Whelp, I did it. I am an IRONMAN!!!
I've trained and raced many races for two years to prepare for this one, but official training was about 6 months. I made a plan, did the work, stayed dedicated, balanced my life as much as possible, and then it was race week. I checked my bike to tribike transport Sunday before the race, which is a genius option for removing stress of transporting my bike. Then I did some light runs and pool workouts Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday just to make sure I didn't get stiff. I had some tightness in my lower back and my feet were a little achy, but all in all I was thankful to enter race week healthy! I got a massage Tuesday evening in hopes of releasing tension before I traveled. All the plans were ironed out, Dan and Bridgette (and Eva) stayed at our house to care for the twins (they deserve a medal of some sort!). Carson spent the week at my parents, thanks Teeny and Bebol! I packed Carson and prepped for the twins as much as I could. The plan was to drop twins at school Thursday morning, let Carson help us finish packing, then Teeny would come grab Carson, and we'd head off to the airport. Well, Carson threw up in the car in the school parking lot!! So, we spent the morning cleaning throw up and caring for him... I felt terrible leaving him while he was sick, but I knew he was in good hands. I was also really nervous I would catch the nasty stomach bug floating around. The morning and packing didn't go quite as planned, but 'tis the life of a mommy athlete! The actual traveling went so smooth. We flew out with Cole and Raechel, got our rental cars, checked into the hotel then grabbed a bite to eat at a local place, Culinary Dropout. It was delicious! I was tired from traveling and slept very well that night. Friday morning Jake and I had a wonderful breakfast at Snooze AM, I even had a mimosa ;), then we headed to race site for packet pickup. Lines weren't too long and the weather was gorgeous. I was anxious to check in, get my wrist band, and see the flow of the event. Ironman did a wonderful job filtering so many people through and their athlete briefing was concise and helpful. I didn't take my helmet and bike gear that morning, but decided I better take my bike for a quick spin to make sure nothing shook out of place during transport. We stopped and grabbed some snacks, water, and gatorade on the way back to the hotel. Grabbed my bike gear, picked up the Haley's, and went back to race site. Took Firebolt (bike) for a quick spin and had to adjust my computers a bit, but all seemed well. Checked bike back in to tribike and we had a nice lunch on the patio. Then we went back to the room and I worked on my gear bags. My aunt and uncle stopped by after they checked in and we had a good chat! Did I mention how awesome it was to have so much support at the race??? It was fabulous. We had a quiet evening reading in the lobby by the fire, well Jake and Cole were gaming, but what's new? Raechel and I had dinner in the hotel that night because I didn't feel like getting out. Saturday morning I went to check my bike and gear bags in. It was really hectic because the practice swim was happening and thousands of athletes were checking in. Again, Ironman did an amazing job getting us in and out of there as quickly as possible. Jake waited in the car instead of parking to help with time. I had a few moments of anxiety wash over me as I was checking everything in. Mostly just, I hope I packed everything I'll need. Tripled checked my gear bags and I walked back to the car to find Jake looking very ill with the stomach bug. He decided to stay in the room and rest. I went and got some medicine for him, and some lysol for our room.. I had activated charcoal with me and Raechel brought bentonite clay. It was inevitable, the stomach bug followed us to Arizona. I tried to stay out of our room so I didn't catch it! Tracy, Elaine, Cole, Raechel, and I had lunch on the patio at NCounter and it was delicious. The weather was gorgeous, sunny 60s and 40s at night. After lunch Teagan and Nels arrived with the kids to kill some time and swim in the pool (it was heated). I relaxed by the pool a bit and then went back to rest and wrap my head around what would happen the next day! That evening we had a little hair coloring party and The Haley's and I went to chili's. Jake still was still miserable and I decided to eat something safe as my "last meal." I took a warm bath and watched some TV, crawled in bed around 9:30 and fell asleep around 11:30. Jake still felt bad, but assured me he would be ready for race day!
Alarm went off at 4:15am, I took a warm bath, washed my face and did my best to wake up slowly. I made my peanut butter sandwiches for the day, had a half a cup of coffee, filled my water bottles, and we were out the door by 5:00am. We didn't get to race site until 5:40 because the traffic was crazy and we had to walk a little from parking garage. I went in and aired my tires and put my water bottles on. I realized my torpedo cage was broken from transport. It was the one thing I didn't think to check on Friday. I saw someone with electric taped and asked to borrow it. A guy overheard and saw me messing with the cage, he came over and offered to help. I had plenty of time, so it wasn't a huge deal, but it's never fun to have a "problem" race morning. He used a zip tie and some tape and fixed it within a few minutes. Thanks guy! I went to put my nutrition in my race bags, then I went to sit with my crew. Raechel did my hair, I got my wetsuit on and it was almost time for pros to start. One final hug and good luck from everyone and I was off to wait in line.
I felt like I was going to throw up when I saw the start, but I took a deep breath and just told myself, "One thing at a time, it's going to be a long day, but you're ready, you've got this, QBKS, you're going to be an ironman TODAY." Before I knew it I was entering the water with 2,000 of my closest friends lol. The start is always overwhelming, it was cold, there were people swimming over me, and I was anxious about the day. Took me about 300 meters to get into a rhythm. The weather was nice, cloudy and not too cold. The sun came out for a few minutes, which made siting a little difficult, but it was cloudy again and I was cruising right a long. I made it to the turn around right at an hour and was feeling good. I knew I would finish the swim at that point. I got out of the water a little shy of 2 hours, felt great, and was excited to get to the bike. One event down.
I felt great getting on the bike! My plan was to take the first loop easy to recover from the swim and get a feel for the course. The out and back course was primarily all up hill out and I was way off my pace goal. I was a little nervous at the turn around because I wasn't sure how "fast" the way back would be. Well it was fast, I was flying to the turn around and feeling great. Then the wind picked up and it was quite cold.. then the rain came, and it was freezing. The last two laps were absolutely miserable. I kept thinking it would blow over since there wasn't a huge chance for rain when I checked the weather that morning. Well, it didn't. I was soaked, it was cold, and windy... I missed a few gels because my hands were so cold I couldn't reach in my back pocket to get them. I had to wait until the turn around to have someone help me. They reached in and opened my gel and shoved it in my mouth. The race support was amazing. Athletes were riding in trash bags to try and stop the cold rain, but they were out of trash bags by the time I got out there. I sat in the port a potty for a few minutes at mile 90 and dreaded leaving it!! Got back on the bike and started shivering like you would not believe. I couldn't control it. I didn't go near as fast as I could on the way back because I was so tired of being cold and didn't want to make more wind.. But, of course I was so ready to be off the bike I pushed through. I saw several people dropping out of the race on the bike. Despite the cold rain, I still finished in a decent time. When I reached transition area it looked like a medical tent. Everyone was camped out with foil around them, wearing trash bags and gear bags, sipping on hot chicken broth, and hovering around a ground heater, anything to get warm. I got out of my bike clothes into shorts and a tank top (at least it a was dry!). I sat in transition for 17 minutes! I could not stop shivering and I just kept telling myself I would go as soon as I stopped. I finally realized I may never stop shivering and needed all the time I could get for the run. So off I went...
