Short Run on a Long Day 2017 Race Recap

When:  6/21/2016, 7:00pm

Where:  Frankfort, Illinois

Distance:  5K

Results:  20:45 Official, 20:42 Garmin watch – 16th overall, 3rd place M50-54

I went into the my fourth running of this race with low expectations.  I haven’t really focused on any sort of short speed work due to training for Ironman Louisville, but that doesn’t mean I can’t give a 5K a try.  And by try I mean gunning as hard as I can.  But the race ended up being somewhat educational for me.

For this race I decided to wear my heart rate strap and monitor my heart rate through the 5K to see if my max HR is anywhere near the 220 bpm minus your age.  This method is an easy way to determine your max heart rate, which you can then use to set your heart rate zones to train in.  However, many don’t trust the calculation for some reason.  I’m 53 years old, so using the 220-age formula I should have a max heart rate of 167.

So if you are going to use a 5K to see where your max heart rate is you should do a little warm up then go all out at max effort for 5K.  So I strapped on my Garmin and the heart rate monitor strap and let it rip.  Here’s what it told me:

 

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Not sure why there is a 10 second difference in the moving time and the elapsed time.  That may explain the watch time vs. the official time.  Maybe I lost a little satellite connection somewhere on the run.  I did not stop for anything until the finish line.

 

And the 5K field test revealed a peak max heart rate of 169 bpm, with an average of 163 bpm.  And the times that I glanced at my watch during the race I usually saw 166 bpm staring back at me.  I guess the 220-age is accurate enough for me.

 

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I was also surprised to see that the Garmin nailed the 3.1 mile distance exactly.  

 

Okay, enough of the scientific stuff.  Back to the race.  I got there much later than I usually do and parked in the neighborhood next to the park where the race starts and ends near my friend Dian’s house.  Lo and behold, Dian was actually outside!  We chatted up ourselves a little bit and she thought the race had started already.  Silly Dian.  I explained that the runners will warm up prior to the race.  She thought that was nuts.  Gave me a chuckle though.

Over at the park, the usual suspects were there:  Frankfort/New Lenox Running Club made a strong showing, Tinley Track & Trail was also present.  Mr. Mustache Runner guy was there, with his shirt tucked in as usual.  And many more familiar faces.  It wasn’t until the race was almost ready to go when Nate Troester showed up at the start line, and I knew our eventual winner was finally here.

The guy that starts the race stands right in the middle of the road, orders us not to run him over, tells us not to start until he says “GO!” then proceeds to say “Okay, let’s go” prior to saying “On your mark, get set, GO!”  Park district run races can be really strange. In the old days, races were run by runners who kind of knew what they were doing, and these park district guys don’t look like they run much.  Anyway, at GO! we all took off and tried to avoid the dumb cherry picker thing in the path of the race route that has a guy up there with a camera.  So dumb.  You never see the pictures on their website or Facebook page, but damn, they got to have a cherry picker right on the road with a camera guy taking pictures that no one will ever see.

I had picked my mark, a guy named Chris S. who is in my age group and started just in front of me.  I decided to hold his pace for as long as I could.  That didn’t last long.  I might have held on to him for about a half mile before I could tell I had maxed out my heart rate without even looking at my watch.  I watched him pull away.  That move of trying to stay with him got me through the first mile with a 6:18 split.  NO BUENO!  So much for the negative split strategy.  He kicked my butt again, as usual.

After the first mile I decided to dial it back a touch and find my race pace comfort zone and found myself running with a guy wearing a Ironman Racine 70.3 t-shirt.  We were pacing together pretty well.  We turned off the path together and on to the side street to head back and about 1.5 miles into it we got passed by some kid.  “Damn kids” I muttered, and Racine man agreed.

We ran together until the 2 mile split (6:47 min/mile) and he started to pull just a little bit ahead.  I tried to match pace but I had spent too much energy on that first mile.  He pulled ahead about 50 yards with about a 1/2 mile to go and that’s how it ended.  The third mile split was 6:53 min/mile for me.

I checked the race results and learned Racine man was in my age group.  He got 15th place overall, 2nd in the age group.  Since this park district run race only awards the top 2 finishers in each age group with a medal, whereas most races go three deep, I knew I wasn’t going to add a medal to my medal rack this time around.  You win some, you lose some.

Here is page one the results:  Shortrun

Overall, it was a good race for me.  I found that the 220-minus age max heart rate calculation is nearly exact to my actual field tested heart rate.  I got to race some good competition.  And there was pizza at the finish line.

 

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A tie dye participant shirt.  Yay.  

 

2017 ET Batavia Triathlon Race Report

When:  6/11/2017

Where:  Batavia, Illinois

Distances:  400 yard Swim, 14.7 mile Bike, 4.1 mile Run

Time:  1:19:01

Back for the fourth time to do the race in Batavia.  I really enjoy this one.  It’s a quick swim, rolling hills bike route with plenty of time to go fast, and a flat and fast trail run.

This week I experimented somewhat with pushing my limits a little.  I decided to use my full disc aero wheel on the bike, something I chickened out with a year ago.  I also decided to swim without the wetsuit, thanks to the water temperature being just warm enough for my comfort level.  I’m glad I didn’t have to fight with it to get it on and off.  That is a chore.

The temperature of the morning was comfortable, but the day would get warm later.  It wasn’t bad on the bike, but I did start to feel it somewhat on the run.

 

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Satisfied with my pre-race transition set up.  

 

SWIM – 7:16 minutes, 208th overall

The swim started well for me.  I felt like my pace was good.  I got to the turn and made it to the backside of the swim and kept swimming.  It is pretty shallow in this part of the man-made, sandy bottom public swimming hole, and most people walk the back side of it.  I decided to keep swimming until about 10 yards from the turn for the second lap.  Once swimming again, I found myself in a much crowded field of swimmers, as more had joined in on the fun, thanks to a time trial type start.  But I made it through and started walking the back part of it earlier, just like everyone else.

T1 – 1:44 minutes

Getting to T1 was quick, no need to fuss with removing the wetsuit.  Grabbed my bike gear and bike and was gone to Bike Out.

BIKE – 40:58 minutes, 21.5 MPH average, 36th overall

There is a sharp climb right away which sent my heart rate into the red, where it would stay for quite a while, most of the ride actually.  I really pushed myself on the ride and it paid off with a quick ride.  There was some cross wind, but it didn’t last long.  I ate a gel just into the first mile, and one more just before getting back to T2 to fuel for the run.

T2 – 1:18 minutes

RUN – 27:43 minutes, 6:46 average per mile, 27th overall

There was a slight deviation to the final mile of the run as the trail near a public works facility was under construction.  Fortunately, the detour had a nice downhill leading back to the bridge that takes you back over the Fox River and the trail on the other side to the finish.  The run was going well, but I was feeling the heat a little even though it was almost completely shaded.  I took water at the water station twice and splashed it on me and in me as best as I could.  I passed a lot of younger racers and not seeing hardly any in my 50-54 Age Group.  That’s because they were ahead of me!  There was one guy with 50 written on his calf.  I decided to pace with him for a little while and then pass him in the last mile if I could.  He had is bib on backwards, and I realized his bib was white, which meant he was in the duathlon (run/bike/run) race and not in the triathlon.  So, knowing that I wasn’t really competing with him, I decided to push tempo again and pass him.  He must of saw my 53 on my calf and he reacted.  Once we got to that downhill at about 3.25 miles, he took off.  I started to chuckle because I knew he was racing me even though I wasn’t competing with him in his event.  I slowly worked on catching up with him, but I knew that I didn’t have to worry about him.

When I got back to the finish, I cooled down and got some fluids in me.  I knew it would be a while before the award ceremony, so I decided to walk back to transition, take a shower, gather my bike and junk and take it to the car.  I then drove back to the VFW where the finish line area was located.

I decided to grab a couple pieces of pizza and check out the results.  Fourth in the age group – no award this year.  I was kind of expecting to finish a little higher than the 3rd place I won last year, but just didn’t have it in me.  Upon review the posted results online later in the day I realized my swim time did me in.  It was a full minute slower than last year!  I’m not really sure why that is.  It could be the wetsuit I guess, but I really did feel like I swam pretty well.  Oh well.  The swim ranking had me 208th overall.  That is really sad.  I also dropped in the overall ranking from 2016, from 23rd to 37th.  The guy that beat me for 3rd place beat me by 7 seconds.  One glimmer of hope, the 2nd place age group winner was a 50 year old, so he is the newcomer to the rank, whereas I am starting to age into the next group.  Not my day, I guess.  Maybe next year I will be kicking butt in the 55-59 A/G as the young gun.

 

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Still proud of my medal.  Glad to add it to the rack.

Here’s the link to the race results:  http://cc247.raceresults.space/2017/2017_ETBatavia_OA.htm

 

 

2017 Summertime Stride 5K Race Report

When:  6/3/2017, 8:30 am

Where:  Mokena, Illinois

Distance:  5K

Results:  20:57 Official, 10th overall, 10th Male overall, 1st place M50-54

http://www.thtiming.com/images/2017_stride_overall.pdf

When I show up for a 5K I tend to start scanning the people gathered around, looking for the usual suspects, the people I will key on as my competition.  Since school was officially over for the high schools, I figured I would see a handful of high school age runners, fresh off of their track seasons, and there were a few.  I also saw this kid who looked about 9 (the results indicate he was 11), and he had the “look.”  Short running shorts, a set of wrap around sunglasses, and New Balance shoes that looked like racing flats.  It was about 40 minutes until start and he went out for his warm up.  I knew a runner when I saw one.  I also saw a guy wearing a Calvin College Track Team singlet who looked fast as well (he was the eventual winner).  It wasn’t until I saw Nate Troester, a local guy who wins every race, that I knew for sure that I certainly wasn’t going to win this race!

My wife Kari joined me in this race as it is walking distance from our house.  We walked down to the park about 3/4 of a mile away and signed up.  It was starting to get warm, and the race start time of 8:30 am was not helping.  Much too late to start a summertime race, in my opinion.  I tried talking Kari into gunning from the start, but she’s happy to run the race her way.  I was already starting to build adrenaline for the start time.

I did some easy warm up and then headed to the start line.  I’m always amazed at the number of slow people and kids at the front of the line.  One guy said he’s staying back to let the rabbits go, but this guy was in the front as well.  I dislike the tight corral type starts.  They are too crowded, and filled with too many slowpokes at the front of the pack.

A couple of minutes later a horn sounded and we were off.  I was surprised that many of the kids were holding tempo pretty good at the beginning, but by the time we got a half mile into it the first small climb appeared, and they started to drop off.  It was also in that first half mile that I was surprised to see Nate Troester standing there clapping for everyone.  I guess he was just hanging around.  I was happy to see that I had just picked up a finisher’s spot!

At the first mile, a local kid named Merrigan was running along with me and not far off the first place female.  We went through the first mile in 6:25 pace and I thought she would be good.  But later I found out she had a sore knee from an earlier mishap and ended up dropping out.  I kept pace behind the first girl for the next mile, as I also chased the one grey haired guy up ahead of me.  He was moving pretty well and not showing any signs of letting up.

After the turn around, we climbed the few remaining hills and settled in for the last mile.  I caught the first place girl and passed her.  I could see the grey haired guy up ahead, but he was pulling away, as was the kid with the sunglasses.  That kid knew what he was doing, running the tangents and basically picking off more and more runners.

I tried using the last downhill to pick up pace, using it to pass an 8th grade kid, and then accelerate through the last turn for the last 10th of a mile.  I couldn’t catch anyone ahead of me, and there was no one directly behind me to worry about, so I glided in across the finish in 20:57.

I grabbed a water and dumped it over my head to cool down.  I then walked back to the turn and waited with my daughter Rebecca for Kari to finish.  She came by looking very strong, but I tried to tell her that she was getting out-kicked by a 5 year old!  She didn’t care.  To get beat by a 5 year old would have killed me.

