Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ironman Cozumel.. The Backstory & The Swim

Some people may have thought that the journey to this race started sometime mid-summer when I signed up. Let me tell you, the journey to this race started a long, long time before that.

Even while I sitting on a bike, in the last week of December wearing a sling.. I wrote this:

I want to start dreaming again, and I have been. I’m starting to believe again. In what you ask, well, that’s to be determined, but mostly in myself, my spirit, and that love can be transferred to and through other people as we follow our heart. When the alarm sounds at 5:00am, and it’s cold and dark outside, you best be believing in your dreams because it’s a constant struggle sometimes. Life beats you down, responsibilities are necessary and sometimes what you’re doing day in and day out doesn't seem to be helping you make one bit of progress. It’s not a matter of if you will get to that place; it’s a matter of when. Sometimes the best thing you can do is get out of your own way and move on.

On Sunday I had the race of my life (well, a least up until this point). Some people may also think got out of bed one day and thought - I can break 10 hours in the Ironman. Nope. That didn't happen either. Instead after months and months of training, seeing the numbers, running the stats and really testing myself both my coach and I knew it was possible. Not that it would be easy, or even that it would necessarily happen.. but that it could happen if I had the right day. I told three people that I may be able to break ten before this race - my coach, my husband Kyle and one of my very close friends. That was it. I told the people that I knew wouldn't bat an eyelash. I didn't do it that day.. but 10:04 - dang close. Don't worry 10 hours.. I'll get you next time around :)

On my biggest weeks this fall, I swam close to 20,000 yards, I biked around 220-260 miles, and I ran close to 60 miles (all while still working fourty hours per week). Making it a point to try and sleep as close to 8 hours as humanly possible, eat well and get a massage (once a month in the prior months and once per WEEK this last month before the race), helped make this day possible. I didn't wake up one day and have this race.. I knew this race was in me.. but it would only be possible if this was the race God wanted me to have on this very day.. and if I had faith in him, and myself.. luckily.. I had both.

Our trip to Cozumel was amazing. We stayed the Iberostar Resort at the South end of the Island. It was filled with beautiful pools, serene beaches and plenty of cool things to see.

Kyle and I both thought it was a bit strange that we were placed in the number 21 villa. This has been his favorite number for his entire adult life. Then, as we strolled up with our luggage, we found a Pennsylvania quarter on the patio. Hum.. interesting.. I think this it our place!

I didn't feel nervous at all. I had done all the training and I didn't have anything to prove to anyone. I just wanted to execute my plan and not worry about anything else. If I did that, the results would take care of themselves.

Unfortunately, I was only able to eat one meal before encountering what would be DAYS of issues with my stomach. The food was great. It was plentiful and delicious. However, maybe even though I didn't feel nervous my stomach was getting most of the subconscious nerves. I didn't drink the water, but occasionally, I would forget and rinse my toothbrush or open my mouth in the shower. Who knows.. Either way, after anything and everything I ate, my stomach started to hurt, blow up with gas, or I would get.. the dreaded runs (or all of the above). I started eating pepto bismol tablets like candy. Gas-X was my best friend. By Friday, I decided that maybe I should take a day off of solid food. This may let my inflamed system take a rest and attempt to get back to normal.

I attended the practice swim and observed my first experience of getting stung in the face by tiny jellyfish.. This was not enjoyable. Yet I knew on race day, it would not stop me from pursuing my dream. I drank two ensures and at least 6 Gatorades on Friday. By Friday evening I was hungry, but hadn't had any major incidents all day.

Saturday I tried to eat again, but only things like white bread, crackers, bananas and some peanut butter. In fact, my pre-race meal consisted of two yogurts, a banana, a peanut butter sandwich and gatorade. With each meal on Saturday I continued to have symptoms, but they had died down slightly and I was thankful. I put on my game face.. checked in my bike and hoped for the best.

Kyle and I decided to rent a scooter to take a look at the course. For some strange reason, after finding out I was number 1313, I was very pleased. I liked this number.. it was different. Then we happened to get #13 scooter and I started to believe maybe these were signs. Maybe everything was going to be just fine.

Driving the course around 2:00pm it seemed hot, very hot, and windy - ohhhh... yes, amazingly windy (oh.. and long!). Even driving it on the scooter seemed to be taking forever and I thought "man, I hope this doesn't seem this long tomorrow!" Once again, I prayed, and tried not to worry. It would be what it would be!

