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Reaching The Summit: Ironman FL

November 3rd, 2012 I reached the summit of my expedition…For anyone that has been following my story the past 3 1/2 years you may recall that I have been comparing my journey up the ladder of the Professional Triathlon world as my own climb up Mt. Everest. The goal was always to get me on top of the podium at an Ironman and I am happy to say that after a long climb up the mountain, I finally got to see what the view from the top that I have been dreaming of the past 4 years of my life looked like…No, I did not win but it felt just as good as a victory and for me it was just that, a huge victory! I took a leap 4 years ago when I left the family business, left my home, and set sail. My family didn’t always believe but of course they were supportive and I know behind my back they were asking each other….what is he doing? Even the night before the race after the break out year I have had my sister said to me at dinner,,,”Eventually you are going to have to start your life” Still didn’t get it, start my life? I am living my life, haven’t you been paying attention to my progress? Sissy, when you give up on your dream, you might as well be dead because that is when you stop living….

I don’t like to write much about race details I don’t really think people find it that interesting however considering the blazing fast times and the emails I have received about how I road as fast I did, I feel race details are important for this blog…

But I first much address the week leading up to the race and the emotional roller coaster ride I was on while in between my final training sessions I was glued to the TV as I watched my hometown get destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. As the race got closer and closer so did the anxiety build, is our house ok? Are my family going to make it down here? Where will our neighbors go? How will we rebuild?

Come Friday night my parents, sister, and nephew arrived and it was great having them here with Carrie and I but I didn’t let onto anyone just how torn up I was because I didn’t want them to think they wasted a trip coming down and I was about to pull out of the race. I am an emotional person just like my mom and I could see it in her eyes just how bad she was hurting but I had to look away or I too was going to lose it.

By bed time Friday night I couldn’t lay still, what’s the point of what I do? Why race? I want to quit, move home, and dedicate the next 2 years to the clean up as that is how long it’s gonna take.. I tossed and turned all night convincing myself to just go with it, just go to the transition, get your bike ready, and if you put your wetsuit on and can’t go then don’t get in…They will understand…How can I hurt in the race? I am hurting so badly, my heart is broken, I just can’t muster the energy….That was what was going on in my head between the hours of 11 pm and 4:15 am.

Then, the alarm clock went off, I opened my eyes, and I could hear one of best friends voice, who called me the day before and said, “Scottie we need hope, we need something to make us smile, go win that race!” I didn’t even hesitate, I popped out of bed quicker than I have in the last 2 months. Game on….the thought of pulling out never entered my mind again…that is until 40mins into the bike when my legs were screaming to stop:) But more on this later….

So we got under way, I hugged the Mrs Animal, which actually made the next days paper, our photo embracing each other before the start….And off we went. This is the 4th time I have done this race, some years it is choppy than others and this year was one of those days. Some pretty good swells out there which made for fun coming in actually. I wasn’t quite sure how the swim was going but I did have a ton of guys around me on the first lap but our group split up greatly on the second lap as started to overtake the age groupers that went off behind us…

Into T1 I raced, didn’t hesitate like I used to because I knew the guys that came out near me would be on the rivet immediately…Sure enough first 40mins we were flying, a pack was already forming, from my perspective it was clean racing as we had big tail wind once we made the turn away from the beach and guys were keeping the legal distance. A few guys from behind who had slower swims made the jump to our group and 1 or 2 were able to go straight to the front and take over driving. I was playing the game I was racing, and keep more than legal distance as I knew a penalty would mean game over with this train that was forming, and we already had 2 draft marshals with us….

Now like I said I have raced here 4 times now, spent time training here, been here the past 4 weeks, and I have watched the race twice before. I was here the year Tom Evans nearly broke the world record and we had similar winds on Saturday that Tom had that year. I have made it around this course in 5 hours on easy training rides when the winds blow like they did on Sat. You see, the way the course is set up when the wind blows from the West/North West, like it did on Sat, you pretty much have a tail wind for the first 90kms, then when you turn around you have a head wind but just for 8km give or take and when you turn onto Hwy 20 at 110km or so you are protected by the dense forest so the wind isn’t quite as bad. We did slow but not tremendously and psychologically knowing the course, knowing that it was only 40km of a head wind till we turned towards the tail wind again, I had mental advantage to keep pace with the boys up front.

By 120km we had caught everyone but Andrew who was off the front. At this point the huge pack that formed started to lose guys off the back, and several times I was dropped, and dropped I mean several hundred meters off the back of the pack, but each time I was making deals with myself to keep hammering, on my limit, in my biggest gear trying to get closer to the pack. With each gap I closed, my confidence began to grow more and more. I was doing, I was riding like I have done so many times in training, but most importantly I was racing…

With about 20kms to go once again 2 lads in front of me blew up and I found myself gaped again but this time I couldn’t respond, I feel asleep at the wheel, I started thinking about the run, and let off the throttle. I was close enough to the front and confident enough to know I could run most down. I literally sat up and waved good bye. I let my heart drop, took a few minutes to eat, and drink then pulled the boys back home…Honestly I did not realize how far up Andrew was, because I didn’t see him on the out and back I thought he dropped out. Not until 8km of the run did I know he was the leader.

Just before transition there was the family standing outside our building yelling and my sis did her job, “Scottie Boy, you are 3mins behind the pack” she yelled. Good girl, just want i needed to hear. I lost 3mins in the last 20kms…

Out of T2 I took off, holding back but first mile 5:50, 2nd mile 5:50, “shit slow down, its hot,” I thought…By 10km I was already in 3rd and ran scared as the boys responded to my pass, they did not lay down! I had a pretty bad patch by around 15kms and even said to my mountain bike rider, “Shit, I am cracking” but over the past 12 months I have learned how to handle these sensations so I applied what I have learned and it started to work. By half way through the run there were folks, my sissy yelling, “Scottie you are the real deal now, you can win!” Tears even started coming out of my eyes but I knew it hadn’t even started yet, 30kms is when the race starts…I was through 21kms in 1:20ish and turned with the wind and the heat was really coming on now…At 30kms I was slowing but I knew my podium as secure, I didn’t think I could muster the win, the last 3kms I was happy with 3rd, I wasn’t pulling Jahn back fast enough, maybe if the run was 50km I could get him but I started to enjoy, by the last mile I was smiling, and embracing the view as I was on top of the mountain, and boy did it look good!!!

Coming down the finish shoot was simply amazing and something I will never forget, and having my family there made it even more special! Good on Andrew for such an amazing race, he deserved the win, but I can’t help but think, what if, I covered that last move?? Could I have won? I think so but it doesn’t matter, this was a victory. 8:09:33, WOW!! Who knows, I might not ever go any faster, I think I can, especially if I can get that swim going, but it doesn’t matter, I lived my dream, I accomplished the goal!! We might not ever see a bike ride like that again, the wind doesn’t always blow like it did on Sat. But that doesn’t matter either as racing is racing and that’s what I did out there…

Was there something special caring me along out there? Maybe? Was it my friends and neighbors back home? Maybe? I’ll never know, but that race was for them! They gave me that extra boost I needed to get up that last step! I can’t really describe to someone who did not spend their childhood summers along the Jersey Shore just how special of a place it is…This place shaped me as a person, my friends are from there, the most amazing neighbors reside there, a bond and new memories are formed every year up and down the island from Memorial Day to Labor Day….I know it can’t fix the damage but I hope that just for the afternoon I did in fact make some people smile and quite possibly gave them a little bit of hope…The Jersey Shore will be back, no doubt, and I’ll go back there one day, run up and down the hwy that created my passion for running, and I’ll be smiling just as brightly as I did Saturday when I crossed that finish line!!!

Thank you for following the past few years, its been quite a journey, and one that would never have been possible without Alex Bok, Brett Sutton, and every single one of my teammates that have come and gone since Feb. 2009. And a huge thank you to all my athletes that I have coached the last 2 years, your business helped fund this journey, and without it I never would have made it! Stay tuned as the journey isn’t over just yet, one more step is possible, I believe victory is within reach now more than ever!!!

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