As you all know, I took a rest day between day 1 and day 2. On the rest day my objective was to get a light workout in, stay off my feet as much as possible and get a massage. I got the massage first thing in the morning. With my legs completely flushed out, they actually felt pretty good. I knew they would though. It is typically the second day after an event that the real soreness gets you. The remainder of the day went by in a blur. My dad and I grabbed lunch together which gave us a good chance to catch up. He has recently had his knee replacements replaced and is making a strong comeback. His determination and strength has always been a huge inspiration and drive for me. Two knee replacements later, he has never even thought about admitting defeat. I fully expect him to be back on the tennis court in 2014 competing on the national senior tennis circuit. Very inspiring. Following lunch, we had a birthday party for my nephew at our house. It was a great distraction to play with the kids and try to stop thinking about myself for a second. After the party, I packed for the next day, ate dinner, and went to bed early.
I woke at 3:50am the next day and gingerly stepped out of bed. I eased into a standing position, waiting for the deep soreness to hit me. No soreness. I took a step, then another. Bent my legs, straightened up. No soreness. I was shocked, but ecstatic! Because the YMCA pool did not open until 7am on Saturday, my first event of day 2 was a 10 mile run. I would then do the swim, followed by the bike, followed by the remaining 16.2 mile run.
I ate my almond butter sandwich, cup of coffee, and Bode Lemon-Lime sports drink and began double checking my checklist. Once again, Annie came out to help me as well. When we were sure that everything was packed and ready for the day, I headed out to the Y to start the 10 mile run. I arrived in the Y parking lot and was amazed to see 15-20 guys from my running group waiting for me. I didn’t tell them how grateful I was for their support, because guys aren’t good at that. I think I said “what are you all waiting on? Let’s go!”. Someone responded “alright (insert explicative)”. Good enough. Hopefully they could feel my sincere appreciation.
We started the run and I took each step anticipating pain to shoot through my legs. Still nothing! Within a half mile, we were cruising at a decent pace and things felt great. Thanks to Joey Beason, we stayed on a strict 4 minute run / 1 minute walk regiment. I could devote an entire blog to the benefits of this type of running. It was a lifesaver. The 10 miles rolled by quickly. The mood was jovial and there were plenty of jokes and stories to go around. Following the run, I had my first scare of the day. Literally on the last 100 yards of the run, I felt sharp pain on the outside of my right knee. It was painful enough to cause me to limp a little. I knew it was IT band irritation and knew it had the potential to make Day 2 a VERY long day. I didn’t limp in front of the guys because I wasn’t admitting anything was wrong in my own mind and I definitely didn’t want anyone else asking me if I was okay. Sometimes injuries only happen when you actually admit that something hurts. We had started the run at 4:50am and I was planning to get back just in time to start the swim by 7am. Surprisingly we made it back 25 minutes ahead of schedule. I had time to change clothes, stretch, eat a little and relax before the swim.
At 7am I was on the pool deck ready for the swim. Brad Hughes had graciously offered to be my lap counter for the day. I can’t imagine a more boring job, so thanks Brad. Someone had brought a load of coffee to the pool deck and the running group gathered to drink coffee and watch me slog out 2.4 miles. You know you have great friends when they are willing to watch you swim for an hour! Rion Smith and Harris Cottingham swam with me to keep me on pace. The first couple laps of the swim didn’t go so well. I had no rhythm and my arms felt like lead. Uh oh! Somewhere around the half mile point, my arms began loosening up and my stroke feeling stronger. By the halfway point, I felt absolutely amazing. It was all I could do to keep myself from turning the last mile into a sprint. I finished the swim in 1:08. 1 minute faster than the previous day.
I had started getting cold the last 15 minutes of the swim and when I got out it only got worse. I immediately dried off and went to the locker-room to eat and dress for the bike. Due to my core temperature being down, my hands were shaking so badly it was hard to eat or get dressed. I finally got dressed and my support crew wouldn’t allow me to leave until I sat in the steam room for several minutes. So Tommy McAfee, Brad Hughes and I sat fully dressed, eating and drinking coffee in the sauna. Probably looked a little strange, but it did the trick. My core temp warmed up just enough to stop the shaking.
I grabbed my bike and headed out of the Y to meet the guys who would be riding with me. To my surprise, I was greeted by a good friend and elite cyclist, Aaron Burleson. He brought a cycling teammate named Eric with him who I really enjoyed meeting. Our group was rounded out by another elite cyclist named Scott Edge and my buddy Jamie Yarbrough. All four guys were great company and by far the strongest riders I had ever ridden with. Unfortunately they were only going to stay with me till the 56 mile point. The way they protected me and pulled me made me feel like the president in a high speed motorcade. With 4 strong riders pulling you, it is amazing how much faster you can go. At one point on a long straight we were averaging 28 mph and my heart rate was only 115 bpm! If it felt like cheating, I certainly didn’t let it bother me. I shamelessly let them pull me the entire 56 miles. When they left me, Brian “the hammer” Hamby joined me. He had big shoes to fill and did a great job. However, going from 4 riders to just 1 was a tough adjustment for me. I began feeling the wind and our speed slowed quite a bit. This was my fault, not Brian’s. For 30 miles Brian toughed out the wind and pulled me along the course, leading the entire time. Thankfully when it was time to head back to the Y, Drew Brannon, joined us for the last 30 miles. Brian finally got to take a break. With Drew’s help, we continued to stay ahead of pace. Ed Matthews dedicated his entire day to supporting our ride and provided excellent traffic control for us on the way in. At every major intersection he was there to block traffic and let us ride straight on through. Thank you Ed. We finished the bike well ahead of schedule and I was feeling pretty good.
Once off the bike, my thoughts returned to my knee. Would it act up or would it be okay? I tried not to worry about it too much. Annie arrived with a delicious grilled turkey and cheese sandwich that I devoured. I don’t know how Annie did it, but the entire weekend, with two kids in tow, she was there for me. I changed clothes and joined Joey, Tommy Sinn, Chris Carter, and Sung Chong to start the run. Tommy was on his bike, taking photos, providing protection, and general mayhem. Everyone’s mood was good. With more than a little concern I started the run. I waited for the pain…nothing. A few more steps…nothing. IT issue…gone. Whew! The pace of the run stayed pretty consistent. Joey called out the 1 minute walk breaks like a drill sergeant. Being the second ironman I had done in 3 days, I expected fatigue and other issues to set in. However, the complete opposite happened. Throughout the day, I actually felt stronger and stronger. At mile 4, Suzanne Knox joined us on her bike and motivated us to keep moving! At the 8 mile turnaround point, we were met by a large group of supporters and several more runners joined us. It was an amazing feeling seeing us all come together for this common cause. A negative split is something that every runner typically aims for. However, in an ironman event, a negative split is very tough to do. We did it. The pace on the way home continued to quicken. My legs began feeling fresher than they had at any point during training. How was this happening? It was such an unbelievable feeling to be at that stage of the second ironman and feel like I could have kept going forever. As we approached the finish line, I was surrounded (then passed) by all of our kids as they raced me to the finish line. I took a moment to absorb the moment. For 10 months I had envisioned this moment and now it was right there in front of me. I high fived Joey, who had just run 2 marathons with me like it was no big deal. An amazing accomplishment that did not receive the recognition it deserved. I high fived Sung Chong who had just completed his first marathon ever. I high fived Chris Carter who had also just finished the marathon with me. As the rays of the setting sun were just hitting the tree line around the Y, I crossed the finish line. 13 hours and 30 minutes. A full 1:30 faster than the first ironman!
My first hug was for Annie. I cannot fully express my gratitude and utter amazement for her support. She stayed 100% behind me this entire time and never once wavered in her dedication to helping me complete this mission. My next hugs were for family and then for Matt Reeves. The director of the Frazee Center and the man who, along with his amazing wife Jenny, works so hard to change the lives of Greenville’s youth.
Our group milled around at the finish line for a long time. Content just to be together sharing this moment. I tried to mentally grasp what I had just done, but it was useless. My mind wouldn’t let me reflect. Not yet. I hope in the coming weeks that I can find some deeper meaning in all this, but for now I am comfortable knowing that the journey is complete. I have always thought the extreme endurance tests will change you forever. Each one leaves its mark on your soul. This one was no different. Unfortunately the understanding does not come immediately. Deciphering the message takes time.
Thank you to all who helped me through this. This is not my success, it is our success. Most importantly it is the children who really won. I am so overwhelmed by the support I received that it will be impossible to thank everyone to the extent they deserve. All I can say is thank you. Over and over again.
My alarm was set for 3:50am, but I woke up at 3:40am. I decided to get up because its always harder to wake up the second time! I quietly dressed and slipped out to the kitchen to start getting some calories down. I had an almond butter sandwich on Ezekiel Raisin Bread, 1 cup of coffee, and a Bode Lemon Lime sports drink. I then went through my checklist one more time to make sure everything was packed and ready for the day. It is harder than you think to pack for an all day multi-sport event that covers 140.6 miles with multiple aid stations. One small mistake could magnify into huge delays later, so you really feel pressure to get it right. Thankfully Annie (who is more organized than me), despite the insanely early hour, came out to double check my list as well. When we were sure that all bags were packed correctly, I grabbed my bike and headed for the YMCA for the swim.
I arrived at the Y at 4:55am and was surprised to find several friends, my event coordinator Suzy Foral, and my lap counter Andrew Coln already waiting for me. I am pretty sure that I have the best family and group of friends that anyone could ask for. At 5am the Y doors opened and my nerves shot through the roof. They had been quiet until that point, but what lay ahead of me became very real at that moment.
I dropped my bag in the locker room and headed for the pool. Appropriately the pool bubble was filled with a thick mist and soft green glow from the lights that gave it an ominous look. This added to my anxiety, but there was nothing left to do, except get in the pool and swim like I had done a thousand times before. I was quickly relieved to find that my stroke felt good and I was able to get into a great rhythm. From start to finish the swim felt great. I ended up swimming the 2.4 miles in 1:09. A decent time for a non-swimmer like myself.
In the swim to bike transition I took time to eat another almond butter sandwich and drink a protein shake. I had to keep reminding myself that on Day 1, I was really eating for Day 2. I couldn’t afford to leave myself depleted.
I grabbed my bike, gave Annie my run bag and headed out of the Y. My good friends, Ray Foral, Rion Smith, and Ted Lyerly, were saddled up and ready to go. Annie followed us the first 8 miles in the car to get us through the high traffic areas. It was somewhat a relief to make it out into the quiet countryside where we were able to set a good consistent pace. Once again, I was thankful to have friends that would take time away from family and work to ride with me. It was much colder than I expected (51 degrees), but warmed up quickly as the sun came up. Around mile 40, Louise Laganiere joined our group and we gratefully let her do a lot of the pulling! At mile 56 Rion and Ray finished their rides and Lance Leopold joined up to fill the void. Louise left us at mile 80 and it was then up to Lance and Ted to pull me home. As a side story, Ted Lyerly had never ridden more than 75 miles and ended up riding the full 112 with me on the first day. Great job Ted!! The final 10 miles turned out to be very tough. The wind kicked up and surprisingly all the downhills going out turned into uphills going back. With no thought to speed, I relaxed and was content to simply cruise in at an easy pace that would not take too much out of my legs. I was very relieved to see the Y and get off the bike. The final 10 miles were harder than I wanted to admit. In fact, I was starting to feel the first signs of dreaded stomach issues.
The group of supporters that greeted us when we finished the bike, lifted my spirits a lot! I took some time to eat, drink and change outfits. I was already feeling more tired than I should have been, but knew there was only one way to the finish line. Knowing that I wouldn’t magically feel better anytime soon, I joined the group of runners waiting on me and we headed out. There were so many great supporters, but one I have to mention is my good friend Joey Beason. He ran both marathons with me and was a huge part of helping me finish both days. Just a few miles into the run, my physical state had deteriorated to the point that I was already thinking I may have to walk to the finish. Anyone who has competed in endurance events knows that your body has the miraculous ability to rebound and you should expect ups and downs. I have hit the wall so many times in the past, that I kept telling myself just to keep moving and things would have to get better. At mile 13, things started to improve! I wasn’t able to drink anything except water and the thought of a gel made me gag. Thankfully Annie and Suzy were there to bring me a turkey and cheese sandwich (you begin having the strangest cravings). If something sounds good to you, you have to eat it because calories are extremely important. My aid station supporters were phenomenal as well. They made it their mission to keep me moving and get me whatever I needed. By mile 15 things were looking really good. In fact, I was starting to enjoy running again. At mile 22, the kids from the Frazee Center joined me and ran the next mile. This by far was the highlight of the entire weekend. Those kids brought so much energy to me. Looking into their eyes and talking to them lit a fire under me. At that early age, those kids had already experienced more pain than I will experience in a lifetime. After leaving the kids, it was just a short 3 mile cruise to the finish. My sister and nephew joined us, Annie jumped in and ran a few miles, and we made it to the finish! It was very touching to see my family and friends waiting for me at the finish line. Day 1 done!! 15 hours.
The finish line photos and hugs were sweet, but in the back of my mind, I didn’t really feel any excitment. All I could think was, I will be doing this all over again in 1 day. I didn’t allow myself to feel too much relief. I wanted to stay focused on the objective and keep my mind strong for what was to come…
For Day 2, please use the following link for live tracking: http://locatoweb.com/map/single/02073634
Looking forward to getting started in just 30 minutes!!
Day 1 is in the books and can be considered a success!! After 15 grueling hours, I finished at the YMCA to the sound of cowbells (you can never have too much cowbell) and cheering from a small group of die hard supporters! I cannot express enough gratitude to all the friends and family who helped me through the entire day. It is an amazing feeling when other people give up their time for your cause. Time is a precious asset and I am fully aware of the value when it is spent on my efforts. Thank you also to all of you who have sent me an encouraging text or email. I will aim to not disappoint you all tomorrow.
Today I am feeling better than expected. My legs are heavy and I am tired, but overall feel good. I had a massage earlier which turned out to be more painful than the ironman yesterday:)
Since I am the rules committee, sole official participant, race director, compliance officer, and governing body of this event, I have decided to slightly alter the format. Since the pool doesn’t open until 7am, I will not be able to start the swim until that time. In an effort to finish earlier in the evening, I will start my run at 4:50am and will run 10 miles. At 7am I will begin my swim as planned. The swim will be followed by the 112 bike ride, which will be followed by the remaining 16.2 mile run. A slight twist on the iron distance order of events, but still 140.6 miles.
I am shooting for a daylight finish tomorrow. Be sure to follow our Facebook Page or the live tracker to see where I am throughout the day!
You will now be able to track my progress live on a map during the Frazee Crazy Challenge! To do this, simply go to this website: http://locatoweb.com/map/single/14513601.
I have never used this program, so if it doesn’t work, please accept my apologies in advance. We will still be updating live on our Frazee Crazy Facebook Page, so you can always follow me there as well.
Only 3 days to go!!
I have received some questions about the Volunteer sign up that I sent out. Below I will hopefully clarify any confusion:
Q: If I sign up to ride or run, do I have to do the entire distance?
A: No. How far you go completely depends on you. My sign up sheet would have been way too long if I broke it down into shorter distances. I will be thankful for any company, no matter how far you stick with me.
