Beach2Battleship Half Iron Distance Triathlon Recap

Greetings from the other side! I am beyond thrilled to be able to say that I've now been a half Ironman for a whole 3 days! I want to jump into the recap - the weekend was long (6.5 hours of prep on Friday + 6 hours of racing on Saturday) and so is the recap, but I read so many thorough, detailed race recaps leading up to this race that I wanted to do my own experience the same justice. I just don't want to forget any minutiae about this weekend and I'm afraid that if I don't write them down I'll lose them, so here they are in all their glory. This is likely to be the longest post I've ever written - I figured I could either break this up into multiple posts or just get it all over with in one novel of a post, and I went with the latter so we can all move on with all our lives. I really don't expect anyone to read the whole thing so if you're just here for the highlights, feel free to quickly scroll through for photos and important things in bold. But, if you're a dork like me who happily devours detailed recaps and you're interested in knowing my every thought leading up to and throughout the race, and/or if you're looking for a Beach2Battleship or 70.3 recap, you're welcome to keep reading at your own risk!

Day Before (Packet Pickup, Expo, Bike Check-In)
I opted to drive halfway and spend the night with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law in Raleigh on Thursday night before heading the rest of the way to Wilmington early Friday morning. After a quick 6:30am shakeout run, Ben and I hit the road. We arrived in Carolina Beach, where we had rented a beach house, and met up with my parents and tri friends who had all gotten there the night before. Shortly after I got there we packed up all of our gear and headed to Wilmington Convention Center to pick up our packets and get race weekend rolling!

I had been feeling pretty calm up to this point; all week I had been anxious to get through the week and get down to North Carolina, but I wasn't feeling nervous or overwhelmed about the race itself. And then...I got to the convention center. It was clear from the moment we arrived that the field of athletes competing were of a higher level than we were used to being around (B2B only has a half and full, no shorter distance races). Packet pickup was easy, but when I looked inside the bag I was given and noticed the amount of stuff inside it, I started to wonder what I had gotten myself into. 


We walked through the expo for a few minutes, but it was smaller than I think we were expecting and nothing really jumped out at us to purchase. While we were walking around Alyssa texted me to say that she had just parked (!!!) so I wanted to get through the expo quickly to go meet her. As we were leaving the expo/packet pickup area we apparently had to get weighed (???) so while we were all doing that, all of a sudden I looked up and saw Alyssa walk through the door! And I just realized we took exactly zero pictures together the whole weekend #bloggerfail. 

With all of our items picked up and Alyssa in tow, we walked back out to the parking lot to organize our stuff. Since B2B has two different transition areas, we were given a plastic bag in which we had to put anything we would need for the bike-to-run transition; we had to leave that bag at the convention center, and it would be waiting for us the next day when we got to the run portion of the race. I've never had to drop any of my stuff off the day before the race before, so I was completely frazzled trying to double and triple and quadruple check that what I had put in my bag was correct. This was all within the first 15 minutes of Alyssa's arrival and the 4 of us running around like we didn't have close to 40 triathlons completed between all of us did not make the best impression, I'm sure.


When we were finally satisfied with what we had in our bags, we went back into the convention center and dropped them off. It was well after lunch time so before we headed to the other transition site in Wrightsville Beach to drop off our bikes, we walked a few blocks through downtown Wilmington to grab a bite to eat (and maybe a beer to calm some pre-race nerves). The whole time we spent in Wilmington probably took longer than it should have, but eventually we headed over to Wrightsville Beach with our bikes.

This was the second time of the day I felt completely out of my league. The bike transition site was HUGE and filled with nearly 2000 bikes. My spot was almost at the very back. We had another bag that we needed to fill with all of our swim-to-bike gear, and we had the option to either do it then and leave it overnight, or take it with us and set it up the next morning. At that point we had been out picking up and setting up for nearly 6 hours, and I just didn't have the mental energy to set up my stuff. So I racked my bike in my spot and said goodbye to it and took all my stuff with me to partition out that night.


