Sorry this might be a long one.
The Race weekend started out on Thursday. I had
debated all week if I was going to do some short
training sessions in Chi-Town or in IronMan country.
Plus the SimplyStu power seminar/clinic was Thursday night.
I think I drove my wife crazy trying to figure all this out at the last minute. But I decided to train in Chi-town and go to the clinic that night. Alot of driving for me that day, basically doing a commute from Chicago since I still have to take care alot of family things before I officially left.
Before heading to the seminar/clinic I picked up my race packet and actually ran into IronWill
and her husband walking around the expo, so I tagged along until we met up with Trisaratops and TriAl for a quick bite eat before the seminar. I actually drove back to Chicago that night.
After dropping my 2 dogs off to the doggy hotel (aka in-laws). I made the commute to IronMan country. Along the way I saw cars and SUV's with bikes, and I knew there were only going to one place. IronMan Country. The SUV that touched a chord in my heart and brought a tear to my face had the window painted with the IM logo and said "GO Daddy", and I thought to myself that will be my daughter yelling for me two days from now.
Finally officially arriving in IronMan country in the afternoon I walked around the expo somemore a visited the Competitive edge vendor booth and stepped on their trusty Tanita Ironman Body composition Scale to check out my stats. Okay, I know this scale is not accurate but made me feel badass:
weight 160.6 lbs (okay accurate)
body fat 6.6% (yeah right)
muscle mass 142.6 lbs
physique rating: 8 (thin and Muscular athlete) okay not really..
Metabolic age 12 (yeah I have a body of a 12 yr old, puberty again, no Thank You)
So after that, I decided to head to the IM dinner and meet my fellow Tri club member who was also racing. I had been invited to Stu's for dinner, but I wanted to make things simple for that night. But from reading the other blogs, I missed a great time.
But the IronMan Dinner/Race Meeting was great in it's own way. The actually Dinner was not to bad, full of pasta and the stuff that was needed to carbo load for the night. They had videos and speakers to inspire us for race day. There was a lady from Chicago who lost 111 pounds, "Frank" the 77 yr old IronMan wonder who was totally inspirational. Very comical and embodied the true spirit of IronMan. The youngest racers was a 18 yr old guy. On the female side, there was a 66 yr old multiple IM finisher and 19 yr old newbie. Out of 2700 racers, 1100 was 1st timers. For a couple of people, it would be there 1st Triathlon ever. Are they "CRAZY".
The big "check in" occurred. Bike, T1, & T2 check in. Going here and there to get everything set up for Race Day. Definitely different then your normal triathlon race check in, since all your gear are in different rooms for T1 & T2.
Bike covered, check
Gear check in, that's affirmative.
Rain, not really, prediction of a beautiful cool day for RACE day, (were they ever wrong!!!)
Sunday (Race Day)
As I awoke up at 3:30 am, sleeping in my swim gear,I had a certain calmness about me. I knew it was my day to become an "IronMan".
Got to transition at 5:00am, wanted to get there early so I would take my time and not be rushed about anything. As the morning went on, the hallways started to get congested and everybody was getting prepared. Some people lying down with there eyes closed, some people talking, and some listening to music. Me, I just hanged out and tried to stay relaxed.
I got to the swim start around 6:30am for the 7:00am start time. While walking to the entry point I heard the announcer say he needed "Medical" at the start. So somebody must have freaked out. What a way to go.
Went in the water to warm-up and find a spot far away from people once the race started. Since I really could not tread water, I found a spot on one of the docks, then as the start of the race got closer I stood on a rock in the water. As the minutes ticked by, with the announcer yelling "are you going to be IRonMan today", it was crazy thing to hear those words after a year of preparation to know that you are now minutes away from your race.
One minute countdown, I just tried to keep warm and shake out the little nerves I had. Honestly, the last couple of days before the race, I was pretty relaxed because I knew I had done the best I could to get ready for this event and tried to think of it as just a race, not this huge thing I have basically trained and planned a year for.
