What??? Yes, you read that title right. I took one of the last 10 spots available for IMKY, for my FIRST IRONMAN, and ran with it, about 5 weeks ago. I have been pretty busy over the last month and a half not blogging since Muncie. I will go into the back story of HOW I managed to be finding myself signed up for the 2012 Ironman Louisville in a second post, but for now, I wanted to just write the race recap while it is fresh in my head. You will probably pick up a little on how I got here just from what I write, but hopefully in the next couple of days I will fill you in on the rest. It is also a weekend long event, with expos, athlete dinners, underpants runs, gear check, post race breakfasts, ext. I'll do a separate post for the underpants run, but breeze through everything else leading up to the race.
Thursday was the first day that the expo started. Cristina and her boys were coming down from MI to stay with us and go to the expo that afternoon. The excitement was really building. We took a few pictures at the expo. As we were getting checked in, they told Cristina that "her family could wait for her to finish checking in". I am not sure if they thought I was part of her family and not racing at first, but the two of us and the 4 kids between the two of us were quite the sight in check in. We just ignored that comment and went through getting our bibs, caps, and chips. Keira had a major meltdown over having to sit in the stoller in the "athlete only" area. We got really awesome backpacks as part of our swag. Then, it dumped you out into their store. They had so much stuff to buy. You really would have had no problem spending another entry fee or so on gear. I was really too nervous to buy much gear lest I jinx myself. I did buy a new visor to wear on the run, as well as some stickers.
We were given 5 different gear bags, Morning Clothes Bag, Bike Gear, Bike Special Needs, Run Gear, and Run Special needs. It looked like a triathlon exploded in our living room once Cristina and I had all our stuff out to pack it up. I planned to change clothes between each discipline, where Cristina wore the same thing all day, so I had a lot more stuff. It was still a lot regardless:
Friday night we had a athlete meeting. It was immediately following the athlete banquet, which I skipped due to cost. Ryan and I had not eaten as a family in several days, so we went out to eat at Q'doba before I met back up with Cristina outside her hotel for the rest of the weekend. The meeting wasn't terribly exciting, but it did make me feel a lot more nervous about it. Especially the swim. It did give me a chance to meet up with one of my Aquaphore teammated Susan, who is a rock star. This was her 54th Iron distance tri. Amazing is all I have to say. The second picture is of Jane, with Cristina and I. Jane did Boston and MMM this year too! We were glad to run into more of our MI friends at the meeting.
Saturday morning was the underpants run and gear check. I will go over the underpants run separately. Lots of pictures have already been posted to their facebook page if you can't wait for my recap. I did have the perfect outfit this year, though ;) My kids had a church activity in the morning, and Ryan had a different church committment so I was able to head down by myself. I actually started to cry when I put my bike and things in the car. It was a crazy feeling to drop off everything and have it just sitting there overnight. I could have access to it in the morning, but I have to admit I had one of those "what if there is a tornado that drops down and blows everything away" type scenarios pop into my head. Silly, I know, but tornado bad dreams are not new to me.
That night, we had Cristina, Kari, and all the kids over, plus my parents for dinner. I had been joking all week calling it the dinner from "Signs" (which was on, BTW, on Thurs, and then everyone understood why), because it was the craziest pre-race dinner ever. Cristina and I ate what WE wanted to eat for our pre race dinners, me- grilled chicken, pasta, marinara. Cristina- sweet potatoes and chicken, the kids- pizza. Everyone else had some combination of those things. It was pretty much a carb fest. We had all carbs. Even the vegetables I made (corn) were starchy. We cleaned up everything, and then got ready for bed. Amazingly, I slept pretty well.
I got up bright and early, and got a ride from my neighbor Jennifer and her husband Chris. Chris was doing the tough job of Ironman supporter, and enjoying getting some laughs out of our stress. We found a parking spot outside of transition, and we were right by my friend Alan, from MI! We pumped up our tires, but the realized that we needed to go back to the car and get our special needs bags and drop them off there, not at the swim start. We rushed back to the car to get them, and then back again before being driven down to the swim start.
