Tuesday, September 7, 2010


on Jan 1, 2009, 600 days ago the Resa and I were sitting down by the pool in Alabama…

i told her i wanted to run a triathlon. she sighed. as we don't say much about what we want to do, as we just about always make a go at it. so this kinda thing only comes up once every few years. "Let’s build a house." was her last one. took us 3 years of solid non-stop work. so it was my turn. "Lets run an ironman."

she paused a second. "Ironman."

"Yeah. how hard could it be?"

"The full-on motherscratcher Ironman?"

"Yeah hun."

we sipped our beers for a few minutes.

"Seriously?" she asked.

"As serious as a cat in a microwave." i replied.

she nodded. "Okay. i am in."

"Awesome." i said as i opened a fresh beer. i sat back contented. we were already pretty much done!

"Bummer you hate to run..." she mused from the chair next to me.

"Yeah, running sucks. but at least we like to bike!"

"I think its longer than we have ever gone before."

"But how hard could it be?"

we were quite a while.

"Bummer you can't swim honey." she hinted.

"Look, if all you are going to see are roadblocks, then... uh, swim eh?"

"Miles of swimming."

"Miles?" i sputtered.

"Miles. you can’t swim a hundred meters."

"Well, we aren't doing the race next week sweetie, i can learn."

"How hard could it be?" she agreed.

so we picked a race. Canada Focking Iron Focking Man. August 29, 2010.

And we did it.

Here is how the day went. Or, rather, let me back up a bit… around 600 days…

I was in decent shape from building the house. But over weight a bit. I was around 215 pounds. I could run about 3 miles, some of them without walking. I could swim about 20 meters in a row. Well, that might be exaggerating a bit, more like 15 meters. I could ride a bike around 40 miles without getting wrecked for days at a time. but the bike was the best, every year we usually rode the TOSRV 100 mile ride and thought we could get up to the 112 miles of ironman without much trouble.

So I learned to swim. The first 300 days I probably took my swim from 15 meters up to around 300 meters max distance. At that point I would run out of air and be holding onto the side of the pool. The running advanced from about 3 miles up through my first ever marathon and then ultra-marathon. The bike we kinda blew off altogether.

Then we started the actual training about 6 months ago. Long bikes and long runs and long swims. All of which were great learning experiences.

The day of the race finally arrives, and like a child counting down the days to Christmas I had counted down the days till the ironman.

The last few weeks before the event I don’t have much jump. I figured it was just using up nervous energy. Also the fear was gone, probably a few months earlier and I would have had about 3 major issues unresolved about the event, but over time I had them figured. And the day of the race I felt calm and confident. And “intestinally challenged”.

Woke up feeling like I had been punched in the stomach. We parked the RV and everyone headed to the start area. Except me. I headed to the bathroom!

I think I lost about 1/5th of my body weight over the next 10 minutes. The Poop Fairy was bashing me over the head with her magic wand. “You want some more?” bash! “How’s that feel bish?!!" BASH! BASH!

Wandered over to the start of the race feeling pretty odd as you can imagine. One positive was I had no worries about peeing in my wetsuit. I drank down a Gatorade and got marked up. They put your race number and age on your legs and arms. This is so when they later peal your wetsuit off your dead body they can tell who you were.

The Resa and I planned on staying together regardless of how we were doing throughout the whole day. To help stay together on the swim we took a marker and drew stuff on our swim caps. This actually helped during the swim as I could pick her out by the extra markings.

What nervousness I had went away as for no reason other than wonderful luck they played what is probably “our” song over the loudspeakers. We are not all the wound up in stuff like that but we both kinda looked over and smiled and all my worries went away when I heard it. Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol. “We’ll do it all, everything… on our own. If I lay here, If I just lay here, would you lie with me and just forget the world?”

We waded into the water and filled our suits with water and waited for the start. I felt very calm and confident. Odd that after all the months of getting ready I wouldn’t be more stressed. It was pretty nice.

Countdown from 10, and then air horns, whistles, a canon goes off and the rope start line shoots up in the air, people start screaming all around us and the water turns into a blender of splashing arms and legs.

We stood there watching it all for about 20 seconds. As we had planned on doing. Then we started making our way out to the deep water. After a few yards of walking we started swimming. “And for no paaartic-u-lar reason, I started swimmin!” I mumbled in my best forest gump voice.

Over the last year the swim had gone from the most nervy item to the least. And the bike had gone from the least to the most.

During training runs we covered the 2.4 mile swim in about 1:35 to 1:40. We got times in this range regardless of how hard we swam or whether it was in a pool or lake or whatever. This is a fairly slow but very usable swim time. they give you 2:20 to get out of the water and this time is more than fair. So barring complete disaster we figured we would be out in the high 1:30s. this took a lot of the stress out of the swim, as a bad slow swim would be in the 1:40s and still be plenty fast enough.

THE SWIM ( just a calm happy time )

We took a middle of the pack route. I think to do it again I would have been closer to the inside of the course as Sheila did it that way and didn’t have much crowding. Probably at the front of the pack there was huge crowding there, but the swim kinda spreads out in a V shape and the farther back you are the wider it gets.

Having learned a lot about lake swimming and wetsuits and other things the first thousand meters went very very smoothly. We were together and in mostly open water. Just getting warmed up to it and pushing away the worries. The water was pretty warm and somewhat clouded, you could only see about 10 feet in front or downwards. The lake gets to about 700 feet deep and obviously we didn’t see anything after the first few yards by the shore. We heard there are scuba divers under the water to help collect bodies but I never saw any. And I was looking for them as it would have been fun to see some guy down there waving at us. Two times I did see a massive bunch of bubbles come up from below, once right under me.

To my right the buoys floated by one after another. There are about 12 or 13 on the way out, a few on the cross and about 16ish on the way back. The weird thing about wearing a swim hat – which I rarely do, is that you can hear the water whoosh by you as you swim, its pretty comforting. So the big 6 foot orange ball buoys go floating past one after another and we get about 70 percent of the way down the long out straight. Here we start meeting our first traffic. People that have started out too fast and are now a bit gassed start going backwards a bit. One after another we have to dodge people. This was the first annoying part of the swim for me. Up till this point I felt really comfy. But getting the feet kicking your hands and you stop a moment and then turn sideways and start swimming again. At least nobody was racing us directly. We didn’t have to put up with someone being all territorial or anything. Just dodged people. Also, since the Resa and I swam side by side she wouldn’t know when I was getting blocked and I would have to swim right up next to her to get past a person. I could have gone around the other way, but there was always the fear that once around someone – which takes a lot longer than you would think – the I would have lost track of where Resa was.

We come up to the first of the two corners, a house boat. We swim around it no problems. On the short second section the V shape all gets compressed into a pack and we have some real crowding for the first time of the day. I think about going wide, but that would just take more effort and make the course a lot longer so I just try to settle in and relax. The second house boat comes up and we are turned for home. I tried waving to the people on the boat as they sure were making a lot of noise and running around on it. but I quickly thought “Oh crap, they are going to think I am calling for help” and the next thing I would be in the hands of divers or something trying to explain ( probably for 10 minutes ) how I was really ok.

We turned the corner there and my only thought was we were heading home. And I gulped some water. Gads it tasted like crap! Just then a big set of about 7 large waves rolled through – some boat must have driven past. And I started bobbing and spitting out water. This is the only time we stopped swimming. Resa turned and motioned me to keep going. I felt the first feelings of motion sickness in the waves. Luckily the waves were not a permanent feature and after about 30 seconds we were back to being normal. I think though, that to do an ocean swim I will have to practice being out in the open water a lot more.

