OCTOBER 13, 2012
After that it was into transition to the bike to get her all squared away. I soon ran into fellow ZOOT Ultra Age Group Athlete Cathy Tibbets and she had her pump with her, so she came over with me to help get air in my tires. After that, I was off to the sidelines to stretch and chillax (and visit a little too) and wait for things to get under way.
After the Pro men and women started, it was our turn to get into the water. The masses of age groupers being funneled down one set of stairs onto a tiny little beach...no one wants to be first out there because then you are in the water so long before the start...well, I guess someone does want to do that because there were age groupers in there swimming around....but the grand majority of us are trying to time it just right so the time spent treading water is minimized. After much urging from Mile Riley over the loudspeaker, I finally made it to the beach about 10 minutes before race start and was into the water about 7 minutes before race start. I chose to go far to the left where I started back in '07 and had good success - but the swim start this year was laid out differently. (I have reflected A LOT on this since the race) In '07 there was a huge buoy to the left that we were not allowed to line up past - a border to contain the swimmers. This year, there was no border, and athletes lined up way wide. When I got out there, I was way to the left and in front....a good choice I thought at the time. (This would prove to be untrue however....) I looked around me and there were blue caps everywhere (the men wore blue, women wore pink). I never like to be around all those men because it means if I can't out swim them, it's gonna be a stupid slugfest. Oh well, hopefully they are slow and not too mean...
On the way in, I peeped at my GARMIN 910XT as I was just curious to see the time and distance at this point. It seemed like a long swim to me, but perception and reality can be a little off sometimes....well, for me, it actually was a long swim. I was right at an hour, and at 2.2 miles, and there was no way I had only .2 miles to go to the exit. Hmmmmm. OK, so now, I was super curious, so I kept an eye on the garmin while I swam in. It's ez to see the BIG NUMBERS under water :) LOVE my Garmin 910XT!!....at 2.4 miles, I was a 1:03. at 2.7 miles my watch read 1:11 and I was at the beach. An extra 500 yards of swimming off course....geesh. And a swim 7 MINUTES SLOWER than in any other Ironman I've ever done. But, thanks to my Garmin, at least I know I didn't just go slower, I just swam more!
OK....So today, I would go 140.9 instead of 140.6. Why not? it was crazy swim day...LOL!!! ...roll with it. It's a long day anyway.
Into Transition I go. In the final 500 yards or so in the swim, the water went from cool to cold. I am not a big fan of cold water - my body goes into frigid mode and I slow down to almost a snails pace when I get too cold. I am not sure why this happens (and I catch a lot of flack from people about being a wimp, but I can't help it :) but by the time I made it to the beach, I was shivering and ready for the hot hawaiian sun. So up the stairs and into the "hose off" section (which I used sparingly since I was still shivering and that water coming out of the hoses was freezing too!! Ok enough whining..) through the T1 bag area and into the tent to prep for the bike...then the long haul around transition to go get 'er.
Onto the Bike - seamless. I was happy to be out of the swim and ready for the long ride. My training this year had been so limited on the run that I substituted a lot of my training miles with biking and I have really become fond of my bike again. Last years bike didn't fit me so well, so I have been back on the Orbea I rode in '09 and '10, and it just felt so at home...
Today, I was taking it all in. My spirits were high and I was happy to be here absorbing everything. Checking out the views (which for about 80 miles of the bike was lava rock and water on one side, and lavarock and mountains/valleys on the other). I was mesmerized but the beauty, the heat, the winds, the lavatubes, the other bikes...This year, I was sure to take the time to thank the volunteers - something I didn't get to do last time as I huffed and puffed racing to the end.
One funny tidbit that still stays with me as I write and review this post because it gave me the giggles for at least the first few miles on the bike were the large amount of men riding past in white see through tri shorts, or just downright see through worn out black tri shorts. I saw entirely too many male butts (and cracks) in the get go...LOL!! What's up with that?? I assumed they must be european...no offense...ok, back to the report...
