||Sunday, November 21, 2010
||Triathlon - Ironman
||Female 30 - 34
||Wind, rain, hail and a PR! Lots of concrete on the run, and a beautiful desert on the bike!
Ironman Arizona 2010 – Race Report
For those of you who have followed my race reports, you know that my first two Ironman experiences included inclement weather and panicked finishes in the final half hour of the race. 16:41:38 in Lake Placid 2008 and 16:34:27 in Coeur d'Alene in 2009.
After being battered by winds, rain and 54 degree chill at Coeur d' Alene last year, I talked to my then coach, Ryan. He asked me, knowing my goal of completing all of the full distance M-dot courses in the world, “So, what's next?”
I told him that I was thinking of Cozumel in 2010 to get an international race in. I also mentioned that wherever I was going, I wanted to race in dry weather! He suggested Florida, which I nixed, saying, “Are you kidding, Ryan?! I would bring a hurricane!”
So, seeking warm and dry, I settled on the idea of Arizona. The race was set for November 21, 2010 in Tempe, a city which boasts 336 bright, sunny, warm, DRY days a year! Great odds, right?
So, I set about recovering from IMCDA and racing out the rest of my 2009 season with IMAZ in the back of my mind. I traveled to Seattle in October and got my USAT coaching certification, and started coaching some terrific athletes. Due to financial challenges, I parted ways with my coach and became one of those terrific athletes on my list of clients.
Whether that is good or bad is a moot point now that it is November 23, 2010, and I am sitting in the Phoenix Airport waiting for my post Ironman flight home. Let's just say, I wouldn't have paid myself for the coaching I gave myself. I never wrote my training plan. I never logged my workouts. I let my Garmin fill up with data until it could hold no more, and when I did download it, I didn't look at the data. My training schedule was based on the weather, invitations to group rides and runs, and what I felt like doing on that particular day.
I raced a lot in the 2010 season though. I completed the National Marathon, Tour de Skyline (most of it), GW Parkway Classic 10 Miler, American Triple T Ohio, Shenandoah Valley Sprint, Philadelphia Insurance Sprint, Philly Women's Sprint, Luray Double (sprint and Oly back to back days), Patriot's Half Ironman, American Triple T North Carolina, Fill the Shoes 5k (my first 5k lol), and then it was time for Ironman.
The original plan for Ironman was to drive the RV across the country to Tempe and then spend the winter in Arizona training and opting out of the whole winter thing. It was going to be the grand kickoff to my life on the road as a full time RV dweller. After several setbacks, and a grand new plan to launch The Ironjen Foundation, I decided that this wasn't the time to depart the DC area permanently.
So, November 17, I boarded a plane at Dulles with my bike swathed in many layers of foam and bubble wrap and stowed in my friend, Tristan's Picka Packworks bag. I arrived in Salt Lake City and spent my three hour layover working on 501(c)(3) paperwork for the foundation.
I boarded the final flight to Phoenix, and sat on the plane reading up on training with a power meter. The trip had been uneventful, which is unusual. There were no stories to tell. I hadn't met anyone interesting. I hadn't had a single interesting thing happen.
After I landed in Phoenix, I headed out to find the lightrail to downtown Tempe. The airport staff was friendly, and the shuttle driver explained the best rail/bus route to the house I was sharing with six other DC area triathletes.
The train was crowded, especially with my bags, but the other passengers were accommodating. The rail passed right by Tempe Town Lake, where the swim was scheduled to take place. It was a beautiful sight! Water in the lake! Back in June, the dam burst, and Tempe Town Lake sat empty while the city frantically scrambled to repair the dam and refill the lake in time for race day. The Slowtwitch triathlon forum had been full of speculation of a duathlon for the 2010 Ironman Arizona.
My bags and I managed to squeeze off of the train and grab a bus to the corner of McKellips and Scottsdale, about a half a mile from the house. Two guys took my bags off of the bus for me and then inquired about where I was going with all of that stuff. When I told them that I was going to lug it all a half mile down the road to a house, they offered to carry the bike bag and my suitcase for me! I happily accepted the offer, and we walked and talked.
Arriving at the house, my helpers left me at the door, and would accept no offer of money for their assistance. I thanked them profusely and knocked on the door. Emily and Al greeted me and assisted me in getting my things inside. I met another of our housemates, Kip, and got the tour of the place.
The house was a beautiful ranch with a spacious floor plan and a pool out back. My room was the living room, and I set about arranging my things as unobtrusively as possible.
When Michele, Chuck and Dave got back, we all headed out to a place called Keg for a steak dinner and beers. I stuck to one drink, since I was feeling a little dehydrated. I found it amazing how much the dry air sucked the moisture out of me. Not wanting to jeopardize my race, I made great efforts to keep my water intake high.
The couch was comfortable to sleep on, and the time zone change was good for me. My body likes going to bed around midnight and getting up around 9, so I was a 10 – 7 sleeper out in the mountain time zone. Race day was not going to shock my system too awfully!
The next morning, I ate breakfast and set about putting my bike together. She made it through her first plane ride unscathed! It took longer to unwrap her from the layers of padding than it did to reassemble her!
That afternoon, we all made our way down to the expo to check in for race day. The expo was bigger than the ones at Lake Placid and Couer d'Alene, but the town overall had a less Ironman-centric feel than either of the other places I have raced. There were a lot of people that had no idea that there was even an event getting ready to take place.
Check-in was easy. There was no line, and the volunteers worked with seamless efficiency. I picked up my race numbers, my Ironman AZ bag, my transition and special needs bags, and my timing chip and made a quick visit to the Bike Tech tent to say hi to Les and Taz from East Coast Bicycle Academy and to adjust my front derailleur that had been bumped up slightly and was complaining about pushing the chain into the big ring.
Les was happy to help me with the derailleur problem, and happy to let me park the bike on one of their racks until I was done at the expo!
I shopped around the expo, picking up a water bottle and a jersey bearing the IMAZ logo. I tried out the Newton trail shoes, and I got some free ART (Active Release Therapy) to loosen up tight hips and shoulders from the flights. Then I hopped on the bike and headed back to the house.
That afternoon, after everyone had retreived their bikes from Tribike Transport, we rode one 37 mile loop of the three loop bike course as a preview. I was surprised at how flat it was! I knew that the elevation profile for the AZ bike and run courses was much friendlier than the profiles for my previous Ironman races, but I didn't realize how much friendlier! There was a slight headwind on the way out to the turn around, but it didn't make thing difficult. I was averaging 17.5mph at a nice easy effort. On the way back, the tailwind coupled with a very slight descent made for 20+mph stretches! It felt great, and I hoped that we would encounter the same conditions on race day.
