Sunday, May 6, 2012

Ironman St. George 2012 Race Report - 140.6

Blog Post # 141.0 - I completed 140.6 - with a time of 0:00

I am happy:

1) To make it out of the water alive.
2) To have been given the green light to continue the course.
3) To have been given a finisher medal - even though I officially do not have a time.

All in all, it took me about 14 hours and change to do my 140.6 - but I did it.

"Official" or not, here are my personal Garmin settings - unedited.

There was no need for me to RACE the bike and run. I did work hard, but wanted to complete the day - so I went super conservative into the headwind on the bike.

My Swim - Swam 1:40:30 before being pulled for safety reasons.

My Bike - Includes both T1 & T2

My Run - I ran a marathon. Mile 10 was rough. Stomach issues.

Need more proof? Bryonman finish video (Around 15:01 on the race clock)
. That's me in the orange white and blue - the announcer calls my name well after I cross the finish line.

FINALLY -- a place you can go to see that I did toe the line that day.

Search for bib # 984 ...

Results Search for Ironman St. George ... look at all my zeros. (search for bib 984)

Here's what happened. I am not going to edit this as I go. I just want to get the story out.


I woke at 2:45 am. I ate breakfast. After packing "all" my bags I hopped in the car with Carrie for her to drop me off at the shuttle that serviced Sand Hollow Reservoir. Let's be honest. It was a school bus. I did not care. I sat in the middle of the bus, applied my headphones and ... DRog? Again? Out of all these racers DRog hops on the same bus. We laughed for a minute and then each of us resumed listening to our headphones.

Transition was chaotic. There were neither enough tire pumps or port-o-johns. I sat down in front of my bike and waited for the sun to rise. I chatted a little but mostly I was there to watch people and prep for racing. I kept waiting for the nerves to hit me. They never did. Soon enough, I was in my wetsuit and educating people why they might want to consider switching their timing chip from their right ankle to their left.

The Reservoir was much more "glasslike" than it was on Friday and my 20 minute practice swim. Seriously, when we went into the water it was both a good wetsuit temperature and darn near perfect for swimming. After watching hundreds of age groupers drift well in front of the start buoys - "bang" - we were off and for the record, I started at the start line unlike half of the other racers. For shame!

Wow. This is going well. I was calm. Stretch, pull, recover: repeat. I was cruising. Turn #1 was a sharp left at about 1100m. I was right around 22-23 minutes. Good! I am ahead of schedule. Stretch, pull, recover: repeat.

"Why is there a jerk out here stirring up the water in a jet boat?" I remember thinking this for a minute or so. I was looking for it during my sighting strokes. The moment I was pushed up out of the water and splashed back in fairly forcibly I knew what was really happening. People started yelling. "What the hell?" The kayakers were getting tossed around like ragdolls. After a few jostling sprays from some big waves, I realized it had begun. The wind. I was at about 27 minutes on my Garmin.

I don't remember much between 30 minutes in and 1 hour. All I remember is trying to stay focused on good form and trying to fight the sun and dust to find something to sight off of. I suck at sighting anyway ... so add in 4' to 5' waves and forget about it. Some of the waves were large enough that I was trying to stay beneath them by diving down a bit which is tough to do in a wetsuit.

At about 1 hour I started hearing screams for help. It was at least three different people because their voices were so distinct. One dude had blood curdling fear in his voice. That was a little unnerving. I tried to block it out and kept swimming. A kayaker pulled up next to me at one point and with wind and spray battering her face she yelled "You are doing fine - just head toward the radio tower from here!" I actually felt sorry for her for a second until I remember that I was trying to swim in this crap. I could still see other swim caps, so I knew I was still in it.

The waves did not relent. They actually became less predictable and a bit larger as I went. I would pick up what I thought was a pattern and then a wave would hit me from a completely different angle. They were hellbent on pushing me to the very center of the lake.

At 1 hour and 35 minutes, I noticed a boat loaded with people in swim caps and wetsuits bobbing next to me. "You okay?" "Yeah", I yelled ... "Am I going the right way?" "Yes, swim around the island." I was getting there. I had about 40 minutes before the cut off. I could probably make it. It looked to be about 800 meters or so. At 1 hour and 38 minutes, the same boat was next to me bobbing even more violently. I was thinking ... "I really don't want you to float next to me and watch for 40 minutes." "Hey man, you are a tough guy, but we just watched you make 30 decent swim strokes and you lost 10 meters. This is not safe." I knew what he meant. It was his nice way of saying - get in the boat without arguing please.

