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Beach 2 Battleship 140.6: The Swim Bike Mom Race Report

Beach 2 Battleship 140.6

Who:   Setup Events
When:  October 25, 2014
Where: Wilmington, NC
How Far:  2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile marathon
(also known as the IRON distance, but not a branded Ironman race)


The Long Road Down… er, Up… er, Over?

The Swim Bike Family hopped in the car on Thursday to head to Florence, South Carolina–our first stop on the way to Wilmington for the race. I was racing the 140.6, and the Expert was tackling the 70.3 on Saturday. Since we were traveling with the kids, we thought we’d drive 5 hours and stay the night.  Then get up and head to packet pick-up, bike check and the like on Friday–having only a short 2 hour drive that day.  Proved to be a very good plan.1B2B14 (53)

We are finally at the stage where driving in a car with the kids doesn’t require ice picks (for poking out our eyes).  The kids were super great on the ride, and way thrilled about the room at the Residence Inn once we arrived.

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A nice dinner at the local Outback, and we were in the bed by 9:30.  The Expert was fighting a nasty cold.  And while I was super sympathetic, I had been sympathetic from afar (e.g., do NOT touch me with your cooties before race day).

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My bestie racing pal, Yoda, was also racing the 140.6, so a few more texts with her, and it was lights out.

Expo and Packets and Bikes, Oh My

The Expert woke up looking like death warmed-over. I knew I still wasn’t in the clear. I just knew that he was going to give me his cooties on race day. I did some “circle circle dot dots” and hoped for the best.

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We headed over to the Wilmington Convention Center and picked up our packets. I started to get nervous about all the bags at this point. Iron distance races are synonymous with pack mules. Bags bags bags.

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For those of you who dont know, iron distance events require all these bags to be packed and turned in before the race.  You need T1 and T2 changing bags (many times you don’t want to wear one tri suit the entire race- you may want to change jerseys or shorts, etc., just for comfort or warmth—and to do that, you have to pack a bag that you pick up and take with you to the changing tent);  You may use “special needs” bags– the snacks and other fun things you might want at halfway between the bike and the run in order to re-stock your stash. Then there’s pre-race and post-race bags, if any.  So I began to fret about the bags, because we had to turn in our Bike to Run bag after check-in.

But I didn’t fret for long, because as we started going through the Expo, I noticed that the Expert was literally walking at the pace of a speed walker. Now, I know he does anything to avoid me spending money, but his expo pace was ridiculous.  I was getting pretty ticked off.

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We made it outside of the Expo, and I noticed that he was white as ghost.  Ohhhhhhhh.   He was feeling super bad, and is hypoglycemic from a starting point.  He muttered something and ran off to get a cookie from the Subway inside.  But not before I shouted, “Get me a snack too!” and the kids, “We want a snack toooooo, daddy!” [A Swim Bike Dad’s work is never done.]

Poor dude.  He started feeling a little better, and we drove across town to bike check.

[The Pre-Race Logistics of B2B]

This was not the easiest race to navigate in terms of logistics before the race. I was fretting over my athlete guide. Because I am a nerd. However, it turned out to be brilliant in the end. All worked out for the best, and I see how everything really did work smoothly on race day.

First, there are two transition locations.  Not a big deal, as long as you remember to pack your bags and pay attention the day before (read your athlete guide!!).

On Friday, we checked-in at the Convention Center and dropped off our T2 (bike to run) bags there. Bag drop-off is the same for the half and the full distance race.  For the full, you also have the option to drop your T1 bag and your special needs (bike and run) bags at the Convention Center.

I didn’t do that, because I like to soak and panic over my bags an extra day. Ha.

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After dropping T2 bag and checking in and validating timing chips, we then drove over to T1 (swim to bike transition) at Wrightsville Beach Town Hall (321 Causeway Drive – Wrightsville Beach) where we dropped off our bikes.  T1 is a drive – you cannot ride the bike there.  Well, you could, but you likely would not want to walk the 11 miles back.  This took about 30 minutes to get over to T1 from the Convention Center, so keep that in mind. It is across town, and the traffic was busy on a Friday.  We dropped our bikes at T1, and then headed to eat before going back to the host hotel, the Hilton (more on this below), which was about a block from the convention center.

You also have a point-to-point swim (the 140.6 starts further up the channel than the 70.3), which means just forget about having spectators at the swim start, unless they want to trek and drive all over to follow you.  My mother-in-law was there, as well as my dad and grandfather, and we suggested that they just catch us on the bike/run, and that worked out well.

