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

Saturday, May 21, 2011

My Ironman!

from the wife....
About to go have a MARGARITA with my Ironman, it was an amazing experience - tons of people to thank, celebrate with - but thank you for all of your love and support!  Sloan will post a play by play asap - but the real low down is he finished!!!  11:53 time, and we are so proud of everyone.  Special thanks to Sloan's parents Mary and Charlie for all their help (and the party cart), LuLu for being a rock star g-mom and cheerleader, Lynne and sweet Cate Elizabeth for coming out to cheer, and Regan and Kelly C-you are amazing and totally rock, couldn't have done it without any of you.  Special hugs and kisses to Chase, Hudson and Evie - they are so proud of their Daddy!

4:13.......you can really do ALL things through CHRIST who strengthens you!!!!!!


From the wife...
Well, race day is here!!! Shotgun start at 7am for the 2,700 participants!  Overcast day so far and I'm so nervous and excited!  Chase (our 11year old) and I walked with Gary Paul, William and Audrey to the swim start bright and early at 5:30am.  The guys had a great swim - here are pictures below of everyone running through the transition area to get ready for bike leg.  You can go to to the ironman website to check out their times!
 It feels strange right now to be just hanging out while they are riding for 6 hours on their bikes!  Kids are having room service (big hit) with LuLu (my Mom) and Regan, Kelly and I are on the balcony of our hotel Avia having a mimosa - enjoying the view of the finish line!  Here is a shot of the bike transition area.  Will try to post more later.  Love, Susan

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Race Venue

The Woodlands Texas has been a great host to us so far. I can't wait for Susan and the kids to get here tomorrow afternoon. Here are some pics of the venue:
This was the line to checkin and register for the race. Each participant is given a blue wrist band that must be worn throughout the competition and their timing chip as well.

The expo has all of the latest and greatest gear that every triathlete "needs" to have.

Tomorrow morning between 8am and 10am we get to do a practice swim at the swim start located near this dock.

The last third of the swim distance is down this canal and ends at these stairs. We climb out and run a short distance to the transition area to get on our bikes.

This is my bike rack for bib 1956. Not too far from the transition exit between those two red brick columns.

Here is where we get on the bike to start the 112 miles. The white tent at the rear is where we exited the water.
We took our bikes for one last test ride along the run course. There are some really beautiful homes along the path that takes us around the lake and finishes below in the Market Street shopping district.
Hopefully my family will watch me cross the finish line ( where the red car is down the street) from our hotel terrace.
This energetic group of athletes is representing Amarillo!

Hopefully Susan will be able to give some updates on race day and I plan on filling you in on the entire experience either Sunday or Monday after it's over.

Thanks for all of your positive feedback and prayers too! They have been truly inspirational for me.

In Houston

from the wife.....
The guys and have arrived in The Woodlands, the kids and I are leaving in the morning to join Sloan (after a spelling and science test:) and we can not wait to join Dad in Houston. Sloan flew down late this afternoon - he spent the morning in clinic seeing patients and the afternoon in the office doing charts and catching up on paperwork - and I hope that he was able to fly to Houston with a clear head after closing out his practice for the rest of the week. Um, actually, I think he is feeling great. Got a picture earlier tonight.....see below....apparently the athletes are having a pre-race celebration with margaritas (hide your eyes Coach Tim!) HAHA - I love it - you guys deserve it!  

My good friend Audrey (Gary Paul's wife) took this picture.  Audrey and Gary Paul just found out on Monday that they are expecting a baby boy early this fall. We are so thrilled for them! Congratulations!

Check out the blog on race day, I am planning on posting pictures from the race and posting times and updates as much as possible - we are so excited, this has been a really fun journey. Thank you for reading the blog, I know your support and comments have meant the world to Sloan!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Race Goals

Well, this week has finally arrived. The tapering of my workouts has made me feel just like that bucking Thoroughbred in the starting gates ready to release that pent up energy. Today I fly to Houston and my family will join me on Friday. Last night I finished the daunting task of packing all the gear. Always my least favorite activity before a big trip.

