Monday, July 20, 2015

Ironman 70.3 Muncie Recap - Part 2

This is part 2 of my recap of Ironman Muncie 2015. If you missed it you can check out part 1 here.

The Bike
     Goal: Under 4 hours (14 mph avg)
     Actual: 3:44:45 (14.95 mph)

I felt good getting out on the bike course. It was pretty crowded, which is totally unusual for me since I'm always in the back of the pack. The course took you out some (Crappy) country roads and onto the main 'highway' for two loops. It was hard finding a place on the course at this point with everyone passing me. I just tried to settle in and find my rhythm.

I was super conscious at this point of going out too fast. I felt good and was wary of burning out. I'd never really hit the wall on my bike and I wasn't interested in doing it now. The first 10k(it) was strong but according to my splits the first 28 were super strong overall, averaging 16.4mph.

The course was essentially two loops along the highway. Getting to the first turnaround was basically a breeze. The route back from there was more downhill so it was also not so bad. The first 25 miles weren't bad at all. The last 25 were another story. After about mile 30ish I started getting wary. My butt - and other lovely lady parts - was sore. My hips were tight and when I attempted to stretch my right hip even locked up on me. Ok, not doing that again.

The second loop was rough. After I hit the turnaround it felt like I went 50 miles just to get back to the turnoff. There were very few people behind me at this point and the course got a little lonely. Luckily, the temps were still low and I didn't feel like I was baking on the bike. Nutritionally, I nailed the bike. I drank every 10 minutes - thirsty or not - alternating between GuBrew and water. Every hour I ate some bonk breaker, every half hour I ate a Cliff Chomp. Basically, I was full. I brought two bonk breakers but only got through one and couldn't really force myself to eat the other.

Once I made it to mile 35 I realized I could essentially walk the bike and still make it back within the 5:20 cutoff. I was at about 2:15 and that put me at 3:00hrs overall. Yeah, I was gonna finish the last 15 in that amount of time. But how fast? My legs weren't tired so much as I was tired. I was tired of the bike, I was mentally tired. I just kept telling myself, "This isn't about your body, this is about your head. Pedal, pedal, pedal." I started feeling sick to my stomach. Looking back on it now I can't figure out how I felt so bad, because I remember it so fondly. But I was in bad shape. Later I realized the sickness was emotion - I needed to cry. Not cry, but sob. That achy feeling your stomach gets before you just let loose all anger and frustration and sadness. That's what I needed. But I couldn't do it.

Finally I hit the turnaround and turned, right this time back to transition. The 6 miles back to transition were brutal. The road was crap, it was hilly, I was over it. I rested in granny gear a little bit. Someone passed me and as he did he said, "Just keep going, we're almost there." We. Yeah, you're passing me. YOU are almost there. I"m still back here!

Finally I made the long turn onto the Reservoir road and I knew I was close. I slid into granny gear not for rest but for Cadence. I knew I needed to get my cadence up high to prep my legs for the run.

And there it was! The Bike in! And all the people and....and Hubz! He was there, waiting for me. (There was also some asshat with a baby stroller just walking around in the road on his cell phone that I damn near plowed over just out of principle).

As I approached the ladies at the dismount line I chuckled and said, "please god get me off this thing." Hubz was right on the other side of the barrier, smiling at me. In that moment I felt lower than I've ever felt. He was there, sweating his a*s off all day to watch me do this - and i might not finish. It was the first time the thought crept through my head. I couldn't look at him. I just kept pushing my bike back to my rack

     Goal: 4 minutes
     Actual: 4:28
I knew I needed to keep it short because I was losing energy. That sick, dry-heave feeling was sticking with me. All I wanted to do was sit down and cry in the grass and never get up. Just as I racked my bike I heard a familiar sound. It was Tom Petty....and it was a song I loved. A lesser known, unpopular song, but one of my favorites. And as he sang, "not me baby, I've got you to save me," I pulled on my shoes. Between choking, sobs of air, I sang along. I smiled. I moved out of transition. 

The Run
     Goal: Under 3 hours
     Actual: 3:04
Hubz was along the partition as I moved out of T2. He said, "you can walk the whole thing - you're crushing your goal!!". I just wanted to stop and hug him and have him tell me again that I was going to do it. I just tried to keep moving. 

 The run course is an out-and-back along a country road. A hilly country road. As I was starting out I saw everyone coming back. All headed for the finish line. I knew I'd get there, but I wasn't sure how long. I'd been moving for 4:30 when I started the run so I knew I had 4 hours to complete the run. Then it hit me - who cares if I walk this whole damn thing? Not me. This part is for me. This is my victory lap.

So I did. I walked almost all of the first three miles. Just get to each aid station, I told myself. I shuffled a little bit down the hills, from cone to cone. But I mostly just walked. Somewhere after the 4th mile or so I started talking to the woman in front of me who was run/walking. We laughed that it looked like we were gonna be seeing a lot of each other. She offered to run/walk with me and I told her I'd see her at the turnaround, then I would.

I kept my word on that. After 6.55 miles Colleen and I were best friends and determined to finish the race together. It was her first too, and she and her husband were both racing. Her son, Miles, was waiting for her at the finish. Colleen gave me something to focus on. I was going to get her to the finish line, and in the process get myself there too.

I ran into Stef after mile 7 or so and she was in bad shape. She was as broken as I was when I got off the bike. She stopped and hugged me hard, but I steered her back on course. I knew she would finish if she just kept going. "Just keep walking, one foot at a time," I told her. I pushed her on her way.

Colleen and I ran and walked. We stopped at each aid station getting ice, sponges, and gatorade. I grabbed some chews eventually to combat the sloshy belly that comes with so many fluids. My nutrition plan was essentially this: HYDRATE. It was getting really hot and the sun was out in force in parts of the course. We just kept going.

Finally we came to the final hill. I asked her, 'Do you want to go first through the finish chute?". "No," She said, "Go for it." So I did. Once I got to the top I could see Hubz sitting in his chair near the finish and I just lost it. That choky, nauseous, sobby feeling was back - but for a whole new reason. I'd done it. I'd flipping done it. I wanted to run the finish chute but I also wanted it never to end. And then, suddenly, it did. I went through the Finish Line at 7:37. I was a (half)Ironman.
I found Hubz and just latched on to him. I showed him my medal. I walked around. I was dazed. I went back to find Colleen. I wanted to thank her. Thank her for helping me help her through those last miles. For helping me find the strength in myself.
I met up with Missy - who was lightning fast at 6:03 finish - and she asked about Stef. I told her I thought Stef would make it but it would be awhile. It really wasn't. 20 minutes later Stef made her own dash through the finisher's chute. We'd all done it.
And just like that, after 7 long hours, I'd done it. I met all of my goals (though I was a little over on the run). I crushed my overall goal. And I'm a half-Ironman. There's no way to describe the feeling of accomplishing something like that. It's the worst best thing i've ever done. And I would do it again in a heartbeat.

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