December 30, 2013

2013 Recap + 2014 Goals

2014 is just around the corner.  Someone can walk on a wire across the Grand Canyon, but we're still waiting on flying cars!?  I'll assume that someone else is making that their resolution, but I'm focusing on other things this year.

1/1/13 - I posted on New Year's Day my recap of 2012 with no mention of a resolution, but I was already in week 3 of marathon training for the Carmel Marathon, so I suppose I was already focused.

1/1/12 - I did post a resolution for 2012.  It was simple from the standpoint of training over 2012 miles, and I crushed that by going almost 2800 miles.  However, part 2 of the goal was to race Muncie 70.3 at 200 pounds and I missed that goal by 3 pounds!  (Spoiler Alert Hint)

1/1/11-  I truly made specific resolutions and was perhaps my most focused resolution, and I crushed every one of those!

So, what should I do this year?  How should I spend my time and what will I focus on?  I mean, once you've completed an Ironman, you kinda have that "I've done it all" attitude and ultimately the drive can easily disappear; especially when dealing with injuries like I have the past year.  Despite, that pain, it was an awfully good year.  Here is a recap of the recaps...

March 23 - Sam Costa Half Marathon - 2:05:46
April 6 - Henry County Half Marathon - 2:04:09
April 13 - First Choice for Women 5k - 25:25
April 20 - Carmel Marathon -5:02:20 (PR)
April 27 -Nashville Rock n Roll Country Music Half Marathon- 2:21:59
May 11 - Muncie Olympic Triathlon - 3:10:46
June 8 - Muncie Olympic Triathlon - 2:56:50 (PR)
July 4 - Chesterfield 5k - 26:17
July 13 - Ironman 70.3 Muncie - 6:16:10 (PR)
August 25 - Ironman Louisville - 15:15:23 (PR)
September 28 - Chase Charlie 5k - 37:07 (paced my daughter Morgan to her new PR)
October 27 - St Louis Rock n Roll Half Marathon - 2:17:12
November 16 - Full Beaver Moon 5k - 26:08
November 28 - Drumstick Dash - 39:29 (PR)

For the data geeks (like myself) - here are the totals for the year!
Run - 819.25 miles
Bike - 1557.4 miles
Swim - 46.46 miles
TOTAL - 2424.74 miles
267 hours, 39 min, 12 seconds
over 217,000 calories burned!

And every one of those totals is LOWER than 2012!   Now, this may sound strange to many of you, but the first goal for 2014, is to continue that pattern.  I want to run, bike, swim, and in general workout LESS!  But at the same time, I want to lose weight!  Specifically, I want to weigh less than 200 pounds before Ironman Muncie 70.3!

I only have two races that I want to FOCUS and TRAIN for this year.  And the focus is on two very specific goals.  The first goal is to PR my 70.3 time over last year's Muncie 70.3.  I will do this by spending the first two months of the year focusing on weight loss, coupled with  increased strength and flexibility.  I will spend some time on the trainer, and in the pool as well as on the treadmill and lifting weights.  This will all be complimentary to my real focus of losing weight.  My mistake last year was gaining too much weight in the off season, and I can sense that pattern beginning already as I am a good 15 pounds heavier now than I was when I finished Ironman Louisville at the end of August.  The training plan for me officially begins Feb 24 based largely around the 20 week plan found here.  Spring break will be a challenging week at the end of March, but once we return, there should be very little to stop me.

The second race I will be focusing on is the Indianapolis Marathon, October 18.  The goal is simple...under 5 hours!  I missed this goal by less than 3 minutes in 2013, and firmly believe it was a lack of consistent long runs.  I believe I can commit the time to this in the months of August and September and be well positioned to PR this race.  I chose this race by total accident when I stumbled into a great pricing deal for it.  Only one thing can change this goal...THE NEW YORK CITY MARATHON?!?  The bucket list race that for the third year in a row I have entered the lottery.  If I'm fortunate enough to get into this race, I will simply offset the training plan two weeks later and make it work.  I am intrigued by Hal Higdon's 30 week Personal Best training plan.  And while 30 weeks would have me starting on the return from my Spring Break week; those first 12 weeks are primarily increased speed and base building weeks.  The plan does not cross the half marathon distance until after Muncie 70.3, so I can use this as a cross reference on run days as I build my run miles to 13+ for the Half Ironman and then continue with long runs which includes two 20 milers in September.

Any other racing that I do will be purely for fun or as part of the training plan.  In particular if I'm lucky enough to grab a couple free sponsor entries in the RnR series thanks to my continuation on Team Refuel as an Ambassador for the Got Chocolate Milk campaign!  And so, I've marked those races as *applied for.  If things play out the way I hope, I should pick up 5 RnR races and grab Rock Star status with several "heavy medals"!  The schedule will be adjusted depending on if I'm picked for NYC or not.

$=confirmed
*=applied for
 * Rock n Roll Nashville April 26 (I enjoyed this very much last year and want to return)
Indy Mini May 3 (Undecided, but if I do this it will be both the 5k and the mini back to back)
Hoosier Park 8k - May 24 (this is just for fun, but fits well with both plans)
Muncie June Olympic Triathlon June 7 (need this one to set me up for 70.3)
$ Ironman Muncie 70.3 July 12 (This is my "A" tri race for the year)
* Rock n Roll Chicago July 20 (Training plan calls for a 12 miler, perfect fit)
* Rock n Roll Virginia Beach Aug 31 (doesn't fit plan, but could be a fun family Labor Day weekend)
* Rock n Roll Philadelphia Sept 21 (I will do this if I don't get NYC it would hit between the 20s)
* Rock n Roll Cleveland Oct 11 (I will do this only if I'm in for NYC it would hit between the 20s)
$ Indianapolis Marathon Oct 18 (This is my "A" run race for the year)
* New York City Marathon Nov 2 (I'm in the lottery, drawing is in mid spring)
* Rock n Roll Las Vegas Nov 16 (This could be a great way to celebrate a great year)

So that's it.  That's the plan!  I'm confident I can stick to it...IF...I can stay healthy!

What about you?!?  What are your goals for 2014?  Set a goal, write it down, share it with a friend, and then make it happen!!  Let me know if I can help in any way!  Make it a great year friends!

December 23, 2013

365 "Days" of 2013

2013 was an unforgettable year for our family.  I threw this together this weekend playing with the iMovie app on my phone!  What a fun way to reflect on the ups and downs of a year filled with so many memories!  Admittedly, it's most meaningful to me and my family, but I share it with you because so many of you were there, sharing these moments with us!  They weren't all "Beautiful Day"s, but from vacations to surgeries, through victories and defeat, with weddings and funerals, tears of joy and pain, we "Carry On", blessed to have each other, and share this life with you!  Enjoy!


video 
P.S.  Full screen distorts the picture (sorry)
If the video does not appear, follow the link HERE 
May not be available on mobile devices

December 1, 2013

Drum Stick Dash Race Report

I'm a couple days late with this report, but I had to do a recap.

If you're new to following my blog, or have not heard about our experience at last year's Drumstick Dash race, you'll want to read last year's race report first.

So with 5 VIP entries, I signed up Morgan, Molly and myself to compete and treated Chuck Alfrey and Jess Smith to the other two.  Jess because she and her family hung out with us after the race last year to see us off okay including taking my kids to lunch while we waited on the police and loaning us $20 so we could get enough gas in the car to get home (remember we had no cash or credit cards, as EVERYTHING was stolen).  And Chuck, because for Christmas last year, he gave the kids his old iPad to replace the one that got stolen, and he was such an inspiration to me this year during Ironman training.  It's not nearly thanks enough, but it was a simple gesture that they both appreciated.



With VIP parking, we cruised right into the parking pass only lot at Broad Ripple Park, and walked less than one block to the HEATED VIP tent!  22 degrees this morning, and the heated tent was perfect for Molly, Emma and Carter to hang out in while we ran.  VIP food included Einstein Bagels and breakfast sandwiches, fruit, granola bars, OJ, coffee and water.  The mayor of Indianapolis and local media were the only recognizable faces, but many public safety officials (mostly firefighters) were heavily present.  Quick stop to our own private port-a-pots and Chuck and I take our position with the "fast turkeys".  Molly opted to sit out and gave her bib to Emma Tillman, who was an old friend from our days staffing with the Winchester band 16 years ago.  Emma had come with Jess who walked the 2.5 mile with Morgan.

