Monday, November 26, 2012

Long Recap for a Long Race!

This post is going to be long and picture loaded.  There, you’ve been warned. 

And while I should be writing my paper... I just found out that the deadline has been moved back a couple days, so I have a couple more days to procrastinate! 
I wanted to make sure my thoughts were recorded before I forget the details, and it won’t offend me if you skip most (or all) of this!

My Ironman journey started two years ago when I volunteered at Ironman.  That was in 2010, and I was in awe of those athletes working non-stop in the cold, rainy, weather.  I was too scared to sign up for the next year, but I volunteered again.  This time with the Ironmoms, and we were all signing up!  And again, I was in awe to the point of tears at the ferocity and determination of the athletes.  So, for the last year, I knew this day was coming. 

I trained casually until this summer.  That was when I really started hitting the bike hard.  I also swam a lot over the summer.  I’m embarrassed to admit, but that was something that happened only a couple of times once school started.  But my schedule generally was a 4-4:30 wake up call most days, either biking or running. 

The days leading up to Ironman were full of fear and excitement.  The athlete dinner Friday night was supposed to pump you up, and it did, but it also scared the heck out of me!  It was exciting getting to hear Mike Reilly say “You will DO THIS!”  And I have to admit, I thought would I really? We also had VIP passes (thank you so much Salt River!) so we were able to go to a reception where I got to meet Linsey Corbin (who won it for the girls this year!).  She was darling, and wearing heels!  

I found myself hanging out at Ironman Village a lot over the next couple of days.  All the things that I could have done in one trip, I spread out to three, on three different days.  I loved just being there in anticipation of it all 

So Saturday night, I didn’t have a whole lot to do.  Usually I’m frantically trying to find all my stuff and putting all my things together for the race the next day, but this time, all my things were packed already in my bags and dropped off.  That was so nice to have that taken care of!  For dinner I had my carbs of choice… teriyaki chicken and rice.  (I’d been making a conscious effort to eat more meat to keep my iron up, and felt strong the two weeks prior.  Yea!) 
Just when I was about to go to bed at 9:30, Gwen came to me crying that her ear was hurting.  Uh oh.  I told her I’d just give her some Tylenol and put some alcohol in her ear and she would be fine.  She cried and said she wanted to go to the doctor.  Really!? Everyone was in bed, except Ryan who was off at T-Mobile getting his new phone.  So off to Urgent Care we went.  After the second one we went to was closed, and I was anxious about the sleep I was losing, I told her we’d go to the pharmacy and get ear drops and Motrin.  That appeased her, the Motrin helped with the pain and we were in bed by 10:45.  I took 2 Tylenol PMs and slept like a champ! 

I set my alarm for 5 am.  I wanted to get as much sleep as I could.   I had a protein shake for breakfast with a banana, Emergen-C, and chia seeds and I drank it on the way to the race.  I made one trip to the port-a-pottys, went to put my water bottle on my bike and suited up.  
I found a short line, YES!
While there a girl next to me mentioned she forgot her ear plugs and asked if I had extras.  I did, so I gave her them.  Once I was suited, I realized I should give my back pack to Ryan, so I called him and found him just as the athletes were being herded into the lake.  That was when I realized that my earplugs had fallen from the neck on my wetsuit, down inside my wetsuit.  So I unsuited my top half as I’m watching the lake start to fill with athletes.  After a frantic search, I only found one.  Luckily I had extra!  Oh wait, I gave those away.  L  So with a quick kiss to my fans, I went and stood on the dock, and wondered what would happen if I just didn’t jump in the freezing cold water.  “You’d have wasted a lot of time and money,” I told myself and jumped in!

Heading over for a good bye kiss.
The Swim:
The water was so cold!  My feet and face were numb in an instant.  So I swam out to the font/middle of the pack.  I wanted to take advantage of any draft.  I also wore my pink arm sleeve over my wetsuit so Ryan would be able to seem me the whole time I was swimming.  It’s worked really well in the past, but with the hot pink caps on all the girls, it didn’t show up.  Once the canon blew, it was face in the water and swim time!  It was crazy.  A constant contact swim.  People would just pop up underneath you or on top of you.  I caught a hard elbow to the goggles, and my right brow bone is still sore from that.  Also, at probably 2 miles, I noticed my head felt cooler (which was nice at this point, even though my feet were still numb).  Then I also felt like my hair was moving.  I reached up to find that my cap had been pulled from my head and was just being dragged behind me, attached from my goggle straps.  Also, at about a mile and a half in, I had warmed up for sure.  Some water got in my mouth, and I thought “that is SO refreshing!”  Then without even thinking, I swallowed it!  It was so good.  Seriously, Tempe Town Lake water, good.  Eww.  I know.  I may have continued to drink the water the rest of the swim. 
I was surprised when I reached the last buoy.  I had anticipated the dread feeling when you’re just dying to be out of the water, but it never came.  And as I climbed the stairs thinking 1 down, 2 to go, I was feeling ready!
2.4 mile swim - 1:18:48