I ran straight to my special needs bag, put on my long sleeve shirt, but I didn't stop shivering until mile 3! The first 4 miles felt pretty good and I was glad it wasn't raining anymore. I kept a slow steady pace, walked up the longer hills, and tried to just keep moving. Mentally things got rough on the second loop. I had to run passed the finish line and head out for my second loop. I was tired and nervous about cut offs. I didn't have any doubt I could complete the 140.6 miles, I did doubt I could do it in time. My mind was fried and I really didn't know my pace, I knew I was running S.L.O.W. Mile 13-15 felt like the longest 2 miles of my life. Emily's cousin, who was a race volunteer, happened to be at that water stopped and assured me I had plenty of time and to keep moving. I hadn't seen the crew in a while and he said he would text them and let them know where I was. Turns out my chip hadn't worked the last few checkins and they weren't sure where I was! Then I saw Jake a little after that and he could tell I wasn't doing well. I was tired, my feet hurt, but mentally I was convinced I didn't have enough time. Mile 18-24 were sort of a blur and definitely the worst part of the race for me. My race crew really stepped it up and saw me at several mile markers. Jake asked some volunteers if they could run alongside me and everyone said it was totally fine. It's not allowed for pros or age group winners, but let's be honest, nobody cares that I had some people helping me get to the finish line. My uncle ran alongside me for the longest stretch and he was very helpful. He told me he wanted to run a little with me because he felt bad for not being able to do Austin with me... I think I can forgive him for missing that one! It was very special and I was honored he took the time (elaine too!) to fly out there and support me. Teag ran for a bit too, and then I made a friend on the course. Her name was Laura, she was precious and a believer. She missed cut off on the swim by 55 seconds the year before and was back to redeem her ironman dreams. We talked, ran, and walked the whole way to the finish. When I saw mile marker 24 with 1.5 hours to go, I knew I would finish in time. And from there I just enjoyed every step. Laura asked if I would sing some worship songs with her, so we sang a few! We ran down the shoot and heard Joanna Piatt, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!
I was so relieved to cross that finish line. For me, it was now or never. If I didn't finish that day, it would be years before I could try again. I was emotional hugging all my supporters, but not too bad. It all seemed surreal. I almost lost it when I facetimed my parents.. I think my dad had a little tear.. or maybe he watered, but they didn't come down, we may never know! Jake went to bring the car and I made my way slowly to him. My feet hurt SO bad and I was having trouble walking. I saw several people finish with only a few minutes to spare, and that was really cool. When I got back to the hotel I took a hot shower and soaked in a HOT epsom salt bath. I was still chilled to the bone and crawled in bed with a sweatshirt and sweats on. I don't think I fully unthawed until the following evening when I sat in the hot tub. Jake went and got me McDonald's, but I couldn't even finish the burger. I was hungry but a little sick and unable to eat. I forced myself to drink water. I was tired but unable to sleep. Jake and I recapped the day a little, it was nice to hear about the spectator's day and their thoughts along the way. I slept off and on for 30-45 minutes at a time, my body hurt pretty bad, and I was wired from all the caffeine in my gels and adrenaline. I finally fell into a decent sleep from 8:30am-11:30 am. The next morning I was stiff, but not too bad. I did okay once I was up and moving. I felt like I could go in a straight/flat line pretty easily, but any side stepping or up and down stairs was pretty rough. I definitely wasn't up for agility training! By Tuesday I was moving pretty well and felt much better. By the time we got home, physically I really felt very well and almost fully recovered within a week. I got very sick with sinus junk a few days after and it hit me really hard because my body was terribly worn down. Oh, and we had a 1 month old baby girl come to our house that week and stay for 10 days. So, I'm sure lack of sleep post race wasn't ideal. Dad, Brittany, and I ran the Denton Turkey Trot and it was the hardest 5k of my life. lol. Seriously, it was pitiful, I was sick, couldn't breathe, and my legs were dead. I haven't done any physical activity since Thanksgiving and I'm feeling pretty good about it.
For more race photos, check out this link (thanks Teagan):
A few weeks after the race, Teagan hosted a party for me and the people who didn't get to experience Arizona with me. There was a slideshow, picture book, ironman cake, and lots of fun conversation. Also, my dad came as me, braid and all, and Teagan wore a wetsuit all night. I'll post some photos from that night, and I'm sure I'll post again in a month or so with all the photos and videos I gather from race day!
and there you have it...
Ironman Arizona 2015. Check.