Wednesday, October 17, 2012

2012 Ironman World Championships Race Report!

Our trip to Kona was great!  It was an experience that everyone should have.  My race, however, was not quite what I hoped it would be.  I'm still processing what I can take away from the race experience, and I'll include that in a separate blog post.

While we were there, I was mostly focused on my race.  Even though her primary mission in Kona was to support me, my wife Kacie sampled a bit more of Hawaii, and she's going to write a blog post about her experience in Kona soon.    

Pre-Race!

We landed in Kona on a sunny Wednesday afternoon.  The land surrounding the runway was all lava fields, and they looked exactly how I'd always heard that they look.  It gave me goosebumps not only because it was unlike anything I had ever seen, but also because those lava fields are so huge in endurance sporting lore.  I was excited to have finally made it.  I had been focused on getting to Kona since before I did my first triathlon last year.  I can hardly imagine the feeling that those who chase the Kona dream for several years must get as they are landing.  Incredible.  

With me was my wife and my parents.  Here we are in the race hotel in front of a flowery M-dot: 


In Kona, we met up with our friend Anne, who took a different flight.  Anne is one of Kacie's colleagues.  Anne's our good friend, she was the crew chief for Kacie's Double Ironman in February, and she crewed for Kacie's RAAM team this past summer.  Anne put a lot of time into t-shirt and banner-making ahead of the race, and once we were on the Big Island, she took most of the photos.  Here's Anne:  

 (Anne is now looking for a sugar daddy to pay for her to stay in Kona permanently. To apply, e-mail me.)

Kailua-Kona is essentially a small beach town, much like many of the tourist-y scuba/surf towns that you can find around the world.  It reminded me a bit of Cozumel, where Kacie and I did Ironman Cozumel last year.  However, by the time that we arrived, it was completely overrun with triathletes.  It was almost like a college town on football game day or like uptown Atlanta on Peachtree Road Race morning.  People were running and cycling in every direction, and there were vendors all over the place.  Powerbar, Cytomax, Muscle Milk, Gu, and Bonk Breaker even set up refueling stations for people who were out for training runs or rides along Ali'i Drive or on the Queen K Highway.  There were signs everywhere advising drivers to watch out for "Ironman Athletes in Training."  The expo--which is normally a two-acre affair with a couple dozen companies--spilled out of the official race area and covered several blocks.  Bike manufacturers took over coffee shops.  Pro triathletes rubbed elbows with amateurs at restaurants, along the roads, and in the water.  Nutrition companies rented their own houses.  They were even broadcasting videos of past Ironmans on the side of the race hotel--yes, on the outside wall of the freakin' hotel--and you could stand in the yard or sit on the curb to watch.  Baller.

On Thursday morning around 7:00 a.m., we went for a swim at the pier.  It was a zoo:


There were a couple hundred people in the water, including Chrissie Wellington.  There was a boat about 500y from the shore that was handing out coffee and swimcaps.  As soon as I left the water, reps from TYR handed me a bag.  Meanwhile, the underpants run got underway on Ali'i Drive.

That afternoon, I checked in, and we went to the expo.  I met Steve from my sponsor, Cycleops, who gave me a great t-shirt and visor.  I also picked up my bike from TriBike Transport, who had let the bike sit outside in the salty air since the previous Saturday.  As a result, it had a rusty chain.  Normally, I have nothing but good things to say about TBT, but in this case, it seemed to me that they were a bit careless.  Anyway, once I got the bike squared away, we went up to Kawaihae so that I could preview a key portion of the course: the climb up to Hawi.  It was indeed difficult, but it wasn't quite as long as I had heard.  The meat of the climb was about seven miles, during which there was a swirling headwind in my face.  It slowed me way down, but I found that the descent, while dangerous, was wicked fast.  I learned, among other things, that the crosswinds are dangerous not only because they're gusty, but also because the gusts are unpredictable.  As I would also notice on race day, I would have a steady wind coming from my left, when suddenly a blast would come from my right.  If I was leaning too hard into the wind, the gust could potentially knock me over.  

