IMCDA 2008 is in the books. Here is my recollection of the day:
3:30 a.m. Wake up!!
I slept like a baby the night before the race...so much so, that I didn't even hear the storm that blew threw over the night. So when the alarm clock went off I felt fairly rested. I ate my breakfast (bagel w/peanut butter, EAS drink, banana, coffee, z-bar) and got dressed. I was a little quiet, as I usually am before an important event, but was happy to have friends around me.
5:00 a.m. Transition
We arrived at the race site without any problems with traffic nor did we have to park too far away. The morning was damp and fresh from the rain and the air was cool. It was already light out (this time of year the sun begins to rise around 4:00 a.m.!!) and there was an electric vibe that was almost tangible. I first went straight to body marking and had that taken care of before the lines got too long. We were greeted by cheerful and chatty volunteers who seemed to be almost more excited than the athletes to be there - they were great.
Next, I went into transition and checked on my bike. I attached my Bento box, water and nutrition bottles, all of which would be my only nutrition for the 6+ hour bike ride. I then aired my tires and checked that they were not rubbing on the brakes or having any other issues. All seemed in check.
I found my coaches and they seemed just as pumped as we did. After I found my way to the special needs drop off (I only had a SN run bag with a flask of Monster) and then to my T1 & T2 bags to check if my stuff had gotten soaked over night from the rain (all stayed dry) and then a couple of stops at the port-o-let, I found my team.
6:25 a.m. Pro Start
The first cannon went off for the pro athletes. I was excited as Richard, Michael and Desiree were all out there and I was hoping the best for each of them. I then started to get into my wetsuit and was happy to not be sweating in it while standing around waiting.
6:45 a.m. Starting Line
I gave my hugs and started to make my way down to the beach area. I remembered that my coaches suggested we start up towards the front, which I wasn't too sure of, but I had trusted them to this point and I decided to not stop now. So as I made my way up to about the fifth row of people, I realized that I had been separated from all my teammates. As I would be most of the day, I was alone. No Eryn. No Charles. No Audra. No Illiana. No Noah...Ed...Ralph...Rhonda...Chris...Greg...anyone.
I stood on the beach taking a few deep breathes and was listening for instructions, but I couldn't hear anything because I had these super-duper ear plugs in. So the only thing I heard was the cannon firing and then I though "oh crap, we're starting!!". I may start to wear ear plugs more often because since I couldn't hear anything, I didn't have time to get nervous!
I pulled my goggles down over my eyes and ran toward the water. As I entered the water it didn't feel nearly as cold as it had in previous days and I started to swim. I was expecting to have to work on keeping my heart rate under control and to fend off the anxiety that often plagues me...but not this day. I had an entirely different set of problems on this day - ANIMALS!! That's right, it was like swimming with a bunch of wild animals who had been unleashed into the brisk waters around me. I was kicked so hard in the eye at one point that I thought I'd come out with a shiner. I spent the first 800 meters fending off the other swimmers and then at the turn around buoy I actually had to stop and tread water. Everyone in front of me was at a standstill. I was really getting pissed off, this was a race for crying out loud! We were supposed to be moving!! I finally got through that and finished up the first loop, then got out, ran across the mat and went back in for my second loop. This time I swam out from the buoys which cost me a little time, but kept me from getting so beat up.
Total swim: 1:19:43 (a PR of almost 20 minutes)
7:20 a.m. T1
The wet suit strippers were great and as I headed into the tent with my bag I entered a world of true madness! I was hard pressed to find a place to sit and had no volunteer to help with my stuff...no worries, I managed to get into my tri shorts and pack up all my swim gear and head out the door. It took longer than I had hoped but I guess that's just how it goes sometimes.
7:27 a.m. The Bike
What the hell? I climbed onto my bike and as I took my first pedal stroke I knew something was not right. There was a searing pain in my right ankle that wasn't there before. I thought that maybe if I just started riding it would loosen up and be ok. I tried not to think about it too much as I headed out onto the course. As I approached the tough part of the course Eryn flew by me (much to my expectation) and I tried to feed off of her positive energy, but a few minutes later when Charles came whipping by, I thought I was in trouble and told him I wasn't sure if I'd be able to run. I decided that I would put in a solid effort on the bike before I DNF'd...I wanted to at least prove to myself that I could swim and ride even if I wasn't going to be able to run.
I pushed the first loop and averaged 17.95, which I knew I couldn't hold for the second and as the pain worsened, my pace slowed. I still managed to push up the hills with a strong and steady effort and climbed better than several of my aero helmeted and disk wheeled male friends out there. That made me feel good. What didn't make me feel good was having to stop at medical to have my ankle wrapped.
One thing I thought was strange was that two men actually complimented me on my tan. WHAT?? ARE YOU KIDDING?? This is Ironman and you're telling me I have a great tan??
As I was coming in the last 10 miles of the bike I felt really sad. Sad because I saw several people, including a woman from Austin, just heading out for their second bike loop and I knew they'd never make it back before the cut off.
Then something else happened. A bee flew at me and landed on the side of my head where it proceeded to sting me. I probably could have not stopped but I did to make sure I didn't have a stinger sticking out of the side of my head! At this point, I had to laugh.
I have to say that I really enjoyed the course for its challenging hills and awesome scenery. I made sure to take a few moments during the ride to look around at all the incredible views...it's definitely something to see! I also was trilled to see so many teammates throughout the ride.
Total bike: 6:51:54
2:20 p.m.~ish T2
I gladly passed my bike off to a volunteer (at least I hoped he was a volunteer, at that point I didn't really care) and picked up my transition bag then headed back into the tent. As I entered I asked for medical and proceeded to prepare for my run. I thought I'd give it a chance even though my ankle was killing me. The medical person said she couldn't really do much for me so she took me over to the ART guys. They quickly got me on the table and started poking and prodding and I started screaming. I had three guys working on me and finally one told me that my "nerve was stuck". Huh?? What does that mean? Can I still run? He suggested that running wouldn't be good for it then he did something to my leg and I felt a pop in my ankle. I couldn't tell if it was good or bad, but it felt like something let loose. I decided to give it a try as I shoved some gummy bears and pretzels in my mouth.
Off I went.
2:30 p.m.~ish The RUN
And I thought things were tough on the bike...this is where you find out who you are, what you're made of and even then the doubts persist.
As I started running all I could feel was my ankle searing with pain; so much so that I began to wonder if I was even running in the right direction. I questioned it so much that I actually asked a volunteer if I was going the right way. As I headed out towards the lake I saw my coaches and friends on a corner who gave me some words of encouragement, I think that may have been when Chrissie told me she was proud of me, but I can't be sure...anyway, it helped me to keep going.
I stopped again at the medical tent for help with my bee sting and they put some Benadryl cream on which I discovered is a BAD IDEA. Shortly after the application, I became dizzy and was trotting along in a stupor. I alternated Gatorade and chicken broth at the aid stations trying to stave off the deterioration. As I passed teammates along the way they each gave as much encouragement as they were able to muster. Once I reached the turnaround I tried not to think too much and quite honestly, I don't remember much until I reached the neighborhood again. I saw my coaches again and I regained some composure. I cursed the first part of the run loop as I really hated that short out and back, but the spectators were there and again, that helped.
I was making my way back out when again I saw my coaches, that's when
(to be continued)