Ironman California, Camp Pendleton, USA. May 20th, 2000
This article is dedicated to the memory of my dear Ironbrother Scott Smith who passed away in early August 2007.
In this my second Ironman race, I was in better shape than for my first and was looking to go under 12 hours. I had recently experienced a few issues in my personal life which caused me almost not to go…however, some amazing people I had met and corresponded with via the Internet came to my rescue ‘The Page Peeps’ and showed me incredible kindness and generosity. I travelled alone to California but I was never “alone” once I got there. Some of these guys whom I had never met telephoned me in my room at the hotel the day I arrived, to welcome me.
I did not write a story of this race…I met my demons far too frequently but I battled on, ever the warrior…the swim was very cold (58 degrees F) and I was in the water 30 mins before the start…then the swim course was 2.4 NAUTICAL MILES (2.76 statute miles) which was 0.36 miles long…with 750m to go I was shivering…when I eventually exited [in 1:32:09] and got to the change tent there were scores of people huddled in space blankets…I headed out on the bike but when I stopped to pee after 40 miles was dizzy and felt sick..this continued all day…my slowest ever bike split of 6:15:10] on the run I could only run 2 or 300m without wretching. My very good friend JoannaBanana had come out to watch the race (she was still ill with adrenal exhaustion and could not take part), she walked with me as I came up to the end of the first 13.1 mile lap…she was a great great help and source of strength to me on that day…it is a strange thing (which I have discussed with my Ironman brother Iain) but when someone is encouraging you when you are struggling and you know that they are an Ironman too…somehow it does make a difference..in fact it makes a BIG FREAKIN DIFFERENCE….encouragement from other family and friends is invaluable but from a fellow Ironman it is a layline of energy. Since it was not to be my day…somehow (and I have never done this in any race before) I met one of our group who was having a really tough time but who was still battling on…Scott Smith in his first Ironman and I encouraged him as I know he would have encouraged me…I was glad of some company as I walked and pleased that maybe I could repay the kindness shown to me. You cannot help nor do an Ironman for someone…it is up to them whether they make it or not…all you can do is support and encourage…the strength is theirs and it comes from their core.
After Scott sent me on my way I felt that maybe I could run for a mile (we were at mile 15) and I did and caught one of our group, Val from Las Vegas…she was my angel (she was even dressed in white) that day and we ran the last 10 miles together (her first Ironman). She got me home and those last 10 miles of the marathon were the fastest 10 I ran all day (I negative splitted the marathon finishing with a run split of 4:46:36). After I finished I realised that the cold and long swim had likely caused me to have mild hypothermia. This race [12:54:56] was at the time my slowest Ironman but maybe I learned more on this one.
Sometimes the harder you have to work to get to that finish line, the more satisfying it is. I always remember that I really felt I earned my finish on this day.
Peter H M Gauld
There follows (in its entirety) an email Scott Smith sent me in which he described his day…in his first Ironman race. Ironman affects different people in different ways….all I can say is that in my observations it AFFECTS people and I believe in a good and positive caring kinda way.
Well nothings changed back at the salt mine..little league..homework with the three stooges…etc., . but I have been changed forever. Let me apologize in advance for this rambling message which I suppose is an attempt to say Thank You. Let me also apologize in advance for failing to mention any of you, as almost all you, were part of this experience which will always be with me. It seemed that my body and brain took a little sick leave starting about thirty miles into the bike, until the last few miles of the marathon. During that time there were so many of you that I saw along the way that kept me plodding along and my memories of the course and the thoughts that seeing “you all” ( Sounds like Al of Austin) triggered, are………LDL. focused and always within herself ….knowing exactly where she was going; JC, Lovin Life…The Unofficial Greeter on the Course…Betty Boop.. Million Dollar$$$$ smile…… Why was she still smiling at mile 18????:-) Maybe I should try it; Patty Cake AKA Harriet ……the Iron Volunteer; Rodster of Camp Pendleton as Graceful, gracious and tough a Marine as you’ll ever see.Thanks for saying hello on the course. It only took us six months to meet eye to eye; Lipstick…. steady ..eyes bright with a bounce in her step…and a not to be denied look; HBKris…..That “Angry Look of determination ” that said loud and clear “Get outa My Way” peppered with a smile leading her long strides; Dan “The Man” Peck…”Fish Outa Water” .Atleast I wasn’t alone…….Great, helpful hints on the swim clinic…changed my hole mental outlook…I didn’t slug back….not even once…..THATS GROWTH:-), ;Rob of Dayton..Standing tall and goin long; Phat