We went to Locasios for Italian that night, and were entertained by Al's ongoing commentary on the date that was taking place at the next table. He was concerned that the guy's choice of footwear was a deal-breaker for his well-dressed female counterpart. I saw nothing wrong with wearing flip flops on a date, but then, I try to wear flip flops well into winter.
Friday morning, I attended a focus group at the host hotel about product development for blenders. Yes, blenders! Anyone who has had the divine opportunity to taste something from my Vita-Mix blender knows that I am passionate about good blenders! I got the opportunity to be a part of the focus group from an email from Ironman offering a $50 gift certificate to the Ironman Store for volunteers for the focus group! Anyone who knows me also knows that I am passionate about things that declare my Ironness, so 50 free dollars to spend at the Ironman Store was too good to pass up!
After an hour long discussion on what athletes are looking for in a blender, I met back up with Emily, Al and Kip to go to the De-Stress Zone for 80 minute massages! At $59, it was a heck of a deal! It was one of the highlights of the trip too. I love a good massage!
After our massages, we got lunch at a nearby Safeway and briefly stopped at the house to get ready to go to a Slowtwitch gathering at a local tri shop, Tribe, in Scottsdale. They had food and drinks, t-shirts for the registered attendees, and about 10 pro bikes on display. Matty Reed, an Olympian from 2008, who was racing his first Ironman, was on hand signing posters and posing for photos with us age groupers! Shortly after I got my pic taken with him, Linsey Corbin, a Montana based pro who won Coeur d'Alene this year, showed up as well. She signed a poster for me and I got a picture with her too. I had hopes that Chrissie would be there too, but she wasn't expected.
When we left Tribe, we went directly to the athlete dinner and pre-race meeting! I usually love these meetings, because the presentations are usually motivating, terrifying, and moving. They are usually held beneath a large tent near the race site, but since Arizona has such gorgeous, clear, dry, mild weather, they simply set up in a field next to the Tempe Center for the Arts along the bank of Tempe Town Lake.
A local restaurant, Monti's was contracted to provide penne pasta, chicken breasts, salad and cookies. Our athlete wristbands granted us as much food as we wanted for no extra charge, and I took full advantage of it, knowing that big pre-race meals were keeping my fuel tank topped off for what was to come!
The presentations were the same as usual. They opened with the You Will Do This video that never fails to stir my emotions, even when I watch it on YouTube, which I do on occasion, because it reminds me of the feeling of Ironman when race day is far away. Then they played a humorous video about what not to do at Ironman, which I didn't really find all that humorous. They introduced the oldest competitor, Sister Madonna Buder, aka The Ironnun, who was racing her 44th Ironman at age 80! They introduced the youngest, an 18 year old girl from Tempe who was inspired to race by her Ironman parents. They gave away prizes to the male and female who lost the most weight, and they spoke with two married couples who were racing and a father and son. The Ford Everyday Hero was a police officer with an autistic child who considers himself just a regular guy.
I got to meet my Twitter friend, Nina and her husband, Dana, who are both tri coaches too! He was signed up for the race, and she was there to support and cheer! I was also anticipating the arrival of another Twitter friend, Ron, who followed my online during my IMCDA race in 2009, and was so inspired by my finish that he registered for the race in 2010! He completed the race with just less that 15 minutes to spare, and I got to follow him online along with a gigantic Twitter party of athletes who were also cheering for him!
During the meeting, which was a basic overview of the flow of race day from the course directors for the swim, bike and run, and a reminder about the rules and penalties. They also gave a brief talk on the practice swim that was scheduled for the next morning, as it was different than in previous years, where Gatorade sponsored swims on each of the three mornings leading up to race day. There was quite a bit of grumbling about this. As the meeting closed, the evening chill of the desert had set in and we hustled to the car to get warm.
Saturday morning, we packed up our wetsuits, goggles and caps and made for the lake for the practice swim. They had set up a 1000m course that was essentially a miniature of the single loop we would swim the next morning. The water temperature was reported to be 61 degrees, which is chilly, but not the coldest I have ever encountered.
With wetsuits on, bags checked in, and timing chips in place, we found the swim start and stepped off of the dock steps and into the lake. It was refreshingly cold, and it took about 100m or so for my face to get used to being in the water. Michele, Emily and I stayed together as we swam up one side of the rectangular course and then back down the other side. Since the swim exit was also at the dock steps, I was grateful for the opportunity to practice getting out before the actual race. Everything went smoothly, and we were soon out of our wetsuits and changed.
Back at the house, it was time to pack our transition bags, and prep the bikes and nutrition! We had to have our transition bags turned in and our bikes racked by 3pm. I affixed my race numbers to my bags, my helmet, my race belt and my bike, and I divided my equipment into piles for each bag. I filled two bike bottles with Perpetuem powder and a flask with Hammer Gel. I would add water to the bottles in the morning. I was ready relatively quickly. I guess I am getting used to this.
Dave and I decided to toss our bags in backpacks and ride our bikes the two miles down to the transition area. It was an easy ride, mostly a slight downhill. As we navigated our way through the sea of athletes, bags and bikes, I remembered walking around in Lake Placid in 2008 with Contessa, my first race bike. I remembered staring at my holographic wristband and at the very very fit people surrounding me. I remember doubting that I belonged in this crowd.
Two years later, here I was in Arizona, a veteran of the Ironman system, tattooed, branded, addicted, and legitimized in my own eyes. I flashed my blue wristband to the volunteers assigned to restrict the flow of traffic into the transition area to athletes only, and I wheeled Matura down the long aisle with one hand as I scoped the signs on the ends of the rack for our race number, 2236.
I found the rack, and hung Matura by her saddle. My bottles of unmixed Perpetuem, a couple of raw food bars, and six raspberry Hammer Gels were already on the bike. I texted Ron to see where he was in all of the craziness, and we planned to meet by the entrance to transition. I recognized him from his twitter and blog photos. He had on an awesome shirt from his company Punk Rock Racing. It was gray with a picture of Chuck Norris on it and it said, “Chuck Norris never did an Ironman.” Awesome!
Ron had his son, Nick, take a few pics of us, and we waled over to the bag staging area. Ron and Nick waited while I weaved through the crowds of athletes and found the designated spots to drop my swim to bike and bike to run bags.
When I was done with bag drop, Ron and I met up with Nina, who also happens to coach Ron. We took pictures of the four of us to post on Twitter. I made sure that Ron and Nina knew what I was wearing on race day so that they could better spot me on the course. I wished Dana luck on his race, and went to find my housemates.
That evening, Michele, Dave and I cooked dinner at the house. Kip, Emily and Al went out for dinner. Chuck had Chinese carryout. We each did what we needed to do to be ready for race day. In my case, I consumed as much high quality food as I could stuff in all day long.
I went to bed very early, very full, and ready to race.
I can't say I slept well. I was nervous about the race. I knew beyond any doubt that I could do Ironman. I lay there on the couch wondering why I was nervous, and at the same time relishing that something in this sport still has the power have me lying awake the night before a race. It is a good feeling to have a huge challenge ahead!
Still dark, I woke to a 4am alarm, and spent a few minutes checking in with my body. Legs felt good. Neck and shoulders felt good. Stomach still felt full. I felt positive, excited, happy, and still very keyed up and nervous. I knew from experience that I just needed to channel that through my body and let it out in the form of swimbikerun. I also knew, that when the gun went off in a few short hours, I would feel an utter calm take over my body, and it would do what it is trained to do. Go. 140.6 miles to the finish line.
I got out of bed and changed into my race clothes. Louis Garneau Shark tri shorts, and a sports bra for under the wetsuit. My Ironman CDA race jersey was waiting for me in my swim to bike bag. I threw on warm up pants and my IMCDA finisher jacket and made some breakfast. Coffee with chocolate milk, two flax waffles with warm mixed berries on top.
We didn't leave the house as early as I had hoped. Dave and I were sitting in the car with our special needs and morning clothes bags chatting nervously as we waited for the others to come out. We had plenty of time, but I always feel rushed if I am not in transition the second it opens on Ironman morning. This is funny, because at any other tri, I am the queen of the last minute transition setup!
As we drove to the race site, the radio played 80s rock softly, and it hit me. I forgot my ipod. I needed my pre-race Eminem fix. Before I could feel sad about missing that part of my race routine, I grabbed my phone and fired up Lose Yourself on YouTube. I pressed the speaker to my ear and let the words fire me up for racing! My race mantra and one of my life mantras is from that rap. “Success is my only motherfuckin' option. Failure's not.”
With that fresh in my mind, I grabbed my bags, jumped out of the car and followed Michele, Chuck and Dave to transition. I filled the Perpetuem bottle and my aerodrink with water and borrowed a pump to inflate my tires to 110psi. I looked at Matura, thankful for such an incredible bike. It was to be her first Ironman. It was my job to make that happen.
The sky that had been a clear cloudless bright blue for months prior to race day, was overcast and the color of slate in the slowly advancing dawn of late November. The forecast was a 30% chance of rain with 10-19mph sustained winds and 30-40mph gusts. I was no stranger to challenging weather conditions during Ironman. I hoped that the forecast was wrong, but knew that I could handle whatever mother nature had up her sleeve.
I walked my special needs bags over to the park where the trucks were waiting to take the bike bags out to the bike course, and where the run bags would be staged for pickup much later in the race. I ran into Joey, my friend and former co-worker from two of my bike shop gigs. It was his first Ironman! We exchanged hugs and kisses and wishes of good luck and headed in separate directions to finish preparing for the race start. My sister called at 6, and I talked to her while I waited in line at the porta johns. It has been tradition for her to call an hour or two before my Ironman races. In 2008, the call from an unfamiliar number caught me by surprise. It was Maggy, calling all the way from Italy, seven time zones away. I was in transition waiting in line for a pump, when she called and I stood there crying. In Coeur d'Alene, I talked to her while Les, Corby and I were walking from a coffee shop to the race site with gigantic mochas!
After my pep talk with Maggy and a visit to the restroom, I called my mom. On her way to work, she promised to get the whole ER cheering and following online between patients.
It was time to get in the wetsuit. Next to Matura again, I dug into my morning clothes bag and grabbed clear goggles, my purple Ironman issued swim cap, my wetsuit, timing chip and a stick of Body Glide. I smeared the body glide on my wrists, ankles and neck, and slid the wetsuit on easily. I attached my chip to my ankle as Mike Reilly announced that transition would close in 10 minutes. I slipped my cap on and tucked my ponytail inside of it and adjusted my goggles around my head.
My heart was beating fast. According to my Garmin 137bpm. I took some deep breaths and walked towards the swim start. The pros were already in the water, and there was a swarm of age groupers waiting on the dock for their turn to jump in.
The gun went off at 6:50, marking the start of the pro race. I knew Chrissie would pull off a win, and I hoped that Linsey Corbin would have a great race too. On the men's side, I was pulling for Matty Reed in his first Ironman, and Jordan Rapp, who had been near death earlier in the year after a devastating accident during a training ride.
They were calling the age groupers into the water now, and lines of us stepped off the edge of the dock and into the cold water below. When it was my turn, I hesitated a moment, wanting to stay warm just a little longer, then jumped. The cold water wasn't as shocking as I expected as it filled my wetsuit. From the dock, we had to swim to the right and under a bridge to the line of kayaks that were delineating our start line.
I found a spot near the front. They always advise the slower people to seed themselves near the back to avoid the sometimes violent ordeal of getting swum over by the faster swimmers. I am a middle of the pack swimmer, and I have always had the good fortune to avoid most of the beating even when I am near the front. I like to draft off of the faster swimmers for as long as I can and slowly fall back into the middle of the pack.
There we were, 2300+ chilly athletes bobbing in the lake, clad in neoprene anticipating the gun as the music blared in the background, and Mike Reilly revved up the crowd. The bridge above was lined with hoards of spectators, as was the shoreline for as far as I could see. We were either pretty inspiring and exciting or one heck of a freak show!
I looked around, and started to tear up a bit, as is typical on Ironman morning. As a tear slipped from my eye and landed in the bottom lens of my goggle, the gun went off. Like a switch had been flipped, I was suddenly in my element. Calm and happy, I started swimming amidst the commotion. My head was up to avoid any potential kicking, and I was carefully negotiating a space in the melee. I couldn't stop smiling!
Soon, things had thinned out enough to allow me to get in good swimming form. Long smooth strokes with high elbows, breathing intuitively on both sides. The course was still crowded, but I found that the light jostling nearly always served to correct my course around the buoys. I smiled some more, as I accepted and invited corrective jostling, thinking that this is how life works too. The events that tend to jostle us are usually opportunities to correct our course or reassess where we are going.
The single loop course took us along a crowded bank and past two more bridges before turning left and left again to head back to the dock at Tempe Beach Park. I felt good in the water. There was no fatigue in my body, and the two times I checked my Garmin, I was right on my expected pace to have a roughly 90 minute swim.
