2002 was my first jump into Ironman distance races. Until then I was content with short triathlons and Olympic distance races. All that was before I met Alan Geraldi - in 2001 Alan, Tandy, Ray and a bunch of us used to swim together at Coyote Point Park in San Mateo, CA. During one of these afternoon swim sessions - Alan mentioned that I should sign up for an Ironman event and just do it...on a whim I signed up for the inaugural Ironman Utah, to be held in Provo.
So from August 2001 I started putting in miles on my $15.00 road bike that I bought at a garage sale in Chicago. The progress was slow, averaging 13.5 to 14.5 miles per hour I was pretty sure I was not going to make the bike cutoff. This was my first ever road bike (I never had a road bike in India or in Muscat - My first triathlon in 1990 was done on an Atlas bike with no gears) so getting used to the 50/60/70 mile rides was tough. But after several months of riding - climbing hills (Kings Mountain) I was close to 15mph at the 112 mile rides!!
With several training tips from Alan I pushed through the season and finally thought I was ready for Utah. We drove from San Jose to Provo (about 1000 miles). We were an big group - Mom, Shridhar, Madhu, Navneeta, Renuka, Rajeev Patel, Raj & Priya drove in from Denver and Nandini flew in from Chicago and we had a great time in Provo.
Race day morning started pretty calm, then at around 6:30 am we had a sudden swarm of insects that came flying in...as quickly as they came they vanished leaving thousands of shed wings all over the shore! At 6:45 I jumped into lake Provo and started warming up. There was a slight breeze. At 6:55am the cannon went off for the start of the professionals race. But it was total chaos...everyone started swimming and suddenly the wind picked up...by 7:15 we were in the midst of a raging storm. I was swimming around with no idea which direction to head in. Several swimmers said the swim is cancelled - I just did not believe it...Cancelled!? not in an Ironman race...so I kept going - I was more worried about not making the swim cut off!! After about an hour and 20 minutes we were told to swim towards the shore. Several of us were about a mile off course. We were loaded into a pickup truck and driven back to the transition. I saw the relief on the faces of all those waiting for me (Mom was really worried Renuka and the rest were worried too but were pretty confident that I would make it out of the water)
After a long wait, they decided to make it into a 60 mile ride (it was closer to 70) and 13.1 mile run. The rest of the race was pretty uneventful. Ironman gave us the option of signing up for another race - I chose Vineman in Santa Rosa. After another month of training - I finally finished my first Ironman race in July 2002. It took me 13 hours 53 minutes. I remember John and Judy being there at the finish with Renuka and I also remember saying "never again"!!!!