Thursday, November 15, 2012

Race with Dayton

Ready to swim
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James Lawrence aka the Iron Cowboy

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Mont Trembant - IM # 19 Go Canada Go!!!

Mont Tremblant Quebec #19

Headed to the my birth country for the first time this year, but I have never been to the Eastern part and was excited to visit and race there.  I was a little nervous heading to the Inaugural race in Quebec after what just happened at the Inaugural race in New York City.  But, I had faith in my Canadians.  I was very happy Tri Bike Transport had my bike, as I was flying Delta (swear word) and was happy to not have to check my bike with them.  My flight arrived super late into Montreal, so Jacques, from In and Out Development, booked my a one night stay at The Loft right beside the airport.  This turned out great, as Delta (swear word) lost my bags again.  The Loft is a trendy little hotel with rooms that are a little more modern.  I took a shuttle to the hotel room and hit the sack!  I took my time getting up, as my bags were not scheduled to arrive into the airport till 11:30, and sure enough they arrived safely... just a little behind when I actually arrived.

After getting my bags, I headed to get my car rental (thanks again Jacques).  Apparently the account I was booked under has major VIP status.  It was sir this and sir that.  They escorted me to my car, pulled it up for me.  I asked where a water fountain was to fill my water bottle.  The girl escorted me back in and told me she wasn’t allowed to leave my side.... good thing I didn’t have to go pee.  I thought about this experience and I don’t thing there should be VIP.... everyone should be treated like that.... just saying.

It was about a 90 min drive to Mont Tramblant from Montreal.  I drove straight to the race site.  This was amazing because I don’t turn on my phone when I am international.  This leaves me with no GPS to get around.  I found Tri Bike Transport and YES, my bike made it out of NY!!!!!  And no need for assembly.  I just put the peddles back on the bike and put some air in the tires and off I rode - loving this service!  I checked in at the expo and toured the area a bit.  This Mont Tramblant area is awesome.  It is a resort type of area at the base of a ski resort.  It reminded me of a Park City Utah, a Banff, Canada or a Hunter Mountain, NY.  The people were super nice.  This was unexpected because it is not what you hear about Quebec when you grow up in the Western part of Canada.  Sorry for judging you Quebec! 

I left the expo and went to find my home stay.  In and Out Development had arranged for me to stay with a local bike shop.  The front of the house was a shop and the back of the house was the home. It was like a mullet.... this was business in the front and party in the back.  I found the shop and shop owner, Jonathan and Laura.  Jonathan will now be referred to as Jo Velo from here on out (Velo is bike in French).  They were SUPER nice and showed me to my room where I settled in for my few days stay. 

I headed back to the race site to enjoy a pre-race meal and entertainment.  Canada knows how to throw a party!  The food was great, the entertainment was better and the energy was the complete opposite of that from NY!!!  They had some great performances on stage and followed the entertainment with the pre-race briefing.  Outside they had a live band on stage and this group knew how to entertain.  The lead singer loved his gig in life and was a performer.  Most of the athletes stayed, jammed with the band, danced in the streets and just had a great time.  The evening concluded with an awesome fireworks show that was better than most 4th of July shows back home - go Canada!  Thank you for making me feel like I got my monies worth and a WTC event.  Upon arrival back to the house, Jo Velo had some friends over for some drinks.  I sat down at the table with my water and enjoyed a nice chill last hour of my day.
View from the gondola!!


Outdoor Concert!

Pre race entertainment!

Chilling with JO VELO and the gang! THANK YOU!!

Day before the race.

I try to do very little the day before a race, especially when I race every weekend and recovery for me is super important.  Jo Velo offered to do a full tune on my bike, which it desperately needed.  I have not had this bike home to my shop since Regensburg, Germany early in June and it won’t be home till after the Rev3 event mid September.  Needless to say, it was in need to some major TLC.  The shop ended up running all new cables and completely cleaning her up.  This took most of the morning and into the afternoon, as the shop was slammed with customer who we all getting last minute repairs and things for their race.  I was very grateful for the work done on my bike, so Thank You Jo Velo!  After my baby was all clean and ready to go, I headed back to the race site to get my bags and and bike situated for race day.  Once I had that all taken care of, it was time for a late lunch of POUTINE!!  For those of you that don’t know what poutine is, YOU ARE MISSING OUT! It is fries with cheese curds and gravy on it.  I haven’t had this in years and maybe the day before my 19th Ironman on the year wasn’t the best time to revisit the dish.  But I didn’t care.  I order the large and was told by the old man behind the desk, “The large feeds two and you should go with the medium.”  CHALLENGE was all that went through my head.  I calmly replied “I will take the large sir.” 
Poutine Love!

I conquered the dish and loved every bit!  Sure hope I don’t regret this decision mid swim tomorrow ;) HA HA HA!  I wondered around the shops looking for a cowboy hat for the run, but there was NOTHING!  Once back at the house, the same friends had gathered for ribs, stead and fresh veggies from the garden.  Ribs are my favorite and I do love a good steak!  But having already made a horrendous decision with the LARGE poutine, I decided veggies would be a great dish for me to have.  I enjoyed a nice dinner on the patio with my new friends, followed by Hunger Games and then bed!
Meeting Mike Riley

Race day.

I woke up feeling relatively rested and headed out the door.  I found good parking by the race site and walked into transition.  After putting my nutrition on my bike, pumping up the tires and double checking my transitions bags, I headed towards the swim start which was 1/2 mile up the road.  The swim exit was closer to transition, as the swim start and finish were different.  The water was perfect!  It was a beach start and the course was one loop.  All the way out, across the top and all the way back in.  I again went as far right as I could and didn’t have any issues with people.  The water was fresh and super clean.  It was super clear, of course because it was mountain run off.  The water was a very nice switch from the poo filled swim last week (yep I am still bashing on the NYC race.)  I swam nice and relaxed and was happy with my time.  I exited the water feeling half-asleep still and was woken up by the long run from waters edge to the change tents.  I don’t mind a longer run to transition... it is a good opportunity get adjusted from the swimming prone position and back into upright in a running or biking position.  I find that by the time I have arrived at my bike, I am less dizzy, than had I had a closer transition.

