Saturday, June 27, 2009

Why Ironman?
Many of you may or may not know this, but my journey to become an Ironman started over two years ago while watching the telecast of the 2006 Ironman World Championship. Until then, I had never heard of Ironman, and had only recently learned of the sport of triathlon. It wasn’t until Chris and I moved to Austin four years ago that we became aware of this wonderful sport and lifestyle.

Having just taken up cycling, I was captivated by the Ironman and the challenge it presented to me. I was even more inspired by some of the Ironman Heroes NBC highlighted that year like Jon Blais and Sister Madonna Buder. Jon, who had competed in the 2005 Ironman, was unable to compete in 2006 due to his ALS diagnosis. That year, he cheered from the sidelines in his wheelchair. At age 76, Sister Madonna again became the oldest woman ever to complete the race, finishing the 2006 Ironman with a time of 16:59:03. I was hooked after seeing the Ironman for the first time and it was then that I set a goal to become one myself.

Becoming an Ironman didn’t come easy and didn’t happen overnight. At the time, I couldn’t run more than two miles, had never cycled more than 50 miles and had never swum in open water much less more than a few hundred yards in a pool. That didn’t stop me. Over the course of the next two years, I set small goals (like running a marathon) to ensure I learned how to run long distances. BTW, my first marathon also happened to be my first running race. I also completed the Hotter than Hell 100 ride to ensure I could cycle over 100 miles. Having grown up with a swimming pool, I was less concerned with my swimming abilities but was fortunate to have access to a pool at my gym.

Fall ‘07, while training for the Austin Marathon, I competed in my first sprint triathlon, the Longhorn Triathlon. The following winter, I completed my first run race, the Austin Marathon and was one step closer to my Ironman dream. Upon the recommendation of my running coach, I joined T3 in the spring of ’08 and began the last leg of my Ironman journey. Over the course of the last year, I’ve been so fortunate to train with some of the best people I’ve ever met which has made the LONG training hours more enjoyable. I can’t imagine becoming an Ironman any other way! Go Big Blue!

Pre Race
I was fortunate to have my family and friends travel to CDA with me to cheer me on. Their support was a tremendous help pre and post race. I couldn’t have asked for a better support crew. I truly believe I had the BEST Sherpa team by far. I also had my one of a kind flat Kevin Ironman poster which made me feel like a rock star every time I saw it. I can’t thank Barry, Michelle and Chris enough for creating it for me.

The Swim
The swim was my biggest fear. The two practice days prior to the race only made me more nervous as the waters were very choppy. Race day was just as bad but I did a great job of turning my nerves into excitement. I remember looking around prior to the start and seeing all the facial expressions of the athletes around me. I could tell they were just as nervous as me so I was not alone. I guess I was just so happy to be standing at the starting line that I didn’t have any negative thoughts.

The first lap of the swim course was worse than I could have ever imagined. Nothing Noah said in his previous post could prepare me for the beating I would encounter in the swim. I did my best to keep feet out of my face and others from swimming over me. The worst was trying not to get squeezed in between two swimmers. Sighting was not an issue as I just followed the feet in front of me. The swim back into shore was great as we had the waves at our backs. Upon exiting the first lap, I was amazed at my time of 32 mins. I couldn’t believe my eyes at how fast I completed my first lap. This news made my second lap SO much more manageable. I knew if I could just maintain the same pace, I would beat my swim goal and then the rest of the day would fall into place. The second lap was somewhat less crowded than the first but I still had to fight my way around, over and in between other swimmers. I swam as fast as I could the last several hundred yards and finished with a time of 1:07. This was 3-5mins ahead of my goal.

As the volunteers were stripping off my wetsuit, I made the big mistake of flexing my legs and pulled a muscle in my left calf. It hurt so bad, I couldn’t run to the transition tent. I hobbled to get my bag and then to the tent to change. I tried to remain positive in hopes that I could spin it out on the bike.

The Bike
Upon exiting transition, I was so happy to have completed the swim and now looked forward to a great ride. My calf was still hurting but didn’t hinder my ability to spin my pedals. The first loop of the bike course was awesome. I had the biggest smile on my face the first 20 miles. I was just SO happy to be riding in my first Ironman. It was a beautiful day. I did my best to hold back 5% of my maximum to save it for the run, but at times, that was hard to do. I kept my heart rate where it needed to be for the majority of the ride. The hills were not as bad as I thought the first lap, but boy did they kick my ass the second time around. The best parts of the bike ride for me were seeing all my teammates along the course, riding part of the course with Joe, and riding through town hearing all the cheering fans. I especially loved it when I saw my banner, family and ALL the T3 support crew. You guys rock!

I think what surprised me the most about the bike ride was the amount of times I needed to use the bathroom. It didn’t dawn on me at the time that I wasn’t sweating during the ride, hence the need for all the stops. My nutrition plan worked out perfectly for me and I never got tired of sitting on my saddle. I guess all the bathroom stops helped with that as well. I ended the bike portion in 6:15 which was within my target goal time frame and with a smile on my face. I gave high fives to the volunteers as I entered the basketball court to get my transition bag. I was having a blast!

