Ironman Wisconsin
September 11, 2005

Finish line - click for bigger imageWhat a great experience it was. A combination of good training, incompetence, the elements, the unknown, the known, mistakes, good planning, and marginal execution made for a most memorable experience for the whole family.

The training during this Spring and Summer went well with not too may days off and a good combination of all three sports. I had more running miles in this year than any year in my life so I was particularly confident in the run. Biking went well all year but not a lot of 70+ mile rides, and certainly not enough long bike + long run combinations which I'll have to reconsider next time (did I just say next time?). Swimming was perfect all year...I didn't swim a stroke until mid June which most triathletes would consider a bad plan, but it worked out well for me. Also, the silver-bullet strength and endurance upper-body workout of push ups came through for me just as planned...I simply wish I had a silver bullet for heat, wind, dehydration, and mind games -- all of which came to haunt me during the last 1/4 of the big race.

We headed down to Madison on Friday morning, or at least that was the plan. Deb was ready to go and I, as usual, was a wreck trying to make certain I had every little thing I needed ready to we left almost three hours late. All the kids were in the car with the TV on watching Sponge Bob and then we were off for a great weekend.

The Race to the Race

We stopped in Menomonie, about three hours from Madison for a pit stop. I gave my buddy Jan a call who was doing the race and she was already there at registration and let me know that registration closed at 4:00PM. WHAT! WAIT...! So I checked my race packet and of course I didn't notice until right now that registration is REQUIRED BEFORE 4:00PM Friday or you CANNOT RACE! ---  THIS CAN'T BE HAPPENING. LET'S GO!! So we were off like a shot for Madison, the eyes were peeled for cops, trying to hook onto fast drivers, avoiding blind curves and obvious places for speed traps, we had to GO!. Racing across Wisconsin we arrived at the outskirts of Madison in record time with 20 minutes to spare and now we have to battle local traffic to get to registration. 3:45, 3:50, 3:55, we're not there yet, 3:58, we're not going to make it, 4:00, we pull up in front of registration at 4:01 and I hop out - Chinese fire drill time. I run into the Monona Terrace Convention Center at 4:02, the volunteers are breaking down the registration tables - "wait, I'm here...!" "You're lucky..." they said "...we were just about to leave!" So, I'm not sure if this was a good start or not, I was the very last person to register for the race! Greeeeeaaaat. So, that was the start of our Ironman experience...a stress-filled race across Wisconsin...what an unnecessary, self-induced, ridiculous nervous-tension which I could have done one to blame but myself...story of my life. But I digress.

Pre-Race Saturday

Saturday morning was great. Headed out early to meet some fellow racers at Starbucks for a coffee and then mozied over for a leisurely swim in Lake Monona for about 20 minutes or so.

Trip, Henry and Evie took part in the kids fun-run around the Capitol on Saturday morning and they were all so excited when they finished. Evie's first running race ever. She was pleased with her medal and it was great for them all. Back to the hotel for some swimming for the kids.

I then had to get all my transition gear in the appropriate bags, and to make sure my bike was in good working order. We went for a short and easy 6 mile ride then back to the hotel for one last check on the bike and gear for transitions.

It was time to take everything over to the transition area. I entered into the bike area where I racked my bike on the too-crowded bike racks. I was the last to get my bike in the rack and those bikes were really sandwiched together. I think they could have left a little more room for each bike, but biggie.

The transition area for Ironman Wisconsin is inside the Monona Terrace convention center. I took my transition bags into their respective rooms where all the bags were laying in neat and semi-ordered rows. Unlike Hawaii or Canada or New Hampshire (the other Ironman races I've done) there were no hooks for your bags - they were just laying on the floor of the room in order which could be a potential problem during the race. I laid out the bags so they would be as easy to spot as possible without infringing on my fellow competitors.

Everything's checked in and ready to go.

We all went out to eat at this fairly nice Italian place. It was only about 90° and stiflingly hot inside (a bad omen I think), and thankfully we ate out in the expanded eating area in the hallway. Good food, good company, marginal service, and relatively good behavior for the four kids during the lengthy meal.

