“What in the hell am I doing here?” I said that once at mile 20 on the run…
Bar none having the love and support of Alley was the main reason I even got to the starting line. The crew each athlete must have is just overwhelming to think about. For myself I had: My brother Lynn looking out for our pups and kitty. Miia, Ryan, Nina, and John also taking the pups out while we were gone. JRA, the bike shop down the street, rushing to getting Jerry Lee in top road shape. The TN Support Crew (25+). Coach Mark and all the people online and at work.
The day sets up as one long ass training day in my mind. The whole thing is just too much to swallow beforehand as a race. I keep referring to “as before” and this was nothing like 2010.
Josh and I got dropped off just after 5AM and headed to bag drop and body marking. Alley was doing body marking so that was great to see her, calm the nerves a bit and get marked. Settled up the bike then got in the line for the bathrooms. Right on plan.
Met up with a few TN folks and sort of just hung out shooting the shit for 20-25 minutes. The usual random nervous conversation and watching the two bathroom lines grow to about 100yards each from different directions. Oh, and there’s Rebecca , just whizzing in front of us all, understandable. Ah, the comfort of being around teammates!
Goal Swim Time: 1:15
The swim is the warm up, extra training this year so as not to be faster , but to feel fresher coming out. I jumped in and started out right away instead of waiting like before. I found a good group and just stayed steady. I told myself “easy, steady, sight”. I stayed on feet for the majority and only had to bridge a gap once at about the 2 mile mark. Not bad at all. I told Mark if I swim faster than 1:15 I’ve spent too much. If I take longer than 1:18 I’ve used too much.
Swim Time: 1:16 – Sweet
T1 – Coming out of the water Alley was a stripper and I got to have her take my wet suit off then get in a giant smooch before I headed off. When I reached my bike (Jerry Lee) I grabbed the seat and felt a little give so I had to fish out my multi-tool and tighten up the seat. Added a bit to T1, but better safe than sorry.
Goal Bike Time: 6:30
2 minutes on the bike and I hear from behind me “Another training ride today huh?” It was Eric L., we’d done maybe 5 long weekend rides together and we were starting another! I was happy as hell to see him. I’d been telling myself seconds before “just another weekend training ride, nothing to be afraid of”. Eric’s a strong rider and I knew he’s be up the road soon enough, but it was great to start with him.
My goal was to make Richter Pass in 2 hours’ time, it’s too easy to overcook the first 40 miles, so it’s about being slow and steady. There’s a little kicker at about mile 35 and everyone around was huffing up and I was just talking out loud to myself to check my breathing. Steady, clear, controlled, no worries. Ed Wong found me on the approach to Richter and said I looked strong. I laughed a bit and told him. “Patience, it’s all about patience.”
Hit Richter at 1:57. After that it was just looking at the Garmin for: Top of the hour,:15, :30, :45, top of the hour, for nutrition. After Richter I knew the work of the day would start. My thought has always been, ‘You have to work a bit to work less’, that was the case through the rollers. Small bursts in the right spots makes you do a lot less work.
I hit Becks road, which is the turn off to the out and back, I’ve suffered here plenty and this is where the wheels have come off the bike 2 of the last 3 times I’ve hit this part of the course. However, this time before entering I told myself ‘easy out, hurry back’, it’s a false flat on the way out. I didn’t stop at Special Needs, just grabbed my bag and kept rolling. Instead of getting beat down by the Out and Back I took and used the energy I got from seeing a bunch of teammates in this area. I saw Eric, Josh, Travis, Aimee, Derek, Joey, and Rebecca. When any doubt came to mind I quickly reminded myself that this was the 4th time this year of going over a 100 and that this was JUST an 85 mile bike ride up to this point.
I felt energized and ready to take on Yellow Lake.
Hitting Yellow Lake with the light of the day fully changed to afternoon sun was really the first time I looked at my watch to see how long I’d been on the bike. Roughly 5 hours ~interesting.
I saw Paul and Vicki at the base of Yellow Lake and that was a great boost. I felt odd, plenty of energy, but a bit afraid to use it, so I ignored the urge to race up the last bit and held steady. Just before the last downhill I heard the person next to me blow a snot rocket and turned to see that it was Rebecca again. I yelled to her, ‘that sounds like a great idea’ and unloaded myself, side to side.
Just after this two things happened. The first was my stomach started to let me know that it was about to start revolting. That was expected I suppose. The 2nd was I got hit in the right eye by whatever blowing by. Seriously…on the last set of down hills…. with the wind and everything going on I totally lost my right contact. Crap! *Thinks a while while hitting 40 mph on the bike……. Oh well. Don’t panic, stay in this.
Hitting the team tent on the last miles of the bike was a huge relief, just seeing the familiar faces again and hearing the cheers. Seeing Alley again! As I hopped off the bike my first thought was, one full season without a mishap.
No accidents, falls or flats! ~ Amazing
That was quickly followed up by the realization that I forgot to take my feet out of the shoes before I stopped so I’d have to run through T2 with my bike shoes on.
I never looked or noticed my bike time until after the race when Mark told me what it was.
Bike Time: 6:09 – Unbelievable! Never limit your expectations of yourself!
T2 – Had to wash out my eye, took a bit longer than I wanted.
