Pour yourself a drink. If you are impatient, please skip to race day.
An IronMan is a 140.6 mile triathlon. My journey to IronMan Maryland 2015 started with a shirt.
Yes this shirt:
At the time, I had no clue what an IronMan triathlon was but surely it sounded cool. Little did I know about a consecutive 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, 26.2 run, with wardrobe changes and somehow eating and drinking along the way. After training in Lake Placid for the 2014 NYC Olympic distance triathlon, I seriously thought about an IronMan. Why wait and do a half IronMan (like most smart people) when I could earn bragging rights immediately? I signed up for IronMan Maryland 2015 and my goal was to just finish. Some of my friends thought this was bogus, but I did not want to be arrogant on my first IronMan. There were too many variables, I had 2 big vacations planned abroad (< 5 months of training) and I was a terrible, inexperienced cyclist.
I did not receive the bad news until it was too late on October 1st. Unfortunately I could not rebook my lodging. I had to stay with my inlaws who live 1.5 hours away. I tried not to think about the reschedule date, but the event was rescheduled two weeks later.
I drove to Great Marsh Park and arrived around noon. There was parking down the street at IronMan village, but a line formed outside. It moved very slowly.
I waited an hour and a half to check in. Volunteers were very friendly and apologized for the long wait. After I checked in, I had another line to collect my timing chip and athlete goody bag. Then the next side of the tent was the IronMan store. I wanted to buy some shirts and that wait was an hour long as well.
Once I was done, I posed next to the M-Dot.
After the waiting game, I walked to the 3pm athlete briefing. The emcee strongly suggested to buy Star Wars or Batman sweatshirts at Walmart as the initial layer (to toss after 15 miles on the bike and the weather warms up). Moreover, he strongly suggested full wardrobe changes during T1 to avoid hypothermia. I left and found a nearby Target and bought an inexpensive sweatshirt and gloves.
When I got home, I laid out the contents of the goody bag:
I got up at 2:40am, which was before my alarm was set to go off. I immediately prepared two cinnamon raisin bagels with peanut butter and nutella and a cup of coffee. At 3:45am my inlaws, wife and I started the commute to Cambridge. Around 5:15am we arrived at Maces Lane Middle School and hopped on the shuttle to Great Marsh Park.
In transition, I inspected my bike. I pumped my tires, checked gear bags and arranged nutrition. I had only one bottle and that was on my aero bars. Transition closed around 6:30am and I started wandering and looked for my family.
It was officially 63 degrees at swim start but it did not feel like it. It was windy. I walked around to keep warm.
SWIM TIME – 1:04:44 This was not bad for 1.9 miles and I self-seeded correctly.
T1 (Transition One)
T1 TIME – 0:15:16 This was what I expected since the tent was overcrowded.
“On your left! On your left! On your left!”
BIKE TIME – 7:38:48
T2 (Transition Two)
I told myself many times that if I finished the bike, then the race was over.
My arrogance was ready to be humbled. Although it was still light out, it was cold and windy. I was wearing a few layers, arm warmers and I was still cold. I started the initial run at the slowest steady pace I thought was possible. I felt ok.
It was mile six and I had 20+ to go. The last time I felt this crummy was around mile 22 of the 2013 Chicago marathon. The mind was willing but my body was weak. Hello wall. We meet again. It was going to be a death march. Or a DNF (Did Not Finish). I decided to continue running as best I could and walk only through the aid stations.
Around mile 8, I saw my family. It was dark outside. I knew they were cold. I was too. I felt terrible but if I stopped I may just collapse.
With my family out of sight, I walked at mile 9. I was a little relieved when I made it to the half marathon mark.
The problem with the 2.5 loop run course was that you heard “You are an IronMan” several times while you were NOWHERE near finishing. It was depressing, really, every time I heard it.
Around mile 24, I walked with an athlete.
“So what are you going to do with all your free time once this is over?”“I got the NYC marathon in 2 weeks.”“…”
I explained the unlucky scheduling problem I had. I wished him luck and started the jog again. It was very dark now and some areas were barely lit. I was happy to see the last turn around point. With a few miles left, I tried cola and red bull. Blech. Other triathletes swore by them. Only the chicken stock helped.
Mile 25. I kept hearing the phrase. Ugh.
I was getting closer. There were plenty of drunk revelers cheering, happy to see me jog the final leg.
Oh my. I saw the finish corral. For the third time.
It was empty. A lot of athletes have finished the race and went home. I saw a few guys wearing finisher’s medals, banging on the corral walls, cheering me on. I pointed at them and smiled.
PETER KIM YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!
Thank goodness, it was over.
RUN TIME – 6:09:52 As I crossed the finish line, a nice lady gave me a side hug and asked me how I was doing. I was delirious (she was holding me up). She gave me a finisher shirt, hat and sent me to have my picture taken.
IronMan Maryland – Total Time: 15:28:11
My swim time was good. My bike time could have been better. My run was egregious. I bonked at mile 6 and walked way too much for a marathon. I did not train enough. My transitions and nutrition plan also needed improvement. Regardless of my first world problems, I was blessed. I finished injury free!
I did not see familiar faces in the finish corrals, so I quickly got changed into street clothes. I found my friends, grabbed a slice of pizza then regrouped with my family.
We had to walk back to Transition to check out my bike and morning clothes/bike/run bags. And finally drove 1.5 hours home. Overtime was tough.
If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes just as many to groom an IronMan triathlete. There are many people to thank for my completion of this event. Thank you to Brit and Todd. It started with you with Tough Mudder, skydiving and the bright idea that we should do a triathlon together.
Thank you to my wife Suzanna. Behind every great man is a great woman and she is no exception (extremely supportive)!
Thank you to my friends who texted, emailed, facebook or instagram messaged me! Thank you to those who showed up to my surprise party. It was almost waterworks.
Completing an IronMan was rewarding in a way that defies the 140.6 mile description. Thank you for reading my experience (sufferfest) of IronMan Maryland 2015! May you feel inspired to complete one! I already signed up for another (Ironman Lake Placid 2016)!