This was the most challenging, most spectacular race I’ve ever done. Many of you have heard stories, read articles, and seen photos. These don’t begin to do justice to this phenomenal event. If you’re interested, here are my thoughts on the inaugural IMLT. And if you want in, registration for 2014 is open – sign up for what will surely be a powerfully rewarding race in one of the most beautiful places in the country.
Pack a down jacket. Or buy another one. Maybe two. You’ll wear them both at once and still wish you had more clothes. Or that you hadn’t trimmed down to race weight.
When you can’t see the buoys, follow the feet in front of you. Until kayakers are yelling frantically for you all to get back on course.
Breathe. Through a 10-foot straw.
Look around. Impressive fog. You didn’t really want to see the beautiful snow-capped mountains anyway; it’d just remind you how cold T1 is going to be.
Change into dry clothes. Because missing out on the packed tent full of shivering, quivering new best friends would lessen the experience.
Change into dry clothes. Because wearing your wetsuit on the bike is just asking for chafing. (curious to know how it worked out for those guys…)
Wear more clothes. The forecast will be wrong and it will NEVER warm up. Or watch your fingernails go the way of your toenails. Much more socially awkward.
Wear a jet pack. Because there’s no such thing as easy spinning on an 11% grade at the top of a Cat 2 climb. For the second time. At mile 90.
Thank a volunteer. All 3000 of them. And wish them well in next year’s race.
Thank your sherpa. And hope that someday you’ll be wise enough to decline an offer to do a race like this.
Run. Because it’s colder when you walk.
Ditch your long sleeve shirt at the last aid station. Because it’d get in the way of your glory shot.
Live it up. This is your day. All 14-plus hours of it.
Put on your Go Pro and get on your bike the next day. Have someone drive you to the top of the climb and pick you up at the bottom. Because that descent, flying over the bluest lake in the world, will convince you to do it all again.
For perhaps the first time in my racing career, numbers didn’t matter. I’m a data junkie, analyzing everything to the point of irrelevance. For triathletes, if we can put a number on it, we do it. If we can obsess about it, we do it. What can’t be quantified, though, is arguably the most important. Who helped you get there? Who waited all day (or week, month, or year) to cheer for you for three seconds? Who put up with your ceaseless banter about all things physiology, racing, and nutrition? How did it feel to silence your doubts and fears? How can you describe the midnight atmosphere at the finish line? There’s no place for numbers here. This is a heart thing.
I’d never been really scared about a race before Tahoe. With training, albeit often haphazard and seemingly incomplete, and the advice and support of friends, I’d felt a comfortable finish was always within reach. Times may vary, some may hurt more than others, but ability was never a question. Tahoe presented a host of new challenges that, especially in combination, slapped me in the face with fear and doubt. I’m not ready. I can’t do this. I’m not going to be able to finish. I looked at cutoff times for the first time in my life. Riding one loop of the bike course the week before the race was humbling and terrifying. Even with ample rest breaks (local ice cream at mile 46? Yes please!), I was completely wasted. And my speed was as low as I’d ever seen it. In six days, I had to do two and a half times that, and follow it up with a marathon. [expletives and depressed sighs] What have I done? More importantly, what am I going to do?
I took a hard look at my race plan. Throwing some numbers around and imagining near-worst-case scenarios, it seemed a finish was doable, but would require an entirely new nutrition plan for an extra 2 HOURS on the course I hadn’t anticipated. The first set of climbs was hard – and I hadn’t done the entire first climb as it includes a closed section through a gated community. I could only imagine doing that again after another 45 miles. Ouch.
Time to change focus. This IS doable. You ARE ready for this. Throw away the numbers and get on your horse. You’ve worked all year for this. Don’t let the race beat you before you even start. It’s going to be a long day, but what an INCREDIBLE day. How lucky you are to toe the line, to have mom and friends to cheer you on, to have a catered race day, and to be a part of something magical – the inaugural Ironman Lake Tahoe. There’s nothing else like this. Get after it and enjoy the day.
Saturday brought crazy winds, the first clouds we’d seen all week, cold rain, and snow at the summit (!). The forecast for Sunday, though, was miraculous: clear, calm wind, no precipitation. Cold but manageable. I’d take cold over 30mph winds. Turns out there was talk about delaying the swim and shortening the course on account of the cold and potential ice on the roads. I didn’t hear about this until race morning chatter. Yes, ignorance is bliss. Race morning brought impressive fog hovering over the lake that might as well have been a hot tub relative to the 27deg air. And a full 140.6mi course. We may be cold and scared and unsure, but to attempt any less than 140.6 would have felt like we’d been cheated. We’re here for the challenge, let’s do it. Scrape the ice off your bike (!), be grateful for your down jacket, put your game face on, and let’s do this.
The water is crystalline, clearer than any I’d ever seen, and today, clearer below the surface than above. The National Anthem always brings chills and fires up the engines. Organize by swim pace (actually a welcome change from the 2500-man mosh pit), cross through the arch, and walk/run/skip/dolphin dive out to the only buoy we could see from the start line. No joke, I couldn’t see the next buoy. Ever. But I followed the pack in front of me – until I heard frantic calls from kayakers to go right. Still not able to sight anything, I had no idea how far off we were, but I was comfortably embedded in a swarm of swimmers. Finally we found yellow buoys just before the first turn. I never had clear water and was never really drafting, but somehow felt carried along in a current. Mauled once at the second turn was as bad as it got. The second loop was a little smoother as the sun started to rise over the eastern mountains, really just enough to hint at clearing the fog but not doing much to actually aid our sighting. Not once did I count buoys or wonder where the finish was. I could have swum in that water all day. But I reached sand at the finish and pulled myself up into a sub-freezing reminder of the cold morning – and the cold bike ahead. But that swim…phenomenal.
T1: Take your time, but you don’t have much choice since your hands don’t work anyway. Thank you, incredible volunteers, for your dexterity and your patience. The women’s tent was crazy, and I heard the men’s was worse. My favorite quote on the bike, between two guys: “I dropped my glove and seriously debated leaving it there.”
In spite of a complete set of dry clothes, I wished I’d had more. My legs felt like frozen logs and my fingertips might as well have fallen off. The sun that had peaked over the mountains was hidden behind impenetrable clouds. The first two short climbs that I thought would warm me up in a hurry did little to relieve the numbness. A cyclist’s dilemma: pedaling harder to warm up initially feels even colder. Fear not, I had plenty of climbing ahead, but I couldn’t feel my toes until most of the way up the first major climb – mile 40. Wow, the climb through the gated community was a monster. False flat. Up. Descend just a bit so you can climb more. Up. Up. Switchback. Descend and pay it back again. Up some more. Then start the Cat 2 climb. Unzip to climb, zip up to descend. Lather, rinse, repeat. First loop done, finally comfortable except for the descents. Wasn’t about to drop my jacket. I focused on spinning easily, hoping that patience on the bike would pay off on the run. It’s humbling to watch everyone else go by, but I reminded myself that it’s still a long day, and that this is a personal challenge, not a race. [That doesn’t always go over well for even a pseudo-type A.] Spin it out. Shift down. Spin. Shift down. Spin. Shift—–?!? No way that’s my lowest gear. Slow your cadence a bit, this shouldn’t be hard. Man, this is hard. This is really hard. Do they make a cassette bigger than my front ring? Would that work? Can’t do physics right now, just enjoy the mountains. Riding in an avalanche hazard zone?!? That’s a first. Look, snow! How about skiing? Snowboarding? Sledding? Yeah, I’d take that ski lift right about now. Can I fit my bike in the gondola?
