Sunday, October 12, 2008

Nothing Like It!

What an amazing day. Although impossible to fully express the joys I experienced yesterday, I wanted to share a few photos and simply thank-you for the amazing support. It was wonderful to see all the fun comments to Kerry’s Facebook updates, and all the great messages and texts. Each time I crossed a new timing mat, a rush of emotions swept through, as I knew my friends were with me all the way. Thanks for keeping me going out there!

I’m typically not one to ‘sandbag’ but my initial goal from yesterday was to finish in less than 12 hours. I received a little crap for this, but I honestly had no idea what to expect considering my ‘case study-Volume is overrated-Race OLYs every weekend’ training plan. As race day approached and I felt good physically I shifted my target to break my first IM time from 2006 (11:21 IMAZ), but deep down there was indeed a part of me that dreamed of breaking 11 hours.

A brief Race Report:
I found Carrie H. in Transition and it was great to hang together as we eagerly waited to get in the water. We had a small MN reunion on the beach (Rich, Melinda, Amy, Jeremy, Carrie), and with a few memory creating tears of joy, we embraced then swam to the start.

Of course, I don’t need to describe the mayhem of this swim start-WOW!! Thankfully I didn’t need the Eggers helmet, but nevertheless, it was a rough ride for the first 1.2 miles. After exiting, I did a quick watch check and was very happy with my 1:01 swim. Did I mention I LOVE THE OCEAN!

I decided to go with ultra coverage from the elements and raced in my Gear West TT suit. I cut the arms off, and went with the white arm coolers. Although LOW on the cute OR cool factor it placed very high on function, and that was my priority. I didn’t need to waste any energy dealing with sunburn on my fair Irish complexion.
The bike was tough yet amazing at the same time. I stayed very controlled most of the way out, but once we made the right turn towards Hawi, the gusty crosswinds were downright scary. I spent plenty of time out of my aero bars, but I was still feeling very good with my progress. While making the climb and watching the Pro Men and Women getting pushed all over the road on the decent I was getting a little nervous for what laid ahead. Although I’m not sure how these winds compare to other years, I can’t imagine those gusts getting much worse. I guess that’s what makes this race a World Championship. Despite the brutal cross wind on that part of the course, it was the final 20 miles that got me. I knew I was making great time, but I NEEDED to get off my bike! One pedal rotation at a time, and finally it was hot corner and I was into T2.
I exited T2 at the 7 hour mark, so I knew I had a shot a breaking 11 hours. I didn’t let myself get too far ahead, as I knew the marathon was the biggest unknown for me. I’ve been battling a few lingering “niggles” so I just had no idea how my body would hold up. I felt solid on those first few miles, but I kept it under control and settled in around 8:15min/mile pace. That run out and back in Alii Drive was spectacular. The only bad thing was that my socks and shoes completely filled with water. My feet were very heavy and with each step I would see water squirting out of the toe box. I was getting increasing worried that I would lose the bottoms of my feet with blisters. Luckily my feet held up fairly well, and I was able to find some relief when I picked up a fresh pair of socks at Special Needs. Disaster Avoided! Once back on the Queen K, it was a tough battle to keep it going. Knowing I was on pace to break my goals and exceed all my expectations, I stayed focused and kept plodding along. I knew once I reached the top of Palani, the energy and excitement would get me to the line. Those were indeed the most amazing miles. I dreamed of running up that finish chute all week… The time had finally arrived and it was one of the most emotional experiences of my life!

A BIG special thanks to my on the ground cheering squad-You guys Rocked!
After a stop back at the Condo for a shower and food, we returned to the finish to watch the inspiring Jeremy Sartain become a KONA finisher. It was an Triumphant showing for what was truly an everyday Hero story. Jeremy was severely injured in May in a Motorcycle accident. With numerous plates and screws to rebuild his pelvis and lower legs, it was a very tough battle to walk again. According to his doctors Ironman was out of the question, but if anyone could defy the odds, it’s indeed Jeremy. With extensive rehab and an mind boggling will to recover, Jeremy made it to the start line and stuck it out for what he describes as “the hardest thing I’ve ever done-No question” WAY TO GO BUDDY, we are all so very proud of you!!
We stayed on Alii drive to experience the midnight party at the finish line. They pumped out great tunes, and it was inspiring to watch those folks finish. I don’t think it will ever get old hearing Mike Reilly announce “YOU ARE AN IRONMAN” as the clock approaches 17 hours. I doesn’t matter how long it takes, but getting to that finish is all the matters!
I WILL be back to do this race someday!! There is nothing like racing the Ironman World Championships!!

I’m off to swim with the Dolphins and Snorkel with a large group of MN folks this morning… The REAL vacation is all about to begin!! Oh yes, and TODAY is our 6 year wedding anniversary. What a perfect way to celebrate here in Hawaii! It’s unbelievable how fast the years have flown by, but as they say “time flys when you’re having fun.” There’s certainly been no shortage of that. ALOHA!!

Over and out for a few weeks...I'm checking out of blog land for a while as I enjoy the rest of my time here in Hawaii.

(running out of time so I'm just dumping a few photos-Sorry no captions).