This Runner's Trials

Beach2Battleship Ironman Race Recap

No, I did not do an Ironman. Nor will I ever. But my husband did, and he wants to share his experience.

He did it :) This weekend, my husband completed his first full Ironman. The Beach2Battleship Ironman in Wilmington, NC.

2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run. Done, done, and done.

I could not be more proud of him!

Thank you all so much for all of the supportive comments. I showed them all to my husband and he was very grateful.

Here’s the race from both of our points-of-view. It’s going to be a long one ;)


Jen: When the alarm sounded at 4:30 am, the temperature was 37 degrees and windy. At that moment my pre-race jitters disappeared. Instead of fearing he would drown or get run over, I just felt bad for him. I couldn’t imagine swimming in these temps or biking wet. Yikes.

When I said bye to him, I wasn’t scared. I actually didn’t feel anything, it was so surreal. (He had to board a bus before the race to take to the swim start. No spectators were allowed at the swim start or finish, so I waited at transition.)

Jeff: It was cold. All I could think about was how I’d stay warm on this very long day. But once we made it to transition at 5:45 am, I had to set my bike up, get body marked, take care of my special needs bags and transition bags, go to the bathroom, pump my tires, get my wet suit on, and get on the bus to the start by 6:30 am.

I started panicking a bit, worrying I wouldn’t make the bus on time. But I managed to say my good-byes to Jen and board the bus by 6:20. At the start, standing on the beach, I was freezing my butt off. I could not wait to get into the warm 65 degree water.


Jen: Hubby said the swim would take around an hour. But when only a handful of people came in an hour after the start, I assumed they didn’t start on time, so I had no clue when to expect him. I only worried he drowned for a half of a minute or so ;)

Jeff: One of the main reasons I chose this race is because the tide is supposed to come in, and push the competitors up the channel. Meaning we’d have the current at our back for the 2.4 miles. But standing at the start I saw the spotting boats, kayaks, and surfers drifting the opposite way. I was a little concerned, but assumed it was the wind’s fault and not the current.

Once I started swimming, it felt great to be in warm water. I easily got into a good rhythm. I eventually saw a green buoy and looked at my watch- 35 minutes. At first, I thought this was a random buoy, but it was actually the buoy marker for the half Ironman start. Meaning it took me 35 minutes to swim 1.2 miles. I thought I’d be done with the swim in 50-55 minutes. We later found out the tide was going the opposite way than normal, so it was against us the whole time, and all racers had slow swim times. Once I saw I was in the water an hour, I knew Jen would assume I drowned. This encouraged me to swim faster.

Transition 1

Jen: I was thrilled to see him out of the water! So many competitors were white and shivering, but hubby looked great and was completely “in the zone”.

Jeff: In transition one, I quickly took off my wetsuit and put on my helmet, shoes, and arm-warmers and headed to the bike. I wore my bike outfit under my wetsuit. But a lot of fools were completely changing into new clothes. What a waste of time!


Jen: Because of how the course and road blocks were set up, I decided not to try and catch Jeff on the bike. He told me the course would take him about 6 hours. So I had 6 hours to entertain myself :)

I ran an easy 10 miles through downtown Wilmington, showered, read War and Peace, walked to find some lunch, spectated the half competitors, got jealous that I wasn’t competing, and then made my way to the transition area to catch hubby.

Jeff: The first 70 miles of the bike sucked. It was a head wind the whole time. Every time we made a turn- right, left, straight- we were still stuck in a head wind. Despite all of that, my paced hovered between 18-21 mph and I felt good. I rolled into the special needs stop at mile 50, and was looking forward to eating my peanut butter, honey, and chocolate chip sandwich. I grabbed it, pulled out of the special needs area, then dropped my sandwich :( I thought, “do I pick it up off the gravel? Or do I keep going?” A minute or two in a 12 hour race would make no difference- and since I am not the germaphobe in the family- I picked up my sandwich and ate it, still while going into a head wind mind you. Good choice. It was quite possibly the best sandwich I ever had.

