These are in no particular order. Each, for some reason or another, has left a lasting impression.
1. Middle of lap 7 in the Madness in Moab
The Madness in Moab is a 24-hour ultramarathon that is held on time change day, making the timing even more complicated. My lap 7 was in the dead of night, well past the point of having any fellow "competitors" around. It is dark, and I am alone in the literal wilderness. So what does my fried brain decide to do? Listen to some creepy pasta.
I am exhausted physically and mentally, and now I am terrified. It took about an hour to get to the next aid and see another person who could calm my nerves. Luckily the nighttime aid station workers were seasoned ultra vets and knew I wasn't crazy for asking if "Slender Man" was real.
I have never felt that terrified as I did on lap seven of that race.
2. The start of the 2nd lap of the run at Rev3 Cedar Point
Rev3 was the very first full-distance triathlon that I did on 10 days' notice. Everything was going okay, considering how ill-prepared I was for the race. That was until the 2nd lap of the run. It was a 2-lap run course, and the 2nd lap started about 5ft from the finish line.
Seeing the finish and knowing I still had 13.1 miles left hit me hard. I cried all the tears I could muster up with being that dehydrated. A volunteer asked me if I needed help. I said "no" and continued on my way.
That was a moment of pure emotion.
3. About 30 minutes after sunrise during the Kokopelli 140
The Kokopelli 140 was probably the most eventful DNF I ever had. However, just after sunrise was the most memorable.
The race started at midnight, and by the time the sun rose, I had made it through the bull of the single track and was on the fastest part of the course. Then I felt the worst feeling possible on a wide-open double track: a rear flat. I went through my tire and couldn't find a tear, but I did find a couple knobs ripped off. I put a tube in and kept riding. A couple miles later, it happened again, but now I am out of tubes and at least 20 miles to an aid station.
Mark Sortino (fellow MPI coach) was riding with me, and I told him to continue without me. At first, he refused, but as an abandoned wolf nursed back to health, I told him to get, and he left. I then found what little vegetation I could gather and packed it into my rear tire. I rode that leaf and stick-filled tire to the next aid station and got picked up by my support car.
Riding that wheel was an experience I will not forget.
4. The finish line of the Detroit Marathon
The Detroit Marathon was my first marathon and first running race. I was a cyclist then and figured if I could ride 100 miles, I could run 26.2.
It wasn't a great race for me, but in the back of my head, I kept thinking about how fulfilling it was to finish a marathon. That got me through some of the rougher parts of the day.
The finish was on the 50 yd line at Ford Field that year. I ran into the stadium through the same entrance I used when I played there in high school, ran on the field, and crossed the finish line.
Nothing. I felt absolutely nothing. I ran for nearly 4 hours and had no sense of accomplishment.
5. T1 at my first 70.3 St George
One constant through the 10 IRONMAN races I have done in St George is the water is cold. My first StG started out in a bad way. On the bus ride to the swim start, I couldn't figure out why everyone's morning bag was so much bigger than mine. Then it hit me; I forgot my wetsuit in the car. A cold rush went down my back, and all I could think about on the 25-minute ride to the swim was how I didn't even have my phone to call my wife to bring a wetsuit.
As we were corralled for the swim start, several people told me how impressive it was that I was doing this swim without a wetsuit. I could only reply that I am not tough, just dumb.
The swim started, and I finished it. I was so cold in T1 that I laid down on the asphalt for a solid 10 minutes to warm myself like a lizard in the sun.
I will never forget lying there, looking at the sun, hoping to warm up.
That's just five moments; I have 100's more. Racing is a journey for me, and it's all the little moments along the way that keep me motivated. I have no idea what would happen if everything went right during a race. It seems like it would be pretty boring.
Coach Adam Sczech is an IRONMAN University Certified Coach, USAT Level I Certified Coach, NASM Certified Personal Trainer, and VFS Master Bike Fitter based out of the Western Slope of Colorado. Adam has years of experience coaching beginners, juniors, elites, and clubs as well as a year focusing specifically on special needs athletes. Adam's expertise with bike fitting is extensive with over 15 years and 8,000 fits for athletes that include two world record holders, a national champion, several IRONMAN Pro/Age Groups winners, and an ITU winner. He has completed several full and half Ironman races, as well as numerous Olympic and Sprint races.