Special Thanks

Special Thanks to Susan, Laura B., Tim K., Spencer C., and Gary M.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

We finished strong!

When I say "we" I truly mean it. If anyone out there claims that they finished an Ironman based solely on their own individual merits then they are sadly mistaken. There is no way that I could have finished this race without the help and encouragement from friends and family as well as that deep confidence from my faith. So my heartfelt thanks go out to you all! This journey was one of the most incredible blessings that the good Lord has given me and one of the best gifts from my family as well. My amazing wife has sacrificed so much without ever asking for anything in return and my kids were extremely patient throughout the entire adventure.

So how was it? Well I decided to use this post as a journal for me of the day in it's entirety and hopefully give you a good taste of the experience at the same time.

3:00am Woke up after going to sleep at 9:30pm the night before.
3:45am Still in bed too anxious to sleep, got my first good luck text from a good friend
4:00am Got up and had my usual cup of coffee before heading downstairs for breakfast.

Finish line at 4am.

4:30am Met Gary and William for breakfast in the lobby. I ate two protein bars, banana, and 1 bottle of  water.
5:30am Chase, Susan, GP, Audrey, William, Gary Wixom, and Stephanie head to the transition area for a last minute check on our bikes and gear bags.
6:15am We all start the 20 minute walk to the swim start.
6:45am The three competitors say our goodbyes and head into the lake where we tread water as we watch the pros take off just before our start.
7:00am The gun goes off and it begins!

The Swim (Time 1hr 15min): All mass starts for open water swims are crazy with bodies bumping in to each other at the beginning but the way this course was designed that experience never went away. We were trapped between the large school of swimmers on one side and the shallow water on the other. This worsened as we entered the canal to the finish. The majority of my swim was spent defending myself against the accidental kick to the face or grabbing of my feet. Luckily no major blows were felt and I was able to continue forward progress however I do have a battle wound on my neck from the rubbing of my wetsuit. I spent more time looking around to avoid other swimmers than I did sighting to remain on course. As I exited the water, I saw my family and friends for the first time after the start and seeing Chase hold a "Double D" (his nickname for me) sign up for me gave me a new spark of energy.

Transition 1 (Time 11min 45sec): Yes, I know this is laughable but I was dead set on changing into some comfortable biking shorts and I underestimated how hard it is to put those on while still being wet and battling the disoriented feeling from being in the water. Next race I will use a Tri suit to avoid this delay.



Susan waiting to see me on the bike with our good friend Kelly
Stephanie and Gary  - Regan and Kelly

The Bike (Time 5hrs 44min, Avg speed 19.5mph): It felt really good to climb on the bike and start riding. About a mile down the road one of my water bottles flew off and almost hit the cyclist behind me. That left me with one bottle of water until the first aid station. I waited 20 minutes to let my body adjust to the new position before starting my fluid replacement. Every 10 miles at each aid station I alternated drinking a bottle of Power Perform and a bottle of water. I took 3 Power gels along the way to complete my nutrition for this stage of the race. My bike was working well and I felt very strong for the entire ride. I tried not to push too hard and kept my heart rate in a good zone below 145. At mile 60 I stopped to empty my bladder and waited in line to get relief. Unfortunately some fire ants had made their home right outside and attacked a few guys before me. Gary passed me on the bike at mile 65 and it was great to see my friend! We talked for a bit before he continued on his way. My legs were still in real good shape so at mile 85 I picked up the pace until I made it back to the Transition area (increasing my effort after 80 miles if I was still strong was something I had discussed with Coach Tim earlier in the week). The roads on the entire course were mostly clear of traffic and with almost no debris to avoid. Thankfully the overcast skies kept the temperature down as well. Overall I would say that the bike went better than expected and I had enough energy to go many more miles. As I pulled in to get off my bike I could hear my name being yelled and it really gave me comfort to know that my crew was still there and "all in."


Coming around to the bike finish line - there were over 10,000 supporters

Transition 2 (Time 8min 52sec): This was a little easier since the changing tent was much less crowded. Changed into my running gear and stopped briefly at the volunteers putting sunscreen on for us then started the run.
My daughter Evie
Hudson and my niece Cate on the beginning of the run.

