Thursday, June 4, 2015

Ironman Raleigh 2015 Relay

Everybody loves hanging out with friends. Hanging out with new friends, doing something they've never done before is even better! Eric and Susan found me through a mutual friend. Originally Eric had another couple lined up to be the relay team, but they got called out on a cruise. So his wife Susan stepped up to run, and they recruited my friend Chelsea to swim. After Chelsea was sidelined by an injury this spring, she asked me to step up and take her place on the team. Of course I'll jump on any excuse to get into open water this year, so I eagerly started guiding the newbies into the wild world of multisport. Eric and Susan had never done a triathlon of any distance before, so Ironman Raleigh 70.3 was going to be their introduction!

Race morning started early. My alarm went off at 3:45, and before you know it I was sitting outside at 0:dark-thirty for them to come pick me up.
streetlights in the driveway
Around 4:30 Eric and Susan, along with Susan's parents Bob and Wendy came to pick me up and we headed downtown. Turns out, Susan's parents are absolutely fascinating people! I truly enjoyed getting to spend the entire day with them. The 5 of us made our way downtown, parked, and found the shuttle bus to get out to Vista Point. The sun came up during the bus ride, it was a beautiful sight.

Me, coffee, Susan, Eric in front

the dark crowded bus

Once we got there, it was a glorious sight. The lake was calm and beautiful, the sky was blue, the air was warm.

In the port-a-john line

Swim start is laid out.  Beautiful day.

Team 4 Cats is ready to go

We're all body marked but you can't see my digits
So after getting picked up at 4:30 am, the pro's hit the water at 7 am. Relay's go in the last swim wave at 8:24 am. I had to warm up a bit, put the sunscreen on, and wait through the line. That's when Eric snapped this piece of magic

It looks like I'm nude instead of swimming in a speedo. Also, Eric actually encouraged me to flex a bit for the camera. That should never happen. haa! Also they called the water at 79*, so no legal wetsuits.

I did hit the water eventually, and the entire swim was crowded. My goal time was to get under 32 minutes. I wore the garmin. At the start, I swam with my head up water-polo style to avoid getting kicked, and eventually settled into my stroke when I found some open water on the left side of the pack. I think the waves went off every 4 minutes, and by the time I hit the first turn I was passing people with other colored caps on.

The course was a broken rectangle. Go out, turn right, go for a long way, turn right again and get to shore. When I was on the top of the rectangle, the water was very choppy in that stretch. Don't really know why, the wind wasn't notably strong, maybe there was boat traffic. There was certainly a lot of human traffic! This stretch was really crowded. Lots of people stopping to sight even though we were still on course. Quite a few breast strokers out there. These were the slower swimmers from the earlier waves, and I noticed I was passing them like they were standing still. Plenty of people took an hour to get out of the water, more power to them, but I was grateful to the ones that stayed out of my way.

After I made the last turn the crowds opened up a bit more. Easier time finding clean water, and before I knew it I was tasting boat gas - the swim exit was in sight. Ran up the boat ramp and planted my foot in front of that Relay tent, but Eric was nowhere to be found! I called out for him, turned out that tent got really crowded and he was trapped in the back.

Eric eventually knifed his way through the other teams, grabbed the chip from my ankle and sprinted after his steed. I caught up with Susan's parents who were holding my swim bag and eventually caught my breath and got dressed again. Checking the garmin, it said I swam in 37:25, which was initially a disappointing time, but then it also said I swam 1.6 miles. Several other swimmers said the course felt long to them, and I thought my effort was good enough to get my sub-32 goal.  Turns out, 37:25 for a 1.2 mile course is a 1:58 pace per hundred meters (official race split stat), but for a 1.6 mile course it's only a 1:20 pace per hundred yards (my sprint goal time in the pool during regular practice). I was the 15th relay swimmer out of the water, out of 73 teams.

Post swim, somebody took all of these bikes out of T1

Holy crap I can't believe I was able to actually really hold that pace for that distance! Yes I've been crushing it in swim practice lately, and really putting the work in. But that still exceeds my expectations. What an amazing day! Even my swim coach told me in practice a few months ago that I could hold that pace for a mile in open water, but I didn't believe her. Lesson learned, trust your coach.

Logistically, now we had 4 people at Vista Point and one cyclist rapidly approaching downtown. Logistically, the buses couldn't take spectators down the road (closed to traffic) until the last biker turned onto hwy 64. So there was about 2000 people standing in the hot sun waiting to get on buses until about 10 am. Then we made the drive back downtown and arrived at 11 am. Eric's goal was to hit 18 mph and get into T2 right around noon.

Susan and I waiting in T2. She's ready to run!
Eric absolutely destroyed that bike course. The first 20 miles were fast, then the hills and heat hit him so he slowed down a bit. Still, in the end, this guy ended up with a 19.6 mph average, finishing in 2:52. Amazing speed for such a hard course on such a hot day. He really exceeded his own expectations as well. His was only the 6th bike to arrive in T2!

that is one dehydrated cyclist desperately seeking shade
So now Susan was out on the run course, and Eric and I eventually found her parents, got the bike loaded up into the car, and got some lunch. That pizza was incredible. Eric and I were tracking Susan on our phones, and she finished the first lap when we were still eating. But soon enough we timed it out and found our place at the finish line, waiting to see her come in.

Susan wrapped up our day with a 2:17 half marathon, and we finished 17th out of 73 relay teams.

Susan finishing up

post race eats

Eric, Susan and me with our finishers medals!
Overall, it was a wonderful and hot day to be around the Ironman event. These two got a nice introduction, and I think Susan is hooked now! She signed up for a Ramblin Rose the next day. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know such good friends, and we all ended up with some great race stories. I was very appreciative to be included in their race day.


Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Oh fun! That is awesome that you all had such a great experience. Nice work on the swim! Although hearing about the swim part makes me a little anxious for the swim part of my tri... but I only have to swim 500 yards luckily. I figure that will be the ugliest part of my tri, which is ok. Hopefully the swim class I am taking helps. I feel really comfortable swimming, I am just not all that fast (yet).

Also, that is crazy that the water was that warm already!

Al's CL Reviews said...

That was an awesome swim time, and it sounds like you guys really supported each other.