The 20 other swimmers on the boat had been on there long enough that some of them were shivering, huddled under blankets, blue around the lips. Me, I was wise-cracking and making light of the situation because I knew I gave everything I had. I ended up "swimming" for around target time for the swim. I stopped my Garmin when I was pulled at 1:40:30. The honest truth was that there were times where it didn't feel all that safe. There were even a couple of moments where drowning crept into my head. I think that was lack of experience in this type of water.

For about 40 minutes we crept and bobbed around the lake looking for swimmers. I was helping the captain spot because I wasn't shivering uncontrollably like the others. We pulled one gal and two dudes out of the water. The waves continued to bash the boat. The captain moved everybody toward the back of the craft because the water was coming in over the bow. Even this 32' boat was getting tossed around. It was actually kind of cool to pull swimmers out of the water and have them thank me.

At capacity, we headed for shore. It was a chess game. The waves, the kayakers, the swimmers and the boats were all trying to survive and the waves were pushing all of us toward the middle OR worse, back to where we started the swim (which was NOT the finish). A big group of swimmers ended up swimming to the boat ramp where we started. I am not sure if that was a survival move or if they thought they had swam the course and that was the exit. At least 10 swimmers were standing on the island waiting for a ride from a boat. Others - they made it through the swim. Some of them had a great swim time. I suppose the more gifted swimmers liked the challenge.

"Here's what we are going to do folks." A race official yells over the wind to make himself heard. "No one could have predicted this wind or these conditions. We are going to take your timing chip now. If you want to continue AND you make the other cut offs for the day you can cross the finish line and you will get a medal ..."

Say no more sir ... Bryonman out. I restarted my Garmin. I was the only one of the twenty three on the boat that reacted when I did. The game is back on. I came here to do 140.6 and now I have a second chance to do so. The wetsuit strippers got me out of my batman suit and I was off to the changing tent.

It took some "mental maneuvering" to get re-focused on the plan. I needed to eat. I swam for 1:40:30 and sat on the boat for another 40. I probably needed to drink too. I think I sat in the changing tent for about 7 or 8 minutes regrouping and organizing my bike gear.

I left T1 when the race clock said 2:30:04.

Oh yeah. I still have to deal with this crazy wind. On my practice day, the hill leaving the lake had been a 42 mph hill. Today that same hill was a 24mph creeper. I decided then and there that this was not a day to "race". This was a day to enjoy and experience. I still had to stick to the nutrition plan because I was still going to be out here for a long while. I was not physically gassed from the swim at the time, but I think it took a lot out of me mentally. I was glad that I was able to block it out and resume the process.

So I knew they said they were going to pull people from the bike course at Mile 22 at 11:30. By the time I remembered that I was already on mile 16. I think I passed mile 22 at 10:45. That was fairly quick considering I was conserving and not challenging the headwind too much. Good. I am out of the woods for cutoffs. Luckily I am a strong enough cyclist that I could conserve energy and still finish the 112 miles before the 5:30pm cutoff. That soon into the bike, I knew I would cross the finish line. They better keep their promise to let me cross the line. I teared up a little.

I went through Ivins and Mile 30 before the parents and wife could make it there via the shuttles. Luckily I did see them before I left the swim so they all knew I was okay. Focus! Eat. Drink. Live. Laugh. I did all those things. I had longish chats with aid station workers. I petted dogs and horses. I actually took four bathroom breaks on the bike - which I never do because I am usually in "super race mode". I took extra food and water for other cyclists. I did give a cyclist a GU and a bottle of Perform right below the wall. I gave out a Co2 cartridge to another cyclist while helping him check his tire. I soaked up too much sun and tons of scenery. I remember climbing into Gunlock and seeing the water hop around in that lake ... and the winds were nowhere near as rough as they were at Sand Hollow. I cried a little. This is beautiful. I survived that swim. That is something I could have never done even a year ago.