While I was practicing my bike handling skills in the wind, my parents flew to Honolulu to see the governor.  My dad knew the governor from several years ago, and my parents figured that if they came this far, they might as well take the forty-five minute trip to the capital to see him.  Here they are, with Governor Abercrombie in the middle:


The governor sent me some sea salt in a wooden State of Hawaii bowl as a good luck gift:

(I don't think I used this correctly.)

On Friday, I got my things together, packed my race bags, and prepped my bike:

(Note that the number was a ProTour-style plastic number rather than a sticker.  Sweet.) 

I spent the rest of the day with my feet propped up, reading and watching TV in our rented house.  Anne and Kacie took paddle-boarding lessons and went to see manta rays, but I'll let Kacie tell you about that in her blog.

Race Morning!

By about 3:30 a.m., I couldn't sleep anymore, so I got up.  (Side note: I slept pretty well the entire time I was in Hawaii despite having crossed six time zones to get there.  I woke up earlier than I normally would have each day, but that was actually a bit welcome given how early I would have get up on race day.)  The rest of the crew got up over the course of the next hour, and we headed out just before 5:00.  The first step was body marking:


The next step was suntan lotion:

  (Note Kacie's beaded shirt and  turtle tattoo. They were parts of the Anne Cheer Plan.)
            
Then, it was goodbye to the family.  I spent the next hour or so doing final prep on my bike, lining up for the swim, and generally milling around trying not to be nervous.  With just under half an hour to go, I got in the slow-moving line heading into the water.  With about ten minutes to go, I entered the surf.  With about four minutes to go, I swam out to the starting line and began treading water.  In the process, I looked up and saw my friends and All3Sports teammates Yvonne and Stephen amongst the green army wearing Dynamo Multisport t-shirts.  At 7:00, the cannon malfunctioned, and Mike Reily simply yelled, "Go!"  

(Three-fourths of my cheering section waiting for me to come out of the water.  They would be waiting a while.)

Swim--1:40:20

My goal for the swim was sub-1:20:00.  I swam 1:20:35 at Ironman Cozumel in November, 2011, only five months after learning to swim from scratch.  My times in the pool are much faster now than they were then, owing to the fact that I've now been swimming for over a year.  I allowed myself to think that I could potentially go as fast as 1:15:00.  Knowing that swimming is a big mystery to me, though, I convinced myself to be content with anything under 1:25:00 and not to panic if I got out of the water with a time in the high 1:20s.  After all, I missed my swim goal in Coeur d'Alene and still had a really good race.      

The swim was, in short, one of the worst experiences of my athletic career.

At the starting line, I positioned myself in the place where I knew the middle-of-the-pack swimmers would be.  Even though my goal swim time was slower than the mean swim time for the last several years, I figured that I would have several people with me throughout the swim that I could follow.  I was wrong.  By about 600 yards into the swim, the entire pack had swum away from me, and I found myself virtually alone.  I would continue to be alone for almost the entire swim.  

I realize in retrospect how accustomed I've become to swimming in the middle of the pack and how reliant I am on the other swimmers in the race.  First, other swimmers provide a draft.  Just like in cycling, drafting can provide a huge benefit, particularly to weaker swimmers and particularly in current-heavy water.  As it was in Kona, I was left to swim directly into the current alone.  Second, other swimmers help keep me on course.  I don't sight well, and normally I judge whether I'm swimming in a straight line by monitoring the swimmers next to me.  Without swimmers next to me, I had no way of determining whether I was swimming in a straight line unless I picked my head up and sighted a buoy.  This was especially hard because the buoys were all on my right, and I breathe only to the left.  On several occasions, I drifted into the course marshals on their surfboards and had to be directed back onto course.  Third, and I only now realize this, other swimmers give me comfort.  I've read the race reports of other Kona athletes, and they complain of how physical and difficult the swim is . . . because they're not accustomed to swimming with other people like I am.  I basically had the opposite reaction.  I wish that I had had more people around me; I wish that my complaint about the swim had been that I couldn't find clean water.  One-third of the way through the Kona swim, I felt like I was alone in the ocean.  That was a very desperate feeling.

