Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Holy cow, this is actually happening - see you at Ironman Hawaii this Sat!

I got the 24-hour notice to check in for my flight to Kona, Hawaii, and it suddenly hit me....

...Holy Cow, this is really happening. I'm going to toe the line at the Ironman World Championships this Saturday. WAAAAAAAAA-HOOOOOO!!!!!

You would think the reality of this would have kicked in little earlier. Like when I was lucky enough to win the lottery slot in March after 12 years of trying...or perhaps when I confirmed the entry by finishing the Pacific Crest Triathlon (half Ironman) in June...or maybe on one of the multitude of two-a-day workouts clocked since July to get ready. Nope. It hit today, randomly around 1pm with some automated e-mail from United. And in an instant I am worthless at work, sleepless at night, and as giddy as a school girl with front row seats to Justin Bieber*. Boy, this event has got my goat in a big way.

But why? Isn't it just another race?

I guess so. Then why I am so worked up? The distance isn't a problem. There's nothing quite like a 100-miler to set your perspective on an Ironman. Hell, you don't even have to pack a headlight for the Ironman, and odds are you will make it home for dinner. And I get to SIT DOWN for half of it, thanks to that bike portion. A 100-mile run is Crazyland compared to a midnight cutoff of an Ironman. Anyone who has seen two sunrises in the same run (like moi) knows all about that.

Maybe I'm freaking out to honor the scarifice of the training? I have to say, I have a whole new respect for the athletes who have adopted the Ironman lifestyle. The sheer discipline required to keep a decent aerobic base in all three sports is extraordinary, often in excess of 20 hours a week, and I don't think I even came close to what you would need to do to be a age group contender. I flirted with overtraining regularly, occasionally too tired to sleep, and on more than one occasion sleeping only to dream of training. In one case, I even dream-swam right off the side of the bed, grabbing my alarm clock with proper high elbow efficiency, and pulling myself onto our very surprised sleeping dogs. The two-a-day ritual did nothing short of consume me, leaving only the consolation of the morphing specimen in the mirror that replaced my usually rail-thin runner physique with a bizarro-twin smuggling a washboard up front, a manta ray on the back, and a couple of grapefruits where my protruding shoulder bones used to be (all of which are thinly veiled by the silk-thin skin unable to compete with the 5,000 calorie days). If my eyelids weren't at half mast at all times, I might be impressed.

Honestly, I know the truth of why I have the butterflies. A professional marketer knows when they have bought a story hook, line, and sinker, and I have it bad. I've been watching this event for years, and I know all the lingo, all the characters, all the history, etc., polished like only the Emmy-award winning staff from NBC can do. I can recount every race over the last 10 years. It many ways the Ironman defined endurance sports to me long before I could run a single mile. It's a Bucket List race for sure.

So I'm excited to be a part of it. I'm thrilled to participate in an event where you can toe the line with the best in the sport, much like ultrarunning allows us to do. There's no doubt I will buy enough shwag to last a lifetime, just like my first trip to Western States. And I couldn't be more pleased to have my family there to cheer me on, scrape me up at the finish, and be a part of the whole experience.

So with that, I sign off and head for the big island. If you are not already running the Fire Trails 50 or some other cool event, you can follow my progress at Expect a manatee-like swim, a decent bike, and hopefully, some legs left at the end. Want to come to Ironman in 2011? The lottery just opened!

And of course, as many pictures as I can take!

* For those who don't know, this pre-teen mop-head is like, the next like, Justin Timberlake, chy'a. Every time I see his angelic mug and hairless frame, I wonder if this is what our grandparents thought when they saw The Beatles. Only with no songwriting skills.


  1. Good luck,Scott. I want to see a picture from the swim.That would be a first!

  2. Hi again,
    Thought you might do a pre-M Dot post after hearing the "it's just starting to hit me" comment yesterday. Thanks for sharing the experience/emotions that many of us will never have the privilege of doing/having. Good luck and, again, most importantly, HAVE FUN! Best, Ann
    PS--I'll try to be the "angel over your shoulder" for this one by encouraging/reminding you to eat and drink as much as you can tolerate during the event, especially while on the bike---not just Vespa and a few Gu's plus water along the way like you have done in some of your ultra's (guarantee you will thank me for this later :)

  3. Digger beat me to it! I was wondering what the plan was for the swim photos. Neil

  4. See you on the swim course -- we start building it today. And I'll be one of the guys in the orange shirts directing you outbound on the run after t2 as well. Good luck and have fun.

  5. Hey Scott,

    Nothing quite like Kona! I am curious if you followed an established IM training program or created one of your own. In any case, I'd interested to hear about it. Good luck and have fun!

  6. Hey Scott,
    Wasn't sure how long you're planning on staying after but I'm going to be in Kona for my wife who's racing and was trying to get some trail runs in... I was thinking Mauna Loa trail(38 miles) or Napau Crater Trail(18 miles)- I'd love the company if you've got the legs after Saturday.

    Good luck!

  7. I'm so excited for you! Good luck and know all your friends are cheering for you!


  8. Have fun out there!
    I remember dragging a triathlete friend of mine up to Twietmeyer just after his Ironman a few years ago. I asked "OK, for the record, what's tougher? A 100 or an Ironman?"
    His reply: "Are you kidding, in the Ironman we got to go swimming!"
    Enjoy every minute of it, and appreciate the awesome opportunity you've got.

