Thursday, September 1, 2011

Ironman Canada Part 3

So the third and final leg of the race was beginning and it was hot! I saw a temperature sign and it said it was 32 degrees, which is 90 degrees Fahrenheit and this was now after 4:30 in the afternoon. I started the run and saw Team Embo again right as I left transition. I was super happy they had made it back in time...they were everywhere that day!
I decided I was going to start the race running for 4 minutes and walking for 1. It was super hot, but I felt good running for the 4 minutes. I was however running very slowly...but I thought, as long as I conserved my energy now, I would have enough to get back from the turn around at 13.1 miles.

As I ran out I caught up with Kristy and we ran and walked together for a while. It was good to be able to talk to her, but eventually we got split up due to different bathroom stop schedules. :) As I got farther out on the course I began to see my friends running back in. When I was at about mile 7.5 I saw Dave running back in. I gave him a big hug and kept going. Then I saw Liz about a mile later. Liz and Dave had a bet, that if she beat him, he was going to pay her $1200 for her entry to the race (because she had bought a community spot). I told her Dave was just a little bit ahead and she should pick up the pace. She ended up catching him at mile 24, and made him sprint the last two miles in. He ended up beating her by only 55 seconds! They finished in 12 hours and 43 minutes.....meanwhile...I was still on the run course, jogging away in the heat and sun.

At one point I realized I was wearing a visor and I had a part because Jasmine had braided my hair and I needed sunblock for my part. At this point it was probably about 5:30 or 6, so I probably didn't really need sunblock, but I think I was a bit delirious and I started to freak out. I asked spectators if they had any sunblock and they didn't. But then I remembered that my chapstick had sunblock in it, so I took it out and put chapstick all over my head. :)

At about mile 10 I started to get cramps across my stomach. I was a little sad because this hadn't started until mile 20 when I ran my first marathon last June, so I was worried I was going to not have a very pleasant last 16 miles. So I decided I would walk for 7 minutes to see if I could get rid of the cramps. See when I am running, even if I decide to walk for longer, I always have to decide ahead of time how long my walking break will be. If you don't decide before you start walking when you are going to go back to could end up walking a lot more than you need to.

So after 7 minutes I decided to switch to a 1/1. I wasn't feeling too great...the sun was still out, I hate being hot, and I was super hot. I walked 1 minute, ran 1 minute all the way to the turn around at 13.1 miles. (Except the hills...I walked the hills...I figured why waste energy).

Jim and Serg and Luis were at the turn around and it was so great to see them! They put a bounce in my step, and took the kitchen sink I had in my back pockets. I had 2 power bars, power blasts, GU, my heart rate monitor that I had to take off because it was too tight, my sunglasses, body glide, my Epipen. Basically you name it, and I had bouncing up and down in my back pockets.

I felt so much lighter after handing all that stuff off, and as I began to head back to the finish line I kept thinking: "I've done 13.1 miles before, I've done this, I got this." The sun started to go down and a volunteer on a motorcycle came by and handed me a glow in the dark necklace. I met a girl named Sarah and we began to run/walk my 1:1 together. But by mile 16 I started having to pee a lot. I hadn't peed once on the bike, and I think that scared me, so I drank a lot of water on the run, and I started having to use the port-a-potty at every water stop (about every mile). At this time I realized now that the sun was down, I felt better, and I could actually run from water stop to water stop. So I started a little routine...I'd pee at the water stop, get a cup of chicken broth and a pepsi, drink them both, then run to the next water stop: over and over again.

It was kind of cool to run at night, just watching the bobbing glow-in-the-dark necklaces strung out in front of me. As I came to the end of Skaha Lake I found Team Embo again. There were just 6 miles left and seeing them made me so happy and gave me energy!
6 miles was all I had left, and it was all flat...I thought "wow if I was running 10 minute miles I'd be done in an hour." Too bad I was running just under 15 minute miles, so I had a little less than an hour and a half left. I just kept telling myself that I had run 6 miles before when I was totally exhausted and I could do it again...and you know what, I did! I don't remember everything I was feeling running in those last 6 miles, but I know my legs were really beginning to hurt, I had to pee all the time, and I was getting pretty nauseous. But at mile 24 I decided to take my last GU since it had 2 times the caffeine. I thought it might help me with a little burst of energy. As I came in and saw the finish line my cramps came back across my stomach.

At Ironman Canada they are a little mean, so when you see the finish line you actually have to take a left, and run away from it for another mile, so I turned left and was thinking I would run in the whole last mile. Of course my cramps didn't like that idea, and I realized that it would probably be better to walk a little out in the dark away from the crowds and be able to finish strong. So I walked a little ways to the last turn around, and then looked at my watch. I had about 9 minutes to make it to the finish line to finish under 16 hours. (Funny how my goals changed during the race...but even though they changed it was always good to have a goal, to keep you going).

I came into the shoot and I wanted to do a shout out to my Iron Team (and show Phil and Tony that they were spelling at the sprint boys, I am never going to stop harassing you about that!). So I spelled: IT, but in the video online I did the I a little too soon, and you can't really see it. Oh well.
I crossed the finish line! I completed my first Ironman in 15 hours, 54 minutes, and 19 seconds.

Ironman Canada Part 2

So I ran out of the water and got my wetsuit stripped off. Everyone around me was frantically running to grab their bags and get into the changing tents. I was happy to be out of the water, but I didn't feel too rushed. I knew all the people getting out of the water with me were most likely much better bikers and runners than me, so I didn't feel the need to try to change super fast and get on the bike course.