I was feeling good and ready to give it a go for a PR but with my loss of speed this year in trying to go farther in 2013 I wasn't overly confident that I could get it done.  The good news is I had my secret weapon at my side in Chuck, and he was willing to stick with me and pull me along.  Last year I was 39:53 with nearly perfect 8:30 pacing.  I knew if we could hold it under 8:30 mile by mile we'd be in good shape.  I'll spare you the details of the mile by mile because honestly all I did was keep my head up and focused on one mile at a time.  Here is the mile by mile comparison over the 4.65 mile course from last year to this year...

2012        2013

8:30 8:15
8:24 8:16
8:30 8:19
8:38 8:31
5:51 6:09
39:53 39:30

A 23 second PR is a perfect way for me to wrap up the year! 


We made our way back to the VIP tent (only thing missing was chocolate milk) and found the family enjoying themselves.  Took some pics and shared some war stories.  Morgan was able to finish her race with a 12:20 pace and now it was Emma and Carter's turn.

The Lil' Gobblers run, is literally a 20 yard dash for kids 10 and under.  Every kid gets a medal and a small bag of candy.  This is the highlight of the event for these kids, and the best part...it's COMPLETELY FREE! 

I love this race, and I love this distance.  It's just short enough that I can go FAST, but just long enough that you must use disciplined pacing to meet your goal.  And with over 17,000 participants it is now the 3rd largest race in Indiana (Indy Mini, Race for the Cure), and 6th largest Thanksgiving day race in the country!  The Wheeler Mission is a wonderful organization, and the race director went above and beyond to make sure we came back and had a great day!

So that wraps up racing for 2013, unless I opt in to something else last minute.  I'll put together my2014 race plan soon while my waist line fights through the difficult "eating season" (Thanksgiving - New Years)!  Stay healthy friends!

November 16, 2013

Full Beaver Moon 5k recap

Really was planning to be in Las Vegas today.  This weekend is the RnR Las Vegas Half and Full marathons.  I had a free entry for the race, but after Molly's surgery, I decided it was wise to abandon the travel plans and stay home to save money.

Ironman friend TJ Tryon is the race director of a new race in Noblesville, and when he threw out a $10 off coupon I couldn't resist signing up for a race with the name FULL BEAVER in the title (yes, I'm that immature)  Actually, it was just one more chance to race with my Ironman buddy, Chuck Alfrey.  The icing on the cake was being joined by my weight loss successor, Mark Culp, who is well on his way to losing more weight than I did and is finding a joy for running.


It was a cloudy afternoon, so the full moon was not visible, but the temps were in the high 50s and the winds were gusting over 20 mph.  Potter's Bridge park is a small area along the White river, and the bridge itself is a beautiful landmark to hold the race.  The athletes walked to the other end of the bridge to start the race and the first 0.1 of the race comes through the bridge before you begin the 1.5 mile out and back.  The 8 foot wide trail proved to be plenty wide to maneuver through the competition, and the hills were mild enough for my legs.

I ran hard on Alfrey's heels for the first mile at a sub-8 minute pace, but when I hit the turn-around I knew it wasn't going to hold.  Dropped mile 2 to around 8:30 and struggled to hold 8:45 for mile 3.  Final time was 26:08.  4th in my age group and 30 seconds slower than the First Choice 5k in April, and a full 2:30 slower than my PR from a year ago at Chase Charlie.

All in all a good fun race which is what I wanted.  Great to see friends and try to go fast one more time.  Yeah, I wish I was in Vegas this weekend.  It was a year ago that we were there for The Strip at Night and I shot my video at the expo that ultimately landed me my sponsorship with Team Refuel and Got Chocolate Milk.  Since we didn't make the trip, we decided to hold Carter's birthday party tomorrow.  Bowling with a dozen 6 year olds could be just as entertaining as the Vegas strip?!?  Okay, maybe not, but seeing my son smiling with all his friends is really all that matters!

November 3, 2013

An extra hour of sleep or an extra hour to RUN?

I walked outside this morning in prep for my morning run and saw my neighbor standing in his front lawn with a bottle of black shoe polish in one hand, and his penis in the other.  As I got closer, I realized that he was applying the black shoe polish all over his penis turning it a very dark black.  I screamed out to him, "Sir, what are you doing?"  He looked back at me with an innocent glance and said, "I'm just doing what you reminded me to do yesterday!" "No, no, no sir, that's not what I said.  What I said was 'Don't forget to turn your CLOCKS BACK!!!"

OK, so maybe that didn't happen, but what did happen, was Max and I set out for a GREAT 8 mile run.  The pup kept up with great pacing and I enjoyed 80 minutes together with man's best friend.  Much of my inspiration this morning comes from the 43rd running of the NYC marathon where my running friend Ted Johnson is realizing one of his dreams that was delayed for him last year by hurricane Sandy.  The NYC marathon is a bucket list race for me, and I've entered the lottery each of the last two years with no luck.  Emma told me this morning that the "third time's a charm".  I hope she's right! 

Changing the clocks is a pretty big deal for me.  Most of you that have followed me for quite some time remember my post from March 2010 when we changed our clocks and I made the commitment to change my life.  Days like this give me a moment to reflect on how far I've come.  Certainly the weight loss is the most proud accomplishment, but that is kind of a thing of the past now.  I've maintained the weight loss for over a year (within 5%), and continue to work hard to keep it off.  I continue to add races to my resume, and while I enjoy every second of it, this was a year of very few PRs!   I added another marathon (which I did PR) for a total of 4, and added 4 half marathons (No PRs) for a total of 15!  My 5k and 10k PRs were both set last year as well.  So, am I getting slower?  Perhaps!  But...my triathlon accomplishments have come around.  I did PR my Half Ironman distance at Ironman 70.3 Muncie in July.  And I did PR my Olympic distance in June.  And, oh yeah, I did complete this little race called Ironman Louisville, which I'm just a little proud of (I guess we can call that a PR too). 

And so the story continues.  Still not sure what the next chapter looks like.  There's still so much I want to do!  Continue with triathlon?  Refocus on running?  Set a new low on the scale?  Or maybe, just maybe, it's time to "fall back" and give my body a well deserved rest...maybe?  ;)

October 28, 2013

St Louis Rock n Roll Race Weekend Recap and Race Report

"...and the Cardinals are in the World Series"

When this announcement was made, I was anxiously awaiting the release of the schedule and to my delight, game 3 was scheduled for Saturday night after the expo!  More on that soon.

I arrived into St Louis in near record time on Saturday afternoon and headed straight to the expo at the America's Center which is on the back side of the Edward Jones Dome (shouldn't I get VIP parking here?)  The expo was fairly impressive, in particular the Brooks display up front where everyone was given a "Passport" with a chance to win a free pair of Brooks running shoes (I won a tee shirt).  You could ride the Brooks shoe like a bull, or run in place to send your mountain climber up the side of the volcano.  All very interactive and enjoyable!









 Checked out many other fun booths too including spending some time with Frank Shorter who talked me through the course giving lots of great suggestions for race day strategy.  Then it was time to meet up with the REFUEL team.  Decided to shoot a new video and take my chances at qualifying as a November finalist for another round of voting (stay tuned)  It was great to see Tom again (we met in Nashville and connect regularly on social media) and his wife.  Also met a CAF wheelchair athlete and reconnected with my contact for the weekend, Lindsey, who was with me in both Nashville and Louisville!  Besides complimentary entry, the best perk of being on the team - V I P !!! 
 When we were done with the expo, we split up and I headed off on my own to Busch Stadium.  It's only 6 blocks or so and it was a P - A - R - T - A - Y like no other.  A sea of red in every direction and the town was decked out in red everywhere you looked.  As I neared the stadium, a large crowd was gathering and I just happened upon the Budweiser Clydesdales rolling out to parade around the stadium!  Super Cool!

video
Worked my way through the parking lot where several stages were working like live concerts.  ESPN, Fox Sports Midwest, and local radio stations were quite entertaining to the crowd, most of which probably did not have a ticket to the game (like myself) - of course I had to inquire, and the cheapest ticket I could find anywhere was nearly $400!  Yeah, that's not in the budget!

I needed dinner, and was tired of being on my feet, so I made my way back to the car only to discover a newer casino just blocks away.  I hit up Lumiere Place and found a great sports bar to take in the Mizzou game and carb load on some pizza (yes, I probably didn't need to eat the whole thing, but I did)!  Then it occurred to me - I'm in a casino, and I need $400.  Let's see what we can do.  Found my way to the poker room, and went to work.  Up a few, down a few, but just wasn't getting the cards to make a run.  Enjoyed myself, but needed to call it a day so headed off to my family accommodations in Kirkwood for the evening where I fell asleep in the 7th inning!

