Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Chesapeakeman Saturday September 30, 2007

Overall Male Time Swim Place/Time T1 /Time Bike Pl/time avg. T2 place/ T2 Time Run Pl
67/119 12:51:52.30 97 1:46:36 55 5:12 100 6:41:07 16.0 102 8:32:54 42 3:56 27
M-thon Avg mile
4:15:03 9:45
Race week is crazy and not sure if I was even gonna make the race start . . .work picks a bad time to suck (THANKS IRENE!!) and finding time to train the last two months has been hard, especially for the bike portions. I did manage a 20 mile and a 23 mile run and one 65 and one 85 mile bike ride perhaps the bare minimum of what can carry you through! .

Truth be told Heather has been quite sick and also ready to deliver Luke, plus my mom is recovering from a stroke and doing great two things beyond my ability to plan for or control . .. but . . then to top it off the day before the race, my father and stalwart race supporter is undergoing outpatient surgery and he needs me to be his support. I drive down to Baltimore Friday morning by 10am and Dad is already in the surgical area . .

His surgery goes well but post op there is a complication and the doc does not want him to leave until 5pm . . I tell the doc that I need to check in for an Ironman by 4pm, rack the bike, race packets etc for the Sat am Ultra . . .the doc is both equally impressed that I am doing an ultra and that I am with my dad the day before, so he gives me strict instructions on how to take care of Dad and gives the green light for us to leave the clinic around 1pm. Now in order to make the race we hightail it down the Maryland peninsula to Cambridge, Md and again the Hyatt to check in. (Least we know the lay of the land now!!) Dad puts in a well needed rest around 3pm and I am nervous to get everything set up right!! Packet pickup turns out to be a breeze in the hotel, (only 165 in the ultra with some aqua and A/V folks to make a field of less than 300)

I drive over to “Howling Winds” Sailwinds Park Sat afternoon and check in the bike and the wind is crazy howling!!! Luckily I made the decision to race my tried and true Postal blue Trek 5200, (Lance's 2004 machine) in lieu of the Cevelo p2c a rocket no doubt but less maneuver and posterior friendly. The TREK is uber comfortable, dependable, (Knock on Wood) and not as aero but for 112 miles who cares right? The race meeting at 6pm Friday nite shows many racers and nervous first timers like myself. There are 165 of us for the full monty and another 150 swimmers and bikers only. The tide is supposedly going to be in our favor but the wind is crazy out and all blowing upriver, a bad omen!

Race morning I get up at 4am to eat. I have read in Joel Friel’s Training Diary that the nutrition is almost as important to Ironman as is training. I onboard 1500 calories of yogurt, cheerios, two Ensures, a boiled egg, OJ, and a nip of coffee. I then notice I forgot to put my bike race sticker on the bike. I drive out to the park and check on my bike. It is dark at 4:45!! I also then hit the high school and submit my special food bags for the bike and run pit stops, (The fritos are muy importante later on!!) Several guys are waiting for the shuttle bus back to racestart at the Hyatt so I offer a ride to four guys back to the hotel and they are appreciative . .talk is light and to a minimum, everyone is in their own head preparing for a long hard day. The body marking tent on the Hyatt beach front is welcoming beacon of light and U2 music It’s a Beautiful Day . .. I say hey to the race director, Rob Vigorito who also runs EAGLEMAN and then retire to the hotel hall for some warmth and to stretch and get the wetsuit on and my mind right . .pacing and being humble is the key to finishing this race. .

Dad wakes up on his own and comes down and sees me in the hall and I lead him to the Starbucks and his race morning wake up call. The weather is still windy but looks clear and not overcast. Then as if on cue, the sun breaks over the treeline and the Choptank river and a black helicopter swoops down. The anthem is a welcome break for all and I nearly am reduced to tears as emotions linked to all the training and turmoil of the last year bubbles up. Dad has the video cam memorializing the start. I now am ready to embark on a journey of self to erase all the bad from the NYC job, multiple family health issues and even my own near death related to the 2003 snowmobile and turn back the clock on the aging process. . It is my time to give a “oh yeah is that all you got for me?” Well how about a 140.6 mile journey in one day to show who’s boss here! . ..

