Monday, October 17, 2011

IMKona: The Run

Affectionately called...the ugly.

The green carpet/astroturf leading to the change tent in T2 seemed to be extraordinarily hot and the bottoms of my feet immediately felt like they were blistering.  I'm sure it happened on the ride (socks next time) but I only noticed on the run in. From a short jaunt around transition to the tent?  Seemed unlikely but as I arrived in T2 my feet needed to be off that carpet ASAP.

The tent was busy and I needed to take a seat and get my sh*t together.  Compression socks on, yes to sunscreen, shoes on, change of sunglasses, hat on....nothing else to do but run out and start the marathon.

Legs were OK right away but my head wasn't quite right.  Dizzy?  Lightheaded?  Hot?  All of the above.  I tried to ignore it and just get my legs moving.  I'm not gonna lie.  That first mile sucked.  It was awful.  But with the streets lined with encouraging spectators I ran on.  Peter yelled at me coming your own race.  I could see the faces of worry on Keith and Nancy - I must've looked bad.  Sonja's family encouraged me to go.  My family was at mile 1 and I was hurting so bad I just wanted to stop and have my mommy take care of me.  I kept running.

But promptly at 1.5 miles, I stopped.  Passing out seemed like a good option and I had yet to pee.  (as a reminder, roughly 7 hours had passed and not 1 drop of urine had escaped my body.  After 8 bottles on the bike.) I walked.  I jogged.  I walked.  And I got through those first 5 miles.  KE teammate Kendra went by on the way back to Palani and she looked awesome.  I had seen KE teamie Grant sometime before that and HE looked awesome.  Sonja passed and gave me a low five, she looked like she may have been hurting but she was running.  I tried to cry but no tears....
As much as I didn't want to show this picture, this was reality.  Not pretty and you can see me throwing down a sponge.
Aid stations were my refuge.  Sponges, water, ice, perform, coke, water, ice, sponges.  Every mile.  There was no way I was completing a marathon.  I was absolutely NOT going to walk a marathon.  How does one even drop out of an Ironman I pondered at mile 4.  I hit the turnaround and started jogging.  And it felt OK, well not OK but not as bad as I had been feeling.  Clearly, Coke was going to fuel this marathon.

The deal was made: walk the aid stations and run to the next one.  Take as much aid as possible - ice down the top, in the shorts, water over the head, in the top, in my mouth, sponges everywhere, coke.  I somehow had managed to bring myself back from wherever I had been going and at mile 7 I finally peed. Oh sweet pee....thank you!!  And I knew that I would finish.  The look of concern on my parents face as I passed was obvious and I tried to let them know that I would be OK.  That I would finish even though it was going to take me a lot longer than I had anticipated.  My family was around the next turn and all I remember is Isabelle yelling with complete excitement "I love you Mommy"!  Oh sweetie, I love you too!!

 I don't mean to be negative but when I turned onto Palani I thought to myself....what kind of stupid cruel joke is this?  It was the steepest hill I'd ever seen.  With spectators lined up on all sides yelling at you to keep going.  Really??  Have you looked at this hill?  My feet had been hurting since I left transition and I knew I had some quality blisters on the bottoms of both my feet.  I had dealt with that pain as best as I could but on the downhill after Palani my left foot screamed out and forced me to stop again just as I thought I was gaining momentum.  I walked/limped to the bottom of the hill and then started to jog again.  It wasn't as bad on the uphill so I ran again.

Trying to smile....
This was reality.
Mile after mile, run.....where's that aid station?  And I'd see the sea of yellow shirts in the distance and knew I could get there.

Aid. Walk. Jog. Run.  Rinse and repeat.  But I found that I was able to run the uphills (not Palani style) fairly well.  Fairly strong.  So I went with it.  Keep running.  Suddenly (exaggeration) I was at the Natural Energy Lab and that awesome downhill.  Aid. Walk. Jog. Run.  Special needs where I picked up my sports beans.  I looked up that hill out of the NEL and was determined to run it the entire way.  And so I did.  Get to the aid station.

10k left and it was just time for me to give everything I had.  I started walking less at the aid stations.  And running more.  It was aid from just the first half of the station (just sponge, water, ice, coke), jog, run.  I started tracking down athletes in front of me.  A woman from France was with me and we started running together.  And encouraged each other.  She couldn't speak English but knew enough that she would look at me and say 3 miles left.  If we keep running maybe make 11:15?  Mile 24 sign.  Just 2 miles to go.  If I got ahead, I would look at her and she would catch up. Same story if I fell behind.  Right before mile 25, the blood blister on my right foot  burst and made me stumble.....she waited for me.

