This year was the Inaugural Ironman 70.3 Atlantic City race. In previous years the race was held under different names, but this year it was announced that the race would be held under the Ironman brand. Thankfully, it was to remain under the direction of Stephen Del Monte and his team at Delmo Sports. I have had the pleasure of working with his team as a vendor on many occasions, but this would be my first time racing a Delmo event. Coaches Brad and Gary were not too happy when I notified them that I was adding another 70.3 race to my race schedule, especially since it was 1 week after the Nation’s Triathlon Olympic race. That said, I did not want to pass up the opportunity to race in this inaugural event!
After a knock-out performance at the Nation’s Tri (PR’d despite a flat tire on the bike), I was hoping to be able to PR the 70.3 distance. I am probably the best trained that I have been for triathlon since beginning 2 years ago. Those plans changed late Saturday afternoon…did I mention that we were also vendors at the expo and worked Thursday (set-up), Friday and Saturday to provide athletes with much needed gear for the race. After 2 days at the expo I had secretly admitted to myself that IM 70.3 Atlantic City would not be a PR.
OK, on to the race:
Swim: The swim has been my Achilles’ heal, but my training program forced me into the pool more and I was seeing significant improvements in my times! I was hoping for a sub 40:00 swim, as my PR was 44:00 two months ago in Massachusetts. Apparently there was an announcement at the start that the swim was being cut from 1.2 miles to 1.0 miles due to dangerous currents. Surprisingly (NOT!) I did not hear this announcement, as I had already removed my hearing aides and put in my earplugs before getting to the start line! So my wave (Wave 2) gets in the water and the horn blows, and off we go…I acclimate well to the water and warm-up pretty quickly. I admittedly did not review the course map very well due to the expo work, but figured that I was not in wave 1 and would not be the fastest swimmer, so I would follow the crowd. I passed the first few buoys and felt great…I am sighting and get a little disoriented because there look to be more buoys than there should be. Then it hits me…Wave 1 had yellow caps, and I am not seeing buoys, but am catching numerous people from the first wave. Now I feel real good! In the past, my goals were not to get caught by the next wave before the halfway point, now I am passing people – Victory! Then the issues began…I had re-oriented myself and was travelling in a straight line toward a yellow buoy, when all of a sudden it was to my right (we were supposed to keep all buoys to our left) I change course and head for the buoy, when I look up and realize that the buoy had broken loose due to the strong currents and was floating across the inlet!!! That buoy stayed on my right J There were several points on the course that there seemed to be “traffic jams”, but I continued to move forward and reached the turn-buoys and was heading back to the swim finish. I did not see many of the caps from Wave 3 pass me, so I am feeling really good at this point… I arrive at swim finish, look at my watch and it says 42:21. Not my goal, but still a PR (or so I thought).
Note: The current had become so dangerous that the Surf Lifeguards and Race Director made the decision mid-race to shorten the swim even further, as the current was causing swim treadmills, where people were swimming, but not moving! I found this out after the race, and am even happier with my swim with this information. My swim was strong enough to “beat the treadmill” and complete the entire 1.0 miles (my Garmin says 1.03). Many in my AG had shortened swims, with 10% DNF during the swim.
