Ironman Racine 70.3 Race report

 

It was dark, somewhere in the distance an owl hooted. The warm breeze associated with the Cayman climate at this hour was none existent. My eyes were still heavy with sleep having gone through an all day bike mending marathon session the day before. Something that is becoming all too familiar when traveling with Danny Cummings. Our mission to arrive in the nether regions of Wisconsin were somewhat thwarted by a 14 hour travel day missing connecting flights, but thank all the gods our bikes and equipment had made it to the race start with us.

Our hotel in Racine was palatial and not what we were expecting. Its situation on the shores of Lake Michigan made it very idyllic and the sunshine and clear skies of the Saturday before the race left us no clue as to what was in store the next morning.

I love arriving at race destinations the buzz and atmosphere around an endurance event is like no other. There is respect from all competitors, respect that comes from the knowledge that you have put in time and made sacrifices to be here, the cost itself is a major part of that. To give non-triathletes a sense of what that cost is I’ll break it down quite simply:

“It would be cheaper to run a formula 1 racing team than do an ironman”

Ok I may be over egging it slightly but having winced at the $375 charge to get my bike on a plane with me (on top of our flight charges, hotel, car/truck hire, food, mechanical and various miscellaneous costs) its no wonder people only do these things once! For me however this was my 3rd such event and probably the one I was least prepared for. Having had travel interrupt my training schedule followed by a nasty chest inflection that I only just managed to control the week prior to the race, my prep and fitness were really an unknown. This was not going to be a PB for me but more like a battle to the finish.

Traveling with highly temperamental bikes (i.e the parts get broken in transit) meant that on the Saturday we spent a good portion of it readying the equipment and driving to a few bike shop to get spares or repairs, no bother its part of the fun and making sure that your racing buddies (in my case 4 of us from Cayman) are all set for the next days adventure. The non-fun part is handing over yet more cash for said spares or repairs!

Race Morning:

4am – Alarm goes off – I think I got to sleep around 1am – bad times, but I just find it incredibly hard to sleep the night before a race, my brain is just wired with excitement and anticipation – Will I have a good swim, can I run with my bad chest…. On it goes….

4:15 – Second Alarm goes off just in case, but I am up first of all stretching then trying to force some toast and oatmeal down, its difficult, mainly I’m just trying to wake the gastro-intestinal tract to make sure I can “loose a few extra pounds” because no one wants to use a porta potty on race day… its seriously not fun….

We set off for Bike check in around 5am the sun just raising over the harbor it looked glorious – we took a few pics – it was the calm before the storm. Once we had checked in and got our stations ready the sun had given way to a dark sky filled with ominous clouds the wind had picked up and although we couldn’t see the beach from where we were we could see the flags, lets just say the poles were not standing to attention. Hummmm this isn’t looking good. Then over the speaker the announcer informs us that overnight the water temperature has dropped to 54 degrees….. my god that’s cold. Considering our training takes place in the warm waters of the Caribbean I know this is going to hurt. Danny and I had braved the waters the day before when they were at 64 degrees and it had taken your breath away you could not swim sustained in that without a wetsuit for more than 5 mins tops. People were looking anxious, I was feeling anxious and to top it off I had now caught site of the beach where large waves were waiting to great us into the water. The announcer informed us that the start was going to be delayed while they watched a particular weather front come in.

Groans were heard all around, you see our fueling plan starts when you wake up, it’s a science, if you know your going to be exercising vigorously for 5+ hours then eating becomes a science. I had taken on slow burning carbs my drinks on my bike were all prepared with various gels and supplement’s. But we are on a time line, I know my wave is/was due to start at 7:43 therefore I know roughly what time I would finish the swim and thus start on the energy drinks fueling towards the half marathon. If you burn your breakfast off before you start your fueling plan has to change. You’re going to need more on your bike. It may not make a huge difference but its stuff like this that can get in your head during a 2-3hr bike ride and leave you wondering whether that stitch on the run is due to needing more fuel etc… Anyways… The heavens darkened the weather worsened and all participants were told to take cover and seek shelter as severe thunderstorms headed our way. The Swim start was cancelled. A tough call by any race organizer but the right one, it was simply too dangerous.

Once the weather had cleared the race started with the bike and was followed by the half marathon run. It was not what we wanted but we were here and we were going to do this. We had all gone back to the hotel where a good breakfast had been eaten you know bacon, sausage egg…. Just what you want prior to doing 4 hours of exercise! The race didn’t start for us till around 11am so fueling plans were out the window it was a case of make do and get it done.

For me that was no problem – I went off with a bang with the pent up energy of a cheetah being released back into the wild I had a great bike ride and felt pretty good, that was until around 2 miles into the run when I revisited that big breakfast with very little warning! At the same time that I was regurgitating said bacon and sausage did I not get cramp in both quads causing me to fall over just as the medical cart went passed me, triggering what can only be described as a very panicked code “a” someone collapsed response. After several reassurances that I was ok I hobbled back off down the course much to their surprise. There is a bit more to this story but will leave that for the beer debrief.

IMR70.3 bike

This setback obviously affected my run and it was a disappointing 2 hour 40 half marathon. But at least I knew what went wrong!

I finished the 2016 Racine Ironman 70.3 cheered on by the other members of our team who also did outstandingly. I never tire of the good sportsmanship and friends I have made whilst doing these endeavors and am now in full training mode to complete the Miami 70.3 Ironman in 12 weeks time. Thanks for following thanks for the support and please do give what you can to the Mountains and Marathons challenge in support of the Cayman Islands “Have a Heart” Foundation. http://www.mm4hh.com IMR70.3 run fin

The Chicago Marathon 2015 – Part 2 of the 640 Challenge – An introspective

It was dark, somewhere in the darkness an owl hooted, ok it was not an owl but the alarm clock in our hotel room going off at 5am! Actually 5am is probably a lay in compared to the 4am training runs, but sh!t the day was finally here! We had survived training injury free (Well relatively Kym had fallen over taking all the skin off her knees only 4 weeks prior!) we had survived the 12 hr travel, 2 flights numerous security checks and the bags had arrived. The hotel had our reservation and all of the worries associated with the trip just melted away because now was the big one. Now was the day, cometh the moment. 26.2 miles of who knows what.

For someone who has never run a marathon before this was the day I would check that bucket list item, I had always been fascinated by endurance running and secretly always wanted to do one but had switched the marathon off to watch football after 10 minutes, because lets face it, it was very dull to watch on TV. When I had tipped the scale at 300+ lbs my dreams of doing a marathon we a distant memory, there was no way within 12 months would I be heading towards a start line.

We picked Chicago simply because people who had done it before said it was EPIC. They said the crowd will push you along, the city loves the marathon! I have to say they were not wrong.

So having woken with the realization that it was go time I jumped out of bed and immediately ordered coffee and oatmeal from room service. We needed to be at the corals for 7am so that gave us about an hour and a half to brew for a … lets call it a solid constitutional. Bowel movements and marathons are the thing of nightmares, if you haven’t gone before the race you are most certainly going to need to go during it, you do not want to have to visit a marathon day portaloo! So stretching and coffee were my remedies of choice and thank the lord we had lift of. A few pounds lighter Kym and I headed toward the start line along with the 40,000+ other people giving this running thing a go.

I had been honest about my time, as mentioned in previous blog posts I have what I call a steady plod its not going to break any records but it will get me to the finish. I had said I would do it in under 5.30mins so into Corral G I was put. Kym on the other hand wanted to do a qualifying time for Boston which is something like 3:45 for her age group. An ambitious target for her first marathon. So with emotional hugs and lots of good lucks we parted at gate 3, her to run her race, me to conquer mine.

Of course being in a coral near the back meant I had a bit of waiting to do but I enjoyed soaking up the atmosphere chatting with their runners and just being thankful that I was there.

I heard the announcer send off corral C where Kym was and sent up a silent prayer to whoever listens wishing her an amazing race. At 8:15 I crossed that anticipated start line, I was off. Wooooshhhhhh a release of adrenaline, I had planned my playlist so that I had one of my favorite running tracks playing as I crossed the start – AC/DC Thundersturck if you have not heard the opening guitar riff of this song I dare you to listen to it and not be moved…

As we passed under the first overpass I think half of the runners stopped for a pee! Simply hilarious! As we headed out into the city Chicago came alive, the noise of the crowd reaches you first and it never leaves. I had my name on my running shirt and therefore complete strangers would shout go Chris! Your looking great! You can do this! If you ever want to see the amazing side of human nature in action go and stand along the route of a marathon. Not only is the support from these people amazing but every single runner is running for a reason whether its for themselves or for a cause there is a reason and the inner battles that take place along the 26.2 mile route are the things of legend and movie sets.

As I “hi-fived” the crowd I  read motivational posters there are a few which stuck out in my mind:

“This is the worst parade ever” made me laugh

“The Kenyans are drinking all the beer hurry!”

“Never trust a fart”

“If a marathon was easy it would be called your mother!”

Best-Marathon-Signs-2015

There were so many of these and just brilliant support from all the crowd which was some 1.5million people! Chicago you represented!!

Running through the 13.1 mile sign letting us know we had officially done halfway also marked the furthest race I had done thus far which again lifted the spirits knowing that each step now meant a step closer to the finish! It also meant a step closer to the furthest I had run in training, about 16 miles.

I had followed a training plan but it had to also include swimming and cycling in preparation for the upcoming 70.3 Ironman only 10 days after the marathon, plus a trip to vegas had also got in the way! To top it all I simply got bored of running on my own in the dark in 100 degree heat. So I had assured myself that I had the mental ability to push myself an extra 10+ miles on the day… I hope.

I think I hit my wall about mile 18 – the legs had started to seize up and my quads felt like lead weights – I fuelled with a gel took a couple of Tylenol washed down with Gatorade and had a conversation with myself. “You only have 8 miles left, that’s not far, your not really in any pain just enjoy the day look someone’s giving out bananas got get one….. That’s how I got over my wall, simply talking to myself and picking out something of interest up ahead and saying “go on lets go see what that is. Then I would laugh at myself as I arrived a sign saying wine only 6 miles away.

20 Miles – I got a text from Kym – “Done!!! –no idea on time think 3:40!! Hope you are ok thought of you all the way.. let me know how your doing!! Love you xx” – I fired off a quick congratulatory text saying I was at mile 20. I shed a tear out of pure joy for her achieving her goal that she had worked so hard to accomplish. An amazing time sooo pleased for her. It motivated me I wanted to see her at the finish and share that hug of relief that we had done it, the training had paid off and wow!!

I plodded on like this until around mile 22 – this is where it got really tough. Allot of people were walking and struggling, I didn’t want to struggle I can do this, I don’t want to walk but yet I’m walking – Your mind starts going a little crazy you think you are running when actually your are at a slow crawl! I crawled until mile 24 – then a sign said 2 miles to go, that was it, I was running home I was going to beat this bad boy – I was going to run a marathon. 50 meters later I was walking again! The legs had gone and it was all I could do to keep moving one foot in front of the other. Which is how the weight loss had started. Put one foot in front of the other and move. Just move. 1 mile. The crowds were thick here screaming at everyone telling us how great we are, telling us we were nearly home. 800 meters said the sign, I’m not walking now, I have a slow jog on and I’m picking up speed, I see the finish, I know Kym is waiting ready to celebrate both our achievement.

I crossed the line. 5 hrs 19 mins

Wow its done – where is kym…. My father text me my time, he had been following on-line along with my mum and kyms parents plus friends here in Cayman. A flood of texts came in all very humbling and amazing to receive. Again people can be so thoughtful, this meant so much to Kym and I plus the charity and these people supported us. Amazing.

Kym and I met up and had our hug and photos – we talked of our individual races our own struggles and high points and where we hit our lows. Each of us inspiring the other. We began the 1.5 mile walk back to the hotel. It hurt, but I didn’t care.

We had done it.

The 640 Challenge continues in earnest as I get back on the bike and in the water this weekend in preparation for the Ironman 70.3 in Miami next weekend.

I spoke with the legend Derek Haines this week who completed 6 Marathons in 6 Months at the young age of 66 and he did Paris and London within a week of each other. He actually went quicker in his second marathon, which is simply stunning and quite inspirational.

So there is hope that my legs will recover from the Chicago marathon in time! Thus far only 3 toenails have turned black, I will spare you the pictures as some things should not be shared! A great line from Mr Deeds “The hideousness of that foot will haunt my dreams…”

For someone who has only just scratched the surface of endurance events The last triathlon being the sprint triathlon I have certainly jumped in with both feet going straight for the 70.3 distance Ironman.

The euphoria of finishing my fist marathon has definitely given way to the dread of this upcoming challenge. However the sense of achievement in finishing the marathon can only be heightened by the possible completion of an ironman event. I doubt it will lead its way into the full ironman but for this year with 2 more challenges ahead it will have to do!

I’m doing these events and challenges in support of two wonderful causes – the Life foundation here in Grand Cayman which provides literacy and learning for those that require support. The other cause is the Guatemala literacy Project a simply epic sustainable program that helps beat the cycle of poverty through education in Gutemala. I currently support two children through this project by paying for their schooling. The letters they now write and hope for their future is heart warming. Until you have seen 3rd World poverty up close and personal its hard to imagine what these families go through. Everyone can make a difference.

So I know we are all asked to give a plenty to various great causes. I can’t tell you this one is greater than any other. But I can tell you your money makes a difference, plus it truly helps me get across these finish lines!

Please support: 640Challenge

Up Next!!!! 640 Challenge art 3
Up Next!!!! 640 Challenge part 3

Breaking your cherry…..(marathon style)

T-Minus 5 days until the start of my first marathon – Chicago – There are a million questions going round in my head and for anyone who has ever trained for a marathon or any endurance race they are they following:

Have I trained enough
Have I trained right
What if I get cramp
What if I need the toilet
What if I don’t finish!
What if I’m tired before I start as my coral is near the back!
What if What if What if…..

I seriously have run out of running Mojo, its supposed to be a glorious taper time…. but I cant even be bothered to run the 3 mile taper runs this week! Its a real force to put the trainers on a get out the door! I just want it to be over! But I also want to enjoy it and its way too late to worry about the training. I’ve got up to 16 mile runs, I know its 10 miles short of the distance but I was soooo bored running in 90 degree heat and I didn’t feel it was lack of fitness it was more lack of motivation. I live on a small island so the scenery whilst beautiful is the same and when you have to run in the dark (as its too hot for distance running in the day) there is not much to see. I have listened to all of my music so many times that Im sure i’m not even listening to it anymore. Therefore I have run out of running mojo. Yet I am excited for this coming weekend! I am now committed to the fact that my time wont be quick, in fact it would rival that of a slug wading through glue, a determined slug at that and thats where I think Chicago will come into its own. The crowds the scenery, the other runners, the atmosphere will hopefully allow me to forget that at 17 miles this is further than I have ever run before. That at 18 miles my legs will be hurting, That at 19 miles there are still 7 more to go! So please Chicago if you see a man wearing a 640 challenge running top on with the name Chris on cheer loud for me I will be a hurting but determined slug.

Ticking the marathon bucket list box whilst doing it for a great cause is also the most motivation I will need on the day! http://www.facebook.com/640challenge part 2 here I come!

Be your own superhero

In 1983 a woman named Mary Manning a shop worker in Dunn stores in Dublin (kind of like marks and spencer or Macy’s ) started a strike that would allow her to meet world leaders like nelson Mandela, archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Irish prime minister and many others. What did she do?

She refused to sell Cape oranges.

You see at that time in South Africa there was apartheid, and her shop workers union had said they could abstain from selling goods that supported Apartheid. So she started a movement by saying no to cape orange sales. She went on strike for 2.5 years before the Irish government finally supported her action and embargoed South African goods that supported apartheid. She was only joined in her strike by 9 others. But what she and her fellow strikers achieved was simply heroic and worthy of super hero status.

But what intrigued me was why would a woman living thousands of miles away in a different country stand up for someone else.

She didn’t do it for fame or fortune she did it because to her it was a way she could make a difference.

I’m sure many of you have seen the film “the blind side” about the young African American (Michael Oher) who was homeless and taken in by the Toughie family in the mid west. There is a point in the biography and a great point in the film that shows you the moment when someone says… I can change this…

The point in the blind side is when Leanne Toughie (played by Sandra Bullock) looks back at Michael and tells her husband to turn the car around. She didn’t know or could have foreseen how this small action would lead to her eventually adopting and supporting this boy it was for her just the right thing to do.

So recently Emma Watson used this quote in an address to the United Nations: “if not me who if not now when” And I wondered did people knowingly run this quote through their head when they make these life-altering decisions. None of them thus far knew it was going to be life altering but you understand my point.

“No one else is going to do this thing so do I care about it enough to do it?”

Many people look back and these deeds and think yep great wow but I never get the opportunity to do something amazing and I would say you do you just keep missing it!

That’s quite a bold statement.

Think about it – you have had opportunities in your lives right now that could turn you into a super hero, but you either didn’t recognize it or were not passionate enough about making a change, taking a stance or you just didn’t have the time to take it further….

That’s ok, we can’t do everything, there simply isn’t time but how do you recognize something you want to be passionate about?

Someone asked me about 7 years ago what I was passionate about?

I listed a whole bunch of things I liked but they pressed me. Ok but what really makes you passionate… I didn’t know and it wasn’t until I moved abroad that I realized I was passionate about adventure. Trying something knew, having experiences. You see I believe a passion is different to a hobby or doing something you like when you allow that thing to change your life or define you.

When I first met Derek Haines a British man who has lived in Grand Cayman for many years and now calls it home. I had no idea what I would learn from him.

I learnt that you do not have to be extraordinary to achieve something amazing. Derek was simply a man with a purpose. His passion is running and he uses that passion to support causes that he feels benefit others. So when at 66 he decides to run 6 marathons in a year I thought he was bonkers.

He raised over $1million and brought a whole community together that now has a the funds to build its own hospice care facility.

But whilst the fund raising is great that’s not what made him a super hero to me. It was two things:

he made it happen
he inspired me to put one foot in front of the other and start moving
Just over a year ago I tipped the scales at 310lbs

In the last 12 months I have completed 2 triathlons, 2 half marathons, a half iron man, and a whole bunch of 5 & 10 k races – I also lost 60+ lbs

I am alive again. Cayman, Derek a few close friends and my wife saved my life. I was destined for a heart attack. A sedentary life which would have cut short my passion. They are super heroes to me and they don’t even know it.

Derek was also a member of Rotary which is a service club, what I mean by that is they get together and organize projects that benefit the community and others. They identify the need. It’s up to you whether you take part.

Derek was part of a group that have been traveling to Guatemala as part of rotary for a number of years. I decided to join the group this year and 9 of us went on a self funded trip to Guatemala as part of the GLP.

Guatemala is a country less than a few hours flight time from us here. Yet the poverty in the rural areas are 3rd world. Until you have seen 3rd world poverty up close and personal it cannot be described.

The GLP tries to break the cycle of poverty by providing schooling, books and compute centers to schools and children that otherwise would not have access to it. It’s been going 17 years. It works.

Before I went – I learnt that most of the group who have been on the trip sponsor a child through school and the program. A friend who was going suggested I sponsor a child before I went as I would get to meet them and it would be a fantastic experience. So I did it costs less than one meal out per month and yet it changes this child’s life, when you do the math it’s a no brainer.

So what do all these examples have in common?

You have to put yourself out there in order to experience something new.
Only you can make it happen.
There are superhero’s amongst us their identities hidden to only those that they have affected.
You don’t have to wear a cape to be a superhero.
So you can be the difference without knowing it, we have so much opportunity right in front of us. Unplug – talk – go see – have an adventure because if I hadn’t tried something like the Guatemala Literacy Program my two boys might still be working in the fields for $2 a day. To them I am Batman.

An Individual Can Make A Difference!

If your sat there thinking well that’s not something I can affect change in, I would bet you serious money that you would be wrong.

I have just returned from a trip to Guatemala to see how the Guatemala Literacy project actually works. I am a member of a local Rotary club here and as a club we support this project as part of our international assistance program. A number of friends in the club have also supported this project personally by sponsoring a child to go to school.

I have never really been involved with these sorts of project as I was of the opinion that its not something I can see so is it really having an effect? However I did sign up to support a child through school and was very keen to go and experience where my money goes and does it make a difference!

All I can say is wow! The Co-operative for education and the Guatemala literacy program really is breaking the cycle of poverty through education. We visited the homes of children in the schools, I say homes they were mud huts sleeping 7 to a room. The generosity of the people and schools was overwhelming and the thanks we got for the small assistance we provide made me certain that this is a project I will absolute continue to support.

Until you have seen 3rd world poverty up close and personal your definition of poor will not be enough, when you see how these children and adults endure pure hardship and still smile you will realize that the human spirit is stronger than anything you have imagined before.

Seeing a child go to school because of your support and be able to get a job just because they have finished school when a large percentage don’t in Guatemala totally demonstrates that you the individual made a difference plus gain a friend for life in the child you support and the thanks from the family is so rewarding.

So I urge any organization or individual that want to make a difference with there CSR budget, check out the Guatemala Literacy Project. Its freakin awesome! Check Out http://www.coeduc.org