Swim: 1:20:10 1046/2351 OA (overall) 182/376 (age group) AG Slower than I’d have liked by 10min but ok!
T1: 10:36 – way slower than I thought I’d be
Bike: 7:21:45 1760/2351 OA 342/376 AG – slower than I thought, but executed perfectly so no complaints
T2: 12:31 – way way slower than I thought I’d be
Run: 6:23:54 1938/2351 OA 344/376 AG – absolutely fine, first marathon and I ran most of it and negative split it so, I’m happy.
TOTAL: 15:28:56 – 1938/2351 OA 344/376 AG
Summary: I came, I saw, I conquered. My goal was to finish and finish healthy so I could enjoy the upcoming family vacation. I had some time goals in the back of my head, but I kept them shoved deep down. It was really all about execution. I’d never run more than 16 miles, so it was all about pacing the early part of the day so I could survive the balance of the day strong and healthy. I had a nagging Achilles issue which worried me, especially on the run.
I also call “bullshit” to those who say CdA is easier than Madison. The hills on the bike were substantially tougher. It may be about the same (slightly less) elevation, but the composition was tougher than I expected and it added almost an hour to my expected bike time.
What did I do when done? Well, I went to DisneyLand of course! (ok, Alaska Disney Cruise)
- Longest ride… (by 5 miles, so no biggy)
- Longest run… (by 10.2 miles!)
- First Marathon
- First Ironman
The Long Version…..
The Week Before:
We rented a place about 10minutes from town. Friggin’ awesome house. So much space, it was great.
We discovered that with lots of room the boys don’t fight much. That was a big help. I was not enjoying the rest, rest, rest. I wasn’t batty but it was getting on my nerves. With very few workouts the week preceding (and all super light and optional if I didn’t feel like it) I had much time to my thoughts. So I thought and thought. That’s dangerous!! I made sure and extended an effort to seek out many of those who’d helped me along my 7 year journey from fatman to ironman. I sought out and thanked many of my mentors and made sure they knew how much their help meant to me and had helped me. I figured since I wasn’t working out I could make use of this positive energy. Emailed back and forth with quite a few folks – special thanks to Adco and Emco for answering many of the little details questions… It’s pretty funny. As an ironman to be – you have no idea HOW impaired you are. But you are. And then right before the race, during the race, and after – you might as well be drunk off your ass. You think you have your shit under control (or at least I did) but you don’t. So many details you forget. Emco was reminding Adco of many things, for example, during/after race day. I found myself in the exact situation later and this is why your support team is so critical. You have to make many of your decisions ahead of time, because during the moment, you’re wacked. You must TRUST YOUR TRAINING during race day. Emco had a funny quote I won’t forget — “Have someone sane go through your stuff with you.” LOL. Too true.
I was, overall, calm in the lead up, with random moments of adrenaline rushes. I presume this was panic. Probably because it was feeling all so real suddenly. The fact I was doing my first marathon soon… that’s the only thing that had me concerned in the slightest. Would my training be enough? Would the pacing work? Would the Achilles hold up? Of course, the Achilles was pissed at me all week. Was only Saturday when it calmed down. F*cker. Scare the crap out of me why don’t ya? Damn thing had been fine during most of the training cycle, except after long runs (3hrs) it would bug me a couple of days.
We arrived in Cda Wed, which worked out perfectly. Overall, Wed was lost to travel. I was supposed to run – but it was 86 and sunny. Forecast was for 60. No sense in dehydrating myself and I was tired anyway. We were also supposed to have a river beach in our backyard. Well, that didn’t work out due to water levels – so I took the kids ½ mile down the street in this private community we were in to the community beach. Water was Mid50s so they didn’t play much but DS2 did get waist deep, determined to get some water time. I found it refreshing but only got the lower legs in for now.
Thursday I got my packet – that took way less time than expected.
I was there for the opening and the line was absurd, so I came back later and there was almost none. DW and I went to expo and dropped a ton of cash on stuff. I refused to pay for it or carry it though, until I had earned it. If I didn’t finish, she was to return it all.
I then got the bike and took her out for a spin – everything checked out perfectly. The shifting issues I’ve been having on the front ring had me worried, but it was smooth as silk – let’s hope it held out. The neighbors in the area thought I was nuts as I wouldn’t “stay and chat a while” but there were SO many of them and they were SO chatty I just kind of said “Howdy” and zoomed off so I wouldn’t get captured into a bunch of banter. I just wasn’t feeling social.
Oh yeah, and after getting my packet I got interviewed by a local TV station. Pretty cool. Too bad I am a moron (drunk?) and didn’t ask what channel. Not like I watch TV anyway! But it would be cool to see if I made the final edit.
Thursday was DS2s birthday so we were going to go to a waterpark, but lightning killed that. We found a Silver mine nearby we thought he might want to go to – but he vetoed it since we couldn’t actually MINE any silver. Ok, it’s his birthday…. He picked a sushi and fish market place for dinner which was “ok,” but he enjoyed it, so that’s all that matters. We drove the run course, nothing special. Didn’t know where the run turnaround was – the hill at the end looks like it was going to suck but I knew that. And rumor has it instead of a turn around half way up, we were going up and over and half way down – THEN back — majorly increasing the run elevation gain. I’d find out more Friday I’m sure. I get back to the house to find a little surprise from my LIT teammate Sparty – Thanks Sparty! Made me tear up it was so nice and unexpected:
I put some of the food in my special needs bags, the kids immediately claimed the glow sticks and chalk, etc. The little book was full of notes, letters, and sayings from my LIT teammates. Made me proud to be part of such a cool group of supportive people for the last 7 years, you guys are the best!
