Let’s jump right to the prize….Boom…”Kevin Drisko of Carlsbad, California….you are an Ironman”!!
Well, I can’t just let it end there. So like a portion of fine literature, you know the end, and now we rewind to how I got here, but not too far back…let’s begin together on race day…6/24/2013, alarm goes off at 3:45 am.
Ok, I beat the alarm. It was set for 3:45, but I was up at 3:30, go figure. Months of training complements of Coach Jeff at PRSFit have me ready physically and I hope mentally for the day ahead of me. The whole PRSFit team has been so supportive of me, I feel like I like the whole team is with me today!!! I hopped out of bed, and flipped on the coffee maker I spent a good 30 minutes preparing the night before. We (my Bride Julie and I) were staying with my friend Jeff and his family for the weekend and they had a huge basement for us to crash in. Coffee was made and I was soon snacking on a banana and a Genucan protein shake…chocolate…yummm. I then walk into the bedroom and quietly poke my Bride…tap, tap, tap…”don’t you want to get up now?”
After additional pokes and convincing that “yes” she did want to wake up, she was up…yay!!!!. I followed her around as she got coffee and then went to the bathroom (I stayed outside, but was right there in case something happened). I was always by her side as she brushed her teeth, brushed her hair, got dressed, etc. I was such a big helper!!!! I of course, had all of my stuff loaded in the rental car and was ready to go. “Can we go now?, Ready to go now?, We should go now” were just some of my mutterings that morning. Jeff was upstairs having coffee. Working for the CDA Fire Department, he had the 4:30-midnight IM shift. I felt for him but honestly was so self absorbed in my day I was just glad to have some early morning company. It was time to roll and Jeff gave us great directions. Turn left here, then right…drive until street “X” and park. Executed that perfectly and we were a few blocks away from the start. Here we are on Day -1 (that’s me on the right):
Bags were removed from the car and we hit the road to the start. Lots of athletes and I was nervous, but my bride is a rock and kept me calm. We got to the transition area and I went in while she waited patiently outside. I found my bike and did a little pumpy pump of the tires. Rear, no problem…110, front with the valve extentions was not as good. Tried twice to air them up and then said “Fuck it!” Rolled with the pressure they had from yesterday.
Oh, yesterday…what a day. Met my PRSFit Team member Mark for some swim, bike and run action at 10 or so. I was first to the meeting spot (bathrooms in front of the the swim start) so I got into my Blue Seventy wetsuit. It went on without issue and I kicked it shirt off for a while waiting for Mark.
He showed up with his daughter Steph who hung out with my bride. When I went to pull the wetsuit on, it was on backwards. The zipper is not meant to be in the front :). Mark was kind enough to point this out and I ripped it off. The only thing worse than putting the wetsuit on is putting it on again. During that process, I notices a rip up the side of my suit (not small). After getting it on and doing our swim, bike, run I hit the expo and grabbed a new one. Here I am trying on the super swank Fusion suit (after trying it on I was informed they did not have my size…pooh…ok, I will take the Reaction):
Back to race day…I distributed my nutrition and headed out of transition. We dropped off my “Special Needs” bags and the went to slip into my new wetsuit. Historically, this is where my bride likes to snap photos of me. She thinks that its fun to watch an adult male struggle to squirm into a tight neoprene body wrap. Here is her photo of that:
Holy shit, is it time to get to the start? I make my way there while knocking back my Genucan pre-swim. I get in the water, which is a nice 61-62 degrees, and let the water fill up my suit via the zipper and neck line, then proceed to get a nice warm up. Its Ironman’s swimsmart debut and I am one of the fit studs that get to take part in it. When I first heard the name “swimsmart” I thought “Great, a bloody mary bar just before the swim start!” What else would be smarter than relaxing with a very nice drink just before the swim??? I was wrong, it was just the fact that instead of 2500 people swimming at once, we staged ourselves according to swim time. I was amazed that I was in group 2. I am not a strong swimmer, but my target time was in the 1:00-1:15 wave so I lined up. Booooommmm…cannon goes off and the front of the pack is off. I push through, turn and go under the arch and look for some clean space. I see it…charge the H2O and bang…I’m off….2.4 miles underway.
I wont bore you with what happened during the swim but it was to plan. Water was nice and clear (lots to look at under water…beer bottles, anchors, ship wrecks, etc), plenty of room around me, feet to follow as I needed. Honestly, the first of 2 laps was so pedestrian. I got out of the water and my watch indicated 35 minutes. That meant 1:10 total and I was thinking 1:10-1:15. Right on pace. Back in the water and lap two under way. I figured this would be a little slower but I found some feet and just sat there. Rode those feet to turn 1 and then we had a brief swim to turn 2. Then it was time to head home. I started to get a cramp in my calf so I backed off the kicking and just coasted on some feet. Is that bad or wrong?? Regardless, it got me to the end. The K-Man popped out of the water and 1 of 3 legs was in the bag. Swim time 1:12:57….go Kevin!!!!! Oh, that’s me…green cap (the one on the sand!!!!)!