Alarm was set for 5:15 in order to meet up with the REFUEL team in the VIP tent by 6:30.  Got parked fine and bundled up for the cold wait for the 7:00 start.  Got some great pics with teammates and enjoyed the celebrity-like treatment.  Seriously, my teammates are great!  Left to right are Tom (aka Ron Burgundy), George Melichar (who is a true celebrity on the RnR circuit), myself, and Shannyn.  Click the links to learn more about them... seriously, do it, they are AMAZING people!

Once the formalities were over, it was into the corrals and time to get down to business.  The scenery was amazing as the sun was coming up from behind the arch while the National Anthem was being sung.  The 7 a.m. start for corral 1 was a 7:11 start for myself in corral 9 which made the 7:22 sunrise gorgeous to run into during that first mile.  Fresh legs and feeling good, the first mile takes you right by Busch Stadium where I stood 12 hours earlier in a sea of humanity before game 3 of the World Series, and yet there was still a buzz around the place as they prepped for game 4 to be played Sunday night.  Miles 2, 3, and 4 are all downtown in familiar areas to me and even miles 5 and 6 took me by the Fox Theater that I last visited some 15 years ago!  (I love this city).
We ran through the St Louis University Campus, across the metrolink and over I-64.  The next several miles brought some hills that took my 10:00 pace average down to 10:15 average as I struggled to keep every mile under 11:00.  I latched onto Laura from Topeka, KS.  This was her first RnR event, and her goal was 2:15, but she'd be happy with anything under 2:20.  We traded stories about life and family, but ultimately I let her go as I struggled up a hill at mile 9.  (The weak hamstring still kills me on hills)
I seriously debated walking many times, but with each mile I continued to count down, and knew that it was a mental battle at this point.  I FORCED myself to keep the running/jogging stride going and stuck with the plan.  Water only at every aid station, and a gel at 3.5, 7, and my last at 10.5.  This one came with the biggest and best downhill of the course which felt awesome, but just like every downhill on this course it was followed immediately by a steep uphill, in this case up and over the last incline brought us on to Market Street as we make the final right hand turn and enjoy the last mile, almost completely downhill with the arch in the distance to the finish line!

The victory for me today was running every step of the race!  My body has not fully recovered from Ironman Louisville nearly as quick as I had hoped, and most of my speed from this time last year has been lost (a year ago this weekend I went under 2 hours at this distance for the first time at the 2012 Muncie Mini) - No shame though, my overall place of 3710/7442 has me just barely in the top half of the field, and I feel very good about that!




As always, I finish my race by refueling with delicious low-fat chocolate milk.  I actually skipped the Gatorade and had 3 cartons of chocolate milk!  And even though, my body thanked me for it, I've decided that this will mark the end of the long races for 2013.  I'm choosing to miss Las Vegas to refocus on my family and my training.  I look forward to recovering for a bit and then getting back to some speed work this winter!


Did I mention how much I love being VIP at these races?!?



LOVE the medal!  Captures the city beautifully!


September 2, 2013

Allow me to weigh in...

Here is my unsolicited advice for the day:  (afterall it is the name of my blog)

If you want to lose ANY weight, THIS is the BEST time to do it! 

Take it from someone who has yo-yo dieted for many years, but has ALWAYS had success this time of year!  This period from Labor Day to Thanksgiving is honestly a GREAT time to get your weight where you want it to be!  Here a couple reasons why...

1)  This is one of the longest periods of time on the calendar between major holidays = less temptations!

2)  Fresh fruits and vegetables are still available for healthier choices

3)  The weather is going to cool off soon making it much easier to get out and be active again!

If you don't do it now, you will regret it when the cold months roll around, and you decide to curl up on the couch pigging out on all the comfort foods of winter because that sounds better than getting on the dreadmill!  Then the new year will roll around and you'll make another resolution that you'll struggle with. 

DON'T WAIT!

Trust me on this one friends...My triathlon season is over, and one of my biggest fears is falling back into a nonactive slump.  It's not going to happen.  Running season starts tomorrow...and I'm back on Myfitnesspal tomorrow!  Join me there!  My username is iammrejir - I don't need to lose much weight, but I MUST be diligent about not gaining it back! 

Thanks to my wife for providing the motivation for my push this year!  She is absolutely killing it right now with incredible discipline around food and a commitment to her workouts like never before!  Great job babe!  Keep me accountable!

So how about you?  Have you been on a scale lately?  Looked in the mirror with your shirt off?  Like what you see?  Only YOU can do something about it!  But I'm here for you if I can help in any way

Final thought - There are less than 12 weeks until Thanksgiving!  For anyone interested to begin jogging/running.  I HIGHLY recommend the Couch to 5k program and would be thrilled to have you join me at this year's Drumstick Dash on Thanksgiving morning!

Happy Labor Day friends! 

August 28, 2013

IMLOU Race Recap

Settle in kids, this could get long...  


Friday, Aug 23
Louisville does it right!
Loaded the kids on the bus, packed the car and headed to pick up Amy Fletcher.  Her husband Doug would join her later, but all athletes must check in by 5 pm on Friday!  We arrived in Louisville before noon, got checked in to the Galt House hotel and headed straight to athlete check in.  The lines were long, the hallway was hot, and patience is not my strong suit.  By early afternoon I'm all official and visit the REFUEL zone!  With my sponsor on site, and with all they've done for me, I'm sure to spend some quality time with them.  They hooked me up with a sweet new visor, and I snapped a photo or two with my gear for the folks...and then I shot another video!  Yep, if I'm a finalist next month, you can expect a month's worth of harassment from me begging for your votes to renew my sponsorship for another year!  (Fingers crossed, please don't unfriend me).  My sponsorship includes VIP everything this weekend, but since I'm racing it made more sense for Molly to use the perks, so I gave her the access bracelet, and we head back to the room to drop things off when I am able to connect with Jill.  Jill is my REFUEL teammate who is racing this weekend, and while we've connected in our facebook group this will be the first time we've met.  We agree on a late lunch at a deli style restaurant in our hotel, The Galt House.  Jill is a rockstar when it comes to triathlons, and this would be her 100th triathlon and 4th Ironman.  She has raced for Team USA in France and is an all around impressive triathlete.  Her friend Dougin joined her and is using this race as a "training day" for the ITU short course world championships in London in a few weeks.  Did I mention how fast they are!  Dang!  After lunch, we decide to head back to the REFUEL zone to get some pics together for our sponsor.  We head back to the room to relax, for the remainder of the afternoon.

Love my sponsor!  We have so much fun!
Dave Ragsdale


Patrick Evoe
The "mandatory" athlete meeting is Friday night, and many folks end up skipping it, but this being my first time I wanted to attend.  To improve things, our VIP passes got us front row seats, our own buffet and an open bar (yet, I had water) - Dave Ragsdale was the announcer for the weekend taking over for Mike Reilly (the most well known voice in Ironman), and did a great job with the meeting.  Great entertainment, great motivational videos, great speakers including a basketball coach of a national champion Div 2 school (can't remember his name) and last year's winner Patrick Evoe, who had the quote of the night.  He said as he was leading last year's race on the run, another runner yelled to him, "Don't wake up tomorrow, wishing you had done it today"!  He said those words carried him to the finish line and the victory last year, and I kept them with me all weekend!  The athlete meeting was conducted by the race director and each of the captains for each swim, bike, run course.  Nothing too surprising, but I was anxious and Jill and Dougin were key in keeping me calm and talking me through the day to come.  Once it concluded I was able to connect with Sabrina.  Sabrina and I also connected on facebook after Muncie 70.3 in 2012.  This was the first full for both of us, and we had traded stories, tips, and training advice online for the last six months!  It was great to finally meet her in person.  The more I'm in this sport, the more connections like this I make!  I think it is a respect factor for knowing that we're all out there going through it together, and even though it's a competition amongst each other, most of us are only trying to improve ourselves!

X marks the Finish
We departed the convention center and walked the Fourth Street Live area where the finish line would be so I could practice crawling to the finish.  Then we enjoyed some ice cream before heading back for the evening.





Saturday Aug 24
Me, Gary, Jill, Beth, Chuck
Slept in a little bit, and the plan was to meet Jill, Dougin and some MAFS friends Gary, Chuck and Beth in the lobby at 9 and walk over to the practice swim scheduled for 8-10.  Ran into Luke there as well, and everyone got in 15-20 minutes of activity.  Just enough to know that there IS a current in the river, and it is tough to swim against it, but swimming with it is FAST!  Dried off and are headed back to the hotel when we spot defending champ Patrick Evoe.  Jill insists on a photo with him, and I'm so glad she did.  He was beyond cordial while we had a nice chat and got our pic with him.  Back at the room and trying to decide on lunch.  Chuck and his wife Staci are about ready to eat too, but Jill and Dougin are not quite ready, so we walk to Starbucks and chill for a few before heading over to Bearno's Pizza!  I wanted a BIG lunch today with lots of carbs, and just a lighter dinner so I don't overeat the night before.  The buffet was perfect, and Jill and Dougin joined us shortly after we arrived and we continue to enjoy their company SO much!  Back to the room to relax, and actually Molly and I ended up at the hotel pool to chill.


I meet up with Jill and Dougin again at 3:15 to walk over to check our bikes and gearbags in (must rack them before 5 pm) - We met up with Lindsey who is our team REFUEL sponsor rep for the weekend.  I had met Lindsey when I raced in Nashville earlier this year, but had yet to see her this weekend.  She made my day by telling me she barely recognized me because of how fit I looked today.  We got some pictures together and got our bikes racked and gear checked in.  This process was the first REAL moment for me.  Something about dropping my bike off and having packed my gear bags with EXACTLY what all I thought I needed for race day, and now leaving them in transition created some unexpected anxiety, but again, Jill and Dougin were awesome in reassuring me of everything.
Is this where my bike goes?

The MAFS crew decided to meet up for a group picture, and it was one last chance to wish everyone good luck tomorrow.  Molly and I went on our own back down to Fourth Street for dinner, and after some debate settled on a Potbelly sandwich that gave me exactly what I needed for a light early dinner.  Shuffled back to the room, and double checked my lists and plans for race day and was laying in bed watching the Colts game at 7.  By 8:30 or halftime I shut it off and set the alarm for 4:15.  I actually had very little problem falling asleep.



Sunday Aug 25 - RACE DAY
I first woke up at 2:15, and then Molly woke me up at 3.  This was planned so that I could eat a pre-breakfast.  This was important to top off all of my fuels for the day and it helped jumpstart my digestive system for the day so that I could have some relief in the bathroom before we left.  I dozed on and off as I played out the possibilities of the day in my mind.  And at 4:10 I got up and began my prep.  The plan was to meet Jill and Dougin in the lobby at 4:45.  She originally said 5:00, but I wanted the extra 15 minutes.  Transition actually opened at 4:45 and I'm sure there was a line to get in, as by the time we got there it was really hopping with athletes prepping their gear, pumping their tires, loading the nutrition and water bottles on their bikes, etc.  My setup was pretty easy, just load the bottles on my bike and turn on the MyAthlete tracker that I would put on after the swim.  Oh and pump up my tires...yes, seems simple enough until I borrow a bike pump from someone else.  Without a quick "how to" use the pump which was different than mine and therefore when I attach it, it pulls the stem OUT and ALL THE AIR RUSHES OUT!  I NOW HAVE A FLAT FRONT TIRE, and part of the stem is hanging out of the end of the pump.  *GULP*

I panic immediately thinking I need to get my bike to the tech area for them to fix it.  The pump owner is able to pull the stem out of the pump, and I'm now carrying my bike to the tech line which is at least 20 people/bikes long (not sure why I didn't just take the front wheel off - duh!).  I'm looking for Dougin thinking he probably knows a thing or two about bikes, but can't find him.  I flag down Molly and am panicked to tell her what has happened.  The guy in the tech line behind me overhears my story and says this is not uncommon and I can twist the stem head back into the stem.  I had tried this with no luck once...because I had it upside down!  *DUH AGAIN*, so I twist it in and sure enough it goes right back in.  Someone near the fence had just finished with her pump (that looked like mine), so I asked to borrow it and held my breath while I pumped feverishly to get the tire up over 100 psi.  I kept telling myself there is no way this tire is going to hold air all day, and I was just sure that it was going to wreck havoc on things to come.  Nevertheless, I returned it to the rack, and finished my setup.  Once I rejoined Jill and Dougin I explained what had happened, and they confirmed that it should be no big deal.  In fact Jill went on to say the good news is "your one bad thing for the day is now out of the way".  Not sure I believed that, but it was calming.

We began the long walk to the swim start (nearly a mile).  Lindsey had lined up an interview for us with local media to begin at 6 a.m.  We arrived to meet her at 5:45 and got our body markings.  Most Ironman races begin with a mass start in the water, but this one begins with a single file line and everyone jumping in the water off the docks (6 athletes every 2 seconds until everyone is in the water which takes about 40 minutes).  We decide we need to take our place in line and then beg those around us to understand that Dougin was holding our place while we needed to do an interview and will come back.  Thinking it will just take us a minute or two to walk to the end of the line - WRONG!  The line was over a half mile long and took us nearly 10 minutes to reach the end of the line.   Found Gary sitting in line (probably looked like a deer in headlights to him).  Passed Chuck already in line, and he said Amy was near the front of the line (she must have got up early for that spot).  It is now 5:58 and there is no way we are making a 6:00 interview.  I borrow another athlete's cell phone to call Molly and explain the situation and she puts Lindsey on the phone who was VERY understanding of the situation and allowed us to bypass the interview in order to reduce the stress of the situation.

So now we have an hour to SIT and WAIT!  This was the longest hour of the day! To be so mentally ready, but to make your body sit on a concrete sidewalk and wait for an hour!  Ugh!  There has to be a better way!  We literally watched the sun come up, and kayaks enter the water in anticipation of the start, the line finally stood and moved slowly around 6:45 before the cannon went off at 6:50 for the pro start.  *cue the nerves*  I called Molly again (thank you fellow athlete) to make sure she was on her way to us as I needed to give her my things, and she was.  The 7:00 cannon went off for the age groupers, and now the line is moving quickly.  Molly arrives and tells us all the cool things we missed like the Trumpeter playing "My Old Kentucky Home" and "Call to Post"  The national anthem and the pro start which she viewed from the VIP area in an overlooking restaurant (where she also enjoyed a steak and egg buffet breakfast with mimosas ).  The line is moving swiftly and I'm getting quite nervous now.  I jump into a port a pot (now that there is no line for it) and take my last nervous pee.  I run back up to the gang and Luke is there to give me some encouragement.  "Take each sport one at a time.  It's a long day.  Focus on what you can control.  You got this."  BIG HUGS!


I kiss my wife good bye, and cross under the swim arch.  We are now literally jogging down a long winding ramp to the docks below, and knowing Molly was on the VIP balcony I wave to her one more time, start my watch, and jump in!










SWIM
With my hands on my goggles I go under water and pop up quickly to get into my stroke.  Goggles stayed on and I've got a good start.  Plenty of clearing and very few collisions with other athletes.  The sun is behind the trees as we swim between Towhead island and the marina/trees.  There are 6 yellow buoys before we get to the red turn buoy.  We are swimming East straight into the current, and as I learned at the practice swim yesterday, that current is REAL, and you have to WORK to get through it!  I keep my head down and keep stroking, pulling harder than I had planned to in order to fight the current.  Once past buoy 4 which is near the end of the island we veer to the left and sighting is made more difficult by the sun in our eyes.  No problems until I reach the red turn buoy where the congestion was enhanced by everyone fighting for the shortest line.  Everyone is breast stroking and treading water to get around it as you loop all the way around it nearly 180 degrees!  I check my watch and it has already been 37 minutes!  There are a total of 18 buoys plus the turn buoy so I figure I'm only a third of the way into this thing, so 37 X 3 is WAY too slow... But now, I'm swimming WITH the current...and it was GREAT!  I got into a great rhythm cruising past  buoys 7, 8 and 9, and now we start counting Orange buoys 1-9, but first I stop on a "lilly pad" to adjust my goggles and massage the bridge of my nose which was hurting from my goggles being too tight.  The lilly pads are hard foam floating islands about 5'X5' with a rope around it.  You can hold on and rest as you need to, but it does not move to advance position.  Some very encouraging words from the lifeguard on the pad, and I'm off again.  We swim under the pedestrian bridge first, and then under I-65, and I mixed in about 10 breast strokes for every 20-30 freestyle strokes to slow my breathing and give the arms a break.  Once I passed orange buoy 6 I was pleased to see that buoys 7, 8, and 9 were much closer and lead straight to the final red turn buoy which essentially marked the swim finish.  I swam strong off a draft from an athlete ahead of me, and reached the stairs much quicker than I expected.  Climbing up the stairs and gaining my composure, I check my watch with MUCH delight!
Official swim time 1:22:36 - This was MUCH better than my "A" goal of 1:30 - VERY pleased!
After the swim I am 247th in my age group, 1392nd among men, and 1744th overall
(Note: The fastest pro time today was 46 minutes, and my new friend Dougin swam a 50:21 (first in his age group)!  Wow!