Then I kept cruising along until mile 67, where we had to do a stupid quarter mile out and back which ruined my rhythm. In 112 miles, they really couldn’t find another place to add a half of a mile? When we made the next turn, the head wind miraculously stopped. I saw a sign that said “Wilmington 38 miles”. I worried in training that I’d get bored at this point in the race, but since I finally had a tailwind, I felt nothing but happiness.

Transition 2

Jen: I made it to the transition/finish area (I had to take a ferry to get here and the process took 40 minutes) and scurried to find a good spot to catch hubby. I was so caught up in watching the other athletes that I almost missed him! He came in 10 minutes earlier than I expected, so I wasn’t ready :( But I was thrilled he was ahead of goal pace. He told me he felt great. And I finally breathed a sigh of relief. He only had a marathon left, and even I could do that ;)

Jeff: I coasted into transition 2, and was just excited that I’d soon be doing something other than biking. I was happy to see Jen for a second, and knew she’d be pleased to see me back knowing I didn’t get run over by a car.


Jen: The run course was 2 out-and-back loops. I parked myself- along with my in-laws and my furball- outside of my hotel so I could catch him at miles 3, 10, 16, and 23 (I didn’t wait around until 23 because I wanted to make the ferry back to the finish).

Mile 3: When Jeff passed, I decided to join him on the run for a half mile. I saw other people doing this, and knew he’d appreciate the company. He was running about a 9:00 minute/mile and I foolishly assumed he was doing this because he wanted to stay steady the whole race. Wrong. He said he was going slow because his stomach hurt. A hurting stomach at mile 3 of a marathon? Not good. But he said his legs felt fine, which is just incredible after a 112 mile ride.

Mile 10: These 7 miles took Jeff a really long time. When I ran with him this time, he didn’t want to talk to me. He wasn’t happy and it pained me. I had flashbacks of my marathon, and my heart ached for him.

Mile 16: When I saw Jeff this time, he was walking. I just kept telling him “what’s 10 more miles when you’ve already done 130.2?” and “the next time I see you, you’ll be an Ironman!” I knew he’d finish. But I also knew he didn’t feel well. The sun was setting, the temps were dropping, and he was getting further and further from his goal time. I felt an odd mix of sympathy and pride.

I also ran into Katie who was cheering on her dad in his first Ironman! He did awesome by the way. Check out her recap.

Jeff: I was looking forward to having a good run. In the past year, my running got a lot better so I was excited for this point in the race. As soon as I started, I felt off. Something was wrong, and that something was my stomach. Was my delicious sandwich from the ride evil in disguise? I don’t know. I think I ate and drank too much throughout the race. I couldn’t get my stomach to settle no matter what I did. My 4:00 hour goal marathon turned into a 6:00 hour marathon. I was frustrated, but I also knew no matter what, I’d finish, so I was happy. Seeing Jen, the dog, and my parents brought a smile to my face each time. I also started to get cold and just wanted to take a hot shower more than anything. That was my motivation to get through the run: a hot shower.


Jen: The finish line was stressful. We got there about an hour before he crossed so it was fun to people watch. Half of the finishers looked like death, and the other half looked amazing. I don’t know which was more alarming…

A little after 8:00 pm, Jeff crossed the finish line! He was an IRONMAN!

I wish I could tell you I cried tears of joy, but I didn’t. I was definitely beyond proud of him and thrilled to hug him. But it was cold. Competitors were shivering like crazy and some were collapsing. I just wanted him to get warm. I was so consumed with this goal that I couldn’t truly enjoy his Ironman moment until we got back to the hotel.

Jeff: I was glad to be done. My legs felt great sine I basically walked a marathon. They missed running, but my stomach was too jacked up to let them. I was disappointed I didn’t finish within my 12 hour time goal, but the excitement of going back to the hotel to take a hot shower overshadowed that.

Final thoughts

Jen: I am overjoyed that my husband is an Ironman, and that he can cross that life goal off his list. I feel a little ridiculous that I worried so much, but what can you do? Now that I see he’s OK, the pride and excitement has really taken over. That 140.6 sticker on his car is the coolest thing ever. But not cool enough that I’ll ever want one ;)

Jeff: I’m really happy I completed by Ironman, but I’ll probably never do the full distance again. I really enjoy competing in halves. The training isn’t too time consuming, and I have a better shot at doing well. Thank you all for your support! Now I’m off to bed…

Comments (27) Trackbacks (9)
  1. Great job! Despite time goals, completing an Ironman distance race is an accomplishment in and of itself! I know you are proud Jen and thanks for sharing the day of worries with me haha!