I went in to the tent and a volunteer poured all my stuff on the ground and started handing me what I needed. I put my bike jersey and socks on, then helmet and gloves and shoes, and then stuffed all my food in my back pockets and my volunteer sprayed me down with SPF 50 and I was ready to go. I walked out of the tent and saw all the bikes, like all my triathlons there were tons of bikes still in transition when I got out of the water...and they would all be back there by the time I got back as well. :)

As I was walking my bike to mount it, I heard Team Embo cheering me on from the side parents and my cousins Loretta and Lynda, and their husbands Steve and Jerry, and Steve's daughter Brittnay and her boyfriend Elliot were all wearing bright green shirts that said Go Iron Team and TEAM EMBO. They were very easy to spot!

 So I got on my bike and started riding down Main Street. There were tons of people lining the streets:

The first 40 miles of this race are pretty flat and slightly down hill during most parts. I knew this and originally my plan was to work this hard to get a faster overall time. I figured the hills would be slow no matter what, so if I wanted to make up time, I should do it at the beginning when it was easy. The only problem with this was that as soon as I was on the bike my lower back began to hurt...a lot. Since my foot had been hurting all month I hadn't biked that often and I guess my back had forgotten how to be bent over my handle bars and not tighten up. When I was at about 10 miles into the bike ride I began to think: "wow, this is going to be a very long and painful ride." A little after 10 miles when we were going up a short hill, I realized that I needed to do something about it, so I took one of my vicodine that I had for my foot. I made sure to also drink my electrolyte/calorie drink at the same time, so I wouldn't have an empty stomach.

The vicodine helped some, and the ride became more bearable...I was going downhill and was able to do between 18 and 22 miles per hour. I knew I could push myself more, since everyone else was pushing themselves and passing me, but I decided that I wanted to make sure I finished the race, and finishing quickly was no longer that important to me. As I rode along the beautiful route over 1600 other athletes passed me. And although I am hoping by next year to be a better biker, so maybe only 1200 athletes pass me on the bike, being a fast swimmer and a slow biker has its perks. See, I got to see so many of my friends out there as they went by. Bill passed me and patted my butt. Kaori (my new friend from Japan) passed me and I sang  the only Japanese song I knew to her. Then Dave passed me and I told him how my feet were feeling really numb, and he suggested I loosen my shoes. Wow, that helped A LOT! I guess I should have thought of that myself. The other good thing about getting out of the water early and then being slow on the bike is that every one passing me was so much faster than me, I didn't have to worry at all about getting a drafting penalty. :)

Even though I didn't have a penalty, I stopped by the penalty box right before Richter Pass at around mile 40 to eat my GU and take a little break. Then it was time to start up the first big hill. On the elevation map it says it is a 6 mile 2,000 feet climb. I started up it, and this was the first time on the bike that I was actually passing some people. I guess all those hills Coach Mike had us do during training paid off! I was at the top before I realized it, and thought, wow, that wasn't too bad. Kristie, Helen, and Dana were at the top too cheering me on and someone had really cool loud music. 

Then it was fun downhill and into what they call the Seven Bitches, which I was also told there were 10 of...I tried counting them, but I kept forgetting how many I had done. People kept passing me, but by this point I was riding with people who were about my pace, so it was fun to talk to some people. Then I got to a flat area before the out and back and Team Embo was there waiting for me!

It was so great to see them! Right after that at the beginning of the out and back Aki caught up to me, and we rode together to special needs, where she lent me some sunblock, since I had forgotten to include some. After special needs at mile 72 was when they ran out of water for me...I was told that for people behind me, they ran out at Richter pass and even before. I started to get a little scared, but at one stop they had a hose, so I filled up there, and started trying to conserve a little. By the time I got to the bottom of Yellow Lake at around mile 90 it was super hot (95 degrees), and I was tired, and I didn't have much water....but there was Team Embo again! They had written motivational signs on the road and had even done some body spelling before I got there!
I yelled out at them that I needed water, and they ran across the street to their car and brought me some. Then apparently they got all the water out of their car and started handing it to other participants. Aki was a little behind me at this point and she said they gave her water too. I am really proud and thankful for my family for doing this, but I really think that Ironman Canada owes all of the athletes a huge apology for having run out of water!

So Yellow Lake probably would have been easier than Richter Pass except that it was at mile 90 and it was 95 degrees, and everyone at this point going up it had been without water for longer than they should have it was kind of a challenge...but again Team Embo was there to help me up it. They were at the bottom, and then once I passed they would drive by me and park farther up and wait to cheer me on some more. They went all the way up the hill with me like this, and then once I was at the top, drove back into town and were there when I started my run.

After Yellow Lake I was kind of done with the bike, I had passed mile 100 so I knew that there were less than 12 miles to go, but then I saw I sign that said 14 miles to Penticton. I was super upset...but there was nothing I could do about it...I think it wasn't until I was on Main Street again that I realized I was in Canada and the sign had probably meant that I was 14 Kilometers from Penticton.

So I got into transition after 9 hours and 23 minutes. My official bike time was 8 hours 4 minutes and 43 seconds. I knew absolutely at this time I was not going to be making it in under 14 and a half hours...which had been a very ambitious goal I had had before I hurt my foot at the beginning of the month and hadn't run on it. But I was thinking that I was maybe on schedule to beat IronPhil's time of 15 hours and 27  minutes...but then I got on the run course...and well...that will be the next part.