T1
Click the lap button on the Garmin for T1 and walk up the ramp, across the bridge and down to my bike gear bag.  Retrieve it quickly and am headed to the changing tent.  The pungent odor of sweaty triathletes emerging from the Ohio River was enough to drop me to my knees, but it had to be done.  A volunteer grabbed me and sat me down.  He opened my bag and dumped it out at my feet and said "how can I help you".  I asked him to find my black compression sleeves while I used my water to rinse off my feet and my cloth to dry them off.  While putting on the sleeves he asks if this is the jersey I'm going to wear and I say yes as he holds it open for me to easily slide my arms into as if helping me into a coat.  I've got it from here, socks and shoes on, helmet and sunglasses and I'm ready.  Stop by the water table inside and grab two big globs of Vaseline.  Smear it from armpit to nipple on each side, and one more for my man parts.  Once out of the tent I visit the sunscreeners who slather me from head to toe on any exposed skin, and now I'm off to find my bike.  Put on the MyAthlete tracker and unrack the bike to head out of transition.  I spotted Molly who was standing with Lindsey and shared an "I love you" exchange before I headed to the mount line.  Total time spent in T1 was 8:58, not quite as fast as I had planned, but I didn't realize how big transition was, so not disappointed at all.










BIKE

I walk the bike WELL past the mount line to find a clear space away from the crowd to get on and clip in.  This is a very congested area and highly prone for accidents.  I press the Garmin lap button to switch it from T1 to Bike...and nothing happens!  I press it again, and it lets out a faded beep as if to say "help me!"  Seriously, Garmin, come on!  I press it again and nothing.  All this while pedaling up to speed, and trying to get my first nutrition in me and avoiding cyclists coming around me.  This goes on for a couple miles and I was really disappointed, but ultimately decided I had to do something different.  So I STOP the watch at 1:40.  I figured this would be an easy total elapsed time for me to remember so that I could add it to my time at the end of the day and know what my total time was.  I press and hold RESET, and then choose the bike mode, then press start.  I now have a bike time running and will be able to monitor my pace...or so I thought...for some reason, the watch is showing my speed as 0.1 mph and distance traveled of 137 feet...translation=The GPS is NOT WORKING!  Many of you know how heavily I rely on my Garmin data for training and racing.  This was not cool!  This means I will have to use the cateye bike computer to gauge my success on the bike today which has a running clock, distance, speed, cadence, etc., and thankfully I just changed the batteries in it last week!  However, I did not reset it back to zero after my flat tire panic which means it was showing several elapsed minutes already.  I decided I could deal with it as long as the clock on the Garmin was running so I knew what my total bike time for the day would be.

As for the bike course, I had never had a chance to ride the course, and ran out of time on Saturday when I had hoped to drive the bike course, so I had no idea what I was in for.  The flat ride out of downtown was easy and uneventful.  I used this to load in some nutrition and get into a rhythm, but the first turn out of town had us on a climb that required some work.  I would later learn this hill was NOTHING compared to what was to come.  It's 18 miles out to highway 1694 which is known as "the out and back".  It is exactly what it sounds, but it is the most dangerous section of the course by far.  All I knew about this was Amy F had told me to "just stay to the right".  The elevation changes quickly on a rapid down hill descent on a narrow road that includes a technical right hand curve to a bumpy bridge at the bottom.  I was riding the brakes and caught nearly 40 mph while other cyclists were still screaming by me on the outside.  Making matters more dangerous is that there are cyclists on their way back from the turnaround who are struggling to climb this hill in the other lane and there's very little room for error.  This would explain the devastation that I came upon at the bottom of the hill.  Bodies and bicycles are littering the center of the road after a major crash that resulted in some injuries and bike damage that ended the day for several athletes.  I'm sure wrecklessness played a major role in this and I was in a defensive mode during this entire section.   At the top of the hill is aid station 2 and again I witnessed many bikes running into each other as they tried to navigate in and out of the aid station.  I got my needs and got out.  Screamed back down the hill on the way back, and fought my way back to the top using my little ring and easiest gear the entire time at a higher cadence but very low speed.  Bottom line for me is that the out and back is an extremely dangerous stretch of the race, and while the challenge of the hills is appreciated, the risk involved is not worth it to me, and I feel it should be removed from the race course.

Once the out and back is completed it's on to a section called the loops.  Simply put we do two laps in this section.  Each lap is about 30 miles around.  There are a couple major hills in this area as well, the first of which has some riders getting off their bike and PUSHING their bike up the hill!  I was lucky to not have to do this, but really spent a great deal of energy and burned up my quad muscles to climb these.  We come through a small community with aid station 3 and crowds of people that we have not had in miles, and I pass by the special needs area that I will get on my second lap.  The hills are not quite as bad through here and one lady even yelled out, "welcome to the flat lands"!  I was beginning to feel some cramping already, so began my routine of popping salt tabs on the hour!  All other nutrition is right on with gels every 45 minutes and a half a payday every hour opposite the salt.  The next small town is LaGrange and this is a community that embraces Ironman!  The local church was having an outdoor church service, and several of the members were roadside cheering for us.  As we turn into the heart of the downtown I am overwhelmed with the walls of people on both sides of the road!  The first person I recognize is Amy Fletcher's husband, Doug, who yells out, "Go Chocolate Milk"!  This boosted me a great deal, but I didn't want to increase my speed too much as I'm watching for Molly and company.



It wasn't long before I got into the heart of the downtown which is gated off so pedestrians can not cross the road in front of us, and while scanning both sides for my supporters, I spot Pete's hat before anything else!  Yes, Pete and Amy had driven down on race morning to cheer the MAFS crew on!  There stood Pete and Amy with Molly and Staci cheering me on as loud as they could as I zipped by at nearly 20 mph.  Would have loved to have stopped and chatted, but that's not how this works!  Feeling confident I push on through mile 40 and 50 climbing up and flying down each of the rolling country hills.  There are beautiful horse farms in this neck of the woods overlooking thousands and thousands of rolling acres.  The miles and miles of white fence are beautiful to see even while pushing 300 watts up a hill that seems to never end!  This stretch of road has more and more flat tires and broken bikes on the road side than anywhere else.  Little scooters with spare parts and bike wheels come zipping by to help stranded cyclists, but I'm thankful not to need their services.  At one point, I couldn't get my gears to shift back to the big ring, but this only hurt me on the downhills that I would have liked to push a little more on.  Maybe a good thing that I saved the legs and coasted down instead.  Mile 60 brings lap two of the loops and I'm feeling more confident about this now that I know what to expect and think I can make better gear selection choices through here.  I was also pleased that I started my second lap before the leaders caught me.  I was just sure Patrick Evoe or Chris McDonald was going to come screaming by me on their way back to downtown, but it never happened.  Though at the same time I'm doing the math in my head and know that I'm a little behind where I'd prefer to be.

Once through the next aid station, I know I'm going to find my special needs bag soon, and come to the station where if I yell out my number they will radio it in and a volunteer will have my bag ready for me.  I yell out 1584 and seconds later I arrive at the area marked 1500-1600 where little Xander and his mom are waiting for me.  Xander is about the size of my Emma, and he handed me my bag with a smile.  His mom says to him, "let's see what he has in his bag" (must have been their ongoing mystery game of the day).  When I pulled out my Uncrustable he laughed and smiled and I asked him if he likes them, he says yes.  Then I reach in and pull out my Peanut M&Ms and asked if he'd like some.  He smiles and says "no thanks", but it warmed my heart to be stopped and having a social moment with this youngster.  I grab all my other nutrition and load up my pockets.  I open the ibuprofen and take it with water right away.  I thank them and then start to roll away only to realize that there is a place you can pull off and eat or rest.  I didn't want to try to eat while rolling, so I pulled in to stop and eat my Uncrustable.  When I got into the parking lot a volunteer asked if she could hold my bike for me, and I could see the portapot was available, so I thought to myself sure, why not?!  So I got off the bike, and waddled to the bathroom to test my hydration.  My thought was that I didn't feel like I had to pee, but if I could, then I was drinking enough...and if I couldn't, then I needed to drink more.  Good news...I can pee!  As pleased with myself as a 2 year old going for the first time, I head back to my bike and scarf down my Uncrustable and dump my Peanut M&Ms into my bento box to snack on over the miles to come.  I push off and would guess I was only stopped for a total of 3 minutes max!

Shortly thereafter and headed toward mile 70, I pass through LaGrange again, and as expected my support crew was in the same place cheering me on just as they had over an hour and half ago!  So now my tummy is full, and I'm well hydrated, I got my last boost of love from my supporters, and I'm looking for mile 80 now!  I remember Gary telling me that with 33 to go on the bike he was going to put his head down and go to work.  Who knew getting to that point was going to be as hard as it was?!  At mile 80 (or thereabouts, the details are fuzzy) I find Doug standing on a corner cheering for me!  No clue where I was (I think the sign said Sligo?), or where he was, or how he got there, but that guy knows how to navigate this course better than any other spectator!  Not to be outdone, just a few miles later I come to another intersection to find Pete and Amy along the roadside waiting to find me.  I learned later that they rode their bikes across the middle of the loop (about 4 miles) to find me and upon arriving Pete blew a tire on his bike.  A local helped get him get fixed up and on his way.  Amazing what my friends put themselves through to support me!  Finally I reach mile 90 and am done with the loop section, now it's 22 miles straight back to downtown Louisville.  And while 22 doesn't sound like much at this point, the simple math says at 15mph (which is what my cateye is showing my pace as) It will take me another 90 minutes to get there!  Ugh!  The rolling hills continue, and to add to the difficulty the traffic has picked up a great deal.  The course is not closed, but there is not much traffic outside of the little towns, but when there is, it is dangerous.  We've since learned of a cyclist crashing into a car at the edge of LaGrange resulting in broken bones, and I'm sure that other wrecks occurred as a result of motorists being on the road.  Realize the challenge for a car is climbing a hill at 6 mph behind a cyclist climbing that hill while another cyclist is coming up behind that car.  The car can't get out and around to pass because we're going up a hill so the driver can't see what's coming over the hill in the opposite direction.  I was in enough pain at this point, that I had no business pushing myself up on the bumper of a car, but rather just laid back and increased my cadence in the small ring to climb to the top.

Eventually we do get some relief and by mile 100 I can see the Ohio River on my right, and I can see the tall buildings of downtown Louisville up ahead, but still have 40 minutes in the saddle, and my butt hurts!!!  I had only done one 100 mile training ride, and the pain in my butt and toes was bad then...this was worse!  I continued flexing my calves to find relief in the toes, but nothing seemed to help.  Not too many left around me because so many have passed me by now, but those that remained were often friendly commenting on how far we'd come, and we "only" had a marathon left to go, etc.  but at this point I'm not sure what my legs will be able to do.  The back feels good, but the legs and feet are hurting and my stomach is beginning to turn and I don't know if I've eaten too much or not enough, but I know the jostling running motion will be tough.

The end is in sight and before I navigate the final turn toward the dismount line I spot Molly jumping up and down yelling for me, I smile but can't wave because I'm turning in and over a curb (ouch) and coast right up to the dismount line as I unclip and firmly plant both feet on the ground.  *pause*  I want to make sure I can stand before I throw my leg over the seat to dismount.  Everything feels pretty good and I can waddle better than a western cowboy who just got off his horse.  I grab my water from my bike, and hand it off to a volunteer who will rerack it for me while I head off to change.

Official Bike Time: 7:24:50 (15.11 mph avg) - I missed my "B" goal of 7:10 but met my "C" Goal of 7:30 - while it wasn't the time I wanted, I can't be disappointed as I had no idea what those hills were going to be like, and I did all this on my $600 Specialized road bike with stock wheels and no aero bars.  Can't help but wonder how much better I might be on a $1000+ tri bike with race wheels?!  This is the only leg of a tri that I feel like the gear could make a difference for me.  
At this point I have fallen to 283rd in my age group, 1646th among men, and 2042nd overall.
(Note: winner Chris McDonald did the bike in under 4:30 (a course record at nearly 25 mph avg)

T2
No point in running, I want to compose myself and find my legs.  But first I need to find my run gear bag.  Not as many to choose from, so the volunteer finds it easily and hands it off, and I'm back to the men's tent to change.  Quite a variety of strategies going on here.  Some sat quickly, removed their helmets, changed their shoes and ran out; while others were getting naked and giving themselves a sponge bath while having tea and crumpets.  You get the idea.  When I sat down to change shoes I remember thinking how nice it was to sit, but I wanted to be efficient.  Slow to remove the shoes and socks, and wipe off my feet I didn't want any dirt on my feet at all going into the marathon.  Fresh socks and shoes felt great to put on, and removing the yellow MAFS jersey in exchange for the fresh clean orange REFUEL tri top was the right move!  Popped some more ibuprofen and asked a volunteer to put all my gear back in the bag for me.  Also, I stopped my watch again, and shut it completely off during this time.  The watch never registered my bike data, but the clock kept running so I knew that my overall race time was probably somewhere around 9 hours and with the relief of getting off the bike I knew it was all up to my legs and mind to finish this thing.  I grabbed a little Vaseline for the underarms and headed out to the sunscreeners.  I turned my watch back on and waited for satellites to find me while the sunscreeners slathered me from head to toe.  I'm not gonna lie, I may have lingered here longer than I should.  When this woman put her hands on me and started rubbing it in on my shoulders I was happy to wait, but when I took my hat off and she plopped it on my head and started massaging my scalp, I may have gone weak in the knees.  Garmin beeped at me that it was ready, so I set it on run mode, and left my massage for a marathon.  Climbing the stairs out of transition I cross a timing strip and start the watch.
Total time spent in T2 was 11:05.  I'm guessing at least a minute of that was sunscreen and worth every second!

RUN
I jog out of the gated area and spot Molly.  I'm pointing at my watch to tell her that it has malfunctioned today and I just need to know what time it is.  Luke is with her and tells me it is 4:29 pm.  I've got to be done by midnight so worst case scenario, I need to do the marathon in 7:30.  That should work.  Molly asks how I feel and I respond "like crap", and Luke jumps in and says "No, no you don't you feel good, you can do this, let's go" and with a kiss from my wife, they both started jogging beside me.  Molly says she'll see me at mile 13 and Luke keeps running.  Luke goes into coach mode and immediately has my attention!  He says I have a good stride and pace, but to relax my shoulders.  He runs up ahead of me and snaps a couple pictures.  Then jumps in with me again and says I'm going to run around the block and he'll meet me there, he tells me there's a hill, and I should keep running up it, but take it nice and easy and keep my heart rate low, and that he'll be waiting for me at the top of the hill.  As he splits away from me he looks back and says "and keep your head up".  I know he meant this literally as in "don't slouch", but I also heard it as "have confidence, you got this".  As I came up that hill he was exactly right and there he was reminding me to take it easy and when I got to the top he cheers me on and says excitedly, "that's it, you just saved yourself over 4 minutes by not walking that first mile!" (and he was right), "now keep it up, you've got a lot of fans here waiting to cheer you on" (and again he was right).

To my surprise the first person I saw was Beth McKay.  Beth was racing today too, but she was standing on the corner in street clothes smiling and cheering me on.  As much as I wanted to stop and find out why her day was over, I knew that stopping would be a HUGE mistake at this early point of the marathon.  Later I found out that Beth had muscle cramps during the swim and was actually pulled from the water.  Glad she's okay.  I also spot Dougin on the road side, but this was not a surprise to me.  As I mentioned earlier, he was using this race as a training day.  He had a great swim, and the bike was the longest ride for him in quite some time, so he got the training he wanted, but ultimately only ran 1-2 miles into the run and called it a day.  Yes, he did this voluntarily.  It was all part of his plan.  That has to be hard no matter how disciplined he is, but I'm so impressed by his understanding of the big picture, and knowing his body well enough to quit so he can save himself for a more important race later next month.  (Good luck Dougin!)

