Michigan Titanium Recap:
August 25th, 2013
I woke up today at 3am, kind of against my will. I just woke up and couldnt fall back asleep, so i layed there until 4:30, when i actually decided to roll out of bed. I double checked all of my gear, going through my 5 different gear drop bags and making sure everything i needed to survive- almost quite literally- was there. I downed 500 calories of bagels and had a coconut water with a banana to keep the potassium levels high, an important electrolyte to keep you hydrated.
I left the house at 5:15 and drove for roughly 25 minutes to Versluis Park In E. Grand Rapids. The whole event is centered around this area. The lake is a former gravel pit, so it is quite clear, (about 25 foot visibility) and almost void of vegetation. The depth goes from waist deep at about 20 feet out to nearly 45 feet immediately, so the swimming quality was very high.
When i arrived, i took the shuttle from the nearby parking, into the park. I started freaking out on the bus because i couldnt find my timing chip. luckily, i was reassigned one, and later found my original. In the transition setup area i spent lots of time gawking at all the gear that people have, in specific, bikes that cost over $12k. In my dreams, right?
After the national anthem there was a quite briefing of the race, and the full iron athletes entered the water. The gun went off precisely at 7am. I swam out with about 200 other athletes, if my guessing skills are accurate. the first 5 minutes was a full-on battle for a good position. Everybody including myself was kicking eachother, grabbing arms and feet, (not necessarily on purpose) and occasionally swimming partially on top of each other. I went out controlled on the first lap, coming to the halfway point in 6th place. I began to pick up pace on the second, where i quickly made a pass up to 5th place. halfway around the second lap i opened it up into top gear and swam my heart out. I caught up with the lead group and swam with them to the shore. To my knowledge i was 3rd out of the water.
As soon as i was out of the water, the wetsuit removal volunteers ripped off my wetsuit for me, probably in under 3 seconds. (not gonna lie, this was super-cool)
I began the bike after a 4 minute transition. The bike course was two 56 mile loops. Loop one went very well. to my knowledge my first lap placement was 7th. the second lap was quite strenuous. at about noon (20 miles into the second lap, approximately) the sun was out with no clouds, and it was heating up fast. It was also very windy, which didnt help with the 40ish miles of big rolling hills. I stopped at an aid station to get sunscreen, and, not paying attention, missed a turn which was right after it. I went 18 minutes off course before getting back on the right track. I consumed most of my calories while on the bike. I did roughly 2000 calories of gel, or Gu, and drank 10 bottles of 20oz gatorade. (to answer the question you are thinking, yes, i had to use the bathroom alot. No, you dont stop pedaling to do so eww gross i know)
I was relieved to finally be done with the bike. I made a fairly quick transition into the run after changing into my run shirt and grabbing some Clif bars. The first 3 miles I ran quite strong. after that, i began to suffer extreme fatigue and due to the 88 degree heat, I could feel myself getting very hot. To keep the run off my mind, I began to play a pretty simple game with myself- count how many steps there are between aid stations. This ultimately kept me from walking. Each aid station was fully equipped with water, gatorade, ice, and foods. I had a water belt on, so i was able to fill my shirt with ice, which in the end most likely prevented me from heat exhaustion and a likely I.V. in my arm. Around mile 7 my legs were totally numb, and I knew I was only running on adrenaline and by the grace of God. I held a steady 9 minute pace, walking for a total of 3 minutes the whole race. It began to be very difficult to ingest anything. My mouth was (and still is) blistered from the “fake” sugars and acids in gatorade and Gu for 11 hours straight. Also, only liquids for that amount of time means you can feel all of it sloshing around in your stomach, making things very uncomfortable.
At 5 miles left, it really hit me that “I can do this.” I had a surge in energy, and picked up the pace, albeit slowly. I passed a couple of people from the Full Iron in this time, which again was an energy boost. eventually i saw the lights of the police car that was directing traffic at the finish line, and knew i had less than a mile to go. I ran down the road with people and cars on both sides, both cheering/ honking, and turned down the finish line.
I crossed, arms high above my head, yelling a cry of joy and relief. I did much better than my expected 12:30 and finished with 11:08. After i finished, i heard an announcement saying and there is Brandon Yonke, our 3rd overall finisher.” I was shocked and amazed. 11:08, 3rd overall. I took the podium for awards ceremony and received a nice plaque and a gear carrier for my bike, and a “reimbursement” for my race in the form of prize cash.
After the podium, I began to feel very nauseous and determined i was very overheated. I went to the medical tent for roughly a half hour to sit in an ice pool and lay down with ice over me, which helped a lot.
Today I am quite sore, as expected, but not as bad as i thought i would be. I actually rode my bike (half a mile haha) to the store this morning. I am waiting for the hair on my fresh-shaved-yesterday legs to grow back, as i look kind of goofy as a hairless triathlete on the first day of school.
Again, as stated many times before, none of this would have been possible without the support from all of the donors for this cause. I am so glad to have had this experience, and it bring me joy to have donated 700 dollars between make a wish and wounded warrior project. As stated in the donation form, a partial amount went towards race day expenses, which was mainly my wetsuit rental for 65 dollars, spare inner tubes for 9 dollars x2, and gas money to the race site, everything totaling just over 100 dollars. Therefore, 86% of money received was donated to these causes, and I am so thankful for both the donation amount and the amount i was able to put towards the race.
This was an incredible experience! thank you!