by Tim Recher
While impossible to put into words, this was one of the greatest days of my life! The weather was perfect—cool low 70’s, sunny, no humidity. I couldn’t have asked for a better weather day.
Swim was everything they said, a true washing machine. I’ve been in mass starts before but never this many people in such a small area. Felt like I was playing semi-pro football again, got beat up and mugged, and that was the women! Water was warmer than I expected, approx. 70 and the quality was also better. I had heard some stories but maybe compared to the Potomac River it really was just better. Sighting was fairly easy as you are swimming straight into the sun for the first half.
I’m still waiting for my gear bag to come back to check my GPS but I really need to learn how to swim straight. When I checked my watch coming out of the water I had covered over 4400 meters!
Out onto the bike for three loops into the dessert. The out is a false flat/slight climb for about 10 miles on the Beeline Highway before a turnaround back into town. We had a serious headwind that we were told topped 30 mph! Meredith Kessler said it was the worst wind she had seen there 11 times racing Arizona, The wind actually blew a couple people off their bike and pushed me back to under 10 mph (and I still passed a couple people!). I did enjoy the tailwind on the downhill though. Biking has always been my biggest challenge so I was hoping to be off the bike in 8 hours. Managed to be in T2 in 7:44 and felt great heading out on the run. How crazy is our sport that ONLY having a marathon left to run makes you smile?!
Run was great with two loops around Tempe Town Lake with lots of spectators and family cheering you on. Kept to my plan of running the miles and walking the aid stations to stay on target with nutrition. Even managed to see my wife and baby coming through town. Drew tried to give me his cracker and struggled to get out of his Mom’s arms to follow me out on the run. Pretty sure he’ll be a lot faster than me. After about 15 miles, I decided to alternate the walking and running miles as by then I knew I would finish. In the dark, looking at the others in pain, I decided that I would be happier and have more fun if it took me a little longer because I walked for an extra mile – lots of zombies shuffling in the night!
The goal was to beat midnight. 16 hours and 59 minutes would have been a great day to me but I managed to finish within the 15 hour mark (15:44)! You always hear about the finish line and how it feels running through the chute to hear Mike Reilly call you an Ironman.
I can say without a doubt it is an amazing feeling. I think because I was later into the night made it even more magical, coming out of the dark street into this narrow, loud, and bright “tunnel” with everyone screaming your name and you hear Mike call you an Ironman over the loudspeaker. You cross the line, stop and they put that medal around your neck. All those 4:30am alarms and before sunrise swims make perfect sense. This was the hardest thing I have ever done and I loved every minute of it!
I have to say Thank You to all of you. I know I could have done this without joining this group but I know it would not have been half as much fun! A huge special Thanks to Diana Moissonnier for not only being there cheering me on but she even made a sign for me! It was awesome to make the turn to go back for another bike loop and see her there cheering everyone on. Even though we have never really met face to face, it was great to have a friend there.
6 Years ago I weighed over 420 pounds and couldn’t walk up the stairs without being out of breath. I decided it was time to stop living that way and started eating healthy. That afternoon I went for a walk around the block and woke up sore the next day! But I did keep going. I still have a long way to go but I am down 170 pounds and am closer to being the man I always knew I could be. Today, that includes being an Ironman.