 Thankfully Gary Wixom drove all of our bikes down yesterday. He is "the man" when it comes to getting a bike tuned up better than new. We are lucky to have him down there to help us with last minute adjustments.

I will try to update the blog with some pre-race pics once I'm down there so you can get a good feel for the atmosphere. In the mean time I thought that I would share with you some goals for race day.
Above all else it would really be icing on the cake if I can just finish before the 17 hour cut off at Midnight. We all have to remember that pushing my body longer than 6 hours continuously will be totally new territory for me and I will do my best to listen to it. Hopefully "on the job" training will be successful.

If things are going well then here are my specific goals for the best case scenario:
Swim - 1 hour 20 minutes
Transition 1 - 5 minutes
Bike - 6 hours 10 minutes
Transition 2 - 5 minutes
Run - 4 hours
Grand Total Finish Time of  11 hours 40 minutes.

Whatever happens this has been a truly amazing experience and I am so thankful for the opportunity to give it my best shot.

Thanks for all the encouragement!
Philippians 4:13

Saturday, May 7, 2011

14 days left / Playlist

The countdown is on and two weeks from now I will be in the water swimming with 2500 other triathletes. Coach Tim called me yesterday to check in and I told him that I actually feel the best I have ever felt. We discussed his recommendations regarding training and nutrition leading up to race day. He says that my 40 yr old body is at its peak conditioning - but also close to the breaking point which could lead to injury. He wants me to do the workouts as he plans but if my body tells me to rest then I need to listen to it. He also wants me to limit my carbs for the next 14 days.  This will stabilize my blood sugar and he warned me that my appetite will still be high but my workouts will be less so watch the calories too.

Many of you have asked me if I am starting to taper my workouts so here is the schedule for the final 2 weeks ( doesn't really taper until race week):

Saturday: 5 hr bike ride with 20 min transition run after
Sunday: 3000 yd continuous swim, 2 hr run
Monday: 50 min run
Tuesday: 2 hr bike, Swim (distance pending)
Wednesday: 1hr run
Thursday: 2hr bike, Swim  (dist. pending)
Friday: 1hr run

Saturday: 2hr bike
Sunday: Swim 2000yds, 1hr bike, 30min run
Monday: Swim (dist. pending), 20min run
Tuesday: Swim (dist. pending), 1hr bike, 25min run
Wednesday: OFF , Fly to Houston
Thursday: 40min bike, 20min run
Friday: Open water swim practice at Lake Woodlands

Saturday: RACE DAY

This is also a good time for me to thank all of you that have given me songs that keep you motivated during exercise. I really do appreciate you taking the time to share your ideas with me. Here is the playlist that you made:

Angels & Airwaves- Call to Arms
B.o.B- Don't Let Me Fall, Magic
Beyonce- Irreplaceable
Black Sabbath- Ironman
Cage the Elephant- In One Ear, Shake me Down
Eminem- Till I Collapse
Fee- All Because of Jesus
G. Love- Fixin to Die album
Jack's Mannequin- I'm Ready, The Resolution
Jay Sean- Down
Kanye West- Stronger
Lifehouse- All In
Linkin Park- In the End, New Divide, When They Come for Me
The Matches- Wake the Sun
Mumford and Sons- The Cave
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus- Disconnected, Damn Regret
Rise Against- Last Chance Blueprint
Sigur Ros- Festival (127 hrs Soundtrack)
Something Corporate- Watch the Sky
TobyMac- Lose My Soul
U2- Beautiful Day

I have added my favorites from : Beyonce (Halo), The Black Keys, Bravery, Broken Bells, Bruno Mars(Grenade), Carolina Liar, Circa Survive ( I Felt Free), The Features, Incubus (Drive), Jay-Z ( Empire State of Mind), Julian Casablancas (Out of the Blue/11th Dimension), Last of The Mohicans (Promontory), Middle Class Rut (New Low), My Morning Jacket, Rogue Wave, A Silent Film ( You Will Leave a Mark), Spoon (I Summon You / Is Love Forever), T.I. (Live Your Life), Taio Cruz (Dynamite), Two Door Cinema Club, White Rabbits, and Young the Giant ( My Body has been a good one for me).