There was actually a younger fellow near me who kept asking questions about the swim course to another triathlete. I knew he was nervous. His last words I heard from him was "I think I'm going to die", I'm sure he didn't. But he was nervous and maybe even scared.
The cannon goes off, arms flying, me swimming just to get to the start line since I was hanging so far back in the pack. Once pass the starting line, my race strategy was to race wide and use the buildings as a guide in case I could not see the buoys. Then cut in at the 1st turn and try to swim closer to the markers.
The 1st half mile went well for me, not to much bumping and I felt comfortable and just tried to keep an even pace for myself.
The 2nd turn, that is when it got ugly for me, not sure when it started to rain, but the straightaway going back was pretty choppy. I was crashing waves with my head and sometimes felt like a salmon trying to swim up stream. It seemed to last forever, but I managed to get to the 3rd and 4th turn to start my second loop.
The 2nd loop seemed a little bit easier, I never looked at my watch so I would not be disgusted or excited at my 1st loop swim time. My goal was to just make the swim cutoff.
The final turn, that was a pretty sight, then I new the hard part, so I thought, was over for me. I made it to the timing mat and towards the peelers, I guess they must have announced
my name, got my wetsuit peeled off and made a walked to T1 (what was my hurry I thought to myself).
My swim time was slow, 1:48:08, a little disappointed, but as my friend pointed
out to me, I could not even swim 25 yards in a pool 2 1/2 yrs ago. Started from scratch and self-taught, changed my swimming to bi-lateral this year so I'll take that time any-day.
I actually walked up the entire Helix, I knew I would have a slow transition, but what the hell, I just wanted to save some energy for the rest of the day. After a volunteer gave me my bag, I put on my cycling clothes and headed to the porta-john. At that point the volunteers told us it was slippery inside, especially with cleats on. So I heard all around me loud thumps in the surrounding porta-johns, actually I almost fell on my ass in there too.
So off to the bike, a familiar site for me, most of the bikes are gone out of T1 already. That was okay, I kept on just walking and a volunteer handed me my bike. As I walked with my bike I heard my name from the walkway, I turned back a waved, even though I really didn't know who it was. But a comforting feeling all the same.
The plan on the bike was to take it easy until I got to the 1st loop, starting my nutrition at 15 minute intervals. Along the 1st part of the bike course, I saw the "HAMMER" jersey on a racer, as I got closer, a red trek TRI bike, could it be, yeah it was IRONWILL, So glad to see a familiar face, after saying hello and wishing each other "good Luck", I went off in my way.
Then I got to the rollers, not to bad, but who I see climbing up the hill was TriSaraTops. Wow another familiar face, that was soo cool. We said our hello's and told us we see each other at the finish line. Then a little while later I saw my fellow tri club member Michelle on the route who was riding for Super Team 4 cancer team. Wow, way cool. Misery loves company, I say. But I must have been having way to much fun out there because a person says to me as I go by "there is no smiling in IronMan". WTF I said. Oh I almost got called for drafting, 3 1/2 bike lengths instead of 4, another WTF.
I must say after awhile the rain, cold, and wind did really suck, I think it really started to effect me on the last hour of the bike. I know I have trained in the rain before and also ran in below freezing temperatures in the middle of January, but this day, the weather got the better of me and the last hill kicked my ass mentally and physically. Not sure what happened to me mentally, but I was actually afraid to go up the last hill on both of the loops. A hill I never had a problem with before with, but I cramped both times and actuality had to walk a little bit up the hill. Oh that sucked. Even a support vehicle asked if I was okay.
The worst part for me was the last 20 miles of the race, by that time, my body was shaking from the cold and those fast descents didn't make it any easier in the cold rain. I also saw alot of punctures on the rode and one guy actually had his rear derraulier brake off. Yeah, he was done. So I prayed that my bike would stay together for just a bit longer.
