14 hours and 35 minutes.
No, I not happy with that time. However I am pleased that I finished. In summary, it was a tough race for me and I ran out of gas on the second half of the bike. Estuardo finished at 13:41, EXACTLY as planned which is great. Les finished later and did not have a great experience. Les is the real hero of the day. More on those two later.
We awoke at 4:00 am, showered, grabbed out stuff and headed downstairs. Last night we had finished our bags and food prep. I used to think that I was the most obsessive of the three but Estuardo puts me to shame. Three hours after I'm done he is still messing around with his equipment. I actually caught him cutting out tiny little Velcro strips so he could attach his race bib to his shirt. Wow. I guess I am old fashioned but it seems like safety pins would work just as well. Maybe Velcro makes you more aero-dynamic, I don't know. I took a last look at the hotel room - I couldn't wait to get back to it. Oddly enough, this is a big motivator for me - thinking about getting back to the room and knowing you are done. We get downstairs and Michella drove us to the race and dropped us off near the medical tents. I checked my transition bags and all of my clothes were soaked from the rain the night before. Damn it. My shorts, shirts and socks were dripping wet and I did not bring any extras to the race - they were all back at the hotel. I wrung them out the best I could and put them back in the bags. I also dropped off my food stuff. In quick order I got my body marked with my race number and covered my body with sun block and Body Glide, an anti-chafing lubricant for the wetsuit.
I met up with the guys again and we started walking towards the swim start. The temperature was 59 degrees and the sky was clear. Everything looks good. I drank a Gatorade and split a gu with Les. It took forever to get there because of the crowd. The beach was a madhouse with athletes, media, boats and helicopters flying overhead. You can tell everybody is anxious.
I hate this part.
I hate the moment before any race. I've always hated it. I just want it to start. Unfortunately I have to wait 15 minutes so I climb into the water and begin warming up. This time my body does not loosen up. I am so nervous and cannot calm down. I swim a little more and decide to get out. I have never been this anxious before a race. I am shaking uncontrollably and my stomach is twisting in knots. I don't even remember the National Anthem.
I walk over to the left and as close to the buoys as possible. I want to finish in under 1:25 and the only way is to hug the course as much as possible. I know that I am in for a rough time because things get violent around the buoys. I am not an aggressive swimmer but I try not let myself get pushed around. The gun sounds off which means this stupid thing has begun. I stroll into the water waiting for the semi-pros to get out ahead - no reason to get in with them. I start swimming and realize that I am not wearing my goggles. I panic momentarily but I find them on my head. I start off with a relaxed stroke but its hard to move due to the unbelievable number of bodies. I get out to the second buoy and was feeling ok when the unbelievable happened. I was caught up in another traffic jam when a very large, very husky girl (My dad would call her a Tusker) comes plowing through on a mission. Her left arm lands hard on my back and then her hand scores a direct hit on my right ear. This girl rang my bell hard. I hear a loud pop deep inside my head and then my left eye loses focus and goes dark. I yelled out, rolled over and bobbled in the water shocked. I could not hear out of my right ear nor see out of my left eye. Really not a good start to a long day. I have to move because I am going to be run over again. I keep swimming but I am disoriented and I start to panic. There is no worse feeling than having a panic attack in the water. Your wetsuit is constricting and you feel that you cannot breathe. However, I have been here before and I usually know how to work myself out of it. I quickly start to think about anything but swimming - my kids, my wife, anything. Slowly I work my way out of the panic and adjust myself to seeing out of one eye. Maybe I should have trained blind-folded. I finally work myself in a clear patch and start drafting off of other swimmers. Things are feeling slightly better now and my body is warming up. There is still an occasional pile-up at the turns but as I have recently learned, a good smack on the back right side of somebody's head will loosen things up nicely. I run on the beach at the halfway point and I am at 39 minutes - cool, better than expected. The second lap of the swim is easy and without trouble. I make the last turn and head for shore. I am really ready to get out - now I am cold. I run on to the timing mat and I am at 1:20, way better than I thought especially considering I got run over by an train, had an aneurysm, blew out my eyeball and shredded my ear drum.
