Where to begin???
First, I must thank all of you who have helped me, supported me, cheered for me, listened to me, put up with me and stuck with me all throughout this year. I could not have done it without you. Thank you!!!!!!
As you probably have guessed, B2B went well for me overall. There were a number of bloggers doing either the half or full iron distance so this event, for me, was probably half about racing and half about socializing. Unfortunately, I didn't get to meet up with everyone I wanted to and of those I did meet, a few (Linae, Skoshi, Dread Pirate, Kevin, IM Able) did not make it into my camera :-( But my camera did capture a number of folks at B2B, including my support crew (thanks Dave and whoever else took the pictures), so this race report will be heavy on photos and not just of me. YAY!
Lesson learned: If you want to stand out, wear a high vis jacket. I had people asking me if I was Shirley all weekend it seemed and met the most number of bloggers I've ever met at a race. It was like old friends getting together since we'd been following each other's blogs for so long. Missy and Ryan, I'm sorry we missed meeting up, Ryan for the second time at a race. How is it I can miss seeing a guy who's like 6'5"?
The B2B swim was a point to point course with an incoming tide that was expected to result in extraordinarily fast swim times, as in 2008. At the athletes meeting, the race director mentioned that you could probably even stop swimming and float along in the current and still make the 2:20 cut-off. Me likey!
But on the bus ride over to T1 (swim to bike transition area) race morning, the woman in back of me said that a couple folks actually missed the swim cut-off last year because they swam on the right side of the channel where the current was supposedly the strongest and went too far past the first turn and were not strong enough swimmers to fight the current to get back. Yikes! So I made a note to keep my eyes peeled for the "wiggly" man (air filled stick figure on a boat) that marked the turn and start swimming towards it early.
Unfortunately, spectators were not allowed at either the swim start or swim exit so I have no photos from either. Nancy's training buddy Dave zipped up my wetsuit at the swim start and I saw Roy, another Orlando athlete I've trained with a bit, and IM Able just before getting into the water. The water temp this year was 67-68 degs and felt nice compared to the air temp which was below 40 when we started 8-O Here's a video from last year's swim that someone took that will give you an idea of what we looked like in the channel. WEEEE!!!
2.4 mi swim time - 1:06:40* (1:34/100 yds), 7/10 F45-49. WOW!!!
*Time includes climbing out of the water on a ladder, getting my wetsuit stripped, going through a fresh water shower and running to a timing mat maybe 100 yards from the water.
So it's a good thing that Dave did not listen to me when I said I thought I'd finish the swim in around 1:20-1:30. He got there early and caught me running to T1 (I am to the right in the above photo wearing a jog bra under my swimsuit). BRRR!!! I was very happy to be wearing swim socks, which were allowed, so my feet could stay warmer before, during and after the swim. They also made running 400 yds from the water to T1 on concrete and asphalt MUCH easier. Thanks Bootchez for recommending those socks!
The women's dressing tent was a lot more crowded than at GFT but I found a chair to sit on in a corner. I took the swimsuit off but kept the jog bra and HRM that was underneath on and dried off as much as possible. Then I proceeded to put on more clothes than I've ever worn on a tri bike segment. Tri Shorts, short sleeved bike top, leg warmers, arm warmers ... I saw Vickie and Dread Pirate come in shortly afterwards. Jacket, bike gloves, ear warmer, socks -- where the heck are my socks???
After searching desperately in my bag and around me for a couple minutes I realized I must have worn them during my test ride the day before and forgotten to put them back in my bag. DOH!! Sockless I go (hopefully the toe warmers on my shoes will keep my feet from freezing). At my bike I pulled on my fully fingered gloves too but wound up taking them off only a few miles into the ride.
T1 was no doubt a new record slow time but due to a timing glitch was not captured. Instead, it would be included in our bike splits. Oh well ...
This race had two separate transition areas. T1, where we started our bike segment, was near Wrightsville Beach and we'd finish at T2, which was by the Battleship North Carolina about 12 miles away. Of course, our ride was wee bit longer than 12 miles and part of it early on was actually on I-140, an INTERSTATE. Ooh, wet cycling dream come true!!!
For the most part, though, the bike course was on rural roads. I thought it was pretty flat as advertised but there were so-called false flats (sneaky inclines that look flat but aren't). The wind was low in the first half and since the pressure of finishing my first iron tri was off, I let my HR hover in the hi Z2 to lo Z3 range early on and passed a lot of folks. A few women asked me if I was Shirley as I went by. Sorry, I'm not sure who you all were but thanks for the words of encouragement!
At mile 30, we passed the first aid station and I was definitely warming up. I had to make a brief full stop to pull off the removable sleeves from my jacket so it could be worn as just a vest. They went into my front pockets along with the gloves I took off earlier giving me a nice tubby tummy look. My arm warmers went up and down depending on whether I was riding in full sun or shade but never came off, nor did my leg warmers or the vest. I don't remember my feet bothering me so they must have been fine without socks.
Around mile 35, a black sedan drove past me with some folks cheering and honking a bike horn out the windows. I didn't know whose car it was but recognized hubby Dave and my step-daughter KT. They'd found me! My son-in-law KV was behind the wheel of a rental car.
Dave's nickname for me is Muffin and it was his idea that they'd all wear orange during the race to make them easy to spot.
They came prepared and cheered for me several times along the bike course, which was great. We also saw a hunter with a bright orange hat and camouflage clothing sitting on a chair by the side of the road in the middle of nowhere watching cyclists go by with either a rifle or shotgun in his lap. Yeah, he motivated me to go a little faster! No, we did not get a picture of him or ask him what he was doing.
