Ironman Texas!

Today I made the decision to sign-up for IMTX! Why? I was more concerned with regretting not signing up in time than regretting if I did.

Yesterday was Ironman Florida and today people sign-up for next years race. This race sells out in less than a minute. For those that don’t get in they are going to try to sign-up the day after Ironman Arizona which takes place on November 17th. Even though IM Texas is in May people start to get antsy if they haven’t signed up for a 2014 full distance event. I realized yesterday that IMTX will be sold out in a matter of weeks.

Per my friend Amanda, (her blog is here) she gave me the advice on when trying to decide things to make a list of positive and negatives. Here they are:

Positives

  • I would be able to keep my weight down in the winter.
  • I am turning 40 in September 2014.
  • I love Texas.
  • I would be training in the winter.
  • The focused training will keep me busy.
  • I get to see my friend Evan and his family for a few days.
  • I have plans to get leaner by eating healthier and this will help me to jump start it.

Negatives

  • I am starting a new job tomorrow.
  • I may be purchasing a new house in 2014.
  • Winter means not a much outdoor bike training as I would like.

Neutral

  • Early morning training
  • More weight training

As you can see from the list the positives far out weigh the negatives. It all comes down to managing my time wisely. I do find that I am around a bit more in the winter so I do have more time to train. With me turning 40 next year I want to celebrate it all year. Kicking it off with a May Ironman is just the way to do it.

Per my post IM Texas? at the end of September I was very much on the fence about doing this. So why in the end did I decide to sign-up? This is the lifestyle I signed up for. This is something I embrace. I know I am up for a challenge and looking forward to doing two next year.

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M-Dot Tattoo

I always knew someday I would get the M-Dot Tattoo after I completed Ironman. To me M-Dot is similar to fraternity letters. You never wear the colors or letters until you earned them. Once you earn them you can wear them for life. I earned mine on August 25th, 2013.

At Ironman Louisville I saw a few hundred with the M-Dot Tattoo. Everyone wears it proudly. When you’re at these types of events people get immediate respect for having completed the full distance. I think in everyday life not everyone knows what the M-Dot means. That’s ok. When people ask I am glad to share.

I decided to get my tattoo on my calf. I really wanted it to be large. It’s not so much as an ego thing but I did it for accountability. By having it in a place where everyone can see in the summer I am telling people I will stay in shape and wear it proudly. I may add to it someday.

I have seen several people do something unique to it. I am interested in putting a 140.6 under my current tattoo. Each Ironman has unique logo and I am interested in getting a tattoo of the logos for the one’s that I have done.  I think I would wait until I finish 4 or 5 full distances races before I do that.

M-dot

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IM Texas?

For the last few weeks I have been toying with the idea of doing two Iroman’s next year. Which on the surface sounds a bit crazy. IM Texas is on May 17th, 2014 and the one I am signed up for, IM Chattanooga is on September 28th.

As of now I am less than two weeks away from the end of my season. I am running the Hartford Marathon on October 12th. From there I have one more small race scheduled a few weeks later. I may run another 1/2 marathon in November but that is just to keep me in shape. I also realize I need to have a few weeks of downtime if I am serious about doing IMTexas.

If I choose to do IMTexas training starts January 1st. This gives me 18 weeks to prepare. and two weeks to taper. Living in the north east the only concern is riding my bike. I have a trainer and would need to be willing to be on there 3-4 hours a week and then trying to get in some 30-40 mile rides until the weather warms up. I am confident I can be in shape enough to complete it but worried that I won’t want to train 10-15 hours a week in March when it’s needed. In January and February I can get away with some easier weeks and focus on the pool. Their would be no 1/2 Iron to prepare for this. I would need to consider doing the full marathon in February instead of the 1/2 that I normally do. There are 70.3 events before this but I would need to travel west or south to participate in them. It’s tempting but pretty expensive.

