I enter into transition for the second time that day and someone immediately takes my bike. I blow my bike Scarlet a kiss as she heads back to her rack, most likely for a good nap. My bike did me well, as did her new wheels. I jog down to the bike to run bags, grab mine which is easy to find due to the obnoxious stars I colored all over it.
Back into the changing tent and this time I know exactly what I am up to. I change my shoes, grab my sunscreen and nutrition, strip off my shirt, throw on my new pink Trakkers hat that I saved just for the occasion, and off I go. There was only one other lady in the tent with me and for some reason I was excited about this. Kinda like getting out of the swim and seeing lots of bikes still on the racks. I knew that I was doing pretty good and that I was in the front several hours of the participants.
I took off running and right away I noticed and recognized the lady in front of me. How could I not, she beat the cookies out of me at Loveland Lake to Lake this year, taking the overall title, and doing it all in a swimsuit that said "Who Rocks?"... and on the butt "I Rock". She wasn't wearing that suit in the IM, but I still knew her. Oh wow. Wasn't expecting to "know" people! Well there we go.
So out of transition I run and it's that dicy moment. How are the legs? How do they feel? So much self inventory is going on. And you know what? They felt like I was just starting my race. Literally. my legs felt absolutely great. I realized that this could be good, or bad. Good if I kept myself under control and doled my energy out evenly. Bad if I decided to run 7:30 pace and ran out of steam at oh say mile 18 or 20 when everyone else seems to bonk. So, I kept it under control.
8:12, 8:02, 8:17 I was hitting these miles easy and I even passed "Who Rocks?I rock?" without an issue. Up in the distance I see a lady that was giving me a little trouble on the bike (for the last 20 miles I happened to find her on my wheel several times). I saw her in my sights and 7:52, 7:47 happened. Whoops, but I had to let her know that she wasn't going to bike on my wheel and then run on my shoulder. A girl has her limits.
Then I settled in and just enjoyed myself. 8:10, 8:16, 8:18, 8:18, 8:22. I was running with a hand bottle, and "gasp" it was the first time I had tried it. I know, something new on race day, but it worked out well. The hand bottle had a pocket and I shoved as many NUUN tabs as I could fit in it. My routine at the aid station was to take the cap off my hand bottle and stick it in my sports bra, sponge my quads with the cold sponges, pour water and ice into my bottle, sponge my quads again, put a NUUN tab in, and screw the lid back on. I could do all this without slowing down one bit. The ice NUUN water in my bottle was great for several reasons. I could rub it on my legs or tummy to cool them down, I could drink the contents, or I could pour it on my head. Since the NUUN isn't sticky I could squirt it on myself without ill effect. Worked like a charm.
I arrived at the hilly part of the course. The hills are pretty steep and lots of people were walking up them. I saw Anthony going the other direction and he yelled at me to "Go get em". I was pretty focused so I gave a wave and kept my nose to the grindstone. I was so happy to see him doing well!
I then had the worst part of my day. I saw Steve. He was walking. I was instantly saddened. The one thing I didn't want to do during the day of the Ironman was pass my coach and best training partner. It made me horribly sad. I could tell that all was not well and I had barely any time to react before I was right next to him. All I could muster was "Hey Baby". Not quite sure why in the heck that phrase came out and I'm a little embarrassed about it now, but I just hated seeing that he was struggling.
On I went 9:15, 8:19, 8:32 over the hills and to the turn around. They had my special needs bag waiting for me and I grabbed it and never stopped running. I knew exactly what I wanted from it. RICE CRISPY TREATS!!! I tucked one in each side of my sports bra. I grabbed my huge can of Pringles, took out a huge stack and tossed everything else. As I ran up and over the hills I ate Pringles, they were SOOO tasty. Half of them would fall out of my mouth but it felt great to crunch crunch crunch along. When the hills got really tough I tossed the remainder of my stack and apparently Steve got a huge kick out of that when he ran by after me.
Now, the rice crispy treats. Those were just great. The crunch, the sugar, oh, they really hit the spot. I ate two of them and saved one for later. Did you know they are 90 calories, just like a gel! I continued to pass people all through this section. Even though I ran 9:05, 8:55, 9:15 most people were walking or were pretty slow through here. There weren't many spectators, just a few in boats on the lake.
Passing people here was pretty neat. I knew that I was fine but I also started getting a little nervous. I had done the math and I realized that I had the chance to break 11 hours. I was really attached to that number for some reason. The mantra that popped in my head, as totally strange as it sounds was "Don't compromise the 11 hour mark". I repeated it to myself over and over. 8:33, 9:03, 9:12, 9:13. Now these splits look like they are slowing down, like I'm bonking or something but in actuality I was flying by person after person. I was reeling them in. I was in the midst of a total running high and I every time I saw my mile split I knew that I was going to break 11 and my thoughts were "You are doing it", and "Just keep your pace right here".
I had passed women here and there, but hadn't passed anyone in my age group in a long time. As I neared the next aid station I saw a lady in my age group and she was walking. I really felt for her, because she was racing so well, and she was so close. I passed her and as soon as she saw my calf...and I'm thinking the "30" part, not the "For Amy" part, she took off like a bat outa' hell. For a second I thought "Should I race her"? Then into my head came "Don't compromise the 11 hour mark". So, I let her go. I also thought to myself, if she holds this, then the girl deserves it, cause that's quite the come back. I let it go. 9:11, 8:59, 9:19.
Oh my, there she is again, walking. Man, too bad for her. I passed her again, at my pace, and she didn't take off that time. I know she must have had a Kona slot on her mind. She still finished very strong, about a minute behind me. So, now I'm at mile 24 or so and really, I feel great. I'm hydrating, eating, and pretty much having a gay old time. We are back into town and I decide that the 11 hour mark is gonna happen. Nothing I can do will kill it now, so let's pick it up. 8:55.
I see my mom, she's cheering up a storm with my aunt Sandy. She tried to run next to me, I tell her to stop. She asks if I'm feeling good, I tell her I'm feeling great!! 8:23.
It's the final mile and now I know, oh wow, I'm really going to do this. I see my dad taking pics, I hear Troy cheering from the balcony of our apartment. I make the turn and I can see the stands. 8:26.
I run into the stands and I'm overwhelmed with joy. I have my arms in the air and I'm crying crying crying. I can't believe it. I had an absolutely perfect first Ironman. My training paid off. My day is almost over. I am an Ironman.
I cross the line like I've just won the race. I'm overjoyed and just can't believe how well it all went. The stars had aligned. 10:47:58, 7th in F30-34, 35th woman, 20th amateur woman.
I also want to share with you the after party, the Kona Roll down experience and my post race ahh-hah's. Next post!