The bike course was a 12 loop course on rolling hills.  The first section took us though mountain resort golf course.  Oh how I love and miss golf.  This is one thing I plan to do more of with my good friend Garen next year.  I won’t be very good anymore, but I still love the game!  The course then took us to the far right in a main highway that was shut down for our use.  The roads were nice and smooth.  There were a few challenging hills but nothing like in Europe.  So far it was a good challenging course.  The middle section took us right past The Joe Velo bike shop.  The guys at the store put on a free pancake breakfast to bring out the crowds.  I was wearing my ASEA athlete bike jacket, as the morning air was a bit chilly.  Once I got to the bike shop, I handed off my jacket and of course grabbed a few pancakes for the road!  At the very end of the street, there was a steep hill and a turn around at the top before screaming back past the bike shop.  Joe Velo could be found running up and down the hill shaking a noise making and cheering on every athlete.  He was wearing a hilarious apron that made it appear that he was naked.  He would run up and down the street beside the bikers climbing, cheering them on and trying to make them laugh.  He was a pleasant surprise for many of the racers I am sure!  The last 6 miles of each loop was tough!  Big short rollers that were just big enough that you couldn’t maintain your momentum up over the top.  It was A LOT of gear shifting.  I was SUPER happy the boys at Joe Velo had done some much TLC on my ride before this one.  My second time through this section, I left my gearing in the low gear up front knowing that even if I pushed down the hills I couldn’t make it up the other side.  So I coasted down the hills and worked the read derailleur with success.  I was pretty hungry nearing the tail end of the ride and grabbed a handful honey stinger gel packs to try to get something in my belly.  These things were sweet and went down really well.  I took in about 4 of them and they hit the spot perfectly.

I took off running feeling pretty good.  The run took us through town with some good up and down climbs to start.  We then hooked onto a trail system which I later found out was the old railway system turned into a recreational pathway for people enjoyment.  This was a great surface to run on and my legs enjoyed it.  I started running beside a great guy, Michael Ditolla, who was undertaking his first Ironman.  I told him to stick with me and we would get this thing done. We chatted and past the time away.  Michael is a motivational speaker and I picked his brain for his thoughts and ideas.  Speaking is something that I would really like to give a try.  I think I have some great stories and experiences in this that could really help, motivate and inspire some people who are looking for that.  So if you are looking.... give me a call ;) I once again found myself with a cowboy hat!  And wouldn’t you know, that very first aid station had a whole group of people in hats.  A friend of mine had asked if in one of my races this year I would wear a pink cowboy hat in honor of her battle with cancer.  One of the girls at this aid station had a pink cowboy hat with silver glitter all over it.  It was the perfect opportunity to run in the pink hat.  I told her why I needed to borrow her hat and she agreed!  Needless to say, this hat got me the look of looks and plenty of attention.  The first loop of the run ran you back around town and through the finish line area.  The energy was incredible (like it was for the entire weekend), but this section was packed with people, all screaming and cheering and going nuts.  I couldn’t help but pick up my pace with everyone screaming and yelling.  Once through that section, we headed back out to the old railway tracks and some more softer running.  I waited for my run buddy, Michael, and we chatted and made it through the rest of the run course.  He started to struggle about mile 20 and I helped talk him through his hamstring cramp and helped him get in the right nutrition to get him through.  With about 3 miles to go, it started to rain. It was a warm enough rain that it didn’t bother me.  Once you are wet, you are wet, so you might as well have some fun in the rain.  I smiled and ran through all the puddles.  I hit the finish shoot and took in one of the best finish lines of the year.  Despite the rain, the people stayed and cheered.  Way to go Canada! 
Wearing the pink hat for a friend with Cancer!

The post race food included subway sandwiches and of course warm poutine!  This is EASILY one of my favorite races of the year and I will be back!!!  Congrats WTC for getting this one 100% right (or maybe it was the Canadians ;)!!    What a breath of fresh air after the disaster NYC.  These two races were the complete polar opposite of each other in every stretch of the imagination.... and it’s no wonder they have since pulled down registration for the 2013 NY race and have now cancelled it all together.

I headed back to Joe Velo’s place and enjoyed a nice hot shower.  With a flight to catch, I packed things up and went to bed!  Once again, I have really enjoyed Tri Bike Transport and the ease of bike shipping.  I handed my bike off at the race site and will see it again in Louisville next week!

I had enough time to go out to breakfast with Laura and Joe before heading to Montreal to catch my afternoon flight.  Thank you Joe and company for a great weekend! Hopefully we see you in a few weeks at the Canadian in Ottawa, where I will break the world record for the most Ironman races done in a single year!

Upon my arrival to the airport, I went to check in like normal.  The kiosk seemed to be having a tough time finding my flight, so I went up to the agent to see what the issue was.  Apparently I miss read my email and look at my departure time on my flight TO the race and not FROM my race.  I had missed my flight by more than 3 hours and unfortunately there were no more flights out today.  So the SUPER nice lady waived my transfer fee and got me on a flight out first thing tomorrow morning.  I delivered the news to home and check into a hotel by the airport!  Dumb Cowboy, dumb!

James Lawrence aka The Iron Cowboy!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

New York New York #18

Time Square
Time Square

This week I am off to the big apple, the city that never sleeps!  I was excited for this trip and was anxious to see how they were going to do a big race in such a big congested city.  I flew out early on Thursday morning and had about a 3 hour grace period to fly in, get my bike and find check-in before registration closed on the final day (this was a Saturday race this week which also meant only 6 days of total recovery).  With such tight perimeters, I couldn’t have any hiccups with flights or city traffic once there.  I called ahead and Namwan agreed to pick me up with my bike and drop me off at race check in!!  Super nice Namwan, thank you.  I was given great advise to NOT rent a car and to use the subway and train systems to get around the city.  Mr. Ben Light kindly booked a hotel for me for my few night stay and also had some metro cards waiting for me at upon my arrival.  What a stud!  I didn’t incur any flight delays and although the traffic was bad, Namwan’s assistant charles knew the streets and back road of NY and took me straight there.  It sure helps to be on the ground and with locals when you are in a hurry to make a deadline.  They dropped me off on the pier and left me in the wild jungle known as New York City.

