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Archive for July, 2012

Ironman Swiss: Breaking Through

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

For the past 3 years I have been repeating the same run sessions over and over and over with the goal of running under 2:45 for the marathon in an Ironman….Out of all those sessions, there is one that sticks out like a sore thumb…On New Year’s Day of this year, I walked out to the local high school track along the Jersey Shore on a cold and windy morning…After 25km of running I walked away with a big smile on my face, there was know else out there, just me and old man winter…But I knew that run marked the start of what was going to be my break through year or else retirement would most likely be the decision at seasons end…

After a complete meltdown at Ironman TX just 7 weeks ago, I have been hunkered down here in Leysin, with sights set on nailing the marathon…I will be completely honest, my instructions were to swim easy, ride easy, and run like an ‘animal’…Well, I swam easy but this is because I missed the 2nd pack so cruised along with the group I was with…But onto the bike, I rode controlled at first but when some of the slower swimmers came by me, I pushed on to go with them as it is a race after all…. but I simply did not have the power I was hoping to have. When the rain and winds came after 50km things got even harder and by 120kms I was fully blown, cold, and wet, craving calories. At this point I was alone and had been for well over an hour. The thought of stopping was ever so present but I knew this decision would be the fall off the mountain that would end this journey I have been on…So I fought back, just like Doc has been telling me to do….”take your hits, get knocked down, and get up”
Finally with 30km to go and out of the hills, I came upon on an aid station where I filled up with drink and gels…With 10km I was feeling better but when a back of age groupers came by on the final little climb in town I struggled to hang on…None the less, I kept fighting, I had no other choice…

Coming into T2 I turned my brain off, I had no idea what place I was in, what my time was, nothing…earlier in the week I got a message from brother and which read, “Don’t think, just run”…I kept repeating this in my mind as I ran out of transition. Staggering yes but I was a desperate man, it was run or else…I was happy that I found my rhythm after a few kms…. And by 3km I spotted Brett and Alex, he was calm at first but quickly turned into the angry fat man we all know and love…He was screaming by the time I ran past him! I don’t quite recall what he was saying, it was encouraging but stern…By 8km I was flying and feeling strong by this point. I had started on the coke and was forcing gels down as I knew I was depleted and if I ignored the calories I would fizzle at 25km…

The kms were ticking by through 15km. I reached 21km in 1 hour 18mins give or take and ran past Carrie thinking, “I am starting to crack!”, it was getting hard but she didn’t offer a cuddle on the side of the road, no sir, it was, “MOVE YOUR GOD DAMN ASS, THEY ARE CRUMBLING IN FRONT OF YOU!!!” At 25km there was brett once again, “If you keep this up you will run into the top 5, DO NOT GIVE UP, DO NOT LET YOURSELF DOWN, DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME???”…this was the first time all day I had any idea what place I was in…I was making deals with myself, “just make it to 30km, just make to 30km…Well, 30km arrived, and I was in 5th place, this time around the message was, “keep it together!” I was slowing but still charging as I thought maybe just maybe I would catch Sergio Marquis in 4th, but at 38km I knew 5th was the best I could do…

Crossing the finish line was a moment I will never ever forget, I didn’t finish first out there but it was victory non the less, as I took a giant leap up the mountain 5th place and a 2:43:50 marathon…With just 2 steps to go I have new found motivation and confidence that I will indeed reach the summit…

I have little doubt it is possible to one day run under 2:40 for the marathon but first I must turn my attention to getting stronger on the bike as well as executing the swim portion of the race properly as maybe if I would have been a bit smarter out there, I might have nabbed a few places in front me…

A big congrats to Mattihias on his 3rd place showing, we know that wasn’t what you were hoping for but keeping fighting my man!! I look forward to training alongside you for a long time to come!! And a big big thank you to all those that were out there supporting us in what was not the most pleasant weather…Even though I am American, Zurich felt like home with so many people coming out to see us race…Brett, Alex, Fiona and the girls, Celine, Rachael (up the) and her family, Reto, Nicole, the guys from On Running, and of course Carrie…A magical day for me yet much harder than maybe it appeared…

As always, thank you for reading! But one last thank you to the man that trains us, Brett gave me a shot 3 years ago, he believed in me maybe more than I believed in myself..Thanks Doc! The journey continues….2:40 or bust….