Revolution 3, South Carolina would be the second Half Ironman I have ever attempted. It fit perfectly into my full Ironman training and also be a nice gauge to see where I was mentally and physically.
Jim (from Dad Posse) drove the bikes down Thursday and visited family while Ed (also from Dad Posse) and I took a plane the next day. Our flight was 20 minutes late getting off the ground and we had a connecting flight in Charlotte 30 minutes after we were supposed to land. This wasn’t a good start.
I’m no aviation expert… but it seemed like our pilot gunned it the whole time as we almost made up for the lost time. Ed and I looked at each other, knowing we had less than 15 minutes to get to our plane once we hit the ground, and said “We can do this.” Ed got on his sneakers and I looked at the airport map. As we left the gate there was some old guy in a suit who was going to E33 as well, “E33? C’mon! Follow us!” as Ed and I full sprinted down the terminal. We all made the flight, but my man in the suit just walked it. Running is lame.
Jim and his brother Brice (also doing Rev3) picked us up and took us to a bar called Carolina Ale House in Greenville for dinner.
The next morning we all went to one of the 5,000 Waffle Houses in the area. It was to be my best meal in South Carolina. I ate so much food, knowing we would be doing test runs of the course shortly after.
We checked in at the civic center and spent some time in the expo buying things. Gotta hand it to the Rev 3 folks, its always so easy and such a pleasure to check-in.
Next, we headed over to the swim course for a practice swim. It was on Lake Hartwell, a huge lake that was picture perfect. I threw on my new wetsuit (a TYR Hurricane Cat5) and jumped in. We all swam to the first buoy in kind of like a flying V formation. Brice’s friends Dave and Doug were now with us. The sun was out, we had Waffle House in our bellies, and the water was fantastic. I felt great in the water and the new suit was amazing. The only thing it was missing was an outboard engine.
Back at the cars, we jumped on our bikes to make sure everything was working properly. We rode a few miles of the course before heading down to Transition to leave the bikes for the night. We then did an easy run to get our legs loosened.
Since we were all starving by now, we made our way to Logan’s Roadhouse for lunch and to watch the Clemson game. Sidenote: Clemson is 5 miles from the Rev 3 course and Jim is an Alumni. I was also following Kona very closely, especially since Coach S was racing! She did very well by the way finishing with a 10:08!
We left Logan’s and hit the local Publix food store to get some gear for the morning. Cafe Bustelo, Oatmeal, bananas, beer, and to-go cups were on the list.
After a quick rest back at the hotel we set out for our ‘pre-race’ meal… pasta! The first place we saw was an Olive Garden to which Ed, Jim and I all exclaimed ‘Noooooo!’ Passing countess steakhouses with names often ending in…’Roadhouse’ we came across a seafood place. Shrimp Scampi? Linguine White Clam Sauce? These were valid ‘pre-race’ meals. We sat down (our silverware wrapped in plastic) and saw that everything was fried! No pasta at all! Back on the road we were coming to the end of the strip, hope seeming to fade. Up ahead was ‘Tony and Charlee’s Southern Italian!’’ Jackpot! As we pulled up there was only one car in the parking lot. Perhaps the chef? Every other restaurant in town had a wait, and this place was empty, sweet!
I was elected to ‘check it out.’ As I entered, I approached the woman at the front desk and asked if they served pasta. She simply pushed a menu my way, as if pasta was some made up food group. The menu consisted of all meat dishes most of them fried. It also had Buffalo Wings! Don’t get me wrong, I love Buffalo Wings, but on an Italian menu I think not mon frere. I simply smiled at her and said, “Can I go check with my friends before sitting?” practically running out the door.
Guess where we ate dinner? Olive Garden and it was good! People were even smoking in the restaurant and I didn’t mind!
Sidenote: I am convinced people in South Carolina don’t like Italian food.
We were back at the hotel and asleep by 10PM.
I naturally woke up at 5AM (cause I am weird) and queued up the Bustelo, made the guys oatmeal and put on my race numbers. I felt well rested and not nervous at all, ready to set it off.
We arrived at T1 40 minutes before my age group was to start. In T1 I ran into my friend Daniel who moved to Charlotte from NYC this year. We caught up and I introduced him to the fellas. The sun was starting to rise and the race coordinators told us we needed to get to the water.
We watched the Pros go then took our place on the beach. As the gun went off, I let a row of fast swimmers take lead. I jumped into the froth and started digging in, remembering not to overdo it at the start and get all worked up. I have done this enough times that fears of drowning are far from my thoughts. Falling into a nice rhythm and focusing on my form I made my way to the first buoy. I felt very fluid.
