The PPD Beach 2 Battleship is held annually in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. Considering this would be my Dad’s first Ironman, he spent some serious time planning where and when the race would be. This late in the season race proved to be the best fit – and he was set to swim 2.4 miles, bike 116, and run the 26.2 miles! Spoiler alert – HE DID IT! These images were from a storyboard set I used for my Digital Image Production class – hence the B&W.
Immediately upon arriving home from India, my sister picked me up from JFK International Airport so we could drive down to Philadelphia International Airport to catch a flight to Wilmington, North Carolina. But wait, driving from one airport to another to catch a flight? Well, I knew we’d be cutting it close when we had planned this trip a month prior – an international flight scheduled to arrive roughly three hours before a flight departing from an airport about an hour and a half south? Crazy, but I wanted to make sure it’d work. After all, there was no way I would miss my Dad racing in his first Ironman!
So, we thankfully made the flight (by about 20 minutes) after standing in a security line that refused to let us hop to the front of the line even though our plane was boarding. That sure didn’t help the stress levels of having just traveled for nearly 24 hours! I had my sister hold a spot in the boarding line, and I ran to grab a much needed coffee..
When I have traveled over multiple time zones (a whopping four times now), I have decided the best way to beat the jet lag is to try to not sleep at all, till you’re on local time. Well, this flight was at 1pm – a long time from bedtime for me! I survived the flight and we ended up meeting my Dad at the airport, as he had driven down with some other friends the previous day. He picked us up in a rental car, and we went to grab some lunch. The nearly 36 hours of no sleep also meant no appetite.
We stopped in at the hotel before going to check in my Dad’s transition bags and bike. Usually a stressful time (especially for an Ironman) as you are often not allowed to change anything come race morning – especially for this point to point to point race (T1 and T2 are in different places, along with the swim start). We headed out to find a hearty, but safe, pre-race dinner then it was bedtime early! Which I most certainly welcomed, as I almost didn’t make it through dinner.
I rose early enough to run out the door with him – essentially in a sleep deprived state. It didn’t phase me though. There’s nothing quite like a race morning! We drove down towards the beach area and headed out to the start. As we walked over, we chatted about how the race would go – pacing, nutrition, equipment. Keep the mood light, but serious. After all, he did train pretty rigorously for the past year leading up to this! If you don’t include the other five years we have been racing together.
It wasn’t the warmest, but sometimes that’s welcomed compared to the heat!
When we got to the start, hundreds of athletes were wandering around, waiting for their wave to be corralled under the blow up arches. You could almost taste the anxiousness and excitement – I wish I could have slipped into a wetsuit and raced!
And the gun was off! I slowly walked down the beach trying to follow him in the water. The swim was down a channel – which meant you could either have a current with you or against, which my Dad was thankful for the current moving with them. I walked back to the car and drove back to the hotel – free breakfast coming my way (aka my first American breakfast in two weeks!). I took advantage of the buffet to say the least.
He was hoping to swim a little over an hour and a quarter – so I made my way back to the room to get my sister and stepmom, so we could walk over to T1, which was a short walk from the hotel. As we walked along the channel, you could see all of the athletes making their way to the shore – perfect for spectators! We hung out on the road near the entrance to T1 hoping we didn’t miss him. He ended up coming out of the water looking great nearly seven minutes ahead of goal!
Luckily (but also unluckily) his rack spot was at the far end of transition, right next to the fence. It meant I was able to run over and check in verbally – to which he still seemed confident and relaxed. A good sign especially with 116 miles coming up in the near future!
The longest part of the race (for most) – aka the best time to keep your cool.
Rhonda, Caitlin, and I headed back to the hotel to wander around the town some before we’d have to head towards T2 (as we’d have a projected six hours and 20 minutes to make it over there). This turned into breakfast round two for me – which was perfectly fine for me as I had missed out on most of the ‘hot’ foods for arriving so early.
We hopped in the car a bit earlier than scheduled which ended up being very smart. Traffic was terribly backed up getting onto the highway (yes T2 was that far from T1). We found a little spot to park and headed to near the entrance of T2, which was actually in a conference center.. Inside the conference center. I had been timing the whole race so far and figured we’d just camp out for a half hour or so… nope! He came flying down the access road – clocking a time of 5:51 – now 37 minutes ahead of schedule!
Some people (either racing or spectating) would see that someone was this far ahead of schedule during a race and begin to worry that they’d be gassed for the run. I knew this would not be the case – Plantar Fasciitis or not, this man would be finishing his first Ironman ahead of schedule.
The course made a short loop out towards the highway, then it was onto the big part of the course. We patiently waited for him to come around to see how the first mile or so felt – to which only positivity was heard!
A predicted run time of four and a half hours. This gave us some time to check out Wrightsville Beach. And enjoy some more American food! This time I saw nachos on the menu.. not the most American thing, but hey, a bit different than Indian food!
We made our way to the finish line area and posted up. I knew he’d probably be ahead of his nearly 12 hour predicted finish time – and also beating his run time. When I thought the time was about right, I convinced a volunteer to let me enter the finish line corral – just in time! He came into the finish still looking super strong – unreal! They let me put his medal on him which was the pinnacle of the weekend for me. We both started racing nearly six years ago when I brought the idea up – and look at where he is today! I couldn’t have been any more proud.
And oh yeah, he beat his run time… by 30 minutes. Which meant he finished in just over 11 hours and 12 minutes. Not to mention an age group podium. Talk about sandbaggingb2b, beach 2 battleship, dad, ironman