When we got back my mom had already started preparing a pre-race dinner for us, and we all ate around the dining table like one big happy triathlon family. I put on my tri kit to make sure I could fit all my food in my pockets, made sure my swim cap was good to go, figured out what gear I needed for the bike, and set out everything I needed the next morning. Alyssa and I did yoga (which was AMAZING, btw - highly recommend getting your own personal yoga teacher to lead you through) in the living room and I went to bed sometime around 10pm and set my alarm for 4:45am, yikes!

Race Day!

Swim
After an early morning wake-up call and groggy team breakfast, we made it to the race site around 7am - nearly 2 hours before any of us actually would start. But there were a few race-morning errands, namely setting up T1. We could have set up the night before but I was so mentally exhausted that I wanted to do it in the morning, like I would usually do. My bike was already racked, so all I had to do was lay out everything I'd need for the bike portion of the day.


After that and a few pre-race porta potty stops were taken care of, we put on our wetsuits to head to the swim start. I think that was the first time my brain started to let me process what was about to happen. And I can't say I was necessarily excited. I wasn't nervous, but I wasn't exactly looking forward to the next 6 hours either. I knew it was going to be a long day and I was anxious to finally put my training to the test, but also ready to get it over with. It's a feeling I've never had before, and hard to explain without it sounding negative.

We were driven to the swim start by a bus that left from T1 around 7:45am. The half didn't start until 8:30 and my wave (I was first of the 4 of us to start) didn't start until 8:50, so we had a while to wait. We could see the full swimmers coming down the channel, so we watched them for a few minutes to check out the water conditions. The current looked to be pulling them along pretty nicely, although the wind was making the surface pretty choppy. 

Spectators weren't allowed to drive to the swim start, but they could walk from T1 (supposedly about a mile). Ben and Alyssa had told me they'd try to make it to the start, so I spent the 30 minutes leading up to my swim time standing on the side of the road watching for them to walk up. The longer I stood (and didn't see them), the more anxious I got. My wave was called to head down to the beach a full 10 minutes before our start time, which made me a little panicky. I wasn't ready. I wanted more time. More time for what, I'm not sure. I just couldn't believe that 4 months of training came down to that moment. The training felt like it would never end, and then it felt like the start just came all of a sudden.

Usually getting in the water calms me, but I can't say that happened this time. I was still nervous, equally ready to just get moving already and equally praying that I could alter the laws of physics so that time would slow down so I could prolong starting. I lay on my back for a few seconds and looked at the sky. I didn't do a lot of open water swims in training, but the ones I did, sometimes I'd roll on my back and look up and just feel overwhelmed at how lucky I was. It's so simple and peaceful to feel water holding you up, to have your vision full of just clouds and sky and just...be. So I took a moment to feel that and gather myself and my thoughts, and then it wasn't long after that that the countdown started and the horn blew and we were off.

The swim itself was not quite as easy as I was expecting. I could definitely feel the current pulling me and I knew it was going to be a quick one, but it was still a bit of a challenge getting through the chop. I spent the first several minutes bobbing up and down over the waves, even though I was moving forward at a decent speed. I started to get into a bit of a groove after getting out of that initial chop, and I made it to the first buoy, which I knew was roughly the first 1/3, in around 10 minutes. It would take me around 13 or 14 minutes to get through that much in the pool, so even thought I didn't feel like I was going super fast, I knew the current was helping.

When we made that first turn we actually cut across the current, so it wasn't as easy as it had been. Still, I felt like the next turn came up pretty quickly. I was around 20 minutes in at that point and feeling good...so of course, right at that point I swallowed a HUGE gulp of salt water. I actually stopped for a second to cough, it was that bad. I kept coughing for several minutes after that to try to get it out, because it made it harder to breathe. I could see the finish at that point, and I knew I just needed to hang on for maybe 5 more minutes. 