Got back to the van to head to our hotel for the night and...the keys...ARE IN THE VAN...bummer! So I tried to jimmy the locks with a hanger for 20 minutes or so, then I was trying to flag down a cop for another 10 minutes while Deb went off to the hotel. I was 40 minutes into this new self-induced, stress-filled, unnecessary ordeal when she called and said she had the other set of keys at the hotel: Thank goodness! 10 minutes to walk over, 10 minutes back and the key nightmare was over.

Back to the hotel...again... and it was 10:00. Put the kids to be and there I was all alone getting ready for tomorrow.  I laid out my swim stuff, my special-needs stuff for during the bike and run, set up the coffee for the AM, and to bed I went at 11:00 while all 2,100 other racers had been long asleep.

Race Day

The wake up call came in at 4:30 AM. After sleeping so light anyway, getting up was no problem. Fired up the coffee pot to boil water for my oatmeal. Of course now was the day our coffee pot in our room decided NOT TO WORK. Nice start to the day! I jiggered with that for a while until it finally started heating up the water. Got it into the oatmeal and then set it up for the coffee. Laced the oatmeal with about a half pound of sugar plus raisins and tried to choke it down. Note to all: If you do an Ironman, no matter what you have for breakfast, it'll likely taste pretty gross and not go down easily. This could have been one of the most uncomfortable times of this entire day choking down a big bowl of oatmeal which would normally taste darn good. Ugh!

I then made up my three peanut butter and blueberry jelly sandwiches for the bike ride. I put on the race suit and my heart monitor. Gave one last survey of the room and my gear, put on a few clothes, softly woke Deb up and gave her a kiss good bye and I was off.

The walk over was very calm. Nice warm morning... but when I turned the corner I got a soft rush of air in my face, looked over at the trees and saw they were already being blown by a good breeze. A breeze at 5:30 in the morning on what will be a sunny and hot day is a good indicator of the wind to come later, and boy did it come later.

Got over to the special-needs bag drop off and left my bag. They'll take it over to the pickup area on the bike. All the athletes we converging on the transition area.  The place was softly and subtly abuzz with subdued energy.  I entered the transition area and got to my bike, stuffed my sandwiches in the little food carrier and then had to pump up my tires. Mistake not taking a pump with me -- the lines to get to a pump were pretty long. Finally got those done and set the bike back on the rack. I stopped by the front of the bike corral and found a nice volunteer to do my body marking. 1094 on each arm and a big '40' on the back of my calf...I've been branded for the day...I'm 40 and about to do another Ironman. Getting nervous now! Headed to the transition rooms to check one last time on my bags and they were there just as I left them. I was taking note of the layout of the rooms once again so I would be less likely to make a mistake during transitions. One more stop in the biffy, which was much needed if ya know what I mean, and then it was time to start heading to the swim start. I put on some sunscreen and then started squeezing these 40 year-old bones into the wetsuit.

Finally It's Time To Race

What a beautiful morning it was. The sun was just coming up in a big orange fireball showing through the haze of the horizon. There was a creepy lull to the crowd of racers and fans as everyone was slowly moseying to the start line. The announcer was telling everyone the get in the water and move to the start. Slowly we inched our way through. A crunch of buff bodies and the smell of neoprene filled the air as most of the racers were silent and looking a little anxious. When I got in the water with 10 minutes to go I headed out to the starting line which was about 300 yards wide between the shore and the corner buoy. The water was nice and warm with the wetsuit...a cozy 74°. Kayaks guarded the line making sure people didn't creep ahead of the start. I positioned myself about 2/3 the way from the start buoy to the shore. I didn't want to get caught up in that crunch of testosterone at the inside corner. The national anthem played and the heart rate began to rise...30 seconds to go...the moment of truth...a quick glance around taking it all in checking out the thousands of fans looking on from the shore and on the parking ramp and atop the Monona Terrace...a kind word of encouragement to the racers nearby...10 seconds to go...silence...

BOOM...we're off.

Swim Start

I can't believe it's underway...all those months thinking about it and we're finally going. The water was so comfortable, everything was just a flash, and then I came to my senses and thought after about 30 seconds...'where is everyone?' I was all alone, not anyone near me at all. I've never been in a triathlon where I wasn't with a dozen or so folks all trying to swim in the same space, slapping each other, kicking each other, and in any direction you go someone's there...but this time I was alone, solo, nothing but open water between me and the far buoy. But I knew there were 2,100 people right there along with me, but not in my space. This was so nice!

