Ironman North Carolina: The Swim

If you're just picking up here, it's IMNC day and I've already checked in and racked my bike!

As I raced on Saturday and thought about writing this recap I thought, “Hmm, I don’t think I have that much to say. I can probably fit it all into one post…” Um. NOT. Here’s part 1/3: 

We arrived to T1 when it was still dark and had just enough time to put water bottles and nutrition on our bikes, drop off our run special needs bags, and get in line for the bus to the swim start. The swim is point-to-point, with the start about 2.5 miles away from T1 at the southern tip of Wrightsville Beach, so the race runs shuttles all morning for the athletes. As I was standing in line I realized that we’d had to jump out of the car so quickly when Ben dropped us off that I hadn’t even said goodbye to him! I was pretty sure he would be at the swim start but I didn’t know that for sure. Luckily Tracy had his phone with him so I was able to call Ben and leave him a voicemail telling him I loved him and I was thankful for all of his support and I hoped I’d make him proud.

We ended up on the last shuttle, which I think was actually one of the charter buses used to take athletes from hotels in downtown Wilmington to T1, and I don’t think was intended to take athletes to the swim start as well. Because the bus was larger than the shuttles, we actually had to be dropped off a half mile or so from the swim start, so we got a bit of a warmup walking down there!

Ironman North Carolina: Bike and Run Gear Check-In

Bike and Run Gear Check-In

Although we picked up our packets on Thursday, we couldn't actually check in any gear until Friday. As it was when it was Beach2Battleship, IMNC (both half and full) the race is set up so that there are 2 different transitions about a 20-minute drive apart from each other. Logistically, that means that all bike gear (including bikes) has to be dropped off at T1 in Wrightsville Beach, and all run gear has to be dropped off at T2 in downtown Wilmington. Having done this race before and gone through those motions was hugely helpful the second time around! The logistics were really overwhelming to me last year, but this year I was cool as a cucumber. I had even already divvied up my bike and run gear into separate bags at home when I was packing (I used these Ziploc ones that I saw recommended somewhere, I think in one of the IMNC Facebook groups I was in?) and it made getting my actual gear bags together super easy!

Ironman North Carolina: Athlete Check-In and Expo

And so it begins: my series of Ironman North Carolina race recaps. I will go ahead and tell you now that there is an embarrassingly high number of five recap posts coming over the next week. I was going to start with the pre-race stuff but considering there were two days of prep and I just don't want to forget any details (as mundane and snooze-inducing as I'm sure they are for others), the pre-race post quickly turned into two posts, one for each pre-race day. And then there are the posts for the race itself (one for each event). And to think, I originally thought I could fit this entire experience into one post!

Athlete Check-In and Expo
I'm not going to lie: I was a sad panda the couple of days leading up to the race. I found out about the shortened course on Tuesday, and when I woke up on Wednesday and Thursday morning it felt like it had been a bad dream, and then it hurt all over again when I remembered it wasn't.

IMNC: All These Things That I've Done

It's here. The day before Ironman. I slept in this morning, a real rarity since I started training back in early summer. I'm sitting on the wraparound porch of the beach house we rented for the week, sipping coffee, writing my training wrap-up. It's the morning I've been looking forward for months, the last calm before the storm, and everything is as it should be. Except for one thing.

I'm allowing my emotions to go where they please and not passing any judgment about where they end up or how wildly they swing back and forth. This is a huge loss for me, and while its impacts might not last as long as more serious and permanent losses, it's still a loss. Ironman training became another member of our family, and not just any member but the most important member. Ben and I both worked so hard every day to do everything we could so that it survived - and we did! We made it. We made it all the way to the end, when all we had to do was set it free and watch it fly. Instead we watched it fall to the ground, by no fault of our own and with absolutely no recourse. It's going to take me a while to process that. I know it's not going to happen this week or maybe even this month and I accept that reality. It's sad. It's just going to be sad for a while.