I was able to eventually cough most of it out, and when I got to less than a couple hundred yards left, I started really trying to swim harder. I've finished the last few laps of so many pool swims, not just this training cycle but over the past two years, using my eventual, imaginary 70.3 swim finish as a motivator to finish strong, and here it was. The real thing just 100 yards away. All I had to do was keep moving and go get it.

So that's what I did. Unlike every other swim I've ever done, we didn't finish on the beach but rather at a floating dock with ladders and volunteers to help us out of the water. I aimed straight for the first one and was out of the water before I knew it. I looked at my watch as soon I got out and I was right at 32 minutes, which is the time I'd normally expect for an Olympic distance swim (500m shorter), so the currently definitely helped!

From there we ran down the dock at a marina, and there were people waiting at the end to help us out of our wetsuits. I sat down on a bench, held on, was out of it in probably 10 seconds flat thanks to a helpful volunteer, and went on my way. Next there was a shower station set up, where I stopped for a few seconds to rinse the salt water off my body. 

Then I was out of the marina and heading toward transition, and right before I got there I saw Ben and Alyssa for the first time! My mom was also on the opposite side from them and she gave me a high five as I ran into transition. When I got to my bike I calmly put on a jacket (it was windy and I would much rather be too hot in the bike than too cold), my socks, bike shoes, helmet, and sunglasses, and started running my bike out. I didn't remember seeing a timing mat when I came out of the water so I wasn't exactly sure when my swim time ended and when my T1 time started, but by the time I got to the bike start my watch was just under 40 minutes total for both. I was expecting it to be closer to 45 so I was quite happy to have banked 5 minutes for the bike and run!

Swim Time: 33:20 
(Goal time: 35:00)

Bike

The bike started by leading us out of the town of Wrightsville Beach. We went over the first of a few sizable bridges on the course, but with the hills, bridges, and mountains I've ridden up (DO YOU REMEMBER THAT TIME I RODE UP A MOUNTAIN? BECAUSE I DO), the bridge was easily doable and I found myself passing people on both the ascent and the descent. The first few miles were on the business district of one of the highways so we passed some fast food restaurants, shopping centers, that sort of thing. Nothing too exciting. I felt good at that point but I kept reminding myself I still had a long way to go and to try to settle in. Close to 10 miles in, we looped around an on-ramp to get onto I-140. Yes, the "I" stands for interstate, and yes, it was a little scary with cars whizzing by in the other lane at 60mph, but I got used to it quickly and there wasn't a lot of traffic anyway. We rode 10 miles or so down the interstate, which wasn't very visually exciting but was horrible either. It went a lot like this: straightaway for a mile or two, small climb over and overpass, then back down, and repeat. We went up another big bridge right before mile 20 and when I saw the mile 20 marker (the first one I remember seeing on the bike) I thought about how quickly it had come. There was a little bit of a crosswind so my speed wasn't exactly where I wanted it to be, but the miles had still ticked away pretty quickly. 

We got off I-140 on the first exit after the bridge and started heading north, the direction from which there was a headwind. These miles weren't exactly the nicest part of town, and we passed a lot of industrial sites and the town landfill. Miles 20-25 either smelled like trash or popcorn, I'm honestly not sure. They also seemed to take a while to get through, probably because the wind was so annoying. I tried not to focus on it and let it get me down. I knew we'd turn off that road eventually and that there should be a nice tailwind to carry us to the finish. 

It was around this time that I started to regret not having studied the course map better. I knew the turn was ahead somewhere, but I had no idea where. My speed, which wasn't great from the beginning, was slowing and slowing. I told myself to just focus on making it halfway through, to mile 28, although I'm not sure what I thought was going to happen when I got to mile 28. And nothing did. I told myself the same thing about mile 30 (still no turn), then 35 (nothing there either).

