I really don’t want to write this one. Deep Breaths!
So, I get out running and I’m not feeling too great, but I don’t feel horrible. Kona is a hard race, so part of it is that I’m just feeling the accumulation of the days events. Hailey passes me right away and takes off in front of me. I’m at just under 8 min pace and working pretty hard, so I start sipping my EFS flask with some Prerace in it, and taking water with it as well.
I had this awesome encounter with a chick who was cheering. You know how when you are tired you really don’t want to move over at all when someone is in your way? Yea, I totally nailed her, and the photographer caught it. Oops! Sorry!
At the turn around I am optimistic, I’m in 5th in the AG and while I know I have 21 to go, things are looking good. I saw the time gaps back to the runners…okay…to Jocelyn really… and I thought if I had my best run she would have to have hers too to get me. I was optimistic. A lesson to all of you out there…optimism at mile 5 in an Ironman is pointless! At mile 8 I take a few salt tabs, and shortly after things turn south.
I don’t really want to write about this. I’ve debated whether I even should. The thought of it honestly makes me not want to leave the house, it’s embarrassing. So with that, and for the sake of being a masochist, I’ll do it. But just know, if you are grossed out, don’t read this (just scan through and look at the pictures). I’m just hoping that someday I can figure all this out and have some sort of lesson learned. Okay, here goes.
At mile 8 without any warning, I shit myself.
No upset tummy, nothing. All was well (ish) until I had this weird feeling of what was happening. I pulled into a permanent bathroom on Ali’i, pulled down my shorts, and had no idea what to do with myself. I can’t even explain it, nor do I want to, it was really really bad. The worst I’ve ever experienced. I will tell you that I spent multiple minutes in there and that it took multiple rolls of toilet paper and 12 flushes to leave the bathroom the way I found it (which wasn’t great).
Here she is in all her glory. Thank you to Scott who continuously texted me photos of said bathroom after the race. I’m thinking of having a plaque installed “Historical Landmark: Site where Sonja’s 2012 Kona went down the S#!*er”
Getting out of there I was completely and utterly disgusted and demoralized. I had no fight in me and all I could think about was that I reeked like shit and probably looked just as bad. The next two miles I was embarrassed and disgusted in myself. I couldn’t look anyone in the eye who was cheering for me (thank you Kacie, Eggers, Katie). But I kept running, although slower. (Everyone stayed busy with the chalk!)
I got to the bottom of Palani and I saw my mom, and I walked. It’s the first time I have ever walked in an Ironman. Just doing that felt like a major surrender and total failure. Can you tell??
I told mom what happened, and she said that you couldn’t tell. I was not convinced at all, but photos from dad do not show poo all over me like I thought. Knowing what came out of me and how unequipped I was to clean myself up, I just thought I was covered. At the top of Palani Troy was there. I started crying.
I was barely running, and I was crying and talking to him while he walked next to me. I told him I didn’t have any more fight, and that I wanted to quit. I really wanted to quit, and I had no more fight in me. He told me to get some sponges at the next aid station and while there was no way I was going to stick sponges down my shorts, his words did keep me from quitting and gave me the task of continuing on, even if it was just one more mile.
As I took a left onto the Queen K there was a lot going through my head. I was so disappointed that I lost my fight. I told myself I needed to take a break from the sport, from Ironman, from Kona. If I had no fight, there was no point. I was hard on myself. Towards the bottom of the hill, I remembered something I always tell my athletes…”Everything that goes wrong in Ironman can be solved by slowing down.” And with that I gave up.
Now “give up” is what I called it at the time, but with a little perspective, I can now see that I didn’t give up, I didn’t walk off the course. I hold a deep respect for the island of Hawaii, for the sport, and for this race. I did not give up, but I did consciously slow to the pace of a turtle (albeit a fast turtle).
I slowed down, I watched the heart rate plummet. I saw the pace go to 10+ min miles. I didn’t care. I walked through the aid stations. And like not a fast walk, more of a saunter. I had no goals, nothing driving me to keep a good clip, or any clip at all. I just walked and jogged and that was it. Jocelyn passed me and she was hauling ass, I kept her in my mind the rest of the race, just hoping that she made it to the podium (she did).
On one end my mind was horrible. I was down on myself, and disappointed in myself, and then another part of my brain really just didn’t care, and then another part of me just decided to have fun. The fun was more of a defense mechanism than anything, but I figured…you gave up…why suffer?
