Friday, November 8, 2013

NYC Marathon

Mile 1:   ~ 9:12
Mile 2:   ~ 9:12
Mile 3:    ~ 9:12
Mile 4:   ~ 9:00
Mile 5:   ~ 9:00
Mile 6:   ~ 9:00
Mile 7:   ~ 9:00
Mile 8:   ~ 9:00
Mile 9:      8:56
Mile 10:    8:40
Mile 11:    9:25
Mile 12:    8:51
Mile 13:    9:25
Mile 14:    8:57
Mile 15:    9:55
Mile 16:    8:58
Mile 17:    8:56
Mile 18:    8:51
Mile 19:    9:18
Mile 20:   10:11
Mile 21:   10:35
Mile 22:   12:08
Mile 23:   11:05
Mile 24:   10:46
Mile 25:   11:10
Mile 26:   10:15

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Boston Marathon

I was prepared to give a detailed, play-by-play of my day for the 2013 Boston Marathon - from my midnight bike ride, the loops back, the drinking, the fun, but none of that seems to matter anymore. Everyones heard what's happened. I don't have much to say that hasn't been said before. I'm sad and heartbroken. As someone who has had a lifetime goal of running the Boston Marathon, it hurts me that someone would attack such a symbol of human achievement. The 'everyman's race' that is Boston is a beacon to runners everywhere. My heart goes out to the family and friends of the three victims and all those injured that day.

I am more motivated than ever to qualify for Boston. Though I'm sure it's only going to get more difficult from here, I will someday qualify and run the race. I've woken up everyday for the past 4 years thinking about running Boston, exercising with my sole focus being running Boston, and I nearly always dream of running Boston. With focus, work, and preparation, I will someday run it. No cowards with bombs will deter me from that goal.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Great Motivational Video

Found this on my favorite blog, Ross' Training Blog. I love the video not just for the music (points if you can ID each one) but for what you see, the words you hear. Enjoy.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

My Bad

Well if you notice I haven't updated since... late December. Oops. I'm gonna tack that onto my laptop being a bit busted and work getting busy, but I'll catch you up with the big bits. Needless to say; NYC Marathon, 2013 goals, progress, injury, and plans. Ready?

I hadn't talked about the NYC Marathon and I want to put the story down for memory's purpose. Of course I was supposed to do both NYC & Chicago all the way back in 2011, but after Timberman that year, I wanted to get my back taken care of. There goes the registration money (and airfare for Chicago) for both. Ruined goals/dreams. But at least NYC let me defer a year. The 2012 marathon was a debacle, which you can read about here. This was my perspective; Hurricane Sandy hit on Sunday, October 28th with the race on the following Sunday. They were adamant that the race would go on, be a rallying point for the city, blah blah blah. Whatever. To me 1) I didn't have far to go 2) had taken the time off 3) had bought the bus ticket 4) wanted to hang out with my friend Doug/Aya 5) didn't want the race to happen without me. So I took the bus Wednesday night and headed out. I'll never forget crossing the bridge into NYC, city looking all lit up at night, then going slowly through about 10 blocks that was pitch dark, power out. Seeing people wander around outside with flashlights and such seemed like some zombie movie I'd seen. Crazy.

Everything went well Thursday and even into Friday; taking it easy, soft run Friday night and then... Friday afternoon the NYRR CEO Mary Wittenberg got on the TV and cancelled it all. #!@^^& There goes that whole plan. What was I going to do? Word went out online about people going to Central Park and running out 26.2 miles of laps; others heading to Staten Island to help out; still others helping out around. Me? Too p*ssed off. Infuriated. When you plan all year on a race, waking up at 5:30 every morning to run and bust your ass for a race, and then show up to have it cancelled two days before, the feel is.... anger. Hulk producing, lottery ticket ripping, game 7 - overtime losing fury. So what'd I do? Went to the expo to get my 'free' t-shirt. That is a $250 tech tee that I wear quite proudly. On my way out walked by Ms. Wittenberg surrounded by a small possy. I gave her a 1 finger salute in thanks for all her effort.