I remember thinking at this point that I wasn't sure I'd ever do a full Ironman. I wasn't having a bad time, but it wasn't the best time of my life either. I had no warm fuzzies about what I was doing. I wasn't bored, but I wasn't excited either. I was fine being out there, but I also would have been fine sitting on the couch or eating donuts or something too. I can't really explain it; it was weird. Maybe I was so zen and in the zone that I couldn't feel feelings, good or bad. Sometimes my thoughts would drift to the half marathon I still had to run...on one hand I couldn't wait because I enjoy running FAR more than cycling, but on the other hand, a half marathon is pretty far and the idea of spending 2+ hours running after I got off the bike wasn't exactly appealing. I wasn't dreading it either, though? It was aweird feeling I'm having a hard time explaining.

I checked my watch constantly to try to estimate my finishing time, and for a while, riding into that headwind, I was pretty sure I was going to be just over my goal of 3 hours 10 minutes, but I really wanted to bank as much time as possible for the run. During the first ~37 miles as we headed north my speed kept getting slower and slower, and although it didn't ruin my day, it was a bit of a bummer. I knew we'd get the tailwind eventually and that I'd pick back up then, but I just wasn't sure how much time I could make up (plus I didn't have my watch or cyclocomputer set up to where I could see my speed in mph, only in min/mi, so I was never 100% sure about my mental math speed conversions).

Eventually we did make a left turn and the wind turned to a little more of a crosswind than a headwind, and then a couple miles after that there was another turn back onto the main road where the worst headwind had been, and then it was go time. The wind was completely at our backs and even though I wasn't positive what my actual speed was, I felt like I was flying. Post-race calculations show that I averaged roughly 17.1mph heading out for the first 37ish miles, and 19.25mph for the last 19ish miles heading back. Those miles honestly flew by, partly because my speed had picked up (and the tailwind made it feel like a lot less effort), and partly because I really wanted to get onto the run! I remember getting to mile 50 or so and choking up a little bit, which was really unexpected because I really hadn't been emotional all weekend. But all of a sudden I had a flashback to my very first triathlon 2.5 years ago; I remembered being out on the bike and starting to tear up for a minute because I just couldn't believe I was about to become a triathlete. I had that exact same feeling for a minute on the bike on Saturday because as prepared as I felt going into the race, it still felt surreal that I was going to finish a half Ironman. And before I knew we were crossing over a bridge to head back into downtown and into transition!

Bike Time: 3:09:13 (17.75mph)
(Goal time: 3:10:00)

Run

The first part of the run course was a short half(ish) mile out-and-back in one direction before we got onto the main part of the course. I immediately felt just fine - nothing hurt physically, and mentally I was fine. On the bike I had pretty much accepted that I was going to finish just a couple minutes over my super-secret goal of 6 hours, and that was okay. My main goal had been to finish under 6:15, so I figured anything in the low 6:XX's would be just dandy. A couple minutes after I started my run I checked my watch to do some calculations and figured out if I could finish the run in 2 hours and 8 minutes, I could still make 6 hours. I couldn't remember what pace I'd need for a 2:08 half but I thought it was somewhere around 9:30-9:45 (it's actually 9:50), and at the time I was running a 9:15 pace. I felt good, but I didn't want to push myself any further than that because knew I still had a ways to go.

After the short loop, we ran back toward the convention center and hopped on the boardwalk for a hot minute before heading up to downtown. And I do mean up. I assumed that Wilmington was pancake flat just like every other coastal town I've ever been to, but it actually wasn't. After running along the river for maybe half a mile we had to cut up to the main street, which required going up a fairly sizable hill (in the photo on the far right up there - it doesn't look like anything, I know, but it was). I was surprised but so happy when I realized Ben and Alyssa had camped out near the bottom of the hill, so as I ran by I high-fived them and then turned around a few seconds later to tell them I thought I was going to finish under 6 hours. And then I hoped I hadn't completely jinxed myself.