Stay at the Hilton Wilmington Riverside, if you can, because it’s right in the middle of the mix. Great for the spectators too – they can snag a nap or a meal or a shower while you’re out there slugging through 140.6 miles. The Hilton is also next to the Convention Center (packet pick-up, T2), and the Finish Line, which is only a block away in the opposite direction from the Convention Center.  Plus, it was a comfy and nice hotel. Always a plus.

There are TWO bus trips on race morning for the athletes.  A bus takes half and iron athletes from the Hilton to T1, where you can drop off your water bottles and other bags (if you didn’t check the day before, like me). Then another bus takes iron distance athletes to the swim start—and a different series of buses shuttles the half athletes to the other swim start.  Because there’s no where to really drop your clothes at the swim start, B2B had a truck from the Salvation Army there to pick up the discarded clothes… which I thought was a super nice touch.

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I will admit that it sounds like a headache, but really, as long as you pay attention and read your race guide–the process goes very smoothly.

Did I mention that there really IS a battleship?

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On to the race report…

The Great Dunkin’ Donut Caper

What is a race report without donuts…

It’s true that I had about 10 wonderful training rides and runs during my peak weeks. I had some really solid training, and despite the foot-fall-down-the-stairs situation, I still managed to get my cycling and running up to 100+ milers and 17 miles, respectively.

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Now, it’s also true that on all 10 of these great workouts, that I had pre-fueled with Dunkin’ Donuts blueberry Munchkins. While I know that is food of the devil, I also know that I was on to something with the calorie content of precisely 10 munchkins before any long effort (700 calories). I have learned that the success of my workouts, especially the long ones, greatly depends on what I eat for breakfast. In training for Ironman Coeur d’Alene, I would have an awesome mix of rice or quinoa with almonds and raisins and honey and cream. I intended to do something equally as healthy this go-round… but the curse of the Munchkins took over. By the time I realized that I was an addict, it was too late to change my game plan for this race.

My point being: I had confirmed that Wilmington had a Dunkin before the race. But to be safe, I had a back-up plan with Entenmann’s.

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After bike check, I went in search of medicine for the Expert and Munchkins for myself. I found medicine for him.

But Dunkin’ was out of all Munchkins. The humanity. I pleaded with the Dunkin’ lady. There was nothing (and she looked at me very strangely from my desperation). She did, however, have two blueberry crumb doughnuts left. Hmmmmmm… two blueberry donuts might work as 10 Munchkins, if I broke them apart and closed my eyes.

I bought the two donuts, and headed back to the hotel with my loot, also knowing that I had Entenmann’s for the backup.  Whew. Crisis averted.

Race Morning

Luckily, I slept like a ton of bricks, which is very rare for me. I felt great when the alarm went off at 4:03, and thought, “Guess it’s race day.”

I had only done this distance once before, but the feeling was the same. More of an “Well, here we go.” Shorter distances have more of a buzz, a frenzy for me. But knowing just how loooooong of a day I had ahead, I did not feel much frenzy. Just a sense of, “I have a job to do, and I best get cracking.”

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The Expert woke up with me, but he was taking a later bus to his swim start, so he kind of stared at me with glazed-over eyes from the bed as I wandered around the room muttering to myself, braiding my hair (which is an ordeal itself) and eating donuts.

I put on my compression calf sleeves, my tri kit and my wooly clothes complete with beanie (it was chilly on race morning), gathered my T1 and special needs bags to drop off, along with my wetsuit, goggles and more… and I was out of the door. (Told ya. Pack mule.)

Saw Yoda at the bus, and she and I climbed on.  Then I started getting the jitters.

I pumped tires and added water/nutrition to my bike.  Dropped off my bags, turned on My Athlete Live tracking device in my T1 bag, and Yoda and I got in line for another bus.

As we were waiting in line, the bus ahead of us began to fill… and the driver asked a volunteer, “Where are we going again?”

Everyone suddenly was in NO hurry to get on THAT bus.  One of the athletes in the line said, “Oh, yeah? Back to the Expo? Yep, let’s go!”  We all cracked up, and wondered if THAT bus ever made it to the swim start. 🙂

The Swim

Lucky for us, our bus driver knew where we were going, and we got there in a few short minutes–with an hour to spare before the swim start.

This is the part where I started to get really jittery.

Tip for the swim start at B2B:  dress warmly with a jacket, pants, socks and shoes that you can toss to the Salvation Army. I had fleece pants, a long sleeve shirt, beanie, toe socks and flip-flops and I stayed nice and warm. Totally worth it.

Yoda and I plopped down on a curb, and I took my Dramamine.  This is a trick I learned during Ironman training last year. Really helps with sea sickness/nausea on the swim. You have to take it an hour before the event, so I popped the pill, and told Yoda, “Someone asked me, ‘Aren’t you afraid that Dramamine will make you sleepy’? And I said, ‘Better than puking!'”