Prepared my bags, obsessed a bunch over them, and figured out what I didn’t have. I did a pretty good job packing and didn’t miss much…. Except my HRM Strap. WTF? Interestingly it was checked off on my packing list but it was nowhere to be found.
Friday was when I drove the bike course. Glad I did (although it didn’t fully prepare me for the hills in person) it was mentally good because I really got to set up the way I would ride it. The first 23 miles or so was mostly flat. Just the run course hill up and over but the rest was pretty flat. The next 20ish is where we would hit all the hills. And then 13 mostly flat back to town. Repeat. So easy, hard, easy, hard, easy. I ran around town looking for a replacement Garmin HRM Strap – one place had the strap but no sensor. Crap, no help there. I ended up calling my Office Manager Amanda back home and having her track one down. She ended up having to buy me a low end Garmin to get the strap and she Fedex’d it to me. Phew! (Thanks tons Amanda!!!) In the meantime, to hedge my bets, the Timex guy sold me an ANT+ strap. So I had SOMETHING… but I was seriously worried about chaffing… so I hedged my bets and got both.
Friday night I went to the banquet and course talk. Good to do, very inspiring, but I’m not surprised many of the veterans skipped it. Food was Meh and it took for freakin’ ever. The banquet was MC’d by Mike Reilly and he did a fabulous job of getting everyone excited and making it fun. The course talk was nothing new. Got a few more logistics questions answered, mostly revolving around the family situation and what they could do and when and where. Other than that I was just hanging out resting.
In laws arrived Friday. They drove all the way from Indiana and made good time. Everything is coming together!
Sat I slept in. Like 8.5 hours. How weird is that? I rarely sleep 7. I was still concerned about my bike wardrobe choices and the temp was like 52, so I decided to just go test the combinations out. I started with just long sleeve jersey and froze my butt off. How quickly we get soft! Just a couple months ago I’d have been out in a short sleeve jersey at 52! I went back out with jacket, gloves, socks, and long sleeves. ACK! TOO HOT! Ditched the jacket, left the rest… perfect. Wardrobe selection complete. In hindsight, I should have put the short sleeve jersey in my Special Needs bags. But I talked myself out of it because I was planning to abandon my special needs bags. We wouldn’t be able to get them until after 10am Monday and we needed to get out of town before that.
Went into town and listened to the Endurance Nation course talk (worth doing if you have the chance, FB Friend their page for announcements – but they are at all the IM events in the US I think), bought some more crap at the expo (mostly for others), dropped T1/T2 bags and bike, did a sample swim which was a damn good idea. OMG It was freakin COLD. This is from someone who doesn’t mind cold much. I did an out and back to the buoy (1/4 mile?) and holy crap, I was a bit nervous. Yeah, I admit it – I got nervous. The way out was so damn cold I wondered how I could stand it for over an hour and the way back was so choppy and disorienting. However, since the cold was getting a bit better by the end of the return so I decided to do another, see if it was any better. It was. I pulled it together and once again felt confident it wouldn’t hinder me tomorrow. Some amazing views…. this was from sunset Friday.
We ate my pre-race dinner at the house, which is far better than going out I have to tell you. Everyone in the house was great about telling me to get on my Azz whenever I started wandering the house trying to do stuff. So I sat around, we watched Ironman2 with the kids, and generally hung out all day. Obsessed over my Special Needs bags a few times. Got bed by 9. I got up at midnight to pee, eat, drink sports drink and go back to sleep. Alarm was set for 3:30, I was up at 3. So in the end I got about 6 hours of sleep – which is a normal night of sleep for me. Score! Had DW write (2) things on my inner arms. Left arm said ONE THING and right arm said PATIENCE. One Thing comes from the Endurance Nation teachings (and COACH CAROLE had said it in similar terms too which is funny) which is to have One Thing that you need to think of when times SUCK. Because they will. At some point, things will suck badly. This is where it’s ALL mental. WHAT will you think of to get you out of that place? A time split? Finish before dark? Whatever it is. And have a couple, because in the moment – one may not be enough. And Patience was the entire name of the game for me. I really needed to brace myself allow freakin’ everyone to pass me on the swim and the first half of the bike. If I do, I’ll reel most of ‘em in later on the bike or for sure mile 18 of the run. For my first Ironman, it was all about execution and control. If I could maintain that, I would do fine. If I blew it, well, I may not finish. Some future race I’ll consider picking up the pace.
Since I was up early, I did all my normal routine stuff and still had tons of time. So I sat down and wrote thank you note to my wife as well as notes to my boys telling them how proud I was of them. You’d think I was going off to war. Sappy, I know, but I was in the mood so I did it. I set DW’s letter to arrive via email AFTER I was racing – hehe. Figured she could use a pick me up, this Ironman Sherpa stuff is hard work. Far harder than the normal Tri Sherpa. Hell, we had the whole family involved in it. It really is a family accomplishment, in the end, with all the millions of things to figure out. Although Single guys may have simpler logistics, I can see how hard it would be to get everything in place to race. I’m not sure I would ever consider doing an Ironman solo. Who knows, maybe once it wasn’t “new” to me it would be easier, but man there’s just a LOT going on.