But overall I think I rode okay, my nutrition worked out good, except that my enduralytes kinda of dissolved in the rain so I had a hard time getting them out of my Tic Tac container. I'm glad I had some extra ones in my special needs bag. I must say I wish I could have done the bike under 7 hrs, but I did the best I could, it was along time on the bike for me (7:33:24). I really wanted to just go to sleep in a warm bed after riding that long.
Finally back to T2, I saw familiar faces from my TRI club cheering me on, I stopped and told them to call my wife and tell her to meet me at 9:30pm at the terrace, because I did not want my kid to be out there in the bad weather all day long waiting for me.
So I walked in, people were shaking everywhere, me included. Changing my clothes was slow because I wanted to warm up a little bit. I know I had a long T2 time, but I was pretty burnt, and that time I didn't really care.
Somehow I managed to have a volunteer snag me a trash bag to cover me to hopefully keep me warm and keep me a little dry. So on the run I go, I'm not sure what happened to me on the run, all year long I thought to myself if I ran the marathon in a time that I usually could do I would have a good overall time. This was my bread-n-butter so to speak. But after leaving T2, I could not run to long without walking. It was mentally breaking me down, after awhile I didn't know how I would even make the 1st 13 mile let alone the whole 26.2 miles. My nutrition plan went out the window and just tried to get to one aid station at a time. My hands even got a little swollen. I really could not figure out what was wrong with me. Total mind meltdown, I think so anyway, tried anything to get me going. I actually think drinking that chicken broth woke me up a little bit and saved me from total collapse. So every aid station to aid station I went. Somehow I made it to the half way point. I saw that finish exit and I know next time I see that sign I will be an IronMan.
As darkness fell, I think that was my saving grace for the last half of the marathon, something changed in me, I actually was able to run to at least every other aid station, well at least sometimes. I think the darkness helped me focus and tell me myself to put one foot in front of the other. if you can't see how far you have to go I think that helped my mind rebound a little bit.
Mile 22, the message board, I actually typed a message for myself, it popped up as I hit the timing mat. "Impossible is Nothing", words I carried with me during my 1st marathon. Now I know I was going to make it.
As I still struggled the last couple of miles, the home stretch was in sight. I actually slowed down, if that was even more possible, I had hoped my wife did not listen to me and was there along the route. I looked at the spot we initially agreed upon. Nowhere to be seen. But I wanted to make the most of it, I tore of my baggy I had been wearing and actually pinned my number on my shirt, later I realized I pinned it upside down. I made sure nobody was near me at all in the final stretch. Then I heard someone call my name, It was the four brave souls who waited all day to cheer me and my fellow Tri club member along. To my surprise my daughter and wife was waiting for me there. The finish I wanted to share was going to happen. I grabbed my daughters hand and we ran to the finish. At that moment all the pain went away and of all the objectives I wanted to fulfill that day, this was it. Marathon time 4:58:41.
"YOU ARE AN IRONMAN" (14:51:39)
For some reason I could not sleep, I woke up at 3:30 am. and just started packing. I was supposed to meet my fellow Tri club member that morning and 6 of us (including me) from my TRI club was going to sign up for IM Wisconsin 2007. While I was in line, Stu came by to sign up also, and then we saw IRONWill to do the same. I think next year will be even a greater year, along with Stu and IronWill I have a score to settle with IMoooo.
I must bite the bullet and go see some more doctor's and get my hernia taken care of no later than November, If not I think my family will do it for me. Before that thou, the Chicago Marathon in 6 weeks.
IM Wisconsin in 2007 and oh yeah, 50 mile Ultramarathon in April on a hilly course. Oh that is going to hurt..
I want to thank all the bloggers I got to meet during this whole crazy weekend, the volunteers which made my life so much easier, the strangers who called out my name saying words of encouragement, and the brave Tri club members who braved the weather to watch me finish. And of course my wife who dealt with a year of craziness and after all that let me sign up for IMooo 2007. Man I'm glad this is over, for now anyway.