So here we are, into the last post for this race report. I will do another post after this one of just pictures from the weekend including the race. Let's get this party started.
After coming off of the bike and out of T2 I felt good. The cramp in my left leg had started to go away, and I had definitely fueled up for the run between the last few miles on the bike and what I took in during T2. I was probably pushing somewhere between a 9:30-10:00/mile pace for close to the first mile. I was feeling pretty good.
And then the wheels started to fall off...
Between the last 30 minutes of the bike where I was cramming down the nutrition I did not evenly space out, the gel and the half PBJ in T2, the fact that I was taking something in every aid station (besides just water) for the first three miles, and that I had not had the amount of electrolytes I needed in the last hour and a half, my stomach and body started to shut down. Between miles 2 and 3, I was in walk/run mode, more walking than running. My stomach was doing back flips, and every time I got into jogging, I felt like I was going to get sick. Add to that my lack of training due to graduate school this last year (doing both of those at the same time = bad idea!) and I was also plain worn out.
Needless to say this is where my mental game went south. I had already compartmentalized the entire day into pieces, and I was doing the same on the run. Out and back two times for the run = 4 segments. However only halfway through the first segment and the darkness started creeping into my brain.
Looking back at all of the races I have ever finished, which are all of them (there was only one I have pulled out of due to injury, but that was before race day) I have never "thought" I would DNF a race. I have done races at all conventional distances. Some were great finishes, and some not so great. However, this was the first time I thought I would not finish. Mentally I was in a BAD place. I have never had anxiety issues in my life, and I have never been clinically depressed, but in the next few miles I think I went through all of these emotions and more. Deep, dark places that your mind normally never wanders and consciously you never want to end up in those places. I could not get my brain to grasp the fact that, despite all I have gone through the past 12 months, that it would be OK if I did not finish.
Most people don't ever get to the start line... A little over 300 million Americans in the US and there will probably only be 61,000 people that will finish an Ironman in the 2012 race season (.02% of the population).
Finally I get past mile marker number 3 with my sorry walk/jog routine and before I hit mile marker #4 I run into Wes and Dee Dee. I smiled for the camera when Dee Dee took her picture, however, I was a hot mess. Wes walked with me for about 100 yards to cheer me up and assess the situation. He told me to get some electrolytes in my body and stay away from everything else but water until my stomach felt better. I had some salt tablets in my Fuelbelt so I took a few when I got to mile marker #4 and stuck with just water until I got to mile marker #7.
In the meantime, I had about 1/2 hour on my buddy mike coming out of T2, and by the time I had passed through mile marker #4 he came up on my right side and exclaimed, "Man, you really look like hell! Wes was not kidding when I saw him." I chuckled for a minute and then explained the situation to him. Mike stated his legs were beginning to feel a bit worn down from the race and that he had no problem run/walking with me for the remainder of the race. I told him that I would oblige.
For some reason this was a big mental break that I needed. I could talk to my buddy now during the race, so I had someone to get my mind off what was going on with me mentally and physically. After about mile 7, my stomach began feeling better. The 2nd leg of my run was a bit faster on average that the first leg on the way out. As we hit the turn around for the 3rd leg to go back out, we saw Melissa and Mike's father cheering us on from one of the restaurants on the course. About that time they decided to head back to the transition site to go pick up our bikes and gear. Special needs was at the turnaround as well, and Mike got out his long sleeve shirt to wear on the second lap.
The weather was nice enough such that I had made a good choice not to wear long sleeves on the run, and only wear arm warmers on the bike. As we headed out for the 2nd loop, it began to get dark. We kept in our run/walk schedules, but we began walking a bit more than we were jogging at times. About mile 10 or so we turned on our headlamps since it had gotten dark. We also had reflective stickers on us so that we would not need any additional lighting to be seen during the race. I had begun taking in some additional nutrition besides water and Gatorade Perform at the aid stations. Some chicken broth here, bananas there, even some flat coke at a few aid stations. I finished my last salt tablet around mile 19 or so.
There were a lot of funny signs out on the run as well. Honey Badger signs were the hot theme this year and they were hilarious. If you don't know what the Honey Badger is, here is a link to YouTube where it all began. There were also the traditional signs, such as "Your Feet must HURT from kicking so much ASS!," "Nude Cheerleaders next mile," "Pain is Temporary, Race results posted online are FOREVER," and my favorite "CHUCK NORRIS..... Not an Ironman."
I ran through the motivational mile twice, and neither time did any of the special messages that anyone wrote down (including the one I wrote to myself) showed up. Kinda sad about that. On the way back, my legs were just really fatigued. The rest of my body felt good and mentally I even wanted to jog more than I was, however, my legs just were not having it. I saw April Burkey at the Tri-PTC tent on the way back in and yelled at her. I heard she had done really well at Beach2Battleship Triathlon the weekend before. Mike was going through the same motions. As we got closer to the finish we saw more and more people and the noise was getting louder and louder. People who had already finished the race and were headed back by us to go home for the night were cheering.
Mike asked me as we got close to the finish line who was gonna finish first. I told him, this was his first Ironman, and he helped me mentally through the run, so he could pass through first. He deserved it. We made the left turn onto Thomas Drive and it was a half mile to go. We picked up the pace a little bit and as we got to the final leg of the finish line and our names were being called out, I motioned Mike forward and he passed over the finish line right before I did, but so close that we got the same finish time.
Run Time - 6:15:56 (14:20/mi pace)
Overall Time - 14:17:51
Hooray! My second Ironman Complete! It was really funny at the finish line because when you go back and look at the pics, I should have either crossed the finish line at the exact same time as Mike, or I should have let him finish 5 seconds or more in front of me because he is kind of in my way for my finish line photos, LOL! The guy from the left has an OK shot of me, I am still kind of behind Mike, and the guy on the right does not even get me because I am all the way behind him. Oh well, lesson learned for the next time I do an Ironman ;)
I went through the finisher chute and got my medal/hat/mylar blanket/water/etc. A girl named Emily helped me out through the finisher chute and I thanked her a few times. I guess there were a few people that did not finish well before me. Although my legs were tired, I felt good overall and so I though that she was being a little overbearing trying to help me with every little thing through the finisher chute. Melissa then took a photo of me with my finisher medal on, and then it was off to grab a slice of pizza and a Coke before grabbing my transition bag with Mike and heading back to the condo. Melissa rushed back to the condo after the finish because the Alabama/LSU football game was on, apparently that was more important than Mike finishing his very first Ironman. Crazy football fans... and Alabama lost anyways!
Mike's father found us on the way back to the condo and told us that he would buy us some dinner from Pineapple Willy's and bring it to us in the condo. That was really nice of him I got in the shower when I got home for about 1/2 hour, watched Alabama lose the football game, and then ate my dinner that Mike's father got for us. I then doubled up on all my clothes fully expecting that I would being to lose body heat during the night. I think I went to bed around 11:30pm or so. After taking a few things out to the car so I would not have to do it in the morning.
The next morning I got up early so that I could eat breakfast, finish packing the car, and get in line for my finisher's jacket. Sure it is $150, but I really regret not getting one the first time around when I finished IMCDA. So this was to make up for it. My hip hurt a bit after standing in line for so long, so it was nice to walk it out after standing in line for the jacket. I then picked up my photo package and we headed back to the condo. We left shortly afterwards to head back home because our checkout time was at 10AM... WTF is up with that????
So I can go off on a tanget for a minute... it really bugs me when I go to an out of town race for the weekend, and all the hotels are booked for the race, and the race is short enough where I am going to head home that afternoon, but I basically have to check out before I head to the race site on race morning. Now yes, I technically left the day after the race, but I had to be out by 10AM!!! I think that for races like that they should just give you a late checkout for the hell of it, and for shorter races, you should get a late checkout so you can shower real quick before you drive all the way back home. So annoying... I think in 2012 if I travel for races I will just stay an extra day so that I don't have to do early checkout.
I think I am gonna put some perspective in my next post with the IM photos just because this post has gotten kinda long. I hope you have enjoyed it! I have enjoyed writing about it!