Monday, June 20, 2011

Ironman Texas 2011 Race Report - Run

After a successful swim and a fun bike, it was time to get down to business - get through a marathon on my own two feet.  Let me preface this RR by saying a few things:
  1. I really don't like heat (I know - why did I sign up for IMTX in MAY of all things if I don't like heat!),
  2. Since moving from Houston to Denver, I lost any semblance of heat tolerance that I had.  Mainly because I kept getting snowed on, as documented here, here, and in my many cranky snow updates on Facebook.  If fact, we were having a BBQ in Castle Rock a week before IMTX and guess what??? SNOW.  ugh. 
  3. leaving for the run and feeling good!
  4. Taking into account 1 and 2, I promised Will that I was not going to end up in the medical tent with an IV/puking due to heat stress.  If it got hot and I had issues, I was going to be smart and slow down.
I came out of the changing tent started running.  I went out the Run Start chute and saw a few friend faces and was remarking out loud "I can't believe my legs feel this good".  My legs felt AWESOME - too awesome.  I had just biked 112 miles - why were they feeling so good? (because you trained well and your coach kicked your ass - duh!)  So I went a mile, took a drink of my Infinit concentrate, and that's about when the wheels fell off.  Well, maybe the wheels went from round to square.  The heat and nutrition in my stomach was NOT a good combo.  It felt like I had someone taking all their fingers, wrapping them under my left ribcage and pulling with all their might.  Not fun.  I was still determined, though, so I did some run/walk intervals as I saw fit.  The run trail was an 8+ mile loop, 3 loop course.  You went out past Lake Woodlands (swim start), along the lake, then into a wooded path, then through a swanky neighboorhood, then into the canal area (swim exit) where you ran along the south canal, up past the Anadarko building, up and over the canal, then you had a mean out and back along the north side of the canal, up a hill and past transition, then you had a VERY MEAN run past the finish line where you started loops #2 and 3. 

very early on in the run
Somewhere along the south canal stretch, Anne ran past me early on while we were in the woods - looking great as usual.  I ran across my friend David (I still don't know how I was ahead of him) and he was having stomach issues also.  We walked for a bit then did a long run strech, where then after ~5 minutes, I decided I needed to walk again and David kept running.  And that's the last I saw of any other friend-athletes. 

Loop #1 wasn't bad - it was long and hot, but not bad.  I saw Will by transition, told him I was feeling decent.  Then at the start of the second loop things got bad.  With my stomach issues, I really hadn't had much in the way of nutrition - for over 2 hours. Which is BAD when you are 10+ hours into an endurance race.  I started getting dizzy and loopy - a sure sign that I was low on sugar and had to do something STAT.  Also: this sensation made is nearly impossible to run - or even run/walk.  At the first aid station in the second loop, I started hitting the coke, usually 1 or 2 cups per aid station.  I was trying to do a 2 min run/3 min walk, but in the end, it was actually faster to just walk.  (sad but true).  Just to show you how far down in the energy hole I was, it took the coke a full hour to do its thing.  Not good.  

near the end of loop #1.  still felt good enough to smile

By that point, from all the walking, I was starting to get blisters, it was a loooong second loop, and I wanted nothing more in life than to curl up in a ball and fall asleep.  I resolved to just fantisize about napping all while keeping forward progress.  I was just generally unhappy with life.  Unhappy that I was forced into walking.  Unhappy that my "blister-proof" socks - seriously, I've ran in these socks for YEARS without even a single blister - had failed me when I needed them the most.  Unhappy that my shoes also contributed to my blisters.  Unhappy that I had done the second loop pretty much by myself with no one to keep me company.  Unhappy that I was definitely doing my third loop in the dark.  Yep, just really unhappy.

if you look closely, you can see me walking off into the
darkness.  very crabby, indeed.

I found Will again just past transition (Loop #2).  He was there with our friends that were hosting us.  I was one crabby and unhappy camper.  They were all "you're doing great!  you look great!  good job!"  My only response was a very bratty "I have blisters, its hot, my stomach feels horrible, and I have another loop to do IN THE DARK.  I will see you in 3 hours".  And with that, I tossed my hat, sunglasses (who needs sunglasses in the dark!), and worthless hand-held bottle of nutrition at Will and walked off into the darkness.  I wouldn't even let him take a proper photograph of me.  I think I even told him to remind me later on, should I ever want to do another IM of how miserable I was at that moment, so I wouldn't do this again.  I really can't recall a time when I've ever been that crabby!

So after that bratty display, after a few minutes, I felt really, terribly bad.  My friends and husband were out supporting me, and all I could do was be crabby.  As I passed special needs, I decided that it was a good time to get my bag and take 2 Aleve.  I know its not a good idea to take stuff like that while you're racing, since your liver is under enough stress.  But everything was hurting and I thought it would make me feel better.  I'm glad I did. That loop #2 through the finish chute was just really uncool.  People don't know what loop you're on and they're cheering "you're almost done!"  Nope, I've got another 2-3 hours of this, but thanks.  Finally, after the first aid station on the third loop, my spirits were doing better.  They gave us glow necklaces.  I found some walking buddies which helped pass the time.  People were still out cheering. 

The one cool thing that I got to experience that the earlier finishes didn't was this cool/spooky glow-necklace lit forest.  Most of the course was well lit with street lights, except for maybe 2/3 of a mile though the trees.  To keep us on course, the race crew used glow necklaces (only they kept them as sticks) and put them perpendicular to the path.  They were placed every 3-5 feet or so along the whole trail, producing this really cool but also sort of creepy effect.  Either way, it was really neat to experience.  When we got to the swanky neighborhood, I started to out-walk my current company and was walking on my own for a bit.  When I got to the waterway, I met up with a guy from Louisiana and we were well matched for pace.  He was actually maybe a bit faster than I was going when I was by myself, but that was a GOOD thing.  We walked and talked, thanked people for staying out to cheer.  Passed the time and got it done.  Finally we walked up the last hill and into the part that went into the Marketplace, indicating that the finish was near.  He looked at me, and asked me if I was ready to run.  And we both ran to the finish - although he was faster than I was.

The finish line is a bit of a blur.  I remember that it was lined with cheering people.  It was very well lit - not harsh lighting but warm, welcoming lighting.  I ran down that chute towards the finish line, aware of my blisters with each step, but not caring.  I was going to finish strong.  I made the turn into the finish line - focusing on smiling and running strong.  The nice thing about finishing late is that you can hog the finish line photo all to yourself. Well, maybe 100 yards before the finish line there was a guy ahead of me walking. 
I was very irritated because I WAS NOT going to share my finisher photo with someone else.  I had a choice - hang back and wait for him, or sprint ahead.  I chose to sprint, which was fun, but I do not remember Mike Reilley saying that I was an Ironman.  Hmmm. 

I crossed the line, raised my arms, and smiled BIG.  I was an Ironman.  FINALLY.
I was immediately greeted my my finish line handler, who was VERY concerned about me.  Apparently people were dropping like flies.  He put my medal around my neck, handed me a water.  Then a photographer took my photo.  Fortunately I smiled because that was my "finisher medal" photo.  No traditional IM background, which really irritated me!  Anyways, my handler had my finisher hat and shirt and was grilling me on who I was with.  I kept telling him that I was fine (I was!) but he insisted on walking me to the end of the chute to meet Will.  He was nice enough to take a photo of me and Will together, and then that was it.  I was done.  I was an Ironman.

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