Most of the humor of my IM day occurred during the swim and bike. The run was bit more tough, although I met some great friends along the way.
The first 7 miles of the run where surprisingly tolerable for me. Had no idea how my body was going to tolerate all the activity. My legs felt great off the bike; however, I was only running an 11 minute pace over the first 7 miles…a much slower pace than I anticipated and trained at. But I was running. There were quite a few walking all around me so I just kept plugging away at my slow pace.
Just after mile 6, things started getting really hard. My socks and shoes were soaked from kind spectators cooling us down with their hoses, sprinklers, and squirt guns. In addition, there had been quite a few cups of water poured over my head, ice cubes down my shirt, and cold sponges tucked in strategic places like under my hat and in my shirt. By 3 miles into the race, the soaking wet socks and shoes had already started to cause mild chaffing on my feet. By mile 6, the chaffing had turned to complete rawness and was getting very painful. Could feel the blisters starting to form.
And then, as I rounded the end of my first loop, on the double loop run, I saw my dear friend Molly and her son M cheering me on. I was SO excited to see my beautiful, inspirational friend! Molly was one of my friends on my IM prayer list for the race. She truly lifted my spirits and encouraged me to keep on going. M raced down the course, along side of me for a bit, and I was able to keep running through mile 7. By mile 7, my feet were in so much pain from the many blisters that were forming along the inside of my feet and the balls of my feet that I started walking. However, I kept moving forward, putting one foot in front of the other. But the clock was ticking very quickly and I was moving very slowly. This really bummed me out since I was tracking to finish the run in about 2:20 which would have been ok by me considering all the activity I had done prior to the run. Ended up taking me 20 minutes longer than that. My worst half marathon ever. A complete disaster in my mind.
There was a “positive” to all the walking though. Had a chance to talk to those walking around me and met some really nice folks – a couple from IL who were also doing an Ironman as their second tri (so I was not the only crazy one out there); a young business man who was going to start working on his MBA and start saving money to do other IM’s around the country (yes, he was single with no children…and kind of cute but I did not get his number…sorry single ladies…truly LOVED his energy though); a trainer from a gym who was having the same wet socks and shoe issues I was (we compared notes on how we were going to manage the healing of our blisters); and finally, a most inspirational young man, dressed in all his fireman gear in the 95 degree heat, out on the course to raise money for his cause and to prepare himself for IM Madison in September. Truly inspirational and amazing!
Finally, I was into the last mile of the “run.” And that’s when I made up my mind to ignore the pain for a few more minutes and finish strong with a big smile. My family and friends were gathered along the finish chute (which I was hoping but did not know until I saw them) – I owed them a fantastic finish! Thanks to Dave and the boys, my mom, my in-laws, RS, BR, SE and her family, TW, KI, EL, and AM and I. You are the best friends a girl could have!
My dear friend BR captured a video of the last final moments of the race; however I cannot get the file to upload directly here! AGH! (Think it’s too big.) Check it out at this link (and it will take a minute to download): Heather’s IM Video Finish.
And here are a couple great pics of my support crew for the day. So thankful to have all of you in my life!
I’m excited to say, that since this race, I have sparked the tri bug in a few other friends. One has committed to an Olympic distance event for next summer. Another two have committed to their first tri ever! Can’t wait to help you both out! And I know there are many more of you thinking about it. It was truly one of the most unbelievable feelings to cross that finish line. Everyone should experience it once in their lifetime. GO FOR IT!!!!!