Ironman Chattanooga – My 20 Things – Race Report

This is my list of 20 Things at Ironman Chattanooga 2015, which will serve as a race report.

1.  It was no easy task, but I met my buddy Corey in the hotel lobby at 5:45 am.  No wonder I have given up on this corporate lifestyle.  Getting to sleep can be tough enough for me, but before an Ironman, forget it.  My total rack time was about 3 hours and I was fresh off a questionable oatmeal, banana, rice cake with peanut butter breakfast. I was also battling a minor head cold but–armed with B12 tongue drops–I soldiered through pain with way too many water bottles on the mile-walk to transition.  Corey’s friends were supposed to be waiting in the darkness on random street corners, but they were nowhere to be seen.  We were there in plenty of time to meet Jim around 6:15.

2.  I took my time filling bike tires and stocking transition bags, but Corey was getting anxious.  At one point he yelled at me, “Just put your stuff in the bag and let’s go!”  He didn’t really yell, but there is a crazy energy the morning of your race.  It feels like time is draining from your life.  Then, we got in our first line of the day while waiting for the bus, and it was still an hour and a half before we’d be in the water.  And speaking of water, I needed more!  Seems like a simple thing, but no one knew where to find water.  Finally, I saw a tent selling some, but didn’t have any money.  Thankfully Jim’s girlfriend, Rebecca loaned me 3 dollars.  Pro tip: bring a few bucks cash to transition.

3.  Next, I’m sitting next to Jim on the bus to the Swim Start and realized I forgot something fairly important: my timing chip.  That was a weird feeling.  By some stroke of Divine Intervention the girl next to me on the bus forgot hers too and assured me we could get one at the start line.  I did indeed, and the kind folks synced it up to my bib number.  Good to know.  If this happens to you, you still have to turn in your original chip to someone at Ironman or send it in a bubble pack per the email you get the next day.

Chattanooga Swim Exit

ChattSwimExit4.  The swim line was remarkable!  I mean, I’m a little delirious in the morning as it is, but I couldn’t tell which way was which.  People, stretched for miles, laying around on the greenway in lycra suits, some with air mattresses and many with lawn chairs.  Thanks to my timing chip debacle I saw them all and walked about 2 miles in the process.

5.  Around 7:30, volunteers started shouting, “Wetsuits to the right, family please leave the line,” and we started moving.  I was shocked by the number of people in wetsuits.  It was a “wetsuit optional” race, meaning the temperature was over 76.1 but under 78 degrees (or something like that) and anyone who opted to wear a wetsuit wasn’t eligible for prizes or Kona qualification.  The air began to get heavy.  The race had begun and it humbles you on the spot.  In mere minutes we would begin a brutal challenge by jumping off a pier into the Tennessee River.  I swang my arms to wake up my body, but in the back of my mind I knew we had the assistance of a nice current and it should be the nicest part of the day.  Around 7:45 we were close enough to hear the announcer sending people off the pier.  We exchanged our “good lucks” before filing into our own desolate worlds.

6.  I dropped into the water around 7:50 uncertain if my timing chip would work.  I decided to trust people better at this stuff than me and swam toward the first buoy.  This course is “straight” downstream.  No turns, no trickery, just swim.  The only thing I had to do was stay near the buoy line and keep my arms moving.  About a thousand yards in I decided the current wasn’t whisking me away like I hoped, but felt pretty good.  Next thing I know, I looked to my left and realized I was 50 yards from the buoy line.  Sometimes this happens.  I get a little discombobulated and lose myself. I dug a little harder to get back into the line and realized I was losing some steam in my arms.  I kept looking for the first of three bridges, but it never seemed to come.  Suddenly, what I thought was an “easy” swim was feeling difficult. Wetsuit swimmers all started after non-wetsuits got into the water and around 2500 yards into the swim, I was smothered.  It was almost laughable watching this neoprene army glide by.  And those that didn’t glide by me simply swam over me.  It was the first time I TRULY realized the power of a wetsuit.

7.  I completely underestimated this swim and it bit me hard.  Five hundred yards from the finish I was struggling to keep form and holding on for life.  The final RED turn buoy was a dream come true, but those last 50 yards might have been the toughest part of the swim.  It was suddenly a free for all.  Wetsuits coming from every angle beating the crap out of me on their way to the stairs.  That is when I officially called “wetsuit optional” bull shit.  Either it’s wetsuit legal, or it’s not.  At the very least anyone who wore one should have an asterisk next to their results.

