Sorry folks....this is a VERY long one! Hell, it was a 13+ hour race for me. A lot can happen (and go through my mind) in 13 hours!
I woke up at 4am to start eating, go to the bathroom, eat some more, go to the bathroom some more. I was able to eat 2 bowls of Kashi Autumn Wheat cereal (500 cals with milk) before my stomach said no mas mi amiga! It doesn't sound like much, but you try forcing food down your throat at 4am on the biggest day of your life....not so easy! I had ideally wanted to get 800-900 calories in before the race, so I brought a PB&Honey sandwich with me to snack on in transition. Never ate it. Oh well.
I arrived at race site around 5:15 am. I dropped off my special needs bags, added a few items to my transition bags, pumped my bike tires, got body marked, and waited 20 minutes for my last pre-race bathroom stop. Really....I don't think race directors will ever figure it out. MORE PORT-O-POTTIES!
The Swim (2.4 miles)
The Ironman swim, especially the start, is like no other thing I've ever experienced. Rather than wave starts (like they have at most shorter races), in an Ironman, all 2000+ racers start AT THE SAME TIME. We were all herded out of transition and over the timing chip activation mat like cattle on their way to......well, we'll say eat....or get milked (don't want to make this Ironman thing sound too morbid). At this time I was with all of my TCSD buddies. It was so awesome that we were all going into this together.
I sat along the wall for 30 seconds or so. I'm not a fast swimmer, so I had no reason to rush into the washing machine of 2200 people around me too soon. I finally saw Don Lopez drift past me, and decided...let's do this...no time like the present. My race has started!
The first 10 minutes of the race were actually pretty humorous. You have 2000 people going from a vertical position in the water to horizontal, and at the same time try to make forward progress at all different paces. Talk about traffic jam! The first 10 minutes were mostly head-above water freestyle, being pulled along by the masses of people. Extra care needed to be taken to avoid getting swam over or clocked in the head. I actually said to someone "Wow, this is much more relaxing than I thought!" All I could do is get pulled along!
My plan was to stay 15-20 m off of the wall, but that didn't work so well. I fairly quickly found myself closer to the buoy line. This turned out to be ok, because I found a pocket 15 minutes into the swim, and held that pocket all the way to the turn around. The turnaround was a lesser version of the start. Everyone was aiming for the same buoy, so it got a little hairy. Someone decided to start swimming on my back, so I started kicking harder to get them off. Next think I heard...cough cough cough. Ooops. I think I kicked them in the gut. Oh well. That's what you get for swimming over people!
The swim went pretty well overall. I never got really tired or tight. I did get hungry though shortly after the turnaround. Then I started smelling something like raw sewage, and my hunger vanished. On the run I later found out it wasn't really raw sewage, just a horse farm on the side of the lake. My hunger came back 200 m or so past the farm. The main thing I remember from the 2nd half of the swim was that the damn Mill Ave bridge seemed like it kept moving further away. I know I was making forward progress because I was passing buoys, but that bridge took FOREVER to reach.
I finally made my turn to the swim exit. Woo hoo! 1 down, 2 to go! Since Tempe Town Lake is a man made reservoir type thing, there was no beach to run up on. You swam to a set of stairs and someone helped to pull you out of the water and onto the stairs. I was prepared to be a little disoriented coming out of the water (swimming horizontally for 1.5 hours a bit oxygen deprived and then standing up and running can make you quite dizzy), but it was a little crazier than I thought. Climbing those stairs was tough. I made it up and over the timing mat.
Swim Time- 1:31:40 (2:24/100m pace)
Transition in an Ironman is slightly different than other races. First, there's the strippers (wetsuit strippers y'all....Get your mind out of the gutter!). Since wetsuits aren't always the easiest to get off, it was nice to have somebody push me to the ground and pull it off of me.
Next stop was a grassy field where our T1 bags were stored. I called out my number, and next thing you know, my bag was in my hand. I ran in to the change tent, which was quite a zoo, and found a seat. I decided to change into bike shorts rather than suffer in tri shorts for 112 miles. One extra minute in T1 would save me hours of discomfort on the bike. I was still a bit disoriented from the swim, and my hands and feet were pretty frozen, so I fell flat on my ass changing into my shorts. Oops. Just another moment to laugh about in a long day.
At first I was hoping that one of the volunteers would help me get my helmet, shoes, socks, and arm warmers on, but they were all pretty busy. Many people came out of the water shivering uncontrollably, so most of the volunteers were helping them get warm. I think they could tell I could handle myself. The volunteers did come in handy leaving the tent though. I had 4 "sunscreen appliers" attack me all at once. I was prepared for the afternoon in the Arizona sun. I grabbed my bike and was on my way.
T1 Time - 9:28
The Bike (112 miles)
The bike course was 3 loops. Mentally, I broke this up into six 19ish mile sections. The course went Northeast of Tempe onto a road nicknamed The Beeline, through an Indian reservation, and back.
On the "out" sections, the first 10 miles was fairly flat, and the last 9 miles had a gradual incline of ~400 ft. This is nothing for those of us in Southern California that are used to climbing. It was, however noticeable that it was NOT flat. The good thing about this is that we had a slight descent for part of the way back! On my 6 mental segments, I'd look forward to getting to the turnarounds. On the "out" turnaround, I was excited because I had a descent (and a tailwind) coming up. On the "back" turnaround, I was excited because we turned around at transition and I could soak in the love of the crowd and see Pat and my Mom cheering me on.
Loop 1 Highlights
- Seeing Pat and My mom heading out of T1
- Mile 5- Passed the "country" aid station and saw one of the volunteers handing out water in a Speedo. Little things like that just put a smile on your face during such a tough day.
