11/6/10: A Good Day to Become An Ironman
The days leading up to the race included some stressful moments, certainly more stress than I would have preferred, but as they say, they don't call it "easyman." So I want to start this report by thanking Michele, Tammy and Glenn for helping me out! Long story short, on Thursday night I discovered that I didn't have my Garmin's HR strap and I'm an HR athlete who planned to ride in zones on the bike... fortunately for me Glenn E hadn't left yet so he and Tammy found me a strap (from Michele B). Whew!!! Crisis averted...
My next crisis occurred in transition race morning... I got my bike set up with water and feed bottle and borrowed a pump from a woman in my row. Front tire, no problem, back tire wasn't taking air. I tried to tighten the extender (had the Zipps) and I heard air releasing so I immediately stopped fiddling... tried to pump again, no luck – and tightened up the extender and went to the official air pump folks... he pumped the tires and I felt better... got my gear, put on my wetsuit... and its' ON time at last.
It was a very low tide and there was a sandbar on the starting side (last year it was as the swimmers came in), so they let us wade in quite a bit. I lined myself up - sort of middle of the pack and wide of the buoy line and the gun goes off, I walk in until I think I can start swimming and I go. It was messy, but not nearly as bad as I was expecting (or as bad as Timberman) – perhaps because there was so much more room to line up. The water was clear which made things a lot easier, I could see the feet in front of me and the people around me – to try to avoid the slugfest as best I could. I never felt violated... that's not to say I didn't get beat up, but I didn't let it bug me. I got slapped and kicked in the head a few times, had to roll over to adjust my goggles and let the water out a few times... I didn't sight much during the first loop because I was surrounded and felt pretty confident I was going to the right place.
I swam until I literally picked up a handful of sand, stood up, almost on shore and walked out and across the timing mat. Went through the water station, rinsed out my mouth... back in the water for lap two. I didn't start my watch (intentionally) for the swim so I had no idea of my time and didn't even look for the clock... Lap two was not nearly so crowded so I did have to sight a bit – but again not much because there were always people around me. Some more blows to the head and back floating to clear the goggles... but nothing bad.
Out of the water. No idea on the time. Honestly, I didn't really care. I punched the ticket and the race is now ON. Ran up the beach to the wetsuit strippers and they went to work. HOLY COLD. Wet skin and 40 degrees is a painful combination. Wet suit in hand I ran under the showers to get some salt off then the marathon that was T1 began. I was numb. Seriously freezing. Get inside, find an empty chair in the back, dumped my gear and got to work as best I could. Fortunately I had a towel so I wiped off my face and hands and feet... and started getting dressed. I was shivering. My hands were numb. I had trouble tightening the screws on my shoes and my helmet... a volunteer to help me with that. My hands couldn't physically do it. The volunteer packed up my bag, for which I thanked her profusely... then I was off, clomping my way out. Made a quick stop to get slathered with sunscreen and get my bike...
Hop on the bike then, within seconds, I knew something was wrong. I called out so the riders behind me would let me get over... and I get off my bike. I thought perhaps my bike got jostled and my brake was rubbing... then someone in the crowd (yes, I was still in the starting chute) said "you've got a flat." My response was very ladylike, I assure you. A flat. On the rear tire, of course! Spectators across the chute were cheering for me. Spectators on my side of the chute were coming up to wish me well. Racers were rolling by offering condolences in the form of "that sucks!"
I have no idea how long it took me to fix as I didn't start my watch yet – it felt like forever. Finally, I'm on my bike and actually starting the race. Feeling very proud that I got through the hurdle... but also praying like you would not believe that I would make it to special needs because I didn't have another spare tube on me... The ride was cold. Really cold. And windy. Now I can handle a 45 degree ride. And I can handle a windy ride. Heck, my last long ride at Ironman Vietnam was in those exact conditions... but the headwind was long and hard and even in the sun I could not warm up. I was not wearing enough because I assumed I would warm up after a few miles like I always do. I guess the combo of being wet, and the race day nerves, etc. just made it really hard... My teeth were chattering at mile 20. No joke. I was miserable.
Mile 10, stop to use the bathroom – no line, sweet. A volunteer held my bike and asked if I needed anything. Nice! At the mile 20 stop I see a very long line for the bathroom... ugh... mile 30 another line... hmm... that worried me because I was starting to feel nature calling and I didn't want to give away more time after the tire incident. So, I decide to give it a go (pun intended).... I stood up to stretch and coast and tried as best as I could to relax... success! Gross, definitely gross, but WARM nice and warm... As of mile 38 (I checked) I became a bike pee'er. Tuan had given me a tip the night before and I took his advice... at the next aid stop I grabbed a bottle of water and used it to clean myself off... still gross but a little less so! For the most part, other than my flat and earning a bike pee'er badge, the ride was uneventful.
