Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Ironman Canada 2015 - The Spectator Experience!

Ironman spectating is…well, it’s something!!


Mac raced IM Canada last weekend, and this was my first chance to spectate at an ironman!  Honestly I have really just spectated at the Victoria half earlier in the year, and that is about the extent of my “spectating” experience.  But the full distance was a whoooooole different beast!


Ok, right off the bat: I’m honestly not sure what is better/worse.  Racing or spectating?!  I literally changed my mind a million times throughout the day, and everyone kept laughing at me.


Racing is hard.  It sucks.  I mean, that’s kind the point, right?  But then at the same time, it’s absolutely amazing.  There is a lot of pressure—but also none at all, since it’s your day and you know you get to be selfish.  And racing is fun.  I really “get into the zone” every time I race, it’s a completely indescribable experience.  Nothing else in the world matters, except whatever it is you’re currently doing.  I’m chronically indecisive otherwise, but during a race I will make snap decisions, never second-guess myself, and they are (99% of the time) always the right decisions.  I know exactly what my body does, and needs, and how it feels, and I am never more in tune with myself than on race day.  Then again, that means I’m in tune with all the pain and misery and stress of racing ;) It’s definitely a good/bad thing, and the pain can linger etc.  If it were easy, it wouldn’t be racing.  But you’ve also spent time, money, and energy putting things into the race (regardless of the distance).  There are expectations, both personally and publically.  It’s a big, open-ended question mark, and you can only hope you live up to what you’re hoping for.  And you always think you could have tried harder.  (I mean obviously it nets out as a good thing, otherwise I wouldn’t love it and do it, but my point is—there are definite upsides and downsides to racing)


Spectating, on the other hand…well I mean, it is so FUN!  You have your person (or people) and you can be unapologetically, all-out supportive!  Everything is about your athlete, it’s your job to do whatever you can for them (in the best of ways).  And cheering for other people is fun too—ESPECIALLY at ironman, as I discovered!  Having names on bibs, allowing you to call them by name—so great!  I loved getting them to smile, to momentarily break out of the pain and suffering, to know that others are acknowledging their suffering and believe in them!  They are doing something amazing!  But, is STRESSFUL!  Especially 140.6 miles.  Especially in another country and you don’t all have cell data.  We missed Mac on the bike course and felt AWFUL.  Then she took a little longer on the last little section of the bike, and even though we knew it was “fine,” it was the most stressful, anxiety-laden wait EVER, waiting for her to appear around the corner, heading to the bike in.  We were constantly checking various trackers, calculating times, etc etc etc.  It was incredibly stressful!  Not to mention we got up at the same time, and were out in the freezing cold and pouring rain.  NOT to compare that to the athletes, they obviously had it way worse..but it wasn’t exactly a relaxing, cozy day, either ;)


Anyway, all that said—I loved it.  So much!  It was just funny to feel SO many different emotions.  Racing CDA, I was so focused the whole day that I tuned everything else out and didn’t feel much of anything.  Spectating in Whistler, I think I felt every possible emotion multiple times throughout the day.  :)


So, here is my own recap of the day.  Much different than a race report, but just as long, and funny that it was such a busy day!


Woke up, bright and early (well, it wasn’t very bright but it was early).  Headed down on mountain bikes, out the door at 4:20am.  It was a few miles to the swim start, so we rode over while Mac took the shuttle.  It was DARK, at least for the first couple miles…especially bombing down the hill from the condo.  Kind of scary, but I reminded myself I was on my mountain bike, not my tri bike, so even if I hit a bump I had suspension and wouldn’t go flying ;)


Got to the swim start, met up with Mac.  She wated to do a quick 15 minute shake-out run so I joined her for that.  Pretty cool to be able to run with her for that last little bit, although kind of weird knowing she had this big thing ahead of her and I was just there watching!  :)  (but in a good way)


The forecast had been mentioning showers all week, and that morning, it was saying scattered showers throughout the day.  It had rained a bit the day before but cleared up well, and that morning was perfect!  Nice and cool, but not cold, and looking pretty clear.


She started getting ready, wetsuit on, pictures, etc… it seemed to get a little chillier.  She made her way over to the swim start, as we found spots on the beach to watch.  Huh.  I think it’s sprinkling now.  Watched the pros start, feeling a bit more rain.  Age group in-water mass start (TERRIFYING, I was already incredibly thankful for the rolling start at CDA, and yup, still very thankful for it!) and the skies opened up and it was raining.  And cold.


It was a two-loop swim, but they don’t get out of the water like at CDA, so there wasn’t match to see after the mass of people went by.  Especially with the rain coming down more and more, we huddled over to a tree.  People started hanging out anywhere they could get shelter.  Katie and I found a couple big rocks under a big tree and kind of hunched over—I think she actually fell asleep.  I mostly tried to curl into a little ball.  It was still really wet, and we had layers—but I didn’t have rain layers!


As it got closer to the time when the pros would start getting out of the water, Mic and Allen and I decided to go check out the bike out.  Ideally, we could watch the swim in and bike out, but once checking out the logistics, there was no way we would be able to do it (too many crossings, and getting around things, etc, don’t think we would have been able to make it).  We decided to station ourselves at the bike out, and watched the first few pros.  Then the age groupers started to trickle out.  It was pouring rain by now.  We moved closer to the mount line, since there was a fence under some trees we could sit under to get slightly less soaked while waiting.


Earlier, Mic had looked at the mount area and asked why it was so wide (he had never seen an ironman before).  I told him triathletes just need the space, and there’s lots of people, etc.  He kind of looked at me and repeated “no, it’s a serious question.  I don’t get it…” (note: he is a cyclocross guy, so he just didn’t understand what all the space was for).  I repeated my answer, and told him to sit tight and wait…and sure enough, as the masses started to come out, he slowly started to stare and nod, finally admitting “ooookay, now I understand…..”


Being so wet didn’t help.  Lots of people had troubles, some fell over or slid out just trying to get on the bike since the pavement was so wet.  It started to be that every time I cheered for someone in particular, they would have troubles getting started/fall over/etc so I stopped doing that ;)


As it got to be about the time we expected to see Mac, I left the boys there (the rest of the group was in the area near the run out with the bike), and ran up the road a bit, so that I could see her once she was actually on the bike and hopefully away from the mass of people trying to get clipped in.  Finally spotted her!  Had just enough to yell at her and take a few photos, and she was off.  She didn’t look thrilled, and I knew it was because the rain was exactly what she didn’t want…but still, she had a great swim time and was time to tackle the bike.


We headed back, found the rest of the group.  Quickly got to our bikes (now soaking wet), and rode back.  Just in case I wasn’t thoroughly drenched already, riding a mountain bike made sure every part of me was completely saturated.  At this point, Mic and Allen and I decided to just ride back to the condo (and up the crazy hill) to try to dry off/change clothes—Katie also had an extra rain shell at the condo and I knew I would need it, considering my jacket had completely soaked through.


The boys were dragging.  Finally rounded them up.  I had Mac’s phone throughout the day, to take photos and post to her instagram/facebook of course ;) but it also meant I could text, so Kyle and I were texting to try to coordinate things.  As we were leaving, I checked her live tracker (that she got for the day), just to make sure we would have time before she came to the crossing.  All looked good, so we headed down to park, etc.


Then, as we tried to find the rest of the group etc, Kyle texted saying we had missed her!!!!  What the heck?!  I looked at the tracker again, and he was right, she was long gone.  How did that happen?!  We knew she would be there 2 hours after the start, but I don’t think any of us paid attention to exactly what time of day she started the bike, so we were relying on the tracker...a little too much, I guess.  Plus, it didn’t list distances or scale, so I guess she was closer than we thought.  UGH even so, what a bummer!!!  We felt AWFUL, especially since on that course, that was really the only time she would be passing by, and we wouldn’t get to see her at all on the bike!  :(


We decided to all pile into our truck, and booked it as fast as we could, to try to catch up further up on the course to try to see her.  We finally turned off, after realizing the other direction was closed and we were going slow being held up by the race…and resigned ourselves to the fact we missed her.  She told us later how bummed she was when she went by and we weren’t there, which is totally understandable :( Ugh, really upset about that.  BUT, what can you do.  The Project 13 crew (ie: my coach) was there, set up on the side of the course so we walked up and hung out there with them and cheered on the bikers going by.  That was fun, the first time we were really cheering for people!  Us girls has bright pink tutus on, and people loved them.  Some would smile, some would wave or give us a thumbs up, and a few even sat up on their bars and blew us kisses and shouted “love the tutus, thanks!!”  So cool.  :) I think that is when I started to really have lots of fun, and realize how cool it was we got to cheer these guys on!  I’m not sure if having done an ironman the month prior made it better or not, but it sure felt good to cheer these amazing guys on, especially knowing exactly what they were going through/what they were going to start going through soon.


Things started to go downhill, though.  I was so distracted screaming and clapping and dancing around in my tutu (lol), but Kyle was diligently checking Mac’s live tracker….and informed us it hadn’t moved in the last 15 minutes.  Getting a flat or some mechanical issue was one thing, but that was pushing a long time for her to be stuck changing a flat. It also showed her right at the base of a giant, twisty climb…and naturally, Kyle was really worried.  We kept watching it, he went and talked to one of the ambulance drivers that was there on the course and tried to get someone to check on her, etc.  There were ton of aid cars and official sweeping the course, but at that point they were already busy and overwhelmed pulling people with hypothermia off the course, so Kyle was worried they may not get to her quickly and thought it could be something bad.  I tried reasoning, pointing out the inaccuracies of that type of live GPS tracking etc, plus other reasons why it could show that (could have fallen out of her pocket, she could be helping someone else who had a problem, etc etc) but obviously he was super worried and upset the ambulance guy wouldn’t go drive out to check lol…so we piled back into the truck (did I mention we had 7 people, including 5 in the back seat?) and headed back to town so that he could get his own truck, and could drive out on his own to check for himself.  We were almost back, when suddenly—her tracker was working again!  And it showed she had moved way up course.  It was just a GPS signal issue, after all!  This was a time I was very happy I was right :)


At that point, since we were basically back near T2 (and where we had parked), we decided to just park, re-group ourselves, and get some lunch.  Did that, then headed back to T2 about an hour-ish before we expected her to get off the bike.  We watched the first few pros on the run out, then scoped out the area.  This time, we would be able to watch the bike in, then sprint across the parking lot and make it to the run out.  We watched a bit and saw Mac’s coach bike in, so tested this plan out (yup. plenty of time to run through the parking lot, since transition kind of wound around and we could take a more straight-ish shot through the parking lot), and watched some more.  Headed back to the bike in, and waited.