But it's not all doom and gloom. It's been better being with my team, and not just because misery loves company. Our coach came down yesterday en route to Florida for IM 70.3 Miami this weekend, and he spent the day with us as we went to athlete check-in and checked out some of the course. We enjoyed a great lunch together (including dessert, coach-approved!) and walked around Wilmington and saw Mike Reilly speak at the welcome ceremony and, aside from the times when I felt like I got punched in the stomach, it was a really good day. 

But today isn't about the race. Today I wanted to talk about my training. Especially now, because even if I don't get to use all of it for a full distance race, I still completed it and that is still something. The news of the shortened course happened 4 days before the race. All of the training was done at that point. It's really been done for the last couple of weeks since I've been tapering, but this week especially wasn't true training. I had a few short workouts just for maintenance and mental sanity reasons, but the training was already done by the time I found out I hadn't been training for a full Ironman after all. 

I registered for this race on December 20, 2015 and my official 20-week training plan kicked off on June 6, 2016. The breakdown of the 20-week plan is as follows:

You Don't Know What You Got Til It's Gone

Well, this is not the post I expected to write today. Although my posts have been scarce lately, and non-workout recap even more so, I've been planning a few Ironman training wrap-up posts for weeks. Today I had actually planned to do something a little different and talk about the music that has inspired me, motivated me, and kept me going throughout training - my IMNC playlist of sorts (even though music isn't allowed on the course so I'll just be singing the songs in my head rather than listening to them). Something light and fun before delving into my long, thoughtful race plan and my final training post before the big day.

But that's not what I'm writing this morning. Instead, I'm trying to process the 12-hour-old news that Ironman North Carolina will, in fact, not be a full Ironman. Due to flooding in the area from Hurricane Matthew, the bike course has been shortened to 50 miles, making the race total 78.6 miles rather than 140.6. It's not a full Ironman. It's not even close. Ten months of waking up every day with this goal in mind, and it's going to end over 60 miles short. I can't believe it. I don't want to believe it.

Hokie Half Marathon 2016 Race Recap

Oh my gosh I have so much to say about this race but all I really want to say is that it was the BEST race. THE BEST. I was so happy and my heart was so full I thought it might actually burst. It was so much more than I was expecting - because what did I really have to expect from a little ol' half marathon after training for an Ironman for 4 months? - and not in any ways that are quantifiable but it was a rare day for me when numbers truly did not matter.

Ironman 70.3 Atlantic City Race Recap

I signed up for this race way way back before a 2016 Ironman was on my radar. I saw an ad for it sometime right before or right after my first half Ironman in October of last year, the Beach2Battleship half, and something about it jumped out at me. I had never been to AC but from looking at the pictures it looked like it would be a fun venue, and it would give me an excuse to go to New Jersey and hang out with Alyssa. Registration opened at noon on November 1 of last year, and an hour later when I remembered to register nearly half of the spots were already sold out!

After I signed up it was always in the back of my mind, but since it was so far away and I was preoccupied with other races this year (initially, Big Sur, then Ironman North Carolina), it got pushed to the back burner. It honestly didn’t hit me that I was really doing this one until I arrived at packet pickup the day before! I think I tried to avoid thinking about it the week prior because both of my feet started being total assholes and I wasn't sure I could trust either of them.

Ironman North Carolina Training: Week 16

Nation's Triathlon 2016 Recap

I signed up for this race right after I moved to DC. I had heard of it previously but had never done it, so when I moved here, it seemed like a fun opportunity to do a race in my new city. I got my IMNC group on board and even managed to talk Ben and my brother-in-law into doing it (first tri for both of them)!

There is a sprint and an Olympic distance race, which both run concurrently, and we chose the Olympic. That distance was still pretty light for those of us in Ironman training, but after several long, hard weekends I was looking forward to having a distance a little more familiar to tackle. The others all made their travel plans, and all week we discussed weekend logistics. I was so looking forward to having a weekend with some of my favorite people doing an activity I love in a city I come to love a little more every day.