The Run (Time 4hrs 33min, Avg pace 10:26/mi): Started out running easy to get my heart rate down and adjust to standing upright. Felt pretty good initially. After 3 miles I started to get nervous about the heat as the sun was starting to appear. Some runners next to me were discussing the ice cold sponges to keep cool so I decided to use them as well. My heart rate was in the 150's, too high, and I couldn't get it to come down so about mile six I started to lower my pace. This was discouraging for me and probably the toughest thing for me to get over mentally. I was hoping to maintain close to a 9 min mile but I realized this was impossible. I found myself bouncing around between the 10 and 11 minute pace and thankfully around mile 11 my heart rate started to cooperate and came down to the low 140's where it needed to be for me to complete the race. My hydration plan was going well and I had a few sips of Power Perform and Water at every aid station. I walked quickly through each of them while drinking and made myself start running again at the exit. The cold sponges were incredible at helping me stay cool and honestly I was not aware that these were going to be out on the course for us to use. At mile 12 it was time to empty my bladder again and I was happy to know that my body was still making urine. So far no muscle cramping or GI problems. The race consisted of three 8+mile loops out around Lake Woodlands. Each time I came back around near the town square I was given a huge boost of energy from all of the supporters. My pace would go up every time I saw my family and friends. There is no way that I could have continued on without their support. The urge to start walking was too great, but they kept me running. My second loop was the toughest mentally because I knew what I had to do again and not just once but twice. Another huge mental challenge! Prayers instead of music were my tool to keep me going. I had this inner confidence that I would be fine if I just kept running even if it was at such a slow pace. I continued evaluating my body and was thankful that there was no real pain in my legs or feet and no cramping either. I realized that I was blessed and had nothing to really complain about so just suck it up and keep moving - there were people cramping and limping everywhere.

Chase poured a glass of water on me to cool me off!

Susan and Kelly C. could tell that I was hitting a wall on the second loop and they did their best to give me new motivation. It worked.  They were in different spots all along the loop. The last lap was easier to complete from a mental aspect, but I had lost some focus on my goals. Susan helped me snap out of it at the 11hr and 15min mark when I had about 4 miles remaining.  She told me what I needed to do to beat my goal of under 12 hrs finishing time. She fired me up in a good way (think army sergeant: that girl is tough) but she reminded me it was time to increase my pace and finish strong.  Susan ended it by yelling "I love you" as I was running off, one of the other spectators from Mexico wasn't sure that I heard her last words so she shouted with a dramatic Hispanic accent "She loves you!" All the competitors and I died laughing. That was all I needed.
A fellow triathlete named Chris from San Diego heard all this and also wanted to finish under 12 hours so we decided to stick together till the end. After realizing my hydration was good enough to get me through, we decided to run hard to the finish bypassing the aid stations. I never looked down at my heart rate again but my hands started tingling, a sign my CO2 levels were going down due to my rapid breathing. My demeanor changed and my focus was there and those encouraging words from the fans "you look strong," "good pace" kept me going. My father was the first person I saw on the home stretch and that's when I knew I was going to be an Ironman. As I came around the last corner my support team erupted from the hotel balcony and that was the best moment ever! Running fast and hard through the finish line as the announcer called out my name with the phrase "You are an Ironman " will be a memory that lasts a lifetime.

Rounding the last corner to the finish line waving at my family cheering




The volunteers stay by your side after you cross the finish line to evaluate if you need medical attention.  There were over 5,000 volunteers for the race.
All the kids swimming.  We stayed up to watch the last runners
cross the finish line before they closed the course at midnight.
To everyone who encouraged me, a heartfelt thanks.  
To my friends and family, I am forever in your debt for your support and patience.  Thank you to Coach Tim for preparing me, and to Gary and William - it was an honor to train and race with you.

Thank you for following the blog. Sloan



3 comments:

  1. U are a stud, ironman Sloan. Great job!

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  2. Great job! It was fun following you on your blogs. Thank you for all the updates.

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