To complicate matters further, I knew that I was losing massive amounts of time.  If I had had no expectations for the race, it might not have made any difference.  As it was, the knowledge that I was spotting my competitors such an advantage right off the bat made me really panicky.  And, of course, that probably made my swimming even worse.  

I've had flashbacks to the swim several times over the last few days, the same way that one might have flashbacks to other traumatic experiences (like a car wreck or a mugging).  I continually think of one moment, about 1500 meters in, when I looked up and realized that there was no one in my line of sight, and I didn't know where the next buoy was.  At that moment, I actually thought I might not finish.             

Even after the boat at the turnaround finally came into sight, it seemed like it took forever to reach it.  Once I circled it and turned for home, I couldn't resist looking at my watch.  It said 53:53.  Right at that moment, a marshal on a paddle board encouragingly said, "Okay, halfway done!"  My heart sank.  I swam on, but I began to think that I might not make the swim cutoff, given that my second half is normally slower than my first.  I pulled myself together, though, and I started re-adjusting my race goals in my mind.  I'm very proud of having done that, actually.  Only occasionally did I let bad thoughts enter my head in the last half-hour of the swim, and that's probably one of the reasons (along with the current) that I ended up swimming the second half several minutes faster than the first half.

With about 500 yards left, I suddenly found myself in a big group.  My first thought was, "Where the hell have y'all been???"  I still haven't quite figured out the answer to that question.  My wife thinks that a lot of people who were spread across the bay got funneled together in the narrow finishing area.  Perhaps.  My All3Sports teammate Yvonne was on the pier at the finish, and she clicked this picture as I was coming in:

(See how it looks like we're all going in different directions?  That's what you get at the back of the pack!)

This was my official coming out of the water shot.  As you can see, I took off my cap and goggles immediately, and I threw them in a trashcan as I emerged from the water:        


There were a few other shots that the photographers got of me running out of the water and into transition.  In each, I look frenzied, and I'm surrounded by relaxed, smiling women that look to be about my mom's age. I checked: I actually beat the five people competing in the 80+ division out of the water.  Boo yah!  I cannot say that about any other age group, men or women.  (It was not even close in any of the others, actually.)  In my checking, I found that I emerged from the water with a German man named Georg who would finish in 14:30:56 and win the men's 75-79 age group.  Perhaps that's me in about forty years.  This year, though, in the men's 35-39 age group, George from the U.S.A. came out of the water 208th out of 210 competitors.  One of the guys I beat would DNF.  The other finished in over sixteen hours.     
    
In retrospect, my entire race was colored by my terrible swim.  It drained me physically.  I've never spent an hour and forty minutes swimming, and my eating and drinking plan didn't really take into account twenty additional minutes in the water without nutrition.  More than that, though, it drained me emotionally.  For the remainder of the race, I felt as if I was hardly holding it together.

T1--3:56

Woot!  Good transition!  The advantage of finishing the swim 1847th place in a field of just over 1900 people is that you get a fairly empty transition area.  I ran in, took everything out of my bag, and ran out with it all in my hands.  When I got to my bike, it was sitting all by itself.  On the one hand, this gave me yet another emotional hit.  On the other, it meant that I could actually put on my shoes, helmet, and sunglasses without worrying about anyone else.  I ran out completely untouched.   I don't think that I have ever been so happy to be on my bike.

Bike--5:09:27

(Hot Corner!)

I missed my cheering section when I came out of transition.  My emerging from the water so late threw them for a loop.  Kacie was down at the medical tent making sure that I hadn't been pulled from the water.  (Anne said that she knew something was seriously wrong when Kacie removed her grass skirt.)  As such, I made it out of town without their seeing me.  It's probably just as well; had I seen them, I may have fallen apart.