For the record - the "Wall" is not that bad. There is a steeper more annoying hill prior to the Wall that is short but for my money it is much tougher. I honestly think it goes 10-13% grade for about a half mile. After pulling that annoying hill and the Wall, it was time to go through Veyo and start the descent. I had only been passed a handful of times on the bike - even though I was honestly riding well below my race pace. On the descent I really started moving. I hit 57 mph at one point and had several miles that were well under two minutes. I passed two very fit and fast cyclists on the descent and one of them caught me on the uphill going back into Ivins and congratulated me on a very fast 15 miles or so. That made me glow. I can cycle at quite a clip - but I knew I still needed to conserve today. Wind, heat and mileage were all factors in the marathon. I wished him luck on his run and he said - "this is the hardest race I have ever done". Within a mile or two he was out of sight. I like to think chasing me down the hill gave him a little boost. A guy can dream, right?

St. George 112 mile bike elevation chart.

I believe I ate my weight in food on the bike. My stomach kept handling it, so I kept shoving it in. I was staying hydrated. I hate Perform ... but I drank it too. I was eating Perpetum straight without mixing it. I was trying to give myself any advantage going into the marathon. The wind did not let up the entire time I was on the bike. On the ups it was annoying and took extra effort to keep a good pace. On the downs it was fun but downright suicidal. I am just trusting and crazy enough to pedal in situations like that rather than ride my brakes. Ask the gal that underestimated my speed and pulled out to pass someone on the big descent after Veyo around Mile 100. We almost found out the hard way what it feels like to crash on a bike at 40+ mph. I somehow sneaked between her pedal and a road cone without hitting anything. Bike handling is my second best skill behind stubbornness.

I pulled in to T2 around 4pm a full hour and a half before the bike cutoff. It turns out that some of the people that MADE the swim were pulled off the bike course and not allowed to continue. I don't know how to feel about that fact. I do know that permits and road closures played more in to that official decision than anything else. All I know is that I was given the chance to finish due to poor and unpredicted swim conditions and I made the choice to continue.

I have 8 hours to finish the marathon. I had conserved energy on the bike which was tough for me to do at times because I wanted to go so fast so bad. I remember having the conversation with myself in the Port-Ouch-John. "Okay dudeski, you have saved it for the run now go out there and do sew this day up correctly." The guy in the J-John next to me says "Yes sir!" I didn't realize I was talking aloud. I had to laugh.

I spent a few extra minutes in the stinking, sweltering changing tent talking to an Army Ranger and a Brit that were very kind. This is living. I am sitting here with an Army Ranger and he is talking about the water being as bad as any swim he's been on ... oh and we are clearly on pace with one another. Am I this fit nowadays? I guess so.

+++++++++ The Run ++++++++++++

All systems were go again. I may have been a ghost in the official timing system, but I must have had quite a presence on the run. The spectators were awesome all day and night. "#984 passing people - looking strong!" I was. My run had been sound for the last two months of training. I was running 8 or 9 minute miles and still conserving energy. Early into the run I stopped and chatted with Carrie, Mom and Dad. I think that was when THEY knew I was going to cross the finish line. I purposely did not tell them I was not going to have an official time. I did not want them to be disappointed.

I have 8 and 9 minute miles from my Garmin tracking until mile 11. Oops! I guess I may have taken in TOO MUCH on the bike. My muscles felt fine and full of life - but my stomach was pissed off. That was a rough and hot Johnny-On-The-Spot stop. The stinky toilet was right in the middle of the Utah sun at 4:45 in the afternoon. Even still, it never crossed my mind to stop. The pain was annoying but nothing worth sacrificing the second chance I was given to cross the line and get a medal.

I saw the family several times on the run. At mile 11/12 Dad said I looked "sorta rough". He was being very positive. I think I might have impressed Dad a little on May 5th, 2012. "Wrap it up son. You are going to be an Ironman." "I need a hug." I said. I think there was a collective "Awwwwwww" from the other spectators in the area. Mom and Carrie ran down beside the course and gave me a hug. That must have worked. I pretty much ran / shuffled the rest of the course.

St. George 26.2 mile run elevation chart.

Let me talk to you about chicken broth. Is that the best thing ever? I am craving it right now. That was the thing I survived on during the last 16 miles of the run. My stomach would start to get pissed and about that time, I would pass an aid station that had broth. "Broth!" I would start pointing and calling out what I needed. I only wanted broth and potato chips. I would occasionally pop a salt tablet to keep my calves under control. I did not have another "sweet" item after mile 6 on the run. I will vote for chicken broth in the next election. I will cook all meals with chicken broth going forward. I love chicken broth.

I met and talked to so many cool dudes on the run course. Seth from Salt Lake. John from Georgia. Gabe from Iowa. I ran with Seth for over a mile right after the "big release" at mile 10/11. He wished me luck before falling off my pace. I begged him and tried to coax him along. He begged me to just keep going. So I did.

The zombies started attacking the course at about mile 18. People were dropping like flies, shuffling and babbling nonsensical phrases. This all motivated me. I was still keeping a 12 minute pace ... and passing more folks than were passing me. Mile 19 /20 was a little rough but Carrie walked with me through that half mile and I told her "Thank you, but this little downhill says 'run' all over it. Love me." I ran the last 6 miles without stopping ... sucking down chicken broth at every opportunity.

At the finish, I pulled as many people with me as I could. I did get the vet from Georgia to switch from walking to running and he finished strong. In typical Bryonman finish fashion, I concluded the run and the 140.6 with an 1/8th mile of 5:50 pace output. That was for me and the spectators. It was my way of saying - "See folks, I still have juice in the tank". I am always out to prove something.

Upon analyzing my Garmin output from the run, I realized that minus the 10 minutes where I forgot to stop my timer at the finish AND the 10 extra minutes for the "big release" I did have a sub 5 hour marathon after a brutal swim and a brutal bike. The best news of all this is that my biggest pain is the sunburn on my lats and shoulders. I truly do feel like I could train tonight without pain or injury.

So my rough stats were:

2+ miles in the water at a time of 1:40:30

(40+ minutes on the rescue boat)

T1 - 12 minutes

112 miles on the bike - 7:15:15 (15.5 mph moving average)

T2 - 15 minutes

Run - 5:00:00

Roughly - 14hr:25min moving time to finish. I crossed the line at 15:01 and change. This is three hours greater than my original target time - but a race like this has the ability to shift your perspective. Contrary to the length of this boring race report - I can't even come up with enough words to explain how much I learned.

Back to train and race another day. Perhaps tomorrow. :-)

+++++++++++++++++ Thank Yous+++++++++++++++++++

To Carrie: This chance happened to me because of you. I love you.

To Mom: You were very strong during the event. You held it together even when you feared for me at the lake. Thanks for coming out to spectate ... oh and birthing me. Love.

To Dad: I always want to make you proud. I think I got one of those opportunities on May 5th, 2012. Your words during the run were perfect. Love.

To Brandon and Blake: See what old men can do? Love Bryan

To Paul and Barbara: Thanks for the support - especially during the Christmas holidays while I trained up for this event. Love Bryan

To Sarah and Seth: Nice coaching. Good advice. Good plan. The fitness IS there. The attitude was right. I was just a bit outmatched on swimming skill. My lack of experience is the only thing that stopped me in the water. I was prepared. You did your jobs.

To My Fellow IMSG 2012 Alums - Jarrett Wyatt, Adam Folts & Shawna Folts: Jarrett - seeing you and checking in with you on the bike was helpful. Shawna and Adam. Both of you rock and I appreciate you chatting with me on the run. Tri Tri again!

To Ted Knotter and Sally Borg: Undying love and support. This whole journey is pretty much your fault since you got me back into cycling in 2008 at the Bike Tour of Colorado.

To Brian Folts: Fresh and Loose - living the dream. Who knew that a fast guy like you would be able to teach me to not worry about time and just live? Praise be the treadmill.

To Ben Brown: Thanks for teaching me what you taught me about nutrition. Most of all, thanks for being a good friend.

To Penny Bailey: Spin class followed by Yoga! The prescription for anyone serious about getting into better shape. Thanks for all the support.

To Team Triple Sports: The perfect Tri squad for me and my quirky personality. Here's to the remainder of 2012.

To Bruce McHenry: Whether climbing rocks or swimming in 5 ft swells, you have introduced me to living. Keep up the good work.

To Barry Tait: Thanks for the advice and friendship man!

To Christian Bailey: Thanks for all the advice, bike work and general entertainment.

To Dan Quick: You might be the coolest person I have ever met.

To Scott Leckey: You would have loved this race. You would have made the swim. Thanks for being a good friend. Keep training.

To Mark Konietzka and Tri Family Racing: If you have not been out to a Tri Family race and you live in Phoenix - do not hesitate. A great local race team. Mark is the man!

To Dan Cadriel: The Mayor! Ever since I cornered you and picked your brain about things at Seville in the fall of 2011 I have used your advice to help me understand myself as I relate to this journey.

To my Online Followers: Thanks for reading. Tell your friends! Help me stay focused. I have the second half of 2012 to race yet!

To Andy Graham and SBR of Murray KY: Thanks for allowing me to train with you while we were in town. We will see you again soon.

To my Benton KY Family & Friends: All the class of MCHSers that followed me. Ironman Brock and Ironwife Jessica - much love. To all the "Southies" ... I wore my orange and blue onesie to represent. I wore red shoes and gray socks for South Marshall colors. "Heather HD and Ron" - hang in there. You will win. Julie Guyton - keep running! To Dariel Miller, Doc, Phyllis and all of Dad's old work buddies rooting me on ... thanks! Brad Miller - you are one fast cookie and quite a good role model.

To Myself: Good work! Celebrate this but please do not stop. You have put in a tremendous amount of effort to get where you are and now you know that the sky is indeed the limit.

To everyone else: If I forgot you or you cannot possibly be lumped into one of these categories - call me out. I will fix it.

What are we doing tomorrow????


  1. That was not a DNF. You finished the sucker! It's funny reading your write up after writing mine. Most terrifying experience I've ever had. I may have been lucky for a number of reasons, but one may ultimately have been my swim training and some knowledge about open water swimming. The other may have been hitting the turns sooner. I think that it just kept getting worse out there. I'm lucky I didn't hear the screaming. That had to get into your head. Congrats on persevering for the whole day. Can't wait to read the rest of your report!

  2. Congrats Bryan. That will likely be the most epic IM race in US history for a long time to come. Way to keep your wits about you, it will help you regardless of what obstacles are thrown at you on a race course or anywhere else!

  3. Good job Bryan! Can't believe the wind on the swim:

  4. congratulations - i really loved your attitude that you portrayed so well in this blog.
    i also like that 'time spent on rescue boat' was one of your splits :)
    i'm very glad you got to enjoy the day and reframe it in such a positive way.
    congrats & get out there racing again soon!

  5. First off: it was so great to meet you bro! that was just totally awesome meeting you at Sand Hollow on Fri. morning. I loved that. total highlight for me. Hugest congrats on the weight loss, changes in your life, and movement toward movement:) I beleive you have a great future and road in Triathlon.

    Now - after reading about your experience last Sat. at IMSG - I am blown away and just F'n amazed at you day and how you pulled through and got it done. WAY WAY impressive that you showed the tenacity to get back out there after they took your chip. And oh by the way outstanding effort in the water you kept at it and kept plugging away all you could until they yanked you. hats off to that effort. But getting on that bike and completing the full bike course and moving onto the run and pounding your way through the run course....Im in awe that is a great great story and all effort all the way. Your story tells it all but so does that smile in the finishers pic - love it! be proud man ....that is a total standout performance.

    Looking forward to following some of your future success...all the best

  6. You are amazing in every way! So proud of you. Also---I think you should be a writer too. Add that to your goal list!

  7. Bryan, from one chip less finisher to another, kudos on persevering! This was the craziest thing I have ever done. I got told to jump off one of the boats and swim ashore on the far shore of the lake at the other end of the dam. A bunch of us ended up getting a ride back to transition from the other side of the lake in a sherif's pickup truck, and I left T1 myself at 9:20. I made the 4:30 bike cutoff at Veyo at 4:27... then made up 12 min coming back into town so made it into T2 by 5:15 pm but it was brutal out there! Congrats again!

  8. Finally! Somebody without a chip who was stubborn enough to see it through to the end. Nice work to a fellow timing ghost!

  9. Hey stranger - not sure what made me decide to check in on this journey, but glad I found this post and read up on your journey. Quite an amazing story and you tell it well. Take care of yourself out there!

    1. Dude! Thanks for reading. Hope all is well.

  10. Just signed up for StG 70.3!! Up 15lbs since August I'm hoping this is the answer to weight loss!!