  9. Wow! Honestly, I am amazed that people can accomplish such huge physical feats of strength, endurance and will-power. The best of luck to you! I just finished my second marathon and I can't imagine being able to much more than that! Enjoy Hawaii!
    Fit&Fab Living

  10. I know you'll have fun, Scott! Good for you for mixing it up, keeping it fresh and always smiling.

  11. Hey Scott,
    Just got back from my workout and checked out the Ironman live link---cool to be able to watch the frontrunners live.....or course, it's not cool for you guys--literally--last report had the pavement temp on the Queen K at over 120 degrees! Can't imagine what the heat index is given the usual high humidity. Glad you got through the swim without drowning, but now I hope that you and your bike aren't melting into the pavement--stay well (and hydrated!). Sending you positive energy to finish the bike leg strong and have a strong run. Take the time to savor the finish...a friend and client of mine doing a different Ironman race said that the last 100 yds to the finish and crossing the line was the most emotional and life-changing moment that he had ever experienced...Best, Ann

  12. Go Scott!!
    Almost broke 6 hrs on the bike--and that's after spending 1.3 hrs in the water!!! Way to your run pace, not unexpectedly slower than you are capable of, is getting stronger and you are getting higher in the age group standings--fabulous for your first Kona ironman--just 15 people to pass to be in the top 200 in your age group--wow...especially for someone from Northern CA who is not used to that kind of heat/humidity. Whatever happens, kudos for a great effort...will let you tell the story---can't wait to read about it. All the best and have fun in HI, Ann

  13. Just saw you finish! On the live cam. Congrats!

  14. What an honor to see you and so many others cross the line live...liked the "Elvis" touch thrown in (bet you don't remember doing that). Congrats on a fine effort--glad you didn't melt into the pavement. You gained 7 places in the "age group division" after the swim....and your fastest split in the run was the LAST 9 mi :)........recover well, Ann

  15. Great race, got some video of you coming down the finish chute. It's a little blurry b/c of a fogged lens but if you want it let me know.

  16. Great Job Scott!! The Hubby and I were watching the live feed off and on all day, then constantly from 7pm-3am. We saw you finish, looking like a lean, happy, dancing machine! What an amazing accomplishment, and so inspiring for the rest of us to be able to watch all the athletes come across the finish. Cant wait to hear the story of your day and see your pictures!
    Congrats again, man, great job!

  17. Saw Scott come by the corner of Hualalai and Ali`i Drive outbound (mile 10) yesterday afternoon while working there (run course guide). Looked good all things considered. The pavement temperature out on the highway and down into the turn around (mile 18) was 48C/120 F. Race got really slow out there. Congrats to everyone who did the race. A 12 hour IM world Championship is quite a feat Scott!

  18. Amazing, Scott! Well, I don't even know what it must be like doing these three events in 12 hours but I'm really impressed given the other lives you have which compete with the training required for such a competition.

  19. Good Luck and have fun...So amazing..

  20. Thanks all! Im sorting through the pics to get a post up soon.

    It sure was fun! On a good day, sub-11 was definitely possible. Swim was great, but some foot swelling slowed me down on the bike, required some medical attention, and turned my run into a shuffle. Luckily I have lots of practice with shuffling from the ultras. :)

    Im sure I looked completely dazed at the finish. You go from the calm quiet of the Queen K highway to a finish line party that rivals Times Square in ine mile. It's a bit shocking! I got cleaned up and came back out untio the oats finisher crossed. Just amazing.

  21. Great job! I'm someone who just started running last year and finished a few marathons. Having completed the biggest Ironman event in the world, I'd like to know how you feel it's compared to running a 100 miler in terms of difficulty?

    Would you say someone who finished a 100 miler can fairly easily finish an Ironman under 14-15 hours after some training for bike and swim?

    How about vice versa? Do you think someone who finishes an ironman under 15 hours can fairly easily finish a 100 miler?

    Thanks and congrats again.

  22. The 100-mile run is tougher, there is no doubt about that. If you can do a 100, you can cetainly do an Ironman. The training required for the Ironman is more significant, however. It takes a few months to build a base in all three sports, and you definitely need it. When i started the run leg on sat, my legs felt no worse than a 50k (and with a marathon to go, the effort felt close to a 100k run) but my core and shoulders were screaming from the swim and white-knuckling the Havi winds on the bike for hours. There's a reason these Ironmen are all hardbodies! When i saw people dropping, it was generally because one thing gave out - hamstring, neck etc - or the usual heat and hydration complications.

    Graham Cooper, past winner of Western States, went 9:56 here this year. He started in Ironman and crossed over to ultras, and still holds 50-mile course records all over the place. He said that ultrarunners have the advantage of knowing their water, electrolyte, and food intake well, and are experienced at sorting things out when they go wrong. He says we usually do well at Ironman because a lot more things can go wrong (seasickness, bike mechanicals, etc.).

    On a better day, I could have gone 10:30 at Ironman, and my best 100m is 18:12. I think a 24-30 hour 100-miler can go 15-16 hrs at an Ironman with 3-4 months of training. It's worth it just to get the perspective - the Ironman is far more difficult than I gave it credit for. I'm super impressed with anyone who can do it.

  23. Scott,
    Great and helpful information. I definitely thought you would go sub-11...but you seemingly did a great job of getting through some less than ideal conditions/issues. If you choose to do another Ironman race, sub 10 is definitely within your ability with less of a crash training approach and a bit of customization of your training and nutrition program specific to your unique physiology and lifestyle (to keep it fun and your mental state happy :)). The shoulder thing is not a surprise, but I actually thought your core would be trained enough from all of the steep trail running, especially the downhill technical stuff, and from what swimming training you were able to get in, but I guess the constant/continuous core demands became the issue (core demands on the trail don't go on for that many hrs) --what do you think? In any case, I learned something...thanks for the perspective. One question (of many)--I'm curious--did you have any problems with nausea/motion sickness on the swim? Ann

  24. Good luck on your trainings. Hope you could share your swimming pics. I love your blog, very interesting!


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