I was planning on using Tri Bike Transport for my bike shipping over the next few races.  My next 3 weeks are New York, Mont Tremblant, and Louisville, all WTC Ironman events and locations that Tri Bike Transport would be going.  They worked with me and agreed to take my bike after the race from NY to Mont Tremblant and next to Louisville all for just $300.  This was way cheaper than the airlines and a million times more convenient.   I wasn’t going to have to take my bike apart and build it up and take it apart and build it back up and.....well you get it.  I made sure everything was squared away with them and headed up to check in for the race.  I made my way to the back of the expo and checked in with 30 minutes to spare.  I hung out for about an hour, then headed a few piers down to the athlete welcome dinner and celebration.  I knew it was going to be an awesome show because it was the championships.  The show and dinner for the Asia Pacific Championships in Melbourne earlier this year were AWESOME.  Well it turns out, New York sucks.  The food was just ok, the entertainment was worse and the crowds were dead and un-lively.  The solemn crowds may have been affected by the fact that there was a sewage break.  In order to fix this broken pipe, they had to dump all that poo into the Hudson River.  The health department put a ban on swimming in the water, which meant that the swim for our race looked like it was going to be cancelled.  And this would pretty much be worse case scenario for me.... No swim means it is not an Ironman, which means it doesn’t count for crap (pun intended;)  I sat at a table of nice guys and one girls who were all on the same running team and who were all doing their first Ironman race.  It didn’t take me long to figure out that this was a very gay running group.  They were all very flamboyant and fun!  Ironman has started holding the pre-race meetings right after the welcome dinner.  I think it is a way to get people to stay for the whole evening instead of eating and quickly leaving, which is what I would do at this stage of the year ;)

This was actually one meeting that I wanted to attend to get any news about the swim situation and also how race morning logistics were going to work.  This wasn’t a race I was willing to take logistics lightly.  If you miss a ferry on race morning, good luck.  After the pre-race meeting, one of the guys at my table helped me to the New York Subway system so that I could make my way to my hotel in Jersey.  I was concerned about traveling late evening in New York, but the table of guys assured me that it was safe.  I was still nervous as I made my way through the system, but sure enough I didn’t have any issues and made it safe and sound to my hotel.  HUGE THANK YOU to BEN LIGHT for booking my hotel last minute for me and helping me out with metro passes (which were waiting for me upon arrival to my hotel.)  Without people like Ben, this journey doesn’t happen.  I have your US CHAMPS backpack waiting for you sir Ben!  I called Sunny to assure her of my safe arrival, said goodnight to the kids and headed off to bed for some much needed rest.

I didn’t have time to build my bike upon arrival into New York and left my bike box with Tri Bike Transport, thanks guys.  I headed back through the subway system and back to the piers.  I made quick work of my bike build up, but was having a problem getting my powertap to sync with my joule.  I headed into the expo and found a bike retailer that had the battery I needed.  I swapped that out which solved my problem... back in POWER!  With the bike built and everything ready to go, I made my way onto the ferry that would take me back over to the New Jersey side where transition was set up.  The ferry was filled with athletes all wondering if we would be swimming in the waters below.  They had told us that they would be making the final announcement today at 4pm as to whether or not we would be swimming.  I racked my bike and placed my transition bags in place, then boarded the Ferry AGAIN to head back to NY to do some site seeing. 

Once back in NY, I made my way to the Twin Towers.  It was hard not to envision the falling towers and chaos of the day back on Sept 11th.  It freaked me out for a second as the first time I looked up to see the towers I saw a plane fly right over top of it.  Friends of mine from Utah, Jeanine and Bart Gardiner were in town visiting on their way to the Age Group National Championships in Vermont.  I met up with them at monument and construction area of the twin towers. The place was crawling with tourist and high security.  I even stood up on a barricade to see if I could locate Bart and got yelled at by the police.  I guess they don’t want anyone looking above the crowd.  We went inside the gates and took a quick look around.  The huge fountains were very cool and almost mesmerizing.  The place was busy, but had this quiet calm about it.  You could hear the water in the giant fountains as people walked around mostly in silence. 
Twin Towers being rebuilt
Twin Tower Memorial
Twin Tower Fountain.

Soon after we left the twin towers area, I found out that the swim would be a GO!!  Yes for doing the swim and a full Ironman and boo for swimming in poo!! 

The Gardiner family had acquired the services of a limo for the day and kindly asked if I wanted to join them for a drive down the main streets of down town and time square.  I gladly accepted as we cruised the streets of NY in style. We ended up at Jeanine’s sister house for a BBQ dinner and fresh veggies from her garden.  Thanks Gardiners for a great afternoon and evening.  After dinner, I made my way back to the hotel to try and get some rest before an EARLY wake up call for race morning.
Gardiner Family!


My alarm went off at 3 am EST, which was 1 am MST.  My body has no idea what time zone it is in and just wakes up when the alarm goes off, sleeps when it can find a pillow and doesn’t complain.  I didn’t sleep well, as I was worried about missing the ONLY 4 am ferry from Jersey over to transition.  I ate my RokitFuel and headed outside to catch my $20, 3.5 mile taxi cab ride to the ferry.  Athletes stumbled onto the ferry half asleep.  We were akk dead tired from not sleeping the night before a big race, then waking up at a silly hour to make sure we catch our only form of transportation.  For this reason alone, I would avoid this race in the future... It is an Ironman, a huge day... I don’t want to wake up at 3 am to go compete for 10-17 hours!!!  My preference for race morning logistics is one where the race has a single transition and one where I can drive my car to ample parking close to the race site and walk in.  This is also a huge plus for post race logistics.  It was a quiet ride over to transition.... no one was talking....

I exited the boat to transition and it was also quiet... no music... no excitement.... I thought to myself, “What is going on?  This is the worst atmosphere at an Ironman event ever!”  I continued to be disappointed with my over priced and over hyped US CHAMPIONSHIPS experience.  After making sure everything was all set up in transition, we waited in a line and waited to get on a ferry that would take us to the swim start.  So just to quickly recap logistically this morning I

1- Woke up at 3am to eat breakfast and take a $20 three minute cab ride to the first ferry...
2- Boarded the first ferry which departed at 4 am which take us from our pier in NJ to transition in NY...
3- Arrived at transition to put bottles on my bike and pump up my tires... 5 minutes worth of my time...
4- Waited in a line for 30 plus minutes to board another ferry to go 2.4 miles up stream on yet another ferry...
5- Raced an Ironman
6- Got on a ferry and headed back to Jersey to get transition bags (and bike if you didn’t use Tri Bike Transport)
7- Another damn ferry, which took you to either Jersey or NY depending on where you were staying
8- And finally a train ride to the steps of my hotel.
A million ferry rides this weekend.

ALL OF THIS EQUALS A COMPLETE JOKE OF A RACE AND NOT WORTH THE PRICE OF ADMISSION.  IF this race ever returns I would avoid it like the plague!

Ok, so now I am on the ferry that takes us the 2.4 miles up stream to the race start.  Please note that the ferry’s were not equipped with toilets so people (when I say people I mean the guys) just started peeing in the corners of the boat and over the edge into the water.  It was super hot on board and to say the least it was gross.  It is safe to say that I couldn’t wait to get off the boat and jump into the poo infested waters. 

Multiple ferries loaded with athletes pulled up to the barge that was parked 2.4 miles from transition. Only one ferry at a time could dock on the barge and unload the athletes.  We were the second boat full of athletes to pull up to the swim start.  There was a handful of porto potties on the barge for athletes to use prior to getting in the water.  I just peed in my wetsuit while walking to the start line.  There was a timing strip on the barge and when you crossed it, your race started.  I was one of the last athletes off of our boat and made my way quickly to the start line, crossed the timing strip and jumped in the water!  When I jumped in, I heard them announce that more than 500 athletes were already in the water.  With this format, you would not know if you were ahead or behind of the athlete beside you, out on the bike and run course.  This would make it hard to ‘race’ this event if indeed you were vying for a spot to Kona or a place in your age.  In this format, you just do the best you can and hope it was enough.

The swim course was a straight line from the barge to the bridge with buoys every 100 meters, which was nice.  The water was dark and I didn’t let one drop come in my mouth.  I didn’t push the pace AT ALL so that I could breath out my nose in the water and NOT break the seal on my lips.  I would site off of the big bridge that was right beside transition.  They had talked about a current, but I didn’t realize it would be this strong.  Like I said before, I wasn’t trying at all in this swim to keep my HR down so I could breath through my nose.  I also used ear plugs to keep the water out of my ears.  The bridge was a approaching quickly.  I would look back at the barge and then back to the bridge and realized I was past the half-way mark with the bridge now appearing closer than the barge.  I took a peek at my watch and I saw 26 minutes.  I thought to myself, “HOLY CRAP, this is gonna be a fast swim!”
Washing off the POO!

With about 100 meters to go, the water went from dark to pitch black.  As I approached the transition area, the water shallowed and the mud from the bottom was being kicked up from the swimmers and the athletes exiting the water.  When I was close enough to the exit, I tried to stand up and sunk up to mid shin in mud.  You could not walk out of the water and had to swim right to the steps to be helped out of the water.  I looked at my watch and was pumped with a 50 minute, 2.4 mile swim.... so this is what the pros feel like only having to swim for 50 minutes.  I should learn to do this all the time cause that was way easier!  As you can see from the picture below, I was dirty.  I paused and tried to wash some of the stank off of me before heading into transition and out on the bike.

The bike course was a 2 loop (out and back) on the frontage road on the New Jersey side of the Hudson.  The bike started out slow.   I averaged only 18.8 miles an hour through the first 11 miles staying in my Heart rate zones.  The roads sucked and there were pot holes and sketchy bumps everywhere.  The bike turned out to be much more challenging then I thought, but I just stayed in my zone and plugged along the course.  The hills were long enough that it was tough to keep your momentum from the quick short descents.  I felt good throughout this ride, despite its boring landscape and poor road surfaces.  My right shoe cleat started to come unscrewed again and I am now suspicious that the sole plate mat be striped.  I saw many flats and even a crash.  I found this bike course unsafe and disappointing, especially since there was so much hype.  Isn’t this Ironman New York... cause the only part of this race in New York so far has been check-in.  My final bike time on the day was 5:34:07, a 20.11 average over the 112 miles - not bad.
The run started with a steep climb out of transition up to the first 2 - 7.4 miles loops, all on the New Jersey side before heading over the big bridge to New York.  Yep that’s right, the last few miles of this New York Ironman will actually take place in NEW YORK.  I think IF they have this race again in the future (I won’t be attending) it should be called ‘Escape from New Jersey’

The two loop out and back section of the run course was well supported with awesome volunteers and tables of nutrition.  The course was shaded and had no flat sections.  You were either climbing or descending.  Again this run was much harder than I had thought it would be from the charts and graphs online.  I ran a consistent slow pace and finally made it to the HIGHLIGHT of the day.  The run over the bridge.  The bridge was about a mile long and was definitely the highlight of the day if there was one.  I had to climb a steep set of stairs to get on and then off of the bridge.  The views were awesome and I tried to take it all in as the rest of the day was a complete let down.  Now on the New York side, the run was mostly flat running through parks on a nice pathway system.  I ran through the aid station around mile 18 which was ‘maned’ by the ‘liberal’ running club.  Bright rainbow colors and excited men greeted us as we ran through the aid station. 

Early in the run I was passed by the youngest competitor of the day and his legs looked as fresh as could be.  I encouraged him on as he barreled through the course.  At mile 25 I had caught back up to the youthful spirit with his head down walking up a hill.  I encouraged him as I passed him up towards the finish line of this dreadful day.  I looked back and I saw him start running again.  With about 200 meters to go, he came storming past me with his chest out and as proud as can be.  He was about to conquer his first Ironman at the age of 18 and go sub 11 hours!  I let him go and have his moment down the finish line.  As I was running through the finish shoot, I looked to my right and saw David Warden.  A big time triathlete from Utah who dominates the sprint circuit.  I was so excited to see a friendly face! I gave him a high five and a hug before cheering across the finish line. 

Despite the day, it was still and Ironman finish line and a day to be proud of.  I had a final run time of 4:18 and a final ‘New York’ Ironman of 10:52:48!!!!  Thanks to a 50 minute aided swim I was able to go sub 11 hours on the day.  The young cocky 18 year old came up to me after the race and said, “I just couldn’t let you pass me with only mile to go.  I  had to pick it back up and pass you for the win.”  I couldn’t help it, I laughed and said, “You know I beat you by 5 minutes right?”  He said, “Ya, I know... I was just saying.”

That’s one for the old guys!  Damn, that’s something my dad would say.... maybe I’m getting old... and I am still a little cocky!

I ate some well deserved food and got a quick massage before getting back on a ferry to take me back over to Jersey to gather my transition bags.  I didn’t have to get my bike and was instructed to just leave it in transition where Tri Bike Transport would hopefully transport it to Mont Tramblant for my race next week.  Once I had everything, I got BACK ON THE FERRY so get to the pier where my hotel was located (well as close as I could get!).  I then hoped on a train to travel the short distance to my hotel.  Once back at the hotel, I had to figure out my morning commute to the airport.  It turned out best to take the Subway to the New York side, then take a cab through town to the airport.  I had to leave super early in order to get there on time.... I HATE getting up early ;(

I felt the worst for the athletes who finished late in the day and had to go through these long logistical points.  I also feel bad for the athletes that had ZERO energy at the finish line.  And due to the fact that the NY city noise ordinance, they unplugged the music and Mike Riley’s mic after 10 pm.  So not only have all these athletes been up since before three, they were greeted with silence.... I will say this.... Mike Riley did an AMZING job running up and down the finish shoot welcoming every athlete into the finish telling them “YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!”

James, the Iron Cowboy!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Sterling Colorado #17

Sterling Colorado - HITS Event Ironman #17

Back together as a family after a long road trip!

All loaded up for the trip.  Taking an extra bike for Susan Hagg

It was a fantastic reunion home after an entire month on the road traveling and racing throughout Europe and finishing last week in Lake Placid.  Some interesting struggles appeared in our lives that were unexpected and most certainly not needed.  But as I have learned so many times this year, there is a solution and a way to solve any situation.  With the support of many, we will overcome our small transportation issue and come out on top.... somehow!

My parents and older sister have been in town for a few weeks and I was fortunate enough to catch them at the tail end of their trip.  I spend some time with my nieces and nephews at the local water park and enjoyed several dinners and BBQ’s with family and friends.  I think it was really good for me to be away for this month and gain true appreciation for my wife, kids and close friends.  All of this alone/away time has been really good for me to realize who my real family and real friends are.  I love you all so very much!

Being at home was short lived as reality was quickly brought back to my attention.  I had a fair bit of racing left to do to reach my goals for the year.  Obviously, this was the furthest I have ever pushed my mind and my body and this weekend would be my 8th Ironman race in as many weeks.  A friend and athlete of mine, James English successfully completed the very challenging St George Ironman earlier this year in May.  Due to the extreme conditions the day turned out to be a day of survival and not personal bests.  James convinced his wife to allow him to join me on one of my races and it just happened to be this weekend in Sterling, Colorado.  From the looks of things, Sterling seemed to be in the middle of nowhere, so I wasn’t in any hurry to get there early.  Initially, we were going to bring the family and enjoy a weekend together; but upon further review, we didn’t think it was a good idea to subject the kids to all that car time with nothing to do upon arrival. 

James picked me up Friday morning around 8 am and we headed out through Wyoming and onto Sterling.  The drive was uneventful which sometimes is a very good thing.  We arrived early enough to head straight to the race site and get all checked in for the race.  Alex, the HITS race announcer always does a great job of making me feel welcome and I enjoy being referred to as the Naples Champion (still a pretty cool highlight and memory of my year).  There was a sign making booth for spectators to make signs for their athletes who would be racing in the coming days.  James and I had a little time to kill before the athlete dinner so we make a few signs.... for ourselves... that no one would be holding.  That’s ok though, it killed some time. 

The dinner was a nice change from the traditional pasta and salad that is usually served at all pre-race dinners.  On the menu was a mexican spread that hit the belly right!  I prefer to eat potatoes and rice over noodles and breads the day before a race.  We got our fill and headed back to the hotel to rest up.

Sterling is a very small town with nothing to do and that is just great when I just want to sit in my hotel room and not move.  The bigger cities, that have lots of interesting stuff to see, make it hard for me to just sit relax and recover.  This wasn’t an issue in Sterling. 

These windmills are a good indicator it's going to be a windy day.....

James English getting ready to dominate!
She is ready to rock and roll.... SO PRETTY.  Thank you Bio Structures!

We slept in till....WHENEVER WE WANTED ;)  After avery normal breakfast we headed to the race site for a pre-race practice swim, bike and run and then watch the kids and novice race.  I also brought Sunny’s bike for a friend to use during her Ironman.  She had to fly in and with us driving she could save money on the ridiculous check fees for bikes (I will spare everyone another rant on this... for now;)  The water was warm but not really that clean.  It had a slightly funky smell to it.  The weather was really hot and we just did a quick 30 minute ride and a 10 minute run to make sure the bikes were running smooth and the legs felt good after sitting in the car for more than 8 hours the day before.  James is an account executive for Sprint and we took out the Mormon LDS missionaries for lunch (the connection is the LDS church uses Sprint and James is over the church account) so he killed a few business items while here in Sterling.  We went to what looked to be the only nice restaurant in town and it actually was really good!  The rest of the afternoon was spent getting our bags ready for the race, watching the Olympics (MY FAVORITE) and just staying off our feet and out of the heat!  My favorite meal of the day is breakfast so we went to Village Inn for a night time skillet before the race, perfect!

Race morning came quick and I slept really well.  I love the HITS races because you can sleep in a little longer than in a big Ironman event where you have to fight lines and crowds of people.  The HITS races are much lower key and have a very cool home town race feeling.  My coach Sonja was there with her husband Troy who was doing his very first half ironman in prep for his very first Ironman race in Wisconsin later this year.  It was great to see her and have her there for another one of my races (she was also in Texas earlier this year.) 

Wetsuits on and last minute prep complete.  I wished James good luck and told him I would see him at the finish.  The horn sounds and all the half and full athletes charge into the water from the beach start.  The first lap had minimal congestion due to amount of people participating in the races series.  It is still on the low side as this is the HITS’s first year in operation.  I recognized Troy in the water and stayed with him most of the first lap where he then exited the water and I rounded the shore marker and dove back in for a second loop.  The water still had that funky smell and didn’t have good visibility.  I am pretty sure the cattle on the other side of the lake use this as a toilet and bath.  The second lap of a HITS swim is mostly by yourself which is great and also a little not so great.  Great cause you are not fighting for open water space and not so great cause you don’t have anyone to pace off of or with.  I think the pro out weighs the con in this situation and happily plug along.  It just so happened that I caught 2 swimmers on my second loop and did the rest of the swim with them and we all exited the water at the same time. 

I was pretty sure that when I got out of the water I was in 6th position.  I did a quick transition and went to put on my helmet for the ride and somehow the chin strap had fallen off.  I watched as the two guys I came out of the water with left transition as I fumbled to get the chin strap ties back together so I could strap the helmet on (a triathlon biking rule and good practice if you think about it).  The ride stared with roller had a flatter middle section and finished with a big hill before turning back and heading to transition.  I felt good on the bike and had worked my way into second place just after the 28 mile turn around.  The winds were down and the air temp was manageable.  I was doing a great job with my fluids and pacing.  On my way to transition and the turn around I timed how much of an advantage the 1st place rider had on me and it was just under 10 minutes.  I figured I could take off 5 minutes from the half way point and then 5 more minutes again before returning back to transition where we would head out onto the run.  I biked back out to the half-way point staying in control of my heart rate and I was still 10 minutes back.  Once I made the turn the winds had picked up and we were headed straight into it.  On the first loop, I saw James and cheered him on as we headed in opposite directions.  But then on the second loop I didn’t see him.  Thinking I must have just missed him, I biked on into the wind in pursuit of the 1st position in the race. 

I pulled into transition and as I am racking my bike I see Mr James English walking towards me in street clothes.  I said, “What the hell are you doing, are you ok?”  He said he got very sick, that he was out of the race and that 1st place was 10 minutes down the run course.  All of this information sucked!  I quickly changed and was running in a new pair of Altra Lone Peaks.  This shoe was the perfect choice, as the entire run was on a gravel/dirt trail and road.  I started running and knew there was no way I was going to run anybody down at this stage of my year.  It was HOT, real hot.  I was wearing my trusty cowboy hot which was nice to keep the sun off of my face and neck.  Coach Sonja and her husband Troy were there to send me off on the run course and take a few pics.  As I ran towards the first aid station, I could see I runner leaving it back onto his run.  I first thought it was a really slow half distance racer that I had caught, but once I arrived at the aid station they told me that the full distance leader had just left.  I fueled up and headed down the path.  The ground surface was soft and it was almost like I was running on a beach.  You had to pay very close attention to the ground and where you were stepping in order to try and get the best ground contact.  Running a marathon in an Ironman is tough enough let alone a softer surface.  Within the next 10 minutes, I had caught the leader and passed him up for first. 
Coach Sonja wishing well before heading out

The run took us out onto a wide dirt road that was much better to run in as the ground wasn’t as soft.  I held the lead all the way out ‘till the far turn around on the course.  I was passed while trying to gather myself at an aid station.  The heat was getting to me and I was being darn sure I didn’t have a repeat experience from Texas where I also had then lead then ran into some huge issues.  I let them pass me and I didn’t let it influence my race, cause after all winning the race wasn’t why I was there.    I made the turn back at transition and headed out for my second loop.  The winds had picked up so when I saw James, I handed him my hat and glasses, and took off my shirt in an attempt to even a half a years worth of tan lines.  I kept plugging away and noticed the sky starting to get really dark... I mean really dark.  I cursed the heat some more and prayed for the skies to open up and cool us down with some showers.  Well I got my wish but they it wasn’t nice and pleasant at all.  I started to pour, and I mean pour.  The winds threw the rain on us and it felt like pins and needles were being thrown at you.  I put my wet shirt back on only because it created a layer of protection from the pelting.  The winds and the rain got worse and worse.  It now felt like I was getting a tattoo over my entire body.  To see where I was going, I had to turn mostly away from the direction of the wind, place my hands over my face and peek through the tiniest hole in my hands.  There was no running for me at the height of it all and I ended up doing some walking backwards.  I reached the next aid station and it had completely collapsed and the volunteers where no where to be seen.  I took a few things and just kept going on.  The lighting and thunder was bright, loud and very close.  I remember trying to think very small, like I was the smallest thing out there so I wouldn’t be struck by lighting.  The wind died down and bit and I was able to start running again.  Soon after I was passed by what looked like a gazelle leaping through a meadow.  He was tall and looked fresh.  Again, I let him go and was happy with third place.  Just before making it all the way out to the far turn around, I had caught back up to the athlete who was now in second as they too were passed by the gazelle.  I asked if they were ok and then headed out for my last 6.5 miles to finish this race off.  I was wet cold and just wanted to be done.  I would have never imagined that when this day started I would have struggled with being cold.  On the way back, athletes were huddled under the fallen down aid stations in an attempt to stay dry... which I didn’t really understand as they were already soaked to the bone and there was no other way to get back to transition then by being in the elements.  Most of the volunteer and abandoned post and I certainly don’t blame them, I got pretty bad out there.  I ran strong all the way back holding off 2 athletes that were charging for the podium position.  I crossed the finish line where Alex welcomed me in with a warm welcome.  There were few dedicated spectators left who had gathered under the pavilion and cheered.  I was happy with 2nd place overall on the day and another Ironman in the books.  James and I gathered our things and headed back to the hotel. 
This is my hand from being socked after the run.... not the swim...

James was bummed and I was hungry.  So we headed back to Village Inn and pounded another evening breakfast!  The perfect solution to sulk a little and celebrate a little.  We will both live to race another day... Palm Springs maybe Mr. James English??

The Iron Cowboy

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Tuesday July 17, 2012,

I woke up and gathered all my things for my journey back to the US.  I said my goodbyes to Julienna and the kids and headed out.  I had a few issues checking in with France Airlines.  They were not sure if they were going to have room on the flight to check my bike.  With all the cyclist traveling home, they have been having some issues.  They told me this was my fault, as I didn’t call the airlines first letting them know I would be coming with a bike.  WHAT?!?  This is the first I have EVER heard of this and I travel A LOT with my bike.  They made me stand there for 30 minutes, making calls to make sure they had room.  WHAT a JOKE!  When I finally made the flight and took my seat, I looked around and counted AT LEAST THIRTY EMPTY SEATS - clowns!

They also tried to take me for a ride with check in fees.  They wanted to try and charge me $220 Euros to check my bike.  A fee for the bike, AND a fee for being over weight, AND a fee for the size.  HELLLLOOOOO that is what the bike fee is for, because it is all these things.  I love telling people what their procedures are.  I told her I only had $105 Euros left on my cash card, $10 Euros cash and she wanted more.  I pulled out $58 US cash, which she made me go change into Francs.  She even took the change out of my pockets to try to get out every last penny I had on me.  I was still short of the $220 she needed, but with the boarding deadline approaching and me left with only lint in my pocket, she let me go through.  

I tried to stay awake for the whole flight, in an attempt to try and turn my body around quickly.  I landed in NYC at 10 pm and was greeted at the airport by Namwan!  She is a Thai student who did a school study 16 years ago at our home back in Canada.  She now lives in New York and is hosting me for my one night stay before I head to Lake Placid in the morning.  Before heading to her place for the night, we put my bike in her store so I could leave it there for a few weeks.

Namwan from Thailand, all grown up.

I made a dumb error when booking all my flights and booked myself into the wrong airport in NY.  I didn’t want to pay the $150 each way on the short Delta flight and this is why I would be leaving my bike with Namwan.  Jim Wilkes (my host for the Lake Placid Ironman) helped me out in a HUGE way and booked my flight from JFK to the race site.  He is also letting me use one of his bikes for the race there.  I will leave my bike here in NYC city for when I return early in August, for the US championships in NYC, NY!

Wednesday 18, 2012

Steve and Namwan
New York is hot!  I slept in and finally got to watch some of the Tour De France (not live he he) and just relaxed until lunch when Namwan was going to show off her new store, take me to lunch, and show me her little town.  When I first met Namwan, 16 years ago, she knew maybe 5 words of English and was just a teenager.  Now she speaks great English, some Spanish and perfect Thai.  She is living “The American Dream” and has moved to NY and opened her own business.  She seems very happy and I couldn’t be happier for her.  She gave me a quick tour of her shop and then Steve (her husband) and Namwan took me out to lunch at an Italian restaurant (home made noodles and everything.)  It all tasted great.  Steve went back to the store and Namwan took me to show off her little town, which had some great views and oceanfront property.  I started to feel a little sick and a bad headache set in... must have been something I ate.  I also felt like throwing up.... this is the first time this year I have not felt very good (well outside of a race that is ;)  Namwan dropped me off at the airport where my next adventure would begin.

Trying to sleep.... in an airport...
I checked in for the flight.  It was suppose to be an easy flight to NJ and then back to Syracuse. It turned into a series of delays, which kept me in airports ‘till I finally landed at my destination at 2:30am.  Jim Wilkes (complete stud) was patiently waiting for me there.  We waited.... waited.... No Bags!  For some reason with all the delays and confusion, my bags just didn’t make it out of New York City.  I filled out some paperwork and received an overnight bag from Delta. It had everything I would need to stay clean and smelling fresh and a new Delta T-shirt.... which will never be worn. >:/

Found Him !!!
The drive to Jim’s place in Potsdam, NY was about 2 1/2 hours from the airport.  I wouldn’t want to live so far away from a major airport, if I had a choice.  On the way to Jim’s, I saw a single headlight coming towards us on the two-lane freeway.  We had just passed a slight bend in the road, when a motorbike went flying by in the opposite direction.  I looked back and knew he wasn’t going to make the corner.  He drifted into the shoulder and then all I saw was the red tail slight spinning through the air.  CRASH!!!  Then 3 cop cars whipped by in full pursuit.  They didn’t see the bike go off the road and they blew right past where the bike wrecked.  Jim and I flipped around to see if we could find the guy and the bike in the dark.  We were pulled off to the side of the road, when a another cop car went flying by.  We tried to flag them down, with no luck.  Jim jumped on his phone and called 911 to see if we could get the cops to turn back around and come back to where we saw the crash.  A few minutes passed and the ALL the police in the area were at the scene.  Cop cars, trucks and vans all pulled up and everyone started looking for the bike and bike operator.  They quickly found him and secured the area.  They blocked off the road in both directions which meant Jim and I were stuck.  A helicopter came in and landed on the two lane road (very impressive) and air lifted the guy to the hospital.  Jim and I gave our statements and then were released to continue our journey to Jim’s house.  We pulled in around 5am.  A quick bowl of cereal and I was set for some much needed rest.  I slept for about 5 hours before waking up to face the day!  Click below to read a quick write up on the model citizen involved in the motorcycle crash;

The few days before the race, I was used to get readjusted to the US time zone and getting as much recovery as possible.  I had a goal of trying to sleep from 9 pm to 9 am everyday, but with no success...  I went to bed on time, but couldn’t get my body to sleep past 7:30 am.  But I was still super happy about that.  On Friday, Jim and I headed to Lake Placid to check out the town and get all checked in for the race.  I got to check out the Olympic grounds from two previous Olympics and the “Miracle on Ice”.  We wandered around the expo and met many new and interesting people.  

Jim and I at check in.... I think we are giddy to be doing Ironman! 
One day I will BOBSLED!

Legends once skated here.... when there was ice....

It is almost like I am in the picture!

View from above of the Oval and Transition

I would like to formally introduce you to Mr. Jim Wilkes.  This guy is pretty amazing.  Jim says “I am just s semi-normal guy aspiring to be the 1st Army Wounded Warrior to earn an Epicman (triple ironman triathlon) invite. I am also a retired Army Officer, Team Red, White, and Blue member, and new IBM'er; who was told tris and life were going to be impossible because of a brain injury and other hindrances I picked up while serving in the military.”

Meet Mr. Jim Wilkes

You should see this guys case on the wall with all of his military aways and TWO PURPLE HEARTS.  A pretty special guy indeed.  He helped me out in a big way during my stay in New York and I can only see us doing some incredible things together in the future.  Jim’s wife, Amy, is also pretty amazing for putting up with Jim ;)  What I found most interesting about Jim, is that when he swims he looses function of one arm and when he runs for a long time he looses his vision.  I, for one, would pick up darts or billiards.... but that is what makes him special.

Kids Swim Start!
Saturday morning we headed out the door and watched Jim’s son Jonathan compete in a local kids triathlon.  It is always so much fun to see all the little people out there swimming, biking and running.  When Jonathan was out on the run, Jim went out to run with him.  Half-way through the run, Jonathan wanted to walk and Jim told him that they don’t walk and that they don’t quit.  Jonathan reply cracked me up.  He said “No dad you don’t quit, but I do!”  I thought this was super cute and at the very least Jim was getting the message across the he doesn’t and won’t quit.  

Saturday afternoon we headed back to Lake Placid and got the bikes and transition bags all set to  leave at the race site.  Jim was letting me borrow his old TT bike, which after a few adjustments looked like it would work out just great.  The evening was concluded with a great dinner (thanks Amy) and early to bed.

Dinner with the Wilkes Family.  A very special group!

Sunday July 22nd - Ironman Lake Placid Race day

Don't forget your number here!
We woke up nice and early in order to get to Lake Placid in time to get all set up.  Jim was paranoid about getting there in time and being ready.  I told him I had made 15 start line with 100% success and this one would be no different.  With most everything already at the race site the day before, there isn’t that much to do race morning.  With bike bottles in place and transition bags hung, we headed to the swim start.  I was surprised that a few people recognized me in my cap.  They wished the Iron Cowboy good luck on the day and told me that I inspire them to keep going and doing more.  What an honor, even if I am only inspiring a small few.

The swim start area was massive and I positioned myself perfect.  I weaved all the way from the swim entry to the far right side of the massive swim field, possible the biggest of the year.  I waded through all the athletes and positioned myself front and far right.  I do this for two reasons... 1) I breath on my left and want to be able to see the field of athletes and 2) I have the option to swim right and escape all the chaos.  This has worked really well for me and Lake Placid was no difference.  The gun went off and I took off fast in order to not get run over by the faster swimmers.  I held my ground and found open water almost immediately.  I have tried all strategies when the swim starts and really like both.  I like going off quickly and settling into a pace and I also like starting really slow and maintaining that pace.... jury is still out.  The lake was warm and perfect.  Nice and flat with good under water vision.  The swim course in Lake Placid is set up year round (when not frozen) and is a narrow rectangle 2 lap race course.  I stayed to the right all the way out to the far buoy and made the turn to cross the top and head back towards the start.  I again stayed out of trouble all the way back, popped out of the water, ran across the timing mat and jumped in to do it all again.  I really like the courses that have two equal laps where you have to get out of the water for a second a run a bit, even if just for a few steps.  It’s a perfect time to check your progress, get upright and up out of the swim prone position.  All the way back out to the far swim turn around where the swim field had finally spread out.  I swam more on the buoy line and made a discovery that I had wished I’d discovered with 10 swim strokes of the race.  I have only seen this in one other race and it remains one of my favorite swims at the 70.3 in Lake Stevens Washington for this same reason.  THERE IS A WHITE CABLE UNDER WATER CONNECTING ALL THE SWIM BUOY AND RUNS THE ENTIRE SWIM COURSE.  If you get nothing else from this blog and have aspirations of doing Lake Placid in the future THIS is valuable information.  From the far buoy home I didn’t sight once.  It is like you are swimming in a swimming pool, it is so much fun.  I really didn’t sight once.  I would keep the white line just to my right side and hammer the last fourth of the swim.  I am positive that this swim was negatively split - boom baby!

I exited the water having having found this white under water angel.  I transitioned quickly and didn’t struggle with forgetting my race number, forgetting my shoes or not being able to find sun screen.  The first few miles of the bike a steady climb and then transitioned into a 7 mile stretch of some of the funnest riding I have done all year.  It was fast and felt like a roller coaster ride.  I was riding Jim old titanium Trek and was SOLID.  This thing was a tank and with the 5 or more extra pounds I flew down these hills.  I didn’t have a computer on my bike but would bet that this is the fastest I have even gone on a bike.  The course like many others was a two looper but Lake Placid is really pretty.  After reaching the last turn around and getting through some easy rollers we had about 13 miles back to town.  This stretch turned out to be very challenging with it being into the wind and uphill.  I sound like an old person.... “I remember walking to school in the winter into the wind and uphill both ways” - ha ha!!!

It was the prettiest section on the course and easily the toughest.  Everyones pace slowed as we approached town and headed out once again.  The streets were packed as we rolled through and it gave me a good boost of energy flying through the mobs of people.  Also I was pretty excited to go do the “Roller Coaster” section again.  The second lap didn’t disappoint and was actually harder then the first with the winds blowing stronger than the first.  I also noticed my knees coming closer and closer to my chest and my bike position shifting.  It felt like my seat had dropped or had been slowing dropping since the start of the ride.  My race number sticker had been wrapped around my seat post like in any event this year so the officials can see the race numbers.  My race number was now scrunched into more than half its size with the seat drop.  I figure the seat moved about an inch and a half if not more.  This make for a less than comfortable ride over the last 20 miles or so and reaffirmed the benefit of  using your own bike in a race, but I save $300 in Delta check fees which always puts a smile on my face ;)

At the finish!
On course with Olympic Ski Jumps
I took off onto the run with no cowboy hat as it had blown away in the weather we had in Switzerland.  The Placid run course starts off with a steep downhill section which takes you to the main part of the run course.  I was HOT but I was in good shape with my nutrition.  My pace wasn’t fast but it was steady.  At about mile 4 I came to an aid station (which most of them were themed making the run much more fun) with a redneck theme.  Some of the volunteers working the air stations were wearing cowboy hats!!  I approached one, quickly told my story and asked if I could trade my visor for her cowboy hat.  She didn’t hesitate and quickly made the trade, BOOM!  It is a amazing the difference in crowd support when I wear my hat and when I don’t.  I had some great support from athletes and even spectators who recognized and cheered on the Iron Cowboy.  At around mile 18 I can upon a tall lean black gentleman who seemed to be struggling and he walked along the side of the road with his head down.  I pulled up and started to walk beside him.  I asked him how he was doing and he seemed defeated.  He proceeded to tell me that he had had a great race to this point but was tired and didn’t feel like he could reach his goal of breaking 12 hours.  He was defeated!  I looked at my watch and told him to walk when I walked and to run when I ran.... slow and steady.  I told him if he did that I promised we would break 12 hours and reach his goal.  We started running and ran between aid stations and walked and fueled through them.  I held him back when we were running to eliminate excess walking when not at the aid stations.  I tried to talk him through the tough parts and tried to help him work through the pain.  We ran step for step together for the remainder of the marathon run and as promised I delivered him to the finish line in 11 hours and 45 minutes.  I stayed back and let him enjoy the finish shoot as he victoriously conquered the Ironman for the first time.  I crossed moments later and went to give him a congratulatory hand shake.  He said “No man”  and gave me a big hug and told me that he couldn’t have done it without me.  This was one of the best moments for me in the Lake Placid Ironman and I was happy to share it with my new Ironman buddy!


I felt great after the race, took in some food and get a much deserved massage.  I wandered over to the finish line to see if I could find Amy and her two boys.  They were positioned in the grand stands waiting for Jim to conquer his day in Lake Placid.  I got a front row seat against the barrier and watched for several hours as the participants of the day poured into the finish area.  It was amazing to see all the joy on peoples faces both from the athletes and the loved ones in the stands.  I saw huge smiles, and plenty of tears of joy.  I heard cheers and joyous cries as athlete after athlete achieved this huge physical and mental accomplishment.  Jim experienced some difficulties on the day and I had the “opportunity” to watch the finishers for hours and see many of the athletes stories come to their conclusions.  Jim ran strong across the finish line in 16 hours.  Congrats and a HUGE thanks to Jim for his incredible generosity and help during my stay in NY.  You sir are awesome!

The Iron Cowboy.

Waiting for Jim to finish...

One of the best crowds of the year... it was loud for hours!

Waiting....Waiting.... the kids fell asleep right before Jim came in ;(

The man doesn't quit and finished strong!  Just awesome Jim!