Having Chris drive us saved so much time. We didn't have to walk the .75 miles or so from the transition area to the start. We got our bodies marked:
We were so thankful that Erin and Dan were already there with several other landsharks, and they had saved us a spot in the swim line! Sweet! We squeezed in, and then waited. It was a while, but it was nice to be in the big group. Here is Erin being calm with Jennifer and I being "freaked out"
I think I would have gone nuts if I didn't have people to wait with. I tried to call Cristina, but I couldn't get through to her before I had to drop off my morning clothes bags. We had Terri, Rhonda, and Jennifer in our little group of ladies that all started pretty close together. Jennifer offered a prayer, and we all started to cry. It was an incredible feeling to being so close to acheiving a dream, and to be living it. Before the race, the played "My Old Kentucky Home" and sounded a bugle like at the Derby, as well as the Star Spangled Banner. It was very cool and emotional.
So, I didn't need to get pushed off the dock. I did a practice swim a couple weeks ago where I jumped off this very dock, and I took more than just a few seconds before jumping in, and thought Jen was going to push me in. I was able to get into the water without going completely under, thanks to my mad skills at being able to keep my face dry at all times that I learned as a child. It was great because I didn't have to worry about my goggles falling off and I could keep an eye out for other people jumping. There were two lines, and about 6 people jumping every 2 seconds. It was crazy how fast it moved. You swim around Towhead Island, turn, and then come back to Joe's Crabshack to exit. Probably the most memorable thing for me on the swim was that I swam into the island twice. I found it funny. It was gross to put my hand into mushy ground that I was not expecting. I tried to get over to the right some more and still veered into it the second time. I had to be careful because up ahead there was a low hanging tree branch that I didn't want to swim into. I got around that, and then continued. It was a little conjested between the island and KY. There was a sandbar ahead, and I did swim over to it to stand and walk a couple steps. I took this opportunity to unfog my goggles, and they were fine from this point on. I made the turn, and it was really light out now, and I could see the line of bouys ahead. I actually swam surprisingly straight, and had a decent time of following the course. It was sort of boring during the swim, and I was anxious for it to be over. I looked at my watch a couple of times, just trying to figure out how much longer I thought I would have to be in the water. I didn't start the stopwatch at all because we started so quickly to the start of the race, that I figured keeping my eye on the time of day and cut off times were more important. I could math in my head (so I hoped) as the day went on. The field opened up on the IN side of the island and then as we headed downriver. It was a lot easier to swim and not have people swimming over me. It didn't get conjested again until the swim exit. That was sort of terrifying, with people crowding to get out. The clock said 1:43 something! WOW, this was faster than twice my 1.2mi swim time!!!!I was so thankful to grab and hand and be pulled out of the water to the stairs. I cried a little running to get my gear bag for the bike. It was a long jog to the transition area, but there were so many people cheering, it was incredible. I was so excited to be out of the water. I looked over my shoulder and saw Rhonda behind me. I was so excited that I nearly tripped over a tent stake, but I was fine.
T1. This went really quickly. I took of my swimsuit, put on my shorts, top, shoes, helmet, and belt of fuel, and took a gu in the tent. I ate a sandwhich and drank a gatorade as I walked/jogged to get my bike.
