Friday, March 13, 2015

In the Wake of IM Fortaleza

In the moments following crossing the finish line of Ironman Fortaleza, I met up with my Ironbuddy Hal, got my medal, saw Felipe, looked for food, took some goofy pictures and crashed.  Hal and I sat down and for the first time and I realized how much trouble my feet were in.  I knew I had blisters. I knew they hurt during the race, but the adrenaline and excitement of the race has ended and now I was left with the reality that my feet were f*cked.

I had to do some house keeping stuff like get Bella and my gear bags and of course find a place that serves Bloody Marys.  Hal and I managed our way over to the race host hotel as their restaurant was still open and surely they could make a Bloody Mary.  As I was hobbling over, I truly wonderd how I just completed 26.2 miles on these feet that I could barely walk the 300 yds to get to the hotel.
The next few days were spent staying off my feet as best as I could and hydrating.

My IronBuddy, truly was, as he helped me out a tremendous amount.  He even found me a sterlized blister needle to help drain them.  So began my daily routine of waking up, draining my blisters, sitting by the pool, 
hobbling to lunch, returning to the pool, 
draining my blisters, then sitting by the pool until the sun started to come down,

then hobbling to dinner in this quaint beach town in the northernmost part of Brazil called Canoa Quebrada.

then heading to bed but not before one last drain of the fluids from my feet and the blood from under a few of my toenails  (For Jessica's sake, I've spared you photos I took of that but email me off line if you'd like to see!)

I started to feel guilty by being in this beautiful part of the world and here I was just sitting by the pool as I was afraid of getting sand or dirt or anything in my open draining wounds.  So the next morning we got up earlyish and I hobbled my way down to the beach.
We continued to hydrate and recover.


The time came for Hal and I to bid the sleepy little oceanside town of Conoa Quebrada goodbye and off we went to the airport to catch a flight to Rio.  Hal lives just outside of Rio near Priai u Pepe.  We had a few days in Rio, unfortunately it rained most of the time but I was able to catch up with some dear friends (Joana & Isabelafrom back in the Killington days that worked with me.  As well as more recent Brasilian friends 

Marcello and Felipe.  It was great to see every one.  The last day in Brasil the sun came out one last time for me.  It was enough to catch some vitamin D on the beach and grab one last acai con banana, mel y granola.
Hal and I made our way to the airport as he had meetings in the states and was catching a different flight back to the U.S.   This Ironbuddy pulled out one last treat.  Admittance to the VIP lounge where we continued to work on our hydration skills.

I landed back in the states, late Monday night to begin work on Tuesday morning after swim of course.  Half expecting to see a pink slip on my door for taking this trip.  But no such luck.  A few more weeks at the grind an then a quick weekend jaunt to spend Thanksgiving in Florida with both sides of the family was perfect and just what the doctor ordered.

Since November things have been a bit of a struggle for me.  Not too much different than before I went to Fortalzea, predominately because of work.  About a year ago I wrote in this blog titled What am I doing??????  It was basically a 1st Quarter report of 2014 but in it I talked about dealing with stress.  Stress at work, stress at work causing me to miss workouts, poor eating habits, poor sleeping habits.  Again all a by product of the work stresses.  Since my return from Fortaleza that stress has easily magnified itself a countless amount.  I don't mind stress, I actually think I reveal in it.  Remaining calm in a sea of craziness.  I have made a professional career out of turning things that were upside down into successful ventures.  But I think there comes a time when we all must say enough is enough.  I won't use this blog as a forum to "bash" the company I worked for.  They do it to themselves enough daily through the way they treat their employees and guests.  Let's just say that on Jan 20th, enough was enough and I tendered my resignation.  The toll that my spirit, my mind and my body had taken needed to end.  I have been asked a billion times.......What's next Marty?  What are you going to do?  Are you staying in Boulder?  Are you still racing?  and on and on.  My answer.....simply, I don't know.  I didn't have a master plan and something hidden in my back pocket ready to pull out.  I know my spirit, my mind and my body essentially makes up my being and all that who I am.  Those three components when balanced make me feel incredible.  That is what I have been doing.  Taking care of those three essential needs for myself.  Since Jan 20th......Besides loosing 4 toenails....
.....I've gone on bike rides with my friends
and worked on my kisses

Returned to "The Boat" with my godson....

...and enjoyed epic Pow Pow

I've devoted time to my boy...

...and have tried new things with my girl.

I don't know what my future holds or where it will take me.  I know that I have the love and support and belief that I can do anything.  We truly are the only ones stopping us from obtaining our goals.  That doesn't mean every day is sunshine, rainbows and unicorns.  Doubt and fear creep into my mind.  Wanting to do nothing but lie under my sheets enters my thoughts.  I acknowledge those feelings and thoughts but I don't allow them to lead me.  I know I will land exactly where this path, this journey, this life is meant for me to be and I will appreciate the experience and each moment along the way.  SO for now I don't have a ton of plans.  I am seeking the next true great opportunity for myself and my future and keeping my mind and spirit open to all that comes my way.