I started inching my way toward the inside as we headed to the far end of the course. I could see more arms flailing along on that inside track and I knew then I made the right call starting where I did. It would have been way more chaotic in the crowd, and I liked my open water as it gave me a chance to start easy and in control.

About 2/3 the way down to the first turn I came side by side with this gal. Not sure where she came from but there she was...I was breathing to my left and she to her right...we were matched stroke for stroke.

Now we were getting ready for the first turn and here's where it got a little hairy. Now everyone was converging on the same space and all of a sudden it was super crowded, just like the start I had feared, but I knew the turns would be tough. Where I was everyone seemed to be holding a good line, kind of like bike racers in a pack going around a turn...everyone holding their own line not running into each other too much. First turn done - no damage. Then off to the second turn just 200 yards away or so, another crowded yet manageable turn done.

Now we're on the long back stretch and my new girlfriend is back two feet away staring in my goggles every stroke, 10 minutes later...she's still there. I'm now very comfortable swimming and feeling strong and in control. Turn three coming and there's fewer people there but still taking great care to pick a good line. Turn three done and all is well. My friend is with me again and I can't shake her. Quickly turn four is there and we're through! The swim is already HALF OVER, wow that went fast. Heading down the course again I kept thinking to stay in control, nice long strokes, reach with each arm every time. Every six or seven strokes I'd take a quick peek forward to make sure I was on track. We were swimming with a group now. My friend and I are still locked together somehow and I can't get away from her. I was trying to gently sneak in behind someone in front of me for a little draft to gain some more ground but not going over the edge. Turn five coming, still a little crowded but not too bad, we're making the turn and then out of nowhere someone didn't make the turn with the rest and we crashed into one another. I quick looked and this person was almost perpendicular to the rest of us seemingly confused. I dodged quickly and then he was gone, whew, I didn't need that. Turn five done, turn six done.

Now we're on the last long stretch and the mind starts thinking about the transition and getting ready for the long day ahead. This wonderful swim is awesome! Enjoy the euphoria while it lasts because it'll be ending. My friend is still there, stroke for stroke, staring right at me. We're passing people more often now. Some folks may have blown already and we were passing with ease. She's still there. Turn seven, the final it's just her and me at the turn...everyone else is in front or behind. No problem. The finish is in sight. I can't believe it's over 20 yards left, seeing people leave the water, 10 yards...I can touch. I get up and climb out of the fairly steep finishing shore and under the timing finish gate. Swim is done.

Time is 57:20 and my fastest Ironman swim ever, in at 92nd place overall and 10th in the age group of 300.

Swim to Bike Transition

I ran up the swim-finish chute and headed straight to the volunteers to get help taking off my wetsuit. The "peelers" as they're called were great. My zipper was a little stuck and 2 seconds later I was on my back and the suit was off. My wetsuit was handed to me and I was off running toward the parking ramp. Up the three floors of the curly Q helix drive we go while the crowds are cheering loudly. I passed my swimming friend and we both laughed and commented on our swimming partnership as we were running. She said to me "I was looking at you the whole way!" funny. After reaching the top of the curly Q, and feeling a little dizzy we headed into the Monona Terrace Convention Center to the swim-to-bike bag room. I quick snapped up my bag making sure it was mine, then off to the changing room.

A volunteer saw me and was now dedicated to me for the transition. He emptied my bag as I grabbed and put on my helmet and glasses, quick threw on my socks and grabbed my bike shoes and number then off I went.

Running outside and around the long corridor of bikes I finally reached mine and then stopped and put on my shoes. I heard Deb yelling encouragement and quick glanced over my shoulder to see her up on the walkway over all the bikes along with about a million other people. What a sight. Shoes on. I grabbed my bike and then kept running to the end of the transition area to the 'mount line' and over the timing mat. Transition one done.

Time 5:17 64th fastest transition overall, 4th in the age group.


Mounted the bike and clicked in the pedals and headed down the parking ramp's other curly Q helix and on the bike course we went. The first mile was pretty wide open, the sun was out with no clouds anywhere and we were heading into a stiff wind already just after 8:05AM.

