The Mother of All Comebacks: Tiger Wins Masters 2019

Tiger Woods has endured quite the fall. Some of that was his own doing, as his sex scandal–and ensuing fallout–arguably cost him two years of his golf career. In 2009, he was already recovering from knee surgery, and the scandal threw in a mental challenge that was new to him, in a sport where small mental issues can make or break you.

But in 2012, he seemed to be on the way back. He had a strong game, racked up some wins, and was making strong showings in the major tournaments, and he was bringing in more money than anyone else.

Then, his problems began to mount. His back began to fail him. His driving distance dropped. Holes that he once counted on as eagle-birdie chances became birdie-par. He wasn’t hitting greens, and was forced to go “up and down” more than before.

He started missing cuts. Lots of cuts.

He became a non-factor in major tournaments that he once dominated.

Three back surgeries left him unable to contend.

When he opted for a fourth surgery, most experts–even Tiger himself–wondered if he was done for good. Back surgery is hit-and-miss, and even when successful, there is no guarantee that he would have enough range of motion in his swing to get the distance that he needed. And as he ages, back problems can continue to mount.

But this year, it was different.

His swing was better. He was more comfortable. He missed fewer cuts. He was farther up on the leaderboard.

Going into this years’ Masters Championship, Tiger was more ready than he’d been in years. Sure, he wasn’t what he once was, but–as the song goes–he was counting on being “as good once as he ever was”. Or, more importantly, good enough for 4 rounds.

His first three rounds weren’t perfect, but he was close enough to make a charge. And to win, he would have to do something he’d never done before: come from behind. (Yes, you read that correctly: in Tiger’s 14 previous Majors, he had never come from behind to win; he had always led in the final round.)

Yesterday, after coming back from a severe knee surgery in 2008, a sex scandal and a messy divorce in 2009-10, and four back surgeries, Tiger won his first Major championship in 11 years: his fifth Masters Championship.

And he came from behind in the final round to do it.


Yes, I know, the naysayers will pile onto him over his sex scandal. I say he’s suffered plenty.

At this point, it is fair to recognize his victory for what it is: arguably the biggest comeback in the history of sports.


I know a thing or two about back surgery. It’s why I refuse to get it before I absolutely must have it. It is hit or miss, and even when it is successful, there are no guarantees.

There’s a difference between being functional versus being able to enjoy athletic activity. I know marathoners who, after back surgery, had to retire to smaller distances.

In a sport like golf, range of motion is everything, as that is critical to having distance both off the tee and in the fairway. If surgery can’t allow you that, it’s a failure, even if you can otherwise walk comfortably.

And rehabbing from surgery is no walk in the park, either. Literally anything can go wrong.

But Tiger not only recovered, but he came back able to compete. And he was good enough to beat a field that was more competitive than at any of his previous Masters championships.

Tiger is officially back.


What does this say of his challenging Jack Nicklaus for career Major championships? I don’t know, but his odds clearly went up after yesterday.

Woods is at 15 and Nicklaus is at 18. Woods is 43 years old; Nicklaus was 46 when he won his final Major.

If Woods manages to stay healthy, he will be a major force at every tournament. Whatever mental challenge he had before, he just buried that. He has his game back; he also has his Game back.

His competition will be tough, but so will he.

At this point, I’d say Nicklaus is in trouble. Tiger’s win yesterday was a game-changer.

Not just THAT he did it, but HOW he did it.

Victim Confronts Minister Who Abused Her — RECORDED

Hat tip to Dee at Wartburg Watch.

That audio is very telling. I highly recommend that you either (a) read the transcript or (b) listen to the entire call, which lasts about 14 minutes.

I applaud Leanne Kay. What she did here is not just brave; she has provided the whole world a first-hand look at the way an abuser manipulates and spins, casting himself as a victim and demanding grace.

I have a few things to say about “Raggy”:

(1) What has the United Methodist Church done regarding his ministerial credentials? While he may not have active status as a minister, he needs to be defrocked and excommunicated.

(2) The revelant authorities in Mississippi need to bring charges against Ragsdale. Statute of Limitations do not apply here, and he has–in a recorded conversation that is admissible in court–admitted to at least one grievous felony. He needs to go to prison.

(3) I have a personal message for “Raggy”, that demented wolf:

You are a spineless, shameless, perverted disgrace of a human being, and those are your best qualities.