And waited, and waited.  She had hit the last timing mat, 20 miles out, and she should be showing up any time now.  There was a giant climb at the end, so that was probably all.  The live tracker had long since stopped working, but we knew better than to worry about it yet…so we waited.  And waited.  We expected 6 hours on a good day, closer to 6:10-6:15 on an ok-fine day….by the time 6:30 rolled around, we were all super high-strung, and I think at this point I declared that spectating was WAY worse than actually racing!  Logically I think we all knew it was fine.  There was a big climb, it was nasty weather (although by this point the rain had stopped and the sun was peeking out..but you could see on the looks of all the athletes coming it, it had been a brutal bike ride for the last 112 miles)…but still, where was she?!  It was less worried about why she was taking so long, and more worried about how she would be feeling mentally/physically coming off the bike and into the run, and wanting her to have a good run etc etc etc…


THERE SHE WAS!  We all erupted at the sight of her.  I hardly remember how she looked coming in, I was taking photos and cheering and then buckling down and running as hard as I could to the other end of the parking lot.  I knew I had plenty of time, she had to get her stuff and change shoes and get situated, but the LAST THING IN THE WORLD that I wanted was to miss her again!


Of course, we made it with plenty of time :)  Katie and Mel held the signs that Josh and the girls had made, and finally she came running out.  She didn’t look thrilled, but more resigned.  As everyone else turned to go watch the pros finish, Kyle realized the course turned back, and we could probably see her once more at the other edge of the parking lot…so he and Mic and I raced over as fast as we could, and got to the crosswalk just in time to take more pictures and see her come through again.  I wasn’t even thinking, but Mic was smart and realized it was a good time to run with her ;) so he chased her up the hill and joined her a bit before the course wound into the trails.


Meanwhile, Kyle and I headed back to his truck.  I didn’t know where Allen had gone, to unlock my bike from our truck, so I took Mac’s mountain bike (which Mel had been using) and stripped off some layers (the sun was getting warm), and we decided to try to see if we could catch her on the bikes along the trails.  We mashed up a couple hills, race along some back trails…but, nope, she had already started her loop around Lost Lake.  So, we headed back a bit to a big intersection, where the course crosses a couple times, right by special needs.  Soon enough, we saw her running up, and although she quickly told us how cold and miserable the bike was and didn’t look very happy, she was putting down a great pace and was right on target.


This was a pretty good place to watch for a bit, so we hung out…then realized it really was getting warmer (I was down to just my tank top by then), and Mic met up with again, so we decided to go drop the bikes off at the truck (and the extra sleeves) then walk back to the same spot.  We found the rest of the group along the way at another spot, so we all went back together and hung out.  It was a lot of fun there, you got to see people about halfway on their first lap, starting their second lap, and then about halfway through their second lap.  That’s when we started calling out people by name, and although it was by special needs and most people were distracted, it was fun to see them light up a bit when they heard their names.


I did keep accidentally saying stupid things like “almost there” which I smacked myself every time.  I HATE when people say that, especially when we moved down another trail a bit and you could tell people were just starting their first lap.  Why the heck did I keep saying that?!  Other than that, though, I think people appreciated it.


Luckily Mac’s tracker seemed to be working better now that it was on the run, so we could tell where she was….but we could also see she was slowing down.  To the point where we knew she was walking at least part of the time.  As she got closer, we moved down to a less congested area, and Kyle back-tracked to try to find her first and run with her if she needed it.  We saw them coming through, and she looked pretty dejected and Kyle kept running with her (he ended up running the entire rest of the course with her).  That was a bummer, I knew she could have had a really good run, but all that time getting freezing on the bike did nothing to help anyone (and hearing later, she couldn’t eat/drink for the first few hours, so that probably played a role too).


We were so happy to be cheering for everyone else, but it was pretty dejecting to see our own athlete, the one person we wanted to cheer on the MOST, having a rough time.  But, she was still getting it done.  We moved back up to another spot so that we could see her at the end of that loop.  We walked a bit up the trail, further than before, so we were the only group of spectators on a lonely trail, up near the top of a small include/corner.  That was one of the most fun spots to be stationed!  We were totally in the woods, there weren’t really other spectators there, and you could tell the athletes weren’t really expecting people to be cheering there!  We got a LOT of smiles, and laughs, and thank-yous and some people even asked for high fives!  Um, you want a high five, YOU BET I will give you a high five! We kept the energy up there and it was noticeable what a difference it made for some people, so that was AWESOME!


We gave the guys our tutus, to try to see if we could help cheer Mac up when she came around.  Kyle was busy talking her off a ledge by that point, and I don’t think the guys in tutus did much for her, but it DEFINITELY was a hit to everyone else that saw it in those 15-20  minutes!  I mean, the girls wearing tutus got lots of smiles and stuff, but the reactions were even better with the guys wearing them!   We would see people start to crack a smile, trying not to break, whenever they saw the guys wearing bright pink tutus…and as soon as we said “yeahhh we see you smiling!” a huge grin would spread across their face.  It’s amazing what smiling can do during a race, so hopefully it helped :)


After seeing Mac, we walked down to another stretch, the last out and back.  She would be back here when she was about 2km to the finish, and we spent the next hour or so cheering from there.  It also started raining again.  Raining a lot.  I had to go back to the truck and put on as many layers as I could.  Ugh!  But, hey, if they were out there racing, I sure as heck was going to cheer!


The only bummer was that you didn’t know what lap people were on—so while you could tell them they were “almost there” if they were on the second loop (less than a mile to go qualifies as almost there, I think), you didn’t want to say that when they actually had another entire loop to do.  So, there was a lot of “stay tough” and “look at that pace!” and “be strong, you got this.”  Some people seemed so appreciative at this point, you could tell they were the ones on their way to the finish, and that your words of encouragement actually meant something to them while they were trying to dig deep.


The other fun thing was that by this point, we had seen a LOT of these people on their previous loops around Lost Lake!  Some we had seen once, others we had seen twice or more already, just based on how we kept moving around the course and how the trails intersected!  When I remembered them, I tried to say something (“hey didn’t I just see you?! Keep it up!”) and sometimes they remembered us more, with the tutus, and would point and wave and say thanks, etc.  I saw one guy in a Smashfest kit that I think I complimented 2 or 3 times prior, and the last time I saw him I said “yup, I STILL love that kit!” even though he never really showed a response the last few times I said anything, but that time he yelled back “hah, well this is the last time you get to see it!” meaning he was listening, and was now heading to the finish line.  So cool!!


Tracking was working.  Mac was close.  We set up in a good spot…and saw her come through!  She still didn’t look thrilled, but she was moving a bit more, and more determined, and this time we really could say she was almost done and RUN HARD SEE YOU AT THE FINISH!


We raced to the finish line.  Found our way through the stands and managed to squeeze into spots in the front row.  The clock read 12:50…she could still break 13 hours!  Even though it wasn’t the day she wanted, I knew that would at least be a small win.  We soaked up the finish line atmosphere…so amazing to watch people come in!  I got as many high fives as I could, screamed for everyone (especially cool to see people finish whom we had seen on the course and cheered for over the last few hours), smiled and laughed watching their elation…and the clock was still ticking.  Soon, soon, she had to be there soon…


And then, 12:55 after the race began, there she was!   I don’t know how we all managed to scream quite so much and take photos/videos at the same time, but I do know we all had a collective sigh of relief and happiness seeing her finish and looking happier than she had the whole run!


I raced over to the side of the finish chute, saw the volunteer talking to her and making sure she was ok and getting her stuff.  I went totally crazy and made sure she (and the volunteer) saw me and was WAY TOO EXCITED but I didn’t even care.  SO HAPPY!  Mac kind of laughed and told the volunteer it was fine, she could talk to me later …but I did have to ask where we went to meet her.


The stupid thing was that the athlete exit was out the other side.  And there was NO place to cross, without walking allllllll the way around all the med tents and buildings and everything, or allllll the way up the other side of the finish line where it was a sketchy crossing.  By the time we finally made it all the way around, Mac was already out and talking to some friends, but I still raced up and tried to give her the biggest, and yet gentlest hugs of all time.


We all met up.  Waited for Mic and Kyle, who had both run her in apparently, but gotten split up with the dumb crossings.  The rain was coming down again, so we wanted to head back to the condo to get warmed up, instead of hang out there.  Mic and I ran ahead, to go get her gear ticket and get her bike and bags.  Did that, piled everything into the trucks, and headed back.


The rest of the evening involved warming up, chatting and hearing all the stories of the day, finding food (ummm yeah definitely didn’t eat enough during the day) and finally collapsing into bed!  What an insane day.  I can only imagine how awful it was racing (seriously, I think I may have quit..and that makes me uncomfortable because I am not ok with quitting! But it was that bad…) but it was so inspiring to watch everyone out there!


Anyway, that’s the very, very long story of my first experience spectating an ironman.  It was incredibly fun and rewarding in its own way, especially cheering and encouraging the athletes, and especially knowing so many people have done the same for me (especially in Coeur d’Alene).  The spirit of ironman and triathlon is alive and well, and it was such a fun time getting to be a part of it!!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Seafair Olympic Triathlon - 2015

Well, yesterday I asked the question: can Rosanne race 3 weeks after an Ironman?


