Despite a fever on the morning of the race, and disregarding the meniscus issue I developed on my Tour de Los Angeles, I am happy to report that I was somehow able to power through and finish my first official Ironman distance triathlon on August 2nd. (I did an impromptu Ironman myself on June 28th, but there is nothing like the expectation and excitement of the real thing.)
The 2.4 mile swim was a relative breeze considering that when I started this training in November I couldn't make it 10 lengths of the pool without sucking wind. In fact, the 74 degree water served to keep my temperature down and I felt fresh and confident coming in to the first transition.
On the 112 mile bike, my goal was to keep a steady pace early and not go out too fast. I managed the effort solely by my heart rate and just stayed down on my aero bars. The first 60 miles went very smoothly and my pace was surprisingly quick for a guy who was blowing his nose and taking throat lozenges the whole time. However, by mile 75, the 98 degree Sonoma heat had kicked in and I found myself on the side of the road tossing cookies. I puked again at 85, and one more time for good measure at 95. Sheer competitive stupidity allowed me to get back on my rig and maintain a swift pace. However, needless to say, by the time I got to the run transition, I was a mess.
I stood there in the searing hot parking lot of Windsor High School, with Minnie and my parents shouting encouragement from the sidelines. I felt completely detached from my body, a mere close-up observer to an athlete's agony. I came back into the present and put my head down on the bike rack for a minute, pausing to remind myself of why I was doing this and how hard I had trained. Just a marathon to go. Heh.
I resolved to just get out onto the course. There would be more than enough time to think all this through if I could get a few miles away from there. A couple of loving hugs later, my legs were scuffing the gravel of a winding wine country lane. I never did feel any better than absolutely awful on that run. But the three loop course was littered with people who were undoubtedly in much worse shape, so I considered myself lucky and just kept moving forward.
At 13:07:25, I crossed the finish line, much to the delight of the
crowd who had been loving my Obama jersey all day. (Note: while wearing
Obama schwag is guaranteed to draw fervent support from spectators,
expect to be required to dispense at least a thousand fist bumps.) It's
hard to describe the temporarily restorative impact of that finishing
tape slapping your belly. I was elated, relieved, proud, and downright
chipper. My eyes welled up with tears as my mom, dad, Minnie and her
mom all embraced me in the chute. I was done.
Within a half hour, the idiocy of the day's undertaking finally caught up with me and I found myself in a heap on the lawn of the high school, shaking. Every cell hurt. By midnight, my body finally decided it would accept some food and liquid and, by 2:30am, my smile had returned. I was an Ironman, even if all I could ingest was ginger ale and some crackers.
I want to thank everyone who made this possible for me. My mom and dad were such troopers for coming out from Buffalo to cheer me on with my mom defying her doctor's orders to avoid that heat and with my dad nursing his own knee injury aggravated by accompanying me on some training runs back in my hometown. The entire Ingersoll clan was so supportive ever since this crazy plan was hatched, organizing rides in SF and LA with Marion, Ruth, and Grandma Sarah even making it up to my race. The coaches from Ironteam were an invaluable resource without whom I could not have begun to complete this distance, and I'm deeply flattered that my Ironteam buddies Josh and Robin Boxer came up from the city to support me. Kevin Coady was my sage and guru, humoring my endless nutrition and gear queries and Dr. Taylor Rabbetz gave me the treatment and confidence to overcome what I thought was a hopeless knee. Moreover, the Twitter and FriendFeed communities were there along the way sending me good wishes in real-time.
Above all, I need to thank my training partner and amazing friend, Minnie Ingersoll. From initially recruiting me into this ultra-endurance realm of questionable judgment, to keeping me motivated at almost every discouraging turn, I owe so much of my result to her. Preparing for a race of this length requires weekend after weekend of countless hours in the saddle and pounding sand. Min kept lazy me honest and didn't let me slack on the work I needed to put in. She has her own Ironman coming up in Louisville, KY this weekend, and I am sure she too will see all the hard work pay off.
That said, will I do another one? Hmm. For now, doubtful. I am afraid I will just find myself racing against my time from the last race. Nevertheless, you all know that I am an endorphin addict and I am sure I will find a new challenge soon. Stay tuned...