I stopped at special needs to refill my crack bottle and to pee. Even being able to pee was a good sign. I stopped again to remix my bottle. Otherwise I was pedaling. No, there wasn’t a mechanical. No, I didn’t have a major meltdown. No, I didn’t walk the hills. I was really just that slow. Longest bike ride ever. But cresting that last hill, you’d have thought I’d won the Tour. I’d beaten my demons and trounced my doubts. Whatever came from here was easy. I had all night to do the last 26.2. I was going to finish this thing.
T2: Never happier to throw my bike into the arms of a complete stranger. Running shoes felt like a dream after so long on the bike. Bring it. I would be an Ironman today.
Spending all day on the bike left my stomach unhappy and longing for solids, so I walked the first few aid stations to try to find the magic combination that would settle it down. Saw Mom and Sean within the first few miles, which was a nice pick-me-up. Always good to hear “you look fabulous!” when you feel like trash. Yes, we appreciate the cheers and blatant lies. I wasn’t running well – “running” might even be generous – but I was moving forward. Martin and Jeanne were both looking strong. It is so nice to have friends out on the course. I didn’t know anyone coming out here, but found a new impromptu group through Martin and his sister, and that made a huge difference. Individual schmindividual; this is a team sport. Back from the first out-and-back was probably my strongest section, chatting with a few people as we fell into step, appreciating the remarkably beautiful course and still reveling at having conquered the bike course. I grabbed long sleeves, a hat, and headlamp at special needs because the sun was setting quickly and the temperature would go down with it. Getting cold would become more of an incentive to run, but dwindling light – and subsequent complete darkness – would force a slower pace to avoid a misstep and rolled ankle, or worse. We become a more friendly bunch as it gets later and the fatigue more prominent, seeking and sharing motivation, encouragement, and determination. With no attention to pace, time, or distance, I ran when my legs and stomach would allow, and walked when they wouldn’t. And somehow I made it to the final aid station, after which I felt nothing. That last mile up to and through the village, drowned out by the lights and Mike Reilly’s voice, was painless, effortless. The turn into the finishers chute lit up the crowd. Lights. Cheers. High-fives. Clouds replace the ground beneath your feet. You can’t see or hear anything. Might as well be heaven.
Always, always go back to the finish line for the final hour of the race. This is where determination is visible, where success is palpable, where faith is restored, and where magic is evident. These people worked for 17 hours to realize their dreams, and their smiles light up the night. Time doesn’t matter. Pain doesn’t matter. For a moment, they are invincible, and that feeling is contagious and intoxicating. There’s nothing else like this.
The numbers say “you finished.” “You are an Ironman.” But they don’t tell the whole story. They can’t capture the beauty or the grit or the strength it took to dig deep when everything else says you can’t. They say nothing about living your dream or breaking down walls. They’re not what gives you the confidence to take on the next challenge. This isn’t a numbers game. This is a heart thing.
*Don’t be afraid to change up the nutrition plan last minute IF all the ones you’ve tried before haven’t worked.
*Build in some advance time to get acclimated to surroundings and the course.
*Don’t take other’s words for experience. Drive the course. It will make all the difference in expectations and experience. I heard everything from it’s not that bad to It’s far worse than IMLP. And remember: Hills always look worse from a car. Really.
*Stick to the plan. Patience on the bike WILL pay off
*Learn to pee on the bike. Seriously.
*Stay flexible. Something can and will go wrong or not as planned. Being nimble helps you shake it off.
*Avoid drama at all costs-a peaceful house is a happy house
In general, IRONMAN Mont-Tremblant was the best venue of the four I’ve done so far. Even the finisher’s chute lived up to IMLP’s. The town is a bit manufactured/Disney-esque but the people are genuine, friendly, and eager to help. The setting is beautiful and if you want some old charm there are a number of smaller towns just a few minutes away (you see them on the bike and run courses). Without qualification, I recommend this race to anyone wanting an unparalleled experience.
We arrived on Wed. afternoon and got into our house which was beautiful with a great view of the ski mountain and village. It had more than enough room for 11 people so we were very relaxed and happy to get settled in. If your budget allows, I highly recommend getting good accommodations. We did the usual pre-race visit to the expo, registration, etc…Nothing remarkable there. But they did have reading glasses for those older athletes to look up your number as you headed into registration. I mention this as it did seem to be heavily-weighted in the 40 and older crowd and almost 75% were men. That was a real shift in the demographics from previous Ironman races I’ve done.
Given the above demos, the change in the swim start did penalize the faster swimmers. I started in wave 5 and I spent the entire race swimming over people-not bumping into them but over them. However, the water is crystal clear and the temperature was perfect for my sleeveless wetsuit. There was a bit of glare once the sun came up over the mountain but after the turn it was no longer an issue. It was not my favorite swim experience but it wasn’t horrible. 1:02 (2nd fastest) and Darren Rentch blames my old man face mask goggles for not PR’ing. I blame the wave starts and people I had to swim over.
It’s a long (300m) run to T1 but lined with people and they were really into it. Saw Darren and heard my name shouted out a couple of times which always gets the body moving. Got into T1 and other than the very helpful volunteer spraying sunscreen in my mouth and all over my sun glasses (thanks Darren for lending me those). I was out and on the bike. It was cool so I had a very light vest (thanks Jenn Rentch for that) and arm warmers and together with the adrenaline, I was very comfortable. The main thing to say about the bike is that it is deceptively difficult. With only one major climb out and back, there are almost no flat sections to speak of. The cumulative effect is profound. You do get to rest your legs in some sections but not for very long. I didn’t find it daunting, it just wore you down. Also, if you don’t train in the wind, you should. I try to get some practice in head winds so as not to be undone by them when they inevitably appear in a race. I’m glad I did. The first loop was not bad but the second had an annoying headwind that added to the relentlessness of the feeling of always going up.
If you are Debi’s client, you know that you have to pound the fluids the first hour and keep a steady intake throughout. Luckily this and middle age have taught me how to pee on the bike which was good b/c I did so no fewer than 20 times. I was the envy of many guys out there-I know this as more than a few times, I heard, “I wish I could do that”. Together with 10 Gu’s (note: make sure to taste test which ones will go better in what kind of conditions. For instance, Espresso love, while delicious at 9am is pretty bad at 1:00 and 75 degrees. Also-following that with Pomegranate-berry is really not recommended). But the nutrition worked. I stayed fueled, hydrated, and did not get nauseated or bloated. 1 dropped chain (user error) and of course that is where my training partner Jenn passed me (Dude-are you peeing?) and one dropped bottle right next to a moto-ref on an uphill so had to dismount and reclaim it. Finally into T2 6:22. Only 2 min over my PR which was at Arizona and had I not had the chain and bottle mishap, I’d have been under 6:20 which is a damn good time for me on this course. 6400+ feet of climbing.