I continue to run in search of the first real aid station which is a little after mile 1.5 and it is at a point where some folks who have completed their first lap are merging back in to start their second, meaning they are working mile 14.  I think it's worth noting that the winner has already finished and some of the top age groupers are already coming in as well.  The great thing about the run course is that it is an out and back and you do it twice.  So essentially you're only going 6-7 miles in one direction before you can flip around see all the same people again, so I know I'm going to see many of my fellow athletes soon.  I walk the first aid station as planned and get what I think I need.  I get right back into a run as planned, but within a half mile realize that I'm not going to be able to run much further today.  At this point, the pain in my quads and blisters forming on my feet are coming on so quickly that it is increasingly difficult to push off with each stride, so I buy into a run/walk strategy for the next couple miles.  No surprise to see Doug out on his bike on the run course, but to my surprise it is because he is keeping an eye on Amy F who is just up ahead of me and I can see that she is not running.  As I come up on her I ask what the story is and she says she may have eaten too much on the back half of the bike, and her stomach needed to settle.  I ask if she has any running legs left and she says she thinks she does, but is going to walk it out for a while and let it settle.  I'm lucky to be so tall that my walking stride is quite long and I can walk quite fast.  Even through the pain, I'm passing other walkers with ease and Garmin is showing my walking pace at under 14 minutes per mile.  I know I can't keep this up all night, but am enjoying the power walking pace for now.

Two bicycles come rolling up beside me and there are my biggest fans Pete and Amy O.  Pete says they had to work to catch up to me.  They weren't sure where I was and couldn't believe I was already so far into the run.  They asked how I was feeling and I told them I was in for a long walk for the rest of the day, but that I'd make it.  I told them I was quite sure Chuck was still up ahead of me, but no clue where, so they rode on up to look for him.  I worked miles 4, 5 and 6 with some good effort, and saw Jason Tucker working his second lap heading back to his finish.  (Jason finished in 11:29 - WOW and congrats!) When I got to mile 6 Pete and Amy had stopped to wait for me, but said they never saw Chuck.  I was surprised, and a little concerned figuring the turn around was at 6.5 and he was likely running ahead of me.  As it turns out the turn around is actually mile 7, and I did finally find him at the aid station at mile 6.5 where he was coming toward me working his mile 7.5.  He and I were in the exact same boat.  He said he'd been walking the whole time too, but thought he might be able to run some on the back half.  Either way you could tell that, like me, he knew he was going to finish and that was all that mattered.

When I hit the turnaround and was coming back I see Amy F still very close to me, so she had obviously picked up her pace some and I had likely slowed mine down a touch, but at this point, I had committed myself to taking it one mile at a time and making sure there was never a single mile over 15 minutes.  I monitored the Garmin regularly and if it slipped over 15, I found a little downhill grade to jog down, or I sucked it up and jogged through the pain to the next aid station to pull the average back down.  THIS WORKED for me all night and I was successful because of it.  Coming back toward downtown there is one little road near Churchill Downs that requires a very short out and back detour, and this creates a couple back to back aid stations where I decided to add chicken broth to my menu.  I had been living on water, perform and flat coke for the last 90 minutes, and I had heard how good the chicken broth would taste, plus it would give me a big shot of sodium that my muscles probably needed versus the sugar I was getting from the coke.  I also grabbed a handful of potato chips and within minutes felt significantly better in my stomach.  Pete and Amy continue to pop up out of no where and give me plenty of encouragement even getting off their bikes and walking with me from time to time.  But it's dinner time, so they pedal off in search of food!

Coming back into town on miles 9-12 I spotted Gary who was jogging well and looking strong starting his second lap, and a few other familiar faces including Derek Hammer who looked impressively strong all day.  At mile 12 I spotted Dougin waiting on me, and he joins me for the walk.  We talk about how I'm feeling and what I'm dealing with.  He tells me what to expect and how the turnaround will work and where I will get my special needs bags.  Again, these are all things that I "know", but at this point in the day my mind is so fried, it is good to have someone by my side reminding me of how this thing works!  As we approach the turnaround, which is literally a city block, Molly is waiting there for me, and I'm delighted to see her.  I'm very excited and my pace is quickening.  I get the love I need from her and she says see you again in a few knowing when I circle the block I'll come right back by her on my way out for the second half.

Emotionally this is a tough stretch as you are literally nearing the finish line.  You can see and hear everything and you're sharing the road with runners who are .2 miles away from the finish, while I still have over 13 miles to go.  Thankfully the crowd support is immense and I was especially pleased to find Monte and Kendra Hitchcock sitting along side the road cheering me on!  On the other side of the road there was Amy Thomas taking my picture, and I think I recognized David Poor with her there too, but mere seconds before I turn off for my special needs bag, Reuben McCracken caught me from behind.  He looked great!  And I was so pleased to be the last one to high five him and congratulate him on his finish as he turned into the finish corral, and I turned off to start my second lap.  (Reuben finished in 12:22 - congrats pal!)

 As soon as you turn away from the finish chute to start lap two, there are the special needs bags.  In my bag I had only put vaseline (for my underarms) and ibuprofen, but I asked Molly to have the kids write me notes of encouragement, as I knew I would need something more at that point!  I knew Morgan had written a couple nice things and some silly things as she had taped a sign in my car the night before and tucked a note in my bento box that I found while prepping my bike.
But what Emma did blew me away!  (grab your tissues now)
The card reads "I am the one and only Ironman" "And that is who I am.  No one is exactly like me"

And when you open it up it reads "When we were little we would finish with you.  I still can.  Just wear that bracelet and we will finish together"

Affixed to the front of the card around the m-dot logo was a bracelet that she made for me!  She used a glue stick to adhere it, and I peeled it off very carefully so as not to rip it.  I put it on slowly and as I got to Molly she snapped a picture of it.  She had already seen it and knew I would be emotional.  I certainly was.  I did finally get it on my wrist, and as of this moment, have not taken it off!  By the way, mile 14 was my fastest mile since mile 4!  So great to have the motivation there!

I also knew this was the last time I would see Molly before the finish, so one final kiss goodbye and I'm off for the last half of the run.  Dougin continued with me back out on the run course as he was going to be watching for Jill to finish.  He said to me that if I continued at under 15 min pace for 12 more miles, he guessed he would see me again in less than 3 hours!  Seems doable!  So I leave him behind and am back on my own.  I continue with the jogging efforts when I can but it's few and far between.  A young lady jogs up beside me and begins walking.  I start to walk away from her, but she lengthens her stride to keep up.  She's quite short and looks up to me and says, "You walk fast!"  I said "yep", she said "how fast are we walking?" and I replied between 14 and 15 minute miles.  She said she should walk that fast each time she walks and asked if she could join me, to which I said sure!  So Amanda from the D.C. tri club was also doing her first full after having done a handful of 70.3s  She had a great swim, but a slower bike, but she still had some running legs, and after a good 10 minute meet and greet, she either lost interest in my stories, or decided she could run again, and off she went.  I told her if she got tired, she could wait for me, as I'd be holding this pace for the next 2.5 hours!  During this time I saw Gary jogging in nearing the end of his second lap.  He looked spent, but I yelled to him to finish strong, and he knew what to do (He did - finishing an impressive 12:59!  So proud of you GT!)

Somewhere near mile 17 a familiar voice comes by me.  Yep, Amy F caught me, and she's got a nice stride going.  She found her running legs again!  I told her she looked strong, and keep it up.  She snickered and looked back at me and said, "You're gonna be an Ironman"!  I laughed out loud, and said back, "Yep, I am!"  It's amazing how your friends just know exactly what you need to hear.  I watched her jog away from me and wanted to jog up with her, but knew I couldn't.  The pain in my feet from the blisters were nearly unbearable by this time.  When we reach the turnaround, I can see that she's not all that far ahead of me, so I'm motivated to powerwalk as much and as hard as I can, but it's no use I'm not gaining any ground.  And if I am, I don't know it because by now it's getting dark out and I can barely see the hand in front of my face.

My power walking continues to impress many in the late miles as I'm still passing many folks who were walking at a snails pace just trying to keep one foot in front of the other.  I overheard a race official give an athlete an ultimatum.  "Either get up on your own and show me you can still walk, or I have to call medical and DQ you."  Even heard another athlete negotiating with a police officer to let him sit in his air conditioned squad car for just a minute to "catch his breath".  Thankful I'm not at this point of desperation, I'm joined by Tom from Tennessee.  Tom is a basketball coach and father of 3, and is doing his first full also.  He asks the all too familiar question, "how fast are we walking", and I reply again, "under 15 minute pace, and I'm holding this all the way to the finish!"  As impressed as he was, he decided he could jog on ahead.  He stopped to walk the next aid station where I power walked right by him, and he never caught up to me again.

