Sunday, September 27, 2009

Smile!! Goal Accomplished!!

Going into Ironman Wisconsin, I had one major goal.......SMILE. I feel like I accomplished this goal. It was a great day, a day to smile, a day to be surrounded by friends. A day to be enjoyed.

Now, this does not mean that this was an easy day by any fact I think this was my hardest Ironman ever.
Lets start with a little background.........My ironman training really started in about July when my Iron levels reached a therapeutic level and migraines allowed me to train on a consistent schedule. With this late start, my expectations needed to change. This transformation of expectations did not happen overnight. It was a process that forced me to really examine " "what" did racing mean to me? Did racing really define who I am? Am I the same person regardless of how I race? These are questions I needed to explore. Now these were not new questions......these questions have been bouncing around in my head for the last couple seasons. In fact, since I qualified for Kona in 06, my seasons have gotten slower and slower with more health concerns in the mix, forcing me to question myself, "will I be that athlete I want to be again".

So, it was so refreshing to go into IM WI 09 with this goal of SMILING. I promised myself that as i got out of the water, I would not beat myself up over my swim time.....and the same as I got off my bike. I would enter each new phase with a positive attitude no matter the time.
And this is how my day went.........

This Swim started out with a calming tread while waiting for the gun. I tried to position myself as close to the buoys as I could. The thought was that swimming on the inside of the buoys would be less congested. Well, I think I forgot how crazy the start of an Ironman swim is.......honestly- i don't think i was really able to "swim" for the majority of the first loop. It was Crazy. The second loop felt great and i was able to get into a good pace.

The bike was just a lot of fun. I really love that bike course and the support on the course is incredible. The hills on the 2 loops make it go so fast and the winds were nice to us that day. My motto on the bike course was slow and steady......and i did that. Nutritionally, I was only able to get half of my bottled(one of my 600 calorie bottles) nutrition down and i tried to make up the calories with some gels and blocks i had on the bike. I knew my stomach wasn't great but I hoped things would be ok. I counted.......I had 5 long bathroom stops(throughout the whole day) least this time i didn't have to wait in line...that adds up a lot of time......always working on that nutrition.......shoot.

Onto the run........I love to run. And when I started the run, I was so excited and happy. There is nothing like the feeling of running past the Capital and down State Street, passing all your friends.........and then I looked at my pace.......yikes.....6:30.

That is way too fast. My adrenalin was going and I knew I needed to slllllllloooooowwww down. I just hoped I hadn't down too much damage. The interesting part is when I slowed down to my 8 min pace, it didn't feel any better. And then 9 min pace felt worse. Ugh.......there were up and down points all through out this marathon. This run by far was the hardest marathon of any IM I have done. There were times I felt great and then there were times when I thought i was done. At about mile 13, my legs- both of them decided to seize up with cramps- the kind that stop you in your tracks. It took a lot of mental strength to move through that pain and discomfort and continue running. Really, I knew that if I started to walk, I wouldn't be able to run again. My plan was to walk through the aid stations, taking in broth when they had it, coke and water, walk the hills and to just keep up whatever pace I could without walking. I was able to do this and keep smiling with all the support of friends cheering....... There is nothing like the sight of mile 25 and then 26. You know you have done THIS and the day is almost done. You can kick it in for that last stretch down the finish line and LIFE IS GOOD.

Overall, this was really a great day. Thanks to Brian who was with me every step of the way, who carried my things, who took pictures, who was there smiling at the finish, who got my bike for me at the end of a long day, who massaged my sore muscles, who listened to me, who held my hand, who drove me back home.

Thanks to all my friends who cheered and yelled and supported. Thanks to Erik and Kerry and all the other fellow Ironman athletes........what a day to share with friends.
Can't wait to do it AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!