Ironman race reports…hmmm…god damn they suck…until now!
Race morning –
“It’s not even 5AM and I’ve shit 3 times!” I am sitting in the Biffie outside transition taking my last shit of the morning before I get my wetsuit on. Anyone that does not tell you about their bowel movements prior to a big race is clearly hiding something and/or has never done a big race. That, or they enjoy shitting themselves at said big race. I do not enjoy shitting myself, not that it has happened before, but it is a distinct possibility when you FSU as hard as I do. So I am taking a shit getting my last minute social media post out to the world because that is super important. What is equally important is noise canceling headphones and a total disregard for other humans aka zero fucks to give. I always keep my head down, music on, and interact with only my family before a race. Reason being 95% of the people at Ironman believe they are going to qualify for Kona aka Konassholes, and the other 5% are so scared shitless their nervous energy is really quite annoying. Suck it up people. You are either ready or you are not. Being an asshole pre race isn’t going to solve anything, but I digress.
This year I was stoked about the race because I was super fit for the first time in 5 years, so I was excited to reap the rewards of my great training season (no sarcasm there, I really did train for this one). Despite my kankle injury I was feeling ready to Hump the shit out of life today!
I said my goodbyes to my family, which for some reason is always emotional before Ironman, dried my tears and pushed a little kid over to make myself feel better. The walk to the swim start is usually super packed, super intense, and a great opportunity to piss yourself and drip pee on people standing next to you out the bottom of your wetsuit. This time was no exception; you’re welcome random athletes whose athlete’s foot I probably cured by peeing on them.
Swim Start –
Once you make your way through the masses you hit the beach. The people who are truly fucked in the head are out “warming up” in the lake while seasoned vets like me are on the beach making wise cracks to no one in particular. The canon goes off we all walk to the start and begin our 2.4 mile journey in the warmest, calmest, and most beautiful swim of IMCDA history. Normally the water is upper 50’s and choppy as shit. This year the water was 73 and no wind, so super calm. It was an awesome swim! There was the usual bullshit that happens out there, but it was limited to only a handful of occasions due to the rollout start. I was only kicked in the face once, only had to grab someone by the leg and pull them back once, and was never swam over. All in all it was a fantastic swim. The only concern was my ankle. I was told “just don’t kick with that leg, and you should be fine.” I followed the advice, and swam just fine. However, when I got out of the swim I could not put any weight on my ankle so I hopped up the transition route and limped my way to the bike.
Nothing too exciting here as I am Mr. Professional when it comes to my transitions. I stay relaxed and calmly change into my cycling clothes. This year I had to recruit some super old dude to help cram my arm cooler sleeve things on, but other then that I was quick enough. For the first time ever I did not run past my bike while my family screams at me to turn around. I actually ran right to it and did a super bad ass cyclocross mount and was off the shred the bike course.
112 miles –
The bike was awesome for about 70 miles. I am usually super chatty and love to crack jokes along the route to people who rarely acknowledge my existence because they are so focused on qualifying for Kona. They usually don’t respond well when I say things like, “Look buddy, if you are riding back here with me you ain’t qualifying for Kona so chill the fuck out.” The interesting thing about the bike course is for the first lap (2 lap course) you end up riding/trading places with the same group of 5-10 riders. I climb a little faster then them so I pass them on the climbs, then they bomb past me on the downhill and flats. Goes on like that for about 3 hours, so I try and make it “fun” for everyone by singing, telling jokes, and talking shit. If I get a response from someone on a joke I usually then begin talking shit. Things like, “Hey what’s your name?” “Ben.” “Ben, you mother fucker. Today when I woke up I said to myself, I am going to kick Ben’s ass today. And here we are. What say you…Ben?” This guy was a cool dude because he talked shit back, “That’s funny I said the same thing about you this morning.” Ben and I joked around for pretty much the entire first lap before things got dark.
Once things get dark I leave people alone, mainly because I am not in a good place either. Last year it got dark at about 1500 PBS. That’s 1,500 feet post bike start, so not a good time last year! This year it didn’t get dark until about mile 70. For some reason I was out of water & fuel, and the next aid station was about 500 fucking miles away. The temp was about 100 degrees already and shit was getting real in a hurry. For some reason I mixed my food source too thick and drinking a 90 degree paste somehow made me think of sucking off the Pillsbury Doughboy, so I was trying not to puke each time I drank it. I had to get my shit together. I finally made it to the next aide station and pulled over. I tossed the creamy jiz bottles and took on some bananas, and speaking of jiz, some gels. While sitting there stocking up some random volunteer was dumping ice cold water on my head, arms, and legs. He then asked if I wanted some ice in my jersey, and I said “think I don’t” (inside joke). I was expecting a handful of ice, but instead he started scooping copious amounts of ice in the front and back of my jersey. I bet he put 10 lbs of ice in there. I took off, and just as quickly as things went bad they got better. I am not going to lie and say I was 100% after that, but I was pretty damn close. The rest of the bike was much like a normal hot long ride. Felt like shit, drank as much as I could, and kept shoving anything I could down my throat ___insert joke here___. It was getting hotter, and I could not believe what was unfolding in front of me on the course.