I woke the family up at 4:30, fed everyone their coffee,
and got the kids loaded into the car and we were off by 4:45. Arrive 5:00 and we all headed up to the start. Original plan is they would stay back by the van until closer but then they didn’t know where they were going to setup and so on so decided to all just come now. They staked out a (mostly – if you don’t mind the ridiculously loud speakers over your head!) good spot between swim in/out. I went and dropped off my stuff. I ate a gel and started sucking down an IM PERFORM. I did some bag rearranging… so things I moved from T2 to Special Needs, put in my HRM strap into T1 bag and so on. I hoped I wasn’t screwing anything up – as I left my checklist back at the house. D’Oh! It was sub50 so I still had my extra clothes on and left my wetsuit with the family. I’d put that on LAST moment. DW had to remind me to get marked (duh, can you believe that?! I tell ya, Ironmen on race morning might as well be drunk). The ladies doing the marking asked about the ONE THING and I told them it was my wife and they all said “awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww” in unison. Pretty funny.
Once settled I started looking around for Tammy/Kristine. Amazingly… they’d already found my family! Kristine had a GO RONBO GO sign and had amazingly parked themselves right next to my family!! My mother in law asked “Is that OUR Ronbo?” and Kristine said “well, that depends on what your Ronbo’s last name is!” and that’s when they figured it out!!! How freakin funny. I came wandering back a little later and they were already all introduced. Friggin’ Awesome. Kristine and Tammy had driven all night to come out and cheer me on (oh, and like 30 team mates, but I’ll just pretend it was all for me – LOL!).
So I got my wetsuit on, dropped off my dry bag. I’m ready. Not really nervous, I’m zen. It’s all good. I’m ready, I’m prepared, I trust my training. I did the work. I have no idea what the day has store for me, but I am planning for 5 things to go wrong (advice from Coach Carole). She told me that 5 things will go wrong. That no matter how well you plan there are thousands of variables. Some under your control, some outside. What you can control is your reaction to them. So when they happen, not if, but when – count them out loud. Define it, Solve it, Move on. Simple. It’s a long day. Very little will end your day, so just solve the problem and move on. I was ready.
So I gathered up a couple of MAJORLY nervous dudes who were hanging around my family, Ironman Virgins too, and shuffled them over to the start. I think because I was joking and calm they thought I was a veteran and were drawn to me. Both were shocked when I said it was my first. Clearly, neither of them trusted their training. I felt blessed to have so much counsel and advice from others (KRMS, COACH CAROLE, Endurance Nation, Prairie Dogs, etc). One was shaking and I don’t think it was from the cold (he was all zipped up and cap on about 45min before start!). I was walking around with wetsuit half down because I didn’t want to cook. I’d put it all the way on about 5min from start. It was amazing how many people were racing. 2800?! 544 in my age group! Dayum. 933 IronVirgins. Well, it took a long time to get to the beach. No warmups allowed but they were somewhat ok with us getting our feet wet and splashing our faces, which I did. Let’s get that shock over with now. Seemed a little warmer than yesterday. I got interviewed by the Ironman TV guy. He thought it was great that I had the nipple bandaids on and was asking me about them, going between my face and my nipples with his camera, hah! Got some fun sound bites. Hopefully my nipples or I make it onto the race DVD!
I stretched and was starting to feel some pre-race jitters so I forced into the center, about 5 back, and planted myself into a solid hip flexor stretch (my bad spot) and found some zen. Came easily, stayed. I was good. So many people being spazzes. Very few zen. Easy to get caught up in it all.
The countdown came and we were off. Simple as that. O-M-G though 2400 people at once is a lot. I normally sprint out for a bit and get some cleaner water, then back off to fast, then back off to easy and I’m good. Yeah, none of that today. 200m MINIMUM of people touching me on all sides. I was swimming head up, legs down, just trying to get forward and not drink the ENTIRE lake. Getting run into from behind as well. Unreal. I have to say I was getting darn close to throwing elbows about the time I saw some clean water ahead. I worked my way to it, but it was real slow going. All the freakin lemmings were headed for the inner line. Exactly where I DID NOT want to be. I wanted the center line or outside line but for the entire outbound portion I was unable to get clean water for more than 30seconds before I would get slammed into from the right, pushing me to the inner line. I rounded the buoy IN the inner line. I was pissed. I was not in control of this swim and it was going to stop, NOW. So on the short end of the “U” we were doing, I forced myself into the outside line. It was a major battle, took lots of energy and PATIENCE. Drank a lot of water here too. Wish I had pushed out sooner. PROBLEM 1 FIND CLEAR WATER ASAP no matter what. Got kicked in the face and punched in the head along the way as a reward. Whatever. So I turned the next buoy and was able to get maybe 2/3 of the inbound trip with reasonably clear water. Reasonably clear, because I got broad sided 6 or so times by people who just couldn’t sight to save their freakin lives. Later I thought about it and decided it was probably the extreme cold that was messing with people. But shit it hurt to get rammed in the chest by someone going goofy. Finally we neared the water exit of the first loop. Some guy managed to punch me in the ear HARD, that freakin’ hurt!!! ARG. He was wise to move away from me as soon as he did because if he touched me again, I’m sure I would have reacted. I hadn’t yet cooled off from the initial hit. Nobody was doing this on purpose, but still, it pissed me off! Oh, and I drank more lake.
