Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Chapter 5 The Final Lap and an Awakening

First I would like to apologize to my reader for the long delay in this post. I have written and re-written several versions of what happened on that final lap. I have told numerous people the story. I had different responses based on who I told. I told them nothing was planned and it all just fell in to place. As some say, "things happen for a reason" or "if it's meant to be it will be."

It's up to you to decide how you feel after reading this. You may tear up. You may laugh. You may put your face in a pillow and scream. Feel free to do all three. If you do decide to put your face in a pillow, I bet you can't hold it there for more than four minutes.

Here goes. I left off with me at about the 16 mile mark bending at the waist and being approached by a medical cart. The cart was already coming my way and not specifically for me. I heard a voice ask if I was okay. I said yes. I straightened up and started to trot. I had to trot or vomit.

I would definitely say I had hit the wall at this point. I was having physical and mental issues.

Take physical. I could no longer drink water or gatorade. I could not eat anything whether it was gel, a cookie or a pretzel. I think my tank was full but nothing was being absorbed. I was sick to my stomach. Numerous times I felt I could throw up but I did not want to let that happen. I was tired, sleepy and just wanted to lay down. I knew I had to keep moving. As long as I kept moving I was closer to the finish. There were also others, who looked stouter than me, walking behind.

Take mental. I was strongly considering stopping. It wasn't that I wanted to give up. I was just exhausted. I couldn't quit though. How would my family feel. How would my friends feel. They all came up here to see me finish and I can't have them feel like they wasted their time. And quiet frankly, how would I feel if I quit. And then I would have to go through all this mess again next year.

I had no voice anymore. When someone at a water stop would ask me what I wanted, I just had to point. Not that I was able to take anything down anyways.

I began to trot/shuffle/walk/jog/walk and so on. I needed to finish this second lap. All I was thinking was that I had one more lap. Can I do just one more lap?

As I came to the start/finish area I picked up my pace just a little. This had to be pure adrenaline because of the family/friends cheering. This was going to be my moment of decision.

I looked over at my support crew and motioned for my girls' mom, Aimee, to walk with me. Out of the group of people that were there, she was the only one that I could talk to about my possibility of stopping. I don't want to say quiting but that is exactly what was on my mind. I did not debate should I talk to Jan. Should I talk to either Steve? Should I talk to my girls? Should I talk to Elton? She was the right choice at the time. There was only one other person that I would have had walk with me at that moment but she was not there. I still miss you mom.

As I said in the prelude, I had moved out almost a year ago. Aimee could have just dropped the girls off to watch their dad and drive back home. I have given her so many reasons in the past to walk/trot/shuffle/jog/run away. And the last year was no different even after all the cards were put on the table. When you spend over 20 years together raising two beautiful daughters, you still have this need to support one another at times even when your not together.

I grabbed a cup of coke at the water stop. We walked together. I was still moving forward. I told her that I did not think I could do it. I wanted to stop. I was sick. She told me that I was not a quitter. That I trained to hard to quit. Just keep walking if you have to. You still have plenty of time. All you need to do is finish. I asked what would the girls think if I quit. She said this race is not about them or anyone else. "It is about you." You can finish.

She then gave me the ultimate kicker. "I will do the last lap with you." What? "I will do the last lap with you if you want me to." How are you going to do that? It is about nine miles and you have never run more than four. "Well I don't suspect you will be running the whole time. If you keep this pace I can do it. And if you run off from me then that will be good for you." I told her several times that she did not have to do this. All the while she continued to walk/trot/shuffle/jog/walk with me.

I then got some energy and started jogging to the next water stop. There she was, right beside me. I was able to drink some coke. Now back to the start area for the long out and back. I walked and trotted some. And there she was. I again told her that this was going to be about 6 or so miles. I'm here.

We get back to the start line. The rest of the crew was standing there cheering me on. Again seeing familiar faces does a body/mind/soul good. Didn't really give me any fuel but it does energize you a little.

Navy Steve then started yelling that I had this. Only a 10k to go. He started going along side me. I started thinking, do I continue with who was with me the last 2 miles or transfer her for Steve. Who was I kidding. I was at the depletion mode. Not much left. I knew that if Steve went with me, my mind would play tricks on me and we would be rolling in the next ditch because I would have had enough. Don't get me wrong Steve. You are an encouraging person and always willing to help. That is needed at times but this was not the time.

I continued on with the final six miles. I was able to drink coke at the water stops. I had to sit down twice and just sit. The course was very dark in spots and that also played tricks on the mind. I made it to the turn around and now it was 3 miles to the finish. There were a couple of more times when I had to stop and bend over with my hands on my knees. I felt a hand on my back but no words were spoken. I knew what it meant. I managed again to trot/jog/walk the final 3 miles.

When I had a little less than a mile to go I had a sudden surge of energy. Do I take off from my pacer to the finish? I looked at my watch and realized that I could still finish in under 15 hours. No. The pacer deserved to be at the finish. I told her that I was going to stop so she could run ahead and tell the girls and everyone else that I was coming. She jogged off.

I started running and caught up to her twice but again stopped. With about 100 yards til the finish I could see that she had made it to everyone and said I was coming. I then ran to the finish. For some reason I again had a sudden burst of energy. Probably because it was about to be over. I was going to finish when just over an hour and a half ago I was ready to throw in the towel.

I crossed the finish line and started getting asked all kinds of questions. I am sure it was medical related. I am not sure what I even said. I could barely talk anyways. They did not cart me off. I got hugs from all. Even C-Steve. I then laid on the ground. I remember looking up at everyone and they were all smiling. I was smiling too. I was so glad it was over. I then had these two guys all of the sudden appear. They asked me if I was okay and did I need to go to the medical tent. I said I was fine. For the last 10 miles all I wanted to do was lay down and here I lay.

As I said before, this race was more challenging than I thought it would be. All the way around. It challenged my mind, body and soul. The swim and bike seemed to be a breeze. The run caught up to me sooner than I wanted it to. I thought back about someone telling me I should run more after I bike. I will next time Jan. There were 100's of people, places and things going through my mind the last 15 hours. I would be lying if I didn't say that was the case the last 10 months.

Could I have finished the race without a pacer? Probably, but "things happen for a reason" so I hear.

I was asked later how I feel. One of the emotions was disappointment. I was upset at my marathon time. At times I felt like I was giving up to easy. I was told that I finished it. That was the important thing. I still don't buy that. If I did, then I would not strive to do better next time. Next time?

I would again like to thank my family for being there for over 16 hours. My friends for showing up and providing support. Elton, who was the biggest surprise of all, Tom, Kathy, Tanya, Veronica, Jan, C-Steve, Steve and Ben. I would also like to thank those that trained with me. Jan and Karin for the swims. Steve, Casey, Jan, Dave, Jess, Sean for the rides. And Tiesto for the runs. And yes I did go to McDonalds afterwards but all I had was a chocolate shake.

Well hell let's do this again next year. I have signed up for Ironman Florida Nov 3, 2012. Wish me luck. Seems I may not need it next time. Just sayin'.


  1. Nice heartfelt recap! Many things go through your mind during these things (since there is so much time to think about things?!). Did not realize you sat down twice - glad you got back up! 'Til next year!

  2. Your reader enjoyed your report... wish I could have been there to race as well...

    [I stand and bow in your general direction]

    Congratulations Ironman

  3. Awesome! Congrats again. Happy to train w/you. Get on my wheel any time. I had no doubts you could do it.