At the swim start, I have a moment of doubt and am feeling unprepared but I turn the brain off and jump in with both feet. Honestly the swim start is easy as I am not being jostled or kicked with only 300, but the waves and wind are incredibly difficult. As the waves whack at our faces to the point the buoys on the horizon and into the sun are not visible! After departing the protective confines of the Hyatt pier I panic a little bit as we exit the harbor of the Hyatt pavilion and strike off down river. . . I quickly fall back and no other swimmers are visible. The jetskis help us stay on course and I am corralled to the left. I still see ZERO buoys and am just keying off stantions of the Rt 50 bridge a mile or so away . ..

I am now seriously worried about the 2 hour 20 minute time cut off. After being corralled to the left I find a buoy and now sight off the Rt 50 Choptank bridge which serves as the halfway mark. How much extra did I just swim? Is everyone ahead of me? I work my ass off in the swim for what seems like an hour and finally come to the bridge. I have to do that all again? I do manage to keep a straighter path on the buoy lines now and actually pass a couple of swimmers now. I also notice that the jet skis and kayaks are focusing behind me in the water meaning, yes, there are poor souls back there still!! After passing under the bridge I recall Rob telling us at the race meeting to look for the antenna and the park is right underneath. I also start to grasp some familiar sitelines from the Eagleman swim course turnaround at this point. The boat ramp is now visible but I am confused, I see the beach and people standing on the dock but how to climb onto it? How did we do it in Eagleman? I am winded and not thinking straight . .then as the confusion raised into self doubt, I finally see that the dock had a second dock and the exit was on the ramp between? I heard my number 4 and name being called and then I was out of the water . .Man am I dizzy and cannot walk straight . . . .Timecheck 1:46, slower than projected, but projections did not consider North Atlantic conditions either , ,, hmmnn, Ok, out of the water not too bad after all that happened a bit wobbly, I stagger sideways toward the T1 tent, al the swimming as thrown my equilibrium off a bit! I duck inside with my bike bag and am pleased to see I am actually ahead of 40 or so of the 300 swimmers . .hey any moral victory at this point!!

I am hit quickly by the chaos in the changing tent. I find a chair and quickly undress throw the wetsuit in the bike bag and head outside to see Dad videotaping. I am the only person in the T1 and I whine about the swim and then I duck into Mr. jiffy john, but secretly I am elated to be out of the water as I head no idea of whether I could swim 4000 yds or not. It is going to be a long day on the bike considering my longest ride was 85 and total ride mileage is like 300 miles. I start slow and right away, that prevailing great north wind forces me down to a 53-21 gear on the ride out the peninsula past the E-man run turnaround . .. OMG this bike is gonna be LONG!!!

A few folks are passing me but by in large I am on my own. I pass a couple of mechanicals and ride with an out of shape aqua/velo guy for convo until I need to leave him behind. I stop to pee at mile 30, and approx 50 and then decide to learn how to pee on the fly. Harder than it seems at first but I figured it out. See pops at mile 66 and then back out for the second loop. Very lonely out in the Blackwater but pretty. Now I am past survival mode and thinking of actually upping the pace a little as I have the wind figured out. I enjoy a brief 10 mile bike spurt between mile 75-85 at around 21mph with the wind at my back when disaster almost strikes. I am approaching a left turn onto the northbound rode and a cop is posted to stop traffic. He waves me thru and I duck into the turn to conserve what speed I have. Next thing I hear brakes and the hood a small coupe with two young girls is rapidly approaching, I cannot cross over the road, so I swerve into the side of the cop car locking up my own brakes and executing a neat power slide. I am now along the cop car between the coupe as it slides by still at a healthy rate of speed, I wobble, bounce off the side of the cop car a bit and regain balance. The cop is silent in disbelief. My shoes actually never get unclipped and now I am steamed that the cop was not looking before waving me thru . ..