I head over to the wetsuit strippers and lay down on the ground and put myself at their mercy. I expose my underbelly and cry "I am yours." Well, not really, but I do lay down and they begin to pull my wetsuit off. Unfortunately I did not tell them about my watch which was above my wetsuit sleeve. When they pulled the sleeve off it got stuck on the watch. After a disastrous three minutes of struggling they finally rip off my wetsuit and part of my skin and send me on my way. I was pretty irritated and considered bleeding ripped ear juice on them but I didn't have time. After a quick change out of my wet clothes and into my wet clothes I make my way for the bike. The transition, minus the wetsuit debacle, was fairly quick. It would have been at roughly six minutes. There was a rather embarrassing moment in the changing tent of which I will not elaborate but suffice it to say that there is a volunteer that will never speak to me again. I don't remember grabbing my bike but I did have presence of mind to activate my watch and GPS.
The bike portion of this race is two loops and relatively flat on the front and back side but very hilly in the middle. There are several long steep hills and many rolling hills. One hill of note is called The Wall where it feels almost vertical followed by a series of three stair-step hills. It is also a fairly technical course meaning a lot of sharp turns. You can be heading down a hill at 35+ miles per hour when suddenly there is a hard turn at the bottom and you have to ease into the brakes. Or die.
I start off easy trying to gauge my condition. My swim felt good but I know for a fact that my illness and fatigue are going to catch up with me. I ride the first 12 miles by the lake, then the flats afterwards and I feel ok. I am probably averaging 17 mph of which is fine. I hit the hills relaxed and try to stay in the saddle as much as possible. The Wall really is a terrible hill and it makes you pay. It is also the beginning of a torrent of relentless uphills. They keep piling up on each other. The worst ones were the uphills on the hard turns. I would be screaming down a hill, see the turn ahead, brake hard, turn right and be staring right back up at the beast. I would then start pedaling in the lowest gear possible, climb, grind, get to the top, rinse, repeat. This goes on for awhile but eventually I make my way off the mountain and head for the turn back into town. This is where I play catch-up. Now I can ride the flats and make up some lost time. Nope, afraid not. My old nemesis is waiting for me at the corner. The wind. That mother-loving wind has stalked me all the way to Idaho. Piss off wind. Man, I hate you. I turn left and it embraces me lovingly with open arms. "Slow down John", it says. So, I do. I try to make myself aero and bear down. I struggle back into town. I finally make it back to the beginning of the second loop. My time is 3:20 which is exactly where I had planned to be - I was expecting a 6:40 ride. But the scales have tipped. I can tell. I feel the flu-like symptoms settling in and I'm pissed. This is where the frustration of months of training being undermined by the flu boils up. I curse a lot and stamp my feet. It's very cute - I am having a giant temper tantrum in the middle of the road. I can deal with being beaten up by a girl in the water or having my skin peeled off by some wetsuit person but this is the worst. It feels like a complete waste of time. So much training gone up in smoke.
Finally, I take my thumb out of my mouth and unwad my panties. I re-evaluate my situation and I determine that I am not completely immobile. I do still have energy to keep going, albeit much less. I plan to take a few stops on the second half and I know exactly where I will take them. A 3 minute break does wonders for me. I also think about my nutrition plan. The Hammer stuff is good but at this time I prefer to go more soluble. I drop back to the original plan of Accelerade and Clif shots (did you really think I would not have a backup plan?) I stick with the Hammer pills every hour even though they make me gag - they're disgusting. I stop at mile 60 which was at the end of a big climb to re-shuffle my bottles, food, etc. My brain sort of melted and I had a temporary lapse of insanity. Apparently, I could not think straight. I kept asking a volunteer if he had seen my bottles even though I had four on my bike. I also asked him if he had seen my Hammer bottle which was in my left hand. That was bizarre - I was fine five minutes later. I'm sure he called ahead and told them they would be scooping my body off the side of the road shortly. He probably also said that I was the guy that had been beaten up by a girl. Weird. Anyway, I started up again when John Small flew by me. He is part of the other Tampa contingent and I've ridden with him several times - great guy. I tried to ride up to him but decided that would be foolish and would only hurt more. He is a strong rider and was well on his way.