Yoda and I went to the Porta Potties. We were in the line a while, when I started yawning uncontrollably. Drat! The Dramamine!  I was so tired all of the sudden.  Better wake up, mama, I said to myself.

I was in line behind one of the male pro athletes, who was about the size of my right leg. I helped him zip up his wetsuit, which was puzzling to me… because he was in line for the potty.  Why put your wetsuit on… just to take it off?  Then I heard him tell the guy in front of us… “I am standing in line for the body warmth.”

Oh. Well, here my brother… have some of my flubber and you wouldn’t have to worry about that!  🙂

Potties took forever. Forever.  Someone in front was obviously creating a poo poo masterpiece in his potty, and then the other potty in our line—well, I think someone died in there.  Our line stopped moving for a solid ten minutes.

By the time we were out of potties, Yoda and I had 15 minutes until the swim start.

Time to wetsuit up.

Actually, THIS was the part where I started to get really jittery.  I zipped up my wetsuit and I said, “Er mah gawd, this is happening.”  Yoda and another athlete looked at me like I was crazy.

“I ignore these things until they are happening. That way, I only have about ten or fifteen minutes to freak out,” I explained.  [Things Yoda already knew about me. But the stranger didn’t, so I had to explain my sudden ringing of hands and mutterings.]

We tossed our extra clothes in the Salvation Army drop-off, and wandered down to the swim start.

5 minutes. Oh my lawd.

I put in my right ear plug.  I find that ear plugs help with cold water, too.

2 minutes to go.

Then I hear the familar music from heaven. What was that? Was it an angel? An angel? It sounded like one. Oh that’s right… it was an angel! The Angel of Kick Ass!  Eminem!

Yoda had promised me an Eminem at the start.  And she was right.  I was ready.  Second ear plug in the ear.  Hug to Yoda. And just like that, we were off.

Yoda and I waded into the water, and I watched her wade…wade…wade… dolphin dive and attack.  Girl was off like a fish.  I said, outloud, “Oh!”  And I decided it was time to swim. Funny how these things work themselves out.

I didn’t notice the water being cold. I know it was, but I think because the outside air had been so chilly, the water felt fine.  But I did immediately notice the salt water.  Blech.

Stay on Yoda’s bubbles, I said to myself.   I stayed on her bubbles for about 100 meters and the girl was gone. Crap, I thought,  I am really on my own now.  (Like Yoda and I were going to hang out and drink tea or something.)

The mass start was great.  I loved the energy. Didn’t get banged around much at all.  Plus, the channel was wide enough that I think most everyone spread out and claimed her or her real estate.

Mentally, I dug in for the long haul.  I noticed the salty water as I took breaths.  It would trickle down my face and into my mouth, and I swore my tongue was swelling to the size of a trout.  Blech.

Sighting was difficult on this course, because I think there were only maybe four buoys.  Granted you are in a channel, so it kind of works itself out.  Too far left?  There’s the shore.  Too far right?  There’s the shore.

I did not really feel like the swim was going very fast, so that concerned me. I looked at my watch, and saw I had only been trucking along for thirty minutes. I wasn’t feeling awesome about doing another thirty to forty-five minutes, but I was in the water, so I had to keep on swimming. Kind of how that works.

At this point, some dude swam in front of me and elbowed me squarely in the nose, knocking my goggles to the side.  I screamed an expletive, and it must have been loud enough, because he stopped and said, “Oh, I’m sorry!”  I was like, “Dude!  Man! Hell! Oh, it’s okay.”   I mean, I expect an elbow at the swim start, but like out of the blue in a 5,000 foot wide channel? It was startling to say the least.  And it hurt, too.   I gathered my composure.

More salt water.  More salt water.  I was growing tired of the salt. I wanted a Diet Coke.

I sighted ahead and I saw a tall red flag thing, and saw people leaving the water.  I literally thought to myself, “What are those people  doing?”

Then it occurred to me… we are done!??!  What in the…

I glanced down at my watch as I scooted up the wooden ladder and onto the dock…. 50 minutes!??!  Holy guacamole.  Now THAT was a swim!

I got my wetsuit stripped off, ran through some warm fresh water showers, and padded my way to the bike transition.  It was a bit of a bare foot jog, but not too bad.

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Saw SBM friend Erin, who snagged this crazy picture of me.^^^

Out of the swim and into T1 in 54:27…


Grabbed my T1 bag and hustled into the changing tent, determined to make some swift transitions this race. The women’s tent was the closest tent, and the first thing I noticed as I walked towards the tent was a bare rear end.  Yep, that’s a lady’s bum hanging right out in the open, all “look at me”!

Mental note to self: change to the side of the tent, or someone will be looking at my Swim Bike Bum.