Spoiler alert, the answer is: mostly, yes!


Yesterday I did the Seafair Olympic tri.  I was supposed to do it last year, deferred my registration after crashing and ripping most of my skin off just a few days before the race, and so got registered for it this year!  Last year it was all about doing as many triathlons as I could, getting them under my belt and learning as much as possible.  I was also supposed to do a half ironman last year, but the same crash kind of threw that plan out the window (but this Olympic was supposed to be the stepping stone to that as well). 


Neeedless to say, this year was a bit different!  I was really only doing the race because it was paid for and I was registered, but had no other motivating factor.  I guess it was a good test to see how recovered I was, and was definitely a motivation to get myself moving again post-ironman...but I didn’t feel like I had too much to lose, since if it went poorly I would know it was probably because of a silly 140.6 just 21 days prior.


But of course, in true Rosanne fashion, I knew I wanted to race it.  I was supposed to take it easy and see how it felt and then go for it if I could..but I knew it would feel fine “enough,” based on how training has been, so went in with more of a “go for it and if it sucks then back off and hang on” mentality. Close enough, right?  This past week I really felt better; not quite 100%, but pretty darn close.  Things felt pretty good, I was feeling strength in my legs again and could push it (hills are still a bit more of a struggle, but even run intervals were decent).  All in all, I felt I had a good shot at actually giving it my all.




The swim was…well, it was the swim.  Small group in my wave, although it was strange to be so far back (race started with the first wave at 6:30; my wave didn’t start until 6:51).  Also, people suck at swimming.  I don’t want to say I got pushed around and hit more than in ironman..but it felt worse.  I think people in an ironman at least kind of know what they are doing, have more experience, and control things better.  I had people all over the place and slapping and just..ugh.  It felt like it took a LONG time to clear out, finally got water to myself but it was a bit chaotic for a while.  I felt myself getting into that panicky spot for a while; the neck of my wetsuit felt tight, I was breathing too much, my legs were getting tingly..all those warning signs that Rosanne is on the verge of a panic attack.  Managed to get that under control and the rest of the swim was “fine,” so I’m just happy that I could control it :) Swim was boring.  Felt long.  But also really short.  Meh.  Still just hate swimming.  Slow, as always.  Moving on…


I’m glad Allen was on the perimeter of transition.  I kept forgetting my number all day, I still had my IMCDA number stuck in my head (527!) and so trying to think of 245 was just confusing.  I kept thinking it was 425, instead.  Anyway, he saw me kind of stop at a row of bikes (they were numbered, I think I was in the 400s) and yelled at me to keep on going, thank goodness!  Got my foot stuck in my wetsuit, which is abnormal for me in a race.  OH well.


Bike time!  I wanted to actually bike hard.  Ironman was all about conserving energy and making it to the run after 112 miles, but this was just a short 20 mile bike.  I honestly still don’t know if/when I could have gone harder on the bike in Coeur d’Alene without digging myself in a hole even more on the run…but still.  6:48 on the bike?  That hurt.  I mean, that’s just a sad bike split, no way around it.  So I really needed to ride well, and prove that I can lay down a decent bike split, even if it’s a way shorter course :)


The route was hillier than expected—well, not hilly, but definitely not flat.  It was essentially the express lanes on I-90, and the freeway really isn’t a flat as you would think :) especially with the bridge, and overpasses, etc…  No real climbs at all, but it was never flat, just lots of long, gradual ups and downs.


I rode well.  I’m happy with it.  I feel much more redeemed.  59 minutes (exactly!) for 20 miles put me at a 20.3mph average and put me at I think the 5th or 6th fastest female bike times of the day of the age groupers.  Decent.  It was really windy, especially some areas, and I pushed it more than I would have for a longer ride, but it felt good and I reminded myself it was ok to push things within reason.  Definitely wasn’t mashing it out, but was trying to ride strong and steady the whole time.  I did get a bit tired out by the end, but overall, the legs held up great!


Onto the run.  Allen stood outside transition and asked me if I was going to run with my helmet on.  YES, I AM!  (I always do things in the same order in transition, and for some reason I always take my helmet off last, AFTER putting on my running shoes...)


I finally did take my helmet off, and it was time for the biggest test of the day: can I run??


I had been running ok this past week, my paces have been mostly back to normal, but they have been noticeably more difficult.  Not a lot, but just a “hm, I feel like I’m breathing a little harder than I should to hold this pace,” kind of thing, so I really did not know how I would feel and how I would be able to run at the end of a triathlon.


Started out pretty quick, as per usual.  So far, so good.  Settled down into more of a 7:15-7:30 pace which was about where I should have been.  Would have liked to have been more on the 7:15 side than the 7:30 side, but oh well.  I finally decided to try to hold steady around 7:30 and see if my legs would let me last that long—respectable enough!


Maybe a quarter mile in, some guy came up behind me, and settled into step next to me.  “I had to chase you and match your step—I’m just going to try to keep up with you, if that’s ok?!”  At this point I was still trying to work out how I felt and what I should shoot for, since it was too early to tell how I would feel, so I quickly laughed and explained my situation, but of course I was happy to have him around if he was ok with my potential dying later.


We talked on and off, I told him about IMCDA, he said he was just starting and doing a full IM in September.  He said the run was his weakness, and he usually either paced off of people too slow or too fast, so was thinking my pace might be good for him to chase.  He fell behind a few times, then would surge back up to catch me—I mostly just tried to hold steady, although garmin data does show I bounced around a bit ;)


I’ve never run with anyone in a triathlon like that.  Not like we were running “together,” but..still.  It was good.  It may not have always been my preference, but since I had slightly lower expectations and really just wanted to see if I could hold it together, it was just what I needed!  Chatting kept me distracted, but also kept me a bit more accountable since he was pacing off of me.


There is a big, dumb out-and-back up a stupid-steep hill.  Since it’s two loops, you do it twice (hey, does that sound familiar??  Looking at you, Bennet Bay hill...).  I ran it both times, but it was not a pretty run.  I felt like I was barely moving, and yeahhhhh I am not ready to run hills yet.  But I focused on form, sucked it up, and ran it, baby steps and all.  So I’m happy about that :)


The second loop was a little rougher, but it actually felt shorter since it was the second time around.  All in all, I managed a ~7:35 average for the 10k, so I am super happy about that!  I felt ok on the run, mostly normal, except I just didn’t really have anything in me to give it an extra push.  I felt like my body settled into a “this is the pace you can run and that’s all you’re gonna get” kind of a pace (usually I can push it more, or at least have that extra available to kick it up when I need to), but I am not complaining at all!


Ended the day in 1:22:39, which was good enough for 2nd in my Age Group (after Sam, who really should have been racing as an Elite haha), and 8th female overall!  (note: pretty sure the 1st place girl cut the course though sooo..there’s that)  Not that I'm that amazing really, but having come off of ironman, I am really, really happy.  It means I am recovering well, and am going to be ok after all ;) Also very nice to push it a little more, not just worry about conserving energy all the time ;)  Faster is fun!


All things considered, it was a great day.  Fun.  This is my thing, and it sucks and hurts (ok fine I’ll admit it, it wasn’t super fun during it, I was mostly wondering why I was there and why I was running and running sucks and this is hard and boohoo woe is me)…but I love it!  :)  Especially going into it with no real expectations, it almost felt like I was proving that things haven’t all been a fluke.  I proved a lot to myself at ironman, and going the distance, and yesterday I proved to myself I can still do short distance races and push myself as well.  Success!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


I know people say full ironman recovery can take anywhere up to 6-8 weeks.  That seems a little long, but I know it takes a while.


First week: I was pretty  beat.  I was only sore a day or two, honestly I felt better than after the stand-alone marathon last year.  But, I was tired.  I didn’t have any workouts for a few days, and I didn’t want any workouts.  Walking up a flight of stairs was just…tiring.  I did a couple swims and spun my legs a bit, but that was about it.


Second week: better.  Overall I felt good, returning to normal.  Sitting around I felt good ;) I wanted to get out there and do stuff again!  Inspired!  Let’s do this!  That Monday, 8 days after CDA, my coach had me do a 30 minute run.  I was SO EXCITED!  I really wanted to run, I was craving a run, I was looking forward to it all day at work.  And the second I started running—holy cow.  So tired.  My legs were absolutely empty, it felt like I had been running for hours.  They were hollow, there was NO energy, I was out of breath and barely moving.  So crazy!  But, I just kept at it, pushed through the tired without actually pushing myself.  I spent the rest of that run being amazed at how difficult it was, but feeling so thankful that I have this body that allows me to do these things, and allows me to do an ironman and come back and try to run a week later, even if it’s not nearly recovered!  The rest of the week progressed.  A 40 minute run on Thursday felt better; still tiring and harder than normal, but my legs felt a little more alive.  I swam, and did more light spinning (but longer).


Then I decided to run a 5k.  2 weeks after Ironman.


I figured I would just run with Allen, as he was doing his first official, organized run event!  Then I figured nahhhh I just want to run and see how it feels.  Then that morning, I decided no, I should probably run as hard as I can and see what I can do!


Because, you know, that’s smart?


The 5k started and I took off like a shot.  Let’s see what you can do, legs!  Felt surprisingly good.  Hitting sub-7 minute miles.  First mile was done, and I was still going!  Ok, let’s see.  Started feeling a little more tired, and by the second mile, I was officially hurting.  But come on, I’m not going to slow down now!  Well, I did slow down, but not too much.  From then on, it was a “you have one mile left, you will most certainly finish as strong as you can” mentality.  Longest mile of my life.  By the last few blocks, I was so done that, even though I could SEE the finish line just a few blocks ahead, I was still slowing down (instead of kicking it up a bit being inspired by the finish).  I knew I was way past where I should be, my breathing was telling me I was totally blown up and over-did it (as if my legs weren't telling me enough)…but thankfully a 5k is short enough I managed to hang on until the end.