I had plans to run a 1/2 marathon the week before IMTexas which would probably not happen. If I chose to run it then I would do it as a training run. Probably about 1 minute slower per mile. I also have a 70.3 planned on June 1st so this would mean very little training in those two weeks and mostly rest. 2014 is shaping up to be very busy for me. I just need to decide how much I want to do.

More than likely I won’t do IMTexas but I want to. If I don’t do it next year I definitely will participate in it 2015. I also plan to compete in IM Cozumel in 2015 as well.

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Dedication

Per my other post the other day, It’s Not an Obsession. It’s a Lifestyle!  I wanted to do a follow-up to what I wrote. My friend read it and said I sounded angry. She was right I was angry. I think I still am. My question is as a society we are considered very lazy, rightfully so, but if some of us take our training to “Ironman” level is this now not accepted either?

We have the majority of American’s who are out of shape who can’t walk a city block. They are helping to cause healthcare costs to go through the roof by not being active. Is this acceptable? Just go into a Walmart and you will see my point. I am not trying to be mean here. I really feel bad for people who can’t lose weight. I struggled with it from 1996-2008. I still struggle with it to this day. At my peak I weighed 217 pounds on January 1st, 2008. My ‘summer’ weight is around 165-170 and my ‘winter’ weight is about 175.

I fall into the category of someone who can’t diet. It’s not that I eat fast food, in fact I gave that up about ten years ago but, I don’t eat 100% healthy. If I really ate healthy then I wouldn’t have summer and winter weight.

If you are reading this and you struggle with your weight then I am going to be honest with you. It’s hard damn work! You have to want it! You have to be dedicated! You have to be honest with yourself and do something about it. You have to get up everyday and tell yourself the only easy day was yesterday. Keeping the weight off is a 12 month a year job. Sure we can yo-yo, most of us do but, you need to make a commitment to get down to your ideal weight and find a way to keep most of it off 12 months a year. I am all for putting on that 5-10 pounds in the winter so you give your body some rest but don’t lose all that weight and put it all back on.

By giving your body rest that doesn’t mean taking off a month. In fact I don’t recommend taking off more than a week or so. What I learned was if you aren’t feeling it just walk on the treadmill or go for a walk in general. Staying active helps out. Even walking on the treadmill for 30 minutes can help you burn off 1/2 your breakfast. It’s really important that you cross train. Find 2-3 sports that you like. In the winter where in the colder climates we don’t get to bike often I decided to take up Soccer. I am awful at the sport but since I am fast they like me out there.

Remember we are always busy. We always want to workout tomorrow. We set our alarm for 5 AM with the intention of going for the predawn run. What happens? You hit snooze so many times that you are now late for work. It take’s real dedication to get into shape and work towards your goals. It’s even harder to stay in shape.

On one side we have couch potatoes and on the other side we have these endurance athletes. What is balance? Whatever keeps you off the couch. For me it’s about doing what I love. We all love different things in life and for me I love to stay active and exercise. No one has the right to tell you what’s excessive when it comes to being active. I use to think doing a 100 mile run was insane, well I still do, but I want to do one someday. Why? Because it’s hard.

As mentioned in a previous post if it was easy everyone would do it. I want to do things that are extremely difficult. I want people to look at me and think I am a bit different. It’s because I am! You have to be a bit ‘odd’ to enjoy the suffering. Doing a full marathon, a 70.3 or 140.6 triathlon is ‘odd’. People don’t ever look at you the same way once you have accomplished something like this. What they see out of you is dedication.

I am very dedicated to staying in shape and racing 8+ times a year if my schedule allows it. But I also know I am dedicated to my son and knowing I won’t miss anything he is apart of. So if people want to call me ‘selfish’ or what I am doing is ‘over-the-top’ just remember you inspire me to train harder. You make that 4:20 AM daily alarm clock just a bit easier. Keep the inspirations coming. I will be busy training for my next race!

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It’s Not an Obsession. It’s a Lifestyle!

