Owl pajamas, candy corn, a beautiful day – Beach2Battleship 2013
10 November, 2013
This is (in part) a “race report.” From my experience at the Beach2Battleship 2013 Iron Distance Triathlon on Saturday, October 26, 2013, in Wilmington, NC. I don’t “race” in the conventional sense so this is not a race report in the conventional sense. My goal is to enjoy the experience (“Have a good time”) and get the most out of my day. Which I very reliably have every time I’ve completed Beach2Battleship – 2013 was my sixth in as many years. And I had a great time. Slow, but great.
My “run” in 2013 was a whopping 37 minutes (!) faster than 2012. My swim and bike were nearly 20 minutes slower each and when you add slower transitions, I only broke the 16 hour barrier by 2 minutes. A long day! But as always a joyful one.
Evelyn and I got to Wilmington on Friday (October 25) and went out for dinner at Rx Restaurant & Bar in downtown Wilmington. Rx is just across the Cape Fear River from the USS North Carolina Battleship – where the race gets ½ of its name. Our pre-race dinner was delightful. Not least because of a gracious couple and their young daughter who sat just across from us. The daughter was out late (perhaps she was five years old) and she was wearing owl pajamas. If you have pre-race anxiety (I have pre-race anxiety) or any other anxiety-variety, a well-mannered little girl in owl pajamas is the perfect antidote. Who even knew? Seriously, look at these things, could you imagine looking at them and feeling anxious? Seriously, no way, check this out:
Ev and I got up at 4:00 the next morning to race; we stayed at the Holiday Inn Express and were just ten minutes from the swim start. I went through all my pre-race anxiety reduction rituals which were as ineffective as they are every year. Some people may be better at this than me, but the only thing that reduces my anxiety is having the race finally start. It was clear and beautiful out which means cold, but it was a nice swim. The current wasn’t as helpful this year as it’s been some years and I swam an uninspired 1:20. But it was a pretty morning and I enjoyed starting my day in the ocean – it honestly is a great pleasure. I’d like to do it more often. Ev wasn’t out there – it’s pretty far out – and there are no pictures. Plus the race began at 7:30, 4 minutes after sunrise, so it was mighty dark. And did I say cold? Oy. 35º was the low temperature in Wilmington that day. And we swam in the ocean. What we were thinking I have no idea. The water was close to 70º though so it wasn’t awful once you got moving. The current was bland and it wasn’t my slowest swim ever, but it wasn’t great. I finished my swim in under an hour for four of my first five races at B2B so I was a little discouraged to get out of the water in 1:20. But it’s always nice to finish a segment.
Getting out and getting on the bike was cold but it didn’t feel bad because it was sunny. I was fooled by the lovely day and didn’t notice the gentle but persistent breeze. If you ride long distance a lot, wind like that is no big deal for an hour or two, maybe not even three or four. My ride took 7:14 (!) so the novelty had worn off long ago by the time I racked my bike in T2.
Being worn down physically that way wears you down as much – or more – mentally and I was in uncharacteristically low spirits when I began my “run.” But I was very characteristically checking on (not to say obsessed with) my time for the first mile. And extrapolating it over 26.2 miles, trust me, this is what obsessive people do. And balancing the way I was feeling against my time per mile and the distance remaining, a reasonable run time began to look achievable. So about nine and a half hours into the race, I began to feel better. I came to the first aid station, which was stocked with everything excellent, I looked down, there’s a row of little paper cups – this was five days before Halloween – filled with:
When there are no pleasant dining companions wearing owl pajamas in a fancy restaurant, little medicine cups filled with candy corn are… just what the doctor ordered! So fun. Anyway, I cruised along (I use that term loosely) for 6:45 (yes, that does mean I was “running” for six hours and 45 minutes) and crossed the finish line in 15:58. Fifteen hours, fifty-eight minutes. And glad to be done!
Sixteen hours-ish is slow. Believe me it’s slow, they’ll kick you off the course at seventeen hours, and the winner finished in 9:04. This year was my eleventh 140.6 mile triathlon in eleven years and I’ve never finished faster than fourteen hours. So I am clearly not in it for anything other than the experience. But the experience of spending the day outdoors with hundreds of like-minded healthy people, of moving non-stop under your own power for 140.6 miles is second to none. In my life, it’s not often that I feel more alive than I do during a long triathlon.
It’s still sublime to go back to the hotel and jump in the shower and collapse in the bed for the usual jagged post-race sleep. I should go to the post race brunch some year but I think as long as I race in Wilmington, I won’t. Because for all six years I’ve completed B2B, I’ve gone to brunch the following morning at Boca Bay in Wilmington and it is out of this world, every year. Go there next time you’re in Wilmington – I mean it. Except for this race and all the amazing people, Boca Bay is my favorite thing about Wilmington. There is, naturally, a caveat – the day before eating there I have burned, estimating conservatively, 10,000 calories. So of course it tastes great. But I know I’d enjoy Boca Bay any time – it’s a great restaurant.
