Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success. – Pablo Picasso
I started the sport of triathlon in 2007 with a lot of goals, but the ultimate of which was to qualify for and race the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii in 2009. I gave my self really only two attempts at achieving this goal, Ironman Arizona (IMAZ) in November of 2008, and Ironman Coeur de lane (IMCDA) in June of 2009. I failed to achieve my goal. After IMCDA I was pretty bummed and quickly set out to seek revenge. I signed up for IMAZ 2009 via community fund to try one more time to qualify for Kona 2010. Luckily I have a World Class coach that new how to deal with my hastiness. He would not agree to coach me through to IMAZ unless I agreed to take an entire month off and ease back into a build to IMAZ allowing me to recover properly and actually use the fitness that was gained racing CDA. I agreed, and as I started my build I came across the above quote and I really thought about it. Yes, I have always had a plan, and yes I have always believed in it, but did I really put everything into the plan? Was there more that I could? Was I making all the sacrifices that I could? The answer was no. So with 8 weeks out from IMAZ I decided to fully dedicate myself to my plan; making several changes to my diet, sleep and lifestyle and to put full focus on my biggest weakness, the run.
Race week was much different for me this go around. I spent the week with my coach and his wife which was awesome, but did not have my family with me which SUCKED!! Dave and Ann made my week very smooth and did everything they could to help me prepare for the race, and having Dave with me to make sure I was doing everything right was invaluable, but not having Elee and my kids there was really tough.
The night before the race while we were preparing my race nutrition bottles I came to the sinking realization that I did not bring enough malto! I was a full bottle and a half short for the bike. Dave made a call to Scott Benjamin who saved my ass! He had extra and would bring it to transition in the morning.
Race morning came with a wake up from Varney at 4:02, 13 minutes before my alarm was to go off. I drank a bottle of carbs, Dave made me a cup of oatmeal which I downed in the car on the way. We got to the race site about 5:30 and I jumped in line at a port-a-john and took care of business. I found Scott, got the extra malto and made my way to find Dave. He mixed my nutrition for me as I lathered up with body glide. It was now about 6:00 am and I realized I still had a lot to do. I still had to put nutrition on my bike, put nutrition in my run bag, drop off my special needs bags and get body marked. As I set out in a hurry I literally ran into Macca and he gave me a “ Good luck out there today Mate!” By the time I finished all my chores, it was time to get the wetsuit on and head to the shoot. I talked with Bill a bit, we wished each other well and went on our separate ways.
Since I really never was able to have a chance to be by myself and clear my head, I decided to just jump in the water about 15 minutes before the cannon to get away from the commotion. I swam to a spot and just closed my eyes and treaded water for about 5 minutes, thinking about my wife and kids, where I had come from in this journey, and what the day ahead would bring. I was totally relaxed, until BOOOM the cannon went off for the pros. Then chaos set it. It was an elbow fight with about 100 others to hold a position in the front line. Someone sang the National Anthem, Mike Riley says “the only thing you can control is your attitude”, and before I knew it BOOOM, it was our turn.
The swim went well for me. I lined up front and center with the best position at the buoys, it was a bit of a power struggle at the start but by the first 400 or so meters I was swimming cleanly. I was going stroke for stroke with another guy and decided to try and pull ahead, I could not really pull ahead of him so I made the decision to let him pass me and jumped on his feet. I followed him to the turn, every so often trying to pass just to make sure he was not slowing down. At the turn buoy it became a bit congested and I took a few elbows and kicks. On the way back there was a chop coming at us, which made the swim back a bit slower. I swam by myself for the majority of the swim back, but with about 800 meters to go a guy came passed me and I jumped on his feet and stayed on to the exit. I was hoping to swim between 54-58 minutes, so I am happy with the swim. Total swim time was 57:20, 8th in my age group.