What about racing and triathlons?

I am not giving up on these just yet.  I enjoy myself way too much to stop having these in my life.  If you have followed my Ironman race blogs, you should/could easily guess I have some unfinished business to attend to.  I am happy and proud of my 1st year racing triathlons.  I think I did a decent job of representing myself as an individual.  I would however like to get back to represent myself better as an athlete though.  I have had people laugh at me with that statement. "Dude, 3 Ironman races in a year, yet alone your 1st year of doing triathlons is a pretty incredible athletic feat."  I hear it, I appreciate it, I don't agree with it.  

What I don't have is a complete summer schedule planned out.  I know the schedule that I would like to do but I am unaware of where geographically life will take me next.  So because of this I have only committed myself to a few larger races.  The Sprints and Olympic distance training races are still up in the air.

So what are those larger races??
June 13th ~ 1/2 Ironman (Boise, Idaho)

August 2nd ~ Ironman Boulder (Boulder, CO)

October 25th ~ Ironman Los Cabos (Los Cabos, MX)
I welcome you to join me in this and my adventures.  Whether it be to continue reading about my journey in this blog or to literally join along as a participant or spectator.  Book your rooms, make the plans, commit. 

I feel a sense of relief that I have been able to regurgitate the last 4+ months in these last few days and pages of my blog.  I look forward to this continual wacky wonderful world and life that we live and the Chapters of the books that we write as we move along our way.

And in the end, it'll all turn out as it it always does.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Warrior Shuffle (IM Fortaleza ~The Run ~ The Finish)

Sitting in transition after the bike, I knew I was in trouble as I took off my bike shoes & socks and looked at my feet.  The bottoms were milky white.  It was like they were not even my feet.  They certainly didn't look like my feet.  They didn't feel like my feet yet they were connected to my legs.  They had to be mine and the ones I had to use to carry me the final 26.2 miles to finish line of the inaugural Fortaleza Ironman.  I grabbed a towel and tried to dry them down and massage them simultaneously.  I then applied as much body glide (anti friction ointment) on them a possible.  I even put a layer of anti blister balm on top of that.  I put on my asics kayano socks that have carried me through numerous marathons and 1,000 of miles of running with no blisters to speak of, except IM Cozumel.  It must be the humidity that destroys my feet I think to myself.  I reload on endurolytes, I reload on Hammer gels, apply another layer of sunscreen, soaked a towel and wrapped it around my neck and off I went.

The Ironman shuffle 
The run is a two lap course that takes you through the city streets slightly and back to the beach.  You run along the shore and up and down piers for approx 6 miles turn around and do the same in reverse.  Twice.  It was nice to run along the shore.  The sidewalks in which we were running and the piers got very crowded with the people of the city just coming out to enjoy their Saturday night.  Unknowing of an Ironman race taking place at at times you would have to bob and weave your way through the crowds just to try and get ahead.

The shoreline & pier section of the run course.
For me it was all about the time now.  I knew my feet were in rough shape.  I wasn't sure of the pace that they would take me.  It was slightly frustrating because I've had issues in the 2 previous IMs when it came to the final section of an Ironman.  In Cozumel, my feet were hot to start the run and I had some pretty intense blisters.  In Boulder, I had pulled a muscle in my groin/ab area that took me off stride.  I yearn for a clean run in an IM.  It would not happen on this day.  Like in Cozumel, it was all about just finishing and managing the clock to make sure that happened.  I started doing the calculations in my head.....Swim 1:30 TA1 :10 Bike 7:25 TA2 :15.  Approx. 9.5 hours has passed that meant I had about 7.5 hours  cross the finish line.  I did the marathon in Cozumel with Blisters in 6:35, in Boulder with leg muscle cramping in 6:25.  I was in far worse condition at this point in the race than either of the previous two.  Worse as in my feet felt destroyed and my physical condition going into the race was not as good as the previous two in the year.
You da' man IronBuddy Hal
One of the great things about this run course was that it was very easy to have spectator interaction.  Although I had not seen my IronBuddy Hal yet during the entire race during the run  walk section of the race, I was able to not only see him but he ran walked with me at times for miles.  He helped do the timing and math as my head was a little fuzzy trying to add my splits up.  The course passed right by our hotel and since it was an out and back 2 times he was able to join up with my 4 times during the race.  He had my timing down perfectly so he could watch and support me and then head up to the pool for a few caipirinhas.

On the back of my out and back (approx mile 9) I saw Felipe from Mexico.  We stopped and he gave me a big hug.  He was hurting but it was because of the heat and humidity and wind and because we were participating for over 11hrs now in this Ironman.  He was so thankful for the endurolytes.  He kept saying gracias mucho me salvaste la vida. (Thank you much. You saved my life)  That brought a huge smile to my face and was another reminder to me of what I go through in all's a very humbling feeling.  All of us have our own stories and our own demons and our own obstacles to over come.  But an Ironman or Marathon or any such event brings people together from all over the world.  We each have our journeys and for this brief instance in time we are all together and gathered for the same cause.  To cross that line.  Sure we may have different intentions on times and PRs and personal achievements.  And I know,  I sure went through my own ordeal with all the crap at work that I almost didn't make this trip...but I did and now I am in an embrace with a man from another country whose path was supposed to cross mine at mile such and such on the bike just so I can share endurolytes with him so that he too can feel and experience the beauty of this community coming together.  I am blessed to be a part of this, to be alive and to experience such feelings.  I am humbled by the grace of it all.  I ask Felipe if he wants/needs more as there is still about 6 hours left in his race.  He says yes and I hand over 12 tablets.  2 for each hour.  I see Felipe 2 more times out on the course and exchange high fives each time.  Closing in near the hotel and there he Ironbuddy Hal...we do a check on the time and the condition of my feet.  We run through the math to see how I am doing.  I am slowing down a little.  (I wasn't sure that was possible)  Hals shuffles with me for a few miles till I reach the pier.
A hot and humid run walk for sure
I would set small goals for myself as I didn't want to fall too far back.  I seriously felt in jeopardy of  crossing the line in time.  Against the wind I would try to alternate shuffling from one light post to the next then I would walk to the next then I would shuffle to the next continuing to alternate back and forth.  With the wind I would try to shuffle as much as humanly possible.  I crossed paths with Stephanie from Ohio a few times.  She was looking strong on the run and had passed me on the last back to finish a few minutes ahead of me.  I crossed paths with a gentleman and his wife that I met at the pre event pasta dinner several times with big smiles and high fives.  They were a couple from either S Africa or Australia and he has done over 200 IM races.  They seem to travel the world doing IMs and introduced me to several 100+ IMers.  Pretty damn impressive. They did Boulder and Cozumel with me as well, though I met them here in Brazil.  The course was truly about the racers as the city and community did not have a real sense of what an Ironman was.  It was the inaugural event and not many spectators lined the course.  You could tell that the vast majority of people out spectating were for a racer.  The tiny island of Cozumel makes a lot of money off the race and the islanders welcome the racers and embrace the course and us being there.  Lining the streets, yelling words of encouragement in Spanish etc.   Boulder was an awesome crazy mad house of spectators as the race took place in the mecca of triathletes.  But Fortaleza you were with yourself and your kind and you had to appreciate it for what it was as you had to get through the journey on your own with little fanfare of support or crazy signs.  I was all smiles and being in the moment an enjoying myself and my adventure and sharing some race time with my 42 year friendship Ironbuddy Hal in Brazil.  How friggen cool is that??

The "Thinker" Pose
Eventually the mile marker hit 25 and I went through a set of lap gates for the final time.  With each lap they put a colored wrist band on you.  Pink for the first lap, Lime for the second lap and Black for the final approach. I made my last turn past the transition area.   Wings were up and I was taking flight on the home stretch.
Phenomenal hearing IronBuddy Hal screaming 
Trouble viewing the video??  Check it out on this link  Flight to the Finish ~ IM Fortaleza.....
Seeing all come to fruition was pretty damn cool.

I was barely able to lift off.  I gotta find another way to cross the finish line.  
And no Jaclyn, I am not twerking.

Complete goofball!

Thank you ma'am yes I'll have another.

The tri-fecta or three-peat

Chillin after the race with my IronBuddy Hal.  Watching the final racers come through.

Ummmmm  yeah I am pretty stoked and happy.

Yes!!!! Felipe crossed the line for his 1st IM in just under 17 hours.  
A Congrats hug and introduction to his wife.

It wasn't pretty.  It was a tough journey from start to finish.  From not almost even attending due to workloads and missing many if not most workouts in those last 6 weeks or so to the big ocean swells and no buoys to guide the way in the ocean, to the 103 degree heat and hot sun and humidity and the relentless wind to riding blind without a power meter or heart rate monitor and running out of water with over 30 miles to go on the bike and crashing into a motorcycle to hitting the pavement with milky white feet full of blisters to the most disgusting traditional post race bloody Mary ever!  
But I showed up and I did it.  As mentioned earlier we all have our story of the journey and difficulties and my struggles are minuscule compared to others and what it takes for them to show up and just get to the starting line.  This was my slowest IM of the 3 I completed this year by 15 minutes compared to Cozumel.  But even so, I placed higher in my age group.   The race was said to be sold out at 1500 competitors.  Only 876 crossed the finish line.  I finished 851st.

I could never have completed this Chapter of my life without the strength and love that my family has shown and taught me through the years.  And by Chapter of my life,  I am not talking about this Ironman.  The Ironman is just an event.

I am happy to have finally put these pages in my book.
The memories and Warrior Mode will forever be with me.
I can close this Chapter and begin my next.
But.....what is next??

Didn't catch the other sections of the race blog??
Check out these links below.
IM Fortaleza Prerace ~ The Way of a Warrior
Swim Recap ~ Warrior in The Water
Bike Recap~ Road Warrior