The night before I wore my game face.. took some time to think about my race and went to sleep. I was able to sleep through MOST the night which was a pretty big deal for me.
Before I knew it, race morning was here. The alarm went off at 4:00am and I was hoping from the bottom of my heart I could have a good day. By the time we arrived at the swim start, I had already hit the bathroom for some very unpleasant experiences 3 times. I had taken two Imodium, three peptos and two gas-x pills after my two ensures that morning. I was NOT feeling very positive about my stomach situation at that point.

But regardless, I was going to race as hard as I could, and see what happened. Kyle knew I was really worried about my stomach choosing to not absorb all day. He just kept telling me, "It will be fine Kim."

As we said our goodbyes I thought of all the people who would just love to be racing but couldn't because they were sick, or hurt, or just didn't have the means financially. I decided that no matter what, I would make it to the finish.. if I threw up the whole 16 hours.. I would still make it happen - for me, and for them. I finally stopped complaining and kissed him goodbye.
The next moments were filled with craziness. From being cramped in the swim start area like sardines to being rushed into the water with only five minutes until the gun.

We had to peel off the side like flies and all I heard were bodies in the water dropping beside me. I stayed way to the right because we were to keep the buoys on our left and I wanted to be able to get out and find some faster swimmers without getting caught in the mayhem. When the gun sounded there was no countdown, no warning and just like that I was swimming strong and steady. I felt spectacular, strong and like I was hitting 1:20 / 100. I have no idea if that is true - but I felt like it! We made the first turn and I was able to cut in a little and draft some faster swimmers. Being able to see underwater was amazing. OUCH - my first sting of many.. I pressed on.

We made another turn shortly after and the large oval course started taking us downstream for the long part of the loop. My goggle started to move off my eye a bit so I pushed it as hard as I could to suction it on.. but only to get it in a weird place. I couldn't mess with it.. I kept swimming. I saw only orange male caps around me. We jostled for position and to draft off those in front of us. I wasn't backing down. At some points I knew I had to burp, no time to stop... I burped underwater...and kept going. The swim went fairly fast on this stretch and I knew we must have had the current. We mad the last turn and I couldn't see anything but arms in the sunlight.

Finally, we swam past the Jesus statue and I felt a calm come over me. I was almost done. It was amazing to see the rays of light hitting the statue in the water and I knew I wasn't alone. Not today.. not ever.

When I reached the dock I was pulling myself out and bounded up the steps.

There was the clock - clear as a bell when I took off my cap and goggles.. 59:10. You have GOT to be kidding me I thought. I try all year to break 30 mins in a HALF ironman swim and I just broke an hour in the 2.4 mile IRONMAN swim. I smile liked I had just won the lottery.

Regardless of how I felt the rest of the day.. I knew from that moment, feeling the love of those who believed in me, I was going to battle through anything that could be thrown at me.. Nothing could touch me.

I ran a VERY long way to the tent.. and a nice Mexican volunteer helped me put on my race belt, helmet, sunscreen and grab my shoes (notice no sunscreen is said in this sentence) and I was off. Kyle was right there in transition with me as I exited due to his MEDIA status..
I smiled and waved and was off on my bike..

More to come!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Beth said...

I love it! Kyle with the media status! :) HAHA!!

Such a great report already - can't wait to read the rest!!

Chloe said...

I feel your pain with the jelly fish stings. Ouch. I would be freaking out if I had tummy problems like that before a race - specially in Mexico..before an Ironman. You had such an awesome swim - can't wait to read the rest of your report!

Elizabeth A. Rich said...

Congratulations Kim!! LOVE seeing your hard work pay off :) Can't wait to read the rest of your race report!!

Christi said...

Woo Hoo! I am on the edge of my seat! Please, tell us more~

Kim said...

those tiny jellyfish were the death of me! boo to tummy issues but YAY for pushing through and coming out with a ridiculously awesome swim!!!

Marit C-L said...

Oh Kim - CONGRATULATIONS!!!! I am SO SO proud of you! You have overcome SO much and have pushed through some pretty yucky times. No one has worked as hard as you - no one deserves it more. I have complete, 100% faith that you can break 10 hours - you can make anything happen with your talent, hard work, grit, and determination. :) Can't wait to read the next bit!!! xoxo

Jennifer Nottage said...

This race and your report up to the point of your preceding days and through to T2 are simply stunning; however, what speaks to me most is Gods testimony to so how very much he loves us there are signs everywhere........and the beginning of your journey right up to the count down less start to the Jesus statue finish is so incredibly special and if you are a believer this is all such immense power and signs in yourself to move you forward deeper into the race...exquisite story!! Jennifer Nottage PS....with the Lord we are never, ever alone!!