I did it! 70.3 miles in 6:06:10. I was shooting for sub-6 hours, but given the heat during the run I am more than happy with that time.
This event was hard, but I got such a kick out of it. The run was probably the most brutal run I have ever completed. I have done some long, hot hilly runs. But this one seemed particularly hard. Half was uphill, half was downhill, and all was in full sunlight. I have never been that uncomfortable, but in the same breath, it has been a long time since I have had the mental strength to say – I’ve got this.
There were many experiences through the race that made me reach back to things I have learned along the way, whether directly through training or from previous endeavors, but all helped me deal with some of the madness I found out there.
The morning greeted me with an amazing sunrise. All athletes took shuttles from the center of town out to the race start. I was listening to music on the ride, thinking about all the work that has led to this event and wondering if I was going to be able to pull it off. Actually be able to justify all of the time I have taken from being with family and friends. I was nervous if I could actually do it.
The first was the swim. If you have never done an open water swim, it can get pretty spooky. Murky water, knowing it is deep, lots of people churning around you. It is amazing the way your mind can take over and makes a controlled event seem really sketchy. I was about .1 miles into the swim when my mind started questioning what I was doing. Thinking I couldn’t breath and I had SO FAR to go. I immediately started questioning this endeavor. A close friend’s lesson popped into my head – a story around deep water and thinking too much about something (Thank You Jerry!). Right around this time, I saw someone swim over to one of the safety boats and pull the plug on their swim and end their attempt. I kept thinking about his story and honestly laughed while swimming and quickly got my head refocused on the task at hand. I finished the swim in 46 minutes, getting out of the water feeling elated. Now I could get onto my strong events.
I have been a cyclist my whole life, and I couldn’t wait to get on the bike. There aren’t many places I feel more comfortable in than on a bike seat, and yesterday was no different. I went in with the mindset of not having to mash on the pedals all the time, just stay consistent. My comfort also let me switch my head off and just move.
The heat started to increase and I knew I had to stay on top of my eating and drinking or else I would never finish this thing. There were aid stations every 14 miles and I took full advantage of them. The volunteers were so awesome. The one I stopped at (not just rolled through grabbing what they had to offer), a woman ran up to me and asked me what I needed and made sure I was taken care of. I was in and out of there in less than a minute with full bottles. I found myself doing well where others were struggling and made up time on people when going uphill. They may have passed me on the downhills, but I would pass them on the next climb and would give me distance on them.
The other thing about the ride that was entertaining were the signs people had along the course to cheer us on. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Covfefe Faster!
- It is called an IronMan because it is hard. If it were easy, it would be called your Mom
Leading up to the run, I was not too concerned about it. In hind sight, I should have been. It was brutal! The course consisted of two six mile loops, three miles uphill and three miles down with very limited shade in 90+ degree temperatures. That run beat the shit out of me. I drank as much liquid as I could, but did not feel like I could get anymore in me without getting sick. It was a weird balance I was trying to do…
The Town of Raleigh came out in full force and rooted every runner on. A few of the businesses set up their own cheering sections and it definitely made it easier to push on when I was feeling low. I have to admit that having your name on your race number is nice. Having people call out your name and root you on is a very empowering thing when you don’t want to continue. The finish for the IronMan is another amazing event I find difficult to explain. The cheering noise and the announcer really got my adrenaline pumping. I felt like I had nothing left in my tank, but when hearing the muffled announcements and the growing sound of the crowd I got a surge of energy to push me through the finish.
In all it was an amazing experience and I cannot wait for Lake Placid in seven weeks!