Tuesday, November 6, 2012
With the completion of my Ironman Coeur d'Alene Race Report, albeit 4 months late, it is now time to officially close the book on that huge accomplishment and look towards the next. My sister and I have kicked around the idea of doing another Ironman in 2013. Sister missed the bike cutoff by mere minutes during IMCDA and she is looking for redemption.
I was considering Lake Tahoe, Canada, Wisconsin and Arizona as possible venues. They all have their challenges in their own right, aside from being an Ironman event! Since Gretchen lives in San Diego and the way the calendar was shaping up, Ironman Arizona at the end of November 2013 looked like a great selection. The event is very popular and we heard it is a kick-ass event since it is the last one of the year in North America. WTC really throws a great party. But Arizona was also towards the end of November and in the training cycle, we would be doing our major build up when the weather was turning cold and rainy in the northwest. Not the best time to be doing 6 hour bike rides and 3 hour runs.
So we looked a bit closer at Ironman Florida. It is the first weekend of November, this will put our training peak about October 13 or so, still decent weather usually. IMAZ is usually very cold in the morning of the event and the swim is in a city canal that can be kind of merky. IMFL is usually warmer in te 50's at start time and the swim is in the Gulf of Mexico from a white sandy beach. Although an ocean swim with waves, current and that despicable salty taste, it will be much better, plus less crowded.
On the IMFL bike course, two very important features make it attractive--A single 112 mile loop as opposed to the 3-loop course of IMAZ; and approx. 300 feet of elevation gain at IMFL over IMAZ's 3,000+! It is pancake flat! This will benefit sister as the hills at IMCDA (6,000+) were very tough.
The run course is a two-loop course that is spectator friendly and will finish right in the heart of Panama City Beach, FL. This event makes more sense and so we decided to jump in!
It was amazing waitng for the registration to open online. These events sell out as soon as they open.... often within hours. We had to be sitting at our computers when the registration opened and right when the clock switched to noon Central Time, the registration icon appeared and I clicked it! Sister and I got in! To our astonishment, the event sold out of General Entries in less than 1 hour!
So what will it mean to train and complete my 3rd Ironman? Here are just a few items....
1. I always want to have something big on the horizon as a testament to my new lifestyle, to keep me accountable and to remind me of the dream that "Anything is Possible."
2. I know I can do better! I know I can go faster! I want to break the 14-hour time barrier. I would be more elated if I could bust through the 13-hour barrier, but that would require massive work. On paper, that could theoretically happen, but paper and Ironman race day are two different animals.
3. Share in my sister's success! I want us to stand side-by-side with our toes in the sand, on the starting line of IMFL! And then I want to be there when she finishes and Mike Reilly announces, "Gretchen Ruff.... you are an IRONMAN!!!"
4. I want to enjoy the training cycle. It is the toughest part about the Ironman, just getting to the starting line. But this time I really want to enjoy the training. I want to work hard and see the results and improvements. I want to be more accountable to my diet and what I put into my body.
There are a few other reasons and goals that I have mulling around in my brain... not ready to put them down on paper yet, but let me just say that I am excited for this amazing opportunity to experience another Ironman and to share it with the people I love.
Thank you all for your continued support. :-)
Saturday, November 3, 2012
Ironman Coeur d’Alene 2012
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
June 24, 2012
Finisher Pix Video compilation 2:14
2. 4 mi Swim: 1:10:58 (1:40/100 yds)
112 mi Bike : 7:08:35 (15.7 mph)
26.2 mi Run: 5:50:13 (13:22/mile)
140.6 mi Total Time: 14:20:24 (Personal Record by 70 minutes)
Two years ago I reached my ‘Mt. Everest’ as it relates to physical endurance feats when I finished Ironman Coeur d’Alene 2010. That was an epic journey that was an amazing accomplishment. To go from a morbidly obese non-active person to an Ironman finisher in 22 months still has many people in awe. But what do you do after you have made it to the top? Some would sit back, relax, and do something more mundane. But I realized that I still needed to go back to Ironman, I needed to have a big goal that I was striving for and I also wanted to improve my performance and make a solid showing. Plus, my sister, Gretchen, was planning on finishing her first Ironman and I just had to be there with her. So after volunteering for the event in 2011, I signed up for Ironman Coeur d’Alene 2012!!!
