Incase you aren’t aware, three weeks ago I did my first Ironman. I thought I better write about my race before I decide to do something stupid like sign up for another (just kidding… there is literally no way).
I guess I should start by explaining the title of this post, since the triathletes among you will know that an Iron-distance tri should be 140.6, well after standing in the rain for 3hrs to get a good swim spot, we found out the river current was too strong for us to swim the 0.8 miles up stream before the turn around point, thus the swim was shortened to just 0.9 miles… but more on that later, since where I should really start is the expo and the all important undie run!
We arrived in Louisville on Friday afternoon and I headed straight to packet pickup, followed by first-timers and athletes briefings. These really just served to freak me out about the bike and persuade me to go to the expo and pick up extra gels and an inner tube which I didn’t end up needing but many people I saw did. After all this it was time for the famous undie run, raising money for the humane society. I would recommend these events at any races that have them… We ran a total of about 2 miles over the bridge from Kentucky to Indiana in the rain (I ran in my casual trainers as my running shoes were in the hotel), had about a million photos taken by passers by, and just had an absolute blast! Then it was time to go home and get changed before heading out for dinner, when we used a $25 voucher provided by Ironman that was valid at a few restaurants in downtown which I thought was a really nice touch.
The next day we got up early-ish but skipped the practice swim in favour of a giant stack of pancakes and the beautiful Joe Creason parkrun then spent the rest of the day gathering food (two McDonalds cheeseburgers and a turkey sandwich), and emergency cold/wet weather items (trash bags and a cheap shirt for my special needs bag). Then it was time for an early night before race day.
So then it was finally here. A lady in the hotel who was also doing the race was kind enough to give me a ride to the start line so I could get a good swim spot, and I then stood in the rain for 3hrs making some awesome line friends who actually don’t live too far from me so maybe I will see them again! Eventually we got the news about the current and the shortened swim and then we began our slow walk to file into the river to start the swim. Now, it may have just been 0.9 miles long but it was the scariest swim of my entire life!!! The current was pushing everyone so far off course that without the amazing marshals screaming at us we would have been completely lost!!!
After surviving the swim, I was stripped of my wetsuit and it was on to T1 where I went with a full outfit change because I ‘didn’t want to be wet on the bike’. Thanks to my trash bag gillet my outfit did stay mostly dry but I was absolutely freezing throughout. I really don’t know what to say about the ride other than it was long, cold, and hilly, and the volunteers were AMAZING. I dropped my pop tarts (literally could have cried when I had to cycle past them all mushed up on the road) but made up for it with cliff bars at the aid stations, and it took me 8hrs to cycle 112 miles. I wasn’t quick but I did it, and I was so happy to see my husband that I cried going into T2.
T2 involved another change of shorts to my amazing Athleta pair that have full length side pockets, a quick fill up of my camelback, and then I was off! If I learned anything at all during this race it was that I LOVE running!!! I ran the first 16 miles of the race without stopping and caught up to two of my triclub comrades. I didn’t exactly hit a wall at 16, but I knew my 9:30 min/mile pace wasn’t sustainable so I switched to a run/walk that dramatically lowered my pace but I was almost at the point where I couldn’t take on any more gels so something had to give. Even so I managed a 4:37 marathon, and I suppose I didn’t HAVE to stop and pet a kitten that was running across the course at mile 23 so I guess I could have taken a minute or so off that. I was leapfrogging with a young man who’s name I can’t remember but who was an absolute godsend those last few miles! We chatted and joked our way to the last mile, and then we crossed the finish line within seconds of each other and made our way to our waiting spectators. In total the race took me 13hrs and 15mins, and I both loved and hated every minute. During this race I pushed my body to the absolute limit, and I was amazed that I could do it. However, for me, once is enough! I will definitely do more half distance races but I just don’t need the training or extreme fatigue that comes from the full distance (minus a mile), ever again.