Your demand of forgiveness from Leanne was cowardly and manipulative and speaks volumes to who and what you are. The Church in America is broken because of wolves like you and parishioners who tolerate your type.

You’re damn lucky I’m not in your venue, as, if that were the case you would have reason to hope that the cops got you before Pilgrim and I did. And while we would not kill you, it would end with your begging us to do exactly that.

I hope you end up in prison, and that you have a Clear And Present Danger experience while you are there.

UMC, With Help of African Blacks, Rejects SJW Agenda

Going into the Special Session of the 2019 General Conference of the United Methodist Church (UMC), American news outlets were ecstatic at the prospect of the UMC joining the ranks of other mainline Protestant denominations and endorsing the marriage and ordination of LGBTs.

The “woke” faction of the UMC, dominated by American progressives, was confident that their highly-touted “One Church” plan would cement the convergence of the UMC. The “One Church” plan basically said that, while many members didn’t agree with LGBT inclusion, the UMC would still allow everyone else to include LGBTs.

Instead, the progressives lost, twice.

First, the “One Church” plan failed to pass.

Then, conservatives–led by delegates from Africa–passed the “Traditional Plan”: an affirmation of Biblical sexuality that rejects any attempt to grant legitimacy to LGBTs, by a score of 438-384.

(A friend of mine, a longtime United Methodist, referred to the Traditional Plan as “Making Methodism Great Again”.)

On top of that, the conservatives passed a number of items that make it painless for the wokeists to leave the UMC. In other words, they not only endorsed Biblical sexuality, they held the door open for dissenters to leave.

What was poignant about the vote was that, for many years, American SJWs have long-insisted that white Americans must “check their privilege” and give more credence to perspectives of “oppressed” classes.

This time, blacks from Africa voted to reject what Nigerian pro-life activist Obianuju Ekeocha calls a “neocolonialism” that seeks to impose “new sexual ideologies and abortion into African nations, against the will of the African people who still largely reject these ideologies.”

What IS sad: the West, which has long been a fortress for a conservative theology that has been the backbone of Western Civilization, is in a severe decline that corresponds to the turmoil in the Church.

Catholics have a longstanding gay pederasty culture, evidenced by a horrendous amount of sexual assaults and coverups spanning the globe, encompassing at least half of the clergy.

Mainline Protestants have embraced theological liberalism that has made their message irrelevant.

Conservatives and evangelicals, however, have a critical mass of sexual abuse and coverups, fueled by shallow theology and a system that attracts, develops, and promotes a clergy who market themselves as Alpha Males but instead are dark, greedy, malevolent, perverted cowards who wouldn’t know the truth if it bit them in the nether regions.

Against this backdrop, Christians in AFRICA are leading the way forward.

While the Church may be bloodied and bruised, Jesus promised that not even the gates of Hell would prevail against Her. The Church is never out of the fight.

And if the Laodiceans in America won’t show up for the good fight, God has shown that He’ll raise some Smyrnans from the poorest region in the world to take up the full armor.

The Southern Baptist Convention Has An Existential Crisis

There is no pretty way to spin this.

The Houston Chronicle is reporting a damning collection of abuses that implicate Southern Baptists at every level of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).

The abuses and coverups include volunteers, deacons, youth and children’s ministers, music ministers, pastors, missionaries, even foundational leaders in the SBC. Most of us who have been following these things are not surprised. And trust me, this is not even the tip of the iceberg.

The abuse/coverup culture precedes even the Conservative Era (1980-present), but it has snowballed during the Conservative Era. There are many factors that have led to this disaster.

(1) The Conservative Resurgence–in which many moderates and liberals were run out of key SBC seminaries and institutions and replaced with Fundamentalists and Calvinists–fostered an institutional arrogance.

What do I mean by that? Here is the story you will hear:

The SBC was hijacked by liberals who believed that the Bible was full of errors. Those liberals dominated the seminaries and Bible schools and fostered a culture that was dead: they didn’t really believe the Bible, and this reflected dead preaching and teaching, and that caused the SBC to descend into the same liberalism that has destroyed mainline Protestants.

The conservatives–led by a grassroots movement of faithful Baptists and the organization of conservative preachers and activists such as Charles Stanley, C.W. Criswell, Adrian Rogers, Paul Pressler, and Paige Patterson–saved the SBC from the onslaught of liberalism.

When it came to scandals, the conservatives never confronted the institutional culture that existed before; they just replaced a left-leaning structure with a right-leaning one, only with arrogance to boot.