- Mile 13 - Peed on my bike for the very first time. Yes, you may think this is disgusting, and it kinda is, but it saves you lots of time from having to stop. I would pee probably 7 more times on my bike and then rinse myself with water. My friend Tina stopped at the port-o-potty 6 times on the bike course, averaging 3 minutes each stop. If I stopped each time I had to go, thats 24 minutes I would have lost!
- Mile 15 - I feel like I am going slow. What does my bike computer say? Is that 11 mph? Ugh! Luckily everyone else around me was struggling as well. We were heading up a slight hill and into the wind. Yuck!
- Mile 19 - hit the turnaround for the first time. Averaged 25-27 miles an hour for the next 8 miles. Woo Hoo!
- Mile 23 - GOT STUNG BY A BEE! Little B*tch! Got stung right in the chin. I pulled the stinger out and prayed for the next 10 miles or so that I wasn't allergic (I can't remember the last time I got stung). No swelling...breathing ok, I think I'll be fine!
- Mile 37 - Done with loop 1. Saw Pat and Mom at the TCSD booth. Heard Mike Reilly call my name.
Loop 2 & 3 Highlights
- Was able to maintain 13-14 miles/hour on the 2nd loop in the section I was riding at 11 mph on the first loop. Hmm...winds must be dying down. Unfortunately this meant that I had less help on the way back to town.
- How easy it was to stop for my Special Needs bag. This was the only time I clipped out of my pedals durin gthe entire 112 miles, and it was only for 30 seconds. One of the volunteers brought my bag right to me, opened it up, and gave me what I asked for. I took my 2nd nutrition bottle (650 cals of Carbo-pro/Motor Tab mix), and completely forgot to take my extra Gu's. Oh well. I had more cals in my bento box, or could stop at an aid station if needed.
- Passing the "country" aid station about 8 miles from the end of loop 2. "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy" was playing. Hearing that made me Soooo happy!
- Was able to maintain 15-16 mph on the out section of loop 3. Crap! The winds changed direction! Slight headwind on the way back. Now averaging 18 mph rather than 25 mph. Booooo!!!!
Overall, I took in ~1300 calories of carbopro/motor tab mix (2 bottles), 300 calories of gu, 5 bottles of water, and 12 salt tabs. I was very happy with this nutrition.....on the bike.
Bike Time - 6:31:02 (17.19 mph pace)
Oooh. Ahh. Ooo. Brick legs like no other running to the transition bags. I guess I looked good though because volunteers were cheering me on saying "wow, look at her go" as I passed a few boys (in pure Jen N. fashion of course!) I made a quick stop in the tent to change into my run shorts (Thanks so much to the volunteer that helped me....I know my shorts smelled!) I got lathered up in sunscreen again. It was time to run!
The Run (26.2 miles)
My body decided it couldn't run and digest food at the same time. Blood flow could be used for the legs, or for the stomach, but not both. This sucked, because when my stomach felt good, I could've held a 10 minute pace easy. The legs felt great! Alas, I needed SOME calories, and even taking in a little bit would cause problems for my stomach. It would just sit there. UGH! It was so frustrating.
So, the run went something like this: run a bit, walk aid stations, take in small amount of food (coke, cookie, grapes, water, ice), walk a bit to let food digest, run a bit, walk up hill, run down hill, repeat. Unfortunately there were a couple moments on flat road with now aid stations where I had to walk as well. Boo Stomach!!!! The whole run went this way! I was cursing my stomach almost the whole time!
- I started the run and immediately saw Pat. Great inspiration! I smiled for the camera and made my way down the lake path.
- Hit mile one and saw Mary's coach. He commented on how good my leg turnover looked. I agreed!
- Passed Mary's coach and realized...uh oh, heart rate too high, stomach not happy, red alert red alert, need to walk NOW!
- Got passed by Jen...she was on her 2nd loop looking GREAT!
- Mile 4- best mile at 9:58 pace. Hit the mid-part of the figure 8. Saw Pat and Mom, ran under the bridge and saw the AWESOME TCSD crew!
- Miles 5-9 - fairly good (according to my Garmin. I really don't remember)
- Mile 10 - Decided to let myself walk all aid stations and the 2 hills on the north side of the lake. Saw Lorenzo getting off the massage table at one of the aid stations and walked with him for a minute.
- Mile 13 - half way there. Feeling like crap. Ran into Mary. We ran together for a bit. This made me feel better. She was on her last loop...almost there!
- Miles 19-20 - According to my Garmin, I did hit the wall. 13:26 pace and 13:54 pace. My worst miles of the day.
- Miles 21-25.5 Pure survival. Glutes, hamstrings, quads, knees all bothering me now. Could've pushed through that pain. Still couldn't push through unhappy stomach issues. Met a girl named Jill from Sherman Oaks. We pushed eachother for a bit. This was great!
- 0.5 miles left. Started picking up the pace! I was almost there. All smiles now. All pain is miraculously gone!
- 0.3 miles left. Saw Pat and smiled for the camera (he then booked it to the finishline)
- 0.15 miles left. Reached the fork in the road and took a left for the finishline
- 0.1 mile left. Hit a dark, quiet part of a parking lot before making the turn to the finisher's chute. I had about 15 seconds where I was pretty much alone with my thoughts. Started getting a bit emotional and teary. This was really happening. In less than a minute, I'd be an Ironman.
- Last 20 yards. Just Awesome. No words to describe. The crowd, the lights, the finishline. I put my arms arms up and smiled, smiled, smiled!
Run Time- 5:03:07 (11:34 pace)
Detailed Race Results: