Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
TIM ALLISON 33 M 1:33:40 1:34:04 722/5937 636/3612 121 46:17
For any american, the date September 11, 2001, or simply 9/11 will always have significance. Whenever the date is mentioned in conversation, inevitably, a story will follow. The story recipient will have one ear sifting the incoming data following the story into their brain, while the other parts will be unearthing their own story of where they were, who they knew, and how the date has impacted their life since then.
Without delving too deeply, I have worked in Manhattan since 1998. My office is three blocks from the WFC site, and my daily commute typically led me through the trade center to and from the PATH tubes to and from NJ. When the first plane hit at 8:47am, I should have been somewhere in the process of detraining and walking through Ground Zero underneath the Trade Center Towers. But not this 9/11. For the first time in three years, (and not since) I was assigned to cover a bank in New Brunswick, NJ starting 9/10. Meaning I was near Rutgers University, and 50 miles south of NYC on 9/11. The closest I got was watching TV like most everyone else. That is until I returned home to Chatham, and could personally see the billowing smoke from the tower remnants 24 miles east of the house. My family was amongst the luckiest of the lucky, and I will always remember that.
Less than a week later, race organizers were vacillating whether to cancel the Philadelphia Distance Run in Philadelphia, PA 100 miles to the south. Perhaps taking a cue from the NFL, on Friday they declared the race was a go. Back in 2001 I had only run three or so 15K or 10 mile races, never a half marathon, even in training. My best ten mile time was about 77 minutes or a 7:45 pace.
Heather and I hopped in the car Saturday midday for the two hour drive down to the Doubletree and race headquarters inCenter City Philadelphia. No kids, no sitters, no bike, no transition zone, and worries only about our friends affected by the tragedy.
Packet pickup was a breeze, and Heather and I meandered around Center City toward Rittenhouse Square in the late afternoon. We find a cozy little Italian place for dinner and then walk back to the Doubletree for an early nite. The weather was cool in the 50s and the forecast was for 50s and a high in the 60s for Sunday morning. Downtown Philadelphia is actually a small town, bordered by the Delaware River to the east, the Schuykill River to the West, I 676 to the north. South philly wanders all the way down to the old VET, now Lincoln Financial Field or "The Linc", and the FU-Wachovia-whomever is buying that bank soon to be renamed basketball hockey stadium. When walking Center City the line from fine at Rittenhouse Square to over the line into south Philly sketchiness is a blurry one, but usually marked by broken auto glass.
The race route circles Center City west to east passing the Delaware River "Penn Landing" area and then heads west up the Schuykill, crosses over at mile 8 and then screams back down past the 30th st station to the finish. If you have PR half marathon race dreams, this course gives you every opportunity to realize them.
Race morning I hop out of the bed at 6am sharp, into the bathroom, and head down to the hotel lobby. There is a race breakfast set up, and I am off to the starting area. I love these races where you are already there, reducing transit time and worry time. Heather will sleep in, check out and meet me at the finish in three hours of so.
The PDR is one of the most popular halfs on the east coast. Therefore the race is generally 7,000-10,000 entrants. I arrive early and line up at 7:15, for an 8am guntime to ensure a speedy send off. I have to pee, but I elect to wait and not lose my positioning.
Pat Croce, the larger than life GM of the 76ers give some solid pep talk and hands over the mike to the race announcers. Without fanfare, he asks for quiet. He ask a second time and then he starts reading a race number, a city/state location, and then a name. He repeats the process many times. At first runners are looking at each other, and then one by one it hits people, and the silence becomes more silent. Before he finishes most all understand. These runners may not be physically running today, but everyone of them will be running the course with us. The national anthem starts and the tears are streaming down the faces of everyone including me. The sheer energy, resolve, and determination of the collective is overpowering. At the gun the mass jets forward at a breakneck pace. We cross mile 1 passing the Penns Landing area at 6:12 pace and no one is slowing down. I spot several guys peeing on a hillside wall area. I pause for 45 second to unload and collect myself. Emotions or not, this pace is nuts!! I reenter the throng and cross mile two right at 14 minutes. OK this may be sustainable.
I am still worried about pacing, but as the miles stream by, I am able to hold up, as many others are stripped away yielding some running room. I befriend a cute brown haired girl running my pace. She tells me she is running for her sister-in-law. I know she knows I know that she is not talking about "losing her" to an illness, or even an accident. I say I will run for her too. We are flying. We cross the halfway mark at 6.55 miles at a solid 46:17.
At mile 8 we cross the Schuykill bridge and I find I have been so focused discovering her story I feel no pain or effort. At mile 10 she is gassed and tells me to go. I hesitate. She looks at me hard and says go again, so I do. To this point I have no plans for a final time or a plan. I am just running in the moment and thinking about how fragile life is.
At mile 11 runners around me are well spaced out and the road is open. I am tired but feeling good. I keep my pace and am passing more now. A mile to go and I am still feeling good to go. Before I know it I hit the tape in 1:33:40. The time is good but cannot do the math. I have run an even split race with a 1:47 2nd half split and finishing in the top sixth or top 16% in age group and overall and a 7:04 pace. This PDR stacks up with one of my best finishes ever and I am not sure why I have never returned here since.
I spot Heather and grab a hug and an orange. We hit the hotel, check out and walk to our car. The runners are still streaming by but I can only see the runners that are 100 miles away from the finish line buried in rubble. Heather and I make a great stop in New Hope, PA for lunch and reflect on the experience. Yes this has and is the best distance run I have ever completed. Yes I am now an endurance athlete racer and have the mental confidence to conquer greater and longer challenges. and Yes, I will never forget 9/11 and the PDR will always be a part of my story.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Thursday August 28th 2008.
“Where is the Alvin and the Chipmunks CD? The kids need their movie!! 13 hours in the car and no Alvin is not a good thing!” Do you at least have the Mr. Bean’s Holiday?” Heather is peppering me with kiddie DVD questions. This is the last thing I need right now while trying to locate my backup goggles, my non-wetsuit speedsuit and my sandals and I can’t find my Cliff Blocks. I bought a box of Cliff Blocks and they are no where to be found! The lack of Blocks will crop up later on the bike portion! I am athlete number 1417, and this is my IRONMAN RACE STORY.
Packing 10am. . . .What I thought was an organized process has now fallen apart. I spent two days compiling an extensive list broken down by swim bike, run, nutrition, hydration, pre-race post race, and leisure time needs. I now find myself stressed to no ends. Once we hit the road to Kentucky from New Jersey anything that is left behind will have to be obtained through other means or done without . . . .
Today has already been a big day. Last nite Josh had his big 5th birthday party at the bowling alley with 20 5 year olds. He did nearly bowl a strike leaving the ten pin wobbling! We then enjoyed a big dinner with Nana, Grandmommy, Granddad Ted and Aunt Pat to round out the party. IT takes all my will power to not snarf a cupcake or icing from the Oreo cake. It seems like I am always hungry now!
Today started at 5:30 with breakfast and then a quick hour bike ride to make sure all the kinks are worked out prior to packing the bike . .Check, I return and the kids are up and watching cartoons. I fix some juice and cereal and change Lukie’s diaper and bring him down to watch TV too in his high chair. It is now 8am and the yard needs mowing. I won’t be home for 10 days and the neighborhood snob factor demands a manicured yard!. I leave today and then Heather, Nana, and baby Luke are headed to the Jersey shore. Josh, Quinn, mom and dad are headed to West Virginia with me to drop off my truck and then take the minivan and trailer the rest of the way to Louisville. Our ETA is 3pm Friday in order for me to hit packet pickup and then the 4pm pre-race briefing.
But first Josh has a 11am doctor’s appt so he can attend school on September 7th. Heather, Luke and I take Josh and I implore Mom and Dad and Quinn to hit the road with the trailer so I can catch up.
The appt. goes fine and by 11:30 Josh and I are on the road. I call Dad. They have not left Chatham yet. Josh and I make a quick stop at the bank for fundage. An hour later we approach Easton, PA and the cell phone rings. “You are not going to like this,” says Heather . . .my mind starts spinning with possibilities . . .Luke to the ER? Did I forget my race wheels? What? “You left Josh and Quinn’s luggage here . . .. Snap! Should I turn around? Hmmnn That would take two hours . .Can Heather meet me half way on I-78 losing only one hour? Then I hear, “Stop at a Target and get some clothes and swim trunks for them” Good thinking, first disaster averted . I said first . . . .
WEST VIRGINIA 4pm
A quick stop for gas sends Josh off with Mom and Dad to Martinsburg, WV, where we would consolidate to one car for the duration of the trip. I stop in Carlisle, PA with a positive yield of three WaWa soft pretzels for the race bag, and clothes at Target for Josh and Quinn. As we enter WV the hilly mountains are scenic even in the rain! After a brief but pleasant visit with Laura Miller and the Miller dog Sadie, we drive into the remnant rains of Hurricane Gustav .toward Weston, WV where we spend the nite after a Mcdonalds dinner. (Daddy they have a PLAYLAND here, reminds three year old Quinnie. I promise him we will stop on the way home. For dinner I wolf down a couple of plain hamburgers! Dad springs for two Quality rooms at the Quality Inn, so he and Mom can get some sleep and I can get kicked by Quinn all nite and told not to forget about PLAYLAND!
FRIDAY AUGUST 29, 2008
Friday morning we are up at 6am to ensure an ontime arrival. A quality continental breakfast of coffee, frosted flakes, Fruity Loops (off brand) Trix yogurt and we are on the road. At noon, we arrive 30 miles east of Louisville, in LaGrange, KY the site of the bike spectator area. The town is Mayberry, USA or Lincoln, Ill or any other small town with the RR running down the center of Main Street. We grab a lunch and preview the site line where Team Tim will be set up for the bike and moonbouncing portion of the race. Team Tim then drives into Louisville on the last 30 miles of the 112 bike route to the Galt House providing a preview for the ride into T2.
Louisville Galt House – “Winner-Winner Chicken Dinner!” 2pm
We roll down Muhammad Ali drive to the Ohio River front Galt House. The boys are punchy after the car trip and Dad needs to secure parking for the van and trailer. I go to check in and leave Mom with Josh and Quinn running circles around the lobby.
At check in, they are sold out of the junior suites I reserved. Instead of taking an available smaller room, the receptionist eyes the two kids and offers me a one bedroom apt at no additional charge. Why not?! After another half hour of checking with her manager, she can’t get it for me . . . .I am getting a little impatient as I only have 45 minutes to get through packet pickup and hit the 4pm pre-race mandatory race briefing.
She then asks if I would mind a two bedroom apt instead . . .Do bears poop in the woods?
Only the maids haven’t cleaned it yet so more waiting. Dad shows up and takes Josh to tour the pool as mom waits in the lobby for the room. I am off to packet pickup with Quinn, leaving Mom to wait for the room.
Race registration Jitters 3pm
Upon entry to registration I am asked to stop by the medical booth. I am measured, weighed, and given a body fat analysis. I come in at 179 lbs of which 58% is water and at 12% body fat. I am told I am underhydrated and that 60% is the minimum level, so drink, drink, drink! Like the bottles I have been filling with urine during the whole drive here weren’t enough hydrating!
Quinn and I enter the hall “look at the Blue Maze daddy!” to go through packet pickup process. I am instructed about “the bags” Blue for bike, red for run. That is a blue bag for bike clothes, another blue bag for bike food, and the same for the run clothes and food. Preparation of food and clothes are almost as vital a component of IM as training
Quinn manages to only spill one bottle of water on a registration official as we navigate the gauntlet of ID checks, emergency contact #s, and acquisition of freebies. At IRONMAN the shirt and hat are only provided upon finishing the race so the “bag of stuff” is sparse. We are expelled into the general population of the expo and the vendors and bike repair area.
Quinn and I cruise back to the lobby to check in on the crew to discover our room is now ready. We venture up to Galt House 1243 to home for the next three days. The fact that 1243 is rock star approved is understating it. 2000 square feet is understating it. Two bedrooms, a full kitchen, dining room, and living room with panoramic views of the Ohio River rocks out. Not to mention the computer, bike, and laundry rooms. Josh and Quinn waste no time expelling some pent up energy running laps around the rooms and I set down my expo bags. And depart for the one hour mandatory pre-race briefing.
We are lectured by several Ironman officials and Head referee Jimmy Riccitello about rules violations especially drafting on the bike. Lance Watson, a Lifetime fitness coach then speaks at length about pacing in the water, the saddle and the run and then nutrition and hydration. As race day turns out to be 92 degrees his words of wisdom ring true and I find myself heeding much of his sageness. The Q+A yields one major issue for yours truly . ..83 degrees ,. . . Ouch!! That is the temp of the Ohio river. .. I know my back of the pack swimming fate before I hear the collective groans emanating from the gallery . . . .No wetsuits!! For us poorer swimmers that is one of the great equalizers that is now negated. I have a contingency plan by purchasing a permitted DeSoto Speedsuit but I know that my swim time just took a 15 min hit!
Pre-Race Banquet AKA (mass chow ripoff) 6pm
Good concept in theory. Convention center mass produced chicken, pasta and Ice Tea advertised as free for the athletes and then soak your family for $30 a head. Even worse in theory when you factor in a 5 and 3 year old that will eat only the white bread dinner rolls and hate the Tea after insisting they will drink it and you wait in the drink line 10 minutes to get it while missing much of the inspirational video that you are too far away to see anyway . . .. The highlight of the banquet is the “Biggest Loser” IM style. How many of you have lost 50 lbs training for this race? 50 or so people stand up. By the time the announcer gets to 100 lbs only a handful are left. Then at 160 lbs one man is left standing. He lopes up to the stage and announces that he weighed in yesterday at 165lbs. Holy crap, he has lost himself!? .He is awarded some kind of health weight analyzer machine or something. By now Josh has announced he has to poop and we are off to the restrooms. The lock does not work on the stall so I weigh my options with letting Josh’s privacy go and accept his howling, or to hold the door and let Quinn squirt all the foam hand soap out onto the sink and floor into a big foam Fox in Socks like trouble liquid bubble puddle. I chose the puddle and secure Josh’s stall. We then hightail it back to the Galt House 1243 palace to pack some Bike and Run gear bags and inspect the Cervelo red rocket before bedtime.
The boys and mom are sequestered, with Sponge Bob and Clive Cussler respectively and Dad and I settle down in the computer slash bike shop rooms. I sort out my clothes and set to work cleaning the bike. It is dirty! I am polishing with the baby wipes, (Hey Luke is hear in spirit!) As I am cleaning the brake pads and rims I notice “it”. I feel it again with my forefinger, I know it. Yes a slight rip and bulge in my sidewall of the rear tire. My lucky race never ever changed before race wheel tires. Shit! My mind races . .can I make it through 112? When did this happen? Does it matter?
I recall a rock being bounced off my bike complements of bro –in-la Jason on our last training ride a week ago in Sparta, NJ. (Incidentally, its these rolling hills that mimic the bike route so well that contribute to a great bike on raceday!) I consult dad and we come up with the plan. Get up early and hit the Bike tech services and have them fix it while we hit the zoo with the kids.
SATURDAY AUGUST 30, 2008
In bed 3AM – Ooww! Damn it Quinn quit kicking me! I scan over to the other double bed where Josh is spread out like Leonardo’s geometric man representing the symmetry of a circle. Should I hit the sofa? Isn’t this the nite that is most critical for sleeping? We sleep in until 7:30 and Dad, Josh and I hit the club room mini breakfast. Mom and Quinn are sleeping in . . .well yeah! he is tired after his Tae kwan Do routine all nite!
Josh announces that not only does the clubroom breakfast bar not have pancakes, but no Fruit Loops either! He is quickly placated by Frosted Flakes, and the promise of room service pancakes when we return. I run into a late 40s athlete Roseann Dougherty from Glenwood, MD who has competed at Eagleman and Chessieman with me. (She goes on to finish Louisville in just under 13 hours) She is planning on returning to Chessie next month . .I wish her good luck and tell her she is awesome!
We return to the palace and give mom her coffee as her Pavlovianlike caffeine response kicks in. Quinn is up, has peed, and has settled in for cartoons with Lambie, the lamb blanket. I order the pancakes. The boys eat like two bites each and the rest end up in the fridge. Let see, $16 pancakes, 4 bites, $4 a bite . .. .what value! Freakin rugrats!
I hit the bike expo and drop off the rocket. The bike tech crew here is amazing. I had packed a spare tire and several spare tubes. They promise it is to be fixed by noon and tell me to relax. They also look at my poorly jury rigged handle bar tape and promise to do something with it they call “tape the tape.!
THE ZOO 10am The rest of the morning is comprised of the Louisville zoo. The Snow Leopard and albino alligator are the highlights! The lowlight was the cab ride to the zoo. We passed a McDonald’s Playland so wanna guess where lunch was? Fortuantely for me and Pops, there is a Panera Bread across the street. I nosh on a turkey sammie and apple while the kids played and ignored their nuggets sand fries. Upon return to the hotel it is apparent that most of the athletes elected to practice swim or go for a bike ride, instead of taking in the zoo. Aha, but they did not see an albino alligator, nor score a soft pretzel with xtra salt! Advantage Allison!
My Aunt Ginger and Uncle Ron are in from St Louis, and I drop the rugrats with them in the suite, send pops off with a grocery list and I hit the bike expo with my bags to rack the bike and check in my gear bags. My practice ride consists of the half mile ride to the Waterfront Park balances my bags on my handlebars and making sure the brakes and wheels are spinning right. I tour the transition area with an extremely helpful Billy Bob Thornton dude. I get the lay of the land and my route during T1 and T2 in and out. Better yet, I walk by the Joe’s Crab Shack and get a reservation for dinner.
At the palace the kids are running again and it is time to hit the pool. I take the boys and meet several race volunteers and chat about which aid station they will be working. Rick and Sue are at run station 7 at the turnaround point. I should be able to remember what she looks like, but maybe not in my low bloodsugar condition and the fact she will be way more covered up as well.
We head to Joe’s for dinner at 5:30, a nice walk down the Ohio River from the Galt. We somehow get seated next to two Batchelorette parties AKA bluegrass bettys carbo loading for their own nocturnal activities. Not ideal with Moms and the Aunt, but Josh is quick to roll crayons under their table to permit introductions with some members of Amber’s Entourage. That’s my boy Joshie! The pasta and grilled shrimp is average but I am not out to chow down tonite anyhow. After dinner, the boys and I stroll back to the suite and down for an early to bed at 8:30. The day of reckoning is now 8 hours away.
While we are still on the subject of food, my friend Ryan wanted me to compile a list of all eats before and during the race so here it is.
Saturday Pre-race August 30th Food Intake
Caffe Latte Ensure 350 calorie meal drink ,
Granola skim milk,
Water 24 0z,
4 Thermolyte electrolyte tablets.
Water 40 oz
Gatorade 20 oz
Soft Pretzel mustard (50 g Carbs and salt)
Turkey sandwich from Panera, no bread
20 oz water.
Peanuts and Cheez Its (salt and some non-sat fat but not ideal fare),
Busch NA beer,
20 oz water.
Bud lite 12 oz,
40 oz water,
Penne pasta over marinera, 4 shrimp.
Sunday Race-day Food Intake
Breakfast at 4:15 am
Caffe Latte Ensure 350 calorie meal drink x 3 (1000 calories)
Granola and skim milk
Hard boiled egg with xtra salt
Blueberry bagel with margarine
20 oz Accerlerade
5:15 am 12 oz water
6:15 am power gel and 12 oz water
7:15 am “In the water”
Lunch 9:15 am “on the bike” until 4pm
20 oz endurance formula Gatorade – x 6
20 oz water x 5
power gel – x3 @ 200 calories each
Cliff Shot blocks x 2 @ 200 calories each
WaWa soft pretzel @ 45 g carbs
Snickers Marathon Bar (330 calories)
20 Thermolyte electrolyte tablets @ 3 per hour
Dinner “on the run” 4:30 pm- 9pm
lots of cups of water
lots of cups of Gatorade
3 cups of Coke
pretzels stick x 10
2 nutter butter cookies
orange slices x 4
6 Thermolyte electrolyte tablets one per every two miles 11-20
SUNDAY RACE DAY AUGUST 31st
I wake up five minutes before the alarm. I slept well. I sneak out leaving the boys to sleep as long as possible. I start breakfast as described above. I pass the time reading Triathlete and get my mind right for the day as I pound my Ensures. Staying calm is important. More important is focusing on the moment. Today is about concentrating on the immediate effort and gauging the results. How are you feeling? Is this effort sustainable? How is your technique? Worrying about other athletes or your time to date is disaster. You cannot control that. What you can control is your effort and your body. When the conditions are hot and hazy like today, managing your body’s intake, the feelings of exertion and your body’s ability to withstand and dissipate heat is crucial to a positive race result.
At 5:15 am Dad comes in and grabs a fresh coffee. I do my bathroom duty and off we go with my food bags for the Lawn and T1. I am not nervous, but am excited taking in all the athletes around me. T1 is its usual bundle of nerves and anxiety augmented by the director on the PA system telling us not to be nervous but to hurry and line up for the swim start a mile away. I pump the tires up, check my food stash on the bike and am hit up by the many pump borrowers. I submit my Special needs bags, and do not pay much thought to the harried look on the volunteers face as she drops my bag on the ground and the fact she is not walking it to my numbered pile. I bid adieu to Dad, hand him my pump and am off in the semi-dark to the swim start at the Tumbleweeds Dock.
6:50am – THE SWIM
Body marking is done, and I walk back through the darkness to find the line end. Fans and family cannot help getting in the way, while nervous athletes crouch, squat or sit in line, similarly to waiting for tickets at a concert. I find the end, and befriend a tall lean 32 year old from San Diego. Brian Hoyt is in his first 140.6 his race number is lucky as it his area code, (519) can u say Reggie Bush?. Brian hopes for a 12 hour finish, and I tell him my goal is the same. It is all about pacing and managing heat on the run. My Eagleman experience looms large in my mind. Speaking of Eagleman, Roseann and another female athlete are line up right behind me and we all chat to pass the time. I am sitting on the pavement trying to relax, when yet another fan tries to forge a path through us. I shoot an annoying glance and then realize the perpetrator is none other than Jimmy Riccitello the Head Referee. The girls joke that I am already down two minutes for “blocking” or “obstruction.” I put on a big smile and thumbs up and Jimmy squeezes by. We then hear the anthem and move up as the pros jump in the water for their mass start. We are all going to jump off a boat pier one at a time after crossing the timing mat. The idea is to spread out the swimmers to reduce the full contact swim start so prevalent at other IM races.
At 7am the first age groupers jump in. I zip up my DeSoto speedsuit, which should help with my mental state if not the physical state. I jump in and pee and set off. The sun is in our eyes as we head east up the Ohio River. On the plus side, I am to the right side of the channel and am not getting kicked. Minus, I am not taking the most direct route costing some time I do not have. The starting 1500 yards are in a protected side stream with an island blocking us from the main channel. Swimmers charge by me, but I knew this would happen and am not too worried. Finally I emerge to the main river and spot the turnaround buoy! Time check 40 minutes! Whoa, kinda slow amigo! Let’s get going! Timoteo, cuadado, stick to the here and now!
Stroking down river reminds me of the Chessieman Choptank swim. There are two big bridges a mile downstream to sight off of. I permit my natural “veer” to steer me out toward the shipping channel in hopes of catching some faster currents. At least that is what Lance Watson advised in the pre-race meeting. I am out here with a few adventurous souls but most are hugging the island on the direct route. Not sure if this strategy is working but I focus on the here and now. Stretch, pull, glide, breathe, stretch, pull glide, breathe. The cheap ass swim cap we were given rides up on my head and I tug at it to reduce any drag, perceived or not. Tim, focus!! I am on a good pace now, and trying to maximize my glide. After forever, I swim underneath the bridge and am angling toward the buoys and the shoreline. I am now back in the mix with other athletes and I try and draft where I can. (especially on the feet of the females!)
Having taken in the zoo on Saturday, and not the swim course, I am not too sure where the exit ramp is in relationship to the bridges. I do not want to get caught way out in the channel near the exit, despite the fact we were told that the Coast Guard has frozen shipping traffic until 10am! At the swim exit I feel good, not overexerted. I also spy the clock and see 2:15. OMG!! Even subtracting the 15 minutes and the ten minutes from the pros that is a 1:45 swim leg. .. Tim get with the program! You may have lollygagged a bit too much out there! OK, let’s have a quick transition. I am officially out in 1:46:22 or 1843 out of 1975 finishers and 299 out of 320 age groupers. Ouch! Nuff said.
2.4 mi. (1:46:22)
1843 out of 2100 Race Place
299 out of 320
Transition 1 – 7:25 Where’s my straw?
I spot Mom in the crowd and stop for a quick hug right under the race banner. I then hear Dad and see the video cam and I am running into T1. I hit the changing tent and am efficient stripping off the suit, the swim cap and donning bike gear. The grass is muddy and wet. I carefully put on my socks and shoes and helmet and hit the sunscreen. I head to my stall and note that there are still a decent number of bike left but not as many as expected. Tim let’s not dwell on the swim. F ocus on the here and now. At my bike I start to pull out to the exit. Shit, where is my aero drink straw? DING DING DING, you put it in your helmet last nite like Normann Stadler, so it would not get poached overnight. Remember? Well it’s not in there now! It must be in the changing tent. Hmmnn, can I make it 112 without a straw? Hell no! Tim, take a minute and get your straw ya big dummy! I circle back, find my chair, and spot my straw on the ground. Back to the bike, with muddier shoes, and a lost two minute but well worth it. I still transition in 7:25, not too bad and I am biking.
9:15 am THE BIKE and Louisville Horse Country
Coming out of T1, I cautiously spin and set out my strategy for the next 112 miles. Be humble, don’t get caught up passing, and eat and drink on schedule. Cargo check, on board the Cervelo Rocket I have an aero nest and Bento box full of; half soft pretzel, a Snickers Marathon Bar, baggie of salt tabs, two packs of Cliff Blocks, powerbar, three gels, an aero drink full of Accelerade, a frozen 20oz Gatorade, and a bottle of water. I also have a drink bottle full of wrench, a flat fixit patch kit, tire levers, a couple of $1s. Attached on my carbon wing, I have two intertubes, and two Co2s, bump, clink, clink, clink, the girl I am passing looks desperately at her chain and back tire. Scratch that, one Co2 cartridge as the bump just bounced out my backup. Guess the velcro straps need some work. I reach back and pull in the remaining Co2 and pop it in my bike jersey for safer keeping.
FIRST BIKE SEGMENT
22.5 mi (1:21:38)
The bike route is a long 20 mile pull upriver into horse country. The route then contains an up and back finger traversing a creek bed. The course then continues to traverse the creek through a two loop course through LaGrange where the main spectators are stationed and we shoot through at mile 38 and 68. My crew is to be there too along with the face painting, the moon bounce, and the picnic provisions.
Heading up the hills I am eating my solid food stash first. That is the Snickers, and the pretzel. I notice I am passing some cyclists, albeit slower ones, but this is something that rarely occurs on my shorter races such as the flat course of Eagleman. Am I going out too fast? No, my avg. is just 17 or so I am not exactly tearing it up here. OK. We are climbing a bit though but I feel good, and recall what Scott Molina says, when you feel good, “Eat! And then eat somemore”! We make the turn up the finger and I recall from registration that watch out for the creek bottom as there is a bad pothole in our lane.
The ride to the creekbed is our first major descent of the day. I pull out to pass, then pull out to the center line to pass riders passing riders. I am only going 38 but the road is a bit narrow and people are wary as I whip around a corner. I hear a “slow down ambulance”! Ah, that is why people are slowing down! I brake from 40 to 10mph rapidly, and sure enough, there is an ambulance blocking the road and 4 or 5 bikes piled up with several riders in the ditch . . .. What is worse is that no EMTs are walking up around the blind curve to forewarn other riders of the pending stoppage. I maneuver around the ambulance at 10 mph and look back at the gaggle of riders behind me. I am safely by and out of there. We head up from the creek and the uphill is a mile or so long and takes its toll. I am passing a few as the descending riders coming at us from the turnaround whip down the hill. I have just figured out the key to this race. Descend like hell to carry speed up the hills. Albeit be on the lookout for ambulances!!
SECOND BIKE SEGMENT
21.4 mi (1:21:43)
I adhere to my new strategy and hammer it on the downhills spinning out in my 53-12 chainring until I hit 36-38 mph and then coast in a aero tuck to pass. I manage to shoot far up the hills passing many riders that are spinning a low gear at 10mph or slower. I can generally get near the top before resorting to my 39-25 granny . .. .
I shoot through LaGrange at mile 38 and don’t see my posse. On the far outskirts of town I finally spot Dad’s straw hat and holler at him. I have to trust that the rest of the crew is there as I am now gone for another 30 miles. The next segment of the race has many rolling hills and I stick to my hammer it strategy, resting my legs on the flatter parts in an easier 53-17 gear.
Midday – My Missing Muesette
By mile 60 on our second loop I am nearly out of chow, and craving my special needs bag full of pretzels, fritos, and more salt tabs. I have been wolfing them down at 4 tabs an hour and am nearly out of them already. I have not stopped to pee since the swim, but feel that I am drinking plenty considering I am reloading a water and Gatorade at each water stop.
As I approach the mile 66 feed zone, volunteers call out your number on the walkie-talkie and instruct riders to pull into the spot by the food bag piles. For me this is the far end of the tent to the 1400-1500 numbered area. As I come to a stop and dismount, a volunteer calls 1417, bag! As far as I can see, no one is looking for my bag I look at volunteer boy. He says be patient, and yells in his microphone again, 1417 bag. Nothing happens. I am thinking, why don’t you go look for it? Apparently, Joe Nascar’s job is limited to yelling in the walkie-talkie. I spot a teenage kid and yell at him, “Can you find bag 1417!” He looks at me, and then, Joe Nascar yells, find 1417! The kid scampers off like a wounded dog. As I sit there, all my work on the hills passing bikes unwinds itself. After another minute (AKA an eternity) the kid reappears, and starts to say that he can’t find the bag. I shout “Godammit!!!” much like Maca (Chris McCormack) when he could not secure his chinstrap in T1 prior to chasing down Stadler and Chris Lieto to take Kona last October 2007.
I then fix an icy glare at Joe Nascar and ride off in a huff. Two riders nearby instantly offer me there gels as support. I hate gels and wave them off. I also figure I can get them at the water stops. Besides, I need to sulk for a few minutes. I ride through LaGrange whining to myself, and fail to see my posse that has moved to the Court House steps for a better view of me. As I leave town I fail to see them again and know that I won’t see anyone until T2 45 miles away still!
THIRD BIKE SEGMENT
30.5 mi (1:51:55)
At mile 75 this is my second low point of the day. OK, I need to rally. 45 miles to go, or 2 and a half hours to go. That would get me in a shade under 7 hours. Shade, what shade? I haven’t seen any for hours! OK, seriously, let’s reassess what nutrition I do have onboard and what I should grab at the aid stations. OK, two and a half gels, and eight salt tabs. Ok, one gel an hour, more Gatorade, less water, and three salt tabs will get me into T2. Then hopefully I can mooch some on the run until I get to my special needs food bag at mile 12.
On the second loop I am now familiar with the course and that helps. I am more aggressive on the downhills and continue passing riders. I load up on some gels at the 85 mile aid station and set off up the last major climb. This climb is steady with a sharp pitch at the end. I am spinning along at 10mph and am marking a dude in front of me pushing a big gear and barely ticking the pedals over. Can you say quad disaster on the run? As we both hit the pitch up he starts to go slower and slower and I am thinking, he better shift down! Then right in front of me I see his bike lean to the right, he is now a listing ship and boom! Down he goes, fully clipped in to his pedals bouncing off his hip into a nearby bush. Ouch! I spot a couple of fans picnicking under a tree, and they start laughing at him. Poor guy, I see the guy’s face as I pass and he is OK, but not moving either. He is gassed. That is mile 85 in a nutshell. Many of these athletes simply haven’t trained this far. In fact I only have ridden 85 or more 6 times in my life with four of those in the past year.
FINAL BIKE SEGMENT
37 mi (2:08:59)
I crest the hill and start the 25 mile march back to town paralleling the Ohio River. The pitch is mostly downhill with a couple of rollers and I am definitely faster. In fact, some dolt with a horse trailer is putt putt putting along finding it hard to pass riders on the two lane. I joke with several riders if Ref Jimmy would site us for drafting behind a horse trailer? On the next downhill we line up and pull out and stream pass the trailer at about 35 mph. The trailer is lucky if he is hitting 25mph. We are gone! The rest of the ride is uneventful and simply a countdown to 112. I actually do have to stop and pee once and need to stop again as we approach T2. I am starting to lose electrolytes. I don’t stop and will go in T2. I am generally feeling OK. No twinges in the legs and no more tiredness than I should feel after 112 miles and 6 + hours under 90 degree sun. I refrain from eating much the last 20 minutes to clear my GU track for the run transition. Those of you that know me will recall this is always my downfall, cramping up coming out of T2. I hit the town and hope to see my family this time around. At the dismount line, I leave my shoes in the pedal clips and bounce off the rocket, handing it to a volunteer in T2 and actually run down the chute to collect my run bag clothes. I am moving Man I gotta pee!
112 mi. (6:44:15)
1368 of 1975 Aggregate Race Place
220 of 320
In looking at the bike time, if you were not here you might think it is a slow split. For some people, maybe it is , but I am now moving up to 1368 from 1843 after the swim and up 79 spots my age group to 220. I have improved roughly 500 spots on the field and gotta take that!. A solid bike leg for me by feel, and validated relative to the field. Running has always been my strength! So let’s see what I have left in the tank.
I quickly change my shirt, and am psyched I packed a change of socks. I don my shoes, my glasses and visor and am off. I head for the port –o-let. However, check out the cute volunteer with the spray on sun screen . .Gotta stop for that! I get screened say thanks, and hit the let. Sooey! That is stinky!
I am out and running around the tent and out of T2. Time check is 6:25. Solid transition. I stop for ice and oranges right away and think to my run strategy. OK, anytime you feel your temples pulsing you stop and walk. Anytime you feel excessive sweating and no cooling you stop. Eat but do not overeat. Cool, let’s rock!
I spot Uncle Ron, and he yells that the kids are in the river fountain swimming. I miss them again but am heartened that they are near. I am jogging and checking my stomach for early warning signs of cramping. I cross the 2nd avenue bridge through mile 2 at about 10 minute pace. Not great but if I can average 10s I am in the clubhouse with a 4:20 run marathon. I’ll take that. But, at mile 3 the first twinges of cramps echo up from within. At the next aid station I stop to walk, and burp and grab sponges with ice. I insert ice in my tri shorts and create manboobs with sponges and ice those as well. I pour cold water on my head and off I go. I hit mile 4 where the second loopers at mile 13 join us. There are not too many of them. I see the 3rd , 4th and 5th place women steaming in at mile 24. Some men are trickling in but not too many. The heat is the only one winning today.
FIRST RUN SEGMENT
4 mi. (41:27)
At mile 6 I learn that the Louisville Cardinal football team is not winning either. UK is kicking their ass all over the place. We have been rerouted away from the stadium but can hear the crowds. It is 5:30pm now and the local cops appear to respond with less enthusiasm at stopping cross traffic than is warranted. Most be UL Card fans. Be watchful Tim!! I am running alone in a sea of walkers and I need to pee. I also need some salt! I start munching pretzels sticks. The flour is an energy boost and the salt helps. I am walking the water stops eating pretzels and drinking Gatorade.
I am still running between the stops and much of the field around me is now in walk mode. At mile 6, I am even passing most of the remaining runners. I am determined to cowboy through just as I have my doors blown off by a stud marine looking guy, easily 6’6” and hauling the mail. Wow, he looks good! It is a long straight shot to the turnaround at mile 8 and he rapidly disappears from view. What is more disheartening is that the second loop mile signs follow your first loops signs by about 100 yards. So it is hard to feel good about mile 7 when you see mile 19 following it and realize how far you still have to go! I keep chugging along and am still on pace for a 4:20-4:30 finish. My hopes for a PR of 12:50 are hanging in the balance. I hear a go Tim and turn and see Rick from the Galt House pool manning the ice sponge bucket. Yo, help a brother out!
SECOND RUN SEGMENT
4.3 mi. (44:39)
Right after the turnaround I spot Joe Marine doubled over by the side of the road. Can you say fountains of Gatorade! Full blow Technicolor fountains. .. and that my friends is why you do not tear it up too early in an IRONMAN marathon. I do not see him again on this day!
I befriend a female running my pace and chat her up a bit. Her husband had a minor crash on his bike but is still in the race according to his folks. She is nervously looking for him coming up behind us. I am hopeful for her and I also discover she has salt tabs!! She shares some with me. I am feeling pretty weak now and find it is harder to start running again after each aid station. I am now ten miles in and have to hope my body finds some fuel and quick. I hope that between the salt tabs and the pretzels I can hold out to pick up my aid bag at mile 12.
THIRD RUN SEGMENT
4.15 mi. (48:46)
At mile 12 I am scanning for my food but first we pass through the Ford motivational mile. There is loud music, pretty girls in spandex and a computer screen that flashes a personalized message for you from your family. My dad wrote one for me and I find some energy. It is tough out here, but knowing you have support always is a motivator!
I pick up the pace and run to the food zone. This time, my bag is ready and I do not break stride grabbing it. I pick out the fritos, the half pretzel and two nutter butter cookie, but best of all salt tabs! Score!
A little soft pretzel and three tabs and I pretty much instantly feel a bit better now. My female buddy needs to go. How soon can I ditch her and pick up the pace without being rude? I chose the next aid station. She stops to walk and I power through grabbing some pretzels and rade. I am motoring past runners now.
FOURTH RUN SEGMENT
3.5 mi. (37:23)
My pace is up the next few miles as I do not walk as evidenced by the split time this segment. I have salt, cookies, WaWa pretzels remnant and fritos? What more could you want? Wait there is 519, Brian Hoyt. He is walking and not looking good. A few days later I check out his finish time and find he did a couple of 27 minute per mile pace. Not good, Luke can crawl at 27 min pace. But Brian does finish in 15 hours and change and is an IRONMAN!
I have a better leg than that and hope for a 4:30 run split is still in reach. I loop through the 13 mile turnaround and the crowd at the finish is a boost. I hear the cheers as a lone finisher hits the tape. I have to head out for a second loop. Within a half mile the support is gone, and I fail to see any of Team Tim supporters. By mile 14 the energy is gone. I try and munch on my pretzel and the stomach is not having it. The fritos are not working either. I am overheating and still 12 miles to go and I am in trouble again. The $110 Rudy Project sunglasses bear the brunt of my wrath and are thrown in a nearby garbage can.
During miles 15- 17 running is a struggle. I am walking larger chunks now after each aid station. The pretzel is jettisoned, the glasses long gone too. I am thinking any unnecessary weight be gone. I am overheating quickly now and getting scared. Tim, salt, ice, Tim, salt, ice, TIM ICE!!! I am now walking much more. It is hard to force my body to run. I am losing time, but also I am caring less and less about it. Walking feels so good! Nearly everyone around me has also succumbed. No one is running by. It is becoming easier to accept this. Deep down, I know this is wrong, but still I walk.
Unawares by me the race computer has not registered any of my race splits from mile 12 on. I guess the computer also has given up on my race! My dad panics a bit and checks with medical and the race officials for any updates. He is amazed that medical at race central does not have a process to check with medical out on the course. He is also told that if I am sitting taking a break with medical I may not be immediately DQ’ed and would not show up on a medical roster. That is I may be sitting somewhere logging a 27 minute mile and am still in assuming I am not assisted in making forward progress.
My race is in a vacuum from mile 12-24. I wish I had seen Dad at mile 13 to comfort him and me. As my chief pit crew member, he has had to ensure that my boys and mom are taken care of and he needed to escort them to the hotel to cool down and avoid the heat.
At mile 17, I am blown and a male age 37 trots by me. A power bar in each hand and ice water gripped in his teeth. A man with a plan! I force a jog and keep with him. This is Scott’s first 140.6. We jog to the next aid station and hit the ice and Gatorade. I also slam a coke. We mutually agree that we will only walk to the end of the fence a block away and then resume running. This strategy work, we are back running again.
At mile 19 we hit the aid station and I again slam a Gatorade and now 2 Cokes. I will not eat again. I am burping and overheating and the stomach is full and bloated. Scott takes off without me. I tell him I will see him soon. This is it. Mile 19 and change and 3 hours and 45 minutes in. My overall time I calculate at around 13:30 if I can get my act together.
FIFTH RUN SEGMENT
4.3 mi. (52:25)
The PR is gone. Kirk (MY IM ZONA cousin in law)’s 12:48 PR is gone. It is hot, I am done. 14 hours, 15 hours, I can walk in and finish. Give up the ghost and join the walking dead amigo. . .. . But I am still able to calculate race splits. That is encouraging in terms of blood sugar and electrolyte levels. Everyone around me is done, but if I can do math I have a chance. I burp to relieve my stomach. I spot the turnaround OK, here is the new plan. No more food or drink, air out the stomach and let’s run it in. Sounds so simple. If I walk it in 7 miles that is another two hours out here and a 6 hour run split. That my friends is horseshit. I know it you know it. I vow that I will run from the turnaround and not stop until I reach the finish or I am on the side of the road waiting for medical. No walking allowed, even through the water stops. I burp some more and pray the stomach is settling down. The moment of truth is here. Finish in a blaze of glory or limp it in and destroy the memory of the IM experience for years to come.
SIXTH RUN SEGMENT
4.15 mi. (42:55)
Execute the PLAN
I turn around at mile 20 and start off with a jog. So far so good. At mile 21 I think about a brief walk but instead grab a water and throw it over my head, gargle another one and spit it out. OK. At mile 22 I spy Scott walking. I shout encouragement and motor by. Everyone is walking, no one is jogging, 10, 20, 50, I pass and pass. I do not know my splits, but know I am doing some good. The mile signs are closer together now. I pass the FORD inspirational mile and shoot an imaginary arrow at the board and raise the roof a bit. I get some love from the spandex girls on the microphone and that feels good too! Better yet, at mile 23 the sun starts to set and it is a shade cooler. Tim, let’s go faster! I try but my body wants to slow down and walk . .. NO! You cannot walk! I hit mile 24 and now I believe. Two to go. No walking allowed!! There are fewer people around. Both runners and spectators. Where is everyone?
FINAL RUN SEGMENT
1.8 mi. (17:39)
I pass a guy in his 60s and tell him that he soon will become an IRONMAN and good luck in KONA! He tells me that he has another 14 miles to go! Oops. Well maybe no KONA but he still should make the 17 hour cutoff. At mile 25 I come up on a girl that is sprinting and then walking. I tell her to hang in there. She too has another whole lap and 13 miles to go. Boy that sucks! OK no talking to other runners now. I hit downtown as darkness falls. It is 8:30pm and I hear the crowd and look for people to pass. The streets of 4th street live are thick with spectators and it is loud. I raise my hands and work the lasso and receive yells and cheers. With 200 yards to go I see the finish. There are two athletes half way there. I cannot catch them. Can I? I sprint now and hear the crowd respond. With 50 meters to go I fly by the two toward the finish.
I look at the clock. 13:56. Maybe a time adjusted 13:25 overall. Man I am slow! I do not yet know how much the heat on the run has decimated the field! My time is slower than ideal but I have passed another 500 athletes overall and 100 in my age group to finish at 124 out of 320. My total time of 4:45 is not that great but will certainly be a top25% within the field overall.
26.2 mi. (4:45:14)
820 final place of 1975 finishers
124 of 320 age groupers
SWIM 1:46:22 Bike 6:44:15 Run 4:45:14 T1 7:46 T2 6:25 TOTAL TIME 13:30:02
For video of my finish!!
ODDS and the END
I finally am reunited with Josh and Quinn, Dad and Uncle Ron and Aunt Ginger. Mom is back at the hotel already but I am looking forward for a toast and some pizza with her.
My IM Arizona finishing cousin –in-law Kirk finds me on the athlete tracker and calls Dad at mile 24 to tell him that I am almost done. So that is how they all are there at the finish line to greet me!! Yay for Kirk!!
I am pretty out of it at the finish as I seek the convention center with my aunt and uncle to collect my gear and then change into dry clothes. We cannot find where the bags are kept, they are not much help and I am fading fast from the cognitive world! We finally make my way back to the hotel. A cookie helps but I am cold and tired. We order room service pizza and a slice and a beer and I am in bed. My pit boss Dad, has gone to collect my bike and gear and pack in the trailer.
It is a long 14 hours back to the NJ shore with the crew. We do arrive at the NJ shore 24 hours later, Monday at 11pm. Yes for those worried about it, Quinn does engineer (Mountaineer?) a stop for lunch at a McDonald’s Playland in West Virginia on the way. IM Louisville is in the books, and I finished in the top 40% overall and top 40% in my age group of 40-44 year old! Could I have done better? Maybe, but I know deep down within that I gave it everything I had on this day and that has to make you happy! Works for ME!!
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Race Coverage and Athlete Tracking
Bike Spectator Info
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
There are no race photos . . .or online`race results . . .this is the inaugural running of "Balmer" and these frills simple were not part of the package. Neither are gel or "goo" packs offered on course. I also had never even contemplated a triathlon let alone an IM.
The Baltimore Marathon October 2002 is truly my first foray into the world of endurance racing at 33 years old. The concept of running for 26 miles and hours without your legs falling off or not stopping must be REALLY painful! Here I am working in NYC, stressed out and seeing the same guys on the train day after day, week after week and year after year. Every time I see them, they appear, a little fatter, a little less hair, and a little more of that gleam in their eye is disappearing. I am not going to be one of those guys. Short of an abrupt lifestyle change brought on by a career and geographic change I am going to change. I am going to eat less junk, drink a bit less and run a bit more. I found this race advertised in Runners World and signed up. No buddies, no fanfare, no hyped up Oprah or Katie Holmes race walkers. Just a vanilla marathon in a place where I can drum up some fan support close to my parents home.
I had never run more than 16 mile before raceday, and that only in a completed a 25 K just three weeks prior which I finished in 2 hours flat. Prior to that I had run a couple of 13 mile runs including the kickass Philly Distance Run a year ago a week after 9/11/01 which is a story for another race report!
Thus, with a 26 mile distance, the marathon is a mental game as challenging as the physical hardship or the training leading up to the race. Some say ignorance is bliss, and I certainly fall in this camp. I had witnessed my dad run the Marine Corp Marathon several times and would marvel as he would appear at mile ten on the mall after 75 minutes of racing past the Pentagon, and Georgetown, disappear for an hour to cruise the Capital, reappear at mile 18 and then look like death warmed over climbly the hill at Iwo Jima to the finish. (He did manage a PR race of 3:17, a tad over 7:30s which is uber impressive for any 43 year old!)