Every account of the race I read said that it's so crowded in the first five miles of the bike that you can't really pass anyone.  Ha!  Those people have never emerged from the water in 1:40:20!  Most everyone was eleven miles out of town at this point, so I had no problem passing folks from the get-go.  Look again at the picture above of me cresting the hill at Hot Corner, only about half a mile into the bike leg.  Does that look crowded to you??  Take that, fish!

I'm no stranger to getting out of transition last and passing people.  In my first-ever triathlon last year, I was 298th out of the water in an event with 303 people.  In the Rev 3 Quassy aquabike this summer, I was came out of the water in the middle of the pack before getting two flats in transition.  I'm sure I was one of the last few people to leave transition that day, too.  What made this different was (1) my emotional state, and (2) the bikes people were riding.  At the World Championships, folks aren't riding beach cruisers or mountain bikes.  The folks I was rolling by had expensive tri bikes with nice wheels.  They all wore aero helmets.  In fact, the only bike I saw all week that wasn't a super-sleek tri machine belonged to Sister Madonna Buder, the 82-year-old nun:

(Sister Madonna's humble bike reflects her overall humility.  She would miss the time cut-off by ten minutes.)
        
After doing a lap around town, we headed out on the vaunted Queen K Highway--a road that I will henceforth refer to as My Nemesis.  At this point, I was shaking off the swim and moving fast:

 (It may have all been worth it just for this photo.)

I wasn't happy about the amount of fatigue in my shoulders and back in the opening stages.  It was no doubt due to my having spent about 25% more time in the water than I had planned, though, so I tried not to focus on it.  Instead, I focused on my power and HR, both of which I was determined to keep within my prescribed limits no matter how much time I had lost.  I kept telling myself, "You may be a terrible swimmer, but you're not stupid."  I knew that if I tried to make up ground too quickly on those that I had spotted thirty minutes, I would blow up on the bike and have nothing left for the run.  I pedaled away and hoped that my starting half an hour later than the bulk of the field wouldn't mean that I had to deal with stronger winds.  Within just a few miles, I began passing clumps of riders, and this would continue throughout the bike.  Ultimately, I would pass 922 people on the bike.

My goal for the bike was 5:05:00 or better.  If things went well, though, I felt as if I could be under five hours.  My cycling had gone well in the lead-up to Kona, even though I didn't feel quite as sharp as I would have liked.  I got out way ahead of that pace, even though I was staying within my prescribed limits.  I figured that the sixty-mile mark in Hawi would be my first real indication of what my overall time could be.

 (Look at those GUNS!  It's definitely not an optical illusion . . . )

I hit the sixty-mile mark at about 2:41:30.  That's an average of about 22.3 mph, which would put me just over five hours if I maintained the average.  I turned around and headed down the descent.  For the next seven miles, I was cruising along at about 36-37 miles per hour.  A few times, I took my elbows out of my aerobars and clutched my brake hoods in order to stabilize my bike in the crosswinds.  Otherwise, the wind didn't force me to slow down at all until I reached the bottom of the climb and got back into the rolling section leading to Kawaihae.  Even with all the roll, I covered the 14 miles from the turnaround at over 26 miles per hour.  That brought the average speed back up and made me think that I could probably still get under five hours.  I began thinking that with a good run, I could potentially become the first person ever to swim 1:40:20 and still go sub-10:00:00 in an Ironman. 
 
On the bike, I stuck to my normal nutrition plan of Perform and gels, but I added in a banana (about 80 calories) in order to try and make up for the calories that I hadn't been planning to spend in the water.  I also drank a great deal more water to try and supplement my overall fluid intake.  At every aid station, I grabbed a bottle of water, drank some of it, and doused myself with the rest.  Even though I tried to make sure I got enough electrolytes and fluids, by the time that I climbed out of Kawaihae and got back onto My Nemesis, I was covered in salt:

(Are my legs tanner than they were in the first picture?)   