The Out-Season (October 2011-March 2012)
I signed up with my old team Endurance Nation which specializes in Ironman and half-ironman distance events. They have some amazing training plans and execution strategies plus a team of about 500 athletes that are a wealth of information.
Different from last time, is that I would undergo a 20-week out season training plan that, with about 10 hours per week, would focus on becoming a faster cyclist and runner. Although this wasn’t a huge time commitment for training, it would be very intense with some very hard training sessions.
I started my Ironman 2012 training on October 17 with a bike test out at Vancouver Lake. A bike test is a 40 minute time trial, giving it an all out effort for that duration, then taking my average heart rate as my lactate threshold HR and then calculating my zone 1-5 training zones. A few days later I did my 5K run test at Salmon Creek Trail. Again, an all out effort for 5K’s to determine my threshold running pace. I would end up doing about 5 each of these bike and run tests throughout the 8 months of training.
On my first bike test in October I averaged 19.3 mph for 40 minutes, on the last test in April I averaged 20.4 mph. On the run test I improved from a 25:23 5K in October to 24:06 in May and a vDot from 38 to 40.
At the end of February, I added a new weapon to my triathlon tool box. I bought a Kestrel Talon time-trial bike that helps keep me in an aero position while riding. It is also very light and very powerful giving me some instant speed on the bike.
During the out season I also relearned how to swim. I took 12 weeks of swim lessons at the LaCamas Athletic Club. Although this was a big time commitment during a time that I should be just focusing on biking and running, I felt the need to become more efficient in the water and learn the proper mechanics of a good swim stroke. This training was amazing and the coaches were stellar. My swim stroke improved by leaps and bounds. We even had a mock swim meet with the masters swimming class and I smoked the 100m freestyle in 1:09! The masters swim coach came dashing over to me was astonished that I wasn’t wearing swim fins. He gave me the biggest high 5 I have ever received!
|Early monring swim|
The Mental Reset (March 2012)
A new feature on the training plan is a 2-week mental reset an athlete can have after completing 20 weeks of the out season and before heading into the race build up phase. This period is designed to give you mind and body a chance to take a break from training. This did not bode well for me. I had been focusing and focusing so much on this training that to step back away from it made it even more difficult to start back up after the two weeks. I was in a total funk and was pretty depressed. I think I just got preoccupied with other things around me (work and life) and to then bring the training back to center stage, it was difficult.
12-week Race Prep Season (March 2012-June 2012)
Here comes the true ironman-specific training phase. This is the time when we add in the distance on top of the speed that we have gained the past 20+ weeks. We also add in swim workouts to the training plan. The hours per week jump from about 10 to 12-16. Suddenly the alarm clock is going off at 4:45am 3 times a week to get in that early morning swim. Long runs on Thursdays and then very long bike rides on Saturdays and Sundays.
Training for an early-season Ironman while living in the Pacific Northwest has its challenges. Too often my runs and rides were done in the rain, wind or freezing temps. I would curse the weather and declare, “Never again!” It becomes very tiresome after weeks and weeks of this abuse. But maybe it was giving me the mental toughness that I will need just as much as physical stamina come race day.
|Sister and I had some fun during swim training|
In the middle of April, sister and I traveled to Lake Berryessa near Napa, California for a half-iron distance triathlon. This would be a good way to measure our fitness, test our execution strategies and also get in some triathlon experience. This ended up being one of the toughest triathlons I have ever completed. The water temp was 53 degrees and I had a very, very difficult time adjusting to such cold water. My head was hurting and my feet were tingly. Out on the bike, I couldn’t feel my toes for the entire duration. With exception of a 15 mile stretch, the roads were so hacked up with broken asphalt and the sharp curves on the insane downhills made for a very unsafe course. But most annoying was the 7 mile very, very sharp climb at about mile 38. It was insane and took me about an hour just to climb. Poor sister quit shortly after this climb due to severe leg pain. The run was brutal, out in the broiling sun and hill after hill after hill. The hill at mile 10 was a full mile long. However, despite the grueling conditions, I PR’d this distance by several minutes. The key was my improved conditioning, but also the experience I have gained from all the previous tough events I have finished.
