Friday, June 26, 2009
Okay, I know that I need to write all of this down. It was an incredible experience and I look forward to my next Ironman race. I'm not going to post any pictures here (at least not right now). I posted a bunch on my Facebook page. If you read this and you're not my "friend", just ask me (jeff at aquaveo dot com).
So we left on Tuesday and drove half way to Coeur d'Alene and stayed at Butte, Montana. Not much to report there. The next day we met up with my training buddy and his family and headed in to town. The Ironman village was already being set up. It was pretty cool. We forked out hundreds of dollars in Ironman merchandice. It is ridiculous how much we are willing to fork out to wear Ironman stuff. It's a racket for sure. This was going to be my first race on race wheels. We rented them (sorry don't have a few K's laying around) from RaceDayWheels. Nice people. I decided on a 1080 on the back and a 404 on the front. I was happy with my decision. I also went with tubulars for the first time. For some reason I wasn't nervous at all. I had them show me how to change them. I did a test change and was ready to rock.
We did a short 5 mile run on Thursday followed by a swim in Lake Pend Oreille. Temperature felt great but the strange current out in the middle of the lake scared us both a little. I was calm. I felt great. I was getting lots of sleep. I had no internet access so work so nothing on my mind at all.
So the next day I took Donkey out for a quick spin. It was raining just a bit so I wanted to see how the bike/wheels would handle in the rain. What I didn’t like was how all of the dirt and rocks would stick to the tires and rub on the brake pads and frame. This had me a bit worried so before I checked in my bike I had a tech look at it and make an adjustment to the back tire. The morning before checking in our bikes we went for another ride together. Everything felt great. Donkey was fast and ready to run.
So on Saturday we checked in our bikes, and our swim->bike bag and our bike->run bag. Thousands of bags on the ground, all in order. It was pretty cool. The special needs bags we would bring on race day. It was pretty nice to show up on race day with just our wetsuits. I wasn’t nervous at all but excited to start racing.
We went home, had an early dinner and packed our special needs bags. I put in Pringles, pretzels, fig newtons, a pair of socks, and in each bag I had a small bag of pills (3 salt tablets, 2 Advil, and 2 Alieve). I had no problem falling asleep and got a good 5 ½ hours of sleep.
We woke up at 3:30 and I had my normal breakfast – oatmeal, yogurt, juice, and a banana.
It is pretty amazing to see 2000+ athletes standing on the beach ready to swim. We watched the pros make it around the first loop with the helicopter following the leader. I had to get bodymarked TWICE because the spray on sunblock completely made my numbers run. No worries. I wasn’t worried at all. Rich asked me if I was going to just jump in the middle and swim or go on the side. I told him that I was just going to go for it with everyone else. I’m glad I did. I had no problem. In fact, I was less stressed in this race than other local smaller races. I’m not sure if it was because these athletes were more courteous or what but I had no troubles. I made my first loop around in just over 40 minutes (right on plan). This particular race has you actually get out of the water, cross the mat and then run along the beach and get back in. I actually enjoyed that, threw my hands up in the air and exclaimed “One more time!” to the crowd. Talk about the crowd. They were fantastic.
The second lap on swim proved a bit more difficult as the wind really picked up and that made the waves bigger. If you’ve ever swam in wind and waves then you know how difficult it is to 1) stay straight and 2) breath without taking in a bunch of water. Nevertheless, the swim was quickly over and I was on my way to T1. Within literally seconds, the strippers had my wetsuit off and someone handed me my bag with my bike helmet and shoes.
Tri-Rich was right behind me out of the water and we were soon heading out on our bikes. So much buzz in the air. So many people cheering everyone on. It was really cool. We started out fast. Much faster than we had wanted to. Neither of our bike computers were functioning correctly the whole time but we didn’t really care. We just continued to pass bike after bike. We made it around the first loop no problem. All along the way, there were many people cheering from their driveways or the sides of the road. Although drafting is illegal behind other racers there is nothing in the rulebook that prohibits drafting behind ambulances. That was fun.
Then this is the point where all Hell brakes loose. We were starting our second loop going out of town and had just made the tight turn off of Northwest Blvd. to Government Way. I was slightly ahead of TR and as I rounded the corner I had to ride around a slower biker that was too far over to the left. After passing him/her I looked back to see TR trying to get around the same person, but all of a sudden he was flying over his bike. I thought maybe he might have overcorrected too much, some of the bystanders thought maybe his gears had locked up. Regardless, TR went down, and went down hard. I stopped, jumped off my bike, gave it to a bystander and ran back down the street. TR was out cold but still screaming in pain. TR doesn’t remember anything about the crash. Quickly a couple of the race assistants showed up. I tried to get TR untangled from his bike and off of him. He was pretty scrapped up in several places. One of the race officials showed up in a truck and parked below us to protect all of us and then they set up a “NASCAR” type caution zone for all of the other racers. I grabbed TR’s iPhone out of the back of his jersey. See, our kids were following us via GPS for the day so that they knew where we were. I called his wife and luckily she was only a couple of blocks away. It still took her a good 15 minutes to get through the crowd and barricades. TR came to enough that we moved him off the street and into the nearby parking lot. He was in lots of pain in his back and sides. Just before the ambulance showed up, I asked him what he wanted me to do. There was no way I was racing without him. We started this together and we were going to finish together. It was a tough decision. TR told me he wanted me to finish so that is what I did.