I went inside the tent and dumped out my bag on the grass.  For Ironman CDA last year, I had packed so much stuff that I was completely overwhelmed with what to do next.  This time, bare minimums—that made it much easier.

I did pack a hand towel which was nice to dry my feet and face.  Put on my tri kit top and long-sleeved bike jersey. Threw on cycling shorts and Queen lube (also good use of hand towel, FTW).  Took the time to put on my Ininji toe socks and a thicker pair of socks on top.  I have had trouble with my feet in recent races, and decided this would help with the foot chafing and warmth.  It was a good call, in hindsight. Helmet, shoes, my Athlete Live tracker on belt, and I was out of the tent.  Handed off my wetsuit in the bag to the volunteers, and ran off to find Andie (my bike).

There she was, in all her pink, cammo glory.  Time to go for a ‘lil ride, girl.

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Okay, there have been more flattering pictures in the history of the world. ^^^^  But at least I’m smiling.

Out of T1 in 9:35…

The Bike

Andie and I settled in pretty quickly on the bike.  One scary part of this course is riding over the first bridge. It’s a drawbridge and the metal grates were s-c-a-r-y to say the least .  The worst part was that I saw someone go down about 100 yards in front of me, as they went over the grates.  Not something that sits well as YOU are about to do the same deal.

I will note that the race director and athlete guide did an excellent job warning us about the grates–to keep the wheels straight and not brake–and I followed that (twice) and made it safely over.  Still… wish those grates didn’t exist.

Aside from a few bridges and very small inclines, the bike course is pretty flat. I wouldn’t call it pancake flat, though.  The bike and run course, total, had about 1,300 feet of elevation.  While that’s certainly not hilly–there’s no pancakes being made there either.

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Coach Brett set me at a specific wattage to run on the bike, and I was prepared to do that.

Until… I looked down at my Garmin after the swim. And it had finally pooped out on me.  My 310xt, at almost four years old, decided on that day to fog up inside the screen.  I could not see my power output, speed, time or anything—but the amazing thing? It was still recording it.  I have allllll my data from the race. Real data.  Hooray!

But during the race, I was kind of on my own with “feeling” out my power.  For the first 50 miles, I felt like I was screaming fast. I didn’t have my data, but I knew I was in the 17-18 miles an hour range.  The iron distance field was mostly boys, and I was riding along with most them, hardly getting passed, and pacing well. I felt good.

But then…

I love my QR bike. She’s a beauty. She’s fast.  She tears up a sprint and Oly course, and hell, even a half distance course. People who love their QR bikes, looooooove their QR bikes. And I totally understand.  But iron distance racing is like marriage–the “pretty” and “fast” starts to wear off after Mile 50, and you’re left with bare bones and it allllllll better be working well, or the sh*t starts to hit the fan.

From the start of our relationship, Andie and I have been wild. She has been more like a horse that I could not quite break. She has not be a super fit for me. For. Me.  I have had difficulty after difficulty finding comfort on her, even after three very solid fittings and dozens of tweakings from bar position to seat position and even down to the cycling shorts.

The classic case of “It’s not you, it’s me.”

And that’s how bikes are.  Certain bikes are better with certain people.  Just like certain people are better with certain people. From a starting point, I had Andy for 2012-2013 –my Blue Triad– which was such an amazing fit for me.  I just never quite gelled with this Andie, like I did with the original Andy.

My point being… by Mile 50 on the B2B flat, constant-pedaling course… Andie and I had broken up.  She and I were no longer even friends.  I was filing for divorce. We were done. It was like a beautiful relationship gone straight sour, right before our eyes.  Impeccable timing, you might say. Just when we needed each other the most, we both let each other down.  I should have been honest from the beginning that she and I were not the best lovers, that she would be better with someone else to love. It was a mess.  I was a martyr. She was stubborn…

And I felt like I was cracking.

Oh! The WIND was crazy too.  I felt like I had a headwind just beating me the entire ride. That’s a consideration for a flat course–the wind. I’m sure we had a tailwind at some point, but lawdy, didn’t feel like it.

Even still, my legs were fresh and my mind was strong.  But my back, my forearms and most of all, the Queen (saltwater swim, hello!), were screaming for mercy come Mile 60… and I had “only” 52 more miles to go.  The bike course was not brutal. My “situation” and impending divorce from Andie was.

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And I had to endure it. Like hanging out an event with your ex, and having to pretend you like them.

Because I was so uncomfortable, I dismounted the bike four times this race–that’s three times more than I had planned to do (and still far fewer times than I did in CDA). But I just needed a break from her, and I took them.

The aid stations were spaced out perfectly.  Nicely done, Setup Events.  Just when I needed to get off the horse, there you were–a shining beacon of an aid station.

