Drop off my special needs bags and head to get bike ready. As I head there I wished Pat a good race (he did, finished 2nd overall) and went to my bike. As I do Sarah was there, she looked very nervous so I hugged her and have her a pep talk, she settled down a bit, since this was her first
Ironman race she didn't know what to excpect. Finished getting bike set up then found Matt, Blake, Lilly, Sarah, Charles. I dropped off my morning clothes bag and pump with Mindy gave her one last hug and kiss, or as best we could during the craziness. We all headed down to the swim start. As we waited to start walking on the dock we saw the pros go off. Now it was our turn. We make our way around to the start of the dock that lead to the dolphin enclosure (the Big surprise that was announced at the athlete meeting, inside joke) and started walking around the outer edge. I kept looking for Mindy and Becky but didn't see them, looking for them I saw Eric who was there to support Maria, I hadn't seen her at all during the trip. As we were walking we joined up with Ruth who was doing her first Ironman. Out of our group it was Maria, Sarah, Charles, and Blake's first Ironman. All from my pursuation :). We turned on the dock and that's where we saw Mindy and Becky on the point across the finish stairs. We all waved to them. Looking out the water was calm and blue and green, just beautiful! I was so excited to swim. As they herded us to the water, we jumped in by the dolphins and me and Matt swam around the dock to the fence so we could hang on til the swim start. Everyone was supposed to join us but no one did.
I looked down and I was going 24 mph which is what I wanted to for that part of the race. I felt so strong, my calf wasn't hurting at all! I pushed all the way to the wall (I call it this because it's an 11 mile stretch of the race along the windy part of the island and I could feel the wind before I got there and knew it would be very wind and it was). All the way me and another guy kept passing each other. He finally came by and said looks like were going to do this all day, i smiled and said yeah, but what I was thinking was, just try to keep up :)
As I headed into town the the amazing people of Cozumel were cheering on us, the hero's of the day. I threw my water bottles to the kids since they were calling for them. Through the city and on to Chankanaab park where Mindy and Becky were. I see them by the sign on the hill and I wave violently and smile. I pointed out to Mindy my speed suit. She later laughed about it (so did everyone else). Onto second loop. There were a lot of people who were drafting and very little officiating out there. I know because they were drafting me! I would get them, there was
a penalty box right before an aid station where I would pass slow and they would have to pass and the referee that was there would see it. Not only did he see it but he stood out in the middle of the road. Love karma. Legs still felt good and no calf pain. I was happy. I saw some really cool
tattoos out there which gave me some great ideas to accentuate mine. On to the wall for the second time and Nacho still wasn't there, damn missed him again. Winds were strong and seemed to get stronger so I just held a steady pace till the special needs bag area, there i stopped and took off my speed suit finally and grabbed some food and drinks, gave my bag to one of the locals and went to the bathroom. This felt so much better than peeing on the bike, relief!!! Get back on the bike and stepped on it, into the great energy that the people were giving us as we rode through town. I tried to look into the eyes on the kids who were watching and give them any water bottles i had. I though about my kids and how much I missed them. Then snapped back into the race and pushed harder on the bike for my kids.
Going through town I pass transition and think "I'll see you in a few min" and head out to finish the lap, pass the Cozumel Palace where Matt, Ali, Blake, and Lilly were staying. Saw Ali, Norma, and Jarrett. Jarrett had a sign that cracked me up. It said go Matt your my hero, oh go dave written very small under that. As i finish up the second loop a HUGE peleton of riders were in front of me, really??? I slow down because I knew I would swing by Mindy soon and she wouldn't see me pass the group. I see Mindy right by the park sign I wave to her and yell her name. Then time slowed for this next part, so as casually as she could, I spot her talking to some spectator about something serious, in a split second she stops mid-conversation, snaps a picture and without missing a beat goes back into the conversation as I go by, really??? I laughed, she is such a veteran of this now and such a great support to me. Love you Mindy! Third loop, i pass the peleton, I knew they were cheating because I could hear them free spinning the whole time, but that's how they wanted to race that's cool. I pass them and push into the wind. I slow for a sec to get some food and sure enough they pass me. Oh hell no you didnt! I thought, drafting me. Ill fix you! I pass them again, slowly and made sure to make eye contact with every one in the pack, espcially the mid packers. Got to the front eyeballed the front pacers and got in front. Sure enough they picked up the pace to stay on my wheel. Ahead I see another athlete that I was going to pass soon. So I came up to the other athlete and made a slight move to pass on the left, then made my pass on the right. The athlete was going slow enough and was far enough over to the left that it wouldnt put him in and danger, but the peleton was stopped by the slower athlete and I looked back one more time and they were no where to be seen. :) Maybe next time Ill just pee on my bike then....
