I finished Ironman Chattanooga last Sunday. It was my third Ironman and my first since being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). It wasn’t pretty, but I finished.
Here is my race summary:
Swim: The swim is my strength in every race regardless of the distance. Chattanooga was no exception and I had a personal record (PR). The course is fast due to a mild current but also I trained better than any other race I have ever done and I was really pleased with my swim time. I finished the 2.4 mile swim in 1:02:26.
Bike: This bike course at Chattanooga was great. Yes it was hilly but I got some great advice in my first Ironman when I was told “take advantage of the downhills”. I did that in Chattanooga and passed a lot of people who were coasting on the downhills rather than pedaling. Like the swim I had a PR on the bike even though I had a flat at mile 20. My bike time was 6:54:03 for the 116 mile course.
Run: The run was where I fell apart. I really was feeling good when I got off the bike and I had a good pace for about three miles. But this was the hottest part of the day and the heat really started getting to me, it also had some challenging hills. After mile three my left foot began to drag and I started stumbling. I would run a few hundred yards, stumble then walk for a while. I repeated this pattern for the rest of the race. If you know anything about MS you know heat can exacerbate the problems that MS causes, for me that is my ability to walk.
My overall finish time was 15:20:48 and is my second fastest Ironman of the three I have done. My worst race was Ironman Boulder in 2014. I didn’t train well, the altitude zapped me and I didn’t realize it at the time but I was starting to feel the impact of MS on my body.
But, I am not disappointed at all with my performance at Chattanooga. When I was diagnosed back in February of 2015 one of my first questions for my neurologist was “can I still do Ironman races?” He said no. I figure going from no more Ironman to a finish where I had a PR in the swim and on the bike is pretty good.
My plan for next year is to do an Ironman 70.3, probably Augusta or maybe Austin. Until then I want to strengthen my legs and try and figure out a way to deal with my drop foot.