I AM AN IRONMAN!!!!!! WOOHOO!!!!!!!!
Well, 1st off I have to say, Congrats to all the Ironman finishers in Team Blaze, “YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!” Wow! Amazing!
2nd: I want to say I’m glad you’re okay Steve…whew..that was a close one.
3rd: To all the Team Blaze members, “YOU ARE AMAZING!!!!!”
I mean it! Ironman would not have been as the same without the incredible support of all the TB members and of course our amazing coaches! (Let’s hear it for Coach Scott & Tristan, WOOHOO!!!”)
Well where do I begin? Well at the beginning of course!
So, I was born in a ……oh, not that far back. Sorry, skip ahead to the germane stuff:
Basically my quest started 5.5 years ago, and I knew at some point I would be doing an Ironman, and I knew it would be CDA. So when Steve & I signed up last year it was all part of the plan but I had no idea how much work and fun it was going to be!
On Friday we did the race packet pickup, walked through the expo, twice, added our inspirational messages to the reader board (didn’t see any of them during the marathon…did anyone see any messages?), went to the Welcome dinner (YUM! That was some good food and great motivational stuff, don’t miss it!) and of course the mandatory meeting. (Less fun, but still a must do)
On Saturday we dropped off the bikes and did an actual walk through of all transitions: (Both Steve & I have a flare for the dramatic so we actually videotaped us running from point to point….Hollywood, look out!)
Before we actually started the walk/run video we had talked with Jay at one of the stores at the Expo and he was so generous with his time. I told him I was unclear on how all the transitions would work and he laid it out so clearly I felt like I had actually done them! Thanks JAY! YOU RAWK!
So, back to the video: We actually ran from the edge of the entry from the swim (if that makes sense) and ran over to where the wet suit strippers would be, dropped down on the ground, threw up my legs and pretended that someone was pulling off my wet suit.
Once that was completed we each ran to where we had placed our T1 bags earlier according to our bib numbers, and then ran over to the tent. (BTW: The video wasn’t really that helpful as it mostly contained a lot of jigglying and laughing!) We continued this for all the transitions and I have to say it really helped during the race. It was so clear I never worried where I had to go even though I was a space case.
(Wow, how long is this going to be? I haven’t even got to the race yet!!!)
So, after all that we headed back to Spokane and Steve dropped me off at my house and took off. My wife was working outside so I went over to her and she said, “So, did you see it? See what? The sign. The sign? (Thinking perhaps God had finally given me a sign) The one in the yard!”
I turned around and looked where she was pointing and there in our front yard was a sign saying, “Go Paul, you RAWK!” SOOOOO STINKING COOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Seriously! Just that morning as we were pulling away I looked back at my house and thought, “Hmm, if the kids were home they’d put up a sign. Maybe I’ll do something when I get back”. So I couldn’t believe it when Sandy told me someone named Al had come by and stuffed a sign in our lawn!! THANK YOU Al and TEAM BLAZE! Just another reason to love this team!
Saturday night was a challenge: Making sure everything was setup for the 10th time. Making sure my wife was going to be ready to roll at 3:30 the next morning. Making sure everything was setup for the 20th time….whew..what a night! But honestly, I did get about 5 hours of good sleep so I felt fortunate.
3:30 – Alarm goes off: Time for a quick wake up shower then downstairs for breakfast.
3:40 – Oatmeal, walnuts, raisins, & honey. Half a bagel. Lots of water.
4:00 – Personal Time
4:15 – Out the door and to CDA! WOOHOO!