William and Gary on one of our 5hr rides. This pic gives a new meaning to "as far as the eye can see".

 Susan took me to Dallas to celebrate my 40th Birthday this week. We had some good runs together on the Katy Trail which is a railroad track converted to a hike and bike path through town.  
Have a great week and thanks for the visit.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Austin and Humidity

We spent Easter weekend where I grew up in Austin visiting my family and Susan's mother, Blanche, who drove up from Houston. Everyone was nice enough to put up with my training and I couldn't have completed it without their help. The weather was unusually warm and windy, even for Austin this time of year. The high temp was 90 each day with 85% humidity. During the ride on Saturday the wind was blowing 20-30 mph and this actually helped to keep me cool. Regardless there was a fine layer of ( how do I put it? sweat, moisture, wetness, gross I know but you get the picture) covering my skin the entire time I was training. Man I love Amarillo's dry climate.

Saturday I took off riding into unknown territory based on my map and it didn't take me long to remember how hilly it can be. The county road I picked had about 30 cattle guards mixed with low water crossings but the scenic views made up for the rough ride. 5 hours was the goal. Luckily my SAG ( Support and Gear) car arrived after 3 hours when I had exhausted my 4 water bottles ( no convenience stores on this road).

                                   Evie and my mother drew the short straw to help me out.

After loading up, I was back on the road. Of course Evie wanted to keep an eye on me so they tagged along for the next few hours and they were welcome company.

                  Do ya think Evie would help me change a flat while wearing that pink tutu??

Tim had a long run scheduled for Sunday. He wanted me to run for 25 minutes and walk for 5 minutes every half hour until finished. I chose the hike and bike trail around Town Lake to accomplish this.

It was very entertaining to watch all of the different Austinite's that were out getting exercise. Walkers reading their iPads to all of the very fittest that the Hill Country has to offer. Austin's weird reputation shined through when I heard some girls talking about this "guy" running around with his shirt off. Then I saw why they were discussing him. Picture the yoga instructor from the Couples Retreat with short hair running around in cargo shorts that were hanging down so low that only "one thing" was holding them up. It almost made me puke and laugh at the same time. Thank goodness there were enough ladies running around, showing their six pack abs, to cure me ( I might get in trouble now). Anyway, it really made the 4 hours and 23 miles go by very quickly.

                                                    One of the pianos along the trail.

Susan and I thank God every day for placing us in Amarillo and the panhandle has far surpassed my expectations but a special part of my soul will always belong to Austin.

 Thanks for checking in.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Pouting & Recovering

More from the wife....

When Sloan started writing this blog, we both decided to be honest about this experience - from the bronchitis to the humility lesson on the mountain bike, I think he has actually stayed true to that!  My turn!  I have to admit, I have noticed that the closer we get to the Ironman, Sloan is getting more intense, focused and serious.  Now, these are qualities I have always seen in Sloan - and they actually come in handy in his "day" job, but I am not a fan when "office Sloan" doesn't turn into happy, cute husband and dad on the way home from the hospital.  I can tell that even though Tim's weekly workouts challenge Sloan, he has also really had to juggle his schedule to make it all work and that has produced a couple of moments where his "intensity" level gets him in trouble with his loving wife.

I have amazing friends and when I was explaining my frustration with Sloan's increased absence and mood, my good friend Joanna did what any friend would do:  listened.  After a couple nods, I really expected her to say to me - "he needs to lighten up."  Nope.  Her two word response to me was this:  "finish strong."  She was obviously 100% correct.  We have been training for this race since October/November - it has been a blast watching him challenge himself and succeed.  I am so proud of all that he has attempted and I do want all of us to in fact, finish strong.