I drove the course on Saturday and was a little intimidated by the size of the hills but more concerned by the frequency of them. We got out on the course for the first 12 miles or so out to the loop. The hills on the way out were no big deal as far as effort goes (because everything is easy at the start of an Ironman) but they were indeed big and the down hills were fast.

We were warned about drafting and other important rules during our pre-race meeting. At about 7 miles in we were being shadowed by a motorcycle. There was a group of about five of us pretty close but all playing fair. As the cycle passed I looked over and it was the director of the rules enforcement team who happened to be a former top professional from the early 90s. He yelled over to me "Nice Suit!" I was wearing a one piece light-weight suit which I bought when I was in Hawaii in 1994. I yelled back "1994 vintage, baby!" and he gave me a big thumbs up which I found very funny.

But that's been the story of this season...all my gear is early 90s stuff. The only thing new on my bike is the little food carrier which I bought this week. I also put on a new chain last week. Other than that everything is like it was in 1994. All my friends kind of snigger at the gear I use and all seem to get a chuckle out of my outfit.

Anyway, back to the story. So the first two water bottles of Gatorade I had with me were gone and the first aid station at about 10 miles was here. I dumped the empties and took on two tall bottles of Gatorade and one of water which I put in the pocket of my suit. The Gatorade was in premixed bottles straight from the factory just like you would buy in the powder. It tasted really strong, but that's ok. Keeping on...with over 100 miles to go.

The wind was noticeable but not too bad yet.  I was moving back and forth with a few people, passing on the down hills and being passed on the ups. This was my strategy to go easy and in control up the hills and maintain the pressure over the top to take advantage of the free speed on the downs. This seemed to work well.

My plan was to keep the heart rate in the mid 130s beats per minute, but I was really having a hard time keeping it below 150, especially on the ups. I was trying hard to stay calm and work efficiently as a high heart rate means I'm working too hard and even though it feels easy it'll get ya at the end. I had to back off a bit. The perceived effort was 'easy'. The ups were harder but still easy. I was getting passed by lots of people and it didn't seem like I was doing much passing. I'd chit chat with folks as we passed one another which was fun.

I kept getting passed by this 26 year old kid who was breathing so hard and sweating so much it seemed like he was doing a 25 mile time-trial. Every up he would zoom by breathing harder and harder and every down I would coast by him. On one up at about 20 miles he pushed past me again and I thought to myself 'Dude, do you realize you have another 90 miles to ride and then a marathon? You gotta take it easy!'. Well he ended up going 2 minutes faster than me on the whole ride and then walked his 6 hour 41 minute marathon...bummer first time experience, but a valuable lesson for him.

Anyway, the first hour was done and I had a half a PB&J sandwich and three salt tablets per my nutrition plan. Drank more Gatorade, picked up more at the aid stations and took it easy. 30 miles in I was getting anxious as my heart rate was still in the high 140s to low 150s on average and I was trying to keep it under 160 on the ups.

Click for bigger imageApproaching hour two I had another half a sandwich and three more salt tablets. I could feel some sloshing around in my stomach which was a bit of a bad sign so I backed off on the Gatorade intake and concentrated more on water hoping to get things moving again. I didn't take Gatorade at the 40 mile aid station and kept an even keel still feeling good and in control and easy. Then the three BIG hills came which were hard but great experiences.

THE biggie was about a half mile hill at a tough incline. Granny gear all the way and out of the saddle. What made it really cool was the crowd lining both sides of the road cheering wildly as we pressed up. It was really great and they lifted us up that hill. The second hill was not as long but steeper and harder. At that one the crowd was about 6 or 8 deep and more concentrated...I got the feeling of what it might be like at the Tour de France with the fans screaming at you as you pressed through the three-foot wide corridor of people...super cool.

There were some hairy and really fast down hills on this course. My fastest speed was 44MPH which in hindsight seems slow considering how fast if felt.

Coming into Verona and the end of the first lap I was feeling good but probably not drinking enough as the sloshing was still there. Taking in more water and spraying it over my head and back. The crowd in Verona was huge...race organizers estimated 35,000, but I would guess more like 15, any rate, a big crowd and the first time around they were cheering very loudly as we flew through, then it was over...back to the lonely grind. I made a turn and there was Deb and the kids waving and cheering. What a great sight!  I waved and high-fived Trip as I passed.