Don't mistake what I'm saying; I think it should have been cancelled. On Sunday when Sandy hit. Hell, the day before the hurricane. What is a marathon compared to people losing their homes and being displaced? I'm not upset at the people calling bs on the race happening. I'm with you. I just hate they led us on that the race was happening, all the way through Friday before pulling the plug. Whatevs.

As for the post-race mess, I think they did a good job. Perhaps they took to long to come to it, but giving a choice of a refund or guaranteed entry is pretty nice. As of today I'm signed up for the 2013 race. That's good enough for me.

Which leads me to goals for 2013. Had this in my head all of January but hadn't gotten around to writing it down. My goal was a sub 4 hour marathon in November. I think, deep down, I coulda killed that. So now my goal is bigger; sub 3:30 marathon. That's a sub 8 minute mile. Over 26.2 miles. Time to get on it. I think it's doable. I think it'll take a lot of work. Focus solely on running. Sure, I'll bike here and there when it's warm out. I'll try to lift once or twice a week. But running. 40+ miles a week. Killing it. Laying down pavement miles upon miles.

That was going well. January and most of February was just me following through. Got up to 40+ miles a week. Was doing 8 mile runs at about an 8:30 average pace. Feeling good. 10, 13 mile runs on Saturdays. No big deal. But then started doing this bootcamp class at work once a week. Cross training is good, right? That's what the rave is today.

Then one day I was doing 'mountain climbers' (think push-up position, shuffling your legs back and forth like you're 'climbing') and my right ankle started hurting. I toughed it through the rest, but I knew something was off. I went a week still running as normal, but could feel it getting worse. On Tuesday I went to the doctor and he thinks it's just a minor case of achilles tendonitus. He gave me a cortisone shot and diclofenac sodium. It hurt real bad the first few days but today and the yesterday has felt great. I wouldn't say entirely cured; there are a few times, in certain positions, that putting pressure on it I feel a discomfort. But nothing like the sharp pain I was feeling. I haven't ran in what'll be 2 weeks Tuesday, but I'm willing to take the time off. 1) so it's fully healed when I get back on it and 2) I have stuff to do at work that I can use that time for. Hopefully in another week I'll be good.

So back to 2013. Big goal? Sub 3:30 NYC Marathon in November. I'll do the CHaD Half again. Possibly the Spartan Ultra Beast. Probably some 5ks with my office. Definitely a century ride or two with CRW. But sub 3:30 marathon. It's all part of the bigger goal, the bigger dream. The biggest one. The glory I've sought. Beyond finishing a marathon. Beyond finishing an Iron Man.

The Boston Marathon.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

CHaD Hero Half Marathon 2012

Let me begin with the obligatory apology for posting about something that happened weeks earlier. I'm awful, I know. For the third straight year I ran the CHaD Hero Half Marathon in Dartmouth, NH. As it is the only race I do where I raise money, I was excited to have exceeded my original $100 goal and raised $395! You can read about my race in 2010 here and though I can't find an entry about last year's race, trust me, I did it. Last year the rain cancelled the half marathon down to a 5k, but this year the weather was beautiful.
I see me!
As I spent so much time/money/energy in my costume last year, I decided to keep it a bit more simple this time. Also my mom would have killed me if I made her put in the amount of work she did last year. The first year I dressed up at Professor Zoom and last year was a blue lantern Flash, so I wanted to keep with the Flash-theme and chose to go as Jay Garrick. Granted the costume wasn't nearly as crazy/over-the-top as previous years, but I thought it came out pretty good.

Me stretching before the race
If you can't tell from the picture, there is one major setback of this outfit; jeans. Yes, you can look up any picture of Jay Garrick you want and you'll find the guy is running sub-atomic speed in jeans. What the heck? If a fictional superhero can run around the world in jeans, clearly I can do a simple little half marathon in some, right? It seemed like a good idea.

That is NOT a smile
Regarding where I was in training and goals, I was a month removed from Timberman, the half Ironman I did with Aya and a month away from the New York City Marathon (that's a whole other entry to be written). I was feeling pretty good in general and had started focusing my training solely on running after Timberman. I didn't have a specific goal other than trying to keep better than a 9 minute mile. As my goal for NYC was relatively the same and it was only half the distance, I thought that was doable. I had eaten a good helping of my mom's chop suey the night before and got a ride with her and my stepdad.

It's been too long to give a real play-by-play of the day, but I'd say I felt good throughout the run. I kept looking at the mile marker clocks and was pulling eight minute miles at the start, which was more than I expected. I was really doing a good job busting out for the first 6 miles and thought maybe I could average the eight minute pace throughout. Unfortunately more than just general fatigue started to hit me. Those damn jeans started getting weighed down in sweat that had soaked it all. Running in jeans was hard enough; gross, wet, sweaty jeans are even worse. It made it hard to get a full stride as the force of the jeans just wouldn't move along like they did at the start. My pace definitely started to slow towards the end, but fortunately as it was getting the worst, I caught up to someone I had seen earlier but never thought I'd catch up to. Check out the two of us finishing simultaneously:

Overall I was happy with the results (1:47 time, 8:13 pace) considering how I had been focusing on running for only a month or so, was wearing jeans, and how incredibly hot out it was. It made me think an 8mm marathon would be possible with more training, focus, and actual running shorts. But it was a great day and for a great cause so I'm anxious to do it again next year.

 155  47/77   M2029 1:47:33  8:13 Greg Chick     27 M    Farmington NH

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Timberman 2012 - Wait I Did That?

It's been over two months since I did the Ironman 70.3 Timberman and I have yet to write about it. Maybe I've just been too busy. Maybe I just don't feel like writing about it. Or perhaps, after two races within a month of each other accumulating over 200+ miles of arduous challenge, I've become numb to it all. There's a chance that the fire that triathlon used to light under me has been extinguished and writing about it will only bring the ashes of it into focus. I don't know what I'm about to find.
Before the "fun" started
Going into the year 2012, or really since I finished Timberman last year, my goal and passion has been directed towards one goal; completing the Ironman. Not the half, 70.3 type, but the full on, leave no stone unturned, balls to the wall Ironman triathlon. And I did it. You can read my whole shebang on that here if you want, as even 4 months later I don't care much for dwelling on it. When you spend nearly every waking moment thinking, working, and pushing towards a goal, once you get past it it just doesn't seem like something to dwell on much. To me, there is always the next, the new, that which hasn't been obtained yet. More on that later.
My nephew Nathan before the race, laughing at what I'm about to do
I realize what that says makes it seem like I had no interest in doing Timberman this year. That's only partially true. Sure, I was sore, tired, hadn't trained much, and was generally depleted going into it from my Ironman hungover. But there was 1 thing holding me to going through with it; a promise. A promise I made to a good friend over a year ago that I would be there with her, side by side, seeing her to the end. And that's what this was all about, not a race that I did something remarkable, broke through a personal obstacle, or accomplished anything overly amazing. It was supporting a friend and being there for her. But maybe I'm getting ahead of myself.
Actually this is getting ahead of myself
My friend's name is Aya Damary. I met her back in college when I was her orientation leader and we've been friends since. After college she moved to NYC and I came back to Boston. We kept in touch online and chatted now and then, but it was in 2010 when I started talking about the Philadelphia Marathon that I was doing that she (unknowingly) got bit by the endurance sport bug. She kept saying that I was crazy and that she couldn't imagine herself doing anything like that. Nonsense. I am no 'natural' athlete and have worked for everything I've done and know anyone, ANYONE that puts their mind to it can accomplish anything. Aya, already in decent shape, accepted my challenge; train for a 5k. Give yourself all the time you need (I believe she signed up for one 6 months in the future) and train for it. Start small. Build up. Anything is possible.
Sure, this'll be a great time, Aya. TRUST ME.
Over the course of those next 6 months, we spoke online even more than usual, going through all those initial trials and tribulations anyone goes through when they're starting out. Why do my knees hurt? Am I doing this right? Why do my knees hurt? When should I eat? Should I run farther tomorrow? Why do my knees hurt? And of course, she did it. Over the next two years, she kept it up. Sprint triathlon. Olympic. 10ks. Everyday, at the gym, getting stronger, going fast, lasting longer. Of course I kept training, eventually getting through my two half Ironmans when I finally tossed the idea out to her - both of us doing an Ironman 70.3. I had just finished Timberman in 2011 and told her we should do it. We signed up within a week of registration opening for the next year - giving us both a year to train for it.
Aya's thinking 'well, the swim wasn't that bad...'
Of course we went through the year, pushing and training to prepare. Me more for the full Ironman, Aya for the biggest physical challenge she'd ever faced. Finally the day came, Aya, her fiance Alex, and friend Mark came to support her. My family showed up - even my old man came! We were ready for the big day. Well, that's not true. I was exhausted and depleted from the full Ironman less than a month previous; she consumed by the usual butterflies and paranoia that accompanies being on the precipice of an anticipated life changing event. We met up, hung out on the beach, stretched, and got ready. Because of our separate age groups, Aya got a 30 minute head start on me. As anyone knows, I'm an awful swimmer, so I knew I'd have my work cutout trying to catch her. What was cool was we were able to arrange to have bib numbers 70 & 71 (70.3 in the middle - cut isn't it?) so I knew when I got to transition she was out on the road. Having done a full Ironman and this exact course the year before, I felt confident enough to really bust my balls and push the pace. As I started winding up the final hill back towards town, maybe no more than 8 miles left, who do I come upon?
She did not look like this when I passed her...
I came up behind her to check in. How you feeling? You realize we're just about 2/3 of the way through? You're going to do this! Aren't you glad I convinced you to do this? She was happy to see me, and after the essential words were said, she was adamant - "get going Chick, keep it up!" What a good friend, not letting me rest on my laurels and having me not do my best. So I pushed on. At that point I thought my swim was ok, bike was pretty good, and was hopeful for the run. Sadly, only the first 1/4 of the run went well, I hit the wall and bonked bad. There was intermittent walking/running throughout the rest of the race. The run course is a 2 lap, back/forth affair. Theoretically I should have passed Aya at least 2 or 3 times. But I didn't see her going into my last turn back towards the finish. Then I saw her. We both stopped, hugged, and checked in. She said she took a long time at transition, almost didn't go out. I told her I bonked and was doing awful. We both encouraged each other and went on our ways. I can't speak for her, but knowing she was ok and was primed to finish gave me a boost and I finished pretty strong. She did too.
Smiling at the end!
After all the IMs and chats back and forth, we had both accomplished what we set out to. For her, her first Ironman 70.3 and for me, just being there for someone who actually thought I was crazy. I hope she and others realize now that doing all these races and whatnot isn't something crazy; it's a passion and commitment, a channeled focus on accomplishing something that at one point seemed impossible. I wish more people realized that. If I can set my mind to doing something crazy like a marathon or Ironman, what else can I do in this life, if I aim for it?

I have a cousin that lives in Florida that I don't get to see/speak to often that has jumped into this too - she's going to do the Disney Half Marathon in January and I told her if she does it, I'll sign up for the full Disney Marathon a year later with her. I did a 5k with my office earlier this summer and hope to do another one next year. It's really cool to pay it forward and get other people into the fun and excitement that running/triathlon is.

Team Aya at the end
I have been clear to everyone that after doing Ironman Lake Placid, it was one and done. Too much work, too much commitment. I have nothing left to prove. There are other things to work towards, other goals to accomplish. It takes too much time to train for one and I don't honestly think I could get any better. But I told Aya, while we were scarfing down dinner/dessert after Timberman that night, I saddled up next to her, stared at our finisher medals, and whispered, "if you ever want to do a full Ironman, I'll be there. Sign me up." I remember how big her eyes got, she let out this big sigh. I tried to calm her down, saying with a big smile, "but no rush."

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

"Greg Chick... you.... are... an.... Ironman!"

I never thought I'd hear those words - a crazy idea I had as I crossed the line of the Philadelphia Marathon back in 2010. It had just taken me 2 years to realize the dream of becoming a marathon runner and I needed a new goal and hey, what's crazier after having done a marathon than doing the Ironman? And so I sought it out -

My girlfriend Meaghan, my mother, and I left NH on Friday early in the morning and took the 5.5 hour drive to Lake Placid, stopping once in VT for a break. I was pretty upset about having to be there Friday to check-in; I feel like paying $600+ should get you able to check in on the day before the race, but who am I to second guess? Athletes got the standard race chips & swimcaps, but I was pleasantly surprised to see the backpack we got. This huge transition bag/backpack is pretty sweet - I'll have to post a pic. Add on top of that the hat and tshirt we got, and I almost don't feel completely violated by the crazy pricetag of registration (did I mention it cost $600+?)

The city of Lake Placid is a quaint, pretty little lakeside town that just happened to host two winter Olympic games. Reminds me of Portsmouth, NH - a lot of mom and pop shops, pubs, restaurants, stores, etc. I loved the atmosphere - traffic never got too bad throughout the weekend, despite athletes running/biking up and down both sides of the street trying to warm up before the race. The people, despite them being native NY'ers, were all very kind, upbeat, and fun. Lots of people asking if I was racing and wishing me good luck. Unlike the two half Ironmans I've done, this was a town that was fully behind the race.

Saturday, the day before the race, went pretty well. I dropped off my bike into the transition area along my two bags (one for the bike, one for the run) in a special area just for hanging them. One lesson learned is not to do this until race day; it did lightly mist/rain that night and though I didn't have anything damaged, there was no reason to bring everything the day before. The three of us did some shopping (both ladies getting sweaters for the next day's expected late night chill), Meaghan did a wine tasting, and I did the expected carbo load. The Italian restaurant we went to was great; it was one of the cheaper places but boy, was that chicken alfredo fantastic! Look at the pic of the view, too; this place was right on the water. Getting to eat my pasta, watching the sun go down over Mirror Lake the day before the race really calmed me down before race day.

We went to bed at about 9pm to wake up at 4am so we could get a decent parking spot. Obviously a big lesson would be to register a hotel at the same time as I registered for the race (don't wait until 6 months before the race; all the good spots are taken by then) so that you don't have to bother with this crap. I looked at envy at the athletes who were waking up and looking at their porches at the race start who had clearly booked the nice hotel in the center of town. Regardless, we got a nice spot and I had plenty of time to look over my transition bags (including dropping off my glasses), inflate my tires (the valve broke off and though I should have changed the tube, I gambled and let it stay), and get to the start line.

As I sat there in the lake, waiting for the start of the race, I had to define for myself what my goal was. It would be crucial for me as it'd be the measuring stick at the end of the day and why put so much time and effort into it without having an idea of what I wanted. Hearing Mike Reilly say on the loudspeaker "the only thing you can control today is your attitude" made me decide then and there that all I wanted to do was finish. I'm not a professional athlete and truthfully I'm no top age grouper - if I'm being honest with myself I just want to be someone who can say they've finished. No more no less.

Going into the race, the one thing I told everyone was how worried I was about the swim. Well what a relief it was when I learned that it wasn't a 2 hour 10 minute cutoff, but a 2 hour 20 minute cutoff! Hey, 10 minutes is huge when you're as awful as I am. Before the cannon went off, I hung in the far back corner with the goal of waiting a minute or so and then going. I didn't run into any groups and tried to stay far from the famous cable the first lap. I did accidentally get a bit too close to the cable at the end of the first lap and felt someone swim/climb on top of me for a split second and had just enough time to see the guy go by, silver cap (meaning a pro) and in awe of how fast he was. The second lap I knew if anyone was left on the course they were as bad as me, so I just followed the cable all the way around. Though I somewhat 'mailed it in' during the second half of the 2nd lap, I was pretty happy with my 2:01 finish (not getting under two hours is annoying, but not enough to spoil the day for me).

The bike went equally well. As is usual for me, I started the bike with major stomach cramps from ingesting too much lake water. With enough concentration and deep breathing, I was able to nix that after an hour or so. I also followed my stolen nutrition plan from a BTT friend; drink water every 15 minutes, gu every 45, and gatorade after the gu. Following that kept me pretty strong throughout the race. What was great is that though I was passed by nearly everyone in the swim, I was a much better cyclist than alot of the people that passed me; I spent the whole bike leg passing people. During some of the out and backs, I'd pick one person and focus on catching up to him/her and, with few exception, getting it done. I remember going through town, at the end of the first lap, and feeling great. There I was, done with the swim and halfway through the bike, and honestly I was in good shape. With a 3:32 first lap time, I was pretty happy with where I was going.

The bike course, to me, is basically a huge downhill, a flats/rolling hills, and then the famous baby/mama/papa bear section. What went wrong was during that first downhill on the first lap, I almost got in an accident. To this day I'm still not sure what happened, but I do know that my water bottle was leaking, wetting my rear tire, and as I was hitting my top speed (anywhere from 30-40mph) my rear tire started fishtailing. I stopped completely to look everything over. My rear brakes did look a bit worn, but the rest of the race I was pretty hesitant to hit that max speed on the downhill. Probably hit me for 10-30 minutes as there was a significant amount of downhills throughout the race. In either case, I finished the bike in 7:24, which to me, was fantastic. My half Ironmans I finished the bike around 3.5 hours, so doubling that and only adding 24 minutes? Incredible.

Then comes the run. I always wondered what I would feel like after all that swimming and biking and have to say to myself 'time to go for a little run.' Well, I felt pretty bad. In every bike ride I've ever gone on, the same things always hurt, in order of severity; 1)hands 2)butt 3)neck and 4)back. The good thing about this is that none of these are really involved in the run, so I have no trouble getting into a rhythm. Unfortunately, for the first time ever, the part of me that hurt the most coming off the bike was my feet. I don't know if I was hammering the hills too hard, holding myself off the saddle too much, or just the distance and/or general fatigue, but my feet hurt in the mid-sole pretty severely.

I started off the run pretty well. If you look at my pace online, I'm doing a solid 12mm through the first 16 miles. Whereas with the swim I just wanted to get in under the cutoff, with under 2 hours being a bonus and the bike being somewhere near 2x my 1/2 Ironman time, for the run I decided a 'bonus' goal would be to get in under 5 hours. That would require an 11~12mm pace. If you had asked me through mile 16, I would have told you I still could do it. I was stopping at water stations to get water, ice, sponges, and the occasional gatorade, but otherwise I was still going. I walked here and there, but I was predominantly running most of the course. Then around mile 16 my feet caught up with me. The pain from the bike along with the additional running fatigue caught up to me. It felt like I was walking/running on knives. I remember walking from mile 17 to 18 and saying I'd then try to jog to 20. I did that. Then I walked to mile 21 and though I'd try to jog to 24, which I did (the numbers on these aren't precise, but the general idea is I always made my goal of running what I said I would, often exceeding what I set).

Unfortunately, by mile 24, where you get back into town and hit a huge hill towards the out and back that goes to the finish, I couldn't go any further. At that point I was walking, slowly at that. Painfully. Every few steps I had to stop. I had my watch and knew I had more than 2 hours to walk 2 miles, and felt assured that I had worked hard all day for that luxury. I really was helped by the volunteers and fans - I couldn't believe how many people were still out at aid stations, around 9, 10, 11pm when they had to turn on flood lights, to help out. I took what I was given and told each and every one of them how thankful I was. There were still families out on their yards, sitting in lawn chairs and cheering athletes on. My tux kit got alot of cheers and everyone was so supportive. It came in really handy when I got to mile 24, downtown, and had to walk most of the way. Everyone cheered me on - it wasn't a 'here's a loser barely able to finish' but a 'lets get this guy home!' typea feel. I'll never forget that.

As I rounded back to town and the last 1/4 of a mile, I saw Meagan and my mom, who apparently had lost track of where I was as my chip wasn't working. I was walking at the time and told them I'd run through the finish. I winded the final corner as I heard Mike Reilly start to say "Greg Chick from Farmington, NH - You Are An Ironman!" as I ran to the finish and did my trademark mid air feet click (I hope the picture comes out and shows it!) There were two volunteers whose sole job was to collect me right after that and help me get situated. Asking if I was alright, help me get my chip off, get my picture taking, and help me reach my family. That was nice. I swallowed 4 pieces of pizza so fast I honestly don't remember the taste - but we had the bike and transition gear packed in the car and I was asleep faster than I can believe.

What stinks is Meag and I woke up the next morning at 4am to get in line at the merchandise shop to get my finishers jacket. We were one of the first 10 in line, which was huge as by the time the shop opened the line was 150+ deep and they couldn't have had more than 50 jackets to sell. We were in and out in under 10 minutes (I'll post a pic of me in the jacket soon, but needless to say I left with the jacket, jersey, and shorts I wanted going into the weekend).

We drove 4.5 hours to see The Dark Knight Rises in iMAX in Hooksett (a fitting movie, as the finale to a trilogy, to my Ironman experience), dropped my mom off in NH, then rode home. I was in bed by 10pm. Finally.

I received so many messages before, during (from my cell phone's records anyways) and afterwards I really feel sorry if I didn't respond to someone. Knowing there were people all over tracking me and following my progress definitely boosted me throughout the race. As I said the swim, bike, and more than 1/2 of the run went well, but inevitably it became extremely difficult to continue. I think what the Ironman does, bluntly, is test your limits. For an average person like me, to try to get through all of it, I had to challenge myself and see just how much I had to give. The first thing that burned away was everyone's expectations; to come that far, hype up the event, and face the backlash of people who'd have called me out if I didn't finish was the first fear that I dropped. When you've gone 125 miles over 13 hours that's the easy thing to forget about. The next thing and, to this moment still hardest thing to forget about was the 'bonus' goals I had; a 5 hour marathon, specifically. It was pretty clear 20 miles in it wasn't going to happen and that was hard to accept. Eventually, when I walked the last two miles, when I broke down at the final turn around, I remembered what I had said to myself that morning, sitting in the lake as I waited for the starting cannon. All I had control of was my attitude and the goal I had in mind. To finish. To become an Ironman. It was that realization that got me through the end. That helped me jog that little extra 1/4 mile at the end and jump up over the finish line. It's what helped me achieve that dream and goal I set two years earlier when I crossed the line in Philly.

Some people have asked me what is next. I said to myself during the course and afterwards to my mom and Meagan that I don't see myself doing another full Ironman again. Unless a friend that I'm trying to motivate up to that level does one, I don't see it happening. While I enjoy triathlons and do have a particular fondness for the half Ironmans (which I do think I'll keep doing year after year) I think the full is a bit beyond me. That's okay - I've done it once and that's good enough for me. But I don't have anything more to prove to myself. As for what's next - I think I'll know after the New York City Marathon in November. If I can make a big dent in my PR (4:14) then I may dedicate myself to qualifying for Boston (I honestly think I can get under 4 hours easily). I've also considered shooting for an ultra-marathon, starting with a half-ultra at the end of next year or early 2014. I've also done 2 of the 4,000 footers in NH/White Mountains with my friends and may consider this my next big goal (read more about it here). Time will tell. I have Timberman in a month (which in some ways I'm excited for as I want to really push it, knowing I've done the full but also I'm sore as hell right now) and then NYC Marathon in November. I'll evaluate from there.

To anyone reading this that has supported me, tracked me on race day, or sent me well wishes; thank you. I felt so flooded with messages of support and congrats after the race I don't know where to start - thanks for reading any part of this and supporting me. I don't know where the road will take me next, but after Sunday I know anything is possible.

PS - I'll post a bunch of pictures both here and on FB once they become available - stay tuned.