For the last few weeks I had a few people tell me what I am doing is an obsession. This couldn’t be further from the truth. For those that haven’t trained for a Marathon, a century bike ride, a long swim race, or any type of triathlon (Sprint, Olympic, 1/2, or full distance) I can see how one would think this way. To train for any type of multi-sport distance event takes time. Sometimes it’s significant time. The secret is balancing it. It’s a myth that all we do is train and are selfish.

While some of us are competitive the majority of us aren’t. I am in the latter. I compete against myself and the desire to improve. My competitiveness is very much exaggerated. Sure I want to do well in a race but unless I put in way more time it’s really not possible. How much time do I need? I honestly don’t know. During the training season (April- September) I normally put in 8-15 hours a week of training. From research I hear you need several years at 15-20 hours. But everyone is different and that’s not the point of this post.

What I do is a lifestyle! It’s something I truly enjoy. It’s not selfish and racing doesn’t make one competitive. It makes me want to push my limits. Doing this type of exercise actually has made me more relaxed in life. In my 20’s when I wasn’t working out I didn’t know it at the time but I had all this pent up energy and would have mood swings. I would take it out on people and later would feel bad about it. Now I channel that energy while I am working out or during a race.

You have to want to do this type of lifestyle. It’s not something I would recommend to people. It really is in your blood. I didn’t find this out until about 5 years ago or so. Now I get criticized by some people taking this over the top. Why? I have no idea. I am not someone who can workout a few days a week and stay fit and in shape. Sure at the end of the season while I am recovering I can but if I take off a few weeks I start to put on weight. In my opinion the majority of us get into this because we are trying to lose weight and then we turn it into a lifestyle. Not an obsession!

What’s the difference between an obsession and a lifestyle? If I was obsessed I wouldn’t adjust my workout schedule, see my son, or spend time with a friend. In my previous life I was obsessed with the Dallas Cowboys. This is not the same at all. A lifestyle is finding out what your plans are for the week and finding time to workout in it. It’s about being flexible. It’s keeping everyone happy.

Doing 8-12 races a year isn’t an obsession or over-the-top. It’s doing something you enjoy with other people and pushing your limits. Most of these events are for charity. For the most part I do a few early season races to see where my fitness is, then spread out a few races over the spring time, and finally do a handful in late summer and into the fall. If a family obligation comes up I won’t race. It’s about balance as I mentioned above.

I got feedback from a few people in passing saying I couldn’t date someone with that lifestyle. Why? People who exercise have way more energy, they live longer, and are much happier in life. People who sit on the couch and watch several hours of TV may be around more now but won’t be later in life. People who exercise are much better at balancing their lives. I built two sheds, finished off a basement, a home office, & a laundry room. Go find a lazy person to do that!

The bottom line is this is a lifestyle. So I am sorry if this comes across as me being a bit annoyed but the ones who have questioned me don’t know what I do on a day-to-day basis. They just assume I workout non-stop. The truth is I think about my son non-stop. I want to make him proud of me. I am hoping at some point I will find someone who either shares similar goals or understands why we do this.

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My Bucket List

I think we all have a bucket list. Some of us write them down while others just have thoughts in their heads. The real point of the bucket list is to cross items off of them. I think the mistake most people make including me is we just keep adding things to them and rarely cross them off. My list below is something that I have started several years ago and have slowly added to it. Most of the items are not in any particular order except the first few that I perceive as the most important.

There is even websites dedicated to giving you ideas on what to put on a bucket list.