Q: What does AS stand for?
A: Aid Station
Q: If I sign up to work an Aid Station (AS), am I responsible for bringing food, drinks, supplies, etc?
A: No. This will be provided for you. You will simply need to pick it up from a location TBD and get it to the Aid Station.
Q: If I ride or run with you, will there be food and drinks available for me at the Aid Stations?
A: I will have a limited supply of water and sports drinks available that you are welcome to take. Please plan on bringing your own gels, snacks, etc. You are also welcome to coordinate with the Aid Station volunteer and drop a bag with them.
I will continue to add Q&A’s as they come in. Thank you for your support! The Volunteer Sign Up can be found at:
Last week was a grind, but I got through it! After 10 months, training is not hard or easy now. Like getting dressed, it is just something I do each day.
Yesterday as I logged 5 1/2 hours on the bike trainer, I randomly selected an Andy Stanley sermon to listen to. I was hoping for some motivation and I got it. I felt it was no coincidence that his sermon focused on our ability as humans to believe. As he talked about how all great things happen because someone believed when others did not, I couldn’t help but relate this message to what I am trying to accomplish. I am not suggesting at all that I am the one doing the great thing. It is my hope, that what I am doing will inspire someone to do something great. I purposely chose a daunting physical challenge, because most people believe it can not be done. I believe it can. If just one person uses my challenge as inspiration to try something great, then this has all been worth it. If that person says, “wow, if he can do that…”, then my mission is accomplished.
So my message today is to believe. Don’t let yourself fall victim to the restraints that society places on you. As I am writing these words, I am risking ridicule from the vast majority who do not believe. Well, who cares? I am still breathing, my family still loves me and the sun is still shining. I challenge anyone who is listening to believe that greatness is inside you. You are the only one who can keep that greatness from coming out.
My coach sends my training schedule late at night each Sunday (he’s on Pacific time). This past Sunday, I went to bed exhausted, but excited because I had made it through the last heavy week of training. Let the taper begin! I woke at 5am on Monday, made some coffee, decided to kick my feet up and relax for a minute. What the heck, I’m tapering. That’s about the time I got around to opening my training email. What I saw on the schedule ruined my taper induced euphoria and made me spill my coffee! I may have whimpered a bit too, but am blaming that on our dog. We don’t have a dog. Okay, so basically another tough week, but 30 minutes less than last week. I managed to pull myself out of my psychotic downward spiral and do what has now become a habit: lace up my shoes and head out the door. It took all of 5 minutes for my disappointment to disappear and the excitement of the challenge return. Getting out on the empty streets wrapped in pre-dawn darkness, observing the peace and solitude of a sleepy town, fueled my desire to endure. BRING IT ON! Who needs a taper anyway? Only 2 weeks left.
As promised, the heavy weeks of training are actually pretty tough! This week I’m pretty much operating in a sleep deprived, zombie-like state. A funny thing happens during these heavy training periods…your body has the uncanny ability to adapt quickly. By that I mean, no matter how tired you are when you start a workout, if you can just get moving, you WILL feel better by the end. The human body is an amazing machine that, I am fully convinced, we don’t come close to fully understanding. The biggest enemy of endurance…our brain. Our mind has the ability to make us a hero or coward. The good news is, we are in complete control of the outcome. You get to decide whether to be the hero or coward. So many times we blame failure on the circumstances, but we all know these circumstances are fabricated to conceal our weakness. Test this theory out. For the next week, force yourself to workout once per day before work. On day 2 when your mind starts making excuses, laugh at the excuses and get out of bed. I promise that you will not only be healthier, but you will start to understand that there is toughness in all of us. For some that toughness is on the surface and for others you have to dig deep to find it. One way or the other, find it. You will not regret doing it. This is my challenge to you.
Only 3 1/2 weeks till the event!! Stay posted as I will be posting my official routes soon. Make sure to also “Like” our facebook page so you can receive important updates during the actual event.