Sunday, November 25, 2012

You Are an Ironman!

Here it is, my Ironman 2012 Race Report!!  I can't believe the race has already come and gone.  There was quite a bit of anticipation and preparation going into this race that the race itself seems like just a drop in the bucket. 

Pre-race:  In the week preceding the race, I came down with a cold.  I didn't really do any physical activities other than some yin yoga and strength training.  I wanted to keep my muscles in top shape even though I wasn't in any condition to do any cardio.  I tried to keep hydrated all week and just hoped that and rest (and adrenaline) would be enough to fuel me through the race.

The morning of the race, I got up and forced down some breakfast.  I really wasn't hungry, but I knew I would need something to get me through the first part of the race.  My family got up early and took me to the race start.  It was a madhouse.  It took longer than anticipated for us to get parked.  Then, I took longer than I wanted getting my bike and run special needs bags dropped off.  I waited way too long in line for the port-a-potty and before I knew it, they were calling us to get into the water!!  I didn't have my wetsuit on.  So, I raced from the port-a-potty to my bike to make sure it was ready to go and pulled on my wetsuit (I think I put it on in record time).  I dropped my morning gear in the bin and hurried to the water. 

The swim was packed!
The Swim:  As I got to the edge of the lake, I was looking desperately around for the other Ironmoms or any other familiar Ironman face.  I didn't see anyone and I was a little sad (and panicky) about that.  I really felt alone at that point.  I sucked it up and jumped in the water and it was COLD!!  I knew it would be cold, but it was still a shock to my system.  I slowly swam toward the start line and tried to calm down and get in the center of the pack.  The volunteer who helped me zip my wetsuit didn't quite get the velcro and the strap for the zipper lined up, so I was trying to adjust it (something that I would try to fix throughout the 2.4 mile swim--with little success).  As I bobbed in the water waiting for the race to start, I felt both ready and terrified.  I couldn't believe I was starting the actual race!  The cannon went off and the swim started.

It was a brawl.  The first few hundred yards were full of feet and fists.  I got caught between two guys for most of the race.  Now, not to be sexist, but men are much less considerate in the swim than women.  I was knocked around quite a bit as the two of them tended to veer from side to side (one was basically swimming zig zags over me the entire swim).  Other than that (and the constant rubbing of velcro on my neck), the swim was alright--long, but alright.  When we finally reached the turnaround, I was disappointed to see how far it of a diagonal north it took before we turned in towards the finish.  All in all, I was surprised at how quickly the swim passed.  In actuality, it was close to 2 hours, but it felt like minutes.  Then, it was time to get pulled out of the water and move on to the bike.

T1:  One thing I did not look at before the race (partially due to how rushed I was, but also due to lack of prep), was where the transitions were.  I did not realize how far we'd have to run from the water to get our bike gear.  It was nearly a quarter mile from the edge of the water to the change tent--after the long winding path we took to get there.  The problem with this--my icy, cold feet hurt like crazy running on the cold, hard ground.

Sweet finisher SWAG
The volunteers in the change tent were amazing.  There were volunteers just outside the water who stripped our wetsuits off.  Once we picked up our bags (thanks to more volunteers), we moved to the change tents.  I didn't really need to change, since I wore my tri kit under my wetsuit, but I needed to get socks on and other bike gear.  The volunteers helping us change really did tend to our every need.  My volunteer helped me get my socks on since my fingers and feet were so cold.  She opened my powerbar, mixed my water and zipfizz, and helped me get my bike gloves on.  After I stepped out of the change tent, another volunteer grabbed my bike and walked with me so I could finish my powerbar and drink.  I hadn't been prepared to be famished coming out of the water!! 

The Bike:  Then, it was time to get on the bike and go--for 112 miles.  It was a long ride.  I just tried to focus on keeping my average speed up and not over thinking everything.  I wanted to focus on hydration and nutrition, so I tried to eat and drink with regularity.  I stopped at the same aid station on the Beeline (at Gilbert Rd) to use the port a potty on each of the three laps.  The first lap I stopped because I really needed to, the 2nd and 3rd laps I stopped because I needed to get off my bike and stretch.  There were different points on the ride where the headwind was a bit stronger than I would have liked, but overall, I couldn't complain.

It was really sunny, but I didn't get too hot on the ride--my feet stayed icy and numb almost the entire 7 1/2 hours I was out there on the bike course.  The highlight of my ride was something of a mixed blessing.  On my second lap, I saw Annette cheering on the side of the road.  I had to do a double take!  I was so sad to know that she wouldn't be finishing the race (I hope she writes a race report too), but I have to say it was wonderful seeing her and hearing her cheer each time I passed on the bike.

Other than that, the bike feels lonely.  It's a long ride and there are long stretches that are very quiet.  I kept thinking about something the yoga instructor at my gym says, "feel the different sensations in your body without judgment--it's not good or bad, it just is."  This helped me even though my back and shoulders were tired and achy by the last loop.  I knew I was in good shape as far as time went, so I just kept pedaling.  I also saw my family cheering me on as I finished up the bike, so that was great motivation to bring it in to the end. 

T2:  This transition came and went quickly.  Though I had packed extra clothes for the run, I decided not to change.  So, I really only needed to change shoes and helmet to hat.  Again, there was a lovely volunteer who helped with everything--including finding me a kleenex because my stuffy nose was running like a faucet after I got off the bike. 

The Run: Then, it was time for the run.  I was so happy to be off my bike that I didn't care that I had a 26.2 mile run in front of least when I started.  I was excited to see friends at various points on the run course.  At first, I didn't realize I knew the people cheering me on.  Our names are on our race bibs, so people cheer you on by name all day.  It wasn't until I passed my first group of fans, that I realized I knew them!!

Looking a little rough about 3 miles into the run
I started the run with a pattern of run 5 minutes, walk 90 seconds (plus walk through aid stations as needed).  I was holding pretty steady with this through about mile 10.  My feet were getting hot and I could feel a blister forming on my pinky toe.  So, I moved to a run 5 minutes, walk 2 minutes pattern.  I kept this up until around mile 17 when I dropped to a run 4 minutes, walk 2 minutes pattern, which is what I kept until the finish.

Overall, the run was exhausting, but I felt pretty good.  I was concentrating on form and actually running during the run part of my pattern.  The pinky toe blister popped shortly after the 25 mile marker and that was probably the worst of my pain on the run.  I felt lucky.  I passed so many people who were stopped or doubled over with pain on the run.  I was glad I had added so much strength work to my training regimen.  The last loop was infinite.  Just prior to starting the last loop, I saw my friend Caroline (a running rock star) and she looked great.  Earlier, I had seen my friend Linda who was holding strong and in good shape to finish.  It was so nice to see familiar faces on the course.  Of all the points on the race, the run is where having outside encouragement felt the best.

A woman named Tyler was running along side me at one point (and was obviously feeling some pain), she was a loop ahead of me on the run (I was just starting my 2nd and she was starting her 3rd).  This was her 2nd Ironman.  She was so encouraging--she did some mental math and confirmed what I already knew, which was that I was going to finish in plenty of time before the final cutoff.  It was nice having someone else confirm that for me.  When I finally passed that mile 25 sign on the last loop, I felt like the end was truly near.  Popped blister and all, I ran it in to the finish and finally heard the words I'd waited 15 hours and 52 minutes to hear--"Kimberly, you are an Ironman!" 

Post-race:  The finish line was kind of crazy.  I was ushered through by a volunteer who gave me my swag and then all of the sudden Adam was there!  I didn't know where he came from.  There were so many people cheering at the end, it was impossible to see or find anyone in the crowd.  I happily drank an entire chocolate milk (my obvious state of exhaustion and deprivation exemplified by this act--because I am not a milk fan normally).  Other than that, I wasn't really in the mood to eat the other post race fare.  We headed home, where I took an Epsom salt bath (seriously a miracle) and went to bed.  I had trouble sleeping--general soreness, adrenaline, and too much caffeine during the run were probably to blame.  I took another Epsom salt bath on Tuesday morning.  I wasn't sore at all by that day.  I could even walk up and down stairs without trouble.  I went to yin yoga on Wednesday and my body felt good--in terms of muscles and joints.

The race did not, however, help me get over my cold.  I am still battling it.  I've lost my senses of taste and smell for now and I can't wait to recover.  Once I shake this cold, I'll start thinking about my next race.  Right now, I don't see another Ironman in my future, but we'll see what I think in a few years.  For now, I am happy with "short" races--like 1/2 marathons!

Awesome surprise from my awesome friend Danie!
I have to thank my fellow Ironmoms for their support and encouragement.  Kate--you inspired me to do this, and I can't wait to hear about your journey to your next IM.  Annette--you have been the best training partner and friend throughout this--I will be there to help you train for the next one!  Kristin--you are amazing--I am in awe of your speed and energy.

Thanks also to my family--Adam and the girls have put up with so much while I trained for this!  My parents for teaching me that I really can do anything that I set my mind to, but that hard work will be necessary to reach those goals!  Thanks to all the friends who've trained with me, sent me encouraging messages, came out and cheered during this race and others, or who just kept tabs on me throughout this so that I kept moving forward toward the finish.  While I felt lonely at various points during the race, I knew I was never alone.  I had a legion of supporters who helped me get from Ironman goal to Ironman completion!!    


  1. Wow! You really made me feel like I was there (and we both know there's not a snowball's chance in the Bahamas that I ever will be). Excellent writing about an amazing day. Crazy!

    Congrats on being DONE!

  2. Woohooo!! You are an IRONMAN!!!
    I was feeling the same way just before the start. Stalling, looking around hoping to find one of you to take the plunge with. Scared to death!
    What a great race re-cap. You really had a great journey, doing an Ironman while under the weather? You're incredible!!

  3. Kim - so happy for you! I teared up at the finish when you went by us. Seems like forever ago we start this blog. Wish I could have been by your side for this race! Maybe next time!! ;-)

  4. Congratulations! Very inspiring, and hopefully someday I will be able to do a small portion of what you managed to accomplish in a single day! How many IRONMEN does Pine Island have under its belt? :-)

  5. What an awesome accomplishment! You are a woman of determination. I guess that makes you an Ironman! Way to go, Kim. Congratulations on achieving your goal.