As much fun as it was, it sure didn't feel like 90 minutes when I made the final turn around the buoy and glided up to the dock steps. A volunteer reached down and grabbed my hand and hauled my out of the water, helping me find my legs on the steps before letting me go.
I ran up the steps and turned left towards the wetsuit strippers. Two guys pulled the wetsuit off of my upper body, yelled, “DOWN!” I dropped to the mat I was standing on and kicked my legs up in the air, as they yanked the suit from my legs in one quick motion, tossing it into my hands as I took off running.
I was grinning and laughing as I ran to the field of blue swim to bike bags. The crowd was screaming and cheering, and I was enjoying being a super hero once again! A volunteer handed me the bag with my label on it and directed me to the change tent. It was hot and steamy and packed with bodies in various stages of undress. I found a spot to sit and a volunteer helped me slip my jersey, arm warmers and compression calf sleeves over my wet body parts. I added my shoes and helmet, stuffed my swim gear in the bag and handed it back to the volunteer, thanking her for helping.
On the other side of the tent, I found myself in transition. I ran up the aisle looking for the row where Matura was parked. Volunteers were yelling my number out to the man who was grabbing bikes for my row. He handed me Matura, I yelped out a joyful scream, because I was just having too much fun, thanked him and took off running for the mount line!
The portion of the bike course between the mount line and the main road was a no pass zone, so we rode slowly at first, smiling and taking in the energy of the crowds lining the course! Oh to be able to bottle that feeling! Just before I hit Rio Salado Drive and the end of the no pass zone, I heard someone call out, “GO IRONJEN!” I looked and saw Wonkee from Bike Rack Multisport! I yelled back, as I turned onto the road and took off for 112 miles with the most gorgeous bike in the world!
Rio Salado Drive was lined with thick crowds of people! I felt so good, that I knew it was going to be a trick to hold back on that nice flat road that lay ahead of me. I smiled at the spectators and thanked the volunteers as I passed them. I crossed over Scottsdale Road and the crowds thinned out. One whole side of the road was closed off for bikes, and some people in cars on the other side cheered out their open windows or honked their horns happily.
I looked down at my SRM computer and saw that I was pushing 110 watts, going 17.5mph, and my heart rate was a perfect 157. This was right where I needed to be. I had never ridden a three loop course in a race before, so managing my effort on the bike was going to be different. The plan was to take it really easy on the first loop, pick it up slightly on the second loop, and leave what was left of my biking legs on the course for the third. So far, so good.
We swung a left on McClintock Rd for a short stretch, crossed a bridge and made a right on McKellips. There was an aid station ahead, but I wasn't in need of anything yet. It was a good reminder that I needed to keep drinking in spite of the cool temps and overcast sky. I remembered back to the preview ride we had done a few days ago, and how dry my lips and skin got. Hydration was going to be key.
For nutrition, I had 3 raw food bars, a bottle of double strength cafe latte Perpetuem, and 6 Raspberry Hammer Gels. In my Aerodrink, I had water with TriBerry Nuun for electrolytes. My special needs bag contained a second bottle of Perpetuem powder that I would mix when I got there. I was set!
I sipped regularly from the Aerodrink, and took big swigs from the bottle of Perpetuem in my rear cage.
Left on Alma School, right on McDowell, and left on the Bee Line Highway. This was the longest stretch on the bike course, and the most scenic. The road stretched out in front of me, familiar from our preview ride three days ago. It seemed like I had just gotten to Tempe, and that it wasn't possible for race day to have arrived already, but here I was, on the bike course.
As we left the urban center of Tempe behind, the landscape changed. There were distant mountains of red rock dressed in wispy, low-hanging clouds. The dusty earth was speckled with cacti with their fat arms reaching skyward. This trip was my first to the American southwest, and I found myself absorbed in the scenery as I let my legs spin.
I tried to drain my Aeordrink between each aid station, which were spaced about 10 miles apart. I would grab a new water bottle at each aid station, refill the aerodrink, toss the bottle and keep rolling, yelling thanks to every volunteer I passed.
Most of the aid stations had themes to entertain not only us, but the volunteers whose scenery would not change for hours and hours as they stood on the side of the road holding out water, Ironman Perform, gels, and bananas for thousands of riders to ride by and grab. One aid station was themed as a carnival with clowns and a dunk tank. There was one guy in a wetsuit on the dunk tank platform who taunted us as we rode by, enticing us to toss our empty bottles and trash in an effort to dunk him. I nearly succeeded on one pass when the bottle I threw skimmed across the netting on the front of the tank. He made a face at me, and I laughed and rode on.
Twice on the first loop of the bike, I saw Chrissie Wellington and the rest of the pro field flying by, led by motorcycles. It was exciting to scan the course for these semi-famous people who do my hobby for a living and grace the covers of my favorite magazines, Triathlete, Inside Triathlon, and LAVA. I cheered them on as they passed me in one direction and then the other.
Chrissie, of course, is the three-time world champion, undefeated at the Ironman distance, Kona course record holder, Challenge Roth course record holder, and the woman that even the men fear on any Ironman course. Linsey Corbin, a pro from Montana who struggled with overtraining and came back to win the women's race at Ironman Coeur d'Alene this year. Matty Reed, who made the transtion from his Olympic appearance in 2008 to do his first Ironman here at Arizona. Jordan Rapp, who, months before, had been involved in an accident that nearly killed him, while on a training ride. It was an honor to share the course with such talented athletes.
I also kept my eyes open for my housemates, Team FeXY members, and Joey. At some point I finally saw each one of them. The one person I was looking for that I never saw, was a guy named Carl that I met while running the National Marathon in March 2010. If you ready the report, you know that Carl was the key to my finish in that race, and you also know that I did the race on two weeks of training due to bronchitis, and that I started the race on sore legs, due to plyometrics. If you didn't read the report and you want more details, click on it when you are done with this one. It is a marathon what not to do story!
The first loop of the bike went by fairly quickly, but as I rolled back towards the crowds at Tempe Beach Park the already stiff winds picked up and pushed against me. I glanced down and watched my watts and heart rate go up and my speed go down.
I had obsessively tracked the weather in Tempe for months leading up to race day, and all I had seen were sunny days. As race day drew nearer, the temperatures dropped from the 90s to the 80s to the mid to high 70s, and I relished the thought of a warm dry sunny race. Earlier this week though, I had looked at the weather, and there was a blemish. A perfect row of little yellow sunshines was interrupted by a little gray cloud with rain drops, on Sunday. A quick read of the detailed forecast also called for sustained winds of 10-19mph with 30-40mph gusts. Really? Rain and wind on race day? I had joked that I could make it rain anywhere I was racing an Ironman, and apparently, that wasn't the joke that I thought it was.
