Bri’s Duke 1/2 Ironman Race Report 2005

Let’s do it again!

So after last years attempt at the Duke Liver Center half ironman, I was pretty convinced I didn’t really want to do the long stuff. I managed to hurt my right quad bad enough that I wasn’t able to run for over a month. But, like any typical competitive person, I wanted another shot at the race. I knew I could do better. I planned on putting in better training and being more prepared for it the second time around.

My training leading up to the race went great. No hurricanes this season to mess up key weekends, good training partners, and a great schedule all helped me to get into solid shape. I was doing longer rides very comfortably. My run felt great. My swim was stronger. I was nervous (it is a long race – anything can happen!) but I was also looking forward to it.

Lets put those bikes back together

This year Marty and I decided to fly up to Raleigh as opposed to driving like last year. This saved us a ton of time and probably with gas right now, didn’t really cost much more. We got luckly at the airport and tipped the skycap $20 and he checked our bikes curbside. Sweet! Our flight got into Raleigh at 9:55 pm and my mom (who flew up earlier in the day) and my sister Shana, picked us up. We headed back to Shana’s townhouse and got a great night sleep.

Up the next morning and Marty and I decided to go ahead and get the chore over with – time to put our bikes back together. I’m pretty bad at mechanical issues on the bike, for example, it takes me no less than ˝ an hour to change a flat tire. But for some reason I’m a pro at getting my bike back together. I shouldn’t pat myself on the back too much because I don’t really think its that complicated. Anyways, no problems on my end, but Marty was having some major shifting issues he thought he could fix with superglue.

We hooked up with Marty’s pal Bill, and went to get our race packets and essentials items we would need for the race. $100 (!) later we were set.

We relaxed the rest of the afternoon, got all of our crap together for the morning and then had some pizza for dinner. It was at this point, after getting 4 bottles mixed with the right consistency of powders and water, all my gel packs together and all the clothes I needed that I realized this sport just has too much ‘stuff’ to worry about. Oh how I wished it was 5K road race.

Butt-crack O’Dawn

We had three alarms set for the morning at 4:15 and none of them went off. Very weird. Luckily, I happened to wake up just a couple of minutes later. We wanted to get to the site early so the bike mechanics could hopefully fix Marty’s bike. At the present time, he was only able to get into two gears. Not exactly ideal on this hilly course.

When we got to the site I noticed two things right away. There were bugs everywhere. Not biting bugs, but these little mothy bugs that are attracted to light. Since they had huge spotlights everywhere, the bugs were, consequently, everywhere. The other thing was the wind! Hurricane Ophelia, spinning off the coast, obviously want to make her presence known. It was also cool out (by my standards, anyways) and it felt great. I had a lot of extra time to wander around after I set my stuff up. We got to the site at 5:30 and my wave wasn’t going to go off until 7:25. It turned out I didn’t start until close to 8:00 as they were having trouble securing the buoys with the windy conditions.

The Swim: Big swells, with chop – are you sure we’re in a lake?

The water temperature was 81, so once again, it wasn’t wetsuit legal. Marty started off in the first wave and 25 minutes later I was off. Just like last year I couldn’t even see Marty close to shore before I went off – I guess it was going to be another long swim. I didn’t mind it being long except for the fact that I really wanted a faster time than last year. So the horn blows and I’m off! A few girls blasted out and I got into a good rhythm, cresting waves, riding down the backside and trying to site the buoys. It really felt like an ocean swim with the swell. Going out was pretty difficult but I really felt strong and was pulling hard. It wasn’t long before I was catching the 44 and over guys who started 5 minutes in front of my group. I got to the first turn buoy and caught my first green cap, who started 10 minutes in front of us. Obviously, swimming was not his strong suit. Nor was turning, because he wasn’t and I was on his outside. So I went ahead and cut to the buoy…little did I know that my next stroke was going to send my very sharp elbow right in to this poor guys face. My elbow hurt for a couple minutes after that so I can only imagine what his face felt like! I saw out of the corner of my eyes on one of my breaths him holding his face and treading water. I’m so sorry Mr. GreenCapMan.