Heat and mind fucking –
Ever heard the term, “Mind fuck?” Well, you have now. Basically when you convince yourself that you cannot do something mentally eventually your body agrees with you. “Whether you think you can or cannot you are right.” Everyone knew going into IMCDA the heat was going to be a factor. 108 in the forecast is nothing to joke about. Dry, humid, whatever: 108 is 108. The road temp was probably way hotter then that. What I saw on the last part of the bike course was insane. People were literally lying on the side of the highway in the ditch. One guy was in the fetal position in the shade of a mile marker sign! There were people stopped in the middle of the road bent over their bikes sobbing. There is one long climb on the course that is pretty challenging (NOT NOT NOT super steep though) and there was a line of people walking their bikes up the 4-6 mile climb. I have never seen anyone walking their bikes before on this course, and there were like 50 fucking people walking their bikes! It was an awful site. If I had any sort of compassion inside me I would have felt for those people, but fortunately I don’t! “Road kill #157!” “Hey what’s your age group?” talking to the guy passed out on the side of the road “If you are 35-39 you are going down bro!”
I had my own shit to deal with. I wasn’t going to attend the pity party that was unfolding in front of me. I was, deep down, still thinking about my ankle and if I was going to have to walk/limp the marathon. I think it was somewhere around mile 90 that I started a mantra in my head, “what ankle? What ankle?….” The power of the mind is truly amazing. Due to my incredible mental focus, world class athleticism, and just pure bad assery when I got off the bike my ankle simply did not hurt. It was all because of me, or maybe just maybe my team of Doctor friends had something to do with it? I don’t know, I had the guy that works on Payton Manning, Tiger Woods, and anyone else you can think of working on my ankle for 3 days. Prior to that the #2 A.R.T. guy in the world worked on it for a week. Prior to that my Doctor buddy who is an foot & ankle specialist shot my ankle up with some drugs to take the swelling away. I guess we will never know who is to thank. Probably me though.
I got on the run course and because the ankle felt great I said to myself, “I am going to run until my ankle hurts. It might be a mile or it might be 26.2, but I am not going to stop running until it hurts.” Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, my ankle never hurt in the slightest. I ran every step of the marathon. Now, running is a term I use loosely, maybe more like shuffling or as I call it The-Branch-Shuffle, but nonetheless I ran the whole thing. I would run to the aide station (every mile) fuel up and just keep on running. I had a watch on, ahem Apple Watch – you have one right – no big deal, and looked at it every once and awhile. Honestly though, my brain was not interpreting what it was seeing so I had no clue what my pace was or how long I had been running. I just knew I had to run to the next aide station and put some ice in my hat and possibly shove one of those hoses they had up my ass (an old fighter pilot trick for hydrating, just ask one about it).
The run course was not quite the Zombie Apocalypse the bike course was. It was more like an AIDS walk, or the March of Dimes type vibe. Never seen so many people walking at an Ironman. Holy shit! The people of CDA deserve some sort of medal. They were out in full force with Ice, hoses, watermelon, beer, and water ever else a guy needed. I was able to survive simply because I kept my trucker hat, neck buff band, and arm cooler things full of ice. I would fill everything up at the aide station, and a mile later the ice would be completely gone. That was pretty fast for that much ice to melt. I mean, nobody else in the entire race was running as fast as I was. Unless you count those 350 some people who finished before me, but good thing I don’t. The crowd was a little smaller then usual, but the assistance from the crowd was the best I have ever seen. It was a great atmosphere on the run course, and it helped to keep you running along.
The finish –
The finishing stretch in CDA is something to behold. There truly is something special about turing on 8th and Sherman and looking a half mile downhill to the finish line. Wall to wall people and a steady line of racers to run in with. However, this year when I turned the corner on 8th and Sherman there were ZERO racers in front of me the entire stretch to the finish. ZERO. It was the eeriest feeling I have had on an Ironman finish. Nobody in front of me, and nobody behind me. It was quiet and barren leading up to the chute. Although it was different then before it was still awesome! There is just something about finishing an Ironman that is so spectacular, so amazing, so dank that it keeps you coming back for more. Seeing the family at the finish line is a great feeling. The finish is for them. They got me there with all of their support, encouragement, and their ability to put up with my shit. The race is for me, but the finish is always for them. It is this reason, and this reason alone that I do not whip it out and wiggle it the entire way down the chute! “Montucky Mike, you are an….holy shit is that his dick!?”