oregon adventures

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Ironman Jeff

I did it- I did it!!!!! I am an Ironman!!!!
Standing on that beach with only a few more minutes until the start I was the most scared I've ever been in my life that didn't involve the kids and accidents. We had a plan to draft with Coach in front and then me. The horn went off and we started swimming- the ironman had started!!! After about fifteen feet I lost Coach Denise's feet and everyone looked the same in caps and wetsuits, so I pushed people out of the way and made my own lane and just swam. Could smell smoke from a nearby forest fire, but only slightly. At the first buoy I started to relax and realize that I'm in an Ironman race and this was going to take awhile. It was a two loop swim and I would see a buoy or landmark off in the distance and think- "next time I see that I'll be 2/3 or 3/4 done". Surprising how little thoughts I had, mostly listening to the rhythm of my body and the water and sighting. The second loop I settled in to a nice rhythm and the buoys were flying past. Got out of the water and hit my watch at 1:13, official results show 1:12:59. That's two minutes less than double my half-iron swim.
I had planned on changing into bike shorts for the ride, but as I was in the tent a couple of the Headhunters came in and competitiveness took over, so to save time I kept the tri shorts on and off to the bike. Julie (won her age group in the half-iron that day) was out there taking pictures for the full-iron people before and after her race. She got a picture of me carrying Gigi out of transition- I didn't want to get rocks and dirt on Gigi's tires. Because of the Forest fire nearby, the bike route changed to a two loop ride and the run was on a hilly highway instead of the flat path by the dam. The fire was in the mountains right above the dam, so we didn't even ride in the dam area. Anyway, there is a big hill at mile 2 for 2 miles at an 8% grade with three 14% curves. That was fun, but luckily it was short and on top of the mesa was rolling hills with chip-seal pavement and farmland. No trees or people or much of anything but vistas. I saw a couple fields of cows so I mooed at them and got some tail swishes and blank cow looks. The first loop was fun, people would say hi and nice bike and stuff like that, by the second loop nobody said much or even looked up as you went by. Then a long downhill off the mesa and a flat road where I was flying along at 22-24. Then 22 miles along the Columbia river on a highway that has cracks every ten feet. Cacunk-cacunk-cacunk for 22 miles. The least amount of jarring was out on the road, so I tried to stay out there until the trucks would honk. Finally after 3 hours or so I passed the start line and started the second loop. At mile 60 or so was a rodeo grounds and that was where the bike special needs was. I stopped and got a fresh bottle of Accelerade and a candy bar, used the porta-pottie and started back up. I had sandwiches and tons of stuff in the bag- didn't take any of it. I had been drinking Accelerade and water alternately and taking 3 e-caps every 20 miles or so. Climbing the Elmira grade as they called the big hill the second time was not fun. About 2/3 of the way up though I saw a guy from work who was there to cheer on his girlfriend Sandy and he saw me and ran along beside me like they do in the tour cheering me on for about 20 yards- that was great. It's amazing how much little things pump you up during this thing. As in the swim, I really didn't think about much on the bike other than listening to every part of the body and looking at the scenery. At the aid station on the mesa I stopped and got water and asked what they had and when I heard Snickers, took one of those and ate it and added a Nuun tablet to my water (Nuun is a fizzy flavored salt tablet). The first loop I had just done a rolling grab for water, the second loop I stopped. Started back up and after a few miles of sipping the Nuun I didn't feel so good. Slowed to 13-14 because a headwind had sprung up and the stomach was not happy. The only comfortable position was with my hands on the aero pads. Down the big hill and I stopped at an aid stop and asked if they had Snickers, but they only had cookies and bananas, so I moved on. Then onto the flats where on the first loop I was flying at 22-24. Not this time, the wind was smack in the face and strong. 15-17 this time and I talked to others afterwards and they all said the same ting- "the wind on the second loop ____ed". At the river turn I stopped at the porta-potties and relief came in the form of a large gas emission. That combined with actually getting off the bike for a minute helped my stomach and turning onto the river highway I was able to cruise at 19-20 on the flat bumpy parts and go fairly good up the steep hills. About 6 miles out from the transition area I started seeing runners on the left side of the highway. Most of them were the half-iron people. There were some very cute girls doing the half! I probably lost some time waving and nodding. Finally the bike was over- 117.6 miles later at 7 hours on the bike for a 16 average officially, the officials said because of the route change it would be 114 miles. Everyone I talked to said their speedometers said 117 also. Gigi was tired, but she didn't have a single mechanical problem and no flats on the longest