5:00 – Arrived CDA, drop off bike, drop off special needs bags, load up bike with water and nutrition, look for Steve, go into changing tent, notice the “no smoking” sign….huh?, put on wet suit (forgot to apply gel around neck and am still paying for it as I type this..OUCH!), look around at all the other athletes and notice some are smiling and laughing, many are not. Sat there for a few minutes and looked around and thought about where I am and what I’m about to do. This is cool. I’M FINALLY HERE! Finally I meet up with Steve. STEVE!!! We’re DOING THIS! WOOHOO!!!!!!!!! WE’VE BEEN LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS FOR OVER A YEAR AND WE ARE FINALLY HERE! AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
6:30 – Get down to the water, and forget everything coach said about lining up to the left. We came down the steps and said, “hmmm, looks like a straight shot to the orange buoy from here, let’s just start here!” So we did!
SWIM: After the gun went off, just slowly walked out with the other crazy’s and looked over at Steve and next thing I knew we were in the water. I would swim a little then lift up my head, try and find some open water and then swim a little more. Saw Steve a few times but as we started catching up with the crowd I lost him. Wow..talk about bumping and pushing and shoving…Whew! That happened a LOT, so when in Rome…I didn’t do it out of anger but a few times I had to push people off or away from me as they started to run over the top of me. At one point my right hand found someone’s butt. I wanted to apologize but what can you do? Finally after about 300 meters it seemed like it thinned a bit as I had moved over to the left side of the buoys and finally had room to swim. Then as I approached the 1st turn, yikes! Where’d all the people come from. It was basically stop and go, and people really weren’t swimming, they were treading water with their heads up and swearing at people to get moving! Ah, the triathlon spirit in full display! HA! I had to laugh. We’re just like anyone else when we’re in a hurry! It was a little busy between the two turns and just had to bump and push until we turned the 1st corner. I looked at my watch and I think it showed 24 minutes. No idea if that was good or bad, but I just went back to work. For the most part I had open water till we came out of the water on the 1st lap. I remembered what Coach Scott had said about not stopping until your hands hit the ground and I did that. Popped up and immediately took a gel. Handed the empty packet to a volunteer as I didn’t want to get a fine. (Wow..I was actually clear headed..a first!) Headed out for 2nd lap and actually felt pretty good. Heart rate was low and my arms felt fresh. 2nd lap was pretty uneventful except on the stretch coming in I was thinking about what to do to get ready for the bike and I got out of my rhythm of right stroke breathe, left stroke breathe, quick right stoke and breathe then sight, and I wound up heading towards the resort. Finally a kayaker yelled at me and I got straighten up. Cruised in fairly straight the rest of the way and came out at 1:30:30 which was just where I had hoped. Not fast but I felt very fresh. Saw the Team Blaze group and then my wife, stopped and waved at both. Whew, I was VERY glad the swim was over. Although I knew I could do the distance I was very concerned with the start and all the pushing and shoving, and of course now that it’s a distance memory it really wasn’t too bad, but I did get kicked in the face and had my goggles knocked around, but very little water leaked in. Not bad, not bad.
T1: I ran over to the swim suit strippers and there was JAN! Woohoo! Said hello, and next thing I knew my wet suit was off and they had helped me up and I was off to gather my T1 bag. Doing the walk through really helped as I knew exactly what I was going and where I was going. I had even made my bag more visible by making sure the towel stuck up outside the bad so I could see it as I ran by. Inside the changing tent I was excited but stayed focused and even joked around with a few people. I took my time and made sure everything was done properly: Feet dried; glide applied and all things in their place. Both Steve & I decided the day before to not put on our shoes, but to carry them to our bikes so we wouldn’t have to run with them across the basketball court and the grass / dirt. So I carried my shoes, my helmet with my gloves and glasses inside, and then my bag with the two bottles of gel. (I should have loaded them on my bike but I had mistakenly put them in the T1 bag…DUH!) On the way out of the tent I stopped to get sun screen put on and it was awkward while holding all that stuff! Ran over to my bike, dropped on the ground, put on my socks, shoes, helmet, glasses, …..uh oh…where’s my gel? WHERE’S MY GEL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Dang it! Ran all the way back to the sun screen appliers, “ANYONE SEEN MY TWO GEL BOTTLES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Here here! Someone had found them and put them in my morning clothes bag…whew! THAT would have been a VERY big mistake! Ran across the basketball court with my shoes a 2nd time (Jeepers what a dork!) and FINALLY grabbed my bike and started running to the start line. Even though I had to run back and forth I was really focusing on keeping my heart rate down and not letting the excitement get me too crazy. I took my time hoping onto the bike and when I started off my bike was in the low gear just like Coach and told us so I was peddling very easy. Waved at all the Team Blaze folks as I headed out to Higgins point.
