Race morning you could just feel the energy. The town of Lake Placid really isn’t that big and fill it with an extra 7000-9000 people and you could really feel the bodies in motion. I could barely get in and out of transition in the morning due to the lines and backups. When we found out that morning there were no wetsuits allowed (which it had been rumored at the race meeting), I was not overly thrilled (especially considering my lack of swimming lately). The thought of this being my biggest mass start so far by about 1000-1200 people made me quiver a little (let alone without the safety blanket of a wetsuit). I have to admit, I was scared (like downright scared). However, we do things that scare us every day, so without a wetsuit (or skinsuit) I went. Many people chose to wear them anyway, but there would be no awards or Kona slots so I just didn’t see the point for me personally.
As we lined up I was so crowded I even started to slightly panic before we started. Jocelyn and treaded together and shared some last encouraging words before the gun. When it broke, it was by far the worst swim experience of my entire life. Can I just say,
Bodies on bodies, on bodies
Big mouthfuls of water
Pretty much the worst I could imagine it. For those first two minutes I ALMOST had a panic attack and quit the race. Really.. no joke. Finally, I made my way to the inside of the buoys and could start to actually resemble a swim stroke. I shiver just thinking about it. Obviously, I lined up in the wrong place or something. Poor Jocelyn got kicked in the stomach and puked in the water.. yep, that’s a bad swim. When we got close I would get outside for the turn buoys and I would actually dread seeing them coming because I knew it meant a fight. Finally, I started feeling better and fight I did. I hate to be like that, but I was getting killed out there. The beach run out I saw my time (33:XX) and it reinvigorated me a bit, not NEARLY as bad as I thought. I headed back into the second loop with a sense of purpose and even found clear water here or there. When I finally exited I was so dang happy to be out of that water I didn’t even care about my time or place! I made it! I survived!!!
I jumped over a few people on the ground going up the beach during their wetsuit stripping (and I heard one guy actually didn’t have anything on under his wetsuit once he was stripped – yikes dude – forget something??).
Out on the bike it was the perfect temp and maybe even a little chilly to start. I knew there were a series of hills at the beginning and I kept everything in check. My aero bottle started to come out and I caught it before it slipped out causing me or someone behind me to wreck. I held it with my hand, pulled over, and fixed it about 10 mins into the bike. I didn’t like it that I got passed by so many people, but hey, I needed water, and I knew later in the race I would be thankful if my hydration levels were high. The first bike loop was fun. I was controlled and enjoying the downhills (little scary), flats, fast sections, rollers, changing scenery and even the monster hills at the end coming into town. For the first time EVER on the bike, I peed. Yep, I did it. I knew it was a good sign. Coming into town there was a girl holding a sign that read “Smile if you peed yourself” and I gave her the biggest smile ever!! I even waved! She and her friends all cheered!! Honestly, it was a blast. I just rode within myself (heart rate, cadence, and stuck to my nutrition game plan). When I finally came into town the place blew up. Lots of people were cheering “Go GIRL” or “Way to go Lady”! I thought it was strange they would call out the fact that I was a women but I just smile and waved and moved on! I expected to be through the first loop in around 2 hrs 50- 3 hrs, but somehow my time only showed 2:42. I assessed everything – nutrition, check, heart rate , check, energy, check, cadence, double check. Yep, everything was fine – I let it go and continued on. The second loop I played some cat and mouse with a particular 47 year old women who was just not content to let me pass. Not sure what her deal was but I felt like saying “Hey, we’re not the same age group lady, it’s ok!” Finally, around mile 80 I put 5 hard minutes in and pushed past enough not be re-passed. Just over the hill Kyle and his Mom Deb / her boyfriend Robert came into view and I was SO happy to see them. While I was waving Kyle yelled “You’re in sixth place, 5th place is only 1 minute up!” and I almost fell off my bike. Really?? Was I doing that well?? I knew I’d caught some girls but I guess I just didn’t realize. That was it.. I was on a mission.
For the rest of bike I put on a small press.. nothing crazy, just a little more than I would have had I not known anything. I could only hope he was right and that I still had some legs for the run. All of the sudden I realized I wanted it, and I wanted it bad. Two months ago I would have said my goal was top three amateurs, but I had let it go – until now. Now, it was go time. Now it was time to see what happened and actually race. I decided if my legs felt good on the run, I would do just that. I would try to race myself into the top three women.
The results say I came off the bike in 2nd. I want you to know I did not. I came off in 3rd and then was re-passed by the 4th place girl out of T2. She was running strong.. bounding in fact and I had to pee. Yep, I had to pee bbbaaaddd. As we ran through town the cheers were deafening and I could hear Mary’s voice come out from the crowd. It just egged me on. I didn’t want to let this girl go.. we could use each other through the run and liked that thought of pushing each other to go faster and have a buddy. When I caught her about mile 3 I noticed she was in my age group and I could feel her body surge. She knew I was 30-34. I did something I don’t usually do, I talked to her.
