Sunday, September 20, 2015

Ironman Lake Tahoe (Troy)

September 22nd, 2015 – Lake Tahoe, CA
Swim 2.4m – Bike 112m – Run 26.2m

12:49:55 (1:00:29-10:16-5:54:06-5:25–5:39:39)




IM- Brad Cooper – FCA, Dave Leroy, David Tarkington, John Wilson – FCA, Justin Rose – FCA, Katy Rosane - FCA, Lee McKinley, Richard Kane, Sara McKinley, Sherwick Min, Stephanie Artis, Tana Jackson, Tomas Navarro, Warren Mine (Click here for results)

70.3 - Caryn Galeckas - FCA, Flor Hodges – FCA, Jami Min, Suzanne Hartley – FCA (Click here for results)

Wow, it's here!  Last year the race was cancelled so I trained again this year.  I didn't train as much but I did focus more on running.  After swimming and biking the course unofficially last year, and getting good times, I was no longer afraid of those events, so put everything into the run.. although I still didn't do enough miles.  The running was going well anyway until I got injured 4 weeks before the race.  I came to the conclusion that my shoes were the problem.

Now we're here at the start!  There was some smoke again earlier in the week due to another forest fire but it completely cleared out.  The weather is perfect. Morning temp is over 50 deg which I know I can manage with the layers I have.  Water is low 60's so I have booties and a rash guard.  They may slow me down but the important thing is to keep from getting chilled to the point of shivering.

I have my family, my friends Troy & Sarah Outman, and other friends who are racing the 70.3 and will be done in time to cheer for me as well.  The kids sit-guard near their sand castle they made the day before.  Robin and I pray.


I remember Brad Cooper's talk using the Fruits of the Spirit as a guide to ironman.

The 1st fruit: Love.  I remember my family and friends that love me and sacrificed to get me here and get me through the race.

With difficulty, I move through the crowded start chute to get near my 1:10 starting area.  National Anthem.  A prayer. 

029The Swim

Go!  Off to a smooth start.  I run a long way until it's deep enough and then embrace the cold.  I focus on breathing deeply the minimal oxygen and being relaxed.  It's hard to focus on a draft.

Peace -  the SWIM is chaotic and hard to breathe. Focus on God and find the Peace "that surpasses understanding"

After a while I'm more relaxed and start to look for a draft.  The booties are keeping my feet warm.  My kick is slower, which means less propulsion, but the added neoprene may help them float higher which decreases drag.

A 1000 yds out in the deep water, we make the big turn.  A 1/4 way done and happy to see 15:00.. great pace!  On the way back my sighting is good and getting some draft. Still concerned if I'll get too cold on the 2nd loop.  Remembering Brad Cooper's talk at Iron Prayer Friday about the fruits of the spirit and how they match up with triathlon.  "Peace" - the perfect focus for my swim.  I'm thankful it is peaceful and going very well.

045A 100 yds from shore we turn again for lap #2.  I try to throw an arm up while I'm swimming in case Robin & the girls can see me. Again, a great split, 30:00.  It's calming to know my swim goal of 1:10 is most likely met.  Getting more tired now. Counting the buoys to the turn-around.  The 2nd lap, just like Vineman Aquabike, isn't as bad as I think it will be.

The final turn in the deep water.  45:00.  Wow.  This is great.  I try to pick it up.  Planning for the exit.. (get up and running, despite being tired, up the sand, grab my bag, through the wash pool, into the change room.)  I come out in 1:00:29!  Had to be short, but still it's a boost.  (29th in my age)



The temp isn't bad so no sweater or 2nd gloves. wool socks, leg warmers, bike shorts, jersey, arm warmers, jacket, gloves, & beanie. Grab the bike, put shoes on at mount line and I'm off.. ahead of schedule.

055The Bike

Layers are perfect. Focusing on the next fruits of the spirit..

Patience - It's a long BIKE don't go out fast, be Patient
Kindness - The BIKE provides chances to share a word with fellow competitors and volunteers. Show Kindness and encourage them all
Goodness - Important on the BIKE to fill yourself with nutritional Goodness, fueling for the rest of the race

With "Goodness" I also remember I must not break the rules.. represent the Lord well in how I race.  Robin also reminded me not to break the rules since I got a 4min penalty at the Vineman Aquabike for riding too far to the left.