Lap two was harder. I was handed my special-needs bag which I had another sandwich and a bottle of Boost which I drink right away.  The big ups were a tougher effort and the heart rate was about 5 beats faster. I saw Deb and the kids at several points on the second lap and at one point they were driving along with me for a half mile or so with the sliding van door open. Really great to see them all and I thought what a long day they have ahead!

It was getting hot now and the wind was howling. Going with the wind was fun but hot. Going into the wind was hard and loud and slow. The big up hills were a LOT harder the second time around and the heart rate hit the low 170s in my easiest gear on all three toughies. Going up the steep 'Tour' hill I was trailed by a car who was honking. It was an old geezer who clearly didn't know there was a race going on. He was creeping up on me and honking and very irritated at the situation. He was coming up the hill and was about three or four feet from my back wheel and honking and yelling. The crowd was yelling at him trying to get him to back off. I was a little miffed too and was just doing my best to keep going up the steep hill. At the top of the hill I moved to the side as the jerk sped by honking and yelling and waving his fist at me...whatever. I'll never forget that.

Click for bigger mapThe second time through Verona was not as festive as the first and most folks were getting tired and were hot. I was feeling stressed but still together. I had to pee finally. Felt the urge at about 70 miles but decided to wait until I really had to go. At the end of the second lap I decided to wait until the second transition to go. Lap two done.  Now back to the Beast that lies ahead.

Now we were going with the wind all the way back and we were boogiein', still trying to drink. One last aid station to get another bottle of water and Gatorade. Time to relax and get ready for the run. This is the best I've ever felt at the end of and Ironman ride. Still in control with a little stress...not too bad.

Approaching the parking ramp I slipped out of my shoes while still riding and then zipped up the curly Q helix to the top. The crowd was great again and the volunteers were ready. Stop the bike and hop off and hand it to a volunteer. Over the timing mat I go. Bike ride done.

Time 5 hrs 47min 10sec, 167th best bike overall, 25th in the age group. 101st person off the bike.

Bike to run transition

With my shoes already off it should go quick. I scampered into the building and through the bike-to-run bag room to snap up my bag then headed to the changing room while taking off the helmet and glasses. Dumped the meager contents of my bag out while a volunteer shadowed me. I chose not to change socks as they'd just get soaked again anyway by the first aid station. I slipped on my shoes and grabbed my hat and was off through the doors and outside. I realized I had to pee and slipped into a shady biffy for a nice 30 second pee...I thought 'this is killing my transition time...but it sure feels good!'. Out I went and over the timing mat and off to the run course

Transition Time 2:31, 53rd best transition overall, 8th in the age group (even with the pee!).


Click for bigger imageAhhh the run...if you can call it that. The legs felt good, the whole body felt good, the heart rate was way up though. I didn't have that heavy feeling in the legs I usually get and thought this is great! I felt really good...until I didn't.

At ½ mile I looked at the heart rate and it was already at 165...too high...WAY too high so I backed off the effort and slowed down to get that heart rate to a manageable level. This was a sign of dehydration which I didn't pick up on until it was too late.

First mile was 8:15...about where I wanted it to be --- on a 70° day...NOT a 90°+ day. The wind was whipping and at the first aid station I had some Gatorade which was hot from sitting in the sun - YUCK. At this point I'm starting to really dislike Gatorade, BIG TIME.

Keeping on the second mile was 8:13 and heart rate was too high still at about 160. I kept slowing and the heart rate fell to the upper 150s which is about as low as it would go. This was WAY higher than the planned 140 bogey for the run. Well...we are where we are and I gotta deal with it.

Deb and the kids were there between two and three cheering me on.  It's so great to see those guys out there...what a treat.

By mile three I could tell this was to be one of the hardest marathons I will ever run. I turned into Camp Randall and it was quite a sight, the football stadium of the University of Wisconsin, and it was totally empty. We had to run around the football field and then back out. A fun volunteer was at the far end of the stadium with a whistle and clapping. His enthusiasm echoed throughout the stadium and put a smile on my face. He was great. Mile three was at the far end zone and I had already slowed to a 9:02 mile. We headed out of the stadium and toward that third aid station, where I spotted the coke and decided that was going to be the ticket the rest of the way. One coke and one water every aid station. I filled my hat with ice and three cups of ice down my suit...'ahhh that feels good'. Sponges of ice cold water squished over the head and more cups of water poured on top then running again. It was HOT...really hot...Kona, Hawaii HOT...and I was slow.

