Sunday, June 11, 2006

Race Report: Liberty Triathlon Half Ironman

The day was cool and breezy. The transition area buzzed with athletes in jackets and gloves, some with stocking hats on. It felt like an early October morning, or maybe late April. Where two days ago it was 90 melting degrees here. Weird. But as good a day as any to traverse 70.3 miles of Minnesota.

I'd arrived, as usual, promptly at 6:00am, when transition opened, and was able to situate my bike on the very end of the rack, precisely as I like it. The transition racks were organized by age group, which would at least give me an indication as I went in and out all day of where I was in relation to my peers. That wasn't a point of focus, however - competing against anybody - today was all about execution of a well laid plan. It was a critical race in Becoming Ironman.

I warmed up a bit in the water to get my heart rate up and my muscles prepared for exercise. I practiced some water entry dives, and then just hung around in the water, warm in the temperature and my wetsuit. I felt good. I didn't have a nervous stomach - I haven't had it all season, in fact. I had the right kind of butterflies. I had done the training, I knew. I figured, if all went well, I might be between 6:00 and 6:15 in this race; 6:10 or so felt most realistic. 6:30 was my doomsday time - I thought that was probably as slow as I'd go today. Mostly, I wanted flawless execution. Not speed, not pace, not placement. I wanted to finish this race feeling like an important step towards Ironman was taken.

With about a minute to go, I put in my earplugs and the world went away. My age group - all of us wearing blue swim caps - were the very first wave to get in the water. I intended to subject myself to the washing machine, so I positioned myself at the start smack in the middle of the pack. I heard a muffled voice say over the loudspeaker "15 Seconds" and prepared for my entry. Finally, we were off. (That's me in the middle with the red shoulders and sleeves...)

I ran in until the water was waist deep or so, then dolphin-dove in and began my stroke. I was immediately sandwiched between two other swimmers. Our arms tangled as they went by me, and I felt another swimmer's hands on my ankles. As one of the swimmers passed I tried to feel for his legs, so I wouldn't get caught by surprise with a heel to the nose. As I was passed, I'd try and swing in right behind and hang in the draft for as long as I could. The first 50 yards or so, this is how it was - flinging, jolting, bumping, shoving, moving. The madness was over pretty quickly, and it never got as bad as I'd hoped it would (which sounds weird to say...). I found, to my surprise and joy, a perfect device to keep calm and focused through the initial push, and used it the rest of the swim; I envisioned when I was 9 years old, and I won a free-throw competition in my town. Winning at the local level meant I went on to the state competition (where I did nothing remarkable, alas), and in preparing for that my Dad and I would go to the Old Armory (which has been now for many years a theatre, but when I was growing up it was the only place in town with basketball hoops) to practice shooting free-throws. Anyway, with that as the plotline, I envisioned every stroke as a preparation dribble on the free-throw line, just before the shot. In the same way a person takes those dribbles to focus, for relief from distractions, I'd translate that over to my swim stroke. I could hear the sound of the ball on the hardwood with each stroke I took. It worked great. I was happy to have it with me.

After the first 100 yards or so I began to settle in, and while really the first half mile was pretty congested with more than the occasional bump from other swimmers, I got into my rhythm and did my thing. Soon I turned on the last buoy and began to visualize a solid transition for the bike. Then, I was up and out of the water, stripping the top half of my wetsuit before my feet were fully out of the water. I exited in 35:44, giving me a 1:42/100yard pace. A Half Ironman P.R. (Personal Record) for me by about a minute and a half.

I climbed up the stairs, down the short trail and into transition. I stripped my wetsuit down, put on a long sleeved cycling jersey (no easy task to do while wet), and was out of transition in 2:14.

The wind was coming strong from the West at 13-14mph. The first part of the course is well protected and sends you through a series of big squares, so the wind wouldn't be a huge factor until the last half of the loop, which is a long out and back, West then East, on a county highway. Here the road was unprotected, which meant a strong tailwind on the way out and an ass-kicker in your face coming home.