The second half was everything I thought it would be - lousy. However, I did a decent job of sticking to my new plan and maintaining my pace. I was still irritated but level-headed enough to know when to dial back. I navigated through the flats and into the hills. I marched up The Wall with a painful cadence and bruised ego. At this point many people are walking up the hill. I will not let myself do that. Michele Small, John's wife, passed me on mile 80 and looked strong. Its a shame their kids weren't in the race - they could have passed me too. You know, make it a family affair. So, I grind and grind and finally make it to the wind tunnel back into town. The ride back did not seem as bad but I really don't remember. I was exhausted and my muscles were sore from whatever was ailing me.
I hand my bike off, grab my T2 bag and shuffle over to the tent. I take a little more time on this transition. My left eye has a blurry haze over it and is useless. Now my eye and brain have something in common.
I am slightly disoriented and I spend quite some time changing into my running clothes. Thankfully my shorts and socks have dried out as I was concerned about chafing. I have blister bandages for my left foot and Vaseline for my chest and southern region. My forerunner is acting up but I do not want to stop it for fear of killing the GPS recording. I exit the tent and some crusty old guy offers to rub my entire body down with sun block. I don't get this type of offer every day and I would like to think it is one I would normally decline. However, today it sounds like a good idea (the sun block, not the old dude.) I slow down and say yes. Damn, my wife doesn't touch me like that. As the old man lovingly applies lotion to me I start to think about the next 26 miles. Normally I would have mentally prepped for the run with an hour left on the bike but unfortunately I was battling other demons at the time. Due to the lack of fore-thought I sort of throw myself on the run path without much of plan.
The run portion is relatively flat and has two up-and-backs alongside the lake. It is probably the best run course I have seen - the lake is gorgeous and is surrounded by the mountains. The majority of it is shared with the bike course but the visual is more stunning because you have time to appreciate it. Because of the up-and-back concept you are mixed with runners on either their first lap (me) or their second.
I like running more than the other two disciplines so it does not take me long to find my groove. The weather is pleasant and the crowd support is wonderful. Unlike other events it looks like there will be spectators along the entire course. The first two miles is in the opposite direction of the bike course and is almost completely shaded. Within the first few miles I can usually asses my situation and how I'll fare. I feel confident that I will finish but I know it will be more difficult on the back half. My original plan was to finish the marathon between 4:20 and 4:30 which is approximately a 10 minute pace. Probably not happening today so I scale it back to 5 hours and consider that acceptable, though not desirable. Another nice thing is that it will probably be daylight for the entire race.
In an earlier posting I mentioned that I like to talk to people during the run. It helps me by taking my mind off aching muscles and its always interesting to meet other people. Its fascinates me to learn what motivates others to do an Ironman. I'm curious because I don't know why I do them. I will not do this if I am going for a PR or within striking distance of a fellow competitor. Unfortunately, that was not in the cards today. Around mile 3 I start talking to a girl named Chris and it seems I've picked a winner. Chris is from Philly and this was her second Ironman. The conversation was great and her pace was the same as mine. However, at this time I am suspicious (and afraid) of all women and I was quick to accuse her of shattering my ear into a hundred tiny pieces. However, she clearly was not a tusker and therefore exempt, so I decided to hang out with her if she would have me. We discussed our training, family life and whatever else bores the hell out of most people. It worked well for us. She even tolerated me as I struggled with a nasty blood blister on my left foot. Most people see my feet and either throw up or run away. She was very kind even though she would probably have nightmares for life.