Oh, and the above picture of my favorite tulips were hand delivered to me by a really cute guy in scrubs on Monday while I was playing cards with the girls. Smart man.

Happy Easter to you all!
PS - a picture of Evie who caught her first fish yesterday!!!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

San Angelo Duathlon

Our coach, Tim Key, thought it would be a good idea to compete in a race prior to the Ironman next month. We chose the 18th Annual Striders Duathlon Long Course in San Angelo,TX. This is the longest running Duathlon in the state. The course consists of a 5 mile run mostly along a dirt road, a 45 mile bike ride, and then the 5 mile run again for a total of 55 miles travelled.

Gary and I drove up the day before in order to check in at the required orientation by the race director and also to have our bikes inspected. GP was eager to try out his new Trek. It's pretty awesome with a custom paint job but even more impressive are the Durace electronic shifters. It passed inspection without a glitch needless to say.

 On the morning of the race I had  two Power Bars , a bananna, a 500ml bottle of water, and one cup of coffee about 2 hours before the start. We arrived with plenty of time to set up our transition area for the run-bike-run. Gary wasn't sure if his bib number 911 was a good or bad omen. When you see his results it was obviously good.

The first run started at 8am and it was a beautiful 55 degree morning without much wind. I didn't drink anything and tried to maintain my pace at under 8min/mile. My HR was about 10 beats higher than I wanted it to be but I really felt great.

Gary and I discussed that we were going to press hard for the first part of the bike ride. We started off into a headwind of about 30mph by this time and later we changed direction so it was a very strong crosswind. Finally at mile 25 the wind was at our back for the home stretch. Nutrition on the bike was important because I knew that the final run would be fast and short and I wasn't planning on slowing down to hydrate then. I went through 2 bottles of electolytes, 1 bottle of water, and 1 bottle of Hammer Sustained Energy while riding. The only other source of calories was two Power Bar gels.

Finishing the bike was a highlight and I felt strong for the final run. It took me a mile or two to transition into a comfortable run again trying to stay with a sub 8 pace. I did slow down at two aid stations for quick sips of water but that was it. Below is a picture of me crossing the finish with one of the female sprint racers just in front.

Coach Key should be proud since 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place went to his athletes. I am very happy with my 8th place finish mainly because this is the first race that I have completed that I can honestly say I gave it all I had and didn't play it too conservative. Susan would be thrilled.
The website below has the results and if you put in the bib numbers you can see the split times.

1. Jarred 3:09:24  bib 915
2. Damon 3:22:38  bib 916
3. Gary 3:25:19  bib 911
8. Sloan 3:43:20  bib 910

This weekend I'm meeting my family in Austin to celebrate Easter. Tim has a 5 hr bike ride for Saturday and a 3 1/2 hour run on Sunday in store for me so that I can get a good taste of the humidity.

Thanks for the visit.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Another First

Saturday was another first for me along this journey. Running a Half Marathon is the longest distance that I had run until now. The schedule called for a 3 hour run which I decided to do completely on the trails at the Palo Duro Canyon. 18 miles later in the 90+ degrees and I had a new PR in total distance and also for being off road. People had been asking me , "how long are your runs now?", "when are you going to put some 20 milers in?" . Well it turns out that these long distance runs are the most worrisome for causing injury in someone my age so Tim has been holding them out for the end of my training. Overall I feel really good so far and my biggest worry has been the possibility of a stress fracture in my right foot. After a visit with the podiatrist and a few Xrays later, it turns out that I am fine and the pain is gone too.

Most of my running during the week takes place in the early morning hours at the Downtown Athletic Club. I put the treadmill on 2% incline to take the advantage of the moving belt out of the picture.
For some reason my boys have decided to get up early to join me some mornings. I want to thank the other members for tolerating them and helping to keep an eye out for them too.

                                                           Hudson (left) and Chase (right).

Tomorrow I travel with Gary and William to San Angelo for a Duathlon that Tim asked us to do as a warm up for the big race in 35 days. I will let you know how it goes.

Thanks for the visit.