“Hey, my names Kim, and I want you to know I already have my Kona spot, just FYI”
Her “Oh, I’m Lisa and THANK YOU for telling me!!”
We exchanged pleasantries about where we were from and told her not to stress, to run her race and let the girls come back to her. She nodded and I finally stopped to use the port-o-pot. Great job Lisa, you got that slot J
It was starting to get hot. Not St. Croix or Hawaii hot, but still hot. Hot enough I started pulling my tricks out of ice down the bra and under the hat. Water and gel kept me going and out onto River road I was feeling great. In fact, one guy told me I had better slow down. I took that as a good sign J Clicking away my legs felt spectacular – so spectacular that I started to wonder if the bottom might just drop out somewhere and I would DNF or something crazy. Cadence was high.. arms were pumping and I was holding right around 7:10-7:20…I wondered if it was too fast, checked everything.. nope, felt good.. let’s see what happens I told myself. What did I really have to lose.
I know I was in 3rd because I SAW the other two girls going the other way on our loops. Both Suzy and Angela were running strong. We exchanged good jobs and there was only one thing to do, worry about my race, what I could do.. so that’s what I did.
The miles came and went. I passed Angela and we exchanged “good jobs / nice work”. I sang songs, thought about my life and about how thankful I was just to be enjoying the race. Jeremy passed me going the other way and looked strong. Jocelyn passed going the other way and we exchanged words. I was hoping she had a good day, as I’m selfish and wanted my friend in Kona with me. We looped up into town again and it brought me new life. Half way down, half to go.
In all honesty, I was working, and concentrating, but it just didn’t HURT like other races. Trust me, I know it sounds nuts, but it was very manageable. I went through a few low times, but for the most part, things didn’t really get “I want this over with” until mile 19 or so as we started to make our way up the HUGE hill into town. I just told myself – get to town, you can do anything once you get there. You will see your family, the crowd will CARRY you those last 2-3 miles. The hill hurt, as did the uphill through town.. Mary yelled, I gritted my teeth, but I never saw Suzy. It didn’t matter, I was giving it everything.. I heard the clock bell ring 5:00pm during mile 24-25 and I knew I could do this..dreams were coming true.. this very instant.
I passed a huge crowd yelling for Ballou Skies and I finally saw the stadium come into view. When I peeled off to turn right into the finish and run around the track it hit me. We’d had a day…my family, my friends, my coach, my team, my fellow bloggers.. we had a freakin day. I couldn’t hold it in.. the months on the trainer, the races earlier in the season that didn’t work out and made me doubt myself, Ryan Ballou, the time spent away from Kyle and my family, the early mornings, the prayers of everyone that day.. the tears… it was all coming together in one amazing beautiful mess of a thing and what came next was pure unadulterated joy.
I was so thankful.. I don’t know if I’ve ever been as thankful in a race as I was that day. Maybe not even Kona.
As soon as I crossed the line my legs gave out, but it didn’t matter. Every last drop was squeezed and nothing else mattered. Right there was my Mother in Law, Deb (who was a surprise! So glad that worked out), Kyle was there with the camera, Josh the MTV cameraman and Branden were there. It was surreal. In fact, at one point someone walked over and goes “who the heck is this chick anyway??” to Kyle with all the camera pointed on Branden and I! It was funny.. I didn’t care about anything really, except that my family was there and Branden got to see what a real ironman was about.. right before his very eyes.
Honestly, what does this teach us folks:
&l1. Most of go into ironman overcooked a bit.. including me.
<2. You have to trust yourself, your training and your coach (aka not compare yourself to others who might be doing more or this or that)
Kyle kept stammering about me being first and I repeated said “no, Suzy was in front of me, you just didn’t see her, she’s already done.” Finally, he looked up the results, and I owed him a beer. Suzy came by a few minutes later after finishing and said she was in the bathroom. So, I’m not sure what happened but I hope she was ok.. wonder if she has a blog.
Anyway, it was a great day and one I will not soon forget. I appreciate all the kind words, thoughts, facebook messages, and emails. Not one goes unnoticed or unappreciated. You guys are truly amazing and I hope I can support you one bit as much as you build me up and give me the strength to keep trying and keep pushing. The way I see it, we’re all in this together right J This crazy fun mess they call life.
Ballou Skies for allowing me to be part of this great team that does so much good for boys with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (PLEASE like them on Facebook if you only do ONE thing today!). Power bar for fueling me with delicious products that never fail me on race day. Newtons for helping me run with good form and hopefully, get speedier with time. Rudy Project for making some of the coolest looking glasses and helmets that also are light and fast. Top Gear for outfitting me with a bike that works and helping me learn how to fix it along the way. CycleOps for making trainers that allow me to ride inside (which in Pittsburgh is quite often). Blueseventy for supporting our Ballou Skies team. Finally, last but not least Infinit for crafting the drink mixes that keep GI issues at bay all Ironman long! You keep me in the game, faster, longer and stronger – I can’t thank you enough!