Thursday, February 5, 2009

Troublemaker (Reprise) - Weezer

So what happened in the court case? The judge called our case Tuesday morning, and asked us to try to work it out amongst ourselves one last time, if it were possible. We went into the hall, and it was clear they were upset that I had found what insurance they had and that I had filed a claim (on the advice of my insurance agent and an un-named source at the police station). The husband told me that even if I won, the insurance company would likely hire a lawyer to appeal the judge’s decision and take it to “Big-boy court, whatever that is.” Immediately I felt insulted; one, that he would use such infantile terms when he had to know that I knew he was a lawyer (especially as he stood there in his expensive pin-striped suit), and two, that he would think I would get scared. What insurance company would hire a lawyer for a $420 claim appeal? That’s ridiculous. This only increased my resolve.

We went back in front of the judge, and I presented my case. I was very nervous – more so than if I was speaking in front of a large group. I thought I did a decent job – looking back, I wish I had said things a little more clearly or remembered a few additional points, but all in all, it was OK. I stayed calm, and presented my itemized damages, pictures and diagrams of the incident, and did my best to stay level-headed and organized.

Jonalee gave her testimony, and it was a little more scattered. At one point, she told the judge that she had never been in an accident, had never gotten a ticket in her life, that her kids get on her for her cautious driving and slow speeds, and that she “refuses to break the law.” After which, she and her husband both testified that they didn’t provide insurance to me when I asked for it as the result of an accident – which is a violation of the law.

The judge then asked the husband what he was there for. When the husband replied that he was not in the car at the time of the accident, the judge said to him in his best so-why-are-you-here tone, “So you are only here to tell me about the conversations after the incident.”

The judge deferred ruling on the spot, and instead told us he would issue a written judgment, which he hoped to have to us in the next few days. So you can only imagine how tough it was on Lisa and me, wondering who the judge would hold responsible, and if we lost, how we would pay for the front bumper. I was pretty confident though, that the decision would be either a both-at-fault or in my favor.

Wednesday passed with no mailing. Thursday, at Thanksgiving dinner with Lisa’s family, I was happily surprised when Lisa’s cousin’s kids (ages 6 and 8, whom we baby-sit often and have a lot of fun with) presented me with my very own 15-foot Ironman banner. Katy and Jackson had drawn pictures of me swimming and biking and running; Jackson drew pictures of sharks swimming around me. They even put my final time. It was awesome.

Friday came, and in the mail was the judgment.

I had won.

Now it’s time to go get my Ironman tattoo. Since I bleed green for MSU, I think it’s only fitting that my M-Dot be an S-Dot instead.

I am Ironman.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Devour - Shinedown

I lay down to sleep about midnight, but kept waking up through the night – either I was too cold or too hot. The pizza wasn’t sitting well either. At 3 AM, I decided to get into my turkey sandwich, even though I wasn’t feeling hungry, hoping it would settle down my stomach. Even though it was soggy, the lettuce was wilted, and the tomato was under-ripe, I don’t know if anything ever tasted so good as that sandwich did at that time.

I woke up at 7:20, stiff as a board, and headed down for the hotel’s breakfast, and was immediately overjoyed at the smell of bacon and eggs. Delicious! But I was quickly discovering that even though I was hungry often, I couldn’t eat much before I was full.

It was hard work getting my bike boxed up and out for shipment – I felt out of breath every time I moved. I packed my gear and headed for the airport. I walked past the Wendy’s counter and didn’t hesitate to buy a double cheeseburger with bacon. Again, delicious, but I could only eat half the meal before I was again stuffed.

The ride home wasn’t bad, but I was so sore that it was impossible to get comfortable. I dozed a little bit, but it was impossible to get any real rest. Not good, since I had a court hearing the next morning.

Monday night it was next to impossible to sleep, either because I hurt everywhere or because I was going over the case in my head. I got hungry every hour and a half. I weighed myself when I got home, and had lost 5 points of body fat and about 7 pounds.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

'Til I Collapse - Eminem

Immediately after the finish, volunteers grabbed me on both sides and threw a mylar blanket over me (I have to admit, I got a little chilly from time to time out there, and saw a few people on the run course wrapped in blankets to keep warm). They put my finisher’s medal over my neck, gave me my finisher’s t-shirt and hat, and asked me how I felt. I responded that I felt great! My biggest worry was how to get the 5 miles back to the hotel with my bike and all my gear – I thought I would have to ride back on the bike through some pretty sketchy parts of town, exhausted. I was not looking forward to it, but I would do it since I had no other choice.

Then the photographer wanted to get my picture, so I handed the blanket and my stuff back to the volunteers and posed for the cheesy photo you see here. I didn’t realize until now how I was leaning to the left so much.