So I hopped back on my bike and began to finish the second loop. That next 5 or so miles was VERY tough. I was bawling like a baby. How could this happen to my buddy. WHY????? Was he going to be okay? Well, I finally was able to focus in on the rest of the race. I was going fast. No one, not a single rider passed me on those last 50 miles and I passed PLENTY of riders. There were a couple of downhill sections out by Hayden that were a bit dicey because the wind had picked up a bit and those cross winds can give those ZIPP wheels extra movement. Everything was going just fine until……
Coming down Government way I was cruising about 30 mph. I felt good. Only a couple more miles and then it was run time. The weather had held. No rain on the bike and I was really happy about that. The police had done a great job keeping the roads clear until….WHAT THE HELL WAS SHE THINKING??????
This young girl on a bike decides to cross Government Way. The only thing I can think of is that she WAY underestimated how fast I was coming down the street. “Surely, she is going to stop. Surely, she is not going to keep going” is what I’m telling myself. Now, this is really only taking seconds to pass. Does she stop? No, she keeps going and I hit her broadside. For some reason my instincts told me to lay the bike down as if I was setting a motorcycle down (not that I really know how to ride a motorcycle). My momentum carried me down the street several more yards. I finally stopped, got untangled from my bike and began my OUT OF CONTROL TIRADE (for those of you that need a Webster definition - a protracted speech usually marked by intemperate, vituperative, or harshly censorious language). The police ran over to me first and told me that medics were on their way. Medics? I didn’t need no stinkin’ medics. I just needed some help to get my bike working again. I picked it up, straightened out the rear derailleur, adjusted the rear wheel, and put the chain back on (all while continuing with the tirade). I got back on the bike and started down the street. I hadn’t gone but 10 feet when I had to get back off. The back wheel wasn’t spinning right and there was too much unwanted noise. CRAP!!!! (more tirades). I tried making more adjustments thinking to myself, if I have to carry Donkey the last couple of miles, I was going to do that. I WOULD finish no matter what. Well, I got everything working. The rear wheel was okay. As long as I didn’t change gears I think I could make it the rest of the way.
Rolled into T2 with my feet out of my bike shoes ready to run. The race support was great. They took my bike, gave me my run bag and ushered me into the changing tent.
As I sat in the changing tent, I kept going over and over in my head the crash. It was crazy. I could have been laying in the hospital next to my buddy. I was lucky. I was blessed. It should have been much worse. Then I realized that I hadn’t even thought about the girl I had hit. I was pretty sure she was okay. She was getting chewed out by the cop pretty bad when I had left “the scene”. Now it was time to but one the gay socks and the running shoes. Some Advil, Aleve, salt tablets, and a bottle of Ensure and I was off.
For the first few miles I continued to have flashbacks of the crash. I was also still worried about my buddy. I wondered if he was okay. More flashbacks. Well, that was NOT going to work for the next 4 hours. With no iPod to listen to I just started singing to myself. Not loud but enough that I was able to clear my head and focus on the run. As lucky as we were on the swim and bike with the rain, not so much for the run. It pretty much rained the entire time. Not bad. I wasn’t really cold. Just keep moving and I stayed warm enough. I was feeling actually pretty good. I was running about 9 minute miles and felt like I could hold that pace for the entire time. I would walk through most of the aid stations as I continued to sip at Gatorade, an occasional cup of Cola, and a few pretzels, bananas, and orange slices. As the run continued, it got colder and wetter. More and more people were walking with those emergency blankets on. I just didn’t get it. Wasn’t this a race? An Ironman race? TR used to say something crude about these people but I’ll refrain.
Prior to the race Jake and Olive made cheer signs. They were very cool. Jake made a big one and these were placed all over the run portion of the race. I happened to find his (among the 100s of posters), so on my last leg back I pulled the sign out of the ground and carried it the last 3 miles or so. Kind of corny I know but I wanted the sign. So then when I was coming down the final stretch I was running and holding the sign above my head. The sign read “The legs feed the wolf” (from the movie Miracle). Everyone was yelling and cheering. It was WAY cool. I approached the finish line, dropped to my knees and rolled across in proper Jon Blais form.
“Jeff Davis, you are an IRONMAN!”
Well, this post has taken me over a week to finish. At times I cannot believe I did it. Part of it doesn’t seem real. Frankly, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. My first time took me just over 13 hours to finish. I am very confident that I can do it closer to 11 hours. I need to train, get faster in the water and be a much better runner but I know that an 11 hour Ironman is well within my reach. TR is hurting. Broken ribs SUCK and he’ll be out of the water and away from running for several more weeks. It just really SUCKS. We trained so hard together for over a year. I want to be happy for what I was able to accomplish but it’s pretty hard to. When I crossed the finish line and they gave me the medal, I tried putting it around TR’s neck. He’s the Ironman in my book. He wore it that night and then gave it back. He’s working with the WTC folks to hopefully get him in either Arizona, Wisconsin, or Louisville. We’ll see how that goes.
I’ve eaten tons of CRAP food this past week and have done very little in the way of exercising. I ran on Saturday in preparation for the 4th of July Freedom Festival 5K. Most of my road rash is gone and my knee isn’t too stiff anymore. We signed up today for our traditional Jordanelle triathlon. This was my first triathlon and it was the same for TR when he started. Well, there you go. Short and Sweet.