  2. Congrats Jeff on a great race!! It may not have gone as planned but finishing an Ironman is such an amazing accomplishment. Jen- you were such a great spectator!

  3. Congratulations Jeff! What a terrific accomplishment!

  4. A huge congrats to Jeff! Completing an Ironman is truly a feat, something that very few people could do. You should feel incredibly proud!

    Jen – you are such a great supporter and cheerleader! I’m sure training for an Ironman required great dedication from both of you. You have a lucky husband!

  5. Yay! I was thinking about you this morning while I was on my run and hoping for the best! Congrats to your husband for this incredible accomplishment!

  6. Woo hoo!! Good job! Jen I would have had the same thoughts after about getting everyone warm. You are such a good wife and Jeff is such a beast. Congrats!

  7. I’ve been waiting all day for this post! Ahh! Congrats to Jeff and I know he appreciated all of your support. I love hearing the story from both sides. I just cannot even imagine completing an Ironman in my head. Wow – such an incredible accomplishment. And I can’t believe that you tweeted that he wasn’t even sore today! He is an insane athlete!

  8. Congrats Jeff!! Sorry about the stomach issues though. Great recaps from both of you- it was fun to read both sides of the race.

  9. You two are such an amazing couple. It’s wonderful how much you both cheer each other on and support one another. Congrats again to your husband!

  10. Congrats to Jeff!!! That’s absolutely amazing! I can honestly say that is not one of my life’s goals though. Lol. Great recap you guys!

  11. Awesome job! I can’t even imagining doing an Ironman. Lord…a marathon is more than enough! I’m so impressed. Just finishing is soooo impressive.

  12. wow! You are an awesome spectator! I would have been so nervous!
    Jeff is amazing!

  13. Way to go Jeff! Awesome accomplishment!
    (Loved this recap – too cute how you both kid around about Jen’s race-day fears.)

  14. I loved this recap! :) What an amazing accomplishment…congratulations!! And, Jen, I am with you…this something I would never want to do :) I give your hubby such credit!!

  15. Wow – congrats to your husband! That is an amazing accomplishment! I enjoyed the recap – it was fun to hear both of your perspectives.

  16. Such a cool two sided story. Congrats to both of you for a huge day!

  17. Congrats Jeff! (and congrats to you Jen for getting through the race day with all your nerves!)

  18. Awww awesome job! I am so proud of you Jeff (and you, too, Jen for not losing your shit with worry)!! :) You did awesome, you’re an ironman, and no one can take that away.

  19. Wow- Great job!! I love how you guys did this comparison!!

  20. Oh my gosh — congratulations Jeff!! This was amazing and inspirational to read!! I can’t imagine doing what you did. I loved reading the recap through both your eyes. Jen, I’m glad your nerves subsided and you didn’t panic throughout the race. :)

    Congrats again!! You’re an Ironman!! SO amazing :)

  21. Wow, that is incredible! Finishing an Iron Man is amazing in my opinion – I could never do it. That’s nice that you were able to watch and get in your own run! Perhaps your husband has inspired you to do one? ;)

  22. wow…what an epic day for you both. congrats to jeff! hurray for worry-free jen :) i can do nothing but stand in awe of people who do the 140.6. my mind can’t even begin to wrap around that.

    i just wonder…will it really be the only one? many people who finish marathons swear they will never do it again…but then they start wondering what they could have done differently and they are drawn back…

  23. What an amazing, amazing accomplishment! Congrats for completing it!

    (And I love how you guys did this blog post together! It captured both of your emotions on this crazy day!)

  24. Congrats hubby!! How exciting!! My husband and I used to live in Richlands right outside of Wilmington. It’s gorgeous there!!

  25. loved this recap :) congrats to your hubby on an AMAZING job!!

  26. Such a fun post to read! It kinda make me want to do an ironman. Although I’m not a great swimmer and I don’t really like biking… Your hubby is superfit! And he should be beaming with pride for awhile after accomplishing this feat.

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