A big thanks to my coach Jimmy Riccitello, he jumped into a big mess two months ago and salvaged my season. He has to be one of the coolest guys in sport and about as solid a human being as they come. Trek for building the best bikes out there and the Trek Store of Kansas City for all they do. GU and GU2O for keeping me stocked and keeping the formula simple, clean and the best out there. Blue Seventy, if you don’t have a Point Zero you are crazy, this is the biggest development in triathlon swimming since the wetsuit. Oakley for hooking me up with the new Radars, positively the best shades on the market and Shimano the best out there. Most important my family, friends and Andrea they make the good days worth the effort. I just don’t know how they tolerate the bad ones.
I don’t know if life has better prepared me to race Ironman or if the Ironman has better prepared me to deal with life. The deeper I delve into both the more I realize how little say I have in either and that a healthy balance of both has made the other more fulfilling.
On Monday my cousin Bob and I were driving back from Ironman Kentucky and talking to one another about racing and trying to break down our history in the sport of triathlon and establish a timeline of our evolution as athletes. Our wives would agree we spend entirely too much time together, and that we couldn’t possibly have anything left to say to one another or talk about, especially in triathlon. Between the two of us we have knocked out 24 Ironman races, and in our discussion we agreed that each and every one of them has been incredibly brutal.
This is just my sixth year in the sport of triathlon and I will now be headed back to Kona, Hawaii to race in the world Championships for a third time this October. This will be my first time as a representative of the United States as a professional. As a student of history I now know that in just six short weeks I will again experience incredible pain in my entire body, cramps that will try and send me to the ground, nausea, ridiculous heat, doubt, soreness and a desire to quit mid stride so strong that it will consume my entire brain. I won’t experience those emotions and pains just once, rather hundreds of times throughout the course of the day and the desire to quit will be looming over me until I cross the line on Ali Drive and get into the shade of the Bannon tree. This is how I got there.
Like most weeks going into an Ironman you constantly battle to control your environment and protect your race. Louisville’s climate is much similar to Kansas City, it is hot and humid and when it does get windy it feels like an oven door opening. That week the forecast called for heat and humidity. The real story though was the massive rains and flooding upriver in Ohio the week before. On Thursday the water was 86 degrees and the current was a stout 2 miles per an hour. That basically meant two things; a non wetsuit swim and that roughly 70% of the people who would be racing on Sunday would never make the swim cutoff of 2:20. By Friday Ironman would announce they would be using an alternate swim course and doing a time trial start instead of the usual mass send off. The weather would still be warm, around 90 degrees mid day and humid with a solid wind of 7-10 mph out of the Northeast.
My wife Andrea arrived on Saturday late afternoon; she had done a 22 mile run that morning and hopped directly onto a flight afterwards. Andrea is the best support crew ever, she has done enough races and has so much experience that she knows exactly what an athlete does and does not need. She is always a bright spot at any race; she takes care of me, gives me splits on other athletes and always has me believe that I had the best race ever.
The morning of the race was beautiful, it was clear and warm and the water and winds were calm. The time trial start for the 2000 age groupers would send off people one after another and rely on c