I followed the volunteers' instructions around U-turns and bike paths to finally exit the Park Reserve that was homebase for the race. Finally I was out on the road, exactly like I was for my Century ride three weeks earlier. I assessed my situation: my heartrate was high - it always is coming out of the water and into transition, no matter how conservative I try to be. I'd work at getting comfortable on the bike and letting it come down; no hard work on the bike for the first 25 miles was in the plans, anyway. Nutritionally I felt great - I'd swig Gatorade every 10 minutes for the first half hour after the swim before introducing solid foods - cutup Clif bars and gels - at intervals after that. I'd been having some rear derailleur issues the week of the race, and was even making last minute adjustments the night before the race - I was really concerned that 'Blue might be hiccupping a bit for me today. But he was smooth as butta, and ready to race. All in all, I was feeling great.

At around mile 6 I encountered the first aid station, at one of three or four crossroads on the course where cyclist pass the same section going in different directions at different places, so there were racers coming out the turn that were behind me on the course while I was going into the same turn. All I saw were cyclists turning, so I turned too - the aid guys yelled at me "Go straight, go straight!" - I guess I wasn't supposed to turn. Huh. So I make a quick turnaround and got back on course. I swapped in my half-empty Gatorade bottle for a fresh bottle of energy drink, committed to staying as fully stocked as I could all day. With only that minor interruption, I was back on course.

Winding around mile 8 or so and it was time for some Clif bar...and I could not for the life of me open my damn ziplock bag. I had full-fingered gloves on, but seriously. They're not kidding around with this ziplock stuff. The damn thing was bullet proof. So I'm trying to negotiate steering my bike, not falling over, and somehow trying to open this bag with one hand. It became comical, how totally impossible it was. Just then I hear cheers of my name and look up to see Amy and Mike - with our dog JoJo along (!) - cheering by the side of the road (Alas, the Irondog in training Jackson was homebound, as it was decided he'd go too berzerk upon seeing me. JoJo, on the other hand, is mostly oblivious to everything). "I can't get my damn ziplock open!" is all I think to shout.

Finally I turned West onto the long 6 mile stretch, and despite my comedy of errors so far (I did finally get the damn ziplock open) was feeling great. I reached down for my first sip from the new energy drink.

What the hell is this?

Had you seen my face, it would have looked like I just tasted lemons or something. The on-course nutritional supplier was Hammer Nutrition, and this was their answer to Gatorade, called Heed energy drink. It had a really watery consistency, which wasn't bad, but tasted remarkably like ass. It had kind of a soy-milk tint to it. I'm sure if it's what you train with and are familiar with, it's an acquired taste. I know a lot of people don't care for Gatorade too. But at Ironman they'll have Gatorade Endurance Formula on course, so that's all I train with. This stuff was a nasty introduction into the system. And, knowing there were aid stations at regular intervals, I packed only two bottles on my bike, choosing to forgo the weight of packing my usual four bottles full of Gatorade. So this was my drink for the day, like it or not. I choose not.

I rode - rather flew - down the road. The tailwind was awesome, my legs felt great, my heart rate was solid, and I was having a great day so far. Amy and Mike had ridden ahead and positioned themselves on the side of the road, and as they cheered as I passed I yelled "Love me some tailwind!" and threw a little piece of Clif bar to JoJo, like a float at a parade. There were some rolling climbs on the course, but especially with that tailwind they were effortless. I reached the turnaround point and headed the opposite direction - now with the wind in my face. The headwind sucked. Or blew. Whatever. But I still felt good, careful to never let my legs feel like they were working too hard, and I was still cruising at 19 or 20mph into the wind. I passed my first hour average more than 20mph on the bike, and was on-pace for a sub 3 hour ride. I passed Amy and Mike again coming back the other way and this time said, less enthusiastically, "Love me some headwind", and kept on. I had about 7 miles of solid racing left before it all went to hell.