The rest of the swim was uneventful, although it never calmed down chop-wise. I really did feel good out there. I got really close to shore and a volunteer was standing in the water yelling at us to stand up. I don’t like to stand very early; I would rather keep swimming but I felt the sharp rocks at my finger tips so I thought I should stand like she suggested. The sharp rocks were also slippery so right after I stood I promptly fell down. My first battle wound of the day – a nice burn/slash right below my knee. Up into transition where I took a quick pee break – while putting my cycling shoes on. Yup, I’m a multitasker.

The Bike: Ophelia decided to break wind all over

Onto the bike and I remembered the nutrition plan Marty and I went over. You immediately hit some rollers and that’s pretty much how it is the entire ride. It really is a great bike course and I was feeling good. My computer, which tends to be quite temperamental, was working so I was able to monitor my speed. Well, until around the 20 mile mark where it decided to pull a little attitude and stop computing. Whatever, I was pretty good at going by perceived exertion. I could here Kimberly’s voice in my head telling me to stay positive and I could hear Amy’s voice telling me to kill! kill! kill! And I was passing people! Women! Men! It didn’t matter – they were all getting reeled in. I felt like a cyclist! Some things that stick out to me from the bike course:

The last 10-15 miles were brutal. Total headwind in the face. I still managed to have a better bike split by 7 minutes from last year, and I really think I could taken another 5 off had it not been so windy out there. I was never so glad to see that 55 mile mark! Although, this course is actually 57 miles for some reason.

The Run: Repeating the same behavior and expecting different results is also the definition of insanity

A quick change of shoes in T2 (and another pee break, I know, gross) and I’m off on the run. Of course I was a little worried after my melt down last year but this year I was smarter. I had done the longs runs and I had gotten into good running shape. My plan was to start off conservatively, about 8 minute pace and then if I felt good towards the end I could always pick it up. So I go trotting off and hit the first mile with the massive uphill at around 7:50. The next mile I feel like I’m jogging and do it around 7:45. I felt fine, I felt easy. Stay relaxed, you can so do this, I told myself. I hit mile 5 and my right quad decides to say hello. Oh no you don’t. Run down the long downhill and hit the turnaround. I’m not even breathing hard, this is easy. I head back up the massive uphill and once again my quad is hurting. I keep pushing through it and decide to walk through the next aid station so I can take my Gu and chase it with enough water. I start running again when it flattens out and pick my pace back up. The next uphill kills again. So for the rest of the run I would run the flat sections (unfortunately, there weren’t many) and try to glide down the downhills so as not to hurt the quad anymore, and run as much as I could up the uphills. Honestly, if this hadn’t been a race I would’ve stopped – that’s how much my leg hurt. It was extremely frustrating as I still wasn’t even breathing that hard, it was just the stupid leg. When I hit the final flat section with a ˝ mile to go my quad was absolutely screaming at me. I crossed the finish and limped over to my sister and Marty. Unlike last year, I was able to formulate sentences and really felt okay cardio-wise. My leg just couldn’t hold up.

Post Race: I got an award this year

After the race I drank a lot of soda, ate some food, and got a massage. We hung out for the awards – I ended up 2nd in my age group and 7th overall. Not bad really. My time was 8 minutes faster than last year, so yes it was an improvement. I’m definitely a little bummed about my run. I know I’m capable of running faster than that. Maybe I’ll do a stand alone half marathon just to boost my confidence. I swore off the half ironman distance during the end of the run, but I’ve decided if do want to do another, I will pick one with a flatter run. Even after all the crap I drank I on the bike, even after all the Gu’s I swallowed (the new espresso flavor is very tasty), even after all the soda and food I ate post race, I lost 6 lbs. Probably a lot of water weight, but I definitely don’t recommend this diet!

After Marty and I got our awards, we went back to Bill’s house and cleaned up. We went back to my sister’s and where we barbequed and had some beer. Then to top off the night, Marty, Bill and I went to a local bar where the bartender was very enthusiastic to have a couple of guys he could talk politics with.

Butt-Crack O’Dawn, Again

Marty had the great idea to book our tickets for a 7 am flight so we could get back to Orlando and get into work right away on Monday morning! Fantastic idea! So we got up at 4:45 am and our very gracious host drove us to the airport. We made it back home and I took a quick nap before I went into work. Marty, interestingly enough, didn’t even go to work that day.

So that’s it. Thanks for reading.

Brianne Gaal