Somewhere along the way, Dave got out of the car with his bike to get his workout in during the race. As he hammered along, he encouraged folks and perhaps disheartened a few who thought he was in the race. No race number, not racing! He caught up to me after about 20 miles, said a quick 'hi' and then fell back to be picked up by KV. Must be nice.
The last 38 miles of the bike course were the toughest. Notice on the bike map that nearly straight stretch of road from the topmost part of the course to the bike finish? I'll give you one guess which way the wind was heading. WeatherUnderground said it wasn't more than 6 mph but it felt more like 8-10 mph, especially going up and across this one last bridge that was in the last couple miles. Evil!
T1 + 112 mi bike time - 6:30:47*, 2/10 F45-49.
*My bike Garmin says I averaged 18.0 mph for 107.4 mi (it's missing some miles because it turned itself off a few times and I didn't notice right away) so assuming I rode about the same speed the whole 112 miles, my T1 time was ~15 min, which is about what I expected.
I handed off my bike and helmet to a volunteer and then was totally dependent on other volunteers telling me where to go as I'd never been to T2 (bike to run transition area) before. I found my running gear bag and then almost went into the wrong changing tent. Oops!
T2 time - 9:34, including a porta-potty stop, as usual.
I began the run feeling probably the best I have ever in a tri. Hmm, maybe I should ride 112 miles more often? Looks like KT had taken my suggestion about what could be written on signs literally. (Click for a closer look at the sign).
The run was much hillier than I thought it'd be with 2 bridge crossings and two other short climbs later along the course, all of which had to be done twice since the course was two laps. But at least the temps were really comfy, high 50s to low 60's when I started. In the first few miles, I saw Nancy, Calyx, Donna and SW Trigal, who were finishing up their half iron. They looked strong and gave me a boost. How fun it is to see folks you know during a race!
I got down to the 6.55 mi turnaround in about 1:05 but then got hit with GI issues again, unbelievably, even worse than what I had at GFT two weeks ago. WTF?!?!!! Not sure what was wrong this time (I didn't even take Perpeteum on the bike at this race and there was no Gatorade being offered on the run course) but I took all the meds I had with me (Gas-X, Pepto Bismol and Immodium). Nothing seemed to help. I had to take off my Fuel Belt and carry it over my shoulder again, and make friends with every freaking porta-potty along the course. Thankfully they were at mile apart intervals at this race too.
Every time I got out of one, though, I felt fine and was able to run well again until about a mile later. My gut was like a clock! One guy told me he couldn't help but smile every time I passed him (he passed me when I stopped). I hoped it was because of my shirt and nothing that might have shown the problems I was having (like toilet paper stuck in my shorts or worse ...).
Meanwhile, the Team Muffinator B2B Support Crew waited patiently for me along Water Street (miles 3, 10, 16, 23). KV's sign got some laughs from folks.
The sign on the back, however, probably puzzled some. (KV is a Civil Engineer specializing in water modeling and I think this is his way of saying "imagine you're running downhill")
Starting my second lap, it was getting dark and colder so I grabbed my clip-on headlamp and a long sleeve shirt from my special needs bag. Although the race director had said the run course would be well lit the entire way, I wasn't taking any chances and it turned out to be a good decision as parts of the Greenfield Lake Park area (southernmost part of the run course) were very dark, so dark that I once ran off the path and onto a street. Too busy looking at the ground where I was stepping, I had missed seeing a sign and volunteers directing us to turn right. Oops again!
My need to make stops pretty much every mile continued on the second lap, unfortunately. How in the world can I have anything left in my system? But, I was making good progress regardless so after I saw my support crew at mile 16, they took a water taxi to the finish line to make sure they got there in time to see me finish (the lines for them were long!). I kept busy by looking for folks I knew along the course. I'm not sure when I saw them but I remember seeing Linae, Kevin, Skoshi, TriSharkie, Dread Pirate, Vickie, and Waddler. I cheered for them and hoped everyone would make the cut-off.
As I was making my way back, Dave used the Buddy Pass we were given to grab all my gear so I didn't have to go collect it after I finished the race. Thanks Dave! My crew found ways to entertain themselves.
Unlike other races, B2B had runners from a local college escort you in on your last mile if you wanted. Mine showed up about half a mile from the finish and I'd forgotten about this so I tried to outrun him at first. Where the heck did this young guy come from? I'll show him ... Dude then started talking to me, told me I was really moving well (yeah, like a sub-8 pace!) and asked how far I wanted him to run with me. What? Oh yeah, uh, how about just to that T2 clock up ahead. That way I could slow down some and actually make it to the finish without dying. At the clock, he told me I had 300 yards to go and congratulated me.
26.2 mi run time - 4:58:53 (11:24 pace), 3/10 F45-49.
Total race time - 12:45:52, 3/10 F45-49.
We received a nice race medal and I also got a little piece of the original teak deck of the Battleship North Carolina.
Post-race - Most of these were taken during the awards cruise:
Me and my two favorite post-race treats: hubby Dave and recovery socks.
Vickie and I on the Henrietta III riverboat. B2B was Vickie's first iron tri. Congrats, Vickie!
Poor lil' pancake ain't got a chance against an ironwoman :-)
After breakfast and the awards ceremony, the boat began to finally move.
We got a closer look at the USS Battleship North Carolina. Lots more guns!
Outside in the fresh air, I found Nancy and her training buddy Dave. Nancy completed the B2B half while Dave did the full distance. Well done to both!
Wonderful time with family, gorgeous weather, great race -- what more could I ask for?
Congrats to everyone who raced B2B, Ironman Florida, Silverman or otherwise last weekend. Please forgive me, I am behind on my blog reading but will be catching up soon!