I had to make a pee stop which caused me a bit of time in T2. Starting out on the run, my legs felt really good. In fact, my legs felt fine for 20 miles of the run. But the heat was oppressive and it felt like I was running in a convection oven. I started using coke at the aid stations for calories just because I like it. I was dumping cups of water and ice on my head and down my jersey and shorts at every aid station and wiping myself with cold sponges. This offered a brief bit of relief before forging onto the next mile and aid station. The first 10k, I was running 7 minute miles and they felt easy, except for the heat that was starting to build in me. I had a few people looking at my splits that commented that I didn’t stick to my plan, which was to take the run out easy, but honest, I was holding back with my legs. I had done some great run training and thought I was capable of holding 6:55 pace for the marathon. I knew this wasn’t to be the case considering that it was probably the worst heat and humidity I’d ever experienced here during the run. I ran up Palani hill at the 10 mile mark and saw Lisa again. I told her I’d be back soon and we’d have dinner. Out onto the queen K I was still running solidly, but then, around mile 15, I started to melt a bit. My run was reduced to a shuffle at times, but I never stopped to walk. God, I wanted to. I had that devil on my shoulder chirping “just walk, you’ll feel so much better!” but I wouldn’t give in. I knew that as soon as I walked once, it would make it all too easy to do again, and again. The last 10K just sucked. I began counting my foot strikes, trying to shift the focus to anywhere besides how I was feeling. At mile 22, I caved, and walked through an aid station. I hadn’t been eating or drinking much for the whole run. When it gets this hot, I lose my appetite, and if I force it, it usually sits hard in my stomach. I was continuing to sip coke, and dump water on my head, and chew ice. I walked for about 100 meters out of the aid station and then resumed a trot. At mile 24, I locked onto a German who was in my age group and used him to drag me to the top of Palani, and then I surged on the downhill and ran the last mile strong.
The last 100 meters of an Ironman is still one of the best feelings in the world. It never gets old, and I was quite proud that I was finishing and in a decent time. At this point in the race, I want the clock to stop clicking, yet I want to slow down and take everything in. Funny, we spend the whole race trying to get to the finish as quickly as possible, and when we get within a ¼ mile of the finish, we want things to run in slow motion.
I was thinking about my very first IM race, which was here in Kona, during the final miles. I was thinking about how there were times in the race, and particularly the later part of the marathon, where I thought to myself “F*&# this! This is the last one of these I’ll ever do”. And then, when floating down the green carpet of the final 100 meters, I was thinking “how will I get my ass back here next year?” This point of the race cannot be described, so I won’t disservice it by trying. Let’s just say that the final 1 minute of a nine and a half hour race makes everything worthwhile, and puts goosebumps on the skin just thinking about it.
Upon crossing the finish line, I continued to heat up, and felt a bit nauseous, so the catchers (they assign two volunteers to each finisher and call them catchers) took me to the med tent. They put cold towels and ice on me but my body heat warmed and melted these things quite quickly. They than gave me an IV and I began to feel better fast.
Curveballs will constantly be thrown our way and how we react and deal with them determines our success and satisfaction. This IM has to be one of most fulfilling ones yet.
Still more to come (if you aren’t sick of reading yet)!