|Hits Half-Iron Triathlon|
May 9 long run report
Headed to CDA on Thursday of race week. I had all of the kids with me this time. I felt it was important to share this experience with them that hopefully they will be inspired by the Ironman motto that “Anything is Possible.” Once we got to the Ironman Village, we found Gretchen and her family and went to go register. Mom was working in the registration tent and she handed us our event goodie bags and that was a special moment for all of us.
|Aaron was a big helper getting my bags together|
That night we signed Aaron, Lauren, Rachel and Ryan up for the Iron-Kids fun run. A 1.2 mile run through the City Park with the voice of Ironman, Mike Reilly there announcing the race for the kids. I asked the kids if they wanted me to go with them for the race, but they said no and the plan was that Aaron was going to stay with Lauren. That plan was dashed within the first 5 feet of the race as Aaron took off. Poor Lauren lost her step and fell shortly after the start. Ooooh, poor girl. She skinned her knees pretty good. But she got right back up and continued on. I back-tracked on the course and found Aaron who said he had thrown up already. Not sure about that, but he did take a big swig of my water, wiped his sweaty head and then continued on towards the finish. A few minutes later I saw Lauren running along the top of the lake seawall. Silly girl. She too had a sweaty head. I gave her some of my water and a great big hug and followed her in to the finish. She gave Mike Reilly a big high 5 just before the finish.
After the event, Lauren was so upset. She wanted a trophy and not a ‘stupid’ medal. LOL. Poor little girl. We were all proud of her and her accomplishment for finishing the race, but her heart was set on getting a trophy just like Aaron’s baseball trophy he has at home. J
|Aaron, Ryan and Rachel after the IronKids Run|
Friday morning found us down at the lake front steps for a reconnaissance swim. I stepped one foot into the cold lake water and jerked it right back out. “Nope! Not going to do this swim without my swim socks!” I declared. After the cold swim in California in April, I have added swim socks to my cold water gear in addition to my neoprene cap. Ahhhh, that is much better. What a happier person I am when my feet aren’t cold. I also used ear plugs for the first time. What a difference. Sister and I had a great swim together and did some clowning around when we got to the cylindrical swim buoy out in the lake.
One thing that I did last time that made such a huge difference was to use a very, very detailed checklist covering everything I needed to do the night before and race morning. It took my mind off of trying to remember things and let the checklist run itself. It alleviated so much stress and anxiety.
As planned I got up at about 2:30am and ate a PB&J sammie. I then went back to bed and slept for about an hour before getting up. 4:15 came really early. Mom had gotten sister and I hotel rooms in CDA so we could be closer to the race site. That was very nice of her. Mom is our biggest fan. She is simply the best supporter of everything Gretchen and I do. She was so excited the night before the race, that she went to the City Park and set up our family pit area and then stayed up all night until her volunteer shift started at 4:30am!!! She gets my vote for Volunteer of the Year!
The hotel had an early morning breakfast available for athletes and their families. We all made out way down there and I made the joke, “what is everyone up so early for,” as we piled onto the elevator with about 12 other people. When faced with stressful situations or when I am nervous, I tend to turn towards humor.
We arrived at the race site. Found some free on street parking about 4 blocks from the park. Immediately found my mom and Cheri Boyer who were doing body marking. It was special to have them apply my race numbers for the day. We shared some good pictures and good hugs before the event.
|Body marking from my mom and friend Cheri|
Since I had my checklists I was able to very quickly drop off my special needs bags, head into transition and check my bike and run bags and then get the food and water put on my bike and air up the tires. I brought in my own pump. I think I spent more time waiting for others to borrow my tire pump than it took me to take care of my stuff in transition. While I employ teamwork, I think I might leave the tire pump at home next time and opt for the bike tech station.
Morning video update
I did a 15 minute easy warm up jog. I contemplated forgoing the warm up run because it is of little consequence, but I did it anyway to quell the nerves. Afterwards it was time to get my wetsuit on. Sister asked if I wanted to apply sunscreen I told her no, that I would hit the sunscreen volunteers on my way out of the transition tent after the swim. First mistake I made today--ALWAYS APPLY SUNSCREEN WHEN SOMEONE OFFERS!
Put on my wetsuit, gave out hugs good bye and good luck to sis and then made my way down to the beach. It was packed on the way there. I don’t know if I am just lucky but I managed to find my way to the front of the line when they opened up the access for us to step onto the beach. Hah! I carried a bike bottle of water with me down to the beach. I sucked on this to stay hydrated. Just before going into the water, I tossed the bottle back up onto the sea wall.
**Checklists were great
**Always apply sunscreen and anti-chafe before the event.
2. 4 mi Swim: 1:10:58 (1:40/100 yds)
Standing on the starting line on the Ironman is a thrilling experience. I took a quick moment to reflect on my long and hard journey just to make it here. Never mind I signed up a year ago for this event and have been training hard for 8 months, but the incredible obstacles I have overcome when I was extremely overweight and was on a road to an early death. I said a short prayer thanking God for this great opportunity to accomplish something really, really big.
BOOM!!! The cannon blast off! I LOVE cannon starts. Don’t give me a countdown—that is for sissies. I want a loud, mind blowing explosion to start my race! I had lined up in the second row but once I heard the cannon I quickly jumped around the racers in front of me and plunged into the water and began stroking wildly to put on some distance.
|Incredible mass swim start to Ironman CDA. I am about half way down towards the front|
I was so glad that I had my neoprene cap and swim socks. Ahhhh, no ice cream headache, no feeling of needles in the feet! Even though the water temp was very cold at about 55 degrees.
I knew I would start hyperventilating within the first few moments, but I really wanted to push the swim. I had spent 12 weeks improving my swim… I want results! I was doing pretty good at keeping up with the leaders for about 50 yards and then it seemed all 2400 athletes tried to merge into the same space of the lake. I had bodies everywhere! I had someone kicking my head, pulling on my arm and both legs and I was on top of another swimmer! OMG! Ironman swims can be really crazy with lots of contact. Here I was in the middle of the rugby scrum. After taking in two gulps of water I had to rise up and get my bearings. One goggle was full of water, too.
“I’d better get on my game, this is serious,” I thought.
I calmed down and settled into a good pace. About 1,000 meters from shore we hit the turn buoy and just like the last time I did this event, it was packed. I anticipated this and tried to stay wide where there was more open water. Yeah, right, it was still crazy. Just had to deal with it.
After making the turn we headed back to the beach. I was looking for feet to follow so I could get a good draft, but I couldn’t find any that worked for more than 2 strokes. So I was pretty much on my own.
Out of the water for Lap 1. I came up through the timing arch and heard Mike Reilly call out “Mike Rudolph!” Right on! I later find out that my 1st lap time was 32 minutes!!! That is smoking fast! I plunged back into the water and headed out for lap #2.
The weather in CDA can change so fast. The morning was perfect, very peaceful, no wind, and perfect temperature. A quarter through the 2nd loop gusty winds kick up and so does the chop on the lake. I was swimming along with my head in perfect position, gliding and stroking and suddenly I feel something bashing me in the head. I look up and a wave slaps me in the face and I gulp water. Oh goodness. When I breathe on my side I can see the water beginning to stir with gusty winds. The waves get steeper and steeper. I am heading directly into the wind and waves. I have done a few ocean swims while being in the Coast Guard so I just tried to keep my head down and maintain my stroke and be careful when I breathe on my side.
