Outer Banks Olympic Tri Race Report

Sep
2015
20

posted by on Race Report

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This Olympic distance triathlon, held Saturday September 12, was located in the Outer Banks (OBX) of NC, so we planned a bit of a weekend get-away associated with the race.  I took ½ day vacation from work on Friday and Tony and I hit the road around 1:00 on Friday afternoon.  The drive was a little over three hours, so not bad.  It was a pretty day.  Water from Bridge

A slight delay on the bride as a boat needed to pass through

A slight delay on the bride as a boat needed to pass through

We arrived  a bit after 4:00, which was good timing, considering the draw bridge delay. We drove to packet pick-up and walked around some to get my bearings.  Tony nor I had ever raced this event, so the logistics were unfamiliar.  One of the cool things about the venue is that it is located beside the local airport, which Tony really got a kick out of, since he is a private pilot. 

From my experience, most race directors will post/announce a preliminary water temperature a couple of days before the event.  There was one post on Facebook stating that the race was typically wetsuit legal, but they did not have plans to announce water temperature until race morning.  I thought it would be nearly impossible for it to be wetsuit legal, but I brought mine just in case.  At packet pick-up, I put my feet in the water and I thought it felt nice and warm (and I don’t like cold water).  Before we left, I asked what the water temperature was and the word was 74 degrees (which would be wetsuit legal).  I could not believe it!

After checking into the hotel we paired up with one of my training buds, Bill and his wife Paige who was at the same hotel.  We decided to grab dinner and three of the four of us got fish tacos which were delicious.  We did not stay up late knowing there was an early alarm on the horizon.

Race Tattoos

My first experience using the race tattoos

The drive to the race venue was about 30 minutes.  That should have given me enough time to get woken up and in race mode, but still being that early in the morning, it took even more time…which is normal.  We arrived with plenty of time to get transition set up and everything taken care of.  Once we arrived, we heard announcements that the water temperature was over 78 degrees and therefore not wetsuit legal.  I found the “change” in temperature from the day before to be quite interesting!  

Transition closed at 6:45.  There was also a half Iron distance race, which started at 7:00.  The first swim wave for the Olympic did not go off until 7:45, so we had lots of waiting.  Once again, there was several people racing from the Trilife store team, so most of us congregated and passed the time. 

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As we were waiting around, one of the things that was on my mind was the choppiness of the water.  It looked as if I had a challenging swim ahead of me.  I tried not to focus on this, but it was hard not to. 

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Concentrating on the game plan for my swim!

One thing I had realized about this swim is that I was going to experience something that was so very unusual and unlike anything I had ever experienced before.  From watching several swim waves start before me, what we were seeing from the shore is that the water was very shallow up until about the first sight buoy.  Because of these, the swimmers were walking!  WHAT?!?!  YEP!        

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Bill & I just before the start

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Getting race ready!

Swim2

Tony gave me some pointers on how best to navigate the swim

 Before I knew it, I was lining up as my swim start time was approaching.  I knew these conditions were not to my favor and even though I am not a quick swimmer, I can hold my own in the water and I could handle this!  This is what I told myself and all of this is true.

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All ready to go!

As we started, my wave of white caps (pretty ironic given the choppiness of the water) did what most that had proceeded us had done.  We began by walking and I figured I would do just that until it made sense to start swimming.  The group all pretty much stayed together.  It then occurred to me to check my Gamin so I would know (for fun) how long we actually walked.  So, just before I started swimming, I glanced down and it was just shy of 150 yards.  Craziness! 

As I tried to begin swimming, the conditions of the water were quickly realized.  Swimming out was a real challenge.  Swimming freestyle included salt water splashing into my face as I took a breath (both sides) and as I tried to sight, I could not see over the wave that was coming toward me.  I started doing the breast stroke (or my version of this) and I felt like I was in better shape to take this approach for a bit,  I was not swallowing water and since I could see the waves with my head up, I could navigate the choppiness better and make progress instead of the waves pushing me back.  I would resort back to freestyle now and again and truly felt like I was fighting a losing battle.  There was a girl in front of me trying her best to maintain freestyle but she certainly did not gain any distance on me.  I noticed a boat (after first smelling the fumes) approaching closer to the swimmers and it appeared to me that they were pulling a swimmer out of the water.     

