Monday, August 4, 2014

Even a bad day can be a great day.

Lead up to race day was amazing! Whistler is one hell of a place to throw a race party. We got up to town on Thursday and of course zip-lined about 2 hours after arrival. Thought, better do it sooner, than later. I’m a touch scared of heights, so why the hell not. Let the adventures begin!
OH Crap, no turning back now!

Zip lining was crazy fun by the way. Only had a death grip on one gate that was hanging about 150ft from the forest floor. A bit hard to let go : )

I was calm and never really nervous the days leading up. Maybe it was because it was my 3rd one or maybe because I still didn’t think I was actually going to be doing another IM.

Hmmm, either way.

My left shoulder got damaged a few weeks before, so I knew the swim was going to be a big question mark. And for some reason I was ok with that. The bike was the bike and I was worried about the flat out and back in the middle of the course, but I figured it would work out. And the run, I was ready for the run, wanted the run, couldn’t wait for the run.

I couldn’t get over the feeling of happiness when I got around friends. Alley and I  rode up with Nick, Matt and Tif and had a great time. Felt way more like vacation than heading to a race. When I saw Josh, Joey, Ryan, Aimee, or anyone from the team I’d feel like it was Christmas morning and everyone had new toys to play with.

Race Morning...

Woke up about 2 minutes before the alarm went off, this is going to be a long day. Up, dressed, eat, out the door. Alley and Tif dropped Matt and I at the buses and the nerves were still at bay. 
There’s nothing like the morning light on a swim start. Snow peak mountains all around, amazing.

Race Start –

Swim was brutal, no need to sugar coat or over dramatize it. Should of given boxing gloves to everyone before. Shoulder started hurting with about a mile to go. Got out of the water and felt like I’d put in as little effort as possible, but my shoulder ached  more than I had anticipated. Felt like I spent an hour in T1, but it was only about 7 minutes.

Whistler was an amazing arena for an IM. The town/city absorbed the race and even had areas that didn’t even know the race was going on. There is everything to do that you could imagine.

The course, especially the bike is phenomenal, a true test for a well-rounded bike rider.  I had my moments on the bike, and man were they sweet. I love climbing and this course had plenty. The pain in my shoulder never went away and ached everytime I went into areo postion. 

I cracked after the last climb to Green Lake at about 105 miles in.

The heat finally had its way with me and my head  was swimming for the last 6 miles. I couldn’t lose any heat and finally the stomach and the head went south right when I first saw the lake heading back into town. I was out of water and my sports drink was hot, hot, hot. 

My Bear Crew

I remember looking at my tires over and over again, thinking that I had flatted both and that's why I was moving so slow. I had one rider about 50 yards in front of me and none behind and kept thinking – I’m the last one on course, how long have I been out here. How did this happen? This kept repeating over and over in my head.

T2 was a bit of a blur. I had lost a contact so needed to drop in another one and that was the last thing I remember until mile 4ish. 

(After the race Alley showed me pics of stopping and posing with her right after T2 and I still don’t remember any of that.)

Dazed and confused
 I was hot and couldn’t get rid of the heat. I kept telling myself don’t talk to anyone you don’t make any sense. You’ll get pulled from the race. 1st aid station was 8 cups over the head, ice down the shorts and one water in the body. Still couldn’t talk and could only walk. At mile 3 (one hour in) I gave up was crying and was starting to looking for someone to give my bib to, I thought if I could just get my bib off and hand it to someone I could get out of the heat. My head was on fire, but my shoulders and legs were freezing. I knew that was far from good, and just over the line from just having a bad day.

Alley really appeared out of nowhere and I could see the concern on her face. I wasn’t aware of much, but seeing her face I think scared me the most. I quickly remembered Teresa saying when you see your support crew out there you DO NOT show them your distress! They have 1 maybe 2 seconds to see you after standing for hours to see you.

I wanted to drop, but in an instant you remember all the nights in the basement, early swim starts, time and sacrifices both you and your loved one has made over the last year. Hearing myself reassure Alley that I was going to be ok, I quickly believed I wasn’t lying. The head and the stomach were gone, but the legs could go.

New game plan….Walk as much of the 1st lap as possible, then run and depend on your legs for the 2nd lap. 

I told Alley after I couldn't comprehend that the laps were 13 miles each. Just that the 2nd lap would be shorter, because I'd be running more. Hopefully.

Photo by Bri Leahy
2nd lap started and everything started to turn. 

Lack of nutrition was catching up, but the legs and stomach actually felt like running. 

3x's I had other runners tell me to stay on them. Just move your legs and follow my numbers. Stay on my hip and ignore everything else. Amazing how everyone looks out for each other.

My nutrition for the run:
30+ cups of water
8 cups of coke = to about one coke can
1 Ruffle potato chip
1 Gu – which took a mile to suck down

Going into this Ironman I felt like it was my last one and I soaked it all in. The training is long hard hours away from family and friends. It’s never about the day, it’s about the 8 months leading up to the day. 

The day, there is nothing like the day of. 

Support crews, yours and others. Athletes, teammates, pushing you on to have your best day while they fight their our battles. It’s a long long day and too many things happen to remember. I felt like I was fortunate to turn the day around after pretty much a full blown meltdown. 

At one point on the 2nd lap I sat down on a water cooler and had this conversation with myself after getting started again: Just four more miles. Four more miles and we’re done. We’re not an endurance athlete we just have to quit thinking we are. After these four we’ll never do this again….but I can run, no one else is running, I can run. I love this.

Would never have finished this one without my Girl.

I don’t know if I need to go back to Whistler for the Ironman again, but I also know I don’t have to say now or ever that I won’t ever again.  On Wednesday after the race Alley asked if it was too soon to start thinking about how I might have done if I’d had “my” day out there. I laughed and we talked about how just 15 minutes too long on the bike cooked the rest of the day. And “How next time” slipped into the conversation several times without either of us questioning it : ) 
Just because you knock a man down dosen't mean you got him beat - Ray L.