We exited the water and went for the timing mat. I think it read 38min on the clock, which already told me I was off pace (expecting to see sub35). It was so crowded I had to wait and waddle across the line. Arg. Finally made it through and scanned the water to see where I could get clean water and headed for it. The second loop was far less intense. I was fully in control this time although I still had some more broadside attacks from people heading way off course. Had my goggles almost kicked from my face by one of them. Jesh! Most physical swim I’ve ever done, bar none. I peed both at the final turn and near the end, hoping this would clear out all this freaking lake water I drank in the first loop. I finally got into a nice groove. Plan from COACH CAROLE was to take it easy. I knew I could knock out a 1:05 (not counting the water exit and the masses) but I wasn’t going to do that. I would just swim easy, focus on form, and just be relaxed and refreshed out of the water. Mission accomplished. I was somewhat hoping for 1:15, but I didn’t count on the mosh pit being so slow for SO long, nor waiting on the half way loop mat. PATIENCE.
Out of the water, they had folks pulling your zippers! I LOVE THAT! I got the wetsuit half off, assumed the position for the strippers and I was on my way. I had to basically find my own bag, as there was a TON of people, but a Volunteer did free up and so she ran with me and untied it for me and shooed me to the right direction. The changing tent was PACKED. OMG. I looked around and saw tons of folks in the grass nearby so I found some grass and began. I can’t believe how long T1 took me, but oh well. Socks, shoes, jersey, HUGE glop of aquaphor, eat a gel, sunscreen and so on. Normal stuff. Shoving my crap in the bag took too long. Would have been extra awesome to have a Volunteer help, but they were busy and MAN I mean they were busy. These Vols were HAULING ASS, they were so amazing. I wanted to hug them!! No time, so I gave my bag and ran through the changing tent (that was dumb, too many people blocking the aisles I should have run around the tent). I then realized they would have sun screened me AFTER the tent, oh well. Had to stop at porta potty to pee, again. Really?!?!!? Then I headed for the bike but I turned one row too early for my bike but just as I was figuring it out a Volunteer was yelling at me to come to her my bike was over here!! How cool is that?? LOVE IT. I got Midnight out and put on my glasses and ran. I had some trouble getting mounted, which is unusual, but only cost me a few seconds. Tammy said they saw me but nobody was really rooting there because they knew we were all concentrating so much we wouldn’t have heard anyway. Too true!
Ok, soon as I got on my bike I started easy spin and get my bearings. Got a big shit eating grin too… I HAD JUST FINISHED AN IRONMAN SWIM! WOOOOOT! Ok, back to business. First 23 easy. So I settled into a nice pace and let everyone pass me. I was doing around 20. Yeah and everyone passing me – PATIENCE. I caught myself creeping up, so the first 23 was a mental battle. I was being passed constantly. Let them go. Stay in the box (the box being from NOW to 10minutes from NOW). What do I need to execute MY plan. I found these miles tough because it was demoralizing to be passed so much. I only passed a few people and so many others flew by me. But I knew these sections were flat and fast and I would have some killer Avg MPH which would quickly be wiped out by the next 20 miles. I drank, I ate and… I had to pee. Mile 10 stop I got off to pee, cost me about 4minutes. Mile 20 too. I was so annoyed but just realized… Ok, this is PROBLEM2 – DON’T DRINK THE LAKE. I can solve this. Move on.
Once mile 23 hit I was ready. I was warmed up, I had an empty bladder (for a bit!) and I had eaten. All systems go. They hit and they hit hard. It wasn’t that they were super insane hills, but they were nonstop. Around 3000ish Feet climb in 20miles is a lot and my entire day’s plan was PATIENCE. So everyone who had not yet had the chance to pass me, passed me here (it seemed). PATIENCE. Stay in the box. I stayed. I kept HR under control, mostly, I spun the hills, I rode the crest and I hauled ass on the downhills. Broke 46mph on one I think. But the downs were not nearly enough for the ups. Plus the ups all had false flats. Knowing that helped me not worry. I expected it, I planned for it, I executed it.
Once to the turnaround it was getting hot. Although I didn’t wear them, my gloves were super hot in my back pocket. I was wishing I had a short sleeve jersey – then I’d hit a chilly section and be glad for long sleeves. Oh well. I drank and ate on plan, although I backed off on drinking early on since the lake blessed me with so much fluid. But then picked it up. I ended up drinking 6 bottles I brought + 2 on course, which put me right on. Nutrition was right on as well, no issues there. I stayed on schedule and had a nice variety so I didn’t have any issues and managed, in total to pull about 500 calories/hour. I had a gel every 30minutes (1500) + a bag of PowerBar chews @ between hours 1-2, sweet and savory peanut bar hours 2-4, cliff bar 4-6, and part of a cliff bar from 6-7. Very high for most, but I’ve found this to work well in training on the long days that aren’t TOO hot. Tummy was fine.
