Monday, October 29, 2012

Beach 2 Battleship IM Race Report - Shawn Buddenhagen

Beach 2 Battleship Ironman - October 20, 2012 - Wilmington, NC
By: Shawn Buddenhagen
Overall Time 12:20.4

A race that in one day covers a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run. When you explain the race to friends and family, they look at you with bewilderment. At first you think to yourself, it is crazy as well. When I first started doing tris a few of years ago, I thought, " I would never do a full IM, that is crazy." Then in May, I completed a half IM, and the IM didn't seem as insane. I had a good base from the half, I was not injured, so I thought let's give it a shot. As my training progressed, those distances became less daunting, and more achievable. Perspective is everything.

The Summer of Training

My High Tech Training System
The journey of completing an IM is all about the training. There are many people who could physically finish an IM, but the training is what makes the selection.  After the Kinetic Half, I took it easy for a week, and started to work on my training plan. When you write out the plan it doesn't look like you will be training all the time, but you are. All together my plan was 16 weeks, and I managed 5 days completely off in that time period.

The majority of my training was done during the summer. This summer was brutally hot and humid. Many of my runs had to be done early in the morning, or much later in the evening, to avoid my brain being cooked in my skull. One Sunday morning I had a 14 miler planned. When I left the house at 6:15am it was already 86F, with 70% humidity. At mile 7 I stopped at a 7-11 for some fluids. As I stand at the counter completely soaked with sweat, the clerk says, "you must of had quite a workout". I replied, "I am half way done." The clerk then said "good luck with that, I hope you don't pass out." I think he had a valid point.
Chuck was my Wilson

Overall the training went well. At the end of August I pushed the build phase a week too long, and got over trained. I took it easy for a week, and I was back to making good progress. The last month of training was the most difficult for me. All of the training by myself was beginning to wear on me. It was getting especially boring on the bike. I have to thank Chuck for keeping me company on some of those final prep rides. I know I was talking his ears off. I felt like someone who had been stranded on a island for a few months alone, and finally had some company.

I feel very fortunate to not have had any significant injuries over the training. Don't get me wrong, I was sore the majority of the time. The preparation for the race was the heaviest volume of training I have ever done. I now have a new sense of the training load my body can handle.

Final Numbers - 16 week training plan
1942 - Miles Biked
467 - Miles Ran
65 - Swim sessions

My final 21 mile run. This guy followed me all day, and had the nerve to celebrate at the end.

Race Time

Most race reports begin this section with Loaded up the car, Drove X number of hours, Arrived at a certain time. I am now shortening it to LDA.

Best Western Coastline Inn
Once the family and I arrived in Wilmington is when the adventure started. For me the most challenging part of the race was the logistics the day before. I arrived at the Wilmington Convention Center, which is a fantastic building, around 1pm. I breezed through packet pickup, and wanted get my transition bags packed before the 2pm race meeting. My family graciously decided to do some exploring, while I got everything together. Putting together the transition bags was like packing to climb Everest. I met up with Mr. Wheeler from VB, and checked out the race info meeting. After the meeting, I head to T2 to chat with HML and then we checked into our hotel which was right next to the convention center. (nice planning on my part.)

Flat #1
So, at this point I think I am almost done with this check in process. All I have left to do is drive to T1 and drop off the bike. I plug the address into Siri, and she says it should take 18 minutes to get there, Wrong! It took an hour and half to get to T1. I am cool with the delay, it is a beautiful day, and we have the top off the Jeep. The bike gets unloaded, and we start to walk to T1, and BAM, my back tire blows out. I send the family on, and go back to the Jeep to fix the flat. I hastily fumble through the tire change, and pinch the extra tube in the process. Now I am on flat number two before the race has begun. I rolled over to the nuetral bike suppport angel, and asked for some help. He hooks me up with a new tube, and changes it for me. Bike support totally saved me. I only had one more tube left , and have suddenly lost the ability to change a tube. Finally three hours after leaving the hotel, I rack my bike. At this point everyone in my family is starving, so take off looking for some food.

Friday evening at T1

Race morning

The alarm was set for 4:15, but I woke up before. The night before, I had two dreams about missing the start of the race. Outwardly I was feeling calm, but I guess my subconcious thoughts were anxious. I took care of the fourth sport of triathalon, and met Larry at the Hilton around 5am. We jumped on the warm bus and headed to T1. I checked out the bike, got marked, and went another round with the fourth sport of triathlon. Larry and I boarded the trolly to the swim start. As we were driving to the start, I thought this is a long way to swim back. Larry and I had about an hour to kill before the start, so we pulled up some curb and chatted while the sun came up. At this point I thought I would be nervous or excited, but I was very calm and ready to enjoy the day. A few weeks out from the race a began to get anxious about enormity of the race. I made a promise to myself then to finish the race, and enjoy the day. Something clicked in my head, and I was completely confident in my ability to finish the race. The sun finally came up, we walked down to the beach ready to start the day.

Overall my race went very well, and completely as planned. As not to bore everyone and myself with a play by play recap, I will just offer some highlights from the day.

HML and I on the bus.
The Swim - :59.50

This was my first mass start swim, and I expected some contact. There were swimmers around me the entire course. I would get some clear water for a minute, and then I would see bubbles in front of me again. Overall it was not a problem, but I did have to slow down 5-6 times to get through traffic.

