Beaches, Battleships and Blondes

Beach 2 Battleship

While sitting around the fire at a triathlon training camp, Peggy, Kim and I decided to do the Beach to Battleship Iron relay. I was to be the swimmer, Kim the cyclist and Peggy was the runner. We came up with the name 3 non-blondes and 6 months later we were hitting the road for Wilmington, NC. The girls piled into Peggy’s car and the boys took the Weeks’ truck and we caravaned to Augusta for dinner.

We continued on to Columbia, SC where we stopped for the night. Up early the next morning we headed to Cracker Barrel for some breakfast and then back on the road to Wilmington. Once there we met up with Harry who was doing the full Iron distance along with Tripp – both 7 weeks post Ironman Louisville. We arrived just in time to catch the end of the mandatory athlete meeting which gave very little instruction in regards to the relay. We checked in, got our arm bands and swim cap, bike stickers and run numbers and everyone got their gear situated.

Next stop was to check in the hotel, drop off bikes in transition and head to the beach. While at transition we asked about the relay and got passed along to two more people before finding that we would just switch the timing chip at the bike rack. We checked out the swim exit which was pretty far across the road (booties would be worn for sure so I could run across the pavement). We then headed over to the swim start and got the layout of the swim course. Buoys were not in place yet so I checked out the online map to be absolutely sure of the course.
Blondes at the Beach
I originally planned to take a quick dip in the water but it was already late in the day and we needed to get some dinner. Back downtown and dinner with the group. Since I was just swimming I didn’t worry too much about my pre-race dinner. I had crabcakes and fries and they were quite good. After dinner we headed back to the hotel to get ready for bed. 

Up the next morning at 4:30 for a 5:30 departure. I slept great. No pre-race nervousness since I just had to swim. I found I had lots of leftover time and could have slept a bit longer. I had all my gear ready to go and a portable pre-race breakfast.

Early morning Blondes
 The logistics of this race are very complicated and without a support crew it could be extremely difficult. The swim start, T1, T2 and finish were all in different locations. This is not typical but not completely abnormal. It was further complicated by the relay so here was the plan: John drove Harry, Tripp, Kim and I to transition. Everyone checked in their bikes and got body marked. I stayed in the car and waited for their return and Peggy stayed at the hotel to rest up. With that task completed, Harry, Tripp and I headed to the swim start while Kim waited for us at T1.

Coach Angry Bird is on the case
Harry, Tripp and I met up with Mike Delang at the trolley to take us to the swim start. We passed the time chatting with some Coast Guard guys that Tripp befriended on the trolley ride. Soon it was time to get the wetsuit on and swim!

There’s Tripp adjusting my google strap – swim buddy!!
The plan for the swim was to hang toward the back and then Tripp and I would swim together like we did in Louisville. There was no gun or canon. Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” came on the speakers and it was time to go. We made our way to the water where I spotted my coach cheering people on and I gave him a high five but I know he did not realize it was me with cap, goggles and full wetsuit on. 

Tripp and I walked about 3 steps into the water and the it got deep quick and it was swim time. None of the usual butterflies, just a nice swim toward the first buoy. It came up quick as expected since the race is timed for the best current. I heard the left side was the fastest but all the buoys were right so we stayed more toward the middle. 

It was very difficult to see the next buoy since it was very far away but again it came up quick. I knew we were moving well since I didn’t have to keep stopping to slow my breathing into a normal rhythm. I guess the fact that this was all I had to do made it seems less daunting. I was frustrated by the lack of buoys to site off of so I chose the hotel at the finish as my target. This worked well until the zig zag turns started. 
The race briefing was unclear as to turn buoys and nothing was said pre-race. Typically, courses are marked by yellow distance buoys and orange turn buoys. The only buoys you have to have on your left are turn buoys. With no instructions and 3 different colored buoys some parts were not clear. The volunteers in the water told Tripp and I to stay to the right of one green buoy on the zig zag so we had to correct a bit before making the turn. At this point the swim was sideways to the current and I was struggling a little to stay on course and not get pushed under the docks near shore. We eventually made it to the next right turn where we stopped to sight for the next left turn. The current here was strong and we could see ourselves being pushed ahead so we swam on and headed toward the next “turn” buoy. This time the volunteers told us to keep it to our right and just keep going so we headed toward the hotel on a direct line. 
My Swim
Just ahead was the swim exit. We had to wait in line (?!) to climb up ladders and once we were out I hauled ass to T1.  Garmin said 1:08 as I began my run. I ran by the wetsuit strippers, ran by the glasses pick up table (to be revisited later), through the showers to rinse off the salt water around the corner through the parking lot across the road then past the transition bags and straight to Kim. It was no short trek but I made the most of my time. We exchanged the timing chip and off she went. 
I am gaining on you
Eat my dust