T2 went well enough (total T time was a PR for me) but my HRM strap appeared to be broken (even the volunteer thought it was) but it wasn’t. Left it behind rather than worry about it (see note above about staying flexible). Also, I couldn’t pick up satellites so I thought trying to figure out my pace will give me something to think about on the run. Fun. Walk out of T2 which was easy as there is almost immediately a short but very steep hill. Started the run at the top and was amazed, let me repeat, amazed at how good I felt. It is worth noting that the first piece of Nike gear Philip gave me when he started working there was a shirt that says, “Running Sucks”. It is my mantra. Swim, Bike, Run can be summarized with Love, Like, Hate. However, not this time. I felt great. I was smiling AND I was running. Who am I?!!! Other than trying to remember how many KM are in a marathon (I totally missed all the banners hung for the event that had the KM for each sport on them). I finally remembered a 10K is 6 miles so by the time I made it there, I estimated I was running a 9:20 pace. I was worried that I’d started out too fast with just perceived effort so I tried to slow up. The run course is nice but again, deceptively hilly. But it’s two loops out and back so I got to see a ton of people I know. Except Philip. He was completely under-trained for this and it was the first time I’ve ever seen him worried about a race. It wasn’t until I was well into my 2nd loop that Darren let me know he was off the bike and on the run-his 49th marathon. Phew! I could relax. Only now I was really starting to hurt. I change my shoes out at run special needs shifting to running flats (I HIGHLY recommend it-it’s like getting a fresh pair of legs half way through). At mile 18, I started having to walk up the hills but I knew I was heading for a PR. I wasn’t nauseated so I was able to drink and eat chews and that was a huge success as well. With a mile to go I decided I would try and really run but I had nothing left so continued my trot to the finish. Racing down the cobblestone streets of the village and there is the split for the 2nd loop/finish line and I look to the guy on my right to see if he needs to move over for the finish and it’s Philip. I put my hand on his shoulder and say, ‘hey’. He tells me, ‘Go be an Ironman. Again.’. High point of the day. Run: 4:44. 15′ PR in an Ironman marathon. 2400+ feet of climbing.
Final time: 12:23 also a 15′ PR entirely on the run. That had been my goal and I couldn’t believe I did it-and actually enjoyed the run. I would say this is the hardest course I’ve done and the best trained I’ve been. It paid off. I had a blast with my friends training and during the race experience. Thank you to Debi and Team Orange as well as the Bike Rack Multisport Team for all the support and fun. This was so great, I think I’ll be doing 2 next year.
This past weekend I participated in the Jamestown International Triathlon in Williamsburg, Virginia. I attempted to treat this as a “B/C” race and train right through it. With all the traveling involved though, it seems as if I may have taken too many days off; but racing is racing.
Here is a breakdown of what the race was like:
As with all triathlons, the race starts with setting up transition, and I was off to a horrible start. I was laying everything out and double checking that everything was in its precise location and realized…my Gatorade for the bike leg was in the car. This meant I had no hydration for the ride. Luckily there was a group near by handing out water, so I was somewhat able to salvage this oversight. After this, the typical pre-race bathroom break, and then off to the start “line.” Upon arriving at the river, I squeezed myself into my wetsuit and headed into the James River to get ready.
The count down began and the butterflies started. I could not believe that it had been almost two years since I had last attempted one of these. At that point I was hoping that the bursitis in my left elbow wouldn’t flair up and that I’d have a smooth and uneventful swim.
The horn went off and the pack of athletes started out towards the first yellow buoy. The issue was the water was so shallow you couldn’t swim comfortably, and I started dolphin diving. Finally, after the first 100 or so, the water was deep enough to start actually swimming. Heading out seemed to take forever! Every time I looked up to sight, the buoy never seemed to get closer. I just stuck with my plan, and 10 breathes on the right, followed, by 10 on the left (repeat). Finally, I got out to the first turn, around the buoy of death, and off to the next one (which came much sooner). Turn again and back to the beach. Again, once we approached the beach, the water became shallower again and so dolphin diving resumed followed by a labored walk out of the river.
The walk/run to transition was alright, just a little long. I was amazed with how out of breath I was from the swim, but I kept telling myself the bike was the “easy” part. I popped into the kiddy pool set up to wash my feet off and then off to my bike. I plopped my butt on the ground, tore off my wetsuit as fast as I could, socks on, shoes on, sunglasses on, helmet on, grab bike and go!
So, leading up to this race Tropical Storm Andrea was leaving her presence in the area, and the roads weren’t the driest. I took the cue and backed off a bit on the bike. Not too much, but enough at the troublesome spots. Man, I love my new bike. She is fast. I do think I need to raise the saddle a bit, but it didn’t bother me too much on Saturday. I got down into the drops after the first few turns out of the park. Once on the highway, it was smooth sailing. Keep breathing, keep pumping. I would mark the rider in front of me and put a target on their back. One by one they kept getting closer and I would pass. It was awesome! There were a few that got by me, but I did tell myself, “there’s a run still, and this is training for September.” At the ridiculously tight turn around I managed to see a bunch of teammates and everyone was cheering each other on. Then, back to the highway and pushing the limits again. The return to transition was a little bit more trying than heading out, but that makes a little bit of sense since I was further into the ride.
Once back at transition, shoes off, helmet off, shoes on, visor on, and off I went.
On the run, I was lucky enough to be with a teammate most of the time, and his presence kept me going. Mile one came, and with it the first support table. I grabbed a cup of HEED and swished my mouth out with it. Then we continued on the course onto a tree covered trail. It was nice back there, but I am not a trail runner and don’t necessarily care for it. Once back out on the paved section, the pace picked up a bit (or at least it seemed). Then there was a U-turn around mile four, and off to the finish line. Just past the turn around, I started having some stomach issues, and once I got back to the support table (now near mile five) I needed to walk through it. After that breather, I started towards finish, and it couldn’t come any sooner. Once at the finishing chute, I managed to find a little bit of strength (as we all do), and kicked it in.
That was Jamestown, a fun little race. If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend Set Up Events races. They are well run, supported, and a good old time.
As for some race reflection, this experience was great, and has shown me what I need to work on for IMWI. Right now, I am potentially going to add another international distance “B/C” race next weekend by traveling up to Philadelphia for the TriRock Philadelphia Triathlon. If you find yourself attending the race expo on Saturday, June 22, stop on by the Nation’s Triathlon booth and we can chat it up. I will be there as a Brand Ambassador and answering questions about the DC race, triathlon, or whatever.
For more Bike Rack Multisport photos, please visit our Facebook photo page here.
Thank you for all of those that came out for our Tidal Basin Run.
Congrats to BRM 1st timers Ryan Phelps (also a Meridian Performance client) and Julia Hoppick and 4th timers Kristine Michie Maggs (friend) and Jenn (my better half) . Huge thanks to our incredible support crew Kevin Maggs and the boys.
I managed to knock out a 9:51 (10th AG / 43rd OA amateur) including a 3:14 marathon (10th fastest amateur run split). Missed a Kona slot by a mere 5 minutes / 4 places. Fitness and execution were there, but so were a couple of uncontrollable events. A bike mechanical resulting from an unavoidable pre-race crash on the Friday cost me ~15 minutes on the bike. Despite the circumstances and being a bit banged up on race day, I’m cool with the overall result. I’m extremely thankful and fortunate that I was able to toe the line on race morning – I know I came really close to a life alternating injury. Crash and race report below.
Despite the beautiful Caribbean setting and false reputation for being a “flat, fast race”, Cozumel is statistically (average finishing times) one of the harder IRONMAN® courses on the circuit. Unpredictable water conditions (ocean swim), high humidity, blazing sun and strong winds can individually make things tough out there; or when combined can really split up the field. On race day, we had it all, and there was a fair amount of carnage. Out of ~2700 participants, there were ~1000 DNFs, of which ~300 missed the swim cutoff. Pretty close to St. George 2012 on the DNF rate.
