I slept in (kind of – 7:30 is sleeping in to me these days) on Saturday while Marty got up much earlier to drive to Wrightsville Beach to swim in the Pier 2 Pier open water swim. I did consider going down with him and cheering him on but was pretty tired from the week and knew I would be much less stressed if I just stayed home and took care of some house things. Marty was back shortly after lunch and we left Cary around 2 pm. Our directions said it would take us 3hr49min to get to packet pickup and halfway through our drive I read on the race information sheet that packet pickup was only until 6pm! Marty and I are kind of known for our directionally challenged abilities, but we made it there with plenty of time to spare. Pheww! Then it was off to unknown parts of Virginia Beach to meet up with one of Marty’s clients who had come to watch the race. Finding a restaurant, and more importantly safe parking, since our bikes and Marty’s surfboard were on the roof, proved to be quite difficult and I was inches away from having a complete meltdown. I held it together and after a nice dinner we finally made it to my sister’s house around 9pm!
We didn’t have to get up any earlier than we do for Master’s swim practice so that was nice. Heather had the coffee pot set for us and we were out the door earlier than planned – amazing! Heather and our nieces were going to head to the race a little later to cheer us on. Since we didn’t know the area and had heard parking was pretty much ‘at your own risk’ we just said forget it and parked in a $10 lot close to transition. It’s always fun to go to a new race out of the area because it’s a different experience and you don’t have any idea what the competition will be like. The only bummer is that since you don’t know anyone, there’s not all that fun chitchat before the race. The only person I knew was my other sister’s boyfriend Scott, and we had a nice chat in the port-o-potty line :) We got our stuff set up and did a very short jog as a warm-up. For some reason I was feeling stiff and tight but hoped once I got going I would be okay. Marty and I walked down the beach with our wetsuits (have I ever mentioned how much I LOVE wearing a wetsuit?! If not, I LOVE IT), and I marveled at how calm the water was! I really don’t know if I’ve ever done a race in the Atlantic that had ever been that calm before (we’ve done plenty of Atlantic swims in the Florida races). The water was not very cold at all, and it was HOT outside so we were both roasting once we got our wetsuits on. We did a short warm-up swim and then got lined up on the beach for the start. The announcer said we had 5 min to go, but just a short while later the horn blew. Right when they blew the horn, a couple of lifeguards were walking right in front of us, so this was a bit messy as we ran straight for them and I got tangled up with one of them who fell. Once I got into the water I felt like I was in the middle of a mosh pit and could barely get my stroke going at all. For the first time I was dunked and actually held under! That was a bit scary but I can hold my breath for a pretty long time so I didn’t panic or anything. I finally got to the buoy and only got punched or kicked a dozen or so more times (!) Once around the buoy I swam right by at least 5 people, if not more. What in the world is the point of going completely anaerobic at the start of the swim? Why do people insist on sprinting like mad and causing lots of chaos when they so clearly can’t hold near that pace? I really wish I could sprint faster and get out of the mayhem but the fact is, I can’t. Sigh. After that mess, I was all by myself in the calm ocean. After awhile I could see a small group ahead of me and tried to push harder to see if I could bridge up. I finally did for the last few hundred yards and got to benefit from a bit of draft, as short as it was.
I had asked my sister to do two things for me – 1. Tell me what place I was in when I got out of the swim, and 2. Give me time splits to the people ahead of me off the bike. As I ran out of the water she yelled “You’re 2nd! First is right there!” pointing at the girl who was just a few paces ahead of me. Talk about surprised! I couldn’t believe I was this far up! She also admitted to me later that SHE couldn’t believe how early I came out of the water. Once on the bike I caught the first place girl after a few miles. The rest of the bike was uneventful – it was just a flat, out and back course. At the turnaround I saw there were several ladies not too far behind. Towards the end of the bike I backed off so I could spin my legs and two women came by me. I ended up getting off the bike in 3rd right behind them – but not without hearing my sister yell, “Brianne! 1st is 4 seconds ahead and 2nd is 2 seconds ahead!!” I had to laugh because of course I knew where I stood since they were right ahead of me; she sure does take directions well! I had a quick transition and ran out just behind 1st place – she was moving! I thought we might have a quite a battle and I pushed it hard to see if she would go with me. After awhile I couldn’t hear her breathing behind me anymore so I knew I must’ve put some time on her, but never looked back. I concentrated on catching as many men ahead of me as possible. The Virginia Beach ‘boardwalk’ would be more aptly named ‘cementwalk’. It was pretty brutal out there with the temps and humidity way high and no shade whatsoever (and it also produced some suspiciously slow run times). I put my head down and tried not to think too much. At the turnaround I saw I had a pretty comfortable lead and was still feeling decent which was good. I got to the finish line still in first place, although they either didn’t realize it or I look like a boy because I don’t think they said my name until much later after I was walking out of the chute. Oh well, I realize that most of the focus is typically on the men’s race.
Afterwards, we all spent some time in the ocean before my sister and nieces left to go home. I packed up my stuff and made my way over to the awards ceremony which was at an outdoor restaurant – they had tons of food and beer for the athletes – so neat! And it’s always fun to pocket a bit of money for the hard work :) And yes, I have to mention that Marty beat me quite soundly. I had actually predicted he would beat me by about 3 minutes, and he beat me by 3:33, so I wasn’t too far off. Of course, he SHOULD beat me! The fact that I got him at Lake Logan just shows how badly he wasn’t training earlier. A few weeks of training under him and he’s right there duking it out with the leaders again. Great job, Marty!
Here's Scott, me and my niece Haileigh post race: