Friends of mine have a younger son named Perry who just finished the Ironman US Championships in New York, all in all 140.6 miles of swimming, biking and running and in one day. I am exhausted just thinking about it.I was emailed his personal report of the race and I find it all so enticing that I got his permission to share it with you.
An amazing and outstanding personal accomplishment
in itself to go through a triathlon race like The Ironman Championships and be able to finish the 2.4 miles swimming in the Hudson River, the 112 miles biking on the cliffs of Palisades Parkway and the finish from Ross Dock with the run of 26.2 miles, a marathon in itself.
Here is what Perry said about his personal race-experiences
"Man, what a crazy weekend, even for Ironman standards. My Ironman dreams were almost dashed even before the race started.For those who don't know, a sewer main break 30 miles upriver of the Hudson (yes, that Hudson River) almost canceled the swim portion of the race. It was a tense waiting game until it was finally announced that the Hudson was 'safe' (quite liberal with that word) for swimming...Every athlete had to make use of the ferries in order to bring their bikes and gear bags to the transition which was across the Hudson on the New Jersey side at Ross Dock. The whole process took a long time for an event like the Ironman.Race day started at 2:15am. I wake up in sweltering heat, eat a first breakfast and head out to the 39th Street ferry for a 4am sendoff. They kept reiterating, "if you miss the ferry, YOU MISS THE RACE."I am not going to take any chances since a lot of things can happen in NYC.
Good Idea To Be Ready Early
I leave very early, which ends up being a very good idea as the Brooklyn Bridge is shut down overnight for some roadwork. Easy enough if you are a local resident, but me and my dad have to learn very quickly how to get to the Manhattan Bridge in order to catch a bus that takes us to the ferries. It was a slightly nerve wracking start to the day (we got to the buses with about 10 minutes left).Anyways, I board the ferries with 2700 other triathletes toward transition across the river and under the George Washington Bridge. We get there around 4:30am, and we have about 1 ½ hours to get everything ready. I myself need most of the time (more bike pumps would have been good. Waited almost a half hour just to pump my tires.)
Around 7:15am I jump from a nearly 2m platform into the Hudson River
You literally cannot see anything once you hop in, it is instantly mud brown the moment your goggles are submerged. An unintentional swig of the river also leave a distinct taste to the pallet – it is somewhat briny, metallic and some other things I don't want to venture a guess on. No chance of warmup in the days leading up to the race, so I am feeling slightly stiff the first 15 minutes of the swim. Little did I know I am almost halfway done, but I settle into a rhythm. It feels fast, I know the swim time is going to be pretty good, and the energy used up for the swim is near minimal (not to brag). Little do I know I completed the swim in 41 minutes, good enough for 36th place out of 2700 entering the water. That is an insane pace of 1:04/100m (and under the Ironman World swim leg record! Nuts…After 6 minutes, I am off for the Palisades Highway,which is completely shut off to motorists for the day of the race…The bike part of the race immediately starts off with a steep climb, I test my gears just to see everything is shifting smoothly when I notice that my front derailleur is not shifting properly. In less than 100 feet into the race I have lost my big chaining, and am left with the small and medium on my triple chaining bike.Unfortunate, but I think it is not going to be a problem at all… Shortly after reaching the end of the first 27 mile turnaround, I try shifting into my lowest gear on the front. No dice. I'm stuck in the middle chaining and I soon reach a water stop where I try to flag down some help. The race volunteer gets on the ham radio to get race support down to the station, but the guy has no idea when the motorcade will arrive.Naturally I am very antsy and concerned to get back biking, and begrudgingly decide to continue on. This goes on for about 10 miles or so. I'm beginning to hit the steep sections in which I was booming down recently on the way through the Palisades, and I can feel the strain in my legs as I'm going at least 40-50 watts above what I should be doing. Given I have around 80 miles of biking ahead of me, this is not a good idea... this is Ironman, and to continue at this wattage can be an utter disaster. To be honest, I would have kept going had I not seen the race support guy helping out another man with a flat tire. After finishing up the flat tire guy, I tell him what is wrong and it only takes a couple minutes for him to fix the problem .I still have a long time to bike, and I manage to get back to the game plan. At mile 80, I start to feel the effects of being on a big gear at the wrong time, it's funny how the hills seem so much bigger and longer the second time around the course.
I finally get back to Ross Dock. No biggie. Just a marathon to get through.
The 112 miles run, to say the least, is very tough.Any smart triathlon racer would say to save your energy for the run, and it is especially the case on this course, because you will get absolutely punished if you take it out on a manageable bike course too fast.Immediately we are greeted by the the same hill we just descended. Time to go back up. It is steep, less than 50 feet into the run, several dozen athletes have already started walking. I am taking short steps going up the incline. Even though the run pace is slow at first, I am already passing many people within the first mile. We run a seven mile portion of the course known as Dyckman Hill twice, each loop covering over 700 feet of climbing. After completing the two loops, we continue to go uphill for another two miles. Fortunately, my legs are feeling very good during the looped portion, but things are beginning to fall apart after that.We start trudging up the hill we have biked earlier in the day. On foot, the hills are a different story and it just feels like the hill is going up forever. When I finally reach the bridge at mile 16, I am greeted by a long time nemesis – STAIRS. For anyone who has ever run long distance, they can be quite the obstacle after a race, let alone during the event. Now the beginning of the walk-run portion of the marathon has officially commenced. We cross the George Washington Bridge where we are met with a strong crosswind gusting across the suspension bridge. I finally hit flat land, but my muscles are giving out at this point, after going down a set of stairs onto the Hudson Greenway for the last 8-9 miles.All I remember is telling myself that I am definitely going to finish but that I probably have 2 hours left on the road till I finish.
The run course thrown at us was Riverside Park, where all the runners snake around the winding sectional course for about 3-4 miles. Almost like a board game, the finish line sort of plays with your mind. If you actually run straight through the green way at this point, you will be at the finish line in about a mile. Instead, you are running around this compacted area twisting and turning. For good measure each turn have a very short but steep hill to run/walk/crawl around. Pretty debilitating to see – you're a mile from the finish line but you actually have 3-4 miles to go. But I keep going, and soon enough we are done with Riverside and on the home stretch for the 1 mile finish.I keep on telling myself to smile for the finishing photo when seeing the finish line, but I am just too relieved that I finish. The picture says it all.
I am an Ironman finisher
After all those mornings during the last year waking up at 5am, all those 7-8 hour+ almost daily workouts, all the days you just don't want to step foot in 85 degree heat, and other trying moments you don't hear about on race day, then I can at last say that I am an Ironman finisher.
I would never, ever trade that experience for anything
I really hope you got to the end of this report from Perry because I think this is so totally shows how you can generate your amazing power as a person and it is so life-confirming.If you really want something, you can do it!Pia Balling