When the results were posted I was surprised to see that I finished 10th, and first in my age group.  I would have bet that the grey haired guy ahead of me was in my age group.  It turns out he was 58!  Smoking fast for 58!  I also checked the results for Kari and learned that she medaled as well, taking 3rd in her a/g!  Well done!

In all, it’s a fun local race, and I thoroughly enjoyed the run with my wife.

 

2014 Ironman Muncie 70.3 Race Report

Note from me: I originally posted this on a blog site called iamtri.com. Unfortunately, that website is no longer valid, but through some magic performed by my computer knowledgeable college son, he was able to recover my posts. I am sharing them here so that I may preserve my memories from my first Ironman 70.3. Chris

 

2014 Ironman Muncie 70.3 Race Report

July 12, 2014

My First IM 70.3!

For my third triathlon of 2014 and designated “A” race this year, I decided to pick a 70.3 distance, and since I live near Chicago I had three really popular choices to choose from:  Racine, Steelhead and Muncie.  After hearing about a horrible swim in Racine in 2013, and seeing Steelhead is in the same Lake Michigan body of water, I opted for a reservoir/lake located in the middle of Indiana – Muncie!  The only negatives that people had about this location was that the run course was hilly, and that it was hot.  Aren’t they all?  Signed up in February and goaded my buddies to join me.

Location 

The race is held just south of Muncie in the Prairie Creek Reservoir.  It is very rural and peaceful.  The lake is pretty large, with a great swim area and a new facilities building for washrooms and showers.  After hesitating on booking a hotel in Muncie, we opted to stay at the Hampton Inn in Anderson, which was a popular choice with many of the other racers.  It was about a half hour away from the race site, but the town had plenty of dining and other options.

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I watched this helicopter fly in and land on Thursday night.  I wish I knew there was helicopter parking, I would have flown in myself!  (Just kidding – triathletes can’t afford a helicopter.)

Friday/Race Day Eve

I got to Anderson late on Thursday and checked in.  My friends and I met up on Friday morning and started planning our day.  We opted for a short 20 minute run to settle our nerves and knock the cobwebs off of a rest day on Thursday.

We hopped into our cars and headed to the race expo.  We decided to take advantage of the optional bike racking on Friday to avoid one less issue on Saturday/Race day morning.  After picking up our packets, we stuck the stickers on our bikes and wheeled them into the transition area.

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The KX5 all racked and ready to go.

After checking out the expo, buying the expensive Ironman event merchandise and grabbing something to eat, we sat and listened to the race talk.  There were hints that the water temperature may be just cool enough for an unusual for Muncie, wetsuit legal swim.

Race Morning

Wetsuit legal!  Just barely, but many of us were relieved.  The wetsuit for me has become a security blanket of sorts, although I have done races without one.  Anytime I spend time looking at a big body of water, I get nervous.  Wetsuits take that anxiety away for me.

We got up at 4am and hit the road at about 5am.  I slept well, thanks to taking 1/2 of an Ambien that my physician buddy gave me.  But I did wake up twice due to stomach issues.  Spent a lot of time in the port-a-potty line, and was able to get things taken care of.

I set up my transition, pumped up my tires to 120 psi, and took some time to visualize the trip from the Swim Out to Bike Out.

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It has taken me some time, but I’m starting to see the benefit of not bringing all my junk to transition.

The race started at 7am, but my wave didn’t start until 7:55, so I had plenty of time to watch others and my other racing buddies start the race.

 

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Bride and bridesmaid.  I had my buddy Dave help me zip up an obviously too tight for me wetsuit.  

 

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Can you tell which triathlete needs prescription goggles to see?  That would be me.  Dave and I picking our swim line.

 

1.2 MILE SWIM

The water was a perfect temperature.  Usually I don’t do well in cold water, but this water was perfect.  I chose to swim the inside of the buoys until the turns and had no issues at all with other swimmers.  Zig-zagging was minimal.  I did start to get a calf cramp in my legs about 2/3’s of the way into the swim.  I just slowed down, kicked a little less and was fine.  I started to notice that I was catching the white and pink capped swimmers  that had started in waves 5 and 10 minutes ahead of me, respectively.  That was a positive sign for me that I was having a good swim.  Toward the last four or five buoys to go, I decided to pick up the pace.  I could see some athletes were standing, but I swam until my fingers hit bottom.

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Out of the water declaring “Piece of Cake!”  It really was the most uneventful swim.  

 

After getting out of the water I sat down and the volunteer wetsuit strippers (or peelers, as they prefer) yanked off my suit and it was a slogfest up to T1.  It was uphill on a rocky path, which was covered with thin carpet.  But everyone seemed to be walking.  I was like, “Hey, get out of the way!  This IS a race, right?”

SWIM TIME:  42:17

T1

After getting by the field of swim zombies heading to T1, I got to my bike and quickly dried my feet and head off and changed into the cycling gear.  Heading to the exit, I spied the toilets and went in.  I had to go while I was in the water, but just couldn’t do it while I was swimming.

T1 TIME:  5:48

56 MILE BIKE

Everything I heard about the bike course at Muncie was that it was flat and fast.  Nope.  I will give you fast, but it wasn’t flat.  I guess that I’m just too used to the flat rails-to-trails trail that I constantly ride at home.  That is flat.  The portion of the course that leads to and from the looped highway is 16 miles of hills, turns and potholes.  The race announcer said at the course talk that when prepping the bike course, they normally go through about 3 bags of cold patch asphalt. This course required more than 30!  Admittedly, it was a little rough, but easily rideable.

My heart rate monitor started chirping at me right away.  I was trying to stay in Z3, but was well into Z4 for the first 45 minutes or so.  Finally got it settled down and locked in.  The two loops were done on a closed highway, which was new for the course.  Two twenty mile loops.  The two aid stations rocked, helping me reload my bottles while I used the bathroom again.  Peeing was a good sign for me, as I was sweating quite a lot.  Since I was in a later start wave, I had a lot of fast riders zipping by me on my first loop as they finished their second loops.  It was a lot less crowded on my second loop.

 

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Heading out of T1 for 56 miles of “flat” riding.  Yeah, right.  My son and daughter are behind me in the green and pink shirts.  

Around 40 miles I had an issue.  A little before I had taken a drink of Gatorade and got back into an aero position and had a little acid reflux.  Nothing too bad, but gave me some discomfort.  But the real issue I had was I tried to eat a GU and I swallowed it a little rough, causing some coughing and throat irritation.  I dealt with that for at least ten miles.  I couldn’t get my throat cleared, and it was to the point I was gagging.  Finally got over it, but it was not fun.

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The last of the second loop on Highway 35.

The sun had finally made an appearance on an otherwise cloudy day.  I knew with the run coming up, having the sun out would not be good.  Fortunately, the skies cloudy over again.

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My kids watching the action on the bike course.  Well, Ashley was watching with her eyes closed.  

Coming in to T2 I had that feeling that 56 miles was hard.  Even though I had done a full Ironman less than a year before, I couldn’t fathom having to do another 56!  Glad I was coming in for the run.

BIKE TIME:  3:01:31

T2

The second transition was quick.  I grabbed the water bottle that I had in transition for rinsing my feet off, and used it on my head.  A good sweat rinse felt great.  I downed another GU, put on the visor, bib belt, and running shoes and I was off to get some sunscreen and run a half marathon.

T2 TIME:  3:16

13.1 MILE RUN

I was concerned I had pushed too hard on the bike and would suffer a little on the run, but in reality I felt great.  I got to the first aid station in 7:45 according to my watch.  I told my self to back it off.  I hit the first of several really great aid stations and hit the water, ice, cola, and pretzels to get me going down the road.  The aid stations are about a mile apart, and were well stocked and manned.  The volunteers were once again, pretty awesome.

At every aid station I would take ice and shove it into my trisuit to get my temperature down.  Seemed to work pretty good.  Take some ice water, drink the water and then shove the ice in my clothes.  I took a banana a couple of times, but mainly stuck with my eating a GU every half hour, plenty of fluids, and a salt capsule every hour or so.

Around the 5.5 mile area, I spotted my buddy Dave ahead and started to catch up.  Just before seeing him go by, his brother John was passing by heading back to the finish.  Big boost to seeing him.  John started in the wave before us with a 5 minute head start.  I knew I had work to do to try to catch him, so I gently started picking up the pace.  I passed Dave right around the turn around, and started in on the hills back to the finish.

The hills were brutal.  A lot of athletes were walking up them.  I just kept my turnover going and powered through.  At mile 9, I decided to start pushing.  I passed a lot of people those last 4 miles.  In all, I can only remember getting passed by one guy on the course, who was younger than me, and he had a good pace going.  The only other runner that passed me was a younger girl who outkicked me in the chute after I had already passed her a 1/2 mile earlier.

I had driven to the event site several times on that run course, so I knew I was getting close.  The few sprinkles that had started were more of a relief than a bother.  I was already soaked.  My feet squished when I took a step.  I got to the final climb and really pushed through that last hill, feeling relieved to see the tents and finishing chute.  I could see my family and hit my watch to see that I had easily broken 6 hours in my first 70.3 attempt.

RUN TIME:  1:53:18

     FINISH TIME:  5:46:10 (PR)

RECOVERY AND POST RACE

I knew I was spent and just wanted to walk a little.  I met up with my family and sat down in a chair.  After a few minutes I decided to head to the medical tent to see if I could get some Perform to drink, and after talking with the staff, I decided to enter and sit down.  They got me a wet towel and I put it around my neck, and started drinking the cold Perform.  Thank goodness it was Lemon-Lime flavor.  Before I knew it they had a blood pressure cuff on me and advised me that I was 100/70.  A little low, but not dead.  I told them that I had hydrated well, and had taken a salt capsule every hour.  The doctor offered an IV, but I turned it down as I was starting to come around.

Once out of the medical tent, I met my buddies who now had all finished.  We swapped stories and race recaps and ate a little from the athlete food tent.  After laying around for a while, we claimed our bikes from transition and headed back to the hotel in Anderson.

THANKS

Thanks go once again to my great family, who spent their weekend watching me do my thing.  It is truly a blessing to have such support.  The photos my wife and kids took were awesome.

Thanks also to Carla for setting up our hotel for the weekend and being such a great planner and photographer.

And finally, I know I wouldn’t have as much fun doing these tri’s without my lifelong friends, Dave and John, and also Dave’s son Alex.  I love the fun we have, and certainly the friendly competition.  Alex, being only 19 and on the U of Iowa Tri-Hawks team, will always come in first.  But with the finish order this year – John, me and Dave – we now have each had a race in which we have won.  That is pretty cool.

Another awesome triathlon experience, shared with my best buddies and family.  I am blessed.

 

Ironman Wisconsin 2013 Race Report

Note from me:  I originally posted this on a blog site called iamtri.com.  Unfortunately, that website is no longer valid, and through some magic performed by my computer knowledgeable college son, he was able to recover my posts.  I am sharing them here so that I may preserve my memories from my first Ironman.  Chris

 

2013 IRONMAN WISCONSIN Race Report

September 8, 2013

 

I AM AN IRONMAN!!!

I did it!  And surprisingly enough, I really enjoyed it!

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Okay, so it may not looked like I enjoyed it, but I actually did! Kind of a smile/cry thing going on at this point.  

 

When I started this adventure, my friends and I debated as to whether to try to do this together.  I was somewhat torn, because I felt that my experience running marathons and good training would help me race the Ironman.  And my friends seemed to prefer to be just finishers.  And then I rode the bike course.  Three flats, a broken spoke, a monumental bonk, and watching my buddies ride the course with ease on that first ride gave me a huge reality check.  I now had to respect the hills, and I made the decision then that I would train hard and race smart.  Finishing was now my goal.  And my friends would also soon see their potential.  We spent 30 weeks getting ready for September 8, 2013, and had a great time training together.  I will long remember the training as well as the race.  I’ve said over and over that the training was the hard part, the race will be the reward.  And that statement proved to be true.

Here is how I became an Ironman.

 

INTRO TO TRIATHLON/IRONMAN

My training partners, Dave and John, are my lifelong friends.  We have known each other since 1969 or so.  Dave and I went from kindergarten through college together, and his little brother John was always a shadow to us.  We spent a huge part of our youth together, so naturally, when John got an interest in triathlons, he started ingraining us with the idea of doing it with him.  As a runner, I always thought marathons and 5K races were plenty for me to handle.  And whenever I watched the Ironman on television, I would always shake my head at how that was even possible.

John worked his magic on me and Dave, and we finally committed.  Then reality set in – I had to learn to swim!  Well, I had the basics down, but there was no way I could swim effortlessly for even 50 yards, let alone a mile.  So, I started doing a lot of swimming in my pool.  I found that I was trying to swim too fast, sprinting instead of pacing myself through the water.  I had to develop technique and pace.

First up for me was a sprint tri that didn’t go so well.  What should have taken me 12 minutes or so to swim 500 meters ended up being a 17 minute survival swim.  But the bike and run went well, and I was hooked.  As we were driving to that tri, Dave asked me what I thought about doing an Ironman.  Here I am trying not to freak out heading to my first triathlon, one I should mention, that was not wet suit legal due to the 82 degree water temp, and he wants to know if I want to do an Ironman!  I don’t remember what my response was at that moment, but I had a feeling that wading in the water of an Ironman start was going to be in my future.

I was able to do one more triathlon in 2012, the Olympic distance of the Chicago Triathlon.  We had a great time and did really well.  I was becoming a triathlete!  So, on September 10, 2012, we three sat at our computers and hit submit on a race entry for the 2013 Ironman Wisconsin.  When it was accepted, it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I was almost sick about it.  But we were in!

 

TRAINING

Dave had some experience training for his marathon and triathlons by using training books by Don Fink.  He suggested that we purchase his book, “Be Iron Fit” and follow the competitive training program to get us through the Ironman.  I wasn’t so sure.  The more I looked into the Ironman, I saw time and again that using a coach might be the way to go.  So I contacted a local coach and met with her.  In reality, I thought I was contacting the head of a local club, but she made it very clear that she was a very good triathlete and coach.  Her advice was just what I was wanting to hear.  Then she advised me of her fee – $200 per month.  It was clear – Don Fink’s book it is!

We counted back 30 weeks from 9/8/13 and started our training on 2/11/13.  Mondays were always a day off recovery day.  Tuesdays were swim and run efforts.  Wednesday was a bike to run brick.  Thursday was a swim and bike, with Friday being a run.  Later in the program, a third swim for the week was added on Friday.  Saturdays were long bike rides, and Sundays were long runs.  As the program progressed, a brick bike/run was added to the weekend.

Coming off a hard year of running in 2012, I was glad the program started very easy.  It obviously progressed in the typical fashion until we went from an hour long weekend ride to a 6 hour, near century effort.  I realized how well thought out the plan was, and started to trust it completely.

I was a little worried about the swim, so I started that in January, hitting the local high school pool.  I quickly realized I am not a fast swimmer.  I started looking at YouTube videos and found a link to a DVD called “Total Immersion Swimming,” which was geared toward open water swimming.  I bought it and learned a lot, especially how to break the swim down into its basic components.  Swimming is all about technique, and I focused on that as I also increased distance.

The worst part of training was being stuck indoors on the treadmill and trainer.  Nothing worse than riding your bike in the basement during winter.  I watched a lot of home improvement shows during those rides.

Getting outside was tremendous.  I was riding my Trek 2.3 road bike, which served me well.  But when I rode with Dave and John they would drop me easily.  I thought maybe that my bike was heavier (it is) and my gearing was smaller than theirs (it is).  But what was really going on was that they just flat out rock the bike.  Very good cyclists.  We decided in the summer to head up to Verona and ride the infamous hilly course of Ironman Wisconsin.  We got a late start at it due to a rain storm and started a little low on fuel.  The ride started out horribly.  I got two flats within 15 minutes of leaving.  We got lost several times just trying to get out of Verona.  Then I got another flat in Mt. Horeb after getting dropped by Dave and John.  I fixed the flat and then we hit the rollers of Witte Road.  Then I broke a spoke on my rear tire going 35mph down the first hill.  My luck and confidence were non-existent at that point.  It was really then that I decided I would need a bike upgrade, more training time in the saddle, and a new plan to make sure I survived the bike so I could do the run.  Racing IM Wisconsin was no longer in the plan.

In July, I went to Spokes in Wheaton, IL and told the guy sitting there that I wanted to go fast.  He fitted me for a tri bike fit for a pro, emptied my wallet and I went home with a new Specialized Shiv Pro.  I regretted the purchase at first, but after a few long rides with my partners, it became apparent that I made a good choice.  I really improved my cycling with that bike.  Now I wasn’t so worried.  But I feared I made a rookie mistake by buying the bike and trying to get used to it too close to the event.  However, it didn’t take long to master the different riding position.

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Me and the “KX5.”  Looks fast standing still.  The bike, that is.

 

I had some great weeks and some not so great, but I stuck to the plan as close as I could.  I am convinced “Be Iron Fit” prepared me well.  Over 30 weeks of training I covered over 217,000 yards of swimming, 2500 miles of biking, and 800 miles of running to get ready for my 140.6 mile adventure.

 

THE 2013 IRONMAN WISCONSIN RACE

We arrived in Madison on Thursday night and checked into the Monona Hilton, which is ground central for the race.  The expo is right there, along with where the course finishes.  My room had an awesome view of Lake Monona and of the top level of the Monona Terrace parking garage, which is where the bikes are racked for the race.  If you are thinking of doing IM WI, this is a great place to stay.

Friday we checked in, which is required – no Saturday registration.  We sat in on the “mandatory” course talk and race rules.  I don’t know how they would know if you attended it or not, but we listened and got nervous.  Actually, all of Friday and Saturday were just filled with anxiety for me.  I was having trouble not letting the event make me more nervous than I wanted. Just looking at the enormity of the lake was something I found I couldn’t do.  John is a doctor and uses Ambien to help him sleep on nights before big events like this.  I had turned him down before other events, but I decided to try it on Thursday night.  I slept well.  Friday, I opted not to take it and did not sleep as well. I knew I’d take one on Saturday night.

We also sat in on the Pro panel, which featured 2 top women and 3 top male pros in the race field.  The eventual winner of the race was one of them, Maik Twelsiek from Germany.  Mike Reilly, aka “The Voice of Ironman” asked them questions.  I got more nervous listening to them.

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Mike Reilly – aka “The Voice of Ironman” – in the red hat.

 

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My Run Gear Bag (2585) in a sea of others.

 

John had his bike checked by the Trek crew there and they informed him how messed up it was!  All summer long I had to listen to his chain squeal when we rode.  They said it was junk, as too was his cassette.  They ended up giving him a nice granny climbing gear, which allowed him to spin up the tough hills easily.  This made him happy, as he thought he was going to have to walk them.

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Dave making us enough PB&J’s to feed all of the triathletes.  I remember eating

a couple of bites in T1, but we really just had them in our bags as a back up in case

we needed real food.  

 

We made the same mistake most newbies make by walking around on an 85 degree Saturday, checking out all the exhibits and turning in our bags and racking our bikes.  It was hot, we were getting too much sun, and we were on our feet for way too long.  At about 2pm or so we ended up at Francesca’s, an Italian restaurant about a block up the street from the finish line.  I had angel hair with marinara sauce, and some bread and felt very full.  Later around 6pm, we ate a little more, some cheesy bread, some salty french fries (not sure if that was advised, but they tasted good) and a portion of a grilled cheese sandwich.  I made sure I drank a few bottles of water and some Gatorade and kept pretty well hydrated.

I finally retreated to my room to watch some college football and relax, and await the arrival of my very busy family.  My son is a XC runner at Loras College and had his first meet.  Dave’s kids go to U of Iowa and picked him up on their way from Iowa City.  They got there late.  My wife arrived around 9pm with my two girls, a high schooler who had marching band practice all day, and my 6th grader who had a late afternoon soccer game.

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My cheer crew!  Daughter Ashely, Mom-in-Law Darla, Son Ben, Wife Kari,

Daughter Rebecca, and Dad-in-Law Gary.

 

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We made sure we didn’t go through the finish line.  We didn’t want

to jinx ourselves.  Walked around in the heat too much on Saturday.

Newbies.

 

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John (left) and his brother Dave with their racked bikes.  My two best buddies.

 

I took the Ambien and the next thing I heard was the alarm at 4:15am.  It was go time!

The Ambien did wonders.  Not only did I sleep well, but for the first time since getting there, I actually felt relaxed and emotionally excited.  I got up and ate a plain bagel with peanut butter, a banana and had a cup of coffee.  I spent some time in the bathroom making sure everything was taken care of.  That went well.  I met the others and grabbed our swim stuff and headed to the transition to pump up our tires and load up the bike with our bottles.  I packed about 1/2 the nutrition that I would have normally consumed on a solo ride of that length, just to make sure that I had the flavor I liked.  Weighed me down though.

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Getting body marked by a volunteer. 

 

We got our bodies marked and I had my first freak out of the day.  She asked my how old I was and I immediately sensed that I was going to get marked with my actual age and not the crazy way USAT wants it done.  I’m 49, but in tri’s you usually are marked with the age you will be on December 31 of that year.  I checked with another body marker and they said that they were told to go with the actual age.  Okay then, mark me 49.  Not five minutes later I see my buddy Dave and he’s marked the other way.  C’mon, Man!  Oh well, it didn’t matter anyway, because I used so much Tri-Slide on my wet suit that it erased the markings.

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Donning my tri dunce cap.  I wear glasses and my goggles are prescription, so I 

need to wear them to see.  I’m practically the only one wearing goggles pre-swim

and in T1.

 

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 Fairly happy trio, all things considered.  Dave, John and myself.

 

THE SWIM – 2.4 MILES – 1:30.37

The weather gods blessed us.  On Saturday, we had hot sun, mid-80’s temperature and could feel it.  Race day morning arrived with a forecasted high of 74 beautiful degrees and overcast conditions.  The only caveat was that there was a 12-15mph wind forecasted for the day.  That made for some choppy waters.

We were still standing on the ground at 6:50 when the cannon went off for the pro athlete start.  It was now very real.  As soon as that was done, they kept pushing us to get in the water which we did.  I downed a Gatorade Prime pre-race drink and ate a gel.  We then entered the water and waded over to the back middle of the start area and I got separated from Dave and John.  We weren’t in the water for more than 5 minutes when 7am hit and the cannon went off. They wanted to be closer to the inside, but I had decided that I would angle over on the front stretch.  I was hoping to avoid getting pummeled and swimmed on.  Didn’t matter.  It was tough!  At times there were people swimming perpendicular in front of me.  I kept sighting, not only for the next buoy, but also for open and clear water to swim in.  I think I had maybe one full minute of peaceful swimming during the whole swim.  I got hit in the goggles about four times, each time causing me to stop and readjust my goggles.  I was getting a little ticked off.

I MOO’ed when I went around the first buoy, as it is the tradition at IM Wisconsin.  I kept up my plan of trying to stay in clear water and just swim buoy to buoy.  On the back stretch, things got interesting.  We were heading into the wind and the water became very rough.  Rough as in there were waves, rough.  I usually bi-lateral breathe, but ended up breathing on my left side, because I was getting more water than air on my right.  To add to that problem, my goggles had leaked a little water in the left eye and was mixing with my anti-fog and burning my eye.  Having water in your goggles is no fun, and especially crummy when its burning your eye.  I toughed it out, but when I exited the water I could tell that my eye was not right.  I felt like I had a little bit of film on it, and also like I had something in my eye.  It got better on the bike as I rode through the next stage of the race.

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I’m in there somewhere.  This is the last leg of the swim, heading to the swim exit.

 

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Coming out of the water in 1:30.  Not sure why my wetsuit is not slick like the

others.  Also not sure what the guy behind me is yelling about.

 

T1 – SWIM TO BIKE TRANSITION – 14:18

I let the strippers do their job and two of them ripped my wet suit off of me while I laid on the ground trying not to get emotional.  I was so glad the swim was over.  I took my time getting my land legs back under me and jogged up the Helix (the curly ramp to get to the top parking level where T1 is located).  I went into the room where the swim-to-bike bags were located and the volunteers asked if I needed help finding it.  I had put some pink tape on the bag and drawstrings to help me find it, and I found it with ease.  Next up was the changing room, aka the “Get Naked Room” where there were plenty of naked guys standing around.  I found an empty seat and a volunteer helped me get my junk out of the bag.  I grabbed the PB&J sandwich and took a couple of bites.  I toweled off a little and put on my cycling jersey.  I kept on my tri shorts, as I had worn them under the wet suit in the swim.  I put on socks, grabbed my shoes and out I went.  I headed outside and debated about putting on sunscreen on a cloudy day.  I played it safe and had a volunteer put some on my arms, neck, ears, and nose.  Then I made the long run to my bike and headed to the mounting area.  Not sure how that ended up being 14 minutes of transition time.  I think I was a little emotionally spent sitting in the chair getting changed and took a little longer than I would have normally.

 

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Just crossing the timing strip and heading out onto the bike course.

 

THE BIKE – 112 MILES – 7:33.51

I had a blast on the bike.  It was truly the best part of the day.  The crowds and volunteers were outstanding.  There was rarely a time when you didn’t see a spectator cheering you and a volunteer helping you.  As I rode down the Bike Out helix and onto the bike path, I felt a little cold.  I kind of expected that, as I had just got out of the water and was still wet.  But I wished I had donned my arm warmers.  I rode the stick out (the course is a lollipop type course, where you ride out to a two loop course and then head back) and was struggling to get my heart rate into a manageable range.  I had planned to keep it around 120 bpm or so, but was hitting the 140’s throughout the first 45 minutes of the ride.  When we finally got to the loops in Verona I noticed that I had finally settled it down.

I am so glad I had ridden the loops in training, as it gave me no surprises.  I could have rode the course without volunteers directing us along.  And, I was actually enjoying the ride for a change.  My plan was to stop at every aid station and eat and replenish my reserves.  I would eat one GU gel every half hour, and I set my timer to remind me to do so.  Every hour I tried to drink a full bottle of water or Ironman Perform, but I wasn’t liking the Perform so much.  I drank about 1/2 bottle every hour.  I took one Salt Stick salt capsule every hour, along with eating a Bonk Breaker bar (the snack size is what they had on course, which is half the size of a regular bar) and a chunk of banana.  I also used the bathroom at several of the stops, as peeing on the course was a DQ.  And there was no way I was peeing myself on the bike.  Yuk.

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Coming into Verona and the aid station on the first loop.

 

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The second loop had much fewer fans, but I was still feeling pretty good.

 

The hills were no problem for me this time on the course.  I just sat and spinned up as best as I could, only getting out of the saddle a couple of times.  I also made sure that I GU’ed about 5 minutes before getting to them.  Being on a sugar high makes a big difference on the hills.  The section of the course that has the toughest hills have the nickname of the “Three Bitches,” and I passed several struggling riders on those hills.  Matter of fact, I don’t think anyone passed me on any of the tougher climbs.  Lots of fun going up the hills.  On the second loop, I actually popped a little “wheelie” to entertain the boisterous crowds.  I got a big cheer for that.

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Just hitting the top of the third of the toughest hills.  You can see how far back

the hill climbs, and there were several like this.  And you had to do them twice.

 

On the first loop I had made it about 30 miles or so into the ride and was reaching the fun rollers of Witte Road when things got exciting.  A motorcycle cop whizzed by and a little bit after that came the first pro, Romain Guillaume, a Frenchman who we dubbed the “Little Guy” at the expo.  He was booking.  It wasn’t long before other pro riders were whipping by.

The rest of the ride was terrific.  My time was about where it I thought I would be, but when I looked at my GPS watch it said I had 20 minutes of stop time!  I should have not spent so much time in the aid stations!  The watch also revealed a top speed of 43mph, a new high for me!

After getting home I saw that Ironman had uploaded a race day video of the race and I viewed it.  I was very surprised to see that I was in it, at about the 3:27 mark, riding my bike in a group of about 4-5 riders heading up some hills.  You can see it here:  

 

T2 – BIKE TO RUN TRANSITION – 11:28

This transition was much smoother for me and quicker as well.  I decided to get naked and change into a fresh pair of tri shorts for the run.  I had three shirt options, but I chose the matching tri shirt because it had a zipper that I could unzip if I got warm, and I liked the idea of a snug fitting top so nipple chafing would be minimal.  Normally, I run without a shirt on warm days, but its not allowed in Ironman.  I rubbed Body Glide all over the soles of my feet.  And then I used the creamy version of Body Glide and coated my toes with it.  Tossed on a pair of good running socks, threw a little baby powder into my shoes, and pulled them on.  I took off my heart rate monitor strap due to the watch still being on my bike, donned bright yellow/green visor that matched my shoes, and out I went.  The sun screeners offered sunscreen again, even though there hadn’t been any sun all day, and it was about to be twilight.  I let them put a little on my ears, neck, bald spot and shoulders, and headed to the port-o-john.  I ate a Bonk Breaker bar, which along with bananas, I had been eating about every hour on the bike, and headed out to the run out exit.

 

THE RUN – 26.2 MILES – 5:07.18

The first step of a marathon always seems to be the hardest for me, because you know there will be thousands more to follow.  My plan was to run from aid station to aid station and eat and drink what they had on course.  I carried two gels as a back up in case I didn’t get one at the stop.  But the course had plenty of everything as far as nutrition was concerned.  I had brought along a Gatorade Recover from my bike gear bag, and sipped it for the first few miles until I didn’t want to carry the dumb thing around any more.  I didn’t need it anyway.

The weird thing about the marathon was that it seemed like I hit the wall in reverse order.  The first six miles were somewhat of a struggle for me.  I felt hot and was sweating early in the race, and then I would get cold.  Not sure if getting off the bike, where there was constant cooling going on made me feel hot at first, and then after sweating for a few miles, getting chilled when I actually got away from the shelter of the downtown buildings and felt some breeze.  But anyway, it wasn’t until mile 7 that I felt like I was running well and feeling good.  Matter of fact, mile 7 through 17 or so felt great.

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Early on in the first loop of the marathon.

 

I maintained the same eating pattern of a GU gel every half hour, but since the aid stations were every mile, I started the buffet eating, snacking on a combination of bananas, potato chips, and pretzels.  Those three went very well together for me.  I usually followed it up with some cola and some ice water.  I also maintained the Salt Stick salt capsule every hour.  But no matter how much or how little I ate, any swallowing was followed by an urge to pass gas.  There is a saying in triathlons that says “never trust a fart.”  I heeded that advice, and visited the port-o-john at several aid stations to be sure.  But, as soon as I passed gas, the urge went away until the next eating session.  This repeated itself nearly every mile.

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I have teased my son that he looks like the “Keep on Truckin'” guy from the 

70’s when he runs.  The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, I suppose.

 

A highlight of the course takes you into Camp Randall Stadium, where the UW Badgers play football.  Very cool to get to run on the field.  We made two passes through the stadium on the two loop run course.  Neither time did I see a photographer, so I was a little disappointed not to get a photo of that.  The campus was awesome, lots of cool old buildings and great crowds.  There was one hill called Observatory Hill that I walked.  It was a brutal hill, and most everyone walked it.

I had great team support on the run.  I saw Dave’s family several times, with his son Alex running along with me a few times.  Great kid and a good triathlete.  I’m sure an Ironman is in his future.  My family rocked the run course.  Although I only saw them twice on the bike course in Verona, I saw them numerous times on the run course.  My son Ben and wife Kari would run to different check points to see me, thanks to the friendly layout of the two-loop, out and back course.  I didn’t think that I would like the course the way it was laid out, having to run within a couple hundred feet of the finish line at the 13.1 mile mark and turn around and head back out.  But seeing it once helped me digest where I was going and how much more I had to do.

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Coming up to check in with the family.  I was using them for support and they were

assessing my condition.  I felt pretty good.  The two girls behind me chatted the 

whole time they were together.

 

It got dark on the second loop, and the trail portion of the course became a little scary at times.  There were times that I would step funny, not knowing where my foot was landing.  Also, on the course you often had people running the opposite direction of you.  There were a couple of times I entered the port-o-john and came out not remembering which way I was heading!  Fortunately, I never made a wrong turn.

After about the 16th mile, I switched up and sometimes skipped the banana/chips/pretzels combo and just went with liquid.  By this time chicken broth was being served and I took it at every station that had it.  It was just warm enough to drink it down and it tasted great.  I would follow that up with a cup of cola, and the ice water.  I felt like I had nailed the fourth discipline of triathlon, nutrition, very well.

Around the 22 mile marker I was my wife and son again and they found me in pretty good shape.  I told them I would see them at the finish.  But my son met me again between mile 24 and 25 and ran with me a little.  At this point, I was running like I had just started a 5K, passing people left and right.  Ben took a short cut to the finish, and I paced myself closer and closer to the finish.

As I made the final turn toward the chute, I looked behind to make sure no one was coming up behind me and that I wasn’t going to catch up too close to the guy finishing ahead of me.  I wanted to make sure I had a little moment in the chute to myself.  I saw my family and tried to high-five all of them, and reveled in the crowd as I crossed the finish line.  “Chris Hedges from Mokena, Illinois, (and some other guy) you are an Ironman!” said Mike Reilly in a somewhat relaxed manner.  It didn’t matter how he said it, all I heard was that I was an Ironman.

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Not sure what I was doing with my arms!  Not very Ironman-ish. 

 

I was immediately met by some catchers and peppered with questions.  I told them I felt great.  They gave me a mylar blanket, a finishers shirt and hat, and of course, the Ironman finisher medal.  The girl reminded me to hit my stop button on my watch, which I had forgotten about.  They asked me if I would like a photo, and I said “heck yeah!” and he held my stuff while I gave a smile and said cheese.

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Proof that I am an Ironman!

 

POST RACE – 140.6 MILES – FINISH TIME – 14:37.31

I was quickly met by Dave and John, who I knew had beaten me to the finish line.  Not only beat me there, but they personally CRUSHED their inaugural IM’s.  We started out with me thinking I would race it and they would survive it, and in the end, they just flat out slayed it, and I was content to be the finisher!  Dave had a sub-13 and John was just a little over 13 hours.  Very impressive for their first Ironman, heck for anyone’s first time for that matter.

We went into the recovery area and I was given a cola and more Ironman Perform.  I was starting to feel a little light headed, a little hypoglycemic, so I made sure I got some sugar in me.  I asked for a bag of ice and rested it on the back of my neck for a little while.  I quickly came around and ate a slice of pizza, while comparing race notes with John.  My wife wasn’t allowed in the recovery area, but I could see she was monitoring me very closely, because she has had to deal with quite a few of my post-marathon crash and burns!  But there would be no crash and burn this time.  We spent about 30 minutes in the area and then went back to the hotel.  The decision was made to go get our bikes and gear bags, so we limped our way down to the transition, where the great volunteers happily gathered our stuff for us.

We made it up to the hotel room and I decided that I had enough for the day and took a shower and tried to go to bed.  But being so close to the finish, I could hear the runners being announced. And since I had overdosed on caffeine from the cola and GU/Roctane all day, I was wide awake. I decided to try to watch the finishers on the live website feed, but I couldn’t pull it up.  There was about 1/2 hour left and I decided that I was going to go down and watch the final finishers.  Kari was not so sure it was a great idea.  But, I wouldn’t be able to sleep with all that noise anyway.  I saw John, whose room was right next to mine, and found Dave eating in the hotel lobby, and told them we were going to go watch the final finishers.  They joined us about five minutes after Kari and I got there.  I have to admit, I am so glad we went down to watch.  It was so uplifting to see these final people meet their Ironman goals with minutes, sometimes seconds, to spare.  One of the final finishers was a 2013 Ironman Wisconsin Facebook group friend, who managed to finish with less than two minutes to spare.  Later on, I discovered her story got better.  She made the swim cut-off by 20 seconds!  She made the bike cut-off by like a minute!  And now she, in her first attempt, became an Ironman in 16:58.  Not only that, she was in the 60-65 age group, and finished with a podium placing 5th in her A/G!  Barely makes the cut in each segment and podiums!  Outstanding.  There were many awesome finishers, and Mike Reilly was right there in front of us welcoming them all home.  What a perfect way to end the day!