So far, the day had been overcast and dry, but as I approached the edge of town, I felt a light mist on my face and arms. Precipitation is as much a part of my Ironman experience as swimbikerun. I just laughed and reveled in the fact that this was much less rain that the previous two Ironmans.
As I rode down Rio Salado Drive with its screaming spectators, my emotions were stirred again. In years past the emotion was amazement that I could do what I was doing, but this year, it was simply intense joy. I slowed at the turn around and rolled over the timing mat that marked the beginning of my second loop.
I wound my way back out of town, and I admitted that I needed to pee. At Lake Placid and Coeur d'Alene I had peed on the bike, and it was always took a lot of mental work to be able to do that. Logistically, it requires checking behind you, so that you don't pee on a fellow athlete. I kept glancing behind me for several miles, but there was always someone nearby. It was aggravating for two reasons. First, I couldn't bring myself to pee on someone, and second, I had been doing a lot of work to avoid drafting, and now I was being drafted. I have to admit that there was something satisfying about being drafted though. It isn't something that normally happens to people riding at my speed!
At the next aid station, I gave in and stopped at to use the porta john. The line was short and a volunteer held my bike for me. While I waited, I stretched out my neck and shoulders which were achy and it felt pretty good to get off the bike and stretch for a minute.
I was back on the bike pretty quickly, and I was careful about rejoining the flow of traffic. The guy who pulled out just ahead of me, nearly caused a crash.
I felt really refreshed after my tiny break. I hadn't really been tired, so I was surprised that I felt so energized. The turn around was coming up, and shortly after that I would see the half way point and the special needs bags. I checked on my Perpetuem to see if I was on schedule to run out at 56 miles. I was good to go. I took a long drink from the bottle and shoved it back in the cage.
The horizon was shrouded in mist and clouds, and the road was wet, as if it had really rained. As soon as I noticed this, I felt the big drops start to fall. The rain picked up suddenly and fell steadily, but it didn't bother me as much as the constantly shifting winds that, at times, caused me to have to lean the bike severely just to stay upright.
At the turn around, I thanked the volunteers as I executed the u-turn around the cones and headed in the direction of special needs! In my bag, I had socks, an energy drink, a replacement bottle of Perpetuem powder and a bottle of water to mix with it. I was half done with my gels, and I hadn't touched my raw food bars. I didn't feel like I needed or wanted my energy drink, but I was still excited about special needs, just because it marked the halfway point on the bike.
I thought back to the half way marks at Lake Placid and Coeur d'Alene. At Placid the halfway point is in town, and it is full of screaming spectators in costumes with noisemakers. It was pouring rain, as it did for 16 hours that year, and I was crying and smiling, overwhelmed by the experience of my first Ironman. When I passed the halfway point in Coeur d'Alene, I was riding through town. I was happy, but the energy wasn't the same. The cold and wind had driven many of the spectators indoors. I was hurting. The hills and the wind were a brutal combination, and I felt like I had been beaten with baseball bats. It was a bad place to be with 56 miles to ride and a marathon to run.
Today, I was feeling really good. I felt nearly fresh as I pulled up to the special needs bags. A volunteer was ready with my bag, and I quickly switched out my bottles, added water to my new bottle of Perpetuem, opted to skip my energy drink, handed the bag back to the volunteer, clipped back in and got to pedaling the last loop and a half.
The wind was getting worse, and I hoped that it would die down by the time I was on my final loop. I was grateful that it wasn't a hilly course like Coeur d'Alene. Right about the time I was thinking how nice it was that the course was flat and that the rain wasn't bad, it began to downpour. I had to laugh.
I rode out of the downpour pretty quickly. All of the rain seemed concentrated out near the turn around on the beeline highway. All of the wind was pushing against me as I left that turn around behind me. After this, I would only have to fight the wind one more time, and then it would be time to run! I was still holing out hope that the front would push through and the last lap would be calm.
I fought the wind all the way back to town. When I made the turns as I headed back into the city, the headwind became a crosswind, and I noticed the I was leaning my bike at an angle so sharp, that if the wind were to suddenly stop, I would fall. I made the push back down Rio Salado to the turn around for the third loop. To the right was the bike finish, and I knew that there were a lot of people out on the run now. I wondered about the pro race as I pedaled out for my third and final loop.
I was beyond the halfway mark, and I still felt really great. It helped to have the wind pushing from behind for awhile. I was able to hold a steady 21mph for awhile. I stopped once more to pee on the way out of town, and a check of my Garmin revealed that I was on target to crush my previous bike PR of 8:01:28 set on the steep an soggy climbs of Lake Placid in 2008.
The thought of killing my PR like that got me really excited about the run! Though the weather here wasn't cooperating, I knew that I was going to make, at the very least, my third tier goal. Since Ironman is such a long day, with room for so much to go wrong and so much to go right, I set multiple tiers of goals for these races. If the day goes wrong, I have goals to fall back on, and if the day goes extremely right, I have goals to move up to!
This year, I set the pie in the sky goal of sub 15 hours. I based this off of a 14:52:33 total time for 142 miles of tri at TTT North Carolina, which was a course with similar terrain. My second tier goal was a modest sub 16 hours. It would require me to shave 35 minutes or more off of my time from IMCDA. My third tier goal was just to beat my Ironman PR from 2009 of 16:34:27. And finally, if the wheels came off of my race altogether, my last ditch goal was to beat the 17 hour cutoff. I also had two bonus goals. I wanted to finish in time to get a small finisher t-shirt, as they have been out of smalls at the last two races, so my finisher shirts are more like dresses. I also wanted to finish with enough time to plan my stinky three time Ironman self in the stands to cheer on the midnight finishers. Last year I was able to make it back to see the one guy who crossed after the cutoff. This year, I wanted the whole cheering experience!
I scanned the sky for signs of additional rain, and found the very persistent clouds still hovering low over the red desert landscape with the sun's rays fighting their way through, creating misty beams of light across the view. I thought of my Nikon D60 snuggled up in its bag back at the house and how nice it would be to have it here to grab these images. My desire for a camera deepened as I looked to the left and saw a vivid arch of color streaked across the sky! A rainbow! Oh to have a camera! I took in the beauty around me and thought just how very grateful I was to be here racing.
With the help of the wind, it was a quick trip back out Bee Line highway, and soon I was pedaling against the wind for the last time today. It felt good to be on my way to the run. I was feeling relaxed about the time and optimistic about the run. I wasn't planning on running the whole marathon, like I forced myself to do last year. I was planning on taking it by intervals. I knew my training wasn't going to support me in running 26.2 miles solid without walk breaks, so I built them in. 5 minute of running and 5 minutes of walking was the plan.
The Bee Line finally gave way to the first of the several turns back to town. The miles were clicking away, and the bike ride was nearly over. My favorite part of the Ironman was almost done. I began preparing mentally for the run.
I hadn't eaten any of my bars, and I hadn't been hungry. I knew at some point I would want food, so I grabbed the bars out of my bento box and stuffed them in my jersey pockets. Now I could eat them on walk breaks if I needed to. I drained the last of my Perpetuem, and kept sipping Nuun from my aerodrink.
On Rio Salado for the last time, I pushed against the wind that stubbornly resisted me until I reached Tempe Beach Park. The next time I would see Rio Salado Drive, would be a couple of blocks down from the bike finish in the finisher chute, but that was hours away.
I steered the bike to the right and into the park, soaking up the cheers and scanning ahead for the dismount line. I stopped Matura at the line, swung my leg over her, surprised at how easily I was moving at this point in the race, handed her to a volunteer and headed off to get my bike to run bag.
A volunteer had my bag ready for me as I approached. I thanked him and ran off to the change tent.
It was less crowded than last time. I found a seat quickly, and another volunteer came over to help me change shoes. I traded bike shoes for Newton Gravity trainers, and Zensah compression sleeves for tighter CEP sleeves. I decided against an energy drink and my running jacket, knowing I would have a second drink and a second jacket waiting for me at special needs half way through the run.
I gave my bag to the volunteer, and I exited the tent, switching my Garmin from bike to run mode as I crossed the timing mat beneath the inflatable arch labeled “Run Out.”
I ran for 5 minutes and walked for 5 minutes. I felt good, and I was able to walk quickly enough to keep my heart rate from falling too far. I took only water at the first aid station, knowing that if I was going to use coke or chicken broth, I would want to start it later in the race. I vowed no coke or broth until I had passed the half marathon mark.
I did, however take full advantage of this aid station, themed “the pit stop.” They were offering pain relief cream and massages. I ran up to a lady wearing slimy rubber gloves. She asked where I hurt. My neck and shoulders were screaming, as they always do when I have a long ride in the wind. She smeared Dr. Hoy's Natural Pain Relief Gel on my neck, shoulders and upper back. Wow. That stuff was amazing. I felt it working its magic for miles after the application.
The run course was a convoluted loop through the park and back and forth across the lake on bridges. Much of it was on concrete, which is the cruelest surface to already fatigued joints and muscles. In spite of that fact, I felt really really good! I knew I could have run through most of the early walk breaks, but I was aiming to stay steady for as much of 26.2 miles as possible.
I wound my way around the course through aid stations blasting upbeat music and through the Ford Inspirational Mile where a timing mat triggered a message displayed on an electronic board. I had entered my own message this year. IM#3! Go Ironjen! It didn't display before I had passed it, so I just cheered for myself.
I passed wanted posters of athletes posted by the Phoenix Triathlon Club. Shortly after I passed the signs, I figured out why they were where they were. The Phoenix Tri Club and sponsored an aid station and had a law enforcement theme! It was great! They had a dui patrol with lots of bottles of alcohol lined up. Everyone was dressed as a cop or a prisoner. There was one guy who got in my face and yelled, “Get your food and your drink and GET OUTTA HERE!”
I laughed all the way through that aid station. I thanked the volunteers and complimented them on their creativity. This is all part of what makes Ironman so much fun!
After leaving that station, I started to get hungry. I realized that I had forgotten to grab my gel flask from my bike to run bag. Oh well. I wasn't in the mood for any sugar anyway. I grabbed a bar from my jersey pocket and began eating on my next walk break. I ate about two thirds of it before it was time to run again. Perfect. That would keep me from eating too much too fast!
The course invited me up a small hill onto a bridge, where Nina was standing with some others. I heard her say, “ I think that's Jen! It's Jen!! GO JEN!!”
I smiled and yelled, “HEY NINA!!! Thanks for being out here!”
She yelled back as she clicked pictures, “You look GREAT! Keep going strong!”
I ran backwards for a few seconds waving for the camera, then turned around feeling really energized. It was so awesome to see people I know on the course. It always amazes me how much energy I feel from others cheering!
I finally began to see the Janus signs posted along the path, as I ran and walked my way back to Tempe Beach Park to start the second of my three loops. I kept my eyes open for the signs Michele and Chuck and I had made. I spotted Michele's first, then Chuck's just a little ways down, and finally, I saw mine! I had drawn the logo for The Ironjen Foundation, and had listed the names of my housemates.
I smiled and thought about how different this race was compared to the previous two. The foundation is a big part of that difference. In my two previous Ironman races, I was racing as if to drive the last nails through the heart of an illness that tried to kill me. The last two races were about proving something to myself. They were about fight. Me against a disease. Me against the part of myself that created a disease to show me the extent of my self-hatred. Me still fighting me.
Ironman number three was about gratitude. Gratitude for the parts of me that created a disease to teach me about loving myself. Gratitude for the joy of swimming, biking and running. Gratitude for the ability and the opportunity to use what I love and who I am to help others love themselves back to health.
Ironman number three was about reveling in my glorious life. It was a dance with the divine within me. It was a renewal of my absolute faith in myself to do anything I set my mind to. It was about having fun!
My legs felt light, and the run intervals were still comfortable. I thought back on all of my missed workouts and my unplanned season, and I laughed at how the day was unfolding so beautifully.
As I started loop number two, I passed some spectators who were walking along the grass next to the Tempe Center for the Arts. They cheered for me, and I asked them about the pro race. “ Who won?”
“Chrissie! By about 45 minutes! Only 7 men beat her!”
“Who was second,” I asked, thinking about Linsey Corbin.
“I don't remember,” he replied.
“What about the men's race?” I asked, thinking of Matty Reed and Jordan Rapp.
“A German guy, I think,” replied the man.
“Thank you!” I yelled as I began running towards mile 9.
Michele passed me, beginning her third loop, and we talked briefly. She said that Chuck was having a really bad time of it and may have dropped out of the race. I really hoped that he hadn't. I was hoping for a 0% DNF rate for the house! I silently urged him to look at his hands, where we had written words of inspiration.