On the wall, 10 miles to go. I knew at this point in time I would not be able to reach my time goal on the bike but I would have a good ride, so I just wanted to finish strong. Last time to see nacho and no he wasnt there but I did see his brother and pointed to him he saw me and smiled brightly and waved, just what I needed! Pushed to the turn - off the wall to head back to town. I wasn't pushing as hard now, legs were a little tired but still holding 23 mph. I was lucky enough that the rains that had fallen hadn't hit me too bad just a few sprinkles but enought to cool me off. Into town and i soak up all the cheering, bottle shaking, "El guappo" yelling, thumbs up signs, smiling that i could. I was sad it was over and so glad at the same time. The only thing that was really hurting was my back but that would end soon.
Into town, left turn at the light, downtown street and there it was, my last turn and i was done. Right turn, i started to tear up, 2/3 of the way done. I had to stop myself from getting too emotional. I knew I had to run the marathon of my life to come close to my goal time, but my legs were ready to go. I unstrap my shoes and put my feet on the shoes for my flying squirrel dismount, i pass two more people and see the dismount line. In a split sec I was off the bike and running. NAILED THE DISMOUNT! I pass my bike off to a volunteer and off to grab my bag, into the changing tent, volunteer dumped my bag, i took of my helmet and shoes - a volunteer bagged my stuff and I was off! Quick trip to restroom and I was off! T2=1:33
I tried to walk it out and it wasnt hurting as bad so I slowly started to run. Everytime I landed it felt like the muscle was pulling away from the achilies tendon. I walked again. SHIT!!! I know I said this one loudly. First thought, are you kidding me, i still have 24 miles to go! Second thought, now what? I have learned that the best laid ironman plans rarely go accordingly to the plan, so change it on the fly time!!! I knew at this point in the race I wasnt going to get my time goal. I walked a bit, during this time all sorts of thoughts were going through my head, all my training, all my hard work, and all the small sacrifices I made during the year and this, this happens. Yes I even thought at one point I wasnt going to finish my Ironman, but as soon as this thought came into my mind I quickly beat it out with "I am not gonna give up on this". As I was walking I came across an older gentleman who was having the same issue and was walking. We chatted and he said a phrase to me the stuck with me and haunted me. He said,"I can't run but I can walk so I am going to walk this marathon, all I have to do is finish by midnight. I have all day, I have all the time to walk this marathon." That stuck with me. Yes, all I had to do was walk to finish the race, finishing was not an option. His phrase of "all I have to do "was not good enough for me, for what I talk about doing in class, for creating a better me. I quickly went to think about my wife and kids, and then thought about the phrase all i had to do. All I had to do was survive, but that wasn't me. I had sat down and talked to Mindy about what my plan was for the race if this happened. We had agreed that if I wasn't going to permanetly damage it that I go as fast as I could. As Mindy put it,"Its going to hurt if you go fast or slow, so might as well go fast as you can". I replayed that thought. So I thanked the man for his time and I told him I was going to see if I can run.
I ran, ouch, damn this thing is intense. I made it to an aid station and I hear them yell out Hielo (spanish for ice, yes I know I don't speak spanish) Grabbed two bags of ice, rolled down my compression sock and stuff them in there to numb it. I walked and then started to jog. I thought ok I could tolerate this pain holding 10 min miles. The first positive thoughts came to me, I can do this, I got it. This pain I can handle til the end, but I knew it would get worse. Made it to the turn around as it started to rain, pain was getting worse, as I knew it would. Stopped at another aid station to take out melted ice and put more in. When I stopped, i stopped by a police officer. She asked me how I was doing, I told her I could be better and smiled. She saw what I was doing and asked if I needed medical, I promptly replied "no, I will keep going but thank you". Slowy got into a jog again, I see Matt!! He looked strong, for a second there I thought he might catch me, right after that I see Blake. I was so happy to see Blake since it was his first Ironman and he is a very strong runner. He looked really good and I knew he would pass Matt soon and then possibly me. He had told me that if by chance we were able to run together, we would run in, I made that pack with him and told him I would be honored to do that. Hobbling as best I could into town the rain started to come down. Awesome! I thought at least it won't be hot!! At this time I also knew my nutrition plan I had was thrown out the window as well, so just seeing what happens. The good thing is I nailed my nutrition on the bike so i had plenty of energy, and man did I need it! Hearing the crowds made some of the pain go away, some of it. I get to the place where I thought I would see Mindy.
She wasn't there, damn I really need to see her!! I walked to a bit to subside the pain luckly it was by and aid station. Grabbed everything I needed, which meant more ice and slowly started to hobble and there she was. The rain was pouring down and everyone was running to find cover, everyone but my wife. Mindy was there standing in the rain waiting for me. I held back tears, and slowed to a walk. I explained to her what happened, and what my plan was, she thought it was pretty good. She told me where they were set up by Jimmy Buffets Margaritaville restaurant. She said give it everything you got, no tomorrow!! This is the phrase we finished our conversation about things going with, I dont have tomorrow, all I have is this moment, and damn it I was going to live it! I run past margaritaville and wave to Ali, Becky and I see the table they were sitting by, it was by a taller than life parrot, really? But I could spot them easy. The turn around was just a few yards from the finish and they were waving us to do another loop, I leaned in and OUCH! Gonna have to watch those turns, I see Lilly in front of me and i thought I could catch her and chat a bit, I had time. I passed the huge crowds and I waved my hands to pump them up and they responded with a huge roar of applause. As a looked over to the other side of the street I see Michale Lavato running and I knew he was in the lead, I yelled as looud as I could, finsih it up Mike, finish strong. He just glanced at me with acknoledgement and I smiled. He won the race. I also saw Pat and yelled out at him too, I was very happy for those two and the race they put together. I saw a man with a hand held camera also doing the same and video taping it, BRILLIANT! I was close to catching Lilly and the rains were in full force. As i caught her the intersections had now turned into rivers, as she runs through I do too, really?? Now my feet were totally soaked. As I exit downtown I see Blake, then Matt run by, we low five and smile, more positive energy. Lilly and I started to talk about the day, it was good to pass the time and the pain, she really pulled me a bit as her pace was hard for me to keep.
as well. I was soo happy, all I needed to see was CHUCKY!!!! There he was, I was sooo relieved.
4 mile out 4 miles in and I'm done. I looked over at the sea and saw the sun was setting and that I wasn't going to make it back before sunset, damn. The pain was indescribable, keep moving forward. I ran as best I could out of town. Along the way I ran with a guy from Austin doing his first race, chatted to him and told him he looked good and to keep moving. I ran with a fellow Jack and Adams teammate, Kirk. He slowed to walk a bit, told me to keep going and press on as best I could. Along the way I saw some fellow Austinites who we encouraged across the way. I knew everyone was fighting some sort of battle out there and I knew how much a friendly shout out meant especially now. I saw Matt and Blake run by and I thought they were going to catch me soon, i pushed on. Got to an aid station to put more ice in my sock, and that same police woman was there. I smiled at her, she smiled back. I said I'm gonna make it it, she replied vamanos!
Passing all my friends and waving to them hoping to give them some positive energy as they went out for there last loop took everything I had but I knew what it means to them. 2 miles to go, stop at an aid station to get my last ice packs, they were out, awesome! I head out from the aid station and before I knew it Chucky had crossed the intersection to come over to smack my ass (in training I would always do this as I passed someone). He told me to pick it up and finish strong. It took every ounce of energy i had to hold run/hobble. Pier, I made it, Last mile, hold on Dave the pain will stop soon (I keep repeating a phrase an awesome coach told me"Cant hurt any worse than this!!!"). It hurt, last 1/2 mile, I did not get any time goals that I had set for the day, but I did want to finish strong. I saw Maria up in front, and I thought,"Oh hell yeah I can catch her and return a favor :)" I sprinted, I dug up what ever energy I had and sprinted, just past the shopping center and as I flew down the road, the pain intensified, its not gonna hurt any worse now! I catch up with Maria right in front of Margaritaville and "SMACK" right on the ass. I hear "OOOOhhhhhh" from the crowd and I sprinted I started to wave my hands in the air to pump up the crowd for the last time, and this time I didnt need to turn around I get to finish.
We had done it, Blake is now an Ironman, Matt Ironmanx3, Lilly Ironmanx3. Chucky, Sarah, and Maria had all become an Ironman that evening as well. I am very happy I had that injury in this race. This race tested me in so many ways. I had the choice to give up and just settle or be the person, man, father and friend I knew that I had inside me. I am calling this race, the race where I found my Ironheart. Thanks again to all who have supported me and more importantly read this whole thing. Big thanks to my wife and kids who I get all my energy from. Love you guys!