Why do I say arrogance? The conservatives developed an “It can’t happen here” mindset.

Even worse, if a pastor or other worker DID sleep with a parishioner, it was treated merely as a “sexual indiscretion” rather than an abuse of power. (The liberals treated it that way, too. That’s how they addressed it at SBTS when I was there.) As a result, if a pastor had an affair, he was often allowed to quietly resign, move on to another church, and set up shop after a season of being under the radar.

What if a father rapes his daughter and she tells the church about it? They rally around him but show her the door. Ask me how I know.

What about the children’s worker who fondles a kid, and that kid reports it? The church tells the family “we’re taking the situation seriously”, lets the worker quietly leave and go on to another church, then he resumes his abuses. Ask me how I know.

When high-profile ministers cover up abuse in their churches, SBC leaders–who were financially-beholden to such churches–failed to confront those ministers.

Paul confronted Peter–“to his face”–over lesser offenses, but SBTS President Al Mohler could not find it in him to confront C.J. Mahaney over his coverup of at least one child abuser at Covenant Life Church.

(2) A culture that values and rewards charisma over character and competence, allowed a critical mass of narcissistic, sociopathic, Machiavellian personalities into the ranks of ministers, and then rewarded them based on metrics that are functions of charisma.

If you have winsome charisma and can regurgitate conservatism–and even better, do it with NeoCalvinist spin–you’ll go places in the SBC.

You have to make sure that you champion the hot products from LifeWay, preach inviting sermons that have enough conservatism to wow the masses but so soft that you step on no one’s toes. But if you play the game, you go far.

If you provide the requisite “fruits of your ministry”–growing membership, new baptisms, and, yes, more dollars going into the Cooperative Program–you receive great recognition. And as you get to know the right people, and say the right things at the right meetings, you get key appointments to the appropriate committees.

(3) A culture that throws victims under the bus to protect the institution.

This did not begin with the conservatives–truth be told, it’s a longstanding problem that goes back to the very foundation of the SBC–but it has snowballed on the watch of the conservatives.

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler and his protege Russell Moore are a major part of the problem. Why? They are years late and millions of dollars short, as they sat for decades on this issue. For decades, they failed to call out key leaders, they have failed to demand change where doing so would have yielded better policies.

For his part, Mohler has begun to repudiate his longtime support of C.J. Mahaney, whose Sovereign Grace Church is now in Lousiville and who has given The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary $200,000. Perhaps that will lead the way for other Big Evangelical names to start distancing themselves from Mahaney, whose heavy-handed leadership, probable coverup of several sexual abusers, and systematic attacks on all who questioned him, ought to permanently disqualify him from ministry.

And make no mistake: the abuses and coverups extend from local churches to particular arms of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Former missionary Mark Aderholt, who is on trial for his abuses of 16-year-old Anne Marie Miller while he was a 25-year-old youth minister and seminary student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, went on to a distinguished career with the International Mission Board (IMB).

When Miller reported the matter to the IMB, their own investigation concluded that the abuses “likely happened” and that Aderholt was not truthful with them about it. What did they do? They allowed him to resign. Did they report the matter to authorities? No. Did they inform the next church he went to? No. Did they inform the South Carolina Baptist Convention, where he became a strategist? No.

(And don’t start here with the argument that the whole thing was consensual. He was 25; she was 16. Irrespective of what you think her issues were at the time, the fact remains it was on him to be the adult. If he wanted to eventually marry her, he could have steered her in the proper direction and exercised propriety. Moreover, given that he was in training for MINISTRY, it was incumbent on him to do the right thing.)

The SBC also has a storied history of saying they will look into this issue, but not doing it. Their fallback is always “but muh church autonomy!”

Fact is, if FBC Timbuktu ordained an LGBT pastor or deacon today, the SBC would move Hell to ensure that FBC Timbuktu was disfellowshipped as soon as SBC 2019 opened session.

If the SBC wanted to confront the abuse culture, they’d do it. But to do so will mean stepping on toes that are connected to very large amounts of money. It means that popular leaders–with big radio presences, book deals, and academic credentials–will have to face censure if not complete repudiation.

It will also require a total cultural transformation: from a culture of theological arrogance where predators operate under the radar to a vigilant, humble culture where victims are welcome and predators are not.

