Lion - Thanks for recommending One Week. Sounds like an awesome film.
OneBall - Good luck with your training. I'm envious.
TN3Sport - Thanks for the perspective. Much appreciated.
Motorcycling and training for me were always my time for solitude, my way of living as deeply as I can, my method of proving what I can accomplish on my own independently. I've only done 4 or 5 motorcycle rides with anyone else and in 4 years of training for Ironmans that's about the same number of rides I did with anyone else. And when race day came I wasn't there for a man vs. man battle, nor was I filled with delusions of a top finish: I was there to compete in my own private, self-absorbed, me-against-me event. I judged my success based on how little I had left in reserve at the end of an event, which meant more often than not I ended up in very bad shape.
Unfortunately the boundaries I ran up against each race were always the same, regardless of how my training season went or how I felt in the morning when the gun went off. My muscles, heart and lungs over the years gave me more power and speed with less effort and energy, but it never seemed to translate into better times. Certain limitations just seemed completely immune to conditioning: broken fingers that I never regained much function over always made for a painful swim, a fractured vertebrae in my spine caused no small amount of agony at race-pace in the aero bars; nausea, vomiting and headaches (which also happened a lot during training) surfaced around the 6 hour hour mark; and a combination of speech, coordination, and consciousness issues followed. It sounds awful, but it was the only experience I had ever known. And far from being averse to it, the pain and discomfort proved to myself that I was racing at-the-limit, giving everything I had. There was a truth and honesty in agony that I could not acquire in comfort. Ironman, in all its torture and pain, was my rapture.
Lost a good 10-12 lbs during the race:
But I'd always recover and then do it all again. Cozumel (Thanksgiving 2010) was different. The dizzying gravitational disturbances and ‘motion’ hallucinations I first experienced during the swim—and the agonizing pressure I had felt during the run--became incessant. By Christmas I could barely move or drive and ridiing my Triumph was an impossibility. New Year's Resolution was either to find a doctor who could make me better or find a nice quiet place to kill myself.
And here's a good lesson for anyone: NEVER listen to a doctor who tells you nothing is wrong, which is exactly what the doctors were telling me. It was my sports doctor (Dr. Blue!) who saved my ass.