Here is a link to my Finisher’s Pix race day video.  I shows me at various checkpoints in the race.  I don’t remember high-fiving the volunteer at the 13.1 turn, but I’m glad I did!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fuxDzKJ66To&list=FLBHNceAyJ1iqiYYmINSxUeQ&index=3

 

CONCLUSION

Here is a wrap up of my race equipment.

  • Blue Seventy Reaction wet suit
  • Bike – Specialized Shiv Pro, equipped with a Fuelselage (an integrated hydration bottle), two bottle cages, two saddle bags with CO2 cartridges and tire levers and spare tubes, SRAM Red with 52/36 and 11/28 gearing
  • Timex Ironman GPS  with heart rate monitor for the bike ride
  • TYR tri shorts for the bike, with a full zippered Champion Systems cycling jersey
  • LG tri top and shorts for the run
  • ASICS Gel-Nimbus 14 shoes for the run

 

Here is my nutrition routine for the race.

  • Gatorade Prime and GU taken prior to the swim start
  • Two bottles of Gatorade to start the bike ride, then replenished with Ironman Perform on course, about one bottle per hour, along with water
  • One gel every half hour, alternating regular GU and Roctane (bike and run portions)
  • One Salt Stick salt capsule every hour (bike and run portions)
  • One Bonk Breaker Bite every hour (bike portion)
  • Bananas (about 1/5 of a whole banana) every aid station when I felt like I wanted it
  • Small amount of potato chips and pretzels at nearly every aid station (run portion)
  • An occasional GU Chomp when I wanted something to chew on (bike portion)
  • Cola and chicken broth at every aid station (run portion)
  • Ice and water every aid station (run portion)

(Note – the liquids on the run were very small portions, of which I sometimes took extra, and sometimes didn’t finish it all.)

 

What I did right –

  • I got a good night’s sleep the eve of the race thanks to an Ambien.
  • I had my bike checked at the shop two weeks prior to the race.  No issues with such a new bike, but the cables were tightened and the bike got a thorough looking over by a pro bike mechanic.
  • I didn’t freak out in the water when it got rough with the other swimmers.
  • I paced myself well and stayed within my race plan.
  • I nailed the nutrition, never really feeling hungry or hypoglycemic.
  • I used my own bottles.  Several riders used the bottles on course and I saw dozens of full bottles laying on the road side at every bump on the course.
  • I rode the course a couple times during training!  That was vital.

 

What I could improve on –

  • I should have adapted to the cool race day temperature and allowed myself to push my limit a little further.  I think it could have been a sub 13:30 day had I taken advantage of the 75 degree and overcast day.
  • I wasted far too much time stopping at each aid station.  My GPS watch showed that I had 20 minutes of stoppage time on the bike!  Add up the time spent walking through the aid stations on the run, and I could have easily wasted 30 to 40 minutes there as well.
  • I bought my tri bike late into the training.  Although I adapted quickly to the different riding style, my neck and back could have benefited from a longer training season.
  • I shouldn’t have carried all of my necessary nutrition on the bike in my cycling jersey pockets.  There was plenty of nutrition on the course, and you could have grabbed one or two extra at each stop if you are afraid of dropping one.
  • I had three options for running clothes in my bag.  In the end, I went with what I had originally planned to wear.
  • I brought every piece of triathlon equipment I owned and didn’t really need it all.  Security blanket, I guess.  There was plenty of stuff at the expo that you could buy if you needed something.
  • Lastly, transitions!  I pride myself at flying through most smaller race transitions, but I wasted too much time in the Monona Terrace.

Also…

  • “Be Iron Fit,” by Don Fink.  An excellent training manual for the Ironman triathlete.
  • “Racing Ironman Wisconsin,” by Raymond Britt.  A complete guide to everything you need to know about IM Wisconsin by a guy who has done it many times.
  • “Total Immersion Swimming” – A good open water/distance swimming dvd.

 

So, I am an Ironman.  I took my time, executed my plan, and really enjoyed the day.  I can’t think of a better way to experience Ironman.

 

THANKS 

I have to give thanks and credit where credit is due.  Without the support of my family and friends, it would have been a long summer.

Thanks go to…

My friends Dave and John.  Thanks for sharing this wonderful adventure with me.  I would have never done it without you guys.  Another awesome life experience among the many I have shared with you two over the years.  You are my brothers.  I love you.  You are Ironmen!

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Ironfriends.  Ironmen.

 

Dave’s wife Carla.  Thanks for putting up with us.  And especially, thanks for being our official travel agent and fan.  Every event we went to we would have been sleeping in our cars if it wasn’t for your great skills at getting us the best of the best hotel rooms.  Thanks for monitoring us, keeping us on track, keeping us in line, taking photos, and being a great fan.

Elizabeth and Alex, for making the trip from U of Iowa, and picking up my son Ben along the way.  And special thanks to Alex for running with me during our week in Pentwater, and along with me at several of the points along the run route.  It definitely was a pick-me-up.  I hope some day that you too, will fulfill your dream of doing the Ironman.  I know you want to!  Don’t worry about Grandma Sally.  We got your back!  Also, Dave’s two little guys.   It’s hard to have dad training so hard, but you two guys were great supporters.  I also see a future triathlete in Max for sure!

Mandy and baby Lilly, for putting up with John and us.  Being a new mom and having a Ironman training husband was tough, I’m sure.  You deserve something really nice from John!

Sally and Al, Janet, and Connie for coming out for support.  See Sally, it wasn’t so bad.

My in-laws, Darla and Gary for putting up with me and watching my kids and filling in when I wasn’t able to drive to soccer or whatever.  Gary, don’t think I didn’t notice that huge smile on your face when I was on the bike route!  Darla, thanks for bragging on me to everyone you know.  Thanks for being my fans.

My Facebook friends, who at first thought this might not be a well-advised event, but quickly learned that I was going to do it anyway.  Thanks for putting up with all my bragging and posts of my running and tri results.  (Especially, Peggy, who may be the only friend that bothered to read these weekly posts that I threw together every Sunday!)

My work friends, especially Lou and Julie for taking the time to track me during the event and sit in front of their laptops watching the live feed to see me finish.  It really meant a lot to me.  Thanks for listening to me drone on and on about my training, Lou!

My children Ben, Ashley and Rebecca.  I have tried to be a good role model, and I’m glad to see that my running has rubbed off on, well 2 of the 3!  I’m not giving up on you, Ashley!  I was blessed with three wonderful kids.  Thanks to Ben for running with Mom and meeting me along the route.  I can’t say enough how much that meant to me.

And lastly, my wife Kari.  She has had to deal with my numerous marathon efforts, running races, long absences on the weekends, and the money I spent to do this crazy event.  Thanks for being so supportive and loving.  You are an Iron-wife!  I love you.

Chris Hedges – Ironman

p.s. – MOO!

 

 

 

2016 Chicago Marathon Race Report

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After getting a personal best and a Boston Marathon qualifying time at the 2015 Chicago Marathon, and then missing the cutoff by a half minute, I felt like I had a score to settle after that disappointment.  I knew however, that trying to improve on a marathon best that was ten minutes faster than my previous personal best was not going to be easy.  But this year was shaping up to make me well prepared.

 

TRAINING

Leading up to the marathon I had already had a pretty good training season, thanks to training for and completing Ironman Lake Placid.  The training for IMLP started in late 2015 and 30 weeks later got me to the finish line in the third weekend of July.  (You can read my IMLP report here:  https://anamazingrun.wordpress.com/2016/07/29/2016-ironman-lake-placid-race-report/ )

I usually follow a sixteen week plan for the marathon.  The plan I follow was created by Nike and was promoted by the Chicago Marathon.  I was already into Week 2 of the training when I finished up the Ironman.  So I wasn’t really starting at the beginning, seeing that I just finished a marathon as the plan had just began.  But I needed to dial it back a little for a post-IMLP recovery and it was easy to slide in to the plan where I needed to be.  (Here is the plan I followed:  https://assets-chicagomarathon-com.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/2014_Advanced_Final.pdf )

So I eased into the plan, adding a few bikes into the mix, and kept checking off the weeks until race day.  My longest run was a 22 mile run that I didn’t really want to do, but I got it done.  Most of the training was pretty warm, and I struggled to train at a tempo that was near my goal of being under 8 min/miles.  But I knew that training and racing were two different things for me, and the summer heat would hopefully be gone by race day.

 

MARATHON RACE WEEKEND

I went to the expo on Friday midday and found it to be very crowded.  I usually buy some race day clothing at the Nike store, but after seeing how long the line was to check out (it actually went outside of their exhibit and wrapped around it!) and being disappointed at the junk they were selling, I almost passed on it.  But I ended up buying a white event t-shirt and a new set of red shorts, along with a new visor.

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A selfie at the race expo.

 

Saturday was busy as usual for my family.  I was glad that everyone was around for the weekend though.  My son Ben didn’t have a XC meet and ended up coming home from college to watch the race.  My daughter Ashley was excited to come home and watch the marching band home show that my youngest daughter Rebecca was involved with.  I ate a pasta meal with the family at Gatto’s, and then made the trek into Chicago to the hotel.

My usual plan is to walk to the gate where I enter for the corrals just to make sure nothing has changed.  Then I walked around a little, grabbed a muffin for breakfast, and a sub sandwich for dinner and headed to my room.

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The Art Institute of Chicago flying the “W”- GO CUBS!

I walked through the lobby and got a glimpse of Joan Benoit Samuelson, which was pretty cool.  I made it to my room and tried to find the Cubs playoff game on TV.  Very disappointed to find the channel it was on wasn’t carried by the hotel.  I tried to find it online, only to find that I could only get simple live updates on some dumb MLB website.  So I monitored that while I pulled up the Ironman Championship live stream from Kona.

 

RACE DAY

My alarm went off at 4:30 am and I got up and got ready.  I made a cup of coffee, ate my muffin and started getting myself race ready.

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I laid out my options and decided to run in the red shorts.  Pretty bold decision for me!

 

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I figured out how to use the timer feature on my iPhone.  I texted this picture to my wife so she knew what to look for during the race.

 

I took my own advice and headed to the corrals at 6 am.  In the past I have waited too long and had to stand in line waiting to get in.  The wait was minimal this time.  I walked to the corral area got in line for the toilets.  Took care of that and then found a place to sit on the sidewalk outside of Corral B and just relax.  People watching was interesting as usual.  I saw actor/comedian Rob Riggle getting escorted to the front of the race even though he was wearing an E Corral bib.  Must be nice being a celebrity.  At about 7:10 am I ate a gel and drank the last of my Gatorade and then used it to inconspicuously pee into before entering the corral.  Once in the corral we listened to the National Anthem, watched a group of geese fly over almost on cue, and started moving forward.

 

26.2 MILES

My plan had been formed by virtue of not making it into Boston.  I would shoot for a sub 3:25 marathon, which meant holding about 7:50 min/mile pace.  My strategy was to run even splits until either 5 miles, 5K, or less to go seeing how I felt at those times and then push as hard as I could to the end.  Race day was perfect – temperature in the 50’s at the start and rising slowly into the low 60’s.  There was a moderate breeze that concerned me a little, but I knew we were going to have a great day to run.

Mile 1:  7:36 split – I was running comfortably and wasn’t surprised at this split.

Mile 2:  7:41 split – Another good split, nothing out of the ordinary at this point except I felt like I had to pee again.

Mile 3:  7:44 split – This is the tempo that felt good and I hoped that I could maintain.

Mile 4:  7:43 split – Locked into that tempo.  I was starting to sweat somewhat, which surprised me.

Mile 5:  7:39 split – Into Lincoln Park and moving along well.  Could really feel the wind here and it definitely cooled me down with my sweaty shirt.

Mile 6:  7:46 split – Soon after leaving the aid station where volunteers were yelling “Gatorade” and “water,” we were met with a guy yelling “cigars, cigarettes.”  Funny.

Mile 7:  7:40 split – Getting as far north as we would be, I was glad to be turning around.  But as soon as you do, you get hit with the smell of breakfast.  Gets me every year.  Smells so good.

Mile 8:  8:20 split – Just before the Mile 8 marker I saw the toilets and saw my chance.  I had the need to go since the start and I knew I would have to make one pit stop.  As far as pee breaks go, this one was typical, but I think that it cost me the sub-3:25.  I didn’t try to make up the time here, I just got back on the pace I had been running.  I also took my first salt capsule at the aid station.  I wasn’t thinking that I would need them today, but the amount of sweating I was doing made me commit to taking one.

Mile 9:  7:42 split – Somewhere in here I tossed the homemade tube sock arm warmers I had.  I had rolled them down, but kept them in case it got cold.  I kept my gloves, but just held on to them, mainly for personal memento reasons.

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My first Chicago Marathon was the 1999 LaSalle Banks sponsored race.  They passed these gloves out at the expo to everyone.  I kept them as a souvenir.  I accidentally grabbed them for this race, which meant if I tossed them I would wouldn’t have these keepsakes anymore.  I ended up carrying them throughout the entire race, occasionally wiping sweat from my brow with them.

 

Mile 10:  7:49 split – Okay, for some reason the race would be a let down for me if I didn’t see Elvis in this mile.  Upon turning onto North Avenue, I could hear the music.  Normally he is right next to the roadway, but this time he was up a little higher and I wasn’t sure I would be able to get my fist bump.  But I saw an opening and went over and yelled “Hey Elvis!” and he met my fist with his.  Made my day.

Mile 11:  7:45 split – Mile 11 is pretty much a straight shot back into the Loop.  Kept up my pace.

Mile 12:  7:45 split – Somewhere in here I found myself running with a guy carrying an American flag.  He was a very popular guy.  The crowd was making noise for him and I got energy from that as well.  But after the flag hit me in the face a few times, I knew that Flag Man and me would have to part ways.

Mile 13:  7:44 split – Another very close split time and I got through the 13.1 mile marker in 1:41.49.  A quick calculation in my head told me I was doing just fine and looking at possibly being closer to 3:20 than 3:25.  I saw Kari, Ben and Ashley for the first time through this mile and it gave me a boost.  I could tell Ben was following my splits closely and was cheering me on like I usually do for his races.  Made me proud.

Mile 14:  7:42 split – A little faster, probably due to seeing the family and starting to head through the Cheer Zone of the route.

Mile 15:  7:38 split – Another faster split time as I headed into the Dead Zone of the race.

Mile 16:  7:58 split – Not sure why there is a 20 second difference.  Maybe I hit the split/lap button too early in the previous mile.

Mile 17:  7:55 split – Okay, now I realize that I’m edging closer to 8 min/mile pace.  As long as I kept it under 8’s I felt I’d be okay.  I saw my family again and got another lift.

 

 

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Running with the masses at Mile 17.  Looks like the C Corral was moving up.  I ran with that IM Moo guy for a while and was going to talk to him about the race, but he was wearing earphones.  

 

Mile 18:  7:53 split – I wasn’t feeling bad, I just couldn’t get back to the 7:45’s.  I was walking a little more in the aid stations, making sure I was getting a good drink of Gatorade.

Mile 19:  7:46 split – Heading into Pilsen and feeling pretty good still.  I could really feel the head wind now.

Mile 20:  7:55 split – At 20, I knew I was doing good but chose not to push any harder yet.

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I think this must be right around the 20 Mile mark, where Kari snapped this photo.  

 

Mile 21:  8:05 split – Okay, lots of distractions in Chinatown – the music, crowds and of course the photographers distracted me enough that may have made this a slower mile split.

Mile 22:  7:50 split – It was at this point I made a choice to hold off until the last two miles before pushing hard.  I made the same decision in 2015.

Mile 23:  8:07 split – (See note below)  Just a 5K to go, and I got my last gel in me.  Here’s where in your mind you are ready to turn to the finish line, but the course takes you south and then east for a block until you hit Michigan Avenue for the final stretch.  I tried picking off runners that were ahead of me, one at a time.

Mile 24:  8:07 split – (Miles 23 and 24 were averaged as I missed the marker for Mile 23 and hit the lap button around 9:20 or so.  I added them together and averaged them for the splits.)  I felt like I was really pushing, but the effort was all in my head as it was taking that effort physically to maintain what I perceived as a fast pace.  With two miles to go, I put my head down and started running.

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Last time seeing the family and the last time getting their much needed pick-me-up.  For the second year in a row, we finished the last two miles into a head wind.  My bib number would not stay down into the wind.

 

Mile 25:  7:47 split – That’s more like it, although I thought I was running sub-7 at this point.  Toward the end of this mile I saw a sign that read “800M”, meaning 800 meters to go.  But my mind read it as “BOOM”, a saying my fellow triathletes had in the 2013 Ironman Wisconsin race.  Either way, it was a positive for me.

Mile 26:  7:41 split – The fastest mile I had run since about Mile 14.  I turned and climbed “Mount Roosevelt” and it seemed like an eternity.  A quick left and I was checking my watch to see how close I was to 3:25.  I sprinted with all I had left.

Mile 26.2/FINISH:  3:25.08 – Missed being under 3:25 by 9 seconds.  But that really didn’t disappoint me at all.  I had just gotten my second Boston qualifier, a BQ-4:52 as they say, which should be more than enough to get me into the 2018 Boston Marathon.  If that’s not fast enough, I’m not sure what else I can do.

 

POST RACE

The finishing chute was a blur.  I was really having a hard time moving forward, almost staggering and felt really drained.  It wasn’t long and they handed us a bottle of water.  I started sipping on it and then grabbed another salt capsule out of my fuel belt and downed it.  I made my way to some misting fans and just kind of hung out there a little bit until moving on.

I chose an older lady out of all the volunteers to put the medal around my neck and wrestled with my emotions a little bit.  Seems strange that after 16 marathon finishes, I still get a little choked up at finishing a race, especially when I set a personal best or have a great race.

I shuffled along picking up a banana, an apple and a bag of goodies and then saw the group of guys handing out the mylar blankets.  They were pushing them like they were car salesmen or something.  They were trying to get people to laugh and it worked.  I got my blanket and headed for the gate.  One last picture as I walked out and then I made my way back to the Hilton to meet my family.

After a quick shower it was a two block walk to Devil Dawg’s on State Street for the usual post event lunch.  Another successful Chicago Marathon in the books!

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It is mandatory to eat at Devil Dawg’s after any Chicago race.

 

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The tracking app was pretty good this year.  Above are my 5K splits. Post race results indicated that I finished 3745th overall, 3148th out of the men, and 201st in my M50-54 age group.  

 

RACE EXTRAS

Here’s some of the details of my race that helped me get another personal best and Boston Qualifier.

  • Running Gear:  Nike 2016 Chicago Marathon Event shirt (not the participant shirt – that is a no-no in my book!) and visor, along with Nike Flex running shorts with the built in mid-thigh liner, all purchased at the expo.
  • Arm warmers made from new tube socks.
  • Polyester gloves.
  • Skin Glide lotion for my feet to prevent blisters.
  • Two Band-Aid flexible fabric bandages to cover my useless nipples.
  • Louis Garneau Mid Ride cycling socks.
  • FuelBelt brand bib number belt with pouch.
  • ASICS Gel-Exalt 3 running shoes.  I have been running in some of the cheapest ASICS shoes I can buy.  They were great.  I had broken them in two weeks prior to the race.
  • Three Salted Caramel (extra electrolytes, caffeinated), and four Root Beer flavored GU brand gels.  I took one Salted Caramel about 15 minutes prior to the start, then one gel every 30 minutes.  Two Root Beer, then one Salted Caramel until they were gone.
  • Four Salt Stik brand salt capsules.  I took one at the hotel at about 6 am, and then took one every hour after the first hour.
  • One cup of Gatorade at every aid station, with an occasional water as well.
  • Timex Ironman 50 lap watch.  I have a Garmin 910XT but don’t trust it.  The Timex Ironman has never let me down.

 

 

2016 Ironman Lake Placid Race Report

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DO  YOU  BELIEVE  IN  MIRACLES?” 

I was 16 years old when Al Michaels celebrated with the rest of the United States with his famous words while we watched Team USA defeat the USSR in hockey in the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York.  At that time Ironman was two years old, and I certainly didn’t think that I would ever be in Lake Placid or do an Ironman.  But 36 years later, here I was in the place where a historic event took place looking for a little miracle of my own.

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Herb Brooks Arena, home of the 1980 Winter Olympics and the “Miracle on Ice.”

 

THE ROAD TO IRONMAN LAKE PLACID

My two lifelong friends, Dave, John and I had done Ironman Wisconsin together in 2013.  That race was somewhat of a bucket-list experience, and we really never thought about doing more prior to finishing that race.  But we kind of caught the triathlon bug, or I did in particular.  After a couple of years, we started talking about doing another.  Dave’s son Alex had been asking to do a full iron distance race, and another longtime friend Jeff had recently taken up the sport.  So with renewed interest in completing another Ironman, Dave suggested that we take on Lake Placid.

Why Lake Placid?  We had already done Madison, so a new venue was intriguing.  We knew what to expect as far as riding tough bike courses like Madison, and figured Lake Placid couldn’t be much different.  Also, the lake has a guide cable running in the water about 10 feet or so down and takes you right along the swim course.  Plus, Lake Placid had a reputation as one of the best.  So off to the Adirondacks we went.

The five of us registered on the day after the 2015 race, the typical time when the registration starts for the next year.  I was on a college tour with my daughter Ashley, and registered using my iPhone.  In retrospect I could have waited, but I wanted to make sure I got in.  It was somewhat comical walking around looking at a college campus with my phone in my hand, falling behind the group and registering for an Ironman.

We nicknamed ourselves the “Gunners,” mainly because of Alex’s penchant for gunning for everything.  But in essence, we all had the gunning for the win mentality.  It just seemed like a fitting team name.  And it sounded cool.

In 2013 we chose to follow Don Fink’s book, Be Iron Fit, for training and it served us well.  We decided without any hesitation that we would follow the same 30-week Competitive training plan to prepare us for Lake Placid.

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New Year’s Eve, 2015 – The start of 30 weeks of training

 

TRAINING

The training for the race went fairly well for all of us.  This time around Alex formed a text group for just us five to share information and support each other.  In true Gunner spirit, it almost became a race to see who could finish the workout first, which was usually punctuated with the text “day done.”  It was fun stuff until John kept telling us that he was done – at 12:15 am!!!  I learned to put my phone on sleep mode after a few of those.

As far as the plan was concerned, I missed some swimming due to a variety of issues, but it didn’t really effect me in the end.  In the almost 3 years since doing Madison, I must have garnered a decent swim technique.  Doing the 70.3 in Muncie, Indiana in 2014 was a turning point for me.  It’s one lap, seeded swim was a perfect swim for me and I hoped that Lake Placid would be very similar, just twice the length.  The distance doesn’t scare me any longer.

I was well prepared for the running.  I started a running streak on 1/1/2015 and have run at least a mile everyday.  I think it has made me a better runner, not only because I run more, but it has conditioned my legs to handle the workload much better.

The bike is another story.  Lake Placid is in the Adirondack mountains and Illinoisans are commonly called “flatlanders” for a reason.  I envied Dave and Alex because out in western Illinois where they live they have some pretty good rolling hills for training.  I on the other hand commonly ride on a flat rails-to-trails bike path and very gentle hilly terrain in the rural south of Chicago suburbs.

But we did have a few times where we could get together and train.

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Riding the rollers in Dave’s neck of the woods.
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Riding in wind in my neck of the woods.
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John and I suffering through the dreaded Week 27 six hour ride together.

