Thursday, February 7, 2019

Winter Training for Puerto Rico

This is the first winter that I’ve had to train for an early season big event.  Ironman 70.3 Puerto Rico is on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th.  Traditionally, a sixteen week training program is what has worked for me in my prior dozen 70.3’s.  This put my first week of training at the end of November, the beginning of the cold season.  Creating weekly training plans became an exercise in predicting the weather, then picking the best days to do the long rides… outside. 


Part of the joy of training for races and staying in shape for me is the time spent outdoors in nature.  Here on the mid-Eastern Shore of Maryland rural settings dominate.  The Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, farms, forests, marshlands, fowl and creatures abound, here.  Give me a hot 90+ degree day over a 20 degree day every time, but also give me an outdoor ride over an indoor ride most every time, too.  With the exception of one week, part of all my long rides this winter have been outside on the roads.  For in addition to watching the weather for wintertime workouts, one must also plan accordingly for the shortness of daylight.  A few of my rides had to end on the trainer because I lost daylight. 


Just this past Tuesday, we had a 60 degree sunny, windless day that we put on the docket for our long 70 mile training ride.  We rode during the middle of the day (yes, we played hooky) to take advantage of low traffic, of the brightest and warmest sun, and of time to get work done in early morning and evening.  The day turned out better than predicted and we were able to get every mile in of our plan.


TRAINING PARTNERS can hugely benefit your training by holding each other accountable for workouts, motivating each other, and having someone else living through a similar experience to yours.  Other than actually registering for a race, having a training partner can be one of the biggest motivators for an athlete.  It helps to have a partner with similar abilities, but it is not a necessity. 


My partner, for instance, is several notches faster than me in all three disciplines.  WE usually do workouts together when he has an easy one planned and I have a harder one on the docket.  When we run, we warm up together, then we each run our own paces in the same area, so we see each other during the run occasionally.  Swimming is simple; he simply gets a longer rest period than me at our pre-determined break points.  I also have gotten pretty good at DRAFTING behind a faster swimmer, where I’m able to hold his speed in the vortex created behind him.  Cycling works well too, when I get too tired or cannot keep up, I simply draft behind my partner, the Machine. 


Nothing better than heading into the pool for a workout when it’s freezing outside; I love it.  It is obvious that there will be no swimming outside in the winter, right?  But, when it comes to running and cycling in the cold, GAME ON, but, the right gear is paramount.  Gear can make or break an experience.  There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.  Something to break the wind is the most important aspect to each piece of clothing for the run and bike; more so for the bike.  And, yet, most of our gear also needs to be breathable. 


So, too, does our hydration and nutrition need to adapt to colder temperatures, making sure each does not freeze, making them hard to intake.  Just a few weeks ago on a long ride in the Oxford area, my partner’s hydration hose froze to the point that he only had a small trickle of water coming through. 


I eat like a pig on the bike on training rides.  DATES have been my new go-to.  Two dates have roughly the same amount of carbohydrates that a GEL does, plus they are loaded with Potassium, Calcium, and Iron.  Couple that with a few thin slices of pepper-coated salami, and I have a feast, getting my hourly carb-count and electrolytes.  Most of my nutrition comes in liquid form, however, with a sports drink with added plain Maltodextrin, to increase the carbohydrate level without adding sugars.    


I have come to appreciate the timely use of a treadmill and cycle-trainer this winter.  With all these options, I’ve not had to miss out on any workouts due to weather.  A weekly spin class helps to build my speed and strength on the bike. Options to have trainers set up, here, at my house or at my partner’s house gives us even more options. 


Speaking of strength, one or two strength workouts a week have been my norm for the past four months.  I see the results of this work in the latter part of my runs, where I’m ALWAYS able to finish strong with my fastest miles at the end.  This is true even with a long Brick run; the strength is there and I like it. 


Winter training has an aesthetic appeal, too, with nature that fuels the soul.  Holes in the river ice create concentrated areas where migrating ducks and other fowl gather.  Big changes in temperatures and humidity create fog which gives our flat landscape of the Eastern Shore depth and topography, if even for a few hours. 


Six weeks until Puerto Rico where my partner and I both give our ALL for an attempt to win slots for Worlds 70.3 in Nice, France in September this year.  It’s hard to imagine a hot sweaty ride like we’ll have in PR.  It will be nice to feel my toes, however, at the end of the ride.  We’ll keep you posted.  Cheers.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Log Canoe Saxis

Log Canoe Saxis
circa 1893

Saxis on March 19, 2016, Wittman

Saxis, center log looking aft


Saxis, looking forward; missing section of starboard wing-log in foreground.

