Friday, August 29, 2014

Beginning a Friendship at the End of the Ironman Triathlon

My story of finishing the Ironman Triathlon in Louisville, Kentucky, on Sunday, August 24, will begin with the end--or near the end.  At mile three of the marathon that ends every Ironman, I jogged past a guy who saw my tattoo and said, "I was in first armored."  So I slowed to a walk and started talking to Chief Warrant Officer 4 Mike Woodard, a Blackhawk helicopter pilot in the Kentucky Army Reserve.



Mike has done the Louisville Ironman for several years.  He was convinced we could run-walk to a finish just before midnight, so we started walking and running together--and stayed together until mile 19.  During the 16 miles we walked and ran together we got a lot of encouragement.  When people on the side of the road would say, "Looking good!" I would tell them that Mike and I were 115 years of good looking.  I yelled this to one group of women wearing matching t-shirts supporting another competitor at mile 5.  We passed by them on mile 9 and one of them said, "Here comes that 115 years of good looks."

We agreed that at 10:30 p.m. if we were not at mile 22, we would run till we made it or cracked.  At 10:30 we were at mile 19 and started running.  Mike took a break a mile later.  I kept running and finished six minutes before midnight.  Mike finished just before midnight.

Before the last mile I was thinking of waiting for Mike at the line, but the final effort to get to the line was so painful, I lost track of everything except getting back to my car.

That half-mile walk from the finish line to my car took more than 20 painful minutes.  When Annalisa and I got back to the hotel room, I told myself I should eat before going to bed.  I microwaved some leftover spaghetti.  I tried to eat it, but the effort of lifting my fork was too much.  I went to sleep.

It turns out Mike is a writer in addition to being a pilot and an Ironman.  Here is something he wrote about flying MEDEVAC in Afghanistan.  Mike also flew through the base where I was stationed in Iraq, although a few years before I was there.

The night before the Ironman, we went to dinner with Pam Bleuel, a friend from Iraq who lives in Kentucky.  My next trip to Kentucky, I will be visiting Pam and Mike.

Tough Mudder vs. Ironman, Part 3

Tough Mudder vs. Ironman, Part 2

Tough Mudder vs. Ironman is Here

Second Tough Mudder Report

First Tough Mudder Finish

First Tough Mudder Photos

First Tough Mudder Entry

Ironman Plans

Ironman Training

Ironman Bucket List

Ironman Idea

Ironman Danger