Team OAM NOW’s Alex Vanias Wins 2nd Overall in Full (Ironman-distance) Triathlon at Michigan Titanim

August 27th, 2014 by Team OAM NOW / Athletic Mentors

By Alex Vanias, Team OAM NOW Tri-athlete

With an average of 100 miles per day on my bike, for a week straight, in the mountains, one (one meaning me) might think doing an Ironman-distance triathlon in one day should be easy, right?  Wrong.  My first shot at the 140.6mi MI Titanium triathlon is the hardest thing I have ever done. Of course, it didn’t help that I had not really trained to do an ultra-endurance race. It also didn’t help that I didn’t train my gut to handle all the calories necessary to race for 9-10hrs. Lack of preparation plus a grueling race could have had far more disastrous consequences; while the first part of the race felt good, during the run, I learned a lot about myself and the Ironman-distance Tri.

I was far more nervous about my sprint distance tri the previous weekend than the MI Titanium because I figured there would be plenty of time to make up for mistakes in such a long event. This was true for most of the race. My 2.4mi swim was much slower than expected; I’m not sure why. However, this wasn’t a huge concern because the 112 mile bike leg gave me plenty of opportunity to make up time! I made up my 10min deficit to the race leader with 30 miles left on the bike. I run pretty well, especially for longer distances, so I took the opportunity to follow the race leader (Jimi Minnema) on the bike and sort of get some “rest” before the run. With a few miles to go, I took the lead hoping to get a head start in the transition to the run. Everything was going according to plan!

IMG_20140824_170212_259It felt almost too easy until 6mi into the marathon. At about mile 6,  my energy levels really dropped off and all I could do was run at a pace I would normally use on recovery runs. Still, I kept pushing on. At the 13 mile mark, my legs completely seized up and I had to stop. That’s when Jimi caught and passed me. After my cramps stopped, I went back at it. At that point, I knew I was racing for second place. I seriously considered quitting, but I have never quit a race because I was tired or weak. That’s the mental race. That’s the moment we all talk about races being mental as well as physical and it’s a make or break moment. I wouldn’t admit defeat. I was still determined even though the last 13 mile lap  of the run was nothing more than a shuffle/walk. I have never felt so weak. Luckily, there were lots of friends and teammates cheering and pushing me  to keep me motivated along the course.

After what seemed like forever, the finish line was in front of me and, technically, it was over; the pain, however, lasted a couple more days! I came in 2nd overall, at just over 10 hours.  Looking back, I have certainly learned a thing or two and I look forward to making my next 140.6 a lot smoother!


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