Well I am finally making some time to post about my second IM as I track some fellow triathletes who are on the bike course right now at Ironman Wisconsin. This has been a year for me that has thrown many challenges my way both personal and business. I don't know how many times I said to myself I am going to have to bag Ironman due to lack of training time just to have my brain shout at me "NO WAY MAN YOU HAVE TO DO IT". Even up to the last day when some craziness hit at the office I was in the process of moving out of did it continue. I called my triathlete buddies Charlie Mosbrook and Tim Ritt who I was driving up with and told them it looked like I couldn't go but that I would give Charlie my car keys to drive. Lucky for me Charlie "the simple man" Mosbrook, does not have a drivers license and reiterated to me that my problems would still be here when I got back but the bitterness of skipping the race would last a long time. Charlie has become a good friend and I envy his lifestyle of Vegan living, riding his bike to work and doing triathlon. Thanks Charlie. You were right.
When I got in the car with Charlie I was tired. I had stayed at the office until 3:30am finishing work and then ran home and packed up. I picked him up at 6am and we were on the way on one hour of sleep. A cyclist rode up to us as we were loading Charlies bike and ask us if we could go to where his friend had a flat a few miles away to change a tire. We would have had no problem doing this normally but time was an issue so we said no. We both thought it was strange for two cyclists to be miles away from home on a bike and neither one know how to change a tire but we had some fears that this would be a karma jinx! If you are a cyclist reading this and don't know how to change a flat please learn it is so simple and it sucks to have to rely on others for simple things like that which can ruin an otherwise nice day.
We picked up Tim Ritt near Cincinnati. Tim is another one of my good friends from the Cleveland Triathlon Club (CTC) and is as nuts as they get. He has already completed Ironman AZ this year, just did IM Louisville and is as I write on the bike course at IM Wisconsin. Crazy dude but a lot of fun to be around. We laughed and talked triathlon the rest of the way to the race and my attitude was much better as I left the office issues behind. We arrived in Louisville, checked into the hotel and registered, and I crashed for a couple hours. Afterward we went downtown to where a bunch of other CTC members were gathering to find a place to eat. Louisville is a really cool place and Cleveland should take note of some of the things they do there because the downtown was thriving with people taking part in several different events. There was a kids concert in a section of the town where they put a cover over a bunch of buildings and made it into a cool center with restaurants, shops etc... that was teeming with people. We walked around there a while had some appetizers and then home to bed where I really passed out and didn't budge until morning.
Saturday morning we went and did a practice swim in the Ohio River on the race course. The water was warm as could be and it was definitely going to be a no wetsuit race. Saw a bunch of Cleveland people down there and checked out the transition area. Then we went to find a Starbucks as I was jonesing for some coffee. One anomaly of the trip was this Starbucks. They were always closed! With all the thousands of people here I couldn't understand it. We also went to the expo, the supermarket Whole Foods where we had a last big meal of lots of carbs, and checked our bikes and gear into the transition area. Then it was time to just sit back and wait. We checked out the gear store, went to the hotel restaurant for a light last meal and back to the room where we did our last minute preparations.
Race day we woke up at 4am and had our pre race meals. Checked the weather report - 94 degrees and sunny - oh how nice. I had a couple bagels, a Clif bar and a banana. We hiked over to transition to put water and nutrition on the bikes and air in the tires and then we walked the mile or so to the swim start. My son Michael and the rest of "Team Carney" which consisted of Conor "the BIG C" Luskin, and Ronnie Thomas two of Michael's friends who I have known since they were little kids. Did my last minute toilet run and then back to look for Tim and Charlie who were getting a spot in line. The swim start at Louisville is not the traditional mass start instead it is a time trial start where everyone is herded into the water like cows and you jump in off a dock. I could not find Tim or Charlie but had met up with another CTC homey, Chris Phillips who had jumped in line closer so I blended in with him and waited. I was nervous but really excited and couldn't wait to hit my turn. The horn went off and the line started moving slowly at first then more quickly until the turn at the dock where is was almost a slow jog and the starter was urging us to hurry up.
The Ironman swim is usually like being in a washing machine with flailing limbs and clashing bodies similar to trout in a stream. It was strangely peaceful here as I swam alone with only occasional body contact. I did have one guy swim over me almost perpendicular and wondered where he was going. The only time it got congested was near the turn where we left a small narrow area where we had headed upstream to turn and swim back toward the finish. Once I made that turn I again was only occasionally in contact with other swimmers. I had a good swim and had no problem without the wetsuit other than the fact I chafed under my arms from the friction and it hurt a bit. I got out of the water in 1:41:28 a bit slower than I hoped.