Once we got up to the main street, we ran through all the shops and restaurants and there were spectators everywhere, which was awesome! I'll take a high five from a random stranger all day long. Again, I was surprised at the rolling hills running through Wilmington - it actually reminded me a lot of running through Georgetown at Rock n Roll DC. The rollers ended and we got out of the downtown area around mile 2, and for a mile or so we were running through a more industrial area. It was around 1pm at this point and there was full sun and a clear sky, and I started to worry that I was going to overheat before the race was over.

We turned off of that road right before mile 3, and although I had been keeping a close eye on my pace, I was still shocked to see that my pace just kept dropping and that I ran the first 5k at a 9:00 pace. That was a lot faster than I ever thought I'd run, but my main run plan was to run on feel and not pace, and that's the pace where I felt happy and comfortable. For a little bit in the beginning I thought I might have a shot at finishing the run sub-2, which seemed insane, but my watch wasn't lying.

After a short stretch through a neighborhood, we turned again and headed to a lakefront path. The path was mostly shaded, which I was so thankful for! I was around 4 miles in at that point and somehow, 9 miles to go seemed totally doable. By that point my pace was hovering around 9:10-9:15 and I just kept reminding myself that I had a whole 2 hours and 8 minutes total to get through the run course, so I had no reason to push my pace. I figured that even if I did start to fall apart near the end, I would probably finish it in 2:05 which was still way better than I ever actually expected to do.

The miles truly felt like they ticked by just like they were supposed to - not too fast, not too slow, but just right. I never hit the wall and I never felt like I couldn't or didn't want to continue. I just kept looking at my watch incredulously, because I really couldn't believe the distance or the pace I was seeing. My ability to do mental math was wavering, but by the time I got around halfway through I was nearly certain I was going to be under 6 hours, and probably closer to 5:55. The course was an out and back so after I turned around near mile 7, I knew exactly where I had to go to finish. I just had to keep putting one foot in front of the other until I got there.

I walked every aid station along the course to get water, and sometimes ice (my lips were SO chapped from the wind on the bike!), and it helped so much. The volunteers at the stations were AMAZING, seriously the best aid stations I think I've ever seen. Other than the water stops, I didn't walk at all along the course, which is kind of amazing considering I had to run 2 times farther off the bike than I had ever run in training. I also didn't have to make any porta-potty stops (I peed during T2 and that was it) so that was kind of a big deal. I did slow slightly in the middle miles but once I got to 5k left, I started to pick up a little bit.

Around my 11 I started to feel the impact of the downhills, and my legs did start to hurt a little bit. It really didn't help that mile 11 - 11.5 was a gradual incline as we headed back to downtown. Time was going by really quickly at that point. I remember getting to an aid station right before mile 12 and thinking to myself, "Okay, last water stop! Next up is the finish!" I was excited to get there but at the same time I couldn't believe this 4-month, or really 2+ year, 70.3-mile journey was about to come to an end. With less than a mile left I headed back down the big hill where I had seen Ben and Alyssa (they were waiting at the finish line by then), which was honestly the last thing my quads wanted to do at that point. From there it was back on the boardwalk to head to the finish!

After a couple turns on the boardwalk I could see the finish line with less than a quarter mile to go. I started to pick up my pace a little more but once I made the last turn and someone yelled out to me that I was almost there, I started running as fast as I could. All the energy I had saved up from holding a conservative pace just exploded in my legs during those last 100 yards. I'm talking long stride, both feet completely off the ground type explosion. I was looking for Alyssa and Ben as I ran down the last stretch and I finally saw them maybe 10 yards before the finish line.

