First, I just want to say thank you to the awesome staff at the Wilkesboro NC Hampton Inn. They were not only very gracious hosts, but they were also kind enough to offer early breakfast and late checkout on race day. What a deal!
Since the race started at 7 AM and was a 3 hour drive from my home in Fayetteville, I decided to drive out on Friday and rest at the Hampton Inn. This proved to be a good choice as I was able to keep my legs fresh (sort of) and relax the night before. I never sleep well knowing I have a long drive ahead of me and to be honest, I enjoy being alone in a hotel room. Nice and quiet…very relaxing.
When I woke around 5 AM, I had a bagel with PB, a banana, some milk, and some OJ. This is the latest I’d eaten pre-race, which would come back to bite me during the swim. I’d been drinking HEED and H20 most of the past few days and tried to stay hydrated for this International Distance race. I was a bit nervous, mostly because this venue reminded me of my times at the REV3. I didn’t want to bonk on race day and I was worried that maybe I’d overestimated my level of fitness.
I got to the race site at 6 AM and was pleased to be able to park right next to the transition area. This made setting up and closing down much easier! When I got there, I grabbed my packet, got marked, and started setting up my transition area. The fateful hill of pain was there staring me in the face, so I decided to take in on twice before the race got started.
I took a few minutes to run around, doing a mix of intervals and light jogging once I got up the hill. Next I rode my bike up the hill and down the street a bit to get the legs spinning, which felt pretty good. I made sure to leave my bike in the low ring ready to tackle the hill first thing.
I took my Hammer Gel shortly before the race and took 10 minutes to warm up in the lake, which felt like a bath. Overall, a very nice venue. The MO started and then the green cappers (Male 35 and under) got the gun 3 minutes afterwards. I tried to sprint from the outside in, but the field was very strong and I had a tough time breaking through. I got kicked and pulled more than I had in the past, but some part of me really enjoys that.
When I finally hit the first buoy, I felt exhausted and started having nightmares of not being able to finish. I know I can finish these races, but the competitive nature in me views doing poorly as “not finishing,” so I had to remind myself to stay calm and that the race just started. This 1500m swim felt like an eternity, but I finally came out of the water at around 37 minutes. I’m very upset with the time, but it seems about average for the distance when comparing it to my REV3 HIM time.
Transition went well and I was able to run up the hill and get on the bike. Their timing chips messed up and they didn’t get the times for T1 and T2, but what can you do? I made it up the hill, but my HR was sky high and I felt like I was going to puke. For most of the swim I felt the same…I could still taste my breakfast and was feeling a little bloated. I wanted so badly to quit during some of the first big hills, which is not my normal attitude. I don’t know why, but REV3 was really getting into my psyche, causing me to 2nd guess myself and my training.
I persisted though, and pushed as hard as I thought was necessary. My HR finally leveled out around mile 17 and I felt like I could finally push it a bit harder. I started dropping to the big ring as often as I could and tried to make up some ground. I had the BEP’s latest song in my head (can’t remember the name), so I started singing it out loud. I finally smiled again and could feel the heavy weight of the REV3 falling off my shoulders.
I finally came in at 1:38:20 and was quick to don my running shoes and hat. I made sure to memorize my rack placing so that I wouldn’t forget where it was coming out of the swim or off the bike. This proved to be a good move and definitely kept me in synch.
I started round the track toward the big hill and passed a few people right off the bat. I’m blessed to be able to run well off the bike and had no issues getting up to speed. I didn’t push as hard as I usually do for a sprint though because I wasn’t sure how much I’d have in the tank for the final stretch.
Once I got up the big hill, I basically sprinted to the first turnaround…trying to make a mental note of the people in front of me so I could tell who I was passing. The course was an out and back 2 loop course, which meant that people were running in all directions. I saw Carol during this part and wanted to get her back for passing me on the bike. During the first hill on the other side of the dam, I was exhausted. I tried to run the entire way, but decided to walk the 2nd half of it. I finally got Carol back at this point (you and your disc wheel!) and before I knew it I was thinking “I have to do this hill again!?” My 2nd lap went well though, and I sprinted to the finish after passing a dozen or more fellow runners. My run time for the 6.2 miles was 49:09, which isn’t bad, but isn’t as well as I wanted to do.
My total time was 3:04:45, which was good enough for 166th overall, 120th male, and 12th AG. Although I was disappointed with my plus 3 hour finish, looking forward I think I’ll be OK for Augusta.