"What's the point of being alive if you don't at least try to do something remarkable?"
These photos were taken just before I jumped into a river to complete an Ironman which consists of:
🏊♀️Swim 2.4 miles
🚴♀️Bike 116 miles
🏃♀️Run 26.2 miles
Total 144.6 miles
I completed the race in 13 hours and 6 minutes.
I consumed only water, energy gels, cliff bars, Gatorade, salt, potato chips, chicken broth, and peanut butter filled pretzels.
I stopped for less than 5 minutes in between each discipline to change out of and into goggles/shoes/hat/helmet.
🏁I watched 2,700 bodies in green and pink swim caps swim down a river.
🙈I watched a girl get off her bike and urinate on a fire hydrant in the middle of the hardest hill climb of the entire course and then keep going.
🤢I watched a guy puke 6 times off his bike on the home stretch of the course and keep going.
🐍I watched a snake slither across the sidewalk on the run course, making me go off course just to avoid it.
🍻I watched a shirtless spectator drinking beer out of a Little Debbie water bottle run down a hill to greet me and cheer me on.
🔊I watched athletes that look like they typically run 7-minute miles, walk up hills on the run course while the neighbors sat out on their front lawns cheering and blaring the Chariots of Fire theme song.
🏅I watched a red carpet appear under my feet after 144.6 miles and heard my name called out and be declared an Ironman.
"Whether you think you can, or you think you can't, you're right." 💪
When I was leading up to jumping in the water I of course got nervous and the jump in the water was pretty much like you walk up to the dock and then jump in, they didn't line you up and then have ten people jump in at the same time or anything it was just jump when you got there. Joe (my training partner) and I were able to jump in at the same time so that was nice, when I got in I was worried I'd be cold and initially shocked by the water but I was pleasantly surprised that the temperature was quite nice. I easily got started swimming as the river was so wide that no one was really stacked on top of eachother, everyone had ample space to swim and get around people if needed. I must say it was the easiest and most enjoyable swim ever for me. I had considered never swimming again after this race, but I truly enjoyed the river without any salt water and it was crystal clear so you could see everyone that was around you, and of course the current helped. It seemed that every time I got to a buoy I was coming up on the next one before I knew it. The landmarks of the island and the three bridges were wonderful, also the buoys changed colors once we got to the halfway mark so you knew where you stood at the halfway point and could visually see the bridges to judge distance. The hardest part of the swim was getting out of the water because there were just a few steps that everyone had to climb up and the steps started at the water, not below it, so volunteers had to help people get up to the first step by pulling them up. There were so many people coming out at the same time, I had to wait in line just to get out of the water.
Running thru transition was simple and I waited to put my shoes on until I got to my bike as I had to run kind of far as my bike was near to the start, which was nice because I could just run barefoot till I got to my bike and put my shoes on there and only had to run like 40 yards to start in my bike shoes (which are super awkward to run in).
The beginning of the bike I didn't know what to expect in terms of hills so I probably started out too hard and was at the top of zone 2 for my heart rate and I seemed to be going pretty fast, then the hills started to come and then they didn't really ever stop. It was hard not knowing how to ride and pace myself on hills for such a long ride. My legs got really heavy around mile 80 and I felt like I was just dragging them up and down, I'm so used to just pounding with my legs and not really familiar with keeping a high cadence I think that's what did me in eventually. I did use the small chainring frequently (which I usually never have to use since I train in all flat areas) but there were times when I wasn't sure if the hill was worthy of the small chainring or not and so a few times I didn't realize until it was too late and I couldn't change and so I got stuck grinding in the harder gear. I tried to make the most of the downhills, I always enjoyed those but they never seemed to last too long. I did fine with my nutrition the whole time, I ate everything I brought on the bike and more. The Gatorade that they had at the aid stations was kind of gross, it was the new endurance formula or something like that, not the normal kind so it wasn't as easy going down but I drank it anyway. I think the salt tablets helped a lot, I took one the night before the race, one right before swim start, and then I think two while on the bike. I also used some base salt while on the run.
I pretty much died on the bike after mile 80, I was just so done, my stomach hurt I think because my shorts felt so tight due to my body being so bloated from all the retained water, normally they fit fine but I guess normally I'm not retaining so much water. I didn't stop to get off the bike at all, only peed twice on the bike during the downhills, which I knew was better than my last race where I had to go like five times, the salt definitely helped this time, again. In the end, I don't know if there was anything I could have done differently to help on the bike during the race, it was just so unfamiliar to me to ride those hills for such a long period of time.
Once on the home stretch on the 'stick of the lollipop' course back into town I started to feel better knowing I'd be off soon, of course, I was thinking at that point I'd probably just end up walking the entire marathon because I felt so done. But luckily my spirits perked up as I got off the bike, made my way quickly thru transition with the help of volunteers assisting me to put socks and race belt on etc., I used injinji toe socks which I've found helps immensely on all my runs that are over 1 hour in length and I haven't gotten blisters between my toes ever since starting to wear those, they took a minute to put on in transition but they saved me a lot of pain that I remember from last year's Ironman. Also, I made sure not to get water on my shoes or socks while running so they'd stay dry. I know a lot of people dump water on their head and down their back but I tried my best to lean over when I did that so as not to be left for hours of running in soggy, heavy, socks and shoes. I tried really hard to stay consistent on the run and I was really pleased with myself. I just started out running at a pace I felt comfortable with, 11:00-minute miles which is similar to what I'd been doing in my training long runs, and then I only allowed myself to walk on the uphills and through the aid stations. I did end up going to all the aid stations to make sure I got my nutrition and it was so hot I knew I needed the water, also I didn't want to have to drink a bunch of water at one aid station and risk having it slosh around in my stomach so it was much easier having a small cup at each one.
I realized that my average pace was staying pretty consistent at 12:00-minute miles when factoring in the walking sections and I was pretty happy with that. I realized I'd rather run consistently slow than to walk more often and try and run faster but less often. The run seemed to go by pretty quick, I felt like I was constantly passing people as the majority of the people on the course were just always walking.
I saw Joe when I was coming down off the biggest hill and he was going up it, I looked at my watch to see what the mileage was at that point and then saw what it was when I came around again to where I saw him and I realized he was about 1.5 or 2 miles ahead of me but he had told me that he was walking so much and it was possible that I might catch up to him. I was so surprised to hear that but John had told me that he did really well on the bike but he was dying now ( I think he told me after that he was in zone 3 most of the time on the bike instead of zone 2 and that he'd been drinking coke on the run the whole time so that likely did him in) I tried to calculate in my head how much faster I'd have to go to catch up to him but I was worried that if I went that fast I might end up hurting myself more and not being able to keep the consistent pace I was at but instead might end up going slower. I was hoping to catch him as I thought it would be awesome if we could both finish at the same time, if I had known he was that close to me from the start of the run it might've been easier to run 10 or 10:30 minute miles from the start and that would have caught me up but there was no way to know.
I am happy with the race overall, I felt like my time was decent, considering how much training I ended up skipping and even when I did train I didn't do the intervals/efforts near as much as I did when I was training last year. I am certainly just glad it's done and glad I got to the finish line after 144.6 miles in unknown territory. She believed she could, so she did.