I haven’t written in a while and thought hmmm, maybe a guest post would be a good idea to get me jump started again. One of my teammates, Tim Talbot, from Venom Multisport Racing (based in New Orleans) recently FINISHED HIS FIRST IRONMAN!! Whoohoo! What an accomplishment! Well, he wrote a race report for Ironman Florida and I asked him if I could post it for him since he’s e-mailing it out to everyone (I know he has a lot of time post IM training but not that much! lol) – he agreed and here it is! Enjoy!
“The temperatures the week before the race were extremely unpredictable since Hurricane Sandy had just passed through. The forecasts were all over the place in terms of temperature. I decided to pack all my warm weather and cold weather gear so I would be prepared for anything. Since this would be the biggest endurance race of my life, I figured I would start getting anxious or nervous as the days got closer to race day. However, I was not nervous at all.
Me and some friends agreed to caravan to PCB. We arrived on Thursday around noon and headed straight to athlete check in. There were no lines and the volunteers were extremely friendly as usual. I saw some other friends in the registration tent and shared some hugs and well wishes. So now I was all checked in, still no nervous jitters. Hmmm.
Friday morning I got up early and went for a really short swim with some friends, some friends from New Orleans and some from Florida that I met while standing in line to register last year. It was great to see them again. After our swim, we went for a short bike ride to make sure everything was working correctly. When we were out on the bike, I noticed the pancake breakfast was being served outside, so we pulled in, got some pancakes and ate on the curb. (We weren’t the only ones doing this) After breakfast I packed my transition and special needs bags. I drafted a checklist weeks before and even checked them off as I put them in the bags, but for some reason I had the urge to continuously check them. I was starting to feel like I had OCD as many times as I dumped everything out and checked to make sure I had everything. After that, I headed down to drop off my bike and transition bags.
I was sharing a condo with my friend/cousin-in-law. His family arrived shortly after we dropped off our bikes. They did not eat lunch on the way in so he left with them to grab some lunch. Since my family wasn’t due to arrive until later in the day, I was left in the condo for a few hours alone. I used this time, not to sleep, but just to clear my head and get myself mentally ready for the day I had ahead of me. I really needed that time. Still, not nervous.
When my family arrived, my daughters were dying to go swim. I took them down to the pool so they could play for a little while before we ate dinner. I was so happy they were going witness their daddy accomplish this huge goal. Granted, the youngest (Alaina) had no clue what I was doing, but I think my oldest (Madison) had some idea of what I was doing.
We had a nice spaghetti and lasagna dinner with all of our families on Friday night. It was nice to see everyone there to support us. (There were 3 people in my family participating in the race.)
Race morning I was up at 4AM to start eating. I had two bananas, a half of a bagel, and a bottle of Gatorade. I looked out to the beach that morning from the balcony and I couldn’t see the surf, but I could hear it. All I could think about was the rough waters I swam in back in May for the 70.3 on the same course. (6-8’ seas) I didn’t let it bother me, I had survived once and I would do it again if needed. It was also much warmer than I would have liked it to be, but at least it wasn’t freezing. At 5:00 we headed down to transition, still not nervous.
As with most triathlons, the volunteers are awesome. I got body marked and headed right into transition. Since all of my “stuff” was put in my transition bag the day before, there really wasn’t anything to set up in the morning. All I had to do was put all my nutrition on my bike and fill my aero bottle. I had arranged a meeting spot on the Boardwalk for my family to meet me since they weren’t walking down as early. After I had everything set up, I headed to our rendezvous spot. My wife and kids were there along with my parents and my cousin-in-laws family. We took pictures gave kisses and hugs then headed to the beach. I’m still calm as can be.
When I got to the beach, I noticed the surf wasn’t nearly as bad as the race in May. I was happy with that. The time seemed to be flying by. Before I knew it the male pros were heading out for their swim. Ironman had brought in a female from one of the armed services to sing the national anthem, I think she was in the Airforce. She sang it beautifully. I always get emotional when I hear our Anthem, but it when it is sung so beautifully from a someone in the service, it has way more meaning than listening to recorded version without the lyrics. They asked us to start moving toward the water after the anthem was done. I was really getting excited at this point. I saw some friends on the beach. We traded hugs and well wishes as we made our way towards the water’s edge. At this point, I figured since I never did get nervous, it wouldn’t happen. I guess subconsciously I knew I was well prepared. Or just dumb!