This was all great until mile 19 when I struggled to hold that pace, I had to jog a little to pull it down to a 14:52 mile, and again during mile 20 to pull it down to a 14:54 mile, both times just before it clicked over to the next mile, but I held on to my goal.  Mile 21 and 22 were not much better and I decided I had hit my "wall".  I overheard a guy say to another, "what's his hurry, we can walk 20 minute pace from here and still finish before 11 p.m.", and I almost let him get to me and give in, but that was not what I'm about.  It would have been "easy" to let myself fall into that trap, but I refused and pressed on.  It was at that moment that out of the darkness emerged those familiar faces....Pete and Amy were still on their bikes chasing me around at 10 p.m. in the dark!  Pete asked how I was doing and I told him I was jealous that I hadn't gotten one of those cool glow-in-the-dark necklaces that everybody else had.  He said, I'll take care of ya, and robbed some volunteer of two them, but they didn't have any connectors, so he twisted them together like a bracelet for me; one for each arm.  I laughed and thanked him and then told him what I was really thinking.  How I wanted to press on and get my best possible time, but I felt like I had hit my wall.  We shared some stats and did some math together, and he basically convinced me that if I wanted to dig deep, I could make a run for the finish line and have the strong finish that I truly desired, and so I did!

He left me, and I spent the next 4 miles focusing on that pace, I saved mile 22, but 23 was weak.  I pushed hard through mile 24 to go under 14 min pace (more jogging), but 25 was weak.  Then with just a mile to go, I pictured myself back in Yorktown at the corner of River Rd and 600.  This is the spot where every morning for the last 4 years my watch beeps at me for the first mile of my run, and decided I just had to jog it in from there.  I visualized being on the trail at the sportspark and the traffic on River Rd.  I visualized turning into my neighborhood, and I knew I couldn't be stopped.  A volunteer was yelling at the top of his lungs, "140 miles behind you...point 6 miles ahead of you...you will be an Ironman!"   He repeated this countless times probably once per minute.  And it really got me going as I made the final turn toward 4th street.  Mile 26 was my second fastest mile of the day!  Second only to Mile 1!

And as I turned onto 4th street, I could see the finish line lights ahead of me.  The road is pitch black, and the spotlights for the camera are blinding.  It feel like you're running into a train tunnel in the dark, and the only thing you can see is the light of the train coming at you, and the only thing you can hear is the roar of the echoes of the cheers between the buildings around you.  I was aware enough in my moment to spot Monte and Kendra Hitchcock still holding their spot where I had seen them 3 hours ago, and with a huge smile and a high five I got their congratulations and then perked up for the moment I have waited so long for.  The last 0.2 miles was one of the most amazing moments of my entire life.

No matter how many times I played out what the finish line would be like in my mind, I never imagined it would be like this.  For those of you that saw it, it was nothing but RAW EMOTION.




















 For those of you that didn't see it, well...here ya go.  This is the video from my wife's cell phone, and yes, I would say she too demonstrated RAW EMOTION! 
If you couldn't make it out over my screaming wife, the announcer, Dave Ragsdale, literally says, "Christopher Day, bringing it on home, Refuel with Chocolate Milk, Christopher, You, Are, An Ironman!"

Official Run Time was 6:07:54 (14:02/mile)  I missed my "A" goal of 5:45, but beat my "B" goal of 6:30, so I'm happy with that effort.

Official Total Time was 15:15:23 which landed me 269th in my age group, 1523rd among men and 1921st overall, but more importantly earned me the title, Ironman!

POSTRACE

As soon as I finished I nearly collapsed into the volunteer catcher's arms, but was able to continue to walk on my own.  The back didn't hurt at all, but the quads were burning and the blisters on my feet were screaming.  I immediately heard Molly yelling at me (did you hear the video) and pause in my tracks to find her.  She is literally running toward me and past a security guard into a restricted area to hug me!  Worth noting, I found later that she had enjoyed the adult beverages in the VIP area more than the food and was thus VERY happy!  I'd say she earned it!

I was most surprised to see my high school friend, Katrina, who with the help of facebook we have remained close friends over the years, and I know that she has worked hard to get and stay active as well.  She lives in Louisville, but I never imagined she would fight Ironman traffic to come downtown at 10:30 pm on a Sunday night just to see me.  She is responsible for many of the best pictures from the weekend, and she stayed with me through the entire post race experience!

I shouldn't be surprised, Jill and Dougin were both there and looked as fresh as ever, like they could both do it again!  Jill rocked an impressive 12:39 today! And Lindsey was waiting for me too, as well as Pete and Amy.  Gary had retired himself back to his hotel not feeling well, and Amy too was no where to be found.  (Amy finished with a PR of 15:28 - awesome!) Jason Tucker was there to greet me and I couldn't be more happy for his day!  I took the obligatory post race photo and flexed for the camera, but could barely flex enough to show any definition I was so tired, then Jill jumped in one with me for the sponsor photo!  We then hobbled to the convention center where Chocolate Milk hosts the #myafter party!  Was glad to find Chuck there and get to congratulate him!  Chuck and I have grown so close through this whole process checking in with each other regularly, and so it was no surprise that our times were less than 3 minutes apart!  Delicious chocolate milk awaited us just inside the door, and honestly, that was all I wanted!  I was not hungry at all and food didn't sound good at all.  They were serving up pizza and lots of snacks, but my stomach was a rock, and I couldn't think of eating anything.  A couple final pics with Jill and massive thanks to Lindsey and the REFUEL team with a little feedback on the weekend, and I was ready to head back to the hotel.


**warning gross foot picture coming**

On the way to the room I had Molly stop by the front desk and request a bag of ice be delivered to the room so I could get an ice bath.  I was so thankful Molly had already gone to transition and retrieved my gear bags and bike so that I didn't have to mess with that right now. I limped into the bathroom and peeled off my clothes to soak in the tub.  Yes, there were some open sores that burned deeply, and bending the legs 90 degrees to sit down was very difficult, but the worst pain of all remained in my feet.  I peeled back the sock to reveal the blister on the inside of my right heel that still today (3 full days later) is just as big as it was then!  Doc says I need to drain it!



The blister on the bottom of my foot is much larger but flatter to the skin and not as red and raised as the heel one, and much smaller one on the inside heel of the other foot already popped.



Once I emerged from the ice bath, I logged on to my phone to see literally hundred of facebook notifications and text messages.  No way I could reply to any of them, so instead I logged onto my phone and watched the final finisher at midnight before rolling over and falling asleep.  Ate nothing, drank very little, couldn't pee or poop, and my body was beyond numb!  Fell asleep hard and woke up at 7:15 to a buzzing phone of text messages saying that if I wanted any finisher gear, I needed to get out of bed and get down to the expo quick.  Turns out the expo opened at 7 and there were many already lined up to get in.  I knew I wanted a finisher jacket, so a quick text conversation with Chuck resulted in him grabbing me the LAST XL finisher jacket on the shelf, so in return Molly rushed down there to get it from him and share her 30% off Ironman staff discount privilege with him!  Thank you Chuck, I LOVE my jacket!

She returned with a breakfast sandwich from Panera because I was too sore to even think about walking to the free athlete breakfast, and I was able to eat it and it tasted pretty good, but at that point I was just ready to go home!  So we loaded everything up and headed for the car.  Pete and Amy ended up grabbing a hotel Sunday night and so as a result we met up with them for a pizza buffet in Columbus.  I'm pretty sure that buffet lost money on me that day, as I easily ate more than their cost of the pizza!  We were home in time to get the kids off the bus, and shared big hugs all around!

So now what?  Well, it's hard to say.  I've had to answer the obligatory question of "will you do it again?"  I will never say never, but it is certainly not in my plans to do it again.  The best analogy I can come up with is this...  Ask a Dr if he or she will ever go back to school to get another doctorate degree.  Once in a while you might find one that will say yes, but for the most part, many would answer by saying, "no way, why would I do that?"  And that's how I feel, "why would I do that?"  The time it takes to study/train.  The cost involved with tuition and books/entry fees and gear.  The sacrifice to the family to chase that title is immense.  The Dr. may have had an A or B on the final, but he earned his degree and will be forever known as "Dr.".  just as I may have had an A or B race, but I earned my title and will forever be known as "Ironman"!

 *disclaimer:  I am purchasing the copyrighted finisherpix photos used in this post.