Monday, December 20, 2010
Monday, December 6, 2010
I am an Ironman, a year of sacrifice (kinda), structure (sorta), serious work-outs (you betcha), and pain boiled down to One. Final. Step.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Leaving the tent it dawns on me I haven't used the bathroom since 6 am or so. It's about 2:30 pm, time for a well deserved pee break. Being surprisingly hydrated (according to the color of my pee) I take off for the first of three loops of the run course, and I feel pretty good. Scarf a banana and some water at the first aid station and settle into a solid pace.The first lap is great, I see my supporters 3 separate times, my little brother runs a few tenths of a mile with me, I find #206 (Jonathon from Boise). My legs warm up, I'm right on pace. I get confident. The aid stations feel perfectly spaced, I don't want for water or sports drink. I take down some gels, I destroy some hills, I finish the first lap cruising. I get cocky.
Finishing the first lap through a throng of my adoring fans jazzes me up, I am fully confident that I'm never slowing down. I remember thinking how silly I was to train as hard as I did for such an easy race. I'm really cruising now, there's a line up at the aid station, skip it! I feel too good for water, or food, or gels. Coke? Don't be ridiculous. I see my adoring fans again around mile 10-11. Do I need my special needs bag? Nope, maybe I should carry some of these poor walking bastards on my back to get them out of the way. Hills don't bother me. Another line up at an aid station, skip another one! No time to waste, I've got dinner reservations. I come to the finish of the second lap and don't see my fans, hahaha that's ok they're already waiting for me at the finish line! Be there soon amigos! Nothing can stop me now.
Except possibly 9 more miles of running. The Greek dude that ran from Marathon to Athens probably felt pretty decent around mile 18 also, the end of his jaunt was not as pleasant. Neither was mine.
At mile 19 I passed, for the last time, Aid station #2. Some of the aid stations had themes, two had emcees, one had music and dancing girls, one was cops and robbers, and aid station #2 had a "tune-up" theme. They had water and food and the like, but they also had a tent with in-race massages and a pain reliever cream (like ben gay or something). My legs had been a good sport about the whole finish-this-absurd-day-of-working-out-with-a-marathon thing until I blew right through aid station #2 without a second thought. Then they went on strike.
If you've ever run a marathon before mile 19-20 is about the area of the race where most athletes hit the "wall". It is not fun. Your legs are shattered, you walk like an 80 year old man with a peg leg, and mentally you hate the world, the stupid race, and yourself for getting yourself into this situation. It is a pretty rough self-loathing spiral that takes a little doing to get out of. After about a mile of walking I had to get going again. Finishing the race was a sure thing at this point, regardless of how I covered the last 5-6 miles, but I was getting passed by septuagenarians... who were walking... and getting passed easily. So I got some Coca-Cola, and Chicken broth in me and took off again, feeling surprisingly OK.
This feeling lasted 3 more miles. Through the throng of cheering fans near the transition area/finish line, across the bridge to the part of the course sparsely populated by spectators, and to the top of the steepest (and only) hill on the run course. Here the wall hit me back. I returned to my turtle-paced hobbling, and got mentally lost in an emotional black hole of hate for another mile and a half. Volunteers took one look at me and wisely decided against offering an enthusiastic "hang in there buddy" when I passed. Other racers didn't look at me twice. I had snapped, the race had beat me. I thought seriously about swimming back across Tempe Town Lake to get to the finish line faster. I tried running a few times and couldn't keep it up. I was lost. Until the first person to talk to me in a mile offered this, "It'll come back, be ready when it does."
I didn't know what the hell he was talking about, but that bit of sagely advice came from somewhere in that dude that knew exactly where I was. That nugget stayed in the back of my mind until about a mile left to the finish line. My hobbling had sped up just a little, and I didn't have far to go...
Miles covered so far:
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
But I wasn't thinking about that as I was getting dressed, or as I was trotting to my bike. My outfit was awesome, and I dare say that I had more fans than anyone else on the bike course. Tip to future ironmen, if you want fans and lots of them wear a hilarious bike jersey not some stupid one showing how knowledgeable you are about bikes or other races you've done or the current race you're doing. Go with something like this:
Boom, tuxedo jersey. Not only are you classing up the joint, but you will have fans from start to finish because everyone goes crazy for a well dressed man. For 112 miles I was "tuxedo man" or "bow tie guy", and I even overheard one group of supporters decide that despite not knowing who I am they would cheer for me the entire race because they liked the way I was dressed. Looking good, feeling good.
Getting my bike and running alongside it to the bike mount line (tee-hee) I was all energy and confidence. "I crushed the swim, this race is cake, these roads won't know what hit them." This bravado was soon tempered by three failed attempts to clip in while getting passed by 4-5 serious bikers. Then was only further tempered by a general disregard by the rest of the competitors for my awesome biking prowess. But still the race was progressing smoothly, the course was relatively flat, my legs felt great, and I was humming along. I had my water, the aid stations were stocked, and peanut butter and graham cracker sandwiches have never let me down before.Three 37 mile loops? No problem.
Until the first turnaround.
Sidebar: I grew up playing tons of different sports besides just swimming so the land is not as treacherous a place to me as it is to many other swimmers I know. I have a modicum of coordination, and believe myself fairly competitive in most endeavors on land. However, biking is a horse of a different color. Sure, I'll perch myself up here for 112 miles making my 6' 1" frame into a tiny speck of an aerodynamic pedalling machine. What's that? I'm as aerodynamic as a parachute? My torso is way long for a biker? I look like I stole that bike in the picture from a kid half my size? Oh yeah.
Wind. 15-20 mph sustained in my face gusting up to 35 mph, bringing with it what desert dwellers consider rain. Note to Arizonians (Arizonans?) that wasn't rain, but it was a little painful (also, did I know it was going to rain? Of course I did, I was on my bike, it was bound to rain. 200 years ago I'd be a travelling salesman through the prairie offering rain wherever I biked, at two bits an acre). This cycle of riding out with the wind at my back, and turning right around and back into it continued for the remainder of the bike portion. In the meantime I talked to my bike, made up stories about competitors that passed me, did simple math in my head, and generally went insane trying to stay sane. The wind didn't let up until towards the very end of the last loop, when it began blowing across me instead of straight at me, this was welcome news.
Until I realized the last few miles now would be directly into the wind, as the last loop veers off towards downtown Tempe. Did this surprise me? No. Wind in Houston tends to blow counter clockwise, why should a wholly different climate offer up a different menu. I make the turn for home right back into the driving wind. But that doesn't matter because 2/3 of the race is down and I feel great. Finishing this thing will be a breeze (get it?), you're going to crush this little run ahead of you.
What's that? It's a full marathon? Oh yeah.
Miles covered so far:
Swim : 2.4