Sunday, September 26, 2010

I Can, I Will

Written in the car on the way back from OKC, so this could get a little long and boring for some.

In the beginning, there was a 40 yr old male who couldn’t swim but wanted to do triathlons and compete in an Ironman (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, 26.2 mile run) race. Fast forward 18 months the same male stood in the water ready to put all of his swim practice to the final test before the ultimate goal of competing at Ironman Arizona. But let’s back up before we get to the actual race itself.

Going back a week before this weekend race I preparing for a week of work training in Pittsburgh and I had made arrangements for my bike to go up with my friend Lynn and the rest of my gear was going to go up with my friends who I was rooming with Tim & David. But as faith would have it work was crazy busy for two weeks leading up to race and my training was postponed until December. This was a blessing in disguise and now I could follow my normal pre-race routine.

Friday morning came and we met at Tim’s place to load up and head to Oklahoma. The drive was uneventful and several other friends were either already in Oklahoma City prepping for the race or they were on the road with us and Coach Charles blew by us along the way. After a quick lunch stop and couple more hours drive we arrived in Oklahoma City and headed directly to race site to get checked in. We ran into Bekah & Dan right away and several other friends were at the athletes briefing getting the race low down.

After a quick chat with friends we headed to our hotel to get checked in. Upon arriving, we found this hotel was not up to our standard. Through the goodness of modern technology and iPhones David found us a much nicer hotel closer to the race and near other friends. After dropping off a few in the hotel room we headed back to the race site to drop off our bikes and gear and it was then time for an early dinner.

The alarm clock went off at 3am and it was time to start the pre race ritual. My body was feeling good, I had all of my normal food and my Achilles felt 100% and just before 5am we headed out for the race. We arrived and you could immediately feel the excitement in the air. Heading into transition Dina greeted us with a smile and hug and it felt great to have so many friends from Austin there racing together. After getting transition all set up it was time to chill for a little bit, chat with friends and hang out in the chit chat line J

As 6:30am rolled around it was time to become a human sausage (put on the wet suit) and head down to the water. Finally it hit me, I’m about to swim the Ironman distance in a race and this will tell me if I’m ready for Ironman in about 50+ days.

The shot gun went off and it was time to go, I started swimming and I immediately felt relaxed and knew I was going to be a good day. I rounded the first turn and then the second and thought wow, this a great swim and even started passing people. I finished the first 1.2 miles and looked at my watch: 55+ SCORE!! I was stoked because the last time I swam this distance in a race it took me 1:11. I completed the second loop in about the same time and out of the water there were Dina and Ginger cheering me on the whole way (thank you!!!)

In and out of T1 I was off for 112 miles on the bike. Feeling great after my swim I probably has a smile a mile wide. A few miles out I started seeing friends on the course and we were all having fun and having great races. Loop 1, loop 2 and now this was getting old and I had two more loops. On loop 3 I was really starting to feel it and thank goodness it was time to stop and have my PBJ J Just after I started back Coach Charles came by me and yelled out to him “damn this continuous riding is hard.” What I realized on the ride was how much of a break we get by stopping at traffic lights or at the store to refill on water. During an Ironman none of those breaks are there so it’s time to man up because if it was easy everyone would do it.

Loop 3 was my toughest and just when I was in a low point, zooming in the other direction was Tammy and shortly after her were two people on a moped and one of them was Dina. When she yelled “go Chris” it was a huge lift in my spirits motivated me to finish loop 3 take it out for my last loop. Knowing this was my last loop, it no time to go conservative and my mind took over and I started going faster and faster. Mile after mile went by and soon I could see the dam wall of Lake Hefner. I had just completed 2 of 3 distances of the Ironman within my time goal of 9 hours. During this race I accomplished my goal of getting the confidence going into Ironman Arizona, but I also learned a lot about myself.

Huge credit goes to me for having the guts to get on this Ironman journey and sticking with it. However, it would not be the same without my great T3 teammates on this journey with me and the excellent T3 coaching. And as many of us endurance athletes know nutrition is key part of our success, huge thanks to Meredith Teranova for helping me dial in my nutrition plan. And most of all, thanks goes to Kevin for all of his encouragement and support, thanks for being the best partner in the world.

Much to my surprise on the way home I get a text from friends who stayed for the awards banquet that I got second in my age group.

Wow, to that I will say “I Can, I Will”

To be continued………..


Laura said...

Fantastic! Way to kick it.

etg said...

Looking forward to seeing that smile in Arizona!!!

BJR said...

Congrats on the 2.4 mile swim - I know that was the big hurdle for you, and it sounds like it went great. So awesome.