The chute to the bike bags was forever long.  And while I wanted to hurry, I also was doing my best to scan the crowd, looking for Ryan and the kids.  I never saw them, and my vision was so blurry, like my eyes were coated in lotion.  (They’ve never been before, so I don’t know how I came up with that analogy)  But I had blinked them clear after about thirty seconds, in time to see Jack and Janeen cheering for me.  That was so exciting and gave me such a boost of energy to see their excitement for me. 
I grabbed my gear bag without a problem and headed for the changing tent.  There a sweet lady had me sit down and dumped my gear bag and started helping me dress.  I only was throwing on bike shorts over my tri shorts, arm warmers on, compression sleeves, socks, and gloves, but it took forever!  I toweled off with my chamois, but still, the wetness you can’t rub off was preventing my tight sleeves from going on both my arms and legs.  I wish I had baby powder! 
From there I ran out and a volunteer put sunblock on me, I ran to my bike area where another volunteer grabbed my bike while I put on my helmet and glasses.  Then I was off.  Riding down the chute through the crowds, again was so exciting!

World's Greatest Support Crew!
The bike I was very concerned about.  The day before I had a bad kink in my back that I thought would go away once I laid down and slept.  It didn’t.  I felt it pull every time I bent over.  It hurt pretty bad, so I loaded up on Ibuprofen that morning.  Well it really helped, and I pedaled at what felt like was an easy pace, but I was going fast!  I figured if I wasn’t hurting, why not maintain it?  
My mom was at aid station 1, and as I passed I yelled “hi mom!” and I could hear her start cheering me with so much excitement that it made me so happy and proud to be working my tush off! 

I fueled with Bonk Breakers, bananas, and lots of Swedish Fish and Redvines.  I also stuck some Honey Stingers on my top tube, but after drinking all that lake water, I through up all over those, so they didn’t get eaten.  :[ 
The first lap, I felt strong despite some stomach cramping.  Throwing up and taking salt pills helped that.  Coming in from the first lap, I saw Ryan and the kids!  Again, seeing their excitement was just like the Bonk Breakers as far as fuel goes.  I was charged up.  

How the kids kept busy
The second lap, I got to see mom again at aid station 1.  By then I was definitely warm, so I through her my arm warmers.  During the second lap though, my Ibuprofen was wearing off, and I could feel the pain in my back.  Second lap was slower.  I saw Annette cheering from the side of the road on lap 2, and I was concerned.  I wondered what happened, but was pumped from seeing her smile. I was looking forward to seeing Ryan and the kids on my way back from 2, and their cheers gave me what I needed to start lap 3.  

Babies getting tired.  It's exhausting watching an Ironman!
The third lap, was a little better than the second.  I made it a point to talk to the other athletes to get my mind off my back.  Also, I saw a girl wipe out, and so I had a burst of speed as I hurried up to the Penalty tent to let them know a biker was down.  That was the third biker I saw down.  The other two the ambulances were already there by the time I saw them.  My third lap was hard, and I dedicate that one to Swedish Fish.  You saved me.  I had serious discomfort from the lack of powder on the under carriage.  I didn’t think it would do any good going on a wet chamois, but I wish I would have tried it. 
112 miles – 6:01:44

Anytime you’re going through the crowd, it just charges you.  Add to it the anticipation of finally getting off your bike, and I was ecstatic!  At dismount a volunteer met me and told me he had my bike and I could get off.  Could I??  I had to use my arm to help lift my leg over my bike.  My feet were dead, but somehow, those dead feet started moving and carried me into the changing tent where again, another sweet volunteer helped me change shoes and hat.  Thank you for not being disgusted by my sweaty bike shorts.  (or at least for not showing it!)  I had packed a full change of clothes, but I decided I’d be fine in my tri suit.  (A decision I later regretted) 

I felt good, and as long as I didn’t think about having to run a marathon, I felt like I could keep going no problem.  I looked for Ryan and the kids on my way out, but didn’t see them.  When I made it to the first aid station, I was more than happy to partake of their pretzels and a cookie.  The aid stations were fantastic.  Well stocked, and full of energy.  They all cheered you on by name, and I thanked them each time.  Also, I heard lots of comments about me smiling.  I gathered that maybe not many athletes were smiling by that point, but I was telling myself over and over, “your doing a freaking IRONMAN!” and then I couldn’t help but smile.  

cup of ice in hand
I only used the bathroom once the whole day, and that was at mile three.  Another no so shining moment of the day, I sat on the toilet seat of the port-a-potty without a cover, and didn’t even care! 
The run course is a funny figure 8 with the crossing point over by transition, so there are tons of crowds that you pass through twice on each loop.  Each time, I was scanning the crowds looking for my family, and I didn’t see them.  That was hard. 
The first half of the run I was so hot.  I kept a cup of ice that I chomped on until the next aid station where I’d refill my ice, stick a cold sponge down my back and ice down my jersey.  But as soon as the sun went down, it was nice. 
But also with the sun going down was darkness.  The majority of the run was well lit, but there were a few spots that were dark.  The first time I fell, was as I was finishing up my second loop, I was scanning the crowds looking for Ryan and the kids when I hit a pot hole and went down.  Luckily that one was in the grass and didn’t hurt too bad.  (Although the bruise on my hip still manages to get hit on everything)  I saw Althea’s family and Patty (I assume Kate was with her?) on the run, but never Ryan and the kids.  I was hoping to see them in every crowd, but each time I’d pass through the crowd, I’d be disappointed they weren’t there.  As I got closer to the finish, I was worried they wouldn’t even be there.  

Poor Gwenny with double ear infections.
 Apparently Gwen’s ear got worse, and the other ear was hurting too by that point.  She was crying and Ryan had to take her to the ER.  They got some antibiotics and Motrin, and he took her home to sleep.  Poor girl! 
So anyway, I was mentally down a little.  Even though I kept doing my affirmations, my mind was wondering where they were.  So when I came down a fast, poorly lit hill and hit gravel at the bottom, I was mentally defeated.  I cried.  Loud.  For a while.  I was hurt for sure, but I also thought that was the end.  I swam 2.4 miles, biked 112, and ran 22 for it all to end now, and I wasn’t going to be an Ironman.  I laid there for probably 30 seconds until a runner came up and asked if I needed help up.  YES!!  She helped me up where I assessed the damage.  I could stand, so I could walk.  I told myself you can walk and cry until you reach the next light pole, and then you are running your butt into the finish!  I didn’t want to look at my knees because I didn’t want to know if it looked bad.  So I did.  I walked, and sobbed, for maybe 100 yards, then I forced the run.  (Run is a loose term at this point.  I just mean a jog.) 
After a half mile, I had the pain and crying under control and my mood was starting to improve .  I was thinking even if my family isn’t here to see me do this, I’m overcoming a lot.  I’ve worked so hard for this.  I’ve gotten up so early for months and juggled the kids, school and training, and this is the pay off.  I’m accomplishing a life goal!  I started up my affirmations again, and I couldn’t wait to get to the finish! 
Just as I was coming back into the transition area, I saw my girlfriends, Catherine, Kassidi, and Megan holding signs they made.  I wanted to stop and hug them, but I didn’t want them to see the tears in my eyes, and I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to start running again.  I told them I was going in the finish and kept going. 
 As I started entering the finishers chute, I saw Janeen and Jack, and my emotions boiled over, and I stated bawling!  Just then I heard Mike Reilly say “Kristin McPhie of Mesa, Arizona, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!” “This is the moment!!” I told myself, don’t cry!  I heard my family cheering for me (even over all the crowd!) and I danced my way into the finish. 
Run 26.2 miles – 4:43:05

 Total – 12:14:53 

Once I crossed the finish, a volunteer wrapped me in a mylar blanket, gave me my finishers shirt, hat, and medal, and had me pose for a picture.  From there I went to the medic tent where they “cleaned” my knee up and watched me for a bit to make sure I didn’t get loopy on them.  

Never been so proud to post a picture of me looking haggard!
When I came out, my family was all there waiting for me, and it felt amazing.  It really meant so much to me that my brothers had come out and cheered me on.  And mom, I could tell you were so proud of me, and that made me feel incredible!  Thank you!

 Also my friends!  I can’t tell you “thank you” enough.  It meant the world to me that you brought me Diet Dr. Pepper and skittles!  You know how I roll!
 Thank you to you other Ironmoms for examples and encouragement.  Kate, you planted the seed, thank you! 

And most of all, I owe the biggest THANK YOU to my sweet family.  Gwen and Drake, thanks for putting up with a sometimes absent mom.  And Ryan, thank you for picking up any slack!  You win for best cheerleader, and this dream couldn’t have been realized without you.  Thank you!    
 So now that it’s over, I’m diving back into my studies.  Two papers and two finals in the next couple weeks. 
As far as future Ironman races?  I’m hoping to be there in 2014!


  1. LOVE IT! I cried with you through your race report! I went to the swim start and watched everyone. I then went to church and tracked everyone online. I couldn't believe how FAST you were out there. Your training paid off. I came back down to watch the finish and I saw you cross the finish line and was so proud of you! You killed it girl. We might have to rename the blog IronMoms2014! Congrats and BIG HUG!

  2. Read every word. So proud you got up and finished at 22. You are my hero!

  3. You are amazing!! I can't believe you went through all that and still had such a killer time!! I was tearing up reading about it.
    I think we should definitely keep the blog going--maybe change the title to Ironmoms Forever. :) We can blog about all our training adventures.

  4. Congratulations, I really can't even imagine doing this! You are one awesome ironman!