Random Biker On Course
Thousands of bikes in transition

8.  I looked at my watch and saw 1:11 in the swim and was not surprised, but disappointed.  The year before I watched almost everyone I knew come out of the water in less than an hour and I thought I botched any shot I had at my dream of Kona.  Little did I know, most of the top racers in my age group were also over an hour in the swim.  But I was still 158th in my age group out of the water.  Clearly a huge chunk of guys wore wetsuits, and not only does that get on my nerves, it had significant implications on Kona slots because they based the allocation on the number of people who didn’t wear wetsuits.

9.  So, I get out of the water and saw my buddy Whitney, but missed my mom, brother, and Rebekah.  That kinda blows when you are wandering off into the sunrise of a 6 hour bike ride.  After a disappointing swim it would have been easier to sort of give in to the day and focus on finishing, but I have a tendency to want to redeem myself.  And that’s what I set out to do.

10.  About 5 miles into the bike I’m zoning in on hydration and food when a bike slows down next to me and the guy says, “What’s up dude?”  It was Corey.  He quickly apologized for yelling at me in transition and we chatted about the swim for 15 seconds before he passed me and I dropped back into legal formation.  My plan was to chill, but Corey pulled away with some early energy.  About 10 miles later I pulled up beside him and took the lead.  That’s when it dawned on me how nice it was to have someone in the same power range that I actually knew.  For the next 70 miles or so we worked together like pros, typically staying within 50-100 yards of each other, flopping back and forth to keep each other focused.

11.  This seems like a great place to bring up the topic of drafting at Ironman Chattanooga.  First of all, let me just say it was nearly impossible not to draft.  And what will I blame this on?  Yes, wetsuits.  The congestion is just undeniable.  Everyone gets out of the water around the same time because of the nature of the swim.  Then you add a bike course that is relatively flat and all hell breaks loose.  I’m not saying there were people riding on each other’s wheels, but there was just nowhere else to go at times.  I mean, I genuinely saw two people drafting right past a penalty tent.  I am pretty sure Ironman just looks the other way on this race because I honestly don’t remember seeing one motorcycle official on the course.

12.  The ride itself was no picnic, but felt pretty good.  There are some really fast sections and at some point I decided to shoot for a 20 mph ride.  I was right on pace when I hit the split back to town at about mile 104 but I genuinely thought I went the wrong way.  That really threw a wrench in my day for a minute.  I was a bit fuzzy and it took 3 miles before I looked back and saw the Mile 10 sign going the other way.  That’s when I settled in and cruised toward town. I don’t know about you, but this is the time I start freaking out about getting a flat.  I was uber cautious going over several railroad crossings and any other disruption.  There’s sort of a weird echo as you get closer to dismount and it’s arguably the sweetest sound in triathlon.  You know you’re about to get your ass off that hard seat and for me, it’s nearly as nice as crossing the finish line.

Me at Mile 21

13.  I was a little confused coming out of the run because we didn’t go down the swim-run-up-hill like they did in 2014.  Instead, we ran to the bike out area, then down the River Walk from there, which was a little longer, but gave us a short downhill before the climb on mile one.  That first hill is actually kind of a good thing because it reminds you to slow down a little, but everyone I talked to had a super fast Mile One (.9) splits.  My plan was to start at a pace that felt super easy, then pick it up a hair around mile 6, and I think I did pretty well averaging between 9:01 and 9:36 for the first loop. Then, on the second time through, I was hoping to move that pace down on the flat sections, but I just couldn’t get my legs to move any faster.  My pace fell back into the 10 min range for most of the 2nd loop.

Mark waves to Rebekah and Rebecca out of T2

14.  Speaking of the back half, it was a grinder.  I ran it a month before the race and deluded myself into thinking it wasn’t too bad, but after a 116 mile bike the hills were tough.  The most surprising hill was the first short, but steep one out of the River Walk.  For some reason I missed that part when I test-ran the course and it was humbling.  That’s where my support crew spectated and they witnessed a lot of carnage.  Once I started the second lap I threw away my pace targets and focused on one thing:  Not walking.  If I’ve learned anything from three Ironman races, it is this:  You are almost guaranteed to hit your race goal if you just run the entire marathon.  It’s not easy, but it’s the most obvious solution.

Corey at Mile 21

15.  I finished Chattanooga in 11:28, thirty minutes faster than I did Ironman Wisconsin.  Chattanooga’s bike course is 4 miles longer, so that’s 12 minutes more, and could technically mean a 42 minute personal best. In comparison, Wisconsin has a harder swim and bike, but Chattanooga’s run is definitely king.  That said, my marathon times in both were almost identical.  I’m not sure what any of this means, but sometimes it’s interesting to reflect.  I think the difference in my bike times happened because I rode up AND down the hills at Chattanooga.  In Wisconsin I coasted most of the downhills.

16.  I’m a big fan of pizza, but it never tastes as good as it does after an Ironman. Some of my best work of the day was done in the athlete food tent.

17.  I’ve written about volunteers before, but they never cease to amaze me.  I think I saw there were 4,500 at Chattanooga and that is just a tremendous number of people joining hands to feed the cattle.  Every aid station was totally stocked and well organized.  Bottle exchanges were clean, and in a world where you can run into a lot of dicks, these people were uncommonly selfless.

kissing mom
Me Kissing Mom at Finish Line

18.  Chattanooga is the perfect city for an Ironman.  The layout is simple, and aside from the fact that I personally knew 4 people who got jobbed on hotel bookings, everything ran like a top . . . even in the rain.  The locals embrace the active lifestyle and expressed genuine interest in the race.  I never got the feeling people were pissed that we screwed up their traffic for a day.

19.  The biggest thing I learned this year was that I’m still not there on the bike.  I had a good ride, and pushed the edge of my capability, but it stole just enough from my legs to hamper the run.  I really hoped to run an 8:30-9:00 pace, but couldn’t get there.  The analogy I thought of is that your bike should be like driving a Cadillac.  The engine should be huge and let you go 70 miles an hour without feeling like it’s working very hard.  I went 70 miles an hour, but I was in a Kia.

20.  I am happy, but humbled.  I put out Kona aspirations a while back, but have a long ways to go.  I’m not ready to say I didn’t work hard this summer, but it wasn’t enough.  I didn’t build Cadillac miles.  I was faster and more explosive, but didn’t have the chassis to pull it off at this distance.  Lesson learned, and it was a brutal, but lovely experience.

My Finish


While At Ironman Chattanooga . . .

When I got to Ironman Chattanooga I was feeling a little head cold coming on, so I didn’t much feel like doing more than resting with my free time.  But, while I wasn’t posting my domain name expired because of an old credit card (which I found out last night).  Talk about a pit in your stomach!

Anyway, I wanted to make a quick post to let you know that we are back in business.

Quick Ironman Chattanooga Summary

I didn’t sleep very well Friday or Saturday night, but found myself on the Swim Start shuttle at around 6:15 Sunday morning.  Halfway up the road I panicked because I forgot my TIMING CHIP in my beautiful new backpack.  I was freaking out for a second until the girl right next to me said she forgot hers too and they had extras waiting at the start line.  I walked up to the very front to get one, then walked all the way to the back of the line which felt like 2 miles of walking.

We got into the water around 7:50 and it took me about 10 minutes to realize that I underestimated the swim.  I had this stupid vision in my head that the current would sweep us away and drop me off at the exit in no time.  Wrong!  Two point four miles is a long ways.  I was swimming hard and that first bridge just never seemed to come.  Right before the bridge I started getting really tired, and thankfully this was about the time people who opted to wear wetsuits started swimming over the top of me (more on this later).

I didn’t feel great getting out of the water, and there’s nothing more refreshing than knowing you have 116 miles waiting for your bike wheels.  Somehow I got it going and felt pretty good as we rode into the loop.  I did NOT underestimate the bike course because I rode it a month earlier.  I basically rode with average speed as my guide and hoped I could hold it around 20 mph for the race.  There were some really fast sections and I came into transition a little above my goal.  Running through the finish line arch is the best feeling, but getting off the bike is a close second.

I ran it about a month ago and it didn’t seem “that” bad, but this run course is tough.  The hills on the backside aren’t devastating if you just run them, but after that bike, they get in your head.  I ran the first half at a little under a 10 minute pace and hoped to pick it up a little, but my legs said no.  It was all I could do to just keep running, but I’m pretty happy with that scenario, too.  That’s always sort of been my thing, run the entire marathon.

My swim split disappointed me a little: 1:11.  I felt great about my bike split: 5:45.  And was content with my run: 4:23.  TRT 11:28, which was 30 minutes better than my best at Wisconsin.

I have a ton of thoughts on this race and my brother shot some great video that I’ll be posting.  So, please help me spread the word so I don’t lose any search engine reads after this domain debacle.

Great seeing everyone in Chattanooga!



4 Days Until Ironman Chattanooga

4 Days Until Ironman Chattanooga

1.  Well, I’ve done this before, right?   So, why am I so anxious?  I mean, There is just crazy talk going on in my head.  I guess it’s that combination of:

a.  I know I can finish, but that’s not the point.
b.  I have a reasonable goal in my mind, but that’s not the real goal.
c.  I have a perfect day goal in my mind, and that’s the one I want to hit.

That only leaves me with one thing to do.  Stop thinking about “c” and enjoy the “a” and “b” parts.LouisvillePoster

2.  You may not know this, but 3 of the Fab 5 will be reunion-ing at this race.  Mark and Jim will join me for a second run at this Ironman-business.  We haven’t trained together that much (which is kind of strange considering we live within a 3 mile radius of each other) but we will always bond like Jalen Rose, Ray Jackson, and Chris Weber of the other Fab 5.  Racer K has since moved to Colorado and is blowing through 100 mile rides like they are dusty piles of snow, and Daniel is knee deep in marathon training his butt to Boston.

3.  The other day I said there’s nothing like getting your bib and bracelet to make it “feel real,” but I think I’d like to change that to shaving your legs.

4.  Yogi Berra died today and that kinda hit me a little bit.  I’m a huge baseball fan and think of those old ballers as sort of the original Ironmen.  Lou Gehrig played 2,130 consecutive games and was nicknamed the Iron Horse.  Yogi Berra caught both ends of 118 double headers in his career!  These guys are the Mark Allen’s and Dave Scott’s of baseball and I think we have a tendency to forget the people who laid the groundwork for what our favorite sports have become.

* Imagine if your Ironman turned into this . . .

Follow me on Twitter @miketarrolly before it’s too late.


Taper Tuesday – 5 Days From Ironman Chattanooga

1.  I rarely run on Tuesdays, but today called for an easy gallop with a few race-pace-efforts.  Along the way, I was exposed to endless open garbage bins in my neighborhood that reminded me to appreciate the finer smells in life.  For some reason (maybe the stench got me) I ran the first mile or so slower than I have all summer.  Hopefully there will be a lot of garbage coming out of T2 to slow me down.

2.  A friend recently told me he got a massage a few days before his recent Half and thought it was a bad idea because it made him sore.  Not me!  I went straight from my run to straight down in a face cradle.  This was not, however, my first massage this season.  I’ve had a few leading up to this week and told her to back off the pressure.  Restore, only.  Move the blood.  Make me believe.  I fell asleep, so it must have worked.

3.  If you can’t get enough paranoia or tomfoolery in your diet, just stop by an Ironman Facebook group the week before a race.

4.  This will be my 3rd Ironman and I can’t wait to get down there to hang with everyone.  There’s just a great energy around this sport and everyone has that anxious, yet humble look in their eyes. There’s really nothing like getting your bracelet and bib to make it real.  We’ve been working for this all year and the energy is palpable.

5.  I was happy to see optimistic pictures of the Ironman Louisville swim course this morning.  It looks like that section of the Ohio River is in pretty good shape regarding the “algae scare.”  And while I’m not racing Louisville, I’m not the kind of guy to take chances, so I thought I would play it safe with a little algae-immunity treatment in my above ground pool this afternoon.



6 Days Until Ironman Chattanooga

1.  I started my early morning routine today.  Up at 6:30 to walk the dog.  A little breakfast, a little writing, and a lot of wanting to take a nap!  This could literally be harder than the race for me.  Goal is to avoid the nap at all costs and be tired at bed time.  How important is sleep?  Frankly I’m tired of doing races on 3 hours.

2.  Don’t cook the bike.  Don’t cook the bike.  Okay . . . but what does that even mean?  Some think that (for most people) the more likely story is that we aren’t fit enough in the first place and the 112 mile bike by itself is what crushes the run.  I can kind of buy into that, but in general I think not cooking the bike means hitting the 80 mile marker without thinking, “Oh shit.”

3.  Don’t go out too hard on the run.  Don’t go out too hard on the run.  Okay, who among us has the willpower to resist tearing out of T2 and blasting past thousands of fans?  Hmm… not me, that’s why I think I may actually stop and take a few pictures with friends and family as a deterrent.  Well, probably not, but you never know.  Depends if I think I’m pulling in the reigns.

IMG_52654.  Looking forward to hashing things out with pro triathlete, Jim Lubinski in Chattanooga.  We “met” through Twitter last year and he’s a super cool guy who has helped me plan out my last month going into the race.  He’s not only a triathlete (12th at Chattanooga last year and 9th at this year’s Mont Tremblant), he’s a coach who has presented a lot of unique and mindful ideas that I look forward to executing.

5.  What to eat?  Well, Jim had just finished eating a banana in this picture, so that might be a good place to start.  But I’m really referring to this week.  My diet has been a little suspect and part of me feels like the body is saying, “You aren’t replenishing enough calories so I need you to gorge!”  Nature tells me this is not the time to “build” as in weight and muscle, so hopefully the reduced efforts this week will taper my appetite a little bit.

6.  Six days away from a treacherous and glorious day.  My instinct is to improve and do better each time I race.  But, as I found out at Louisville last year, that doesn’t always happen.  I have several goals this time, but think number one is to relax and enjoy the entire day (and weekend).  That’s one of the cool things about a full Ironman, really.  The distance demands patience, so there’s really no reason to get yourself in a tizzy by “racing” too hard.  I mean, “crushing” and Ironman is a relative term.  It’s more like crushing a consistent effort, but it amazes me how we can all be lured into thinking it’s a sprint.  So, I’m trying to lock one thought in my brain right now . . . “If I think I’m going too fast . . . I probably am.”

Much more about Ironman Chattanooga right here:  18 Stories About Chattanooga

7 Days Until Ironman Chattanooga

1.  Stayed up late watching the Ole Miss v. Alabama game last night . . . what a slugfest!  I am neutral on these teams, but it reminded me of Rocky I.  Ole Miss was throwing haymakers and Bama kept getting back up.  Both teams responded to seemingly insurmountable challenges by digging deeper when you thought they were toast.  The Tide was down 20 at the start of the 4th quarter and chipping away against an Ole Miss team that seemed exhausted.  An Ole Miss receiver was overheard in the huddle telling his team “It’s all mental now, dig deep!”  Bama had the ball with 3 minutes left and a chance to win, but Ole Miss intercepted a pass to seal the victory.  A great Ironman metaphor for not giving in too early in the race.

2.  I’m trying my best to keep Chattanooga out of my mind when my head hits the pillow . . . but it’s tough.  I have a habit of trying to visualize the race step by step, but it’s not good when you’re trying to sleep.  Next thing you know, it’s 12 hours later and you’re up feeding the dog with bags under your eyes.

3.  I’m not sure how serious the algae situation is in Louisville, but this could be a major bummer for people doing that race.  I’ve talked about it before, but I just can’t imagine having the swim cancelled.  While I realize its impact on the race time is small, for me, the swim is the coolest part of the race.  It’s the heart and soul of the anxiety.  Not having it changes the entire complexion.  My first Ironman was at Wisconsin and I’m not kidding when I say I thought that swim every single day of the year.  It is easily my strongest memory in triathlon.  I really hope the river clears up for Louisville.  Maybe they should move it back to August. Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 11.24.33 AM

4. Tapering is a funny thing.  Our instinct is to go balls-out for 6 months, then shut it off for a couple weeks and hope for the best.  Believe me, that’s what I’m thinking. It’s taking every ounce of energy I have to remain focused for one more week.  It’s kind of like when I cut a video and am done with the basic structure.  There’s always relief at that point, but I know I still have to “master the project by adding graphics, mixing the sound, and tweaking the color.  These are the little things that “tune-up” the video and it takes another surge of mental energy to go there.  You’re “done,” but not finished.

5.  Sometimes I can’t get over the fact of how fortunate I am to even be able to DO an Ironman.  Pretty cool when I think back to where I was just four years ago.  This will be my THIRD Ironman.  A true testament to the power of the human body and spirit, and it honestly doesn’t take that long if you put your mind to it.

