98 Great Floridian, An IM Virgin's Story (Long)

98 Great Floridian, An IM Virgin's Story (Long)

Post by fesen.. » Wed, 04 Nov 1998 04:00:00

  Early last November, while I cruising through the web of ***space, I
happened upon a site promoting the increasingly popular art of alchemy.
However, unlike the wizards of old, the modern day alchemists don't work with
a single element striving to turn inanimate lead into gold.  In a vastly more
complicated process, they practice their art on the compounds which make up
their own bodies.  During a test known as an ultra distance (or Ironman
distance) triathlon, they work to tran***e their flesh, ***, and will into
iron and, when successful, earn the title of "Ironman."  Having always been
interested in the study of such arts, I was easily ensnared.  I decided that
"Ironman" was a title I would like to wear and began my apprenticeship.  I
again turned to ***space and began reading RST and the GFT tips page to
follow the advice of current practitioners of human alchemy and gain the
support of fellow apprentices whom I quickly discovered are titled IM
***s.  My mentors included Tri-Baby, Iron Pete, Tony G, Rock, and others,
while my peers included Tri-Freak, Jason, Anders, Der Jogger, Bonni, et al.
Throughout the summer, I studied, practiced, and experimented to refine my
skills.  Everything I did was carefully recorded in my diary to keep a record
of my successes and failures.  I became versed in the effects of numerous
elements and compounds on my performance.  Before long, I was heavily
involved with the spell components I would need during the test.  I spent
time experimenting carbohydrate/protein/fat ratios; evaluating electrolyte
replacements; considering glucosamine sulfate, choline and glycerol, etc.,
etc.  After many months of conditioning my body and mind, I arrived in
Clermont, Florida a week before the test.  Over the next several days, I met
some of those people I had counted on for advice and support over the past 11
months. I also had the opportunity to meet Fred Sommers, the race director
who coordinated the effort to stage the event.  It was refreshing to find him
a very approachable and supportive person who was more than willing to talk
with whomever about the race.  His attitude went a long way to relieve some
of the mounting tension and make the upcoming test a little less threatening.
 So did the activities he had planned leading up to the race.  There was
always good music, sufficient food and drink, and good company and these
things always help ease the mind.  I spent Friday alone in final preparation.
 After checking my bike in, I walked to the lake and sat at the end of the
pier listening to music while I visualized the perfect race.  That night, I
gathered the various spell components I had determined I would need the next
day and organized them so they would be available when I needed them.  This
done, I ran through the next day in my mind one last time and then did my
best to pass a restful night. Uncharacteristically for me, I was actually
able to overcome my anxieties and was soon asleep with nary a dream, either
good or bad, of the next day's toils.  I woke at 5:15, Saturday to a cool and
a somewhat windy morning.  Arriving at the site of the test, I had the
traditional symbols drawn on my body and asked the bodymarker add a "V" to my
calf.  Earlier in the month, a number of my fellow IM ***s and I agreed to
be so branded to identify ourselves to each other during the test.  We hoped
that by doing so, we would be able to draw strength from each other and be
reminded that we weren't alone as first- timers.  After completing my final
preparations, I joined the 1040+ others who had gathered to practice their
art on this day.  I nervously gazed across this throng of humanity trying to
envision what it would look like as everyone began their quest at the same
time.  With less than a minute to go before the start, I took a deep breath,
calmed my mind by watching the joyous flight of the birds which were just
released, and cast my spell.  From that point on, I was committed; there was
no turning back.  I would either end the day as a newly minted Ironman or
would be so caught up in the spell that I would fail suffering physical or
mental collapse.  The starter fired the cannon and the mass moved forward.
Having figured it would take me 1:30 to finish the swim portion, I had
positioned myself towards the rear and outside of the pack.  This strategy
worked and I suffered very little contact with those around me.  The swim
course consisted of a very long, thin rectangle.  Heading out on the first
leg, the wind was blowing almost into our faces and it caused a light chop.
However, I was pleased to find that I wasn't affected at all by this and I
quickly settled into a comfortable rhythm.  Over the months of training, I
often wondered what I would think about as I completed this portion of the
test.  There was nothing to see in the tea- colored water except for the air
