This past Sunday was the biggest race of the year for me IM AC 70.3. This race has been on the books for a very long time. In fact I just checked my email and I registered on October 27, 2015, so it’s been on the books for nearly a year. When I initially registered I also booked my hotel for the weekend which was Trump Taj Mahal….big mistake! This was before all the Donald Trump nonsense got underway. If I had known then what I know now I would have definitely booked somewhere else. I was looking for a replacement hotel for probably the past 3 months and everything was just so expensive! You would think for a town like Atlantic City the prices would be more reasonable, but nope. All the good hotels there were $350+ a night. So I ended up finding a really good deal at the Comfort Inn in Absecon, NJ. The hotel turned out to be pretty nice. Nice big rooms, friendly staff, and it was only about a 10-15 minute drive from the race site.
Pre-Race Athlete Check-in
We left New York at probably around 11am, and traffic was a bitch! We needed to get to AC by 2:00pm to make the last athlete briefing. The athlete village and transition area was at Bader Field. From what I’ve heard this is an old airport. It is a huge space with lots of room, so this was the perfect place to have the transition area. When we reached AC the briefing was already underway so we didn’t bother to stick around listening to it. There was this cool sand sculpture entering athlete village. Great place for a photo opp.
Athlete checking was quite different from Eagleman 70.3 last year. There was absolutely no security. I was waiting for someone, anyone to ask me for a form of ID, or my USAT card, but that never happened. The check-in process was completely lax which is very strange for such a large event. The bar was set very low for dishonest people who enjoy cheating at races. I didn’t take any pictures of this area. I think due to my total disappointment of it all, or maybe because I went through this whole process last year. My excitement level was just not that high.
The store to purchase gear was completely wiped out. I don’t know if they underestimated the number of people that would be purchasing gear, or if people just really went crazy because there was nothing left there that I would want to purchase. So we racked our bikes, and we got out of there.
At check-in, we were given a large swim bag, and a long sleeved Ironman 70.3 AC Race shirt. Both were very nice. The insulated water bottle was given post race, and the finisher glass was at our bikes in transition.
Last year we got to the race super early, and I was standing around for over 2hrs. I was not making that mistake this year. I woke up at 5:00am with a planned time to leave at 6:00am, to reach Bader Field by 6:15….that did not happen! Getting to the race was a complete shit show! First siri took us in the wrong direction. Then we get on the AC Expressway and the exit we need to get off is closed for the race! (guess I should have read the athlete guide!) Then when we finally get off the highway and turn onto the main AC strip it is a darn parking lot. I sat in traffic for maybe 5 minutes before I said F it and went around everyone. I know people were pissed but I didn’t care. You grow up in New York, you learn to drive like a New Yorker! So bogart the line I did. We managed to bypass all the traffic and make it to Bader Field with like 15 minutes to set up transition. I’m sure lots of people got there much later because traffic was just not moving. It took me maybe 10 minutes to set up. Thank goodness Lisa Laws was there because I deflated my tires the night before and they needed to be pumped. She took care of that for me…thank you Lisa!
I was a ball of nerves from the moment I woke up. I think it all just hit me at once. I was fine up until that point, but race morning had me a little shook. I walked down to the swim start with my teammates. We are all different ages, so we start at different times. Of course I’m always last to begin my swim. When I took this pic I was just trying to calm myself down because I didn’t want to mess up my favorite part of the race. The most important part is to get through the swim within the allotted time of 1:10minutes. Yes I knew I could do it, but you just never know what is going to happen when you get into the water. We had a small swim out to the start line. I breast stroked out. For some reason I just did not want to put my face in the water. This is TMI but here goes: I had to pee when I was setting up my transition area, but I refused to use the port-a-potty, so I knew I would be peeing in my wet suit! Now people pee in their wet suits all the time, and I always hear it warms you up and it is great. I’ve never done it because I always thought it was gross, but a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do, so I peed! I’m so glad I did because that released some of my nerves, and yes it was very nice and warm.
I wasn’t completely comfortable until about 10 minutes into the swim. I think I was good when I kicked that first person who tried to swim over me. A good kick to a rude swimmer will easily make them go around you instead of over you! I thought my swim went well. When I got out of the water I looked at my watch and saw 36:04 mins and I thought what the heck! I asked someone next to me what there time was and she said 37 mins. I told her something is not right here. Low and behold the swim course was cut short. Apparently there was an announcement about this, but I surely didn’t hear it, and I was standing by the start from the beginning.
As I am running out of the swim area, I unzip my wetsuit and pull it off my shoulders. As I’m running this guy yells “get on the ground” I think ok. He quickly rips my wetsuit off of me, and off I go. That was the fastest wetsuit stripping I’ve ever done! The blue wet looking thing in my hand is my wetsuit.
Official Swim Time: 36:35
T1: Swim-to-bike time: 04:23
Transition 1 was pretty uneventful. I threw my wetsuit down, put on my socks, put my bike shoes on, and then my wet hair kept dripping onto my face. I didn’t have a towel, but I saw one right next to my area. I picked that sucker up, and wiped off my face! (Sorry Amu!) I had some spray sun block. I sprayed it all over and when I got to my neck it burned like hell! I knew I had wetsuit rash and was mad that I didn’t lube my neck before putting my wetsuit on.
I threw my helmet on, and I was off!
