Friday, October 10, 2008

Ironman Wisconsin - IronFans

Reflection upon an event such as Ironman is important if you are going to learn anything about yourself and how you handled the race. Trying to remember everything that happens during an 11 or 17 hour day is not easy. Fortunately for me I had some great IronFans to help me remember the day and provide a valuable perspective which I would have never been able to have.

The true definition of an IronFan is my friend and teammate Mark Durno. This guy is nuts, but is also a great competitor himself. Here is a recap of his day watching his Cleveland friends race.

I highly encourage anyone who is passionate in endurance sports to witness an Ironman event - its an awesome experience. I don't, however, necessarily recommend that you do it in the manner that I did. I committed to drinking one shot of Jack Daniels every hour, at the top of the hour, that my training partners were on the course. Since one of them finished in just over 13 hours, when you throw in the start and finish "extras" - that would be 15 shots of whiskey. Now, add in the approximate 50 miles of biking I did running around the race course cheering these guys on (and drinking very little water), it had the making of one big-ass headache the next morning. Dehydration sucks. Surprisingly, I never felt "tipsy" during the day

I didn't realize Mark was doing this "celebration" until mile 23 of the marathon when he held out a shot glass and said, "the next one is for you Eric." I just shook my head and kept running.

After the race Mark sent an e-mail to our Snakebite teammates recounting his observations from the day.

All of you know that Eric is a high energy guy whose enthusiasm is contagious. I think back to a half Iron race that he did in Morgantown, WV this year where he crossed the finish line bloodied (from a bike wreck on the course) and whooped, but still was hootin' and cheerin' at the end - because that is his personality. Ironman Wisconsin was no different.

In transition, after the 2.4 mile swim, Eric was running to get his bike, yelling and cheering the entire time - really pumping up the massive crowd that was surrounding transition (I have a good photo of it - to come in a later e-mail).

I crossed Eric 3 times during his 112 mile bike ride - same thing - every time I saw him, it was unbridled enthusiasm coming from a guy who was 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 hours into an endurance event - nothing can hold this guy down.

At mile 15 of the run course, I caught up with Eric's wife and we waited for him to run by. When we saw him, the energy level had dropped a bit, but there was still high intensity and a smile on his face - he gave Aimee a hug - I gave him a swift smack on the ass (hope it didn't sting !) - and he moved on - looking real good.

As I was biking around the run course I caught up with him again at about mile 22. I saw something I don't know that I'll ever see again... The intensity was still there - but the smile was gone - the energy was gone - there was nothing left but a competitor grinding out the last painful 5K of a race that would last over 11 hours. He couldn't really even talk. I said a few word to him, but it was clear that his focus was clearly on finishing strong through pain that I can't imagine (and will probably never experience).
Aussie Rob and I running together
In a word - Eric's performance was "amazing". I didn't get a chance to see him at the finish, but, I sure the smile came back right after he crossed the finish line... is my finish line video. Thanks for the memories. I will cherish them forever.

Mark's words above are kind and a greatly appreciate him sharing his thoughts with me. He chose his words carefully in order to convey what he was seeing. I'm glad he had pictures to backup those words.
I'm not sharing his words today because of what he said, but because he said them. He took the time to write them down in an e-mail and let us know what an Ironman is from the fans point of view.
If you are a spectator at any event and have some insight about the day, please make sure you tell that person. Be it a first marathon, a PR day, even a training day. The feedback you may be able to provide can prove to be a valuable lesson or memory for that person.
Help someone else get their Game On.


triguyjt said...

that was a very cool account from your friend Mark.. I am impressed by his ability to take shots and navigate around on his bike without..
a. killing a competitor
b killing a fan
c. killing himself

looks like he captured you pretty good.. great stuff

BuckeyeRunner said...


I have followed you through 2 of these iron-journey's...It has been an inspiration. I hope I can follow your disciplined example of training hard and smart.

My iron-journey is now underway.
As ususal, I am sure I will be bothering you asking for adivse....and of course asking you if you want to do a ride or 2 come spring when I need to pound out the miles.

DaisyDuc said...

Eric, glad you shared. Mark sure eloquently conveyed just what a contagious energy I have seen you convey!!! Mad props to both of you!

Anonymous said...

Hey Eric - its my anonymous self Dave M.

Great job and very nice "outside looking in" job from Mr. Durno. Its really cool to see you give thanks to your support wonder you do so well at these events. You did a great job and can't wait to follow along on your next journey.

ds said...

Hey Eric-

Great set of posts about the big event, and way to go finishing it in such a good time. I would still be on the course right now if I entered that race.

-Dave S.