That’s when the tables started to turn for me emotionally.
So I made friends with a guy in a HelloKitty kit. We jogged and chatted. I had to go to the bathroom again at 15, this time in the port-a-pottie, not my shorts. I noted that I was still disgusting. I ran into the NEL and Kendra who is coached by Dirk passed me. She really tried to get me to go with her, and I kid you not…I laughed and said “Nah, it’s all good.” I got passed by tons of people in my AG and other AGs. I said good job to everyone, smiled, gave shakas and smiles.
In the NEL I had to go potty again. This one was particularly bad and I lost several liters of liquid out my ass, again, I warned you. That was a bit alarming and when I got out of there I was pretty weak. I kinda reasoned that I had that super F-ed up gut thing where the body starts pulling fluid from places it shouldn’t. I got a little nervous in here and knew that I would need to be smart to actually make it to the finish.
BUT! I was so close to special needs. So I got my bag and got my Pringles and Rice Crispie Treat out of there. I started jogging and the Pringles were falling out of the little container. I said to myself “what are you doing, stop running.” So I walked and ate my snacks. Like walked slowly.
No goals, no fight, nada, just focused on making it to the beautiful Ali’i. I ran up out of the NEL…maybe 13 min mile pace. Walked the aid station at the top, cheered for some people. It just was what it was.
Back on the queen K I kept tabs on my watch, knew I would most likely break 11, didn’t really care, but kinda did a little. When Adrienne passed me I told her good job and I tried to go with her, maybe 8:30 pace or so, but I couldn’t hang and felt pretty week from trying.
Then I saw Troy. He had run out there to check on me, since last time he saw me I was wanting to quit. He said he thought I would quit in the NEL and that every time he saw another split come up he was relieved.
He trotted next to me for a little while, it was like 12 min pace I think. He told me about the race and who won, and he told me about Michelle and that she never made it out of T2. This bummed me out in my heart. Suddenly I was filled with gratitude and I started to smile. I felt lucky that I had the opportunity to not quit. Some people didn’t even get that, their bodies gave out before their minds had the opportunity to say no more. What a privilege, to be able to choose to just jog it in.
Eventually Troy ran on ahead and I trotted my way in. I was perfectly happy and looked forward to the top of Palani. Annie ran with me up the Dave Scott Mark Allen hill and we held hands. My dad was there taking pictures and I was happy to see him. I smiled and did high 5s.
I did a hula dance up that hill and then all the way down Palani. I stopped to hug my inlaws. I smiled and gave thumbs up to everyone. I high 5ed the KE guys. I saw so many people I knew and gave them high 5s. People were passing me left and right. I didn’t care. I saw Terry Nugent, and gave him a hug and told him I loved him. hahhaha!!!
Then PIC was there on Ali’i. I stopped and hugged her and told her it would be oaky and we would get through it. I ran down the chute and saw Uncle Norm cheering and taking pictures.
Yup, dude in an arm sling beat me! Hahaha! Good for him, he looks like he had a rough day out there! Didn’t we all?!
Christine came zooming by me just as fast as she did in Cozumel last year. I gave a leap at the finish, and I smiled and waved to the camera, because I know you all are watching and I take that very seriously. Let this be a lesson….fast race in Kona…bad jump at finish….slow race in Kona…..good jump at finish! Hahah!!
Christine and I hugged and hugged and hugged. That girl will always hold a special place in my heart. Neither of us had the day we hoped for (so cliche) but we were both happy as clams at that finish line. I do love my 30-34 ladies!
I was fine at the finish. That was a first. It was like I had a 16 mile cool down jog, which I guess I did. My muscles have rejoiced in less soreness and my feet have not a single blister or sore toenail. I was sunburned and chaffed, but 48 hours later that resolved itself.
As always, a huge thanks to my family and sponsors. I’m glad I thanked them a few blogs ago because they probably don’t want their names associated with the poo-fest of this blog.
Am I disappointed? Yes and no. I am proud of the way I handled the situation. I’m bummed that I didn’t keep fighting, but on some levels I’m not sure I would have made it out of the NEL if I had. After having some time to process it, I feel really really blessed that I had the opportunity to both start and finish the race. A lot of people don’t ever get the chance to start this race, despite wanting to so badly, and some that start, don’t get to finish. I am thankful, very very thankful.
This race has provided much perspective and was such a reminder of all the wonderful people I have in my life. I live to fight another day, and hopefully live to fight during another Kona.