All in all, I felt good with my ride. I stayed in zone most of the time, a few too high beeps (on the bridge and the rollers), a few too low beeps... and I knew I'd lost time because of the flat but I didn't do anything crazy and stuck with my plan. To be honest, I felt really happy. Not that I wanted to flat, but I got one and I handled it without blowing my CO2 or getting a pinch flat because I took my time and did things right – slow is smooth... The hiccup made me feel so much more deserving to become an Ironman! So, my ear to ear grin started early in the day. Well, it started after I warmed up and my teeth stopped chattering. I was having fun... this is a good day to become an Ironman!
T2... not sure why the heck it took me so darn long... seriously. I was cold, yes. My feet were wet and putting on my compression socks took some time... and then I stopped in the porta potty... but 10 minutes... hmm... that one confuses me. Oh well... it is what it is.
Early in the run a man ran by and asked if I knew the time of day... I hit a few buttons... 3:20. Wow... I'm right about on schedule and if I walked every step of the marathon I would finish. That was a very, very good feeling! At the first water stop I walked to take a gel and rinse it down with water – as I had in every race rehearsal and race this season... fairly soon after, my stomach revolted... I hit the bathroom at each of the next 4 aid stations... and I jogged between stations as best I could while racking my brain trying to remember advice I received about GI distress. I just hoped I would "reset" soon... I thought about it and decided soda would work. Tried some... then added pretzels. If I had lots of fluid sloshing around down there I needed to send some starch to soak it up. After the bathroom break at the aid station at mile 5 I finally started feeling okay.
Heading into town for the turn around I was super happy – spectators commented on my smile and cheered for me. I called out to one that it was a good day to become an Ironman because that's all that was going through my head. I was thanking everyone for being out there, I was encouraging the crowds to shake their cowbells (More Cowbell)!
I hit the turn, got my special needs bag and took a quick break to change my wardrobe. The EN jersey came off so I could put the long sleeve shirt on (over my armwarmers), then the jersey went back on. The reflective vest went on over... the headlamp went in the back and my gloves were in hand as I would need them soon enough... and I was rolling again.
Over the next few miles (maybe around 15), I started noticing things getting tight... not heavy quads like I'm used to in a marathon, but muscles tightening... but it was never so bad that I had to have a conversation with myself to keep going. I hit mile 18 and so far so good. I was not at the line... hoping it wouldn't come and continuing on living in the moment. I know I was slowing down at this point... walking the length of the aid stations... and sometimes doing high knees and butt kicks to stretch... a few times I did actually stop to do some quad stretches... getting tighter but never wanted to stop and walk – I wanted to be done, not be out there longer!
The back side of the park was crazy dark. I'm very, very glad I had my headlamp with me... even with the extra lights it was impossible to see in some places. Scary, actually... out of the park some of the neighborhood streets were also pretty dark... and there were some cars trying to get through and runners on both sides of the street... glad I had my vest on and my lamp with me... Finally I hit the last strip. I could see the lights and hear the emcee...I knew I still had 2 miles to go but I was getting close... and feeling really happy. Based on my Garmin, I picked up speed the last few miles... maybe closer to a 12 minute pace... the grin came back for sure... and I was just so amazed. I ran through the town, past the Summit, around the corner at Alvin's island, and into the long chute leading me to my goal. The music was blaring... the crowd was cheering... I pumped my fists and was just so elated. I didn't even hear my name called out, I was just so happy!
At 11:30 my brother and I went to watch the final finishers... which was just amazing! The music was blaring "tonight's gonna be a good night..." and it was the absolutely perfect song to bring them home... the perfect song to sum up my day because essentially that was my mantra all along: today is a good day to become an Ironman!
So, here's how it all turned out:
Swim: projected-1:15-1:30 / Actual-1:14:04 (this really shocked me)
T1: projected 6-7 / Actual - 12:10
Bike: projected-6:15-6:30 / Actual-6:32:26 (even with the flat, I'll take it!), 17.1mph avg
T2: projected 5-6 / Actual -10:50
Run: projected 4:30+ (absolutely no idea) / Actual 5:06:11, 11:42/mi avg
division place: 60/124
overall place: 1458/2402
My goal was 13-14 hours, hoping for closer to 13 (I figured I would take my Eagleman time, double it, and add an hour – that comes to just about 13 hours)... and that's pretty much exactly what I did. What is really amazing is that had it not been for the flat tire I might have broken 13! What a day. I still feel the glow...
Congrats! All you certifiable crazy people are inspiring.
I am sitting her debating on whether to go to a spinning class at lunch time. I will pee before class starts.
Great race! Congrats!!
Big congrats Becky! What a solid finish! You really deserve to relax and bask in the glow of this victory. Wear the aches and pains that you feel as a badge of honor. You not only achieved an incredible physical feat, but you inspired so many people to take on this IM journey! xoxo, Adriana & Matt