21:20.  6:53/min average, and a 5k PR!!  (ok so it was a measly 9 second PR, and compared to the very hilly Kirkland 5k, but still, a PR is a PR, right?)


Needless to say, that was quite enough effort for the day (although I did still get on the bike later for a ride with friends).


Anyway, now it’s the third week and... I think I’m feeling good.  Overall I feel pretty recovered and my legs are progressively feeling better every day, even while working out.  Did some big gear intervals on the trainer today—rough, but the legs are there.  Barely, but they aren’t totally empty any more.


I also managed to tip over on the trainer.  Twice.  But we won’t talk about that.


Anyway, what else?  It’s very nice to be back on a schedule.  I’m already having trouble sleeping because I’m not tired enough because I’m not working out enough.  So it’s nice.  Thinking about the rest of the year…


- Spectating Mac’s Ironman (Canada) at the end of this month (yes, this counts as race planning)


- Santa Cruz 70.3 September 13 (not confirmed yet, but that’s kind of what I’m shooting for next, I think)


- Kirkland Sprint tri September 20 (even though it’s the week after Santa Cruz, would still love to do it because it has a special place in my heart)


- Long Beach half marathon October 11 (I wonder if I can get some speed back for that???)


- Seattle half marathon November 29 (who knows, but let’s be honest, I love that race.  Also did I mentioni need some speed back?)


And I’m sure there will be more.  I guess there’s a lot of tentative plans and ideas; out of all of thtem, only Long Beach is actually registered for…but at least it’s a start.  If I don’t do Santa Cruz I’ll do Black Diamond, since they have a long course too and I loved the Olympic course (it’s the same weekend as Santa Cruz, but it’s local).  So having “something” to train for is nice.  I also want to do another stand-alone marathon, sometime.  I actually want to do another Ironman, already…but I’m pretty sure I need to give that some time.


So that’s the story.  Things have settled down, I’m still focused and training (well, semi-focused…I’m still making excuses sometimes and missing/changing workouts if I have other more fun things to do with friends haha), and overall, pretty happy.  It’s nice to have the entire (rest of the) summer kind of open, ready to make and change plans and pick up races.  I loved having a Big Huge Thing to work towards, but the relative freedom now is nice too!


Which reminds me—I do have another race on the books.


Seafair Olympic.  This weekend.  Maybe I should focus on that ;)  How much do you want to bet I won't just "take it easy" like I'm supposed ot

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Ironman Coeur d'Alene - 2015

IMCDA2015 aka “That One Race That Was Really Hot”

Well…this is long.


  • Air temp (official, downtown): 105F
  • Air temp (reported, bike course): 112F-118F
  • Pavement surface temp: 147F
  • 2,012 athletes registered.  1,711 athletes started.  1,335 athletes finished.
  • It was incredibly hot, but I never overheated.  I adapted and found what worked.  I didn’t fully realize exactly how hot and miserable the day was until afterwards.
  • This was hands-down the smartest I have EVER raced, and it paid off.  Yes it was slower but I honestly don’t know what I would have done differently, given the circumstances.  Results aside, I am incredibly proud of executing such a smart race, especially on a day when so many other equally-capable athletes weren’t able to finish.  Huge respect for every single athlete who toed the line.
  • Yes, I am already fantasizing about my next one :)


We arrived in Coeur d’Alene on Thursday, around 3pm.  After quickly dropping everything off at the house we were renting (awesome house; right on the bike course and a block from the run course, and maybe a 10 minute walk to the finish line/transition), we headed down to do check-in.  Super easy, got my backpack, signed my life away, got more forms and stickers and instructions…got some IM stuff at the store but didn’t really want to focus too much on that before actually doing it ;) Did a quick round of the expo but knew we would be back the next day.

Friday was a short swim and spin.  I did NOT want to swim.  Plus, the place was teeming with triathletes and it was intimidating and did I mention I don’t like swimming?  But I forced myself in there and—oh my gosh.  The water was SO clear, I could see the bottom forever!  And I felt so good!  Not a moment of uncomfortableness, and I was moving faster than ever!  Everything felt so right.  Literally the best open water swim of my entire life.  There were a few little waves sometimes when a boat would go by, but honestly it was fine.  I did one little lap around some little buoys..and instead of calling it a day, decided to do the fully scheduled 30 minutes, and set out for one more lap.  Happily!  I was shocked, but very happy, at how good it felt!  It was almost too good to be true…

Mac and Kyle showed up later (Mac actually rode her bike from Spokane, then did her long ride because she’s a badass, and met up later), and that was nice to have more company and get ready for Saturday.

Saturday I got up and did my super-short bike and run (15 minutes each).  Running felt difficult but then I realized I was running like 7:45 and I obviously would not be running that fast on Sunday.  Was supposed to swim “if I felt like it” but honestly, after such a good time swimming the previous day, I kind of wanted to just end it on a high note.

When I got back from my quick little run—Mac surprised me with some signs that Josh and his daughters made for me (ADORABLE)…and SHIRTS that everyone was going to wear on Sunday!  They were AMAZING!  They were neon yellow, with the same penguins and “chill out” on the front as is on my hat, plus my number and stuff.  And #teamneon down the back, of course!  Seriously, the absolute COOLEST SHIRTS EVER!!!  So amazing.  :)

After some relaxing and wandering the expo, Mac finally made me pack my stuff so we could check in my bike and bags.  I may have been procrastinating ;) And she probably did about half of it for me.  “Hey why don’t you hand me your race belt and I’ll get your number on it.   Where are the other stickers?  Here, I’ll put these on your bike too.  Don’t forget your running shoes.”  Etc etc etc.  I got everything checked in and ahhhhh!!!  Happening!

Katie, Nico and Mel showed up later that night, and after a quick run-down of the next morning’s plan, it was time to sleep.  Or at least, time to lay in bed.  I couldn’t sleep.  I wasn’t really thinking about the race, I just wasn’t tired and didn’t want to sleep, etc etc etc.  I had to have a snack because I was hungry.  It was hot.  Excuses.  I think I finally got to sleep around 11:30pm, with a 3:00am alarm for the next morning.

The alarm went off bright and early, of course…. I was awake immediately.  Mostly I just wanted to get things done.  I was anxious, but OK.  I got dressed, my mom braided my hair, grabbed the last few things (bottle to fill my speedfill with, shoes, etc)…and everyone else slowly showed up downstairs.   Right on time, at 3:45 (first time we have ever done something on time, I think), we started making the walk downtown!!!  It was so weird walking down without my bike.

Dropped off bike special needs.  Got body marked.  Headed into transition to fill my speedfill, pump my tires, put my run shoes in my run bag, and make the first porta-potty stop.  I saw Shawn, my coach, in transition, and had a quick chat before heading out to meet everyone.  We got a good spot on the wall next to the beach and hung out.  Pictures, Tri Slide, and instructions to put my wetsuit on a good 45 minutes early.  After a few more bathroom trips, I obliged.  Good thing, because I am literally the slowest person EVER at putting on my wetsuit and today of all days, I needed it to be PERFECT!  I think it took 25 minutes before it was all on and I felt ok with it.  No joke.  Mac and Kyle just looked at me, sighed, and shook their heads.  Oh well ;)

Hugs.  Hugs from my parents.  Hugs from Katie, Nico and Mel.  Hugs from Kyle, who had been assuring me everything would be OK about today all week.  Hugs and a selfie from Mac, who basically held my hand every step of the way, and nooooo I want her to come with me!!!  :(  Joined Shawn, and got more last hugs from Allen, before we headed into the staging area.  This is about when I started to have to hold back tears.  What am I doing?!

I’m so glad I found Shawn and we were able to be there together.  I had my coach beside me, and even though I probably could have figured it out (I mean, it really wasn’t complicated), it was so much better having someone to follow :) He made me follow him into the water to warm up, which was probably a good thing, because my goggles started leaking, so I adjusted them.  The water felt good.  We bobbed around in the water, but mostly I just wanted to get wet and not actually swim.  He grabbed me, turned me around to face the chaos of the beach, lined with wetsuit-clad athletes in pink and green caps, and said “LOOK.  Just LOOK at all that.  Remember this!  This is Ironman!!!”

The pros were off.  I tried not to look much.  15 minutes later, the canon went off and the AG race began.  The first group was fast, and as I stood there staring, Shawn nudged me and reminded me “yeah, those are swimmers.  That’ll be the fastest part of their day…”  We trudged forward, towards the arch, where our timing chips would start our time.  I’m pretty sure I was numb at this point, and my instincts started to kick in.  Don’t think about it.  Don’t panic.  Just do your thing.  This is your only job right now.  Rounding the corner to the arch, I saw my group in their neon shirts, and they saw us and we all waved and cheered before I had to turn again, go under the arch…and begin.

We stepped under the arch, Shawn and I together.  Started my garmin.  Shawn and I took a second to look at each other and say good luck….and into the water I went.

SWIM: 1:24:22

It was time to swim.  Keep it easy, Rosanne.  Do not start out hard.  Keep it easy.  Do not panic.  Easy, easy, easy.  After freaking out at the Issaquah tri earlier in the month, I knew I needed to remember to not get caught up and NOT go hard (accidentally).  The rolling start worked great, and I had space.  There were people all around me, and the water was no longer clear, as it was now filled with all the swirling sand of hundreds of athletes before me, but it was fine.  I kept thinking how calm things were.  I got bumped occasionally, I got some hands on my legs and feet, I think I had a couple people kinda swim over me…but in all honesty, I think it was one of the tamest swims I’ve been in!  I heard stories of some folks having terrible experiences that morning, but luckily I did not encounter any of those awful people.  All the contact I felt was totally accidental, and I know I did the same thing to other people (accidentally).   Sometimes I’d get stuck between two people so we would rub shoulders until someone was able to pull away or make space to the side; if I realized I was infringing on someone’s space I would back off or move where it was clearer.

