ok, i'm losing track here of all these chapters, so that must mean you are too. forget the chapters, i'm just going to finish things up. i was at the end of the 112 mile bike ride.
so...IMSG: the end.
I (happily) gave away my bike and ran into T2. I wasn’t DYING to get off the bike as I had thought I would be. My ride overall was much more comfortable than I had anticipated. My Colnago Flight fits me perfectly and I had no back issues or tightness (thanks to Nytro and my awesome fit from Danielle and Walt). Also, since I had worn my bike shorts (vs. tri shorts), no chafing or saddle issues whatsoever.
Anyhow, I ran into T2 and prepared for my final outfit change. I asked the volunteers for wet paper towels to wipe some of the bike grease and grime off me. Next time, I need to remember to put towels in both my bike and run bag. I changed into my lululemon speed shorts and Nytro women’s tank top and grabbed my lucky Zoot visor, Ultra TT shoes and red bull (with sugar! Not the sugar-free one!) and headed out for the 2-loop run. I had been nervous about trying the red bull for the first time on race day and the volunteer didn’t help by telling me that the last time she drank one it “went right through her”. Uh, thanks! But, I had nothing to lose and wanted to try all my stuff, so I ran out down Tabernacle street past all the crowds chugging my red bull. classy!
I passed James and a bunch of friends in town and my legs felt good- not at all like I had ridden the longest ride of my life. Still, I told myself that I didn’t have to run hard, just give it a good shot, and enjoy my backstage pass to the run “show”. I knew there would be some suffering out there and I wanted to see it! Somehow in my mind, I became more of a spectator than a racer. Slater always says, "You bring the popcorn, I'll bring the pain." I felt like this was my chance to bring the popcorn and the pain. I got to watch everything, no "worries" about winning, but also give it a nice shot at my best effort (which would intevitably involve pain). I was running along for the first loop, taking in everything along the way. All the racers, spectators, beatiful red mountain, and did my typical cheering for lots of friends. I saw some familiar faces near the end of their first run loop as I was starting mine and had a couple moments of, “that should be me” but I got over it. My plan was to run until I couldn’t run anymore. No walking the aid stations for fear I wouldn’t start again. I had 2 sleeves of clif blocks for my fuel and supplemented the whole way with water for the first half and then water and coke for the second half (I figured I should hold off on the cola since in had a sugar/caffeine bomb with the red bull). I also had one red vine somewhere along the way, but that’s it. There were just too many choices at all of the aid stations and I was in decision-paralysis mode each time and ended up focusing on making sure I didn’t miss the coke or water.
On the first loop of the run, I didn’t look at my pace at all, but I still held my garmin in my hand to watch heart rate (remember, it had broke on my way out of T1 so I couldn’t wear it on my wrist). I kept my heart rate between 150 and 155 even on the big hills. Since I had no pressure to catch up to someone ahead, I just decided to race according to plan (by heartrate and not blowing up!) . So when I was running up the hills at 9 or 10 minutes miles, I didn’t worry and knew that lots of that time would be made up on the downhills. The first lap was pretty fun because I kept a nice eye on the women’s race (pro and age group) and the end of the male age group race. The running was just a lot of up and down and up and down and keepin’ on keepin’ on. I think I have a talent for disconnecting my body and my mind in some aspects of racing. I just kept my legs moving, but was thinking about everything besides running. It was like watching a movie of myself. I think I was pretty highly caffeinated. So that was the first loop.
I came back into town to get special needs and start on loop two. I don’t think I took anything from my run special needs bag, and I tossed it to james. I looked down at my watch at 13.1 miles and it said 1:40. Sweet. I was running on pace for sub 3:30 on a challenging course and I felt good. I was certain it was too good to be true.
But, that is when MY race began. I decided I was going to try my hardest run sub 3:30 and I set off on loop two. I was pretty nervous because you hear about how that last half is just torture. I kept my plan going and ran through all the aid stations and ran up all the hills keeping my heart rate in check. I started to feel like a bull in a china shop because the aid stations were mini cocktail parties and I was just plowing through. At one point, heading on to red hills parkway at mile 16-ish, I jogged up the big hill and saw about 50 people. I was the only one in sight running. The longer I ran, the more disoriented I became. It was very windy up there (some people were wearing the space capes) and the scenery all blends in after a while (lots of red hills on that red hills parkway!)- sometimes I had trouble conceptualizing where I was on the course, thinking, “Wait. Did I do the out and back nubby part yet?” and things like that. The miles came and went and I kept chugging along. Okay, don't kill me for this part. I have to say that I never felt bad. I kept waiting for it and it never came. I just kept keepin’ on keepin’ on (that’s what was going through my head). I didn't feel like I was running for 3+ hours. It felt like a 2 hour run.
The aid stations and volunteers were all awesome and had lots of good music pumping. As I went through and would pick up a tune (some Ke$ha and some Lady Gaga) I would start singing it and smiling. I did lots and lots of thanking and hootin’ and hollerin’. Heck, this was Ironman and it was fun and I was doing it! It wasn’t hard to be happy, there were so many people cheering me on and saying I looked great (I did have a nice backdrop of people walking so I think I looked extra fast in comparison) . I was surprised to get to mile 23 and realize that I was going to finish and finish strong and I started to think about how I couldn't wait for my next Ironman. And if I didn’t blow it, cruise in under 3:30. The last few miles were totally out of body. My legs just kept rolling and the gradual downhill and super loud and packed final mile just made you float to the finish.
I crossed the line and felt great.
My volunteer “catcher” was Vivian and she was this super cute older woman. James came around the finish before they took me away (why do they do that- to make sure you are ok?) and gave me a kiss.
I had told james before the race that I would be happy to run under 4 hours on that course in my first ironman. As Slater would say, I crushed my own dreams and ran a 3:23 (7:47 pace). This ended up as the fastest amateur run time and 4th among the pro women. Never would I have imagined that I could run that on that day. Even with a few more years, I doubt any ironman marathon experience will be as fulfilling as this one. Its not because I ran more quickly than I thought, more so that even when I was down and not “winning” that I still acted like a winner and gave it my best shot. It is extremely rare that I am ever proud of myself. In life, I work hard , and I expect that the hard work will result in good results, whether it be athletic or professional or whatever.I also think that hard work in itself is an expectation and given, not something exceptional or that one should be proud of. But for me, this race was more than just execution of hard work; it was not giving up and not even halfway giving in. I'm proud of being resilient in that race and only hope that if life throws me curveballs much greater than a simple mechanical at ironman, that I handle them with the type of resilience I learned on May 1st.anyway. when's kona?