The morning was beautiful. The sun was coming up over the beach cottages on the right. As you would lift your arm out of the water, the droplets would catch the oragne and yellow light. The entire surface of the water was glowing green to yellow. The water was warm, and the tide was starting to push us toward the channel. I think I was having a Zen moment during the swim.

I made the turn at the bouy and headed toward the marina. The cuurent really started to pick up at this point. I flew by the channel marker before the marina at about 34 MPH. I swear it was 40 yards away, and I took 10 strokes, and was by it, amazing.

I went up the ladders, got stripped, and ran to T1. T1 was a time warp of naked humanity. I somehow took 9 mins in T1. I blame it on the smell and defending my personal space from encoarching body parts in the changing tent.

Mile 108
The Bike - 5:43

I had a target heart rate of 150 to keep throughout the day. I did a great job of sticking to the plan. Having a middle of the pack swim, meant plenty of people to pass on the bike. I must have passed 100 people and was passed only twice.

At mile 55 we turned into a head wind. I think I started to burn some extra energy at that point. Around mile 65, I started to feel the power fade some for awhile. I ate a Larabar, and mile 70 was an aid station. I stopped at the aid station, and filled up everything. Within a few miles I was feeling good again. Gels started to get old around mile 80, so I switched to fig newtons, and pretzels.

On the way out of town on the highway I started to sing to myself to get into a rhythm. I chose "Beastie Boys -Get it Together", as my song of choice. For those of you unfamiliar here is the youtube video.  I held the flow together until the big bridge at the end of the highway.

The last ten miles were a slightly more difficult. I think I was ready to get off the bike. The city had closed a lane of traffic for us going into town. The traffic was backed up for a few miles. As we cruised by the stopped cars, I felt bad for people in traffic, but most people were making the best of it, and cheering on the racers.  I rode over the death mat bridge, and into T2.

* One to grow on: I stopped twice during the bike at aid stations for a total of 8 minutes or so. Next time have a better nutrition plan, and save that time.

The Run - 5:20

The first couple of miles of the run were rough. I was behind on nutrition, and fluids. It took a couple miles to get my legs moving correctly. I hit the first aid station like it was the Old Country Buffet, eating and drinking everything in sight. I recommend the oranges and sugar cookie combo, it was delicious.  Finally my legs started working around mile two, and I was able to run most of the first lap.

The run course was very scenic. The majority of the course was on a path that ran around a lake. The sign for the park said there were alligators in the lake, but I did not happen upon one. The support on the road course was fantastic with enthusiastic volunteers, and people partying down.  One chick really enjoying the "spirit" of the day, nearly broke my hand with a high five.

The second lap was a walk and run affair. I decided that I wanted to stay out of the pain cave, and enjoy the rest of the day. I went to a run for 5 minutes, and walk for 2 minutes strategy. This worked for the majority of the second lap. At mile 20, I could feel the finish line pulling me in, and ran for four miles straight. The fatigue of the day got to me on the last two miles.  I ran when I could, but the uphill slog was sucking the life out of me.  Finally, I arrived at the final down hill ( Das upper thigh crusher), and started toward the finish. The new downtown finish this year was awesome. As I came down the final 500 yards, I could hear the cheering from people in the restaurants, and a live band rocking past the finish. I saw the bright lights illuminating the finish area, and I picked up the pace. I felt the culmination of all that training and sacrifice, as I crossed the line and looked up to see my family. The volunteers handed me a WWF belt buckle (medal), and a hat. I stood there for a moment, exhausted, but elated and completely at peace. What an awesome experience.

Finish line celebration with my race crew.

Post Race

My wife promised the girls cupcakes from a place up the street. Since they waited for me all day, I obliged. The cupcake store was closed, and we walked for an extra thirty minutes. This is not a good post race recovery plan. My legs were tightening by the second, and all I wanted to do is sit, and eat.

The next morning, I met up with Larry to pick up our bikes and chat. I felt like I had partied at an all night rave. My body was tired, and I was hungry, but I could not eat much. As the day went on, I started to feel better. By Tuesday the soreness was gone, and I went to the gym. I was really hungry until Thursday, I could not eat enough.

Overall Thoughts

This race was an awesome experience. Setup Events and Wilmington did a great job with this event. It is a great area for a race, and the support was awesome. My family really enjoyed being downtown with all of the shops, and places to walk.

My race day could not have gone any better. The weather was perfect. I had no cramps, or extreme discomfort all day. I just kept moving, and staying in my limits. I think finishing this race has given me a new perspective on things. It felt fulfilling to set a large goal like this one, and complete it. Over the past few years, I have been playing it a little too safe, and it felt good to get out of my comfort zone.

Finally, I want to thank my family, and everyone else for all of the support. I did my best to keep my training at off times, but there was some long weekend sessions. Thanks to everyone for the messages on race day. I ran with my phone, and checked it a couple of times during the day, and the words of encouragement were very motivating. Thanks to Rob for being IM Kung Fu master for Larry and I . Your words of encouragement and wisdom along the process were extremely helpful.

Next IM, I don't know. I would consider this race again. My next big race will be the Shamrock Marathon, as I have some unfinished business with that race.

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