Mile 13.  21mph. This is the "extra clothes" drop but it's still chilly so I'm keep them on.  The Hwy 89 stretch to Truckee is great. I average 23mph.  Then through town with people cheering.  Then East on Glenshire Dr (new part of the course) which is mainly flat.  A short hard climb up and then onto the Truckee River Legacy Bike Path apparently just opened up this year.  It's great. Scenic. But only average 18.5mph along it. I'm looking forward to seeing my support group at mile 40 at the start of the Brockway climb.

062Mile 40.

I see Troy & Sarah Outman.  I pull over and shed jacket, leg warmers, gloves and beanie.  I throw them in the trash pile at the aid station and take off.  Troy Outman goes over and picks them out of the trash.  This is allowed.

The climb goes well.  I pass Sherwick and Tomas.  Knees hold up (thank you, Lord).  Robin and the girls have the FCA Endurance flag set up 1/2 mi from the top.  The perfect place!  So encouraging.


Coming down into Lake Tahoe is wonderful.  Now back around for the 2nd loop. 

Mile 60. This time along Hwy 89 I'm more comfortable in the aero position and feel like I'm making really good time.  Still, Sherwick goes flying by me!  On River Rd through Truckee I think about how he really likes this section (he road it a lot when they lived here).

Mile 73. Along Glenshire Dr out to the bike trail, I'm pushing pretty good when suddenly my left hamstring pulls!  Hurts pretty good so I dig into my glute with my fingers to try to release the tightness.  It works some and I'm back to riding.. more cautiously, though.

Mile 76. Along the Legacy Bike Trail, still impressed by its beauty, but not by my slower pace.  I get passed by many riders.  Getting tired.  Back on the streets and I see my family at the corner to Hwy 267! Yay.  066

Mile 84. 2nd climb up Brockway!  Troy Outman told me earlier that I get to climb it twice so appreciate it.  With that attitude I settle into the climb.  It goes well. Partly because I'm scared of my knees giving out so I want to get it over soon.  I pass Sherwick and some others again that I've gone back-n-forth with.  Over the top I try to stretch my leg back onto my seat when suddenly my rt hamstring pulls!  Ow!  Thank you Lord that I didn't crash.  At this moment I see our friend, Lee McKinley, fly by wearing the Victory Velo jersey.

Mile 93. I pass Lee along the hwy by Lake Tahoe and encourage each other.  I've got to push the pace if I'm going to make my goal of 6 hrs.  I'm right at 18.6 mph now.  I get into some good grooves where I relax, put my head down and let the miles fly by. I thank the Lord for this because I know the pain I could have in these last miles.  Going good as long as I keep looking up to keep from crashing into something.

084Mile 108. Riding up into Squaw Valley, Charlie & Melissa Cazin are driving alongside at the same time!  They cheer for me and give a lot of encouragement.  It's great timing. They're alongside quite a while as traffic and bikes are going the same speed.  I come in at 5:54:06 (under 6 hrs!) But the course appears a mile short. (36th in my age)

T2: Ok, I want to have a good transition.  Where's my bag?  Can't find it.  Finally ask for help and someone hands me it.  In the changing tent, with Lee McKinley and Sherwick right behind me, I realize I don't recognize anything in my transition bag… because it's someone else's! I run back and get the right bag.  Change into run shorts, shirt, hat, and keep the thick wool socks (maybe they'll take up room in my loose shoes which I've never run over a mile in). Get sunscreen at the table.  I don't have my Hammer drink bottles on me because I didn't think they would last sitting in the heat.  The plan is to wait till 13 mi to get my needs.

Fruits of the Spirit for the Run..
Faithfulness - Transitioning to the RUN there are a lot of crazy feelings, ideas, and negative thoughts.  Have Faithfulness to follow the plan for pacing & fueling and have faith God will get you to the end.
Gentleness - Start too fast in the RUN and you'll blow up. Start Gently. After a few miles, if feeling good, Gently touch on the gas
Self-Control - In the RUN the race doesn't start until mile 20. Exercise Self-Control and hold back until then. You'll make up the ground in the last 10K!


I'm not really thinking too far ahead.  It's going to be tough but I'll deal with it when it comes.  I'm just trying to maintain my goal pace of 9:00/mi.  I notice that it has gotten hot but I don't think about the effects of it.