Now we were running into more and more people slowing down. It was a constant stream ( har har ) of people going backwards. We dodged this way and that, for a while I went behind the Resa as it was just getting too crowded. We started swimming a bit faster too. I think a lot of the passing people was just us picking up the pace a bit. All along I felt we were going at about a 4 on the ten scale for effort. Pretty lazy swimming. On the last half of the way back we bumped it up to about a 6 I would say. Still not close to out of breath, but for the first time all day I was taking a real pull on the water. The difference after about an hour of swimming was very welcome. Finally got to stretch out my arms a bit and pull.

At one point we were going around one guy, me following the Resa and I NAILED the guy square in the face. I could feel his goggles crunch under my hand. “Sorry!” I yelled, the guy had stopped, and I went on with “Are you ok?” thinking I would give him my goggles or something if I broke his. Not sure what I would have done about a nose swap if I had broken that. “I am ok, its cool.” He said back. So what can I do? The Resa was already a few body lengths ahead and we were moving a bit faster, so I got back to swimming. Did some serious pulls to catch up and then we pretty much counted the last 5 buoys in to the shore.

The shore was rocky, when your hand hits ground underneath you, you can stand up and start running. Well I stood up and it was on softball sized rocks, really hard to even stand. I laid back down and used the rocks as handholds. Just pulled myself from rock to rock for about 20 meters. Then the sandy beach!

Ta-da! Done swimming. We got out of the water and run under the timer gate at 1:28 – all-time best ever swim. I think we could have gone the bumped up pace of around effort level 6 the whole way and probably got a 1:20ish time. maybe faster if we had really made a big effort out of it. but!!! Out under 1:30 had us smiling pretty happy.

I smiled all the way up the beach to the strippers.

HA! Wooohooo, I love strippers. But they strip you, not themselves sadly. I ran up, and there were about 100 people ready to help you out of your suit. So on the way I start pointing from one to the next, hmmm… which one do I want… they are all smiling at me, maybe they have seen this before from someone. So anyway I run up. And remember the scene from Close Encounters, at the end when the Richard Dryefuss walks up to the alien ship and about 100 aliens all surround him holding out their hands and lead him into the ship? Well, that was me, I run up hold out my hands and about 30 people come over to take off my suit.

The head alien tells me to unzip, which I already did, and to lay down on the grass. So I do that and they grab the suit and pull it off me. This was to be my last really happy moment of the day. As my FOCKING LEG CRAMPS UP. And not the calf where it normally does. The big quad in the front of my right leg. I was terrified at first I was going to do the floppy fish on the ground in front of 200 people. But I got up and hobbled to the change tent.

I was completely dehydrated already. Big big trouble.

Once in the tent I have my bag of bike stuff. You take off swim stuff, put it in the bag and take out your bike stuff. A (ahem!) “friend” tied the bag for me. Just pull the two short loops. So I pull two. Then another two, then another… pull harder, harder! Some volunteer ( a vol ) walks over and says “Can I be of some assistance fine sir?” “Yeah, get this focking bag open a-hole.” I hint back to him. Actually I don’t say anything, I just have a pleading look on my face as I hand the bag to him. Well, I have got the strings tied up super tight now and he works on it for about a minute. I use this time to get all my stuff figured. The bag finally opens and out comes all my happy bike stuff. I rush them all on and find I can’t get the spray can of sunscreen to work. Fock fock fock! Panic is now the main feeling. So I finally figure, well, maybe its cloudy out? I run outside and there is a vol there putting sunscreen on people. I run up and she has two huge gloves on like she is going to rout around in a horse’s butt for something. Also they are COVERED in sunscreen, like giant sticks of butter all over these enormous gloves. “Sunscreen?” yes! I yell back and she grabs an arm and swipes, then another and two legs. Done in 4 seconds. One swoop around the neck and I am running my bike to the start. Resa showed up about the same time, maybe a few seconds ahead of me and we are biking!

