Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ironman Louisville 2012 ~ 122.4miles out of 140.6

Thursday August 23rd

Departed for Louisville, this time sans Meagan Leahy, Alex Franz, Carly Farrel, and Mike Coburn. However, 2012 had a big KC contingent with a few veterans and many first timers! Travis Allen, Jon Bohnsack, Brad Cope, Todd Dicus, Heather Evans, Greg Fay, Brandon Goeman, Casey Kershner, Mary Jenkins, Julie Kareck Lopata, Hannah Lubis, Tami Martin, Barry Ogden, Beatriz Pettus, Jessica Provost, Erny Remy, Tom Ruzicka, and Jill Taylor. I arrived in town too late to pick up my packet...drat. Met with Jon and Brandon for pasta. Carbs!!!

Could not believe that this time has finally arrived, 11 months after I signed up AGAIN on 9/26/2011. I said I would never do it again, but I lied.

Friday August 24th

Picked up my packet in the morning then met some of the Louisville group including my 2010 buddy Toby for a drive around the bike course. Minda, who was participating in the wheelchair division was in our group (I saw her on Sunday and said hello on a very hilly part of the bike course). Didn't arrive back until 2pm and started to lay out my gear and special needs bags. Then met up with some KC folks to attend the athlete dinner. I already knew that the Voice of Ironman Mike Reilly wasn't going to be there, and the program was a little um, boring. There were a couple of great videos, including one of an iamtri group member that lost a significant amount of weight. Bravo! After the athlete dinner it was relaxing and early bedtime.

Saturday August 25th

The day before the race. Went to the practice swim in the Ohio River and it seemed to go fine. Grabbed some lunch, worked on my gear bags some more and then my parents rolled into town to meet me. We took my bags and bike down to transition and then went over some of the course info. Then we met Jon, his dad, and Brandon for some more pre-race dinner carbs! We went to Bearno's again on an early reservation. When we came out, there was a crowd waiting. I went back to the hotel and relaxed and got to sleep relatively early. It was a bit overwhelming to think about the magnitude of the race. Oddly enough, I was pretty calm but a bit nervous. The first time you do an Ironman, ignorance is bliss. I didn't have that luxury this time, I knew what I was in for.

Sunday August 26th

Start/Swim 2.4 miles

Woke up at 3:45 AM and got ready, ate a little bit. Met Jon down in the lobby and the plan was for my dad to drive us to transition when it opened at 4:45 and then to the start about a mile away. Brandon had 'ditched' us because he needed to do his own thing. Some people do. We jumped out the car and went in to pump up our tires and put drinks on our bikes. Then we were whisked to the start where we got body marked. As I made my way down the line to look for Brandon and Jon, I met up with Jon to get in line and was shocked that I didn't have to walk very far. We were very very close to the front, because of the new rule about no advance line-holding (camping out) and my dad driving us. I was thinking that we would have been midway through the line, but we guessed that we'd be in the water around 7:05 (it was actually 7:04:41 as I glanced right before jumping in). 

I was feeling nervous, but there really wasn't time for that. The 2 hours pretty much flew by. They were pretty strict about no cutting and no non-athletes in the line to keep things tight. Then they opened up the ramps and we moved forward, kept moving. There wasn't any more time to sit around and relax. They have volunteers come through the line to collect bags so we kept our stuff (phones, etc) as long as possible then gave them up. They played the national anthem, the pros went off, and then it was time to move. We walked down the ramp, and I felt really emotional and apprehensive. I went off dock #1 and jumped...then started swimming the 2.4 miles, 1/3 of the way up around Towhead Island and then 2/3 back downstream to Joe's Crabshack and the transition at Great Lawn park. At the island before the turnaround my arm hit the soft sandbar and I had to get up and walk a few feet to get to deeper water. I looked around and saw a lot of people on their feet moving over the sand.

I really didn't have any problems on the swim and it felt pretty smooth and steady to me. But as I approached the finish I wasn't happy with the time I was seeing on my Garmin. Around 14 minutes slower than my 2010 time...not really sure what happened there. I didn't lap that segment correctly and got some land in there, but it still said 2.9 miles (1/2 mile over the 2.4). Ummm, did I just swim way off? I never really got that far off course and swam fairly straight...I think????? Yikes. 

Bike 112 miles

I didn't let the notion of "catching up" to my 2010 time deter me, stuck to the plan of setting a very relaxed pace. Do not 'hammer' the bike or you will fry your legs. And everyone was passing me, EVERYONE. A couple of miles in, I followed the recommeded taped line across the train tracks and heard a thud. Reached back and confirmed quickly, yes I lost a bottle of hydration+nutrition. 2 miles into 112 is WAY to early to lose that, so I turned around and a gal retrieved it out of the middle of the road for me. Sigh. And I was off again. The first half was solid and slow 15 mph including some stops for water. I was feeling good but my feet were starting to get uncomfortable. I have had some tightness in my calves and feet with the longer distances, not pain but a lot of discomfort and annoyance. On the out and bike, I saw a gal laying on the side of the road not moving and the ambulances were on their way.