When the canon blew, it’s a giant mass of 2500+ people running into the water. My plan was to just keep swimming and don’t stop unless something happened. I didn’t want to get run over by everyone behind me. It turned out to be exactly what I was expecting; every man for himself. I tried to stay away from the feet of other athletes since I like my teeth. I did get kicked, grabbed, and punched several times, but it is best to stay calm and keep moving. That type of stuff doesn’t make me nervous in the water, so it was no big deal. The turns on the swim were pretty brutal, but still nothing I didn’t expect. I had worn a cheap Timex watch just to keep track of my total time. Well, it is now at the bottom of the gulf. Someone’s hand hit it on the first turn. Oh well, hopefully that would be the only thing that would try to ruin my day. I certainly could have thought of worse things to happen in that washing machine of people. As I ran down the beach heading to do my next lap, I saw my family cheering as I went by. It was awesome! I wasn’t able to get into a good swim zone until after the second turn on the second loop. I managed to find “clean” water in that section and stay away from people for the most part. As I neared the beach, I could hear the crowd and the announcer. I had done it. I survived 2.4 miles of Ironman Florida. A friend of mine, and ironman, said that at some point during the three events I need to just look around and think, “I am doing Ironman Florida!” When I was coming out the water, that thought was the first thing that came to mind. I blew past wetsuit peeling to avoid getting sand where I didn’t want it even though some friends and family had volunteered to peel suits. I gave them a quick wave and headed straight to transition.
In T1, the volunteers were awesome. They opened my bag and laid everything out and handed things to me as I needed them. Then, I was off for a little bike ride.
I was warned by several people to take it easy on the bike out. I did, and I think 150 people passed me within the first 20 miles. I immediately got into my nutrition plan. I really think that is what made the time go by quickly. After about 30 miles I was starting to wonder why I didn’t need to pee. Everyone says you should pee at least twice on the bike or you will be dehydrated for the marathon. Miles 50-60 were terrible. The road was so rough there were water bottles, tool kits, nutrition, etc that had fallen off of bikes. I did stop around mile 57 to make myself pee. It didn’t seem like very much compared to the amount of liquid I was taking in. When I finally got back on smooth road, the headwinds started picking up. I really wanted to start hammering it since I slowed on the bumpy road, but I was letting my heart rate dictate how fast I went. I felt like I was being conservative, but I really didn’t want to walk the marathon. I started passing people around mile 85. I wonder if those were the people that blew past me in the earlier part of the ride. At mile 98 there is a decent size bridge to cross. From the bridge back to transition, I bet I passed 100 people. I was feeling great, but no doubt, I was ready to get off the bike. And, I was still concerned that I had only peed one time.
The volunteers in T2 were just as awesome as T1, laying all my stuff out and handing it to me as I needed it. Heck, he even sprayed sunscreen on for me. I tried not to think that I was about to go run 26.2 miles. Since the course was two loops, I decided to break it up in my mind to 4-10Ks.
Right as I come out of transition, I see my wife and kids. I give kisses to all of them. Words cannot describe the emotions.
As I run off I want to cry, but I learn quickly that it is impossible for me to cry and run. Go figure. I felt pretty good for the first couple miles then I started feeling bloated. After about 5 miles I figured out it was just gas. Once that came out (Not everything about triathlon is glamorous.) I started feeling much better and in the words of Forrest Gump, “I just kept running.” I walked through every aid station to get water to drink and pour on my head to help keep cool. I had started running at the hottest part of the day. It had to be at least 85 degrees. After stopping to pee, 4 or 5 times and I realized I wasn’t in danger of dehydration so I started bypassing some of the aid stations on my second loop of the marathon. I was warned by several people that mile 18 was the worst part of the marathon of an ironman. I was anticipating that point. I saw the mile marker and felt great. Maybe it would be mile 19 for me. Nope. Maybe 20. Nope. At this point it was all mental. It seem like I was the only one running out there. Everyone else was walking. I was determined to run the second loop faster than the first. So I was pushing as hard as my legs would carry me. I saw lots of friends on the run course and the spectator support in some areas was just plain out awesome.
When I made the turn back onto the street Alvin’s Island is on, I could see the lights and hear the crowd and announcer. The emotion came back and still couldn’t cry. I put my hands on my head and looked to the sky and thought, I did it! I kept pushing. When I got to the area where the special needs bags are, there are two directions to run. One way is to go back for another loop, the other; to finish. When the crowd saw me head for the finisher chute, they went crazy. Cue emotions. Several friends that have completed an ironman have told me to enjoy the chute, don’t sprint through it. So I slowed down and started giving high fives. It was truly awesome. I couldn’t really see past the finish line since they have such bright lights for the pictures. A friend and training partner had volunteered and he greeted me at the finish line. His exuberance was priceless. I then saw my family coming to greet me. Cue emotions again.
I did it. I am an Ironman. I still get emotional when I think about it and even did while writing this. I managed to run the second loop of the marathon 7 minutes faster than the first. I am very pleased with my time and I will definitely do another iron distance race again.
I loved seeing everyone out there that I had trained with one time or another throughout my journey. It is a bond we will have for a lifetime.
When I arrived back to the room, my wife had warned me that she blew up my Facebook page. She wasn’t lying. All day she had posted my progress. The support and encouragement from everyone was astounding.
When I arrived home, my sister, brother-in-law, and their kids had come to my house and decorated my front door with balloons and M-dots. Love it. Cue emotions………”
CONGRATS TIM!! YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!!