. I ride for a few minutes in anger and also realizing how close my race day was to being over and also the concept of a crash and what would the wife say to that even thou it was not really my fault? Not again! I decide that my luck has turned when a forest fire actually alters the second loop and cuts down a couple of miles from the 112 to a 107. Shhhh!! The wind is also a bit more favorable and I open it up a bit toward the end passing some folks. By mile 95 I am ready to get off the bike and am counting down the miles but am still trying to save energy for the marathon, and that means EAT EAT EAT! The best part of the bike was that every ten minutes I ate a Shot block followed by water. Then on the fives between I would sip gatorade . . my stomach never got bloated but I did not tap my energy reserves . . .I think I went thru six packs of Shot blocks, four gatorade 24 oz bottles and six bottles of water on the bike.

The run transition goes smoothly, boy there are some hurting pups in the T2 tent!! I head out after a 6:40 bike leg slow but I survived! and then a solid 5 minute transition time. I strip off my bike shorts and jersey with pockets to my race kit. Look around and don’t see pops anywhere, maybe the heat got him. Turns out that he misjudged my transition as I did both a shorter course and at a greater rate of speed and the five mile distance reduction. At mile 2 of the run I start pacing with a guy who is moving pretty good. Turns out he ends up finishing 3rd overall!! He is on his mile 18 third loop and i am just starting out!! but it is confidence building for me when I can stay with him for a few miles and not feel like I am pressing myself too much. Unlike previous 70.3 the stomach is fine, I feel good, but I know I need to stick to my pacing plan as in both my Baltimore marathons, I had cramping issues in the latter miles. Stay humble!!

The course is an out and back 8 mile loop which we repeat three times. The idea is that since there are only 150 or so runners you can see each other more often and are less lonely . . that and you need way fewer water stop personnel!! So I stick to my race plan which is to walk the water stops each mile for 30 seconds and onboard fluids and I stick to that despite feeling strong. I drink I even pee which no one else is doing and I walk the stop for 30 second chunks until mile 19 and I think wow, I am doing OK Let's do this!! After an hour or so no one has passed me and the studs are all in the finishing corral at approx 10.5 hour or so finishing times (Brady deHoust won it in 9:32). I noticie that I am gaining on nearly everyone ahead. The cramps are not rearing their ugly head thru the telltale hammy twinges I seem to always get as a foreshadowing. I had been chasing this guy (Craig Strimel it turns out who also posts a great marathon time of 4:23) for like 8 miles and I can never catch him, although we are both passing stragglers now and near the same pace.

I stop walking the water stops after mile 19 and then I finally catch him at mile 22 and then I let it out . .The feeling is undescribable. The sun is setting, I am feeling weightless, just concentrating on lifting my feet off the ground like stepping on hot coals . . . .I am flying now, ( or so it seems!! As I am passing people and then marking the next victim . . . By mile 24 I truly believe I am safe and start really moving it at a sub 8 minute pace, I pass a couple more and finish on the stadium track looking for pops. I cannot see him but he is in the middle of the football field taping the result. I finish the run in a state of euphoria in 4:15 the 27th best run split of the 165 entrants. . . .I miss five more overall male spots by less than 2 minutes but finish 67th out of 120 males with a kick ass run.

The chicken soup hits the spot and I feel tired but satisfied. None of the food is appealing though and I lose my finisher shirt, and backtrack to the finish to pick it up. I came in sub 13 hours after having no expectations except to finish. Not too shabby and I am overjoyed with my accomplishment. Post race we have a cheesburger and a beer at the Hyatt and we are up at 7am to head home the next day and I am sore but not old man hobbled sore!

Epilogue - Visions of a November marathon to qualify for Boston as a bonus based on fitness are dashed based on too many conflicts at home and work . . .I am also tired and shut it down until 2008!!

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