Facing those 6 miles of headwind were tough, but not damaging. I turned back into town (and thankfully out of the wind) still on pace, and still feeling great. I'd downed a gel, on schedule, been eating my Clif bars, on schedule, and been hydrating with Heed, on schedule. The Heed wasn't sitting well with me, though. I thoroughly did not enjoy the taste, for starters, and taste becomes an important element in long course endurance racing. Second, my stomach was starting to feel little...different. No alarms ringing, but this was an unfamiliar calorie and carbohydrate mixture for me. My body was conditioned for Gatorade, and any variance from that introduces the potential for havoc. I decided to keep an eye on it and temper it with water whenever I could, but wasn't too concerned. I approached another of those confounding cross roads, where the volunteers directed me and the racers around me to turn right. There were two races going on - an Olympic distance and the Half Ironman. The Olympic distance racers did one loop and some, the Half Iron distance racers did two loops. The traffic controllers sent me back in the direction of the park, and I continued on, figuring the turnaround was somewhere right ahead.

I arrived back at the park, and the helpful volunteers again helped me negotiate all the sharp turns and twists. Suddenly though, I pop out of the bike trail and I'm back at transition. This isn't right... Volunteers are telling me good job, good job, telling me to get ready to dismount, sending me back to the timing mats. What?!? Shit! They'd sent me along the Olympic course, and not to the correct turnaround, which by my watch said was about 1.5 miles ago somewhere. I started yelling "Long course! Long course!" Apparently then I grew another head and was speaking in tongues, because the volunteers looked at me like they'd never heard of such a thing. I wanted to get off my bike and shake every. single. one. of. them. I U-turned hard just before the timing mats, still yelling Long course! Long course!" Desperate for anybody to freaking help me. Finally one of the women, with an empathetic Minnesota Housewife sound of "ohhh, that's too bad" said "Back the trail?" Clearly this wasn't anywhere near where I should be (I can think clearly now where it happened, but was confounded like the rest of them yesterday), and so I headed right back out like I had at the very beginning of the race. Meanwhile there's a woman behind me shouting the same thing I was - "Long course! Long course! They sent us the wrong way! Where's the long course?!?!" And as I'm going back through the maze of trails to get back to the road, encountering volunteers, I continue yelling "Long course! Long course!" and they continue to be utterly confused at my existence. I finally negotiate my way back to the road, mostly without their help, and at that checkpoint they look at me like I'm an alien...why are people leaving the park now? I can hear them thinking. "Good job!" they shout. I want to throttle everybody.

You've heard me say a million times, and it's not just lipservice - in fact, it's pretty much how I live my life, even away from triathlon: You cannot control the things you cannot control. There is a finite amount of space around me that I'm in charge of, and the rest I just have to respond and react to. In long course triathlon this beam of truth becomes accute and hot, like sunlight in a magnifying lens. How one responds to the unexpected, to crisis, to the unforeseen, is often the fulcrum point in a race. it can literally make or break you. I know this. I've been prepared for the unforseen. A flat tire. A crash. Sickness. Equipment failure. Panic in the water. Blisters. Whatever - I have a strategy for it, the essentials of which are simply: Keep Moving Forward. Call me naive, call me stupid, call me unprepared, but I wasn't ready for this. Okay - I know what the paperwork says. I know I'm supposed to be familiar with the course on my own. And I was. I know these are hardworking volunteers who don't get paid, who are here on their own graciousness, and I sincerely appreciate that. Really. Always. And I know with hundreds of people whizzing by, especially on a course as complicated as this one, with two waves of distances going on, confusion will occur, mistakes will happen. I get that. I get it. But dammit, do not let them happen to me.