There was a little friendly competition going on between friends and I was quite pleased to see Harry exiting T1 after Kim. Now that Kim was gone I was supposed to wait for Tripp to get changed and get his glasses so we could later get them to him on the run. Tripp came out of the changing tent and he said he never saw the glasses pick up after them swim. I assured him I would get them and he took off on the bike. I was able to retrieve Tripp’s glasses and then John and I started our journey back to the hotel. I kind of wanted to take a nap before showering and delivering Peggy to T2 but we ended up getting trapped in traffic getting off the island. One of the lanes on the bridge was closed because of the race so it took quite a while to get back to the hotel. No nap for me.

I showered and got my stuff together for the evening. We figured Kim’s bike leg would be about 6 hours if everything went well. We got to T1 just in time to see Holly and Sandy head out on the run for the Half Ironman. We relaxed and waited for Peggy to run.
Looks a lot like 666 – Runnin’ with the Devil
Soon we saw Mike Delang come in from the bike and Kim was right behind him! Kim ran out just behind Mike and exchanged the timing chip and off goes Peggy. 
Kim coming in from the Bike
Peggy is on the Run
We waited for Peggy to come back around for a quick photo op
Kim headed back to the hotel to shower and John and I grabbed some dinner. We met back up with Kim and headed out to the run turn around. Judging by the time we missed Mike and Peggy but soon Sarah, Dale, Harry and Tripp came by. Everyone was looking good with the exception of Tripp. He was nauseous and had been getting sick the last mile or so. John kept walking with him and tried to get Tripp to continue but eventually it got to the point where Tripp decided to stop. John took him to the medical tent while we continued to wait for Peggy. 

At one point we had asked a volunteer if we could cross the finish line together and we were told no but we had just seen a woman cross the finish line with her child so we decided to ask someone else. I found the Setup events tent at the finish line and I asked if we could run across the finish line together. The response I got was “We are not Ironman. We don’t care. Just as long as you don’t interfere with another finisher then you can do whatever you want.” 
So, we ran to the end of the finishers chute and waited for Peggy. Soon we saw her running out of the darkness and we ran across the finish line – 12:57. Woo Hoo!!
Later, Peggy said she didn’t realize it was us at first and thought we were 2 nice ladies who want to run with her. She was a little delirious I guess 🙂
We went to collect our finishers medals and we were told that Kim and I had to wait until midnight or the next day in order to be sure all the individuals got medals. Um, really? Here’s a thought. Order enough medals for all the participants and there won’t be an issue. Not cool! I later learned they ran out of Half Ironman finishers medals. Really not cool!!

More important things than arguing with volunteers so we headed back to the medical tent to check on Tripp. Tripp was doing much better and was soon to be discharged. A Spartan just checked in because he was peeing blood – all in a days work at the Ironman medical tent. While waiting for Tripp we took some more pictures

Purple, Pink and Blue
Tripp was feeling much better after 2 IVs and some anti-nausea medicine so we headed out to the finish line and just as we arrived Harry crossed the finish line!! Sub 14 Harry – 7 weeks after Louisville!! Yay Harry!!

Coach Vader and his young Jedi

For the most part it was a successful weekend. Tripp was in good spirits and everyone had a fun weekend so it was time to celebrate!!

Race Impressions: A great race for anyone who wants to do a non corporate Ironman or half. You can’t beat the fast swim! The relay was a nice way to participate and spectate. Let’s just hope they get that medal issue resolved before next year.

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