11 July 2013

The Jewish Ironman

The Jewish Stallion after completing Ironman Austria, his first iron-distance triathlon.

The following is the Jewish Stallion's race report from his first iron-distance triathlon, Ironman Austria.  He is my first guest blogger, and I'm proud of his accomplishment.  I am equally proud of the Swiss Assassin's selflessness during the race.  He has had a string of about 11 races in a row over two years in which he has set a PR--in both running and triathlon and at multiple distances.  He needed a break from strenuous training and racing and decided to help a friend through a difficult race.  Comments in italics are mine.  RL-V

The Jewish Stallion's Ironman's “Official” Race Report

First, much love and a HUGE thanks to the Swiss Assassin for his support during IM Austria. It was so great to have him at my side before, during, and after the race. I now know what the team leaders on the Tour de France feel like with their domestiques. He was there for me when the going got tough and did everything in his power to see me across the line, down to helping me loosen my shoe laces. I must admit I was a bit nervous with the idea of having him race with me as I thought he might get frustrated with the pace, but he was so positive all day long. I am extremely grateful.

Now onto the race day log:

3:15 – Wake up time, ouch! After a few hours of sleep, the tired feeling was quickly replaced by the excitement of the “Big Day” finally having arrived. After bread and jam and a banana for breakfast, made my way to our designated meeting spot to hook up with some fellow racers we met who had arranged a Ferry ride to the start line.

4:55 – Boarded the “ferry,” which actually turned out to be a speed boat owned by a water skiing instructor. He hit the gas and we sped across the Wothersee towards the start line. In true James Bond style and what had to be the coolest arrival to any race, we hit the beach at the start line without a single person in site. We jumped out and headed to the transition area, catching all the security people off guard as they had not even opened the start area to the public yet. In fact, they were so startled to see us show up behind them that at first they did not know whether they should let us out or not.

5:30 – Accidentally unscrewed the valve on my tire while pumping it up and nearly had heart failure as my tire completely deflated!

The Swiss Assassin caught a nice shot of the Jewish Stallion furiously working to get his tire (re)inflated.

5:31 – Swiss Assassin makes some smart ass comment about my tire that makes me laugh and calms my nerves at the same time.  (Neither the Swiss Assassin nor the Jewish Stallion can remember the joke.)

6:15 – On the beach, with extra bag of stuff in hand (e.g. pump, i-pod, extra googles, etc.) looking for our neighbor from the Ferry ride to hand off our stuff. He was nowhere in sight, so we left the bag under a tree.

6:55 – Deep breath and the last gel goes down.

7:00 – Total mayhem as 2,500 people run from the beach into the water and start to swim.

7:01 – Total panic attack as people are swimming around, on top of and under me. I am swimming breast stroke while I try to get my breathing under control. Swiss Assassin is calmly waiting for me, while swimming easily and defending himself from some dude who kicked him in the face twice. Turning back to assess my level of panic every few seconds, he waits until I give the thumbs up before clearing a way through the crowd.  Off we go.

7:05 – Swimming calmly now and trying to stay with Swiss Assassin as we make our way through the crowds.

7:45 – Hit the first turn, crowded but making good progress.

8:00 – Lose the Swiss Assassin in the crowd but feeling comfortable now and swimming relaxed. With so many people around, there was always someone to draft off of.

8:17 – Exit the water.  YEAH! Happy to survive the swim. (The Jewish Stallion showed incredible improvement in his swimming.)

8:22 – Swiss Assassin is waiting for me at my bike.  A relatively quick transition (for me) and off we go.

10:07 – First 60 km of the bike go well, but the climbs are tougher than I thought they would be. I am able to talk and joke with Swiss Assassin as we pass each other on the climbs and descents.

10:08 – Pass Swiss Assassin going over the last big climb as he reaches for a new water bottle.  Certainly he heard my shout out to him as I went by, right?

11:57 – I have not seen Swiss Assassin for the past couple of hours. I later find out he did not see me pass but instead thought I had a mechanical issue and stopped to wait. After 15 minutes of waiting, he asked a spectator and found out I was ahead of him. He set off at a furious pace to try and catch me.  (While following the race online, I thought that the Swiss Assassin had just tired of riding so slowly and decided to put in some faster miles.  I didn't know that he was actually trying to catch the Jewish Stallion.)

