Goodbye Bike...hello Run! I go booking out of T1 so jazzed to get running. I've got my hat in my teeth, no ponytail in, and I'm a disheveled mess. I like to do things on the run rather than in transition, so I tend to take my goodies on the go with me.
See, in my last three Ironman races I have run 3:30, 3:32 and 3:30. I had a serious 3:30 monkey on my back. I wanted that bugger OFF! But you never know what you are going to get on race day. Best to just get out there, get into your "plan," and start running. Yes, mine is the barefoot one in pink...she fit in.
I'm running through town and it's true what they say about IM Cozumel. The cheering on the course is awesome. I don't know what they were saying, and I don't think I would have known even if I spoke fluent spanish, I was in the ZONE. I did hear Troy and Annie though, they were not to be missed. Troy was taking pictures, watching Annie (still not sure why she is barefoot but I'm not one to judge with all the balls Troy was juggling), tweeting, texting, and computing the splits of the top ladies in my age group. Oh and cheering every time I went by...while taking pictures. Super Iron Dad!
Most the time I always feel good going out on the run, but the question is..."Can I hold onto it?" Other than Arizona where I was running for my life, I don't think I have ever negative split the marathon in an Ironman.
The course is three loops. 4 miles and some change out, then back, then out, then back, then out, then...you guessed it...back again (crazy, I know). So I get going through town and I feel good, nutrition is spot on, no tummy issues, no nausea, it just felt like I was headed out for a long run. I'm sipping my First Endurance EFS that is loaded up on PreRace and things are going smashingly well.
There is a "small" tad of upgrade and downgrade to the course. Almost enough to not notice. The run out to the turn around was so exciting. I hadn't seen the course so I was getting my bearings and also looking for other ladies in my AG. I think it was somewhere in those first 4 miles that I passed the first overall female age grouper. I just had this feeling that I was in the lead for the amateurs.
Mile 1-4 7:38, 7:32, 7:38, 7:44
On the way back through town I ditched my sunglasses and heart rate strap. Somewhere in there the skies opened up and dished out several large bucketfuls of water. It down poured on us out there, it was so much rain that it was totally comical. My first thought was "yes, this will keep the temps down." So is it littering if you are throwing your stuff to your husband? Is it outside "aid?" If so, pretend you didn't see this photo...
I was trying to tell myself to slow down, keep it steady, the more 7:40s you can get under your belt, the closer you will get to 10 hours, but too many in the 7:30s and you might see an epic Kaboom. I don't know why I was thinking this way but I was.
Mile 5-9 7:42, 7:47, 7:39, 7:37, 7:47
I saw Michael Lovato winning the race and I yelled "Go Michael." I like Micheal, he's a really cool dude and it was such a huge win for him. I was also watching the womens race but couldn't figure out who was winning. I just knew that the only girls ahead of me were PROs. I didn't really think much about it though, I was more preoccupied with the mounting puddles.
On the way out on the second loop there were RIVERS of water running through the streets in town. It was more than just puddles, but ankle deep rivers running to the ocean. The whole town smelled like sewage. It was one of those things that you tried not to think about but, really, you knew you were running through some gnarley stuff.
I started to get inconsistent. I kept telling myself that I was going to make the last half marathon hurt like I had never hurt before. In the past that's where I start to see the 8:30 miles. The first half of the second loop I was starting to feel it. I was having to work much harder and the puddles were everywhere. I was bobbing and weaving to get through the course. I had also switched to Pepsi and water at the aid stations. It was still pouring down rain, and we all started to resemble drowned rats out there.
Miles 10-13 7:48, 7:52, 7:36, 7:46
Running back on the second loop we had to cross a road that had completely flooded. It was mid calf deep water/sewage and I did the bunny hop run through it. Everyone was up on the sidewalk because the perpendicular road was also flooded. So we had two way traffic on a small sidewalk. It took a lot of maneuvering, especially since I was running faster than most (which made me happy). In case you were wondering, yes, she is still barefoot.
This was where the first negotiations began. Those 7 min miles were precious to me and I really viewed every second I spent in the 8s as a second I wouldn't break 10 by. The 10 hour goal is so superficial, but towards the end of the run I will admit that it helped me to get the most out of my body.
Mile 14-18 7:57, 8:04, 7:54, 7:54, 7:56
As I headed out for my third lap things really started to get tough. I kept saying to myself, "it was so easy two laps ago", you were floating, and now it's all a struggle. Run Sonja run. Just 8 miles left. I didn't sense that anyone was behind me coming for me, I was totally involved with my own race and goals.
Mile 19 = 8:02. Come on Sonja I told myself. Troy yelled to me the exact marathon time I needed to run to break 10. Since I don't wear a watch during the swim I didn't have an accurate race time on my watch. I had time of day, but I knew the race organizers started us a little early, and I didn't quite know if it was 2 or 3 minutes.