Bucket List:

  1. Qualifying for the Boston Marathon
  2. Running the Boston Marathon
  • Complete Ironman Kona
  • Visit all 50 states (41 so far)
  • Own a motorcycle
  • Hike around the base of Mount Everest
  • Hike the Appalachian Trail
  • Bike across America
  • Live in Texas
  • Own a Porsche
  • Live part-time in the Caribbean
  • Own a business
  • Donate my time in 3rd world countries by helping them to build houses.
  • Own a Log Home
  • Pay for my sons college
  • Do a month long cruise
  • Run a 50 mile race
  • Run a 100 mile race (I want a buckle)
  • Learn Spanish
  • Learn to play guitar
  • Sponsor a little league team
  • Run with the bulls
  • Visit every Major League park
  • Ironman: Texas, Cozumel, Florida

Items that I have completed:

  • Own a Mini
  • Run a Marathon
  • Cycle up Mount Washington
  • Graduate from college
  • Receive my Masters
  • Own a Mercedes
  • Cycle 100 miles
  • Learn to drive a manual transmission
  • Visit the Playboy Mansion
  • Meet Bill Bates
  • Go on the field at Texas Stadium
  • Hike Mount Washington
  • Completing a Full Ironman
  • Donate money to camp
  • IMTX, IMLP
  • Swim Lake Ossipee
  • Send people to camp
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My Next Ironman

I knew going into Ironman Louisville this wasn’t going to be my only one. I want to experience this lifestyle of training for these types of distances. You eat, sleep, & train Ironman for over 7+ months of focused training. Plus you are doing some type of maintenance mileage the other 5 months. We also so other tune up races. Some of us do 70.3 events, 1/2 marathons, full marathons, and other shorter races. Sure we take some time off. I will take off a little bit of time in December and normally find myself taking more time off in March. This is a lifestyle you have to want. To do Ironman you can’t put your toes in the water. You have to jump into the deep end and totally immerse yourself.

I know from past experience it takes me a few distance events for me to be understand what I am doing. Doing 140.6 in a day is complicated and so many factors go into finishing in under 17 hours. It’s complicated because you are not only doing three different sports, but your burning an insane amount of calories. I believe I burned anywhere from 10,000 -12,000 calories the day of the event. You can’t possibly eat this much but you have to eat enough to survive.

Nutrition is what caused me to struggle out there. My legs were strong enough to do a 4 1/2 hour marathon. I need to spend the winter trying to understand the nutrition side of this sport. In other distances you may be able to get away with a lack of nutrition or eat minimally.

My next scheduled 140.6 event will be Ironman Chattanooga on September 28th, 2014. This event sold out in less than a minute. I was lucky enough to get in and will give it my all next year.

Why Chattanooga? I am one to peak at the end of September and October. I like the idea of doing a race that potentially will be much better weather conditions than Louisville. I prefer swims that are fresh water and this fits into what I am looking for. I am also interested in checking out Nashville after this event is over and plan to spend a few days there checking out the country music scene.

Ironman Texas? There is a chance I may end up doing Ironman Texas in May first though. I haven’t made up my mind yet and want to get through the fall before making any decisions on next spring. To train for an early season Ironman I would need to start serious training in early January. I would need to consider doing a marathon in February (I plan to do a 1/2). If I were lucky enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon next month and it didn’t sell out, meaning I could run it next April, then I am pretty sure I would sign up for IM Texas.

My next topic will be one I meant to write before I did my Ironman. It will be called “I Didn’t Get Here Alone..” This topic will be everyone I thanked and who inspired me to get to the start line.

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Ironman Louisville

Pre Race:

I knew early on I wanted to drive to the Ironman event. I had so much to take with me and thought flying for my first full distance wasn’t practical for me. I left from my home in Douglas, Ma on Wednesday, August 21st and drove about 10 hours to Mansfield, OH. I drove the last four hours on Thursday morning the 22nd. Before I left Mansfield I got in a short three mile run on the treadmill. I thought it was important just to loosen the legs. I knew what I did this last week to ten days would have no impact on race day but keeping loose and doing short workouts gives me confidence.

I arrived in Louisville around 2 PM and checked into the Galt House Hotel. This was considered the athletes hotel and primary location for what was going on. From the moment I arrived you could feel the energy from others arriving. Everyone looked to be in amazing shape. Everywhere you looked you saw tri-bikes that cost $4,000+. Wheels that easily cost over a $1,000 a set. Waiting inline to check-in I immediately saw people with the M-Dot tattoo. A sign of a veteran to the full distance as well as immediate respect. I expected to feel some competitiveness from others but I never felt that once all weekend. I would later learn this weekend was about survival and not competing.