Run Time: 2:01:16 (9:15 min/mi)
(Goal time: 2:10:00)

Finish Time: 5:52:27
(Conservative goal time: 6 hours 45 minutes/
Realistic goal timel: 6 hours 15 minutes/
Super-secret radical goal: 6 hours)

Final Thoughts
  • I think I was a little too quick to completely write off the swim, because it wasn't the cake walk I was expecting. The current was a huge help, for sure, but I never even considered the possibility that the water could be choppy even with a strong current. I wish I had had more open water swims to prepare, but I mostly feel fine about the swim.
  • I'm a little disappointed with my bike time. I did meet my goal but I really thought I'd be over 18mph. I didn't realize how much wind my jacket was catching until the last 5 miles or so when my friend caught up to me on the bike and pointed it out. It's hard to say if that had anything to do with it or not, but although I still made my 3:10 goal, I was secretly hoping to be closer to 3:00.
  • I cannot believe I ran a 2:01 half marathon in a half Iron distance race. I really can't. If you had asked me to do that on completely fresh legs I probably would have said no way. When I first started training I had a pipe dream that I could do the run in under 2 hours, but that dream ended not long after it started and I thought that 2:10, maybe even 2:15, allowing for bathroom breaks, water stops, and all that jazz, was much more reasonable. I definitely did not set out to run that fast but I really think it was the product of all my bike-run bricks. I felt like I had a really solid run and like I was just doing what I had trained to do. I'm not sure I've ever truly had that feeling before, where I got into a race and felt like my body took over and said, "It's cool, I got this, you just sit back and enjoy the ride."
  • I CAN'T BELIEVE I FINISHED UNDER 6 HOURS! I know that the strong current on the swim was likely the biggest factor in making it under that 6-hour mark, but still. I was convinced I was going to be just over (and was seriously fine with it - I never though sub-6 was really a reality anyway unless I had the perfect day), so beating that goal (and by 7 minutes!) was crazy.
  • I (and my dad/friends too, I guess) had the BEST support team we could have ever asked for! Ben and Alyssa were quite the dynamic duo and made sure that all the behind-the-scenes errands (picking up our bags before the race was even over, making sure we had everything we needed at the finish line) got done, plus they were there at every checkpoint to take photos, give high fives, yell encouraging words, etc. I'm so thankful they were both there to share in such a big moment and to make sure that we all got it done with as much ease as possible. I know they're both reading so HI GUYS, I LOVE YOU!!! <3
  • Thanks to all of you who texted/Tweeted or even just sent positive vibes into the Universe for me on Saturday! Seeing your messages brought the biggest smile to my face and erased any last shred of doubt I might have had when I woke up on Saturday morning.
  • It took me a few days to realize how big of a deal this is/was for me. I had the weirdest feeling leading up to the race, like for some reason I just didn't feel like it was going to be that big of an accomplishment.  I think more than anything I just wanted to finally DO IT after thinking and talking about it for so long. It felt like checking a box off my to-do list more than something I was really passionate about accomplishing. I don't know if I was just nervous or burnt out from training but I really didn't think I was going to feel any different when I was done. But I did. I do. I'm a half Ironman!
  • I made peace with having to forego my dream of doing an Ironman branded race a long time ago, when it was finally official that Princeton wasn't happening this year. I fully accepted B2B and thought that maybe it was even for the best; B2B is still a fairly large race but without a lot of the hoopla that I think M-dot brings. But, when I got to packet pickup and saw SO many other athletes wearing garb from their previous IM 70.3 events, I admit I was a little jealous. It did make me feel a little bit like what I was about to do didn't really count, like it wasn't really official. Maybe that's what contributed to that feeling I was having in my last bullet point? But now, having done the race, I am truly glad that my first HIM was not Ironman official. The whole process was more stressful than I was expecting and I think that that would have added an extra element of stress and pressure that I just didn't need. I DO want to do a IM 70.3 race, just to do it (and hopefully not regret it like I did with RnR), but there was no reason I needed to do one this time. Beach2Battleship was very well-executed from start to finish, and even though there were a couple things I might have changed or liked to see improved, I feel like I got the experience I was looking for, even if it didn't come with an M-dot logo.
  • I have no idea what's next for me. I want so badly to say with confidence that I want to do a full, but I just don't know. I do know for sure that I will do another half Ironman. I don't know how I'll train or if I'll train at the same volume I did this time (because that shit was exhausting and time-consuming), and I don't think this will necessarily be a yearly event for me, but I still have a lot of years left in my life and I'm not going to say that this was a one-and-done for me. I'll definitely do another one. The full, on the other hand, is going to involve a lot of consideration before I make that jump.
  • I also nailed all my non-time goals, especially the one about finishing with a smile on my face! I didn't even realize it until I saw all of the photos, but I was grinning from ear to ear every time I saw Ben and Alyssa on the course, and by the end I just couldn't stop smiling.
  • I didn't cry when I was done and I think I know why. I truly felt like a freaking endurance athlete on Saturday. I felt like I had trained my body to do this and while it wasn't easy, it wasn't hard. I had no mental blocks to overcome, no moments of doubt that I had to cast aside. I really never think of myself in a confident light; I usually only see the girl who has always struggled, who continues to struggle, despite the fact that my non-struggle times vastly outweigh the struggle times these days. I still don't usually think of myself as someone who is truly capable to accomplishing what I did, but for some reason, when I crossed that finish line, I just thought to myself, "Yep...I earned that." It wasn't overwhelming or emotional but it felt GOOD all the same.

