Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Part Three...Post Race..The End (but not really)

I woke up Monday morning fully expecting to realize this had been a very long complicated Ironman dream and the race had not really taken place yet. Nope it happened, I pinched myself and H said, Yes indeed you won!

Wow, it still didn't really hit me..even now I don't think I fully comprehend the accomplishment. It was early Monday AM and we still had to get to St. Kilda to gather our transition bags, bikes and special needs bags. There was only a 2 hour window to do so. Then we had to take our s*#*t home (2.5 miles) and get back in time for the Kona "Rolldown". It's a big deal and if you aren't there to pick up your Kona slot, they immediately give it to the next place Finisher in your AG, etc. Exhausted, we took a taxi down, got our stuff. My hand was starting to hurt by now, the lidocaine had worn off around the stitches. Carrying bags was not the best therapy for this but I had to. We called, tried to hail and called again for a "Maxi Taxi" to pick us up with our bikes in St. Kilda. The taxis were so busy, no one showed up, plus I think they hate taking bikes into their precious cabs(I'm not bitter or anything, but the taxis here are abysmal). I was getting really anxious after waiting forever. It was starting to rain. I told H, f%#+k this! I am riding my bike home!. So off we went in our street clothes, a mere few hours after IM, sore legs and all, bags in tow. By now, the rain has started to pour. Oh great, now I will have pneumonia again.. We finally made it home drenched, quickly changed our clothes and took a taxi back to St. Kilda.

We made it!

There were a hundred athletes there, waiting to get their coveted slot, including our TEAM member teammates, who we sat with. Again Mike Reilly was there to ceremoniously hand each person their Kona certificate:

Finally they got to the "older athletes" and I picked up my slot!! It was very exciting, hula dancers to greet us afterwards.

Then they took my money of course on the spot and I was in! Several TEAM members got Kona slots too. This is Jody, a dear sweet amazing Aussie friend and an athlete who is also Kona bound:

I was in a daze, completely out of it from post race lack of rest, still not really comprehending the whole experience. Yes I really was going to Kona, I have the receipt to prove it!

Monday afternoon, we met our TEAM mates for drinks before the Awards Ceremony. It was so nice to see everyone without bike helmets, bike clothes and finally I could hang with them to chat. Both coaches were there. Michael had qualified for Kona last year, Xavier and Jody on Sunday. We laughed and told stories, honestly my Aussie friends are hilarious! Even the teammates not qualified had killer times like 9-10 hours for IMM. H and I are very lucky to have trained with such seriously talented athletes. Yet there is a down to earth feeling about the TEAM. They are not full of themselves as some might be tempted to be when you are just that good. I can't say enough about how we were included in everything. Although we couldn't exactly hang with these folks training, I still felt a part of..I honestly think this was a once in a life experience, these last 2 months, one of those things that fell into place just by a series of events and abundance of the most generous Aussies ever. Facebook has opened up a whole new family of friends for me and it warms my heart. I am excited to see how all these amazing folks do in their future endeavors either in sports or in life. Many of them are the same age as our kids and yet, we never were made to feel "old".

My coaches, Michael and Xavier

More TEAM mates..

After the get together, we all cruised down to the Convention Center in South Melbourne to the awards ceremony. Following some entertainment, there was Mike Reilly to introduce the winners of the age groups and Pros. They asked all the winners to sit up front. I still felt stunned and almost didn't believe this was really happening. The woman in 2nd place in my AG sat next to me. She was the one I had met at the race. I congratulated her. 2nd place in your first IM ain't so bad! She was very sweet and gracious..As they went through the younger age groups I sat thinking wow, am I really going up to that stage to get a first place award? I felt nervous, excited. My coaches and TEAM mates were there to cheer for us. My coach Xavier got his award first. Getting 1st place in the 35-39 AG with a smokin' time of 8:45 time is unbelievable! Some of the winning times, even in the older AGs were shockingly fast! If I were in the women 65-69 AG, I would have gotten 3rd place-really?? Label me lucky!

Then it happened. They called my name. I hugged Mike Reilly and stood incredibly astounded, proud, emotional, happy..amazed!

I almost slept with it on the first night...

I must admit, one of the proudest moments of my life!

My fellow TEAM mates who received awards, Xavier and Jody
Of course my best friend and partner in life, who missed the podium by one place! So proud of my husband!

We will all be on Kona exciting and unexpected for me. Plus my coach Michael, of course is competing. I am thrilled to have my Aussie teammates there. Our whole family is coming too, all 15 of us. My 60th birthday celebration and Ironman World Championships in October. It's a party!

Wow! What a way to bring in this new decade of life..My parents both died in their 60s after long illnesses, I am doing this to honor them and to say, aging is a matter of choice! At least so far for me..

Today is day 6 after Ironman Melbourne. We did nothing, I mean absolutely nothing the first 3 days after the race, eating a bunch and resting our tired bones. Wednesday night we treated ourselves with dinner on the Tramcar Restaurant, which is highly rated here. We ate a luxurious meal as the old antique Tram took us around town. What a treat this was. The food was great, H and I just relaxed, reliving "The Day". What a difference from previous post race feelings of discouragement and disappointment in myself! I finally feel rested, we packed our bikes yesterday and will begin packing the rest today..After meeting several friends here for meals, drinks, or coffee over these last few days in Melbourne, we head back to the US on Tuesday. I am very sad to leave, but excited to see our family and friends back home..

Saying goodbye to Melbourne and the "mates" we have met here is really difficult. My heart is warmed by all the love and generosity we have experienced here. From total strangers who gave us lifts to places, to a guy who didn't even know me that lent me his aerobars, for the many many TEAM mates, who showed us we can indeed be those "real athletes", for friend Tristan-our "Run Like Crazy" runner/author, Blog mate Alison and many more-I am truly grateful!!


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