I’ve been biking pretty well the last few weeks leading up to the race. I definitely think my new Flo Wheels have helped out tremendously. One I started the bike I was feeling great. I was holding a 19mph pace for miles at a time. Of course there were portions of a slower pace here and there, but for me I was flying! I even passed some people which was awesome, because at Eagleman every darn person and their mama passed me. It felt good to not be totally last. The first 29 miles of the bike was great. It lived up to its advertisement of flat and fast. I averaged over 17mph for this stretch. Now the back half of the bike was a totally different story. That flat and fast turned out to be a real bait and switch. There were a lot of inclines that just plateaued, so there was no down hill recovery. As you can see the first half did have inclines, but there were downhills to follow. The back half was just up, up, and away!
My speed slowed down drastically. I was probably in the 15mph range for most of the last 27 miles. Also, the men that started after me caught me on this stretch. It is to be expected because they are going 22+mph. Most of them had disc wheels on their bike, so I could hear them coming before they reached me. It almost sounded like a small car was approaching. It really got depressing when the 50+ women started passing me. I was pedaling as fast as I could but was getting no where! I hate cycling hills. Hate it with a passion! For the next tri season I definitely need to incorporate more hill work into my training. The bike portion ending by us re-entering the Atlantic City Expressway. This is when the wind kicked in. The other thing I hate when cycling is the wind! It wasn’t too bad, I’ve had worse, but it was enough to slow everyone down.
Coming back to Bader Field was great because the crowd was there again cheering everyone on. All I remember is riding as fast as I could because I knew I needed all the time I could get on the run. I knew before I got off the bike that it would not be pretty.
I get off my bike, and walk it into the transition area. I took my time because I knew my legs would feel like bricks. (the brick workouts that I skipped out on a lot in training!) I rack my bike, throw down my helmet, take off my bike shoes, put on my sneakers, grab my water bottle filled with my Infinit formula and I’m out of there!
Official Bike Time: 56 miles, 03:27:01, 16.23 mph
Now I have not been running well at all lately. I don’t know if was the long cycling on Saturday, then running on Sunday, but my runs have been the pits. As soon as I started running I knew it was going to be a long rest of the day. I took a sip of my Infinit and it was boiling hot! I knew that I would dump it as soon as I got the chance. Now the beginning of the run was totally awful. They had us doing laps in the lot. It must have been 2.5 miles of around and around. Once I got to the first aid station I emptied my bottle, asked the volunteers to fill it with water, I poured my Infinit powder in (I had it tucked in the back of my tri top), shook it up and took a few gulps. It was the most refreshing thing I ever tasted! I think it gave me a little boost, and I continued on with my shuffle.
We ran out of the field, and onto the street, and up to the boardwalk. Now I knew the race ended on the boardwalk, but I didn’t know 10 friggin miles of it was on the boardwalk. It was the never ending boardwalk from hell! Another good reason to read the athlete guide, or even the course description before signing up! Yes it was flat which is always good, but there was absolutely zero shade in sight. My tan is epic!
I did a whole lot more walking than running. That was fine with me because I knew I made pretty good time on the swim and bike, so I had some time to spare. Probably half way into the race my toes started killing me. They were just completely sore. That made even walking pretty painful. I did the best that I could, and did a slow jog when possible, and a fast walk the rest of the time.
There was one point of the run that we ran out onto this really long pier. I swear I contemplated jumping off to cool myself down, but thought hey, I may die if I jumped off this pier….I kept it moving!
Since the run was a loop I got to see my teammates over and over again. It was great, and not so great at the same time because I could see how they were gaining ground on me every-time we saw each other; which meant that I was moving extremely slow. Once one of my teammates caught up with me I thought OMG I must be moving at a snails pace! She passed me and I kept doing my own thing. Worrying about someone else was not going to make me move any faster. When I got closer to the finish there was a portion that was on the sand! Part of the sand was covered as you can see here. The black is some kind of mat that was laid on top of the sand. After that we were trekking through the sand a bit. This portion was a little treacherous because right after I believe we could see the finish line. Having to run past the finish line is like taking a knife to the heart. I could hear and see people finishing, and the excitement of the crowd is of epic proportion. I got through that section as fast as I could!
The turn around to head back to the finish line was at mile 11. Once I made the turn around I saw another teammate and thought how the heck did she catch me too!! I did my best to run a bit more so she did not completely leave me in her dust! (Hey Tinnette) As we approached the finishline I told her to go ahead. I wanted pics of only me coming through the finish!! LMAO!!
As I’m coming down the chute I see Coach Jax and give her a high five. It was so nice to see a friendly face at this point in the race. All I kept telling myself was run through this finish and be strong! It was great! The crowd was roaring. I see a camera and throw up my deuces. The finishline is in my sights…this thing is almost over!
Finally I crossed the finish and can breath a sigh of relief. I knew I did way better than last year just from the way I felt once I crossed. Last year I was just defeated and depleted of any energy. Yes I was hurting, but it wasn’t unbearable and I got it done! Post race everyone received an insulated water bottle. I would have preferred a finisher hat, but a water bottle it is….ehhhh There was even a food truck there giving out delicious fries, a tent with yummy pizza, grapes, soda, and something else I can’t remember.
Official Run Time: 13.1 miles – 03:14:51, 14:52 pace
Overall Race Time: 07:27:48
I have to say, I had a great time at this race. Although I didn’t like some portions of the course, I don’t think I’ll ever be fully satisfied with a race course. I just have to deal with the hand I’ve been dealt, and do the best that I can.
Would I recommend this race to others? The answer is yes. The company that put on this race, Delmo Sports did a great job. Everything was very organized, there was no point in the race that I felt lost on the course (it happens). The volunteers were amazing. Aid stations were plentiful, and the weather was great despite the sunburn! If you live within driving distance I would definitely recommend giving this race a shot, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Until next time!