Mile nine came and went, and I thought about how a marathon once seemed like the stupidest idea in the world, and how when it became not so stupid, it still seemed impossibly long. This last leg of Ironman made for marathon number 6. My body no longer complains too much about it. It seems to say, “Oooooooh! This again. We're not stopping for awhile, huh?” Then it just keeps going.
Back at the pit stop, got some pain gel for my legs, which were starting to feel the familiar bruised feeling of having been pounded for more than 120 miles. I couldn't get over how awesome that gel was, as it cooled and soothed my legs.
It was getting dark now, and I clicked my headlamp on. I had been through two less than optimally lit Ironman marathons, and I finally learned that the smartest way to handle darkness is to bring your own light. This course was better lit than the previous two, but it was still nice to have the extra light, especially on the few stretches of dirt path, as there were rocks that could have caused a nasty trip and fall episode if not navigated carefully.
On the second loop, I got passed by Al and then later, by Emily. They cheered me as they passed, and I cheered them right back! On the few sections of the course where we ran side by side with people running in the opposite direction, I scanned the runners for Joey, Anthony, Kristen and Brad. Based on my last Anthony sighting, he was probably done by now. As for everyone else, I hoped that they were having the race of a lifetime!
I made it past the halfway point, and I had a cramp starting in the bottom of my right foot. I stretched a little when I stopped for my special needs bag and hoped it would go away. I didn't need anything from my special needs bags, so I just emptied some of the unnecessary stuff from my jersey pockets into the bag, handed it back to the volunteer and started to get back on the road when a girl next to me asked, “I am really really hot right now, should I grab my jacket or not?”
“No, I said. You probably won't need it. You won't get cold unless you stop, but when you stop, be ready to freeze!”
“Thanks!” She replied, as we started running together. “That volunteer just kept saying 'it's up to you...' This is my first Ironman, and I just needed someone to sway me one way or the other.”
I said, “It's my third, and once I am comfortable temperature wise, I am comfortable all the way through the marathon, even if my pace lags. If you do get cold, there will be Mylar blankets on the course.”
“Awesome! Thanks!” She said, as I slowed for my walk break.
My foot was still cramping, but it was mild. I started to think about the pit stop and their pain relief gel again. Did I really want to stop there on loop three and take my shoes off to see if the stuff would help this cramp? I was thinking yes.
At the next aid station, I took some coke, and I decided that it wasn't for me this year. It had been terrific in Placid in 2008 and at TTT Ohio this year, but terrible in Coeur d'Alene last year, and apparently terrible here today too.
The station after that I grabbed broth, as I was craving the heck out of salt. I couldn't get enough of the chips and pretzels they had at the aid stations. The broth sat well, but in an effort to keep from overdoing it, I decided that I would only take broth at every other aid station.
On my way over a bridge, I passed a woman running with one leg and one prosthetic. Talk about living without limits! I hoped that she would be able to hold a pace that would get her to the finish in under 17 hours. She was looking really tired and leaning heavily to one side. I cheered her on as I passed and she thanked me.
There were fewer and fewer spectators on the course and the chill of evening set in, and the finish line enticed people with its excitement and warmth. I was about 17 miles in and had just one loop left to go before I would see the party that I could hear off to my left.
At the beginning of the loop, there was a volunteer posted at the fork in the course. I was heading for the right fork to begin my third loop, and he asked me, “Second loop or third?”
“Third.” I replied, smiling at the thought of just a little more than 8 miles between me and the finish line!
“I'll see you when you get back!” He said.
I realized as I ran on that he had the difficult job of enforcing the time cut-off for the run course. He was there to tell people who were beginning their second loop, that their race was over. I was grateful for two things right then. I didn't have his job, and I was on my third loop!
The cramp in my foot wasn't getting any worse, and it wasn't getting any better either. I had abandoned the running intervals for walking, because it was more comfortable on my foot, and I was reduced to running at a pace I could walk anyway, so I didn't see a need to go the same speed with more pain than necessary.
When I made it back to the pit stop, I decided to go for some massage to combat the cramp. The actually had massage tables there at the aid station, and I walked over to one, and told the therapist about the cramp. He motioned to the table and I lay down, thinking how dangerous it was to not only stop during my Ironman, but to stop horizontally for a massage.
He took my shoes off and massaged the cramp out of my right foot and gave the left a little sympathy massage as well. He asked if that was it, and I said that it was good enough to get me to the finish line.
Overall, it was time well spent. My feet felt much better as we left the pit stop. As I passed by the last table, I did grab several packets of Dr. Hoy's pain relief gel, just in case!!
This close to the finish, I allowed myself to eat more than I had on the previous two loops. There was less chance of a messed up stomach ruining the race from here. I could handle anything for 8 miles!
This mostly meant potato chips and broth. I wanted the salt like crazy! After passing two aid stations that didn't have chips, I finally found one that did. I reached my hands into the glorious pile of salty fried potato goodness and came out with a double handful of deliciousness! Not wanting to drop them, and having full permission to be absolutely disgusting (an underrated perk of Ironman racing), I dove my face into my hands and started chewing. The volunteers found it entertaining, and I was in salt heaven! The pile only lasted until I was about a half a block away, but I felt so much better for having had my little fling with the chips!
On my way through the Ford Inspirational Mile this time, I actually got to see my message!! The music was great, and I was actually able to run a bit through this mildly hilly section of the course. My foot was feeling great, thought the bruised feeling in my legs was intensifying.
I decided that I was going to try a packet of Dr. Hoy's on my legs. I grabbed a packet from my jersey and opened it with my teeth. I breathed in the eucalyptus smell of it, and squeezed some into my right hand, which I stuck down the front of my shorts. I began to smear the cold gel onto my quads and IT band. It wasn't as intensely wonderful as it had been at the aid station, but it was better than nothing. I repeated the process with the left side and shoved the empty packet back into my jersey pocket.
Just about 5 miles left to go! I wished I had the legs to run five miles like I normally run 5 miles. If I could do that, I would be done in less than an hour!! I looked at my Garmin and saw that I was maintaining 15:00/mile pace, and that was going to have to do.
Because I had forgotten to turn off the auto-pause feature on my Garmin, I wasn't sure how my time was looking. I knew that I had midnight solidly beat, and was pretty sure I had a PR locked down. I knew a sub 15 was not going to happen today, but I thought I might just make a sub 16. I guess I'd know for sure in about 5 miles!
I started thinking about my finish. This first year, I made no plans for the finish. I just planned to make it there. The video shows my arms flying wildly in unabashed joy as I ran down the chute and across the line with a time of 16:41:38! Last year, some girls I chatted with in the last mile, advised me to ditch the trash bag I was wearing, so I could “look good” for my finish picture! I laughed and decided to boldly represent what really happened, and wear my trash bag all the way across the line for a time of 16:34:27.