As I was heading out there I was paying very close to my heart rate and I was careful to not let it get too high. I was relaxed, thanking all the police and volunteers as I went by and being very careful to make sure the pressure on the bottoms of my feet were very light and I keep repeating as I went along, “go easy, go easy, the 1st lap HAS TO BE EASY!”. So that’s what I focused on and then next thing I knew Higgins point was in view and I was heading back towards town.
Somewhere on that return loops I saw Steve and he wasn’t too far behind! “Yoh Steve-o, looking good! WOOHOO!” Alright, won’t be long before he passes me, I thought. So I just kept my head down, and was listening to my heart rate, and kept saying, “go easy go easy”. I was drinking my Infinit, and water on a regular basis. Taking salt tabs about every hour, things were feeling good, and the hills came and went with no problem. No problem meaning, I took them easy. I have a 3rd chain ring and I used it on the step places and made sure my heart rate was nice and low and steady. No busting up hills for me! But, doing downhill’s, WooHoo! Look out! HERE I COME! I have an 11/30 cluster on the back and on those downhill’s I just flew! I didn’t even have to push hard; it just was a steady push.
On the Ohio Match turnaround, on the way back I saw Steve again and he was looking great! I thought for sure he would be passing me before we got back to CDA. (Little did I know).
So got through town waved again to the Team Blaze group and headed out to the Higgins turnaround and my special needs bag. I noticed when I stopped my stomach was a little funny but didn’t think too much of it. My special needs bag contained chicken broth (unopened in a can), a PBJ sandwich, my 2nd Infinit bottle with no water, so I had to fill it there. I even packed my own water. (Didn’t know if leaving it in the bottle in the sun was a good idea so I mixed it fresh there.) Saw a good friend of mine from my last job, so I yelled over at Allan and he came by and held my bike while I did all the switching around. He was pretty excited about being there as he was planning on signing up the next day for his 1st IM! WOOHOO! Once I had everything together off I went.
I was sort of expecting that Steve would have caught up with me by now so when I didn’t see him at Higgins I started worrying about him. I was afraid he’d had a flat. (He had TWO last year in Troika) I was like, “Okay, if he had ANOTHER flat then it’s time for a new RIM!) I pushed on to the 1st aid station past Higgins and stopped to use the potty. Since I never saw him again I figured I must have missed him while I was using the facilities.
As I was coming into town after the 1st lap and I did that little stub before you can actually finish, I heard a commotion behind me as I headed out towards the turn around. Next thing I know I’m passed like I was standing still by the top 5 or 6 pro’s! OH MY GOSH! I WAS RIDING WITH THE PRO’S!!! Well, for a second anyway! Man those guys are fast! So fast they were finishing their 2nd lap while I was just starting my 2nd!
The 2nd lap was pretty much the same as the 1st. There are places on the route in the hills where I knew the course so well that I would fly down the hill, know there was a sharp corner coming followed by a small hill so I would position myself on the outside, sweep down low during the turn and come flying out of the turn and up the hill, push just a little on the short hill and then a pretty hard left onto a downhill and I was flying! That hill/corner and one more on Lancaster were the only two places where I really pushed because I had practiced it so many times I knew it by heart and I knew I would pass a LOT of people and I did! OH YEAH BABY!!!
