Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Beach 2 Battleship - the run...
When we last saw CR, he was standing at the bike finish with his neck craned to the right anxiously awaiting my arrival. Since he had not seen me coming in, I snuck up on him as I was leaving for the run. We chatted for a quick second and took a picture or two. I told him I would be back in a couple of hours and headed off.
The run course was two 13.1 mile loops. I LOVE looped courses. Mentally, it makes it easier to break up the length of the race into smaller portions. You know what to expect. We all know my love for the 5 mile loop around Stone Mountain.
You might think that since the bike course is flat that the run would be as well. You would be wrong. There were plenty of flat sections but there were also quite a few hills here and there. Two of the hills are drawbridges. I am not talking tiny little drawbridges either. These bridges were no joke especially with that 20+ mph wind.
After seeing CR, I headed off on the run. Within the first mile, you hit the largest bridge. The wind was howling; I had to hold on to my hat to keep it from blowing off. I made the executive decision to walk up the bridge. Once I reached the top of the bridge, I went flying down the other side then shortly thereafter started the ascent up the next bridge. After the bridges, I made the turn into the riverfront area of Wilmington. There were crowds of spectators and volunteers cheering and yelling out my name as I passed. Around mile 5, there was a train headed towards the crossing, the gates came down and the volunteers were trying to stop the runners. The train was far enough away that a few of us shot across the tracks to avoid stopping.
At mile 6.5 I crossed the first timing mat and headed back to the bridge. This time I was not so lucky with the train. It was making its way across the track and I stood there and watched it go along with 20 or 30 other runners. I couldn’t help but wonder if this was a second train coming through or the same train I narrowly missed on the way out. I stood there for about 5 minutes waiting on the train. I have heard reports that it was 10 minutes if you were unlucky enough to get stopped by it at the beginning.
After the train I continued on. My method was to run a mile, walk 60 seconds, and take a GU gel every 4 miles. After the issues at Augusta I was scared to try anything new; however, I did go for some chicken broth and Pepsi a few times. The sun was setting and it was getting colder. I couldn’t wait to get to the battleship and to special needs so I could put on a long sleeved shirt. I tend to get hotter than most when I run so had opted for knee pants and a tank in the beginning. Not a bad choice but was looking forward to some extra coverage towards the end of the first loop. I grabbed a tub of Pringles out of my bag, stopped to give CR the rest of my chips and headed out for the final lap.
I was still feeling surprisingly good at this point. Honestly, I was shocked. We have all read the blogs and heard the stories. This distance can be brutal. I could not believe I was feeling so good. I just kept doing what I was doing and counted down the miles. At one of the aid stations, I was given a glow necklace so I could be seen in the dark. I also had a little clip light on my hat to light up the road in places where it was dark. It was hard to see other runners coming towards you even with the glow lights. I was glad I had my extra light.
I crossed the train tracks (no train this time) and headed to the turn around at mile 6.5. My legs were getting tired but I was still maintaining a good pace. Several of the spectators even commented on how my pace looked good as I went by (of course, they probably say that to every one…) :) I made the turn at 6.5 and thought “this is it, I am headed to the finish line”. Along the way, I would chat with runners on their final loop and shout words of encouragement to those that passed in the opposite direction. I met a lot of first timers, a couple who were doing their 9th IM race together and a few people hobbling in along the way.
In the last half mile, one of the guys I had talked to at mile 21 or so ran up behind me and said “come on, let’s finish this strong”. I told him to go on so he could have his moment on his own and watched him round the corner into the finisher’s chute. I took a right turn by special needs and there was about a 50 yard chute to run before you turn into the finish line area. I had the chute all to myself and the volunteers and spectators were cheering me on. The announcer at the corner starting calling out “40 yards to go” and “one more turn”. As I turned into the final chute to the finish the crowd went insane as they announced my name and I ran with my arms waving in the air from the start of that stretch to the finish.
I looked over to the left and caught a glimpse of CR ringing the cowbell with all his heart. I didn’t see the time as I crossed so didn’t find out my time until later. As I crossed I was given a medal and wrapped in a heat sheet. It was as if I had a personal concierge there at the finish. They asked me what size shirt I wanted and showed me where the warming tents and food were and then gave me a bottle of water. I kept looking around to where I had seen CR last and a volunteer asked me if I was OK. I said I was just looking for my husband. I turned around and there he was smiling from ear to ear!
I cannot express to you how much I loved this race! The organization was top notch. All my changing bags were magically grouped together at the end when I went to pick them up. The volunteers were ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE. These were no ordinary volunteers. Every single volunteer I passed along the way was cheering for me as if they were my own personal cheerleader. These volunteers were like nothing I have ever seen before. Truly outstanding. They were scattered throughout the course which helped because it gave you very few stretches where you could get bored. You were either making turns on the course or coming up on an aid station. There was enough distraction to keep you motivated.
It was all very surreal (and still is to some extent). For me, it was one of those things that I really thought I would never be capable of doing. I am middle of the pack Jane, iron distances are for hard core people, right? If I can do it ANYONE can. I wasn’t an athlete in school. I just started to run 5ks a few years ago. You all know my struggles with biking. Yeah, training is hard and time consuming. The last month of training will test your mental toughness. You get to the point where you can’t imagine logging one more mile but somehow you persevere and you get it done. In the end you are glad you did because you accomplished something you never thought possible.
Run time: 4:55:58
I would highly recommend Beach2Battleship if you are thinking of dipping your toe into the iron water. The race set up was well organized, the course was great. The volunteers were beyond enthusiastic and helpful. Every single volunteer I passed along the way was cheering for the racers. You will not be disappointed!