Moving at a steady rate, I took notice of the beautiful sunrise happening every 6 strokes. I was really enjoying myself out there and maybe should have had faster arm turnover. Even though I may not be the fastest fish in the pond, I am damn good at sighting and was precise with all my buoy turns. At one point someone was on my feet, which is normal, but this guy started climbing my body. Here I am just mindin’ my own business and this speedster is just gonna swim OVER me when there is plenty of water to swim around? Not on my watch. As his arms started pushing down on the back of my knees I gave a swift ninja kick to his chest. I wasn’t groped for the rest of the swim.
Exiting the water I was full of energy and my legs seemed to be functioning properly. I jumped into T1 (was caught by Ed who was racing the OLY) and made my way onto the bike course. Jim was right behind me and Ed snapped him in ‘speedy transition pose.’ (he was standing still, that’s why its funny.)
My legs were out of whack for like the first 10 miles. My quads were burning something fierce. Fierce! The scenery was nice and I kept wishing for the sun to come out. It did.
Once warmed up I tried to pass as many bikers as I could. By the end of it I would overtake 70 or so, but it was a slow and steady game. This is kind of my M.O. for triathlons since my swimming is slow.
There were so many cows and horses out there on the course. Well, not ‘on’ the course but in the fields around us. I kept imitating the cows (blank puzzled stares on their faces) as I passed them. “Bessy, look at them fellers. I heard about such a thing yars ago… I think theys call ‘em BI sickles.” There were also quiet a few dogs that went bat shit crazy when we rode by.
Somewhere around mile 15-20 I caught up with Daniel. We rode together for awhile before I pressed on. We both noted how windy it was! There were 30 MPH wind gusts all day. At times it felt like you weren’t moving at all.
The last 10 miles were tough. My only goal for this entire race was to ride the bike in under 3 hours so I pushed hard on the ending hills. I started thinking about Abbe and where she was in the Chicago Marathon. It was her first Marathon (and her birthday!) and I was really hoping she was having fun.
By now we were mixed in with the Olympic riders who started a few hours behind us. This helped my legs as I stopped picking people off due to not knowing which race they were in. I came in off the bike at 2:50 and was very happy.
Slapped on my sneaks and bolted out of T2. My legs were Jell-o.
Experience plays such a big role in the triathlon world. I was running 8 minute miles for the first 15 minutes, my legs burning and wonky like baby giraffe, but I knew they were reset any minute. We were running these windy switch backs, runners from both the Olympic and Half Iron all over. I like to have fun out there so I tease the volunteers asking them if I can take short cuts. Most of them, new to triathlons, assured me it was probably a bad idea and I would get in trouble. Agreed.
At mile 4 the Half Iron runners veered off to a new section of course, an out-and-back. It was here that I got my legs in full swing. I was decreasing my pace and would end up holding a steady 7 minute mile for this portion of the run. I felt good all of a sudden. I started picking off runners one at a time. We were running down a highway for this section and t was pretty dull. As mile 7 passed I kept wondering, “Where the hell is the turn around?” It soon came just past mile 8. My stomach took a turn for the worse right about now as well. I have never had stomach issues in any race. I eat burritos during marathons for god’s sake, so why now is it freaking out? Was I pregnant?
Looking back, I think I may have had way too much ‘course Gatorade.‘ As mile 10 approached I pulled over, sacrificing my pace, and started slamming water. As I walked forward, the sharp pain in my stomach slowly dissipating, I jogged. Slowly my pace picked up. Soon I was facing runners coming the other way, a few of them screaming, “Where is the turn around?” at me. I feel your pain. Then, I see Jim coming down the highway and he runs into my lane and gives me a high five while yelling, “Rocket Fuel!” This gave me a huge burst of energy and I sped forward. The last few miles would be sub7.
Sidenote: At the Fire Island Hotel they make a drink called Rocket Fuel. It’s a pina colada topped with 151. We love them, especially Jim.
At mile 11 the Halfers get mixed back in with the Oly runners. Up ahead I was like, “Is that Ed?” I yelled out to him, “Ed! You better hustle!” He laughed and turned giving me a slap on the arm, “Go Bakes!”
After a few more twists and turns I crossed the finish. My final time was 5:12, a 13 minute PR.
I waited for Ed to cross, then he and I waited for Jim and then Brice. We were all successful in our own races, celebrating with a delicious ice cold beer in the warm sun.
That night we all celebrated with a big dinner followed quickly by bedtime. The next morning Jim, Ed, and I set off on our 13 hour drive back up to NYC. (we had breakfast at Waffle House again it was awesome again!)
Am I ready for my first full Ironman? Yes. (Coach S still has me on a steady training regimen.) Is it going to hurt? Yes.