By the time Mile 100 popped up on the course, I had slowed significantly. I am not sure what my pace was, but it had to be less than 15 miles an hour.

I slugged through the remainder of the bike, stretching out my quads and hammies and getting ready to run.

Another trip across some metal grates on a bridge, and it was the last 1/2 mile of the bike.

As I pedaled into the Convention Center transition area, I have never (and I mean, never) been so grateful to see the end of a bike leg.  Even with Couer d’Alene last year  being the badass bike course, for sure…this was brutal from a comfort-perspective. I felt like I had fought a war, and I was just excited to run.  I really, truly was.

I was off the bike in 6:49:08 (16.5 MPH).  Not too shabby considering the marital problems.

And because I always add a summary of what I eat on the course, more for giggles and horror than anything else:

Fuel and Shenanigans on the Bike:

3 bottles of concentrated Tailwind Nutrition, 6 scoops each bottle (1800 calories)
3-4 plain bottles of water (mixed with concentrated Tailwind in aero bottle over course of the ride)
2 Rice Krispies Treats  (180 calories)
1 banana (100 calories)
1 packet of Cheez-Its   (100 calories)
1 bagel  (200 calories)
3 Lemonade Huma Gels  (300 calories)
2 Klean Endurance Chewables
Klean Electrolytes
1 Aleve
1 Benedryl

Total Calories:  2680  (375 calories per hour = right on target)


Setting aside comfort and the poor, de-throned Queen, I felt great.  I had fueled well and hit my calories right on target.  I knew I had a marathon on deck, and I did not want to start the game empty.  With snacks galore, I was on the ball.  If I am a beast about anything, it’s snacks. I rule at snacks. I podium at snacking.

I changed into my tri shorts in the bathroom. A nice part of the B2B T2 is that it is inside the Convention Center, which means access to a REAL bathroom!  I washed my face, and it was divine.

Out of T2 in 8:17

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The Run

Ahhhh, the marathon. God love you.

B2B is a two loop run course.  And the “out” feels waaaaay further than the “back,” that is one thing of which I am certain.

This was only my second marathon, and I prefer to only do a marathon only in an iron distance race. I am not kidding. I seriously doubt you’ll ever see me do a marathon outside of an iron.  112 miles on the bike is my warm-up, people.

I jogged out of transition and saw my dad and Papooh (my grandfather).  “Hey Bear!” my dad shouted.  Yep, that’s my nickname.  (Face in hands.)

I looped out about 0.2 of a mile and headed right back past the Convention Center, seeing my Dad and Papooh again, as I went out for the first 13.1.  A short while later, there was the Expert, standing in some seriously salty-crusted shorts (he had just finished the half in 6:36!) with the Swim Bike Kids, my mother-in-law, Joan, and Aunt Julie.

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I stopped and gave stinky hugs all around.  The kids were glad to see me, and Stella wanted to know if she could run with me.   I said goodbye, and it was time to run.

Really don’t have a ton of memories of the run.  This is how it works for me.  I crawl deep into the pain cave, and I emerge at the finish line—a salty, sweaty disgusting mess of a person, who is happy and glad to find a beer.  This race, in particular, I felt myself go deep inside my own head.

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I ran. And I ran some more.

I stopped at the Porta Potties I think twice.  Toilet-papered off my salty face and rested for a minute. Not long. Just enough to stare at my face in the little mirror and say, “I’m smart enough and doggone it, people like me.” (Who thought of putting mirrors in Porta Potties? Well, thank you. It helped. 🙂 )

And before I knew it, I had more or less run 20 miles, the first 10 or so at a really great clip (for me).  I walked through some aid stations, visited the aforementioned potties, and even sat down on the bench with Papooh and Dad for a few minutes…. but I really did, more or less, run/jog/shuffle for 20 miles straight, pacing about 13:00-14:00 minute miles, if I could guess.   The first 10 miles were considerably faster, around 11:30-12:30 pacing.  I’m not one to negative split anything. I would hate to impress anyone, you know.

…So I was run/jogging/shuffling, but then I hit the wall.  Hard.  The back part of the run was pretty dark and lonely.

I was still further ahead than final finishers, so that was nice (for a change), but runners were passing me and it was getting sparce out there on the field.

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My toenails started moving a little, and my feet just bloody hurt.

Mosly, I was tired. One of the volunteers at the aid station said, “What can I get for you?” And I just replied, “A ride home.” And I didn’t crack a smile.  I was tired.  Just plain tired.

I did most of a slow walk and drag over the last 6.2 miles, but I just knew it was something I had to do.  So I did it.  A job to be done. A race to finish. A wall to climb. A box to check.