After I checked into the hotel I went to the Ironman expo to get all my race stuff. You are given a bracelet to wear all weekend, swimming cap, race bibs, and your five transition bags (Race morning bag which isn’t needed if you have family, Bike transition bag, Bike Special needs which is given to you at about mile 65, Run transition bag, & Run special needs bag which you receive at the 1/2 way point) .  We received a nice Ironman Louisville backpack as well. This whole process took about 10-15 minutes because the lines were small. For a Sunday race checking in mid-day Thursday is recommended if you want to avoid lines and getting a room on lower floor. The expo was nice. I expected it to be a bit larger for an event like this but I was pleased overall. The Ironman store was loaded with items but if you never completed an Ironman before I felt it was pointless and superstitious until after the event. This is similar to being a hockey player and you don’t touch the Stanley Cup unless you have won it. As my friend says the Ironman is earned never given. So don’t buy or touch the Ironman schwag until it’s earned. :).

On Friday morning August, 23rd we had an optional relaxing 9 AM 20 mile bike ride. About 100 people showed up to this event. It was a lot of fun. This part of the course was very flat but you got to see if your bike needs any last minute tweaks. I learned quickly my water bottle cages that were attached to my seat weren’t working correctly. It works fine for a normal water bottle. But I had a Poland Spring plastic bottle, similar to what would be on the course and that wasn’t holding. I lost a bottle early on so I had to go to the expo to buy special bottle holders. They are a little smaller and have an elastic around them. They are called X Lab P- Cage kit. It cost’s me $50 and it came with another pouch to carry an extra tire. I decided I would carry 2 tubes and have another one in my special needs bag.

The rest of Friday is mostly relaxing. My parents arrived in the afternoon and we checked out the Louisville Slugger museum which I highly recommend since it’s close to the hotel and the tour is only an hour. I spent about 30 minutes to one hour loading up my special needs bags. I recommend putting everything on top of the bags first to be sure you don’t forget anything. For a rookie I had a lot of items in my bags. Friday evening there was an athlete dinner and a mandatory race briefing. The acoustics in the hall where they had this was terrible. You couldn’t hear a thing. It echoed everywhere.

Schedule of events can be found here…

On Saturday there was an optional swim from 8-10. I went for a quick 15 minute dip. You had to wear your race chip and race cap. I didn’t have my race chip on tight enough so during the whole swim it bothered me that it would fall off. I was told it would float but that didn’t make a difference. Saturday late morning we went to the Jim Beam distillery about 30 minutes away. The tour was great and it’s a good way to kill some time.

Saturday afternoon you have to turn in your bike to be left overnight and your race bags. You had from 12-5 to do this. I recommend going after 2 PM. By the time we got there it was easy in and easy out. You really need a second person to carry your bags. If you are doing this alone you will need to make a second trip. You do have access to your bags on race morning but they want them the day before.

After I turned in my bike I decided to get some food up by the finish line. I had Lasagna at The Sports and Social Club. The food cost about $7.00 and it was amazing. I ended up going back there for a second meal a few hours later. I met a guy named Howard Glass. He is in his early 70’s and already qualified for Kona in October. We talked for about 20 minutes and is someone I will now always follow. He ended up winning his age group on Sunday again. Saturday night I got to bed about 9 PM.

Race Day:

I decided to wake up about 3:50 AM. Transition opened up 4:45 AM but I had no intention of getting there until about 5:15. I ate 1 1/2 bagels along with a protein bar. I did a last minute post to FB to thank so many people who have inspired me along the way. I took a nice hot shower as well to relax the muscles. I never felt nervous. I knew it was going to be a long day and was ready to get started. Before leaving my room I put on my bathing suit and put on my Calumet 2012 Reach The Beach shirt. I brought a backpack that had my timing chip, swim goggles, goggle anti-fog spray, water bottles, Bike computer, and bike pump. My parents arrived at my room at 5 AM. I got down to my bike about 5:15. Only athletes are allowed in the transition area. If you bring your own pump people will ask to borrow yours. This is the one thing that can slow up your time in transition.

