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 Bucket List