"You're living the dream bro! You're living the dream!"
-Volunteer on lap 2 of bike turn around
The quote above isn't made up, easily one of the highlights of the race. Two of my best friends, Skip and Marcus, always use the acronym; LTD for Living The Dream. Ironman definitely is living the dream.
I'm lucky to be healthy enough to complete the race, lucky to have the family support system from Jamie to my Mom and Dad to Jamie's parents to my friends and co-workers; not to mention lucky enough to have the internal motivation to want to exercise.
I know a lot of people don't have these things, I have plenty of reason to step back and realize that I am Living the Dream. Below is an example of this; a video made in Guatemala by my buddy Skip and his class.
I want to thank everyone that sent me a text, gave me a call and sent video's to my phone or Jamie's prior to the start of the race. I can't believe the out pouring of support. I'm so grateful for everyone.
Leading up to the race
I could go on and on about the pre-race stress of filling the multiple transition bags, registering, going back to turn in those bags then turning in more special need bags on race morning. Long story short; those of you who know me know I'm high strung and easily excitable, getting everything ready for long transitions that I didn't particularly understand was probably the most stressful part of the weekend. It made the actual race starting feel like a relief.
Two days prior to the race I was interviewed by World Triathlon Corporation (WTC). Triabetes, one of the clubs of Insulindependence, is an official club of USA-Triathlon, as such Peter, Blair and I were invited to their reception and I was asked to speak about "the metal pancreas" (their words, aka the insulin pump) I have on my body. Below is the interview.
Normally I fall asleep like a baby, even the night prior to a race, I start this weird breathing thing and I'm out. Not this night. I started thinking about the swim and the rest of the race as I lay in bed. I thought about everything leading up to the race. The training, my family that were there and how important it was to me.
Then it was up early for the start, I awoke just prior to 4:00am. Blood sugar over night was perfect, flat line in the 80's, one of the rare times that Jamie and I probably slept with a similar blood glucose level.
After the glucose reading was an insulin injection that I had set on the counter, I didn't even have to think about it. Near ten units of insulin by injection and 140 carbs of white rice and a banana. No taking a risk with the insulin pump not working, I wasn't going to let the "metal pancreas" fail now. I got dressed while I wait for the insulin to hit me then eat.
Jamie and I sat on the couch of the hotel as I ate the breakfast. Not much was said, the calm before the storm.
Murphy's law struck first when our secret parking lot was closed. Our fault. Jamie was driving so we turned around and made our way to normal parking lot. Road closed again. Fine, the race officials won this battle. I jumped out and Jamie went to find parking. Second mistake. No phone, no plan to meet up.
I went to transition and pumped my bike tires, put bottles on my bike and turned on the bike computer then went to drop off the special needs bags. Two quick bathroom breaks and a test of the blood sugar, 154.
I walked back through transition to see Sarah Reinertsen holding her prosthetic leg telling a volunteer how to hand it to her leaving the water. I definitely did a double take and we made eye contact, I'm sure she thought "what are you looking at". I'd probably feel bad about the situation had at least three people not given me the same look that day as I stuck a needle in my own leg.
As I left transition I walked back and forth looking for Jamie. As I was about to reach the point where I would just yell her name I saw Vic from Insulindependence, the Triabetes Club Manager. He let me borrow his phone to call her and we were able to meet up in what seemed like a panic.
I'm glad I saw Vic as I spoke with him about what to do with my continuous glucose monitor and insulin pump. I went back to the transition bag area and threw the items in my bike-to-run bag.
Jamie and I then went to an open area (as if there are any with three thousand people and their closest family around) to start putting on my wet suit. As soon as my wetsuit wet on I could feel that I needed to go to the bathroom. Not the stand up and pee kind either. Too late, wet suit was on. My blood sugar was now 201, probably nerves on the rise. Half-unit of insulin in the thigh, a kiss for Jamie, hugged my parents and made my lonely way to the staging area. There was no going back now, this game was on.
When I got to the staging area I took my homemade gel of 25 grams, realized I would leave my favorite sandals to die next to this garbage can and waited. Everyone was starting to get in the water; goggles and cap on.
I made my way to the edge of the water, told the person behind me they better not jump on me and got in. Mistake. As soon as I got in the announcer started to describe the pro start, meaning I would be in the water over fifteen minutes before my start. This water was cold, very cold.
The pro men went, then the pro women then the national anthem. The cold water made all the nerves in my body go away. I wanted the race to start so bad so I could warm up. Mike Reilly (race announcer) gave his send off after the Mayor of Tempe or maybe it was Phoenix, I wasn't listening, it was too cold.
Then the cannon. BAM!