Swim

A view of the first side of the swim course

 As I made it to the first turn buoy, I was feeling ok.  Progress was being made and I was not feeling defeated.  As I made the turn, I started back to freestyle.  At this point, it was better since we were swimming in a different direction.  I was not fighting the waves as bad, even though sighting was still hit or miss (sometimes I could spot the buoy and sometimes my glance would not allow me to see over the wave).  I would feel some relief for a bit and then the churn would hit again.  Head down and just swim…this is what I did.  As I hit the last sight buoy, I was getting excited that I was making my way to shore.  The turn at the buoy was a very sharp one to get in line and in the right direction.  It took me several glances to find my direction.  I continued on and even though the swim to shore felt like it was taking forever, I was feeling ok.  As I took some breaths to the right I saw at least one person stop to take a break with a kayak.  As I neared the shore, the shallowness was not as far out as with the start.  I swam fairly close to shore, before finding my feet and the slippery ground.  I was glad to be heading to T1.  This swim was certainly one that I will remember!

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Done with the swim!

The run to T1 was not too bad.  It was rather long, but mostly on grass, so no complaints there.  A lady had taped a large silk flower on her bike rack, which was the one beside mine, so it was super easy to find!  I had the spot on the end as well, so all good in T1. 

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T1

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Heading out on the bike

The road going out was covered with pot holes.  I knew this from driving in the day before.  Orange paint had been used to mark them and they did a thorough job, so the road was pretty much covered in orange markings!   I was anxious to make the left hand turn off this road…when this happened, I thought I would have relief.  Well, the road was rutted, so there were regular cadence of bumping for a while.  Not fun.  This section came up to the bridge that was a few miles long that crossed the water.  This had the only real hill on the course.  I felt the wind on the bridge for sure.  I tried to keep my MPH up, but I was definitely affected by the wind.  A short bit after coming off the bridge there was a right hand turn and that is where I felt some relief in the form of a tailwind.  YAY!  It helped me cruise a bit before a right bend in the road made it disappear.  It was an out and back course, and I was fortunate to see others that I knew…the half course covered the Olympic (plus some), so there were plenty of people to see.   Coming in was much of the same, but I did feel some favorability on the bridge this time which allowed me to enjoy the views more.  Very pretty!

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Done with the bike

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Headed into T2

Into T2 and got ready for the run. 

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Starting the run

I did not really know what to expect of the route/course, but I had read there was a good amount of shade.  As it started, the run went on a path that was a combination of grass, sand and gravel.  UGH!  I did not like this.  It seemed to go on and on…I wanted pavement!  It was about a mile of that uneven terrain.  I was relieved when we finally hit the road.  I could fall into a more regular pace and not worry as much about my footing.  Had not yet found the shade that was advertised and was starting to feel hot quickly.  The aide stations were very regular and I took advantage of drinking Gatorade and pouring the (cool) water over my head.  Walked just a bit at every station to grab cups and drink/pour.  As we approached the latter half of the out and back course, there was finally some shade therefore, some relief.  After the turn around, the run back in was pretty much the same…trying to hold pace and being smart at the aide stations.  There were times where I wanted to walk, but I only allowed myself to do this for a few seconds at the aide stations.  I began looking forward to the grassy section in some respect, because I knew that meant I was getting close, but dreaded the terrain all at the same time. 

As I was within the last mile, I saw three folks that I knew, Colin, Derek and Heather, that were just starting the run course for the half distance.  That gave me a boost as I knew they had a more difficult test in front of them and I was close to completing mine. 

Into the finish chute

Finish Line

As I ran down the finish chute I spotted Tony and Paige, both of which were behind their camera.  Yes!  I was done.  Tony quickly found me and a cold drink was first on the agenda.  Within a couple of minutes I located a few of the guys that had already finished and learned that we could check for our times on laptops provided.  Tony and I did just that and I learned (and was SHOCKED) to see that I was the first finisher in my age group of 40-44.   WOOHOO!!  Results

Race Results 2

After everyone had finished we took a few pics of the Olympic finishers and then waited around for awards. 

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Olympic Finishers

I could not pass up the chance to enjoy a “podium finish”! 

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First place age group!

Post-race, a group of us grabbed lunch which included my traditional celebratory milkshake. 

Milkshake

My sweet treat!

Early afternoon was not as nice as we had some rain move through, which interfered with plans for some beach time.  Later in the day we headed out to a beach house where much of our group was congregating for some indoor fun.  We had some celebratory beverages and some good laughs.  The evening ended with the four of us grabbing a nice seafood dinner.   

Sunday morning started with a nice stroll on the beach.  I just could not pass up the opportunity to begin the day with my feet in the sand and the smell of the salt air. 

Beach Walk

Breakfast followed complete with eggs and pancakes and then Tony and I hit to road to return to Raleigh.  It was a great weekend and I am very pleased overall with my race.  Even though there are times when I look back and think I could have done something different…maybe pushed a bit harder on the bike or the swim, I know that I put my whole heart into the race and I more than met my goal of going sub-3 hours with my 2:52:04 time.  Even though I didn’t prefer this course and probably would not race it again, I was successful and had a super fun weekend!         

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  1. Kelly Boylan

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