But I digress . . . . .Heather and I drive from Chatham, NJ on Friday to Sherwood Forest, Md stopping at the M+T Ravens stadium for packet pickup on the way down on. In 2002, there are no pace groups and the masses are just beginning to get into marathoning so fuss is not that much to do. There realy is not much of an expo in fact, just on the club level at the stadium. In fact 2002 is the Baltimore Marathon debut race, and is not well attended by the pros.
The start and finish are at Ravens Stadium with a run thru Camden Yards at Mile 25. The total race is just about 2000 runners. While I have no idea of a target finish time goal, I do have several other goals in mind, First, finish. Second finish . Third run the whole race sub 4:10 which is (DAD) Ted's marathon debut time back at the St. Mary's, MD marathon. And finally, well yes,`finish!
Friday nite is a carbo loading dinner at "the cottage" with mom and dad and an early to bed. I wake up at 4:30 a minute before the alarm is set for. I stealth out of bed not to wake Heather. Reflecting back after years of racing, I am amazed that I nearly always wake up minutes before my alarm is set for any time between 4 and 6 am. My internal alarm tells me today is the day!
Ted and I depart Sherwood Forest, MD at 6am for the 8am race start at Stadium in the inner harbor of Baltimore. We arrive early, at 6:30, which I like, and park at the Baltimore Federal Reserve across the tracks from the stadium. We then check out the stadium. The weather is chilly at 45 with a high of 55 and ovrcast skies. Many are huddled in warmups and I plan to run in shorts and my Washington Bullets 24 "Googs" jersey in hopes of getting some fan input during the run. I may be a bit cold at the start but adhere to the 20 degree haircut rule. Whatever the temp, dress like it is 20 degrees warmer.
I fall into my familiar hydration and stretching routines that I have developed since high school football. I find this is as much a mental relaxing stretch as for any physical needs. I locate that peaceful state I am looking forward, with a relaxed heart rate down to 80 or so and head off to the start line. Without pacing groups, I get up close to the front so as not to be boxed in by pedestrian runners. Wait am I one of those?
The gun goes off and I am across the line within ten seconds. The air around me is filled with nervous and pent up energy. There is a lot of talking and high hopes being bandied about. I am feeling a bit more scared now. What did I get myself into here? Not only have I never attempted to run for 26 miles or three to four hours I cannot imagine running alone for that time with no one to chat with and no walkman. (Yes the Ipod had not been invented yet). I am panickin ghtatI will go out too fast. I ALWAYS go out too fast from 5Ks to the 7 minute mile at the recent 25 K
I cross mile 1 northbound on Charles St flat at 8 minute pace (OK TIm not too fast OK!!!) and my day takes a turn for the better. The runner next to me spots the jersey and asks if I am a Les Boulez fan am I also a redskins fan? I nod at him and prepare to get back to my race. However, he falls in next to me and keeps with the questions. What is my target pace? What is my time goal? Have a every heard of an ultra race before? . Over the course of the next 20 miles I learn many interesting things about David Grimm. Yes, his little (big) brother is the Hog Russ Grimm of Super Bowl and Pitt Panther fame. David is running under his friends number who pulled out lame and more interestingly, Dave has registered for a 50 mile ultra, tomorrow! this is his training run! Holy craziness!!!
It takes me a while to process all this information of a training marathong run and consider running 50 miles. Actually Dave tells me he incorporates a version of the Galloway strategy. Walk one mile for every three run for a four mile routine. Usually he says he runs for 10 minutes and then walks for one minute trying to keep this up for 50 miles. Six years later as of 2008 with two IMs and five 70.3s under my belt, I understand that ten minutes of running and one minute walking seems to be a common survival strategy onthe run portion of a triathlon, especially in extreme weather.
Dave at 43 years old and ten marathons dispenses lots of advice about pacing and hydration, (nutrition is less a concept as marathon back in 2002!). However, he has data, but I have brought the Balmer race site fan support!
We hit Druid Hill Park at mile 3 and then we circle back south and duck under the Falls Road Expressway for the long southern run back into the inner harbor at the mile 7 mark . Dave cautions me again not to get caught up racing and stick to 8 minute pace even though I feel good and my legs feel fresh.
Despite his prostations and warnings I am like a horse chomping at the bit. We are on a 7:40 pace after mile 7 clocking it just under an hour, and I am feeling good.
At mile 8 I spot Dad in the inner harbor with some Gatorade and a gel pack. I grab them and go and he tells me to SLOOOWWW DOOOWWWN. Dave and I are now past the stadium and into the Federal Hill district. This is fun! I see Kerri, Joe Carl's fiancee on her stoop and give a yell! I did not know she lived here. She gives a shout out! I am also getting lots of catcalls for the Les Boulez jersey, most of them arguing whether it is a Jeff Malone jersey and why would a white boy wear that! Dave shakes his head and tells me to save my energy for later.
We loop across the marina district by Ft McHenry and it is lonely in the warehouses crossing mile ten at 78 minutes. The loop of the actual Fort has not yet been added to the course. At mile 13 we are back to the inner harbor and the crowds pick up. We cross the half marathon point at (1:42) 102 minutes and I spot Dad and now with Mom, Heather and Jen Kirkegaard. They are pumped up as am I. Dave is amazed at all the love we (I ) am getting. After all this is my marathon debut and my family has not been to many races before.
We cruise Fells Point at mile 15 and head north to Patterson Park. All systems are still go. We are about 3 minutes ahead of 8 minute pacing. Dave has us locked into a sub 3:30 time. Sounds good to me, this is all unknown physical exploration but let go with it! At mile 16 the course gets rolling hilly as we navigate some of the sketchier sections of the city. The crowd support here is more out of curiosity than of interest in endurance racing.
At mile 17 I detect my first hint of trouble. A quick twinge of the right hamstring. I block it out and press on. Momentary blip? Let's hope so! At mile 19 way out in north Baltimore, I hear my name called (No names on our numbers) so who can that be? Why it is Dad, Mom, Heather, and Jen. After a walk from the Inner Harbor they flagged a cab uptown and arrive less than 4 minutes before I steam by. Dave and I are still three minutes sub 8 minute pace. I am on top of the world and fired up by their presence. Dave just shakes his head and reminds me to focus!
At mile 20 we hit Patterson Park and an uphill to a big water stop. Dave suggests we walk for 30 seconds to intake some fluids. We are at 2 hours and 30 minutes in and still 4 minutes ahead and can walk for a little bit. Wow!! that feels great! When he starts into his run, I pause for a second. My body likey walky. But off we go and we are back on track. At mile 21 the hammy twinge is back, and this time alarmingly from my glutes down to my knee. It disappears a second time but the alarm bells are going off. I am still in business, but now I am nervous is that what hitting the wall is all about!
At mile 22, I am in trouble. What is happening? My body is not listening. My brain says run, and the legs chortle. Both hammies charlie horse up and I am down. I mean falling down on the ground. I try to rise, but no go amigo! I look up in fear and see Dave twist around and look . I am not sure if my fear face spooked him or what, but he slows momentarily, looks again through some other runners now and then disappears down the road. It is mile 22, and I am on the ground. Worse still now I am on my own with no plan beyond minimizing pain by not moving my legs.
Six years later as a triathlete writing this race report I reminisce back at this moment as a defining one. Many would quit the race right there out of fear and risk of physical injury. Others may walk for a bit toward the finish. I have no strategy, I know nothing about hydration, nutrition, electrolytes, or potassium. I am sitting there in a daze. Then a good samaritan appears. He must be a runner because he grabs my ankle as I lay there and jerks my leg straight into the air. Instantly my cramped hamstring releases itself. He repeats the process and tells me to find bananas, gummy bears and gatorade. I need food, and electrolytes he says. Whateve those are? I am up and wobbling. I take a tentative step. then another, and another, and I am off. At mile 23 the hamstring again cramps a bit, but I know what to do now. Folks are running, but not that fast and not too many ar epassing me. I have lost track of my time overall time, time in general, my brain is just not working. BUT, I do know I am putt putt putting along. I look at my watch and see numbers but they do not compute and mean nothing. By mile 24 I think I can make it to the end. The finish cannot come quick enough. I swear these miles are not spaced right! Then I start to hear the crowds and music has picked up now. I steam, (well . . .meander) toward mile 26 and Camden Yards. We run through Boogs Bar-b-q in right field and I know I can make it. But the right hamstring goes out one more time, and I put on the brakes. I raise it onto a stantion, and watch ten or so runners glide by! I can hear the finish. Move Tim, move!!
This blows!! I dismount the stantion and take off. Now I am angry and the andreneline must move me because I start passing back the runners nowin a near sprint. I hear the finish. I see the finish. I hear my name. I hear it again from the crowd. I look to the left and there is my posse. But it has grown now! Ramesh, Bob Mulvaney and Paul K. are now here too. Bob snaps some crucial photos which grace the walls of my basement to this day. I toss them my over t-shirt, Why did I hold onto it the whole race? I eye the finish and the time clock. 3:35:40 . . . .OK, I only lost 10 minutes from pace at mile 20! I cross over at 3:36:02. My finish time nets me place 360 out of the roughly 2000 entrants.
There is no record of automated finish. There are no official race photos, save Bob's. This is my first endurance race and my marathon PR and I will always savor how I overcame my naivety and how to handle my body failing me to persevere. The lesson learned in this race, is that; One pacing is crucial. Two, hydration and nutrition strategys need to be developed and adhered to, and finally, to quote famous Jimmy Valvano. Never give up. Whatever you do, never give up.
