Beyond Iron
Life … when the training is finished

Full on Bragging – And the Spectators Guide (in Arizona – and across the country) to Sunday, Part I

Me and Eric – minutes after finishing second and first, respectively - in the Tempe Mayor's Ironman Charity Challenge - 7:30 a.m. this morning

Let me brag for a second. Those of you who know my good buddy Eric and I know we never shy away from a good time. We work hard and play hard, and balance the responsibility of kids (two in my case, three in his) in between work, and family and all the responsibilities in between.

So imagine our mindset when we showed up this morning at the Tempe Mayor’s Ironman Charity Challenge – a sprint 1/100th Ironman race in which the winner receives $1,000 for the charity of his or her choice.

You should have seen this field. Megafit people from the Valley’s media everywhere. Megafit beefcake Javier Soto from KTVK, all-around citywide season triathlon champ and photog extraordinare Tim Hacker, Sweat Magazine and mega-athlete superhcamp Sue Berliner and an assortment of insane athletes from the PHX area’s megapaper, The Arizona Republic – climbing junkie Michael Schennum and 3-time Ironman and 3:26 NYC marathon finisher Bob Young, among others.

With this field of 14, we thought we were dead – destined for a near last place finish. Instead, we finished first and second. Eric won his 3rd Charity Challenge trophy, and I finished second, bringing $1,000 to Tempe Community Action Agency, the nonprofit that we’ve dedicated our almost all of our fundraising efforts to since since 2006.

In fact, in that time, Eric and I, and the team at College Times have directly contributed, or steered, more than $15,000 in cash contributions toward the agency. In an insanely awesome twist that agency got more national publicity than it has ever received after one of its homeless clients opted to return $3,300 in cash he found at a Tempe train station to its rightful owner – an ASU student.

We kicked ass – schooling those fools. In the presence of so many athletes, it felt damn good – a testament to all the hard training he and I have done over the years, and for me, proof that I’m ready to tackle this race come Sunday.

Now, for the spectators details.

First for those of you both in Arizona, and those of you beyond, here’s what you need to know:

The Ironman is largely considered to be the single-most challenging one-day endurance event in the world. On Sunday, at 7 a.m., I will jump in Tempe Town Lake with 2,400f the planet’s most intense endurance athletes. When the gun goes off, we will swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles. We have 17 hours to finish. If we do not finish within 17 hours, we will be disqualified. My goal is to finish the race somewhere between 11 hours, 45 minutes and 13 hours, 30 minutes; although simply finishing would be a fantastic accomplishment.

I will be hooked up to a GPS tracking device that people across the planet can access via the web in real-time. To see me in real time on a computer, iPhone or iPad, simply go to this web address:

http://www.trackmyathlete.com/vemap.aspx?name=004957

If you are using a Blackberry, PDA or Palm, go to this address:

http://www.trackmyathlete.com/pda.aspx?name=004957

For those on Blackberrys and PDAs, if you find that your software cannot accurately read the map, you may download the Opera mini browser, which is compatible with the GPS tracking device I’m using at:

http://www.opera.com/mini/download

We’re still working out the details for in-Tempe, in-person spectators. It looks like we may have a meeting tent on the Ironman site. Stay tuned for details on Friday and Saturday. Please know that if you can come at some point, I would love your support.

From a spectators perspective, the best time to come is either for the swim – seeing the swim start is insane – or during the run. The bike is largely an individualistic pursuit where, even if you do see me, I’ll blow by at 17-22+ mph in a fleeting second. The run is when I need you, cheering me on to the end – plus you get to see a lot more of me, many more times, and I can interact with you.

In addition, if you come for the run, you get to watch the finish. Watching an Ironman finish is a chance to see some of the most unhinged joyous human emotion you’ve ever witnessed. It’s powerful and insane.

So how will you know if I’m doing “okay?” Here’s a rough guide:

I can’t wear the GPS device in the water; so there will be no live tracking until I get out of the water. Saturday I will provide an official Ironman link that shows official split times. You can keep that up on your browser, too.

The swim starts at 7 a.m. MST (9 a.m. Eastern, 6 a.m. Pacific), so if all goes according to plan, I should be out of the water somewhere between 8:05 a.m. and 8:15 a.m. MST. It’ll take me 5-10 minutes to change, so I should be turning on the GPS device and getting on my bike somewhere between 8:10 a.m. MST and 8:25 a.m. MST.

On the bike, my goal has been to average around 18.3 miles per hour. That should mean that I should be on the bike from roughly 8:10-8:25 a.m. to 2:15-2:45 p.m. There is no clock stoppage in Ironman – if you pee, if you crash, if you get a flat, it all counts against your time – so if you see me still on the bike at 4 p.m., 5 p.m., 6 p.m. MST you know something has gone “wrong.” Weathermen are predicting windy conditions on Sunday, so that can dramatically change things. Keep tuned for details on the weather.

On the run, I expect a time of 4:45 to 5:45. This means my run could go from anywhere from 2:22-2:52 p.m. to 6:57 p.m. to 8:37 p.m. or later. It’s hard to calculate out that far.

As I say, I’ll have more specific details about spectator points for locals tomorrow.

Out of town people, please know this: I can use your support. I will be strapping my cell phone to my bike so that I can see incoming texts of support. If you want to send me a message pushing me on, please do, just make sure to mention your first and last name in the message, so I know who you are.

You can send texts to 602.309.6232. Send as many as you want. Knowing you’re all out there, pushing me forward, would be a HUGE boost, psyching me up and pushing me to the finish line.

All of you have said so many kind things these past nine months – you inspire me and drive me forward. Thank you!

57 hours, 14 minutes until the starting gun.

– Ed

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