May 27, 2024
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May 27, 2024
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Ironman World Championship Nice 2023: Part 2

The Ironman bike course that scared me due to its elevation. (Credit: David Roher)

No Shabbos observant Jew had ever competed at the Ironman World Championships and I was about to get that shot. But first … I had to get here.

I opened my email at 5 a.m. and saw, “Hi David, Congratulations! You are now ready to finalize your registration for the 2023 Ironman world Championship in Nice, France…”

I stood in disbelief. This was really happening. I was going to worlds. I woke my wife, Janet. It was 5:15 a.m. and we were both jumping and exclaiming, “We’re going to worlds! We’re going to worlds!”

And that’s when the world came crashing down around me…

Well, not exactly. I went to work, keeping in mind that I had just hurdled the one obstacle that was keeping me from my dream of going to the world championships. I knew that when moments like these happen, I pivoted from worry to elation and my endorphins ramped up to a 1,000.


So, that part of my brain that filters my thoughts to my mouth gets run over by my excitement.

(Like when your wife said about you, “Get on board, get out of the way or get run over?”)

Worse. My OCD gets ramped up and I’m liable to say anything that comes to mind.

The coffee stained chart I devised that no matter how I twisted my math I could not find an extra 10 minutes to make it off the bike course before being disqualified. (Credit: David Roher)


This used to be an issue before.

(How big an issue?)

Robin Williams level.

(How do you still have a job?)

I’ve trained myself to notice the signs of this euphoria and pause before I start speaking.

(How do you do that?)

I pause, and listen to how my thoughts might sound to someone not in my head.

(Like me?)

Like you. There’s a flowchart in my head.

(That sounds uncomfortable.)

It folds up.

(Oh, OK.)

But the chart is a step-by-step of options on how to proceed based on the reactions I get when I speak.

It’s similar to the scene in the first “Terminator” movie when Arnold uses a drop-down menu of options of responses to questions.

(Why do you do this?)

Because when I get excited my OCD brain starts to play connect the dots.

(The dots?)

My son Eric calls it a “neurotypical” thing. It’s like when Rabbi Bashevkin gives a class and I want to tell him how my mind made a connection to every single example he mentioned during those 30-minutes.

(You become “Michael” from the show “The Office.”)

It’s more like Sheldon from “The Big Bang Theory.” So, yeah, I have taught myself to consciously slow down my thoughts, listen and respond.

(So, what happened when you got to work?)

I told my work friends, they congratulated me, I thanked them and then I sipped my coffee.

The more detailed elevation chart where at mile 27, the 13 mile climb elevation went as steep as 9%!!! (Credit: David Roher)

(So, when did the world come crashing down around you?)

After I got home. I sat down and looked at the bike course again. The more I thought about it, the more I worried that I had bitten off too much, and there was no way I could complete the bike course in time.

(But you survived Ironman UK, with its 12,000 feet of climbing. This was only 10,000 feet.)

Ironman UK had three loops totalling 12,000 feet, which I barely survived. This was a 13 mile climb into the mountains. Some sections were 4%.


Other sections of the 13 mile climb were 9%!

(How bad is that?)

If you have ever driven from Teaneck to Fort Lee, up Fort Lee Road, that’s 9% … for only ¾ of a mile!

I sat down and graphed out the sections of the 112 miles of biking. I had to reach the top of the mountain by 1 p.m. or I was done.

(How far into the course was that?)

Mile 40 of 112.

(You had four hours, half the allotted time to go a third of the distance?)

Yup. Even if I made it to the top by 1 p.m. I had four and a half hours to travel 72 miles.

(That averages out to 16.25 miles per hour. What is your best bike finish at an Ironman?)

My best was 15.25 mph back in 2014. I was in trouble.

David Roher is a USAT certified triathlon and marathon coach. He is a multi-Ironman finisher and veteran special education teacher. He is on Instagram @David Roher140.6. He can be reached at [email protected].

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