1:47 – I see Swiss Assassin again, YEAH!  Hmmm . . . he does see me, right? After about one second of riding together, he speeds by me. It took me a few seconds to realize that he did not see me, and I then try to speed up to catch him, shouting, “Alain! Alain!” as loud as I can and accelerating as best I can, all to no avail. He is moving just too fast for me to catch him and with his super sperm helmet, my shouts go unnoticed. This is the last time I see him until T2.

3:01 – T2 does not come soon enough. The second round of the climbs was much tougher than the first. I tried to ride conservatively, but I was a bit disappointed that I did not go faster on the bike. Many people passed me that had no business passing me.  I made a vow to myself to become a better biker before my next Ironman. The idea of PEDs seems understandable, if not quite reasonable, at this point.

3:02 – Swiss Assassin is again waiting for me in T2. Man I love that guy! So awesome to see him waiting for me at transition.  I ate too much on the bike and need to find a toilet before putting on my running shoes. Assassin lathers me up with sun block while I put on my shoes.  (What?  No photos of the sun-block lathering?)

3:10 – We start the marathon. I am feeling ok, but my legs feel more tired than I thought they would. My stomach is not feeling great, and after about 5km, I need to find a toilet--fast!

3:17 – Like magic, a portable toilet appears out of nowhere in a small construction site.  Even more magically it is free.

5:48 – The pace has slowed to a crawl. My feet are killing me and the heat is starting to get to me. I have been walking aid stations and re-starting the running is now getting harder and harder. The idea of breaking my marathon PR has long since passed, and the idea of just finishing is all that is on my mind.

6:30 – The idea that my shoe laces might be too tight (should not have put those quick laces in my shoes the night before the race!) comes to me in a flash. The Swiss Assassin is now adjusting my laces for me as I am a wreck. Feet feel a bit better, but the pace stays slow and I am really feeling crushed.

7:01 – I am feeling the pain and focusing on just running to the next aid station--they're 2km apart. Each station allows me time to drink a bit of Coke or sports drink/water. Two cups on the head to cool down and then a few more steps of walking before starting the slow slog toward the finish line. I feel terrible, but I am still passing people, which makes me feel a bit better.

7:29 – We pass the 41km mark. YES! I can smell the finish line. What a great feeling. I run across the finish line and join hands with the Swiss Assassin as we cross.

In the end, I am both excited and to be honest a bit relieved to finally finish. I was fairly confident that I would finish, but you never quite know for sure. Overall, it was a great day, and I could not have done much more.

As we came out of the finish-line transition, we went to look for our long, lost bag full of cool tri gear that was left alone 13 hours ago. The beach was deserted and the bag was nowhere to be seen. For the last time that day, the Swiss Assassin sprang into action. He found a kitchen worker at a nearby restaurant who then pointed him to a maintenance worker who was just about to drive off for the day. The maintenance worker seemed to remember a bag and took Alain to some locked room somewhere. Holy shit! Alain actually found the bag and the celebration could now start in full.

We downed a few beers and a huge sausage and stayed to watch the rest of the finishers. What a great way to finish off the day. Although I was tired, it was great to stay at the finish line and cheer on the final finishers. The crowds and excitement grew with the hours. At nearly midnight, we cheered on the final finisher and watched the fireworks. I went to bed that night with a huge smile on my face thinking of the great day.

Top 4 things I will remember from IM Austria:

1.       The selflessness of Alain (the Swiss Assassin).
2.       Don’t try anything new on race day, shoelaces included.
3.       The energy and emotion at the finish line.
4.       The long hug from my kids after I crossed the line.

I can’t wait to see how El Doce does in Louisville, how the Silverback does in his ultra, and how the Assassin does in Koln, Germany in the 70.3 vs. his cousins. I am sure you guys will all kick ass, and 2013 will be a great one for the Windmill Warriors on both continents. I am also excited that in 8 weeks I will not only be there to cheer on the Assassin in Germany but also be watching my wife complete her first triathlon.  How can life get any better?

I am excited to be an “Ironman” and already thinking about how I can improve for the next one. It will likely be a while, but maybe in 2014, if the job search cards fall the right way . . .

Jewish Stallion

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