In total:

  • 30 weeks of training
  • Approximately 1,050 miles of running, 2,600 miles of cycling, and 149,000 yards of swimming
  • 360 hours of total training

TRAVELING TO LAKE PLACID

Unfortunately, my kids had a busy summer schedule this year and couldn’t join my wife and me for the race.  So Kari and I plotted out a little fun trip on our way to and from the race.  We packed up the car and headed to Niagara Falls, Ontario on Wednesday 7/20.  My first time in Canada, eh!  We had never been to the falls and we weren’t disappointed.  It was an awesome sight.

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Niagara Falls!  Slowly I turned, step by step, inch by inch…

Getting through customs was interesting for me.  Kind of made me nervous with all the questions.  But after a night at the Falls, we left Canada on Thursday and drove directly to Lake Placid, New York.

Upon getting to the hotel I was fried.  It was a long car ride, the anxiety about the race was starting to build, and my Gunner teammates were waiting for me to do a swim and bike.  I got there and my attitude was awful.  I just wanted to settle in and let myself catch up, but after I unloaded my junk and a trip to registration to get my race packet, off we went to Mirror Lake for a planned 30 minute swim.

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You can see it in my face that I wasn’t enjoying the moment like the rest of the Gunners.

My plan all along was to get into the lake and swim it pre-race, so I grumpily got in the water and started swimming.  The first thing that I wanted to see was the famous cable in the lake that the course runs along.  I was surprised by what I saw.  I was expecting a large pipe type thing at the bottom of the lake, but in essence it is a thin cable, much like a clothesline, and was suspended in the water about 10 feet down.  Very easy to see and follow.

Even though I had been a little gruff before the swim, swimming actually made me feel much better.  It took away the tension and anxiety and I felt much better.  When I looked at my watch I saw that I had did a loop in about 36 minutes I couldn’t believe it.  I swam Muncie 70.3 in 43 minutes, so this was huge!  I almost wanted to swim another lap!

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I was in a much better place after the swim!  Standing next to the official rock of Ironman Lake Placid.

Next up was a scouting mission of the bike course.  Dave and Jeff had arrived earlier in the week and had ridden some of the course.  First up was a trip to the infamous “3 Bears” – Momma, Baby and Papa Bear are nicknames of the last hills you have to climb coming back into Lake Placid at the end of the bike loop.  Riding down them was fun and we rode out about 20 minutes and turned around.  I expected them to be a hard climb coming up, but on fresh legs they really seemed kind of tame.  I even have some hills by me that are just as much of a climb.

Then we took a spin over to where BIKE OUT was located to scout the beginning portion of the race.  Unbelievable downhill at the start.  I took some serious notes about using my brakes at the start of this ride.

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The Gunners getting ready to scout the bike course.

We capped off the day with a pizza dinner and great conversation.

A morning run with the gang along the back portion of the run loop was done on Friday morning.  We spent some time at the expo where I found that the finisher’s stuff was already on the racks for sale.  Usually they put that stuff out post-race on Monday morning.  Had this been my first Ironman, I would have avoided it.  But since I was confident that I knew I would finish, I went ahead and bought the finisher’s jacket, a couple of the race shirts that had the competitors names on the back, and a coffee mug just so I wouldn’t have to worry about making sure that they still had my size after the race.

Kari and I had a nice lunch away from the group and then drove the bike course in our car.  All I could say was WOW!  Beautiful scenery, exceptionally good roads, and unbelievable hills!  I was glad I took the time to drive it, but when you are on the bike it was a very different experience.  I’m not sure why the Three Bears get all the credit.  There were many other hills out there that should have names too.

The Gunners finally made it to the Athlete Welcoming Ceremony after trying to find the non-existent park it was located at.  Mike Reilly made his first appearance, and Ironman weekend was starting to become real.

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We sat and listened to some kid sing some songs and hoping someone would get the hook.

Capped off Friday with a dinner at the Boat House with Kari and her parents who made the trip to watch us race.

We spent Saturday making the same rookie mistake we always do, walking around in the heat instead of staying off our feet.  We took our bikes and gear bags to transition and got it all set to go.

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Standing in line, waiting to enter transition in the Olympic oval.
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Bike gear contents.  I was concerned that the morning would be cool, but I opted for arm warmers instead of a long sleeve shirt.  I’m glad I had the water and the towel in the bag to wash off the sand from the swim exit off my feet.
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For the Run Gear Bag I put in some baby wipes to freshen up and a fresh pair of socks that I didn’t use.
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Group photo of the Gunners and the Gunner Fans!  Their support throughout the week and on race day was AWESOME!
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One last group Gunner photo by the rock.

 

IRONMAN LAKE PLACID RACE DAY

The alarm went off at 3:15 am.  I went downstairs and claimed my breakfast meal bag the Mirror Lake Hampton Inn provided the triathletes.  I ate the bagel, yogurt and banana and spent time making sure the bathroom situation was all good.  Then we headed to transition to ready our Gunner-mobiles (Alex’s term) and get body marked.

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Body marking is dumb.  I had her draw a smiley face on my calf.
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Pumping up my tires.  I used the highly scientific finger/thumb pinch method of checking the air pressure.
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My father-in-law Gary staked out his viewing spot early in the morning.
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Donning my wetsuit for a 6:00 am pre-race swim warm-up.  So glad I did this.  It helped me get comfortable in the wetsuit, and of course I took the time to pee.
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Very foggy race morning.  I was thinking that I should use the clear goggles, but the fog did burn off after the first loop.

 

THE SWIM – 1:18:57 – 2:02/100M – 122 M50/54 – 951 Male – 1225 Overall

The swim went as expected for me.  My plan was to watch where others were swimming as I entered the water and then head for the path of least resistance.  Unfortunately, the path changed many times.  I drifted left and right, other swimmers changed their minds, and the majority wanted to be on that cable.  For the most part I stuck to about 10 yards or so off to the left of the cable and just kept sighting for open space to be in.  The cable and the buoys and the majority of the swimmers swimming along the cable make it pretty easy to stay on course.

The turns were tough with a lot of contact and some treading water and dog paddling, but I got around them.  I checked my watch after the first loop – 38 minutes!  All good.

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I saw Kari on the beach when I entered the water for the first loop and she was still there on the second loop.  I waved and she grabbed this photo.  Mike Reilly (in the blue) probably thought I was waving at him.

The second loop had spread out a little more than the first and I found that I could be on the cable with little contact.  I stuck mostly to the inside of it as it was less occupied.  About halfway down going out I got a Charley Horse type calf cramp.  I never get these, but I surmised that it was probably from the tightness of the wetsuit causing it.  I swam over to a kayaker/volunteer and she inquired if I was okay.  I said I had a calf cramp and just needed to massage it out.  I was there less than 20 seconds.

As I made the turn around the buoys, I got another cramp in the same left calf.  This time I just rubbed it with my right foot and jumped back into the fray.  I got a little pummeled at this point in which I had a brief primal release (I yelled at a guy), but it was just too many people at the same spot trying to go in the same direction all at once.

The backside of the swim heading back was uneventful the rest of the way.  I looked up and saw 1:18 on the clock and was pleasantly surprised.  I swam a 1:30 in Wisconsin.  Big improvement for me.

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Reaching for my zipper pull which appears to be hanging over my other shoulder.  This is the look of a guy very happy to be done with the swim.  Now on to T1 and the two activities I actually like!

 

T1 – SWIM to BIKE – 10:46

It was a hike to get from the swim exit to transition.  Had to run up the beach, down a road to a carpeted sidewalk and then into T1.  I found my bags easily as I knew exactly which row to go down and I had placed some green duct tape on the bags so they would stand out.  Upon getting inside I couldn’t find a place to sit.  I finally found a place and laid all my junk out.  I used the water bottle to rinse the sand off my feet and then dried them off.  I put on my homemade arm warmers (long white tube socks from Walmart) and my glasses and they immediately fogged up.  I got my socks and shoes on after a liberal amount of Glide on my toes, and had a volunteer spray me with some sunscreen.  He packed up all my junk and off I went.  By the time I made it to my bike mount row a volunteer had my bike waiting for me,  I grabbed it and off I went.

 

THE BIKE – 6:46:15 – 16.54 mph ave. – 106 M50-54 – 944 Male – 1149 Overall

The bike was interesting to say the least.  It was hard, it was easy, it was beautiful, it was peaceful, it was crazy, it was scary.  I felt like a Gunner heading out of T1 and down the hills.  I was surprised to see Kari and my mother-in-law Darla at the bottom of the first hill.  That started the ride off on a great note.

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Look Ma!  One hand!

After getting down that first hill I was contemplating pulling over and peeing.  I had to go really bad.  I had tried while I was on the second loop of the swim, but just couldn’t go.  It wasn’t long though until we hit the first Bike Aid station and I was able to stop for a potty break.

Then the climbing began.  A lot of climbing.  Another rider audibly warned everyone not to mash up the hills as she was getting passed by everyone.  In all honesty I couldn’t go any slower and not suffer just as much.  My heart rate monitor was screaming at me, but there was nothing I could really do.  The only way to bring it down would be to walk!  I tried my best and just kept climbing in my easiest chainring combination.

Then the descent began.  A lot of descent.  I have never felt my bike make so many new wobbles and vibrations.  I have never felt quite so afraid on my bike before.  In Wisconsin I hit 47 mph and was kind of mad that the hill ended.  But the famous (or infamous!) descent into Keene was 6 miles long and scary as hell!  Fortunately the descent had been repaved recently and as far as the road was concerned, it was perfect.  I hit 45 and started applying the brakes as we serpentined our way down into Keene.  I am so glad that I kept my hands on the brakes!  Being in aero would have scared the crap out of me.

We got into Keene and the road flattened out.  The scenery changed and the ride became somewhat calm and reassuring again.  We just rolled along through some beautiful mountainous country.

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When will I learn to stop giving the peace sign or sticking my tongue out when I see a photographer?  I should have stayed in aero.  I was just happy that I survived the descent!

There are two out and backs on this looped course, and while I was heading out on the longer first out and back I saw Dave for the first time heading the other way.  Not much longer after that I saw John.  About 5 minutes later I hit the turn around and figured that Dave had about a 15 minute lead on me and John about 10 minutes.

At 35 miles into the ride I decided to do a little work and push pace.  I had been riding flats and was feeling good.  Then the hills started.  I couldn’t believe the amount of climbing that was going on.  It shouldn’t come as a surprise that to get back to where I started and after all the descending I had done that I would have to climb it back.  But it seemed to go on forever.  At one point we were riding up a hill and I said to a guy that this hill was much harder than the dumb Bears.  It should’ve been called Grandpa Bear.  It definitely wasn’t Teddy Bear, that’s for sure.

Finally got to Papa Bear (Momma Bear and Baby Bear aren’t even worth mentioning) and saw Kari and Darla.  Lots of crazy crowd support through that hill.  It made for a fun part of the ride.  Thankfully after cresting Papa Bear it was downhill into town for Loop 2.

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Climbing up Papa Bear on the first loop.  It was nothing compared to the hills I climbed to get to it!

The second loop was tough.  I tried like crazy to budget my energy and spin up the hills but it was tough.  I got a little braver going down the descent into Keene, but still held the speed at about 45 mph.

I saw John again on that first out and back and could tell I was closer, but I never did catch him on the bike.  I did see Jeff behind me, but I had about 3 miles or so of a lead on him.  I knew he was lurking though!  Damn Gunners.  Always gunning.

As far as the aid stations, they seemed to be strategically placed on the hills which was sort of a blessing as riders were going slower through them and not blazing by trying to grab a bottle.  I stopped about 4 or 5 times to use the toilets and refuel, but for the most part I rode through them as well, something I didn’t do in Wisconsin.

At about 80 miles I stopped and grabbed some Vasoline for my crotch.  I was really starting to get sore from sitting and it helped a lot.  I was worried a little about getting sunburned, but there was really nothing I could do at that point.

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Now that’s how to pose for a photo.  2nd loop
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Probably my favorite photo from the event photographers.  I’m not really grimacing for the camera, that was just how I felt on the 2nd loop.

