My Inspiration – Ironman Issue

A lot of little girls grow up believing their Daddy is a superhero.


One of the things I remember as a constant, is that Dad always ran. He would do several marathons (26.2 miles) a year, usually qualifying for and running the Boston Marathon.

This past weekend, dad finished his second Ironman Triathlon in 105 degree weather. Not bad for a gray haired, 55 year old grandpa! I definitely get a good portion of my competitive drive from him! (creative writing skills come from Mom!)

Dad wrote up an article for his tri club newsletter about the whole experience, and I asked him if it would be all right to share here – so here it is! Enjoy and please share what/who inspires you!

And yes, my Dad is cooler than your Dad!

This is Craig’s 140.6 Race report for CDA.

For months I have been preparing and planning for this race. I thought I had a good plan until found out what the temp was going to be and had to do some major changes to my strategy. But I am happy how well I did and running in 105 heat I can truly say “I Am An IRONMAN”.

Prepping for the HEAT:

On Monday before the race I started the process of hydration by drinking Smart Water and downing a bag of pretzels each day. It may be in my head to use Smart Water but for past 4 years I have done this for Marathons and have not had issues with heat. I also popped a Salt tablet each day. On Saturday I switched to PowerBar Perform and two Salt tablets. Friday Jim and I went on 30 minute swim and then 20 minute run (in the morning). In the afternoon I went back to the Expo and at the Active Release Therapy tent one of the therapist worked on me. He spent around 40 minutes on me with focus on knee, hip, hamstring, and neck. Note: for 5 days I had bad headaches each day but after the ART session I have not had a headache for 6 days.

On Saturday I did a 10 minute ride to make sure Bike was ready and then checked in the bike around 9am. I then went to the ART tent again and was worked on for 30 minutes. I felt very relaxed and loose after this session. After a big breakfast I crashed in my Mom’s Motorhome for the day to prepare for the race. I tried to minimize time outside as even in the shade was very hot. In the afternoon Jim and I drove the bike course and this was good that we did this. We could see were the long grinder hills were. After good pasta dinner I was ready for the next day.

SWIM (2.4 Miles)
Age Group Place: 56

Was able to get a nice warm-up and then got into my starting position. At CDA use a rolling start and I was in the 1:20 to 1:30 group. This was nice as swimming around people the same speed. Felt good and focused on my stoke. Only crowded when going around the turns and got punched a few times. After 30 minutes my left goggle started leaking. The swim is two loops and you come out of the water. After 1st lap I was happy as in 43 minutes. I had a gel with me so was able to take this while running back into the water. But I also stopped to try and fix my goggles, but did not help. So for 2nd loop had to swim with one eye shut.

Coming out of the water was not happy about time but did bet my last IM time of 1:35:31

Transfer 1

After coming out of water went to grass were my wetsuit was stripped off. Then grabbed Bike bag before going into tent. Tried to go as fast as possible and resisted the urge stay long. Loaded my back pockets with food I exited the tent. I was greeted with two people that put handfuls of sunscreen all over me. Grabbed bike and had long jog to mount point. Now ready for battle.

BIKE (112 Miles)
AG place: 24

001To survive the day I knew had to hydrate and take in salt. Every 15 minutes I would take in Gatorade Endurance from my torpedo (I really like the torpedo). Coming into each water stop would suck my torpedo dry so would get as much as could. At the start of water transition would grab water to cool off head and then Gatorade for the torpedo. At the top of the hour would take a salt Stick and Powerbar Gel. At bottom of hour would take part of a cliff bar or protein bar. With 1.5 hours to go was taking a salt stick every 30 minutes. I felt doing well with my hydration as continued to sweet and able to pee throughout the bike ride.

The bike course is two loops of one short out and back one long out and back. The first out and back was around 15 miles through town and along the lake. The 2nd out and back starts with a climb and then a LONG LONG climb. Then some flats and a few up and downs before heading back.

The first loop I was doing well with power and cadence. On the climbs very strong and passing a lot of people. But on the second loop it got hot and on the first climb and downhill my neck got very tight and hard to stay in aero position. On the climbs I had to massage my neck so that I could be in the aero position for the downhills. With 18 to go at the water stop I decided to pore just a little water on my neck and put bottle in my back pocket. Then every 5 minutes pored some water on my neck. It was amazing by my neck started relaxing and able to stay in aero. WHY DID I NOT DO THIS BEFORE?

