The inaugural Ironman Raleigh 70.3 is now in the history books. I was fortunate to take part in this historic first ever Ironman event in North Carolina. I registered as early as I could, and the event sold out quickly. While I had registered as an individual I chose to convert my entry and join a team. I learned of two sisters who had both registered as individuals, but then both suffered injuries which would prevent them from doing the whole course. Because the event was sold out, a new third person could not be added and they had to find someone who would convert. I couldn’t resist the urge to save the damsels in distress.
Through the wonder of technology, (and the internet) I was able to track the swim time almost instantly. Under 50 minutes and we were rocking! Now off to the bike. The split time would come at 26 miles.
My parents, excited to see me run my first official Ironman event, had come to watch. I made sure that they were in a good safe place and I went to T2. When I got there it was empty of any bikes.
At two hours and thirty three minutes into the race, I watched pro triathlete Greg Bennett dismount his bike and enter T2 in first place.
The Relay Teams had a special rack just beside the Run Out gate. I organized my little bag which held bananas, Gels, and enough Gatorade to make King Kong pee, and I chatted with the other Relay Teams. Two girls who all knew each other were on two different teams. A girl I went to high school with was waiting on her husband. A very tall dark headed kid who had already done the swim, was waiting on his father to come in on the bike and then the son would do the run. A man with a handlebar mustache waited on his friend. Time passed and someone checked the Ironman Raleigh Athlete tracker… One of their friends was doing 24mph and soon came and they swapped their timing chip and were off! Another person checked and their biker was doing 21mph and a little later they came in! The son and father switched and then Mr. Moustache came and went. Soooo…. That left a short woman dressed in blue and me. As we looked around, the entire transition area was full. There were no athletes in the transition area. None. Just bikes. Our conversation was about how we hopped nothing was wrong, and that no one had gotten hurt. Then her rider came and she was gone. That left me in T2 by myself. I asked an official when the transition area would be closing and he said 1:48pm because it had to do with the time of the last person out of the water. It was now 1:30…1:35…I was preparing myself for the disappointment of not being able to run, while also visualizing being compassionate toward someone who had not been able to ride the bike as well as she had hopped….1:40…1:45…1:46…1:47
She rounded the corner. I ran to her and said in as a controlled and nice of a manor as I could muster…”We have SECONDS left! Gimmie the thing!”
The crowd of blue shirted volunteers who I had chatted with all afternoon were screaming at me “Go! Hurry! Go! Go! Go!”
BEEEEP! BEEEEP! HOORAY! YEA! A cheer with raised hands and smiles went up from the blue shirted volunteers! The timing mat chimed me in and I was the last person out of Transition Area 2 for the 2013 Ironman Raleigh 70.3.
I knew the course, having ran it multiple times over the last few months. It was a steady uphill for just over 5 miles followed by some crazy short steep hills, and then a nice gradual downhill sprint to the Finish Line.
The outside temperature was around 87f. This is easily 15 degrees hotter than it was just two days ago, or all year for that matter. I knew my time would be affected by the heat. With the delay n starting the run, I was now running during the hottest part of the day frustrated, and my adrenaline was pumping by the gallon.
It took two miles to get my heart rate back down to where it needed to be. I had to stop and affix the timing chip to my ankle. It only took a second, but it took my momentum away. I calmed my racing mind and got back to my center.
The run up Hillsboro Street felt good, but hot. The hills roll up and up and up until you get to Meredith Collage. A blue shirt volunteer wearing a Viking helmet gave me a drink of ice water. I laughed about her Viking attire for the next two miles. On the back side of Meredith the hills become wickedly sharp and test anyone’s resolve to keep pace.
Once at the Art Museum, I was to do two laps to make up the last mile. The Art Museum has some rather odd sculptures in its yard, one looking like a persons rear end and legs made of stone, another looks like fried onion rings and a third looks remarkably like a big turd. Yes a turd. It could be a big brown corn cob, but it’s not. At this point on the course there were water sprayers misting water on you as you ran by. A little girl shot me with a Super Soaker full of ice water. It all felt great. Aid stations were handing out cups of ice and I took advantage by grabbing three and stacking them on top of each other. They were small cups but had quite a bit of ice in them.
On my second pass I saw a hawk on the big turd. Then I saw an athlete wearing a red tri top, step off the course just yards away from an aid station to sit on a bench by the rock booty/leg thing. He was so cooked he was choosing to sit instead of go to the aid station. His face was as red as his top. I veered into the grass and without loosing step said “Hey Ironman…” I held out one of the ice cups and he took it. “Thank you.“ he called but I didn’t stop. At the aid station I saw an EMT guy walking and I said “There’s a guy who may have heat stroke over on that bench” The EMT held up his hand and moved toward the guy’s direction.
I was off the nasty little sharp hills again. They are not long, the are just steep and enough to really mess with you. I shortened my stride, but kept running.
Viking Girl yelled at me when I passed back by her.
The rest of the run was gradually rolling downhill. My system was grab two ice waters, dump one on my head and sip the other until the next aid station. My time picked up. There were lots of people walking. I ran by them saying things like “You got this, Ironman” and “Leave it all out here” and “Come on, let’s go.”
The ice lowered my temperature and I felt great. My gait increased and I was within a mile of the Finish Line. The last half mile is a long strait street with the picturesque Capital Building behind you and the Finish Line ahead of you. There were thousands of people lining the street, thousands. All cheering and yelling. I zipped my top up, and pressed on. I could see a runner about 50 yards ahead of me. It was a woman. An elderly woman. She would enter the Finish Chute before me. I learned a long time ago, pay attention to who you are near at the Finish Line, they will be in your photo forever. I slowed my pace. The announcer called her name and said that she was 79 years old. How can you not respect that? 79 year old chic running an Ironman. That’s pretty bad ass. I slowed even more and pointed at her with a big grin. The crowd went wild for her. I had my moment in on the Finish Line and busted a Blazeman Roll across. The two sisters were there, we all got pictures, and our medals. Mom and Dad came and we all had a lovely little moment.
Ironman Raleigh 70.3 was fantastic. It was put on well, organized to perfection and brought off without a hitch. While I did not PR, I did help those two girls get their medals. I feel good about how I felt during the entire run and was in good enough sorts during most of my time on that course to give words of encouragement to others. I feel good that I was in the right place at the right time for the guy in red. On my run I was able to pass 142 people. I bettered our teams Finish by passing three of the other Relay Teams. I ranked in at 524th among the men. While it is not my best performance, I am glad to be able to have done it.
I am Ironman…and Batman.