Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Ironman Run, Part 1.

I composed this last night on the plane in between naps. I've been napping pretty much since I crossed the finished line. I nodded off in public yesterday several times, while waiting for my inlaws at the Louisville Slugger museum, while sitting at the coffee shop, while riding in the car to the airport, while sitting at the airport...

I'm a little embarassed at how long this is, but I wanted to get it all down before I forgot it.

In t2, I walked painfully and stiffly. It had been a long day for the volunteers as well. They asked me my number as I went past them but stood, almost dazed, as I walked over to my bag and headed for the changing tent. I sat down - oh, how glorious, to sit in something that supported my entire butt...I was feeling a bit disoriented but then one of those fabulous changing tent volunteers appeared and asked if I wanted help, and then I started crying. I was so tired. She helped me off with my various clothes, completely drenched in sweat. I had a little cry fest for a few moments and said, "I'm so tired. I'm just so tired. God, my ass hurts." Over, and over again.

I pulled on my shorts as best I could - a note to all, you might include a small towel in all your transition bags, because you might be sweaty after a 112-mile butt whooping.
Five minutes after I arrived in T2, they closed the bike course. My bike time had been 8:55. I now had less than 7 hours to cover 26.2 miles.

I put on my bra top, which immediately rolled up and I had trouble getting it on, and my Garmin heart strap, and my Garmin, and then turned my attention to my feet. Me feet were worrisome - all white from being in wet socks all day; would this finally be the day that I would get blisters? I hoped not. the volunteer unrolled my socks, and marveled at their sexy toe goodness, as most have done, and then I pulled on my socks and shoes and stood up.
And nearly fell over. My right foot hurt SO BAD. It felt like it had been hammered. My quads screamed. And now I was supposed to run a marathon?

Behind me, a woman I had played leapfrog with on the bike appeared. Her name was Boo, short for Barbara, but I never caught the rest of it and wish I had. She chattered and bubbled as though she was just starting this whole thing, and said that she was a slow runner, so I decided I needed her as company. We wound up being walking buddies for about the first 9 miles of the marathon.

We headed out. I was walking stiffly at first but then my legs started loosening up. It was down town and late afternoon so much of the street was in shade, thank goodness. Although it never got as hot as it has been before the race, it felt hot. My plan was to walk the first could miles and then start my 5 minutes on, 5 minutes off routine. However, my right foot hurt so badly I was wondering how I would run at all. I spent the first mile or so sipping ice-cold cola and carrying my bottle of gatorade.

I saw people around me walking slowly, slumped over. Many were holding their stomachs, so I decided to avoid all solid food. I took just about anything liquid I was offered, and drank constantly.

As headed into the 2nd mile, Boo suggested we try a run, and so I did, and found that when I ran, my foot didn't hurt. It only hurt when I walked. I was also surprised to find that I could run, and at a decent pace, too - somewhere between 11:20 and 12:20. However, I was also smart enough to realize that how I felt right now was not necessarily how I was going to feel 20 miles from now, so even though I was temped to do 10 minutes at a shot, I stayed with my plan. According to my Garmin, after the first mile and a half, my average pace was about 14:20.

I looked at my Garmin and figured out that I had to keep the 5 minutes on, 5 minutes off routine in order to finish on time.

At the first aid station they offered pretzles, bananas, gatorade, ice cold sponges, ice water, chicken broth, cola, and I forget what else. Oh, encouragement. They offered lots of that. "You look great! You're gonna do this! You're aweseom! Did I tell you that you look great?"

I saw someone - it may have been Mary - who told me that Baboo was looking for me; he was very worried because I had been gone so long on the bike and was ready to leave the course looking for me. Soon enough I saw a very worried Baboo who was happy and relieved to see me. He was about 6 miles ahead of me on the out-and-back part of the course. Then I saw Bones and Miguel and Iron Pol running in, headed toward the finish line, and each asked me if I knew Baboo was looking for me. I saw Mary Sunshine two more times on the course, and she was looking great and smiling. She made it look easy. Maybe, like me, she was happy to be off the bike!

The run course starts with a quick out-and-back near the transition area and then angles up onto the main running path down 3rd street. By the time you get to 3rd street you're about 2 miles down the path already. Then you do about another mile to the main out-and-back part of the course. The out-and-back is about 5.5 miles each way that you do twice. Then you run into a little loop near the finish line, turn right, and head back out onto the out-and-back.
3rd street was completley shut down for this event.

As the sun sank into the hills I realized that I was wearing my prescription sunglasses and hoped it would be lit enough to make up for that. It was a party atmosphere on the sides of the road, people camped out in lawn chairs. LouAville LOVES their spectator sports! Plus, since it was a southern town, everyone called me, "girl." Emotionally, I started feeling better. I felt less hopeless, and a little more energetic, as the coke-cola worked its sugary caffeinated magic.

I saw Wiz ahead of me and caught up to him. He asked me if I knew Baboo was looking for me. His stomach was going bad, but he was on his second loop. He was walking, staring straight ahead and seemed barely able to even talk. Eventually he went over to the curb to sit down. He was on his second loop. Miguel told me later that Wiz saw me moving ahead and and decided, well by golly, if she was going to try and finish, then he was going to finish.

Around sunset, after the turnaround - maybe around mile 12 or so, Boo fell behind. I wanted to keep walking with her, as she was good company, but I also knew the numbers: how much time and distance I had left and what I had to do to cover it. I never got her real name, so if you know her or are her say Hi, so that I can thank you for keeping me company and encouragine me!

I kept up my 5 minutes on, 5 minutes off routine and during my walks, I drank Gatorade constantly. I had a Power Gel every 2 miles and I don't mine telling you that I don't care if I never see another gel again. Yes, they sustained me. Yeah. I'm pretty sick of them. But I grew surprisingly fond of Gatorade. I drank it like crazy.

Now here's the part that's really f***ed up:

As you come down the first out-and-back you run down the same street that leads to the finish line. It is in front of you. You can hear the announcer's booming voice over the cheers of the screaming crown. Strangers are screaming like crazy and waving cow bells at you, screaming, "you've done it! You're an Ironman!"

You try to explain that, now, you're just on your first loop, and could they tell you, please, how to get back out onto the course? and they wave cowbells and you, screaming like crazy. Eventually I saw a friend, Michi, and leaned over and hollered, "how do i get back out?" and she told me to run to the right.

So I did. I ran to the right. As I turned away from the lights and cheering, I headed down a largely dark and empty street, leaving the screaming crowd and booming announcements behind. It grew fainter as I headed back out on to the course, now dark, quieter, and more deserted, about 2 people every block or so, walking along, some more energetically than others, but all were walking. I wanted to finish. I wanted to walk. But I knew that if I didn't run half the time, I never would.

When I'd came into T2, I'd mulled over the idea of just handing in my chip. None of my fantasies, equipment failure, not making the bike cutoff, had come to fruition, so I was thinking of just bagging it. I finally decided to keep going, and by mile 15, I was damned if I was going to not finish now.

...(To be continued, probably after work today. Sorry! 9th-grade Algebra 1 awaits...)

Part 2 of the run, and the finish line.


  1. I am sure you can work some Ironman math into the lesson somehow! (figuring out total min per mile on bike/run...etc.- might be fun!)
    Wear your medal and stay awake!
    (great part one by the way!)

  2. It's amazing that you were so clear-headed about the time limits--it is nerve-racking just READING about it!

  3. Aghhh, the suspense! Part I is amazing -- you were so smart to stick with your 5/5 plan... I just LOVE how you KEEP GOING. Good luck teaching today :-) I hope you get to sit some during the day... Your students must think you're the coolest teacher ever!

  4. I believe I am cursing 9th grade algebra!!!

    Can't wait for the next installment!

  5. Misty, great work at trying to get a hard job done. I'm sorry I didn't get to meet up with you, having had some difficulties with people from my group that prevented me from getting to the volunteer position at the changing tents. I did, however, see you head in from the bike and was glad to see you continued on (looking as rough as you did).

  6. You are amazing and strong and beautiful! I'm sorry I'd lost the ability to match names and faces when I'd seen you on the run course. I may have been smiling, but my brain was fried. I was fighting to stay conscious...but even in that state, when I realized that you were on the move, I was happy and relieved and I KNEW you would do it!

  7. I say let there parents teach them algebra. I can't wait for the rest.

  8. yah the suspense.. great blogging on the recap..
    hope your getting rest and feeling better.


  9. Great reporting!! Thanks for continuing the tale for us!

    I tried looking up Barbara/Boo but right now I can only find the top 300 women in the athlete tracker. I'm sure you can find her when they post the full results.

  10. Can't wait for the rest!!! I am hanging on every detail!

  11. Well, as I sit reading everyone's stories on my break at work, I am so inspired by you and everyone else that I am at my desk sobbing to myself. You my dear are the poster child for perseverance.
    Can't wait for the rest. Perhaps I will wait to read it until I am home and can just weep with my dogs by my side... they already know I am a nutjob.
    Gotta stop reading now before I scare the patients with my weeping... ;-)

  12. I've said it before, I'll say it again: you are awesome!

  13. GeekGrl you are amazing. If I was in the same situation..I'd have to call it. I don't think my brain would allow my body to continue. You are one tough girl. I think my wife is addicted to your blog.

  14. I can relate to the "nap" thing. After the race, my wife was exchanging items with her parents, and I was in the hotel room with our kids. I passed out on the bed (but we'll call it a nap) and was woke by my son telling me my daughter was "doing something naughty."

    It turned out that meant she had:

    Gotten naked
    Emptied a first aid kit
    Replaced her clothes with bandaids
    And was attempting to eat diaper rash cream

    I put her on the toilet (well, she was naked) and sat there until my wife showed up. Then, I resumed my "nap." In other words, I passed out, again.


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 I'm no longer involved in multisport or endurance sports. I've started my own business, a psychotherapist specializing in anxiety d...