The second half of the ride I started stopping more frequently to stretch my feet and calves. Despite the sodium I was taking in (almost 900 mg per hour) I was really cramping up...mainly my hamstrings and my lower back ached a bit. After I stretched every 10 miles or so, I'd feel a lot better but just couldn't maintain that comfort and the stops were adding a lot of time to my ride. Some discouragement set in and the sun was beating down. I felt a bit disappointed. The last 20 miles the mini-meltdowns hit and I definitely remembered how tough and unforgiving the event is. If I'm having a meltdown, odds are I'm not having fun.

Despite the mini-meltdowns, I did spent a lot of time smiling and enjoying the fans particularly in La Grange. I thanked the fans, waved to people, I thanked the volunteers down the line as they stood there for so long attempting to hand water, sports drink, GU, bananas, and bonk breakers to us. I really tried to have a good attitude. I will confess something though, this long distance stuff really isn't my idea of a good time. I'm not particularly good at this really long endurance stuff. I do enjoy challenges and life lessons and epicness though...

I was so happy to get off that bike. Spent about and HOUR longer on there than in 2010...not what I was hoping for. I stopped too much. Total duration I was almost 2 hours off my 2010 and goal pace.

Run 26.2 (or in my case, 8)

Oh boy. My legs were just shot. I figured that I would walk for awhile and see if I could rally and put something together for the run. A volunteer saw that I was looking upset and came over to help with my gear. She was an nice. I got my stuff on and took a bathroom break and then headed out. My parents were at the fence line coming out of transition and I knew that they knew I was way off-track timewise. Still 2 hours behind my 2010 pace and target, so I knew the personal best time that I wanted was not going to happen..

I gave my dad a hug, gave my mom a hug and was so thankful they were there. My dad ran with me for awhile, which was impressive. I then saw a friend of a friend that had heard I was doing the race, and thanked him for giving me a shoutout. I saw Mary A and Jen K, who are also angels. And then yet another angel also known as Jenny W-C on her bike. I gave her a hug too. Then hugged Glenn. I would have hugged more people if I could have.

I power walked across the bridge and tried to gauge what was going on with my body. I was so sick of the Perpetuem despite practicing with it for MONTHS. I came to 3rd St and then tried to do the math in my head about what pace I'd need to do to make it to the finish by midnight for worst case scenario. It was coming to that. For 3 miles I tried some 3 minutes walking / 2 minutes running and thought maybe I could pull that off. Then walked again and it got more and more slow. I came to the aid station at mile 7 or so and talked to the volunteers...I wasn't sure I'd even make it to midnight and the notion of walking a marathon (19 more miles) at that point and not making it was a possiblity. My legs and feet were still shot. The volunteer helped me ice my quads but then tried to prop my legs up and my muscles started having severe spasms and cramps. He tried to send me on my way and I thought well, I'll go a little farther. I hit the mile 8 aid station and still had 18 miles left. At this point, the calculation wasn't adding up and I felt like a truck ran over me. I sat down for awhile and told the volunteers that I thought it would be wise for me to withdraw from the race. They talked through it with me, asking if I was sure...did I need anything, etc. I weighed all of the variables.

I looked up and saw my T2 volunteer lady and I started crying...I think I said "you are here!" and "how did you get here"? I thought it was a sign that it was time to she made it less painful. Another really really sweet lady got me some coke and some fruit and I cried. I felt so sad and disappointed but I knew it was the right decision to stop. I know my body and my limits and thought my ego is healthy enough to handle this. I looked up and saw Bea P running by, looking calm and graceful. In that moment I was so proud of her and happy for her. 

A staff van was picking up 3 other athletes at Mile 8 and I dragged myself up into the seat. I was sitting next to a 10 time Ironman. We removed our race chips, handed them to the driver, and it was over. I was sad and relieved at the same time. 

I was just shy of the next chip time marker at 8.2...and I was glad that I didn't get there and give my friends tracking me false hope. They kind of knew what was up when the splits stopped after the 3 mile checkin :(

All in all, I had been going about 12 hours and 15 minutes.

Med Tent Part Deux

My goal was to avoid the med tent again, but there I was back on a cot with a shiny metallic blanket. I couldn't feel my hands and my body was stiff. The numbness was moving up to my elbows. They tried to do an IV but couldn't find any veins...they tried the tiny sized tool on my hand and that didn't work either. So instead I sucked down 3 cups of chicken broth, a bottle of poweraid, and water. The volunteers in there are so sweet! They really do a tremendous job. 

After awhile I looked over at the next cot as the new inhabitant was settling it and it was Jon B from KC!!! Oh no...but he DID finish!!!! I was relieved to see his medal. He was in bad shape, but ultimately recovered!

Mom and dad came down and retrieved me...I was so happy again that they were there!!!! Being in the med tent in 2010 after I finished was depressing...I never really got to enjoy the party of the finish line. My parents were amazed at how terrible all the finishers looked too...a bunch of really fit people that can barely walk and look like trucks ran over them :) 

I was not a 2-time Ironman, but thankfully I did my 2010 race under my belt. For me, there is no unfinished business.


Coming soon...