Thursday, September 21, 2006

Ironman means even more - IM CDa

. Ok so here is the race report…it is going to be long.

We arrived in Spokane last Wednesday to cool temps and just the perfect training weather. Coming from Texas, there wasn’t anything better than cool temps and I was certain that my high heart rates would go away for the race. We had 8 members of our team here including the “coach”. Wednesday afternoon three of us put our bikes together and rode about 40 miles of the course. That is where I got a taste of one of the “hills”. Seemed like several before it, but this one is 2 miles long! Somehow we didn’t see the next one. Rode back to the house and did a quick run. Next morning, some of us ran on some trails that were just beautiful. Then we all met at the lake for a swim. By that time the wind had picked up and that was the hardest swim I have ever done. I just kept telling myself that was as bad as it could get and that the race would be different. After that my full on Ironman junkie and groupie personality came out and I pretty much camped out at the Ironman village. The energy is just amazing and I just sit there in awe of all the athletes. The panic had happened the week before so while everyone looked fitter and faster than me, I was able to still have a good time. Friday was a rest day and Saturday was all about bike check in and getting that last little brick to test out the race wheels and open up the systems.

Race morning was calm. Up early, made my sandwiches, got my team mate/ room mate up and we are off at 4:30 to get to check in by 5am. I really had wanted a good parking space and when I got it I knew it was going to be a good day. Body marking and then to transition to fill up my bags when I realize that I have left ALL my water bottles at the house 40 minutes away! I panic, run to my teammate at the same time she realizes she forgot her’s too! We call her husband and he is on it. We finish airing up tires and then start getting wetsuits on. Her husband gets there, all is better and now down to the swim. I find our other teammate that is an Ironman virgin and she tells me that she has been puking all night long. Seems the stomach bug that has had her family found her Saturday night. I am devastated for her. She is going to try so I go line up next to my coach, in the front (now I know I am losing it or at least going for it). I take a deep breath cannon goes off and now I am in the chaos. I only got kicked once and had to swim with my head up for what seemed like forever. I finish the first lap (everything is 2 loops) in 33 min. Now back in the water. I am wondering where the “fast feet” are but I am doing the best I can. Out of the water in 1:09 (swim pr by one min). off to the bike through transition. I didn’t go in the tent this time and that seemed to shave off some time. I could sit in the grass and pee while I am putting my shoes and helmet on… that is multi tasking.

On the bike, I get passed by one of the guys on my team (I beat him out of the water?) then another and go with them for all of about 5 min. Now I have to work it on my own. Up to the 2 miler, I can do this and I am just so happy to be in Ironman once again. I pass another teammate (he beat me out of the water?) and I am alone again. The second hill is brutal. This is where I see a rider on the side of the road with blood everywhere. They must have just gone down so I scream down the hill screaming for a medic. They know so back to the ride. Later I come to an out and back and I see the other 2 guys so I am holding my own, but getting tired. First loop done in 2:51.The second loop starts and I know that the head wants to stop. Just keep moving I tell myself.. I stop about 7 miles later, because my bladder and bike are not getting along and I straddle the bike to get things “moving” to realize that I have now peed all over one of my water bottles. EWWW gross, such is the sport of Ironman. At the next aid station I clean it off. First hill, second time, it is now hot and people are dropping like flies. I run into another teammate and we end up together for most of the second ride. Back to the 2-mile hill and it is way harder and all I know is there is another one and then the head winds, “ok Dawn, stay positive and get her done”. The second hill can’t even feel my legs. Before I know it I am done with it and now I count the miles backwards to get home. Second loop done in 3:05.

Now to run. The course is also a 2-loop course, which is cool because this is where I get to see the pros. They are starting their second loop and I am starting the first. So of course I run with each of them for like a nano second. I get to the first water station and have to walk it…hmmm not good usually don’t have to until after the half way mark. It is only a bazillion degrees now. So I thought if I go almost to Canada I would get away from the 90’s and above. Just keep running I tell myself. This was mentally very difficult because there were people puking and lying down all along the course. Coming back on the second loop I see my teammate with the stomach issues sitting with the support group (our families) and I know that she is a DNF and I start to cry. I have learned that Ironman may be an individual journey, but it is very much a team sport. It is the energy of everyone there that makes it possible and pulls individuals to see more of themselves. I don’t know of another time when I am surrounded by 2000 other people, most of whom I will never know their names, and yet we will work together to realize dreams all in one day. I only wish that would have been enough for my teammate, but Florida will be her day! So after I cry for 2 miles I decide to buck up and finish because it is not getting cooler. Second loop I have to really stay on top of my thoughts. Taking it one water station at a time I get to the finish. Finish time is 11:28 and one minute off of Florida and 10th in my AG. When I finish, I see that my sister is there and that was a tremendous surprise. She lives in Oregon and came over just to see me cross the finish line. I haven’t seen her in a year so that was incredible.

I am so thankful for my friends and family. Thank you to Alyson and all my team mates for dealing with my constant whining and always reminding me that I love this stuff when I forget. Thank you to my family for knowing how important this is to me and pushing me to see it through.

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