16 comments :

  1. You are so intimidating now! What a beast! I need that motivation to wear off on me.
    Linds @ Not A Mom

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  2. YAY!!!!! I love this post! I'm so happy that all the training and time you put into this paid off. Your time is seriously impressive. I can't wait to hear what you decide to conquer next, an ultra run maybe?

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  3. SUPER SECRET GOAL!!!! You did it. Congratulations on everything. You totally earned it! Glad you had awesome fans to come cheer you along!

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  4. Oh my gosh - I'm the nerd that had to read every word... & loved it all.
    How amazing & inspiring!!! Look at all your times - like you are mind blowing!
    I can't believe they had you on the interstate - that sounds a little dangerous!
    & your time in the half? Shows all your training paid off!!! ... I hope you are basking in it all now on what you accomplished. I am so proud of you ... YOU ARE MY IRONMAN HERO!!!!

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  5. Girl, your finish time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You beat that secret goal finish by a lot on my book! I cant begin to imagine how you can take in consideration the currents, the hills, the water/potty breaks etc to start to figure your goal time. You are just absolutely amazing and what your body can endure is inspirational. So glad you have Ben and Alyssa to smile at when you crossed that finish line. I am so proud of you Tracy!!!!

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  6. So many thoughts. One: "I was anxious to finally put my training to the test, but also ready to get it over with. It's a feeling I've never had before, and hard to explain without it sounding negative." <- this + terrified is where I'm at right now. I get it.
    Two: your mention of it in the bike section has me wanting to print out the City of Oaks course map and carry it around, sleep with it, and study it until I know it in my bones.
    Three: Seriously how did we not get any pictures together?? Bigger issues to address, I suppose. Make up for it in Raleigh :)
    Four: I loved that we were able to get you coming up that hill (and I love that I got that picture of you high-fiving Ben!). Before you all came into T2 we walked past that hill to grab lunch and saw the volunteers standing out there and a few of the front-runners coming out from behind the building and up the hill. I was furiously studying to course map to figure out if we could get to you guys at T2 AND there and it ended up being perfect timing to see you and Tracy come in and all four of you coming up the hill.
    I'm also so happy you were able to see Ben and me in the crowd (PS HI I LOVE YOU TOO!) coming into the chute, and I absolutely am crazy about the ear-to-ear smile on your face in all the shots. I can only hope to be feeling that positive coming down the last .2 in Raleigh. You really are in so many ways and on so many levels a massive inspiration to me and being around you, your determination and drive is infectious. I'm so glad I could be a part of this incredible and life-changing experience for you, and feel honored that you'll be there to be a part of mine.
    You did an amazing job, not just in crushing your time goals, but in capturing grace and drive as an athlete. I'm so proud of you. Thank you for writing this recap in as much detail as you did :)
    Also, one last thing... I'm probably totally going to cry in Raleigh. Like, I cry thinking about it at mile 4. Is that weird? I mean, I'm a crier but still, maybe that's a little ridiculous. I've gotta woman up.

