Thursday, November 18, 2010

The final race of the season...

Clearwater Florida - 70.3 World Championships.

Coach Keena and fellow athlete Nichole finally found a flight that got them to Orlando in the middle of the night. Orlando was a 2 hour drive from where we were staying and Justin volunteered to drive there and pick them up- What a stud!
Justin raked this M-Dot into the sand outside our condo.

This morning my bike showed up. This is always a big relief as the bike is kind of a big part of the race (and my favorite if I'm being honest) A few weeks ago I was interviewed by the podcast TRI TALK done by David Warden. Today I received an e-mail from David Warden (click here to listen to his AWESOME podcast - episode 24) saying that one of his listeners had a few extra passes to the VIP tent and after race banquet dinner for the event in Clearwater and wondered if I wanted them. So Ryan hooked me up and gave me 3 bracelets. Sunny and her parents will now get to enjoy the race out of the hot sun and enjoy some good eats. Thank you so much David and Ryan for the sweet hook up!

Ryan handing out VIP passes - AWESOME surprise!
The next days consisted of small "stay fresh" workouts, getting our bikes and gear into transition and doing nothing! Sunny was awesome putting up with all the race stuff and even gave my legs a good rub down before bed!

Chilling on the beach, trying to stay fresh.

Pre-race meal.  Justin, Jeanette, Keena, Nichole and Sunny

The final destination.... CLEARWATER.  They put up a sign to welcome me!

Saturday November 13, 2010

Pro men swim start.

Today is the final event of my quest for the Tri and Give a Dam project, the World Championships! I am happy to just be here and hope to finish in the top 100 in my age. This may seem like a really bad goal but no one else in the field is working on their 22nd event and the 30-34 age group is very competitive. Our group woke up early and headed to the race site. One thing I forgot to mention is when we put our bikes into transition each athlete was assigned their very own escort to ask questions and make sure we understood the flow of the race. Nice touch WTC.

James, Keena and Steve O.
I was putting the final air in my tires and was having a difficult time getting my front tire to my desired pressure. It seemed like air was escaping from the valve stem. I started to tinker with it when all of a sudden the valve stem fell out and the clincher went completely flat. Luckily I had plenty of time, removed the wheel and took it to bike tech. They fixed me up right good in less than 5 minutes and all is well. It was a bit of a scare but I've learned to stay very calm in moments of crisis.

I was the first of our group to go off and was happy about my wave draw. I was the 5th age group wave which meant there weren't going to be a million athletes in front of me on the bike and I didn't have to wait forever after T1 closes.

I gave Sunny a big smooch and headed out for my 1.2 mile swim for the week. The winds were up and the water was rougher than the few practice swims we did earlier this week. The course was very simple with only 2 turns. The swim was straight out, shirt swim across the top section and straight back. The water was choppy by I managed to hit my average for the year and came in just over 35 minutes. The only part I didn't like was the swim back to the shore was straight into the sunrise which mad it tough to sight the buoys.

I ran through the showers which was great as it got all that salt off of us and headed out on the bike.

Running towards T1 through the sprinklers!

Done with my last of 22 1.2 mile swims....
Clearwater is traditionally a draft fest due to the flatness of the course and the quality of riders. Typically big groups of riders (mostly men) get locked in together which is against the rules in half Ironman racing. The winds were still up and for the first 30 miles of the race I found myself pretty much by myself. I would pass small groups of 2 or 3 riders from the older age groups and pass them with ease. I was plugging along nicely wondering what all the fuss and muss was all about in regards to drafting. I wasn't catching the peletons in front of me and no peletons were catching me. I thought to myself that I must be getting along pretty good..... THEN ALL OF A SUDDEN I WAS SWEPT UP by a massive group if riders. With 20 miles to go I found myself dead in the middle of this giant cheat-o-thon. I went from 23 miles per hour in the aero position working pretty hard to 30 miles an hour sitting up and spinning my legs out. This group was so large it was tough to get out the back end of it. I found myself terrified with 2 riders on my right, 2 riders on my left and 20 riders both in the front and back of me. Most of the group was in their drops. It would have been a disaster if just one athlete clipped another riders wheel. We would have gone down in a bloody mess, thank goodness that didn't happen. After the race I did hear of a few other significant crashes - hope those athletes are all ok. I know I should have dropped off of this group as soon as I could but I was having SO MUCH FUN going so fast with such ease that I stayed longer than necessary and I deserved a penalty for sure. I will see if I can find a picture of my brightly colored disk in the middle of this insane pack. I felt bad for Jeannette who got a drafting penalty. She says that she was passed by a male rider and was about 3 bike lengths instead of the required 4 bike lengths as he completed his pass. It was a horrible call by the ref and she goes on to say that all the people in the penalty tent were women... Come on refs, all the peletons were packs and packs of men!

No drafting here folks ;)

I rolled into transition and it was fun to just hand off my bike to a volunteer, grab my change bag and go through the change tents. I managed to have a strong bike with a time of 2:23.

Gritting my teeth hoping to finish....

Out on the run course and feeling great. My nutrition was bang on with a good run I had a good chance of getting a personal best (which happens to be 4:39 from Steelhead earlier this year). I was right on pace and still feeling great at the turn around of the first of two laps. Headed back to the pier I could feel my IT band starting to lock up on me. I started to have this issue late in the year and thought I had worked it out prior to this event doing several runs with no pain leading up to Worlds. I find that it tightens up after a good bike effort as my hip flexers are tighter than if I was just heading out on a long training run - something to work on for the off season!

All the pictures of me were when I was running. yes yes yes!!

The pain started to really increase and started to become unbearable. I said no way, gritted my teeth and kept plugging away going as fast as I could stand the pain. At mile 11, the pain was super high and I was dying out there. I took my heart rate as I knew I wasn't close to my cardio capacity. It was a low 136 beats per minute, but that's all my leg would give me. I limped in with a smile on my face having beat the world championships. I had a disappointing victory on the run coming in at 1 hour and 50 minutes - blah!

The final time across the line in 2010.....that makes 22.

It's hard to describe how good this moment feels.....

I managed to complete the day with a faster time than my quests average but missed my goal for the day. I mustered up a 4:54 which I am pretty proud of!!! It has been a long season. Sunny came down to the finish line to greet me and took me up to the VIP area. It was nice and cool up there with a great food and drink spread. This was a great treat and I got my fill of fancy meats and tasty pastries.

CEO of Quiet Way Ron and his wife Maurine enjoying the VIP seating

Post race pastries in VIP... how can I do a race any other way now....

Jeannette had the performance of the day despite her 4 min drafting penalty with an awesome personal best time of 4:45. Coach Keena had a great race completing the final race of 3 World Championships (Olympic distance in Budapest, Half Ironman distance in Clearwater, and Full Ironman distance in Kona Hawaii)

Keena and Nichole finishing strong.

Jeanette Schellenberg being AWESOME.  Nice PR!!

Some final thoughts. It has been a crazy year and I could not have done it without all your sideline support. I think it's natural to say that I wished I'd raised more money, I'd hoped to get better exposure for the charity, I wished I had gone faster in the races and so on and so on. But at the end of the day I did the best I could and laid it out there every week. I not super human or an elite athlete. My goal this year was to do something fun and special with the hopes to impact the lives of others. I wanted to inspire the everyday athlete here and help Quiet Way impact many people in Africa. I don't think I'll ever really know my impact if any....

Iron WOMAN in the making!  My four proud daughters!!!

The year was difficult but I can only imagine that I will look back on this year and have some wonderful memories to keep me going in the future. I will not quit and I will continue to try to impact people in a meaningful way. I met a lot of wonderful people and made many friends along the way. I became closer with my family despite my time and distance away. I found out who my real friends and family were as they encouraged me along the way when I had moments of doubt and to celebrate the victories.

Nichole, Scott, Keena, Maurine, Sunny, James Ron.
Some well deserved pizza at the end of a long year!

Where do I go from here? I'm going to sign off for at least 2 weeks :) and really digest what had happened over the last 30 weeks. I'm going to go back to real work that pay me as we be broke :) I'm going to analyze and map out my preparation year for 2011 and I'm going to try and figure out how to pull off 24 full Ironman races in 2012. Lots of things need to fall into place.... Here's hoping.

James Lawrence

An athlete with purpose.
Do you give a Dam?


  1. Amazing. Simply Amazing, James. I really hope 2012 works out for you! But for now, I am glad you are enjoying a little bit of an off-season! You deserve it more than any of us! Thanks for inspiring so many!

  2. Wow! You probably hear this all the time but you are a true inspiration and a darn great example! Congratulations!

  3. Congratulations on an awesome year! You have made an impact on this world and I am so glad that I got to follow your travels.

    Good luck with the coming years!

  4. What a year... James, it has been a lot of fun to follow the many ups and downs of your epic journey this year. I'll be honest..., in a way I'm sad to see it come to an end. What you did for Quiet Way and the people in Africa is truly amazing(world record worthy). What a display of compassion, determination, talent, and resourcefulness(not to mention, shear amazingness by Sunny). It has been a lot of fun... Thank you for sharing your ride with us. Here's to 2012...

  5. Congratulations on 22 races!! That is amazing. Even though you did not raise the amount you say you wanted, you still raised money for the people in Africa! Good job. And, get some rest.

  6. Well done James! A few things stand out for me in this post:

    1. I love the swim start picture!
    2. You said you wished you would have had more media coverage and I truly believe that is possible for you. I just went to Shawne Duperon's media mastery bootcamp and learned tonnes of strategies and techniques for getting in the news. Check her out (she is based in Detroit but travels too)
    3. You have definitely inspired me! I had an amazing experience training (from afar) with you and racing in my first triathlon (I say first because I know there will be more). I can honestly say that may NEVER have happened without your support and encourgement.

    You Rock! Keep up the good work!

  7. Great post...You rock...

    --I prefer running without shoes. My toes didn't get cold. Besides, if I'm in front from the start, no one can step on them. ~Michelle Dekkers - mountain hardwear