Friday, October 8, 2010

A Day to be Mellow

Coffee and a cookie in the middle of Kona Bay again? Of course! It was a great way to start off my birthday and still fun after five consecutive days. As we drove down to the ocean this morning, there was a dramatic change in the town. It seemed like the city officials had passed an ordinance banning running on Friday. The street that had been packed with runners for the past week were now void of runners. I wonder why?
The key word for today was mellow. Other than the swim in the morning, Scott and I spent most of the morning sitting on the patio, overlooking the Pacific Ocean and working on our computers. The only serious work we did was to pack all of our equipment for Saturday. To complete the 140.6 miles, we needed to set up our bikes, layout our tri suits, cap, goggles and computer chip, pack a bike transition bag (shoes, socks, helmet, glasses, number, and food), pack a bike goody bag (for mile 56 on the bike), pack a run transition bag (running shoes, hat and more food) and a run goody bag (for mile 13.1 on the run.) A logistical nightmare.

At 1 PM, we rode our bikes down to check in…8 miles and a 800 foot drop…pretty easy. Check in is an event by itself. All the major bike manufactures have people to track what bikes are being ridden by the athletes. A couple hundred spectators surround the entrance just to watch the competitors arrive. This is when I remembered there is nothing typical about this Ironman.
We went back to the house for an uneventful afternoon….amazing. As the sun went down, we enjoyed an incredible pasta dinner with the Boylan’s, Kessler’s, and Jim Shelden. While it was a pre-race dinner, it was also a very special for me being able to share my birthday dinner with such good friends.
Well, this is obviously my last blog before the race. The response I have received has been overwhelming. It means so much to me to have so many friends sharing this event with me…even if it is in cyberspace. One of the common themes in your responses has been how much you have appreciated me sharing my feeling before the big day. So let me conclude by giving you an idea of where I am on the night before the World Championship.
I have become an emotional wreck. It is not from being concerned or worried about tomorrow. I am not nervous about my ability to finish and to do my best. I am an emotional wreck because tomorrow is a day I have been looking forward to since I was treading water at the start of last year’s Wisconsin Ironman and my nephew, Dr. David Salzman who was in the lake next to me said, “Uncle Mike…Game On!” I can’t wait for what has the potential of being one of the great days of my life.
Four years ago, I came to the World Championship as the youngest athlete in my age group. I was 55 in the 55 to 59 year old age group and captured the fifth spot on the podium. Today, at 59, I am the oldest. My dream is to again be in the top 5. A dream – definitely. A realistic goal given the top talent like Joe Bonness (55) and Kevin Moats (56) and three other guys who have run an Ironman 30 minutes faster than me – we will find out tomorrow. In the four years, in addition to getting older, I swam over 1,000 miles, rode 25,000 miles, and ran 5,000 miles with some very amazing and special people. I have hiked six 14,000 foot peaks, mountain biked around the Annapurna Circuit and climbed to Masada, Petra, and Machu Picchu with various family members. My speaking has given me a chance to inspire 70 groups and maybe help some of those attendees chase their own dreams. It has been an incredible journey. I am not sure what the destination is going to be tomorrow, but I know I am ready, and I know my journey to get here today was the result of so many friends, family members and training buddies who have inspired me to chase my craziest dreams.
I am heading to bed early tonight thinking of a quote I heard Bruce Taylor the CEO of Cole Taylor Bank use in a speech 15 years ago.
Every morning in Africa, a Gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a Lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest Gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn't matter whether you are a Lion or a Gazelle... when the sun comes up, you'd better be running.”
Tomorrow morning, I will be running….and I will be thinking of all of you, running along with me.
Race details for Saturday.
The race starts at 7:00 AM Hawaiian time, 1 PM Eastern, 12 noon Central. I expect to finish in around 11 hours or at 6 PM Hawaiian, midnight Eastern, 11 PM central. In 2006, I finished in 11 hours and 12 minutes. You can track the results and see live video at


Barry said...

Good luck Mike. Hope the day is all you want it to be!

Howard said...

Mike - belated HAPPY B-DAY. We're proud of you and wishing you all the best on this very special day.
Good luck! We're confident you can pull it off.


Oliver said...

Mike, enjoy today and get ready to kick some butt!!


Oliver said...

Mike, Congratulations!! 11:21:24 overall... Were you happy with your results? I'm sure you are... 16th in your age group sounds really good especially when your the oldest in the age group... Congrats again!!

Scott Wallace said...

Hi Mike,

You are an inspiration to us all! A spectacular effort in a spectacular event. I look forward to hearing more stories about the race and your experiences.


Scott Wallace