It was getting really crazy and I was glad to hit the turn buoy, but one problem, we had about 100 meters where we were abeam to the chop. So every time I breathed to the right, I got a face full of water! So I just breathed on my left until I got to the 2nd turn buoy and was now pointed back towards shore. Whew! I found out that the slower swimmers had a very rough time with the 2nd loop of their swims and several people had to be hauled out.
2.4 miles is a long way to swim, but in an Ironman, it is the shortest duration of the 3 and this time it seemed to go by really quickly.
|All done with the swim|
Instead of walking I decided to run up the beach to the transition area. I got to the wet suit strippers and whoosh—my wetsuit was off and I then turned to get my bike bag. Before I ran into the tent I heard someone shout out my name. I was in such a blur I didn’t know who it was. Got changed in the tent, handed my wetsuit and bag to a volunteer and I was out of there! When I got to my bike I heard a very loud, “Wooo-hooo! Go Mike Rudolph!!!” I looked up and there was Jon and Nikki Seehorn, longtime motorcycle racing friends! I was so thrilled!
|Gretchen heading out on the bike|
112 mi Bike: 7:08:35 (15.7 mph)
It was still cloudy so I did not put on my sunglasses but tucked them in my back pocket. Got on my bike and headed out. It is so cool to ride through town during the Ironman. So many spectators cheering and ringing their cow bells, signs and the course is cordoned off so I feel like I am in a Grand Prix car race going through town. Well, that is what I think about anyhow.
I rolled up my arm warmers and tried to settle in. As we cleared town I looked down at my heart rate and it was 140 (Z5+)! Aye caramba! I slowed down to calm myself, it is a long day and I need to pace myself.
I tried something new on the bike this time. Remember from the half-iron distance triathlon in California I did in April, and how I couldn’t feel my feet until the run because the water was so cold? Well I put some air-activated toe warmers in my bike shoes and taped hand warmers to my aero bars. This worked so amazing! Even after coming out of the cold lake and then getting on the bike, my toes and hands warmed up really quickly. I commented to myself, “what a difference warm hands and feet can do to a person’s attitude.”
The new heart rate monitor is great. It alarmed whenever I was outside of my zone (120). I also had a countdown timer going off every 12 minutes reminding me to eat or drink something. My nutrition set up was Infinit (carb, protein, electrolyte) mixture in my aero jug, a water bottle in the front bottle rack and replacement Infinit in the back bottle rack. I had PowerGels and cut up PowerBar. Plus a coin dispenser with endruolytes (sodium pills), Tylenol and vitamins.
The key to finishing an Ironman is proper pacing and execution. All of the training and testing I had done over the past 30+ weeks has helped me dial in the exact pace and zones I need to be in so I can have a proper run. The strategy for the first 90 minutes is to just ride along. Keep a very easy pace that is barely zone 1 (<116 HR). Luckily my HR monitor would alarm whenever I got outside of this so I could quickly get it back in zone.
The first 15 miles are very scenic as we head east along the lake and then flip-it and head back to town. Then we head out to US Hwy 95 for a long section south. The bike course is new this year. I had not ridden the Hwy 95 section. I didn’t know much about how bad the climbs would be. Driving in a car they didn’t seem too bad… um on a bike, it is a lot different. The climbs were really tough. They were steep and long, very long. I had to keep it in my small chain ring and just spin up the hills while everyone was passing me.
|Notice my glasses are still in my back pocket!|
Stopped at the Mile 20 aid station to pee. I had peed 4 times during the swim and now I was raging again. That’s ok, good to be hydrated and everything working properly. Shortly after the aid station the sun had finally made an appearance and I decided to put on my sunglasses. I reached behind me into my back pocket and…..felt nothing! Oh no! My expensive, special ju-ju, rockin’ sunglasses had fallen out! Oh goodness. This could cause my whole race to collapse! Hah! Not really. My coach teaches us to worry about only the things we have control over. There is really nothing I can do about losing my sunglasses so I need to just deal with it. But, this did consume my thoughts for about 60 miles of the bike. More on that later.