Beautiful practice swim with the crew was offset shortly thereafter by a horrifying bike crash (yes, as in less than 48 hours before the race) when, during some short, pre-race bike intervals on the beach road just down the street from the swim venue, a German tourist (code name Eichhörnchen = German squirrel) on his way to a snorkeling outing with this wife, attempted a suicide mission by trying to run across the street without looking. My Orbea and I foiled his mission by t-boning him at ~24 mph. Managed to “save the bike” with a fairly well-executed steering maneuver and body check at the last (and only) second as I was thinking YOU’VE GOT TO BE F****** KIDDING ME! “. Got pretty bruised up (shoulder, glutes, sacrum, road rash) but luckily avoided any broken bones and joint injury, thanks to a bit of Lady Luck, Caribbean Voodoo and a lot of consistent strength training and yoga. Eichhörnchen definitely got the worst of it though:
Per Ryan (with Texas accent): “Dude, I know you are really pissed off right now but if it makes you feel better you f’d him up really good. There’s one thing for certain…he’ll never do that again.”
Per Jenn: “Honey, feel lucky, his nose is on the other side of his face and he’s bleeding all over the place, like that old Julia Childs skit from SNL with Dan Aykroyd “.
Thankfully, Dr. Ryan “Senorito” Phelps was a few bike lengths back (always keeping it draft legal) and was able to provide some immediate triage and “control the situation” (for which he has my sincere gratitude; read: “free taquitos”). Jenn and Julia arrived on the scene about a minute later while I was still lying in the ditch. Jenn rushed to my side, helped me up and proceeded to keep me in my corner. The bike somehow seemed OK (some scrapes to derailleur and gashes on the saddle and pedals) , so once the ambulance arrived and we were cleared to leave we got the hell out of dodge. No Policia, no bribes, no major injury – at least not me. Ryan and Jenn flanked me while we slowly rode the 5 miles back to the condo. I gave the bike a thorough post-crash inspection and it appeared to check out fine. For the rest of the day we chilled by the ocean and just tried to reset and put things in perspective. Shit happens, no one died or was paralyzed, and bike was still functional. And, hey, we’re on vacation in Mexico – things could have been dramatically worse. I did an easy 3 mile run with el Senorito before dinner to try avoid tightening up and, while sore, seemed to have most of my mobility.
Didn’t get much sleep and woke up sore as hell, but ankle/leg/hip mobility was still there. Shoulder was really jacked so our friend and Cozumel roomie Kristine Michie Maggs (Active Spine and Sport, Gainesville, VA) gave me some ART on it. Not sure I could have got through that swim without the treatment. Huge props K!!! Did a short ride down the road to the bike check-in and began to feel cautiously optimistic about racing.
Woke up a bit nervous not knowing if the body could hold up for the day, but was stoked that Jenn and I were racing with such a great group of friends in one of our favorite places and what could arguably be one of the greatest race venues in the world.
Conditions at the swim start were low 70s and sunny with North wind of about 10mph (gusts a bit higher), resulting in white caps about 150m offshore and 2-3 foot chop on the inner part of the swim course. The swim is a mass start in the ocean, on a rectangular course that runs parallel to shore with left turns, with the start line in the middle. 800m to the first turn (into the current), 100m across, 2000m down the long stretch (with current), 100m across, then 800 back to the dock. The water is crystal clear with visibility of about 150 feet. Everyone jumps off an 8 foot high dock into the water and then swims about 100m up to the swim start…perfect to loosen up and get a sense of the current.
As Jenn and I made our way to the start line, I noticed the current was significantly stronger than in the days leading up to the race. I treaded water at the start for about 3-4 minutes and then the gun went off. Swim start was relatively smooth for IM standards, mostly due to the wide start line, but the packs formed relatively quickly. Despite the strong current, the pack I was in made our way to the first 800m turn in 12 minutes.
After we made the left turn away from shore and started making our way across the current I could tell things were about to get interesting. The cross current got stronger with each stroke away from shore and by the time we hit the turn for the long stretch, felt like we were swimming sideways in an Endless Pool.
The long stretch was unreal. The current was absolutely flying and the swells in our favor. However, by the time we reached the 3rd turn back towards shore, conditions had deteriorated. The swells were now 2-4 feet with an occasional rogue one – somebody had seriously pissed off Mother Nature within the last hour.
After covering the first 3000m in 45min, I the made the final turn for the last 800m and came to a grinding halt. At one point I had taken 4 strokes and was still hovering over the same piece of coral. I seemed to be covering more vertical than horizontal distance with each stroke. I was with a pack of 10 swimmers, and we collectively swam towards shore to try to get out of the current, only to be redirected back towards the swim line (and rip current) by race officials. Long story short, took us 24 min to swim the last 800m (3:20/100m)..and that was with a few of us trading pulls and (me) swimming near lactate threshold.
Exited the water at 1:09 with HR sky high and the shoulder killing me. Garmin registered 2.65 miles. Felt like 5. I figured most of the good swimmers’ times were going to be 7-10 minutes off, so when I exited T1 at 1:15 I wasn’t concerned.
Then the bike leg began and things got really interesting. Mile 3…just as I was settling into a rhythm and bringing down the HR from the swim, I heard two metal “clangs” while shifting into a bigger gear. My initial thought was “F***, drive train Seriously?”…but when I looked down and ran through some gears it everything was fine so I assumed I just (coincidentally) ran over something in the road. With all systems still go, I got back at it.
Then a few minutes later, just after exiting an aid station, I stood up on the pedals to briefly stretch the lower back. When I sat back down I nearly slid off the back of my saddle which had tilted and moved backwards as soon as I had stood up. I immediately realized that the sound I heard a few minutes before was the forward bolt of my seat clamp falling off. This particular bolt holds the nose of the saddle down and keeps the saddle secure in the clamp. Oh yeah, and the remaining bolt is circular with serrated edges and requires pliers to get it really snug. I had inspected the torque on all bolts (post-crash) but the force of the crash impact must have partially severed the bolt where it connects to the clamp and then it completely failed after some additional stress during the race. So, long story short, I rode 109 miles with a poorly positioned and loose saddle which required me to stop every 45 minutes and tighten the remaining bolt as much as possible (by hand) to make sure the saddle didn’t fall off. Managed to flag down a bike mechanic at mile 60 and empty his entire tool bag onto the ground in search of pliers – no dice.
In an effort to eliminate some stopping time, around mile 60, I decided to go “McGyver” and grab an extra bottle of water and use it as a hammer to try to smack my saddle forward every few miles in order to give me some better positioning – even if it only lasted a mile or so. The execution of this was quite simple: grab full water bottle with right hand, raise ass slightly off saddle while keeping left hand on aerobar, extend arm backwards and smack the back of the saddle 3-4 times as hard as possible with the full bottle. While this proved to be somewhat effective in between the full stops, to other racers it probably appeared as if I was flogging myself or my bike in some kind of motivation tactic, and definitely got me a few “WTF?” looks. One thing I failed to notice is that with each smack the top of the bottle was getting loose…you can see where this is going….and eventually it exploded when I hit the saddle with it leaving me holding the top of the bottle (I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a Slowtwitch thread on this).
