Two days ago, this happened:
Truth be told, I am still not thinking clearly. Within 13 hours and 2 seconds, there was what felt like a lifetime of thoughts, experiences, highs and lows.
I wish you could read the dialogue that was going through my brain at times. It fluctuated from “this isn’t so bad” to “this sucks balls” to “I’m going to throw up” to “I’ll never do this again” to “this is the best day ever” to “I haven’t peed in 10 hours” to “my feet are on fire.”
The morning was uneventful. The usual race nerves. I had some talk in the porta potty line with someone and we both agreed that we don’t get how people cannot poop before a race. I am usually so wound up I drop the kids at the pool at least three times.
Here is a pre-race pose with the man who has now seen me through 2 Ironman races in the past 9 months and has been nothing less than supportive, patient and kind as I’ve been consumed, obsessed and I’m sure at times selfish.
Ready to go. Pretending to look relaxed.
Heading out to the swim with someone who prefers a Speedo to a wetsuit. Ready. Set. Go.
I don’t have much to say about the swim. I treated it like a race day warm up and took it easy. I drank and gagged on a ton of reservoir water and am pretty sure e-coli is now part of my DNA.
Swim 2.4 miles: 1:22
I got my wetsuit stripped off by a kind young man. I think he smoked a cigarette afterwards. Transition #1 was smooth and fast. Onto the bike, and feeling good. I am SO glad that I trained on this course as much as I did. It is tough and knowing what to expect was the key. In all, I did not stop pedaling the entire 112 miles. I never stopped to pee, I biked through the aid stations and I did not get my special needs bag. I wanted to be DONE.
Bike 112 miles: 6:09 (18.2 mph pace)
Off the bike and onto the run I felt like a million bucks.
2 miles into the run I felt like $.01.
The reality of running 26.2 miles on concrete in 85 degree heat after what I had already done, was slightly daunting and infuriating. By mile 2, my feet were so numb, I felt like I was running on blocks of wood. I kept taking off my shoes and running barefoot holding them, hoping to regain some circulation. No luck. When they were not numb, they were on fire. Burning. Blisters were starting to form. I knew I had 24 miles to deal with this crap.
The good news is that the mind seems to only be able to focus on one form of suffering at a time. Once I started getting really nauseated, I stopped thinking about my feet and focused on not throwing up.
Then I would get really uncomfortably hot and miserable and stop thinking about how nauseous I was and how much my feet hurt.
I tried to smile at mile 6 because it felt better than crying, although I thought about doing that too.
At mile 12, I got my special needs bag and changed my socks hoping that would help my feet. It didn’t. At mile 14 I found some Vaseline at an aid station and thought it would help my feet. It didn’t.
At mile something I was running up the canyon in the heat and was having trouble breathing. This made my feet, nausea and heat exhaustion disappear. Funny how not being able to breathe trumps everything. For a few moments I actually thought I might have to get medical help. Fortunately, that went away once I started down the canyon.
Around mile 20 I saw this, and got some perspective.
The thing that was different about this run than Florida was that EVERYONE was walking. I think the bike and heat really did most people in.
Finally and after over 5 hours of running/walking I knew I was getting close to the finish. I heard someone yell, “You have 200 yards to go!” I picked it up. I knew I was close to 13 hours and really wanted to have the number “12” in front of my time.
Coming into the finish, I managed a couple of cartwheels. My form sucks, but what do you want from me?
Here is my best post-cartwheel pose.
In all the run took me 5:19 or so. Ugh!! That was 5:19 of pure suffering and not much joy. But damn if the joy didn’t come when I crossed the line in 13 hours and TWO seconds (I would by lying if I told you I wasn’t pissed about those 2 seconds. Must.Let.It.Go).
My feet hurt so bad I left my shoes at the finish line. I never want to see them again.
The stats: 19th out of 134 in age group! 133 out of 759 women! 750 out of 2814 total finishers!
Hot dog I am proud of being 19th!!
After the race Sam told me I looked like a corpse. White face. Milky eyes. Nice. I felt like one too.
Damn if I didn’t have the best support crew ever. Every one of these people has given me such support along this journey and on race day. Each person has provided something unique to me that I could not do without.
From left to right – my mom, Nicky, Kathy, Joie, Ken, Sam, Emma, my mother in law (Peg) with my father in law (John) behind her, my sister in law (Jen), Erika, Julie (on crutches!) and my dad!
Also – kudos to my fabulous training group – Fast Forward Sports and to the best training partners ever – Leigh, Mark, Ken and Marie. You guys kept me sane and laughing my ass off! Very important. Lastly, huge thanks to X2 Performance for sponsoring me in this race and for supplying me with that extra bit of help with recovery and performance!
Because I still feel sore and crappy I am not in the best place to totally process this race.
I will say that I have never dug so deep in my life. I never once thought about quitting, but I sure suffered. While I was in a race with 3,200 people, it was essentially up to me and only me to get this done. I realized once again that pain, discomfort, and suffering does not mean that I have to stop and give up. It just means I have to accept the moment and endure. It is in these moments that I know I am stronger than I think I am. Not just in the middle of an Ironman, but in life. We often don’t give ourselves enough credit for being able to do hard things, to come through the darkness and to be okay on the other side. Ironman for me mirrors life in a lot of ways. It’s made me stronger beyond measure.
With that said – it’s time to stop suffering for awhile, right?
I can’t thank you enough for being on this journey with me, sharing the highs and lows of my training and providing so much support when and as I needed it. I have treasured your comments, emails, and messages. So, thank you!
SUAR (Ironman x 2!)