That is a tall order for the SBC. It is probably not the battle that new President J.D. Greear was hoping to fight. But this is every bit as serious as any fight that the SBC has faced in its history.

Greear had better be up to the call.

Abortion and Matt Chandler

A couple weeks ago, a friend of mine from my seminary days–she leans a little left politically but is otherwise pro-life on abortion–posted this meme on her Facebook feed:

Yes, she is a friend of mine, and we had an otherwise collegial, low-key discussion about this matter offline. I did this to keep other FB friends of mine from turning this into a foodfight.

First: a few stipulations:

(1) Abortion is murder. Period. Abortion kills a living human being. You don’t like that? Calling me names won’t change that reality, as I didn’t create it.

(2) Abortion, in spite of being a great evil, is sold in America with the best New York ad agency sloganeering and political posturing. For a woman in a crisis pregnancy, it is easy to see how appealing it can be.

(3) Abortion, like other sins, is very forgivable. And, contrary to what you might think intuitively, the pro-life crowd is a very merciful and graceful lot with women who seek mercy.

(If you have had an abortion, you will have a harder time showing yourself mercy than you will have finding it in the pro-life movement.)

Still, the Chandler quote sticks in my craw. And here’s why.

First of all, abortion has been legal in all 50 states, for the full 9 months of pregnancy, for 46 years.

(And yes, before you start saying, “THAT’S NOT WHAT THEY SAID IN ROE!”, just hold your pants on and read: abortion IS legal for the full nine months when you consider the ramifications of the Roe v. Wade decision AND its companion case, Doe v. Bolton, which SCOTUS ruled on at the same time on 22 January 1973.)

Because abortion is both legal and government-funded, Americans have killed about 60 million babies since 1973.

So let me ask you, Mr. Chandler: how high does the death toll have to be before we pass a law banning in utero infanticide?

Before we have any discussion about what pro-life is, and is not, on this issue, I’m going to lay the card on the table.

IF YOU BELIEVE ABORTION SHOULD GENERALLY BE LEGAL, YOU ARE NOT PRO-LIFE.

You think I’m being mean?

Think about it this way. if you believe that rape–which goes on nearly unabated in spite of laws against it–should be legal, we would rightly say you are NOT pro-woman, even if you otherwise support a myriad of rape prevention efforts.

Moreover, if you believe that child abuse should be legal, we would rightly say that you are not pro-child even if you otherwise support programs to prevent child abuse.

And consider our former national atrocity that was slavery. Those who supported slavery could not be reasonably considered abolitionists.

But back to Chandler’s quote.

On one hand, I’m all for the Church showing more compassion to women in crisis pregnancies, with couples stepping up to the plate to adopt and/or provide foster care.

At the same time, I can also tell you that, having been through training for foster parentage, and having spent two-and-a-half years on an adoption waiting list before we got picked and Abigail made her grand entry, Christians make up the overwhelming majority of adoptive and foster parents.

While we can reasonably argue that we need the Church to do more, it is also fair to say that Christians are hardly inactive on this front.

Perhaps if the Church spent more resources taking care of widows and orphans and less on high pastor salaries and building new churches in areas that are already inundated with them, you’d see more foster children receiving compassion.

The problem I have with Chandler here is that his statement is often used as a subtle form of blame-shifting for abortion, as well as a code-term used by people who wish to keep abortion legal. It fosters the “if only the Church reached out the right way, women wouldn’t murder their babies” mindset.

In point of fact, the waiting lines for adoption typically exceed 3 years. At Catholic Charities, the venue through which we adopted Abigail, the average wait is 3 years. (And they ONLY deal with infertile couples.) For many agencies, the average wait is about FIVE years.

There are at least two adoptive couples for every baby murdered in the womb in America. And most of those couples are Christians.

And while we are on the subject of abortion, I am going to make some hard statements here. Most of you aren’t going to like this, but I’m going to say it anyway.

(1) The death toll from abortion is proof that neither sex has a monopoly on evil. While we can all point to examples of “toxic masculinity”, the fact remains that toxic femininity is every bit as serious, even if pastors are scared to death of pointing to the elephant in the room that is standing on the blood of 60+million babies.

(2) Just as we rightly blame rape on rapists, it is fair to blame abortion on (a) those who make the decision to kill the baby and (b) those who carry out the act. Yes, there are some women for whom the abortion decision is made FOR them–ask me how I know this. Those, however, are totally in the minority.

My point here?

Yes, let’s extend the best compassion that the Church can offer for single mothers, foster children, orphans, and widows.

Yes, let’s extend the mercy and grace of Jesus to those who, for whatever reason, have blood on their hands due to their participation in the atrocity that is abortion.

Still, we must continue to call abortion for the evil that it is, and demand that our legal system right this terrible wrong by ending its sanction of the practice.

If you aren’t for that, then you aren’t pro-life. Period.

IKDG: The Final Repudiation

Joshua Harris finally KIKDGG  Here is the link.

Personally, I put less blame on him than I do the larger evangelical celebrity world for imposing his damnable grid on singles.

Shame on them for uncritically embracing the ideas of a whipper-snapper who had no formal theological education, and then using those ideas to shame singles and make the already-difficult world of singleness an order or magnitude worse.

At any rate, I am glad to see that Harris has seen the error of his ways and has shown the courage to repudiate them. That alone puts him light years ahead of Piper, Mohler, Keller, Mahaney, and the rest of his former Amen Corner.

Ironman Bragging Rights, Sort Of

MrsLarijani works for a private school at which Abigail is in the toddler class. It’s a really nice school.

Every year, the school has a 5K run as a fundraiser. Usually, most of the parents run it. The run is tomorrow morning.

One of the parents has a tendency to be a doúcheflúte. He tends to be kind of loud when he comes to pick up his kid, and he often gives other parents a lot of crap. MrsLarijani saw him chiding another parent for not being signed up for the 5K, as if trotting for 3.1 miles makes you some great athlete.

Me: “Are you saying you want me to wear my Ironman finisher shirt tomorrow?”

MrsLarijani: “YES! I WANT YOU TO WEAR IT!”

Me: “I won’t be the fastest runner out there, but leave us out there long enough and I could bury most of their asses.”

MrsLarijani: “True story.”

It had been my intention to retire that shirt, as I only planned to wear it to triathlon club-related functions. But hey…if it gets a loudmouth to shut up, it might be worth getting it out.

Beth Moore Goes Full SJW

I’ve never had any use for Social Justice Warriors (SJWs), leftists who gain power via threat, intimidation, bullying, and shaming. Their modus operandi is Marxist, their playbook written by Stalin, Mao, and Alinsky. They have targeted–sometimes successfully–academics, military officers, corporate CEOs, columnists, talk show hosts, and public officials.

In the Christian world, they have hijacked the mainline Protestant ranks and much of the conservative evangelical world. The Southern Baptist Convention is under assault both from the outside (#metoo and #churchtoo activists who are using this issue to promote a progressive agenda) and from within (SBTS President Mohler and ERLC PResident Moore, who are cozy with the LGBT-based Revoice Conference), by SJWs.

Of late, however, Beth Moore, the SBC superstar who has made Lifeway a powerhouse, has been the SJW poster child.

The issue here is not her disdain for President Trump; that is understandable, as his “grab [women] by the pússy” comments alienated many otherwise fine Christian evangelical women.

Nor do I take issue with her calling out of male leaders in the evangelical world for their treatment of her in the past, although her theological fluffiness makes it hard for top-flight theologians and scholars to take her seriously in those realms.

No…my issue with Beth Moore is her latching onto the Marxist tactic of shaming men in particular cases, crucifying them for the sins of others. Here is her most recent example.

What bothers me about this? As a man, I owe her no apology for anyone else’s sin against women. I answer for my own sins. If I’ve objectified Beth, then that’s on me. If I’ve dismissed her on account of her sex, then that’s on me. But if John Doe does either, then that is his sin, not mine.

And if any of you ladies don’t like that, then tell me: do you owe the world an apology for the more than one third of all women who’ve murdered children in utero? Yes or no will do.

And yes, Beth, given that you now have shamed men into getting on their knees and apologizing for the sins of their gender against women, perhaps you can get on your knees at your next conference and cry out for forgiveness for the 60+ million children your gender has murdered.

Over and Out.

Ironman Chattanooga 2018: Bittersweet Victory

Three years ago, I experienced a major setback: I DNFd* at Ironman Louisville 2015.

To say it was a disappointment would be the most charitable assessment.  MrsLarijani had been such a great sherpa, only to see me miss the final turnaround cutoff time and get pulled at mile 17 of the run.

As a result. I had unfinished business. I owed MrsLarijani a finish. 

