This is a LONG post, so I hope you are hydrated and fueling well.
I come out of transition from the bike and at this point I have been racing for about 7 ½ hours. The longest race I’d ever done before this was a half ironman and that took me 5:43, so this was a bit excessive. AND, I still have a marathon to complete. Whoever invented this race (Mr. Ironman? Sir M-Dot?) must have been drinking heavily at the time.
My nephew, J.J., takes this picture as I am starting the marathon. I am having a grand time. I am in denial.
This is some little jig I like to do while double-fisting Dixie cups of water.
I have no strategy for the run except to run as much as I can while staying aerobic and keeping my heart rate under control. I plan on walking through all aid stations, which will be every mile. This plan works pretty damn well for the first half of the marathon. I cruise along, not very speedily mind you, but still running, if you can call it that. I alternate Perform and water. I try to take a GU around mile 8, but realize I am done ingesting any solid foods. My stomach just can’t handle it and I’d prefer not to crap myself.
I do my fair share of farting and it isn’t as if I can control it. They just squeak out and those behind me just have to deal with it. I’m kind of nervous to trust a fart at this point, but with each step my ass is a motor and I can’t stop it. Plus, it makes me feel better.
At mile 2, I come up on Mirinda Carfrae (aka Ironman World Champ- even if she is hours ahead of me passing her was kind of surreal) who is on her second loop. She is walking and eating a bag of potato chips. Love her. I say “hi” and try not to crop dust her as I shuffle by. A mile later she blows by me doing at least a 7 minute mile. Those chips must have done the trick. I think her marathon was 3:30 and she wasn’t even “racing” that day.
The marathon is two loops. Basically racers go out and back twice. This makes it easy to break it up in my head into 4 sections and keeps the distance manageable in my brain. After about 2 ½ hours I am back at the half way point. That’s when I see my family and friends. I get to hug them and get a little boost.
I’m not happy at all.
Big Jim is pretending he is on a balance beam or something. He’s such a gymnast.
I get so excited from seeing those guys that I pick up the pace. Only 13 miles to go! I’ve got this! I’m cruising! Life is good! Oh God, I think I’m going to puke.
Mile 14 brings me to a standstill. I am so nauseous I can hardly move. Maybe I am pregnant. My lower lip is buzzing, trembling and vibrating (weird, I know!). By this time lots of spectators in the neighborhood are drunk and dancing around me as I come through. I am not in the mood for this shit. Some girl with a whip wants to have her way with me, but I give her the look of death. Move or I will puke on you.
It is all I can do to keep from hurling. I start walking. I see some girl in the same condition I am standing by the side of the road with her finger down her throat. I remember what Sharpie said, “If you feel sick or really low, do something different. Dial it back a bit.” At the next aid station I try some Coke. Nope. Didn’t work. Still sick. At the next one I try a few sips of chicken broth. Within 2 minutes I am better, just like that. I start to run again.
I’m not going to lie. The last 10K of the marathon is kind of brutal. The nausea has returned, but not quite as badly. My feet are killing me. It is pitch black. A guy beside me stops on the side of the road and hurls his guts out like nothing I’d ever heard before. You all know I have a total vomit phobia, so this kind of takes me to my edge. People are moaning, talking to themselves, limping. Even then I can totally grasp why this day has the reputation it does. It breaks you down in every way possible.
At mile 24 I can hear it. I can hear the announcer telling people “YOU ARE AN IRONMAN” as they cross the finish. I knew I was close. I let myself believe for the first time that day that it is really going to happen. I am going to finish. And, in under 13 hours. I always thought I would do somewhere between 12 and 13 hours, so this is good news.
I round the last corner, a ½ mile from the finish. Some crazy lady I’d never seen before jumps onto the course screaming my name. She tells me “I have Sharpie on the phone!” No shit. I take the phone in time to hear Sharpie howling in my ear, “You’re doing it! You had your perfect day! I cannot believe this. Oh my god, oh my god!” I hand the phone back and make my final sprint to the finish.
I spot my mom, dad and friends along the side and hear them screaming for me. As I approach the finish I see Ken and the kids right by the end in the VIP tent.
Finish Time: 12 hours, 50 minutes.
43/120 in 45-49 age group
1457/2891 overall (keeping in mind 2,100 of them were men! Go vagina power!)
I do look a little green if I say so myself. These two are the most welcome sight after almost 13 hours. My offspring! Their patience with me on this journey has been amazing. They “get” what it means to me. I am thankful for them and to them.
How do I put into words this experience? It is more of a feeling than something that can be contained to a few sentences. The greatest lesson has been in learning that I don’t have to be afraid of anything. And, that I can do anything.
Almost every step of this journey was a leap into the unknown. The unknown can be terrifying, but you know what? It is also exhilarating and makes you feel alive. The unknown is a thrill in its own way. I suppose the Ironman is not simply a bucket list item. It is the opportunity to look at yourself differently and to know what you are truly capable of.
Where to begin thanking all the wonderful, “it takes a village” supports in my life? First and foremost is this guy:
Having a spouse who is training for an Ironman must suck at times. You are tired, distracted, overwhelmed. Ken never waivered in his support of me. He ran and biked along side me. He never questioned that I could do it. He was there to come get me on the side of the road when my bike broke. He rubbed my feet. He made me popcorn with lots of butter at night. Quite simply, he was always there. My rock.
This cute couple, aka SUAR’s parents:
My mom and dad (aka Big Jim) never failed to check in, to ask how my training was going, to make me huge meals and to step in to help out when I needed them.
These two girls, Clair and Erika.
Good friends are hard to come by, and these two are as good as it gets. I don’t have a sister. But, they are the closest I will ever come to that. I love them both more than I can say.
My in-laws, nephew and his wife, Ashley. They made the long drive to be in Panama City and seemed to be more excited for me than I almost was for myself.
My X2 Performance Team:
None of this would have happened if X2 hadn’t accepted me onto their team. They’ve been a great support along the way and I have met some incredible people. For 4 ½ months I drank a 2 oz bottle of X2 every morning. I know without a doubt it helped with my energy levels, performance and most of all recovery.
She pushed me. She gave me detailed, customized and tough workouts. She listened to me freak out. She talked me off the cliff when I was doubting myself. She made me laugh until I nearly peed myself.
Mr. Bob became a mentor to me. He’s been doing Ironmans since before it was cool. He put me back together when I was injured, but more importantly he gave me so many nuggets of wisdom to take with me on the course (the best being – when things get tough, do not always assume they are going to get worse).
All those people at home (you know who you are!! xxoo) who spent 4 ½ months checking in with me, running with me (Joie!), biking with me (Leigh and Barb!) and pushing me along with words of encouragement.
Lastly, YOU GUYS. Seriously. You built me up, kept me honest, made me laugh and believed. I feel like you are all my giant support group. Thanks for taking the journey with me, for stalking me on race day, for your comments, your messages…all of it!!
God, I sound like I just won an Oscar or something. Self indulgent a bit?
Thanks for reading this long and drawn out series of reports. Now go do something you are terrified to do and BE ALIVE!