With 5 miles to go it was amazing with the number of people on the side of the road under shade trees. But I was doing well, as I did a smart race. With 1.5 miles to go I was cranking for the finish and pumped for the start of the run. At the start of this 1.5 I downed a salt stick and gel as thought was needed for the run.

Note: the last hour of the bike was like riding in an oven and could feel the heat coming off the pavement.

What would I do different on the Bike? My Hydration was perfect but I should have kept a water bottle in my back pocket. If I would have put water on my neck every 5 to 10 minutes I think would have cut 15 minutes off my time.

Transfer 2:

I was told that temp was currently 101

After dismounting my bike, the volunteers grabbed it, and then I stumbled a few steps to the stand were had two cups of water. Then a lady put an ice cold towel on my head and I called her my angel as it was what I needed. Just before the tent two people had big buckets of ice water that poured on my head. Inside the tent I put on my shoes and hat quickly. I then made a split decision that was the BEST decision I made all day. I knew that the key was to keep my head and neck cool so decided to keep the towel for my head in the run.

RUN: (26.2 Miles)
AR Place after run: 7
Temp: 105

I did not think the 105 was that bad as able to keep cool and my hydration was good.

I ran with the towel on my head under my hat. At every water station would do the following: Take my hat off and pore two (or more) cups of ice water, with ice, on head. Then drink half cup of Gatorade with full cup of water. Leaving would then put two or more cups of water on my head. Note: This is the first time in a Marathon (have run 46) that have taken Gatorade and I was doing every mile but I knew had to do this. Around 200 yards after water stop my stomach would not feel well with the Gatorade (every time) and I would put my finger in my mouth and then a BIG belch would come out and I was OK. Also had spectators with water hoses and I would hit every one of them; having them spray on my head and back of neck. My favorite station was were someone would grab my hat/towel and run ahead to a place where dipped in bucket of ice water and hand to me as I went by.

For nutrition, in addition to Gatorade was taking a gel and salt stick every 45 minutes. At 19 last salt stick and 21 last gel as I have found to do good on last 6 need gel around 21. One funny story is that at one point I went over to the side and just stopped. A lady was concerned that I stopped so fast and ran over to see if I was OK. I then told her “I am OK I am just peeing” she told me that was good and to enjoy the pee. Note: I was SO wet that I felt was OK to pee in shorts.

Because of the heat I decided that would run by feel and not by a select pace. But was surprised that my body decided to do around 8:20 pace and in some case faster. I also found that after .5 miles with no water I would start to slow down (to a 8:40 pace) but then after water stop would speed up, with same effort. I also made a big effort to hit as much shade as I could. A few places I would run off the bike path and run under the trees in the shade.

A little after 5 mi started a long uphill to mile 6 were greeted by lady with water hose to cool me down then little was further before turn around and head back. At around mile 13 started on the 2nd loop. I was feeling it a little but decided to keep to the same pace. At 19 mi started the long climb again and most people were walking but I was able to grind up at 10:30 pace with my goal of getting to the water hose at the top of the hill. After turning around was able to do sub 7:20 pace coming down the hill and at this point decided to focus on my cadence. At mile 23 was starting to get excited as so close and began to pick it up. At around mile 25.5 I ran through the water stop and the smiles came on my face and the celebration began. With 4 blocks to go you have a downhill through town and can see the finish. At this time my hands were in the air and it was amazing. The finish was a block long and I was clapping people’s hands on both sides as announcer stated “Craig Stoller from New Hampshire, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN”.

After finishing I had a little concern as my jaw was sore so talked to medical. She told me that I was OK as I was just smiling too much.

In this Marathon was about the best I have felt the last 6 and this was my 47th Marathon.

What did I do correct? Towel on head under hat to keep cool, use a hat and not visor (as can hold more water and ice), Good nutrition on Bike, Good nutrition on Run, and GREAT volunteers.

What did I do incorrect? Nothing.


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