Like Julius Erving of those 1977 Philadelphia 76ers–who blew a 2-0 lead to the Portland Trailblazers–and like Jana Novotna, who blew a lead in the third set against Steffi Graf at the 1993 Wimbledon, and like Goran Ivanisevic–who pumped a record 37 aces past Andre Agassi in the 1992 Wimbledon Championship, only to come up short in 5 sets–I had a score to settle.

No, this wasn’t the NBA Championships, or Wimbledon for that matter.

I had a score to settle with the Ironman demon that torments every athlete on the second loop of the run. I call that demon IronBitch (heretofore referred to as India Bravo, or Ms. Bravo).

She waits patiently, usually somewhere past mile 10 of the run. But she is sadistic. She fights dirty. She will charm you and then plunge that knife into your heart as you begin to run out of gas.

This year, I signed up for Ironman Chattanooga. It is a 2.4-mile downstream swim, a 116-mile bike (4 miles longer than a standard Ironman), and a 26.2-mile run that features one of the toughest courses on the Ironman circuit. 

In other words, I scheduled my appointment with Ms. Bravo for September 30, in the city where I met MrsLarijani. I decided I would settle my score with Ms. Bravo once and for all.

I trained for that meeting for 5 long months.

I rode my bike trainer religiously, and included transition runs after my rides. I blocked off Saturdays for long bike rides. In the 4 months leading to Ironman, I had 11 rides of 6 hours or longer, including the 160-mile Ride Across INdiana (RAIN).

I rode 3 times a week, I swam twice a week. And after my rides, I added small transition runs. I also did long runs the day after my long rides.

And in my long runs, I simulated long distances on tired legs, just to get mentally prepared for my meeting with IB on the back half of the run.

I also tapered for 2 weeks instead of 3: I wanted to make sure I was at peak fitness going into the race.

I felt very good going into race week: I had a minor stomach bug a week out of race day, but that cleared up quickly. Then, during race week, Chattanooga received the unexpected “gift”.

HEAVY RAINS. From Sunday through Thursday.

The runoff–and the necessary release of 100,000 cubic feet per second of water from the dam–made the Tenneseee River a fast-moving cesspool of sewage. On Thursday morning, three days before the race, Ironman officials cancelled the swim.

At the same time, they made our lives harder, not easier, by (a) going to a time-trial start on the bike, and (b) enforcing a modified cutoff time for the finish.

With that news, I felt that my finish would have an asterisk, as an Ironman triathlon includes all three disciplines.

At the same time, you can’t control the weather. I decided I’d make the most of what was now an IronBrick. Besides, that run is pure brutality.


I started just before 9:40 AM. Temperature was mild, in the 70s, and it was overcast. There had been rain, but it cleared out just as I started. The first 30 miles were uneventful. I was killing it. I was ready; I had slept well the night before–got a full 8 hours of REM sleep–and was jacked.

Then, at about mile 35 of the bike, the clouds moved out, the sun moved in, the heat went up, and so did the humidity. I started feeling tired.

During the bike, I started out consuming Gatorade exclusively at every rest stop. But I felt like I was bonking at mile 50–very unusual–so I cut back on the Gatorade and went to water.

Success!!!!

On the second loop of the bike, no one passed me. I saw athletes WALKING their bikes up what seemed like otherwise mild hills. I also saw a fair number of folks who had flats or other mechanical issues. They looked defeated.

Still, I felt good on the bike, although I haven’t figured out how to prevent chafing. Body Glide is good but is still short of the glory. Oh well, a little chafing won’t ruin my day.

I finished the bike in 7:37, and, other than the chafing, felt great. I would have finished faster, but I had to stop to pee several times. I haven’t perfected the art of peeing in my pants while biking.

My goal for the bike was to have my legs ready for the run. Mission Accomplished!

I was also well-hydrated.

In transition, I was methodical: dried my feet, changed my socks, put on my running shoes, put on my race belt and back brace, and downed some gels and some water. 

I figured I had 7 hours to do the run. Even in the Hell that is Ironman Chattanooga, this was doable. 

Did I say I had my legs?

I was ready to OWN IronBitch; er, I mean Ms. Bravo.

Coming out of transition, I started slowly on the run: I jogged the grassy part coming out, then walked the uphill leading to the first bridge. I made a strategic plan to jog the downhills, walk the uphills, and run/walk the flats at a 50-step run/50-step walk pace. 