I had to use the bathroom, too, but more urgently, my feet were on fire.  I had tremendous hot spots that really began to torture me in the last twenty-five miles.  This made it painful to put a lot of power into the pedals, and I had to slow down on several occasions in order to unclip my shoes, straighten my legs, and move my feet around.

I read several descriptions of the bike course before the race, but I somehow missed this: the final stretch along the highway from Kawaihae to Kailua is extremely difficult.  Grueling, even.  Between fatigue, dehydration, intense hot spots, intense heat, headwinds, uphills, and lingering emotional distress, the bike felt as if it would never end.  In fact, it was my slowest segment of the day--keeping within my wattage and heart rate limits brought me down to an 18 mph average for the last twenty-five miles--and it brought down my average speed for the whole ride almost a full mile-per-hour.  It was one of the most difficult segments I've ever had on a bike.  The climb to Hawi was a leisurely spin compared to the return from Kawaihae.             

T2--4:04

There were a lot more people in transition this time around!  I used the bathroom and hurried into the tent.  I was in such a hurry that I nearly left all of my gels in my transition bag.  I retrieved them, though, and I headed out on the run.  I was thinking that if I got out of transition before 7:00:00 into the race, I would have a chance to get under 10:00:00.  I ran out at 6:57:40.  Game on! 

Run--3:32:22

Getting off the bike, I didn't feel great.  I felt, in short, that I had worked harder on the bike than I should have.  I wasn't confident that I had enough left for a good run.  My numbers on the bike had been on target, though, and were comparable to what I did at CdA.  In addition, whenever I do a brick, I always feel kinda terrible in the first mile or so.  Thus, I put aside the bad feelings and started running.

I saw Kacie as I turned at Hot Corner about a quarter-mile into the run.  It was the first time I had seen her since before the race started.  It was good to lay eyes on her, but given how excruciating the last ninety minutes of the bike had been, I wasn't feeling great.  Kacie had rented a bike, and she rode alongside me for a little while updating me on the rest of the folks cheering for me, both at the race and at home.  I didn't have much to say to her; I was concentrating on staying relaxed and not running too hard.  Kacie peeled off, and I hit the first mile mark in 6:26.  Soon after, I saw my parents for the first time.  They were PUMPED!  I was inspired to give my dad a high-five, which Anne captured:

 

Soon after, I saw my teammate Yvonne, and she was almost as loud as my mom!  With that crew behind me, I hit the second mile in 6:48, the third in 6:53, and the fourth in 6:59.  The haze began to lift, and I hit the fifth mile in 6:38.  I saw my Hawaiian host family during mile six, and I realized how much better I felt as I said hello to them.  Perhaps this race would turn out okay! 

I continued in this fashion until about mile ten, which I reached in 1:08:35.  The athlete tracker had some craziness in these splits, claiming that I ran a couple of miles under 6:00.  I didn't.

 (Passing, passing, passing.  I probably passed 300 people in the first ten miles.) 

Just after the ten-mile mark, I took a left and headed up the steep quarter-mile hill on Palani Drive.  It hurt.  A lot.  I crested the hill and turned onto My Nemesis.  The eleventh mile, with Palani hill, was 7:56.  I expected that.  The twelfth mile, which included some downhill was 7:45.  I didn't expect that.  The thirteenth mile was almost entirely downhill.  It was 7:21, and I knew I was in trouble.  The fourteenth was 8:11, and this is where the wheels started really falling off.  I was soon passed for the first time since T1, and after that, a steady stream of runners went by me.  The next seven miles, including the four-mile out-and-back into the Energy Lab, took me over an hour and ten minutes--an average of 10:03 pace.  I was shuffling on the run and walking slowly through every aid station.  I was drenching myself with sponges and dumping ice down the front and the back of my jersey.  I somehow managed to keep eating and drinking, but I was starting to get stomach cramps anytime I swallowed anything. 