The entire mechanical cost me 10 minutes just in stopping time + another ~5-10 in pedaling efficiency. With every passing mile I kept waiting for the rear bolt to fail from the extra load it was bearing or whether I was going to have a complete seat clamp or seat post failure. Pretty nerve racking to say the least. I just kept hoping that if it did fail, it would happen right in front of one of the beach bars on the back side of the island. I could live with that.
Around mile 90, I could feel the effects of the crash and saddle position starting to appear. Glutes, lower back, shoulder, traps – all getting jacked . After a final stint through the blistering headwinds on the back side of the island, I hit a final aid station for a last round of water and picked up the pace for the final 10 mile stretch back into town. An agonizing 5:19 later – finally off the bike. Cumulative time 6:37.
It was now just shy of 2pm, not a cloud in sight and the winds had shifted from N to E-NE, eliminating any breeze on the run course which is located on the west side of the island with zero shade. Humidity was making the “real feel” well into the mid 90s. I figured I needed to take back 10, maybe 15 minutes on the run. Time to get uncomfortable.
That being said, I recall seeing Kevin and kids, Jenn, Ryan and Kristine (all looking great!). Saw a few guys heaving their guts out, hoped I wouldn’t be one of them…but everything else was somewhat of a long blur. Crossed the finish at 9:51. 3:14 marathon (9 min run PR). Collapsed. Med tent. 2012 Done.
By Myles McCorry – galibiervelo.com
Cycling Etiquette is a whispered code of behavior that helps our community pedal in rotund, harmony together. It is not just an arbitrary set of rigid rules, concerning such subjects as the proper dress for racing, the correct wheels or where to put your race number:
Bike protocol deals with a much wider range of behavior. These customs have been introduced to combat the reality that some cyclists are childish, egotistical numptys. It’s not what’s correct: Cycling Etiquette is simply proper consideration for the other cyclists, who accompany you on any given spin. A set of rules to check one cyclist destroying another cyclist(s) ride.
We cyclists are very individual, We are indeed a bit odd; it is why we didn’t go in for team sports in maturity. Odd, and by and large loners, in the animal world we are the panda. This ‘squad of one’ mindset can introduce an attitude of selfishness and arrogance. A disregard for other abilities and isolated persona. Instead these cyclists who appear at the Sunday morning spin with evil intent on mislaying the children and infirm on the first climb, proclaiming their self worth; in turn offer excuses, when they are under pressure. These weak oppressors blame the bike, the tyres, the road surface, the wind, and the tyres again, never the body. We cyclists have the personal strength not to be sheep. Never run with the herd. The intellectual power to decide, no I don’t want to kick ball or chase one for 18 holes. I want to do something extremely hard and with few rewards.
So we are: ‘Odd’ but in a beautiful way.
This in no way excuses these bad manners or means we have to be a numpty. This winter, 9 miles into a club spin, I felt a collection of sweat caress my brow, in artic conditions. Unusual, I thought, and then turned around to see the bunch of 30 cyclists split demographically in ones and twos into the horizon. Their separation was distance based on age and borrowed bike. Not 20 minutes ago this weary string was a united group of cyclists. I looked forward to see the catalyst of the destruction: two wannabes wall pissing at the front. As strong individuals, in a detached sport, the only situation we gather as a brightly dressed tribe is this club run. At a race: its dog eats dog, in a training chain gang: last man standing, but a club spin where different capabilities congregate in human-required friendship, cycling manners must come into play. Regardless of where I have cycled on the planet, where two or more people are gathered in the name of communal training, cave man instincts prevail and one of the group wishes to prove dominance.
I define a NUMPTY, as a person(s) who wishes to demonstrate to a lesser, younger, heavier cyclist that they are fitter, stronger. The alpha male in Lycra. A childlike cry for attention normally belongs in the jungle or playground, is where one cyclist imposes his or her dictation of speed to the group. The result is anger, resentment, split bunch and a weak club. No bonds or friendships cemented, just souls and dreams stepped on.
It seems there is no direct protocol issued, and that the training run should evolve, weekly according to their rank or position or watt output of the strongest. Yes, we train to be strong. But the simple truth is that the ‘club run’ is not the proving ground. Racing is. If you want to prove how good you are, strap a number on, shave the legs and get your photo in the paper. Half wheeling a 69-year-old multiple by-pass veteran won’t win you any medals; or friends.
The name ‘club run’ is the key. This chance for cyclists, of all abilities in the area comes together to enjoy a mutual hobby. The young receiving experience form the old. The old passing on war stories of riding to races with punctures; racing and riding home with no tyres.
Ancient, compulsory punishment pre 1971 for not winning. The weekly training spins are ‘the’ club. United by name and jersey under one banner. An alliance with associates, then divided by the assassin. Who sees a victory in an eleven year old new comer stopped, at the side of the road, red faced and tears dripping on fresh bar tape: wondering why he ever took up the sport.
It is even poor training for the bully. The longest training cycle available each week should be allocated to the long level two spins.
This preparation ride is required regularly to build or maintain the efficiency of the cardio system. To learn to breath proficiently when the body is under moderate pressure and to educate our system to metabolize energy from the fat store, a steady long, continual effort, is proven best. Best for everyone. An opportunity for all to enjoy the long, base spin together. Take pleasure in our sport, don’t fill it with resentment. If the club spin destroyer wants harder training, all level three work should be done in small groups of similar ability. On climbs if they want a work out; stick it in the 12 sprocket and sit.
Same speed as the group with a bit of power preparation. A urine test for these few would reveal positive for insecurity and self-importance.
Show me a club run destroyer that ever won a race.
Club Protocol It’s down in writing, it has been voted on and every one will pass the following recommendations as they don’t see them selves as guilty.
Good decorum when meeting a friend in the street is shaking hands. When introduced, look the person in the eyes and use a firm grip to express sincerity. On the bike this changes to a “How’s it going?” and then a compliment on weight loss, form or new component. Simple Courtesy. Try to think of others. If you want to race: get a license and use it.
There will be a load of guys and girls who will relish your showing off in the early laps, the club run is a time of companionship and group camaraderie. As prehistoric people began to interact with one another, they learned to behave in ways that made life easier and more pleasant.
Don’t make training spins full of shouts of “steady” and “knock it off”. Only laughter and chat and skipping gears should be heard on a Sunday morning. It’s proper bike conduct. Be odd, but with consideration. It’s the mark of a true cyclist. You will enjoy your sport more and your sport will enjoy you.
Thirty women, each anxious for the Nike Women’s Marathon, crowded a terminal at Regan National Airport. And here I was–here we were–the National Capital Team in Training Team and the comradely started before we’d boarded the plane.
We reached San Francisco, checked into our hotel in Union Square, near both Niketown and the Exbotique. Only at a women’s marathon could a race expo be called an exbotique: the boutique of all expos. The shopping area was filled with clothing, shoes, jewelry, skin consultations from Neutrogena, and a Paul Mitchell salon. I won’t lie, we did enjoy the girly photo booth.
We left with our race numbers in hand, only then did it sink in that race day was around the corner. On the way back to our hotel we passed Niketown and discovered our names printed on the wall; talk about feeling like a VIP. The VIP treatment continued into the evening. As a result of your generous donations–together we raised $5,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society– I was able to attend the Top Fundraiser Reception. Being surrounded by so many passionate individuals that had each raised thousands of dollars in the fight against cancer was all sorts of amazing. Collectively, the 25,000, mostly female participants in the race raised more than $10 million this year for LLS.