Saxis, looking from aft to forward; March 19, 2016

Saxis leaving Roe Farm, Cordova; August 4, 2009

Arriving in Wittman, August 4, 2009; Will Murdoch on left

Saxis at her Wittman digs with help from Jack Meyerhoff and others

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Ironman Maryland

Michael’s Race Report

Ironman Maryland (IMMD)
Being an Eastern Shore-man who lives by the weather, I knew that excessively high tides were in order after 4 days of strong winds out of the East.  Watching the Ironman Village battle flood tides last week made me think this Ironman was in trouble.  As the wind forecast crept up for Saturday’s Ironman, I was not surprised, nor too disappointed in the swim portion cancellation. 
Up at 0330, breakfast, shower, transition by 5:30, shoes off to get through tide, body marked, friends and volunteers, Tina, Allen, Sara, Steve(s) and more, CMS, fun, coach help, bike setup, drop bags, get in wetsuit… ready, whew! 
At 0630 as my support crew gathered around me near the corral for the swim-start, the river did not look promising.  My 86 year old mother was standing next to me having the wind beat at her back, “her 52 year old boy is not really going out there, is he?” I saw my sister shake her head, “there’s no way they’re going to let you in the water”-look.  I felt I could have swum the course and fared better than most; I was not too anxious about it (most of my anxiety was for the run).  The swim is my strongest leg in an Ironman.  But, I was concerned for those not as comfortable in the water as I was.  It was a Hemmingway/Castanza moment, “The sea was angry that day, my friends…”.  By now, 0730, while waiting in my wetsuit for the swim start, the bottoms of my feet raw from too much walking on the asphalt, we awaited the obvious news.   

After a 30 minute delay to see if the “sea” would lay down after sunrise, the race committee cancelled the swim portion of IMMD.  My 2000 friends and I herded towards the gear bags and change tents to ready ourselves for a time-trial style start of the bike leg, which would begin in 20 minutes.  The volunteers were so wonderful, and so were the athletes around me (I heard others were not so pleasant).  The tents were designed to only hold 75 athletes at a time, so I changed out of my wetsuit and swimwear in the wide-open for all to see; most of us did that, we had no choice.   

Several athletes had some chilling discomforts resulting from them having done a warm-up swim and/or having relieved themselves in their wetsuits (a common practice just prior to your swim start). Not me, I learned of this later this week on the IMMD facebook page; tmi for sure.  
Each athlete started one at a time in a time-trial fashion every couple of seconds starting with the lowest to highest bib numbers.  Mine was 420.  Bibs went as high as 2700 which meant it would take two hours to start all the cyclists; a long time to wait…and get cold. 

With the east wind comes the tide.  The bike course (2 laps) was shortened by a total of twelve miles, cutting out a six mile section of road near Andrews in Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, which was a foot under water.  With no swim and a shortened bike I decided to pace a bit faster on the bike then I planned, which I did. 

The bike was fast and I was having a blast, saying polite and witty things to other athletes as I passed them, “Good morning!  Lovely day (which it wasn’t).  Nice bike!  Good pace!  Whose idea was this?  Watch out for eagles!”  I pushed a bit harder every time I felt the wind not in my face.  This extra “push” was controlled and practiced, never over extending my efforts.  Even with four stops (1 planned, 3 unplanned) I did the 100 miles in just under five hours, my fastest ride of that length ever.   

My first stop was on the Golden Hill Road when my right knee hit the bottle I was refilling my tank with, sending it flying into the middle of the road.  Though nearly empty, I went back for my bottle.  Several cyclist whom I had passed just, recently, said positive and complimentary things to me as I stood on the grass, both feet on the ground, holding my bottle and bike in my hands.  No littering penalty for me. 

The second stop involved me relieving myself at the Aid Station potties on Route 16.  As I approached I saw it was a good time to stop with three potties and only one bike hanging on the parking rack.  It took all of a minute for that stop. 

The planned third stop was to refill my fluids at Special Needs.  George Robinson yelled, “420!” in his gloriously, booming Eastern Shore voice as a lady volunteer helped me manage my stop.  I, also, had a chance to say hello to some of the volunteers, including Kathy, who worked the Eagleman finish line for me in June.  It is amazing what it means to these volunteers to work these events.  I’m so grateful for their time and enthusiasm. 