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  7. I just want you to know that duh I'm a total 'dork' and read every single word. But I have no words really to say in return except HEY YOU ARE A HALF IRONMAN!!!! I totally choked up reading this, especially when you choked up and then when you remembered your first triathlon, okay nbd i'm not crying lol. I am so happy Alyssa and Ben were so awesome and encouraging and OMG YOU RAN SO FAST!!! You are seriously amazing and badass. I totally agree - not that I know anything about triathlons lol - about this being your first race rather than a M-dot (love that btw) because I'm sure it would have been way more stressful, and who knows, maybe one day you will! I'm sorry your bike wasn't exactly what you wanted, and I think you are giving the current too much credit ;) haha but I seriously am just in awe of how awesome (haha) you are, seriously. you look so happy, relaxed and totally badass in all the photos. i love this post and your half ironman success so much! CONGRATS!!!!!

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  8. Congratulations! I love how you expressed your feelings at the end. It's a totally different feeling to finish something you didn't think you could do and bawl your eyes out as you cross the finish line. Maybe an even better feeling to feel like you deserved it! What an accomplishment!

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  9. I started reading this on my break yesterday and was getting so much anxiety reading along with you as you were preparing and getting to the race start! I tried to check in on race day but after the swim part, I had no idea what the other times meant, haha. I didn't get a chance to finish reading the whole thing yesterday but I did scroll down to see your time and literally almost cried tears of happiness when I saw how you beat your goal by sooo much!! So proud of you and happy for you! Will write more later after I finish the recap!

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  10. Sub-6 I AM IMPRESSED! Congrats to you and the incredible race day you had. Through everything you've experienced you've held your head high and your goals in sight. Cheers cheers cheers!!!

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  11. YAYAYAYAY!!! Congratulations! I saw your instagram post on Sat, but am just now getting the chance to say my congrats and tell you how AWESOME I think you are! You are a rock star!

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  12. You are an absolute BEAST. I am so incredibly impressed and proud of you. Hard work pays off. And it sounds like the weather (and wind) was on your side a good portion of the time - that's one thing I'd be nervous about. CONGRATULATIONS GIRL! This is an incredible feat.

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  13. Ok so I definitely just read every word of this because I know myself and this will never be on my goal list so I had to live through you! What an amazing experience and even though you might not feel like you did, you articulated your emotions beautifully. Those moments of feeling like you felt two completing conflicting ways or maybe, not bad but not good...just feeling. That makes so much sense to me. I've experienced that on different levels over different things. I hope your pride in your accomplishment continues to grow because you did an amazing thing. Especially realizing that your mental state was healthy and your body was ready and they were working separately but together...just amazing. You should be very proud! I enjoyed the read, thank you so much for sharing about your experience!! xx

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  14. You are seriously amazing. So, so amazing. I can't even imagine competing in ANY triathlon let alone 70.3 miles. Like... when I was in grad school, I loathed the commute to class which was 65ish miles, and I was DRIVING. Your BODY took you 70.3 miles. That's so badass.

    Your feelings towards the half Ironman sum up my feelings towards half marathons. I really loved running in my half marathon, but as it stands, it's not something I want to do every year. That may change whenever I do my next one, but for now? It's just not something I want to commit to. And part of me wants to run a full, but at the same time, I'm not THAT interested in it. And that's fine. I'm not less of a runner because I don't want to run a full marathon, ya know? Maybe one day.

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  15. I read this once when you first posted it and again just because it is just so darn inspiring! Congrats congrats on surpassing your goals - so happy and proud of you! I'll be saving this post as a motivational one for the future.

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