Ironman 2014 is done for another year and I for one am sad to see it go. I had so much fun training, spending time with members from my unit who were trying their darnedest to succeed. For those who are not familiar with the Army version of the Ironman, it is quite rigorous. 32 kilometers walking with a 40lb pack in your combat boots. Then you arrive at the portage station, place the canoe on top of your head and pack and walk 4 km. Once you arrive at the water you paddle 8 km where when you arrive at your destination, you walk or as the promo material says, sprint 6 km to the finish. Yeah right, sprint....
Last Wednesday and Thursday saw the races begin with the non competitive folks like me start on Weds and the serious competitors head out on Thurs. Let me tell you the two days were very different weather wise. Overcast but warm on Weds and frigid, wet and cold on Thursday. As you can see from the photo above the skies were very atmospheric on Thursday. These frames are actually mod tent frames and are used to rest your canoe on because after 32 km of walking you are pretty tired and this makes it easier to get the canoe back on your back. You can see how the wind is blowing the guys ground sheet that he was using to keep off the rain.
I felt bad for those Thursday folks cause they got rained on, blown around and tipped out into the river so rough were the conditions. They actually closed the river later in the day, too late in the day if you ask me.But first they had to get through the portage. Some folks actually had the wind gusts take the canoe right off their head and into the road or ditch. Kinda funny to watch happen, but not so nice to experience let me tell you.
As you can see at a certain point folks got smart and decided team work was the best way to get to the water. The only issue with this is that it is hard on the hands. If it was me I would have whipped out my rope I was carrying and jury rig something to make my body or pack carry the weight not my hands.
So how did I do? Better than I thought. I am a slow walker, some training days I was able to up my speed but this particular day was a slow walk day. From about 7 km on to 32 km I was the only person on the road as the speedy folks were far far away. Yes there were water stations every 3 km which was great and let me tell you I was never so glad to see a porta potty just for the chance to sit down and rest my hips... It did take me longer than I had wanted to get to the destination, so much so that I did not finish the portage. I arrived at the portage station just after 1230 ( I think) and the sport stats guy had packed up his stuff but when he saw me he put it out so I could get my time logged. I felt pretty good that I arrived there, and mentally was in good spirits despite being tired. I plopped on my canoe only to find that something had shifted in my pack so I had to stop and fix it all. Then go again only to have stop again, this time cause I had the hiccups that were giving me the dry heaves followed by puking. LOL. Padre Ray Smith, one of my colleagues who walked with me, held my by the pack saying all the while he was a sympathetic puker!!! I think he thought that I was done at that point but I rinsed my mouth out and went off again.
Sadly at km 34 I looked at my time and I realized it was almost 1400hrs, the cut off time for the water. If I had another 10 min to go with the 10 min that was left I could have done it. Certainly my mind was focussed on it as was my body but time was against me. If I can humbly brag, I got further than the 38 people who did not even bother to get their canoes.
So next year I know what to expect and I am going to try again. Yes I am disappointed I did not get to the destination but in some cases the journey is even more important than the destination and this was one of those times.
I walked in the light of a full moon and talked with God; I was kissed by monarch butterflies once the light came up (this was pretty neat they followed me all over). I since have been told that butterflies are a sign of change. I saw a moose and I walked the equivalent of two load bearing marches. I also didn't give up, not that particular malady visited me as I walked along. It did on the training days and I slogged through but not the race day which says something about perseverance and endurance. I can't wait for training next year.