a perfect weekend.
Last year, 3 weeks before Ironman World Championships, I was convinced to participate in Ironman Maryland…for fun. The race features a two loop swim in the Choptank River, a two loop pancake flat bike and a completely flat run, making it ideal conditions for a fast race for most athletes. At this year’s event, the race got pushed back by two weeks due to residual effects of Hurricane Joaquin that caused major flooding and high winds. Little did I know, the date change was a blessing in disguise!
This was the first time that Ironman successfully postponed a race. They were very accommodating, allowing athletes to check in until the late hours on Friday (Saturday race). After racing Maryland last year, it definitely made things more streamlined, especially knowing where to park, the location of registration and course conditions.
On Friday, Christina [the racer] and I [sherpa] made our way down to registration. We quickly checked in by 10am and even had a nice chat with one of the volunteers who was also racing – thanks Beth!
I gave the bike a wheel change and some final touches before we headed out for a quick spin around Cambridge. We followed up the ride with a short shakeout jog on part of the run course, which also happens to be the first portion of the bike course! With the bike checked in, run done, our pre race activities were nearly complete, sans swim.
Race Day – October 17, 2015
Our alarm went off at 4am, followed by breakfast and tons of coffee! Temps were in the low 40’s and were expected to go up to the 60’s throughout the day. We made our way into transition around 5:30am. Nutrition was prepped, tire pressures were topped off, transition bags were double checked and nerves were at their all time high!
Due to gusty winds near the swim start, the swim was shortened from a 3.8km two loop swim to a 3km swim two loop swim. The front pack of swimmers easily lapped the slower swimmers when going onto their second loop of the swim. Christina swam a 45:36, placing her 5th out of the water in her age group. She made it quickly through T1 and was on the bike in just a few minutes. While everyone else was getting overdressed for the bike race portion, Christina did not bother with wearing gloves or arm warmers – such a good call!
My job was done for now, so I went for a quick 10 mile easy run to check out the entire run course. Drew had spotted while running so I made a quick change before heading out to lunch at the High Spot with his crew from Ohio. While waiting for our food, we were all glued to our phones, constantly updating the tracker. My friend Kevin was out on the bike course and had spotted Christina passing 1st place around mile 58. The tracker was not updating so I headed back to transition for updates and confirmation that Christina had taken the lead!!!
Tim Smith, from Brooklyn NY was first off the bike and the eventual winner. Christina got off the bike with a personal best split of 5:10:11 [2nd fastest overall]. I spotted her on the final turn towards transition with a 3-4 minute lead on 2nd [Kristin White]. She looked super fresh coming out of transition and was running 7:30 min/mile pace!
I spent the next 3-4 hours calculating the gap from 1st to 2nd place, bouncing around the run course on my road bike and cheering like a lunatic! Thanks to the 2.5 loop run course, I was able to see the runners come by about ~15 times before rushing over to the finishing line.
Christina won Ironman Maryland with a time of 9:42:56.
What I witnessed throughout the day was not only the accumulation of hard work over months of training. No, I got to witness something even greater.
Much like an oyster turns a grain of sand into a pearl, I had the privilege of seeing Christina’s race unfold, revealing the pearl that has been growing and improving with each race and workout.
A very well deserved overall win + punching her ticket to Kona 2016.
+ Sherpa [a.k.a. Race Support] is fun and exhausting, but there’s really no better feeling than to see someone succeed amongst adversity. Those who have done it can relate (Thanks Mom & Dad!)
My next race (and last of 2015) is Ironman Arizona on November 15th. As things lighten up, I will be posting my Louisville race report promptly.
Thanks for reading!