B2B Post Race Report

I earned my title of IRONMAN this past weekend (11-13), and when it finally sunk in 24 hours after I ran through the finishing chute, I couldn’t quit smiling. That Saturday was quite the day, for many reasons, and I’ll explain the race and it’s difficulties in this post. There was a lot of mental toughness I had to pull out, and plenty of prayer, but it got me through the finish. Here’s the journey…
Before I get really into the race, there’s a few things you need to know about me. 1: I do things all or nothing; 2: I jump into things without really thinking it through; a quick read through is usually what I base my decisions on; 3: I HATE the cold; 4: I do not quit; I will not quit no matter what unless I end up incapacitated. Keep all that in mind as you read this report; iron distance is hard, but it was the conditions that made this race the suffer-fest that it was.
I’d rather be on fire than be cold. B2B was in North Carolina, in November…it was cold, and windy, and miserable. Even in my wetsuit, neoprene gloves, booties, cap, and warmup jacket, I was shivering at the swim start. Now you’d think that the race directors would have some sort of heater at the swim start for us to huddle around since it was just above 30degrees race morning, and we had to wait around for close to an hour on the beach waiting for the swim to start. You would think…but no. After shivering for 45 minutes, and already losing feeling in my toes, they announced it was 10 minutes before the swim start, so me and close to 600 other athletes headed to the water.
I waded into the water, put my goggles around my neck, and started to swim around a little. I also went ahead and peed in my wetsuit; never have I been so happy to pee myself, but I was too early… The called us out of the water, and had us stand around for the last 2-3 minutes on the beach. And warmth I had was gone, but the announcer yelled for the race to start, so we all temporarily forgot we were freezing, and run into the 60 degree water.
I don’t swim; my shoulder doesn’t let me swim more than once every 10 days if I wanted to, and honestly I just don’t like swimming, but this swim was SUPPOSED to be with the current like in previous years…supposed to be. It wasn’t; I’d site every 7-10 strokes, and I would have moved maybe 15 meters, not to mention that when I put my goggles around my neck, they were upside down, so I could only get the right side to stay suctioned to my face, while the left one filled with salt water. “Tread water and flip them over” you say…my fingers were numb, so that wasn’t happening. I instead just huffed, and started swimming through gritted teeth. The last 300 meters or so, all us swimmers saw the end of the swim course, and felt the current as we turned the corner towards the end. Pretty sure we all were swimming faster than Phelps ever could when we realized we were but a few strokes away from the end. But getting out of the water involved climbing a ladder to get on a dock; keep in mind that everyone’s appendages were numb at this point, making this an almost impossible task. Pretty sure the guy who came up with making us climb a ladder is the same guy who put stairs on the Chattanooga Waterfront Triathlon run course… I don’t like that guy. There were people who helped to pull you out once you grabbed ahold of the ladder, which was great since I almost fell back into the water due to my hand couldn’t hold the rung since it was numb. I was helped out, my first two steps just led me into the railing, which got me some worried looks from the volunteers, who I assured it was only because I couldn’t feel my feet. Running up the dock to the strippers (sadly I mean wetsuit strippers :(, got my suit off, and headed for the desalinating showers on my way to T1. The shower’s water was even colder than the air temp, so that didn’t help the fact that my lips were blue on top of everything else that was numb. .2 mile run to transition in wet clothes (seriously…I don’t know how that idea passed), and I’m in the changing tent VIOLENTLY shivering, and complaining with everyone else that the swim was NOT with the current; the athletes that competed in the race the year before were talking about how 30-45 minutes had been added to their swim split. I had spent 90minutes in the water, and 16 in transition because getting into compression clothes, and just clothes in general, with numb hands and shivering is really really hard. I finally was dressed and I headed out on the bike… Here’s where it gets really fun.
My tires were full the night before, I made sure, but no more than 200meters outside transition, I feel the *thum-thump* *thum-thump* *thum-thump* of my tire being flat. 200meters into my 112 mile bike leg; not a good omen. I get off my bike, inspect my wheel, and don’t see anything, so I just refilled the tube thinking something just happened due to the cold. It was fin until about mile 30, when I could feel that I was going flat again (due to the fact that somehow my valve got bent and was leaking), but I pushed through at around a 18mph pace until mile 50 where I changed my back tube that was completely flat at that point. Now I k ow how to change a tire, but I’m by no means fast at it. 10(?) minutes after stopping to switch tubes, I have my wheel mounted, and give it a spin to make sure everything is ok; it’s not. My clincher isn’t inside the rim all the way, and in trying to get it in while fully inflated, the plastic tool breaks off INSIDE THE RIM! Luckily I had another, but I had to let out some air to get the tire inside the rim. I did, but didn’t have another CO2 cartridge to refill it, and I was just so angry at that point I didn’t care, so I went off on the remaining 60 miles on a partially inflated tire thyself leaking air due to the broken plastic inside the rim. I couldn’t get above 16mph no matter how hard I pedaled due to the rolling resistance of the almost flat tire, and it took me cursing and fighting with myself over wether or not it was worth it to keep going since I wasn’t really racing anymore; I finally switch over from racing mentality to enjoy this and finish at mile 80. I’m glad I did. By the end of the bike there was so little air that I could push my thumb so deep into the tire that I could feel the rim. When I got my bike after I finished the race, the back tire was 100% flat; all those flats, and riding 60+ miles on a tire that’s almost flat, gave me a 6:57 bike… That’s almost two full hours than it should have taken me. I’d never been so happy to get off my bike, and after a few jokes with the other guys in the T2 (8:01) changing tent, and second guessing myself about wether or not id need my gloves on the run (leaving them comes back to haunt me), it was off to run a marathon.