Though, still all about the reality of the experience, I was considering grabbing the sign I had made and carrying it across the line. The plan served two purposes. First, it kept me from having to walk an extra quarter mile back out to go get it, and it pimped The Ironjen Foundation to the crowds! I had a few more miles to decide.
With about 5k to go, I could see the last bridge crossing, and it seemed really far away. I looked out across the lake, and saw the park along the shore. I looked all the way down towards the finish line, and I could see the lights glowing there. My eyes sure thought 3 miles looked like a long way, but my mind and my legs knew otherwise.
I made the bridge a lot faster than I expected and was soon on the other side of the lake, where I would stay for the remainder of the race. The path was hard packed dirt, and there were a few spectators still wandering nearby. There was an older woman with short blonde hair who had attached angel wings to her head and was ringing bells and cheering each of us by name. Then there was a crowd of teenage boys who were all dressed as cheerleaders, complete with overdone makeup and stuffed bras. I loved the effort people put into spectating!
The park was well lit, so I turned off my headlamp and stuck it in a jersey pocket. The rest of the course would only get brighter.
I passed the last aid station and took only water, my craving for salt having been satisfied. My only craving now was the finish. That craving wasn't about ending suffering or agony though, it was about the crazy, intense, electrifying feeling of hitting that carpet aisle, flanked by stands full of screaming people, and hearing Mike Reilly call me an Ironman, again, still, and evermore.
My eyes searched the side of the path for my sign. When I saw it, I grabbed it off of its little metal legs, and tucked it under my arm. It was just barely small enough to allow my hand to support the bottom edge of it, as I jogged towards the fork in the course. I would get to go left this time!
The excitement was building. I knew I was headed for a really big PR, and I felt really proud and really overwhelmed. Not that I want it to, but I wonder how it is that the feeling of finishing Ironman never fades, and never changes.
I waved to the man still standing at the fork, pointing me home. I turned left, my eyes blurry, and I ran through a parking lot behind the tents that housed massages, medical, and the finisher lounge. At the corner, I could see the bright lights of the finisher chute. The music was blasting, and Mike Reilly's voice was filling the entire night with his booming declaration, “You are an Ironman.”
I shifted my sign and grabbed the bottom edge of it in both hands as I came around the final left turn of the course. I hoisted it high above my head as I crossed under the first arch and over the timing mat that alerted Mike who was coming into the chute. The crowd was thunderously loud on both sides of me. People pounded the signs hanging from the fences in front of the stands, and their drumming filled my ears. I was smiling so big that my face hurt, and I heard Mike say, Jennifer Tallman, of Alexandria, Virginia, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN! My whole body buzzed with a feeling that is unique to the Ironman finish line.
I saw the clock above my head. 16:04:41 and counting. A 30 minute PR! I screamed with delight!
That's when I saw her. Chrissie Wellington, three time Ironman world champion, winner of every Ironman she ever entered, including the one I was about to finish in just a few more steps, was standing just on the other side of the finish line!
I leaped across the finish line and screamed again! Chrissie high fived me, and I said, “OH MY GOD!!! CHRISSIE WELLINGTON!! I hoped you would be here!! Congratulations on your race today!”
“Congratulations to you on your race!” She said, humbly as she wrapped her arms around me and hugged my smelly sweaty gross Ironman body to her. “You did an amazing job!”
“We both PR'd today!” I noted, as a volunteer “catcher” came up and wrapped me in a Mylar blanket, placed a medal around my neck, and held my arm as if I might collapse at any moment.
He led me over to a table and asked what size shirt I wanted. “Small.” I declared, hoping that there were small shirts to be had.
“You might want to go with a medium, since they tend to run on the small side.” He said.
I briefly considered this, but decided that I didn't care if the damned thing fit. I wanted a small, because I finished in time to get a small!
He handed me an orange and white finisher hat with a SMALL t-shirt inside of it, and walked me over to the photographers who were taking portraits in front of the Ironman finisher backdrop.
I was still a little dazed at having met Chrissie Wellington and PR's by 30 minutes. I looked at the volunteer and said, “I met Chrissie Wellington!”
He laughed, and said that she had been there for quite awhile handing out blankets and greeting finishers.
When it was my turn, I handed my stuff to my catcher and I stepped in front of the backdrop. My medal around my neck, my Coeur d'Alene jersey displayed on my torso, and my Lake Placid hat on my head. I held up three fingers for the camera indicating that this was Ironman number three. I smiled, the shutter clicked, and my catcher ushered me to the massage tent.
After my massage, I went back to the stands, found a place right at the front of the bleachers and right next to the finish line arch. I spent the next 45 minutes screaming until my throat hurt and crying joyfully as I watched the last of the finishers make their way across the line.
I watched as the clock rolled by my previous finish times, and I thought how awesome it was to have moved beyond the fear of midnight.
When the clock rolled from 16:58:59 to 16:59:00, another athlete entered the chute. The crowd was louder than ever. Sure he was the last, we screamed and banged, and stomped him home, but suddenly a woman appeared at the far end of the chute. Less than 30 seconds on the clock. I had never felt so much tension. The woman ran, and it seemed like slow motion. I was sure my voice would never recover from the screaming, and I wondered where in the world the energy in my legs to jump and stomp had come from.
Chrissie grabbed the woman's hand and practically dragged her down the chute, letting her go forward about 10 feet from the line. 16:59:43. Seventeen seconds left on the clock.
The spotters at the last turn motioned to Mike that there were no more in sight.
We counted down the last 10 seconds of Ironman Arizona November 21, 2010 together. So ended the IMAZ adventure of 2010. New Ironmen were born & veterans renewed. Though the glory of the accomplishment can never be taken from us, something deeper pulls us onward to the next one. See you in Cozumel in 2011, sttonger, faster, and better than ever!
Thank you to all of my friends who posted to FB while I was racing! It meant so much to me to think of you all cheering for me as I raced! Thanks to my running club the Kinsgtowne Striders, my tri team FeXY, my tri club The RATS for all of the support throughout the year. Thanks to my mom, my best friend, Eileen, my clients at ATP Endurance Systems, my board members at The Ironjen Foundation, and to my uncles Allen and Bill who always cheer me on. Thanks to Ken and Renee Kizer who have helped me integrate what I have learned about myself over the last few years and put it into practice in life. Thanks most of all to that higher part of me that knows no limitations and drives me ever forward.