After the hills were done we had another 13 miles back into town which was mostly downhill, but now into the wind. Whatever, it was nice to stretch the legs. This was the point where I started reeling people in. Crazy, but they’d already blown up in some cases it was obvious. Others just were not strong on the flats. I was. So I averaged probably 20mph on this segment.
I saw Tammy at 54!! Whoot!
Around 63 we had bike special needs. I stopped and sorted through my stuff. As intended I planned on picking through the best and tossing everything else. Refilled the Bento with gels, 3 new bottles and tossed my old, and I was on my way.
Around 65 I found myself riding alongside Craig Alexander (who won). The bastard was running faster than I was cycling (uphill). He looked amazingly solid and fast. Like he was doing a 1 mile sprint, not the end of an ironman! We’ll just say it was his first loop! I think he set the cycling record for the course that day, or maybe the guy who was ahead of him who he destroyed on the run. Either way, 4.5hrs something rides.
On the way to 79 was more flat and fast. Right before 79 I hit the potty and added some Aquaphor to the crotch. I figured once the hills hit, I would need it. Once I hit 79 I was starting to feel the heat more than anything else. I stopped prior for another bathroom stop, but this time for a longer session. I knew these stops were killing my time, but I had to solve them and this was how, so I just did it. Reminded myself to stay in the box. Problem, solution, move on. Execute. I probably reminded myself of that 2000x during the day.
The hills, second time around, were a bit harder – no surprise there. However, I was having less trouble keeping the HR in line. So I just trucked through them. There were a couple of hills that I really wished weren’t there as they spiked my HR and tired my legs pretty fast. Stoopid hills. Instead of being passed by everyone though… I was passing. Regularly. About 1 per minute. Right about the end.. PROBLEM 3– Helmet broke. The freakin chassis that keeps your head off the inside snapped and flipped out. I kept trying to shove it back in, but I couldn’t make it stay. Just hoped an official didn’t see it, but I decided to continue on. It just rubbing my head a bit but not too bad. Almost done, not worth stopping to solve.
Once we hit the flats, I was back in my element. I averaged 21.8mph? And that was with me completely coasting it in from mile 110 on. I was passing at LEAST 2-3/minute and for a while large batches of 5, 10, 15, even 20 in a minute. Felt good to drop all these folks who’d caught me in the first third. All the people I’d been going back and forth with all day – yeah, dropped every one of them before mile 110. Confidence was coming back. The plan was working. Everyone else fried out and it was such an easy course to have done that on.
Coming into the end of the ride was a welcome site. Although I wasn’t nearly as “sick of it all” as I expected. My crotch was certainly done, but the legs and body were feeling ok. Big Azz Grin time, I just finished an Ironamn Bike!! WOOOOT!! A total of 6 bathrooms stops, 4 to pee only, chewed easily 25minutes from my time but that’s ok. Long day. I should have planned for some.
Dismount was boring; legs were wobbly running in but came around. Dropped bike, ran to get t2 bag.
Called my number ahead, they relayed it up, and I went for my bag. Nobody was coming for me so I yelled out my number and then went to find it myself. A Volunteer went with me and we counted it up… SHIT it’s not there. So I yelled out my number again and an older guy Volunteer who wasn’t paying attention had it in his hand. My Volunteer snapped it from him and started running with me to the tent and untied it. You could tell she was PISSED at him. I thanked them both anyway. It’s a rough chaotic job in there so no worries. I then went in to the tent this time, because I needed a chair. And the urinal. Yeah, again. PROBLEM 4 – It hurt to pee. This started on stop 5 of the bike. That’s not good. Hoping its just irritation of the urethra from the ride. I thought about it and couldn’t think of a solution except to… pee. So suck it up and deal with it. If it got worse, I’d deal with it then.
T2 was even slower, if that’s possible. New socks, shoes, hat, aquaphor on some parts, stretch, eat, 5hr energy, gel, drink, and then spent entirely too long getting crap into my bag. The Vols were great, but spread thin. Would have been super awesome to get some help with the bag, but there were guys way far worse than me so I dealt with it. Then I was off.
Plan was 5 miles at “Slower than shit + 30s”. So that’s what I did. Well, I thought I did. First came in at 12:12. I was thinking slower than shit should be about 13:30 and so I should have been at 14:00. I spent the first 5 miles keeping myself under control (but failed to get 14:00, closest was like 13:36). Overall though, I felt good. No aches or pains to speak of and the running legs came to me quickly. Not going fast really helped loosen me up, transition my body to running, and get into a positive frame of mind. Eating a gel @ every EVEN mile and eating “Something” at every station was the plan. Drinking was to drink as much as I could tolerate to drink. I have trouble monitoring this because the heat changes everything so dramatically. It was 74 on the run, so that’s hot for me, but I knew it would cool off. I just had to be patient and try to stay ahead of fluid loss. Hopefully I’d set myself up properly ahead of time on the swim/bike. Also, I was walking EVERY aid station need it or not. So I walked a minimum of 30 steps. It was my reward for running in between.