My posse showed TREMENDOUS support ALL DAY and consists of Mom, Dad, Heather, Jen and Paul, Ramesh, Liz and Bob, who snapped the great action picks. We all walk (or hobble for me) over to celebrate at Mother's Bar on Federal Hill. The Bud beer and chicken cheesesteaks and cheese fries never tasted so good and go down so smooth! College football is on and life is good. I love Baltimore and as my first foray is still my best and most memorable marathon race and of course my PR! I now can call myself an endurance athlete!!
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Race morning at 4:45 I rise and quickly leave the BW hotel room so Dad, Mom and Josh can sleep. Some potty time and I am out of there. My race bags are already in the Tahoe, and the last thing I do is fill the drink plastic bag with my hydration with ice from the machine. I will eat breakfast enroute. At 5am their are several racers in the BW parking area getting ready to go in the dark . no words are exchanged, none are needed . .we know . .. .I pull out and start to work on yogurt with granola, a coffee flavored Ensure, hard boiled egg and some OJ .. .. The dark air is still warm on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and I roll down the windows and blast some Pearl Jam "ten" to get fired up . . . .
I know the backstreet of Cambridge well based on Eagleman 07 and Chessieman so I skirt south of the prescribed directions and drive down to Leonard near the high school on Rt 16 to avoid the line of cars filing by Sailwinds . .a few enterprising souls are following my lead . . .I know that parking is going to be on the street and difficult to get anywhere close . .
Still blocks away from the park I pull onto School Ave and I park on Harriet Tubman Drive. I think I minute about the idea of how the underground railroad must have incorporated some swimming, coondawgs anyone? riding (horseback and/or wagon under moonlight?) and no doubt running. Coondawgs again . .. Talk about context!! I don't even stress when I back the massive tahoe and I clip off the right side reaview mirror on a telephone pole. Let's worry about that later . . .
I grab all my gear balance it on my aero bars, and head toward the park .. . It is not 6am and racers and early family support are everywhere and the air is already sticky . .. . still . . as the glow of the artifical and dawn light bask the bikes left overnight coupled with the race music, I quickly fall into the pre-race zone of shelving all the rest of life's issues and concentrating on what I need to do.
I sip on a water bottle as I organize my gear the way I like it in the assigned numbered stall 857, I see a body marking girl by my row, then drink and walk and rehearse the exit from the water to my stall spot during T1, then from stall 857 to the exit for the bike route. I inflate tires, drink some more and I hit the port-o-let line, time for some business, drink, check food and drink for the bike, where are my salt tablets?, is my bike mechanically OK? Do I have all my tools? Am I drinking? Should I risk not bringing the weight of the wrench on the bike?
Ahh, pre-race morning jitters . . . relax, not like you are going to fall on your face, but still those competitive juices are flowing now!! . .This year I am in the 40-44 group a bunch of hard core and seriously cuthroat bad asses and also a much later, and ergo warmer (hotter) starting swimwave time, . . .I pause for the anthem, always do since 9/11 and the requisite OOOOssss chant for the Baltimore Orioles cry during the 'O say can you see part". I then put on my wetsuit over my new sunscreen body glide . . .I immediately start sweating profusely and quickly undon the suit, that will go on last minute!
I still have 35 minutes to my start wave time of 7:24 .. . I venture over to the swim start and observe a young pro receiving last second well wishes from his young cute girlfriend/wife. I notice that his race number is #1 . . that must be TJ, last year's Eagleman champ and winner of IM Arizona in April . . . .he looks over at me and I say "give 'em hell today TJ, a repeat would surely get you more of those TYR ads!!". . .he seems to enjoy the recognition, smiles at me and tells me "let's wait and see what happens" and wades into the water for his swim start . .
As it turns out the pro leaders exit the water minutes before my wave even starts. TJ is 4th out of the water about 2:10 behind Big Horse's pro buddy Mark Van A who is first out in 23.27. Both Mark and TJ fail to finish the race, Mark due to difficulties during the run brought on by the heat and his torrid pacing after leading the whole way into mile 1 of the run. TJ due to what I believe is a flat on the bike dropping his avg to 21.4 and the lost time prevents him from placing in the top tier. He probably elects to duck the wear and tear of the heat on the run and husband his reserves for trophy hunting later during the season.
With less than ten minutes to start time, I lay down on the grass and stretch a bit both to pass the time and go over my plan for the day; moderately hard on the swim, cautious on the bike until mile 40 to see where I'm at with my legs, and then hopefully a sub 2 hour run . . . but who knows? By now at 7 15 am any shade has been claimed by family members hunkering down for a hot day of waiting and watching as all the pros transition to the bike, man they move fast getting into and out of T1 in about 2 minutes, where I will be closer to 4 . . . . .
Now it is 7:18 and my wave is called to enter the water for a 7:24 am start . . .I wade in to the bath that is the Choptank and eyeball the siteline for the big orange buoys . . .They are laid out in a counterclockwise pie wedge formation, starting at 4 o'clock and straight out into the river to 12 o'clock and then two hard left turns to race from 12 down to 8 o'clock finish at the boat ramp . . .the idea is to capture some down current on the second half of the swim . . the starting buoys provide a 20 yard wide start line and I move far to the left and to the inside . . .visually it appears a few yards longer to the first buoy and many of the stronger swimmers lineup right center and to the right . .I am not worried as for me getting kicked in the head at the start to jockey for draft position on other swimmers is not my bag baby . . .I would rather fall into my natural position in the bottom 25% and not be whacked at . . .
There is the gun and boom a few steps wading and we are in . . .all around there is a literal sea of humanity as 218 testosterone laden fully energized 40-44 year olds motor out and fight for an eight foot by two foot tube of water, ideally right on the feet of a slightly faster 8 by 2 foot mobile tube . . .I am not sure how much easier drafting makes it, but I will say that the air bubbles waking behind a swimmer does create less dense water and is thus easier to swim thru for the follower.
For me the key is not to try and keep up with the swimmer studs and enter the red zone in the first 10 minutes of the race . . .swimming is about finding a rhythm and ensuring that you are onboarding plenty of oxygen within your breathing . .your muscles will thank you hours later in the race. .. I fall into a comfortable but pressing pace and stay as close as possible to the line of buoys in front of me . . .There is an occasional bump as I parallel or bump someone but by and large I have room after five minutes or so . .The buoys are tricky to sight as we are looking right into the sun , fortunately I invested $14 in sunglass or tinted goggles and am able to ID the buoys quickly between every 10-15 strokes . . .At the first turn I am in reasonable shape although I can start to tell that my cardio wind is not tip top . .. .also I am overheating in my wetsuit . . .silly me does not realize that I could cool myself by letting in some water, . .After the second turn I race back toward the boat ramp . . .the stress on my cardio and the heat again illustrates itself . . although now my stroke and breathing on my right side has started what I call "the veer". that is muy right stroke is stronger than my left so I start "veering right" .I correct it and overcompensate back to the left, but I am now zig zagging and costing myself a few precious swim minutes . . .The boat ramp is tantalizingly close now, but still so far , , ,no one is passing me, but I am not passing anyone either .
I exit the water in a disappointing 46:17, 8 minutes slower than the 2007 current fueled and veer free swim, into T1. I am 183rd of 218 40-44s, like I said tough age group. I walk for just a sec to collect myself, and bring the heart rate down. OK its hot, you have a long race and let's focus on the bike now . . .I swap out wetsuit for bike jersey, socks, helmet, some barely ice left gatorade and out of T1 in about 4:30. My shoes are already in the pedals and I clip in and prepare for 56 miles of heat and cycling . .
The first 15 miles I force myself to relax and eat and not push too hard despite being passed by nearly everyone and their kid's tricycle . . I check the computer and I am slowly building my average from 17 to 17.5 to 18. At mile 30 I am feeling pretty good and even am passing some folks who obviously overcooked their chicken legs and now are becoming fried chickens . . .The looks of desperation on their faces tells the story and many will not finish the run later on . . .
After 2 hours I am right at a 18.5 pace and 37 miles with 19 to go. The course is relatively wind free but there are a few gusts, just enough to be annoying and not any to help us out . .. Knowing the course helps and I have saved some legs for the last hour which is usually faster based on the prevailing winds. I actually start passing some folks and as most of the stud riders are ahead of me the only people passing me are 25-40 year olds females and any distractions like that are a good thing on a 3 hour cycle . .
Although this incident is not the case. I find myself passing and being passed by a gaggle of girls at the same time just when the motor cycle come up and points at us and scribbles down race numbers . . What? Drafting? We are momentarily close, and the girl passing me is nailed . .I see her a few minutes late at the PT (Penalty Tent) I also notice that the cycle makes several repeat passes and is eyeballing me . .. Out of fear, I put down the hammer to get out of there, and now I am over 20 mph and sticking there . . .I latch onto the behind of a passing female Jan Ullrich looking girl from syracuse (Not a good thing but a good pacer nevethe less!) and we fly over the last ten miles from 44-54 toward T2 at about 21 mph. We are passing now and I spot several 40s males that flew by me in the first miles of the bike. My avg is now up to 18.8 mph and I fear I may have overdone it as I spy the first deathmarch victims on mile 3 of the run course. I slow it down and try to eat and drink a bit to steel myself for the run. I hit T2 at 3 hours on the button and within seconds of my bike split last year during my PR race .this year I am 160 out of 218 for the bike moving up 18 spots to 165th of my age group . .hmmnn I am within 8 minutes of my PR last year . .wait a second, you dolt, didn't you see those walking zombies on miles 3 and the return mile 10 of the run as you biked past . . . .Those chickens are baking out there and you are talking PR again . . . .
I get in and out of T2 in about 3:30 popping a couple of salt tabs ..I spy pops at the corral exit . . .I run a bit out of my way but I want to say hello then I see Josh and mom in the shade by the playground . .. I put on my best turkey trot stride and pretend I am feeling great. Within 3-4 minutes as I enter mile 1 I know that I am not great . .in fact I can feel the stomach start to rebel and knot up . . .by the end of mile 1 my trot has been reduced to the Refrigerator Perry SuperBowl Shufle (RPSS) and the stomach is still worse .is it the salt tabs? Too much bike eating the last two miles? Too hard a pace on the bike coming into T2? The answers are yes, yes, probably, who knows? Does it even matter now? The damage is done .
BTW did I mention it is damn hot, like Africa Sahara hot!! I am still in the shade of the run course and already in trouble . .. . On the bike and the swim I have written some energy checks that are now bouncing when they hit the bank as my energy reserve account is way overdrawn. I stop and walk for just a minute seeking relief . . nearby I spy a gal my age with what looks like a soft foot cast on ., . .yes she has an ankle fracture but here she is . . . .Somehow she is here, she obviously cannot run but is operating at a walk hop pace , ., .Although I am impressed at her courage I am like . . .OK yo you know you suck Tim but ya gotta get ahead of that!!
I start the RPSS and then manage a run toward mile 2 but my stomach is now in full rebellion . Then my buddy Rick Armiger from Carroll Manor who I ran with most of Eagleman 07 appears by my side .. .he competes as a clydesdale and is in a late wave and met me at about this point of the race last year. I pick up my pace and we catch up on tri life for a bit. He tells me about IM Austria 07 and how sick the fans are in Europe literally screaming ecouragement at the IM racers . . .he is settled into his 9 minute run pace and I know I cannot hold it and wish him well. .I can only hope for the burps to come followed by the other air pressure release mechanism to set my belly right so I can run and try and catch him but now the shady part of the course is behind us. We have entered the new paved area and there is no shade and the really trouble begins!
It is hot, I have now been walking close to ten minutes. I am not talking the hot where you are at the beach, but the hot where in barefeet you have to step on the white lines of the parking lot and can't wait for the car A/C to blast you. I mean hot like when the old church ladies on their porch with their Ice Teas and hand fans are cacklin "Now look at them fool boys out there fixin to run in this here heat" . . .My body is so hot the sweat just makes me wet and streams down my face . .I know if I am not careful the sweat turns off, and the chills come while your head is still on fire . . .this means one step closer to heat stroke and a definite DNF This is me at mile three, I am in full blown walk mode now, burping, weaving and searching for any reason not to call it a day and curl up in a ball under a tree. Well problemo numero uno, dey es no arboles trees, senor einstein!!
Why keep going? The PR is out, my run time is way shot, and I can walk to the finish in a mile and a half or so cutting thru neighborhoods. . .why 10 more miles of this agony? At this mental crossroads, the idea of finishing crystalizes as an older woman official saunters over and asks me why my tri jersey is around my shoulders as she examines my physical being and assesses my disposition. I answer her with a loud belch as if to say "Cuz I am in gastric distress and need my belly to dispel gases here!!" She asks me if I want to pull the plug and head to medical and she would give me some electrolytes ." I look at her like she is high. She answers me with a "Well if you stay out here with your shirt up like that you are sure going to have a funny looking sunburn tomorrow!" I laugh and damn if it did not hurt my belly even more . . ..I then find my reason to not quit.
I think to the recent 2007 Kona Ironman and Rutger Beke. Here is a pro guy who in 2006 was in the top ten of everyone after the bike and finished well near the top end in 9 hours or so . . . .In the 2007 race again he is challenging after the bike when an achilles injury forced him to walk the marathon watching 100s of age groupers stream by and he finishes in 11 hours or so in 800th place. The news media asked him why not just pack it up? And he said he would never do that out of respect to all the age groupers whose dream it is to someday compete in a Hawaii spot . . . Armed with inspiration, I know that even if I had to walk or crawl through the 95 % heat I was not quitting until they pulled the guerney up and placed me on it . . . .
At the mile 4 aid station, I discover the joys of ice . . .ice in my hat, ice down my pants, ice down my back, ice in my hands . ..I also pass gas now like a two stroke weed wacker engine and powers me into the RPSS and then a jog and then I am down to two short walk per mile water stops. Ice strategy now is working and by mile 6 I am running with just a brief water stop walk and then off again. I am passing some folks finally . . .looking around me the number of runners vs walkers is 1 to 10 . . .The deathmarch carnage is complete. It is now high noon and I near the halfway turnaround point at 6.5 miles. I have no idea what my time is but I am making progress which is all that matters.
On the one hand I'm half done, on the other the effort to get this far has all but forced me to quit and now I have to do it all again. this concept is very mentally taxing to retrace all my steps and undo all that work!!. . .I spot one of the only other people around me running, a pretty 20 somethings gal, that is until I see that she is actually 34 . . .... . .That is something about TRIs, your age is written on your left calf for all to see . Of course nearly every TRI girl is in bonkers shape and looks ten years younger than actual too!! We chat to forget the pain and settle on talk about our kids, (She has two), . . .her husband is also racing and her kids are with Mom and Dad in Annapolis . we are passing people but more importantly passing time and mileage.
I hear a "yo Tim Allison" and know it is Jay C. the swimmer from Sherwood Forest, MD. He is at mile 5 and in full blown walk Jay trys only to run when chased he says . . .but I know he will not quit and he will finish. He has Placid coming up and he finishes that race too under rainy conditions and becomes an Ironman.
My milf and I arrive at mile 10 and back to the scene of my near quit at mile 3. I send her on her way and stop near an earthmover machine to try and pee but really more an excuse to stop and rest for a minute . .. As I start back into my RPSS, the hammy twinge starts . ..that is not good!! I force down the last of my cliff blocks and salt tablet that is mostly salt as the tab has melted in my race jersey . . . .I set off at a stiff legged pace that would rival a wounded Ewok on stilts . . . .
Nearing mile 11 I am beyond cracking, bonking or any term that I know to explain what I am feeling and hitting the wall, . .well actually there is a term . .I am walking brain dead . .. so brain dead in fact that I pass a man laying prone on the lawn of a house and not moving . . . .a minute goes by and a race official on a bike heads toward me and shouts "Is there a fallen runner?" I am processing this data when I hear behind me, "Yeah, he is passed out in this yard right here". , , ,
Before I can even feel concern for his well being . .I think "And shame on you Tim, with you thinking you had cracked!!" I resume my RPSS up to mile 12 where a camera snapped both running pictures above . . .Both hammies are now in charlie up mode with each step and I decide I will just walk it in from here and give up the ghost . . .. . . Then my 34 year old Milf steams by (When did I pass her?) and I hear her say, "Josh is certainly going to be dissapointed when Dad is walking in to the finish" . . . .I search deep down inside and put forth a final effort and manage to catch up to her . . .by now we can hear the crowd and the loudspeakers at the finish less than a mile away . . .Every step hurts but I do not stop now . . .I am running now like an ant . . .. A lot of leg turnover with no stride length at all . . .100 yards from the finish I spot Dad's patented straw hat and see Josh. I pull him over the barriers and tell him to run like he stole something .. Josh looks at me, take my right hand, and says "You are wet daddy" . .. we run together and I tell him to move, move, move. . . .We cross the line at 7:01 clock time or a chip 6 hours and 23 minutes flat, slower than all but my first 70.3 back in August 2005. I do not care nor do I have any clue of this actual chip time now until I check the Columbia website days later. Right now my math skills are right up there with my organic molecular biology acumen . . . . . ..Just to reiterate how tough the conditions are, my worst half marathon ever and 2:27 run split is 119th out of 218 40s and actually moves me up 24 more spots to 141st of 218 40s.
By now 7 hours into official race time, there are no open chairs, staff is prioritizing the most wasted individuals, and the lines for massage are unmanagable . . .I want shade and to sit . .. my Mom is overheated and dad escorts her back to the car and the A/C. Josh and I are left to fend for ourselves ., .we walk thru the food line and nothing appeals .. I grab a couple of cookies for Josh and two sodas but cannot find water anywhere . . My brain is not working right . . .wait watermelon . .I grab a couple of hunks and Josh and I find some shades and sit on the grass. People stream around us and I could care less . . Josh tries his first bite of watermelon, I tell him to spit out the seeds . .He scrunches up his face like he always does . then a big grin .hey Mikey he likes it!!
After 20 minutes I am starting to recover we limp over to the transition zone and I start to collect my gear . .There is a throng of people crowding around the tent that will display who is qualified for the 70.3 florida championships and better yet Kona . . . .I am not in that enviable position but I am a finisher and I am a triathlete not at home watching th TV . .. ..MAN IT IS HOT!! We file toward the exit to check out. . my race numbers have sweated off a long time ago and initally the checker girl wants me to produce some alternate form of proof like my race number long ago packed . . .Josh and I stare blankly at her and then she tell us to go ahead .. I guess bike stealers typically do not employ overheated 4 year old kids with them . . . We find the Tahoe fire up the A/C and throw in the gear . .grab the cell and plan to meetMom and Dad for some food . .. Where should we go I ask? I hear the 4 year old voice behind and know the answer before it comes out . . .Old McDonalds Playland DADDY!!!
Two hamburgers, two bottles of water and 10 McNuggets later we are on the road headed for home 5 hours north in time to babysit Quinn and baby luke so Heather can go to the Sex and City movie and nite out with the girls. Josh falls asleep somewhere on the eastern shore and does not wake up even when I pull into the driveway in Chatham at 7:pm . .. . . .. Eagleman 08 is in the books and I set my sights on what I need to do to prepare for my first IRONMAN in Louisville in 12 weeks.