Just like two years ago I was up well before my alarm was set to go off at 3 am. As I was getting ready one thing was obvious. My stomach was gurgling. It was so loud my husband could hear it and he kept shooting me quizzical looks. I don’t know if it was because of nerves or what because my stomach had been very happy leading up to the race.
As we started driving towards Penticton my number one mission in the car was to eat the two peanut butter sandwiches in front of me. The first went down okay, but the second was a struggle. I ate 3/4 of the second sandwich and all of a sudden we were in Penticton, parking the car as close to the race site as possible. As we started walking towards Main Street I started burping. Surely this couldn’t be a good sign! All of a sudden it was time to say goodbye to the hubby and make my way through the special needs bag drop off and body marking.
As I squinted in the dark trying to figure out where my bags needed to go I heard someone call my name. It was our teammate Steve who was volunteering to help sort special needs bag. It was so nice to see a friendly and familiar face in here! With my bags in their respective boxes I got numbered up and made my way to transition.
I thought through everything I needed to do…what bottles went where, what I still had to eat, what I needed to add to my T1 and T2 bags. I hit up the porta potties a couple of times and started to find friends. All of a sudden it was time to start putting my wetsuit on and getting warmed up! The national anthem was being sung…I couldn’t believe it was time to go!
As soon as the gun went off I waded to the banner and I started swimming almost as soon as I crossed it. The swim was something else. There were so many people! On my way out to the first turn there were always people around. The water was super choppy but I didn’t feel as though I was working too hard. It must have been all of those people around that helped! When I hit the first Subaru pontoon I could see the divers sitting on the bottom of the lake. I gave them a wave and they waved back! On the way back the water was nasty. Choppy and I swear I could smell/taste diesel. The way back took forever too (and measured long) but overall I was happy with my swim.
I couldn’t get my wetsuit off over my hands so I took my Garmin off to help make it easier for the wetsuit strippers to pull off. My strippers were awesome and got my suit off right away. Unfortunately the lap button was pressed on my Garmin at some point accidentally so the multisport feature was messed up. I got my bag and ran into the change tent. It was so busy! I ran to an empty chair and started getting set up. Sun block, socks, shoes, helmet, gloves…soon after a volunteer came over and helped me out, then it was off to grab my bike.
Ah, the bike. The ride on Main Street heading out of town is one of the most amazing experiences ever. The number of people cheering you on is unbelievable!!
I had two things I needed to fix as soon as possible on the bike. Number one was my Garmin (which now said I was running, not biking). I slowed to reset my Garmin and start up a new workout as a bike. I also needed to fix my gassiness issue. I chewed on a Gas-X right away and hoped that would solve my problems.
I took the ride out to McLean Creek road nice and easy, watching people pass me by. I concentrated on starting to drink my Infinit and enjoying the ride.
I knew where every aid station was on the course. I had an idea of what I had to drink in time for each aid station so I could take advantage of water to dilute my bottles of concentrated Infinit. My stomach was still rumbling so I decided to stop at the first aid station to see if I could solve that with a trip to the porta potties. That might have been wishful thinking.
Things were a bit crowded on the way out to Osoyoos and the race officials were all over the place. I was worried about getting caught up so I worked hard to ride clean. I’d get passed, then that person would slow down in front of me so I’d have to pass them again. I didn’t feel like I was working too hard…but it definitely wasn’t as easy out there as it was at training camp.
I was ready for the climb to Richter and just settled in for an easy climb. I was looking forward to seeing my family here. Soon after starting the ascent I heard honking, looked to my left, and saw my brother and niece driving beside me. They would make it just in time to cheer me on! My niece had even made an awesome sign!
I absolutely loved the descent from Richter. I tried to be fearless, to open it up and just enjoy the descent. I don’t think that anyone passed me going down! The rollers went by really quickly and I just worked hard to keep taking in nutrition. I looked forward to the out back to see some friends and to the special note from my husband in my special needs bag.
Unfortunately the Gas-X had done little to quell my gassiness. I made more stops at the porta potties than I would have liked as I attempted to sort things out. I definitely lost a lot of time here. As I started the climb to Yellow Lake I started to feel really uncomfortable. My feet were cramping badly in my shoes and I had to stop and get off my bike to stretch my feet out. On the plus side my legs felt good on the climb to Yellow Lake. I just took it easy and counted down the markings on the road to the top. At the top the aid station had ice cold water that tasted so good! I really enjoyed the descent from Yellow Lake. I willed myself not to touch my brakes and I sang Old MacDonald to take my mind off the fact that I was speeding down a mountain. As I made my way back along Skaha Lake towards town I felt grateful that even though it was windy I wasn’t getting pummelled by a ridiculous headwind like my race before.
All in all I was happy with my bike. Nutrition was good…I felt like I raced it well, I just wish I hadn’t spent so much time in porta potties which definitely tacked on a bunch of time.
I decided on a full costume change in T2, exchanging my bike shots and tri top for a shirt and running skirt. I ditched my heart rate monitor strap due to some major chaffing issues I’ve been having. I also opted to carry a fuel belt so I could drink Gatorade instead of the sports drink that was being served on course.
My goal for the run was to run as much as possible. As soon as I headed out I heard Steve King announce that Sister Madonna had made the bike cut off and was just starting the run. This would start the game of cat and mouse that the Sister and I would play all night long!