Bike. The bike course started out great. I was so excited! I had biked this entire course once in training, so I knew exactly what I needed to do and where. I knew where my bike gave me fits (yeah, it needs a new cassette and I didn't want to buy one this close to never needing to ride it again, ha ha, just kidding), and how to deal with it. If you look at my splits, my first two were pretty fast, and then my second two a lot slower. This was in part due to the fact that I really wanted to get that first lap over and then take my time on the second. I was paranoid beforehand that I wouldn't make the cut off time that was at mile 60. There was also a tailwind heading away from the city, and it is relatively flat towards the beginning, the hills come later. There was a lot of support on the bike course. I was so much earlier than I had told my family to come and see me, so I wasn't sure if they would find me at all out there or not. I had a blast on 1694, the out and back section. I really felt like I owned that road, and passed a lot of people on the descent just coasting because I knew the road very well. It was crowded, so I had to be very careful. When I got to 393, I saw the sign that my cub scout Jacob had made for me and that pumped me up. Towards the end of 393, I saw Jennifer and Terri's families, and my friend Amy from MI. I didn't think my parents would be there this time since it was so early, and they weren't. My assumptions I gave them were on slower speeds and having a later swim start. Oops. I enjoyed not having to stop through La Grange. Ballard School Road was hard. My bike acted up a little when I was completed crossed over, but I never dropped my chain at all. I probably stayed in the bigger ring more than I should have to avoid dealing with it, but it felt nice on the legs to stand up a few times on some of the hills. I saw Keira's primary teacher's father directing traffic at 42 and 53. the funniest thing was that the blinking traffic sign that said "left turn ahead" also said "Go Jennifer H #343". That is my neighbor. Awesome!!! I did 393 again, and saw my friends from church who had made the sign, Jen's family, and then saw my parents! It was awesome. I was so glad I saw them so they at least knew where I was. After this, I had special needs. I completely stopped, and took several minutes here. I had packed a peanut butter and nutella sandwhich, 8oz gatorade, and a regular 12oz plastic bottle of Dr Pepper, that had all been frozen and were in a colapsable free cooler. It was amazing, but my DP STILL HAD ICE IN IT! I couldn't drink it all because it was so frozen! I had a few bites of my sandwhich, leaving the crust, took a bunch of trash out of my pockets, took salt tabs (which I did every hour with a gu, and a bonk breaker bar every hour, but on the half throughout), moved a bunch of stuff from my pockets to my front box, and stuffed my spare tire and cartridges in my back pocket, along with the gatorade, and headed out. It was starting to get hotter, and I was going through fluids faster. I was glad I had my gatorade with me. I stopped again and drank it at the next water stop when I refilled my bottles. I kept telling myself that I had to be careful because I still had a marathon today. I stopped again around mile 80 to use the bathroom. It felt nice to walk around a little and then reapply sunscreen. I could feel my back and arms getting hot, but figured it was all part of the process of becoming and Ironman. I was slowing down a bit, but I still felt good. I remember passing Thornton's and thinking that it was all downhill from there and cheering for myself out loud. Somewhere right before mile 100, there was someone who was playing Eminem's "Not Afraid", and I started crying. I bought this song to add to my playlist while training. It was a huge pick me up, and I kept singing it in my head until I got to 329. That is MY street. Literally. You take that exit from 71 to get to my house, and it also happened to be mile 100. I didn't tell my family to come and see me there, but they did! It was the best feeling to see my husband, kids, and parents all out there! They had missed me on the second lap too of 393 because I was still ahead of schedule. I was tired, but I felt like a rock star the whole way back into town. It was so fun coming into transition because of all the cheering. I pulled into transition a little after 4pm, and my actual moving time was under 7 hours. My official bike time was 7:06:11
T2. This was the long transitition. I had to go the bathroom really bad. I ran from the tent to the porto potties and then back to the tent. I could not wait to get my cycling top off. I had so much stuff in the pockets. I couldn't wait to get all the weight off. A volunteer helped me clean off my feet, and tried to help me with my CEP socks. Those were SO HARD to put on. I almost fell backwards off my chair with my helper pulling so hard on those socks! I did get them on, and I was so glad. They felt great on. I didn't put on tri top, and just decided to go with my sports bra because it was so hot. That turned out to be a great call. I did forget to grab my salt tabs for the run and take my anti inflamatory that I had been prescribed for a mountain biking fall (yeah, totally skipped that race recap), but had my gus and race belt so I was fine. I saw Jennifer just enter the changing tent, and I yelled to her, but she didn't answer, so I headed out.
