Purpose Statement

Exploration -> Experience -> Feeling -> Awareness -> Understanding -> Transformation -> Liberation

Monday, April 23, 2007

I am Ironman

Heavy boots of lead
Fill his victims full of dread
Running as fast as they can
Ironman lives again!
-Black Sabbath

Going in, I thought the very best race I was capable of was:

2.4 mile swim => 1 hr
112 mile bike => 7 hr
26.2 mile run => 5 hr

So I figured 13 hours was the low end and 14 or 15 hours was probably more realistic. And I based this estimate on:

El Tour de Tucson 112 miles, November 2006 => 6 hr 30 min
Tucson Marathon, December 2006 => 3 hr 56 min

April 15, 2007, Tempe, AZ, 7AM, Ironman Arizona

Swim 2.4 mi., 56 min, place = 54 overall

No warm up. I was cruising the swim, trying to keep my heart rate low, breathing every third stroke. I fell into my groove about half way through the swim, that is to say I was warmed up. The course was too crowded. I was pulling a big pack of guys and they were crawling all over my legs. At one point I just slowed way down to get people off my feet and this guy grabs my ankle and pulls me back. Oh man, was I angry. I sat up in the water and shoved the guy as he went by me. I was ready for a fist fight. So I carried on at a modest pace and came out of the water in 54th place over all.

Transition #1, swim to bike, 6 minutes.

Pretty uneventful. Wet suit comes off. Cycling clothing goes on.

Bike 112 miles, 6 hr 16 min, place = 558 overall

The bike course was three laps. As soon as I was on the bike, I choked down Meal #1, Tofu and Vegetables in Mandarin Kung Pao sauce over brown rice from Pei Wei, pureed in a blender and stored in a squeeze tube. I also started chugging Gatorade. Lap #1 was great. It was nice and cool, the winds were light. My heart rate was running about 150 bpm, which I thought was too high, so I kept trying to back off. Lots of people flying by me, so it was tough to hold back. There was one stretch of road that was all torn up with only a four foot wide strip that was ride-able. This jerk behind me wanted to pass, so he was yelling at me, “On your left! On your left!” So I sat up and gestured at the 10 feet of open lane on my left and said, “Buddy, you got the whole lane at your disposal.” And he comes back with all sorts of profanity and that he can’t ride through the craters in the rode. So then I said, “And where would you have me ride, brother?” The right side of the rode was just as cratered as the left. At the beginning of lap #2, I choked down a Cliff Bar. The wind picked up drastically and the first half of lap #2 was downwind. I stopped at mile 62 and got my special needs bag (Meal #2) and ran into a porta-john to pee. The second half of lap#2 was brutal, bucking the head wind back into town. I started thinking about life and death and actually shed a few tears of joy. How lucky I am to get to suffer through an Ironman. At the beginning of lap #3, I choked down Meal #2, Pad Thai Tofu from Pei Wei, pureed and stored as before. I was sicking out on Gatorade, so I switched to water through the meal. The wind was howling at this point, so I rode the first half of lap #3 sitting up in the saddle. My torso was like a sail blowing me downwind and it was nice relief on my lower back. Coming back was absolutely miserable. Down in the aero bars, peddling as hard as I could without pushing my heart rate over 150 bpm, and at times I was going 11 mph. And this after riding 80 miles. It sucked. Unfortunately a lot of people resorted to drafting. There were blatant pace lines. It was really pissing me off, but then it occurred to me that I was wasting a lot of emotional energy on something I had no control over, so I just focused on myself – managing my energy and keeping my blood sugar up. Back to Gatorade. Another Cliff Bar. It was quite a relief to get off the bike, but I knew I had a marathon ahead of me and there was definitely some anxiety.

Transition #2, bike to run, 6 minutes.

As I ran from my bike to the change tent, I thought, “Oh God. I don’t have legs. I have tree trunks.” Bike clothes off. Skimpy run clothes on. Sun block on. Pee in the porta-john.

Run, 26.2 mi., 5 hr 8 min, place = 712 overall

I couldn’t believe how good I felt as I started running. I was running 9 minute miles with a heart rate of 150 bpm. I walked through every aid station and drank Gatorade. I had a bit of nausea, so held off on solid food. I was passing people left and right. The first lap clipped by and I thought I was going to have a stellar race, but right around 14 miles, I just got very, very tired. That was 2 hr 20 min into the run, 9 hours 40 minutes into the race. I wound up walking about half time, so my pace really slowed down. I started eating solid food (grapes, oranges, cookies) and drinking water at all the aid stations. The sun set. An amazing woman with one leg and a carbon-fiber prosthetic passed me. Fat old people passed me. I slowly knocked off the miles, and finally, the finish line was in site.

Ironman really knows how to do a finish. They have a narrow path right down the middle of bleachers full of cheering spectators. They hold up a ribbon for you to run through at the finish. You feel like you have really accomplished something.

Finish Time = 12 hr 33 min, place = 712 overall.

You might be able to find some photos of me here.