THE BIKE ( what’s your prediction? - Pain! )

We both do the monkey hooting and yelling noises as we get on to our favorite part of the event. The bike. Wow. The most awesome feeling of the day that’s for sure. I have my favorite shirt on, ( the blue one with the dragon is really my fav but is too big now ). The shirt has a dog cutting the grass, space ships and of course plenty of green trees and blue sky on it. it was also stuffed full of yummies. I am starving ( also to look back on it a very bad sign ) and so start eating and drinking everything I have. Was wonderful. We head out of town on the giant loop. Right away we are passing everyone. All those good swimmers are getting their asses handed to them now by real bikers. Bam bam bam we check off a few hundred people in a real hurry. What now fag swimmers? What now that we are doing a real sporting event huh? “ON YOUR LEFT!” screams a guy from behind. He probably said it four times as we smugly went by everyone on the left side of the course. Some sleek looking 150 pound guy on a high end tri bike explodes past us at about 10mph faster than what we were doing. The wind swoosh almost knocks me off the bike. Ahh. Well, uhh… yeah. So we were not the fastest bikers on the course after all. “Learn to swim!” I mumble after the guy. Geeze, you think people would be more well rounded…

The wind is slowly building in intensity. It was totally calm to start the swim ( thank god ) and has been picking up as we head south. It’s also blowing north to south and we get a bit of a push. More every minute. It gets up to the forecasted 10mph, says “fock that” and heads up to 40mph. But that won’t be until we get to heading home in it later.

About 30 minutes out and we hit the first real hill of the day. We bomb up that, passing 90% of the people and getting passed 10% of the time. “This is the last hill of the day!” I chortled. But my legs are dead. Really dead. And we have gone 30 minutes. Really really bad. Already I am asking Resa if we are going too fast. Maybe we were? I look at the speed we are doing and it’s less than a moderate ride pace. The first real fear hits me. I am in big trouble already.

We head down the far side of the hill and halfway down, going about 35 mph I hit a tack. Some people in the area don’t like the event being in town and they suggest this to us by leaving tacks on the bike course. I pick up one of these, the tire goes flat in a second and I think I am going to wipe. I start yelling “Flat!” over and over as I head to the slow side of the road. I am up on the front of the bike, trying to put all my weight on the front wheel while breaking. I do the skippy shuddery thing all the way down the hill, almost wipe out some chick who does some very good bike handling to avoid me and finally come to a stop on the side of the road. Back tire of course. Even tacks know not to flat the front tire. I start swearing and pulling out my flat change stuff. Levers and tubes and canister of CO2 and such. I rip the wheel off the back and start prying the tire off. Perfect pin hole leak. I force the spare on and am levering the tire back when Sheila goes floating by. She says “HI” and is gone for about 5 hours in front of us. A repair car pulls up and a guy runs out with a pump. I tell him to look for tacks on the road back up the hill and we take off.

The next 30 miles are on the only flat part of the course. We are still passing people but the bunch has spread out considerably. We take turns leading each other. We have to keep a big distance between bikes as you are not allowed to draft. But the shutting down the mind and just staying behind is nice. We do this until the first real big climb of the day Richter Pass.

Richter Pass.

Just had to put that in it’s own paragraph. This is THE HILL. This hill has been in our minds for about 12 months. I read about it. We even (tried) to ride it last year when we were on site. This six mile hill WRECKED us last year, walking and swearing and sitting down and walking and more riding… for over an hour. This was Richer Pass.

And she was not happy.

The day before we chalked it up. Put down a bunch of “Go Ken” and “Go Sheila, Resa, Mark” stuff. I have a nice video of it.

We get to the bottom. And remember Pee Wee Herman? Well, there are traffic cops at the bottom, waving us up The Pass like we were being sent to the slaughter. So I use my best Pee Wee voice and ask all screechy “Seen any hills around here?” She grins and points happily with her traffic stick.

Richter Pass.

We start the climb and for the first time I tell Resa I am in trouble. “Just don’t have it today hun.” She sees that I mean it and says something about shrinking my world to just this hill. She also lets me go it alone which is probably for the better. About 6 months ago we bought new bikes, and you can pick out your gearing then. For this one climb I put climbing gears on both mine and reas’s bike, also I checked Sheila’s out at the store to make sure it had climbers on it when she bought that.

