The following blog post was written by Commander Brian Taddiken, Director, Undersea Warfare Systems on August 30, 2011. Commander Taddiken completed the Louisville, Kentucky Ironman on August 28, 2011.
4:30am. The alarm is blaring in my ear, but I am already awake. I have not slept well. I’m too excited and nervous. Today I race my first Ironman. I’m in Louisville, Kentucky to swim, bike, and run with about two thousand other racers. We will all tackle the same course. 2.4 miles of swimming, followed by 112 miles of bike riding, and finishing with a full marathon, all 26.2 miles. My body will definitely hurt.
5:30am. Breakfast is done, I’m dressed, and at the race start. I do a final check of my bike, pump the tires, put my water bottles on, and turn in my transition bags. One bag for switching from swimming to biking (with my helmet and bike shoes) and another for switching from biking to running (which has my running shoes and dry socks).
6:00am.The race is only an hour away. I’m trying to stay relaxed, but the atmosphere is electric. It’s hard not to get pumped up, but I know I’ve got a long day in front of me. I must conserve my energy.
6:50am. There go the Pros!
6:55am. We all sing the National Anthem. There is a huge cheer at the end!
7:00am. I dive into the river and start swimming. Only 2.4 miles to go! I keep churning away and try to focus on my technique. This swim is too long to “power” through. I’ve got to stay efficient.
8:10am. I climb out of the water. I’m five minutes faster than planned. Awesome! Maintain focus; it’s still a long day in front of me. I hear my sister screaming my name from the crowd. So great she could come support me. I head into the transition area. Socks? Check! Shoes? Check! Helmet? Check! Grab the bike and off I go.
8:45am. O.k…I’m feeling good, the legs are really warmed up now. Time to start eating to keep my energy up for the rest of the day. Drink! Stay hydrated. It’s going to be hot. Here come some hills…time to concentrate.
11:30am. First bike lap done. Only about 50 miles more! Legs are o.k. I’m definitely working hard but have to keep going.
1:10pm. I’m almost done with the bike. 112 miles really is a long way.
1:30pm. Coming into transition. Stay loose, stay relaxed, and be careful. I don’t want to crash the bike at the last moment. O.k., done safely, drop off my bike and head into the changing tent. Strip off all the bike gear. Fresh, dry socks, they feel good! Now, “just a marathon!”
3:30pm. Halfway done. Pace has settled in. I know I started a bit fast, but I had to test my legs. I’ve made it this far, I know I can do the rest. All the things I’ve learned in the Navy have helped me get to this point, and they will help me get to the finish. Preparation, focus, determination, commitment.
5:27pm. The energy and cheering from the crowd carries me the last mile! It is almost effortless! There is the finish line, only 100 yards to go! I am an Ironman!