I could hear Mike Reilly announcing names and I knew I'd see the finish line.  I was on Palani (as a note: running downhill with blisters was almost as painful attempting to run up that darn steep hill) with my new best friend (that I'll never see again).  Onto Kuakini.  There's Henry.  There's the next street and OMG there's Hualalai.
No arms up.  No jumping.  Just a smile and a finish.
Even though I had not come close to my goal time, I couldn't help but smile ear to ear.  I had perservered.  I kept going.  I righted myself when I was listing badly and didn't think I could/would finish.  My last 9 miles were my "fastest"!!  Running down Ali'i Drive was everything I had imagined - glorious, beautiful Ali'i Drive.  My family went absolutely bonkers went I went by and I high fived them and heard my dad say....she's smiling!!!

Run: 4:20

Total:  11:11:12, 31st AG  (no worries, next post will be on 1111 thoughts!!)

My catcher immediately was in my face and trying to assess how I was doing since I had stumbled, weaved and bobbed after I stopped running.  He was great - asking me my name and where I was from and just assessing my coherency.  All I wanted was to sit down but he wouldn't let me - too great a risk for passing out apparently.  It is still surprising that the instant after crossing the finish line, I couldn't walk another foot.  Helen (Sonja's mom) took over from my wonderful catcher and  hugged me while I cried.  Then I saw Sonja and she led me over to the water - my legs were throbbing and I felt like I was on fire. Of course, as soon as I got in the water I started to shiver.  The end of an Ironman is not a pretty sight.
So happy to finally sitting down

My own family reunion was fantastic and with a doctor (dad) and nurse (sister) in the family, they were all over me making sure I was OK.  Or at least as OK as you can be after Ironman.

It's been more than a week since I crossed that glorious finish line.  Lots of time to think about what direction I want to go from here.  Am I doing another Ironman? It wasn't too long after crossing that finish line that I knew the answer.  Though I had the "one Kona and done" thought in my head between miles 1-5 on the run, I now know that my Ironman career is not over!  I want to qualify and race Kona again!  It's not unfinished business, but it is a desire to do better.....I just know I have a better race in me.  Not to mention, I'm 2 for 2 in flatting in an Ironman and I'm quite curious to get through an IM bike without a flat!!  (I'm not sure where/when the flat happened, I just know that the front tire was pancake flat when the bike was retrieved from transition)

Of course, this post (and this season and this Ironman) wouldn't be complete without thanking my supporters and my sponsors.  My family has been incredibly supportive of the training this year - without them, none of this is possible!  Kompetitive Edge and TYR for keeping me looking good!!  Quintana Roo for the fastest bike EVAH!  Justin's Nut Butter and Love Grown Granola for fueling this hungry athlete, Nuun for keeping me hydrated, and First Endurance for the fantastic nutrition products.  And Ron at Punk Rock Racing!!  Of course, the guidance of my coach Chuckie V led me to Kona in the first place and I've got my fingers crossed that he will guide me there again:)!!

 A huge hug for my Partner In Crime Sonja - we have been friends for years now and all I can say is that training and racing with her is an absolute privilege:)  Here's to our next adventures!!

Mahalo everyone!

So there it is, Kona 2011 is in the books and I'm looking forward to a great off-season and then the planning for next year!!


Beth said...

Michelle! First, I'm glad you confirmed my suspicions that our swim group swam straight for the buoy line instead of out and over little by little. YIKES! I felt like I was getting killed. If only you and I could have swam together WHERE WE WANTED. Ah time! :) Also, I feel as if the same exact thing happened to my feet - blisters that started on the bike but then my feet were ON FIRE through transition and the run was just...ouch.

Anyway, I enjoyed reading your race report! I know you will get that Kona slot again and be so ready to rock it next year!! Congrats on getting to that finish line, no matter what challenges you faced. So happy to meet you in person!

Michelle Simmons said...

INteresting- I think you and I had pretty much the exact same race in Kona. Except (luckily for me) I did not have as many photographers out there on the run course capturing how ugly it was. ;) Great job hanging in there, and yes, let's try that one again sometime. For sure. :)

goSonja said...

So proud of you PIC, and being your training partner I know what is in you too. I have seen it on so many occasions and I know the beast that lurks within. You showed your true colors when you put your nose down and simply ran when you could out there. Many did not. But you and I know there is this race in you that is dying to come out. xoxoox

Sooo....we get to go back together?? Yip!

Meredith said...

You're amazing!!!

Jennifer Harrison said...

Congrats on your race!! Kona is something else, isn't it? But what a great day you had! Enjoy your off season!!

Anonymous said...

Really impressed that you held it together and finished strong. Sounds like everyone struggled a lot on the run. FWIW, every time I saw you, you were running! Great job out there. Here's to making it back there someday - surely it will be easier the second time around with all of the lessons learned.