I put it in granny and start the climb.

Resa is a few dozen yards behind me. I think she saw some trash at the side of the road, this always bugs her so she stopped, went back to get it and then threw the chain getting started again. So didn’t see her until we were at the top. I looked for our chalk but the rain the night before washed it all away.

I actually had a really good and easy trip up the pass. Just spun it up to 70ish in granny and made the climb pretty easily. At one point some chick passed me slowly and on the way by, like people like to do when you are climbing, started a conversation. “How was your swim?”

The old open ended question. The best weapon of tour and group riders. “How are the kids?” “What is your favorite football team?” all questions asked to let the other person try to talk for 3 minutes while the first person just gets to ride along. Feeling good I told her ALL ABOUT the swim. Really made me smile to be able to talk without gasping, going on and on about it. after about 10 minutes she grew tired and moved up to the next person, “How was your swim?”

About 1 mile from the top Resa came bombing up. Just all happy, covered in chain grease and smiling. “Doing okay?” “Yep.” I said. A car went by us and some chick went absolutely ballistic about it. swearing and almost in tears over it. Resa and I shrugged and went over the top. They announce your name at the top of this bitch which was pretty nice.

Down the back at 45 mph and a much needed rest.

To turn the corner into some flatter area where the wind was now about 30mph straight into our faces for the seven rollers. Then the out and back.

At mile 70 I picked up our half way bags. We waited in line to pee about 10 minutes when some vol said there were more port-o-pots in 4 miles. So we rode up there and waited there about 10 more minutes to finally pee. At least I got my legs back a bit.

For Yellow Lake. The second hill. And it was windy as fock out now.

The first day of TOSRV last year I rode in the wind all day and my left eye dried up too much to see out of. This happened again this day. I was blind in my left eye from mile 60 on through the night. I started getting pretty dizzy riding with just one eye. Also I was trying to get caught up on the eating and drinking. The eating went well. I felt like I ate enough.

So we struggled up yellow lake, blind in one eye, dizzy, sick feeling and out of energy. Was a pretty tough ride. I kinda liked it. we decided to go into survival mode at the half way point. I toyed with telling the Resa to ride up to Sheila and or just go on alone. But I freaking HATE that when people do that to me. About 10 times a year I hear that from someone. “Just go on without me.” Argh! So, I didn’t say it. And I am pretty sure that the Resa knew I was toast too, because she talks more when I am struggling.

Usually I am too gassed to talk back, just have to sit there and struggle through your own hell at those times.

But, oddly I was feeling emotionally wonderful. It was truly the greatest time. It hurt and we were going about 70% of our normal speed. I looked and our average was about 15.5… which is pretty lame for us. Not that we can do 19s but, we expected to be about 17ish. Probably the wind hurt some of that, but… it was a slow grind and I felt great mentally if dead physically.

I just love big events I guess. I was chattering too. We talked to everyone that would talk to us. Laughing and throwing encouragement around. “How are you doing?” they would ask “Horrible!” I would laugh back. It was fun.

And here all those 5 am training rides and runs helped. Those days where the run was more than I could do, and I had to stumble from park bench to bench on a 2 hour 5 mile stagger back to the car. Those times when I thought I would die in the pool. Those times where my legs screamed for me to stop and somehow I managed to say “Shut up legs” in a german accent. The dozen times I bonked so hard I thought I truly could have a heart attack. Those times when the hill and the wind went on and on and on and there was just nothing I could do anymore. Those days. Those days and Resa ALWAYS there with me. Days when I would feel great and look over and she was almost in tears with the hurt on her bad days. Those days made this day *wonderful*.

We rode over yellow lake, some 340 pound, 5 foot chick passed me going over the top of yet another hill. She passed me slowly and there was nothing in it for me to do more than stay upright. I broke my water bottle straw of all freaky things and had been out of water for about 10 miles, just to completely dry me up. I borrowed Resa’s on the last 20 miles downhill into town.

