Week 40

Day 267

Exercise: Run

Time: 50 minutes

Distance: 5 miles

Feelin' good feelin' great.

Day 268

Exercise: Swim

Time: 30 minutes

Distance: 1 mile

This is my last time in the YMCA pool. I'm going to miss the W.A.V.E classes, the loud swimming lessons, and the old men in the locker room. This place has been good to me and today is bittersweet...mostly sweet though.

Day 269

Exercise: Bike

Time: 1 hour

Distance: 15 miles

It feels great to ride for an easy hour. These are the types of workouts I'm looking forward to doing in the future.

Day 270

Exercise: Swim/Bike/Run

Time: 5 minutes/40 minutes/10 minutes

Distance: 250meters/10 miles/1 mile

One last check up to make sure everything is feeling good. I jumped in our outdoor pool for the swim and was shocked by how cold it was, then I remembered that this is how the water will probably feel during the race. I hadn't planned on using a wetsuit, but now I feel like I need one. Thankfully, I have great friends (hey Stuart) who are willing to let me borrow their wetsuits. Two days until the race, and I feel ready. Nervous, but ready.

Day 271-272


The night before the race, some friends surprised me at dinner. Nothing could have made me feel better about tomorrow.

Day 273: RACE DAY

Exercise: Swim/Bike/Run

Time: 1 hour 5 minutes/6 hours 55 minutes/5 hours 49 minutes (Total: 14 hours 11 minutes)

Distance: 2.4miles/112 miles/26.2 miles (Total: 140.6 miles)

What follows is a live play by play of my thoughts during the race...

Mile 0.0 - We are in line for the swim and I am nervous. The man in line next to me is an All Word Athlete, which means he's done this before. I ask him for advice and he spends the next ten minutes encouraging me and calming me down. Today is going to be a great day.

Mile 0.1 - Everyone peed as soon as they jumped in the water. It's definitely too warm in here.

Mile 0.5 - I'm getting bumped a pretty fair amount, which I'm fine with, but someone definitely just grabbed my butt. I know this because they held on for a second too long. I'm swimming faster now.

Mile 1 - We have made the turn to start swimming downstream and I feel like I'm flying. I'm not flying though (I'm swimming).

Mile 1.2 - I have just enough water in my goggles to be annoying, but not enough to impair my vision. Not enough reason to stop.

Mile 1.5 - This wetsuit is huge for the program. I'm reaching record speeds.

Mile 2 - I can see where people are getting out of the water and already crowds are lined up on the bank of the river. This is surreal.

Mile 2.4 (1 hour 5 minutes into the race) - I'm out of the water and there are hundreds of people here cheering for us. I'm still blinking water out of my eyes, so I can't see well but I can hear them. It's loud.

TRANSITION 1 - The men's changing tent is unlike anything I've ever seen. The YMCA locker room did not prepare me for this. Everyone is naked and yelling, and it's really warm in here. This is the definition of a hot mess. I find a seat and begin to change for the bike. For a second, I think I lost my bike shoe, but I've found it. Meanwhile, the guy sitting next to me somehow tore his jersey during the swim and he's yelling at no one in particular. I can't help but laugh at the absurdity of this entire situation. Guy next to me does not think anything is funny. I leave quickly.

Mile 2.5 - I see my family and friends and feel ready to go.

Mile 3 - I start to think about how long I'm going to be sitting on this bike seat, but quickly decide to think about something else.

Mile 10 - I know from the course map that the next two miles are going to be the hardest hill of the day, so I shift into an easy gear and start climbing.

Mile 12 - For the first time in my life I'm grateful for the Georgia hills. I've finished the single toughest climb of the day and it wasn't that bad. I can handle whatever is next.

Mile 15 - It's time to take my first gel shot, so I begin to open it while still pedaling and steering my bike. I realize a moment too late that I should've practiced this because as I open it I immediately clinch my fist and chocolate goo explodes all over my arms and handlebars. It's a mess.

Mile 16 - I'm still licking chocolate off my handlebars.

Mile 18 - I'm one hour in and going faster than I planned, so I try to slow down a little. Adrenaline is high.

Mile 20 - I have to go to the bathroom for the first time of the day, and I'm about to pass the first aid station. I already decided I was willing to pee myself, but now that the moment is here I really don't want to. However, as I pull up to the aid station there is a line for the porta potty...I'm not willing to wait in any line, so the die has been cast.

Mile 21 - I just peed myself, and it felt weird, but not as weird as I thought it would. As I clean myself off with a water bottle, I start to think I'm almost too comfortable with what I just did.

Mile 35 - Another aid station, another line. I pee myself for the second time. Definitely too comfortable with this.

Mile 40 - I just passed a man being loaded into an ambulance on a stretcher. I feel terrible for him, but I'm also really thankful it wasn't me.

Mile 42 - I pass another man on the side of the road with his face covered in blood. The medic has just arrived to where he is. He did not look OK. The guy on the bike next to me says a swear word and I reply in kind. We keep going.