Oh, there was NO method to my madness on the run fuel.  I fueled well on the bike, so I just tried to grab a little something at each aid station.  Water and some snack (1/2 banana, orange slice, cookie, 1/4 bagel) of some sort every mile.  I estimate I probably did about 200-300 calories an hour on the run until the final hour, when I didn’t eat anything. I had a picnic-type spread of cookies, pretzels, salt, Huma Gels, coke, chicken broth and bagels.  I really can’t tell you exactly what, I’m sorry.  I do know that I was seriously digging the shortbread cookies though. Big fan. Dry and crusty and good dipped  in water.  Not kidding. 🙂

Before I knew it, I saw the sweet “Mile 25” sign… tried to run a little. Didn’t work out so well for me, so I just sped up the walking.

And just like that, it was the end of a marathon.

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The Expert handed over the kiddos to me at the start of the finish chute, and I started through the chute with the kids.

I looked up at the finish clock, and I saw the time:  14:59:23… and I told the munchkins, “We have to RUN, kids!”

Sub-15 hours! Run kiddos!  

We scurried through the finish at 14:59:38.

A sub-fifteen hour iron distance. 1:45:00 faster than Ironman Coeur d’Alene. That was what I really wanted… something sub-15. And that was accomplished. Just in the nick of time. Check.

And for me… this picture was worth the entire race:

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[Thank you, Heather, for capturing this photo]

Thoughts on Ironman vs. Non-Ironman Branded Race

Many of you wanted to hear my thoughts on this.  I have a ton of mixed emotions after experiencing B2B.

First, I absolutely loved this race.  The race swag was unprecedented.  I mean, check out the Trucker Hat that came in packet pick-up. Hello. Awesome.

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And the FINISHER pajamas!? And a super soft long-sleeved finisher tee??  And a five pound finishers’ medal??? (Beer not included…actually, it was at the finish. Just not THIS beer!).

But really, are you kidding me? Ironman would never give us pajamas.  First, and foremost, I loved B2B for the swag.

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Next, I loved this race for the ease of access.  The buses, the Convention Center, the Hotel… everything was easily accessible and awesome for those traveling with family and kiddos.

Also, I did not miss the large crowds that Ironman has.  This race course never felt crowded on the bike course or the swim. The Ironman bike courses can be insanely crowded. This never was.

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The volunteer stations were stocked and full of great volunteers. Food was equal, if not better than Ironman. Even the spectator support was great.  Spectator crowds might have been notably smaller, but I really didn’t miss it.  The way the run looped, it seemed that someone was always around the corner to cheer–even if it was fellow racers.

The only thing “lacking” (and I mean lacking in the proverbial sense) between this race and an “Ironman”?  Mike Reilly and the grand announcement at the end.  Really, that was it for me.  I didn’t need to hear “Meredith Atwood, You are an Ironman!” this time. I heard it last year, and I think maybe that is the difference in my opinion. I have to wonder if B2B was my first if I would have felt differently?  I don’t know. Knowing what I know now,  I really don’t think so. I loved this race. Truly did.  Ironman finish line does have a certain energy that tends to be large and loud.

*And since the pub of this report, someone pointed out that another big distinction… was being allowed to have my kiddos run the chute with me. Ironman races do not allow family members in the finishers’ chute.  True – that made it much more special for me as well.

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Debut of the new tri kit!

In considering a branded versus a non-branded race, especially one as well-run as B2B, I think the only question to ask yourself is how important is that M-dot piece to you? And how important are those words “You are an Ironman”?

And trust me, I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer to the questions. Afterall, I wanted nothing more than to be “Ironman” branded, so I went after it, and I was.  Now, being un-Ironman branded, I feel glad that went for this experience too–because it was amazing and equally as fulfilling.

Any other differences? Well, I can’t really distinguish. Setup Events put on as good, if not better, of an event as any Ironman or 70.3 I have attended.   And therefore, I highly, highly recommend this race.

Swim Bike Mom stamp of approval.

Official Results

Swim  TI Bike T2  Run  Total  Place AG Place Overall Women’s
54:27:00   9:35 6:49:08 8:17 6:58:13 14:59:38 22/27 109/135

The Expert and Yoda

I would say that the Expert will write a race report and tell you all about his race, BUT we are still waiting on his report from Florida’s 70.3 in April.  Soooooo…. in summary, he had a good race.  He said this race was, by far, his favorite 70.3.  With a wicked fast swim, a wicked fast bike, and then a flat run which he kind of dragged himself through due to his overall feeling sick.  Getting over the cold on 70.3 day is not the easiest way to do things, but he ended up with a 6:36 finish time, and was pleased.