Things got choppier near the turn buoy, which FINALLY appeared, but honestly, I kind of just think that’s fun!  The entire swim, I only got two substantial mouthfuls of water that caused me to abruptly stop.  But after quickly coughing it out and catching my breath, I was back to swimming.  The way back was good, always nice to be on the “way back,” even though the first time it just meant I had to turn around and do it again.

I realized I always drift right.  I kept going (what felt like) way off course, especially heading back to shore…but whatever.  Finally spotted the arch on the beach where we had to get out and run through before starting the second lap, and headed straight in towards it.  Some people tried getting up out of the water SO early.  I may be a slow swimmer, but it’s still faster and WAY less energy to swim than to try to run through chest-deep water!!  I was listening when I got out of the water, but didn’t hear my name (wasn’t sure if my crew was around or would see me, and know I had finished my first lap, but oh well)...and jumped back in. 

The second lap…I immediately realized there was more contact.  Which was weird.  There were suddenly more people and it took more navigating and I got hit more…but again, nothing vicious, nothing uncomfortable, just tried to roll with it.  Just keep swimming!

Finally got to the turn buoy.  Started to get bored.  Shoot, I’m not going as fast this lap, ugh.  Drift off course, correct.  Drift off course, correct.  My mind started to wander.  You’re doing an Ironman swim, Rosanne!  Swim!  Pay attention!  Get this part done!

And 1:24 later… I was DONE!  I had finished the ironman swim.  Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh!  And I didn’t drown!  And that’s a decent time!  I secretly wanted 1:20 or even less (I don't remember why, but for some reason the number was in my head) but honestly, 1:30 was my goal I would be happy with, so I was thrilled.  Mac got a super attractive photo of me running out, making the biggest face.  I honestly don’t even remember doing it; maybe I saw someone?  I don’t even remember.  Whatever.

T1:  3:21

Get the wetsuit off.  Don’t mess up your garmin.   Get the sleeve cuff over it.  Sleeve OVER the garmin, Rosanne.  Figure it out!  It felt like forever, but I got it off my shoulders as I was still running up the beach.  I saw my dad on the side, yelled at him, tried to give him a high-five but then at the last minute he decided to take a photo instead of give me the high-five.  OH well ;)  I wasn’t sure if I wanted to try the wetsuit strippers or not, but as I got to the area and they were everywhere…well sure, why the heck not.  Ran towards a pair of volunteers.  Sat down.  Wetsuit was OFF!  Thanks guys!

Grabbed the wetsuit.  Saw the bike bags and realized that’s what I needed to get.  Theme of the day was figuring things out as I went along, because I felt like I was on autopilot even though I had never done this before!  Thankfully the bags were a little cleared out and mine was laying right there, 527 staring up at my face.  Grabbed it.  Looked over (or maybe I heard the shouts), and saw a group of neon and Nico standing there with his phone out.  I must have waved because there’s another (highly attractive) photo of me running through transition with my stuff in one arm, other hand in the air and giant “ahhh!” face.  Cute.

Just kept following the flow of people.  Got stuck behind a bunch of guys, sitting outside of their changing tent, and walking slowly.  Come on guys, this is a race, walk faster or get out of my way!  I wasn’t running, more just jogging, but I did not want to do the slow saunter that these guys were doing.  Thank goodness the volunteers steered me in the right direction otherwise I might have gone into the guys’ changing tent!

The women’s tent was full.  I probably could have found a chair if I really wanted, but honestly, who needs that?  I dumped my stuff on the ground, and sat down (as per my usual T1 protocol).  A young volunteer hovered around me; she didn’t say anything, I wasn’t really sure if she was necessarily trying to help me…but I didn’t really need anything in particular so just let her be.  Food in pocket.  Helmet on.  Bike shoes on.  Glasses on.  I kind of looked at my stuff and the girl looked at me and I kind of asked “umm…” and she said “yeah you can leave it” so I thanked her, and got the heck out of there.  Saw the sunscreen table, and people getting lathered up.  Whatever.  We were sopping wet, how did they expect to get sunscreen on?

Ran to the bikes.  My row was nearer to the bike out, a row on the left with a big tree about halfway through.  There were other trees, but that was the only tree that had a garbage can on the other side of the row.  Super easy to find.  Volunteers tried helping me but it was easier for me to just go run and grab it myself since I knew exactly where I was.  Saw/heard some of my crew cheering from the outside of the closed-off bike area.  Grabbed my bike, ran out.  Where is the mount line?!  There it is.

Got on the bike, not the smoothest, but whatever.  Time to ride!!!  Saw Allen on the way out, and tried to wave.  Let’s go, Argon!


BIKE: 6:48:10

The only thing on my mind was keeping it easy.  Keeping it easy, and drinking.  I had filled my speedfill with Skratch that morning, and I knew how important it was stayed ahead of the game with all my hydration (and electrolytes), at least for as long as possible.  As soon as we got through the neighborhoods…I started drinking as much and as often as I could.  Plus, I often feel a little out of it after a long swim; I wasn’t feeling it at the time, but needed to make sure I had some calories and salt.  It was hard not to be in a drafting position behind people, so I tried to stagger and at least not make it look intentional.  There was an Officials car following me for a while so I tried to hang back even more.  Finally he left me alone, phew!!!

Kept sipping on the skratch.  Kept trying to keep it easier.  This was the easiest part of the course, absolutely no need to push it all.  It’s a long day, Rosanne.  Breathe.

Saw an aid station on the left (other side of the course), and checked my speedfill—and wow!!  I was almost done with my first bottle!  I was so proud haha.  I quickly tried to have a little more.  Saw the turn-around, made a mental note that next time I was here it would be Special Needs.  Made the turn, then quickly grabbed the Gatorade on my bars and re-filled my speedfill.  Rode up to the aid station, tossed the bottle—and they only had water.  That’s fine.  Grabbed it.  Boom.  I now had a bottle of Gatorade and a bottle of water.  This turned out to be the magical combo all day—Gatorade to drink, and water to dump on myself to keep cool, or take a sip of if I needed something less sugary in my mouth.  It was still a nice temperature outside (80s?), and I didn’t feel the heat at all, but started pouring water on myself then and there.  Sam had told me that it was important, and since she rocks her races in Texas I figured I should listen ;) I also realized I should start taking my salt—it was roughly 0:30 in so decided I would be doing salt on the 30.  Easy enough.

Came back through town, saw a cluster of neon yellow followed shortly by the BIGGEST CHEERS EVER outside of Calypso’s!  Those are my people!!  There was no doubt, and I loved it!  The crowds were amazing.  Another aid station before getting on 95 but didn’t take anything, it seemed like we had JUST passed the first one.

First no-pass zone on the bridge onto 95.  Whatever.  It was short.  Little climb.  Pedal, pedal, pedal.  Take it easy, easy, easy…   I couldn’t remember the exact details of the climbs on the course, but knew I needed to take it easy anyway.  I don’t know how many times during that ride I told myself “it’s a long day, settle down.  It’s a loooong day.”

I was still passing lots of people, in my little gear and spin-spin-spinning up the hill.  And this was just a baby hill!  Got to a little flat section, then a little uphill.  Tried to shift.  CHAIN IS OFF.  Tried to shift up to jump it back on.  Nope.  DANGIT.

Remain calm, Rosanne.  Some other part of my brain took over, because I actually was remarkably calm.  I mean I was freaking out, but it didn’t paralyze me.

Pull over.  Look at bike.  Carefully, carefully pull to see if it’s stuck, the way it was before—my biggest nightmare.  No, it’s still moving.  Seems pretty jammed, I can see the big scrapes in my frame, but not jammed like before.  Luckily there was someone (a volunteer?  Spectator?) right there.  He asked if I was ok, I said yes, just my chain.  He held my bike, I talked to myself, repeated “no no no no no” about five million times.  Poor guy didn’t know my history with chain issues, he probably thought I was WAYYYY over-reacting but all I could think of was “what if it’s stuck, and this is the end of my race?!”  He reminded me to shift.  Duh.  Got it.  Got it!!!  Chain is back on!!  My hands were covered in grease.  “You’re hands are all greasy.  Here, wipe your hands on my jeans, its fine.”  Briefly hesitated, I mean I felt bad getting this guy’s jeans all dirty….then did it anyway.  “sorry, this isn’t awkward at all”…the things I say, sometimes.  Thanked the man profusely.  “Here I’ll give you a little boost!” and he pushed me off.  THANK YOU, kind stranger!  You reminded me that I can keep it together and fix my chain.  Little did I know how important that would be…

Once we hit Mica, the big long hill, it was the same spinning story.  I kept shifting into smaller and smaller gears.  TAKE IT EASY!!  Passed people often.  Annoyed I had to re-pass everyone I had just passed.  But it’s ok.  Breathe, Rosanne.  Get your heart rate down, it’s racing from the panic of the chain.  Breathe.  It’s fine.  It’s a long day.  That was just a minute or two.  It’s fine.  It’s fine.  It’s fine.  Got passed some, too.  Let it go.  Started eating, stayed on schedule.  Squirted water on my head as I thought of it.  Developed a good system, to maximize the cooling effect with the least amount of water (two/three squirts in the back helmet vents, two on the back, one in the front, then down in aero to let it all splash down and hit my arms and legs).  Spin, spin, spin.  Raced down the hill, although not as fast as some!  Up, down, up, down.  The theme was still to take it easy.

I don’t know where the miles went.  Approaching the turn-around on 95, I realized I was getting “close” to being at the halfway point (back in town).  Zoomed back down.  Still keeping it easy.   Joked with a guy a few times……chain came off again.  Are you kidding me right now!!!??  Got it back on, though I realized the grease was all watery from all the water I was dumping all over myself (and my bike).  Oh well.  No stranger with jeans to wipe my hands off on, so tri shorts it is.  Need new bar tape anyway, so whatever.  Annoyed.  Briefly considered just staying in the big ring for the rest of the ride, since it kept coming off shifting to the small one; very quickly realized that was probably the single stupidest idea of the entire day, and instead was extremely careful shifting from then on (literally holding my breath and hoping it would be ok, every time I shifted).  But, I figured it was better to lose a few more seconds (or even minutes) getting the chain back on than trashing my legs trying to do all the climbs in the big ring.