Our strategy was simple - run between the water stations located one mile apart, then walk through for hydration, food and a sponge-down. We kept ourselves distracted through town and onto the lake side path. If I were to guess, approximately 15 miles of the total course is along the lake and is a joy. In all honesty, Chris controlled the pace and determined the length of our breaks. I probably would have taken longer water breaks but she dictated when we started up again. I had to listen to her because I only had one ear and one eye left - I am very attached to all the major components of my head. Who knows what would have happened if I did not comply.
Chris and I encountered very few problems during the bulk of the first half of the run with the exception of the turn-around. At the end of the lake portion there is a steep climb of about 50 yards that I remember with great affection from the bike. She made a command decision to walk up the hill and then run back down again - sure, no problem, I'm game. Whatever you say.
Five major senses, three left. I want to keep them.
Around mile 15 I was going a little off the plan. I needed a bit more time to recover and start up again. I was low on fumes and I kept telling Chris to carry on but she continued to hang out. We entered into town again and started down the long shaded path where I was momentarily revived as I was carried on the shoulders of crowd support. I have complained in previous Ironman races about the half-way point being to close to the finish line and having to endure the crowds and the joy of the finishing athletes. I am happy for them but I really do not feel like celebrating their victory at this particular time. This IM was blessedly different and they re-routed all second-lappers far away from the finish line. Thank you. Thank you so much.
Mile 17 was a slow gradual climb out of the down-town area. Any other time this slope would be inconsequential but this wasn't any other time. I decided to give Chris a test. It would be a simple question with a simple answer. No gray areas, no fruity 'any answer is a good answer.' Unfortunately, she failed.
She failed miserably. I asked her what she thought of this hill. It was a simple question with only one answer. She responded and said it was fine and she thought it was a very nice hill. Unfortunately the correct answer was 'this hill sucks and I think we should stop and walk for a minute.' Oh well, I think it's time for me to send her on her way. I hated parting company but I was holding her back at this point. My flu induced fatigue had settled in comfortably and was not backing off anytime soon. 5 hours? Maybe, maybe not. Regardless, I had to settle into a pace that would get me through to a reasonable finishing time. I bid her adieu and began my slow ascent up the tiny tiny mountain.
Included in my running weapon stash is my fuel-belt. A fuel-belt is an elastic band with Velcro strapped around the waist with four 8-ounce plastic bottles and a small pocket on the back. I keep Accelerade in the bottles and several gels in the pocket. I also have Aleve and Clif Shots in the back pockets of my running shorts. At this point in the race none of those items interest me - I'm sick of Clif shots, gels make me sick to my stomach and the Accelerade is only tolerable. Its time to shed some serious weight. Everything must go. Amused spectators watch as gels and other food items fly. I'm like Santa Claus at the Christmas parade. Next the fuel-belt soars through the air in a beautiful graceful arc and lands near a fire hydrant. That one hurts - don't ask how much they cost . Needless to say, it was not there on the return trip. The weight release was wonderful. Trust me, I would have shed a lot more but that would have been wrong for so many reasons. Plus my new boyfriend, sun block man, didn't cover everything.
I enter into a dead zone for about two miles and I'm confused as to why I cannot generate a decent forward motion. I'm guessing that that I am not getting nutrition anymore. Up ahead is the the solution. It's Coke. Flat, warm and wonderful Coke. It's a wonderful thing provided by the aid stations towards the end of a race and its a lifesaver. The sugar and caffeine minus the carbonation provide that tiny burst of energy to get you to the next cup of Coke. I probably drink the stuff no more than twice a year but today I am all over it. It gives me that little bit of pep I need and I begin to accelerate through the remaining six miles or so. The sun has finally set and the outside temp is getting rather chilly. I am so excited to almost be done with this race that I don't feel it. The only downside is that my other eye cannot adjust to the darkness (I've always had night vision problems) and now I am practically blind. I can follow the path well enough from memory but I am constantly asking spectators for mile markers. I can see no more than ten feet ahead. Again, I don't care - I am almost home.