About the time that I really started to hurt around mile fourteen, Kacie rode up on her bike.  She tried all sorts of things to encourage me to get going, but my body was just not up to it.  The physical and emotional toll of the race, going all the way back to the swim and carrying through the last ninety minutes of the bike, had caught up with me.  Palani hill had put me over the top and into the red, and now, every uphill (and there seemed to be endless uphills) felt like a mountain pass. 

Kacie reminded me that we don't give up and we don't walk.  I kept shuffling along, hoping that I would somehow pass through the bad patch.  I really wanted to let go of the race and just walk the rest of the way, but I couldn't bring myself to give up entirely.  As I approached Mile 21--just as my knees started to ache from running with such a chopped stride--I began thinking of my last bad Ironman run, at Cozumel.  I remembered how in Cozumel, I felt terrible, yet I somehow found the strength to speed up in the last half-mile.  In reflecting on the race, I had been frustrated that I clearly could have gone faster, yet I didn't go any faster until the finish line was virtually in sight.  That, I told myself, was simply unacceptable.  (In my head, I used much more colorful language.)  Thus, I willed myself to start picking up the pace with about five miles to go.  Mile 22, which included a slow walk through an aid station, was 8:51.  Mile 23, which included a less slow walk through an aid station, was 8:21.  Mile 24, where I sped through the aid station, was 8:10, and mile 25, with hardly any walking at the aid station at all, was 8:00.  I ran the last 1.2 miles in 8:37, or about 7:10 pace.  I passed about thirty people in this final push to the line.  Ultimately, I crossed in 10:30:09, completely spent.  In twenty years of endurance sports, this was about as deep as I've ever had to go. 

 (Yep, my eyes are closed. Nope, that wasn't on purpose.  Genuine exhaustion.)

I finished 652nd, which meant that even with my sub-par run, I passed 273 more people.  All told, that meant I went by 1195 from the time I exited the water until I crossed the finish line.

I milled around the finish line for a while, got my finisher's medal and leis, and spoke to a few people.  I then went out to meet my wife.  I was overwhelmed by the emotion of the day, but I was too worn out to really let loose emotionally.  We sat in the hotel for a while and rehashed the race until my parents and Anne found us.  Then we took a few pictures:

(I didn't wear the medal much longer.  It weighed about ten pounds, no lie.)

Post-Race!

Kacie, Anne, and I cleaned up, got something to eat, and headed back for the midnight finish.  It was fantastic, but I was completely wiped out--much more so that I was at the midnight finish of the other two Ironmans I've done.  I tried to put that aside for the sake of this picture, which is now one of the leading contenders for our Christmas card:


Just for fun, here's the other leading contender, which we took the next day:


Which do you prefer?

The next day, we assessed the damage.  I felt run down and dehydrated, of course, but I had a sweet sunburn that has since morphed in a much less painful suntan.  I'll be interested to see how this looks in a month:

(Who needs a 140.6 tattoo?  I have a 1375 tattoo . . . on both arms!)


In all, I'm very happy with the experience, even though the race was not as good as I had hoped.  I heard many people say that I shouldn't have had any expectations ahead of my first time in Kona, and I can imagine someone saying that as they read this report.  But I simply don't operate that way.  I have to have a goal, even if it means that I might be frustrated with the race when I'm done.   

Nonetheless, I'm more proud of having simply finished this race than I ever would have thought.  I'm particularly satisfied that I held it together after the atrocious first half of the swim, and that I was able to dig deep in the last five miles of the run to finish strong.

As I wrote at the start of this post, I'm still digesting the race a bit, and I'm going to write another post in a week or two about what I learned from Kona, both in terms of training and race execution.  There are several things that I did wrong that bear hashing out, particularly if I want another crack at My Nemesis . . .                       

17 comments:

  1. Wow, passing almost 1,200 peeps during the day MUST be a record! You're an inspiration with your dedication and resolve during the race. Huge Congrats champ!

