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Sunday, April 10, 2005

Ironman Arizona

I finished. It was definitely not a Kona qualifier. I am very pleased with my effort though. I stayed within my limits and did the race as best as I could. The wind was brutal. Twenty mph sustained winds with gusts of up to 40+. It hit you from every direction. The bridge crossings over the Salt River were particularly nasty, especially later in the day on the run.

Other than the brutality of the wind it is very difficult for me to recollect all that happened during the 11 hours, 21 minutes and 20 seconds it took me to do the race (a personal record by 6:41). For the most part, during the race of this duration, my mind shuts down to reserve its energy for the task at hand. The following is my recollection of the race to the best of my ability.

Race morning

Chris and I, head to the transition areas to load up our bikes and transition bags with what we will need throughout the day. I remember struggling in the darkness to see anything. I was wearing my sunglasses; since I didn’t want to leave my regular prescription glasses behind in case they got lost. I borrowed someone’s pump to inflate my tires, but it was too dark to see the pressure gauge. I finally find a flashlight and fill my tires to what I think is appropriate pressure. I sheer off the top part of the presta valve removing the pump. I spend the next 20 minutes obsessing whether or not I should change the tube or if I hear any leaks. I ask several people to check it with their ears for me. In the end I leave it, basing my decision on past experience of not suffering any ill effects when having done that before.

I check on my transition bags. I look in them a few dozen times and finally tell myself out loud that I checked on them already and that I should leave them alone. A fellow athlete laughs and agrees.

I decide that I have to clear my bowels for the fourth time since waking up. I head back to the hotel and do indeed crap for the fourth time. Amazingly, I feel as clean and empty as I ever have. I am very glad I went back to the hotel to do my business and didn’t just pass the feeling off as nerves.

I brought my wetsuit back to the hotel with me. I put it on and head to the swim start. As I head to the swim jump in point, I realize that I am still wearing my sunglasses. I race back to my transition bag and make sure to put them in the Swim to Bike bag.

The Swim

People start jumping in approximately 20 minutes before the start. I refuse to jump in, preferring to conserve my body heat and energy for as long as possible. As I am about to go in, I discover my goggles won’t seal on my face. The suntan lotion was allowing air to slip in. I wash my face off in the river water, seal the goggles and jump in with 10 minutes remaining before the race. I line up towards the front.

The race starts. I swim for what seems like forever before the turn around. I make my only mistake of the day. The turn was a 120 degree angle and I cut it at 90 degrees with a bunch of other swimmers. I lose at least 3 minutes. Other than that, the swim wasn’t bad. I kept a steady rhythm. I was occasionally pushed, kicked, grabbed and elbowed. Once someone started to grab and swim on my legs. A good swift kick from me discouraged him of continuing to do so further. I drafted as much as I could, but it was difficult, because visibility was less than two feet. When I did catch someone, I tickled their toes relentlessly.

I finish. I remember not being thrilled with my swim time and surprised at how slow it was. The wetsuit strippers, strip off my wetsuit with gusto.

The Bike

I make it out of Transition quickly and without problems. I catch myself drafting in the first half mile and make the appropriate adjustment.

There were a lot of turns.

I finally head out of town and the wind pushes me so that I easily sustain 24-25 mph. I pee while riding on the bike. I pass someone while peeing on the bike.

I turn around and head back towards town. The wind blows in your face with the constant pressure of tectonic plates rubbing against each other. I grind it out maintaining anywhere between 15mph – 20 mph,

I finish the first loop and get the pleasure of doing it two more times. I feel good on the bike. I stuck to my plan and didn’t push too hard. I drank very salty water, plain water and Perpeteum.

I finish the bike averaging 19.6mph. I am pleased considering the conditions. I wanted to hold a 20mph average, but the gods conspired against those plans. I run to the transition tent.

I whack the volunteer helping me in the transition tent in the head with my helmet when I take it off. He is good natured about it and took care of my stuff. I take a bathroom break before I head out of transition. I run into Chris by the toilet. I run out ahead of him and he smokes past me a few seconds later.