ride of my life (previous long was 113). I got to transition and sat in the tent drinking and eating bars and gel and drinking Ensure (I drank an Ensure before each event and at bike special needs). I really didn't want to run, but I got up and went out and started running and magically, I felt fine. After about a half or quarter mile I met up with Doug from the club who is part of the fast group of runners I tried to keep up with each Sunday. Without saying a word about it we fell in together and did the whole 26.2 together side by side. That was fantastic, the first loop we talked, the second loop we got in a zone and we would wave and thank the people stopped on the side of the road to cheer. We stopped at each stop and would drink a bunch of water, Gatorade, and Pepsi. Sometimes use the porta-potties and later they had chicken broth that was really good and eat potatoes. We would start up slow and find a rhythm and fly along until the next stop which seemed to keep coming faster as the run went on. At the beginning of the second loop as we bypassed the finish and started back out, the whole half-iron Headhunter group was there cheering and clapping us on the back and video taping- that was a huge boost! We got about a half mile out and realized that we had missed the run special needs with the flashlights, oh well. When we got to the turnaround of the second loop I told the volunteers that I was 3/4 of the way done with my first ever marathon. I took my sunglasses off at that point and it got dark fast with a beautiful sunset over the Columbia river and the rocky cliffs lining it. The original run course by the dam had one hill, this highway run had several hills. One very pretty girl would pass us and then walk up the hills and we would pass her, etc. So I asked her some question to talk to her, so she ran with us for awhile and she and her husband were doing the full-iron together and had met at a triathlon. When it was pitch dark it got interesting without lights. The headlights from cars when they came was about it and they had given most people glow-sticks somewhere- we didn't get any. Finally at a food stop, they gave us some glow sticks so people could see us at least. At the food stop that was 3 miles from the finish, I got a little dizzy, so I thought "better get this over with". So we stepped it out and it felt like we were going mid 8's or faster- who knows. We agreed to skip the last stop and charged up the last big hill into town and then down towards transition. When I could hear the announcer and some music I said "I'm getting a tingling feeling- we're close". Turned down a grass path through an unlit area and then the finish shute. Doug had done an ironman before, so he motioned for me to go ahead so I could have my first iron finish moment. I sprinted at full speed down the shute and did a leap up to smack the finish line bar. Julie got a picture of me in mid-leap (top picture). I did a 5:00:59 marathon for an 11:29 pace. 13:31 for a total time and 6 of 14 for my age group and 38 out of 91 overall. We had 13 Headhunters do either the half or full and every single one finished the race. I can't imagine doing this thing solo- afterwards the euphoria wore off quick and disorientation took over. The half-iron team members helped me put on the blanket, got my bags for me and steered me to the food. I got some enchiladas and took one bite and went back and got some chicken soup. Two bowls of that and I felt much better and went back to watch the rest of the finishers and look up at the amazing star display out there.
The next morning they had awards and a pancake breakfast. Some people were walking funny that day. I felt great and had tight legs of course, but only blisters on the ends of the toes so I am walking fine and can probably run again without too much pain. We stayed an extra day to relax and drink in the experience and then drove back on Monday. Today I went in for a recovery swim and did maybe 300-400 meters in half lap intervals and then into the hot-tub. Back to work tomorrow- then the dream will be over and I'll have to find another dream to chase.
Thank you all who have supported me in this journey and given your well needed and very helpful words of encouragement!!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Ready To Be An Ironman!

Thursday morning I will head out for Grand Coulee Washington for the Grand Columbian Full Ironman race! So far this year I've swum 191,000 meters (118.7 miles), Ridden 2559.3 miles, and run 439.2 miles. But that's just raw numbers- I could tell you by seeing a location who I rode with past that point and sometimes I can actually remember what we were talking about at some locations. The people I've trained with this year, the memories, the changes- it's all part of becoming an ironman. Now to go out and do it and do the best I can and leave it all out there. Emotions are running high, patience is running low. Gigi (my bike) has new tires and a lubed chain and tune-up, I think she's ready and itching to show her stuff- I hope we're still friends after 112 miles.
Saturday night after I finish the people doing the half said they'll have drinks waiting for me at the finish and we'll have a finish party. Hopefully I'll be coherent and able to party!
I think we're staying an extra day and coming back Monday. As soon as I get back I'll let you guys know how I did.