Click for bigger imageMiles four and five were 9:30 each with more of the same, then we hit the hill on campus. This thing was about 80% grade, I’m talkin’ steep. And I ran up it. Y’all would have been humored by the little steps I was taking but at least I ran. Finally over the top and a little down for another block, then another pretty big climb, then a switchback descent to State Street. There was a band playing and the street was lined with restaurants and fans sitting and drinking and cheering. It was great.

The race numbers we were wearing had your first name on them so everyone was able to cheer for you by name. This was awesome, but a little distracting. At first I was looking at everyone who was saying my name but after a couple miles it was real work to turn my head and look so I just gave a limp wave of my hand as thanks for the kind support which was helping us all out.

I was actually starting to feel much better. The course took us along the lake on a shady running trail and it seemed cooler out of the sun under the trees. Mile nine was 8:31. ‘Maybe I cracked this thing and am getting stronger’ I thought…ahh a nice thought it was but it didn’t last long. Mile 10 was back to 9:11 – and at least I was headed back to the Capitol and the finish line.

I decided to walk for a minute at the next aid station, took extra ice and coke, and walked. I checked my watch and was stunned to see how fast time was flying by. That one minute walk lasted all of about 15 seconds it seemed and then I had to run again…OK…I’m running. Mile 11 – 10:23 – things are starting to look pretty bleak now. On we go.

Click for bigger imageGrinding away through 12 and heading back to the Capitol I was feeling pretty grumpy about things, but I was where I was and had to try to keep it together. Now I’m approaching the turn I saw Deb and the kids for the third time and I could see the concerned yet amused smile on Deb’s face and I knew she was keen to my condition. I headed to the turn around and was within feet of the finish line but I had to do it all over again. Around the barrier and off for the second, and much more brutal, lap. I passed Deb and the gang and walked with them for a few seconds informing them of the obvious…the wheels have come off…this is going to be a long marathon. Mile 13 was 10:39.

At that point I knew I was toast. My thoughts of doing well in the race had faded and in my mind I shifted from racing to finishing as best I could. The hopes and visions of qualifying for Hawaii were erased from my mind. I was happy and a little angry at what was happening. All that training and sacrifice and preparation and anxiety and hopefulness and desire to do well seemed to have slipped through my fingers.

I shouldn’t have been thinking that though. I had come through the turnaround at just under 9 hours. The winner should have passed me heading for the finish long ago. Where were they? I passed him shortly after that as he was heading to the finish and I was going out to the second lap. There was the leader with 1/3 mile to go looking good. And he did NOT make it in under 9 hours. That should have sparked some sort of urgency in me, but I didn’t even think that if the winner is 15 to 30 minutes slow what would the rest of the field be like.

So it was for the next five miles 10:45, 10:00, 10:02, 11:10, 12:25 (yep…12 minutes 25 seconds for a mile in a marathon and it was a hard one). Each aid station was the same…’ICE! Cola, sponges, more ice in the cap, water over the head…this sucks!’

Still 8 miles to go…and that big hill is coming next. This time I walked it after a feeble attempt to run it, I was about 1/20th the way up and bailed on the run plan. I ran at the top and then back down again to State Street. This time running slower yet, the crowds were still great and so encouraging. 11:46 and 10:53 for 19 and 20. OK only 10K to go.

Now it took some real grit to not walk. The run course now was FULL of people and the aid stations were getting overwhelmed understandably so it was a free for all. At least now it was getting a little cooler as it was about 5:00 in the afternoon and down to about 90°. I was just cooked.

Click for bigger imageA struggling trot it was for the next two miles at 11:32 and 10:36. Then I was really done. I never thought it would happen but in between aid stations while running I simply couldn’t run any more and walked. A fellow competitor who was also struggling gave me some big words of encouragement and got me going again after about a minute…12:14…ouch. Then at the mile 23 aid station I walked again for too long, this time for two minutes…mile 24 was 12:26.

