2013 Bone Island Half-Ironman ParaTriathlon Under My Belt

Registering was the easy part…

About 8 weeks ago I decided to signup for the Bone Island Half-Ironman Triathlon in Key West, FL on 1/12/13.  At the time, it seemed like a decent idea.. After all, it takes minimal effort to signup online from the comfort of my couch. Registering was the easy part…  I trained for the next 8 weeks. Not as hard as I probably could have, but I definitely pushed myself.  A half-ironman triathlon (paratriathlon) consists of a 1.2 mile swim, followed by a 56 mile hand-cycle, followed by a 13 mile “run” in a racing wheelchair (aka “pushrim”).

On race day, just before the start, I looked around and quickly realized I’d be the only paratriathlete participant. The up-side of being the only wheelchair participant is that regardless of how long it takes to finish, I’d still get 1st place in my division:)   Then the race director yelled into a microphone “30 seconds till start, get ready!”….. The last thought I remember passing through my head was “what the f@ck are you doing right now”…

Getting out past the ocean current from the beach was more difficult than I had imagined.  Locals told me it had been an abnormally choppy morning.. Lucky me.. I sucked down ocean water multiple times, choking on salt water. To say it was sketchy would be an understatement.  I quickly realized that the olympic size pool I had trained in for months was nothing compared to this beastly ocean.  Total 1.2 mile swim time was 00:50:34.

Transitioning to handcycle took about 5 minutes. I was already exhausted.. After all, I did almost just die in the ocean.  I sucked down a GU, gulped down electrolytes, inhaled a Clif Bar, and hopped (yes hopped) onto my TOP END Force-R hand-cycle.  The hand-cycle portion was 56 miles. I knew this part would likely take around 4 hours.  It was 28 miles one way and 28 miles back to transition area, for a total of 56.  As I started riding down US-1 it hit me.. “This is gonna suuuuuck”..  The worst part wasn’t the actual ride, it was my wondering mind.   There’s nobody to distract you during the ride, you’re simply inside your own head for 4 hours.  My mind started convincing me I couldn’t finish and needed to quit soon… The key was tuning out that voice in my head and try focusing on absolutely nothing..  There was head-winds during the first 28 miles out, which took about 2 hours. During the 28 mile ride back it actually rained for about 30 minutes.  On the bright side of things, the rain cooled me down.. But on the flip side, my hand-cycle’s back tires were kicking up wet sand from the road, which was covering my arms and getting into my armpits..  Sandpaper..  Finally, after 03:36:30 I rolled back into the transition area.

It had been roughly 4 and a half hours.. I was more than exhausted, but still had a little farther to go.  The last part of the half-ironman triathlon was the 13.1 mile “run” portion.  As a paratriathlete, I use a TOP END racing wheelchair (aka “push-rim”) to get through this part.  I crossed the finish line aound 01:56:00 later, after passing down Duval Street.  I was completely 100% worn out… It was an amazing feeling:)

Crossing finish line in racing wheelchair at 2013 Bone Island Triathlon Half-Ironman.

Crossing finish line in racing wheelchair at 2013 Bone Island Triathlon Half-Ironman.

My final overall time was 06:41:53. All the pain and struggle to get there was well worth the sweeeet satisfaction.  The next 2 days I couldn’t move my shoulders, not even a little bit, but it was absolutely worth it!

Bone Island Tri- Finish Line

Aunt Heidi, thank you for all your love and support:)

Big thank you to Power Design Incorporated for sponsoring me through this event.  These guys are awesome.   Debbie, you rock!

If you or someone you know may be interested in paratriathlons, please feel free to contact me at jacob@howiroll.com.



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Showing 4 comments
  • Sue Castonguay

    Absolutely Amazing!! You are an Inspiration to all of us.
    Lots of Love, Aunt Sue

  • Faith

    I came across your blog on twitter and just wanted to tell you how much I admire you. Ive only been in a chair 5 months and only play wheelchair basketball and sledge hockey….Im canadian there aren’t many options here because of the weather lol I cannot imagine how difficult the half iron man would be but your bike and equipment look awesome. Can I ask how you started marathons?Did you start off small, get sponsors?etc.Im not sure if you have tough mudder competitions in the US but they are pretty big here in Canada this year. I think only one man in a wheelchair has ever done it, and Im honestly not sure how he did it, the obstacles are ruthless and the mud would pose a clear challenge. Anyways just wanted to drop a hello. Your blog looks great and its awesome to see another person pushing the limitz and overcoming obstacles. Best wishes 🙂

  • Jacob

    Hi Faith!
    Thanks for checking out the website. It took me almost 4 years before I started playing any sort of wheelchair sports, so you’re ABSOLUTELY a step ahead! I got my hand-cycle from a non-profit organization called Challenged Athletes Foundation (“CAF”). The give out grants each year. I’m not sure how they work (or don’t work) in Canada, but it’s something to definitely look into. Yes, I started off hand-cycling short distances and built up to the longer marathons and triathlons. Constantly challenge yourself Faith! I’ve heard of the Tough Mudder competition… Now there’s a challenge:)

    Again, thanks for liking HowiRoll.com Faith! When you have a chance, please check out the “YOUR STORY” page on the top menu. If your interested, I’ll post your story on this page.

    Rock on.

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