The Run

It was sunny, windy and dusty. My fuel belt has 4 flasks of Perpeteum which are warm, sticky and icky. The weight of the belt feels very heavy. I dump them all at the two mile mark. I knew I was not going to drink them. I had some hammer gel with me, and two flasks in run special needs, so I knew I would be ok.

It was windy. It was dusty. The wind wanted to blow off my hat. My lungs hurt from the dust.

The course went on packed dirt trails along a canal, large rock formations and cacti. The sound of my feet crushing along the gravel was very soothing. I was on autopilot. I was enjoying the scenery.

I wanted to quit. I didn’t want to continue. I didn’t want to go to Kona and I didn’t want to do Lake Placid. I had enough. I was hating life. I stopped looking at my mile marker splits. I was resolved to the fact that Kona was not in this race and I just wanted to survive.

I pass some cheerleaders from ASU. I pretty girl in a cropped shirt, hula skirt, navel ring cheers the athletes. A big smile crosses my face.

I passed a 2 year old in a stroller happily clapping as athletes pass. I smile once again.
During a particularly windy and dusty section I start to laugh at the sheer brutality of the race. I was loving every second of it. I plan ahead for the Badwater 135.

I struggled along and I saw mile twenty. I kept going. I saw mile 23; only a 5K race remaining. I ran faster. My heart rate came back up to around 80%. I saw mile 25. I started to sprint. A third of a mile to the finish I get a piercing stitch in my side. Visions of Julie Moss dance through my head. Someone in my age group catches me and I was helpless to do anything. I ran through the pain, it was only a few hundred yards to the finish.

The Finish

I cross the tape. I get my medal, and T-shirt. A very pretty and caring “Catcher” walks me towards the massage tables and food. She makes sure I am ok. She takes her time to stay with me. I appear to be ok so she heads back to the finish. I didn’t want her to leave.

I find Chris by the massage tables. We both sign up. I know I won’t make it. I can already feel my collapse coming on. I wonder off to try to get some food in me. I can’t. I sit down. An athlete asks me if I am ok. I told him that I didn’t know. I didn’t want to go to the medal tent. I was afraid of a repeat visit to the hospital emergency room. (this happened after Lake Placid).

Some volunteers come over. I agree to go to the Medical tent. I couldn’t drink, eat or sit up. They put me on a gurney and take me in.

A pretty nurse/doctor hooks me up to an IV. Fortunately, I was an easy stick. I start to feel better. I eat some chips and drink some soda.

The IV makes me cold. I start shivering uncontrollably. They cover me up with 4 blankets. The first IV finishes. I still don’t feel well. They give me another. I start to fall asleep.

The second IV finishes dripping into me and they want me to get up. I want to stay and sleep. They asked me how I felt and I told them tired. They pointed out that I just did an Ironman and I should feel tired. I acquiesce and sit up. So far so good. I stand. Still good. I feel much better, just cold. I thank everyone for the care and assistance walk quickly back to my hotel.

The Hotel

Chris is relaxing. I am struggling to stave off a relapse. We talk about the race. I battle nausea. We nap. I get up to puke and feel better and nap. At 11:15 I feel refreshed and energized. We head back out to the finish. We cheer the last few athletes across the finish line. The atmosphere is electric. However, I can’t help but wonder how lonely it must have been for them over those last few miles. I think that it sure takes a lot of guts to finish a 17 hour Ironman and that they certainly got their money’s worth.

The Official Result


Blogger Derek said...

Two IVs huh? Definitely one way to know you've left everything on the racecourse ....

Awesome job man. Congratulations.

11:18 PM  
Blogger Brooklyn said...

Holy Jeebus.

Online text does not contain enough HTML tags to express how deeply impressed I am. I would need some gadget that makes WOW come hopping off your monitor, dance on the keyboard a few minutes, and then explode in miniature chaff packets.

Outstanding work, my friend.

6:54 PM  

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