T-1 went fine, the wetsuit “peelers” were great and I quickly got to my transition area. On with my Red Ranger helmet, shoes and I was off…
Bike: The bike course was touted as flat and fast. It was definitely flat with only 679 feet of elevation gain during the entire 56 miles. I have to say, as a New Jersey born kid who visited Atlantic City on many occasions, it was cool to be able to ride on the Atlantic City Expressway with our own lane leaving town and coming back into town! Once out of Atlantic City, the bike traversed nice country roads with spectators peppered throughout the course. Many of the roads were completely closed with those not closed wide enough that we did not need to worry about getting hit. My plan is to eat and drink on the bike to “top of the Tank” before the run. On the bike, I consumed 3 Xrcel bottles, several bottles of water and my infamous Bean and Cheese burrito. This was the first race where I had successfully consumed all of my nutrition without difficulty. During the race briefing, I heard about the WaWa parking lot we had to ride through, but did not remember when we would pass through it. I assumed it was around Mile 26, but then that came and went, and thought well maybe I was hearing things…then it showed up! Yes, we zig-zagged through the WaWa parking lot which had the most spectators of anywhere along the bike course (except in transition areas). Seeing so many people there gave me a boost! As I was coming back into town, I began mentally preparing for T-2 and the run, when boom – huge pothole – I stayed upright but hear a thud behind me. I immediately knew what happened, my repair kit went flying out of my rear cage. Thoughts: Do I go back and get it ($75 worth of stuff) or say screw it and go…I said screw it and finished. My goal was 20+ mph on the bike, and I was successful! I finished in 2:40:20, averaging 20.2mph – PR #2 of the day! So far, so good.
As I approached the dismount line, I am getting yelled at by a guy with a bullhorn telling me where to go, then I realize it is Delmo ambassador – John Torres. He realizes it is me, and begins shouting words of encouragement – that was great! Thanks John (and his wife Lisa)!
T-2: I pulled into my spot at transition and it looked like my neighbor had vomited all of her stuff into my spot…there was stuff everywhere. I find my stuff, rack my bike and change shoes, grab my FuelBelt race belt, cap and sunglasses and I am off.
Run: The first mile of the run was fine. Thank you Brian Gordon for making me laugh by yelling at me through your bullhorn! I was also glad to see Mindy from Delmo, as she has been our point of contact with Delmo for 2 years now and become a friend! In mile 2, my IT Band began tightening on the left side, so I decided to slow down a little to “loosen up” from the bike to run transition. Another mile and it felt fine, so I kept on trucking. I was happy with my 5K time and was on pace for a great day…then came mile 6. About Mile 6 I felt like all the energy had left my body, maybe the past 2 weeks was catching up to me – travel from SC to DC, back to SC, to NJ, expo and now race! I felt like I was exhausted and overheating – thankfully there were plenty of aid stations for water, cola and ice. Additionally, there were showers at the beach entrances in Ventnor, so I took a few showers to cool down! I slogged through the next 4-5 miles, seeing my friends who were also racing. Finally at around mile 10 (right before the beach run) I saw Stancie, this was a great pick-me-up…she shouted words of encouragement, as well as directions, as she began volunteering right after she packed up the shop. I kept going and happily at Mile 11 saw Stacey Cacchione (a long-time friend) who was volunteering at the aid station. She also gave words of encouragement, along with Moira and the Jersey Girls Stay Strong Multisport team. They helped me mentally stay focused for the last 2 miles! Thanks gals! In the last ½ mile of the run, I was running with a woman who asked about my tri kit, and wondered how I was related to Tri Everything. I explained that Stancie and I were the owners, to which she responded “I Love You guys and thank you for what you do.” Big smile on my face for the finish line, where I was again greeted by Brian with the bullhorn J I cross the finish line and receive a handshake from the Race Director Stephen Del Monte and congrats from many of the Delmo staff!
The slow run resulted in me not setting a PR, but I am happy with the performance. Overall Results: 80/243 AG, 5:49:14
- No long-distance racing when we are vendors!
- Stephen Del Monte is an awesome Race Director! Plenty of support on the course, great staff and volunteers, beautiful course! I have worked plenty of Delmo races as a vendor/sponsor, but now can comment as an athlete...I have done races throughout the US and this was one of the best!
- The Atlantic City public safety team (Police, Fire, EMS and Surf Guard) are first rate! Despite all of the negative comments on the swim, the surf guard put public safety first. Despite the events in Seaside on Saturday, I felt totally safe thanks to the AC Police and the NJ State Police. I have been on Presidential Protection details where I did not feel as safe as I did on Sunday! Thank you for a great race and protecting me and my family!