The Days Prior.
It's no surprise to anyone that I was not at my peak before the race - physically or mentally. Between the 'big things': not being able to walk 3.5 weeks prior to the event, major hip pain from the 12 hour drive that left biking extremely painful, an unfortunate family situation that kept the Personal Cook from my side the days prior to the Ironman; and some "smaller" not ideal situations: my weight being 7 pounds higher than when I left DC, not receiving the hotel room I thought I reserved, having a CRAP practice swim on Friday.
All the big and little situations left me questioning even if I should bother getting into the water to start. I didn't feel well. I didn't feel ready. I was already an Ironman. So why even bother? I could get drunk, cry, and watch my friends accomplish their goals. I had lost my drive, and it showed. Coach kept calling for me to give him a play by play of my days and thoughts. Toby talked me into having a glass of wine and taking a shower to relax, and not make any decisions. The PC kept calling to check in. AJ was on a flight with Alejandro to sherpa. Erica was driving down the next day. Suzie, Rick and Therese were all coming on Sunday. And of course there were my parents.But Sandy and Lindsey talked me into going to the banquet and dinner. So I went, still in a funk. And something happened. There was Mike Riley, the motivational 9-11 participants, the married couple, the youngest and oldest participants, and a video. One little video with one line that changed everything.
YOU WILL DO THIS
On Saturday, the swim was under perfect conditions. The bags were packed with the check boxes marked. Blain shifted perfectly before he was racked. Racking was an issue - as number 403 did not have a spot. Actually, 401-410 didn't have spots... But given EVERYTHING else that went wrong, I took this in stride, found the proper place for Blain, and was on my way. I finally felt ready.
Erica and I actually got some sleep before the alarm went off at 4:30. She was there in 2008, and commented on how different I was this time. Almost calm - hearing that actually helped. I was calm. I was excited. But I was not nervous. I know I had done all I could do, and the fact I was going to the start line was an accomplishment.
What can I say about a swim with 2400+ people? It's just crazy. The first part started well. Then I got punched in the face so hard I thought I was going blind in my right eye. I didn't bother looking in my watch, I really didn't care. I had a goal time - but not really. A few more punches and kicks, some open water, and a lot of thinking about how to handle the bike. Before I knew it, I was making my way towards the finish. Time - 1:13:23
Emily had an awfully terrible picture of me coming up the helix. It's a combo of "confused/dizzy" and to quote her "you look as if you'd been sleeping for 22 hrs and I just woke up and you're all "Whaaaa? Huh?" ;)" Which is true.
What, you want to see that picture as well? Fine. But it's not pretty! The rest of T1 was pretty uneventful. I just tried to move as fast as I could, but still make sure everything felt right. 112 miles is a long time to not have your socks in the right place!
Time - 11:45
Again, not being mentally ready for 112 miles crushed any confidence I had in my fitness. So when my right butt started to hurt 20 minutes into the bike, I was worried. Then I remembered that I tend to hate the first 45 -60 minutes of every bike ride, so I kept going.
Adam and Jen passed me first. I saw Suzie, Rick, Erica, and Therese 3 times within the first hour. (Erica had my phone and was taking pics and updating facebook. Thanks Erica!!) I think it was Dena and Jelena next. I FINALLY got to meet Stephanie (hi Stephanie!!) for a good 5 seconds as she passed, and I tried to keep up and chat. Becky passed me next. Then I heard Sandy, who just made me smile. And Jenny. And then it was the 3 hills.
At the end of the second one the guy in front of me clipped out and people just started cheering for me, as I was still pedaling. A guy in a full banana suit ran up, and passed me... and a few others in Speedos with flags wrapped around them a la Tour style ran passed me too... And then I saw the lead PRO MALE pass me as if I was standing still. Oops... all those cheers were for him, but I didn't clip out so I really think there were a few in there for me too.