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    1. They did "enhanced results" on Slowtwitch.com, and I actually was FOURTH in the "number of people passed after the swim" category. The winner of that category--and yes, I'm counting it as an official race category!--swam 1:35 and then passed nearly 1500 people to finish under 10:00:00 in 298th place. Props to him.

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  2. I am sorry that your race didn't go as you expected. You dug deep and finished with an incredible time. We are all very proud of you!

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  3. Wow. This is one of the best accounts I've read of digging deep. Congratulations!

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  4. I think you passed me while I was in the loo. That makes me sad because I would have liked to have run a bit with you. I feel like we need to start a therapy group.

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    1. I did, yes. I saw you running in the other direction on Ali'i, and about thirty seconds before I would have caught you at about the nine-mile mark, you ducked off the road. When I saw that, I figured you were having GI issues. I saw you again in the Energy Lab . . . just as you were ducking off the road again. :-/ We didn't get to see much of you in Kona! I hope that we'll cross paths again soon! And I would proudly join a therapy group.

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  5. Christy the proud sisterOctober 18, 2012 at 5:08 AM

    George, what you accomplished was amazing!!! Such an inspiration. As Pat told me, "Next time you start feeling sorry for yourself in a half marathon, just think of George in that ocean!!!". (with still a marathon and over 100 miles on the bike to go...).

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  6. Great job George - enjoyed following your progress via IMLive and totally in awe of the bike results (passing over 900 people). FYI my "sun tattoo" from last October lasted well into the early months of 2012. Hope recovery is going well:)

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  7. Wow George... just wow. What an incredible test of strength for you. And once again you prevail! To think that you struggled the way you did and that you still finished in 10:30 is more mind blowing. You are my hero... seriously. Let's get together soon. We wanna see the 1375 tattoo! :)

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  8. Congrats on pushing though a tough day, George! Great recap.

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  9. That was an amazing story. I was riveted the whole time I read it...I really wanted to see how the story ended. I meant to just take a peek, since I am swamped at work today, but I couldn't look away. Wow, George. I cannot imagine how difficult all of that must have been emotionally and physically. I am so amazed and impressed with your will and strength, gathering yourself and passing all of those people. What an experience. Things don't always go as planned, but you certainly recovered and kicked a**. That is the test of true character. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

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  10. I'm so glad I saw your parents at the Brumby house that day. I had not known that I once ran 3 (or 2) Peachtree Road Races with a future Ironman. I knew you were fast, as evidenced by that 1st day, but "Wow!". I'm still running, but this has given me new hope.
    And, even for a GT grad, your writing is so concise, explicit, and entertaining! I'll look forward to reading more as it evolves. It's all uphill, 'til you learn to love the uphills, then it's all downhill.

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  11. Great race George! You have much to be proud of and digging deep like you did will make you all the more successful in achieving your goals. My last Ironman at Wisconsin was one of my proudest as well because of how deep I had to go to finish yet it was my worst race. I can totally relate to what you went through on an emotional level (though it was a 16+ hour day for me!!).

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  12. Great post and congrats on toughing it out. I have to admit I am a sucker for the race reports where people really have to dig deep...as much as I don't want people to have to do that, it really makes for a good read! I'm glad you finished and can't wait to see what is next.

    Oh, and I like the 1st pic for the card...:)

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  13. Great job!
    How come I follow your wife, but not you?.... Hmmmm
    Swim stories and uber biking... Like you I was way back out of the water at Florida one year... and then a 15 minute T1 because tents were full (the last of the swimmers I guess). 1800th place. After the bike 800th. It is a great feeling passing 10 people every mile... Of course I gave half of it back in the run..
    Again, congratulations!

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    1. Ha! I don't know, Bob! But I'm happy that you enjoyed the report.

      I'm working to get the swimming better, but I'll certainly never be at the front of the swim pack. Of course, being in our situation--coming out of the water and passing folks--is better than being first out of the water and then spending the day getting caught! It's better to chase people down than run scared, right?? :-)

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  14. I am always searching online for articles that can help me. There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also. Keep working, great job!
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