Tuesday, November 11, 2008
The Run (part 3)
I felt pretty good headed out on the run (don't I look happy to be off the bike?!) My plan was to run the first half, then take it mile by mile with the goal of always making forward progress regardless of speed. As we started out, Kate G was having some foot issues and urged me to go ahead. I was surprised that my legs didn’t feel like total lead (yet) and settled into a comfortable pace. Mile 1 brought Shawn and Sharon’s Super Sherpas sitting in lawn chairs drinking beer. They offered me one but I passed, thinking I might partake when I saw them again at mile 14. In retrospect, maybe I should have had the beer cuz nothing much else was going down. Also at Mile 1 was this crazy group of people in costumes, the most interesting being a bikini top, tanga bottom, and itty bitty skirt thing. She was running beside the guys and letting them slap her bottom. I was hoping they’d all still be out there by the time I hit mile 25 (they weren’t).
Around mile 2 I hit my first “patch of grass” stop. Some guy ran by, asked if I was ok, and seemed a little taken aback when I told him what I was doing. My explanation of not wanting to be customer #1597 for the fun that was a porta potty then made total sense to him. At this point my stomach was already iffy enough as it was. I didn’t want to tempt fate by possibly walking into a really ripe port-a-john and losing my nutrition.
By mile 3 I had found a running partner, Joanne. She was on her second loop, in her second Ironman, and cruising along for a finish time of about 12 hours—and PR’ing by about an hour. We chatted away, and the miles went by quickly. Before I knew it we were in the state park. Sharon and Shawn ran by—plugging along and looking strong. We high-fived and “good job”ed. It was good also seeing Patty (tearing up the course!), Som and Fred along the way. At the turn around, my running partner was itching to get home at a little faster pace so we parted company. I took in a gu and some water and looked forward to the next 6 miles. On the way back in I caught Kate G, who wasn’t far behind me, and Charlotte who was plugging away diligently and sooo positive!
Joe and the kids were waiting for me at mile 9 and ended up leapfrogging along the course for miles 9-22. They cheered like mad and gave me lots of encouragement. I think the other runners also appreciated having them along that back part of the course. It does get pretty lonely out there. I was able to maintain my pace for the whole first half marathon—I think I did it in about 2:35 or 2:40, just 20 minutes off my half marathon PR pace! At the halfway point I collected my long sleeve shirt and took in another gu. Seeing all the TriGirl sherpas was great, but mentally it was tough looking forward to those miles in the state park. At this point the sun was setting, and miles 19-25 were going to be DARK. It was right after I ran into Karen, who had just walked a ways with Shawn, that I started to really feel the miles but I was able to run until mile 15.
I walked miles 15-20, and each mile kept feeling longer and more painful than the last. It was around then that my nutrition fell apart. I had been feeling nauseous since early on in the bike and every time I tried to take in some liquids my stomach let me know it was on strike. So, I just stopped forcing things down and settled for little sips here and there of chicken broth or coke. Sharon passed me at about mile 18 on her way in—she was still running and looking strong. She said “we’re going to be Ironmen tonight!” which was just the right thing to say! She finished in an amazing 14:14! Shawn and I met up between miles 19 and 20 and we pledged to keep trying to run at least a portion of every mile. Fellow racers were getting fewer and farther between and just as I was leaving the state park, some guy narrowly missed running into a deer crossing the road.
I hit mile 20 and resolved to run as much as possible all the way back. The mantra became “just 6.2 miles left to go…”, “just 5.2 miles left to go….” It hurt like hell, but it worked. I think that’s when I became a space cadet—Joe said when they saw me at mile 22 my eyes weren’t quite right and I was looking rough. He wanted to run with me a ways, but I sent them to the finish line. That was where I needed them to be, and what would propel me forward along the course. My sister and friend Lynn from Poland then took over the leapfrogging/cheerleading. By mile 24 even Molly was concerned and wanted to walk with me a ways, but then I was almost home and wanted them all there at the finish line. There was a small pack of us racers keeping each other company and motivating each other to run a bit. I found another fellow racer who was jogging/walking along at my same pace and we tried to chat a bit as we went.
At this point my mind had totally checked out and I was having a hard time regulating my body temperature. I had to really focus on moving forward and putting one foot in front of another, otherwise I would just stop. I knew I could do it and knew I could finish, but it took every ounce of mental and physical energy to maintain any forward motion. My running/walking partner and I hit mile 25 and I had to run. I had to finish, sooner rather than later. I started getting choked up as I passed the club Vega, or whatever it’s called. But that turned into sheer joy as I hit the finish chute after spending 14 hours and 51 minutes to travel over 140 miles. I heard Mike Reilly call my name and say “You are an Ironman!”