Mile 50 - At this point, I'm really thankful I have a nutrition plan. People often ask how I keep from getting bored, and the answer is that I'm focusing on my nutrition intake, which forces me to constantly evaluate how I feel, so I always have something to think about. When I'm not thinking about nutrition, I'm reciting Psalm 23, Joshua 1:9, and praying. The nutrition and Bible verses are equally important.

Mile 58 - Halfway done with the bike ride.

Mile 60 - I've just started my second loop around the city of LeGrange. I look longingly at the road sign pointing back towards Louisville and wish I could go that way instead.

Mile 70 - I pass someone who has fallen off their bike in the middle of the road, but before I get the chance to turn around to see if they're OK I hear shouting and the crunch of metal on metal. Third crash of the day. I pedal faster hoping to get to the run in one piece.

Mile 80 - A small five year old girl yells, "I believe in you!" as I pass her. I'm crying for the first time today. Emotions are now completely out of my control.

Mile 90 - I follow the signs toward Louisville this time around.

Mile 95 - I'm peeing myself every hour on the hour at this point. Getting wayyyy to comfortable with this.

Mile 102 - All downhill from here. 

Mile 110 - The crowds are growing. Again, it feels surreal that people are here cheering for us. As my adrenaline picks back up, I come into the city at well over 20mph.

Mile 114 (8 hours 11 minutes into the race) - Family and friends are waiting for me at the transition. I'm beyond happy to see them.

TRANSITION 2 - When I get off my bike, a volunteer takes it for me, which is nice of them. I walk into the changing tent for the second time today, and it's not like it was the first time. There are less people in here, so it's more relaxed. Plus, I think everyone is just really happy to be done with the bike. I am for sure.

Mile 115 - I start the run slow and my mom runs along with me for a little ways. She asks how I'm feeling and I tell her I feel good. In fact, I feel too good. My mother and I are both bewildered at my good spirits. I'm sure they won't last.

Mile 116 - It just struck me that I'm running my first marathon...lol

Mile 118 - I just got passed by a man with no legs in a special wheelchair. I'm humbled to share a road with someone as incredible as him. What a beast.

Mile 120 - A beautiful girl at one of the aid stations gives me cup of water. I spill it on myself attempting to smile at her...Nice.

Mile 121 - On the opposite side of the road running in the opposite direction is a man wearing an Army Ranger jersey. Two cops in uniform are running alongside him and everyone else has stopped to watch. Easily one of the coolest things I've ever seen.

Mile 125 - I'm ten miles into the run and starting to feel pretty tired, but I know I have more in the tank so I keep pushing it. 

Mile 127 - As I near the end of the first loop of the run, I realize I'm going to be really close to the finish line. In fact, the turn is less than 100 yards away from the finish line. I can see people finishing directly in front of me. I can see the crowds. I can see the tunnel leading to the end of the race...and I turn right to run 13 more miles...

Mile 127.5 - Morale is low. It hurst to be so close to the finish line yet so far away. I see my family and friends and they ask how I'm doing. I tell them I don't want to run anymore, and I mean it.

Mile 130 - I just ran back to back 15min miles, and I'm starting to feel weak. I begin walking for the first time of the day, but it feels even worse than running. 

Mile 131 - All of my joints hurt, and for some reason my armpit is chaffing. I don't even know why or how that's happening.

Mile 132 - I'm walk-running very slowly and I just peed myself on accident. I have no idea how that's possible, but I've now pushed passed the point where I have control of my bodily functions. Morale is at an all time low.

Mile 133 - Most of the aid stations have run out of gels, but I can feel my body crying out for some form of sustenance. All I've had in the last hour and a half is gatorade and water. At the next aid station, they have chicken broth. Nothing sounds less appetizing to me, but at this point I'll try anything and I've heard chicken broth can actually be really helpful so I chug a cup full.

Mile 133.5 - I want to stop.

Mile 134 - It's dark now. I'm drinking warm chicken broth and flat coke at every stop. I feel like death.

Mile 134.5 - I'm not sure where I am. Feeling very disoriented. Nothing looks familiar.

Mile 135 - More chicken broth. More coke.

Mile 135.5 - Something is happening. My body is starting to feel better and my legs are working again. I remember what I'm doing here.

Mile 136 - The Holy Spirit was in that chicken broth. I'm a new man. 

Mile 137 - I just ran my fastest mile of the day, and I'm getting faster.

Mile 138 - Eleven minute miles have never felt so fast. Actual tears of joy.

Mile 139 - I'm one mile from the finish line and I can hear the crowds. Moral is high and adrenaline is making my legs go faster.

Mile 140 - I'm surrounded by crowds of people on both sides of the road. Complete strangers are yelling my name and reaching out for high-fives. This is unreal.

Mile 140.6 - I can't oversell this moment. I'm walking to try to soak it in, but with the bright lights and the tears in my eyes, I can barely see everything that is happening. I cross the finish line, and I hear over the loudspeaker: "Jonny Wills, you are an Ironman!" My heart leaps at the sound of this voice. I see my family and friends and the tears I've managed to hold in come flooding forward. I am exhausted and elated. I am weary and wide awake. I am grateful and humbled. I am an Ironman.