And when the third hill hit, around mile 50, I had a pain in my right side I had never felt before. Almost like a side stitch, but it kept me from taking a deep breath. Not.Good. Alejandro and AJ were at the top with a sign that said "GO BLAIN! (and Amanda too)" - which I LOVED! But I pulled over and started to hyperventilate. My legs hurt, my foot hurt, my back hurt and I couldn't breathe. So I clipped back in and pedaled off to with special needs (mile 58) in mind. Lindsey passed, and Jen passed. And Tammy. I got to special needs and started to stretch. I took what felt like 5-10 minutes figuring out what to do. Motrin, salt pills, sun block (thanks Jen!!! Note - always back a spray, not a tube!) biofreeze (I had been stopping about every 45-60 min to reapply) and Gu. No blocks. No combos. No power pellets (peanut M&M's). No SNICKERS! I know, all the training I did with Snickers - but I did not want them.
On the first hill, my right inner thigh cramped. I had enough time to take a few salt tabs, some combos and a swig of Accelerade before the left inner thigh cramped. Again, all the guys around me were clipping out, but I kept going. I swim through leg/foot cramps all the time, so why not try and pedal through 2 inner thigh cramps. While going up hill... but it worked. And I made it. There was no one was in a banana suit to get me up the next hill - at least in person, there was one there in my mind. And I started talking to a 25 year old who agreed that at every turn was into the wind, or maybe he was a hallucination too... I saw my parents and said "1 more hill, I think I can do this". And no side stitches, no unclipping, I just moved forward. Back to Verona. And back to Madison. As fast as I could, so I would have more time on the marathon. And a slight tail wind helped...
Time - 8.02.40
Once I got into transition, my order and plan was out the window as soon as I dumped my bag. I just wanted to get moving. I forgot to body glide my feet, biofreeze my feet, take off my heart rate monitor strap, and re-body glide my knees for my knee brace straps. (I paid for all of those when I hit the shower...)
Time - 5:29
My plan was to walk the first mile, then try and run:walk. But the first mile is around the Capitol, down state street, people are calling your name and cheering - so walking is hard. But so was running, so I knew a run:walk wasn't going to happen. Option 2 - walk with a purpose. I knew if I did 15 minute miles, I would finish. And I was surprisingly happy... Still not confident I would finish, but I really happy I made it as far as I had.
AJ found me around mile 3 and I told her how my foot was really hurting and I needed to retie my shoe, but was afraid to stop. I eventually found a ledge and kept going - worried about what that 1 minute stop did to me, that I knew I couldn't stop again. Andrea passed on Observatory hill (and I only mention everyone passing me because it was SO GREAT to see everyone on the course. Same with Ellen, Amy, Chris and others I am not thinking of right now). On State street, I heard lots of cheering, people yelling "Go Amanda" and "Woo Hoo!". Normally, I like to ham it up for the crowds, but I was on a mission and needed to get a buffer on my 15 minute mile pace - so I didn't even stop to hug Greta, a college friend from my polo days. She got a quick (sweaty) hug and hi as I kept moving. So when a guy yelled "Hey Baby" and stared to come into the street, I was ready to stiff arm him out of my way and keep going. But to my unbelievable surprise, it was the Personal Cook, ready to get me to the finish line, dressed in khaki shorts and all... He had left the Chicago area after a family wake, with the funeral the next day, to be at my side.
The marathon did not showcase my finer side. There was some yelling, informing the PC that the only answer was "Okay", but not in a questioning way - a firm, OKAY tone, was all I wanted hear. He wasn't allowed to complain (khaki shorts... really...), or tell me to "Never give up, never surrender" as we joked about before. He was to ignore my mantra of "You WILL do this" - which I had taped on Blain and read it over and over - so I had to keep saying it, but he wasn't allowed to say it. However he was also not allowed to leave my side, unless it was State street (tons of people so I was fine), or the Ford motivation mile (thanks mom and dad, I kept Moooooooving), or another out and back where I felt confident. (Side Note - I fully understand that outside help is not allowed in the Ironman. And some people may not think I earned my finish - and to them, f' off.)
It wasn't until I was whining for the 127th time that I hurt and I just wanted to stop moving forward, that he pointed up to the sky at something all a glow - the Capitol. It was so close, and I started to get choked up. I had 1 hour and 14 minutes to do 2.2 miles. I was going to do it again. I was going to be an Ironman, a second time.
Walk - 6:49:37
Nothing. And I mean NOTHING compares to an Ironman finish. Nothing compares to hearing the crowds. All the pain being lifted away. The party. And the voice of Mike Riley.
"From Washington DC, Amanda Chadwick - Amanda, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN"