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Well hello there! It sure has been a minute since I last posted. When I signed up for a Full I was told that it would be time consuming and that was no joke! Lots has happened since I last posted but without a doubt the most important this is that I finally finished a 140.6! It was hands down the best experience of my life. I wrote a race report at 3am after the race when I couldn’t sleep thanks to adrenaline (and some pain) so now is as good a time as any to share that!
I was so nervous leading up to the race…years of training went into this race and the pressure was on. This season training went great but I struggled in the wind on the bike all year. It just really got to me mentally and made me so frustrated. Well on race morning we woke up with a rip current advisory in the lake and predicted 15-17mph winds all day with gusts up to 25mph. The swim was moved to the bay. I was so impressed with Rev3 for having a contingency plan for the weather because there was no way it was safe to swim in that lake and it was horrible to even think about having the swim be canceled! Now it would be a TT start 2 people at a time, 3 seconds apart instead of a mass start. All day long I kept reminding myself that everyone is dealing with the same things and just control what I can control and let the rest go.
I was expecting to swim around 1:35. My last 2.4 mile open water swim was 1:33 but that was an EASY course. I am a stronger swimmer this year but with the choppy water and 2 loop weird rectangle course I thought I’d be a little slower. I seeded myself near the back and surprised myself when I was passing everyone and don’t think I got passed at all out there. I felt great in the water. I had absolutely no idea what my time was but felt like I was making good progress despite some horrible chop at times….it was making me a little seasick! When I got out of the water in 1:19 I was SHOCKED (as you can clearly see from the picture). That feeling was a highlight of the day.
Even with the 0.5 mi run to T1 I was in and out in 11 minutes including a full change. The volunteers all day were amazing, especially the volunteer helping me in the change tent who was literally dressing me and keeping me calm. She reminded me about sunscreen, loaded up my pockets with all my stuff and sent me on my way.
Immediately I noticed how much the bike was going to suck because of the wind so I just tried to turn my brain off and settled in. I literally sang songs to myself and tried to enjoy the scenery. The course is much flatter than Pittsburgh and I was expecting to ride about 6:45 but once I was out there revised that goal to 7:45-8 hours. I ate and drank and peed on schedule so those were small victories. Everyone on the course was so encouraging, all the 70.3 riders cheered me on as they passed. The bike is my weakness and I was worried I would be very lonely out there but I was lucky to make a nice friend and we swapped position every 15 minutes or so and I really don’t know what I would have done without him! The volunteers were awesome too and I just kept telling myself to get to the next aid station where I’d get some cheers. I went a little above my HR zones and wonder if that contributed to the painful back half of the marathon. There were times that I was riding with HR 150 (my upper zone for the race) on a flat/downhill and only going 10mph. And even when we had a tailwind there was also a cross wind with gusts that was blowing me all over the road. Finally though, 7:20ish later I got off that bike and have never been so happy!
T2 was quick and I was happy to see so many people cheering for me on the way out.
Despite taking salt on the bike my calves were cramping like crazy and I knew I needed to get to the first aid station to get some water to take more.Also my stomach started rumbling and I was just praying I wouldn’t poop my pants before mile 1! Luckily I made it to the bathroom, took some more Immodium and salt and kept going. I am a very social runner and had fun chatting and encouraging people. My friend from the bike passed me early on and we played the cat and mouse game on the run too. My family was awesome…they were everywhere cheering and taking pictures! I was having the time of my life, smiling and cheering.
My legs felt good but my stomach was hurting. I was popping pepto bismol and tums and finally started the coke at mile 8. There was a hill that I walked around mile 12 and then things started to turn south…my stomach was really bothering me and I just felt bad. I let my nutrition go a little bit and probably dug myself into a hole with the diarrhea but not getting back the fluids or calories. I was mainly surviving on coke and gagging when I tried to get down a gel. I did a little running until mile 14 but then it was mostly a walk from there on out. I think I stopped at a porta potty every single mile. I was really, really nauseous at that point and starting to get dizzy and really hit the wall at mile 17 thinking I might not finish. I knew I had the time to walk the whole rest of the race but the thought of moving for 3 more hours was horrible. I just took it literally 1 step at a time….get to that next cone, make it to that aid station. Don’t think about the mile ahead, just the mile I am in. Having my family there cheering along with the awesome aid station volunteers…especially the crew at the top of the bridge who had music blasting and made it like a party! Really kept me going. The Rev 3 staff was everywhere too, on bikes and scooters, checking in on all the athletes and motivating us especially when it got dark. I never felt alone out there.
My feet had really been hurting for a few miles and at mile 19 I felt something in my left foot that was a searing pain….a blister had popped. It stopped me in my tracks. Luckily I had packed blister bandaids in my run belt so I got off to the side of the road, beld on to a garbage can and put one on. A volunteer asked if I wanted to sit down and I said ‘no because I don’t know if I will be able to get back up’…..a few miles later…same thing on the right foot. Miles 18-22 were the worst, I just gritted my teeth and used every single ounce of grit and determination and will I could to move one foot in front of the other. With about 4 miles to go I started feeling good again! I actually did a little bit of slow running and let myself get a tiny bit excited about finishing but not too much because I still had over an hour to go at my pace. I could see the lights of cedar point getting closer and soon I could see and hear the finish line. Miraculously once I got in the chute all the pain vanished and I was able to run again. It was seriously a party at the finish line….music, lights, confetti, dancing. I took it all in…everyone cheering my name like I was a rockstar and the tears started flowing….I did it! I crossed the line and jumped into the arms of some poor volunteer who probably didn’t know what hit him! He was kind enough to hug me back which was nice. A 6:23 marathon isn’t what I hoped for (about an hour slower) but it didn’t matter, I was so proud of myself. After 15:19 of swim, bike, and run! I am an Ironman! After years of training, I did it. It was the hardest day of my life and nothing anyone can do or say will prepare you for how deep you have to dig out there. I am just so proud of myself! I had an amazing experience and will definitely be back!
I immediately bought a finishers jacket and visor the next morning and pretty much haven’t taken them off since!