Mr. Young Completes the Maryland Ironman.
Math teacher and swim coach John Young competed in an Ironman triathlon on Saturday October 1 in Cambridge Maryland. The course starts with a 2.4-mile swim in the Choptank River, followed by a 112-mile bike race through the Blackwater Wildlife Refuge, and a 26.2-mile run on flat-country roads.
Young and his family arrived to Maryland on the night of Wednesday, September 28 and spent the next few days checking in, finalizing equipment, and mentally and physically preparing. The weather was rainy and windy with conditions that would continue to impact the the coastal course throughout the weekend. Due to safety concerns, Young made the decision to cancel his warm-up swim on Friday.
The night before the event, organizers sent an email to racers informing them that, due to flooding, the bike ride would be eight miles shorter than planned. While disappointed by the news, Young says he knew it was the best decision given the circumstances and focused on the day ahead.
The first leg of the course, the 2.4-mile swim, was scheduled to start at 6:45 a.m. the next day. That morning, Young and the other racers lined up at the shore and were faced with less than ideal conditions; the water was dark, choppy, and cold. At 6:40 a.m., organizers told racers that the swim would be postponed for 30 minutes to see if condition would improve. They did not. A little after 7:10 a.m., the decision was made to cancel the swim. Racers has 35 minutes to change and get ready for the bike race.
Young, again, was initially disappointed by the cancellation, but agreed that it was the best decision, as even the support kayaks that were sent out to scout conditions could hardly stay afloat. In the moment, he barely had time to even consider the decision, as he needed to prepare himself for the next leg.
The bike ride was flat, but windy. Due to flooding, an additional four miles were taken off the course, bringing the total to 100 miles. For Young, this was 100 miles of constant pedaling, with little to no opportunity for coasting. Despite flooded conditions, he was able to finish the course without any bike trouble in 6 hours, 42 minutes, and 15 seconds (06:42:15), achieving a faster time than more than 100 other racers.
After beginning the running portion of the course, Young was informed by another racer that there were "some puddles" in the section of the course near town. These puddles turned out to be ankle deep on the average-statured racer; for Young, the water went up to his knees. At this point, he knew it was unlikely that he would get a personal best and strove instead to finish. Despite conditions, he was able to complete the 26.2-mile run in 7 hours and 24 minutes, which is only about an hour and a half slower than his very best marathon time.
Young finished the Ironman with a time of 14:21.34 between 10:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. that night. He credits much of his success to wife, Sue; son, Owen; coach Brian Hammond; and members of the Pingree community, who have always supported and encouraged him to do his very best. He was also deeply touched by the support of Cambridge, Maryland community members, who he could hear shouting his personal mantra, "Be the Hammer," as he came through town.
While it will be some time before Young embarks on another Ironman, he says he does hope to give it another shot one day to see how he would do with the added swim leg. But if he does it, it will be for purely for himself, he says, with as little fanfare as possible.
CONGRATULATIONS, MR. YOUNG!