Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Ironman Florida Race Report: Run (part 5)

Crossing that last timing mat in the park was great. I thought about the people who might be tracking me online. I wondered if my parents really brought a laptop to my cousin's wedding in California so they could track me during the reception (they did!). I thought they'd probably be relieved to see that I finally made it another few miles, even though I was going so slowly. I wasn't sure if Dave had tweeted about my slow patheticness. I thought that I should've told Dave to call someone who could track me online and tell them when I got to the park, to give them some idea of when I'd finish. Later I found out that there was a computer by the Information Booth where spectators could check on their athletes, so he knew when I was on my way back to the finish.

Mac and I had the same general idea: we wanted to finish and we thought if we walked we could finish; we weren't sure what would happen if we tried to run. I really wanted to finish, but I had no idea what my body was capable of and I was definitely running (walking) on empty. We'd both seen those videos of Sian Welch and Wendy Ingraham crawling to the finish - their bodies totally spent. [If you haven't seen it - stop now, go watch it and come back here later.] So we basically just accepted that chances were good if we took it easy, we'd get to that finish line. That didn't stop us from trying to run every so often. It seemed like less often than every 10 minutes, but I'd pretty much stopped looking at my watch - I could tell my HR wasn't too high, I knew my pace was slow, and it didn't really matter what time it was since I felt confident I was traveling fast enough to meet the cutoff, assuming I could keep moving.

The loop in the park was really, really dark now. I mean pitch black except for the occasional street lamp. I stumbled once on some uneven pavement, but I managed to not fall. Ever so often one of those nauseated headlamps would ruin the darkness for me. At some point in the second loop, I'd realized that I'd been saying my 'ohm namo guru dev namo' mantra so much that it could play in the back of my head while I talked to Mac. But when we weren't talking, it was forefront in my mind and gave me something to concentrate on other than the headlamp/food induced nausea. One thing I didn't think about, but wish I had, was the fact that when I started my watch some 13 hours earlier, my total mileage on the watch since I'd last reset it was 140.6 miles. What a positive sign! But I'd just smiled at it in the morning and promptly forgot about it until after the race.

We came upon the area with the Ford electronic billboard messages. This time I didn't get any messages, which kind of annoyed me since there were so few people out there you'd think the computer could bother to display the messages again. I just decided to imagine my message from Dave was up there again, and I smiled thinking about how much I loved this.

We saw a volunteer truck with a few volunteers helping some guy who really looked like he couldn't finish the race. This guy made it about 133 miles and it looked like it was going to be a DNF for him. Not fun! Seeing him made me feel a mix of fear - that could still happen to me! - but also relief - I certainly wasn't that bad off!

Mac made a pit stop but told me he'd catch up. I had no doubt he would! I'd visited one of the portapotties in the first loop - pretty much as gross as you can imagine. My recommendation is to visit one of the ones close to an aid station since there's a better chance you'll have some light, and just assume there won't be any TP left unless you are fast and go in your first loop.

Mac caught up with me pretty quickly and then another guy our age joined our group, Ricardo. He said he remembered seeing me on the bike, and then I remembered seeing him too. His girlfriend's name was Kendra. Ricardo was walking with a backpack - not a camelbak - a school bag backpack! - and cell phone (to call his girlfriend when he got near the finish; she was asleep at the hotel already). It was nice to have another person to talk to and I think we all started to feel like we were accomplishing something.

I saw Dave's sign at the Inspiration Station finally. Yay! Go Kendra! Then we had to run across the street - it is really uncool to walk when traffic is waiting for you. We saw a woman ahead of us pull down her running shorts and pee on a lawn (or maybe it was an empty lot - kinda hard to tell in the dark). It's against the rules but really I thought she had a good idea - much nicer than those portapotties.

The first time I noticed a mile marker great than 20 I realized I was now in my longest run ever! It didn't really feel like a long run though given all the walking. At some point we realized we'd traveled 135 miles so far. Just over 5 to go! I remembered noticing when I'd hit 125 miles on the first loop and had told Dave that when he met me near the end of the first loop. It made me feel pretty awesome.

The guys and I discussed our training for the event and whether we'd do another. I was all for it, if I could find another year with the time to train. The others thought they'd stick to shorter distances. This was Mac's second marathon. I was totally floored when he said he'd done his first one in sub-3 hours. This guy was fast - goes to show how the ironman distances can level the playing field a bit. We complained about our blisters a bit more and Ricardo mentioned he had blisters when we started the race. He and his girlfriend had walked the run loop the previous day so he could see how long it'd take him to walk 13 miles! Let's put that on the "what not to do" list for race week.

The volunteers who were cleaning up the aid stations started congratulating us around mile 21 or 22. It was kind of strange since we clearly hadn't finished yet, but I think we all kind of felt like it was okay. We were going to finish. Slow and steady. Watching people who were still in the race who were walking towards the park was tough. A few times we checked our watches and looked at each other thinking hey that person isn't going to make it. It's so heartbreaking to see someone not finish when you're at an Ironman event. I think it's somewhat less heartbreaking when you're a fellow competitor, but only because your body is too busy worrying about yourself.

Mac, Ricardo, and I kept trying to run every so often. I felt like I couldn't even manage running (jogging) a full minute. I'd just get that feeling again of my brain fogging over and my body feeling like I'd suddenly jumped out of bed too quickly and was about to topple over from the dizziness. I had another bite of pretzels and immediately had to spit them out. That's when I decided it was time to dump the pretzel bag. I dumped my gel flasks pretty quickly too. I had less than 5 miles to go. No need to carry this stuff with me anymore as it clearly wasn't going to sound good at all.

Mac made another pit stop and told us to keep going and that if he didn't catch up, he'd see us at the finish. I fully expected him to catch up, but he didn't. Ricardo and I made one more attempt at jogging for a little while but I couldn't and then walked again. Jogging was so hard!

I decided I was going to try to jog again at mile marker 24. I thought maybe I could jog the last 2.2 miles if I went really slowly and just focused on my yoga mantra. It was only 2 miles and I thought I was going to feel really, really wussy if I didn't run at least the last mile. I was thinking about how I should cross that finish line having given it everything I had. Maybe I'd already given it my all, but I might as well keep trying. After all, this is what I was doing today. And if I passed out or fell down, I still had time to pick myself back up and walk or crawl to the finish.

1 comment:

  1. OH MY GOD that video is CRAZY. I just cried watching it. Were you really worried it would come to that with you? Wow.

    That would totally be my mom peeing in the grass, by the way. She does it all the time. She can always tell you where the nearest bush or tree is when she's out running, since that's her outdoor potty of choice. :)