bubbles my stroke forced into the water, a flash of white as the Orca logo on
the right arm of my wetsuit moved through my vision, and an occasional
glimpse of bare feet ahead of me.  As time passed, I moved in towards the
center of the pack and although everyone had spread out, I struck, or was
struck by, more people than was previously the case.  However, things
remained considerably less combative than I had expected or had swum through
during the past season.  The increase in the number of people around me also
brought more to see.  Now I could glimpse the faces of those around me as we
breathed during our rotation from side to side.  Time seemed meaningless as I
stroked, sighted, and took note of the yellow buoys steadily marching past on
my left.  Making the 90 degree turn at the end of these waypoints, I soon
reached the red marker indicating it was time to head back in.  From this
point on, looking into the low sun made it difficult to sight and my
navigation began to drift.  However, I remained in the main pack, and they
prevented me from straying too far to either side.  Knowing my legs faced
many hours of work, I barely kicked.  Instead, I imagined I was once again in
a pool doing pull drills.  A steady mantra looped through my brain to the
exclusion of nearly all else: Reach, Catch, Pull, and Rotate; Reach Catch,
Pull, and Rotate; repeated over and over.  As I reached the shore, I looked
at the clock and discovered I had finished the first leg in 1:12:02.  I was
elated!  It was easily my best swim performance of the year and I felt it
bode well for the remainder of the day. Jogging into the transition area, I
see my wife and we give each other a knowing look and a big smile, and in her
eyes I read, Its going well, you look strong.  I accepted the bag I had
prepared for the next leg from a willing helper and prepared for the bike.
Exiting the changing tent, I made my way to my bike and smiled as I silently
greeted my familiar Bill the Cat. Being a cat and deathly afraid of water, he
refused to accompany me on the swim but would stay with me for the remainder
of the test.  I quickly checked to ensure he was secure in his place on the
water bottle carrier behind my seat, and set off.  The first 35 miles of the
bike rolled by without incident.  The temperature was pleasant, the roads
good, and the hills not as difficult as many had portrayed them.  On every
climb, there were spectators urging us on and up and I drew from their
energy.  I felt very good on the hills as I sat and spun my way up them.  I
often found myself using my 39-21 gearing and maintaining a high cadence as I
passed people standing and mashing away.  I reached to top of every hill
without going into an anaerobic heart rate zone and would grin stupidly as I
flew down the opposite side trying to present as small an area to the
on-coming air as possible.  Little did I realize I would be doing the same
thing but without the stupid grin on the uphills and flats later in the day.
Unlike the swim, I now seemed very aware of time.  It seemed the miles were
rolling by very slowly.  However, I refused to look at my watch to see how
much time had actually passed.  My plan was to make sure I didn't expend too
much energy on the bike and I was afraid if I looked at my watch, I'd be
tempted to speed up.  Time continued to crawl by as the clouds thickened and
a light rain began to fall.  However, it never fell hard enough to really wet
the roads and soon ended.  As the miles seemingly crawled by, I made a
conscious effort to eat and drink enough to keep me going.  Approaching the
halfway point of the bike, I made what could have been a serious mistake.  I
emptied the last of my drink into the jetstream bottle on the aerobars of my
bike.  I discarded the empty bottles as I passed an aid station.  Since I
still had a partially full jetstream, I didn't accept anything they offered.
I believed that I would soon reach the point where my special needs bag lie
and I would be able to replenish my fluid supply with my specially prepared
bottles.  However, I failed to pay attention to detail and soon discovered my
bag lie about 5 miles further down the road than I thought. Now time both
accelerated and slowed down.  The amount of time required to empty my
remaining drink shrank incredibly while I seemed to barely make any progress
towards my special needs bag.  I finally reached my bag and stopped to
quickly relieve myself, drink 4 oz of choline, and fill my empty bottle
cages.  Mounting my bike with my bagged PB&J sandwich, I struck out once
again.  As I was settling in, the plastic bag slipped through my fingers and
my sandwich falls to the road to be mangled by the cyclist just behind me.  I
shrugged it off since I still had a Cliff bar that would give me something
solid in my stomach.  I once again settled into what I believed was a
comfortable and sane pace and watched my front wheel go round and round as my
mind wandered aimlessly from subject to subject.  Snippets of song came and
went but none stayed mired in place.  I tried to remember to

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98 Great Floridian, An IM Virgin's Story (Long)

Post by Horseman » Wed, 04 Nov 1998 04:00:00

>began reading RST and the GFT tips page to

Yakabo,Glad to hear ya did good.We read some of your posts on the tips page and
had hoped you had done well.The fact tha wet were so close all day and I had
not had noticed your V.I wish I could have yelled  for you.                    

>As I reached the shore, I looked
>at the clock and discovered I had finished the first leg in 1:12:02

My swim was 1:12:54.                                                          
to go, you're looking real strong!" echoed through my brain.  I peaked

>at my watch and noticed it read 7:12.  

     I got out of transition in 7:11:46,and then  we finished less than 15 min.
apart.You did great.Congratulations,Yakabo.Ironman!You be one of the ones
OFFERING advice on the tips page next year.Hopefully,next year we'll take off
from work early enough to meet all the people that we have been reading.Once
again,Great Job. See ya next year at GFT!                                      

Randy      +     Sue      GFT(95,97,98).Vineman+GFT 99!                        
                   (12:02:30)       (14:40:20)   " The will to win is nothing
without the will to prepare" Juman Ikangaa


98 Great Floridian, An IM Virgin's Story (Long)

Post by Stephen Ada » Tue, 10 Nov 1998 04:00:00

Congratulations Gordon,
   I am quite impressed,I would rather spend my time on the internet
reading a story of gut's and determination anyday, Then watching some
multi million dollar premadonna sports 'star' on tv take himself out of
a game because he has a blister on his finger, or worse yet ask out of a
game before it starts because "my head's not in it".
   The true 'Sports Stars' in my book are people like you, and other IM
Triathletes.( I wonder what the % of the general population is that has
ever finished an IRON MAN).
 I'm an IM ***, and I plan on doing the GFT next year. I live in FLA
and did My 1st Tri Oct 4 on Siesta Key (1K, 25K, 5k).
   How long did you train?
Did you run any marathons in training?
Is Bill a real cat?
Steve "Still Cherry" Adams


98 Great Floridian, An IM Virgin's Story (Long)

Post by fesen.. » Thu, 12 Nov 1998 04:00:00

>  I'm an IM ***, and I plan on doing the GFT next year. I live in FLA
> and did My 1st Tri Oct 4 on Siesta Key (1K, 25K, 5k).
>    How long did you train?

I started training with the GFT in mind in December.  Over the winter I worked
on my aerobic base and then started doing more interval and speed work around
April.  I did 2 half-IMs and 3 Olympic distance races from mid May to mid
September.  My per week training hours averaged:

Jan - 8
Feb - 8
Mar - 9
Apr - 9
May - 9
Jun - 6.5 (had to work around 20 days of being on the road for business)
Jul - 8 (had to work around 18 days of being on the road for business)
Aug - 11
Sep - 10 (had to work around 19 days of being on the road for business)the
last week in Sep was 15 hours
Oct - One long week of 16 hours then taper at 6 hours til the GFT

> Did you run any marathons in training?

No, the GFT was my first-ever marathon.  However, I did do 2 long runs of 22
miles and numerous 15-18 mile runs over the summer.

> Is Bill a real cat?

Of course he is!  (actually, he's a stuffed animal about 12" high and was a
regular character in the Bloom County and Outland comic strips)

Hope this info helps out Steve, but remember, just because it worked OK for
me doesn't mean it's the only way to go.  Pay attention to what your body is
telling you as you train, read and listen to the advice of others, find what
seems to work for you, and stick with it. Get in the habit of reading the GFT
tips page, a lot of good stuff got put out there last year and it really
helped me.  See ya there!

Good Luck,

Gordon (Yakabo) Fesenger

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