We then headed down to the swim start. It’s about 8/10’s of a mile walk from the transition area. Once there you get body marked. Numbers on each arm(1815) and your age as of 12/31 of current year on your calf. On the other calf I had my sons initials. Then I got inline for the rest room. It took about 15 minutes to get through. They don’t have enough bathrooms here so be prepared to wait in line. After that we got in line. The swim line was about another 1/2 mile walk. Athletes are on one side of the sidewalk and families on the other. I believe I got in line about 6:30. Pros start at 6:50 and age groupers start at 7:00. I got into the water at 7:31.

Swim:

As you are walking down to the start your family will walk beside you. You are with them until about the last 100 feet when you make the turn to the docks. If you have a GPS watch be sure to turn it on a few minutes before this so the satellites can find you.  Once you make this turn it’s time to put on your  swim cap,goggles and say a little prayer. There are two docks. I jumped from the first one. You are required to jump in feet first. My plan was once I hit the water I would do the side stroke until I could lower my heart rate. Immediately my heart rate was low so I was able to do the crawl. It’s upriver for the first .8 miles. I was on the outside closer to shore and I had a hard time sighting. I didn’t have that many people around me but wasn’t swimming as straight as I could. I recommend if you can go to the inside and follow the buoys. I made the turn at 38 minutes. It was slower than I am use to. If I do this race again I would swim harder during this section  because down river you are cruising. Once I made that turn I sighted the buoys. I was able to swim much faster. The last .3 miles I was a little bit tired and was thinking my breathing wasn’t going well. Something I was in fear of the whole day. Before I got out of water I tried to pee but don’t think I had much luck since I used the restroom in transition. I did the swim in 1:21. I was very happy with this.

Things that went well:

  1. My swim time.
  2. I stayed within myself.
  3. I sighted well the last 1.6 miles.

Things to improve on:

  1. Swim harder up river.
  2. Do a better job at sighting.

Transition:

I really took my time from getting out of the water to the start of the swim. In total it took about 10 minutes. Most of it was walking from the end of the swim to the transition tent. Just outside of the transition tent they hand you your bike transition bag. Since I was putting on my cycling shorts over my swim suit I had no reason to go in the tent and it was over 100 degrees in there anyway. Even though I was wearing a cycling bib I didn’t put it over my shoulders because I was going to wear the same jersey for the run. I put on my heart rate monitor, socks, shoes, jersey, helmet, and gloves. I hit the restroom before I walked over to my bike. While walking over to my bike I ate some oranges. Oranges is quick and easy and helps to reduce being nauseous.

Bike:

The first 10+ miles of the bike it’s completely flat. I took my time and warmed up. I really wasn’t going fast because I was trying to get more food and liquids into me. I feel I road scared all day. I was so nervous about not being able to breath that I never pushed it at all. My max heart rate on the bike was 155 while my average was just 127. Normally it should be an average of about 150-155 and max would be in the 165-170 range. I used my inhaler every hour and after about 5 hours on the bike I took it every 30 minutes or so. Did it help? I think so but again looking back I never seemed to have the guts to push it. On a few hills I did push it I was passing people left and right. But I never gave myself a chance to ride a sub 6:30 time. I am a B to B+ rider but road like I was a C+ to B- rider.

After about mile 60 I did seem to fade a bit. I ate the whole time on the bike but the nutrition wasn’t right. By mile 90 I was starting to hurt. There was no shade at all on the course. The sun was beating down on you from 9 AM to 4 PM. I felt I drank enough liquids but after being on the course for almost 7 hours it’s tough.