The first half of the third loop I went to the pain cave. I was taking pepsi every 1K at the aid stations. I was digging as deep as I could, trying so hard to get the pace back under 8. Every mile would click over and it was another "too close, but not good enough." I would rally again, run run run. Somewhere in here I ran a huge section on a grassy median because the road was flooded. I also ran into a scooter at one of the aid stations.
The aid stations were little tents that you ran under, they were cramped in there and one of the race officials rode his scoter through it. Well, there is 2 way traffic, it was my third loop so the course was full of kick butt Ironman competitors and he stopped. So I ran into him. And then I grunted, ran around him, and continued on.
Mile 20-23 8:04, 8:05, 8:08, 8:09
I am now headed back from my last turn around. I'm still leading the amature race. But not for long. All of the sudden this lighting fast flash of pink goes flying by with a "Q" on her calf. My automatic response was "go with her." So I went. It's only 3 miles to go, find the pain Sonja. And I did. And then she ran away from me. About a minute later I said "No, go get her" and I did, I bridged the gap. That's when I started to realize this game was going to end badly. She was so fast...SO FAST. She ran away from me and into the distance. There was nothing I could do about it.
I didn't get sad, I just said "Hang on to the sight of her as long as you can, let her drag you to sub 10." and I tried, I tried really hard.
Mile 24 = 8:10
I had been computing my marathon time every mile marker. I am good at doing the math in my head, so I was doing that and I kept thinking that if it took me 1:30 to run the 0.2 miles at the end, that I would have one minute to spare before the 10 hour mark. Every mile marker that went by I would recalculate because I was slowing down.
Now my head was a swirl. I was thinking numbers, but it was like a monkey doing math. I saw some stars, I smelled the sewage, but I just kept telling myself to dig deeper, tighten up the form, run trash can to trash can, light pole to light pole. I thought about all the time that Chuckie has spent drafting emails, and charting my program. I thought about all the Saturdays and Sundays that Troy and Annie have missed me while I trained so hard. I though about the people that were surely on their computers yelling at me to run harder.
Mile 25 = 8:13
I was watching the sun go down. It wasn't down yet, but it was just above the horizon and I remember thinking "Pretty sun, pretty sun go down, man I am in pain" Another glance at the watch, more math. I'm going to do this.
I pass Troy, I tell him I got passed, he says "It's okay, go go go." I dig deeper. I hit the 26 mile banner and I look at my watch. It beeps on the 26 mile split and I am stoked that the course and my watch are in sync.
Mile 26 = 8:01
I remember it clearly, I had 2:30 left until a 3:26 marathon. I had a one minute buffer. I was so excited I was going to do it. I knew it would only take 1:30 to go 0.2. All I could think was that I only had 1:30 of running left.
Then I hit 26.2. And I wasn't at the finish line. Oh no, panic in my head, I pick up my pace. I see the finish, but it's still a little ways off. But these things are very confusing when you are 9 hours and 59 minutes into a race.
LONGEST MINUTE OF MY LIFE. I'm running, but I'm not there. I see where it is, but I'm just not there. But maybe time is a strange illusion, and maybe my world is spinning just a little too much right now. 26.3 on the watch, I'm still not there. I see it, I'm running for it. But I'm not there.
I turn the final corner and I see the clock.
It says 10:00:21
I almost fell over right there. I ran down the finish line area, I don't remember a single face, just this big clock that is ticking over the seconds after 10 hours. I remember just staring at that big clock the whole way down.
I get to the finish line timing matt and I just stop and stand there shaking my head, hands on my knees.
And then I walk down a few more steps, but I'm still just trying to come to terms with the last 2 minutes of my life.
At the bottom of the little ramp I decide to not stand up anymore. The volunteers grab me and for those few minutes, I am "THAT" girl. The girl that gets plopped in a chair and wheeled straight into the medical tent without even getting her medal. I closed my eyes for the whole thing. I sat in that chair with my eyes closed and just cried.
A few minutes later they are asking my name, and taking my temperature. While they are doing that I tell them, "I am ok, and I will be just fine in 5 minutes, I just need a little time." My temp was totally normal. I took my five minutes of sitting on the cot, got up, and a wonderful lady led me to the massage. Ironman #6, in the books. 10 hours 00 minutes and 33 seconds, 9th woman, 2nd 30-34, 2nd amateur...I'LL TAKE IT!
Complete emotional release. My Garmin had the marathon at 26.42 (3:27.16). It takes me 1:30 to run .2 miles. My 1 minute bumper got eaten up, as did an additional 30 seconds. Courses aren't exact, and they shouldn't have to be, girls like me need bigger buffers!