You better lose yourself in the music, the moment
You own it, you better never let it go
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime yo
- Eminem, Lose Yourself
The music pumped as we stood on the beach, with 2 minutes to the swim start of the Beach2Battleship Full-distance Triathlon. I took it as a "sign" because Eminem's Lose Yourself is my "GO TO" song on my IPOD. Whenever I am struggling, this is the song that pulls me back and gets me moving.
That is the first time on Saturday that I knew - in my heart - that today was going to be a GREAT DAY and that this race was meant for me.
Jim and I got to Wilmington, NC after about a 6-hour drive and check into the race hotel, Hilton Riverside in downtown Wilmington. The hotel was the perfect location for us logistically. It was on the Run Course at Miles 3,10,16, & 23, it was the docking spot for Water Taxis to and from the Beach2Battleship Finish Line and it was less than 2 blocks from the tiny Convention Center where the Race Expo/Registration took place. Location, Location, Location - this was the place to be.
The View from the Hilton...
We check into our room, with a riverside view of the Cape Fear River and the USS Carolina (the "Battleship"), texted fellow friends and racers Linae, Shawn and TRI-DEAD friend/local triathlete Ron and decided to meet in the Hotel Lobby and go to get some dinner.
It was great to see Linae and Shawn, since Jim and I had not seen them since our wedding back in April. While I had never met Ron, in person, we were fellow triathletes so the common bond was already there. Being a local of Wilmington, Ron was the perfect host. Recommending a great local pub where we sat and enjoyed some pre-race pints and pub food and enjoyed the good company.
Enjoying Dinner and GREAT Friends...
Friday morning, again thanks to Ron, we headed out to Wrightsville Beach and the Blockade Runner Hotel - for the final brick workout before the race. We had a big SWIM group with Nancy, David, Ron, Linae and me. The water was chilly but warm compared to standing in the wind and 45F early morning temps. Again Ron had the inside scoop for us on how to navigate the swim at this point. Since this was the spot where the swim course turned in towards the marina for the last half mile, Ron gave us tips on where to sight (on the 18 Marker) and where to swim (STAY TO THE LEFT OF THE TURN BOAT) to catch the best incoming tidal current.
After a 15-minute SWIM in the 68F water, I jogged to the Element to transition for a 20- minute BIKE with Linae. We rode along the beginning of the BIKE COURSE to the end of the beach and back to the cars and then we transitioned again (put the BIKES back in the car) and grabbed Shawn and did a nice easy 15-minute run. That 1-hour BRICK spent with 3 of my closest TRIATHLON girlfriends (Linae, Shawn and Nancy) was exactly what I needed to get me in the right frame of mind for my second Ironman attempt.One last short PRE-Race BRICK...(Shawn, Travel Gnomes, Holly & Linae)Post-Brick, we all went our own ways - agreeing to catch up with each other whenever we could as we all went about registering and checking-in bikes. I was anxious to get back to the hotel because I was eagerly waiting the arrive of my sister's Heather and Cathy who were coming to both RACE (Heather, as a relay Marathon Runner with Ron) and CHEER with Jim (Cathy is an expert with the Cow Bell with her musical background...LOL). Timing couldn't have been better, just as I got out of the shower, my sisters were arriving at the hotel! They parked and got settled and about 11AM we headed over to the convention center to officially check-in and go to the Pre-Race Athlete Meeting.Sisters!! (Heather, Holly and Cathy)
The EXPO was pretty good for a smaller race venue and I had Jim purchase serveral Beach2Battleship items on my behalf (hoody sweatshirt, waterbottles and a visor). I refused to buy them myself because I was a little worried that I had "jinxed" myself at IM USA by purchasing stuff at the Expo before that race. It seems silly now but Jim understood my anxiety and was happy to indulge me and buy the items on my behalf.
As registered racers for the FULL the race packet included a nice B2B duffle bag, a custom chip strap, a poster, B2B socks and a B2B tech t-shirt in the race packet which was a nice change of pace from IM USA. Then we attended the Athlete Meeting and then Jim and I headed to IHOP for my last BIG MEAL of the day. I have learned over the year that for LONG RACES, I seem to do really well if I eat my last big meal at LUNCH the day before the race and for whatever the reason - Breakfast sits well with me. So I had 3 eggs, sunny-side up, bacon and 3 pancakes and a big glass of milk.
After "Breakfast for Lunch" Jim and I headed back to the hotel and it was time to pack my transitions bags and get them ready for drop-off at T1. I packed my bags as we all hung out in the hotel room and Ron stopped by to talk with Heather, since they were racing as a FULL-distance RELAY TEAM the next day. I set a goal of leaving for DROP-OFF no later than 4PM and at 4:05, we were heading to the Element to drive to T1.
T1 was quick and easy and located in Wrightsville Beach. We just had to rack my bike and hang my SWIM-to-BIKE bag and drop off my BIKE-to-RUN bag in the right number bin. T2 was actually located back in Wilmington at BATTLESHIP Park but the BIKE-to-RUN bags would be delivered for the athletes and hung on the racks.
I got another chance to see Linae and Shawn at T1 as they were racking their bikes and taking care of their transition bags. I gave Shawn a BIG HUG, as she was having a hard time in transition with a bike pump and feeling some pre-race anxiety for her first HALF IRONMAN race. Linae was the picture of calm, being an Ironman veteran and it was nice to draw off her relaxed vibes.
Being the adventuresome folks we are, Jim, Heather, Cathy and I took the LONG WAY - through the WOODS, around transition - trying to locate the SWIM FINISH and determine the path to transition. Much laughing and hilarity accompanied our trek to the dock where we stood marveling at the small dock where the athletes would have to climb ladders to exit the water on the way to T2. It was about this time that I really began to realize that I was less than 12 hours away from toeing the line at Ironman again and my nerves started kicking in.
Sunset on the dock of the SWIM exit...(Jim & Holly)
With the bike racked, my bags checked and my nerves beginning to crest - I decided that what I needed was not to go to dinner with my fellow TRI friends but to get some soup and chill quietly in the hotel with just my Sisters and Husband. So I sent TEXT messages to my TRI friends and we stopped at Panera for soup and then headed back to the hotel.
I sat and ate soup and packed my special needs bags and relaxed in the company of my sisters and husband. After my bags were packed and everything was layed out for the morning - I emailed a note to my Team Z-mates, racing at IMFL the next morning - wishing them LUCK and settled in to cat-nap for the next 6-hours. Waking every hour to check the watch to make sure I didn't miss my alarm - typical pre-race night sleep.