As far as nutrition on the bike, I think I managed it well.  I started with two of my own Gatorade bottles and then instead of refilling them, I just discarded them in the aid station and replaced them with Gatorade bottles and water.  I didn’t think I would need as much salt as I normally would take, but I changed my mind and stuck with a salt capsule every hour.  I’m glad I did.  I was sweating but it was drying quickly and it didn’t seem to me like I was sweating as much as I was.

I kept up with a Clif Shot gel every half hour, ate a Clif Bar at about 2 hours into it and nibbled on some more around 4.5 hours into it.  I took a bite from a banana at almost all aid stations.  I never really felt out of energy, but I knew I was worn out from the effort it was taking to climb the hills.

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The last mile of the second loop and riding by the lake I had swum in seven hours earlier.
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That’s it, coming to the end of the second loop of the bike portion of Ironman Lake Placid.  The crowd along here was awesome.

 

T1 – BIKE to RUN – 8:02

T2 went very smoothly, I dismounted and handed my bike off to a volunteer bike handler who re-racked it for me and I shuffled off to the bags to get my Run Gear Bag and head to the changing tent.  I sat down and the heat and humidity of the tent hit me pretty hard.  It was warm in there.  I grabbed the baby wipes I had and wiped my face and neck down.  I wanted to feel a little cleaner.  I grabbed my extra socks and put them in my back pocket in case I needed to change them, put on my shoes and visor, snapped on the running/bib belt and headed out of the tent.

I had some volunteers spray me with some sunscreen, and later on my kids told me that they were watching me online and saw all of that.  I’m glad that they were able to see that and the finish too.

Upon leaving the oval for the run course, I spotted Kari and gave her a kiss.  I mentioned or gestured that I was beat, but really what I experienced at that time is just a little overheating from getting off the bike where you are constantly being cooled by the wind and from sitting in the transition tent.  It wasn’t long into the run that I was feeling normal.

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The first few steps of 26.2 miles.

 

THE RUN – 4:28:01 – 10:13 min./mile ave. – 59 M50-54 – 651 Male – 812 Overall

If you have any mental capacity left after that bike ride, this is the time to use it.  Heading out of town on the first out and back portion it is very hilly, and especially very down hilly going out.  It’s easy to get carried away with tempo at this point and I knew to hold back somewhat.  Truthfully, I think downhills are tougher on your muscles than uphills are.  They really beat up your quads and knees.  But I got out of town and turned left at the ski jump hills.  The sunlight was direct and warm.  It wasn’t long before I was taking a sponge and putting it in my tri top.  Later on I found that a sponge rested very nicely on my heart rate monitor chest strap, and I would take ice or water at every aid station and place it on the sponge.  That helped me regulate my temperature on what was becoming a warm afternoon.  A lot of people said it was hot, but I found the breeze to be nice and never really felt like I was cooking myself.

At about the 6 mile mark I saw John heading back.  This put him about 4 minutes ahead of me and I slowly worked to pull him in.  I caught him around the 7 mile mark or so, and walked with him a bit.  He said he was glad that I was walking with him, but he felt like he was going to bonk and told me to keep on trucking.  So I did.  Not long after that I saw Jeff coming up behind us heading toward the turn around.  From then on I felt like I was being chased.

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First loop of the run course, prior to seeing John and before the turn around.  The Olympic ski jumps are in the background and made for a good marker to know where I was at on the course.

I made it into town and could hear Mike Reilly telling people that they were an Ironman!  But at that point I had to head past the hotel and all of my friends/fans for the second out and back before heading out for the second loop.  It can be tough hearing people finishing, but I knew my time would be coming in another 13.1 miles.

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Heading back into town meant climbing this stupid hill that everyone walked.  Don’t be fooled – I was walking it too.  I just pretended that I was running up it after seeing Kari with the camera.

The second loop of the run was much like the first.  As far as nutrition, I kept up the gels every half hour, but I also went to the Base Salt every mile instead of the salt capsules because I wanted that salt more readily absorbed.  Aid stations had bananas, pretzels, ice, water, Gatorade, cola, and after 5 pm chicken broth.  I sample most of it, skipping the Clif bars.  I always took ice and water, and usually the cola and broth too.  I never really felt short on nutrition and energy from that fuel.  The only thing really making me tired was the miles I was accumulating.

I saw Dave at one point as I was heading out and he was heading in.  I congratulated him on a job well done.  “Top Gunner!” is what I yelled.  He returned the compliment.  I knew I had no chance of catching him.  It was Jeff that I worried about.  He passed John and seemed to be making up ground on me.  It was at the 20 mile mark that I decided that I needed to start to push somewhat.  I figured Jeff would be walking the aid stations and hills like everyone else, so I made myself at least jog through the aid stations and hills to create a little gap.  I also picked up the pace a little.

At 5K left to go I was heading back into town and felt like I had a good amount of energy still left in the tank.  I picked up the pace and was running sub-7:30 or so through that last 5K.  At one point some guy said that what I was doing was “ballsy” and another guy said “Somebody wants to go home.”  I took it as a complement.

I kept speeding up, getting more and more emotional.  It was starting to hit me – I was about to become a two-time Ironman.  30 weeks of training, hours of swimming, biking and running were coming to an end.

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Looking strong coming into the last 1/4 mile of the run.
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I flew around the Olympic oval and headed to the finish.
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The clock said 13:02 but I knew that it was chip timed, and I had entered the water about 10 minutes after the start of the race.  I had not only beat my anticipated 13:30 time, but was easily under 13 hours and I was pretty happy about it.  I never would have guessed that I would have finished before sundown.

 

FINISH TIME:  12:52:01 – 651st Male finisher – 59th M50-54 Age Group – 812th Overall finisher

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YOU ARE AN IROMAN!

 

Here is the link to my finisher’s video:  https://youtu.be/0X-pkkoiiHU

THE GUNNERS

It seems like all of us Gunners rocked Ironman Lake Placid.  I couldn’t be more impressed with these men.  We supported each other through the easy training days and the hard.  We rode together when we could, and rode together in spirit when we didn’t.  We sized each other up, and helped each other out.  The one-timers offered sage advice, and the first timers took great notes.  Dave, John and I added two new guys to the Ironman ranks, and I really hope we inspired more to take on that same dream of becoming an Ironman.

Even though John says he’s done with Ironman for a while, I don’t believe him.  I don’t believe anything he says!  I can’t wait until this group of Gunners can do it again!

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Alex was impressive in his Ironman debut!  Although he gunned it a little too hard on the run, he still had an awesome day.  Alex was the first Gunner in the chute with an overall time of 11:41:28!  I’m very impressed with this athlete.  Alex, YOU ARE AN IROMAN!
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Dave is an unstoppable beast.  This is a rare moment of emotion for him.  He’s so focused on kicking ass that he doesn’t bother with it.  I could train my butt off and still finish behind him in Iron distance races.  I’m so impressed.  Amazing Ironman.  Dave finished in 12:25:39!  That is incredible!  TWO-TIME IRONMAN FINISHER!
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Jeff was the epitome of the first time Ironman!  Not only did he prove how incredible he is athletically – he had to overcome a loss of training time due to a back issue that required surgery – he made up the training in spectacular fashion finishing his first Ironman in 13:05:51!  Jeff, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!
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Here’s John.  John likes to make you think that he’s not going to finish, that he never gets the training in.  He’s just playing us.  Here he is, first older Gunner to get out of the water – again.  He did that in Wisconsin,too.  Jeff may have had it the hardest, but John had to train through a busy work life, a toddler and a brand new baby to get the starting line.  I knew all along that he would be killing it on race day.  John finished with a 13:28:19.  Impressive as always.  When John finished, his daughter was watching at home and did the happy dance.  We all did the happy dance for you, buddy.  YOU’RE AN IRONMAN!

 

THE FINISH LINE

I can’t end this report without thanking everyone who supported me along this journey.

Can’t thank my friends on Facebook enough.  Every week I would post a training wrap up and was so thankful that many of you took the time to read the blogs and give me support. I was so tired after the event to “like” all of your comments.  But I want you to know that each and every one was well appreciated.  To all of you, thank you!

I am so blessed to have such great in-laws that take pride in my accomplishments.  Thank you Gary and Darla for making the trip and experiencing me becoming an Ironman for the second time.

To my coworkers who put up with my constant talk of my training and Ironman pursuits, and not being able to join you for lunch because I had to head to the swimming hole, thank you for being there for me!  The regulars include Mary, Tracy, Julie, Jeff, Micah and of course, Lou!  Let’s do lunch!

I do have a couple Super Fans that I want to mention – Carl Teska tells me every time he sees me that I am the pride of American youth.  He always takes interest in my training and racing, and listens intently to every word I provide.  Carl, thank you very much for supporting me.  I may just get that Ironman tattoo that you keep pushing me to get!

And Mr. Hammond, I sometimes think that you are the only guy reading those blogs, and if it was just you reading them it was worth the effort to write them.  Thank you for all the positive comments and support.

I would like to thank the families of my fellow Gunners.  Jill, you had to watch Jeff go through a lot to get to that finish line, and I am sure he appreciates you being there for him.  You also take such pride in the rest of us.  Very much appreciated.

I can’t imagine what Mandy had to do to support John while working her butt off, being a mother for two littles (and a grown man!) and juggling all of that stuff while John joined in on the fun.  Thank you for supporting him and us.

Without Carla we would not have had the wonderful hotel we stayed at, or the sandwiches you provided at the end of that training ride, or the awesome photos you have taken and shared on Facebook, and so much I can’t even remember it all.  We Gunners could be total dopes, and you put up with it all.  Thank you for being our planner/organizer/manager and everything else you do!

My family is always so supportive of me.  Unfortunately they couldn’t join us on this trip.  But knowing that you all watched the live feed online and cheering at home sure made me feel good.

Without the support of my wife Kari I could not even begin to do this crazy event.  She is my rock, my tri coach in many ways, my supporter, my biggest fan, and awesome photographer.  She never balked when I needed to do a long ride or long run.  She pushed me when I dogged it with the swim training and held me accountable.  She makes her way around the Ironman course like she’s doing the race too, just to grab that once-in-a-lifetime photo or give that much needed bit of enthusiastic support.  She helps me schlep all my triathlon junk to the race, and helps me schlep the stinky stuff back home.  In many ways, she helped me earn that medal.  I’m blessed to have her by my side.  I LOVE YOU!

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We wrapped up our trip to New York with a stop in Cooperstown.  Walked the Baseball Hall of Fame and stayed in an awesome Bed & Breakfast.  It was a great way to end the trip.

 

If I missed anyone, thank you as well.  My oversight is due to Ironman withdrawal!  Forgive me.

And lastly, if anyone was inspired by my journey to become a two-time Ironman and take up something that pushed them out of their comfort zone, whether it be tackling a marathon, or going back to school, or beginning a walking program, or attempting anything that you find difficult – if my inspiration motivated you in any way, that is all the reward that I will ever need.  Good luck to you on your journeys.

Thank you.

So, do I believe in miracles?  

Actually, I just believe in myself.  It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you want it.

Chris

 

EQUIPMENT:  

Swim:  Blue Seventy Reaction wetsuit;  Speedo Vanquisher Prescription Goggles (-4.5)

Bike:  Specialized Shiv Pro, SRAM Red components, 52/36 chainring with 11/28 Ten speed cassette, FLO Carbon Racing wheels (60’s), Conti Grand Prix 4000s II (700×23 front, 700×25 rear), two bottle cages and a Specialized Fuelselage, Salt Stick salt dispenser, Specialized Expert triathlon shoes

Run:  Ironman visor, Fuel Belt, Asics GEL Excite 3, Louis Garneau Midride socks, Epix Go Fierce two piece custom trisuit, Garmin 910XT

Nutrition:  I used the on-course provided offerings in training and on race day.  Clif Shot gel (Razz), Clif bars, Base Salt, Salt Stick salt capsules, Gatorade powder in training, and Gatorade Endurance on course, bananas, pretzels, water, cola, ice, chicken broth.

 

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Chris Hedges, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!