The fourth stop was to check my tires for the “tap tap tap” I had ever since leaving Special Needs.  Surely, I thought, there was something in a tire.  I stopped after four more miles when I saw Cory in the TriCycle and Run bike-support truck.  She ran over to me and we looked together at each tire and found nothing.  Later I realized the “tapping” was fluid hitting the rubber valve in the new bottle picked up at Special Needs.  It sounded like a thumbtack lodged in my tire when pedaling.  A shout out to Cory for great bike support! 

There was plenty of wind and rain on the course.  The last hike up Route 16 from Taylor’s Island was the slowest of the ride with a healthy headwind.  There were some interesting Pep-chalk paintings on the course done by supporters.  One painting looked like a crime scene with the outlines of people laying on the road in various dubious positions.  Another had red chalk which, momentarily, made my front tire turn red; that freaked me out! 

Coach Will, Carita, Melissa and Steve, Sara, Anna were all at or near the bike dismount alley, cheering me on along with hundreds of others when I came through.  Adrian, who rode with me a few weeks back, assisted me in the tent with my nine minute change into my run gear and mixing of my nutrition.   
Out into the mud toward the run course I went, drink in hand, gels in thigh pockets, salts and more drink mix in my rear pocket.  In a moment I was past the cheering of my personal supporters and of the partying mob, making a solid 9:15 pace… right on plan.  Other than stopping to pee at 1.5 miles and down a gel at mile 3, I followed my plan and kept running until my first official stop around mile 8.  The plan from there was to walk all the Aid Stations (one every mile or so), and ingest at regular intervals my salts, hydration, and nutrition. 
 It was after mile 8 that the terrain got funky.  There was ankle deep water to go through in GMP and then mud for 300 yards with loose footing.  At mile 9ish the streets were under water and grew in depth to over 18 inches for several more hundred yards.  These were not ideal running conditions, but the water felt good on my legs.  I was not able to run through some of the deep water.   
Add to those obstacles, something was not right with my plan, I was wanting to walk more often and when running I could not hold my competitive race pace; my competitive race was done.  I slipped into a dark place for the next several miles; I couldn’t even smile back at Carita with all her joyful cheering and love. 

But, something hit me in the ass and by the half marathon mark I was a much happier camper, though still not able to maintain my targeted race-pace.  This points to where I got in my training.  The sickness I had five weeks prior to IMMD put an end to the longer runs in my training.  My right knee issue, which affects the whole leg from hip to calf got the better of me, too.  One can see in the race photos a distinct right-side favoring in my run form (I’m determined to improve this issue).   Excuses, right? 
But the highs well out numbered the lows in this race.  The highlights were the light in people’s eyes that I know and love along the race course.  Carita was constantly cheering me on, as was my coach, CMS friends, my weekend hosts Paul and Michael, Carlos on the High Street post, anyone local who saw my CMS kit, and those who met me from speaking on stage at the Opening Ceremonies. 
Tracy, Rebecca, and Ben who were wearing the CMS green kit, too, inspired me during the run to run faster (don’t know how I missed Sam and Steve??).  Cindy at High and Water Street was in her element having so much fun.  Sara has the most patience and endurance of any of us as she managed the bike area, took photos, and cheered me on every time I ran through the flood.  Michele gushed with encouragement.  Anna looked hot in her boots.  Chris’s encouraging hand fell on my back at one point.  And having Dean pass on the small American flag for the finish line was like manna; the rest was, literally, downhill over the High Street bricks to the welcoming arms of the finish line. 

Joanna and Amy were the first to greet me, Amy taking me through the finish-line conveyor belt to Carita and Margaret, the photo booth, and more friends and family.  I was stoked.  It took me a good half an hour to get feeling well enough to have something to eat in the athlete-food tent; thanks Matt of Rhode Island for dining with me.  After food and a 10 minute massage, I was good to go. 

It was awesome to be with friends under the Tomeley’s party tent when the deluge of rain hit; hot off the grill cheeseburger in my hand, sitting with Carita and friends rehashing the race and hearing plans for IMMD 2017. 

Training for an Ironman takes a large chunk of time out of one’s life.  And, even though I dedicated myself to this process over the past twelve months (and years leading up to this), I fell short of being as prepared as I wanted to be for a competitive Ironman for myself.  That’s okay.  So, for now, I say I’m DONE with the full distance Ironman, but look forward to many more triathlons, including Eagleman!  I plan to continue to make “training” be a way of life for me, but will tackle only enough as to allow the rest of life to flourish. 

