Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Incredible Journey-The Run/Finish

Taking off on the run, while running inside the barriers, the crowd was cheering. I felt a surge of energy. Then I saw two of my Aussie friends/spectators on the sidelines! They were yelling for me, I went up and threw my sweaty arms around them...it was incredible to see someone I knew after so many hours. The run down Ali'i Drive started basically where the Finish Line is, where I could here Mike Reilly Announcing "You Are an Ironman" to literally one person after the other. I heard him say Apollo Ohno was on his way in. I had to turn a deaf ear to all of that, knowing I had a marathon in front of me. Then I saw my husband!!! Relief, happiness and energy flowed through. I think I said something about the f%#*ng bike, how windy it was. I knew my family had been worried about me, since my bike leg took so long. H told me I looked great. I saw the rest of part of the family and little ones. Avery said Grandma, you are the best runner ever! as she ran a few yards with me. Oh, how I wish I had her little strong eight year old legs about then! The run down Ali'i Drive is 5 miles out and then back. It is flat but hot. My only saving grace was that the sun was starting to reach sunset. I ran my routine of run 4 min/ walk 1 min. as I had done in training. I did this the whole run, except when I stopped to go potty, which ended up to be often. I saw the woman I had passed on the bike on the side of the road throwing up (She passed me later). Hmmm...maybe I won't be last afterall. At that point I had no idea where I was in my AG, only that I was 9th out of the swim. New goal: don't be last in my age group. I knew from past experiences when something unexpected happens in Ironman, adjust my goals. It certainly has helped me many races and in life really..

There were people all along Ali'i Drive cheering. I smiled almost all of the first 10 miles.
Near the turnaround, I saw the rest of my family. Yee-haw!! It wa sooo good to see them! I stopped for a picture
Becca asked me how the bike was. A few more expletives but that I was feeling great now..
I had worn the white long sleeved cooling shirt on the run to pour water on it and stay cool. The back has some little pockets to put ice in only I forgot about them completely. At each aid station it was: pour water on my sleeves, put ice down my shirt, under my hat, wherever ice would go. Then I squirted my Shotz electrolyte concentrate into a cup of water and downed it. This went on every mile at the Aid Stations. I guess it was hot at first since I remember all the ice. If only I had remembered why I got the cooling shirt with pockets-ha! I had never practiced with it and the ice so like they say never try anything new on raceday that you haven't done in training.. I knew this? Oh well, small error.

I finally got through with the 10 mile run through the support of the crowd. I passed H and fam again near the start again and got more encouragement. H kept telling me I was doing great, telling me I looked good ( thanks honey, didn't feel like I looked so good.ha!). I was still smiling. The sun was setting over the ocean, it was really beautiful and reminded me of my run in Melbourne...I felt overwhelmed. How lucky was I to do two triathlon races in the last 7 months, both with stunning sunsets over the ocean while I was on the run in an Ironman Triathlon?! I met a woman who was super friendly in my age group and we ran/walked together for a few miles. She was an Aussie and very sweet. It was her 2nd Kona race and only her 3rd Ironman. She started running in her 50s and did her first IM 2 years ago (she qualified in a half this year). She was also two years older than me. Wow, I could've gotten really discouraged when she eventually ran away from me but I actually felt happy for her that she found the Sport late in life and was already a rockstar! Plus she was an Aussie...so how could I be envious and resentful..

When I got to the Queen K it was starting to get dark..the next 13 miles were the most emotionally and mentally challenging for me. Fatigue was really setting in, the time where my mind could play tricks on me. However, somewhere along the line on the run I made the decision to just enjoy myself, soak up the experience. It was the first time in the seven Ironman races that I took the pressure off myself to pull off a PR or place in my AG or qualify for Kona-I am at KONA! I felt a huge weight being lifted. I knew I would finish the race and have a smile on my face..screw my time. I guess the only thing I really prayed for, asked my mom and sister for (they are in heaven) is please I don't want to be last in my age group! Then putting that in the back of my mind I trudged on, in the dark to complete my goal.