Made it back to town.  Realized I was more on track with being close to my “slow” time goal…but whatever.  I was feeling good.  I was taking it easy, as instructed.

Came through town, heard my name, and saw Laurie (Shawn’s wife)…yay, someone I know!  Gave me a little boost.  Wondered where my crew was, and came down Sherman…There they are!  Camped out in the front yard of our house, lounging in chairs and blankets and cheering everyone on!  They had Josh and the girls’ signs posted up, too—I couldn’t read them but since I already knew what they said, it didn’t matter.  ALL THE CHEERING!!!  Such an enthusiastic bunch, all lining the street.  There was Mac at the end, taking photos, with a huge smile on her face.  So happy to see her!  Time to go get this second lap!

I started to realize I was moving a little slower.  Still felt the same effort, but it was slower.  Don’t stress it, Rosanne. Just ride.  Finally came up on special needs and I kind of had to slap myself and remind myself I had to actually do something.  I wasn’t entirely sure how it worked, but people kept shouting my number and when I rounded my corner, there was a volunteer holding my bag with the number, clear as day.   I quickly stopped, foot down, she opened the bag, told me how badass I was, I grabbed what I needed, tossed some garbage, said thanks, and off I went.  Smooth.  Still annoyed they just toss it (I left a spare C02 and tube there) but…didn’t exactly have the space to stuff it anywhere.

I had forgotten the aid station out there only had water, so I had to fill my speedfill with water.  With some leftover Gatorade.  So it was really just watery Gatorade (or Gatorade-y water).  Yuck, but I forced it down, remembering there was another aid station not far away so if I could drink as much as I could, I could fill the rest with Gatorade to try to make it better.

Coming up behind the golf course, another girl passed me and said “hey you might want to check, looks like you have peanut butter in your back pocket that’s about to fall out!  Don’t want to lose your protein, my friend!”  Stuffed it back in my pocket.  Thankful!  I saw her again on the run course and she asked if I was the peanut butter girl.  Why yes, yes I am :)

Came back through town, and there was my crew again, on the other side of the street this time.  I saw the neon up ahead, so surged ahead of the girl who had told me about the peanut butter, so that I would have some space/time to see them.  She said “YEAH good job, girl!” and I think she knew I was racing to see my crew (especially since I got the roaring cheers as I went by).  I kind of waved.  Ok, time for the out and back on 95.

I think sometime around then I noticed it was hot.

The first baby  Way less people.  Oh well, just spin. 

Slower than last time.  I knew that for sure.  I tried picking it up a notch..nope.  I could feel my legs when I did that; did not want to feel a thing in my legs.  Back it off.  Every time I saw someone who looked like they were pushing it a tad too hard, I backed off.  It was like a reminder to myself.  Downshift, easy spin, easy easy easy.  You want to run.  Get to the run.  Have a good run.

I felt good.  Aside from the usual aches of riding a bike for hours and hours, I really did feel good.  It was hot. I could feel the heat radiating from the ground, and I was slow because it was hot.  But I felt good.  I was so happy I wasn’t bonking, I wasn’t hungry, I wasn’t feeling demoralized!  I kept looking around.  You’re doing an ironman!  This is incredible!  Aid stations were getting messy, lots of people stopping and taking breaks.  I saw a few people on the side of the road, given up.  I saw more with flats, getting help from bike support.

I must have been in my own little world.  Actually, I think I was all day.  I was so, so, so focused on what I was doing; so focused on racing SMART.  I was paying close attention to everything, while also tuning everything out.  Again, I felt like I was on auto-pilot, like my body knew what I needed to do and my brain just thinking about what it needed to think about and nothing else.  I have no idea what I thought about, out there on the bike 6+ hours.  Turns out, it was a huge sufferfest for everyone on the bike.  People quit on the course.  Even more quit in T2, after finishing the bike.  The heat affected everyone so much, and looking back, I fared really, really well.  I raced smart.  Aid stations were out of ice and water later in the day, I heard, but I had what I needed.  I made good decisions.  I was really proud that I kept my hydration/nutrition/salt on schedule until around 5:20, when I got tired of it and just ate whatever I wanted (so, I think I had a little more, different stuff but it “counted” the same and I stopped looking at when the “right” time was).

I wish my bike had been faster.  I’m kind of let down by it, I have no excuse to be so slow..except the heat.  Even so, I need to work on the bike.

Nevertheless, I didn’t let it discourage me.  As I realized my “slow” 6:30 was out the window…I kind of sighed, felt a little embarrassed that everyone would see my sad bike split (both the neon crew waiting at transition, plus everyone tracking me online)…and kept pedaling.

Last little no-pass zone over the bridge to get back downtown.  Stuck behind some people.  Trying to decide if I should keep it in the big ring and possibly mash my legs going slow up the bridge, or shift.  Decided to play it extra-safe (I was constrained by their speed either way so why use the energy?)..and my chain came off.  Again.

Thank goodness everyone was off the course going the other direction at that point, because I had to pull off into the other lane, so people could get by me.  Got it back on relatively easily, allowed myself some time to be annoyed, rolled my eyes at my stupid chain, and got back to it.  Blasted back into town, and happily turned into transition!

The route to the dismount was long.  Wasn’t sure where it was.  Realized it was still winding through the barricaded sidewalk through the park, lined and lined and lined with people cheering like CRAZY.  Hey, this was the easiest part of the entire bike (plus, it was in the shade!!) so I got out of the saddle and went for it!  Hahaha I felt silly, but I also felt great.  I heard later that all the spectators thought I looked amazing; I guess most other people at that point were barely rolling into transition, and either giving up and turning in their chip, or just really not looking good.  I was great!

Rolled up to the dismount; I think they were worried I’d roll over it.  Got off the bike (sooo graceful..not).  I knew I had to give my bike to someone but wasn’t sure who, so the guy at the line motioned for me to keep going.  I guess I handed my bike off to someone else but I honestly don’t recall.  It’s all a blur.

At some point, I think as I was rolling my bike in, I heard Mac yell at me to take my time and do what I needed to do and get what I needed.

T2: 3:13

As I ran into transition, I did kind of notice people were…slow.  I didn’t realize it was because they were all suffering (and/or giving up and turning in their chip).  Mostly I was wondering why they were moving so slow, and why they were in my way!  I also really, really needed the bathroom.  I had to go since the swim, but no, I cannot go in my wetsuit and certainly not on the bike (and I wasn’t about to stop) so I had promised myself that I could use the porta-potty in transition. I wasn’t exactly sure where they would be in relation to what I needed to I just did what came naturally.  Run bags were first, so I ran to find mine.  I was a liiiiittle bit out of it I think, people were yelling my number and trying to help me, but I found it myself, and trotted over to the tent.  I started to realize my legs were really shaky, which was weird because usually I’m not quite so unstable off the bike!  Thought I was going to fall over at least once, but held my ground.  I worried briefly if my run would feel that way, but got over it.

A volunteer met me at the entrance to the changing tent, and told me to go to the far side near the exit, because there was a big fan there.  “Sure why not,” I think I said.  There was plenty of space now, so I put my stuff on one chair and sat down next to it.  Mac’s words were in my head.  Take your time, Rosanne.  Do what you need to do and get what you need.  I focused on one sock at a time.  Hat on.  Took the trash out of my back pocket and grabbed my race belt.  A volunteer saw me getting up, told me to leave my stuff, and asked if I wanted ice down my shirt.  Well, sure!  Waited an extra couple seconds as she got some, and got out of there.

Where is run out?  Not sure.  But there’s a porta-potty, thank goodness!  I put my race belt down on the ground in front of it (while thinking “gee, hope that wasn’t a bad idea”)...Thankfully, no one took it or messed with it, and I grabbed it on the way out, clipped it on, and ran through the chute…out to the run.  It’s marathon time!

RUN: 4:27:10

So much cheering!  You’d think these people had never seen a runner before :)  People were already walking, but I felt GREAT.  I saw Mel taking photos ahead, saw Kyle extend his arm for a high-five (while I yelled at him my chain came off 3 times), and then saw Mac…there was a turn to the right, and she was right there at the turn, so I was essentially running straight at her.  Everyone else was cheering and telling me how amazing I was and looked, which was great of course..but she just looked me straight in the eye, and really seriously yelled “BE SMART OUT THERE OK?!”…  Always the voice of reason.  At that point, I had long realized that being smart was the name of the game that day.  I think I tried to nod and say “yes, ok, I will” but I’m not sure if that actually happened.

The very start of the run is kind of annoying, because you’re running up a slight incline.  The street was lined with spectators, and you just want to RUN.  I had forgotten to take my last salt on the bike and I was ~20 minutes behind, so I took the little advil and salt packet off my race belt, grabbed a salt pill and took it.  Fumbled and dropped one pill, but thankfully kept the rest of the bag.  A volunteer saw it and yelled after me asking if I needed it (I think everyone knew how important salt would be that day) but I knew I had an extra so told him it was ok.  A couple blocks in, and the hoses made their first appearance.  “Want a spray?  Andy Potts did it every time!” That kind of made me laugh, as if getting sprayed with water would make you as fast as Andy Potts, and with that, my 26.2 miles of running while drenched began.

I realized I was running too fast, tried to slow it down.  You just need 9 minute miles.  It’s a long day.  You’re on the run, but it’s a LONG run, take it easy, you need to save it.  First mile was closer to 8, and it actually made me cringe because I knew it would show up on my data and everyone would see I started too hard and had to slow down ;) but kept going.  Slowed it down.  Settled into a decent pace, right around the 9-minute goal, bouncing over and under by a bit but generally pretty good.  I felt good.  It was hot.

