B2B race recap for those that might be interested in future years.
Checkin - quick grab and go with plenty of swag. Long sleeve shirt was pretty nice (see the pictures) there are a lot of bags involved. You get 3 as half and 5 for full. If your organized the process is fairly easy. You leave your T1, post race, and special needs bags (x2 for that full) at the convention center. T1 and after had to be turned in Friday night. I had all my stuff in giant ziplock a so I just dropped needed ziplock into bag and went with it. Then you drive down to the T1 (about 20 minutes away) and drop your bike and T2 gear. You don't have to leave all the gear- I left everything but nutrition so I had less to carry.
Pre race - I stayed at one of the host hotels the Hilton downtown. Really nice place and even better the shuttle leaves there at 6am to T1 so no need to find a cab. Did a quick check in T1 added nutrition and was on the trolley to the beach. I didn't pre scout the beach. I thought it would be a real beach - it wasn't. We were corralled in a parking lot. Luckily I was one of the first people there so Karen suggested we lay in the grass on the side. Perfect!! It was chilly but in my extra clothes I was comfortable. They have a drop to goodwill at the start so having an old sweater, pants and shoes makes a big difference.
Swim - the half goes in waves. You go down a dock and wade into the water to start. I was in the last wave so plenty of energy and excitement going down. When we got in we had to swim backwards to stay in place (yep that's a good sigh!). The first half mile currents were comparable to Augusta. Water was dark and salty with a few reeds. I struggle to sight in my wetsuit and even more so in the chop. I swallowed a lot of water trying. The second half was noticeably slower moving, but not an against the current feel. Ended up swimming 1.41 miles so I did have sighting issues. Still finished in under 40 which was my goal. There is a ladder to exit - kinda challenging to me, but others looked fine.
T1 - fairly standard transition except you have to run .25 miles from the swim exit to your entrance. There are wetsuit strippers and a warm shower to go through. Tons of space on my rack. I could have set up a full picnic. Even the racks with all bikes on had plenty of room. You shove your wetsuit and other things in the bag provided, tie and leave it. Run out with your bike.
Bike - the bike course is not pancake flat as advertised. There are plenty of false flats and alight declines and a few bridge/overpass type hills. Nothing major. I preferred it honestly. There are two bridges with grates over them. A little scary, but looking forward and pedaling slowly they weren't too bad. Part of the course was on an open interstate. We had the left lane. I thought that would be hell, it was one of my favorite parts. Plenty of space and low traffic that day. We rode on 421 for a long time. Kind of like a 20 ride, not much to look at and straight forward. The loop at the top took you down some pretty farm fields, houses and even horses so that was nice. Unfortunately we had major headwind for 40 miles of the ride. Nothing that can be helped and everyone was in it so it's fair. Nice conversation as you passed people at least. The good news is the stretch of 421 back that could have been boring was a blast with tailwind. Road quality overall was very good. Bad spots were well marked. I wanted to average no higher than 16 to save my legs and I got 15.3. I worked a little harder for that than I want to admit, but couldn't fathom going under 15 if I had legs left to give. Did take two pottie breaks on the bike and one stretch break to fix my bottles. Even with rubber bands I managed to lose two. Aide stations were ok. You had to really get off the bike to get everything - water with sports tops were passed going by.
T2 - this is awesome. You pass your bike off after dismount and they put it away for you. It's a run around the convention center floor to get to your stuff. More of a shuffle in bike shoes. The volunteers pass you your t2 bag and you proceed to your changing tent. Real bathrooms and chairs to sit down! I took advantage, changed my shirt, put on more sunscreen and hit the potties.
Run - the first mile is a tiny loop backwards and then on the water along docks. Mile 2 and 3 were my last favorite. Several real hills on that bit, some cobblestone street in downtown and then a commercial district. From mile 3-10 you were running on running paths around greenlake park. Absolutely stunning and plenty of shade. Loved this section. Miles 11-13.1 were repeats of the commercial district, downtown and dock followed by the finisher shoot. The shoot was really cool. It was about 100yards long and lined with people cheering. Music and announcer was in full effect. It's technically my first real finish so I felt like a rockstar coming through high fiving and running. Aide stations were underwhelming. Don't get me wrong there were volunteers everywhere on the course. More than I have ever seen and they were all pretty excited to be there. The stations were fully stocked with tons of stuff at their buffets. I was expecting more themes and louder music. About mile 4 of the run I felt a migraine coming on. I chugged water, took a salt tab and Advil. About a mile of slower walking and I was ok again. I felt really strong on the run with most miles falling between 14 and 15:30 from aside from the one big break for my head up to mile 11. My goal was 15 minute miles. I took my time at aide stations and stopped a bit to get more stuff as I passed. Most stations were a heed, banana and water. Some I took coke as well. Ice in the hat. I was actually really hungry by the run. As I was approaching the turn around I realized I could actually make the under 8 hours if I kept pace. Ready to jump for joy over that thought. Then at mile 11 my legs and heart were still willing, the blisters on my feet protested strongly. I was forced to walk. I pushed myself to walk fast at least. I don't think I have ever walked as fast as I did those miles. I dug in deep and started repeating one of my favorite SBM quotes "the pain stops when you stop, but you can't stop yet!) I did run though the finish with the thought of well if they pop here oh well. Got my medal and finisher pajamas and was on to enjoy a quick recap with Anita.
Finished in 8:08 which I am incredibly proud of. Morning after and other than my feet I feel fantastic and hungry very very hungry! Stopping in to pick up my bike on the way out of town. Really nice not to have to lug it back yesterday.
Highly recommend this course for beginners and those that just want to enjoy a fast fun place. Volunteers were incredible and they were really well organized.