It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t fast but it has been completed! The morning started out good with a pretty smokin’ swim for me and then through transition and onto the bike. The wind came up early and just kept intensifying. Friend Andy, who also did the race is something like 12:25 said that when he checked the weather for the day we had gusts to 45 mph and I think the sustained winds were at 30. What the hell is it with me, 140.6 and WIND?! Fair warning to you all, if you see my name on the entry list of your next Ironman be forewarned!
Anyway, the wind hit everyone, not just me. The first thing to hit me personally was my stomach shutting down. Happily this happened around mile 10 or 15 on the bike so I didn’t have to wait in suspense. I had A LOT of time to think about this one and my opinion is that the wind was causing me to work harder that it actually felt. I did have my HR monitor on and I did see that my HR was pegged at 177 on the bike, in an Ironman, and I simply noted, “boy, that sure is high” and just kept motoring along because, well, I felt really strong and I was dropping people like flies…and it was just so crowded on the course I could never find a good (read as fast; too fast) spot to slip in behind someone and get the requisite 4 bike-length distance…so I kept going looking for just the right spot.
So once the stomach shut down I was able to keep going strong for maybe the first half of the first of three laps on the bike…then my HR dropped and there wasn’t a thing I could do about it; my power pack was starting to shut down as well. There were a few other things going wrong with my situation, if I drank it made me feel sick, because the wind was so high my mouth was constantly dry so I could not eat or I would start choking, so I would drink to moisten my mouth, open it to eat, wind blows mouth dry, I choke on food, spit it out, repeat the cycle, quit.
Fortunately though I didn’t start loosing my mind until about half way through the last lap of the bike. I first deduced something was wrong when I discovered I was walking my bike through an aid station. I thought to myself, “Self, why are you walking your bike through an aid station?” and quickly recognized that THAT was my plan for the RUN, to walk the aid station and run in between. And so I promptly walked my bike the rest of the length of the aid station, hopped on and pedaled away congratulating myself for having stuck to my plan. It wasn’t until the last 5 or so miles of the bike that I started shaking my head and twitching my arms for reasons I can not explain…I don’t know if it helped but I did it several times so let’s all assume it served a purpose. Oh, I only ran off the bike course once and got an orange cone stuck between my chain ring and bottom bracket…and I didn’t fall!
It felt good to sit down in T2 and change into running shoes and socks. I was VERY happy to be allowed to run at this point, REALLY, I was practically ecstatic. I knew there was some soda out on the run course and I figured that the carbonation would jump-start my stomach. It did this to a degree, I think I was able to “run” about a mile and a half before I was reduced to shambling, which I did until some point in the run, it had to have been somewhere, ah hell, I don’t know when it happened but at one point I stumbled off the running path and fell to my knees and viola, I puked my guts out…YEA!
After that I was totally able to run at least 5 feet to, I think my record was 2.5 miles, every so often. I kept reading all the signs ans race uniforms around me to keep my mind “sharp”, interesting premise and it may have even helped a bit but I wasn’t always able to read things or they simply did not make sense. At some point before I started my third lap of the marathon I lost the ability to determine how much time I had left in order to make the 17-hour cut-off…and I had developed huge blisters on the balls of my feel from so much slogging. These events had the effect of 1) making it extremely painful to run and 2) making me feel extremely pressed for time. I began to think that someone would yank me from the course and not even let me try to finish.
This was a particularly low point for me. I was informed later that teammate “Mighty Mike” Montoya, also now an IRONMAN, had walked with me for a while and spoken with me. He reported back to the crew,”I don’t think he knew who I was”. HA! Mike, fie on you! I didn’t even know anyone had spoken to me or that I had had a conversation. I guarantee you that if I had a mind left to perceive my surroundings accurately I would indeed have recognized you…so there! Err, I suppose. Besides, I DID recognize the other IRONMAN Outlaws today, Maria “Go Go” Ladd, Carl “muffin” Armstrong and Tim “Sluggo” Chavez. Though I did miss David Heichemer, he was WAY to busy smokin’ the course in a time of 11:05! He is 23 years old…with this wind…this young man is headed for Kona one day…as is Ms. Go Go…3rd in her age group. Unfortunately her AG only gets 1 slot but this was her first IM, I think it was David’s too but I’m not sure…and I’m insane.
Anyhow, when I hit the bridge leading up to the beginning of loop three I had worked myself up to such a degree with the fear of being pulled from the course that I just started running and smiling as big as I could, I ran the length of the bridge, through the crowd in transition and all the way down to the end of the pier where the crowd disappeared. The distance was about a mile and a half, maybe two…who knows. And you know what? I faked em' all out...they let me keep running, Hazah!
During that little run I learned a trick that I will share with you. Just before the bridge a member of the Iron Geezer Triathlon Club, Frank Farrar, caught me and he was at a slightly faster walk that was I. I said, “Do you mind if I hang with you for a little sir?” And he said, “sure but my old body is pretty broken down, you’ll probably go faster.” I just chuckled and said, “We'll see, I hope my body is in as good a shape as yours when I’m your age (78)” He then told me we should break into a little bit of a run and started asking me about longevity in my family. Anyway, our little conversation proved to be very inspiring and I started running faster and started looking at all my fellow sloggers and thought to myself, this is AMAZING! I can draw power from all the triathletes around me, not in a vampire kind of way mind you. Then I thought of my fellow bloggers and all the wonderful people I have met or “met” and I felt strong, of body that is, and THAT is what gave me the power to fake my way onto the third loop of the marathon.
In actuality, I had an hour more than I suspected so I wasn’t in danger but I didn’t know that so…THANKS GUYS AND GALS!
Not much else happened on the run except my race number finally fell off and so I clutched it like grim death all the way to the finish line. About a tenth of a mile from the finish line Outlaw Paul “Mr. Walnuts” a.k.a. “Stitch” Zetocha, also an IRONMAN today, for like the 8th time, met me out on the course and ran with me for a little…he was already fully showered, dressed in civilian clothes and fed, and told me I could get in under 16 hours…Whaat? Oh, well, cool. I somehow managed a strong kick down the chute, knees high, solid paw back, back straight, arms pumping and smiling like an idiot. I even dropped a few people. I came to the finish line and heard “BRIAN PILGRIM OF RIO RANCHO NEW MEXICO…YOU ARE AN IRONMAN! And I was immediately caught by the “catchers” as I collapsed.
You will be please to hear that I had the presence of mind to stop my watch, stager in the direction of the woman with the finishers medals, though the catchers made this difficult because they thought I was going down but I am a Clydesdale after all, they had little choice regarding direction. Then I switched direction and staggered over to the finishers t-shirt table but was unable to pull that one off…they were wise to me and were whisking me off to the medical tent. HOWEVER, there was this black woman with LONG braids that I recognized as someone who ran SOMA as an Athena and I reached out, eyes pleading, and said, “You ran SOMA last year.” Of course as any triathlete who has personally experienced a punishing, multi-hour slog-fest she immediately said, “Yes I did sweetie…Hey; get this man a finisher’s shirt! Extra-large!”
And then I was in the arms of the medical tent, piled high with blankets, IV bag dripping away and as I was fading in and out I could look around the room and make out a tent full of people with stupid grins on their faces and finishers medals around their necks…in short, a room full of IRONMEN.