The first 3 miles were pretty boring run wise just a nice little jog trying not to think about far ahead. Crowd support was great, signs everywhere, people in their front yards, and so on. The course support was also great. But overall, just not much going on. The hill hit around 4.5. I opted to walk most of it. My Achilles started to hurt. This scared the hell out of me. It twinged once or twice on the bike, but that was easily fixed by modifying my foot position to be more flat. But on the run, so soon? Shit. Shit. Shit! PROBLEM 5– ACHILLES FLARE UP. At first, I solved this by walking slow. But I found walking slow was worse. So I tried running. Less. What about fast walking – less again. Ok, fast walking. Then when I could I got off the pavement and that helped. So fast walking, on side trail was the best way to manage this. Soon as it was flat or down, no issue. Phew. Up and over the hill I went, chatting up a few folks who were done. Yeah, mile 5 and they were done and walking it home already! Doing the math… I wasn’t sure they would make it. I know if I was walking this soon, I would certainly not. I walk too slow. I hope they made it. I gave some words of encouragement and carried on.
Down the hill, hit the turn around, and back up we go. Same deal with Achilles. Same solution. Around mile 5 was to transition to a medium pace effort. So I upped the effort. I found myself going from low 13’s to… low 13’s. Ok, I must be tiring, However, I was able to hold those and for that I was thankful. I was mentally alert and doing ok. I kept coming back to staying in the moment. WHAT DO I NEED – NOW. And solve that. Going too fast? Slow down. Hungry? Eat. Tired? Eat. Thirsty? Drink. Nothing? Run. I repeated this again and again and again, every couple minutes.
About mile 10 things started falling apart and fast. The pace degraded, the effort got tough. Oh shit.PROBLEM 6– I AM SCREWED. I knew I had a problem, but I couldn’t figure it out. I took an extra gel. Some more water. I got slower. My feet hurt. My toes were going to have blister between each and every toe and on the bottoms. I was around 15min pace on mile 12ish and I had no idea why. The wheels were falling off and I seemed helpless to do anything about it. Although my arm markings were long gone, I thought about them. PATIENCE. One Thing. Patience was fine, I had lots of time…. But not enough time to walk the balance of the day. I panicked a bit. I was out for 12+ hours and I just didn’t think I could walk the rest in <5 hours. I started thinking about how horrid it would be to come in at 17:01. I doubted myself. I doubted my training. I doubted WHY I thought I could do this stupid thing in the first place. I was selfish to do this to my family, to work, and it was just a Bad Idea. Yes, I was still just a fat guy pretending to be a jock. Yup, all those bad thoughts came at me, all at once. Mile 13 was the longest mile. As promised, I texted my wife to let her know timing. Let her know “Half Way, slowing down”. I was walk running. I was depressed. I was scared of not finishing. 20minutes was my pace. Wow. Then I started pondering my One Thing. WHY was I out here? It was for my wife and my kids and my grandkids to come. I didn’t want to die at 55 like my parents. I wanted to make my coach proud. I thought of everyone tracking me. LIT, family, friends, the scout parents, and so on. Everyone was watching to see…. Was I an Ironman? Or a wannabe. As I pondered that all, I realized that I refused to give up. I broke through the mental wall when I saw my special needs stop. It was SO. FREAKING. HARD. Getting to it. Once there a Volunteer asked if she could help, I said no. STUPID. She saw me fumbling around on the ground and I looked up as asked for help and she was all over it. Opening wrappers for me to eat (I wasn’t able to get open a cliff bar… you think I was in my right mind?), opened up the little bottle of baby powder and dumped them on my bare feet and rubbed it in everywhere. I put on new socks, I didn’t put on new shoes as my shoes were fine. I took another 5hour energy. I drank. I probably sucked down 400 calories all at once. I stretched a bit and thanked the Volunteer and left.
Next mile was a 13min pace. I was back. I had broken through that dark time. Whether it was the One Thing, the break, the food, the energy – who cares. I solved it and I was back. And at this point, I was passing people which mentally helped a TON. I started engaging the spectators which helped pass the time. There was a serious party brewing on course, could smell the pot and they were offering beers. Probably 300people in this tiny little yard. They were overflowing into the street and some of the drunks cheering up on – it was awesome. I also liked the “Give us a HELL YEAH” sign, for which I replied HELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH much to their delight! Some of them ran with me a bit rooting me on. The other fun one was the “WE LOVE IRONBUNS” for which I gave my ironbuns a good smack and a “Here’s yer Ironbuns!” as I went by – again much to their delight. Whenever I found a group of folks not cheering I’d get them all riled up, was fun and something for me to stay distracted. I was able to get to mile 16 pretty easily and solid low 13 pace. I felt great. Tired, yes. But solid. I had my rhythm going and I was just reeling people in like crazy. It was the walking dead out there I tell ya. Very few runners at that time of the night and I even passed a few of those. I saw on the Ford Motivation Sign “1873 – MAKE IT HAPPEN” – 3x! LOL. I put it in, guessing DW and Tammy/Kristine too? Hehe. Yeah LIT! Made me smile both times I passed it.
I had been drinking chicken broth from early on, but around mile 15 I couldn’t handle it so I tried other stuff. Pretzels, chips, oranges. I could not take them after mile 18 or so because my taste buds apparently exploded. It would BURN badly to eat those. So I started in on cookies and such. Stayed away from the coke, I figured with the 5hr energy I had enough caffeine to kill a horse and well, I gave up my diet coke addiction 3-4 yrs ago and I just didn’t want to go back there anyway.
