Sunday, July 31, 2011
My Journey to St George IronMan 2011
My Journey to St George IronMan 2011
While it's fresh on my mind I want to write my thoughts on my journey to Ironman. I ask myself or am often asked why we do it and maybe the answer is in here somewhere. This whole crazy journey began again a few months after finishing Ironman St .George 2010 which by the way was the most amazing finish to a race I could ever have. I told myself I would not do it again but the drive and desire came back again as well as the ok from Meri who by the way trained, raced and finished with me last year, decided to wait it out this year and help me to give it another go, and I signed up. 20 weeks out and training began again. I owe thanks to my family, Veyo Pies, Jay at Blackbottoms and to my friends of The Southern Utah Triathlon Club. Coach Dennis Budd was outstanding for coaching advice. Most weeks the club would get a group together to go out on the course and train. Some of the most memorable were the 13 mile runs with Matt Bracken in the drenching rain and getting sprayed by cars as we ran the hills of this epic course. Training bricks of 80 miles on the bike with 13 mile runs on the course with Jeff, Dennis, Breanna, Craig, Ben, Jamie, Heath, Ryan S, Ryan D, and Dan. Other times at Sand Hollow reservoir chasing Heath's feet and bubbles in the frigid 52 deg waters. Good Times!!
Before I knew it, It was May 7th and I was drifting in and out of sleep waiting for the 3am alarm for breakfast. I changed my IM breakfast from last year and it worked pretty well for me. 2:30 am... 1 bottle of chocolate Ensure and 2 Eggo waffles with a drizzle of syrup. Went back to bed for 30 minutes and at 3 am went with another bottle of vanilla Ensure, 1 serving of tapioca pudding and 1 serving of sugar free applesauce. By 4:30 A.M. I was dressed and off with my bro-inlaw Jeff (who is one of the main reasons for getting me hooked into IronMan distance to begin with) down to the shuttle school busses for the 5am departures. We dropped our special needs bags for the bike and run in huge boxes labeled with your race #. These are bags that we have access to on the race course during mile 55 of the bike and mile 12-13 of the run. I put extra things in there just if I needed them like a tube, tire, a few gels, endurolytes, powdered Carbo Rocket and water. The school bus ride was very dark and unusually quiet. Very different from riding the bus up to the St George marathon from years past years where you couldn't hear yourself think. I drank 1 bottle of Carbo Rocket during the bus ride before I got to the race and tried to keep my mind focused and listened to my I-pod. Just before the swim start it was awesome to spend time with Meri, Shell, Craig and Mel all volunteering at T1 and there to help us and others get ready. 1 potty break waiting 15 minutes in line. Just before getting the wet-suit on they started calling us down to the lake. All of a sudden I had to go to the bathroom again with the anticipation of starting was near!! It was slow going like a cattle drive of wet-suits and Jeff and I decided we needed to get up in the front or the cannon will go off and we will still be standing in the parking lot. We made it to the water just after the anthem and swam to the far left side along the buoy line, We figured by following the buoy line and to stay out of the middle would make it less chaotic. Jeff and I made a deal to meet in the corner of the transition tent of T1 just in case we swim the same time. Treading for 5 minutes in the water seemed like forever and I was ready!! The cannon goes off. I swam buoy to buoy to the first turn somewhere near 1500 meters and was never in much traffic, a few times a body would climb over me and I was wondering what they were thinking trying to climb over me sideways in the wrong direction. Turn one was directly into the sun and I just followed people and the lifeguards voice in the megaphone until I eventually saw the next turn buoy. This next stretch was a long stretch back behind the Sand Hollow island and again I just focused on one buoy at a time. I would actually just count my strokes and when I would lose focus I would start over again. I swam a consistent pace and breathing was normal and relaxed. My hip flexors were getting tight which I had never had happen before but I set my mind back to counting strokes and I didn't notice the discomfort. The last turn in and I looked at my watch 1:02 and I was right on my goal with 600 meters to go or so. Exited the water and saw Meri off to the right!!! and headed to a wet-suit stripper. I made it a point to walk and get blood back in to my legs. Sometimes after swimming, standing and running you get dizzy. My heels were completely numb. At T1 I went to the corner and had an awesome volunteer help me with everything. He even opened my Honey Stinger Waffle cookie out of the package for me which I downed as one of my solid fuel sources for the race. Within minutes Jeff comes around the corner. I was ready to go so I told him he would easily catch me on the bike and I would see him out there. Out of T1 and onto the bike. I planned to ride this course smart at what I should and not try to kill it, having trained on the course I knew it demands respect. Jeff caught me about 5 miles out and we stayed within 50 meters or so of each other for quite a while. I started to drink and eat by alternating every 15-20 minutes with GU chomps/water and Carbo Rocket energy drink. The first 20 miles seemed to go by so fast and I was grinning and loving it. I made it to the start of the loop actually ahead of my planned time but wasn't worried since I didn't feel I was over doing it. On the descent down to cross Bluff street where the loop begins I lost a crucial bottle of Carbo Rocket liquid fuel due to the bumpy ashphalt in the road at a high rate of speed. I knew I would need it but I also knew I had an extra bottle of it at Special needs in 25 more miles. I went to the IM Perform drink which I have used before but was not what I preferred. Now thinking back I should have grabbed that fallen bottle. Mile 30 approached which was Ivins for a quick potty stop and I saw my good friend Brandon chillin in his lounge chair. It was good to see people in unexpected places. Jeff was right in front of me doing the same. As I exited the restroom I ran back a few feet to get more drink on the bike and when I did that Jeff thought I went ahead. He spent the next 10 miles trying to catch me when all along I was behind him. Onward and upward I went. The town of Gunlock was crazy with volunteers and Jeff and I met up again and he was excited to see me since he thought I was 10 miles up the road. Next was “The Wall” which is a huge hill that climbs up about a mile. I saw a few people walking at the top and if you have never been on this course you would be asking yourself, “What have I done?”. Well I have trained this course plenty of times and I always tell myself it will be over soon and not to think that I have to do it again at mile 80. Welcome to “THE WALL”! I stayed in the saddle on this climb and stayed in a Aerobic HR zone. I could not wait to get to Veyo and see one of my favorite support crews at the Veyo Pie shop. They were rockin out and cheering like crazy. I was so glad to see them and they were a huge support for me. The next 18 miles is one of my favorite parts of the course where you can get down and cruise. Despite going down hill it still takes a toll on your body. In past training rides I have felt great at the start of the Veyo Volcano and by the time I reach Bluff street I had nothing left. I would think, how am I going to do this again. I had a straight on head wind which made it difficult to get to high speeds but it was not impossible to maintain a good pace and still stay within my zone. I got to special needs and had two bottles of frozen water that were now melted. I refueled with and added my missing bottle of Carbo Rocket!!! I wish I had it earlier. All went smooth up through the second loop. The heat started to rise and I was dumping water bottle after water bottle on my head, face, arms, ears, nose to stay cool. I made a potty stop in Ivins again and onward to climb again. Just before Veyo at mile 70-90 Jeff started to pull away. I don't blame him, its in the Lambert genes. My mind was a roller coaster of ups and downs just before The Wall for the second time, It was getting hot. I made it and regained mental focus as I made a stop to say hello to the support crew at Veyo Pies (no I did not eat a piece of pie even though I wanted to) Fellow training friend Dan flew by me and said hello and I thought it would be good to descend (not draft) with him since he is real fast on the downs. I think he asked if everything was OK and I think I replied that I was just visiting for a moment and all was good. I downed a Gel and off I went. The same head wind as the first descent was still there as I headed back into town. I kept it under control and at a safe speed knowing I would still get back the speed lost on the climbs. I almost caught Dan on the Veyo Volcano climb but once the flats and downhill came he was gone. He told me in training he got going near 50mph on some days. Must have been another one of those days.
