Monday, July 27, 2009

Ironman - The Run

July 27, 2009 -

And I was off. Heading out of transition and just feeling giddy to not only be this far along, entering the last leg of my Ironman, but also just to be off that damn bike. Right out of the gate, I was feeling surprisingly solid. Surprising I guess, because I had no clue as to how my legs would react to a marathon after the first two legs. I did some long runs and some long bikes in training, but did nothing close to testing the actual feeling of a marathon after a 2.4 mile swim and a 112 mile bike.

As I headed up the path, through the mobbing crowd all nudging and wiggling just to catch a glimpse of their athlete, I found my own family. This was great because it was my first time that I was able to actually hug, thank, and check in. I stopped briefly to handout hugs and high fives. After a couple words, I continued on to really start my run. I headed out on the path along the trees and lake. It turns out, this first little jaunt was just a dog-leg that quickly looped back after a couple miles to really head through town and out along the lake.

It was a two-loop course that was pretty flat outside of one hill. The weather was constantly declining. The wind was picking up even more than on the bike and the drippy droppies were starting to rain down. Status check: I was good. My goal was to run 9 minute miles for as long as I could and to absolutely make sure I ran at least half of the marathon without stopping.

I had heard lots of horror stories about eating on the run so I tried my best to jam in all the food on the bike as my plan was to only consume powertabs. I ran through all the aid stations downing a quick water and a gatorade and kept popping a couple powertabs every 20 minutes. All in all it was mile 14 and I was still feeling pretty solid. I had ran the whole way so far and arrived at my special needs bag...yes! I restocked on powertabs and grabbed my energy drink. I ran and drained the energy drink and kept on trucking; heading back through town and out on the lake again to finish the second loop. The rain was starting to pick up and blow sideways and it was getting pretty chilly, but I didn't care....I had to keep moving.

I made it all the way to mile 16 before I started to incorporate walking into my plan. I started walking through the aid stations before picking it back up again. I also started incorporating cola into my fluid intake at each aid station.

Around mile 18 I even tried some chicken broth but it was luke warm and pretty gnarly tasting. I could definitely feel around mile 18 that I was slowing down and running lower on juice, and walking a little more each time I stopped, but still mentally strong. There was this turnaround out on the lake that was about a half-mile or so long hill. I ran it on the first loop, but there was no way the second time around so I speedily walked up it and the picked up the pace again on the way down.

I made it to mile 22 (so close) before the wheels really started to come off. It was funny, because my body was done, but I always had a strong mind about me. It was at mile 22 where I pretty much walked a half mile then ran a half mile for each of the last four miles.

But then it seemed just at the race had was ending. I found myself back in town winding my way through the neighborhood streets, wet, cold, tired and fired up! The cheers from the house parties were motivating along with all the stereos blasting a different genre of music from each party.

Then....I heard that volunteer say, "one more turn and you'll see the finish line!" I got a chill in my spine. It was from that moment on that I could not feel pain, I was not tired or sore and I suddenly had an abundance of energy. I rounded that last corner and found myself on that downtown street crowded with cheering supporters and I could hear the music and announcer at the finish line. I looked ahead and I COULD SEE THE FINISH!!!

That last 400 yards into the finish could only be related to some sort of out of body experience. It was so crazy, I was trying to soak it all up and take it all in, but I was so excited, I was just spazzing out and suddenly my wheels turned on and I found myself running and spazzing. I can only imagine what I must have looked like, but I didn't care. I couldn't figure out how to express all this excitement and sudden rush of adrenaline.

I made it down the street and then hit the finishing chute. It was about 20 yards cuddled in between sets of bleachers full of screaming fans. At this point I was full spaz. Yelling, cheering, throwing up my arms, jumping....I did it all. all my glory....I crossed that finish line to the echo of the announcer saying those words I imagined hearing over and over again for the last six months...."Josh Clark, you are and Ironman!"

I was an Ironman....yes....sweet success!

RUN SPLIT 1: 7.47 mi 7.47 mi (1:09:24) 9:17/mi
RUN SPLIT 2: 21.75 mi 14.28 mi (2:21:09) 9:53/mi
RUN SPLIT 3: 26.2 mi 4.25 mi (1:02:54) 14:48/mi
TOTAL RUN 26.2 mi. (4:33:27) 10:26/mile 1165 164

(I was shooting for a 4:30 marathon, so I was happy about this time. You can really see my time drop off in the last four miles.)

As soon as I crossed the line, my "catcher" was waiting there for me, only I didn't need any catching. She handed me a gatorade, my finisher shirt and medal and a warm foil blanket. Then I was whisked over to take my finisher picture, still not really touching base with reality. Then I saw my wife and daughter and sister-in-law. Somehow they had worked their way into the finish area to show me some love and congratulate was great!

I made my way through the finisher area and inhaled some pizza, probably the most delicious thing I had ever tasted at that point and then back out to transition to gather up all the gear.

I met up with the family to hear their stories of the day, moving from point to point, braving the crowds and weather to see me and cheer on other friends we knew in the race. I packed up the car with my gear and we were out.

My Ironman journed had seemingly ended just as quickly as it began and I was now an Ironman. Somehow already feeling different...changed. Feeling that tasks were not ever going to seem quite so big again.

1:24:45 - 6:48:44 - 4:33:27 - 13:05:57 - 1165 - 164

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