Mile 3. 8:59 pace average.  Left hamstring pulls! Forces me to stop and stretch.  Sherwick runs by.  I knew the hamstrings could become an issue later, but this sudden attack is still surprising.  I get going again, up and over the steep resort path.  Now it's fortunately all downhill to where Robin and the girls and the Outmans are waiting for me. 100 It's so great to see them.  It's downhill and they say I look good.  But when I hit the flat hwy, I can feel the legs are starting to revolt.  WP_20150920_14_34_33_ProBut there's the girls again on the highway.. picks me up!.. if they could be at every mile..

Mile 5. 9:33 for the last 2 miles.  Despite the prior downhill the pace is climbing.

Mile 6. 10:17.  I'm not doing well.  Something is missing. My stomach isn't feeling too great.  I ask for my needs bag early but am told if I get it now I can't get it later.  I choose to wait.

Mile 8. 10:13 for the last 2 miles.  But both hamstrings are hurting a lot.  I stretch them for a while.  My body is screaming to just walk but I promise to not walk until the turn.  Knowing I'll see Lee McKinley and Sherwick Min coming back soon is motivation to keep looking strong.  I try some grapes, some water, some pretzels, nothing is appealing at all.  I just want my Hammer Sustained Energy.. but it's 5 miles away.  At Mile 9 I see Lee and Sherwick go by.

Mile 9.3. I'm walking!  1/2 mi before the turn!  I've never felt this bad before.  My hamstrings and my rt. peronial tendon injury.  I can't believe I'm walking.  It's a hollow, foggy feeling.  And the worst part is that it still hurts.  It's just not the sharp pain when I try to run.  I walk the turn-around even with the encouraging presence of volunteers.

I had hoped it might feel better but I'm sure now I'll be walking until I get my needs bag.  Rich Kane runs up and starts walking with me.  His stomach is nauseous, too.  Although I would love someone to talk to about all this, the last thing I want to do is encourage them to slow down so I try to get him going again.

Mile 11. 13:18 for the last 3 miles which is good for mostly walking.  I'm trying to keep the walk pace below 18 (double my run pace plan) and it's working.  But still the review of the whole situation is depressing.  My goal was to run the whole marathon.  I told Robin & the girls I'd be done at 6pm.  And, worst of all, it hurts so much I really want to drop out.  DNF.  I've never felt this before and it's scary. 

Robin & I try to encourage everyone not to quit.  I have never found a time the Lord's will was to quit.. not when it was His will to start.  And we just talked about this in our last Bible Study.  Quitting is followed by continually having to explain to people why I quit.  And 2 days ago at Iron Prayer I specifically talked about when things go wrong, they can actually be the makings of the best inspiring story ever. 

I'm praying about it.  And remembering my own words.  And remembering how the Lord has so often surprised me with results I couldn't see coming.  But right now, as hard as I try, I can't see any way the Lord can make this better.  I had a great swim and bike and my body is spiraling downward on the run.  It's a matter of time before my legs seize up and I fall down not able to get up.  That would be such a relief to get carted off the course.  But my kids.. they can't see Daddy quit.  I can't spend the formable years to come constantly explaining why it was ok for me to quit that time. 

But if I collapse, that's a different story. That would be ok.  I start crying involuntarily.  But immediately stop.  My fellow competitors are running towards me and by me.  We are Ironmen and crying has never helped any of us get to the finish. 

My teammate, Katy, comes up on me and puts an arm on me and prays for me.  John from the Iron Prayer who doesn't even know me comes by and stops to pray with me.  Tana Jackson also stops sympathetically to walk with me for a moment.  This makes me start to cry again.  I can see in her eyes, like my other friends, that they are sympathetic, and know what it's like. 

They respect me a lot.  Enough that the amazing Tana Jackson, during her strongest leg, would stop to walk with me.  But I can't let that happen.  I encourage her on and ask that she tell Robin that my new finish time is 9:00pm.  I hope that her and the girls can go get some rest instead of standing out in the dark later.

Mile 13. 16:19 ave for the last 2 miles.  Desperately, I get my needs bag. I down 1 flask of Sustained Energy and start on the next.  I've got gels, too, but not appealing.  Nothing is changing and the pain in my legs is spreading to my arms even.  I even fell like my ears might be hurting. 

