Posted by on May 26, 2008 in Training

Well, it’s finally over. My finishing time was 14 hours and 25 minutes, a good two hours slower than what I had originally predicted. What this proves to me is that my perceived prowess in strategic thinking professionally really doesn’t cross over to Ironman. Nonetheless, I’m in somewhat of a post-Ironman glaze and my mind still hasn’t fully gotten around so many of the experiences from yesterday. It might take me several attempts to capture what I went through yesterday, so stay tuned to entries throughout the week. We are headed to Rio tonight, so I suppose that’ll be contingent on finding a convenient and affordable internet cafe there.

Some quick bullet point thoughts and observations:

  • The swim was supposed to feature a sweep (tidal action) that went right-to-left, but it was actually left-to-right which means that we all had to fight and swim against the tide. It added about 40 minutes to my swim time. I couldn’t remember what the swim cut-off time was and for a while, I was convinced it was two hours. At about 1:45 into it, I panicked and swam at the highest level of intensity I could muster, which is bad for an Ironman distance event, and crossed the finish line of the swim at 2:03, convinced that I had missed the cut-off and would be asked to stop racing. Turns out the cutoff was 2:30. Whew!
  • The first loop of the bike took me 3 hours and 5 minutes. I was confident, didn’t push hard, and felt great. Literally, at the start of the second loop, a wave of bewildering wonderment came across me as I tried to understand how it would be possible to get another 56 miles out of my legs. It was clearly a psychological phenomenon and after about 6 miles, I managed to get myself to settle down and just focus on the road markers that appeared every 5 kilometers. The nice thing about a race measured in kilometers is that they go by quicker than miles (duh!). In any event, during the second loop, the winds picked up and I had to really tuck myself down into a tight aerodynamic position to keep a decent speed. But, the neck has to be positioned at a precarious angle when someone is in the aero position and it made things not so comfortable. I’m still feeling the effects today. When the wind was at my back, I felt like Lance.
  • The run was looooong! I mean, I know it was a marathon distance and all, but I just couldn’t believe how sloth-like I was. On the first loop of the run, athletes have to complete 21 kilometers, the equivalent of 13.1 miles (a half-marathon). That loop includes several hills and it was recommended to me to walk up and down the steep hills… which I did. On the flats, I just tried to pick points, landmarks or kilometer markings, to run to before walking. That became the strategy of the day, to figure out how far to walk and how far to run. Finally, I realized that I could briskly walk a kilometer in 9 minutes and run it in about 7 minutes. So, I would walk one and run one, and I’d average 8 minutes per kilometer. It worked great until the last loop where I had to walk for 5 kilometers straight. I walked really really quickly, but the legs and joints felt unstable enough to run. Based on my calculations (I was a human PC with all the number-crunching), I was figuring that with 7 kilometers to go, I’d finish at 14:37. That fact didn’t bother me, but I thought that it would be better to finish under 14:30, so I managed to find something inside to me generate a run.
  • In the end, I managed to walk less, run more, and take 12 minutes off my projection and get it to the finish line in 14:25. The last three kilometers were pure torture, and a few of the folks out there were walking that part slowly. I refused to walk despite every cell within me screaming at me to do so. I knew that it was worth it to deal with a little more pain and finish strong… and I did. And, I smiled and smiled in those final 5 minutes. The finishing chute went by lightning fast, but I remember it in slow motion. The final 100 feet were magnificent! I had both my hands raised in the air, and I summoned the crowd left and right for adulation. When I finally crossed the finishing threshold, I had a HUGE smile with my hat proudly reflecting the American flag, and with one fist clenched in the air. There were several photographers there and I stared into the lens for a moment or two with this pose, for I knew that the images I’ll eventually get will be the stuff I get to show my family.
  • Quick observation: I show that I burned 12,000 calories and only managed to get in 4,000. With a distressed GI system after the race, I could only get in some chicken soup. This morning I had eggs and sausage (more like frankfurters in Brazil) but I’m still in distress. Let’s hope a little alcohol stirs things up!

While on the bike, I went through a role call (what I called shout-outs) of the people who mean something special to me. I said their names and thought about why it is that we have a relationship. It took a while, and that’s a testament to each of them and the amazing qualities within each one that I get to enjoy. I wrote in an earlier posting that I would have my loved ones with me on the race and by that virtue, I was guaranteed to have an amazing day. While I wasn’t nearly as fast as I had hoped to be, I still feel great. The Ironman can be a catalyst for everything great and it can bring out the darkest demons. I felt like I had a healthy mix of both yesterday but my ultimate success was because I got to reaffirm all that I should be thankful for. The only people reading this are my friends; so, this is my thanks to you for helping me. I’m not buying a round of drinks or anything, so revel in this anonymous shout-out cause it’s all you’re getting. 🙂

1 Comment on Victory!

By Jeantet Fields on June 5, 2008 at 2:17 pm

GG – F–KING AWESOME!!! I just got finished looking at your photos and reading this post. I’m inspired, and so excited over, and proud of this achievement. And while I’d normally find some sarcastic way to insult you or make a joke at your expense, today I will only tip my hat to you as you deserve it.

Enjoy the victory my friend. It’s well earned.


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