Run: I really had no idea what I would feel like on the run. I had been doing my long runs on Thurs, and my long rides on Sat, with only really short runs after them. Those short runs had been quick, but my legs were tired the whole time. I walked to the sign that said, "run out", and then started running. There were so many people down there cheering. It was incredible. I was so pumped. I had to keep checking my watch to slow it down a little so I didn't go out too fast. It was like as soon as I started running, my body just knew what to do. It knows how to run a marathon. My plan was to do 26x1 (or .9ish), with a rest at every aid station. That is what I did. The aid stations turned out to be a little sooner than each mile, according to my watch, and in the beginning, I wouldn't walk until I took the first sponge or cup, but then towards the end, I would walk at the the first trash can until the last. I really enjoyed the run course. I love running, I really do. It was an out and back, two times that went by UofL and Churchill downs. It went up 3rd/Southern parkway, which was an area that I had trained on a lot. I really liked that you could see runners the opposite direction almost at all times. I saw tons of people I knew on the course, and it really helped my spirits. I had been taking the salt tabs on the bike, but then stopped, so I am not sure if it was the combination of that plus all the caffiene from the gus, but I had to stop a LOT to use the bathroom and pee. It was crazy. I didn't like the perform. I tried that at one point, and it cramped my stomach, but it didn't really affect my pace, but did require a bathroom stop. I think I stopped 4 times to use the port o potties. I didn't like waiting for an open one, so there were some that I skipped, and I felt like that made me run faster to the next. I saw Alan first, and then I think Cristina, going the opposite direction. I also saw Terri, Rhonda, Jennifer, and several others on the run. I kept seeing Susan from team aquahor, and every time she was so encouraging. She kept telling me how great I looked. It was a crazy feeling, because I was tired, but I wasn't really getting any more tired or sore as it went on. I had a friend Jessica walk with me a bit at the aid station where she was working. That was great. I just kept ticking off those miles. The first loop was longer than the second, because it had a section that went over the 2nd street bridge that we didn't have to repeat. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be to run just yards from the finish line and then turn to start my second loop, since I was already just over halfway done. I saw Kari, Monica, and Amy as I ran by, and gave them hi fives. I passed up special needs since there wasn't anything I needed, and just kept up my running from aid station to aid station. It was working so I just kept doing it. It got cooler as the sun went down, so I needed less sponges, and I cut back a little on the water towards the end because I didn't want any more stops, and I felt pretty good. I remember the point when I realized I was going to break 5 hours on the run. That was a good feeling, I think around 4 miles to go. This was the happiest I have ever felt at mile 22 of a marathon! That was the point where I knew without a doubt that no matter what happened, I was going to finish this thing! I was even thinking that I might even break 14 hours, which would have been unreal. Monica came and ran with me for a little bit with just under a mile to go. When I made the turn onto 4th street and could see the finish line, my face just lit up with a huge smile. It was an incredible feeling. I didn't break 14, but I finished the run in 4:53:21, for a total time of 14:03:34! I couldn't believe it! I started crying just after I crossed the line.
I hope my finisher pictures look OK. I was excited I didn't have anyone on my right or left as I approached the line, but I was gaining on the people in front of me trying to finish strong. I had several people say they recognized me from my pink socks! Love those things. I was also super excited to see my husband and mom on the side of the finish line, waiting for me. I really was worried that they wouldn't have been able to find me since I was so off on my predictions.
It was such an incredible day. I can say I really enjoyed the whole thing. I really felt like I had a "home field advantage" since I was familiar with nearly the entire course. This day could not have gone any better. I am so blessed to have been able to do this. I had prayed about it a lot, and I know the decision to sign up was made very last minute, but I had been wanting this for a long time, and training hard since last November for something, and this is what it was. Last year was so hard, in so many ways. I feel like everything just came together perfectly to give me this fabulous day. I could not have asked for anything more. It makes all that hard work that I felt had been wasted earlier on races that didn't turn out so well worth while. I am so thankful for my husband for letting me do this, and for the support of my family. I am thankful for the well wishes, calls, emails, and facebook messages watching out for me. I don't think I could have done it if I hadn't had such a huge network of friend who were also training for this so I had people to talk to about it, even if I had to work out alone. While I didn't have a coach or an official training plan that I followed, I had friends to help me out and guide me along the way. Am I going to do it again? Not anytime soon. I can't wait to just RUN!