I thought I would use this blog for two reasons: share how the race went (personal) and show how blogs make us write (professional). Honestly, before having a blog, I would have never taken the time to write all this down. English teachers, take note.
For me, completing an Ironman distance event required four things:
- Support from family & friends
- Mental toughness
1. Training. Obviously, I did a little swimming-biking-running before the event, and while it was not nearly as much as I wished: there are trade offs to be made by mere-mortals who also have jobs and families.
- The swim: 1:17:20. The swim is over so fast, relative to the other legs. It is the closest (and not friendly) contact you have with other racers. (Watch this clif bar commercial simulating the swim to get a sense of what it is like.) The funniest part was how shallow the water was (maybe 2 feet deep at times). Lots of people were standing up and trying to run through it. When I got to the finish, I tried to stand up on the rocks and promptly fell over. After getting my balance, I ran up to the transition area where wetsuit-strippers were waiting to help get your wetsuits off. Just a quick 7 minutes later and I was hustling up the hill with my bike.
- The bike: 7:34:43. I’m probably most proud of this part because I pushed myself the hardest, even after the wasp sting during the second lap. The worst part of it was the road. It was in such bad shape that it felt a bit like riding a bronco. One woman’s gatoradebottle fell out behind her and landed on the road in front of me. I missed it by centimeters. The hill at the bottom of Chalk Hill Rd was tough. On the first lap, it was hard; on the second, it seemed impossible. Several riders stopped and walked. My mantra was “Pain is temporary; pride is forever” but it sometimes mixed up in my head to “pain is forever, pain, pain…”
- The run: 6:09:06. Not so much a run as a long shuffling trot (with walk breaks on the hills). It was every bit the death march as predicted. But there was the guy in the tutu and the girl for whom this was her FIRST triathlon. We chatted and cheered each other on. I did my first two laps, then the sun began to set.
By the time I reached the finish line, it was pitch black out. But I knew that I would finish. I paired up with a woman from Texas to run the last 4 miles, and that was the best time of the whole run. We cruised into the finish at a blinding 12min/mile pace.
- Recovery: Thank you CrossFit and my chiropractor. My knees ached for 24hours, then my muscles were sore for 24hours, and then… fine. A week later and I’m feeling totally recovered.
2. Support of family & friends.
- Scott and I rented a Eurovan and made the 623 mile trip down to Guerneville, California. He drove most of the way and did most of the cooking. Throughout this journey, he has helped me plan workouts, sherpaed for training rides and races, listened to me talk about every detail ad nauseum afterwards. I couldn’t have done it without him.
- For the race, I used a sharpie to write the names of supporters on my left arm, to remind me of all the help I have had along the way and all the people thinking of me during that day. They were a mix of my immediate family, friends from KSI, colleagues from OES. I would look at the names of people during the race and know that they were cheering me on.
3. On my right arm, I wrote two words: Vision and Strength.
- After 15 hours of being alone, you get kind of tired of yourself. I used these two words as inspiration to remember the vision of crossing the finish line (which I have replayed in my head during many early morning training runs) and to know that I have the physical and mental strength to finish, no matter what I felt like at the time. I also counted a lot: 10 steps, 20 steps, 30 steps, 40 steps, 50 steps, walk for a minute. Repeat. Funny how the mind games keep you going. It reminded me of the Marshmallow Test because the kids who had strategies to get through were the ones who succeeded.
After crossing the finish line, confused and not really sure what to do with the ribbon blocking my way, I returned my timing chip and they wrapped me in a space blanket. I flopped down onto the curb and said to Scott, “No matter what I say tomorrow, or the next day, don’t ever let me do this again.” I’m glad I did it, and I am proud that I did it, but I think I’ll stick to the shorter events from now on!