Memories of this race will forever be ingrained in my head. Some told, some untold. Here goesâ€¦
This is the first time in my triathlon career that I have attempted to do a race report but felt compelled to do so this time for several reasons. The first being for all my friends and loved ones who have supported me and put up with me throughout the pursuit of this dream of chasing Kona that finally became a vivid reality. Second, for my teammates and PT Solutions (in particular, Dale Yake, the owner, Steve Locke, my amazing coach, and my training partner, Clayton Tillery) who have given me the opportunity to proudly be a part of their family. And third, so I could relive the day one more time! Before I begin, let me start with a quote that me and my training partner Clayton have lived by for the past 4 monthsâ€¦
â€ť Have the attitude that youâ€™re going after Moby Dick in a row boat, and youâ€™re bringinâ€™ the tartar sauce with you.â€ť
Wake up was 3:45 am and started with 24 oz. of water and 2 Nuun tabs. I walked into the kitchen of our condo and started to prepare breakfast with my roomy Eric LaFontaine, who was also doing the race. As the coffee was brewing, Eric and I had a discussion in the kitchen about how it was going to be a great day. Breakfast consisted of (3) packs of maple and brown sugar instant oatmeal, (4) scrambled eggs, (2) bananas, (1) grapefruit, (1) cup of oj, and (2) cups of coffee. At 4:30, after breakfast was finished, we began gathering our gear and nutrition for the day. At that time I felt the need to â€śtweetâ€ť and let everyone know I was indeed ready to make this day happen. It went like thisâ€¦â€ť Good morning everyone, itâ€™s 4:30 am and in 2 Â˝ hours I am going to give Panama City Beach my soul. See you at the finish line at 4:22 pm.â€ť Yes, I did, I threw it out there. Just like my coach told me to doâ€¦let everyone know what youâ€™re going to do Tony! Well, I was 9 minutes off and knew it was a bit lofty but wanted to aim as high as I couldâ€¦within doable range!… 4:45: Time to head to transition.
As we arrived at transition and got body marked, it was time to change the channel and focus on the battle that lied ahead. Dropped off special needs bags, made sure bike was in order, double checked gear bags for T1 and T2, and met Coach Steve Locke and Steve Voss outside lobby of hotel for a morning gathering with my Mom and Dad, Eric and his wife Jackie, and a last minute chat and bathroom break. As we sat talking, I finished up my prepared bottle of Accelerade that I had been sipping the past hour and put the wet suit on. Of course who better to zip you up than the man who had been punishing you for the past 4 monthsâ€¦Coach Steve. At 6:45 am, we said our goodbyes for the day to everyone, drank a few ounces of water, took a gel and a salt tab and headed out the back lobby doors to the beach. For those of you who have done Ironman, you know the feeling, and for those who have not, it feels like you are walking out to battleâ€¦ something you see in the movie Gladiator or 300, when all the members of the army march out together and prepare to fightâ€¦ The sand felt awesome on the feet!…
As we approached the waters edge, Eric and I said our last good lucks and went our separate ways to claim a starting spot in the mass of 2400 other people. I got up front in hopes of having a fast start, then settling in after a few hundred yards of throwing elbows and taking a little beating in the washing machine. The Star Spangled Banner played at 6:55, I kneeled down, said one more quick, final prayer, (but not the last one of the day) then settled into my starting position. BOOM! 7:00 am and weâ€™re off!
Other than feeling like I was in a real live video game playing â€śDodge the Jellyfish and Man-O-War,â€ť the swim was an amazing experience. The water was so clear and the visibility must have been at least 50 feet deep. Not sure if thatâ€™s a good thing in the Gulf of Mexico but regardless, it was a very comfortable swimâ€¦ 7:57:30 I exited the water and quickly found Steve Voss, whom was volunteering as a wetsuit stripperâ€¦. Up to T1.
As I entered T1, everything was going smoothly and saw Coach Steve standing by with encouragement as I exited the bike. Downed a bottle of water, a gel, and a salt tab and was off for the, what I hoped to be a 5 hr. bike ride. A bit chilly the first hour on the bike but weather conditions that faired perfect for meâ€¦ sunny and a cool 60 degrees. Arm warmers stayed on the whole day. As I settled into the ride, I knew it was going to be a battle with the winds so I needed to mentally tell myself to just stay with the planned nutrition and heart rate regardless. Everything was going smoothly for the first 50 miles, then, it happened, my worst nightmare for an IM, a mechanical on the bike. Fortunately it was a quick fix. My cable on my derailer snapped going down a slight descent. After accessing the problem and thinking for a moment what need to be done, I dropped to my small ring (42), and had to grind it out for a few minutes, thinking I might have to finish the second half of the ride like this. Right about that time, a mechanical crew on a motorcycle passed me going the other way. I waived him down, he turned around, pulled up next to me, I told him the issue, and he said to pull over and he could probably fix it pretty quickly. Sooo, as he knelt down behind my bike and starting fixing the cable, I though I would take advantage of the 2 minute delay and you knowâ€¦go. Staying strattled on my bike, while the mechanic was behind me, yes, I did! 2 minutes later, I was off and without a huge delay. Hats off to that awesome mechanic for helping me! The second half of the ride was very windy with probably 70 % of the ride into a headwind, or at least it felt, but still went very smoothâ€¦ Into T2 and there he was again, Coach Steve, with encouragement. 5:03: and some change on the bike. So far so good! Please God, let me have a good run!
At T2, I drank another bottle of water, took a salt tab, and downed an 8 oz. Red Bull upon exiting onto the run.Â The first few miles of the run I tried to stay within the 7:45 mi. pace but for some reason my body would not let me slow to that pace, so instead, I began clicking off 7:30′s for the first half of the marathon and trust in my run fitness that I had acquired over the past 6 months, sticking to the nutrition plan exactly as I had planned (coke and water every mile, a salt tab (1000 mg.) and a gel every 4 miles, and a sleeve of Cliff Shot Blocks throughout each half of the marathon. At the halfway point of the marathon I did not know where I was, although I knew I was feeling good and must be having a good race because I did not see many on the turn around in front of me, until I saw coach Steve at mile 13 and told me I was in 5th place. He asked me how I felt and how bad I wanted this. I told him I felt great and was a man on a mission. I cannot tell you how much it helped to have Coach Steve and Steve Voss there on their bikes riding along side me at various parts of the second half of the marathon. They continued to update me and told me at one point I had moved into second place in my AG and 13th overall and the third and fourth place guys had been fading to 9 min. miles. That just added more fuel to the fire I had and knew if I could just hold the 7:35-40 pace for the next 10k I would have my ticket to Kona. Once I got to mile 25 it all began to sink in and the emotions started to come out and nothing hurt anymore. I began seeing a lot of friends I knew along that last mile who were down there volunteering and watching and as I passed by them on my way to the finish I was hoopinâ€™ and hollerinâ€™ like you do when youâ€™re a kid and your team just won the little league world series, or like when you know youâ€™re goinâ€™ to Hawaii! I cannot describe the feeling that I had coming down that last stretch. It will forever be ingrained in my head! Simply an amazing feeling. Coach Steve peeled off right before the finish, went to the convenient store and met me at the finish line with an ice cold Pabst Blue Ribbon Tall Boy to celebrate. 9:31:40, a second place AG finish and a guaranteed slot to Kona! The monkey is off my back. At the finish, I met up with my Mom and Dad, Coach Steve, Steve Voss, and a few other friends and celebrated while we waited for my good friend Eric to finish. Watching any Ironman in the past, I had always found it amazing how some of the top guys could find the energy to jump up and down at the finish after doing that distance. Now, I know how that feels first hand.
Thanks again to my coach, Steve Locke, for believing in me and the attention to detail that he so diligently worked on to structure my workout schedule to best fit my life in pursue of this goal. You brought me to another level that I have never been to before. And another thank you to Dale Yake at PT Solutions for giving me the opportunity to be a part of his team for the past few years. As always, I was proud to wear your uniform! Also, one more thank you to my training partner Clayton Tillery who was there in the trenches with me during those long, hot days, and through those cold dark mornings. We shared a lot of good times, had a lot of laughs, suffered though some tough days and will have some forever lasting memories that you could never put a price on. Youâ€™re gonna kill Arizona next weekend brother and I hope to be there to watch. Thanks to everyone who took the time to read this. See you next season. For now, itâ€™s time to shut it down for a few months and enjoy the holidays and take a much needed mental and physical break.