So coming back into town I’m really starting to worry about Steve. I know he should have passed me by now even if he did have a flat. Each time I saw a Team Blaze member I would asked if they had seen him and they’d say no. Hmmm, something’s wrong here. I even had a thought that perhaps he had been in an accident but I dismissed it. NO WAY! I just kept praying for him.
RUN: Got off the bike and ran over to pick up my T2 bag and I knew something was wrong with my stomach. I felt like everything was sitting on top of my stomach and not getting into the belly. I noticed it on the bike and stopped drinking so much Infinit and started drinking only water, but I was just getting more and more bloated. I wasn’t sure what was going on. I knew I had taken the bike easy as my average speed was just over 15 which is just what I practiced. When I got to the changing tent I sat down and tried to figure out what to do. One of the volunteers brought over a cold wet towel and I used that on my face and head and man oh man did that feel good. Just like Coach said it would!
Next thing I knew someone was kneeling down in front of me asking how I was feeling. IT WAS MASON! WOH! SO COOL! He gently asked me how I was doing, so I told him. So he told me to relax, take some deep breathes and start the run very slowly. It was so good to see him there. He was like a ministering angel. Thanks man, your calm spirit really helped me relax!
So I headed out for the run and my legs felt great but my stomach felt terrible! It was like trying to run with an 8 or 10 pound water bladder sitting on top of my stomach! Every step I took was painful and I wanted to throw up. I did eventually stick my fingers down my throat a couple of times and all I got was the dry heaves. One athlete saw me do that and told me if the race officials see me throw up they’ll follow me and if I do it again they might take me off the course, so I started doing that only in the bathrooms.
So, needless to say my run stunk. I was so disheartened. I had planned on being able to do a 4:30 marathon or 5 at the slowest and here I was walking and running and walking and running and all I wanted to do WAS RUN!!!!!! But each time I would run my stomach would say, “no you don’t!”
Finally my wife came by with ginger ale, saltines and peppermint mints but I told her I could not take them or I’d be disqualified. So she biked ahead and gave the bottle of ale to an aid station worker and he handed a glass of it to me as I came by. Then I noticed saltines and mints on top of the fence post by the lake after the 13.1 mile turn around so I started eating those and sucking on the mints. I think they helped a little as I was able to run a little bit more. A big thank you to my wife for doing that!
So, by this time I know I’m going to make it but I was still worried about Steve as it appeared something happened. I kept asking my wife and finally she told me he didn’t make the cut off on the bike. I’m like, “What? Didn’t make the cut off? NO WAY!” She’s not much of a liar so she would just shrug her shoulders and would ride off.
So I decided I needed to let go of worrying about Steve, forget about messing up the run, and try and enjoy the last mile of the marathon.
I ran past a bunch of Team Blaze people in the dark and somehow Bill noticed it was me, and ran next to me and told me congratulations on finishing. I thanked him for waiting there forever for me, and was sorry I had taken so long. I was struggling with my feelings. On one hand I had executed my swim and bike exactly like I had planned. But something went wrong, and my run….well, to be frank, sucked. So I was struggling with my attitude. I had been thankful the entire race. I made sure I smiled, relaxed, had a ball, and thanked all the volunteers and my friends that I saw. I reached out to other athletes who were struggling on the run too; I’d put my hand on their backs and give them an encouraging word, so really I was having a good time, staying positive, but here I was less than a mile from the finish and I was feeling down. Like I had let down…well to be honest…I felt like I had let down Coach and Team Blaze by doing something wrong and it had affected my run, and now I’m just another typical first time Ironman doing all the rookie mistakes! BUT WHAT WAS MY MISTAKE? At 1st I thought perhaps I had gone out too hard on the bike, but the more I thought about it the more I thought no, I didn’t, I kept checking in with myself and making sure my heart rate was low and my effort was easy. There’s wasn’t one time where I went, “Oops..pushed too hard there”. No, I was SURE I had done the bike right. So what happened?