Mile 14. All I want now is to see Robin.  She's the only one I can share all these emotions and feelings with.  As I walk towards the entrance to Squaw Valley, I see Robin.  Thank you, Lord, she came down to the highway at the right time.  Thankfully the girls are back up at the cheering area.  I tell Robin everything and how I don't think I can go on anymore.  She prays first, then gives me the hard love and tells me I have to start drinking and eating!  But I've already tried that.  Nevertheless, I admire Robin greatly and I know she's been praying and when she's been praying and then gives me advice, it has never been wrong.  I grab soup and water at the aid station and then compose myself to see the girls and Troy and Sarah.


Mile 15. 17:46 ave for the last 2 miles.  The girls know I'm hurting but that I will push on.  Troy massages my hamstrings while I try to stretch them on a rock.  Now I try running again up the hill while Robin runs ahead shouting the repeated command to eat, to drink, and to fill up my water bottles.  After a hundred yards the pain gets intense and I'm walking again.  At the next aid station, with Robin still yelling at me, I reluctantly fill up all my bottles and down a few cups of water and broth.  I grab a clear trash bag and make a poncho to keep me warm.

Mile 16. 17:32.  I thank Robin as she heads back.  I'm still walking but also drinking more.  It's a slight climb up to the Village at Squaw Valley.  Trash bag is keeping me warm.

Mile 17. 19:10.  My slowest mile yet. If I could just lay down for a 10min nap, maybe I could complete the rest of this course.  I look for a cot, a blanket, a hiding place. There are Tri Club tents all along here but if I laid down in one of their chairs surely I'd be attacked with questions and prodding to continue.  I see my Teammates, Suzanne & Caryn and I just lie down on the pavement near them.  My legs are twitching all over but ahhh, it feels so good to close my eyes.  I really think I'll fall asleep.  Caryn starts praying for me.  I fold my hands and listen to every word of truth.  I know the Lord hears all these prayers and can turn things around, but I just can't imagine what it would look like.

"You're going to be DNF'd if you don't get up", I hear from a race official.  "I can't stop for 10 min ?" I ask.  "You can stop, but you can't lay there like that.. it makes medical concerned."  WP_20150920_17_58_43_ProHe had a point.  Lying on my back with my arms spread out didn't look good. I lift my legs, rub them, shake them out, thank Caryn, and then get up and try running again.  It feels different.  I run all through the village.  Someone interviews me in my trashbag while I run (click here for link).  I tell him my body is shutting down.  008But actually it appears I'm doing better. 

Mile 18. 12:35.  After laying down and being prayed over, this is my fastest mile in the last 2 hrs!  I shed the trash bag as I now heat up more.  Robin & the girls are excited to see me and are cheering loudly at the fact I'm running.

At the steep path behind the resort I meet my friend Warren Mine.  I walk it with him and we recite stories from our past.  Then I'm running again.  Down to the highway.  I start to walk again, but realizing that my legs don't hurt as bad, start running again.  I see our friend Steph Artis on her way to finish her first Ironman. I'm getting new hope.  I long to see the turn-around.  I make the turn and am heading back.  Just as the lights are coming on, the trail is starting to get dark and runners are getting glowsticks.  Back to the Squaw Valley entrance.  More broth, more water.  Starting up the path again, I walk the steep hill.. this will be my last walk!

Mile 24. 11:03 ave pace for the last 6 miles!  Now I'm pushing harder than ever.  I'm so thankful and excited that I'm actually coming back, going faster instead of slower. 

Mile 25. 11:04, even with the uphill.   1 mile to go and everything starts becoming clear.  This is how a disaster run becomes an even more exciting finish than a race gone perfectly.  My goal was to finish 1-1/2 hrs ago and it would be a good time, but it wouldn't have qualified me or made the podium.  It would have been a well-followed-plan with the help of the Lord.  But I spiraled to the point of wanting to quit.  The plan became dropping out or walking to a 9pm finish.. and dropping out looked more doable.

Now I'm 1-1/2 ahead of 9pm, not walking, but running so much faster at sub-11 pace.  Not having to explain for months to come why I quit.  Not confusing my kids about why I would drop out.  And being amazed with the power of friends' prayers and the wisdom from my wife.  And when I see that finishers medal, T-Shirt, and hat.. it will be in a whole new light… prouder than ever to receive those tokens of accomplishment.

Mile 26. 9:16.  I finish through that spectacular corridor of lights.  5:39:39 marathon. 12:49:55 overall. (53rd in my age). Thank you, Lord, for this finish.  For putting wonderful people in my life.  For taking a failed plan and turning it into a victorious memory and satisfaction.150921_imtahoe_troy_finish2 


Rom 5:3-5 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.