Being surrounded by the like-minded people of Cambridge Multi-Sport, TCY Masters Swimming, the YMCA’s of Easton and Dorchester, and my family makes this “way of life” fulfilling, fun, and life-giving.  It is a privilege, that I take heavily, to race Ironman Maryland; I am blessed.  My gratitude goes to every person that has touched my Iron life.

Stats:  Bike 4:59, Run 5:08, T2 9min, total time 10:17

The projected finish time with all the missing portions of IMMD added back had me besting my previous Ironman time by close to half an hour. 
with Gratitude ~ Michael 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Ironman Lake Placid Race Report

 Mile 55 of bike, first time by the CMS tent with Olivia, my mother Fran, and cousin Terri.  They were just a little excited to see me, and I them!  For 12 hours my mother, family, and friends were there every inch of the way, full of support; I was never alone. 

It is done.  In the record books.  A solid piece of myself given to the preparation for and effort towards Ironman Lake Placid (IMLP).  The feeling is grounding; something forever.  For those reading who are taking a large sighing breath in previewing the length of this report, here are the short gritty details: a daylight finish, fantastic electric storm with hail and heavy rain, 47mph downhill in driving rain, 2 half bananas, 15 gels, 3 gallons of fluids, 1:07hr swim, 6:19hr bike, and a 4:50hr marathon, total time 12:30, family and friends with me the whole way, and an easy-feeling finish, still standing, and ready for pizza, French fries, and hugs.

Michael, 2567 just moments before the finish arch of IMLP.
In coach Tracy's words, "nothing is a surprise".  That means because I had proper preparation I was ready for my race and ready to deal with the unexpected.  Of course a "surprise" could have meant I cleaned the clock and won my age group, but that was not in the realistic goal-setting plan. 

All to plan, no surprises, just wonderfulness

Goals per my plan: To compete in and complete IMLP using a specific plan of nutrition, hydration, and appropriate pacing as practiced over the many months of preparation for this largest of “A” races yet to be tackled.  To execute a process that will reveal my potential and dedication up to this date.  To finish and not end up in the medical tent.  All goals met or exceeded; fantastic.

Mikaela Boley and I left Easton at 0400  on Thursday and arrived in Lake Placid (LP) just after noon.  The objective was to get a prime tent-site for the Cambridge Multi-Sport (CMS) team tent, the one that would shelter our families and friends as we do the race.  We hit it just right and put the tent exactly where I wanted it to be: on Mirror Lake Drive, 5 feet from the swim course lake and 5 feet off the road where both Mikaela (Mik) and I would each pass six times over the course of the Ironman.  Only hours later that evening did we see folks putting tents on the sides of hills, over rocks, and up embankments, not prime real estate.  The CMS green of the tent stood proudly for the event.
Mikaela and I after the finish but before our massages and French fries.  From Thursday noon until this moment there was no wasted motion between us.  An Ironman is a lot of focus, planning, and work before toeing the line.

With the race being on Sunday, we both thought arriving Thursday would allow for lots of down-time to relax before the race.  Not so.  Thursday was filled with setting up the tent, lunch, packet pick up, a short run around the lake, and one lap of the swim course.  We checked in at the hostel, ate our dinner at Lisa G's, grocery shopped for our pre-race meals, and went to bed.

Friday was a "do nothing" day.  We both leisurely cleaned our bikes out in the bright sunshine (we thought, wouldn't race day be great to have this weather); it took forever, especially me.  After a little lunch snack, we drove one lap of the bike course, 56 miles.  This was an excellent idea.  We got a sense as to where the aid stations were, where the pot holes were, and a feel for the elevation gains and losses.  Though we had biked the course in other years, Friday's reconnaissance was well worth the ride.  Upon our return to the hostel Mik's family had arrived.  We cooked and ate our carbo rich dinner pasta and sauce, salad, and bread, then we all headed to the LP Ben and Jerry's for ice cream.  I was in bed by 9pm.

Saturday saw Mik and I headed out with the bikes and car to the top of the 5 mile descent into Keene, New York, the largest descent of the course.  Mik first with me following in the car...40+mph.  She continued along the river to make a 30 minute ride, nice and easy.  I felt like the driver of one of the team-cars in Le Tour de France.  When Mik  stopped, we threw her bike on top then returned to the top of the descent for my turn.  The road had been mostly repaved with fresh asphalt except for a few mysterious sections that still contained tire-popping potholes.  The new parts were awesome; the old portions were treacherous, but were marked with flo-orange spray paint.  The rest of the families and friends arrived at some point over the day.  Mik and I scrambled to pack our Bike and Run Bags.  We were focused, but still had zero time for relaxation.  We had to drop off our bikes and bags at transition, finish our light workouts, and cook and eat our dinner all before 3pm.  We nailed it.  With the arrival of our fans, things got easier as they all chipped in to help us, even if that meant to give us some space  or to do some cooking for us.  The hostel was perfect for the 14 of us, especially the huge commercial kitchen for us to use. 

As I was preparing to go to bed on race night, my daughter Olivia asked if I could give her 20 minutes of my time.  We went up stairs where everyone had congregated.  There I received the most touching gift ever: a birthday/ironman video made for me by my family and friends.  It contained segments of video from many of my friends and family who gave birthday wishes and Ironman encouragement.  It was awesome.  I was awestruck, teary-eyed, and totally blind-sided.  But, it was that video that made my race, made my day.  

Race morning found both Mik and I in the kitchen shoving carbs down our gullets at 0330.  We left the house just after 0415.  We parked close to T1 and began our morning race preparations: filling liquids, taping gels to bike, putting last minute things like my prescription sunglasses in our Transition bags, body marking, and preparing for the swim.  Oh, did I mention that it was raining?  It was 58 degrees?  My difficulty was figuring out what I was going to wear on the bike, especially if the weather was foul.  I was prepared with options.

Mik and I left transition with my bike pump in hand and us both in our wetsuits at 0550.  We walked the swim chute (1/4 mile) to the beach.  We could not find our families to hand off the bike pump and things, so we shanghaied a young couple who put all but Mik's flipflops under the CMS tent for us.  Next thing I knew Mik and I were getting in the water for warm ups.  It was that moment that I thought, "I might not see Mik again until after the race".  But, I did and we stood in the starting line up within sight of each other. 

Unfortunately, for Mik, she had two head-on collisions with other athletes while warming up for the swim.  She was shaken, badly.  Good thing she's tough.  The unexpected happened, but Mik, luckily, was okay. 

Tracy told me to seed myself faster than I thought I would be, so I started very close to the front of the crowd near the 60 minute swimmers.  Mik was in the front.  This little bit of encouragement from my coach saved my Ironman experience.  I was later to find out that a large portion of the swimmers were pulled early from the water because of lightning.  Luckily, I finished the whole swim.  Had I started near the middle or back of the athletes, I would still not have completed a "whole" Ironman distance.

It had stopped raining and as the dawn approached bits of blue sky were peaking through the clouds.  The age groupers started 10 minutes after the professionals.  It was a sea of elbows, hands, feet, green and pink caps, and black rubber.  Mirror Lake has two parallel stainless-steel cables that are strung five feet underwater and are 100 feet apart.  It is to a swimmer's advantage to be "on the cable", to be able to see it.  See the cable and there is no sighting needed, which means a faster swim time.  I was determined to be on the cable, and I was the entire time.  But, this meant I constantly had to fight to keep the cable.  This was the most difficult swim of my life.  Who invited all those people????   I was constantly sandwiched between two swimmers, I was touching the feet of the guy ahead of me, and my own feet were being tapped all the time.  It was tough to get in my own swimming groove, but I did. 

On the last leg of the swim I felt extra splashing.  It was then that I realized that it was raining heavily.  The swim exit was weird.  I was made to sit in the sand for the strippers to rip my wetsuit off of me.  I don't like sand on my butt, especially, when I know I need to sit on it for the next six hours.  I grabbed my suit and ran up the chute to T1.  The chute was lined with people, including my wife, family, and friends cheering wildly; it was exciting.  Luckily, the rain washed most of the sand away. 

In the changing tent I had to decide whether to put on long sleeves or not.  I looked around and chose to go with just my new  CMS cycling jersey.  After running out of the tent I heard my number yelled and by the time I got to my aisle, my bike was handed to me.  I saw Olivia and Nat at the bike mount, then off I went carefully, down the hill around the slick wet switchbacks to the main street.  My glasses were in my pocket; too wet and foggy to use them (but they came in handy later).  On the way out of town I remember seeing women holding babies under umbrellas in the pouring rain.  If felt more sorry for them than my own predicament. 

There is a long slow ascent out of town; about 10 miles.  Then there is a quick steep 5 mile descent, the largest of the race, down into the town of Keene.  I remember flying down this descent with an inch of rain on the roads, saying Hail Mary's.  I pedaled, even on the downhills....steady efforts up and down.  My speedometer later read 47mph.  I missed all the potholes and knew when to pay attention the most.  Somewhere between LP and Keene there was a series of close violent thunder claps; they were scary and I remember talking to the riders close to me while we're humping at 10mph up a hill, "Are we having fun yet?"  Did I mention the hail, too?

After an hour and a half of rain, it stopped and blue sky was on the way.  My fingers were numb and I was pretty cold.  I had to pee, so at mile 27ish while it was still raining I stopped and let it rip; this would be the first of 5 times I needed to pee on the bike.  I  learned that if I stopped at an aid station, I could use the port o pot while the volunteers would top off my fluids.  None of these stops were more than a minute.
My gang of supporters: mother, adopted sister/neighbor, wife, daughter, Terry, Mik's brother, and my swim coaches.  Girl in blue shorts is photo bombing the pic.

Eventually, the sun came out and I warmed up.  Then it got really hot.  I was soooo thankful to not have a long sleeve on.  Coming by the CMS tent for the first time at mile 55 was exciting.  My family was there with hands sticking out for me to slap as I went by.  They looked like they were having the time of their lives.  The second loop was less eventful, but not eventless.  I dropped the last two hours of my nutrition and had to turn around and pick it up (thank you Tracy for that advice).  At ten miles before returning to LP a particularly boisterous group of fans had one fellow stripped naked except for a green sheer ribbon that went around the back of his neck, down over his chest, around the undersides of his privates  (all enclosed, thankfully), then back up to make a loop.  Luckily, ha, I got to see him on both laps. 

I thought this might make up for all those training weeks that I called my mother seldom.

I thought it would be fine for me to stop a minute at the CMS tent and hug whom ever was there, so I did....couldn't take more than a minute, right?  I hugged my mother, Olivia, and someone else.  They were stunned and shooed me away.  Only, I kicked my chain off while trying to get away.  The chain wedged between the frame and the front small chain ring.  A volunteer was there to hold my bike while I yanked the chain free and set it right again.  Visions of pushing my bike the last mile to Transition went through my head.

Fixing my chain

All the while on the bike I am systematically fueling and hydrating to plan; perfectly to plan.  I treated myself to two half bananas, one in each lap.  Each hour I consumed one gel with caffeine, 8 ounces of water, and 20 ounces of GU Roctane energy drink.  I came off the bike ready for the run.

Despite Tracy's reassurances, I was not confident in my run.  I've never had a great run in any of my Eagleman races.  My longest training run was disappointing at 17.5 miles after 195 minutes, and I felt like crap during that run (it was also 100 degrees).   So, I was amazed at how good I felt at the beginning of the marathon for IMLP.  I kept it slow which was easy.  I kept it that way for the entire time.  Even in the last six miles, I wasn't convinced that I could finish with this amount of energy and composure.  I found myself RUNNING up the last large hill coming into LP with throngs of fans cheering me on.  With my name written on the front of my bib, everyone was calling out my name, "Way to run up this hill, Michael! You can do it, Michael!  Michael you are awesome!"  All that helped a great deal to get me to the finish. 

In the final mile it was hitting home that I was about to finish.  I did most of my crying in that mile before the finish.  I thoroughly enjoyed the victory lap in the Olympic Oval slapping hands of strangers and seeing Olivia and Nat on the way to the finishing arch.  Then it was over....too soon on one hand, and not soon enough on the other.  My finish was half hour off from what I wanted to do.  It was spot-on with what I expected; no surprises. 

Each finisher gets a volunteer who stays with him/her until the volunteer is assured his finisher will be okay on his own.  My fella got me water, a space blanket, and two pieces of pizza.  I was happy.  I had him give my finisher's hat and shirt to Olivia.  Then Mikaela found me and we had a celebratory hug.  We went over to my family then went and got massages together.  I got an hour with my  women in the massage tent.  First they warmed me, rubbed me, flipped me, then allowed me to change my clothes.  When I left them I was in my jeans, eating French fries, and walking very normally.   Mik and I found our bags and bikes and walked out of there holding our heads high.  Our families were eating dinner somewhere in town.  Our problem was getting out of town with the Jetta.   Having arrive to T1 before they closed the roads, left us unable to easily get to our hostel.  By 11pm we made it home to the open arms of our families.  I think we partied until 0100 the next day. 

The last presentation of the day was a four-pack of locally brewed beer acquired by my underaged daughter, Olivia.  As she presented the beer, she said it was just too perfect to pass up.  The beer was called....IronMike.