Two to go, it’s cooling off so ice in the suit and water over the head weren’t needed…just let the suffering end! The final trotting miles went by fast but the times were so slow…11:47 and 11:55. Finally it’s almost over!

I was at the capitol and could see and hear the finish. I was at the top of the chute and ran past the turn around area while others were heading back out. There it is…THE FINISH LINE! I took a glance over and just caught a glimpse of Deb and the kids. The announcer was saying my name as I cruised by and across the finish line. It’s finally over! The misery has ended and my body is wrecked, at least that’s what it felt like.

Finishing Run Time 4 hrs 30 min 23 sec, 249th best run overall, 35th in the age group.

Overall time 11 hours 22 minutes 41 seconds, 116th overall, 18th in the age group.

It's Over

The ‘Catchers’ caught me and led me away talking with me and making sure I was OK. We made our way toward the medical tent. Deb and the kids were there to greet me after what must have been a really long day for them too.

Let's go to medical. I was weighed at the tent and was 161.3 pounds. I dropped 10.1 pounds during this race. Nice. I peed only the one time. I was simply parched and didn’t drink enough on the bike ride. Better to be peeing all the time than not at all and running on empty. I THOUGHT I was drinking enough, but not enough was the reality.

I was brought in and given the once over by an EMT.  Blood pressure was 96/60, hear rate was 110, and I felt pretty crummy.  So he led me back and they did a quick glucose check on my blood and it came back at 225 (normal range is 70 to 120).  He said it was likely all the coke I was drinking that gave the high reading.  So they decided to give me an IV.  I've always wanted to know what this effect would be so finally here's my chance.  It slowly dripped in over the course of 45 minutes and they said 'you're not looking so you want another bag?' -- 'Yes please'.  And they hooked me up again.  Meanwhile Deb was out there sending in notes every 15 or 20 minutes wondering what was going on.  That bag finished and I must say I felt worlds better already.  I had a couple cups of chicken soup, they unhooked me and I was discharged.

Feeling like a new man, I found Deb and the gang and we hung out for a while.  I got the kids some brats and hot dogs from the food tent.  We chit chatted a little about the day and then I went and got all my gear and we headed back to the hotel as it was approaching 10:00 and they were all exhausted.  They hit the rack and I headed back to the finish line to see the last hour of finishers.

If you ever get a chance to see the final finishers at an Ironman triathlon you have to take it.  It's one of those experiences with intangible and unexplainable feeling and emotion.  The crowd and the atmosphere and the music and the finishers and the whole event generate an emotional and wonderful feeling that's hard to match.  And at midnight when they closed it up and it was all done I thought 'that was such a great day'.

I can almost guarantee your day will be a better day than this day.  This race set a record for Ironman USA races for the highest dropout rate at just under 20%.  So one in five people who started the race did not finish.  250 people were pulled off the bike course because they were unable to finish the bike before 5:30 in the afternoon -- 10 1/2 hours after the start.  That's a tough race.

Hawaii - Here I Don't Come

I had talked about qualifying for Hawaii all year. I knew I could do it and was fit enough to earn a slot in next year’s race. I had to come in the top 9 in the age group. Well the ninth place finisher came in at 11:02, just 20 minutes faster. Had I not died I think I could have made it. Well the day after the race is Hawaii sign-ups and those who qualify who do not sign up forfeit their slot and it then rolls down the list of finishers until someone takes it. Five people decided to forgo their slots and it rolled down to 14th place, just seven minutes, seven measly minutes faster than me. THAT makes the crash-and-burn run a little more bitter. I had no idea I was so close. Who knows if I could have mustered more out of my beaten body had I known while I was out there…what ifs, what ifs, what ifs.

So, That's It

For all the pain of the last three+ hours of the race it was so worth it. What an awesome event. If you’ve ever thought of doing an Ironman…do it. It’s not as hard as you think and you’d surprise yourself at how far you can push. Any able-bodied person with the drive can do it. And you will never forget how great you feel when it’s over.

On a scale from one to 10 the entire Ironman experience for me was about a seven or eight. Had I drank a little more the run would have gone just a little better and that would have made all the difference.

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