Boy…Always Freakin Awesome……Looking Good in the Head Piece….I hope I look that good at his age:-),; Glittergirl………… I’d swear she had just put fresh make -up on….stepped into a new camel tow hammick and been unloaded from a Marine Carrier..Looked too fresh……Chivalry was still alive as I waited until she was out of sight before I puked for the Umteenth time:-); Big Twig..The Coppertone Suntan Poster Child………Whats wrong with this guy….I saw him out on the course……..AFTER THE RACE….Medal on his neck …3 miles from the finish line…rooting the stragglers on…..With that tan …he was a walkin glow stick at 11:30 at night………….As I entered the gate a 100 yards from the bike/run transition tent a volunteer caught me and was running along next to me(I think she past me at my speed) and screamed, “YOU’VE GOT FOUR MINUTES TO GET IN AND OUT……AND IF YOU DON’T YOU’RE FINISHED BECAUSE YOU’VE MISSED THE CUT OFF TIME” …I sheepishly thanked her and told her that I was done and could’t go any farther….When I entered the tent I was greeted by the same warning and I again advised them that I was finished…….I couldn’t even find any one to hide beihnd or get lost in the crowd…..because there were only two of us in the whole tent…….. I sat there in a pool of fatigue and disappointment and opened my transition bag to get my shoes which I would need for the walk to the car…..The first thing I saw was a picture of my three kids…..and from the mouth of my 11 year old sons piccture I swear I could hear, “Your just a Wanna Beee IRONMAN”……I laughed to myself as this vision was a sure sign that I was not all there…nevertheless I decided to put my shoes on , and the rest of the garb, and get out on the course to see what might happen……………I was almost immediatly greeted by IRONSCOT………..my new friend stopped and talked and walked with me for what I would guess was four or five miles……He shared, he encouraged, he helped me eat and drink….occasionaly we cranked up the pace of the shuffle between aid stations…….I could not stop….he would not let me………..Joining are shuffle from behind came Fat Bastard………..After walking/running together he released the IRONSCOT from this tag team Scrote Patrol, to pursue the finish line ………Fat Bastard shared his strentgh through osmossis and I slowly started comin back to life…..we talked of his struggles of past IM’s in Canada in 104 degree heat……we saw his soon to be expanding family (Wife/Mother to be)which REAALLLLLY pumped me up…because for me..my inspiration was family(3 kids…We were joined by the Fat Bastards nephew who ran/shuffled with us for a couple of miles until we were scolded by the race official for receiving outside assistance from the nephew…..I suppose they noticed the 225LB’s drafting behind his 90 LB body……….Fat Bastard said to me over and over, “DON”T QUIT!!!! NO MATTER WHAT”. over and over, and over. I heard those words rattle around within my head until the finish. I presume I looked stable enough to leave and FAT BASTARD slowly moved on and out of sight…………..WITHOUT RESERVATION OR WONDER, I CAN SAY WITHOUT A DOUGHT I WOULD HAVE NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, GOTTEN TO THE FINISH LINE WITHOUT THE IRONSCOT AND FAT BASTARD. These selfless misfits (I’ve got to keep them humble) committed so much time to my resuscitation, to the major detriment of their own personal times. I will always be greatful to IRONSCOT and FAT BASTARD for your astonishing selfless gift to me of the help I needed. You all helped me get to the finish line with small and large nudges…..But I can’t forget who got me to the the start line, in addition to the one above who deserves all the credit. KP, your example and inspiration are beyond description. The odds in Vegas would be off the chart for either one of us being at the start of an IM ……….much less finishing. Does the saying”I would have taken better care of myself if I knew I was going to live this long” mean anything to you:-). ;-). Without you Big Man I would have never even considered it………Thank You and I Love You. Eleven weeks prior to the race I gave up as I couldn’t find the time with work , raising three kids, training, etc. ….I was just overwhelmed and not doing anything write…………………..Five weeks from the race, I read something on the comment page, which hit me like a train……………..Marco of LB wrote something to the effect of “One of the reasons he was pursueing an IM is to, by way of example, show his kids the virtues of commitment, and dedication, and the resulting accomplishment.” I HAD FORGOTTEN THE THREE REASON I WAS DOING THIS; HEIDI, MAKENZIE, AND BRIT. Thank You Marco for your words which turned me back towards the start line. Small words but huge meaning to me. In closing, I’d like to share with you the final chapter of this experience for me which is FINISHERS GUILT. With medical challenges in a variety of forms, Hypothermia, Flu, ad infinitum, some dedicated and supremely well trained and gifted athletes like Kevin Lancer, Al of Austin
etc. did not make it and this knuckle headed undeserving slug did. I do not know why, but I do find comfort in knowing that you both WILLLLLLL BBBBEEEE BBBBAAAAAACK!!!!!!!!!!!, and I hope I can be there as well.
Thanks to you all. You alllllllllll ROCKKKKK!!!!!!!!!! Happy
Scott C. Smith