On the way out after Wailkoloa, those cross winds really started to pick up. And the tail wind - well, I think that was gone. My speed and effort all seemed in line to indicate that there was no more tail...but this is when the cross winds started pushing me around from side to side. My 808 in the front was a little too much wheel for the cross winds today, but oh well, it was the only wheel I brought. Time to hold on tight!! The winds progressively got worse as the ride went on, as winds typically do durring daytime hours out here. One thing I really remember is the garbage bags at the aid stations every 10 miles. They were blowing sideways - WITH garbage in them. If the volunteer let those bags go, they would have taken flight for sure. There was always a hope of a tailwind somewhere, but that only happened for about 15 minutes or so coming out of Hawi - and if you know anything at all about wind - if you have a nice tailwind, there MUST be a brutal headwind at some point. Heading into Hawi at about mile 50 or so, the bike went from hold on tight hard with strong cross winds to downright brutal and ugly with a dead on headwind. I already thought the wind was bad...so I wasn't expecting the wind to get that much worse, but it did. It was a BLOWIN!!. The bushes were laying on the ground. I hear the winds were at about 40 mph and that's from what Mike Greer told me (he's the BSLT 70.3 Lubbock Tx race director..I saw him the day after the race running down Ali'i). And, of course, there were still cross winds, so mashing into a constant 40mph wind and doing your best to stay upright with the cross winds became a difficult, tiring, and tricky task. But one we all just did. Because we get to, right? This is Ironman Hawaii. It is supposed to be a hard day. No whining, just overcoming. Always moving forward, even if it's slow :)
Leave your ego at home, and deal.
I was soo happy to get to Hawi. FINALLY, a tail wind was in order. It was a nice break, but those cross winds didn't let up so we were still getting knocked around a little - but now we were moving a LOT faster THANK GOD!!
After about 15 minutes the tailwind subsided. It seemed like the headwind was back almost instantly, and after the turn back on the Queen K, it was there blowing in our face the entide ride home. I love this race. It seriously seems like most of the race is uphill and into the wind. And as silly and impossible as that seems, it is true. The final 30 miles home took forever. Slow - sometimes just mashing at 9-10 mph when the winds gusted hard. I was prepared for that though - as much as I hoped for a tailwind home (HAHA), I knew it was gonna be a bear of a headwind - and it was. I wanted nothing more than to be off my bike by the time I hit Waikoloa again...but I still had 25 more miles. I'm certain everyone else felt the same way! I remember that last 20 miles taking FOREVER!! one mile at a time. One fun note from the final 20 miles - I passed up a friend Eileen in that stretch, so it was good to see her out there!! Somehow I figured I would see her again on the run...
Into T2...everyone was in such a hurry. Everyone but me that is. I knew on a day like this, with my hip/foot injury leading up to this race, that a podium finish was unlikley...so why kill it in T2, right? I knew I wasn't gonna run a sub 3hr marathon... I don't understand why so many people around me were outright sprinting, but they were. I jogged through, sat down, took my time. As good as the volunteers were, they were pretty intense in T2, and I had to actually ask them to leave me alone and give me a minute. I just wanted to sit a minute, and methodically get my stuff together without dumping it all on the wet sandy nasty ground and towel off the sweat, salt, and grime. The volunteers kinda stressed me out with their hovering! After being asked "sunscreen?" 4 times, I finally announced that when I was ready for sunscreen, I would ask for it!! LOL...and I did just that when I was ready!! Maybe I took an extra 30 seconds to a minute in there than the average joe, but I felt good heading out, and really? who cares about 1 minute in a long race day - again...it's not like I was gonna run a sub 3 marathon and win it from here!!!!
Off to the run. Now was the time to answer the question I have been asking since the last day I ran long in August - 6 weeks prior to today. What was going to happen here. I was my own experiment. I had no expectations, but wondered - could I pull it off? with or without permanent or long term injury? LOTS of unknowns going on here. I said a prayer. My mind was racing as I exited T2 and I pressed the "LAP" button on my 910XT Garmin. It read "begin running". So I did.
Now, for those of you reading this that have never done an Ironman, I have a question for you --imagine exercising (biking and running) for hours on end WITHOUT and IPOD or a TV. Could you do it? What would you think about? Are you mentally trained to control your thoughts - positive and negative- and push through anything? To pass up the excuses, bury the doubts, and follow through? The mental strength and focus I have gained from Ironman training and triathlon training and racing through the years is priceless. It is second nature for me to press on now...and I think that has been the best part of this sport for me. I have learned to be patient and persevere without external distraction no matter what obstacles lie in the way...and it spills over into all facets of my life. I think that's why this sport has grown so big. It's the challenge at first, That's why you sign up. But then once people get a taste of how the entire experience changes them, they "get it" and embrace the lifestyle and want more..and I think that's pretty cool.