Transition was smooth, last year I skipped the strippers but decided to have them strip the wetsuit this year which went smoothly. The volunteers were great and had my bag ready as I passed by the T1 bags. I want to send a thank you to Glen from Ontri. He told me he would be volunteering in the tent and told me he would be waiting for me and to just call his name. He was not joking, he was standing in the door waiting for me, he pulled everything out of my bag, helped me get my shoes on, handed me my helmet and ran out the tent with me making sure I had everything I needed. Smooth and fast I exited T2 in 3:04 and was on my bike right at the 1 hour mark.
I felt good as I headed out of town on the bike, which is usually the case. I really had to watch my power output. My plan was to hold 225 watts for the ride which I was sure would give me a solid bike of around 5 hours. It was tough to keep my watts held at 225 on the way out on the Beeline highway. I was riding all by myself with really no one even in sight for the majority of the first lap and my watts were creeping up every time I looked down. There was a slight head wind on the way out which turned to a slight tailwind on the way back, this aloud me to take small pedal breaks every 2 minutes on the way back into town.
The wind picked up on the second loop, and we had a pretty significant headwind out on the Beeline, my legs were feeling a bit of fatigue so I decided to back off about 5 watts and hold 220 this seemed to be more manageable, but the wind was still discouraging and I really had to pee. As many of you know, you really need to be able to coast to pee. (Yeah, its hard to coast when you are going uphill into the wind). That turn around could not happen soon enough. As soon as I was able to take a pedal break I let it go, and all was good for about 5 miles. Then I started to feel every bump in the road, and thought this was weird since it was new pavement. “OH CRAP”, I had a flat! Here is the strange part, I did not panic. I new that special needs was about a mile up the road and decided to ride it in to that point since I new I had to stop for more nutrition anyway. I called out my number and told the volunteer that they have some time because I had a flat. I grabbed my Vitoria Pit Stop and hit my tire with it. It seemed to work but the tire was still too low to ride, so I grabbed a C02 and twisted on the head. When I put it on the valve stem CO2 shot every where and drained all the air out of the tire again. “Crap!” I new I had put more CO2 in my needs bag and grabbed one more and tried again. This time it worked, and looked like it was going to hold. By this time the volunteer had put my new bottles on the bike, and handed me another C02 from my bag. I stuck it in my pocket and was off. The tire was holding, and I must have repeated the words “please hold” 20 million times the rest of the ride.
As we headed back into town on that 2nd lap, I could tell the wind was making a shift just like it had the year before. This was kind of welcome since I knew that it would mean a bit of a tailwind up the Beeline. As I made the last turn to the Beeline on the last loop, a group of 3 dudes passed me. They were all riding a legal distance and I hopped on 10 meters behind. After about 10 minutes I road up on them and said it seems we are all on the same pace, so lets work together. They all nodded and I went to the front, I was not there longer than 10 seconds and they all passed me, I just shook my head and said to myself “cool, you guys do all the work, fine with me” So I did, I just sat 10 meters back and we road the entire rest of the ride in the same positions. The best thing about it was none of them were in my age group. At about mile 106 I started to feel the bumps in the road again and my tire was getting pretty low. I reminded myself to stay calm and if I needed to I could just hit it with another CO2 to get me to the end. I did not need to. I was able to ride it in.
The bike overall went well for me, I averaged 220 watts, my nutrition was great and my legs were feeling good. My bike time was 5:01.46, and my SRM said my ride time was 4:56, so I figure I lost about four and half minutes with the flat. Nevertheless, I was off the bike in 10th.
T2 was fast. I was out of my shoes, threw my bike to a volunteer and was off and running. My legs were very springy and I was ready to run. My bag was ready, I ran into the tent put on my socks and shoes, grabbed my Garmin, fuel belt and hat and headed out. T2 time was 1:41.
As I left transition I heard Mike Reilly saying that the overall male leader was making his way to the 2nd loop. About 30 seconds later a motorcycle was driving by with a camera man. He stayed about 20 feet ahead of me for a while and then a guy on a bike came up next to me. He said, nice pace man you are looking strong. About a minute later he was still there and said, “Do you know your pace? Jordan Rapp the male leader is behind you and he’s not gaining. “ “Hmm maybe I should slow down?” I smirked back. He said, “Well definitely smile, because you are on camera and who knows when you will be holding him off again.” I then decided I would let him pass. I ran with him for a bit just because, and then he ran off in the distance. Hind sight, hell I even knew it at the time, that this was not a very good thing to do, and it would have served my race better to go out as planned at 7:45-7:49 pace. This is a total mental thing that I need to learn. It is soo easy to go out too fast.
So the first loop I was feeling really good and strong, and when I passed the Ironhead crew that was there cheering I gave them a big thumbs up and they informed me I had worked my way to 7th or 8th. But that quickly changed at mile 9. For some reason I went down hill quickly and was feeling like crap and all I wanted to do was stop and walk. I am not sure what was going on, but I hit a definite lull from mile 9-15. I stuck to my plan, and I started to feel ok at mile 15 and picked up the pace a bit. Mile 18 was to be my last walk break according to my plan, but I told myself I would go ahead and take one more at mile 21. It was about this time that I saw Mitch Gold and he told me that I really needed to start digging in and picking up the pace, and that I was going to have to start working harder. I did, but still planned for that walk at mile 21 because I was hurting again and starting to get dizzy and queasy. However, guess who was waiting for me at mile 21? Yep, my coach. Oh man, no walking I guess. He told me I was doing great, but that if I wanted to go to Kona I would have to run the last 10 k pretty hard (he did not tell me that I had fallen to 11th, but he didn’t have to). He told me to just think of my kids, and run for them. That was really all I needed to hear. Tears came to my eyes and I put my head down and dug deep. It was really hard to tell who was on which lap, and with compression socks, really hard to tell what age group people were in. I just assumed that everyone I saw was in my age group and on there last lap. I just put my eyes on them and reeled them in one my one. The hill after the park about ruined me, but at the top of the hill was the 23 mile marker. “Aleck! 5k man, 5k! “ I said to myself. At that point I just went for it, it really felt like I was running a 5k in a sprint race. As I was going over the last bridge to make my way onto the final stretch I fought the urge to look at my watch, and just looked at the ground and gritted my teeth. That really is the last thing I remember until I saw the sign to make the turn to the finish. I honestly don’t remember running along side the lake on the last loop. When I made that turn toward the finisher shoot, I saw my coach’s wife running toward me, she yelled “You are going to do it ! You are going sub 9:30!” . “Holy crap! I am going to do it!” I took a look behind me to make sure I was alone, turned into the finish shoot and saw 9:29.10 and my body went numb, LITTERALY. I raised my fists in the air and slapped some high fives and I approached the line. “Here he comes folks, from Clackamas Oregon, Aleck Alleckson, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN”. You are damn right I am. Run time 3:25.32, last 10 k pace: 7:06/mile
Total time: 9:29.21. 7th Age group, 21st amateur, and 49th overall.
So I did it! I achieved my goal and will be racing at the Ironman World Championships in Kailua Kona Hawaii on October 9th 2010. I cannot express how fulfilling this is. To know where I started, to know how much work and sacrifice my family and I have put in to this, is one of the greatest feelings in the world, and is truly my greatest accomplishment. (I have goose bumps as I type this, 4 days later)
Today is thanksgiving, and I am thankful for so many things!
Elee, I love you! You are my rock and my world! You have sacrificed so much for me to achieve this goal and I am so grateful for that.
My children AJ and Brook, I truly want to be the best role model that I can be for you, you two give me the drive to accomplish anything.
All my friends and family that have supported me along the way, there are way too many to name but you know who you are and I am so thankful to have you in my life.
Thanks to my Ironhead teammates who psuh me daily, and the boys at Athletes Lounge for taking care of me!
My coach and friend, Dave Ciaverella. Dude, we did it! I am so lucky to have your world class expertise in my corner. You have gone way above and beyond for me to help me reach this goal. Lets go rock Kona!