I’m always happy to get home and resume my “normal” life – my favorite thing this time of year is fires in my woodstove and my other favorite thing any time of year is hikes at Pony Pasture with Mackey and Turner. This was on the Tuesday we got back:
I took this damsel fly picture down there a couple of days later:
Today (November 10) this turtle was sunning itself at PP. The first real Canadian cold fronts of the season are coming down this week, these I’m thinking are the last turtles of 2013 up here (in central VA):
Part of what’s held me back on blogging (lots of things have held me back on blogging) is I haven’t gotten any pictures I really enjoy. But when we came off the river bank and up to the pasture this morning, this little beauty was perched in the sun:
The moon was lovely this afternoon around 4:15:
Same day, three hours later:
The light this time of year is wonderful: I took this picture of one of my neighbor’s trees from my driveway:
On these dry, clear days, high-flying jets leave crisp contrails. These two planes were nearly invisible to the naked eye. Their contrails were easy to see but the jets were just silvery dots. Here is a two engine jet zoomed in to 200x:
This is a four engine jet at the same time:
Enough for now. I hope to put up a new post quickly. Now that I’m relieved of the time constraints of swimming and biking and running every free moment. Have a great day,
What a great blog. BTW the bird is a goldfinch in winter plumage.
Thanks Marion! I was wondering about that bird. She’s very beautiful. That field is perfect cover for goldfinches but I hardly ever see any down there. Glad you liked the blog too. Thanks again and have a great day,
GREAT RACE REPORT! I loved reading it!
Good morning Andrew! And I’m glad you enjoyed my race report! It’s unusual for me to have the run be the high point of my race but there it was. What a spectacular day in Wilmington. Any race where you can make a 37 minute improvement in any split is great. And of course I had a GREAT time! Talk with you soon,
Whatever we do with zest and determination is a success story – Jay, you have had zillions over your many yrs – CONGRATULATIONS!!!! and welcome back to RVA!
funny, I photographed my neighbor’s tree from my driveway last week 🙂 lol – the sun was hitting the leaves just at the right angle to make it look like it was ablaze – so beautiful! LOVE THIS TIME OF YEAR! and as you said, can’t forget that wonderful woodstove! 🙂
have a great day & again CONGRATULATIONS on your great run!
And thanks for the note! I am certainly happy to be back on the river with these handsome dogs. And yes, this is a superb time of year, and that wonderful woodstove is about to work real hard! Which is the way I like it. Thank again for the note and have a great day,
Jay, Glad to meet you during the race.
I too just run to enjoy the vacation time. I have a 14 hour drive home Sunday and that’s the hard part of the weekend.
This was my 9th IM and the B2B is a top level race! (Just needs a little warmer weather for the bike)
My twins came with me this year and they loved the Water Front festival. They insisted we come back next year before they go off to college. So I’m signed up & hope to see you in 2014.
Hello Michael aka Enduradad!
Great to meet you during the race too, it’s always nice to put a face with a computer posting. I certainly agree with you about B2B being a top level race. I’ve done lots of IM’s but only on three different courses. It’s hard for me to imagine an experience being much greater than B2B. I’m glad your twins enjoyed it, Wilmington is so welcoming. Thanks again for the note and I hope to see you in 2014 too. Have a great day,
Thanks for the great recap, Jay. I did the half – it was my first race at that distance and I absolutely loved all 7 hours and 2 seconds of it (well except for the wind on the bike – it *did* get a bit old). I hoped to spot you during the race to tell you how much I enjoyed your past reports and how they helped me mentally prepare, but since I didn’t see you I’ll just say “thanks!” now.
I was in bed by 9:00 pm, but when I woke up about 11:30 pm my first thought was “wow – there are people still out there running” – that was right around the time you finished. 🙂 I’m seriously impressed by anyone who completes the full race.
And thanks for the note. I’m glad you enjoyed the half – B2B is a great race in a great venue. I would love to have seen you during the race – it was fun being out there. And I’m glad you enjoyed my past race reports! I always have such a nice time at B2B. I noticed you thought at 11:30 that “there are people still out there running.” The clock was still moving and I was still on the course – but “running” is an overly generous way of describing how I was moving! Congratulations on your finish and I hope to see you in 2014! Take it easy,
Hi Jay! I’m the little chinese girl who talked to you at the very beginning of the marathon! you passed me at about mile 20. I had read your precedent race report of B2B and I liked it so much that it was one of the reasons that makes me want to travel from Switzerland to do it this year! I loved this race and also had a very beautiful day… so thanks 🙂
And thank you for the note! I’m glad you made it all the way from Switzerland – it sounds like it live up to your expectations. I’m glad you loved the race and I’m glad you had a beautiful day – that makes two of us! I hope to see you again in 2014. B2B is always wonderful. Thank again for the note and have a great day,
Hi Jay –
Just happened across your B2B report while I was noodling around on the B2B forum. Anyone who can work owl pajamas and candy corn into a race report is my kind of triathlete. So many people get so whacked out over these events, and it’s always nice to encounter someone with what an old cycling friend refers to as the “proper world view.” Your attitude is really refreshing.
I did the half at B2B the first three years they held it. DIdn’t finish the third attempt, as Maxwell’s silver hammer came ringing down during the run. Turns out I had a whopper case of mono that picked race day to fully manifest itself. Never saw it coming. Some days you’re the bat; some days you’re the ball. I’ve had plenty of days when I was the bat, so quitting at the halfway point of the run was an easy call. Of course it was made easier by having every muscle below my waist simultaneously convulsing, but I’d like to think that I can take some credit for making some sort of reasonably infomed decision. My first year at B2B was also my very first triathlon (yeah, how stupid was THAT?) I’ve raced bikes and done marathons for a long time, and I thought to myself “how hard can this be?” Answer: “pretty damn hard.” The mono has drilled me ever since, but 2014 is the year of the comeback. I’ll be keeping an eye out for candy corn.
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