At mile 16 it was time for a big smile. Why ? Because every single step was a PR. One step longer than I had EVER run before in my life.
Around mile 17, the start of the hill, I found myself staying in a smaller and smaller box. I would go maybe 5 minutes before check in with my body, then 4, 3, and I was under 2 minutes at this point. I would go from fine to thirsty as hell in a matter of 90seconds. So I just troubleshot as I went. SO glad I carried 2 amphipod bottles with me as I had one with water and one with PERFORM and I just kept them filled, so I could react to what my body needed as it informed me.
I walked the hill again, chatted up a bunch of folks. Still had to manage the Achilles. Was very worried at one point when I had a sharp pain hit it. But it was a one time deal and nothing changed. I ran the crest and downhill. I did a little stretching after the turnaround. I was, obviously, tired but the stretching really helped. Again walked the half hill back and ran the crest and the downhill. At this bathroom break it really hurt to pee, again, and I didn’t have much to give. That’s not good. I’m irritating the crap out of my urinary system, clearly, but what impact will that have? Well, only one way to find out. Nothing I can think of to do now. Texted the wife again, with new ETA. 90minutes or so. Figuring a 15+ pace was all I could do.
PROBLEM 7 – my boy parts hurt. Sorry if TMI but suddenly I had some serious chaffing down under, out of nowhere I am running downhill and it felt like someone was slicing them in half. So I pulled out my little bottle of Aquaphor and applied it – while running. Screw it, I didn’t care. Damn glad I had it. Problem solved. Had to have looked mighty funny with my arm down my pants rubbing around :O
Amazingly, mile 19-22 were pretty uneventful. I was in a nice groove. Mentally OK, physically I was getting a smaller and smaller box. I wondered if this meant I was going to implode soon, as this is new to me… I was down to a 30second window, but it is what it is. I was cheering on and encouraging others, that seemed strange to me – but I did it because they needed it. Some were clearly worried about finishing, they were moving that slow.
Mile 23-24 was not bad and had the seriously fun crowds. I had a good time, I held my pace, and I passed SO many people.
Mile 25 started getting REAL hard. Starting getting emotional. I could HEAR the crowds but we have to weave through the neighborhoods, so you are not so sure how FAR. Is there another turn, another hill, another whatever. 25 seemed WAY long. I’m sure it wasn’t but it felt long. Texted the wife again… 15minutes. Wow, that hit me. 15minutes. I’m going to do it. If I have to freakin crawl, I can make it in 1hrs 45min! I have this SO in the bag. She replied where to look for them. HUGE GRIN. I pulled up my LIT Visor before I forgot, so it wouldn’t cover my face for pictures. Oh yeah, I’m ready make me pretty!
When you come up and can finally see Sherman Avenue though it’s so great. The crowds are loud you can hear it from far off. The uphill section through the Special Needs bags I wasn’t able to run well but soon as I hit 7th Avenue and Sherman you head DOWNHILL to 1st street which is the finish. OMG I was so freaking happy. I had been warned though that those 7 blocks seem like forever. Like the finish arches just keep moving away from you. So I took it easy, worked up the crowds a bit, and did some high fives. As I got to 3rd street I started picking up the pace. I had some left, let’s use it. I put in a nice pace and worked the crowds. Tried to get them chanting “Ronbo Ronbo” but to no avail… only small groups would and the next groups wouldn’t pick it up. More High Fives and I approached the finish chute – which is HUGE – I really got this shit eating huge freakin grin. I looked around for the family, but couldn’t find them L. The chute is really wide but then shrinks. So I swooped over there and made sure I looked up and heard those words I was so dying to hear…. Ronald Searle YOU are an Ironman!!! RON SEARLE You RONB’D IT!!!
YES! HE SAID IT!!!! I failed to mention earlier… but I facebooked Mike Reilly Friday night and asked real nice if he might be able to add “You Ronbod It!” to my announcement. I told him about my history, about LIT/Kickrunners, and all that. I couldn’t have been happier he was able to accommodate!
The catchers grabbed me. One lady at first, but she called for a second. I wasn’t too bad though but she didn’t want me to drop. They had trouble getting my chip off and we were in the way so we went down further and they finally got it. She was giving me the 411 and I told her I HAD to walk. She’s like “Honey, you’re not leaving this area for a while” ROFL I said that’s fine but I need to WALK I can’t just STOP. I wobbled pretty bad, wacked the boob of the other Volunteer (ooooooops!) and managed to get her nervous so they both walked me around. I knew that would help and it did, always have to do this. She asked me if I saw my family and I said no, but let me text them and see if I can find them, and by the time I got my phone out (and dropped it) I saw Team Ronbo (in Team Ronbo shirts). She told me and more importantly THEM the routine. Basically she was staying with me until I got my picture and she decided if I needed medical or not, but she thought not. Then she was going to send me down the Ironman Path. Left is food and massage, Right is medical. We set a meet up point.. So she walked me back to the pictures and I wobbled some more but it wasn’t bad. I got my picture and she sent me down the path. She was SO AWESOME. I think I told her so like 5x.. maybe 10! She’d caught every year they’d had the race here. She knew her shit man, I tell you. Everything she said and did had purpose and was very efficient.