Run Goal Time: 4:30-just finish
My mantra for the run was ‘slow, slow, slow’ I HAD to keep 9:30-10 minute pace to make it to mile 8. Then I felt like I could go to 9:30-9:15 until mile 16 where I’d see what needed to happen. I had a handheld water bottle that I ran with. I was afraid of overheating on the run so my plan was to fill it with water and pour over myself to keep cool. It took 2 aid stations to get it down, but it was like clockwork after that: run to the last table at a station with the lid off and dump 3 water cups and one ice down and off I’d go. I’d pour over my head every 20 seconds and along neck and arms, roughly every 4 minutes I’d throw a shot down the shorts. Then the next aid station would pop up. Repeat.
It was interesting, the body ticked right along at 9:35 pace. Kept looking at the Garmin and seeing 9:35, kept thinking, right where I want to be. The plan was coming together. I hit mile 4 and my stomach started to ache. Don’t think about it, just keep moving. Went through Gu’s as planned, miles 4, 8, 12, then I realized they only had Power Bar gels on course and not Gu’s like they said. Hmmm. Not a big deal…
I hit the turn around and mentally didn’t want to think that it was the halfway point. I just wanted to get in and get back out. I grabbed my special needs bag, which only had a pain relief patch and a little zip lock bag w/ 4 ibuprofen in it. Also, Alley had put a note in there for me so I grabbed that and figured I’d read it on the steeper part of the run that I knew I’d have to walk around mile 15 or so.
First up was getting out of the turn around, I headed up the hill and suddenly my head fell forward and my legs stopped. I grabbed for my knees, but it was too late and I ended up on my knees feeling like I was back in the swim. I couldn’t concentrate to answer the woman’s questions that had grabbed me and was talking from what sounded like 40 feet away. All I could think was how far away from the finish I was now. Her last question was ‘Do I know what day it was?’ and that made me laugh and I pushed away from her and started walking and told her, ‘ I’ve know what day it’s been for 2 years’, and walked off.
It was like sleep walking up and out of the turn around and at the top I started to run and all the clarity came back. Think it was a blood pressure thing. Pace – 9:35 back on track
I grabbed Alley’s note and read it at the base of the steep hill that I picked out at about mile 15-16. I made it through most of it and started to cry as I read the last sentence “bring it all together and come on back to town. YOU’VE GOT THIS THING!” I had the overwhelming urge to run and told myself “Let’s get the hell out of here and back to her” I picked back up and was running back at 9:15 pace and it felt comfortable.
At mile 18 my stomach started to really kick in revolt, the second I took in anything other than water it would explode with sharp pain. At 18 I looked for the Gu that was supposed to be on course and didn’t find any, all they had was Power Bar so I grabbed one and took half and it all came back up, yuck. I waited about a minute and tried again and the same thing, back up on to the road. Crap! OK, new plan, Perform, Grapes, Banana’s, water. Had to hold out for coke until mile 20.
I was running scared because I’ve hit the wall in marathons with little or no warning and at 20 I hadn’t had a GU since mile 12 and very little Perform because it just wouldn’t stay down. I had long conversation with friends, pictured the dogs running at the park, thought about hard training runs, and really thought about the work I was doing. Repeating to myself, ‘this is easy, this is all the work you’re doing, this isn’t hard.’ I was running at 9:30’s, but would force myself to walk for about 30-45 seconds each mile just to conserve energy.
Then at mile 20 I spit up the last Perform and water and knew the cracks were starting in the mental game. My hip started bugging me and I thought “What the hell am I doing here?” Saying that out loud was like flipping a switch. I told myself “You are fucking rocking it, that’s WHAT you’re doing!, You have the love and support of everyone that knows you! Get. Your. Ass. Moving!” From that point on I just knew if I could split the difference and made it to mile 23 I’d make it.
I saw the aid station at 22 and laughed out loud as I told myself “You’re a runner that’s been holding 9:30 ave. GO!” I looked at 7:35 on my Garmin, hit the next aid station and saw 8:15. I ran through Main St. where I totally broke down and cried last time because of totally different reasons. I could see the turn off to the left and I knew that Alley and the team would be right around the corner. The sheer joy of seeing them, I ran faster, 7:50 pace. I saw Mark 1st, then Teresa and Alley was a few steps pass them. HOME - I felt nothing crossing the line, completely carried by the crowd.
Run Time: 4:46
Goal Finish Time: 12:45
Finish Time: 12:25:58
I’ve told people that the whole day goes by so fast. As long as it is you can’t hold on to any part of it long enough to really get that since of time passing. 2012 was an amazing experience, so many things came together. I wanted to be one of those teammates that said afterwards “Thanks Coach, I trusted my training and trusted our plan and it totally worked.” And I was so very lucky to be one of them.
Again I have to thank Alley for really making all of this possible. Without her love and support this would have always been a ‘Some day’ item on a list that would never see the light of day. Also, thanks to Lynn for making sure the Muttlys and Leia were taken care so both Alley and I could rest easy knowing that they were safe. And to my training Peeps at TN Multisports. Teresa, you and Mark have put together an amazing family of support that guides, pushes, and reveals everyone’s dreams and possibilities.
Thanks Coach, I trusted my training and trusted our plan and it totally worked.