Things that went well:

  1. I stayed relaxed
  2. I stayed within myself.
  3. I didn’t crash or have any close calls.

Things to improve on:

  1. Bike harder.
  2. Work on the nutrition.

Bike Transition:

I again took my time. I told myself I was going to walk the marathon. I had thoughts at this time even about quitting. I had plenty of time to complete it but really was feeling fatigued and mentally beat up from being in the sun all day. I again got dressed outside of the tent and this time changed my socks. I grabbed my oranges and headed to the restroom.

Run:

Once I got out of transition I began to jog. My legs from the bike weren’t tired at all. Mostly because I didn’t push it all and the other was because I was fairly forward in my bike to handle the stress. My watch seemed to fail once I was out of the transition. I tried to get it to work and it didn’t seem to respond so I stopped it and reset it to run mode only. It worked after about a 1/2 mile.

I was running about 9 minute miles for the first 6 or so. I really felt I was taking my time but I felt great at this point. Normally when I start to fade on a run it goes down about a minute a mile until I am at about 12 minute miles. This time it happened very quickly. I pulled up to an aide station, grabbed some water and food, and then felt sick. I made it another few hundred yards and threw up. I was there a few minutes before a volunteer named Bill came over to offer assistance. They wanted to get me an ambulance but I refused and I asked him to walk with me. He walked with me about another mile and I could tell I was very weak.

About mile 8ish I threw up again. This time I had thoughts about quitting but kept moving. This was the worst I felt all day. At mile 6 is when the race began. At mile 8 is where I had to find it within myself to recover. I couldn’t walk this slow the rest of the way. I was averaging about 19 minute miles and needed to be closer to 15. Puke and rally is a term used when your out drinking with your friends. Puke and rally exists in triathlons as well. Your brain is foggy, you have no will to continue, your hungry, and everything hurts. But YOU have to find a way to recover(rally). At the next aid station I started to eat again. This time it was pretzels. I wasn’t going to recover quickly and it really took until about mile 18/19 where I was feeling better.

At the 1/2 marathon point I saw my parents. It perked me up. I handed them my Fuel Belt and told them it’s going to be another 3+ hours because I had been sick. I wanted to walk the rest of the way because I was afraid if I ran I wouldn’t make it and get sick again. Right after I saw my parents I met someone I would walk with for the next 12 miles. Her name was Heather and she wasn’t feeling good either. She was much stronger than I was at this point so I had a hard time holding on for a while but I am glad she pushed me. I continued to eat pretzels and became strong as the miles ticked off. I was responsible for keeping the pace while she watched the clock to make sure we made it before midnight. We knew we were fine but we wanted to be done before 11.

At around the mile 25 marker she decided to run. I took a few steps and didn’t have it in me. I did end up running the last 3/10’s of a mile. My legs hurt but I realized I had it in me to run the last few miles. I will explain more later. While going down the finish line chute it was surreal. I had that piece of paper out showing everyone who inspired me and who I was dedicating this to. I then heard my name…..William Smith ‘You Are An Ironman’. Next to getting married or having a child this was the third most important day of my life and I finished what I set out to do. I finished the Ironman in 15:02.

15:02 won’t be on my headstone someday. It will say ?X -Time Ironman.  15:02 is what will drive me to my next Ironman. Walking the last 19+ miles of a 140.6 race isn’t something to be ashamed of if you learn from it. In marathon races you normally bonk somewhere around mile 18-22 and then just walk it in. For an Ironman you can bonk, recover, and then run again. I didn’t know this. It took my first Ironman to see what I can do. I recovered by mile 18 or 19 and realized now I should have tried to run at about a 10-12 minute per mile pace. I think Heather may have been able to run as well. She seemed stronger than me the whole time we walked together.