After descending and flying down SR 18 for 40 minutes it was sure good to see the intersection of Bluff and Snow Canyon. Just when you think you are done you have to descend for about ¾ mile down Snow Canyon Parkway and loop under to the other side of the road and come right back up Snow Canyon Parkway to Bluff . Finally entering diagonal flying down the street lined with people before T2 was energizing. It was awesome to see more family and friends. Bike handlers were there awaiting my bike as I thought I would do a nice cyclocross dismount but I knew if I did I would not of been able to get my leg over my seat. I stopped and dismounted safely. I hobbled to the change tent, I changed out of cycling shorts (thick pad) into running tri shorts and had the aid of an outstanding volunteer at my beck and call. I could have wanted a pizza and he would of ordered and delivered it. Six or so minutes in T2 and away I went. My plan was to run a 10min/mile starting out to keep it under control running up Diagonal street. For most of this run you are either climbing or descending. One quick calculation at my watch and I was thrilled to be way ahead of last years time and just ahead of 2008's time in Coeur d'Alene. (faster swim this year) The over-all goal is to finish but I have many other little goals filed away. I just had to execute a 5hr marathon at this point....easy right? Ha ha I told myself since I have run a sub 4 marathon before. The plan was to run to each aid station walk through it and take it one at a time. It was good to see friends at aid 1, Ryan Duckworth with sponges drenched in water. These were life savers!! Each mile ticked away and I was able to get to Pioneer Park and actually run through it!! This was where in the past that the Tri Club had done some hill training work-outs and it paid off today knowing I could run it. To my amazement I caught my brother in-law Jeff 6 miles into the run. Last I saw him was mile 70? I was excited to have someone to run with but as I passed and tried to get him to come with me he said he was done. He was pulling from the race. Arrghh. I had to keep going and the HEAT was climbing as I headed into miles 7-13 at my doable pace. Coming into mile 13 I made my turn on Main. I passed special needs and grabbed a few endurolytes just in case I needed them. This point was mentally draining as I did not see anybody that I knew. This point in the race can break you mentally because you see the finish line one lane over and you know you have to go back up 1000 plus feet of road that I just got done doing. As I approached the Duckworth aid station I found myself bypassing any food or beverage that was offered by the volunteers and I remember telling Duckworth that I needed something but none of this is was working. Perhaps I needed a 5 hr energy or something but I needed a kick start and didn't have it and couldn't find a rhythm. He told me I was ahead of my time from last year and gave me a few words of encouragement and I knew I would make it if I just kept going. 1 mile later a fellow racer and buddy Craig was sitting on the curb in disarray and I thought; I can finish this with him. But as he approached to join me he crunched over and couldn't go with me. I told him to see if the people sitting on the lawn chairs in their front yard had some water or something that he could try to recover with and keep going. The sun was brutally in our face and I just wanted it to go behind the mountain so the temperature would drop. I made it back up to Pioneer Park and headed back out on the road and Craig had recovered and Jamie Egbert was with him. We teamed up in away just before the turn at mile 18-20. Just as we made it to the turnaround to head back there was a huge mental boost as Meri and my nieces and nephews: Domans and Lamberts and Abby, Josh and Seth were there cheering. They ran along side of me for a few yards. My neighbors the Funks and Kings were having a great old time doing the stadium wave to athletes as we went by. It was a much needed lift. The temperature was finally dropping and the three of us would set small goals to run to a street cone and walk and repeat as much as we could. I was not sure if they were going to continue but we kept plugging away. I had times when I thought after cresting the top of Skyline drive, alright I am going to run this in and then I also thought don't mess it up, keep moving and avoid DNF. What does the 20min faster matter at this point, it is about getting to the finish. We all had moments of doubt but we hung in together told each other we are going to make it (Kinda weird and cool that some of the people we train with all off and on over 20 weeks with each of us having different strengths and weaknesses are all together 132 miles into a race that can be 17hrs long). You could hear Mike Reilly the announcer of Ironman off in the distance calling peoples names as we got closer and closer. The finish was well within reach just play it smart. Heading back down Bluff street again I saw friends treating me like I was a rock star, Kellie and Adam!! and Stephanie and Todd. Stephanie actually called my Triathlon idols Stan and Marti Davis. I could here them cheering through the ear piece on their phone!! Just as I enter the Elks lodge it was really quiet and a dreary place. This is where the Ford motivation station is. A billboard sends messages to athletes for encouragement. As we rounded the turn to head out of there It was Deja vu, Meri was there waiting to cheer us home. Meri and I were both racing last year and this was just about where we joined up and finished together last year. (fyi...greatest race experience ever!!)Just this year it was her on the cheering side and I was wishing she could be on the racing side finishing this off together. I told her I would see her at the finish. As we rounded Diagonal Street roundabout and approached the finish the atmosphere was amazing and the energy from the crowd was absorbed and the fatigue went dormant. I slapped high fives and enjoyed the moment going back and forth from people on the right and left. I was thrilled to see my mom, dad, Meri and my brother waiting at the finish line.
I DID IT. IRONMAN #3!! You may ask me, will I do it again? The answer is........._____.
Things to know when training and completing an IM.
-Just face it....The race is too long so just grin and BEAR it.
-Figure out your nutrition, what works for one does not for another.
-Have Fun. Enjoy the experience.
-You got 17 hrs.
-Have friends and family on the course to cheer you on. They help with the mental game!!!
-Race your race.
-Make sure the family will support you.
-Join a club or team
-Don't say you cant do an IM.
-Thank the volunteers!!