The next day, Saturday, as we sat at the Inspiration Lunch, I realized that I could finish the half-marathon. I know, it sounds strange: why sign-up if I didn’t think I could do it? The truth is after battling a tear in my right plantar fascia for two years, I’d forgotten how to run, both physically and mentally. Before the lunch, losing my running mojo made me nervous about my ability to complete the race. However, there was no shortage of heart-warming stories at the luncheon to abate my fears. I was brought to tears by the inspiration speaker, a 30 year-old female who shared her marathon-like battle with cancer and how LLS helped her as a survivor.
Although inspired, I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect on race day. After flying over the handlebars of my bike in a major bike polo (don’t ask) accident the week before the race, I was hardly able to walk, let alone run, the week before the race. My left knee was swollen, my left calf was screaming in pain with each step. My battered body, coupled with what I knew was going to be a tough course, left me unsure of how the race would go. Yana, my roommate, planned to run with me since this was the first half-marathon for both of us and, let’s be honest; she’s the one that talked me into this adventure in the first place.
We were quickly absorbed into a sea of women as we left the hotel. Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan were on stage, which was so awesome, and Union Square was buzzing with excitement from 25,000 runners.
So many runners that we crossed the start line 25 minutes after the gun went off, weaving in and out of runners and walkers all the while. Yana and I wound our way through the financial district, still buzzing with energy and excitement, and hit the Embarcadero where we enjoyed people watching as we settled into a good pace. This was a half-marathon, not a sprint, so we made a conscious effort to slow down and keep an easy pace since we both knew we had to tackle San Fran’s infamous hills.
The energy on the course was an overwhelming tidal wave that pushed us past Ghirardelli Square and Fort Mason. We passed a break dance cheer station (pause for effect) and I stopped and busted a move before we saw it, The Hill, at mile six. We’d discussed walking the big hills, however as we started up The Hill–it was a mile long–I was able to talk Yana and myself into running to the top.
Our efforts were rewarded when we reached the foggy summit and were greeted by Jen and Steph, dressed in purple from head to toe, including crazy glasses and tutus! A group photo later and we began our descent. The pavement was wet and slippery so it was important to pay attention to each foot fall, and watch out for the thousands of other runners.
After the long downhill run we encountered more climbs, followed by more descents, it was like a rollercoaster! There are tons of spectators along the course with amazing signs and cowbells that kept us going. Anytime I began to feel tired all I had to do was remember that I was running for those we’ve lost to blood cancers: Mary Cady, Ken Irish, Bill and Pearl Krause, Robert Claremon, and Kate Santoleri; and those who continue to fight like Ronny M. Although I do think there was a point, maybe two, in which there were only three words running through my mind:
As we entered Golden Gate Park, I couldn’t help but be captivated by the amazing smell of eucalyptus. I was bursting with energy, we were only two miles from the finish line and I felt great! (I’m not sure Yana would say the same.) We stuck together and let the sea of women carry us through the park and up the last few hills. Oh, and we may have stopped and had a beer at Mile 12 before we picked up the pace for the last mile.
We held hands and crossed the finish line together. It was amazing to have shared this experience with Yana and 25,000 other women, having had great conversations, drowned in spectators, and killed the hills of San Francisco. Once we made it across the finish line, we spotted the firemen in tuxedos holding silver trays of little blue boxes. We made our way to the Tiffany’s boxes and got our beautiful new necklaces. We then grabbed some chocolate milk–an awesome recovery drink, by the way–and enjoyed some post-race stretching.
San Francisco is a tough course and many say it’s the hardest half they’ve run. It was the first half marathon for Yana and I, so we had nothing to compare it to. With that naiveté, we had a blast on the course and the day went by so quickly I’m already looking for another race to enter. The Nike Women’s Marathon was a great experience and I truly felt like I was part of something much bigger than myself the entire weekend. Meeting survivors who thanked me, us, for participating was beyond humbling. I’ve returned to DC feeling so blessed to have so many amazing friends, colleagues, and family that helped make this experience so memorable.
I’ve finally got around to finishing this novel..ok so it’s only 5 pages, but I wanted to keep all the details. Plus the one picture shows how much terror I was feeling running down the chute. 200 meters back (and the last thing I heard before going deaf from the cheering) was “2 minutes! 2 minutes!”
For those who don’t want to read the whole thing here is a summary:
Total time to complete the race (due to the time trial start): 16:42:00
Total time for me to complete the race: 16:40:14
I crossed the finish line with 1 minute and 16 seconds until midnight.
For those who want to figure out why it took me so long…
Ironman Louisville (8/26/12)
I woke up at 3:55 AM. Had a so-so sleep due to the bachelorette party down the hall to the left and the group of “bro’s” down the hall to the right. The night was interspersed with high pitched giggling, and the random drunk dude yelling “Hey Bro! Let me in! I paid my six bucks!” Lots of banging and then he proceeded to march up and down the hallway exclaiming, “I’m all alone! I’m all alone!” Waking up was a welcome reprieve from all that noise.
I got dressed and game my mom a hug and walked to transition with my dad. There was one car full of intoxicated people that screamed at us, and the White Castle drive-through was hopping. Got to transition and filled up my tires, put my nutrition on my bike, and dropped off my special needs bags. I went to my bike bag to turn on the GPS tracker. I met up with my dad to walk the 3/4 mile to the swim start. When we arrived I got body marked with 174, my number for the day. The time trial start line already looked way too long for my liking. I quickly reached into my morning clothes bag to put the long sleeve and shoes in only to realize that my bike computer was still in the bag. After a short string of expletives knowing that this was going to be a long day, but it would be even worse without my bike computer I handed the bag to my dad and ran back to transition. Got the computer on the bike and ran back to the swim start. I was dripping sweat by this time. It was a warm/humid morning. I quickly threw everything that I didn’t need into the morning clothes bag, and with my googles and swimcap in hand I said bye to my dad and starting walking to get in line. The line was along a bike path that felt like it went on for miles, but I only ended up about 800 meters from the swim start.
I was in line with a nice group of guys. I don’t remember their names, but there was one stocky guy with a red beard and a tall dusty blonde that were very nice. Even after my body decided I had drank too much water and had to throw it up – They were very kind. After about an hour of waiting in line, the sprinkler system turned on and showered a lot of the athletes with cold reclaimed water. One of the guys from the group that I was in line with was able to adjust one of the sprinkler heads so that it didn’t spray the group. The line started moving forward shortly after that. They volunteers were working hard to keep family and spectators on the left side of the path and the athletes on the right side. The line picked up after a few minutes and I really wanted to use the restroom. The next one I saw I ran over only to open the door to a guy peeing. I got back in line and at the next grouping of port-o-johns I ran in only to realize too late that there was no toilet paper. I maguyver-ed the toilet paper roll into a makeshift wipe. I was back out in line in no time.
