Sunday November 29, 2015
2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run
Dr. Fields with his parents initials written on his forearms
Never say never.
My parents taught me to never to give up no matter how difficult it may seem.
This, and all my races, are dedicated to their memory.
Thirteen years ago three different neurosurgeons told me that if I did not have surgery on my low back, exercise would no longer be an option in my life.
Then I found out about the wonderful world of Regenerative Orthopedic Medicine. Sunday November 29th, 2015, I finished not only my 2nd Ironman race in 2015, but my sixth Ironman race overall.
Regenerate First; Surgery Last!
The day started off like any other Ironman competition day. I woke up about 3:30 in the morning so that I could have enough time to have breakfast and get everything ready before I went down to the transition area around 5 o'clock a.m. After getting everything settled at the transition area where my bike was, I then boarded a bus that took me approximately 2.4 miles down to where the swim started. This is because this race is a point-to-point race. That means you start at one point and end at another point on the swim. The same is for the bike. So after getting down to the swim start I put on my very thin and tight speedsuit (a suit similar to what they wear in the Olympics) over my racing suit. Wetsuits are not allowed in this race due to the temperature of the water. I then went to get in the appropriate corral for the start.
Dr. Fields after the 2.4 mile swim
THE SWIM: 2.4 Miles
The start was being done in waves this year so to avoid the cluster of over 2500 competitors starting all at once.I seeded myself in the second corral, which is for competitors swimming between 1 hour and 1 hour 10 minutes. Most people told me that I should seed myself faster but I was very true to my time knowing I would finish between 1 hour and 1 hour 6 minutes. Due to the small size of the pier that we to go off of, they only let about five to seven competitors in at a time. This made for a very easy start since you did not have to swim over a lot of people. As soon as I got into my stride, which only takes me about 5 minutes or so, I started passing people. And ended up passing probably 50 people, which meant that a lot of people had seeded themselves faster than they actually were. The water was very warm at about 82 degrees and very clear. You could see the frogmen/lifeguards and photographers down below and also many colorful fish along the way. Halfway through the swim I looked at my Garmin watch, which I wear on my left wrist, and noticed it was glowing slightly green. I figured some water had leaked into it. I was going to stop and take a look but then realized that I was in the middle of the ocean and there was nothing I could do about it anyway!
I swam very well and passed over 50 people, which was a lot as not many had started before me. As I made my way towards the finish and made the final turn two headed towards the pier I really picked up my strokes. My final time was about 1 hour and 4 minutes, which was good enough to make me first in my age group in the swim. As I climbed out of the water and looked down a my Garmin, I realized that the whole front face had somehow become detached and I was actually looking at the circuit board. Well, at that point, I knew the watch was useless. I ran through the shower and then grabbed my transition bag and into the transition area. I quickly dried off and stripped off my speed suit. Underneath this I had my tri suit so just I had to put on my socks, shoes, sunglasses, suntan lotion and grab some nutrition to carry on the bike and I was off to find my bike. I also left behind my Garmin watch, which was useless at this point.
Dr. Fields during the 112 mile bike ride
THE BIKE: 112 Miles
I ran as quick as I could with my bike shoes on to my bike. You could carry them but then you end up getting gravel on your feet. I took the bike off the rack and ran towards the exit. You're not allowed to get on your bike until you leave the transition area. Immediately upon exiting, the transition area, I mounted my bike and took off to start the 112 mile ride.
I had my power meet on the bike, which in addition to power, would provide me with my heart rate and speed which are essential when riding long distance. The roads were dry and the sun was shining bright and the temperature was in the low eighties. I felt pretty good on the first lap. As you head towards the back of the island the winds pick up. For this approximately 15 mile stretch the winds were about 20 miles an hour blowing on shore. It was tough but not that bad. As you turn towards town to end your first loop the winds were pushing you forward. This was a much needed relief. As you get to town, there were hundreds, if not more, people yelling and cheering. It was very exciting and invigorating. For lap two you again go by some of the hotels and there were people out there cheering.
As I got to the back of the island again, the wind picked up and was close to 30 miles an hour. It was getting pretty tough and you just hung in there. Unfortunately this meant that you were down on your triathlon riding bars ( the extended bars you put your forearms on so you can just about lie flat while riding) all the time so as not to let the wind hit you in the chest. It put a tremendous strain on my neck, which I found out later that everybody had the same. You just kept going and going. During this loop, I also stopped at the special needs station at mile 56. This is where you can pick up your nutritional supplies for the second half of the race so you do not need to carry all of them at once. Again as I looped through town the crowds were cheering and it was very nice to get words of encouragement.
For the third loop the temperature has risen towards the upper 80's and low 90's and the winds really were kicking in. Now they were close to 40 miles an hour. It was really brutal. I had ridden this course three times in the past but this time the winds were the strongest . But somehow I kept going and going and managed to endure it. As I made the last turn to head the 9 miles back to town I knew that I had completed this part. Slightly slower than I expected but with the wind it was a slower time for everyone.
Dr. Fields during the 26.2 mile run
THE RUN: 26.2 Miles
As I came into town again the crowds were cheering and yelling loudly. I handed off my bike to one of the volunteers there and quickly grabbed my transition bag and ran into the tent. Off with the biking shoes, on with the running shoes, throw some water over myself to help cool me down, put on my running hat, grab some nutrition, go to the bathroom and I was out the door.
Of course when you transition out of this tent there are thousands of people out there yelling and screaming. The sun was still up so it was still pretty hot with it being in the 90s, But I felt pretty good. For about the first four point 4.4 miles, which is the length of the course (you do this back and forth 3 times) I was a little tight and not so fluid in my running. Along the way of course there are people cheering for about a mile and a half as you get outside of town and then sporadically there were people at hotels who would come out along the road to cheer us on. When I hit the turn around I felt really good and for the next 8.8 miles my legs and body felt really strong. As I got back to town and finished the first 8.8 mile loop the sun was going down which was a blessing because it had been very hot outside.
The next 8.8 loop I felt good but the energy was starting to be drained. The bike had taken a tremendous toll, not only on me but on other runners too. But I persevered and kept going. The best thing was my hamstring was not bothering me which had slowed me down during my last two Ironman races. And in May 2015, I had raced Ironman Brazil, where I had a lot of feet problems. None of this came around this time.
I saw many people out there that I knew from the Los Angeles area or other races. The camaraderie amongst the athletes is tremendous and it's something that we all rely on and count on. As I came into town finishing the second loop I knew I only had one more loop to go. I was tired and drained having been racing for almost 12 hrs., but just kept going. Of course along the way I took lots of nutrition and keep myself as hydrated as much as possible. There was no rain this year, which was also nice since the prior previous time I had done this race we were running through knee high puddles.
After leaving town and getting to the final around, I knew only had 4.4 miles left to go and realized that it was in the bag for me. As I came back into town and saw the crowds again, I felt the exhilarating feeling that one can only feel when finishing an Ironman. At this point I only had about a mile to go and knew I have finally done it. That is not only finish my 6th Ironman but my second one in six months . This was a challenge that I set for myself.
Like my parents had always told me, set your goals and go for it.
Never say never.
The final 100 meters are unbelievable feeling. All ones aches and pains fade away. As I approached the finish line, which is slightly elevated and bathed in lights, I heard the announcer say for the sixth time,
"Peter Fields, you are an Ironman".
It never gets old.
I finally knew that I had completed my conquest of doing two Ironman races in one year.
Of course the whole way during the race, I never forgot about my parents. I had my mom’s initials written on my left arm and on my right arm I had my dad's initials. Both of these people were so special in my life and I have never forgotten them for even one day since each of them passed. Whenever it got tough, I would place my hand on either forearm and feel their presence within me and hear their words of encouragement telling me never to give up. I know they would have been as proud of me as I am of them.
I want to thank everybody who sent me good wishes, those who kept me in their thoughts and those who followed me on the internet. All your thoughts and wishes kept me strong the whole race.
There were a few very special people that never stopped thinking about me the whole race. You know who you are and words cannot say thank you enough.
Peter A. Fields, MD DC
The Athletic Doc® and 6X Ironman Triathlete