What an incredible feeling to finish an Ironman! I've been around triathlon for 3 or 4 years now and have attended/volunteered at 3 other full events. I've seen the exhilaration in other finishers, including my wife, but never expected what I felt Saturday night.
Where do I begin an Ironman race report? At the most important part - with thank you's. Seriously, without the support of these individuals, this event would have not been possible, or would have been a lot more difficult or less interesting/exciting. Thank you Lisa, Catherine, Anne Lee, Signe and Vroni for all of your tireless support of your husband/Dad, and for being so understanding of my relative absence in your life this summer/fall - I promise not to do this again any time soon. Thank you Phyllis and Judy - there's nothing like the love and support of a mother. Thank you Mel, Bob, Donald and staff of BMC - I really appreciate your understanding and patience in working with me, despite my often being absent, tired or preoccupied. Thank you Coach Dan from Vision Quest Coaching for the incredible guidance and insight you've given me this past season - you have helped me meet or exceed every goal I had set for myself. Thank you Corey and Clay for doing IM-FL with me - the training has been a blast, and I've learned a lot from you. Thank you Anne, Casey, Dylan, and Peighton for coming to Florida and cheering me on - you don't know how much it meant to me for you to be there. Thank you sponsors - BMC, CycleOps/Saris, Zipp, SRAM, 2XU, and Vision Quest Coaching - you produce the ultimate in triathlon gear and coaching, and your products have truly enabled me to maximize my potential. Thank you Evotri teammates Stu, Rob, Michelle, Tracy, J.P., Chris, and Sara - your support and encouragement were awesome. And thank you to so many other family members and friends who followed me through training and the race day and watched me finish, then called/emailed to congratulate me - your support has made this a lifelong memory for me.
I woke up at 4:00 Saturday morning. Lisa got up with me and started helping me get ready for the day. Transition opened at 5:00, so I had time to finish packing my gear bags and my special needs bags before heading over. I hurried up and made 4 half PB & J sandwiches (my endurance staple) and headed over to transition.
In case you can't tell, yes, that is an LSU jack-o-lantern, halloween candy, and a bottle of alcohol on the counter.
It was a brisk 44 degrees Saturday morning, so I was very happy to put my wetsuit on after I got my body marked. I then walked all around transition, dropping off all my bags. I remember thinking, "Boy, I'll be glad to be getting this bag during the race!" especially the special needs run bag.
Then there was the walk out to the beach. I remember straining my eyes to see the water conditions in the dark, hoping to see a calm sea. Yes! Pretty flat. I tried to zip up my own wetsuit as I walked with the crowd. The girl behind me saw me struggling and helped out - typical triathlete kindness. I walked across the beach, my bare feet passing through cold dry sand. I walked across the timing chip mat into the triathlete holding area for the swim start. I scanned the crowd that lined the holding area, looking for my family but didn't find them. I put on my swim cap and goggles and watched the pros start at 6:45. We're next. Oh shit.
I look at the buoys way out there. I see triathletes hugging each other, wishing each other well. I wonder if any of us would die on the swim - someone had died on the swim the past 2 years. Others are swinging their arms, jumping up and down, stretching their muscles, getting them ready for some work. Some are sitting in the sand, hugging their knees, deep in thought/meditation. High energy music is playing. Where are Corey and Clay? "Everyone must get out of the water for the start in 2 minutes!" Wait - did he say 2 minutes? "Good luck, Jim - tear it up!!" "I love you, honey! Have a great race!" My goggles are fogged up already - I'll have to clear them when I get in the water - I can't even see the buoys through them. I'm so lucky to be here. Maybe I should try to move over to the left some more. What does this day have in store for me?
KA - BOOOOOMMMMMM!!!!