After 2 days of a seemingly packed schedule with meetings, packet pickup, bike repairs, bus and ferry rides, I was able to settle into bed around 5:30 on Friday evening.  I was very fortunate that Andrew Shore let Colleen and I use his apartment the night before the race; it was only a short ride from the Ferry terminal and the athletes had to be on a 4:00am ferry to transition.  On race morning, we woke up at 2:45am and drove to the ferry.  We met Glen; he and I headed to transition via the athlete ferry.  I double checked my bike, turned in gear bags, chatted with friends and before I knew it we were standing in line for the Ferry. Glenn, Chris, and I boarded the fourth ferry and headed to swim start barge.  Swim was great, water was warm, not too crowded and the current made it feel like swimming downhill.  I was able to stay relaxed and focused on taking long strokes.

Soon enough, I headed into T1 where I quickly found my gear bag.  I put on my helmet and started to pull out my shoes when realized we were supposed to go into the men’s changing tent. I ran down into tent, got my bike shoes and socks on and head out onto bike course.  My thinking going into the race was that I could ride around 21.5 mph on about 215-225 watts.  After the climb out of the park and onto the Palisades Interstate Parkway, I settled down in the aero bars and went to work to bring my average mph up to around 21.5.  About mile 20, I was creeping up and average watts were 236.  This was very close to where I wanted to be because knew I would gain some mph and lose some watts on the ride back into transition.  For the rest of the bike it was about keeping cadence up, really working the downhills, conserving on the uphills.  I was feeling good at mile 82, the final turn around.  I knew the only challenge was the state line climb and after that it was mostly downhill to transition.  I kept my tempo up and I had to work a little harder as there was a nice headwind heading south.

I was now well ahead of what I had planned due to a fast swim and bike.  I took a little extra time in T2 to get my socks and shoes on properly for the run.  I knew the run was going to be a real challenge for me.  My longest training run was less than 16 miles and my longest run ever, if I remember correctly, was my freshman year of college during XC camp. Even that was only 17ish miles.  The run started out well; I climbed the hill out of transition and filled my custom ice holders at the first aid station.  Shortly after the first time up Dickmann’s Hill, my stomach began very unsettled. I took some perform and water at the next aid station around mile 3 and then proceeded to vomit 3 times.  This was nothing new to me as I routinely vomited during races in college and still continue to do so after finishing shorter triathlons or running races.  It barely slowed me down.  What worried me was the amount of fluid I lost; I estimate that I lost 1-2 quarts and was worried about getting dehydrated.  At the next aid station I had some water and coke and felt much better.  I continued to run by pushing the downhill and keeping steady effort on the uphills.  During the two 7 mile loops, I was able to see several people whom I knew and was able to share words of encouragement and support with them.

I would have to say that the toughest part of the course was the climb out of the park and Hudson Terrace to the George Washington Bridge.  It was long, steep and sunny.  The spectators were very energetic on the run up to the bridge…thanks Jannon for my first ever race hug.  After taking running the first few steps up to the George Washington Bridge, I decided it was in my best interest to walk the steps up and down. I felt my calf cramp instantly.  Running across the bridge was a very neat experience and one of my favorite parts of the race.  Miles 18-22 were the toughest part of my race.  I was in uncharted territories, having never run this far before.  It was very challenging because we were running a long, hot, sunny, windy path along the river.  At this point in the race, I was running all alone…one of the very few downsides of being in the front of the pack.  My dad saw me somewhere around mile 19 or 20 and had to scream in my face to get my attention and shake me out of a daze. I needed that refocus.  At mile 22, I made the turn into the park where all my spectators that had been throughout the course met for my final miles.  I saw Colleen’s parents (Pat and Dennis), my dad & Audrey, & Chris.  My mom, Jannon and Colleen anxiously anticipated my arrival in the finishing shoot.  The final four miles went by quickly because I was able to see my family several times with the nature of the switch backs.  Once I could see the finishing shoot flags, I knew that I was going to hear Mike Reilly announce my name followed by “You are an Ironman.”  This is what all the training is for…four simple words. Running into the finishing shoot I could see the Jesse’s Ironwife and Ironcrew t-shirts among the many spectators at the finish line. I knew exactly where my family was.  I ran straight through the finish, past the med tent and right for a slice of pizza.