So as I am riding along still consumed with the loss of my glasses, we were climbing up another hill and right there on the double yellow line of the highway, what do I see? A pair of sunglasses!!! I couldn’t believe my eyes. I turned around and stopped to pick them up. They were an old pair, probably tossed from a vehicle. They were very scratched and would probably look better on a woman than me, but they were sunglasses!! Yay, I was elated. I put them on and continued on.
The next thing that I started worrying about was that I failed to put on sunscreen as I left the changing tent back in T1. Oh goodness. I could feel my back and neck starting to get cooked. Just a few moments later I see a small tube of sunscreen on the road. But I was cruising pretty good and decided not to stop. I just couldn’t grasp my unbelievable luck!
I then stopped at the Mile 30 aid station to use the restroom again and made sure to apply sunscreen this time, but I could tell that the damage had been done. My skin stung really badly.
Continued on the course and finally made it to the turn around and then headed back towards town. Luckily we had a bit of a tail wind and I could feel the speed finally coming. I saw Gretchen heading the other way, I figured I was about 10 miles ahead of her. So great to see her on the course.
For nutrition I tried to suck down the Infinit in my aero jug in the first 2 hours and then refill it with my concentrated bike bottle and then add water to dilute it to the proper mixture. The trouble is that I forgot if it was a 3hr or 4hr mixture and so I put too much water in it. It became too diluted and it lost its effectiveness. Good advice for next time is to write this information on the bottle!
On the way back to town I got to bomb down the steep hills and got my bike up to 44 mph! And that was in a narrow section near the guardrail and everything. Wooo-hooo! It was crazy but the adrenaline in my gut felt so amazing. Reminded me of my old motorcycle races!
|Mile 60 just before Bike Special Needs Station|
Came back through town at the end of the first loop and then headed back out along the lake. It was about mile 60 at the last Ironman where I started getting really fatigued and had to slow way, way down. I was still feeling fresh and knew my plan was working much better.
At mile 60 or so I stopped at the Special Needs Station and restocked my gels, energy bars and slopped some Infinit powder into my bike bottle. I had to pee so badly but the line was too long!! About 4 miles later, we hit an aid station where I grabbed some water bottles and diluted my Infinit jug. Once again, I couldn’t remember if it was a 3 or 4 hr bottle, plus with the powder packed in there really well, it never got fully diluted. It was more of an oatmeal goo. Yuck.
Back out on Hwy 95 I decided to stop at the Mile 76 aid station to pee again. The sun was coming down pretty good now and I could tell that I was getting cooked. I had a worker apply sunscreen to my back again, but it stung so badly.
The hills the second time around feel so much steeper! OMG! On tired legs, you really feel it. I just stuck to my plan, kept my HR in the proper zone and spun up the hills trying not to think about the discomfort. Often times on the bike I would stare at the white or yellow line and just day dream. Thinking about all sorts of goofy things. It helped pass the time.
During most of the bike I couldn’t stop thinking about losing my sunglasses. I thought of scenarios and possibilities of where they could have come out. I surmised that they had to have come out when I was at that first port-a-potty stop. So when I was at Mile 106, I did something illegal and crossed the course over to the opposite side aid station and asked some of the workers if they had any unclaimed sunglasses. But there were none to be had. Oh well, I need to let them go.
My legs were getting tired but overall I felt pretty good. A little sore in the tush. At about Mile 110 we turned off of Hwy 95 and onto Northwest Blvd that would take us to transition. I stopped for a moment to get a picture with our old friends Kellie & Kelly and Pat. It was so great to see folks out on the course cheering us on.