Given that the Gas-X hadn’t worked like I had hoped I was worried about the run. I was going to stick to my 4:1 intervals as long as I could though. Running towards the Team Tri Life tent I was looking forward to seeing Angie and my family.
Angie told me to just go with whatever I needed…be it trips to the porta potties or a barf along the side of the road. She let me know that at that point I only had 6 hours left in the day though so there could be no dilly dallying around.
As I ran along the lake towards the out and back I looked forward to seeing my friends and teammates. I also got a lot of great comments about my running ensemble (and the awesome tan lines on my quads from my bike shorts that were highly visible). I hung in there with my 4:1 intervals all the way to the out and back.
When I saw Kelly she was about 6 km ahead of me. We ran towards each other in the middle of the road to hug and I just started crying. One of my goals had been to try and catch her on the run and I realized that the extra time in the porta potties on the bike had done its damage. There was just no way it would happen.
I should mention that on my way to the turn around on the run I was doing a good job of drinking my Gatorade. I hadn’t touched my gels but I didn’t have the stomach for it. I told myself to ignore the gassiness in my stomach because the stops weren’t helping. I was slowly working my way in to a nutritional deficit.
My friend Pam and her fiancé David were waiting at the turn around and I was so happy to see her. I had so hoped that we would be doing this race together but alas, it was not meant to be. For her to be there meant so much to me. It was nice to chat for a bit and to be able to pass along that I was doing okay, but by my math I’d probably be finishing around 11:30. I didn’t want everyone to worry. I looked at the goodies in my special needs bag – chips, wine gums, Gatorade, gels – and none of it sounded good. I grabbed my arm warmers to hold on to for later but passed on the rest.
My energy was gone on the way back. It was getting dark. I walked the uphills but the quads were not interested in running the downhills. My brain was not interested in running. The slow march to the finish line had started. In the dark a fellow runner called out that her and her friend were walking as quickly as they could and that I should hop on. This was when I met Pam and Rachel from Seattle. These ladies pulled me to the finish line. When one of us was flagging someone else was there to encourage the other to keep going. Pam and I lost Rachel for a bit, then I lost Pam and Rachel found me. I’m so grateful for the friendship that these two ladies gave me that night. It was one of the most special moments in a tough day.
There is so much stress at that point in the night. Everyone around us felt like we were on the bubble for finishing. We had to be careful not to slow down too much or our finish would be in peril. Despite the stress the camaraderie is amazing. Yes, you want to finish for yourself but you so want the people that you meet to make it too. As we reached the town we knew we’d be okay. Just keep moving and you’ll make it. There were so many spectators still out there on the course, cheering just as loudly for us.
As I hit the street lights along Main Street I started to cry. I had so wanted to stay positive on this day and I had failed. I felt awful that I was taking so long, making my family wait so long for me to make it to the finish. I just wanted to apologize to them when I’d see them. Luckily I had a semi-reasonable voice in my brain that reminded me that earlier this year I didn’t know if I’d make it to the start line. My crazy mysterious swollen knee that threw things in to doubt. The lack of run training that I’d been able to do and that I’d basically packed all of my Ironman training in to two months. I couldn’t and shouldn’t be mad at myself for finishing an Ironman no matter how long it took me! Somewhere along Main Street Sister Madonna passed me for the last time and just kept going. It looked like she had a tough day and the previous time I had seen her on the course I wasn’t sure she was going to make it. If she could dig down deep within herself I could too.
As I approached Lakeshore Drive I found energy to run. First I saw my mom. I apologized for being so late but she told me to stop worrying and that she was proud of me.
Run…run down Lakeshore knowing that my friends are at the turn around waiting for me. Keep running because nothing else matters now. I wanted to hug every single last one of them but Coach Angie tells me to go. Why? I know I’m going to make it now! As I turn around and start the final run towards home Angie tells me how proud she is of me and that my time doesn’t matter because I’m going to be an Ironman again. Run… My husband is running on the other side of the road to try and make it to the finish. I see Rachel as she makes her way to the out and back and wish her a wonderful finish. I’m almost there.
After all the tears on the course I have nothing but smiles left for my journey down the blue carpet.
Total Time: 16:36:41
After I cross the finish line right away I see friendly faces. My TTL teammates Cindy and Danny are my finish line catchers. They were absolutely wonderful as they grabbed me water, my finisher’s shirt and hat and helped me take my chip off then find my family. There is something so fantastic in having someone you know to catch you at the finish line.
Ironman is a day with so many ups and downs. Just getting to the start line can be tough! The feeling you get from finishing, no matter how long it took you, cannot be described, nor can it be compared. Thank you so much to my wonderful husband who is so supportive of me doing these crazy things. To my parents who are the best cheerleaders. To my amazing coach Angie who believes in me and pushes me. Thank you so much to Kelly and Tara, the best training partners I could ever ask for. I don’t know where I would be without you ladies. To Shannon, Tracy and everyone else in the TTL family who made the journey to the finish line in 2012 so special. Our team was amazing this year. To all my fellow racers who impacted my day…complete strangers who helped to pull me when I wasn’t sure if I could keep putting one foot in front of the other. And thank you to everyone who cheered me on via texts, tweets and FB messages…Debbie, Keith, Tea, Caroline, Marlene…every last one of you.