I ran to transition and changed and when I went to the volunteers who were spraying sunscreen to get doused, I raised my arms and when they sprayed me it felt like a blowtorch. I realized the chafing under my arms was pretty bad. Jumped on my bike and off I went. I felt good and the first ten miles or so are flat, well paved and fast. It is a nice start and then you get to the meat of the course which is non stop rollers for the rest of the way. I mean non stop. My first forty five or fifty miles seemed a bit slow at times and I even had to slow down on a long steep descent where some poor girl had taken a bad spill and there was an ambulance in the road loading her up. I was able to see my son and his friends twice during the ride and that always picks me up. I got a good second wind and felt better during the second half of the ride and came in strong. It was 95 degrees by now and I am glad I took advantage of all the water on the course both to drink and to douse myself with to keep the body temperature down. I was hot heading to the transition and by now my underarms were really burning but not as much as the chafing I had developed between my legs. I could not wait to get off that damn bike.
I handed off my bike to a volunteer and went into the changing tent. I sat down feeling really tired. I slowly changed my shoes and put my gear into the transition bags and gave them to a volunteer. I should take time here to say the volunteers are fabulous and the race couldn't happen without them. They really do a great job and it is hard work doing what they do all day in the heat. I went to the table and had something to drink and took Vaseline and put it generously under my arms that by this time were ugly red and raw. Why I didn't take a handful and slap it between my legs is a mystery to me but I lived to regret it.
Off to the run. I ran out of the tent, sun screened again and ran out. I always take a little time to get my running legs under me but this was different. I was really tired, really hot, and more than a bit uncomfortable. I ran for about a half mile and came to a bridge that leads up to a turnaround and the first aid station. Knowing I was not in as good shape as last year I had decided to run to each aid station get my food and drink, and walk a little afterward. When I looked up that bridge which was fairly steep I just stopped and started walking. That took the wind out of my sails a bit and at the top I really thought I might not have it in me today to finish. That is a horrible feeling at less than mile one of twenty six so I just told myself " Suck it up Princess" and get moving. I ran after that aid station and stuck with my plan for the first four miles or so. Then my walk breaks got longer and I felt like crap for the time I was running for a few miles. Thankfully I got a second wind on the second loop and for whatever reason began to run a lot more consistently. Seeing all the CTC members and my son and his friends definitely helped a lot. It was really hot and when the sun finally went down it made life easier. The mile markers began to fall and I knew I was at least going to finish now it was a matter of how long. I wanted to get done under fifteen hours and that became my new goal. At mile twenty one a girl who doesn't know it really helped me out. See I am a bit sexist and even though there are hundreds of girls who beat me when one is close it hurts my pride to lose to her. So when this girl passed me with a smile and I was walking I said enough is enough and decided to try and run the rest of the way and to make my new goal to beat her. I ran for the next two miles walking only when she did and then skipped a rest stop thinking that would be the last time I saw her. To my dismay she passed me while I was walking after the next stop.
I had more issues by this time. The chafing between my legs had me doing a dance from time to time in an effort to avoid the skin contact. It was like a blowtorch down there and the skipping of the Vaseline came back to haunt me big. I will never forget that again believe me. Combine this with the fact that my toes were really sore (I am losing both big toenails) and I had huge blisters on the bottom of my feet just below the toes made me just one big uncomfortable mess. I saw what I thought was mile marker 24 and my spirits were lifted briefly until I realized it was mile 23. Damn! Pushed on with my strategy to run as much as I could the rest of the way and at mile 25 run in fast. Mile 25 finally came and I picked up the pace. Now I didn't measure it but I think that mile was actually two miles because the end would not come! I had a couple people trying to catch me at this point and I was not letting them pass. I finally hit the 26 mile mark and took off. I ran the two tenths of a mile to the glorious, air conditioned, finish line and slapped five with a whole bunch of spectators. The Louisville finish line was electric and the feeling was sheer ecstasy. A volunteer gave me my medal and walked with me holding my arm as I was on unsteady feet by now. She handed me off to my son and I gave him a big hug. I was done - I had gotten in under fifteen hours in ninety five degree heat after a training year from hell and I was now a two time Ironman finisher. I was feeling so good!!
I literally waddled to the building where they had food but could not eat a thing. I got a massage and went back to the hotel, got in a hot shower and screamed with pain when the water hit the delicate parts that had little skin left. I looked at my big toes and the toenails that were moving around not anchored to the tissue below any longer with liquid squeezing out of them and I looked at the huge blisters on the bottom of my feet and I had a wonderful sense of satisfaction. I had pushed this forty nine year old body to the limits once again and made it through. I put on a pair of underwear, got in bed and didn't move until morning. We were going to go eat but after finding Charlie who ended up with an IV in medical after his finish and getting him back to the room my son Michael realized were were going nowhere. He said we both appeared intoxicated and I fell asleep on the phone while talking with somebody. It was so nice to have him and his friends there to go get our bikes and gear and for support throughout the day. Thanks Michael, you are the best and I treasure the fact that we can share these times with you and your friends.
I am a week out, feeling good except for my still swollen toes that are still oozing and sore, and I will be resuming workouts tomorrow. I am hoping to do Louisville again in 09 at the ripe old age of fifty and in much better shape than this year.