As I ran out of the chute in transition onto the run course, I immediately saw my coach and he asked how I was feeling while he ran alongside me. I had no idea what to say… I couldn’t feel my fingers, the bike was a nightmare (I am still slightly traumatized by how scary it was), my nutrition was a huge mess because I couldn’t drink… and I chose the least important one and said ‘I can’t use my hands!’, he assured me they would warm up and to just relax and settle into my pace. So that is what I did. One mile at a time.
I stopped around mile 4 to pee, I tried peeing while running but it wasn’t happening, so I ducked into a porta potty as quickly as I could (I was on a mission with a goal marathon time since my swim and bike kind of went out the window). I would out after a minute and was back on the course, running around high 8’s/ mid 9’s. I had one more bathroom stop (due to a very angry stomach, which I wasn’t surprised about since I had eaten all kinds of weird gel flavors on the bike), around mile 10 but was in and out in under 2 minutes – remember, I was on a mission! Except for the bathroom breaks, after the first mile I was able to pretty quickly get in a zone, just focusing on each mile, taking gels and salt when planned and getting water at each aid station.
As I was heading back towards the finish line to complete my first loop, I saw my teammate Mike, who I hadn’t seen all day and was starting to worry about, but he waved and looked in good spirits which was such a relief. Right before the turn around I saw my parents and JMR and waved and shouted to them (no high fives or hugs this year, I was using almost all of my energy to just focus on the run and stay on pace) and hit the turn around in a little over 2 hours, which I was thrilled about, on track for a run PR!
I headed back out, feeling good but was starting to feel a little tired. I saw my parents and JMR again, and waved but shouted at JMR to run with me. I needed someone to talk to or just be with to get outside of my head. However when he finally came over and jogged next to me, I didn’t know what to say. I kind of wanted to cry, but wasn’t sure why and just said ‘this is hard!’. After running with him for a minute or so I realized I just needed to focus and get the remaining 13 miles done. I think I was hoping running with him would give me some magical boost, but sadly I realized I would have to find it from within if one even existed at this point. So I parted ways and put my head down, just focusing on moving forward.
I had done a good job taking my gels at the planned times during the first half of the run, but now my stomach was sloshy and gels sounded like a horrible idea. I decided to switch to just water and coke, and I managed to always drink just a bit too much at each aid station, causing my stomach to slosh for the next .5 miles, then it sort of settled, then I would hit the next aid station and it would happen all over again. Nothing unusual for me though, that always seemed to happen (I think I need to to learn to reign in my thirst and not chug) but maybe the cold weather = not sweating as much, wasn’t helping.
Right around the turn around on the back of the course (mile 19ish?) the sun had set and it was getting pretty dark out. Ugh. I find running in the dark in general to not be fun, but to do it at the end of an Ironman with not a lot of people around you is really not fun. There were hardly any spectators and it was mostly just the sound of feet shuffling. So as I had been doing for the run, I just took it mile by mile. With 3 miles to go, I thought ‘dear lord, still three miles?!’ It seemed so far. Still I kept moving forward and with 1.5 miles to go, I felt the energy coming back. I was going to finish. I looked at my watch to confirm, and I was pretty sure I was close to a marathon PR. So I kept pushing. Then I heard the sounds of the crowd as I turned the corner to make a left and then a right, where I would head down the finish chute. It was so close I could taste it. I also wanted that marathon PR, one piece of redemption from the day. So I hauled ass once I hit that red carpet (and made sure I wasn’t ruining someone’s finisher photo, if I was going to place in my AG that would have a been a different story). I heard my name, I did it.
Run Time: 4:10:16
Total Time: 11:27:55
I was wisked away by a wonderful volunteer, where I got my medal and finisher photo (yep, still a deer in headlights, I think it’s inevitable in my finisher photos). I saw my coach and his wife and talked to them for a couple of minutes, and then met up with JMR and my parents for hugs. It was weird though, I didn’t have the same feeling of accomplishing something crazy like I did when I finished my first IM. I also didn’t have the feeling of ‘hell yeah’ when I PR’d on the tough IMWI course. I just felt happy and relieved that I got through all of the hurdles the day gave me and finished in one piece, and a little like ‘what just happened?’. We headed back to the hotel so I could shower and change while my dad and JMR kindly went to pick up my bike and transition bags. Once I was clean and they made it back to the hotel, we grabbed a quick dinner at the restaurant at our hotel and called it a night. I had debated going back out to watch the final finishers, but I was still so cold and couldn’t will myself to get back out in the cold again.
When I went to bed, I was already feeling like I wanted redemption. I thought maybe I was frustrated that my total time didn’t mean much to me because the swim had been cut short. Then I thought maybe if I had just HTFU’d on the bike and pushed harder I would have felt better about the race…but going back to how I felt at that time, I was doing the best I could to just keep moving forward. I had PR’d on the run, so that gave me a little satisfaction, but that didn’t completely smooth over the burn I felt from all of those mornings in the pool and all of those hard sessions on the bike. But I kept coming back to the same thought, at least I finished. So if anything, I had this race in my toolkit to use in the future, learning what mental toughness I have when the going gets tough. Yeah that sounds cheesy, but it helped me sleep that night, lol.
The next morning I was up fairly early and decided to head over to the Ironman Merchandise tent just to check out the finisher gear. Well, we all know how that went. I bought 2 t-shirts and a long sleeved top. I felt like I had just survived a traumatic event (the bike for me 100% was) and wanted a reminder of that! After giving away too much money to IM, I met my coach, his wife and my teammate Mike for breakfast where we recapped the events of the day and talked about 2019 goals.
IMLOU…will I be back for redemption in 2019?
I have a lot of goals for 2019, but I’ll save that for another post!