Once we started down the onto the dock I had my swim cap and googles on. There were still a lot of people cheering. I was able to get in line for the first dock, as I jogged up I took note that my watch said 7:18. When I got to the edge and the volunteer said “jump on in” I jumped in and was nicely surprised to see that it wasn’t too crowded. I used a shorten stroke to swim the 800 meters upstream to the turnaround. Once I reached the end of the island it started to get crowded. There was a lot of grabbing and bumping going on. One guy tried to grab my leg a few times, but thanks to the Nair the night before he wasn’t able to get a grip. About 200 meters to the turn buoy I was able to stand up and walk about 20-30 feet on a sand bar. I made a comment to a kayaker about the river not being very deep at this point. The swim downstream felt good. I was in a rhythm and kept the buoys to my left. The 2 bridges we had to swim under I had named bumpy bridge and snowflake bridge seemed to take forever to get to. I just kept swimming until I had passed them both. I knew from the practice swim on Saturday that it was only 600 meters to the swim exit from snowflake bridge. I felt like there was a suction cup on my head and someone was reeling me in toward the steps. I swam up to the steps and reached my arm out for the volunteer – he pulled me right up to the steps. I took one giant breath as I stood up. Ran up the stairs and towards transition. I waved to Mom, Dad, Brad, and Joni who had seats on the Crab Shack deck high above the action. Total Swim time: 1:41:49
Ran down the steps…yes steps to get to transition and got my bike bag. I took extra time in transition to apply the padding on my big left toe. It was so worth it! Ran out and got sunscreen then ran and got my bike. Riding out I was able to see everyone cheering me on. They had spread out along the bike exit to cheer me on! The first 10 miles of the bike were delightfully flat. I found myself averaging 17 mph for the majority of the first 60 miles. Around mile 20 there was a little out-and-back section that got a little hilly. The Devil, Grim Reaper, and Superman were all there to encourage us up the hill.
The course from that point out was rolling hills. Lots of rolling hills. La Grange was awesome they announced my name as I came through the first time and I saw Mom, Dad, Brad, and Joni by a town hall/church looking building. I kept going in order to fulfill my first goal of this race which was to get past the 60 mile mark well before the 2:30 cutoff time. I passed the 60 mile mark at 1:00pm. The section of the road between miles 50 and 60 were brutal rolling, fully exposed to the sun, and miserable. I stopped right after the 60 mile mark to stretch out my hamstring on my left leg which was starting to cramp. I ended up with both the quad and hamstring cramping as my failed stretching attempt ended with me gasping for breath through the pain. The cramps ceased and I used my water bottle as a roller to try to get some of the lactic acid out of my muscles.
When I got back to La Grange I got an even bigger shout out from the race announcer. I pulled over to give my mom a hug and proclaim my victory over the 60 mile cutoff goal. The next loop was even more miserable than the first. My butt was chaffing and my toes were falling asleep in a most painful fashion. Every bump I hit on the road was agony. Again miles 70-80 were the repeat of miles 50-60, every 10 feet there was a crack in the road. Yay for carbon fiber! It transfers all the shock straight into your body! I was hurting – mostly in my toes and hands for the last 20 miles or so. I did stop to loosen my shoes and that helped a little bit. By the time I rolled into transition I practically jumped off that bike yelling “Get me off this god-forsaken machine!” Total Bike Time: 7:42:37
I took my time in transition getting shoes and socks on with the help of a very patient volunteer. You would have thought I was a preschooler by the way I was trying to get dressed. I went outside and got lots of sunscreen on for the run. I met a guy named Nils who was starting the run and we walked out of transition together. I started the run around 5PM. Nils started running and I continued to walk. The temperature was 94 degrees by the time I started the run. I met up with a firefighter from Cleveland or Cincinnati. He said we had to go at least 4 miles an hour to get through the marathon in 7 hours. At that point I was thinking “ It won’t take 7 hours.” We made it to the 4 mile marker by 6pm.
At that point I went another half mile or so before my back started cramping/spasming –thanks to the lame bike accident 8 weeks ago. I started to run for 5 minutes and walk for 5 minutes, but the back pain was miserable. I even tried running for 1 minute and walking for 1 minute, but that was miserable too. I made it to the turn around at mile 8 and my legs were starting to tighten up. My hip flexors felt like they were completely contracted, which made walking very arduous. I saw my bearded friend from the swim start, now running in a gold Steelers t-shirt. He shouted words of encouragement. I took some Perform at mile 10 or 11 and promptly threw it up. Miles 10-14 I was walking as powerfully as I could – I was just looking forward to seeing my family.
My stomach was not feeling well at all. The nice blonde guy who was in line behind me at the swim ran up behind me and asked me how I was doing. I told him about my stomach and he offered me Tums. I thanked him and told him good luck. It felt like my body was shutting down and my mind just kept it powering along.
Wow, was I in for a surprise when I got to the turnaround. Between my Mom asking how I was and me telling her that I couldn’t eat anything and Joni screaming and running down the street yelling “You DO NOT GIVE UP! Katie! DO NOT GIVE UP!” My mom gave me the encouraging advice of “I don’t care if you throw it up! Eat something and if you throw that up eat some more!” Joni was more straightforward with food advice: “Fuel the furnace! Fuel the furnace!”
It was great to have people screaming loud enough for my more rational mind to hear them at that moment. It was a surreal experience. I rounded the bend to head out for lap 2 and a volunteer asked me if I wanted my bag. I looked at her dumbfounded and said “My Bag?” She pointed down the street, which was lined with red run special needs bags. My socks were dry and I didn’t want to waste any time. Everyone on my cheer team met me on the other side of the block (it was a square) My Mom made the statement that made the difference. She said:“You’ve got this! You have 12 miles to do in 3 and a half hours!” I yelled back at her: “but that is 12 miles in 3 and a half hours!” That clicked in my brain-that it was completely do-able. I got my glow necklace and walked out into the approaching darkness.
I told myself I would walk the next 5 miles to mile 20 and then re-evaluate how I felt. I made sure to get soup broth and water at every stop. The broth was warm at some of the aid stations so I cooled it with the ice water. I kept walking and people kept passing me. Some of them were looking really strong. Even red-bearded buddy ran by and he said “You can do this. You’ve got this” My mouth was so dry I said “Good Luck” and smiled and waved. Around mile 19 I was able to drink – really chug the water down. It tasted so good. When I got to the turnaround at mile 20 it was a slight down hill. I told myself that I would be able to finish but I needed to knock at least 5 minutes off these 20+minute miles of walking. I slowing shuffled into a running pace. When my back started to hurt I adopted an improvised technique of breathing the pain out. It must have looked weird, but since I was pretty much the only one on the street (in the middle of the night) nobody saw me. I got to mile 21 with a 15 minute mile. My legs felt looser. I ran up to the next aid station and got water. Mile 22- 14 minutes, Mile 23- 13:00 and a very misinformed volunteer who told me that mile 23 was about 2/10ths of a mile earlier than it was. I told him there was no way I ran a mile in 11 minutes. Right past the 23 mile marker I passed a white lexus that had stopped. A man got out and had been watching my progress. From what I can remember he was wearing an Ironman t-shirt and had some credentials around his neck. I had slowed to a walk for about 30 seconds. When I realized that he was still looking at me I pointed at him and started screaming: “YOUR’RE NOT TAKING ME!!!! YOU’RE NOT TAKING ME!!!! I’ve got 3 miles to go and I’m doing 12-13 minute miles. (it was 11:15pm) YOU’RE NOT TAKING ME!!!” He put both hands up palms outward and said “I’m not taking you anywhere. You are doing great” I don’t think he would have approached me either way.