I make the last turn into the downtown area which is a straight shot to the finish. After confirmation that it is indeed the end of the line I begin my celebration in earnest. I got lucky in that I am the only athlete in this final quarter mile and I have the crowd's full attention. There is nothing like it - sorry, no words to describe the feeling. Go do your own Ironman. I enter the chute and run down down the path high-fiving anybody I can reach. Finally, I cross the line and...
Thank you God!
The volunteers pull me in at the finish line and spit me out on the other end with my shirt, medal and hat. Estuardo and Chris are waiting and celebrate in full fashion with me. We are all thrilled, exhausted, proud beyond words and thoroughly satisfied. The crowd is still going and the place is rocking. I'm loving life right now.
Eventually I calm down. I look around.
Estuardo gets first mention here - the man executed his plan flawlessly. Perhaps it was the Velcro strips or maybe Latinos are more streamlined. Probably not - he was ready, patient and smart. The guy obsessed to the nth degree and it paid off.
I can only relate what he told me. His swim was 1:30 and he said it felt good. His transition was scary fast and he was on his bike in no time. As I've said before, Estuardo is deadly on the bike. For further humiliation he only rides in the small ring.
He passed me with ease around mile 30 during the first bike loop. I called out to him but he was so focused he barely noticed me. It was on a hill and he was gliding up to the top. Often we kid him about leaving it all out on the bike course and having nothing left for the run. I worried a little bit that he would do it again but we weren't exactly having a conversation. I watched him go and returned to my ride.
I saw him again at around my mile six of the run and he was going the other way. I did some quick calculations to see if he was within striking distance - I am glad he is doing well but I want to do better. The math is not in my favor and I put him out of my mind. I see him again in almost the same place on my second lap. He is on his way home. I ask about Les because I haven't seen him all day. I've assumed that he passed me on the bike when I wasn't looking. Estuardo tells me he is up ahead. Oh well - you can't win them all.
Estuardo nails it at 13 hours and 41 minutes. Good for him. That is exactly what he planned on. We all did, actually, with varying lengths for different events. I know he wants to do better on the run and I am afraid that he will.
Ok, so I was a little over dramatic at the end of my previous post. I knew where Les was - I just saw him two miles ago. He was going the other way. The wrong way. At the time I was deep in thought when Les slapped me on the shoulder. I looked up and It took me a moment to figure out what was going on. I asked him what he was doing which I think is an odd question. I assumed he had finished the race and was coming out to run me in. When he responded that he was 'dying' and kept moving the other way I knew he was in bad juju. What the hell happened to the guy?
According to Les, it all fell apart in the beginning. His race crumbled in the second half of the swim and it was hell from there on out. Apparently he suffered a form of hypothermia in the second lap. Les weighs between 4 and 12 pounds depending on his last hair cut and I'm guessing he has no body fat. He had very little protection from the frigid water. He told us that the 59 degree water started to affect him after 50 minutes and he was unable to move his arms and legs during the second half. The slower he goes, the longer he is in the water and the worse it gets. I cannot imagine the feeling but I assume it was pretty bad. I've mentioned my panic attacks in the water and it is one of the worst feelings in the world. You cannot breathe and your body shuts down. I bet this was even worse.
He finally falls out of the water and heads into T2 but according to him it was already over. The hypothermia had shut his body down. I thought I had it bad but this had to be awful. That's a dark place.
He said his ride was terrible and was afraid he was not going to make it by the bike cut-off time. He should have been afraid. He made it by less than 10 seconds and only then by a miracle by unloading on the last 5 miles into town. Think about that - 10 seconds later and his race is over before he even starts to run.
When I saw Les at the 2 mile marker (his 15) I started working furiously on the math. This is what a lot of athletes do with their spare time on the course. Calculate miles, times, averages, etc. based on their pace. We try try to figure out any possible scenario for the finish. We may be pretty dumb for doing these things but you can't question our math skills. Anyway, he had 11 miles to go and the cut-off was at midnight. It was going to be tight.
