Brian Scully’s Ironman Chattanooga Race ReportPosted by Pete | Categories: Uncategorized
What a wild ride this last year has been. I signed up for IM Chattanooga in September of 2013. At the time Pete Politis was working hard on having the Ironman come to Myrtle Beach. I had mentally prepared for the fact that when it was announced I would sign up. I could train on the course and have the support of fellow MBTC members. Then the race was announced for Chattanooga and I thought if I can do Myrtle Beach I can do Chattanooga. MBTC members were offered early registration and I signed up that night along with Cliff Cox and Rosanne Wilcox. Shortly after I began to train for the Myrtle Beach marathon thinking that if I could get that under my belt I would at least know what one felt like. I raced in February and it was tough, but at least I would know what to expect. Fast forward through the spring and summer local tri events and a little spring training and I was ready to embark upon my 20 week training program that started in May of 2014. At first it was easy, but as weeks went on it began to get really tough. I would spend 15-20 hours a week training in the early morning and evening after work. The best advice I received over the course of this whole thing was to ask my family about signing up for an Ironman before you commit. I did and was glad for it. There were times during training that I felt like I had abandoned my family for the pursuit of this goal. Even though I made weekly date nights a priority and found a few hours here and there to spend with my daughters it seemed like I was always gone. I learned that Ironman can be a very selfish and expensive hobby, but I am amazed at how, in the end, it brought us closer together. I began to find ways to incorporate training and quality time. I would run and my daughters would ride their bikes with me. 5-7 miles of one on one quality time talking about the week was great. I also had some other great training partners. Stuart Whitman and I began meeting a few times a week to do whatever was on our training plans. I would change clothes in the car on the way home from work to meet up with Stuart who had either been off all day and ready to go or just coming off a 12 hour overnight shift at the Wal-Mart and still ready to go. Michael Crown or Skip Corn and I put in some long bike rides and the South End running group became a regular Sunday morning long run group that made the long runs enjoyable. A big thanks to Dan Turner who was always ready to run whatever pace and or distance was on my schedule without complaint. The group would often ask Dan what he was training for and he would respond, “Nothing, I just came out to run.” (He has since rectified this and is signed up for the Myrtle Beach mini). Also, thank you Pete and Michal for answering my endless questions about nutrition and race plan. I write so much about what led up to race day, because for me the race day was fairly uneventful. Most of my fondest memories of all of this come from the weeks leading up to the race. However, the race day went like this. People began to line up for the swim start as early as 5:00 a.m due to the late start of the event 8:00 and the 4 miles they added to the bike course. (Yes, my bike leg was 116 miles not 112) Somehow the WTC has to make some last minute adjustments to the course and this was the safest route possible. A lot of people complained, but I look at it as bragging rights to doing the longest IM on record so far. Anyway, I was in no rush to get to the swim start. I slept in til 5:30 woke up had my veggie juice and caught the shuttle down to transition. I rechecked my bike, yep air in the tires and handle bars still on top (I still don’t know that much about bikes) and went by to look at my transition bags again, but didn’t bother to recheck them, I didn’t have anything to put in them and didn’t think it would be a good idea to take anything out. Plus if something were missing I didn’t want to have to fret about it for the next two hours. . I was eerily calm and about the whole thing. With nothing else to do I hopped on the bus to the swim start. I didn’t care about getting in line to the swim start early because my plan was to start towards the back and give me the opportunity to pass people all during the race so I felt like I was always moving forward. By now the adrenaline was pumping. They had us lined up 3 across and hundreds and hundreds deep. I witnessed a lot of nervous people. One of the participants was a pastor and I witnessed him praying for an athlete just before the swim start. I could not see the swim start and I would not until about 30 yards from jumping in the water. By the time I finally got in I was ready to go. The swim went fast, super fast. My goal time was 1:30 and I finished in 1:00 even. My goal was to keep swimming the whole time, even when I got bumped. So I did, when people would grab my feet or bump my shoulder I would just keep my head down and keep on swimming. Later we all found out that there was a dead body floating in the water with us. It was found just past the swim exit. I don’t know if I bumped in to that or not. I am still trying not to think about it. I only had to stop once because I got punched in the face and my goggles fell off because I was trying to pass a guy who was doing some CRAZY version of the backstroke that made him look like a jellyfish. Legs and arms would all shoot out at once. But I adjusted my goggles and moved on. Out of the water I methodically put on shoes, helmet, ect… like many times in swim/bike bricks and headed out on the bike. Everyone was bunched up at first and every time we went over a railroad track it would look like a yard sale of bike gear all over the road. The volunteers would use rakes to clear the roadways. My next milestone was to make it to aid station 3 where my wife, daughters and parents were volunteering. 45 miles away and it seemed like I got there in no time at all. I arrived to find that they had all dressed up in Superman costumes and having a good time handing out aid to the bikers. ? I stopped for a few pictures and hugs and was then on my way. 71 miles to go. The bike course was beautiful and very hilly. I had not trained on hills, but I had spent a lot of time in spin class and on the trainer. The training worked great. Many hours on the trainer doing two minutes of standing up hard resistance and then two minutes of lighter resistance seemed to be the rhythm of the course. Instead of fast spinning up the hills, I would stand up and take the hills quickly and build some momentum to coast down the other side. I was passing people fairly often and didn’t spend much time at the aid stations. I did see that a lot of people were getting flat tires and later found out that someone had sabotaged the course with tacks and oil. I was again glad that I started towards the back of the pack because I didn’t see any tacks and a tire change is not something that I had practiced much at all. By mile 100 though my feet were killing me and I was ready to run. This seemed like the longest part of the day. I did not want to stop, I wanted to get my running shoes on and run (my favorite part of the race). ? I finally rolled in to transition and the volunteers were there to take my bike. (the volunteers at these events are awesome!) I was hoping to see my support crew again and there they were. I gave them an update on pace and time again, methodically changed into my run gear like many times in training. I came out of the tent and saw my family again and got a few more pictures. I am glad that I slowed down for this because I would not see them again until the finish line. As I was headed out to the run course there was an aid table where I spotted the GU flavor I had been looking for all day. Salty Watermelon. You see the day before in the Ironman tent they were selling all sorts of flavors of GU. I didn’t buy it because I thought tomorrow I will get all the GU I want for free. Well that is right, but they only have Peanut Butter flavor on the course and I don’t like Peanut Butter. Someone had dropped this one and the aid people put it on the table and told me I could have it. Woohoo! I would save it for later, but now as I write this I don’t remember eating it or what it taste like. I guess I will have to wait until the next one. ? I started on the run course and started with 9:30 pace and was feeling good. This held up until the first hill. If you are thinking of doing IM Chattanooga let me tell you that the swim is fast, almost easy, the bike is fun, beautiful and challenging, but this run course, you better be ready. The course is a double loop out and back twice. The first 13 miles went pretty well and took us through the Riverwalk, a downtown party area and a high end residential district. All along the course were spectators and volunteers. I kept pushing for a 10 minute pace, then 10:30 and the last few miles figured if I could keep it under 11:00 I could still beat 13 hours which was way under my goal time. I had heard that flat Coke and chicken broth get you through the run, but I did not have a real desire to have either. I mainly craved water, orange slices, grapes and the occasional banana. However as mile 20 approached and I knew I would make my goal time I figured I would try some of each. At mile 21 I had my first cup of Ironman chicken broth. It was tasty and I hope to have another cup one day. At mile 22 I washed it down with my first cup of Ironman flat coke. It was just as tasty and I hope too to have another cup of it one day. At mile 23 through the end I stuck with what had gotten me through the race and training. Oranges and bananas. Coming down the final chute was mesmerizing. The lights are so bright and the cheers so loud. I crossed the finish line and heard the words. Brian Scully you are an Ironman. This has been an incredible journey that will not end with this race. It started with a Sprint triathlon sponsorship 4 years ago set up by my service manager Peter Barc and me running the 5K part of the relay (pathetically slow I might add). Along the way I was encouraged by Pete Politis and Cayla Pearson to continue to pursue longer races. A friend, Tom Foster provided some great competition for Sprint races and the entire MBTC has been such a wonderful resource for all manner of questions and advice. I was especially proud to wear my MBTC kit to this race as I felt that I was part of something larger and not just myself. Knowing that many of you were watching the splits and posting encouragement on Facebook helps more than you may know. If you have a desire to become and Ironman you can. Sign up for a race, follow a plan and let your fellow triathletes help you. If you are reading this you in some way helped me to complete this task of becoming an Ironman. Thank you! ?