Ironman 70.3 World Championships Las Vegas Nevada
Amazing what an eclectic combination of murky water, rain, a pocket tool and sunshine can bring in one day. Found myself with 72 other 55-59 years old standing in the pouring rain just before the start at Lake Las Vegas. My wife Sherrie was there videotaping just off to the left. When it was our turn at 6:45 A.M we moved in mass into the murky water and did the swim up to the start, treading water for a minute till the gun goes off. Have to admit it seemed rather an uninviting and dark swim. I didn't get off to a good start, but improved as my nerves settled down. The swim course is around 16 buoys in a 1.2 mile rectangle of open water. Got a bit roughed up as some really fast swimmers went by on more that one occasion, but out the water I came after about 45 minutes and made the long run around the lake into transition.
Running on the wet blue carpet I got to near the end of 2,100 bikes in transition and found my bike, number 384 ready and waiting. I was greeted with a helmet full of water from the rain, but emptied it got it on and ran with the bike to the line to get out and going.
The first several miles out was a long steady uphill drag. I was riding well and trying to stay out of the rooster tail of water coming off everyone’s back tires. After a fast decent we entered Lake Mead National Recreation Area where the Hoover dam is located. However we made the left turn and headed toward the Valley of Fire State Park. I was cycling pretty well in a super competitive field and to my delight still a pouring rain. Much better than the 100+ degree heat I was expecting. It was one long climb, then fast decent after another. All good until about mile 22 when I felt my saddle slide backward then come completely loose. Unbelievable! Within a 1//4 mile I had to pull over and see it immediate fall to the ground. Standing in the Mohave Desert with no tools watching my competitors fly by. Needless to say is was a low moment. Thankfully I had just passed a race photographer a ¼ mile back so I thought I would try walking back to him and see if he had any tools. As soon as I asked he pulled out a Leatherman multi-tool and handed it to me. It was like manna from heaven. Tried tightening the bolt for all I was worth, but to no avail. I worked on it for a frantic 20 minutes standing beside the road. Finally I tried using the pliers part of the tool to bend the bar on top of the seat post onto the saddle rails. It held, barely, but it was on. It was slid all the way back instead of forward where I ride it, but much better than nothing. Figured it wouldn't last the remaining 34 miles, but with each mile completed, my hopes to finish increased. Finally after 56.6 miles I pulled into the second transition, jumped off the bike, handed it to a volunteer and set about making my way to the run course. I was no longer in a competitive position, but I was totally focused on bring it home to the finish.
The first mile was downhill and I felt better than expected, but not great. Riding in an awkward position for 34 miles didn't do my legs any favor, but the thought of getting this finished felt awesome. I ended up running the first 7 miles at a reasonable pace. The run course was 3 laps of just over 4 miles each. That long hill on lap 2 finally got the best of me. Had to walk the rest of the uphill and back to running the rest of the lap. By now the sun was out and it was heating up quick. The 3rd and final lap was just a slower version of lap 2. About 12 ½ miles in my friend Ethan who qualified with me 5 weeks earlier passed me. His group 19-24 year olds stared close to an hour after I did and he also had some tough luck with a blown tire at mile 20. The last mile is all downhill, but my legs were so trashed that I had to walk/run it to the finish. Sherrie was there, Ethan’s family also. Wow did that feel like an accomplishment to bring that home. They handed me a medal so heavy it hurt my neck to wear it.
After it was all over I went to pick up my bike and found that just setting it on the rack had knock the seat loose again. Walking it back to the car it again fell off onto the street. Talked about being blessed to finish, that doesn't even come close. The photographer with the tool was the only person within miles. The fact that it stayed on in such a precarious position is another. God is good brother.
Just want to say a big thank you Sherrie in particular for encouraging me to go and be at my best. Special thanks to all my family, friends, co-workers at ISU, training partners and Forward Motion Triathlon Teammates who gave me endless amounts of encouragement. Also to Carrie and Nicole of ISU Physical Therapy who helped put me back together after my qualifying Ironman 70.3 event just a few weeks earlier. What an unforgettable year and by no means did I pull this off by myself.
Maybe I’ll get another chance at this next year when it moves to Canada, but even if not I feel total blessed for the opportunity to race with the best in the world. 2,100 athletes representing 50 countries, from Olympic Gold Medalist to me, how awesome is that.