Saturday, November 14, 2009

Doug is an Ironman!

Last weekend, we traveled to Wilmington, North Carolina for the Beach 2 Battleship half ironman distance race. Doug was racing and I was volunteering and sherpa-ing.

I think that I had as much (if not more) fun than Doug did.

Here is Doug taking his final bags to the car on race morning at about 4:15am. We arrived with all of our stuff at the race location at about 4:50am. I know! I was early! This load of stuff is after he had already dropped off four (4) other bags with his bike on Friday. We don't know how people fly to Ironman (IM) races - there is just too much stuff to bring!

For those who don't know, the Ironman race distances are 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of cycling and 26.2 miles of running. That's a total of 140.6 miles traveled under your own power.

Anyway, our friend Neal was also doing this race as his first Ironman. Here are the two hotties as they came to be body-marked.

So, my first volunteer job was body-marking. That means that I wrote the athlete's numbers on their arms and legs and wrote their age on their calf. While I wrote, I made small talk with the racers and assured them that you really could float the whole swim and still make the time cut-off. They time this race start so that racers swim with the current and it is a beautiful thing.

Here is my new friend, Kelly, who has a 19 month old and is expecting her second child in February. She is a tough lady because she body-marked with me for three hours and then we helped load the transition bags onto the truck and then we stood around watching racers come out of the water and cheering them onto the bike course for a good hour and a half.

Here is the transition area before all of the bikes got there on Friday. 1500 racers if you count the full and half ironman participants.

Here is Doug giving the fist of strength as he comes up to transition area #1 from the swim. No idea who that bike guy is.

After Kelly and I watched all of the full ironman and half ironman racers come up from the swim and exit T1, I went for a little run. The race's swim start was in Wrightsville Beach, NC. This is a peninsula of Cape Fear. I ran to the fancy houses on the north end of the beach and then back south to the older part of the beach to where Doug had started the swim, then I added a loop of the park in which T1 was located (Hwy 74 to Hwy 76) to get to my 10 miles. Little did I know that that loop happened to circle a tidal creek park and was a beautiful sidewalk around the creek in the shade of oak trees. It was so great. What a beautiful run.

Then, after wolfing down some Fat Tony's dinner leftovers, I showered and drove into downtown Wilmington to begin my volunteer shift on the run course. You'd think that with all of my love for Gu, I would have remembered to bring some for my run. Unfortunately not. I thought the PB&H we'd eaten for breakfast would be plenty. I neglected to consider the 4.5 hours that would elapse between breakfast and my run, so that was a big mistake. Still, my run was lovely and I made good use of the Hampton Inn mints in the car to give me some fuel on the way back to the hotel. Speaking of which, the Hampton Inn was totally awesome. It was brand new, had a super breakfast bar, free fridge and microwave, wireless internet and a beautiful clean room and bathroom. And, it was very reasonably priced. Gotta love that.

After checking in at the volunteer station downtown, I took the trolley to the Battleship North Carolina park and situated myself for my shift. I kept using my phone to send updates on the race to Facebook. Natalie wanted to know if I had on a cute outfit.
Um, no. With the temperature falling into the mid-30s, I was rocking the rainbow layered look. Please note, however, the Moving Comfort thermal running shirt with thumb-holes and the Gu visor. Gotta rock the team colors!
I got to direct the bike traffic coming into the Battleship area (the finish of the bike) across Hwy 421. The New Haven Sheriff's Office folks directed the car traffic and I yelled my head off and waved my arms to tell the cyclists where to go. It was super-fun. The officers seemed relieved to have me there. Apparently, they needed someone with a big mouth! I had a good time talking with the officers, encouraging the bikers and yelling for the runners who were leaving the park and heading back in.
Here is Doug and his BT friend Mr.Tony as they came in after their first loop. They were moving!
Neal came by also and though he wasn't going as fast (his IT band had locked up), he was his usual smiling self. I ran with him a few hundred yards as he went back out for loop 2. Then, it got dark. I made another friend (Rebecca) who also had a 19 month old. She and her daughter were watching for Mr. Rebecca to come by. He was having a tough day because the swine flu had swept through their house the week before, but was determined to stick it out. It was so cool to see all of the runners come by and encourage them. As they came by for the final stretch, their strides eased and their limps went away (just like Forrest Gump's braces flew off in the movie) and they started to run gracefully for the final stretch to the finish line. It was so neat.
Doug came by right before 12 hours, just like he'd planned. I had put my backpack on so I could run in with him, but whew! He was still going really fast! He ran it in and finished at 12:01:40. This is rock-star pace for age group (not pro) triathletes. Way to go, Doug!
We got him dry clothes and some food and talked with some of the other BT folks and a nice lady who was waiting for her son to finish. Then, Neal came in and Bep, Doug and I ran in with him.
It was great. I really had a blast. Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach were totally fun and would be a great place to visit with the girls. The beach was lovely and I'd love to go back and tour the Battleship North Carolina.
Doug and I had planned to sign up for Ironman Florida 2010 on the way back to Atlanta. However, we stopped to eat early, so registration hadn't opened yet. So, we decided to wait until we got home. That proved to be a poor decision because IM Florida registration closed while we were still on GA 400. I wasn't too bummed because I knew that it would be a stretch for me to get in Ironman shape in 2010 and Florida is flat, which is hard for me. 2011 would be fine.
Then, we looked online and Ironman Louisville was still open. Sure, it's 2 months earlier, hot and hilly. We signed up anyway.
Ironman Lou, here comes team Bachman. August 29, 2010.