The Run
And then the fun ended. I made the mistake of changing into my tri top and left my arm warmers in transition. I also didn’t put a long sleeve shirt in my special needs bag so I knew I was doomed once leaving the transition area. In addition to feeling really cold, my stomach was also bloated a little which caused me discomfort on the start of the run. I ran with Booher early on in the run but lost him when I stopped to use the bathroom (one of MANY stops I would make that day during my run).

About mile 7, I discovered two VERY important things that made a huge difference in the rest of my race. I remembered that I had pepto bismol pills in my fuel belt. Taking those magic pills settled my stomach and allowed me to focus on my running. The other thing I discovered was the mystery to why my right side of my face felt different from the left. It was never enough to cause me pain, just a slight discomfort. To my embarrassment, I reached up towards my ear and discovered that I still had my earplug in my right ear from the swim. I guess it’s better to find out at mile 119 in my race than to still have it in my ear for my finishing photo. The funny part of this story, as if it’s not funny enough, is that my little nephew saw it in my ear at mile 3 and tried to get my attention but I didn’t hear him. He told the rest of my family members what he saw, but they didn’t believe him. Thanks Andy for looking out for me.

I continued to take breaks long enough to go to the bathroom and then continued running. I think subconsciously, I was stopping more to warm up than to use the bathroom. Joe caught up with me about mile 10 and we ran together for a while. Running and talking to Joe made the time go by much faster and more enjoyable. I was able to keep my mind off the cold and the rain. I was so happy to find out Joe had a long sleeve shirt in his special needs bag that he said I could wear. Thanks a million Joe. You saved my race! I continued to run with Joe for the next few miles and then my legs felt really good so I picked up the pace a little knowing Joe would catch up with me due to my many bathroom stops.

Sherman Ave, the final stretch, was more than I could have ever imagined. It was more than the last seven blocks of the race. It was the home stretch for a dream I had been working towards for more than two years. All the emotions I had bundled up inside me came gushing out the moment I turned onto Sherman Ave. I remember jumping up and down as I ran pumping my fist in the air and screaming as loud as I could. My pace got faster and faster as I approached the crowd. I was laughing, crying and shouting all at the same time if that’s even possible. I remember seeing my family as I quickly ran under the Ironman logo and then went back and forth through the bleacher section giving high fives to the fans before finally crossing the finish line in 11:48:34 beating my goal by 12 mins!

My first Ironman was truly one of the most exciting, challenging and inspiring experiences in my life. I’m so happy my family and friends were there to experience it with me. I couldn’t have made it without the support of my fellow T3 teammates, you guys ROCK! My body was in top shape due to the help of my coaches (Mo, Chrissie, Logan, Charles and Suzanne) and my medical crew (Dr. Laura, Dr. Phil and Bobby, my masseur). Thanks for taking such great care of me and getting me ready for the big race.

Overall, even with the cold and raining weather on the run, it was a GREAT day. I learned a lot about myself out on the course but the one thing I learned the most is that ANYTHING is possible. I know now, never to doubt my abilities. There’s nothing I can’t do! I’m an Ironman!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

WOW!! How far we've come

As I sit here and listening to two great CD's our friend Robyn made for Kevin, it's very reflected of really how far we've come in less than four short years in Austin.

When we decided to relocate to Austin we had no idea what life had in store for us but we were willing to take advantage of the opportunity that was presented to Kevin.

However, if you would have told us in 2005 that within four years each one of us would have completed two marathons, with plans to run many more. Wake up before dawn to train on the bike for up to 100+ miles, have completed numerous multi-sport races, and Kevin was only a week away from becoming an Ironman we would have told you that you had lost your mind.

Good thing you still have your mind because that's exactly where we are, Kevin's big day is now less than a week away.

Next Sunday my wonderful life partner will be an Ironman!! After all the very long training hours, getting over the injuries, and the emotional roller coaster he'll complete this chapter in his life with me ,family, and friends cheering him on the entire way.

While you may not be able to be in Coeur d'Alene in person we know you will be cheering him on in spirit and you can follow him and all the other athletes during the race by one of the three methods:

On race day, you'll be able to keep track of the T3 athletes (and other Austinites) three different ways:
1. On the web at:
2. On twitter at: (unless you have an unlimited text plan, I don't recommend receiving text updates from this account. we're estimating about 600 updates on race day)
3. Kevin's #1246 On You need to enter each athlete's name or number to get the info. Go here to see the live video feed of the race and finish line. Kevin estimates he will finish in under 12 hrs so I would suggest you start watching the live feed around 8est/7cst to see him cross the finish line.
- for the first two, we're dependent on ironmanlive posting updates correctly.

Well other than lots of work keeping us busy and another marathon looming for me in 4 months, we are really doing great. Also, while we're in Coeur d'Alene I'll have my laptop for blog and facebook updates so check back often.

Much love to everyone and thank you for putting up with our crazy schedule and lives,

Chris & Kevin