Please don’t think I did a half Ironman. After the debacle of Summer of 2014 when Ben
forced encouraged me to do a sprint and an Olympic, I really have no desire to ever do a triathlon. Ben took a hiatus from doing half Ironmans. Last summer he kinda got bitten by the triathlon bug again and decided he wanted to sign up for a half Ironman for 2017. I encouraged him and before we knew it, the weekend of Atlantic City 70.3 was here.
Coincidentally two of our friends, Christine of Writing Bikes and Marco, were also signed up to do this half Ironman. Ben rented a huge AirBnB house with an amazing view near Atlantic City and invited them, along with Marco’s friend, Noelle, to stay with us. Bandit took to Christine right away and immediately made her a part of the “pack,” which meant that every time Christine went somewhere without us, Bandit had a meltdown.
Since AC 70.3 was on Sunday, we drove down to Atlantic City on Saturday morning to do packet pick-up and bike setup. It was kind of a crazy day because Christine discovered that she needed a new tire (not just a tube), Ben needed a new tube, but more importantly the new cycling shoes (we still haven’t found his lost shoes) didn’t quite have the right clips. At transition, Christine was able to change the tire on her bike, and Ben and Marco overfilled a tube and exploded it. The second tube was changed successfully without any explosion.
After a late lunch and an early dinner, Ben, Marco, and Christine did their prep work for the triathlon. I always forget how tedious a triathlon is. So MUCH STUFF! We all went to bed early because we had a long day ahead of us.
Noelle was volunteering, so she was all over the place. I saw Christine, Ben, and Marco off at the swim start and watched a portion of the swim. I missed Christine going out on her bike because she just killed the swim portion. I managed to see Marco and then Ben go out on their bikes, but they didn’t see me. I knew it would be another two and a half hours at least until I would see the three of them again, so I had some time to kill.
I walked with Noelle over to the finish line, where she was going to spend the next several hours. She was very keen to make sure that she got one of the coveted spots to medal the athletes at the finish line. She really wanted to medal all of her friends. I walked back to the bike transition to wait for the three of them to roll in. I had a rough idea of what their bike times would be, so I was prepared to see them.
Once again, Christine killed the bike portion and came in a little sooner than I had expected. I saw her and yelled, but I wasn’t ready with the camera. I ran over to the run course to wait for her there. I got a clip of her running. She looked to be in great spirits, despite the fact that she couldn’t find her bib. She yelled that she spent two minutes looking for it in vain, before giving up and getting out of transition. After I cheered for her, I ran back over to the bike course to wait for Marco. He didn’t see me because he was too focused on getting off his bike smoothly and running in. I ran back over to the run course to cheer for Marco. This time he did see me. Finally I ran back to the bike course to wait for Ben. While waiting for Ben, I cheered for the various people coming in saying things like, “It doesn’t matter what you look like, I’m going to say you look great! Where are the floats? When’s the marching band coming in? You paid to do this to yourself! Where have you been? I’ve been waiting here to cheer for you!”
Ben saw Bandit and me on his bike and said hi. Bandit heard Ben and went ballistic because he biked away from us to go to transition and Bandit was not happy about that at all. We ran over to the run course to wait for Ben. Because of the way the course looped a bit, Bandit and I were able to run with Ben for about a mile. Then Bandit and I walked over to the boardwalk to wait for Ben again at about Mile 8.
The sun was starting to come out, so it was getting warmer. The day was already humid, so it was getting uncomfortable. Bandit and I ran with Ben for a few hundred meters until the boardwalk got too crowded to run along aside Ben. I told him that I would see him at the finish line.
We walked over to the finish line. Noelle sent me a text letting me know that Christine and Marco were already done. Both did great! Marco completed his first half Ironman in 5:09:51. Christine finished in 5:37:29, which is a few minutes off her PR. Marco really pushed himself, was completely dehydrated, and had to go to the medical tent. I was able to carry Bandit into the medical area where I found Marco and Noelle. Marco had an IV in him to get fluids into him and Noelle was covering him with towels in order to warm him up. Bandit was also really exhausted, so she was happy to lie quietly in my arms and nap while Marco was being taken care of. Christine came over to the medical tent and we talked about her race experience (I hope she writes a post about AC 70.3, hint, hint!).
Marco was feeling better, so we all decided to go out and cheer for Ben because he was about to finish soon. Noelle went back to her volunteer spot to await Ben and medal him. I lucked out and found an open spot right before the finish line. I got a good view of Ben so I was able to film him running to the finish line. He completed his tri in 6:32:47, which is pretty darn good for someone who once again didn’t train at all. Ben was extremely pleased that he came in under 3 hours for the cycling portion.
The post-race area was swarmed with people and there was a ton of food for the athletes. The spread was quite nice as there were burgers, bacon, quinoa salad, fries, fruit, Coke, and all sorts of other stuff. Ben wasn’t quite hungry, so he just got his food and we decided to go back to transition to get our stuff and head back to the house.
After everyone showered, everyone was just lying around exhausted from the long day and the heat. Before we left Brooklyn, Ben suggested that we bring my Air Relax Compression Recovery Boots (review coming soon) to the house because he was sure everyone would be interested. The boots were a big hit! Everyone was taking turns with the boots and going over their results. Christine got a message from her mother saying that she came in fourth in her age group. She suddenly realized that if she did get fourth, then she would get an age group award because Ironman events go to five places for age group awards. We frantically looked up when the award ceremony was (4:30), and Christine and I made a mad dash, er, drive back to the boardwalk because we had just enough time to get back.
Christine got a HUGE medal with the word WINNER on it for her 4th AG award. We were all very excited and proud of her, and incredibly amused by the large letters proclaiming that the wearer was a WINNER. For the rest of the night there was some joshing around and friendly trash talking about winners and losers.
All of us had an amazingly fun weekend. It was great to hang out with Marco again for an extended period of time and I’m really glad that Christine and I spent time bonding.
We woke up early Monday morning for the drive back to NYC. All I can say is, thank goodness for coffee at Wawa’s.
It sounds like an extremely hectic weekend! I once went with someone I used to know to do his first sprint triathlon, and that was pretty crazy. I can’t imagine cheering on three people at a half Ironman!
It was a lot of running around, but thankfully they were relatively close together in terms of time, so it wasn’t like I cheered for one person and then had an hour wait for the next person. I was happy to cheer and be there for them. It was a really fun weekend and I’d love to do another trip like this.