I wanted to save this last paragraph for one individual in particular, Jennifer Lesser, that has probably taken the brunt end of my training and has seen not just the glamour of the sport by her own accomplishments, but also the dark side, the side that nobody talks aboutâ€¦those days she put up with me being gone all day on training rides or having to take a back seat to this demon we call Ironman that can ruin a lot if youâ€™re not careful with your balance. All of those dates missed over the last few months because of this, I will make up to you tenfold this off season and hopefully bank some points for next years last quest. Ha! Ha! Seriously though, I know it has been hard on you and I see that. Thank you for your support. You have been by my side through the good and the bad and never gave up on me.
PT Solutions team member Steve Locke had endured many seasons of triathlon that ended in injury or near misses at qualifying for the Ironman World Championship.Â This year everything came together with refining his run training and modifying his race calendar to accomodate his new training.Â Steve had a very successful Louisville Ironman this year finishing fourth in the 45-49 age group to qualify for a trip to Kona.Â October 9 was a great day and one that Steve had dreamed of attending.Â With his family in attendance and PT Solutions making the trip to Kona, Steve had the triathlon thrill of a lifetime.Â 1800 athletes converged on Kona with qualifying times from around the world.Â At 6:30 am the pro athletes took their turn in the 2.4 mile swim and at 7:00am, Steve Locke took his turn.Â The Kona course did not dissappoint in challenge, with heavy wind at the bike turn around and with air temperatures reaching 104 and pavement temperatures topping 120 degrees.Â Steve realized his dream of finishing the race, maybe not with the time that he wanted, but surely with the victory lap he deserved.Â Congratulations Steve Locke from all us at PT Solutions – we were glad to be on the journey along the way.
With the physical therapy and athletic training team standing by at Lake Lanier, the triathlon team had a great showing.Â Clayton Tillery came in as overall winner after recovering from his Ironman Louisville race.Â Courtney Moormann, Tony Cianciola, Laurie and Kevin Kimbell and Jason ScottÂ had great Age Group showings.Â The race sported over 1000 athletes this year with many beginners to the sport in attendance.Â The race officially closes the local area triathlon season, now team members look toward season ending Ironman races to close out 2010.
Many of our club members, physical therapists, employees and sponsored athletes will convene on Augusta, GA.
SundayÂ SeptemberÂ 26, 2010 is the half ironmanÂ competition. The event consists of a 1.2 miles river swim followed by a 56 mile bike ride into South Carolina and ending with an Augusta loop run of 13.1 miles.
PT Solutions team will be there in full force chearing our athletes on. For many this is the culmination of 7-8 months of training and countless hours of work. We look forward to seeing our fellow athletes and spectators from around the country and southeast in Augusta. This time it is just not for the Masters Golf Tournament.
Steve Locke knows the Ironman experience.Â Steve has been training for about 9 years for this moment.Â At the August 2010 Louisville, KY Ironman, Steve finally realized his dreams.Â He qualified for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii to be held in October.
Steve has felt the jubilation of completing his first Ironman and pulling out of an Ironman event during the run due to injury.Â Qualifying in 2010 is not an easy venture.Â Only the top 5%-7% of individuals in each age groupÂ qualify.Â Each qualifier must first finish the Ironman race around the world and then be within the top 5% of their age group.
For Steve, the Louisville Ironman meant he had to finish in the top 5 of 377 in his age group.Â So it is quite an honor for PT Solutions to watch him travel to Hawaii, turn around in 6 short weeks to do another Ironman.Â Steve has overcome many things to reach his goal.Â Like most non-professional triathlete, Steve has had to balance training with his career and family and overcome multiple injuries to reach the start line.
Congratulations Steve, we will be there with you as you tread water leading to canon start in Kona in October.Â Â We are also proud thatÂ PT SolutionsÂ has played some tiny part in helping you get there.