As I finally re-engaged with the long course athletes, I was furious. Utterly pissed off. I was about 3 miles off course, which translated to about 10 or 11 minutes. What's 10 or 11 minutes? It's an entire mile on the run or better. It's 3 miles on the bike. It's 600 yards in the water. It's a hydration interval and a feeding interval. It's the difference between 11:55pm and a finisher at Ironman and 12:06, try again next year at Ironman. I felt like they'd been stolen from me through somebody's incompetence. I don't know whose. Yes yes, I should have somehow memorized the entire course before the race. But when you're blowing by at 20mph and people in green shirts are shouting and pointing, you listen and you do and you trust. That trust is a little bit sacred. Kind of everything about the entire day hinges on that trust.

So here I was, totally disengaged from the middle of the pack, where I was 15 minutes ago, to being at the very rear of the pack, with the 60+ age groupers (who left on the swim some 15 minutes or more after me). I attacked the course. My intention had been to pick it up a bit the 2nd half of the course, but I didn't pick it up. I threw it over my head, spun it around and tossed it over the ropes. I was so. pissed. off. I was swearing and cursing and shouting at nobody and everybody. I threw down on my cranks, trying to make up 10 minutes on the course. It wasn't even all that intentional - I didn't really think I'd make up ten minutes on the course. I don't even know who I was chasing or why. And it's not like I said "to hell with the plan, I'll show them and ride like hell." I just went. I burned as hot as I could, seemingly out of control of myself. I lunged up hills. I pedaled hard on descents. I trashed the asphalt. My heart rate climbed. My adrenaline spiked. My sugar stores depleted. I was, in the throes of my tantrum, concocting a perfect storm of nutritional misery.

A woman passed me and said "Doesn't that just piss you off that they sent us the wrong way?" It was the woman I'd heard in transition, yelling for instructions like I was. "Extremely pissed off. "I said. "I am definitely riding angry." "I'm really angry too", she said, and I encouraged her to take it out on the course. She went ahead, and soon I passed Amy and Mike again, now on my second loop. "They sent me 4 miles in the wrong damn direction!" I called as I passed by. They looked shocked and upset for me. Meanwhile I'm drinking this stuff I can hardly tolerate, my heart rate is way high, and my sugar levels are plummeting. As I reached my mile 40 (course mile 37 or so), I finally came to my senses when I pretty abruptly felt awful.

Here's the basics of what biologically happened - Ironman Nutrition 101: As my heart rate climbed and my lactic acid increased from my increased burst of effort on the bike, my sugar stores replaced fat as my main source of energy. My heart began working hard enough where my systems diverted energies away from anything that didn't have to do with blood pumping - this included digestion. But meanwhile I'm trying to stay hydrated and eating, even while my appetite is, through an indication from my system, becoming completely lost. My body is telling me it doesn't want to eat because it's busy. But I have to eat because I need the energy. My body is telling me whatever dude, we're not digesting at the moment, come back later. So I'm filling up with carbohydrates that aren't being processed to replace the sugars I'm burning, calories that aren't being stored as anything, and an awful tasting nutritional drink that my body now wants to reject anyway. So on the bike, I start cramping up and suffer a sudden spike of energy loss - this is a combination of an adrenaline crash from my tantrum and the effects of my nutritional situation. So with some 15 miles left to go on the bike, I assessed my situation.

I had experienced an unintentional and unforeseen circumstance and failed the test in dazzling fashion. I tried to tell myself - 10 or 11's like a flat tire. Just think of it like you got a flat tire. You wouldn't be nearly so bent out of shape from a flat tire, so settle down. But as important as anything else is that my morale tanked after the direction screw-up. I'd felt so great before that, and was suddenly thrust into something that made me feel so pissed. And that was my first of several failures: I allowed emotion to affect decision making. And as Amy reminded me after the race (from my countless speeches on the subject): There is no room for emotion at Ironman. Instead of being the detached, clinical, decision-making machine I needed to be, try to be, want to be, practice to be, I became an angry, obsessed tyrant. I wasted stockpiles of energy swearing, being angry, fuming, mashing the pedals. I'd taken myself completely out of my game. When I look back on it, it even feel a little embarrassing. Maybe you're reading it thinking "what's the big deal man?" But unless you're there, unless you do this, put so much time into something, so much of yourself, I just don't know if I can help you understand how deflated I became. My reaction to the incident was now affecting everything. So I tried now to settle down. My whole goal, turning into the headwind to come home for the last time, was to get my heart rate down. Down down down. I had lost the privilege of being concerned about pace or time or splits. I had to hunker down now and go into survival mode. I knew nutrition was, for the time being, not an option. I had to get my heart rate to come down and maybe then digestion would come back to the party. As miserable as I was, at least I was coming back to myself. I was making decisions and being rational.

I rode out the rest of the bike course easy. Stupid easy. I had to - it's the situation I was in. If my heart rate climbed to over 130, I backed off. I climbed hills like I had nowhere to go. I was no longer surrounded by other riders. Once in awhile I'd pass or be passed by somebody with a 60 something or a 40 something or 50 something marked on their calves - each of us had our age tattooed to us for the day. I knew I was among the last in my age group out here. My carefully laid plans had not been executed, and in the final analysis that - like Ironman itself - came down to one thing: Me. I'd blown it. Now I needed to regroup and refocus. The clinician tried to return: I can't do anything about the last 3 hours. I have from right now, this second, until the end of the race. This is the situation. Doesn't matter how we got here, this is the situation and this is how we race. Figure it out.

I passed mile 56 at 3:03:44, which would have been another Half Ironman P.R., even with all the drama - an average pace of 18.1mph; still pretty good, thanks to my first half of the race. But none of that counts: Officially I entered Transition 2 in 3:17:23, some 59.25 miles later but calculated to 56, with an average speed of 17mph.

It's hard to describe how I felt in T2. Emotionally I was still down. Physically, I felt pretty miserable. I had averted a major nutritional crisis, but now I was calorie deficient and was dealing with low bloodsugar. I knew I could not stomach another ounce of this Heed sports drink. I changed my clothes, loaded up my fuel-belt with 4 Gatorades on them, and headed out of transition. I was hoping Mike and Amy weren't going to be right there, in the first few hundred yards, because I honestly think I would have broke down sobbing then and there. Not because I was having a difficult day and felt sorry for myself or something, but because my body was so out of wack that I just felt imbalanced and emotional from it. I had no idea how I was going to manage 13 miles.

Within the first half mile, though, things improved. It felt good to be off the bike. My pace was slow, but not as slow as I'd anticipated after everything. Being vertical again helped. I started to focus a bit more. To get a strategy for the run. I was supposed to drink every 10 minutes, as usual, just like I've trained. I didn't know, though, if my body was ready for it, or could take it. I'd have to just take it as it came. I was craving sugar, any kind of sugar, anything at all. I needed sodium. I approached the aid station and have never been so happy to see bananas and pretzels in my life. I grabbed a banana, loaded with potassium and sugar, and ate half of it. I grabbed a handful of pretzels and walked a bit, munching. It felt good to eat something real. I washed it down with a swig of Gatorade and got back to running.

The first 3 miles were done like this - run to the aid station, walk while eating. I needed to get some calories in, and try to level off my blood sugar. My legs felt pretty strong under me. Ideally, I anticipated I might do the run at a 10:00 pace, maybe better. I had no plans to walk at all. I knew going into the run that "ideal" was out the window, and I'd need to walk just to eat in the first few miles. I'd need to keep my heart rate lower than I would've. So I took the run as it came, whatever it was. Usually that was around 10:00, sometimes slowed to 11:00, sometimes under 9:00. I experienced cramping all day - I'd get a good rhythm going, then be forced to slow and walk, doubled over once or twice. My nutritional breakdown on the bike meant I'd be paying for it all day, with an odd scenario of unused nutrition in my body and the need for more nutrition.