I went down the Ironman path and signed up for massage first thing. I helped a guy sit down – although I told him he was on his own for standing up!! LOL. I found a chair and used my upper body strength to sit. Glad I did, the legs just buckled when I tried to sit. Only had to wait a few minutes, and I got a nice stretch/massage. Fell asleep for a little bit I think.. Then they kicked me out and sent me towards the food. I wasn’t too hungry so I found Team Ronbo and chatted with everyone and made sure they got my bike and bags and all that fun logistical stuff. Got my recovery drink, tights, and sweatshirt and got that going. Then the family went back to the van and Liz stayed while I wandered over to get some food. Well, like 4x. Several things I couldn’t eat, like the Pepperoni pizza because my tongue burnt! Got some water and cookies and finally left. I wanted to stay for midnight but I just couldn’t. Maybe if I had finished sooner I’d have some time to recover, but Team Ronbo was exhausted and I just couldn’t ask MORE so I didn’t.
Debated what to do about ice bath… lake, The Resort Jacuzzi’s (filled with ice) or home… decided to go stand in the lake, which I did for 15minutes with another guy and we chatted. He didn’t make it 15, Ironwimp! (just kidding!)
Made it back to the car after a slooooow walk… about 1/2mile or so. Loaded up and went home.
Once home the 6 steps up were brutal. But I made it and got into the shower and back into the compression gear. I was so wired I couldn’t sleep. Finally about 1am I slept a total of 2 hours, solid. Laid there for 30minutes. Got up and started packing. By 5:50 I was back onsite, I let Team Ronbo sleep in as I felt good enough to return my bag and buy the finishers gear stuff.
By 10am we were all packed up, one suitcase shipped to Chicago (mostly my crap) and headed to Seattle for PNW Meetup #1 of 2!
Neimsco said something funny during one of my sappy rants a while back “dude, it’s just a race J” and he’s so right. The event itself really is JUST a race. The hard work is in the preparation and organization needed to pull it off. I want to thank every single one of you for your part in helping me get there, I was thinking of you all during my journey. This was indeed one of those “events of a lifetime”. There were signs all over the course saying stuff like “Pain is temporary, Bragging Rights are forever”. Too true. I feel like I’ve “graduated” into the Big Boys group. Hanging out in line to get the finishers gear I realized I was “part of the club”. Whether you finished in 9:00 or 16:59, everyone there was an Ironman and recognized each other as such. I cannot wait to get home and wear my finishers jacket.
COACH CAROLE was thrilled, of course. After we talked through it she asked what I thought could have been differently in training. Honestly… I cannot think of anything. My running base was the weak link and we planned accordingly. We did as much as time allowed. We held the bike back to make sure I could run. Any day I will give up 30min on the bike for 3hours on the run. It was planned and executed well. Even after writing this report, I still cannot think of anything we could have done better given the athlete I am today. If I do another and I may (not 2012), it will be a different race and a different athlete.
Where I saw so many people fail is in their execution. I passed too many people on the bike and run, plain and simple. I bet most of those several HUNDRED people messed up execution on race day. They could have had a great day, but they didn’t play the cards they were given right.
Personally, I thought I could come in under 14 MAYBE (not realistic) and 14-15 was realistic. Coming in 15:28 was a small disappointment, but I didn’t factor so many things into my initial thoughts. The fact you WILL have many potty stops. The Special Needs bags time. I easily chewed up an hour for all that. I’m sure I could improve that. My transition times were huge, those could come down too. So without have an ounce more fitness, I could probably drop 50minutes. And with some running base? Another hour. Not running, speed, but base. I have cranked out many 13.1 training runs around 2:20-2:40. So double 2:30 that’s 5 hours, my time was almost 6:30. There is room for improvement there. Oh yeah, maybe next time don’t pick such a hilly freakin course you flatlander!!! ROFL
So I guess it is official: RON SEARLE, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN.
p.s. I’m in a 2 week “no decision” zone regarding future races. I know this year I will be doing “whatever I want to do” for certain. This will probably include an Xterra race or two, Cyclocross, and Swim Team come the fall. I may do a sprint… or Olympic… no idea. My season started in November, so I need some down time before I kick into anything. I will certainly do some social rides and swims, no question there.
p.p.s. Will I do another full? Probably, but when and where I’m not sure. CDA was a wonderful place, but I am not sure I would return. It’s so early in the season and the training was brutal. If it weren’t for the wonderful folks in my tri club coming to ride during my endurance spin classes, I’d have surely gone insane. And Chicago had a brutal winter… We weren’t outside until mid April. I did (2) family vacations to warm weather to ride, which helped TONS, but the costs were high. In (6) months we took an (8) day family trip to Florida, another (8) day to Las Vegas, a (3) day solo trip to Knoxville, a (15) day trip to CDA, Seattle, Alaska (cruise), and Portland. It will take a while to refill the coffers from all that. We still have another short Florida and short NJ trip coming this year. I have zero frequent flier miles!! Ironman Brand was a great experience, however, my gaze falls towards a Rev3 Full due to the family element. Until the kids are out of the house, I need to integrate their needs into the entire experience.
A week of resting these beat up feet: