Sunday, August 1, 2010

IMLP Race Report - (Video) - The Finish

As I approached the finish line I had a smile as wide as could be. My eyes darted around the crowd in hopes to see my family. I waved my hands in the air so the spectators would make some noise and then there they were...waving and cheering for family.

As I came to the line I slowed to a walk pointed to the sky and blew my mother a kiss just like I promised. At that point a guy approached me to place my finisher's medal around my neck. I then realized it was my brother Vince who had finished over an hour and twenty minutes before me. We hugged and I cried tears of happiness. It was a perfect ending to an amazing journey.

Here is the video of my finish:

Up next: Closing the book

Saturday, July 31, 2010

IMLP Race Report - The Run

My longest "run" ever was a 20 miler which was brutal. At mile 10 I started having IT Band issues and I ended up walking/"running" the last 8 miles. It was tremendously painful and a bit demoralizing.

One saving grace was that I saw Sara Thatcher, my PT, on Friday for some last minute stretching. She told me not to worry, I wasn't going to have ITB problems and that the 20 miler was a fluke. I thought she was just trying to give me some motivational BS, which I appreciated, but this ITB thing was on my mind. I knew it was only a matter of time before it showed up. My plan was to go easy and see where that took me.

As I headed out for the marathon I knew a long day was about to get longer. The first descent right out of transition can be pretty harsh so I just took my time and settled into a pace once I got down the hill. My legs weren't turning over as quickly as I hoped and the pace was slower too. I told myself not to worry about any of that and to just keep running.

I made my way through each aid station at every mile and made sure I drank and ate in order to stay fueled. I was so hungry that nothing I ate filled what seemed like a massive void. I ate cookies, pretzels, oranges, grapes and more. At some aid stations I just took water or water and cola because I didn't want my stomach to get upset.

As far as I'm concerned the first loop went well. I saw a ton of people I know and each time it gave me a lift. I saw Vin and he looked strong. As I made my way back to into town it was like the crowd carried me up the climb. I knew in a few minutes I'd see my family and that was all the motivation I needed.

I approached the condo and they were cheering and yelling! On the way back I made sure I stopped and gave Keri-Ann and Noella a kiss and said I love you. I also said, "I'm going to be an Ironman!" and I headed back out for another 13.1 lonely miles.

The last 11.5 miles before the finish were tough. As I passed mile 16(?) I saw Vin heading back. He was at about mile 21/22 and all he said to me was "I just hit the wall". I looked at him and yelled "NO YOU DIDN'T!" and kept on going.

At that point I was still feeling decent and no ITB pain yet. As I passed mile 17 I hit a milestone. 17 miles was the longest I had actually run because I don't count the run/walk 20 miler. Mile 18 came and went as did mile 19 and then the turn around. I was heading home and then I hit THE wall.

Even though I was eating and drinking I didn't have any energy and I was starting to hurt. My left ankle was cramping, my right quad and hip flexor were getting tighter step by the step and I was literally in pain. Ironically, the only thing not hurting was my IT Band! I forced myself to keep running, but at times I had to walk to keep the pain down. I was almost there.

With about 4 miles to go I passed over what appeared to be a timing mat. There was music blasting and a billboard of sorts. The guy on the mic was trying to motivate
us and then made an announcement to make sure we looked at the board to see a message from our families.

I thought to myself what a nice idea, but didn't expect to see anything because I didn't even know about this thing. I looked up just to look up and then I see... 849 - Marty Miserandino - Get it Done! I had no idea how that got up there, but later found out that my wife Keri-Ann had done it. She's the best! The crazy thing is that I had already passed that board on the first loop and didn't even look at it. I probably wouldn't have looked at the billboard if the guy hadn't made that announcement...perfect timing and the fuel I needed to take it home.

I made my way back into town and started to smile as I climbed the two steepest hills. The street was lined with spectators on both sides and I started to pick up the pace. I was almost home. I was greeted by Greg Dombal and Sara Thatcher, I saw Steve and Brandi Dion and then rounded the corner for the out and back. I had a smile from ear to ear and then I saw my family waiting for me. I told them to get to the finish and I started moving.

I passed the final turn around and headed for the finish of my life. On my way to the oval I stopped to give my Aunt, Uncle and other family members a kiss and say thank you for being there. Having them there was truly one of the highlights of my whole experience.

The oval was right there. I was running next to another athlete and we were coming to the point where you either stayed to the left to go back out for another loop or you stayed to the right and became an Ironman. I asked if she was finishing and she said yes. At the point I said go ahead and have your moment. She looked at me like, "Really?" Absolutely... I could have cared less about my time at that moment. All I cared about was soaking it all in, seeing my family, looking to the sky and blowing my mother a kiss.

Up next: The Finish

Friday, July 30, 2010

IMLP Race Report - The Bike

I made it through transition and got on my bike for the 2 x 56 mile loops that included screaming fast descents and climbs that felt like they wouldn't go away. My hope was for a safe ride and to keep my power down to save my legs for the run. Overall the bike was uneventful except for the screaming fast descents... at one point I hit 46 miles an hour! At that point life was more important so I sat up and just made it down safely.

My main concerns were safety, power and mechanical issues. You never want a mechanical and, as a bike shop owner, that is the LAST thing you want for a customer. Thankfully my bike was flawless. My mechanics Geoff and Mark kept the bike in great shape and Mark went through our bikes with a fine tooth the week of the race. If anything had happened to the bike then it was meant to be. The bike was beautiful!

I headed out of Lake Placid pretty quickly and started the first climb. I kept my power very steady as a stream of riders passed me. I didn't care... let them go. Stay in your bubble. That was the plan. Stay in your bubble.

There are a few points on the bike where you have to go out and back, so you can see where other athletes are and it's where I would hopefully see the other guys I trained with. I'd also see other customers, my coach and most importantly my brother. I needed the piece of mind knowing that he was ok and he was killing it! We'd ask each how we were feeling or shout words of encouragement.

As the ride progressed I started to think about when I'd see my family. I couldn't wait! As I headed into the the final climb of the first loop, a nice climb called Papa Beer, I was just minutes away from seeing them. I started getting a little emotional. I knew my entire family was waiting.

As I came down the flat stretch many athletes stayed in their aero position, but I didn't care. I wanted to make sure they saw me and I saw them. As I passed I raised my fist in the air, pumped away and yelled FORTE!!!! which means strong in Italian. It's a little family saying we have. I could see my family screaming, jumping up and down, and cheering me on. I'm certain they did the same thing for Vin just a few minutes before me.

As I rounded the corner to pass the Olympic Oval I heard over the loud speaker, here comes 849, Marty Miserandino. I thought that was sooo cool.

I made the turn and heard my name being yelled and I saw my friend Kelley, her mom and her kids cheering us on. I had no idea they were there! They drove up that morning to cheer us on and it provided such a needed push. Did I mention she drove up THAT morning and left after the race... 5.5 hours each way... thank you!

The second loop is where I thought I'd make a little move, and I did, but then brought myself back to Earth. I knew if I pushed it too hard I'd pay for it dearly on the run. I saw Vince again on the out back and he looked strong. I was hoping I'd see him again, but I didn't. He was having a heck of a race.

Although there were 2,700+ people racing, an Ironman is very lonely. The last 11-12 miles on the bike course, especially the second time around, is really unforgiving. It's basically a continuous climb back into Lake Placid with few breaks. At that point I wanted to see my family again and get on with the run.

As I passed the fam the second time around I was a little less enthusiastic as my energy was starting to fade, but I managed to blow kisses and smile. I knew I was just about done with the bike. As I pulled into T2 I was a little wobbly off the bike. Unexpectedly my cousin Elena and her boyfriend Kevin were there waiting at the transition and it was a needed boost. After the race she told me that she was really nervous for me because I was as white as a ghost when I got off the bike. I made my way back to my transition bag and headed into the changing tent. Even though I didn't feel that I went to hard on the bike, and my power data confirmed this, I was losing energy. I had that lethargic feeling and my legs didn't want to move. I was nervous.

I entered the changing tent and a volunteer came over to me immediately and asked what he could do to help. The volunteers really make this race. The guy emptied my bags, helped make sure I was ok, etc. I took a little time to pull myself together, took in a Gu Roctane, went to the bathroom, sipped some water and then I was off. I was about to enter the great unknown...I was attempting my first marathon ever and that after a 2.4 mile swim and 112 mile bike ride.

Up next: The Run...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

IMLP Race Report - The Swim

Vin and I woke up at 3:45 to start fueling and to get ready for the race. We dropped off of our special needs bags which were filled with things we might need during the day. For example, my bike special needs bag had spare tubes, co2 cartridges, etc. My run special needs bag had extra socks, a few different shirts in case I needed to change and so on.

We headed to the Olympic Oval to drop off our on-bike nutrition, pump up the tires and then headed back to our condo. We were fortunate to have a place across from the swim start and on the bike/run course. When we got back to the condo my wife's family had already arrived and I started to get very emotional. I was just so thankful they were there to support us and see the race.

My sister Ro arrived next with my brother-in-law Clint, and their kids... more and more emotions. My cousins called and they were facing road closures, so I wasn't sure if they were going to make it for the start. I understood, but was hoping they would be there.

Now we were getting close... the crowd was gathering and athletes were walking past the condo to drop off their special needs bags down the street. It was time to get the energy pumping. I brought one of my DJ speakers from home, hooked up the Ipod and started playing music. The first song was the Olympic Theme put a smile on people's face. As the music played we made final preparations... body glide, chamois lube, bathroom stops, and put our wetsuits on. Then it was time to make our way to the swim start.

I wanted a good song playing as we walked away and there was only one choice. My family knows that "Don't stop Believin" reminds me of my mother and it's a song we all love. A few years back for the spinathon I made a video of my mother's progress as she battled a 8-9 month hospital stay due to complications from Diabetes and the "theme" song was "Don't stop Believin".

Every time we hear that song it's like she's with us, so it was only fitting to have that playing as we headed to the shore. Hugs and kisses for the family, last minute pictures, and we walked down the grass slope to the street and over to the swim start.

As I looked back "Don't Stop Believin" was finishing up and we waved good-bye. We could hear music pumping on the main speakers at the swim start and the crowd was massive. All of sudden I heard the first few notes of "Don't Stop Believin"!!!
I turned to Vince and said, "you hear that?" and he said "yup..she's with us". Just awesome...

As we worked our way through the crowd Vin saw my cousin Elena... They made it! The whole family was now here and I mean the whole family!!! (Dad, Keri-Ann, Noella, Ro, Clint, Julia, Gino, Auntie, Uncle, Marisa, Carla, Elena, Elise, Michael, Jim, Taylor, Morgan, Kevin, Nicole, Anna, Vincenzo, Ann, Kerry, Aly, Jimmy, Conner, Ashley, and Mike)

Over the last several months we both got advice about the swim start. It was going to be a battle to say the least. Obviously the 2.4 mile swim is a challenge, but so aren't the hundreds of athletes swimming over you, grabbing you, and kicking you in order to get to open water. Lake Placid has a really cool swim course, in that, there is a cable under the water about 4 feet deep. You don't have really look where you are going if you "get on the line". Well that's the problem. We were told that everyone wants to get on the line, so imagine 2,600+ swimmers converging on the cable. It would be absolute chaos.

One piece of advice we got was to stay back and let the better swimmers go. The other advice was to start to the right and head to the far buoy where everyone would have to converge as we turned left.

Our Coach, Jeff Capobianco, said he likes to start next to the dock and tries to stay left of the line. Vin and I said screw it. We were going with a hybrid approach. Coach had been spot on since day one with every aspect of training, so we went next the dock, but instead of staying back, we went as close to the front as possible...about 4-5 rows deep.

In the scheme of things we were up front and we knew it was going to be a battle. As we floated the cannon blasted and the pro field went off 10 minutes before us. For the next 10 minutes we floated and it seemed like an eternity.

Something interesting started to happen. When we got into the water we found our way pretty easily to where we wanted to be. It wasn't too crowded. As we got closer to the start more and more athletes were floating to us. At that point we could hardly move... we were surrounded! It was getting close... and then BOOM!!!! We were off!

Arm to the head, kick to the body, I was being climbed on and over... My concerns at this point were 1. Try not to get kicked so hard that the race was over before it really got going and 2. Don't lose or let your goggles fill with water. I wear contacts and having water in my goggles is extremely annoying and a contact could fall out. This was a huge concern. I brought extra contacts with me in case I lost one in the swim or on the bike. (Going 40 miles an hour downhill on a bike without glasses on can dry out contacts pretty quickly.)

At this point my goal was to get on that line and swim hard until it opened up, if it ever opened up. I couldn't believe so many people stayed away from the line! After the initial "shock" and "awe" I was really surprised that I had a pretty clear path. It reminds me of a Yogi Berra quote. When he was asked about a restaurant Yogi once said, "It's so busy nobody goes there anymore". I think that's what happened. Everyone is told how crowded it gets on the line so they stay away. I couldn't believe how nice of a swim I was having. Sure, there were some points that I was getting hit, but I knew that was going to happen especially rounding the buoys. I got hit a few times and my goggles filled with water. OH NO! I stayed calm, but the water was really bothering me. I decided to stop for a second and let the water out... a few minutes later I got walloped and it happened again. I stopped, emptied, pressed on.

I exited the water after the first lap, looked at my watch and couldn't believe I saw 32 minutes. I was expecting 35! I headed back into the water for lap 2 and more of the same. I finished the swim in 1:08:25.

As I made my way through the chute the crowd was insane. Just amazing! I was moving quickly while trying to find my family. It was really hard... then I heard "Marty", "Marty"... family, customers, friends... all there cheering us on. Thank you!

I ran through T1 and had no idea where Vince was. Did I beat him in the swim? My goal was 1:10 and I came out in 1:08...I had to have beaten him! As I passed the hook where his transition bags were his bag was missing! He had the swim of his life and I couldn't have been happier! I knew the next time I'd see him was somewhere on the bike.

Up Next: IMLP Race Report - The Bike



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