T1 – get the bike gear on
Bang, out of the water and its stripper time!!!! I was so looking forward to this part! The top of my wetsuit was off and there are people willing to take the rest off? How cool is that? Feel free to find your bag Kevin!!!
Off with the suit and into the changing tent where I go for it and totally switch kits. I decide that comfort was a necessity and so jumped into my Strava kit. I hope everyone who reads this is a Strava follower and fan….if not, get with it! A great site I have been affiliated with for about 4 years now. Here I am stomping the ride in my Strava kit!!
The ride was good. Essentially its a short/flat (14 mile) out and back, a big/hilly (42 mile) out and back and then you do it all over again. The best part is that each of the loops end in downtown so you get a huge rush from the crowd on each pass through. Here is the course map via garmin and the the course profile:
Since I was moving so fast 😉 it took awhile for my Garmin to catch the satelites. Typically when this happens I look to the sky and try and find them, not today, I just motored through town and out onto the first small loop. Once along the lake, I knew where I was as I had ridden this part of the course with Jeff on Friday. Although a little crowded, I managed to find my rhytm and settle in to a comfortable pace. There is a nice little hill on the way out on the first segment and I got into my groove and tapped out a nice pace. Down to the first turn around then back into town. I told Julie I would be back through town in about 39 minutes and was spot on. My next goal was to finish the 42 mile out and back in 2:10, and that looked pretty good too!
My nutrition plan was to shoot for ~200 calories/hour primarily from the bonk breaker bars that I brought with me and that were available on course, in addition to a few batches of lemonade Genucan and Nuun for electrolytes. The only extra food I grabbed was a half banana on the ride and they caught me chowing it down near the end of the first half of the ride:
Coming into town to start lap #2 was great!!! The crowds were so supportive and I could not help but drill it through downtown!
Once out of town, the reality that I was only half-way done with the ride sunk in so I eased up a bit and made my way to the special needs area. As I rolled into the turn around where our bags were, I really had know idea why they were yelling numbers out (call me a newbie!) I rolled up to my zone and it felt really nice to stop. I grabbed a few bars from my uber lame bag and my sun scorched Genucan and took off. Honestly, I had a pretty lame bag and if I had planned better, a Subway sandwich would have been waiting for me, right coach?
The ride back to town was very educational for me. I am catching this guy on the downhill and he starts sitting funny on his bike. Next, fluid begins releasing itself from his bike. I was like WTF is going on??? Then it dons on me, peeing on the bike. I’m reluctant to find the need in that and avoid the spray and motor past. I cruise through town looking for Julie for a bit of encouragement but don’t see here…Its ok, just another 42 miles to go and then I am done with the bike. Might as well have some water!!!
I actually had more fun this time on the big out and back than the 1st time. It was starting to get thin and I had a fun time with a girl in a orange kit where I would pass her on the climbs and she would pass me on the down hill. Odd how the slightest distractions entertain one on such a desolate experience. I’m pleased to report that there was more uphill than downhill and I pulled ahead. I had not noticed that the temperature had started to rise until my calf began to cramp. Lucky for me, I had my tube of Nuun and at the next aid station I grabbed a water and dropped two tablets into the bottle. This gave me a chance to use the bathroom and when I jumped back on I thanked the great volunteers and rode off to the final turnaround. It was into the wind until the turnaround and I was excited to make the turn and head to home. 90 miles down, just 22 miles to go! Along the way back, a bee flew into my helmet. Having experienced this in the past, I slammed on the brakes and released the helmet and said creature. Happy to report no sting and no droopy eye for a week. I caught up to the orange kit girl once more as we approached town. We made a deal, she could pass me on the final downhill as long as she kept a strong pace on the “no-pass” zone before the final charge into town. She held up her end of the bargain and once we cleared the no-pass zone we just hammered it to the finish of the bike.
I had not really paid attention to what the finish of the bike would be like so I went towards it full gas. As I soon learned, there was a right hander, followed by a quick left hander onto a narrow path. I took the right turn at over 20 mph and flew through the quick left at 18 mph…no wonder the crowd was freaking out when I came through…they figured I was going to totally biff at that point. I made the turn, the crowd cheered and I zoomed towards T2…finally, T2…only 26 more miles by foot to go!!! Total bike time with bee and pee stop: 5:47:18.
T2 – the last one…on to the run!
Approaching T2 I saw a huge crowd of volunteers jumping and waving all wanting my bike. I slowed down, clipped out and handed my bike off to a great volunteer who pointed me to the run bags. Next up, a sea of red bags:
Found my T2 bag and into the tent I go. Having ridden in my bike gear, it was time to swap out for the run gear. Off goes the Strava kit and on goes the most comfortable tri kit I own…Training Transitions kit!!!! Shoes, socks, visor, a few swigs of 90+ degree Genucan concentrate and I am off. A quick stop at the sunscreen applicators and boom…I’m on the run!!!
Run Time – Get it Done!
The run was two out and backs. I break it down as 6.5 out, then back, and repeat. Going out of town I felt great. Maybe a little speedy but I correct that and settle into a good pace. I get passed by the 19 year old kid racing but since we are both fair skinned and freckly and had ridden around each other at the end of the bike, I sent him a challenge…”let’s see who get’s the worst sunburn!” He laughs and trots off. Next to pass me is orange kit girl. She is strong and so I let her go. As I get to mile 6, I see Jeff kicking it in a CDA fire truck…I’m feeling good so I give the thumbs up and approach the hill. Once on the hill, I slowed down to stay in a good HR zone. This whole time my garmin was reading 1.8 so I just kept it there. The only problem was that I was sucking down the fluids from my race belt. I had 2 bottles of Nuun and 2 of Genucan. Once over the climb, I started to feel off. Not too bad, just a bit weaker than I wanted. I made the turn around and headed back. Cut to the chase…at mile 10 I kind of fall apart. I decide its time to initiate the walk/jog approach for 2 miles. While this sucked, I knew there was a lot more to come.
My goals for this race were as follows:
1) Survive the swim (and by that, I mean it literally)
3) Tap out a time consistent with my regular training efforts
So Goal 1 was in the bag and Goal 2 seemed like it was as well. Goal 3 was going to be a stretch so I went for survival mode. I can’t say I was not disappointed by the vast number of people passing me as I knew deep down inside, I was better than a walk/jog finish, but holy crap, I was here, I was half way through the run and I could give a rat’s ass. Running into town I saw my lovely bride Julie. She bolted out from the sidewalk into the course and cheered me on like nobody had that day. I was running again then and that bit of encouragement kept me going until I was out of sight. Then the long road of 13 miles lay ahead of me. I vowed not to make Julie wait that long so I ensured I was clicking back 15 min/miles while walking. I saw Jeff again, relayed I felt like crap and would be awhile. He was kind enough to reply “the IVs will be waiting for you!!!” I made it to the last turn around and was headed back to town. 6.5 miles to go and it was still a lovely afternoon. Once I made the last hill I said to myself, you need to run asshole. So I did. It hurt and it was not pretty, but I did it. Left, then right, then left again. Here I am in the misery of coming home:
I never once wore my sunglasses. I don’t know why, but I like them better on my visor. Its like my comfort blanket…regardless…when it was 16+ min miles on the way out, I was knocking back 12 min/mile on the way home. I got lots of support from the crowd along the route and the best thing about being a little behind pace was that most of the crowds had been drinking all day long and sharing the love was all part of the fun. As I weaved my way through some of the most remarkable neighborhoods, I could start to hear the crowds at the finish. Despite the degree of pain and suffering you are experiencing, that all disappears once you hit the final straight to the finish. I make the turn onto Sherman Ave. and boom!!!! Huge crowds, tons of cheers and people everywhere. This is the time where I just enjoy the experience!!! I swing from one side of the road to the next passing out high-5s right and left. Everyone is so excited for not just me, but every finisher. Its an amazing feeling to be surrounded by such support. Here I am with a bit of a smile…loving the fans!!!!!
As I approach the final stretch, I hear a familiar voice…its my bride!!!! I look all around and finally find her stationed right along side the barriers!!!
I dash over to her and she despite the cool shades, she is tearing up along with me. We did it!!! The training, the long hours apart, the constant logging of workouts and comparing my results is over!!!! Just another 100 yards and we have done it!!! I give her a hug that will require her clothes to be burned due to the sweat of 12 hours, but she is proud of me and so excited!!! Its what drives me to the finish line. And that is when I hear: “Kevin Drisko of Carlsbad, California….you are an Ironman”!! Total run time…a pathetic 5:11:21 (11:53 min/mile pace)…ugh…I can do better!
In case you were wondering, I pipped those two dudes…
and then grabbed my medal and took my finisher picture!!!!
That was all I could handle…food would come 24 hours later, but I did not mind. Through the support of my fantastic/amazing bride Julie, Jeff and his family for hosting us over the weekend, my coach Jeff at PRSFit and the incredible team who all train under the PRSFit name, my Dailymile friends, coworkers and family….I am now an Ironman!!!! Its time for a nap and a Grey Goose and tonic!!!!