I finally told myself to let it go. The finish was coming up. I needed to be happy and thankful that I was going to finish my 1st Ironman. I could hear the announcer as I turned the corner onto the finish. Okay…this is it. I’ve been building for this for 5 years and training for it for the last 6 months. Steve and I had logged so many miles together we could finish each other’s sentences. Dang…where’s Steve-0? Focus…this is your moment…enjoy it. Whew…wish my Mom could see this. She watched all my baseball games….was there at each one….Wish Dad could have made it, but, I’ll see him in a few days…focus…this has been a long long journey. Did I have fun? Oh yeah…a BLAST! All those early morning runs with Steve..20, 25, 30 milers. 90 miles of Hayden hills, wow…those hurt….man I am sooooo glad this is going to be over shortly! Wow! Can’t believe it! I MADE IT, I MADE IT! DANG! Hey, there’s My WIFE! HEY SANDY! I THINK I’m going to MAKE IT!!! WOOHOO!!! TERRY! MARGO! Wow! Where did you guys come from! FLASH! “Ouch! My eyes!” Terry’s taking a LOT of pictures! FLASH FLASH FLASH! “Thanks guys! Thanks soooo much for waiting for me! Sorry I took so long!!! LOVE YOU HUN!! LOVE YOU TERRY!! See you in a bit!!”
There it is…the finish line. Wow…man…look at all those people! MAN, that is one bright light! Okay, listen for it, listen now, “Paul Mooter from Spokane, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!!!!!!!!” “YES! YES! I AM! I’M AN IRONMAN!!!!!!!!!!!! WOOOOOOOHOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THANK YOU JESUS!!!!!!!!!!! YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I DID IT! I FINALLY DID AN IRONMAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Finish Shoot: When I crossed the finish line Jay was there to catch me and that’s exactly what he did! He gave me a great big bear hug from a great big bear! It was so cool! Thanks man! Even Mason was there! Can this get any better? Wow! Thanks so much Jay & Mason for getting me all set for the camera!!
Epilog: At the end, Steve finally found me and told me the story. I couldn’t believe it! I hugged him, then pulled away and looked down, and there both his ankles were wrapped and swollen and here he was, 10:30 at night waiting for his bud to FINALLY finish. He said he kept ducking out of sight each time I would come through on the bike or the run as he didn’t want me to know or worry about what had happened to him. What a guy. Got hit by a car 40 miles into his 1st lap on the bike and he waited the entire day with this family (thanks Brenda, and kids!) for me to finish. No finer training partner could one have than Steve Warrington. In my book Steve, YOU are an IRONMAN!
As I write this, I’m sitting in my Dad’s living room in Melbourne, Florida listening to fire crackers going off outside. Yeah, it’s the 4th of July and I’m a little late in getting this race report out.
On the flight out here to Florida, the plane was so full that I wasn’t able to sit by my wife but instead picked a spot between two guys across the aisle and one row behind my wife. As I sat down I noticed they had a blue wrist strap that said IRONMAN. I had a great flight!
PS: So what happened on the run? I’m almost 100% sure that I mixed my Infinit drink too strong. I had been using it in practice but the 2nd time I practiced with it I mixed it strong but we didn’t complete the full 112 mile practice ride so I didn’t find out if my stomach could handle it. So the night before the race when I mixed it I thought well, I’ve used 7 scoops in a 24 oz bottle but I have to have enough to last for 65 miles (to Higgins point) so I used 9.5 scoops. I had also upped the protein on my last two orders so I think that might have affected me as well. I think because the mix was so strong my stomach just shut down. It couldn’t handle the strong mix. And even when I thought it might be the Infinit and I switched to just water, it was too late. The stomach had already shut down and I noticed I wasn’t passing water very much when I stopped for bathroom breaks. To further confirm this, I noticed after the race when I was supposed to be sleeping, every 45 minutes I was up and peeing like a race horse! Rookie.