We screamed downhill at about 20 miles per hour, probably we were passing through the wind at near 60, but the wind was in full force now. Rained on us and it felt like hail it was hitting so hard.

Came into town and nearly got blown off the bikes in the hurricane by the lake. Did it in about 7:30, maybe 1:30 longer than I think we could have. We wasted about 40 minutes with flats and stops… probably close to an hour for me being trashed.

I got off the bike, kept my one eye open and stumbled into the tent. I was really hoping for a TV guy to be there as I must have looked devasted.

Got my bag and tried to open it again. No luck, so I just tore into the side of the bag and let it all spill out. I have a lot of stuff in there, including eye drops in case I need to wash out a bug or something. I spend about 10 minutes trying to get my eye working again. No luck. Changing into running gear was pretty simple, but I also have a bit of bathroom emergency and spend 3 minutes in there. Got out of transition 2 in 18minutes. If I had only known I would have waited an extra 30 seconds and set the record for slowest T2 that day. As it was I came in 3rd of 3000 people.

Resa waited outside the tent about 15 minutes and came in 4th.

THE RUN ( or how hard could it be? )

Blind, sick and happy I met the resa for the run. At least the wind would be behind us for the first 13 miles.

We ran about ½ mile and I was dead. Just totally dehydrated and cashed in.

We did some math, we wanted to finish at all costs. Our seriously big trouble plan was to have at least one of us finish… so we did some thinking that we could walk the whole thing if needed. If I couldn’t do that then she would have to run it in herself.

We started walking. I drank everything I could each mile stop. Two or three cups of water, Gatorade and soup each stop. We would trot a few hundred feet and then walk to the next stop. At the time you would think this would have been the low point of the day. And it really wasn’t. Pushing hard on the bike, and I was pushing as hard as I could, gave us 8 hours to get the marathon in. We were safely home if I could stay upright.

Three miles in and I am drinking and walking.

Five miles and I finally stop hurting internally.

At about seven miles we leave the last of the city and are out on the lonely road. Except there are thousands of people on the other side heading home. We pass the 9/10 hour people running. The 11/12 hour people jogging. Here we see Mark for the first time all day. He has the biggest smile on his face. He is about the happiest person we see all day long and that’s saying a huge amount of happy people. He runs over and gives us each a wicked hard high five. Must have been because he saw me flipping him off as he ran over!  he ran it in strong, had a wonderful day and I think almost broke 12 hours. A very very impressed set of two, me and the resa plodded along.

Eight miles and about a gallon of liquid later and I am ready to run. We run out to about mile 12ish. To the big hill at the turn around. We go up and over and get the half way bags. I am feeling for the first time since the end of the swim, physically good. We do the math. Figure we can finish under 16 hours if we keep up a fairly brisk walk.

On the way back we run most of miles 14,15,16,17,18,19 and 20. Well, run is a shuffle. And we spend about 10 – 15 minutes in a bathroom break again.

Mile 20 and we are both a bit tired again. My liquid recovery is now liquid maintenance as we are running more. And I start regressing badly.

Mile 21 and a group of kids in a car go by. “YOU SUCK!” they yell out. Immediately I yell back “THANK YOU!” five minutes later they are back and drive by really slowly. “You guys are doing great, keep up the hard work.” A different voice calls out. Must have been annoying to the sober driver to have to turn around after giving his drunk loser friend a chattering and then come back and apologize. We are very hard to insult and just added it to our list of very cool things that happened out on the course.

