Overall my day was better than expected. Started about 3:00AM as I woke up before the alarm. Made some coffee, fixed PB sandwich, took shower, etc. Started getting everyone up then I left to get all my bottles on my bike. Met up with some friends I trained with, we all opted to swim with wetsuits so we were the last group to start the swim. Overall my swim went really well, smooth, consistent and was pacing well. As we turned into the canal of the waterway it began to get congested and slowed me down a bit but I still finished the 2.4 mile swim in 1 hour 27 minutes.
Exited the water and proceeded to get my bike gear bag and into the transition tent to change. The transition area was like a hog pen full of mud from all the rain the week prior. So I carried my bike shoes, socks and bike to the transition exit where they had kiddie pools set up to rinse our feet off. One of the volunteers held my bike as I put my shoes on and then exited the transition (transition time was just under 10 minutes)
As I headed out on the bike I kept reminding myself it was going to be a long day and to pace so I watched my speed and tried to keep my cadence up and heart rate low. Everything went very well on the bike, almost had a crash at one of the water stations but came out ok and everyone was good. The volunteers were all great. I kept my nutrition going as planned which was perfect to get me to the half way point where our special needs bags were. I had a peanut butter sandwich, more nutrition powder, extra tubes and CO2 cartridges. Since I didn’t have a flat thus far I put what I could in my jersey and donated the rest back since we don’t get our special needs bags back. The back side of the course heading south was against what was reported up to 30MPH wind gust. Even with that I still felt pretty good. Once we reached the 90 mile mark I looked at my time and calculated in my head that even if I walked the entire run course I knew I would be finished before midnight and of course my eyes started leaking…. I met up with one of the guys I trained with about 5 miles later and we talked about how he was doing, where his dad was and how his aunt was doing. The last 20’ish miles were nice as we started having spectators who cheered us to the bike finish. I get to the bike finish, hand my bike off and proceed through the mud again to get my run gear bag.
I opted to just change shoes outside the tent rather than wade through the mud, I took my time, ate a bar, drank some water and began the run portion. Transition time again just under 10 minutes.
The run was HOT and Humid. I had a towel that I kept wet, hung around my neck and would change out sponges stuffed in my shirt at aid stations. I continuously drank water at the aid stations and my nutrition that I carried with me. The run course was full of volunteers and spectators cheering and give us the boost we needed. You see every type of person out there, young, old, fat, skinny, elite, newbie, etc. A true testament that “Anything is Possible”. Throughout the day I had not seen the family since I left for the swim. I finally got to see them on the other side of the waterway near the hotel we were staying at and it was awesome to hear them all go crazy yelling. On my second lap there was a young girl with Down Syndrome who was giving out cups of water. I got hers and gave her a big hug then I overheard her yell, “Mommy I got a hug”. I am sure my smile was huge!! This time around I was able to stop and give hugs and kisses to the family which was great but I didn’t see my baby girl Brittany who had said she was coming (I got a bit emotional). Fast forward to the last 8 miles, I was watching my time and was actually shocked what I was seeing. I made the decision to continue a walk / run strategy and in doing so knew I could be close to 13 hour finish. Once I got to the 24 mile mark I really started getting excited and when I was able to make the final turn into the finish chute any and all pain went away, if I gave one high five I bet I gave 100. I saw a couple of friends who stopped me and told me where the family was and as I got to that corner I heard them and then saw them all cheering and there was my baby girl, I pointed at her and told her I loved her and continued to the finish line with many fist pumps and huge smile. I did it, I just finished a freaking Ironman in 13 hours 28 minutes and 10 seconds! As I crossed the line Mike Reilly (the voice of Ironman) announced “Jack Bates from Spring Texas YOU AREAN IRONMAN, Great job Jack”.
A volunteer grabbed me, gave me some water, made sure I was ok, got me my finisher shirt and hat then got my picture taken. He continued to make sure I was ok then let me proceed on.
I felt great after my finish then after getting to the back of the finish chute I met up with my family. Took some pictures then got real dizzy so I laid down and propped my legs up when Jacob came and laid on me. (see last picture one of my favorite moments.)
After watching the last hour of the 2014 Ironman Texas athletes cross the finish line, Jack Bates gave greater consideration to this item that had been on his bucket list for a while. He was convinced by the stories that inspired each competitor to take on the challenge. As soon as registration for the Ironman Texas competition opened the next day, Jack signed up! It was the right time.
Jack physically struggled with weight all of his life due his sedentary lifestyle. Although he had attempted to eat better and started exercising in 2007 when his sister and father passed away from causes related to their poor health. It was difficult for Jack to stay focused and motivated. But, this time, he found inspiration to get in shape with the support of his wife, their four children and granddaughter.
His youngest son, Jacob, was born on December 10, 2011. He was diagnosed at birth with Trisomy 21, more commonly known as Down syndrome. The Ironman competition gives Jack a platform to spread awareness about Down syndrome and raise funds for the Down Syndrome Association of Houston (DSAH) when he runs or competes in triathlon events as “Team Jacob – Hearts on Fire.” He shares this message at competitions: “Children with Down syndrome are more alike than different. It is unacceptable to be disrespectful towards those with intellectual disabilities. They are all children of God and they are wonderfully made.”
The Ironman community has also rewarded Jack with a bounty of new friends, their support and helpful tips are deemed priceless! Their encouragement and suggestions are applied the best at times when Jack has to get creative scheduling his training regimen around spending time with family, a full-time job, work travel, and other activities. He follows a 30-week training plan that ranges from 6 hours per week at the beginning and goes up to 18 to 20 hours per week at its peak.
On Saturday, May 16th, 2015, Jack will press on to the finish line at the Ironman Triathlon in The Woodlands, Texas! He is determined to complete 140.6 miles in honor of “Team Jacob – Hearts of Fire!”
Fellow Ironman, father of a son with Down Syndrome and Founder of RODS Racing said: “I may not be able to do an Ironman for myself but I know I can do one for those kids”