My stomach by now was working overtime in the potty department. I probably stopped 6 times to go, sometimes at the porta potty, sometimes in the bushes. There are advantages to running in pitch black I suppose! It was so dark at times I could not even see the road in front of me. I was not so happy during this part of the run. I couldn't even see the Orange cones supposedly showing where to run. The road was closed but I at some point they opened parts of it because I started being blinded by headlights, which confused me even more! Mumbling under my breath for gods sakes, the is the World Championships and they can't even provide light on the highway for safety? The runners in front of me and behind me were unable to be seen unless they had a glow stick or headlamp on their heads. My biggest fear was tripping and falling. I tend to trip and fall when I run sometimes. It is usually over rocks and trails but darkness was a whole nother ball game. Still doing my walk/run, I think I started to slow down for fear of getting hurt. Just get to your Special Needs bag I told myself because in it I had a headlamp. I was regretting not putting it in the bike to run transition. Finally, I got to the turn for the "Energy Lab", a road with a bunch of large mysterious looking buildings with huge solar panels. The road is about 3 miles long, an out and back which can provide insufferable heat for all the athletes that run through there in the daytime. For me however, it was nice and cool, the goal being get to my special needs at the end of this road and my headlamp. As I turned onto the road I yelled to someone is this the right way? It should have been a no brainer with the huge spotlights on the corner but I was totally disoriented by the darkness and fatigue from being out there what seemed like forever. I felt grumpy, I started hating gels and wishing it was over. This was my lowest point. I chatted with a couple of women along the way but honestly most of the people on the Energy Lab road looked like Zombies to me..

I got to my Special Needs bag, pulled out my headlamp and breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe this would keep me from falling over my own feet the last 7 miles of the marathon! The light went on-yes! Then about 10 minutes later, the battery died. Are you effing kidding me?! I threw the headlamp in the trash at the next Aid station. I was pissed at myself for not changing the battery. It had sat in the closet a long time. Oh well, time to get over it and carry on..the good news is that once I turned back on the Queen K to run back to Kona, the moon came up! Now I could see the distant lights of Kailua-Kona. I felt uplifted immediately. I was only a few miles from the finish line!!
I switched to chicken broth and coke somewhere in here. My stomach could not take another gel. I knew I wasn't dehydrated at this point so I just tossed my water belt away and felt free! I started getting excited and picking up my running. I think I even stopped the walking interval and just ran. OMG, I am going to finish the Ironman World Championships! All my negativity vanished. As I passed volunteers they encouraged me, saying I was "almost there". When there is 3 miles to go I am not "almost there" but their intention was good. One guy said "you have 2 hours to finish, no problem!" My heart sank briefly. Now I knew what time it really was. I had my timer on but didn't look at the actual time on most of the bike and the run. Now I knew I was officially out on an IM course longer than I ever had before. I still smiled, knowing I was headed for the finish line.

Rounding the corners in town, I got disoriented and kept asking Is this the right way? Am I going towards the Finish? I could hear Mike Reilly's voice getting closer. Finally I turned the last corner and knew where I was, I was running down Ali'i Drive to the Finish Line. Then I saw H and family!! He told me I was almost there and enjoy the moment! Funny, about 3 miles to the finish I wondered if everyone had gone home at the FL. I was so late, maybe the crowd was small. As I ran down the finishers chute OMG there were hundreds of people screaming, pounding the sides and I was so overcome with emotion I started crying. I ran as fast as I could the last 200 yards. I am not sure why..I think I just wanted to finish strong..the thrill of the finish line is indescribable!
There was it-the Finish Line!!
Run Time: 6:06
Overall Time: 15:52:04
Age Group: 22nd out of 32 (not last-yay..Mission accomplished!)
female rank: 540th
Overall Rank: 1912th

I'd like to say I ran into my family's arms right away but actually the catchers caught me at the Finish Line and my feet buckled out from under me. Kinda freaked me out but volunteers said it would pass and after walking around for a bit, I was good. I found Sean, my massage therapist I'd seen twice before the race at the massage tent...what a sight for sore eyes, and muscles. He worked on my neck and arms. It probably saved me from permanent neck damage from the bike!

I got the picture taken with the big ass Medal, something I thought about more than once during the race..it's a well earned crown of victory.

After a very cold piece of pizza I found H and the girls!! I was so thrilled and overjoyed that all the kids were there. I hope I inspired my Grandkids in a way that my mom inspired me. Never give up, you can do anything you set your mind to. Perservence, hard work and patience is the key!

From seeing the Finish Line for the first time in Kona in 1997, when I thought it was an impossible dream, this Ironman World Championships Triathlon to trying for 10 years to qualify...here I was 17 years later. I heard Mike Reilly say "Debra Wess-60 years old mother, grandmother-YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!


IronWaddler said...

Awesome journey

Cody the Clydesdale said...

You are awesome. How many triathlons have you completed now? It has to be a ton! Your an inspiration.