I don’t normally chronicle a half Ironman because as difficult as they are, they are not as epic as a full Ironman...except last week.
A full Ironman is 140.6 miles, so a half is called a “70.3.”
Both Ironman and Half Ironman events are listed by their initials.
Ironman Lake Placid is referred to as “IMLP.” Ironman Arizona is referred to as “IMAZ.”
Half Ironman events have the 70.3 attached to them. AC70.3, as its referred to, became that epic story.
It started out when the race director accepted my Shabbos lunch invitation. Race directors don’t normally do that. They are too busy managing everything that has to be overseen:
3,000 athletes checking in their bicycles.
The placement of the bouys in the water.
Road markers for the bike and runs.
All the tables of food for the athletes and all the food: cases of water, Gatorade and Coca Cola.
During lunch he informed me that on race day he will procure kosher pizza for the finish line food.
I’ve completely five Ironmans & 15, 70.3s. Never have I been able to partake in the post race hot food.
(So why are you telling us this?)
Because...well, you will see why.
At 5:15 a.m. on race morning I waited downstairs at valet services for our hotel, Tropicana Atlantic City. I had 30 minutes to travel one mile by car to race start. Well, it turns out, so did 3,000 other people.
(Why was 5:45 important?)
I had told race officials that I would pick up my bicycle at that time. I had to set up my transition by 6:30. Set up takes me three minutes, but I needed five minutes to park and five more minutes to get into transition with 3,000 other people.
(So you were worried that you would run out of time?)
Just a bit.
(Your nightmare is...)
...oversleeping and missing the start of the race.
6:05 a.m. I was sitting in traffic and it occured to me, I should daven now.
Fifteen minutes later I was parking my car. Now to find the trailor where my bike was being stored. There were many tents and it was still dark out. “This is going to be fun.”
6:23 a.m. I found the trailer and it was locked. As I started to freak out, I heard, “We didn’t think you were coming.”
There in the tent was a volunteer holding my bike.
6:28 a.m. I had racked my bike, dropped my sneakers next to it and clipped in my shoes.
I was ready to race.
You said it.
6:30 a.m. Everyone walk to swim start...and wait. Two by two we marched over to the timing mat that officially started my race.
7:05 a.m. I entered the swim start with my friend Ed Lapa, DDS. Ed is the person who took all those pre-race swim start pictures of me at.
(Ironman Lake Placid?)
You are learning.
(The ones where you were freaking out?)
We entered together, we swam 1.2 miles, we exited together.
7:55 a.m. I ran to my transition area. Tzitzit on, socks on, helmet on, sunglasses on.
Once on the bike, it was onto the Atlantic City Expressway for three loops.
First loop completed in one hour, 15 minutes.
Just as I was beginning to dry off, it started to rain. Rain on the bike is BAD!
(Doesn’t it keep you cool?)
Cycling at 16 mph means wind in your face. When it’s 65 degrees and you are rain soaked, you are freezing.
Secondly and more importantly, any mistake can result in a crash.
Rain = zero traction on the bike. It’s hard to see potholes when they fill with rainwater.
Sure enough, I drove right into one. The bike lurched forward and I struggled to control the bike as my torso was propelled forward into my handlebars.
By David Roher
David Roher is a certified triathlon and marathon coach. He is a veteran special education teacher and a multi-Ironman finisher. He can be reached at [email protected]