Actually, I knew it was hot and it felt hot outside and my skin could feel the heat, but I myself didn’t necessarily feel hot.  I ran through all the sprinklers, had everyone spray me, and dumped ice down my shirt so it sat in my bra against my chest at every opportunity...but I really never actually felt hot.  If anything, I worried about whether or not you could get an ice burn, and wondered if I was freezing my chest from all the ice.  I certainly wasn’t cold, but my core temperature was very well under control.  But, yes, it was hot.  I was completely aware of it, because I would get doused with water, and 30 seconds later, my skin was bone dry again already.  I kept saving ice and rubbing it on my face, just to feel the water on my skin.  I had no idea if I was sweating or dehydrated, because everything evaporated instantly.

The spectator support was awesome.  Everyone always talks about how incredible the people of Coeur d’Alene are, and I truly believe it..but I think they went even above and beyond this year.   Everyone knew the forecast for record-high temperatures, and instead of sitting inside, they ALL came outside in the 107F degree weather and helped – by either sitting and watching and cheering, with sprinklers on the curb, or with their own hoses to spray down any athlete that wanted it.  Many people even had ice or water to hand out to people if needed.  It was absolutely phenomenal.  The aid stations were amazing, and the volunteers were absolutely incredible—don’t get me wrong.  They were extremely well-staffed and incredibly helpful, rushing to get ANYTHING anyone wanted, offering to pour ice down your back or wring sponges over your head.  But it was the “unofficial” aid stations, between the “real” ones, that really saved us all, I think.  People who bought so much extra ice and water on their own dime, to give to athletes between aid stations; people who left their water running for hours and hours, so that we could run through their sprinklers and cool off.  I was absolutely blown away!  I think they were moving faster than most of the athletes at that point, and it was crazy-hot for them as well.

As I ran through the neighborhoods, trying to take advantage of all this (I still was focused on staying ahead of any heat and dehydration as much as possible), I kept looking for the neon shirts.  They had mentioned meeting me at a certain street, but I never saw them.  Oh well, maybe the second lap.  I kept trucking along.  I was running solid, I felt good.  I wasn’t pushing it, I was keeping it comfortable, checking my heart rate every once in a while and happy to see it was right where it should be.  I was moving, but not stressing my body too much.

Coming down through more aid stations, I tried a gu, knowing my plan was to have one every 4 miles.  At some point I tried it, and it was gross.  I tried another flavor, still gross.  I realized that plan was out the window, and instead tried a few sips of Gatorade every time, hoping that I could still get enough salt and calories through it.  Adjusting plans, rolling with everything.  That’s what Ironman is all about.  I also just wanted water, to keep my mouth from being so dry.  Turns out I was drinking too much, my stomach was less than happy after a while and got a little sloshy, but it wasn’t too bad so I tried to ease up on the Gatorade and start eating ice instead.  After a while I would just crunch it up and spit it out—I didn’t even want the water, I just wanted the feeling of the icy cold water in my mouth.  So good.

Anyway, coming down the hill from the golf course, there was another little unofficial station.  One guy saw me with my hat—“hey, give me your hat…keep running, I’ll catch up to you” I passed it to him, saw him race up to a kiddie pool full of ice.  I kept running.  A few seconds later I heard “ok, coming up behind you…” and he handed me back my hat, filled to the BRIM with ice.  Amazing!  I dumped half in my shirt, and put the hat on with the ice.  All that ice lasted over a mile.  So nice.

I kept running.  It was hot and miserable but at the same time…it was fine.  I was running, nothing was particularly awful or painful, I was keeping an ok pace, and I was dealing with it the best I could.  Again, I was just focused on that moment.  Who knows how many miles I had gone so far that day, and who knows how many I had left; my current job was to run.  So I ran.

I saw people with their private docks, gates unlocked and open welcoming any athlete to come down and jump in the lake to cool off.  Blown away by the support.  Some kids gave me some watermelon.  Tasted like heaven.

I got to the stupid hill before the turn-around.  Nearly everyone around me was walking.  Up until now I was in the minority as a runner (most people were walking or doing a walk-run), but up the hill, there were even fewer people running.  I kept running.  I mean, I slowed down considerably, I tried to maintain the same amount of effort as when it was flat...but I was running.  And that was still faster than walking.

And I kept running.  Somewhere along the way, I looked at my watch and saw how many hours I had been out there racing.  Crazy.  I think I lost all concept of time that entire day; it was long, but it felt so quick, I didn’t feel like I had been doing anything for hours and hours.  Just keep running.  Get to the next aid station.  I’m really not sure what I was thinking about, or what was going through my head, all that time.  Still on auto-pilot. My body and brain were focused.  I just went.  There was nothing else going through my head.

Down the backside of the hill.  Aid station.  Literally 20 feet after the aid station—is that the turn-around?!  YES!  Turn around, run back UP the stupid hill, through the aid station.  Just keep running.  I wanted to get that first half done.  I was holding a good pace.  I might be right on track for a 2 hour half, which would be awesome!  Just keep trucking along…

I kept passing people.  More and more people were walking.  I was still running slow, but felt super-fast in comparison.

Up to the top of that big hill, doing my slow little barely-running run (but I ran it!) and down.  Use the downhill, take as much speed as you can, you got this.  And suddenly—there was a mountain bike riding up the hill towards me.  Wait, that’s Kyle!!!  Friends!  I was so incredibly happy.  I raced down the hill even faster, and he turned around and rode down with me.  I laughed and smiled, and apologized to him and Mac who was waiting further down, saying “sorry guys, this is going to be slow…” to which they both laughed and said “are you kidding me?!  You’re crushing it!  You are not going slowly at ALL.”  Katie and Nico and Mel were there waiting at the bottom of the hill too…ahhh, I was so happy.  They played leap-frog with me, in little groups, riding ahead and waiting for me, yelling and joking.  I was in such good spirits.  I felt great.  At one point, Kyle pulled alongside again, told me how good my form was.  “Look, you’re still bouncing on your feet, you have a great cadence, and your head is up…you are running great.  You seriously look amazing right now.”  Mac kept telling me how adorable I looked, “way too adorable” and taking pictures and saying how proud she was of me, and I was doing an ironman!  I had the biggest grin every time they pulled out their phones to take a picture (mostly because I was happy but also because I knew if I made a face, they would post it).  Sure I was slow, but I was happy and I was moving!

I headed into the neighborhood section again, and they left me with their well-wishes in my head.  I was almost to the half!  Just a couple miles to go.  Almost immediately after leaving my friends, though—hm, not feeling so great.  Wait you aren’t even at the half!  You can’t be fading just yet!  As I rounded one corner, I saw Sam.  She was talking to someone, but I yelled to her and she ran beside me for a little bit, telling me about Mimi and her sign, and asking me if I was on my first or second lap, etc etc etc.  I kept running.  I was not feeling so great anymore.  Just a couple miles ago I was feeling amazing, and thinking I would start pushing it more on the second lap since I was feeling so good.  Suddenly I saw my times slipping and knew it was starting to come undone.  It was just about time to buckle down and start pushing.

The real test of ironman was about to begin.

I powered through.  I FINALLY got to the turn-around; through all the crowds downtown.  I saw my parents and Allen, I kind of made a face and told my mom I was dying—a bad idea.  I forgot she hasn’t seen me race before, and that she doesn’t know that I’m actually ok.  She suddenly got worried and yelled “what, are you ok!?!?!” and I had to say yes, I’m ok, I’m just dying, but yes, I’m fine…  Allen reassured her it was normal too.  I mean I was struggling, and I was dying but...whatever.

My pace slowed down.  I was trying to hold my form, but I was fading and breaking down a bit.  I kept taking advantage of every sprinkler and hose and ice cube I could.  It was hot.  I knew I needed it.  More and more people were walking, all around me.  One foot in front of the other.  “Forward is still a pace” became my mantra, after seeing it on a sign.

I finally met up with Mac, Kyle and Nico again as I left the neighborhoods.  Katie and Mel must have headed back to town.  I told them it was getting ugly, but they disagreed.  Kyle rode alongside me again, repeatedly telling me the same thing again and again.  “You are seriously impressing me right now, you might feel like shit and feel like you’re breaking down, but you look amazing.  You’re still running and looking incredibly strong.  I know it feels awful, I know you don’t feel good, but your form is actually still really good.  I’m so proud of you.”  I think after all that, all I managed to mutter was a “thanks for being here.”

Mac was there too, and she kept repeating how amazing I was.  “Just keep running!  You go this.  I’m so proud of you right now, you’re doing an ironman!!!!”  Her excitement was enough for the two of us because at the time, I didn’t have much on my own.  She was so smiley and I knew I had to keep running for her.  So I kept running.  Slowly.  I kept walking through the aid stations and taking everything I could.  All the ice.  All the water on my head.  I started the cola at some point; sometimes it was great, other times it was gross.  It did ultimately help my stomach, so that was good.

The big hill at the turn-around loomed ahead.  My little neon support team waited at the bottom of it and off I went to tackle it.  I was still running.  It was the slowest “run” of my life..but it was still running.  I saw like, three other people running up the hill; everyone else was walking.  Slowly.  Even my pathetic little jog up the hill was faster.  Not that I cared about being fast anymore, but I’m pretty sure walking would have been more difficult for me at that point.  Keep going, keep going.

I talked to a girl from instagram for a bit!  Hi Monica!  That was good, took my mind off things for a few minutes at least.  Last aid station before the turn around.  Just get to the turn around.  OK, good.  Now get to the finish.

I trudged back up the hill.  STILL RUNNING.  I wanted so, so badly to walk.  I was fantasizing about walking….

But I knew I would be so incredibly angry at myself if I walked.  I didn’t come here to walk, I came here to run a marathon at the end.  I was walking the aid stations, and that was it.  There was no other option for me, and I knew it.  JUST KEEP RUNNING, ROSANNE!!!

