast without a frig or microwave: My oatmeal/coffee water just sucked... thankful for the backup of banana and almond butter bagel and Gu before the swim. We took the shuttle to T1 to drop off the fuel , the Run special need BAG (no bike special bag now) and Edge computer and then shuttled again to the swim start with the morning bag about 2 miles away. The weather dropped 20 degrees overnight and the wind doubled. The flags were flapping hard and horizontal. It's 45 degrees and we are hovering around the portable light for warmth and breathing in its exhaust until it was time to start walking the beach. The morning bag went into the truck and we hiked across frozen sand cubes to 73 degree water. It was crazy! Everyone was standing in the water, waiting for the start. I was worried where to place myself because of the fast swim. Well there were no lines, no markers, just a beehive of pink and green caps and the horn went off and we all ran into the water like we had been freed from jail.
I felt a lot of current in many directions, lots of wild kicking, lots of stopping and all I could site were caps hoping I was in the general area. I rarely saw buoys. Before I knew it, a kayak was shoving people closer to the dock and I saw all the wooden ladders hanging off the dock. I was pulled up and in shock because there was no way that was 2.4 miles but I never look at my swim time so I'm not disappointed the rest of the day. I ran up the dock and rounded the corner feeling the cold air and saw Marcus waiting with my flip flops for 7 minutes. What a wonderful sight to see! I wasn't going to strip my wetsuit due to the cold but let the guy do it anyway and he was awesome in 10 secs and then we had warm water hoses to run under to rinse the salt like they have in Kona! That was fun. I draped my wetsuit over my front and ran to transition. I changed and took in my inhaler again. Sprayed pain meds and cream on my neck and exited the tent to see clear skies and sun. Suddenly I ripped off my vest and ran back to my easy-to-spot bag with orange tape and jammed it in. I knew I would be warm in 5 minutes on the bike. It seems if I have to run a distance to T1, I'm always warm for the bike.
miles were hell and I had no problem not doing it again. I have no idea if this is a good 112 bike course as a future reference because it was nothing like previous years. I can say with the humidity, I drank all my fluids in 44 miles instead of 56 so I have to really pay attention to that in my future hot races. A lot of people seemed over dressed. Maybe I'm just always warm on the bike but my bike jersey and shorts were enough and most had gloves, jackets, as if it were winter! I just saw all that clothing as wind drag. Less is more and when in aero, you don't feel the wind much anyway.
We transitioned and took off for the run. I had double straps on my left knee to hold the IT band in place above and below the knee and we ran pretty steady off and on through the park with some pretty scenes for 13 miles. It was not nice to come back literally to the finish line and u-turn for the second loop. I don't like racing with 70.3 racers because too many volunteers tell you it's almost over when you are starting again! We chatted with a variety of people and they were all so pleasant. I could really feel the southern hospitality in this race. I didn't see nearly as many "competitive" racers with no body fat and decked out gear probably because this race is two weeks after Kona World Champs so they are all resting in the post season. The aid stations had their standard stuff, including chicken broth which was cold and terrible. There is only one small hill on this run course and the rest is pretty flat with scattered shade. We didn't see a lot of race support on the course ever besides aid stations every mile. However when we neared the finish, the last couple miles are through downtown so all the Saturday night drinkers would cheer us on occasionally.
We finally got to our finisher's chute and we met our goal to finish before sundown due to the shorten course. The Mdot carpet always chokes me up as we realized we had met another goal, raced whatever Ironman threw at us during our journey and ran with our hands together held high through the chute. Mike Reilly called us an Ironman Couple and that made it all worthwhile. However I really missed the hot salty French fries and chocolate milk at the finishline from IMAZ.
Next up Ironman Puerto Rico 70.3 in March and Ironman Hawaii 70.3 in June. We just might race another full in 2018 but I'm not ready to think about that yet. I'd really love to race Pumpkinman 70.3 in Maine in September so we shall see how the season goes.
For now, we are just happy we met our goals, regardless of all the curveballs this season and have memories of our hand in hand race to last a lifetime.
PS: all Finisherpix in this blog were purchased but have not arrived yet.