I did the best I could with my Gatorade and bananas, but I had to be cautious with any eating at all and never could get my blood sugar to level off. I did much more running than walking, which I'm proud of, especially under the conditions, but I was still walking for more than a healthy version of me would. With about 3 miles to go I glanced at my watch and figured if I worked hard I could get in under 6:30. I tried to pick up my cadence and push a bit, but the cramping slowed me to a walk a few times. As I came in on my last mile I heard a woman behind me telling somebody how she was misdirected nearly 10 miles on the bike. Seems there were a few of us.

I approached the finish line to a small gaggle of bouncing children all wanting high-fives. I saw Mike and Amy, and that was about it - whatever crowd there was had thinned, as I figured probably I was at the rear of the pack for the entire race. I let out an exhale as I crossed in 6:29:09, with a run pace of 11:34. Another Half Ironman P.R. For whatever that's worth, which honestly isn't too much.

The transition area was mostly empty. Most of the hotdogs were gone from the post-race grill-out. There were only a few other finishers milling around. It was like arriving to a party that ended an hour ago. It was a little depressing. My blood sugar was still tanked, and I tried to reload with whatever was left as I gave the rundown to Mike and Amy on my day. Finally I put on my well-earned Finisher t-shirt, we packed up, and headed for home.

So: It wasn't a very good day out there. It wasn't supposed to be a day for learning lessons. And as up as I am for learning experiences, I'm a little past the point in Becoming Ironman where I feel I can afford to have too many. But maybe that's impractical. Maybe that's all there ever are - learning experiences. I wanted a race that could be a flawless execution of The Plan, and I didn't get it. Mostly because I authored my own demise out there. The lessons learned are inherent - I don't need to bullet list them for you. My wrong turns (literal and metaphoric) had major consequences. Traithlon's analogy for life rears its head again, I guess.

So I have to be honest at this point: As I've digested the race a bit (not literally - the cramping continued and I was sick and bolting to the bathroom all evening at home, thanks very much), I feel pretty low. And the Voldemort of this whole thing - He Who Must Not Be Named - which has been all but forgotten for months now, is suddenly rattling out my window: What if? What if this happens at Ironman? What if I can't finish? I don't live by What If, and I never have, so this is just a larger part of the same thing I dealt with yesterday - I have to find a way to take this situation and deal with it. Put it into the arsenal, learn from it, not allow it to affect my bigger picture, build a bridge and get the hell over myself. I expected more from myself and I didn't deliver. I wanted to take a few names while I was kicking ass. Instead it was my ass that got kicked. I guess I'll spend the next week trying to regroup a little, get my swagger back some. I'm going to look at my summer schedule and see if another Half Iron isn't possible somewhere to wash this taste out before Ironman - I may have some demons to exorcise, I don't know yet. There's suddenly a few things that I don't know yet.

Anyway, thanks as always to Mike for the photos and video (trying that on the blog for the first, eh?), and Amy took a few as well. And thanks to the two of them (and JoJo) to coming out seeing me faithfully through a pretty tough day. Look for the full race photos coming as usual soon - I apparently have to upgrade my Flickr account or something.


Pharmie said...

Wow. Sounds like a pretty rough day. I know you would have liked to have seen it executed better, but it's impractical to think that you were done learning. In life, and in triathlon, we are never done learning. Save that "perfect" race for September. All of the other ones are in preparation for that day, and you know what? Even that day may not go perfectly. If it were that easy, there'd be a heck of a lot more of us signed up for the madness. Sometimes these moments are actually good to keep us humble. You may have noticed the Blog ID. Alas, I have joined the masses. Check out my site if you'd like. It's not very full right now, but I thought that it would be a good way to keep the friends and family up to date on the progress (or lack thereof). Keep your head up!

xt4 said...

All true SLS, and part of the big picture, as you say. And you're right - Ironman inevitably will NOT go "perfectly" - whatever that is - and these races are meant to prepare for that. It's something I need to keep in mind as I get over myself this week. Thanks for the wisdom. And I will TOTALLY check out your blog - welcome to the blogosphere!

Todd said...

XT4 my man!