I passed through the crowd of volunteers that were helping people to either the medical tent (didn’t need it) or the food tent (not really hungry but knew I was calorie deficient). My hear rate monitor, which recorded the calories expended, showed ‘----‘, meaning I had burned over 9,999 calories – I estimated I burned about 12,000.

I grabbed a handful of fries (lots of salt!), and two pieces of pizza. I got most of the fries down. But could barely get the pizza down (and it wasn’t that good). My stomach was hungry, but over the course of 18 hours (the last meal I had was at
4 AM) it had shrunk. I couldn’t put much in.

I finished my meal and made my way to find my warm-up suit from the morning – I was getting cold, even with the blanket on. I got my gear, fished out my cell phone, and called Lisa to tell her that it was all over.

Afterwards, I found my other bags and hitched them to the bike. But just as I was about to climb on the bike for the long, cold ride home, I spotted a familiar face – my new best friends, from Mexico City.

These guys were staying in the same hotel as I, and had a big SUV. I had hitched a ride with them the day before to drop off my transition gear, and asked if I could hitch one more ride. They were more than happy to; so I went with them to round up the rest of their group.

As I was waiting, I grabbed a turkey sandwich that the event was passing out to the crowd, knowing I would be hungry later. We got the bikes loaded into the SUV, I jumped in the other car that they had, and got a ride back.

I got back to the hotel, grabbed a shower, and called Lisa one more time to let her know I made it back, and collapsed on the bed. It felt soooooo good to be off my feet.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Stronger - Kanye West

By this point, most people would get pretty emotional about coming in to the finish. The culmination of a year’s worth of preparation and training. The constant focus on a singular goal. All the sacrifices made by those that supported you. All the sacrifices you made so you could train, instead of spending time with family or doing other more enjoyable things. And to have the smiling face of a loved one be there to see you finish?

I have to admit that I got a little emotional, too. But it was on the first lap. See, Lisa couldn’t make it down with me, even though we had originally planned for it. I had the hotel free through all the points I had racked up in work; enough miles to fly her free and a voucher to fly me for cheap. But I waited about 3 days too long between checking the price and actually making the reservations – the mileage needed to fly free doubled, and the price went up by about 50%. So I was there by myself, and it really hit me on the first lap of the run when I saw all the cheering people in the crowd, and even though people were shouting for me, I knew it was only because they did for everyone. The one person in the world that I wanted to be there cheering me on wasn’t there.

But on this, the third lap, all the emotions had already drained out of me. Every step that I took that got me closer to the finish also sharpened my focus. I knew I had 15 hours beat – could I break 14:45? It was hard to tell just how far I had left and my time to make it. I thought I might come in at 14:50.

So I kept pushing. I did stop and walk when my heart rate shot up past 160; when it came back down, I started running again.

As I came to the transition area, I picked up the pace a little more. Some of the folks I had been chatting with throughout the race had moved past me when I slowed to let my heart rate drop; I could see them ahead.

I wanted to catch them.

With about 200 yards left, I moved from jogging to running. With 100 yards left, I went from running to sprinting. I could see the finish line. I could hear the crowds. I could hear the announcer as he proclaimed everyone that passed beneath the finish an Iron Man.

Then, with 50 yards left, I could no longer hear the crowds. I could barely hear the announcer. I was so focused on getting there. I couldn’t have slowed down if I wanted to – my legs were moving of their own will, and I was along for the ride. I’m sure I looked as about as graceful as a new-born giraffe.

I remember passing the Ford Escape they had on display. I remember the crowds on each side extending their hands to give me high fives as I came into finish, and extending my arms out as far as I could reach on both sides to return the gesture. I barely remember the announcer saying my name.
I crossed the line, triumphant.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

I’m Not Over - Carolina Liar

With about a quarter-mile to the end of the second lap, I started jogging – mostly to be able to run through the crowds. They had started to thin down a little, as most had moved to the finishing chute. It was about 8 o’clock – I had hoped to have been coming in to finish myself at this time, but considering the calves and the bike/dehydration, I was very happy that I was only about an hour and a half behind.

Then, normally where I had stopped running and started walking again, I was able to keep running. I kept running up to the second aid station (the one with the massage tent), used the portajohn, and then kept running. It seemed I had my fill of liquids, and so I was going to take on fluid every other aid station.

I kept running until the next aid station, where I thought I might have a PowerGel. Alas, it was coffee flavored – and I HATE coffee. I had to take a drink of water and clean out my mouth. I walked up the steep (but short) incline, past the message board, and proceeded to run to the next pit stop.

I kept this up – running where it was flat or downward-sloping, walking up hills and through the aid stations (where it was crowded enough to make running difficult anyway) – for the rest of the course. I think the compression socks I bought the day before were the best $15 investment I ever made. The wall that everyone mentions when they talk about a distance event? I realized, with about 5 miles to go, that I had already broken through that on the bike. The run, even though I had walked most of it, was on the other side of the wall. And I had not only broken through, I was getting faster.