I don’t know what is worse in the world of triathlon, not meeting your own expectations, or not meeting the expectations of the people you know and train with and are friends with.
I signed up for Raleigh, being my first 70.3, and also my first time running anything over 6.2 miles. Well guess what, I only ran a little over 6.2 give or take a few miles during the race (more to come). My brother and the rest of the IRATES team lived in the Raleigh area so I was con’d into signing up. Leading up to the race I had some good training in the swim and the bike, my strengths, and runs as well, just not well enough I suppose.
Melinda shared the logistical aspects of the race well. For me, I don’t know what happened but my watch didn’t charge the night before the race, so dead on sight. Didn’t realize how much I rely on the watch during races. Ran into Lisa before the swim and she began the smack talk and reminded me multiple times she would catch me on the run. Swim was great, luke warm and wetsuit legal. Kept the pace back by quite a bit for me because I wanted to leave a little in the tank for later. Swim was choppy in the later waves around the first turn. The second turn to about 300 yards from exit was jammed with people. The long run to my bike was rough on the feet. Ended up 16th overall for division in swim.
Off on the bike. Nothing short of a lot of fun. It was hot, so I was glad that I had purchased the giro attack shield helmet as it was much cooler on the head. Took it easy for the first four miles and made the first downhill and dropped the hammer. Miles flew by. Said hello to Melinda as I went by on the bike, but she didn’t know who I was. My brother and his buddies had a 24 minute head start on the swim, made sure to smack them on the butt as I went by on the bike. 31st overall bike time. Without the watch I never knew how fast I was going so based on perceived exertion I didn’t go as hard as I wanted, but felt I did enough and saved a little to have some for the run. Really wish I had gone a little harder. The bike was amazing and only a handful of guys passed me on the bike. I have never done a race with so many spectators on the bike cheering along the route. So much music and funny signs throughout. One sign said, eat what you want you just burned a ton of calories. At traffic lights, people were cheering from their cars. People got out of their cars at the backups and watched and cheered. I heard at minimum four to five groups yell out come back again we love having you here.
T2 began my nightmare. I love getting to t2 and having nearly no bikes on racks. It’s a good feeling because you know you had a good swim and bike. I got off the bike fresh and began my run. Got into the run about a mile and a half and cramped up in my leg. Downhill from there, except the course was slightly uphill. At mile 5 it becomes rollers, I mean Gatorade Hill Mountains for the next 4-5 miles with a double loop. Demoralizing when I was told I had to do it twice. Walked the uphill and ran the downhill. Picked it up last three to a strong finish. Fan support was amazing throughout. I have to say I hate it when someone says you’re looking good or looking strong as you walk up a hill. Melinda blew by me at mile 4 and thankfully never saw Lisa, although I was looking over my shoulder a lot. The signs on the course were awesome, I think with all the walking I was able to really enjoy each and every one. One said, slap her for instant energy. Well that didn’t work. Another said Ironmen are sexy. Not when you’re walking and drooling, but thanks. One guy asked me, “Ben how are you feeling?” Very nice, but I wanted to punch him in the nuts. My favorite, the sign that said, 68.3. I wanted to see on my watch if it really was 68.3 but of course nothing. The 68.3 was the best because I was under the impression that I was actually at mile 69.5 and realized I still had a long way to go and just spent what little energy I had left on the downhill. I wanted to punch that person as well. The group sitting on the front stoop who offered me a beer, just plain awesome.
Finish was great. Kind of emotional. Finally finished. People asked if I was okay and I felt just fine. Looked down and my shoe was covered in blood. The physical would subside, but the mental would hurt for a while. I knew I had let myself down and most likely others. Sara will most definitely have something to say, although she really doesn’t count.
I have to thank some individuals as I appreciate all the help I get from them. Bram, enough said. Brian thank you for the swim skin. What will I take from this race? Well, I have a friend who writes a blog, maybe I should actually do as it says and follow the advice as they are pretty good. Run more. I am going to make sure my watch is charged correctly. Run more. Stick to racing aqua-velo. Screw running! I finished and I really don’t care what the time was. Ironman Raleigh was an awesome race and I can say I will do it again! Next up, IRONMAN FLORIDA.