Estuardo, Chris and I hung out in the rest area by the finish line. Both Estuardo and I had looked for Michella but we could not find her. I ate about 30 slices of pizza and it was probably the greatest food I had ever eaten. Chris and Estuardo looked on in horror as I mowed through the buffet line. I told you I had a strong stomach. You burn approximately 10,000 calories during an IM and I was determined to retrieve every one of them. It was also getting very cold. At the end of the race they give you a silver mylar blanket for the cold. I don't get it but they seem to sort of work. They don't wrap around the body that well and they keep blowing off making it almost useless. Estuardo, in a stroke of brilliance, grabs another wrap, lays it on the grass and then covers himself with the other one from head to toe. All you could see was a giant pile of Guatemalan goo beneath a big silver mound on the grass. Yeah, everybody was looking at him kind of weird. I tried it for awhile but it wasn't working for me. Probably because I am not Guatemalan.
By my calculations we had to wait an hour or more for Les so I decide to get changed and turn in my bike. Chris had left and we never saw her again. I'll try to follow her when she does Ironman Arizona in November. It felt great to shed my running clothes and change into something warmer. I sludged my body from the changing tent to the drop off and kissed my bike goodbye. Several days ago I was so happy to see it after two weeks. Now, I am more than happy not to see it for a very long time. I go back and wake up princess Estuardo who is happily dreaming of rainbows and unicorns. It's getting close to pumpkin hour and we need to wait for Les.
These IM events really are amazing - it is such a party at the finish line. The place is still packed close to midnight and the music is crazy. They are playing every great party song and the people in the stands are dancing and singing. We climb into the bleachers at about 20 minutes to midnight and start working the numbers again. "If he does x minutes per mile and stops for coke, etc" It really is obsessive. I spend a few minutes looking for Michella but give up after trying to navigate the bleachers. Right now I'm not so good at traversing the narrow steps. I sit down and watch the large overhead screen and listen to the announcer calling the names as they cross the finish line. Eventually I join the crowd in song and start to sing along to 'December 1963 (Oh What a Night.)' The fact that I know all the lyrics is troubling. Perhaps I died on the course and I am now in hell. If I start singing YMCA then I know its true. Estuardo pokes me and said they just called Les' name. I look at the clock - I'm damn good at math and I had him coming in at 8 minutes till. Bingo! I let out a whoop and Estuardo and I run over to the finish line. We find Michella and we congratulate Les on finishing under the cut off time. The man looks rough but happy to be done.
Earlier I mentioned that Les gets major hero points for finishing the race in that fashion. I really don't know how he did it after getting blasted on the swim and barely surviving the bike. Pretty strong stuff. Congratulations to Les as well.
We walk back over the rest area for more sitting time. You know how you can tell the age of a tree by looking at is rings. Well, in similar fashion, we got to witness everything Les drank in the past six hours. In reverse order. Les, so to speak, opened himself up for us. Ah, there's the coke from 15 minutes ago - Look, Gatorade from mile 19, that was a good year - Oh dear, there's the Hammer drink from the bike four hours ago. Out it comes. Those 30 slices of pizza nestled in my belly are starting to move.
Humor aside, it tells you that his body stopped absorbing liquid many hours ago. Not good.
After observing this glorious technicolor display of Les' biology we moved over to the changing tents so the two can pick up their clothes and bikes. Les is able to communicate now. I know what is next. So, I wait. I start the countdown.
10 - 9 - 8 - 7
Here it comes...
6 - 5 - 4
3 - 2 - 1
"I'm never doing this again." Dramatic pause. "Guys, this is my last Ironman."
Bam! Nailed it. Right on cue.
How did I know. Because he says it every single fricking time after a hard race. The man is a rock if nothing else. If I had a slice of pizza for every time he said that I would have at least 30 pieces lumped together in my stomach. Oh, wait a minute. Never mind. Yeah, yeah Les, we'll see you in Tempe in 2010.