And as I got to the bottom of the hill, and my little crew joined up with me again, Mac reiterated the same thing.  “Just keep running!  See, I’m riding beside you and it’s kind of like I’m running with you, right??”  Yeah, give me that bike and YOU can run!

Somehow, I still kept smiling for photos (usually).  Nico kept pulling out his phone and I’d plaster a giant smile on my face.  They kept laughing at that, because the rest of the time I was not pretty (see below)—sometimes I wouldn’t even look at them. But come on, fake it till you make it, right?!  Plus, I was really just running towards the yellow shirts the whole time, so I was truly happy to see them.

At one point, I was walking through an aid station...and I swear they kept getting shorter and shorter.  I got to the end of the aid station, and I knew I needed to start running again.  Stop walking, Rosanne, and start running.  I didn’t know were my friends were, but I knew I needed to run.  I put my hands on my head, took a deep breath, and braced myself, meanwhile everything inside of me screaming to just walk for a bit…..and I started running.  I heard a big cheer and voice behind me, from the side of the road.  “YEAAAH!!  That’s my girl!  Keep running, good job!”  Thanks, Mac ;)  That one was close.

Somewhere along the way, Kyle told me I was on track for a sub-13 finish.  He promised me if I kept running like this, I could easily make it.  “You’re running a 4:15-4:20 ironman marathon, that is crazy impressive.  Just hold a 12 minute pace, you’ve got it no problem.”  I tried looking at my watch, tried doing the math, and “no!  Don’t even look at your watch.  Just trust me.  Just run, ok.”

I got to the top of the last little hill, and my crew was at the top, singing the minion banana song to me.  I wanted to yell back, but I had no extra energy to spare.  I ignored them.  Well, I sang back in my head, but it was too much effort to even look over at them.  Mac and Nico rode to the bottom of the hill and waited for me with their cameras ready; Kyle rode next to me.  “Hey.  Hey, see that girl up in front of you, in the yellow shirt?  I want you to chase her down and pass her, ok.  It will take your mind off of the pain, just do it.  You have a downhill.  Chase her down.  She’s fading.  You can do it.  Go.”  I tried telling him that we had been going back and forth for the last lap, and she was doing a run/walk..but when she ran, she was running a lot faster.  She was pretty far ahead, down near the bottom of the hill.  I couldn’t catch her.  “Do it, Rosanne.”  I couldn’t reply, but tried to run harder down the hill.  I tried, I really tried to speed up.  I couldn’t push it any more, I knew I would blow up.  I told him I couldn’t.  He told me I could.

I got to the bottom of the hill, the girl still in front of me.  Mac and Nico must have known about the “chase down the girl in yellow” plan because they started saying the same.  “Look she’s wearing neon yellow, that’s our color!  That’s not allowed!  Go get her!”  I wanted to, but I didn’t believe I could.  That was the one thing I gave up on, all day.  I made up my mind I couldn’t catch her. I gave up.

But there she was, in front of me, still.  Sometimes I could reel her in just a bit, other times she extended her lead.  For a few more blocks, I still had Mac, Kyle and Nico with me.  They kept telling me to get her.  I wanted to explain she was running too fast, that I’d been chasing her essentially all day.  But no energy for explanations.  She had someone running with her, her boyfriend I think.  He was tall.  That’s all I could focus on.

Turning towards the neighborhoods by the lake, it was time for my little crew to leave me.  “Hey, we need to go now….  We’ll be at that corner.  See you at the finish ok?  KEEP RUNNING.  And go get her.”  I said good-bye, and we went our separate ways.

And there was the girl in yellow.

I did pass her briefly, at one point.  She kept stopping to walk.  But then she would start running and go blazing past me.  I could try to kick it up a little, but I was so focused on maintaining a pace, I couldn’t handle any surges like that.  Honestly, I don’t know how she did it.  If I started walking there was no way I would start running again.  ;)  So, she ultimately stayed ahead of me.

Last few streets and turns.  Last aid station.  I knew we were so, so close.  She was right ahead of me.  See, I knew it!  I told them, I can’t catch her.  I knew it.  I couldn’t do it.  Whatever, I’ll just let her have her space at the finish, I want my own space too.  They’ll all be annoyed to see I let her cross the finish first!  Ugh…

Crossing into the “Finish Line” lane was the BEST THING EVER.  I felt sorry for everyone else who was headed to their second lap, but got over it pretty quick.  It was time to finish this thing.

I crossed to the library parking lot, and a little yellow shirt with a pink hat was waiting on the corner.  MacBeth!!!  She hopped onto the course next to me, and started running.  Suddenly it was just like any other day.  We were running together.  No words were exchanged, we just fell into step.  Through the library parking lot, up towards Sherman.  I stayed at her shoulder.  She ran me uphill, we were closing in on the girl in yellow, who clearly couldn’t run any incline at this point.  As we got to the corner, where Kyle and Nico were waiting, and where it turned left to a good 5 blocks of downhill straight to the finish chute, Mac jumped up onto the sidewalk and off the course, and I kicked it up a notch (or five).  I passed that girl in yellow right in front of my friends, and I didn’t look back.  I did, however, glance to the side, and saw Mac—there she was, running down the sidewalk parallel to me.  I looked ahead, and saw the crowds wayyyyy down by the lake.  There was the finish!  I tried to run hard.  Something in my hip started to cramp.  NO this is NOT happening, keep running Rosanne, just get to that finish, you can cramp up later.  I didn’t know if Mac was trying to run fast for me knowing I would chase her, or if I was running harder trying to make sure I kept it up.  (She later told me she knew I would fight to stay next to her, 20 feet to my side.) I kept glancing sideways and looking at her, my best friend, running me to the finish—she was watching her step, since she was running through a crowded sidewalk full of people and chairs and trash cans.  I saw Nico again at one intersection.  Mac was still next to me.  I couldn’t believe I was running to the finish of my ironman, with her right there by my side.  Of course, no one else knew it, since she was dodging people and running behind the crowds, but she was there, running me in.  Finishing and hearing Mike Reilly was great and all, but that moment was the most special part of the entire day.

Meanwhile, the barricades appeared, and I knew she had to stop running along with me, and it was time to focus on finishing the last hundred meters.  I entered the chute, with a good gap between me and the guy in front of me.  It was narrow, everyone was screaming and holding out their hands, so of course I high-fived as many as I could.  As I approached the red Ironman carpet, I heard my name, “Rosanne Kelley from Woodinvile, Washington!”  All I remember was thinking “yes, I heard my name!” so I didn’t actually hear the “You’re an Ironman, Rosanne!  Yes you are!” But luckily three different people got it on video so I can hear it now.  :)  There was the arch, a 12:xx:xx number on the clock, and my arm automatically went into the air to pump the sky.  I looked up, held my head high.  I was DONE.


I managed to slow down, and I let myself look down and stop my Garmin.  There were volunteers everywhere, I kind of stopped and one jumped to my side.  “How are you?  You did it!  How was it?  How do you feel?”  I knew she was asking questions to keep my engaged, and make sure I could respond OK.  I just kind of answered, laughed at the “how do you feel” (seriously, how do you answer that?) and said it was hot, and that I was DONE!  She took my shirt tag off my bib, got me my hat and shirt (so glad they did this for you, I was a little out of it and just kind following along, not entirely sure what was going on), steered me to get a photo.  She held my stuff, I joked to the photographer about how cute the photo was going to be, seeing as how I was still drenched with water and a mess. Still managed to plaster a giant smile on my face. ;)

She steered me to the next section, out of the chute.  There was a crosswalk, and there was Allen!  I didn’t really know what I was supposed to do, I kind of tried to leave but he told me I had to keep going and handed me off to the next volunteer.  This girl asked me the same things, if it was my first ironman, etc…She finally was satisfied, said I didn’t need the med tent, and pointed out the massage tent and food tents.  I wandered over—grabbed some oranges since those had been my go-to for the last few miles of the run, and a piece of pizza since, I mean, it’s Ironman and that’s basically a rule.  Wandered around, saw a group of neon on the other side of the fence!  Went to talk to them.  They all told me to go eat and rest and come out when I was ready, so I wandered over to a table, gingerly sat down.  It dawned on me that this was the first time I had been immobile since very, very early that morning.  Tried to eat the pizza.  Managed about two bites, and realized that wasn’t going to happen.  Ate my oranges.  But honestly, just wanted to get to my group!!!  Ditched everything, and headed to the exit.  Wasn’t entirely sure how to get out, still a little dazed, but…managed to figure it out.  And no one stopped me, so out I went.  ;)

AND THERE THEY WERE!!!!  Hugged Allen…and then it was time to lay down.  Laying down was probably the most comfortable thing EVER.  I just laid there in the grass and closed my eyes—not because I was necessarily sleepy, but it was literally too much effort to keep my eyes open and it was just so much easier to keep them shut.  That’s when my mom handed me one little penguin, and the big penguin from Mac came out of my bag!  I had finished an ironman, and got new penguins!!!

I’m not sure how long I laid there.  It felt like two seconds, but it was probably a while.  I was just…breathing.  And listening to everything going on around me.  They made me sit up, so I sat..and held my head down with my eyes closed.  Everyone kept saying how happy and proud they were.  It was amazing..but so much effort to do anything!  Finally was convinced to go try to get into the lake, and I knew I needed to move.  Managed to walk about 20 feet, got really nauseous, kept trying to walk, and realized I had to sit down.

Sat for a bit.  Tried to drink my coke, which was alright.  Wanted to use the bathroom, so Mac helped me walk over.  At this point I gave up on the lake idea, and finally we decided it was probably best we just head back to the house.

It was a long, slow walk back, but I knew it was good for me.  I did have to stop once, just a few blocks from the house, but it was all good.  I had my penguins and my friends, and I had just finished an ironman!