I got back up to my slog-jog pace. The main thought going through my mind at that point of the run was not that I wasn’t going to finish or that I might fail; strangely enough it was that I didn’t want to have to train for another Ironman for a long time! That was enough motivation to keep slogging along. Once I passed mile 25 I heard a group of people coming up behind me. They kept cheering on a girl they were calling “Blue” They came up and surrounded me saying “Run with us!” The panic in their voices caused me to start running again. I quickly realized that they were going to fast. 4 people and “Blue” kept running. There was a woman who stayed back with me. She asked me my name. I found out later that her name is Rebecca. I asked her if we had a left turn and a right turn and the finish line. She said yes. She ran slightly ahead of me encouraging me along. We made the left turn onto Muhammad Ali Blvd. A volunteer at the corner said “You’ve got 4 minutes, 4 minutes, congratulations” Rebecca was like “You hear that? Congratulations! You’ve got this! Keep this pace.” She then went on to say that she was going to run all the way down to the finish line with me. Immediately I was panicking that I would be disqualified due to a friendly stranger. “Don’t run in the chute with me, I will be disqualified.” Rebecca responded “Honey, when you finish this late nobody cares.” “I care!” I practically screamed at her. By now my heart rate had spiked to over 170. Rebecca said “Ok I’m going to run on the sidewalk-keep this pace!” My dad, bless his heart (bad knee, bad back) jumps off the sidewalk and tries to run along side me. My brain immediately tells my body “pace with him!” I screamed at my dad (more like roared) “DO NOT RUN WITH ME!” I still feel bad about yelling at him.
I made the final right turn and could see the lights. All I can remember is hearing people saying “2 minutes, 2 minutes!” I saw my mom for a brief second, I could also make out a bouncer-type guy shoving “Blue’s” friends away. I ran around them and high fived the announcer. I was on the carpet! I told myself to take it all in! What was I seeing?!? Brilliantly bright white blinding lights – Run Towards them!!! What could I hear?!? A deafing roar of people cheering and banging on the barriers. I could see the profile of runners ahead of me. I passed “Blue” and kept running. I tried to give someone a high five and missed by a mile. I told myself “Screw it! Just keep running!” I could see what I thought was an old man in pain shuffling/running. I thought: “If that old man can do it, so can I!” (I later found out that the “old man” was really a 53 year old lady) I ran under the finish arch-I couldn’t see the time-I didn’t know if I had made it-I stumbled! 2 Catchers came up and I grabbed them. They said: “You did it!! You are an Ironman! I shook my head in disbelief! No freaking way! They said: “Come over here and the winner of the whole race will give you your medal.” Patrick Evoe was standing in front of me, clean and smiling. He put my medal on me and congratulated me. I grabbed his face and gave him a big kiss. I told him that when I was starting my marathon at 5pm I saw his bicycle escort was coming back to transition and I knew he had finished. I got my pictures taken and the nice volunteer ladies took me to the end of the chute. Total Run Time: 6:59:07
I met up with my family and friends. I found a seat the edge of a large flower pot. Joni asked me if I was hungry and pulled out a package of clif shot bloks from her purse. I told her that I didn’t want to see a package of those for a while since I had been eating them all day. I think it came out something like this: “Ugh, jesus-no, where did you get that?!?” I tried to eat some chicken tenders and then walked back to the hotel. Ice bath and shower I was in bed by 1:30am. Not bad for a full day. Do all Ironman races I do have to come down to the last minutes? Overall I was never hungry, thirsty, or tired. The worst pain I experienced was the back spasms on the run. For those who will ask; Yes, I will do another Ironman Triathlon. In a year and a half.
Total time to complete the race (due to the time trial start): 16:42:00
Total time for me to complete the race: 16:40:14
I crossed the finish line with 1 minute and 16 seconds until midnight.
Running for a great cause at the Ragnar Relay
When teammate Tim Westrich approached me earlier this season about joining his Ragnar team this year, I jumped at the chance. The Ragnar Relay is a 200 mile, 12 person (or fewer, for the truly hardcore) running relay from Cumberland, Maryland back to DC. It begins on a Friday and ends on Saturday, with participants running all night through the hills of western Maryland, and it is definitely a challenging race. One gets a sense of what it must be like to be an ultrarunner while attacking hills and chasing down competitors on backcountry roads at 2am. I participated last year and was looking forward to the opportunity to run it again.
But this year that was only part of the challenge, since we would also be fundraising for Back on My Feet (BOMF), Ragnar’s charity partner! Our team, which also included BRM teammate Craig Gaver and nine other BOMF volunteers and supporters, committed to raising a minimum of $3,000 for the organization. Back on My Feet is a national non-profit that promotes the self-sufficiency of homeless populations by engaging them in running as a means to build confidence, strength and self-esteem. The organization’s comprehensive program includes connections to job training and workforce development partners and offers assistance with education and housing expenses. The member benefits of Back on My Feet are earned through attitude, commitment, teamwork, respect and perseverance. Many of our Ragnar teammates volunteer with the La Casa BOMF team in Petworth.
As part of our fundraising efforts we decided to organize an event. Team sponsor Meridian Pint was very generous to host us and provide some great raffle prizes. We also received some generous donations to the raffle from other team sponsors: The Bike Rack and Meridian Performance, a new coaching company comprised of some of our very own teammates. Donations from other members of our multisport community came pouring in, and it was truly inspiring to see how easy it was to generate support. I think this is partially due to the reputation that Back on My Feet has (it is easy to raise money for a good cause!) but is also a clear demonstration of the amazing and supportive community of athletes we have here in DC. The event was a great success, and combined with our team’s individual fundraising efforts we were able to bring in over $5,300 for Back on My Feet. This is the cost to host three members through the full BOMF program, and was above and beyond our goal. These funds will be a huge help to BOMF here in DC. Thanks to everybody who helped us achieve this!
Funds raised, all that remained was to run! Our La Casa BOMF team raced as team “BacOn My Feet”. (Don’t ask me how we managed to wind up with a bacon-themed team when the only vegetarian on the team [ahem, me] was in charge of costumes, but I guess that is the power of bacon!) BacOn Van 1 was in Rocky Gap for our assigned start time of 12pm on Friday, September 21, from which point we proceeded to chase down teams from earlier start times as we made our way east. Running was the easy part, since it was a beautiful day (and night) to be out there. Run, drive, repeat!
In addition to running shoes, headlamps and GPS devices, we had a couple other ‘essential’ pieces of equipment: the JammyPack, which allowed us to turn every exchange into an impromptu dance party (Gangham Style); and a full body bacon costume that Tim sported with flair. This all culminated in the Bacon vs. Banana dance off that happened at exchange 24. (Yet again I must admit vegetarian defeat, since Bacon definitely came out on top there too.) We decided that dancing is actually a pretty good warmup for running: potential new multisport event?
In the end our La Casa/BacOn My Feet team just missed a top 3 finish in our division (as of latest results: 4th out of 140 teams, mixed open) with a time of 27:38:02. The team that won our division included Walter, a BOMF alum who has clearly found his footing as a skilled runner! We are already planning our 2013 comeback.
Thanks again to everyone who supported our fundraising efforts this year. I also want to thank Tim for doing such a great job organizing our Ragnar team, as well as for all his work as a volunteer and team coach for BOMF’s La Casa team. He’s relocating (imminently!) but has already agreed to come back to DC for a reunion race next season. BRM will miss you Tim! You better hang on to that bacon costume!
If you’re interested in volunteering with Back on My Feet, or participating in Ragnar next year, let’s talk!
Here are some photos: