“Always keep moving forward in life”
Yvette and Fred Fields
Here is my report on my 9th Ironman Triathlon.GETTING THERE
This one was a lot easier to get to than the others as it was my first Ironman in the US. Since it was in northern California, it was only a one hour and 20 minute flight up to Santa Rosa. At the airport, I was greeted by Snoopy and Charlie Brown, as Santa Rosa is the home of Charles Schulz, the creator of Peanuts. They both offered me encouragement on my race! Then it was driving into town, getting settled in and picking up my registration packet. The next two days was spent checking out the course and trying to relax.
RACE DAY MORNING
This race was a bit different than other races. The lake where we swam in, Lake Sonoma, is 40 miles from downtown. This is very unusual when it is usually right at the start or within a few miles of the transition area. So we had to report for buses leaving at 4 a.m. from the downtown area. This necessitated waking up around 2:30 so that I could have a proper breakfast. Then I had to drive down to the downtown area, park the car and walk over to where the buses were. Fortunately my bike and other gear was already at the lake. All I had with me was my nutrition and swimming gear. After that it was a one hour bus ride up to the lake, getting settled in by checking my bike, pumping the tires, filling the water bottles and loading the nutrition on the bike. Then it was time to head down to the lake front. The day before, the water had been very warm, but the morning of the race they determined that it was still wetsuit legal (below 76 degrees). Since everyone else was wearing a I decided to wear one even though I get very warm in it.
THE SWIM: 2.4 Miles
THE BIKE: 112 Miles
Unfortunately, the roads were not in great shape. There are a lot of uneven areas as well as small little potholes. This was even more difficult as it was extremely sunny. When you would go through an area that was shaded you could not see the road since you were wearing dark sunglasses. This made for an uncomfortable ride. Right before we got to town, at about the 65-mile mark, I got a flat. I did not notice it at first but as my speed dropped and I was pushing even harder, I had to get off the bike and check. Sure enough, the tire was flat. And it was the back tire, which takes more to change. But to my surprise, as I dismounted, one of the repair vehicles that circles the bike course (there were three or four of them) pulled up right behind me. What luck! The mechanic grabbed his pump and had my tire changed, pumped up and ready to go in less than two minutes. Faster I could have ever have done it. And without greasy hands too!
So back on the bike, I finally got to town where we than had to ride two 17-mile loops. This was invigorating as the crowd was there. Unfortunately, on these loops, the road got even worse. They were areas that were so bumpy one of the following riders said he thought he lost a crown. We all laughed. Although they predicted it to be in the 90s, it only went to about 86 or 87 degrees. But it was very sunny with no wind and with minimal shade, so it did get warm. All in all, I had a good bike ride.
So, as we entered town on the last loop, the crowds were cheering. The race had bike handlers as one gets off your bike, which are people who take your bike and rack it for you. Unfortunately, the race being slightly disorganized, they racked the bikes right there and then had the change tents after that. That meant you had to run about 50 yards alongside the bike rack areas in your bike shoes. Most places have it the other way around. But either way, it is always nice to get off the bike after 112 miles. Then it was into T2 tent and change into running shoes, visor, down some nutrition and out for the 26.2 mile marathon run.
THE RUN: 26.2 Miles
As I came through the shoot and they took my pictures, I looked over and there was the young guy who I had seen as I exited the riverbed. As I approached him, I recognized him as the son of one of my best friends. We both laughed and embraced and I told him how appreciative I was for his encouragement.
These races are not only a physical challenge but also a mental challenge. With the difficulties with the wetsuit, the warm water, the uneven roads, the heat, the flat tire and my foot problems on the run, this was not an easy race. But again, I persevered.
I always keep a remembrance of my parents with me at all times in my race jersey pocket. When things would get bad, I would reach back and touch it and say thanks mom and dad for being with me. This kept me going through any difficulties I was having at the time. With all their struggles in their lives (fleeing near certain death in fascist Germany, emigrating with almost nothing, meeting each other in the US and building a new life and more), they just kept moving forward and never looked back. They taught me over and over again, that no matter how tough things get in life just keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep going. They supported me no matter what I did as long as I had my heart and mind in it. On this day, and every day of my life, I knew they are with me all the way.
As I said after they passed “You are not dead, dead or only those that one forgets”. I will never forget them as they never forgot me. This, and all of my races, are dedicated in their honor. I therefore start each race with their initials marked on my forearms.
I want to thank you for taking the time to read this and for supporting me, whether on line, thinking about me or reading this.
Peter A. Fields, MD DC
The Athletic Doc® and 9X Ironman Triathlete