If you need to get caught up to speed, don’t forget to read parts Uno
My second transition time was much faster than my first. I got into that tent, changed, used the bathroom, and was thrilled to be on my own two feet. There is something scary about the bike portion of an Ironman- if your chain breaks at mile 80 or your bike magically bursts into flames your race is over. Having sneakers on my feet was a relief.
It was at this point in the race where I knew I would finish. I had surpassed the bike cut off time with enough time that even if I had to walk every step of the marathon I would get to the finish line before the 17 hour mark. It was a good feeling. A really, really, damn good feeling.
The run course is 3 loops of about 8.7 miles each. The course takes you from downtown to the hotel we were staying at (our hotel drive way was the run special needs station) and then back into town. Repeat. Repeat again. Repeat one last time.
From the beginning I was doing a run/walk strategy. I would walk through every aid station which were every kilometer. The aid stations were well stocked and I loved how they distributed water! Water was in small plastic pouches that you would pop a hole in using your teeth. Other than squirting myself in the face every single time, I liked this method WAY better than trying to drink from a cup!
My legs felt great- like I hadn’t just spent almost 8 hours on my bike. The easy effort and high cadence on the bike really payed off when I got to the run. My stomach was also cooperating very well which made me so happy considering the nutritional issues I dealt with during training and other races. I felt good and I wanted to keep it that way.
At around the 3 mile mark I see what looks like a river in front of me and athletes just running through it. The street had flooded from a storm that rolled in (which I totally missed because I was still on my bike) and there was no way around it. This dampened my spirits for a minute. Seriously- within 3 miles of my first marathon you want me to run through calf deep water completely soaking my shoes and socks? and then run through it 5 more times after that keeping my feet wet for the entire marathon? I had a flashback of Eagleman where I poured water on myself from the heat and my shoes were soaked and I lost all of my toenails and had so many blisters due to my wet feet. And this was double the distance. Damn it.
I sucked it up and pranced through the mini river, pissed that my feet were now saturated with water (that I later found out was raw sewage…so glad I didn’t know that during the race!). Just as I was mentally talking myself out of the bad mood induced by my wet feet, I see Phil running toward me. He stopped to give me a kiss and told me I was kicking ass and he was proud. Seeing him made me forget about my soggy feet and put a smile on my face. He was also kicking serious ass (his race report will be posted later this week).
Approaching my hotel and the run turn around I see the Kealy and Riley support crew screaming, jumping up and down, and ringing cow bells. I tell them as I pass them that I feel fantastic and I am having a blast. At this point, I totally forget that my feet are wet.
I made my way back into town where the crowds were insane. There was a drum line playing, kids wanting to give you a high five, and people screaming. It was amazing. To turn around for your next loop you go within 100 yards of the finish line. It is slightly evil. The guy in front of me made the left hand turn into the finish while I made the U turn to head out on my second loop. Even though I was jealous that he was finished, the crowd support cheered so loudly when I was running away from the finish line to start my next lap. The crowd supported carried me out of town running the whole way.
The third loop is when I really started to hurt. My stomach was still fine but I was tired and my wet feet had had enough. Walking breaks became more frequent and I was now jogging as slow as I was walking. I was told you don’t know what you are made out of until the last 6 miles of an Ironman.
Well, I know what I am made of: determination and a sense of humor.
|I saw the camera guy and I decided to dance instead of jog
My legs were tired and my feet felt like ground meat but I was still smiling. I knew that if I could pull it together for the last 4 miles I could cross the finish line with the number 14 as my finishing hour. It was a good goal, but I wasn’t sure I could do it. It would be close.
Right before the last turn around I saw my coach (the same one who was cheering on the bike course in his speedo) and he ran up along side me and says “Final lap!?” and I smile and I say “final lap, going for sub 15 hours!”. Still running besides me he said words that made my walk turn into a run. “Go get it Lauren, you are about to be a *!#%^& IRONMAN!”. Thank you for that Coach Alexis
I quickly catch up to my friend and teammate Greg who is walking with a can of Pringles. I stop and walked besides him, asking how he was feeling. He felt the same way I did- so tired and feet so sore. After eating a few of his potato chips I told him that we could break 15 hours if we haul ass the next few miles. He was on board, but I could tell that he knew we were cutting it close too.
The next 3 miles Greg and I ran/walked side by side pushing each other towards the finish line. We kept looking at our watches wondering if our finish time would start with a 14:xx. I felt really dizzy between miles 24 and 25 and I would not have been able to keep up a jog if Greg were not there. As we came into the town the crowds were still just as wild. I saw the 26 mile marker sign a little ways in front of me and I screamed “Let’s finish this thing, Greg!”. I bolted towards the finish chute pumping my fists up and down with the biggest smile on my face seeing that the clock said 14:56.
Right before I crossed the finish line I heard the magic words said by one of the pro women “Lauren Riley, from Arlington Virginia, for the first time in your life, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!“.
I immediately spotted my family and Phil waiting at the finish line area. Being able to share that experience with them was amazing. Greg crossed the finish line moments after me and we were both really appreciative of each other’s support the last few miles. Thanks, Greg!
I made my way through the finisher’s area collecting my medal, shell necklace, finishers shirt and taking my finisher’s picture. The finisher’s picture that I have dreamed about for the past year.
It took a lot of hard work to get here, but it was worth every second.
It was a long day but it was an amazing day. I have no regrets, nothing I wish I would have done differently, and I am happy to say that my first Ironman will be an experience I remember for the rest of my life.
I spent the next several days after the race lounging by the pool, getting a massage, and enjoying my new title of Ironman…
…and trying to decide when my next one will be.