I am IRON!

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I am IRON!

Post  TriGuy on Thu Nov 27, 2008 8:20 pm

5 years ago, after finishing the Tri-America oly at Disney I had the notion that maybe I could do an Ironman. A few marathons and 4 years later I signed up for the inaugural November race in Phoenix. Last Sunday I completed the quest and have earned the right to say I am an Ironman. Uh, I didn't say I was a fast Ironman....

My training partner Tracy and our wives flew to Phoenix on Friday, went straight to Tempe Town Park, saw the swim course (down butterflies, down), registered, got weighed and a bag full of bags. Then over to TriBike Transport where the guy tried to BS us into thinking we had to take our bikes to the hotel tonight. WrongO dude, we'll be back in the morning for the bike set-up though we did get our gear bags from TriBike. Actually, they turned out to be a class act though my bike is still "in transport" until next week sometime. They do not disassemble the bikes, just take the pedals off but I digress. After checking out the Ironman village (there is the swim start) we went to the Doubletree to check-in. I have stayed in Phoenix several times and knew this to be a good place to stay, $149 a night for a two room suite that the four of us shared, full breakfast buffet included. I digressed again didn't I, oops. Unpacking the registration bag yielded the normal assortment of race promo's and coupons plus the race chip and foam strap. Also in the bag were 5, count em, 5 gear bags! Morning dry clothes, swim to bike, bike to run, special needs bike and special needs run. And I thought Disney's dual transitions were confusing! I had enough anxiety going on and now I was forced to think too. So I spent the next hour with my eyes closed walking through each leg of the race, planning what I needed. Ate dinner at a Greek place then popped an Advil PM to get a full night's sleep with hopefully no dreams of drowning.

Saturday morning, my full night's sleep lasted about 5 hours. Oh well. Headed down to the lake for a practice swim. Wetsuit, ear plugs, goggles, cap, and into the water. YEOOOOWWWWWWW!!! 63 degree water to a Florida boy is eye-opening, gasp inducing and jewel reducing! Took about 5 minutes before I could put my face in the water to make full strokes. Water clarity was better than Clermont, green instead of coffee. Out of the water and back into sweats to get my bike. Set-up took 30 seconds since all you can do is hang the bike on the rack. Helmet, shoes etc goes in the swim-bike bag. Placed the swim-bike and bike-run bags minus nutrition cuz they don't want food out for critters to pilfer. Hmm, should we look at the swim course again? Nah, the water will still be there tomorrow. Dinner in the room and early to bed,

Race Day! After 10 months of training, the day is finally here. Up at 4 am and ate a couple of Clif bars. Swimsuit on, grab the bags, off we go. Wives dropped us off at the start then they went back to sleep some more. Special needs bags dropped off, nutrition in the other bags, last check of the bike and over to put on wetsuits. Slathered on some silicone, donned my Zoot suit and found a piece of carpet to stand on, the sidewalk is cold on barefeet. The announcer said the water was open and we could start doing the lemming thing, jumping off the dock. As I am a slow swimmer, I waited until most everybody was in the water before jumping in. Heard the pros start then it was our turn. The mass start was not too bad!! We bumped a little but soon enough found a rhythm and began the trip toward the far bridge. The AZ course swims right into the sun in a dammed-up river so sighting is easy. Made the turn-around buoy (isn't that always a great thing to see?) and actually enjoyed the trip back. Beautiful weather, comfortable in the water, arms working well, and BAM, I swam over somebody about 300 yds from the finish. Both calves instantly cramped, I guess from the cold water, and I was floating on my back. I waved a kayak over and floated underneath for a couple of minutes. The cute girl with the paddle asked how my day was going so far, "Great until now" I replied as the leg muscles released. I thanked the kayaker (the first of many outstanding volunteers) and dog swam away. I did a pull buoy type swim, no legs, for a bit then was able to kick again. The second outstanding volunteer helped me out of the water and found my legs still kinda worked though sore.

Hobbled to the change tent and did an entire clothing swap. Silicone on the tender bits, shorts, jersey, etc and out to the bike. Ahhhh, so nice to be sitting on my bike and a huge swig of Gatorade. The AZ course is a three loop affair, 17 miles out into the desert and up a hill, turnaround at the top, eat a banana and back to town. Slight headwind going out made me wonder about the 100 miles left to go. Passed my friend Tracy on the way out. First turnaround though and flew back down the hill with a tailwind. Came into the transition area and saw my wife so that was good. Second loop was the slowest and then had to watch the fast guys go in as I headed out for the third loop. I had a Clif bar or PowerBar on each side of the loop plus Gatorade and some Enduralytes kept the calories going. Definitely got tired on the bike, special needs had nothing I really needed except a fill-up on Power Bars. I actually looked forward to the marathon coming up because I knew what to expect. The swim freaked me out beforehand yet it turned out to be a piece of cake. The bike was an unknown factor and actually was harder than I expected. So because I knew what to expect in the run, I was eager to get to it. Finally made the last ride into town. The left lane was reserved for bikes with a long line of cars stacked up in the right. Some jerk in a pick-up thought it would be funny to yell at a biker to get them to wobble so as I passed by him he yelled something that resembled a Howard Dean speech, hoping I would react. Heh, heh, my reaction time was measured in minutes by then so I merely pedaled on and raised my right hand in a one finger salute from aero position.

Back to the change tent, more silicone, run shorts, yada yada, and out to pound some pavement. I injured my ankle about 6 weeks before the race plus had 3 business trips in what should have been the peak weeks so there was no question of running the marathon. I did a run-walk pattern right from the start. Tracy caught me at the 6 mile mark and we ran together for awhile. I had him convinced I was on the second loop, heh heh, but stopped him before he ran away. We actually did the rest of the marathon talking and figuring how much time we had left. Darkness fell and so did the temperature. The chicken broth I had heard of so many times was just as described by the others, incredibly delicious! My PowerGels seemed to be old and gritty so I used the broth, coke, bananas and gatorade on the course. The run is also a 3 loop course and I saw my wife Elaine again at the end of the first loop. Like the bike, the third loop was really lonely! The outstanding volunteers were still out there though on dark, cold corners, always cheering. Though my left leg threatened to cramp the last 8 miles, I knew a finish was in the works. We came through transition for the last time and turned toward the finish at last! Rounded the corner and saw my wife and Tracy's wife spinning a banner around in the street with our names on each side. A happy hug and on to the finish. The crowd was incredible! I never heard the announcer because the crowd was cheering so loudly! A sea of hands to slap and there was the finish. After 16 hours and 3 minutes, I became an Ironman!! Hey, it cost a lot of money to do this race, I wanted to enjoy it as long as possible!!

Thanks for reading!
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TriGuy
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Re: I am IRON!

Post  monkey on Fri Nov 28, 2008 1:21 am

Congratulations, that was a good story. Thanks for sharing.
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monkey
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