So...as in every Ironman, you seem to be around some of the same people throughout the day as you ride and run along in your journey to the finish line. This is especially true durning the run. There are times when you try to take your mind off of the "limitors" ( like aches and pains, or how hot you are, or how the foot hurts) and focus on something else - somethng that redirects your mind and makes you smile or laugh. The aid stations are a good way to break things up - walk through and thank the volunteers, interact.....but another way is to focus on silly thngs -- I had funny moment (or several actually) in my day today that still cracks me up as I write about it - is this one guy in particular I couldn't escape along the run seemed to be having gut issues as he was burping and farting NON STOP!! LOL!! I could not run fast enough to get away from him, and any slower I would have been walking too much...but the FUNNY thing is, when he passed me at one point early on, I noticed the back of his jersey had the exclamation in big letters "plop"! (he was european, so I wasn't sure what the real meaning of "plop" was...) All I could think is that this guy needed a porta potty to "plop!!" hehehe... In his defense however, he did apologize for all the noise he was making...and we laughed about it and I told him not to worry about it. If you do enough of these, it happens to all of us at some point wether you admit it or not. I felt kinda bad for him, but at the same time, grateful that it wasn't me :) and I'll probably never forget him...
Ok, back on track...9 miles done, there was Mel and Rob on the corner! And Amy Simonetta too!! WOOT!! I stopped for some hugs :). 10 miles done - up the hill to the Queen K. I walked this big one. 16 miles to go, no need to kill it on this big hill. Once on the Queen K I was back to running. Aid station to aid station - walking through them, and then some more walking occasionally. Today's motto - keep moving on. One good thing about not racing at all out effort was that I got to see some friends and fellow ZOOT athletes who were racing for the overall pro and age group spots AND have the breath to cheer them along - wether they were having a good or bad day. OK, down into Energy Lab. Out of Energy Lab - walked up the hills again....back to the Queen K. A little over 10k to go. I decided at this point that I have been conservative enough today. My hip still feels ok, so I decided turn it on - I was going to RUN home!!
The sun was falling in the sky and I knew I wasn't going to finish in the daylight like my last time here. Kind of a bummer to not be part of the "daylight finisher group", but this was a different day. So I watched the beautiful big red sun go down along the Queen K, and focused on that finish line. Run. I remember thinking how I have been so blessed to be able to run at all - so who cares how slow it is. I just focused on how I am blessed to be here now in this monent. Blessed to swim, bike, run or walk. Blessed to have the support from good people all around the world to help me get here, and experience this day - this event. I am always reminding myslef how " i get to do this", no matter how pretty or ugly, or fast or slow it may be. There are lots of people out there who quit when it's "not their day". bleh. poor sports. whiners. Yes, it's difficult, it's HUMBLING to continue without winning or being "fast" enough, but if you can put your ego aside and open your eyes to process what's happening around you and INSIDE of you while you muddle through the tough times, it's enlightening. I know there are people out there who would give anything for this very experience I get to have out here in Ironman Hawaii. I press on for them. They are with me.
A million thoughts raced through my head while on the course today. I thought a lot about my life over the past 10 years and my journey through triathlon. This sport, unlike any one person in my life, has seen me at my best and at my worst. (maybe this sport is my boyfriend...lol?) It has been one hell of a rollercoaster ride with plenty of up's and downs, and even times I felt like I was stalled hanging upside down with all the blood rushing to my head for a while....Today, as I run along the Queen K, I am at my best. I am in an awesome place today - ON TOP. Physically, emotionally, spiritually - in every way....except my injury, but that's so not important in the big picture.
11:51. Not my fastest by a longshot. but not my slowest either :)
Where's the food....
To all of you out there reading this, you are most likley one of "the good ones" who has floated into my life. I want to thank all of you for being such a positive influence in my life. For lifting me up, supporting me, cheering me on, and just being there, even if you are NOT HERE. You are with me. I thought about many of you who donated to my fund to get here. And I thought about those who supported me in so many other ways over the years. You know who you are...and some live in far away lands....I wish I could have raced the race to the wire for you, but there was a different agenda this go round. Just Know,