Sorry to hear things didn't go as planned. Way to keep "fighting through the adversity" as my old high school hockey coach used to say. After all was said and done, you kept moving forward and finished, nice work buddy. Part of me thinks I ruined your pre-race day routine by coming over. I apologize, it's all my fault.

On the flip side, the new bike is blazing fast, thanks man. I can't wait for Lifetime to leave my mark. Although the Aerobars need getting used to. I bet half the cars that passed me thought I was biking home drunk from the night before or something wobbling all over.

I made some goals for myself yesterday and unless I've completely lost it and these are out of reach, I should rock this thing. Compared to last year's times, I will be finishing in the top 35 of the overall sprinters and top 5 of my age group. We will see though. Now that I've spouted my mouth off, I'm sure it will all go to hell. I guess we will see.

Keep on keepin on...


triNick said...


Sorry to hear it was a tough day for you, I know the feeling. I did the Olympic race last year and was totally screwed mentally. It started on the swim; I choked on some water and felt like ripping my wetsuit off right there because I couldn't breathe. Luckily there was a lifeguard with a surfboard right there, I got up on it and was able to get a few good deep breaths in and out. She asked if I wanted a boat ride into shore, I said "Hell NO" and kept of swimming cautiously. The thing that killed me the most was that swimming was the best part of my race, but not that day. Then on the bike, I came out of the park reserve and took a right instead of going straight while the cop was looking at traffic. 3-4 mile after the right turn I realized I was out there on my own, so I headed back. Once I was on course it was a pain, my heart rate was high and I was PO'd. I tried to calm down but it tough day. Coming into T2 was painful, I just wanted to quit because it was getting hot and humid. Needless to say I didn’t quit and I finished the race. It wasn't one of my best races but it was a race I learned from. I learned that I shouldn’t dwell on stuff during the race, it just uses energy up. Just be glad it was a learning experience.

This is what I did for nutrition just a couple of weeks ago at IM Brazil, my first IM! Dude, it was awesome and I hope you get to experience the feeling in Sept., you will now that you have a half IM under your belt. Our coach did want us having any gels during the bike, only on the run. I placed 4 opened cliff bar packages in my bento box and had 4 PBJ sandwiches in my back. I made sure to eat every 50 minutes, rotating PBJ and cliff bars. I had one bottle of water and one aero-bar bottle with Gatorade. The water at the aid stations tasted funny, but I kept on drinking it. For cramps he had us use Thermotabs, basically salt tablets and had 2 every 2 hours, we never cramped up. I almost freaked out when I found out they did not have pretzels on the run, but I just let it go, I had my Thermotabs. You have to test these things out with your stomach, but this is what worked for my and buddy Tim who also finished his first IM. That day on the course we had some hills, some head winds and by the end of the race I had 7 blisters, but I never dwelled on any of those issues too much, I just let them go and if I needed a pick me up I thought about all the well wishes people gave me and that put a smile on my face. I never thought I would be able to finish an IM, my 3 year goal was only to do a ½ IM but some how I dug down deep, worked hard and did it, oh yeah, I think the adrenaline had something to do with it too. BEST of LUCK!!! If you have any question, I’d be glad to answer any, you can contact me via my website at


xt4 said...

Thanks for the empathy guys - Nick, that was a helluva story! But like you said, it sounds like by the time you got to Ironman Brazil (cooool!), you were ready for anything. I appreciate that mentality.

'Zilla - glad the Grey Ghost is working out for you! Some ambitious plans for Lifetime - that's awesome! Remember to do as I say and not as I do - if things get wonky out there, don't get discouraged, deal with it, and Keep Moving Forward.

RunIrisRun said...

You didn't DNF!!! That says way more to me than if you had done a perfectly executed race. A great race is always good to celebrate, but part of the fun is not always knowing what you are going to get...

Seriously, though, there should be a map for volunteers. The same misdirection and looks of confusion happened to us in Miami as well. Even an extra mile can be frustrating when you've already done twenty.