When I left transition I wasn’t sure where the timing mats actually started for the run, I heard a beep when I left the changing area, but thought it officially started once we exited the parking garage, however there weren’t any there. Well darn, then I guess it was after the changing area, so I started my watch and figured once I hit the first mile marker I’d know how much it was off. As we ran up the small hill out of the parking garage transition there were crowds lining the route, and I saw Jimmy and my parents and gave them a wave! Then I was off, passing the capitol through downtown, passing crowded streets, and feeling GOOD. I guess my legs were going to show up! I was so worried during the bike HOW I was going to do this run after biking at a good effort, but once I got back into transition my mind just went into autopilot, I did what I needed to do and just moved! And now I was passing the first mile marker feeling good! I noted my watch was .25 off, so when calculating times I would add 3 or so minutes to be on the safe side.
As the first few miles went by I saw my splits in the low 9’s but was feeling good, so I just focused on keeping a good effort and going with that pace. The cooler weather and clouds made for perfect running weather, but I was glad I still had my handheld to just take sips of my skratch hydration as my stomach wasn’t a fan of Gatorade endurance. I got to Observatory Hill and chugged up it, I told myself ‘no walking this first loop’. Then we ran back into downtown, which I remembered would be a huge energy boost with all of the crowds there, and it certainly was! Then I headed back through and was in a zone running on the path along the lake, so much so I almost missed seeing my friend/coach’s wife as we crossed paths at an aid station.
Soon I was getting close to the turnaround in the park along the lake, I hated this part of the loop, it just seems to go forever. Once past the turnaround I headed back into downtown, still feeling great and pretty darn excited. When I ran past the capitol I saw my mom and coach, he ran with me for a bit giving me a short pep talk, and then I saw Jimmy and my dad as I headed towards the finish line to turn around for the second loop.
As I turned around and headed back for the second loop, I was excited and a little freaked out. I was running a little faster than I had expected to (I mean, it was the goal pace, but I haven’t had many IMs where that worked out to be true), but with the cooler weather and my legs feeling good, I wasn’t going to slow down as long as I was feeling ‘comfortable’ and not pushing it. I waved to my family as I passed them again and then went back to trying to just focus on the mile I was in. I took my third gel around mile 14 and around mile 15 my stomach wasn’t happy. It was a caffeinated gel so maybe that was why, but also I think my body just had to go. So at the mile 16 aid station I dashed into the porta potty, and then shortly after was back on the run course, but running a little slower in fear of my stomach getting angry again. I decided at this point no more gels, that just skratch hydration and coke (I had started drinking coke pretty early on in the race) will probably be enough nutrition for the 10 miles left. After another mile I realized my legs had lost a little of their pep and I was struggling to run in the low 9’s and high 9’s was getting to be a more do-able pace. Bummer. I didn’t check total race time yet because I didn’t want to stress myself out, and instead just run what my body was capable of. I decided I would check with six miles to go.
This loop there was a little walking during aid stations (sloshy stomach), and a little walking up observatory hill, but mostly still running, just at a slower pace. When I got to mile 20 I decided to see where I was with overall time, 11:15, so after doing the only math I could at the moment (increments of 10 minute pace, ha) that if I kept up at 10 min pace I would come in around 12:15 or so, which made me very happy to see. With my swim and the long transitions I figured sub 12 wasn’t going to happen, but I was thrilled to at least finally get a PR and closer to the times I thought I was capable of. That gave me a little more pep in my step and I was able to push the paces a little, but nowhere close to low 9’s.
Soon I was headed back towards downtown, I pushed the pace but could feel my body struggling and was worried I wouldn’t make it the final three miles, so I slowed down back to high 9’s for the last two miles. I remembered during my 50k with 1.5 miles left, my legs literally quit on me. I couldn’t run at all and walking was hard, and I didn’t want to get to that point so I just kept the run pace that felt like I was pushing but not redlining. When I made the turn to go up the hill to the finish, I was overcome with a wave of ‘holy sh!t I’m going to finish this! In daylight! With a PR!’ and turned up the pace. I went flying down the finisher chute, checking that no one was behind me, and then ran it in across the finish. I did it! Two Ironmans in one year, no injuries…and a PR. That was huge and those were my goals!
After I got my medal and finisher photo I met up with my parents and Jimmy, and they told me my time, 12:06 and I said “holy sh!t! what?!?!?!’ I had thought it was 12:15…bad math when running, very bad math, lol. I wish I had checked total time earlier than 6 miles to go so maybe I could have pushed a little more and maybe gone sub 12, but then again, maybe that was all I had. Regardless I was so thrilled with a 46 min PR on a tough course- a legit swim, hilly bike and not flat run.
We chatted for a bit telling stories about the day – from my racing perspective and their spectating ones, it was quite the day! Then I started getting super cold, so we decided to skip meeting for dinner and Jimmy and I went to pick up my bike and gear bags and head back to the hotel. I was tired and wired, what a day. I really couldn’t believe it, it wasn’t perfect but everything for the most part came together and I was able to race to the ability that I had shown in training and that I was thrilled about. When I got back to the hotel and checked official splits times, I was shocked to see I was 9th on the bike for my age group, that was a huge improvement for me! I also ended up 9th overall in my age group, which I was also pretty happy about. All of those early mornings…all of those long bike rides, painful runs…all worth it!
Now it’s time for a little break from structured training. I’m signed up for some ‘fun’ running races, a Halloween 5k and a Hot Chocolate 15k in December, but other than than I’m just going to take it easy for bit and give my body a little break after the big season it had this year 🙂