Mile 22. The killer mile usually, too far away to sprint home, too far in to feel good. Mile 22 is the worst. We are walking along, our math is good. We are going to finish in 15:50 to 15:59. Perfect. We just take a step at a time. Its very dark out. And the best moment of the day happens. At least for me. We are walking just where the town starts again. And some old lady, must have been in her eighties or maybe later. Very very old is sitting all by her self in a lawn chair. On the curb. Should have been a wheelchair with blankets and some kid waiting to roll her back inside. But no, its just her. Sitting in a lawn chair watching people go by. And as we go by I glance at her and think it somewhat odd that someone would leave an old lady out on the street at 10 at night. And we go by and she speaks to us. I didn’t expect that, usually you get the cheer that everyone does. “you are looking strong, almost there, keep going.” Thing that you hear every 40 feet for the last 2 miles. And she speaks instead. Her voice is totally gone, just some croaking whispering. Either she cheered her voice away or drank it away in the 40s or… maybe just got to be 90. And she says “Ironman. You are going to be an Ironman. All the way to your soul.” And tingles like lightning went down my back and finally after 15 hours of a racing heart my tears came. I will never for the rest of my life forget that moment.

We walked in the last 4 miles. I fought back my tingling dizzy passout bonk that I know so well and Resa fought a messed up leg muscle. Walked into town to hear Scotland the Brave playing on bagpipes. Walked to the turn around, saw Mark and Maria and Patsy. Walked around the turn, saw Sheila doing her own walk with golfball sized blisters. Turned the corner, walked another 4 minutes. Some guy ran up and said we still had an outside chance to get under 16 hours. ( 17 is cutoff ) we had a final laugh of the day, finally at someone else’s expense. “Dude, we have done that math for the last 7 hours, I think we have it nailed.” And we did. We got to the 100 yards to go and started the “Shifty Shuffle” in towards the finish. Again our two superfans and one super ironman were cheering us in. I sadly didn’t notice but Resa waved to them. They have a nice video of us going top end 13 minute mile sprinting to the finish.

Resa hung back to let me finish ahead, neither of us like to be first at the end and I turned with about 20 yards left and asked her to run it in with me. We did. Crossed the line at 15:54 and some seconds.

Personal Best.

AFTER ( or death stalks me )

You get a medal at the end, and a catcher. This guy makes sure you don’t fall over when you finish. And being at the finish line last year these guy’s job description is NOT over rated. About 1 in 10 people do collapse at the end in one way or another. Puking or falling or cramping or whatever.

The first thing they did last year was ask you your name. They do that to see what kinda mind you have left. This year they didn’t do it, but I had thought about it for a few months. I waited to be asked but the guy was just there about one electron away from my elbow staring at me. “Aren’t cha going to ask me my name?”
“Uh, no?”
“Ah, last year the catcher asked the name of finishers.”
“Ah…” I could see his eyes getting squinty as he studied me.
“So ask me my name!”
“Okay, what is your name?”
“Tony Stark!” harharharharhharrr!!!
Blank look from mr catcher.
“You know! Tony Stark! The guy that becomes Ironman in the marvel comics!” I am a genius!
“Uh, K. Well, over here you can get your picture taken.”

So the Resa and I get our picture taken, I about collapse and Sheila can’t walk.

“I will run and get the car.” Says Resa, and she does. She runs off at about a 9 min pace for some much needed leg stretching.

Gads what a hard day. But more of a bad luck day. The cutoffs are more than fair. The race was absolutely amazing. I just loved it. Wish I could have had a good day to celebrate 600 days of effort. And at first for the next few days I was bummed about it. But always in the back of my mind I had a slight worry that it would be too easy. I would show up, do the course and wonder if all the training was really needed. But it was, at least on this day. This one I will remember.

But more I think I was bummed that the training was over. It was one of the best years of my life. I learned to swim. My run went from disastrous to just pretty lame… Our pace went from about 12 minute miles to 10. Our distance from 5 miles max to probably a good 30ish. We got new high end bikes and learned a ton about nutrition. ( all evidence to the contrary! )

Those 600 days got me through one of the worst days either in training or racing lifetime. There is no way, no way whatsoever I could have finished that day without all the lessons and work of the last year and a half.

So, what’s next? Well, we read that it takes 5 years to peak at triathlons… so, having already spent 1 year at it, we can’t but help going 4 more to see if that’s true or not.