Coming back into town, I felt like a rock star! Although my bike time was much slower than I had aimed for, I was feeling awesome! Although the crowds weren’t thick, the cheering was very loud and exciting!
|Almost to the bike dismount line|
Off the bike and I made the joke to the volunteer, “has anyone told you today that they don’t ever want to see their bike again?” He laughed and answered, “no, you are the first one!” Got into transition and grabbed my bag and into the tent. A volunteer helped me get changed out. Took off my Timex HR monitor and put on my Garmin HR monitor and GPS. Also turned on my iPhone. I changed my shorts and socks and headed out the door. Remembered to have the volunteers apply more sunscreen, ooh it was getting hot and I knew I was burned pretty badly (I have said this 3 times now). Off and running!
26.2 mi Run: 5:50:13 (13:22/mile)
My goodness, my legs are working! I can’t believe it. At the last Ironman, this was the most difficult part. I was in a very deep and dark hole that took 2 miles of walking to dig myself out of. But here I was actually running great right off the bike!
It took a bit for my GPS to start working but when it did, it showed I was doing a 9:30/mile pace! Eeegads. I need to do about 11:15 to start out. So I slowed it down. Whoa!
My strategy for the run was to maintain a stupid slow pace for the first 6 miles, walking about 30 steps at each aid station (about every mile) and then settle in to my zone 1 long run pace of about 10:45 for the remainder. Well, that was the plan anyhow….
The first 6 miles went very quickly! OMG! This is working! I had settled in to a very slow but easy pace. I was feeling really good and I would walk at the aid stations and also a little at the mile markers. My pace per mile was about 12:26. I ascended the Bennett Bay hill, which is the toughest part of the run course where we climb this hill 4 times. Eegads. I hit the turn around and then started heading back to town.
At the aid stations I would dip my bandana in the cold water and used that to cool myself. I took in water, potato chips and pretzels. I put ice in my hat to place on my head. That helped keep me cool too. The pace for the second part was about 12:24/mile. Still right on track! Woohoo!
|Special Needs Stop with Lauren|
At mile 14 things started coming apart. I was getting dizzy and nauseous and I just wasn’t feeling right. I had been going pee quite often, but I hadn’t gone in an hour and could feel things starting to unravel. I slowed down considerably and tried to get in some more nutrition. In anticipation of getting to the half-way Special Needs Station, I guzzled down all of my remaining G2 in my run bottles. I was going to restock it with G2 powder and refill with water from the aid station. Once I got to Special Needs, there wasn’t any water!!! Uh-oh. I had to wait until I got to the next aid station, which felt like it was 5 miles away!!! This was enough to do some damage.
Miles 14-20 were the hardest and most painful of the marathon. I was dizzy and my stomach was in knots. Since I had been doing a lot of walking, when I did try to run, my whole body went into revolt and it was hard to get any rhythm to my breathing. So I would have to go back to walking again. I continued to suck down my G2 and take in as much aid as I could stand at the aid stations. My pace for this section was 16:46/mile.
Finally made it to the Bennett Bay turn around. I made a deal with myself that I would walk the half-mile back up to the top of the hill, but then try to run most of the way back to town. I was on a mission and I had just less than 6 miles until the finish! I CAN DO THIS!!!
As the last remaining miles clicked off and I got closer and closer to town, I started feeling better and better. Sure my body hurt like heck, but my spirit just felt uplifted and I managed my fastest pace on the run the final 6.7 miles (12:09).
At the last aid station before the finish, with the sun setting in the west, I ditched those roadside sunglasses I had found on the bike, and thanked God for the lovely gift!
During the last Ironman, the finish was epic, but there were lots of it that I missed or don’t remember, so this time I wanted to soak it in!
The run down Sherman Ave, through the beautiful Coeur d’Alene, at the finish of an Ironman event, is unlike anything I have ever experienced. There are thousands of spectators lining the last half-mile of the course, cheering wildly, yelling, ringing cowbells, giving high 5s and doing crazy stuff. The lights are bright and they are shining on YOU! The music is blaring, it is loud and it is good!
