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!!