I kept it very methodical, and paid close attention to my heart rate (HR). Coming out of transition, my HR jumped into Zone 4 too easily, so I made it a point to err on the side of going easy in the early stages.

As the sun started to set, and I started to get more shade in the park, my HR went down to Zone 3 on the jogs and Zone 2 on the walks. SUCCESS!!!!

When I reached mile 10, where IronBitch–er, I mean Ms. Bravo–stabbed me 3 years ago, I felt great this time, even as the hills of the North Shore were getting brutal. When I pulled into the halfway point–three years ago I was defeated–I was looking forward to meeting Ms. Bravo this time.

I was looking for her, calling her name!

Other than needing to poop–which I did at mile 15–I felt good, even though I was clearly getting slower. The fatigue was coming, but it wasn’t the pale dread of bonking. I had beaten back Ms. Bravo’s minions. I wanted to fight her.

Doing the math, I knew I was ahead of schedule, but I didn’t want to get complacent either, because Ms. Bravo will make you pay for complacency. I knew what pace I needed to keep, and I was still on my target. Coming into mile 17, where I got pulled 3 years ago, I muttered, “Yippie Kiyay!”

I was tired, but I knew I was going to finish. I was jacked!

Yes, I had one more trip into North Shore for those hills.

Yes, it was going to suck.

But I was going to finish.

I saw those hills as a necessary evil. Every mile, I muttered, “Thank you sir, may I have another?” Then, with 5K to go, I spotted Ms. Bravo, the demonic killer of Ironman dreams, hiding in the bushes. She was crying.

She asked me if she could walk with me.

“I’ll take a HELL with the NO to GO…”

When I saw the marker for mile 25, I knew I was good to go. I was sore, but not that sore. I was tired, but it was more of an “I had a long day and I want to be done” kind of tired rather than an “Oh God please put me out of my misery!” tired. All I had to do was go up and over the bridge, make a turn, and head into the finisher chute.

The announcer at the athlete briefings had said 12:40 would be the cutoff. It was just past 12:20 AM. As I headed in, I looked for MrsLarijani. Then, as I approached the chute, I saw her. 

MrsLarijani: “Speed up, the cutoff is 12:30 AM!”

Me: “No, it’s 12:40, I’m fine!”

MrsLarijani: “Are you sure?”

Me: “Yep!”


The bad news: we were both wrong.

The good news: I still made cutoff!

(They implemented a flexible cutoff, but they were trying to account for the advantage that athletes would have received from the easy swim. They had said 12:40, then suggested giving all athletes 14:40 total to finish. They settled on 14:50. All athletes who finished with times over 14:50 were DNFd, which just means they didn’t accrue official points for Ironman-related programs. I beat it, but just within 5 minutes.)

As I crossed the finish line, the announcer looked at me, called my name–and he didn’t butcher my last name, as most people do–and yelled, “YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!”

It was anticlimactic. My feeling was more along the lines of, “Mission Accomplished!” MrsLarijani and I enjoyed the moment–Abigail was at the home of some friends and was sleeping–and headed out so we could get to bed.


In retrospect…

I ran the race I trained for. I figured the bike course would be hot and humid, and I had many long rides in hot, humid, crappy conditions. I was ready for that race.

And even though I had no long runs greater than 18 miles–and none of them with hills like North Shore–I trained in hot weather, and simulated running with tired legs. I kept a smart strategy of walking the uphills and capitalizing on the downhills, and it worked.

My final time was close to the cutoff, only because running is my weakest area due to my back, hip, and knee issues.

My mission was to get a decent bike performance that left me enough time to do a run within my physical limits. I did exactly that.

But there was something that stuck out from the race…

In the run, I was tempted many times to walk the flats on the second loop and instead chose to jog them.

Had I walked them, I would have been DNFd.

I believe that temptation to walk was Ms. Bravo trying to lure me into a backstabbing. And the conscious need to jog when I could, that was God yelling from the corner and warning me of the trick play.

Sure, there was no swim, and for that reason I feel like I still may have to attempt another race at that distance.

Still, after talking to several finishers who had multiple Ironmans under their belts, the word out was that, even without the swim, this was harder than most Ironmans.

I believe it.

Had this been Louisville, the bike course would have been slightly harder–but 4 miles shorter–but the run would have been a joke, as it is all flat. Where the Chattanooga run course took me 7 hours, I would have cleared the Louisville course in under 6. And the Louisville swim course, while tougher than Chattanooga, is still pretty easy.