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I was able to nab my beer this time! Nice sunburn and still in the tri kit too!^^^

And here’s where I give a little shoutout to Yoda, who finished in 12 hours and 32 minutes… and nabbed 47th overall women.  HELLO! Watch out Louisville.

In Closing of Another Giant Report

Thank you all again for sharing in the journey across another big ole finish line. A big thanks to the Expert and the kiddos for enduring me through another iron distance training cycle. I think we are all hitting our stride now, aren’t we? 🙂 Thanks to my dad, Papooh, Joan and Julie for coming out to cheer. Love ya’ll.

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And a huge thank you to Coach Brett Daniels for reading my text a few months ago (“I signed up for B2B. It’s in 18 weeks”), and agreeing to pull me across this finish line.  I could NOT have done it without you, Brett.  You really made it happen. Thank you.

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So the burning question?

Was the second iron distance just as sweet as the first?

I have to say, unequivocally, yes.  The accomplishment and effort and pain and crazy felt just the same to me.  The joy and sense of being alive was just AS complete. The first was magical, for certain.  But this second time around stood for something so much bigger to me.

Crossing that finish, kiddos in tow, said, “I am a triathlete. And I am a long-distance triathlete. I do this now. Four years ago, I did nothing.  And now, I do THIS.  I have done this distance before, I did it again today, and I will continue to live this way.”

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As I crossed the line, I didn’t think, “I will never do this again.”  Instead I thought, “I can’t wait to see what happens at Louisville next year.”

To me… that’s the real magic.

And that’s what I hope will keep me going, year after year.

Thank you all again.  #JustKeepMovingForward


  • Cassidy

    October 31, 2014 at 8:22 am

    Thanks for this race report! B2B was my first half several years ago, and I loved it. I’m thinking about making it my first full next year (I’ve never done a branded half or full, and frankly don’t care too- just my personal opinion). I’m currently trying to convince my husband that signing up now (practically half price!) isn’t insane.

  • Colleen

    October 31, 2014 at 8:24 am

    love this! wonderful!!! and i so want those pajamas! SetUp Events do such an amazing job at their races, that I’m not surprised you were happy about this one. Way to go Meredith! congratulations!

  • Ashley

    October 31, 2014 at 8:45 am

    Awesome job and awesome report!! I’ve read a lot of race reports lately on B2B because I have been thinking about doing one of the distances there. Yours is the first that really answered any of my questions! I’m thinking it’s definitely on the list for sure, just maybe not for my first 140.6. Congrats on your finish and good luck at Louisville next year 🙂

  • Annabelle

    October 31, 2014 at 8:50 am

    Congrats! I was totally waiting for this race report after (creepily? Is it creepy?) following your progress online. It was so exciting to see the times roll in and say ‘OMG she’s gonna crack 15 hours!’ (cue boyfriend looking at me like ‘what are you talking about?’). I’m so impressed with your composure and consistent gratitude for moments in which most people would cry/give up/never attempt. You’re an incredible person, and reading this blog is always a highlight in my week because it reminds me to focus on my own goals. 70.3 in 2015! That’t the plan. If I can be half as awesome as you during the race, I think I’ll be in good shape. You rocked it!

  • Laura

    October 31, 2014 at 9:33 am

    As always love the race report and awesome job on your sub 15 !! You keep me motivated and moving towards my first 70.3 & full !! Love ya ~~~

  • Jen Montano

    October 31, 2014 at 11:02 am

    Loved the race recap! My husband and did the full 2 years ago and the half this year with some friends. We were actually at the finish line and saw you finish! Very inspiring! Congrats on your sub 15 race!

  • Rebecca

    October 31, 2014 at 11:25 am

    Thank you, thank you for your inspiring report – happened to be timely for me today, but that’s a long boring story not fit for this comment space. I’m SO happy for your sub 15 hour time. I completed the Redman Tri in OK City in about 16:25 and hope my next one can have a 15 at the front of the time. The best part of your report for me (aside from the beautiful photo of your kids crossing the finish line with you – that made me flat out cry) are your words about how 4 years ago you did nothing, and now you do THIS. Inspirational. Beautiful. Perfect.

    Congratulations . . . and thanks!

  • Suzie Luthe

    October 31, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    I followed you that day with your “My Athlete” ap and I kept wondering what you were feeling and thinking during your swim, bike and run. So happy to read what was going on and through your head. You are so honest with your thoughts and feelings that it makes your journey such an inspiration for me and I’m sure to others. Congratulations on your 2nd 140.6!!

