Shuresh is a stud in my book, I don't care what his time was (from the Forward Motion Race Club home page)
My First Ironman Written by Suresh Donthineni
- I have been doing triathlons for the past 5 years. Just like most of us, I got my introduction at Tri for Fun. Right after the race in August 2006, I joined FMRC and met a lot of wonderful athletes and started doing more triathlons, and progressed to Sprint, Olympic, and Half Ironmans. I have also done half marathons and marathons etc. But, I knew I had to be physically and mentally ready to do the full Ironman. I pulled the trigger last year in November and signed up for IM Arizona.
The goal for IMAZ -- finish the race with a BIG SMILE......
The training started in May 2011. During my base period, I did the Vineman 70.3 in July. The goal for Vineman 70.3 was to test out the nutrition and equipment for the IMAZ. I finished Vineman 70.3 in 6 hours 30 minutes and I equated that to 13-14 hours for the full Ironman, and felt good. Between July and November, I did a lot of training with FMRC colleagues, and got hand held by XXXX, XXXXX and a few others. I knew I was in good shape going into the race, and was well coached by XXXXX.
I drive to Tempe three days before the race with 6 months worth of supplies. There's excitement in the air with over 2500 athletes and all the wonderful stuff you can buy (boy, this is an expensive sport!!). I get registered and spend time in awe of how fit the other athletes were, and whether I am fit enough to compete and finish the race. Over the next couple of days, all the FMRC group met for lunches, or short rides/swims etc. At this point, I am feeling a little nervous, but good.
Race day arrives, and I am in good shape. Bike's in order, T1 and T2 equipment is in order, the bike and run Special Needs bags are in order. I change into the wetsuit and jump into the lake. The water was cold and we had to tread water for 5-10 minutes, before the gun goes off. As I was treading water, Ernest Knapic pops up right next to me, and informs me that it's a dog-leg right, and also to watch-out since I was going to get hit (Thanks for that great advice Ernest). The gun goes off, and we are off. Within the first 100 yards, I get hit on the back of the head pretty badly by someone's elbow. I get hit three of four times, and now I'm disoriented and confused. The first thought that goes through my head was -- I need to give up the race.....and it has only been 100 yards of swimming.
I hang in there for a few seconds and look around and find a little open space. I slowly make my way into that spot and start swimming slowly, just to regain my confidence. Everything is going smooth, and the beasts have gone past me. There needs to be a USAT rule that if your biceps are bigger than 40 inches, you cannot do triathlons!!! My swimming is going good, slow but good. I have now finished 1.5 miles and am getting very cold, and am keeping my head out of the water a little longer so I can absorb the sunshine on my face. I finally get out of the water at 1 hour 50 minutes or so. The volunteers help me out and ask me if I am ok -- I was so cold, that I was not able to respond and just nodded my head to say 'yes.' Off to T1 and change into the bike gear -- bike bib for sure as it's going to be a long ride.
The bike ride goes well, as it's a 3 loop course. The first loop is good and the return back is a little downhill and I can gain momentum. Second loop out starts good, but the return is tough since the wind picks up and we get cheated out of the 35mph downhill. The third loop starts and my stomach starts sending me distress signals. No porta-potties in sight. I turn around for the final lap and voila, porta-potties. I spend several minutes pondering the meaning of life.......and finish the bike leg in 7 hours 15 minutes. I paid for 17hours, might as well get my money's worth.....
Off to T2. Change into run shorts and HAVE to keep the FMRC top. Run starts off good. I am doing 11-12 minute miles and feeling good. I thought, at this pace, I can finish in 14 hours, and still have a smile on my face. I am at mile 13 and still doing good. Mile 14, my left knee starts hurting. I walk a little, and try to run again -- no luck. I try it a few more times, and can't do it -- the knee hurts pretty bad. I give in and remember Mike Riley's advice (don't fight it -- take the day as it comes). I resign and guess that I have 11-12 miles of walking to do. It's only 7pm and I still have 5 hours to do 12 miles of walking. I can achieve that. I now find two other athletes who are in a similar situation. So, we start walking/limping together. Jimmy starts complaining that I am limping way too fast!!! (Jimmy is a really funny guy and if you are ever in my situation and need to walk a long distance, then walk with Jimmy since time goes by fast). It's 10 pm and we are at mile 24. 2 hours and 2 miles to go -- then we are officially IRONMEN.
At that point, we run into John Davis, a 68 year old athlete from San Diego. This is his first Ironman. He apparently fell down, and tore some ligaments in his left leg. His left leg is non-functioning. He is surrounded by officials and some spectators. He cannot get any outside help. He is barely able to move, and you could see the pain in his face. Jimmy and I stop to find out what happened. At that point, it was 10pm, and we had 2 more miles to go. Jimmy and I look at each other, and decide to hep John and carry him to the finish line. John was in a lot of pain and was confused. On one hand, he wanted to finish (only two miles to go), but on the other hand it was too painful. We started carrying him, and he was walking on his one good leg. We stop every 15 yards for him to recover. Now, the crowd starts gathering around us, cheering us and getting us drinks etc. It takes us 1.5 hours to get to the chute. 400 yards away, and we can hear the crowds. At this point, I completely forget that I have a knee pain and we are completely encouraging John to hang on to us. 400 yards and 30 minutes to go. Plenty of time. We enter the chute and the crowd goes wild. Mile Riley comes down to greet us, and says, "John, the crowd has something to say to you"......and you hear the 400 or so spectators go, "JOHN, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN."
Jimmy and I get John across the finish line at 16 hours 37 minutes.
Although a lot of things didn't go as planned for me, I still achieved my goal -- I crossed the line with a BIG SMILE. And guess what, I got a PR too......
As we enter into the festive season, please raise a toast to John Davis, an Ironman from San Diego.
USAC & USAT level 2 certified coach