Things that went well:

  1. I ran the first 6 miles.
  2. I recovered.
  3. I finished!

Things to improve on:

  1. I should have ran again when I felt better.
  2. Work on the nutrition.

Post Race:

I got my medal, my finishing t-shirt, and my picture taken. My parents were there to assist me. I am forever grateful for them coming help me and take care of me. They picked up my bike while I was on my second lap of the marathon and brought it to my room. This is why you need someone there to help you with things like this. After I got out of the finish line chute I changed my shirt, put on flip flops, and walked back to the room. My legs actually felt ok to walk. It was the bottom of my feet that were hurting. I developed a few blisters but didn’t feel them on the marathon.

I got back to my room about 11 PM and took a shower. I had every intention of going right to bed but stayed up to check my email and text messages. I was in complete shock and awe at how many people were rooting for me and following me. I had tears in my eyes. I thought a few would be following me but it felt like hundreds. My cousin even took a picture of me crossing the finishing line online and posted it. With such a crazy week that I have had since Ironman I still haven’t thanked everyone individually for their dedication.

The one thing people keep asking me after my Ironman is will there be another one? The short answer is yes. The longer answer is which one? Stay tuned for my next topic on “My Next Ironman”.

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Why Ironman?

Why would anyone want to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112, & then run a full marathon? Because if it was easy everyone would be doing it. It’s about doing something because it is hard and testing your limits. You have to want to suffer to do these type’s of distances. I don’t mean putting yourself on the limit all day for us age groupers. But at a certain point in the race it’s going to hurt and hurt real bad. At that point the race begins. For some that will be on the bike at mile 80 while for others it will be on the run at mile 16. I don’t know that answer yet. I will on Sunday in Louisville. I know when running marathons I use to always say “life begins at mile 20”.  I am sure for Ironman this suffering will be well before mile 20 of the run.

We all have reasons on why we decide to take up this Iron distance or decide to run a marathon. For me that reason came 10 years this fall. I was in a relationship going down hill quickly. I can tell I wasn’t happy, I was overweight, and was suppose to planning a wedding for the following summer. I remember sometime in early October on a Sunday afternoon while watching some NY road race I said to my fiance I would like to run a marathon. She looked at me and laughed and said you’re to fat and lazy to run a marathon. I am paraphrasing what she said but that’s what basically came out of her mouth. She was right I was fat (weighing about 205) and did seem at times a bit lazy. But what she said to me has always stuck. To this day this is what partially drives me. I will always have a chip on my shoulder for what she said. Even if she was sorta right. The rest of that post can be read here.

I didn’t know how to push myself as an athlete until I took up biking. When you join a cycling club you are around all different types of riders. I learned early on I wanted to get myself to the next level. The club I joined, QVV, they were so friendly and helpful. I remember being in pace lines and being on the limit about to be dropped and people encouraging me to hang on. Members like Chris, Paul, Dan, T, Liz, Anson, Pauline, Gail, Mike, Wendy, James, CR, and several others taught me skills and the passion they have for the sport. It was riding with them and doing several century rides that in the back of head I knew someday I would want to do an Ironman.

When I started running again in 2012 after taking off the better part of 5 years I knew I would be attempting an Ironman within a few years. My time on the bike made me a much faster runner and the ability to learn how to suffer and truly push my limits. After talking about Ironman over the summer with a friend I decided to start quietly training for it.

Training for Ironman has been such an experience. You learn to recover very quickly. A workout in the past may take a day or two to recover but after doing several two-a-days you learn to recover in time for the afternoon’s or evenings workout. Training on tired legs are one of the keys I feel to improving. Swimming 3-4 days a week, biking 4-5 days a week, & running 3-4 days a week means a lot of workouts when your body isn’t feeling 100%.

So Why Ironman? Sunday is about the journey to where I have come from to where I am going in life. It’s to prove to myself that I can accomplish anything I want in life but I have to be willing to work hard for it. Sunday isn’t a one time event for me. This is the first of several that I will do in my life. Being around these athletes is so energetic and a positive vibe that everyone has to see to believe.

The one thing every aspiring Marathoner, Ironman, or whatever distance you choose is this is not an individual sport. More details coming on “I Didn’t Get Here Alone” in my next topic.

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