I could finally see the finish chute, the last 50 yards of this epic journey. As I approach the final chute where the bleachers are located I scan the crowd and see Wendy and the rest of the posse right at the edge. I point excitedly at them and stop to give them all hugs and high 5’s. It was so amazing. I looked around to make sure no one was around me as I basked in the final dozen yards. I heard it clearly this time, “MIKE RUDOLPH…… YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!!!” I wildly crossed the finish line holding up two fingers signifying my second Ironman finish! Wow!!!
It is such an incredible feeling to finish an Ironman. After at least a year’s preparation and all of the sweat and sacrifice, it is finally over. It is done! You are glad that you have finished, but at the same time I am usually bummed that it is over. I mean think about it, what will I do with my mornings and weekends now? LOL.
|Kids loved the pizza at the end|
After the finish I made it into the recovery area where I was glad that I didn’t need any medical help or IVs. But I was in search of something that I had been thinking about for at least 8 miles…. Pizza!!! Mmmm. I grabbed 3 pieces and a coke. Then met up with Wendy and the kids. The kids were so excited about my finish and I gladly shared my prized pizza with them. Such an incredible experience.
But oh did my body hurt. My IT bands on both legs hurt like hell. My legs were really hammered and I was low on energy. But the worst was my sunburn. Definitely the worst sunburn I can remember. It was so burned that it blistered on the 2nd day. I even felt feverish and the heat from the burn was intense. Yikes!
My finish time was a 70 minute improvement over last time. My goal was to finish under 14 hours, but I missed that by 20 minutes. I blame the wasted time worrying about my sunglasses. Hah! One of these days, I’d like to improve that time. Time will tell.
So what happened to sister? Sister trained just as hard as I did and was well prepared for the event. But an Ironman is a difficult event. She had a great swim with a time of 1:32 and was looking good on the bike. But during the second loop the wind had picked up and the hills were just too much. With just 2 miles left to go in the bike, after pushing hard through 110 miles, the race officials pulled her off the course as the time cutoff came and went. As you can imagine she was devastated. I felt bad for her, but knowing my sister, she won’t let this keep her down. She will be back again, better trained, better equipment and she will become an Ironman! I am still very proud of my sister.
I have to mention the incredible support from my Mom. My mom lives her life vicariously through her kids. It seems she has always done that and is the best support person I have ever known. She dives in with both hands and goes above and beyond to ensure I have everything I need to be successful. Sister and I appreciate her so much. She has helped us realize many of our dreams and accomplishments. She really went all out for IMCDA ’12. Thank you mom!
And of course I need to thank Wendy and the rest of the family. Being with an Ironman athlete is hard because you have to divide your time with the training time and sometimes that training time will win over dinner and a night out. She took this in stride and was supportive throughout and shared in the excitement of this huge accomplishment.
So what about the months afterwards? Here it is November and I am finally finishing this report. I don’t have much explanation except that I have experienced some kind of post-race depression. I had this in 2010 also. After working hard for a year on something, consuming all of your thoughts, once it is finally over, it is just that….over. Reintroducing yourself to your old life takes some time and for a type-A Ironman personality, which often comes slowly when you are not swimming, biking and running every waking moment.
So there it is. Some said I couldn’t do it, many said I was stupid and even more said I was crazy, but I finished my second Ironman. I did this event for a few reasons. I wanted to share this experience with my sister. She has been the best coach and cheerleader throughout my weight loss transformation and I wanted to support her with this huge goal. I wanted to improve my time. 2010 was seeing if this was even possible, 2012 was about efficiency and fitness and nailing a big PR. I also wanted to share this with my kids. Erik was so elated to see me out there all day. Aaron and Lauren may not have known the totality of the day’s events, but they got to share in its excitement and see their dad do something incredible. I am sure they will remember this and hopefully use this experience in the many facets of their lives in the years to come. I also did this as a testament to my new lifestyle. Exercise, physical fitness and reliving dreams and goals has become a huge part of me. This is the way it has to be for the rest of my life. And while I may not always be able to do an Ironman, at least if I am afforded the opportunity and have the ability I am going to GO FOR IT!!!
Thank you everyone for your love and support. Thanks for believing in me.