Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Race Report: Beach2Battleship - Part 1

The iron summaries tend to be long, so I decided to split it into a few. One for beforehand and one each for the swim, bike and run. I'll do my best not to spend a ton of time on the expo, since there will be enough to write about without going into that very much.

What I will mention about the expo is that's where I heard about the water temperature. See, the whole time I was training for this race, I was really worried it would be super, super cold. I was thinking it would be low 60's, and I'm not sure I've ever raced in water that cold. But as I stood waiting to pick up my packet at the expo, I heard someone say the water would be a whopping 71 degrees. 71! A full 10 degrees warmer than what I thought I'd have to deal with. So that made me feel better.

That was a fantastic thing to learn. The only problem was that I failed to really anticipate how cold the temperature would be for the rest of the race. It wasn't until we were there, in North Carolina on the night before the race that I began to grasp the idea that the temperature would be in the 30's and 40's with a chance it would reach the 50's during the middle of the day. That sounds great...for running. For biking, not so much.

Sure enough, I woke up to a temperature of 36 degrees. There was frost on the ground as we walked out to the rental van to drive to T1. At this point, I was much less nervous about the swim and more so about the bike. I did have a jacket, but was only wearing shorts. Thankfully, my mom suggested we go to the 24 hour grocery store to see if they offered anything in the way of tights or leggings that I might be able to wear. Despite my skepticism, they certainly did. I had the choice between capri and full length. After some thought, I settled on the full length tights with the logic that I could roll the longer ones up if necessary, but could not lengthen the shorter ones if it got too cold.

My mom dropped me off at T1 and I began setting up my station. I pretty quickly changed into my wetsuit because it was a great way to combat the cold. I put most (but not all...rookie mistake) of my clothes into my T1 bag and checked that in the designated area. I opted out of having special needs bags for either the bike or run and had already checked my T2 bag the day before. By the time I was all set up, the race organizers were calling for full distance athletes to board the shuttles to the beginning of the swim. They tried to coax us by promising that the shuttles were being warmed up.

And you know what? The idea of a warm shuttle bus was appealing. Unfortunately, upon boarding my shuttle I was dismayed to find that it had neither windows nor a discernible heat system. Well played, race organizers. Well played.

The other triathletes were a lot more intelligent than I about this part of the whole process. We arrived at the beach (the beach parking lot, to be specific) approximately an hour before the race was even supposed to start. I had on my wetsuit and no shoes. No shoes! Most other people had brought throwaway clothes to wear prior to the start. Not me. I therefore did my best to huddle around the one functional heat lamp that had been set up. People were pretty nice about it, and as they cleared out, I was able to move in a little closer. It was a unique and positive, if also cold, experience. I made sure to use a port-a-potty soon after my arrival.

Finally, 7:20 rolled around and it was time to "check in" aka step onto the beach and make our way to the start.

Stay tuned, as I describe the swim and how my movements in it very likely resembled a slow motion pinball.

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