6.  There really is something about the atmosphere of Ironman.  Literally thousands of optimistic people together in the same “room.”  And this goes far beyond the people racing.  Everyone who spectates and supports these events have great attitudes and understand that life is about pushing limits. Everyone has hope, and hope goes a long way in this world.

7.  Crushing Iron t-shirts already a big hit in Chattanooga!  Check out these fans crushing it at Stump Jump!  We may have some at a tent on the lawn on Saturday and Sunday during the race.  Indigo Blue, same shirt used by Ironman, and only $20!  If you want to get your own, send me an email at and we’ll coordinate logistics.

Stump Jump Chattanooga
The new Crushing Iron models at Stump Jump in Chattanooga.


8 Days Until Ironman Chattanooga

1.  My bike’s been making a strange knocking sound for the last week or so and I’ve been hanging out at the shop more than my Grandpa used to linger at the used car dealership.  I pulled out a few of his old jokes, but they bombed.

2.  You know Ironman is a big deal when it nearly made me forget about the Badger game today.

3.  Race Forecast Note:  Just to prove my last point about it being stupid paying attention to long range forecasts (and proving I am stupid by checking it anyway) yesterday they called for sunny and a high of 80.  Today, the forecast for Ironman Chattanooga is 78 and showers.  Okay . . . I’m not going to look until 3 days before the race.

4.  I just took an “ice bath” in my above ground pool.  It’s not freezing, but it will wake you up.  And, there’s no doubt it helps with muscle recovery.  I’m still shivering as I write this.

5.  I wish everyone racing Chattanooga could hang around for a week and just chill together.  I’ve never been a big fan of the “it’s over, see you later,” thing.

6.  It’s crazy to think about the unknowns going into an Ironman.  What’s even crazier are the thoughts that you have “forgotten” how to swim, bike, or run after a day or two of not doing them.

7.  Last year I ran about 5 miles the month before Ironman Louisville due to achilles pain.  I’m in much better shape this time and in a strange way excited to run.  I’m sure that attitude will change after about 5 miles.

8.  Ironman really is kind of like a wedding.  For most of us it’s the biggest day of the year.  The nerves, anticipation, and desire for perfection all clank around for months.  Hopefully everything goes as planned, but whatever happens, happens and has to be accepted.  At least with Ironman, we can do it again next year (without guilt) if it doesn’t turn out like we planned.

Ice Bath




10 Days Until Ironman Chattanooga

10 Days Until Ironman Chattanooga

The start of football season has a way of distorting time.  All the endless days of snaps seem to run together and it’s easy to get distracted from the task at hand:  Ironman Chattanooga.

But, maybe that’s not such a bad thing.  Most of us have been thinking about this race on a daily basis for a year.  It’s the big elephant in the room of our lives.  Whenever we turn around, there it is . . . and it’s almost time to climb on its back and let us take it wherever it wants.

That’s always the question with Ironman, right?  How much do we control, how much are we at the mercy of the race itself.  The conditions, etc.

Our will can only do so much and I think that’s the most important thought to keep in mind.  Keep a reserve tank of “will” for times when you really need it.

Ironman is a “race” but most of us would be better served by not racing it in the truest sense.  More pacing, less racing.

It’s so tempting to jump on the back of that cannon and swim like a wild woman to get out of the water fast.  And the roar of your bike wheels trick you into thinking those first 5 miles actually matter.  And, shit, “I know it’s a marathon, but the legs are awake!   Let’s get that pace down out of the gate!”

I’m really trying to go into this race with a negative split mentality.  Can you imagine feeling stronger toward the end of each event?  It’s not easy, and rarely executed, but it sounds fucking amazing.

This will happen for me naturally in the swim.  I’m slow to get going and usually feel good toward the end.

The bike is a little tricky because you have this stupid pace goal in mind and it’s really scary to drop too far below it on the first half of the bike.  Why?  Because we’re usually gassed by the end and the thought of “making up time” sound ridiculous.  But I’m gonna try.

Negative splitting and Ironman run sounds all but impossible.  But, the mentality is possible and could be as simple as getting your short walks out of the way early.  Easing in slowly.  Taking your time on the first loop.  Then dipping into that reserve tank of “will” at the end.  It’s gonna hurt and if you need to use mental tricks, why not use them at mile 22 instead of mile 12?  Just a thought.

Ironman Chattanooga


11 Days Until Ironman Chattanooga

11 Days Until Ironman Chattanooga

What?  Seriously?  Less than two weeks?

Yep, and thank God!  The anticipation is enough to drive me over the edge.  Here’s the Crushing Iron Chattanooga video again to get you jacked, too.

I can’t wait to roll into Chattanooga, relax with friends on Friday and Saturday, get the game face on, then toss and turn all night before putting my body through hell.  Well, at least I don’t have to work the next day, or the next, or . . .

But, yeah, I’m pretty pumped to feel the energy of the race.  I tell people this all the time, and I never would have believed it until I saw it, but the atmosphere is electric.  My mom and brother are coming down from Wisconsin and I can honestly say I think they are hooked on the experience.  It will be their third year in a row and I couldn’t be more grateful.

I THINK I am pretty well prepared for this race, but won’t know until I get about four hours into the bike.  That will be uncharted territory for me this year and I’m banking on a lot of frequent, hard rides to carry me.

I’ve glanced at the forecast a couple times and I swear it changes 15-20 degrees every day, so it’s not worth checking.  I am mentally prepared for mid to upper 80’s with roasting sunshine.

I am also prepared to swim without a wetsuit.  I’m 90% sure I won’t use it, even if it’s legal, though, it can be really hard to pass up.  I honestly hope the decision doesn’t have to be made and we are all flopping around like bare chested Tarzan’s.

Other than that, I’m still debating on Ironman Wisconsin.  It’s just a really tough call and I don’t know if I can pull the trigger before Chattanooga.

Be sure to keep in mind these new shirts if you’ll be in Chattanooga.  We’re bringing a box and I’m hoping to have them available at a friend’s tent out on the lawn.  Also, if you can’t get enough Ironman Chattanooga stories, there are a ton of them (including video) at this link.




Managing Ironman Pain

A friend of mine once told me, “The thing I always try to remember during an Ironman is, never put too much stake in how you feel because it will change every 20 minutes or so.”  Easy to say . . . tough to remember.

This is actually one of my favorite topics because, on many levels, I think it’s the only thing that ultimately matters when it comes to Ironman.  Pain, and more specifically, managing that pain is the key to hitting your goal.

I was talking with a different friend tonight who is getting back into cycling and he was telling me about all of the pain he feels.  Saddle pain, calf pain, knee pain, ankle pain, etc.  He asked what he should do about it and, after thinking for a minute, my only advice was, “Ride through it.”

I don’t know how else to say this, but that is exactly my plan for Ironman Chattanooga.  I am fully prepared for the pain and only hope my mind can talk me into riding and running through it.

Last night I watched “4 Minute Mile,” and while I think it’s a bit on the cheesy side, there was some really good running stuff in there.  Coach Coleman told his protege:

“You gotta face that fear. You GOT to, because if you don’t, you’re gonna be me, and, buddy, you don’t want that. But if you do – and I don’t care if you never run another race in your life – because if you DO face that fear, it’ll change your life. I promise you. It’s the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do, but you gotta do it. Oh, you gotta do it. And then you’ll be able to push right through the pain. You’ll go right through the door. And when you’re about ready to pass out and your legs can’t move and your lungs can’t breathe and your eyes can’t see, you’ll know that it’s just the beginning, and it’s so beautiful. It’s beautiful.”

So, I ask myself, “What is that fear?”  What is it that I have to overcome on race day?  And the only answer I can come up with, is doubt.  I fear that I won’t believe in myself when I start to feel the pain.  I fear that it will seem easier to give up then push through the pain.  Move the pain.  Manage the pain.

That is my fear.

But, we’ve all done it.  We’ve all run through that fear.  We’ve all pushed ourselves past places we believed were possible.  So, why not on race day?

The more I train for these races, the more I blown away I am by the mental perspective.  On some levels, it’s really simple.  Don’t let that obsessive, crazed personality take over your mind on race day.  Go out at your pace and keep a little in the tank until you really need it . . . then, understand.

Understand that your body will recover.  Understand that you are capable of doing much more than you believe in that moment.  Understand that the way you feel will change.

Hydrate, fuel, and embrace the beauty.