That's about it for the race day report. We drove to a fast food restaurant and I ate some more as Les opened himself to us *again*. Dude, you have to stop doing that. I slept the sleep of the dead for about five hours and woke up the next morning. Its hard to sleep when your body is a train wreck. Breakfast consisted of 15 bagels, 5 boxes of cereal, fruit, coffee and somebody's arm that got in my way. Les declared solemnly that this really was his last race. Yawn.
Les and Michella drove us to the airport and we said our goodbyes. They were staying for another day in Spokane. Thanks again to Michella as she was awesome the whole weekend. My flight home was uneventful and I stretched out in my luxurious leg space and slept. I had upgraded my seats that morning. Good thing. There were a lot of IM folks in both airports and we had some great conversations. Big frustration for me was that everybody I spoke to had done 12 hours or better and I am embarrassed to mention my time. I'm over it now but I would love to do a lot better some day. I accept that I am in my mid-40s, a dedicated family man and a business owner and so I am limited in my training time. Someday.
I get home around 1:00 am Tampa time and I'm exhausted. I was also upset because two of my kids were at camp for a week and I really missed them. However, my youngest who was home made the sign below. That was awesome! I almost cried. It's better than any medal or t-shirt.
So, now I am home and relaxed. My weight has dropped back down to 153 and will require inordinate amounts of beer. Oh, yes, my eye had returned to normal the next day but my ear is still checked out and not improving. My hearing is at about 25% in my right ear so I go to the doctor a few days later and she looks in my ear. "Wow, that's a really big hole, I could drive my truck through that."
I'm glad. I've always worried my doctor did not have a place to drive her truck. Now that my ear has opened up she is going to be ok. She thinks I was hit on the back right of my head where the ocular nerves are located. The impact knocked out my left eye and possibly the neoprene cap created a seal over my ear and the pressure popped my ear drum. She doesn't know if it will heal and wants to send me to an ENT specialist. I tell her that is not necessary and I will be ok. I know better - I am an Ironman, she is only a doctor. She proceeded to ask me questions which I have now heard no less than 50 times.
Did that girl beat you? - Don't know. She certainly beat my head in.
Did you ever see her again? - No, she was very clever. She stayed to my left the entire race.
What was it like racing without an eye and ear? - What?
So, for the record, a girl beat you up and an old man lovingly rubbed your entire body with lotion, correct? - Correct.
Why do you do these things? - I don't know. Can I go home now?
A week later and my ear still has not healed and is infected in both the inner and outer ear canals. My Ironman senses start to tingle and tell me I better go to an ENT specialist. Turns out I'm OK. The ear drum has healed but I still have fluid behind the membrane. I won't be able to hear for maybe another week but it should clear up. Antibiotics take care of the rest.
That's it. I spent a week at the beach with my family and did nothing. It was wonderful. I drank beer and ate beer. I even ate at McDonald's one day. That is on my top ten list of things never to do - right up there with killing people and wearing a Speedo. Yes, my body revolted on me. Around the second week I started to get very antsy and was jonesing to train again. I have run and biked a few times and it has not been pretty. I need to give my body a little more time before I step up to the speed work. I want to do a few Olympic distances before the season is over.
Many thanks to my beautiful wife Nubia and kids for tolerating my training schedule. Their understanding and patience was critical. Thanks to my parents, brother and sisters for their faith in me. Also, my good friends like the Osprey Pointe Drinking Club, Gary Swisher, Michella and many others including my new friend, Chris. A special thanks and curse to Bun Tadlock, the man who got me into the whole stupid endurance thing over 15 years ago. Of course, Les and Estuardo in which I thoroughly enjoy the camaraderie of the whole mess that is Ironman. Who else would listen to me stress out loud about where I should place my Accelerade bottle and truly care and understand. Most of all, thanks to God for letting me do my best and bringing me home safely.