I didn’t mention it before, but my mom and girlfriend were at the race, and were kinda worried that something had happened since it took me so long on the bike (that’s what moms and girlfriends do though), so my mom yelled for me as I exited transition to run and yelled, “What are you doing?!”, to which I replied matter of factly, “Just going for a run.” The fellow spectators thought it was hilarious, my mom did not. She thought something was up due to my crazy slow bike split, so I explained my tire issues, and headed off. I passed my girlfriend who had her camera ready, and even made a fun face because I wanted a crazy picture to show I was smiling and having fun even after the problems I had had, but some lady bumped her right as she went to take the picture, so it’s just a picture of my chest…WEAK!! I passed her, and set out on my 26.2 mile, two lap journey feels awesome, almost skipping, at a respectable 8:20/mile pace.
I felt great, until mile 10, when my pace started go drop. I couldn’t figure out why; it wasn’t a bonk, I could still think straight, I wasn’t in a lot of pain, but I just couldn’t make myself go faster. I got to the half way point, got my special needs bag, and put on my jacket, but left my pants (that too comes back to haunt me). I kept a 9-9:15/mile pace through mile 17, where I literally was stopped dead in my tracks, able to do nothing more than shuffle along. I had heed taking in a mouthful of my Sustained Energy & FRS mix every mile or so, so my energy was fine, but what I didn’t keep in check was my hydration. I hadn’t taken in any liquid but my mix in about 8 miles, and I didn’t feel thirsty, but the headache that came with the shivering that stopped me in my tracks rivaled even my worse headaches the weeks after I was released from the hospital after my coma; I was extremely dehydrated. I walked mile 17-21 taking in 2-3 cups of water at each aid station, but made sure not to shiver through them in fear they’d radio someone to make me stop. SHOW NO WEAKNESS. Shivering violently, clutching my chest trying to get in a deep breath that wouldn’t come due to how bad my chest hurt (apparently that’s a sign of mild hypothermia)  and that headache so severe I could hardly keep them open around any lights, I finally pulled out of the pain through determination and reciting The Lord’s Prayer over and over at mile 21, and ran around 8:50/mile through mile 25, where I pushed it past just red-lining it to a full out sprint (as much of a sprint you can muster after racing for almost 14 hours), and ran through the finishing chute after a 5 hour marathon (UHGGG), and a 13:53:18 (10/16 AG & 269/429 OA Male) rough first full iron distance triathlon.
As soon as they took my ChampionChip, I was medal-ed by the cutest little girl, and handed a bottle of water by another volunteer. That water spilt down my face more than made it down my throat because I was tired, and had the epitome of the deer-in-the-headlights look as I wandered through the post race site in search of one thing… No, not food, but another recovery tool…beer. Sadly, all they had was terrible Bud Light, but after almost 14hours of racing through and over coming terribly cold conditions, and major mechanical and physical speed bumps on all three legs of the race, I figured I could deal with crappy beer. Sitting in the middle of the post race lawn, sipping my recovery drink, I told my mom and girlfriend about all that had transpired out on the course. We made our way to the line for the ferry to take us across the river so we could get in my truck, and head back to the hotel.
After a quick stop at the grocery for my post race meal (I NEEDED sushi and fruit), we made it to the hotel, when my spectators and support team passed out almost immediately, while I was still wired from the race. Around 1:00 am, my energy crashed, and I crawled into bed. That lasted about 30 minutes before I moved to the couch, hoping for sleep, but that old nemesis of restlessness due to a long hard effort and soreness, it wasn’t much of a sleep. Six hours later I was awake at my normal time, even though I really tried to sleep in, and a few hours after that, everyone was packed into my truck as I drove us home.
I got home, and about 24hours after I finished the race, it sunk in that I was an IRONMAN. Huge smile is an understatement when you describe the look on my face when it sunk in. I have to thank my mom and girlfriend for being there, and to all my friends and family who called or posted to say congrats, and wish me luck before the race, as well as The Big Guy up there for helping me on throughout the race, and for letting come so far in just 29months since docs didn’t give me much of a chance. I am an IRONMAN, and through determination, and maybe some stubbornness, there’s not anything that can’t be over come.
Thank you again everyone, and although triathlon season 2010 is over, 2011 is right around the corner, and I know I’m not the only one to see how much we all grow, and shave off huge chunks of time in our racing next season. Now it’s time for some ULTRA running; Pine Mountain 40 Miler is 12-5!!

4 thoughts on “B2B Post Race Report

  1. Awesome job young stud. Way to fight thru the adversity and not give in. Yeah, it’s easy to forget about hydrating when it’s cold out, but you learned a valuable lesson, and you will only get better because of it. I know you will drop that time dramatically at your next IM.

  2. Fantastic race report. Congrats on finishing the race! I couldn’t help but laugh a couple of times (tire lever broke off inside the wheel???).

  3. Congrats IRONMAN! Loved your race report as usual. Here’s what I think: you learned so much more from this experience about yourself than you ever would have if it had gone smoothly that one day (hopefully soon), you will be grateful that it happened. You have a lifetime to enjoy fast IRONMAN times and strong finishes. And despite your miserable day, you finished 10/16. That would make most people’s heart sing. I can’t wait to see you race your next one.

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