Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Ironman Lake Placid - Part 1: The Birth of Matthew Robert

My Ironman Lake Placid experience truly spans the past 12 months.  As you may know, Ironman Lake Placid is the longest running Ironman in North America.  This year was the 15th annual running and to sign-up for the race you need to do one of four things.  First, racers in any given year are given the opportunity to sign-up for the following year's race on the Saturday before the present year's race.  Wow, that sentence is confusing!  Second, race volunteers are given the opportunity to sign-up for the following year's race on the Monday after the present year's race.  Because of this, volunteers come from across the country.  Third, online registration opens at 12:00 pm on the Monday following the present year's race and usually fills in about 15 minutes.  If you're not sitting at your computer refreshing your screen every ten seconds, you're going to miss out.  Finally, Ironman Foundation spots can be purchased after open registration fills, but these spots include a sizable donation, which basically doubles your race registration fee ($650 times 2 is a lot of money).  The reason I'm explaining this is because signing up for an Ironman is a major financial and physical decision that is made 12 months before race day.  In fact, this decision was too much for Laura and I to make in 2011 as I had completely filled out the online registration and payment information, but couldn't commit to clicking the "make payment" button.  However, in July of 2012, I was lucky enough to refresh my screen often enough that I registered for this year's race online.  Following the race registration, I became an expert in Lake Placid lodging as I tried to find the best place to stay for the least money.  If you know Lake Placid, you know it's EXPENSIVE!  Finally, registered for the race and hotel rooms booked for Laura, Luke, and me as well as both my and Laura's parents.  I though to myself, "this is going to be awesome."

Comfort Inn Lake Placid

Let's fast forward 11 months to June of this year.  I've trained through the winter putting in the hours on the bike trainer, running outside in the cold, and enduring 4 am wake-ups to get workouts done before the day begins for most people.  I've finished the school year, which included the added work of the creation of an online remediation course.  I've helped coach the Mount Lebanon track team to a WPIAL Runner-Up Finish and led the 4x100 relay team to a podium finish at WPIAL Finals and a 10th place finish at the State Track Meet at Shippensburg University.  Oh, and Laura and I got pregnant!  Yes, we would be expecting our second son on July 16th, just 12 days before Ironman Lake Placid.  Being the amazing wife that she is, Laura was on board with me doing the race as long as I didn't miss the birth of our son and the delivery went well and everyone was healthy.  However, the travel plans had changed.  It would now only be my parents accompanying me to Lake Placid, and no, we didn't get the deposit back on the unused hotel rooms.

State Track Meet

Lebo 4x100 Relay
From Left: Jake, Dimitri, Chris, Me, Mike, Troy, & Pat

Next, we fast forward to Saturday, July 13, 2013.  Knowing that the baby could come at any time, I had mapped out an 85 mile loop around Pittsburgh that would take me as far as 40 miles and two hours away from our house.  You'd be right if you thought I was crazy for doing this with a pregnant wife.  But, the farthest point on the loop was my sister, Jessica's house.  Then, the loop went through Oakmont and my parents house, and a direct shot back to home.  If necessary, I could have either my sister or parents pick me up along the route and take me home or to the hospital.  Of course, I had my cell phone stashed in one of the back pockets of my jersey in case Laura would call.  This route became my standard "long ride" every weekend in anticipation of the baby.  Well, after spending Friday night in the Emergency room because we thought Laura's water had broken, I saddled up Saturday morning and headed out for my final 100 mile training ride before Lake Placid.  With her mom at our house and my cell phone stashed in my back pocket, I knew Laura was in good hands.

Ok, this isn't actually from that morning, but a picture helps tell the story.

It was a beautiful sunny summer morning.  It was warm, but comfortable as my tired legs turned the pedals.  My thoughts bounced back and forth between the excitement of the arrival of our new son and Ironman Lake Placid.  As I reached my sister's house, I thought about stopping for a quick break, but figured I'd just ride by so I didn't prolong the ride.  No more than 10 minutes later and two or three miles down the road, I heard my phone ring with Laura's unique ring tone.  I truly didn't expect it because of the "pump fake" the night before, but when she said, "my water broke," I explained to her where I was and that I would be riding back to my sister's house and would call her once we were in the car to determine whether I should head home or go to the hospital.  I called my sister, "Jess, I need you to take me either home or to the hospital."  Of course, I figured she would know why, so I didn't tell her.  Little did I know, she thought I had crashed on my bike and needed picked up and taken to the hospital.  Oops!  We clarified the situation moments later in her return phone call.  After racing back to her house on my bike, hitting-up the bathroom, and throwing on my brother-in-law's shorts and t-shirt (he's 6'6" tall), we were in the car headed to West Penn Hospital to meet Laura and her mom.  In fact, we beat them there by about 20 minutes!

Thanks for the ride Jess!

Twelve hours later, Matthew Robert Erdeljac was born at 9:14 and was 8 lbs 3 oz and 20.5 inches long!

The Erdeljacs

Luke & Matthew