  • Kristen

    October 31, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience! I just wanted to say that I loved your answer to the “IM Brand or not to IM Brand” question. My first 140.6 was not IM (Vineman Full) and I LOVED it. So much that I went back and did it again the following year. However, this year I did an IM-branded 140.6 (Boulder) for the first time, and loved it just as much, but for different reasons. I think it’s so important to make sure people know: 140.6 is a long-ass way to move your body in one day, and having the IM stamp doesn’t make it more valid. (And yes, it was great to hear Mike Reilly – but it is great to reach that finish line regardless.) I love reading your blog and following you – and again, thanks so much for sharing your triathlon journey with all of us. Congrats on your sub-15 hour finish!

    • Jennifer Olszowy

      October 31, 2014 at 1:38 pm

      I am happy Mike said your name. I have a hard last name and Mike didn’t even try saying it, which made me mad. My poor family missed seeing me at the finish because they came to remind my of my time deadline(since it was a rolling start) and I picked up the pace quicker then my husband expected. What can you say? I like the smaller non-Ironman races events best.

  • Merideth

    October 31, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    Congrats! I love your perspective on racing and life. I did the B2B half last year and was down there cheering on many friends doing the half and full distances this year. It looked like a great day and I was jealous. I even saw you finish the race just before my friends came across! I did my first full IM in August, now thinking B2B full might need to be on the calendar for next year. Keep going! You are amazing. And dont worry, every girl named Merideth has been called Bear in her life time. 🙂

  • Lisa.serrano

    October 31, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    awesome informative race report… I definitely want to race this one in my future! Let me get past IMAZ first, then IM Victoria 70.3 in June and then hoping to decide if half or full for B2B. The only Ironman branded difference I think you missed is that you are not allowed to have family cross the finishline with you or they will disqualify you! I saw this happen at KONA!!! So happy you got the family photo at B2B!!

    • Lee

      October 31, 2014 at 5:23 pm

      More tears of pride for you, I’m seriously becoming a mess every time I read your posts – so honest and heartfelt. Congratulations on another iron distance finish, and what an achievement to come in under 15 hours. Keep it up Meredith, you are a fabulous writer and there are obviously so many people out there like myself who use you as our inspiration to get out and there and keep tri-ing! I don’t know you personally obviously but I am just so very proud of you xx

  • Sarah

    October 31, 2014 at 10:56 pm

    I’m so PROUD of you!!!! And yes, I’ve been on pins and needles just WAITING for this report. I was cheering you on from NM and I couldn’t wait to read how it went. WOW and congratulations for the hard earned sub 15…what an accomplishment and I had tears running down my face when I saw the pic of you and your babies crossing the line together. Made it all sweeter. Now, the burning question…. are you going shopping for a new Andie, Andy,,,Andee???? Sounds like that divorce is final 🙂

  • Kathy

    November 1, 2014 at 9:41 pm

    Probably don’t remember me but I shouted out to you on the course, I was the person race walking the marathon portion. You always gave me a smile and for a first timer it was nice to see you out there after following your blog. Thanks for your great reports!


    November 2, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    Congrats my friend! AWESOME way to capture your 2nd iron distance! So proud of you. On to Louisville and our synchronized swimming event – race strategy!!!

  • Kari

    November 2, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    You are simply amazing!!!! Congratulations. I hope to be there one day. Signed up for my first individual indoor Tri for February in Seattle. Completed my first 5K 2weeks ago. On my way!

  • Shad Watters

    November 3, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    Inspiring report, Meredith! I was really hoping to meet you out there, but I was encouraged doing my first HIM knowing that you were killing the full. It WAS a great race. In fact, I’m sitting here wearing my B2B PJs as I read and write. Great work!

  • Donna Jersey

    November 4, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    Also did B2B this year. Was my first iron distance race. I was the one in devil horns. 🙂
    Your report is so spot on. The bags, the logistics of dropping stuff off (I didn’t realize there was 2 transitions until Friday), no pancakes anywhere!, buses (thank goodness for cheap 24 hour parking in the lot across from the Hilton), divorcing bikes at mile 60 (those bumps!!), indoor bathrooms, crazy loops on the run…. the list goes on!
    I loved the live band at the amphitheater! What an experience to run through that park while Charlie Daniels rocked “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”.
    I’m not big on brands and I’m disappointed when people try to make me feel like my 140.6 miles is somehow less than their IM140.6. I say boo on them! But I’m also signed up for Louisville so I’ll be able to compare in a year. We actually have 40+ people coming down from NJ… Should be a good show!! 🙂

  • Amanda

    November 16, 2014 at 11:28 pm

    You are truly amazing. I’ve given up my Iron dream for various reasons. But I’m amazed at where you started and how far you have come. Your race reports are the best.

  • Alexis

    December 27, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    Congrats! How is this race for spectators? i.e. how did your husband and kids spend the day? I just did Mt. Tremblant and it was a great venue for them, lots to do.


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