On July 25th, 2015, I checked off a bucket list item of epic proportions. With the support of my amazing wife, our awesome friends, and my tremendous family, I crossed the finish line of my first ironman. It was hard. It was ridiculously hard. It was 13 hours and 20 minutes of hard.
But, I had a badass group of friends to train with these past few months, and attacked the 2015 Vineman in the best shape of my life.
Our adventure starts the Wednesday before the race.
Being the OCD triathlete that I am, everything was in order 72 hrs before the start.
The day before the race, I met up with my Pixar tri homies for a poolside photo sesh.
These studs relayed the vineman, and were such awesome moral support throughout the day (as they were passing my ass left and right)!
Speaking of Studs!!!
Jo and Laffite came into town to cheer me on.
That is friggin so cool of you two!
Okay … So now it’s Friday, the day before the race.
We drive up to the Russian River, and the reality of the event starts to kick in. I’ve been going over this for so many months now, it felt like a dream to be so close to the start.
And with a glorious California summer shining down on the river, I was full of such an immense joy when I first laid eyes on the swim course.
The athlete checkin made things even more real.
Looking around at the other beast athletes in the gym, watching the safety video, going over all the minutiae that goes into an iron distance triathlon, I gotta admit that the nerves started to really kick my ass.
I feel confident swimming, biking and running. I feel strong in triathlons. But this … This was different. I was scared. There was so much I put into this day, and there were so many people around … And those nerves and doubts came to fore at the checkin.
But … The day moves on, and my mind got a nice break from this monolith ahead of me when we went to checkin at our cool little airbnb cabin thing.
The bike looking great on the porch!
There’s a lot of prep that goes into racing a triathlon. Organizing your gear, getting all the race info, mental prep … Doing one of these well takes shit ton of cognitive resources. This race had another layer on top of all of that with the crazy nutrition plan.
Luckily, Jo helped out in a massive way with helping me get my sammy in order!
The fellow blogger was tapering.
My pb&j’s, combined with this beauty …
The day was gonna be gourmet as fuck …
So, for those of you tuning in for the nitty gritty.
Here’s the full menu for the day:
1 Salami Sandwich
1 Bag of chips
3 Pro Bars
4 Clif Goo Blocks
… Packed up nice and tight …
Usually, the night before a race I don’t sleep very well.
The 4:00 AM wake up time and the butterflies and the fact that I am tapering … It all combines to me not being very well rested the morning of. This race, was totally different however. For some reason, my body just knew what was coming, and gave me 6 glorious hours of sleep. It was huge … I have never slept so well before a race in my life.
Alarm goes off, I gear up, and roll to the event.
Obligatory body marking is a great way to start the day.
Got in early.
And got the kit all lined out.
Just before the race starts I see these two!
My Dad and big bro – up super early to psych me up for the race. So cool seeing them!
The transition area starts to fill.
And everything starts to speed up.
I get the wetsuit on, take one last sip of coffee, and head into the water.
The air temp was in the 50’s, and the water was in the low 70’s.
The effect was magical. There was all this steam coming off the river as we got in.
As I calmly sculled water, warming up for the swim, I was overcome with joy.
My body felt good … It felt really damn good. The nerves, although present, were not getting the better of me. Instead a feeling of joy came over as the swim got under way.
The course was smooth and fast. With minimal bumping and kicking, I found my pace and blew through the 2.4 mile swim. Keeping my hear rate down, and gliding as much as I could, I came out of the water in 1 hr 15 mins, feeling so pumped!
I am in the race of my life – And am completely stoked!!!
Had a nice long transition into my cycling kit.
And in the highest of spirits pushed off for the 112 mi bike ride.
The Bike was long, really, really, really long.
My nutrition was great – snacking on mini sandwich quarters and pro bars, drinking plenty of water and gatorade, and even grabbing a banana at each aid station – I never felt like I was about to hit the wall.
I even saw my buddy Ricky for a minute toward the end (he easily blew right by me). It was a huge mental boost tho to talk to someone and get pumped up again.
But, being on the bike for 6 hrs and 50 mins takes a toll. And for the last hour or two, I spent most of my time anxious about the run. In general, I was feeling ok, but each time I rolled over a hill, no matter the size, and felt a twinge of fatigue in my legs, I got this real nervous feeling about this mammoth marathon task ahead of me.
Fear. There really is no other way to put it … I was really afraid. Did I have it in me to gut a fucking marathon? Only time would tell, and the only thing I needed to do was spin up the road.
Finally got off the bike around 3:00 PM. It was 6 hrs and 43 mins in all!
… And all in all was doing pretty well.
The run was amazing.
It was three laps, 8.5 mi each. And after the first lap, I knew I had it.
Then came the second lap … Not super eventful … Just hard.
And when I came back in for the final 8.5 mi trek, the entire crowd went nuts. Everyone was there, my family, my crew, my wife … And the cheers that they gave me when I went out for my final loop will stay with me for the rest of my life. I felt like a wide receiver in the Super Bowl! It was unbelievable! There were like a few dozen ppl standing there, but the cheers just gave me wings like I have never felt before. I started to cry. I started to fly.
That mile … The one where I just started my final lap … That mile was unreal. I felt super human going into mile 18. This is it, this is your race, you’ve got this.
Then mile 19 happened.
Mile 19 brought a reality into my world like no other.
Everything broke down with 7 miles to go. I literally had nothing in me. My face probably hid the pain well as I didn’t even have enough gas in my tank to wince at each excruciating step. People often ask me if I walked at all during the marathon, and I am not totally sure how to answer. Yes, I definitely walked during this time, but the intermittent jogging was probably even slower than the walking … And the whole thing … The shuffling the walking the trotting … The whole thing was pain. There was no way to escape it. And the clock, it just felt like it was so against me. Normally, knocking out 7 miles, I could get it done somewhere around 45 mins … And the reality of that day was that I knew it would take me closer to 2 hours.
I was a zombie. Everyone on that course was a zombie.
A huge thanks to all the volunteers and staff keeping us alive and moving forward. There is no physical way to do this alone, and the amazing support out on the course was the only thing that got us through.
And we come to the last mile.
You always have something left for the last mile. It doesn’t matter if it is a 5K or an ironman, you always have something left.
Seeing the finish line, right at this very moment, was a feeling I will never forget.
Much Love To all of You!!!
🙂 🙂 🙂
And especially I wanna give a huge thanks to my original running partners.
You’ve been there pushing me since day one!
So Ya …
That is that …
After an hour warming up in the med tent, sipping some soup and enjoying a massage, I was fast asleep at a very early hour that night. The race was the entire day … No space left for anything else.
Woke up with a hunger like no other.
This breakfast burrito lasted a total of ten seconds.
… And I started the slow process of recovery …
Much love to all of you!
Now get after it!!!