Next year is probably Ironman Wisconsin and maybe Vegas, then Texas and of course New York, then there is Mexico, China, Austria, Australia, Spain, Germany, Montreal, California and maybe the lottery to do Hawaii! Coming back to Canada in 5 years to put a bookend on the whole adventure.

We will see…

And so I go out not with a mighty raging yell like I thought, but with a whisper, an 80 year old’s whisper. “Ironman. Ironman, to your soul.”

And I have a Personal Best that I think is beatable. It can’t be better than that!!!

“all that I am, all that I will ever be, is right here in your perfect eyes… I don’t know where, confused about how as well, just know these things will never change for us at all.”

Thank you Resa.


  1. A big huge congratulations! It's a long tough day out there and you did it! I think I saw you guys heading into OK Falls as it was getting dark. And, get this, we probably met last year. I worked finish line catcher too.

  2. Thanks for the play by play. Wish I could have been there to cheer you, Resa, She and Mark on!! You guys are awesome!!!
    Betsy :)

  3. I LOVE how you use the word "focking Ironman" -- it crack me up every single time! LOL!!

    Good one on using the rocky bottom at the end of the swim as handholds too -- I did the same thing. Passed a LOT of people who were teeter-tottering trying to walk in. Good reaction for your very first IM swim!! AWESOME!! :) :)

    Love the description of the traffic cops at the bottom of Richter waving you up to slaughter -- HAHAHAHA!! No kidding, eh? LOL!!

    You and the Resa are such a damn fine couple. I love how well you know each other and the immense amount of love and respect you have for one another...

    3rd out of 3000 people for T2 --- Ken, my dear, you are a lovely guy and all, but seriously, you need to work on your transition time. ;)

    LOVE the title of the Run (How hard could it be?) Hahahahah!! Oh man, that is such an all around awesome line, I am going to use that one every time there is a tough point in a race/training day! :) :)

    I got goosebumps reading about the old lady (like one of the Greek Fates) speaking about you being an Ironman all the way to your soul. WOW -- powerful stuff coming out of the night.

    HAHAHAHAHA! So funny about your "ask me my name response." As I was reading it, I was blank as well -- it took me a moment to fully appreciate the utter genius and humour and wit!! FOCKING GOOD ONE MAN!!! LMAO!

    What I think is so truly incredible is your finishing time!!! Crap -- you guys did phenomenally -- especially given all the ordeals you went through on race day.

    Ironman is HARD. Everyone is forced to confront his/her demons during an IM -- you both ran the gauntlet and came out true Ironmen!!

    I am so proud of you both -- man, I would have liked to hook with you guys. I'll probably be doing IMC 5 years from now, so if we haven't met by then, THAT will be the day for sure. :)

    Congratulations guys!!! :) :)

  4. the old lady - that's where i started to cry.... congrats to both of you!!! Great report!

  5. The old lady got me too (and Phil won't admit it, but him too). I loved the Tony Stark reference. Proud to say my friends are Ironmen -- to your souls!


  6. sorry about the bags. i should have color coded the pull tabs i guess. great write-up though and great job!


  7. Ken & Resa - you guys rock so much! You did an incredible feat in Canada! You had me at 'our song' and the 'Ironman to your souls' had the tears streaming! Thank you so much for sharing your journey and the culmination of the day - purely amazing! I have no words to describe how full my heart is for you both and your accomplishment and amazing ideas for the future! CONGRATULATIONS!!!

  8. Congrats! I knew you guys would do it. Nice report. I think you are now addicted to Ironmans!

  9. eh. a monkey could do it.

    just kidding. nice story and congrats to you guys (and sheila) on finishing. pretty impressive.

  10. Nope, the pro photographers didn't miss you. Your photos are at

    If you see in the URL where it says "bib=1386" you can put any bib number in there and see what they look like. I suppose if you wanted to, you could even order photos of someone else, but at the price I don't think many people do that.