As I process everything I went through to get to this point, I am pondering whether to sign up for another Ironman, just to get in all three disciplines.

My heart says, “Yes, this would be fun! I was ready, I can do this again!” And I must admit, flipping off Ms. Bravo was kind of fun.

On the other hand, my hips, back, and knees are screaming at me, telling me, “Why do you hate us so much???”

In addition, the risk of weather-related cancellations is always there: last year, I had a half-Iron triathlon cancelled due to storms. This year, Ironman North Carolina was cancelled due to hurricane damage in Wilmington.

Even though athletes were allowed to defer to another date, how would you like it if you trained for a big race, only to end up deferring to an “alternate” race in 6 months due to a storm-related cancellation?

And a full-Ironman can run about a thousand dollars.

Ultimately, this was an official finish, and it was my best ultra-endurance performance.

And I won my rematch with Ms. Bravo.


*DNF: Did Not Finish. It denotes someone who either (a) started the race and, due to a number of factors, did not finish, or (b) those who finished but missed an official cutoff time. Ironman events typically have stingy cutoff times. That’s part of the Ironman lore.

Ironman Chattanooga 2018: T Minus 30 Days

On October 10, 2015, I had one of the worst days of my life.

I DNFd (Did Not Finish) at my very first triathlon, Ironman Louisville–I was pulled at mile 17 of the run, with 9.2 miles to go, as I missed the cutoff time for the final turnaround.

I had spent 8 months, from ground zero, getting my swimming ready and that compromised me on the bike and run. I made the bike cutoff but trashed my legs. I had no legs coming out of T2 and bonked at mile 10. From there, it was a slow-motion train wreck.

The worst feeling was, after that, MrsLarijani bawling when I came up short.

I felt like the old Philadelphia 76ers after their 1977 NBA Finals loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. They blew a 2-0 lead, and lost in 6 games. It was bitter. The team took out ads: “We Owe You One!” Julius “Dr. J” Erving, the star of that team, was without a championship.

I was angry. No…angry is too soft. I was pissed.

Wanting to give MrsLarijani a break, I sat out 2016–did a half-Iron, some centuries, and an Olympic-distance triathlon. Last year, I planned on doing an Ironman, but Abigail and the Battle of NICU was my big endurance event last year. Abigail showed her Ironbaby creds.

This year, I signed up for Ironman Chattanooga. September 30 is D-Day.

I’ve been training like all get-out since April. 

I figured Chattanooga would be the fitting place to take care of business, as that is where I met MrsLarijani and that very area is where MrsLarijani and I spent plenty of time during our engagement.

As for the race itself, the swim is slightly easier than Louisville, the bike is about the same–not as hilly as Louisville, but 4 miles longer and hot temperatures can make it a killer–and the run is one of the toughest on the Ironman circuit.

This time around, I’ve been biking like crazy: 8 century rides so far, one of them 160 miles. I have 2 more planned (tomorrow and next Saturday) going into taper, with long runs on Sunday morning. (To put that in perspective: I had 5 going into IMLOU 3 years ago, but this time I’ll have double that. And a lot of long rides to go with that.) 

I haven’t been neglecting swimming or running, but Ironman–as I learned the hard way–is all about the bike. I’ve upped my swimming starting this week, and nailed a 90-minute swim this morning, adding a 15-minute transition run to it.

(Transition-running after every swim and bike has been a big part of my repertoire this time around. And my long runs have been the day after–not the week after–my long bikes. I’m not treating this like training for a marathon.)

My strategy going in is simple: take it easy on the swim and let the current be my friend, keep it steady on the bike to ensure that I have legs going into the run, and don’t get stupid on the run.

And when I’m going through Hell on the run, I’ll just mutter to Satan, “Yippie kiyay…”

It took the old Philadelphia 76ers team six years–which included two more losses in the NBA Finals and an embarrassing 7-game loss in the Eastern Conference Finals–to get their championship. And it was the one remaining player from that 1977 team–Julius Erving–who sealed it in game 4. 

That was a wonderful day: Doc had his championship, and the Sixers delivered on their “We Owe You One” promise.

My goal is to do the latter. And after that, to be able to stand.

I plan on being a “one and done” with the Iron distance. My back, neck, knees, and hips are reminding me to stick to activities that have little or no impact.

But like those Sixers of old, I have some unfinished business.

Here is the highlight video from last year’s Ironman Chattanooga.