I got off my bike at the dismount line. Right away there was someone there to grab my bike for me and they asked me if I had everything that I needed off my bike. I had put my Garmin Forerunner on in T1 but left it off as the battery wouldn’t last the whole race. The unit takes a long time to catch satellites so I turned it on just as I rolled into transition. I grabbed my bike to run bag and ran into the change tent. I sat on the first chair I saw which probably wasn’t the best choice. I was very close to the tent opening and some male volunteer or official was standing right outside. He may have gotten an eyeful but I was too lazy to move to a different spot. I had the best volunteer ever! She dumped all my gear out and went through everything making sure I had what I needed. I changed out of my bike shorts and put on a running skirt instead plus I changed into new socks. I kept the same tri top on. Once I was all geared up I ran out of there, hit the porta potty then made my way on to the run course.
T2 – 7:20 – not bad considering it included a bathroom break.
As you leave transition the atmosphere is unbelievable. Folks were going crazy as the first finishers were rolling in. Seriously…they are done and I have a marathon to run? People were cheering so loudly as you ran past that it was amazing. My legs felt good right away. It was hard to believe that I had really just cycled 180 km. I ran the little loop down Lakeshore Drive then made my way out on to Main Street. I was grinning from ear to ear because this day is unlike any other. You really and truly feel like a rock star out there.
The aid stations are supposed to be every mile so i changed my Garmin to lap every 0.5 miles. That way I could walk for one minute halfway between the aid stations and then again walk through the aid station. I had hoped my heart rate would settle in as I ran. It had stayed nice and low on the bike but as soon as I started running I was up in the 170s. I decided to walk until it would come down into the 140s but as soon as I would start running it would shoot up again. Hmm.
Around 5 km in I passed my coach Angie, my parents and the Boyfriend and a bunch of TTLers. Angie was so excited for me, but she confided that she had been a bit worried for me when the whipped up on the bike. I had made it though and I was out on the run course. I told her about my heart rate issues and told her I would manage things as best as I could. Then it was time to say goodbye and get out of there!
As I ran on I started to see the first of my teammates coming towards me. I love that this is an out and back marathon course. You get to see everyone! What a boost. I continued on with my run/walk but it was getting harder for my heart rate to recover on the walks so the walk breaks got longer and longer.
Something that I didn’t mention about the bike was that my throat started to feel very dry during the last one third of the ride. I kept drinking but it wasn’t going away. I remember thinking that it was almost like I was starting to come down with a cold… As I continued running I got these weird body aches. My stomach muscles were in pain. The up down motion during running started to create some pretty bad shearing pain in my abdominal muscles. As this continued on it became too difficult to ignore coupled with my heart rate. I didn’t know why I was feeling this strange pain (perhaps because I was getting sick?) and I knew that if I continued to push the heart rate at this level for much longer my stomach would shut down shortly. So I knew it was time to start walking. I think the toughest part about this decision was that I was hoping I would be able to catch up to Kelly on the run course but this would make that impossible. I did have Tylenol with me that I debated taking but I wasn’t sure if that would cause a stomach issue. I didn’t want to risk the unknown of taking something and making it even more painful. I knew I could walk this and that I had plenty of time. My main goal for the day was to smile and be happy that I was doing an Ironman. Walking would make sure I met this goal.
I knew my friend Pam was volunteering at an aid station on the run course, but I wasn’t sure which one. I knew her shift ended at 7 and as I passed aid station after aid station and she wasn’t there I was worried I would miss her. The clock ticked over to 7 pm and no sign of Pam. About 15 minutes later I hit an aid station and I saw a very excited girl in a red volunteer shirt bound up to me. “LEANA!!!!!” “PAM!!!!!” I was so happy to see her! She walked with me for a bit and we chatted. Pam and I trained a lot together last year but we haven’t been able to see each other too much since last fall as she’s been travelling for work. Despite all of that she wanted to be there for my first Ironman. It meant so much to me that she was there. Thank you Pam!!
As I continued on I saw Kelly coming towards me, Keith, my teammates Nola and John, Shannon. They all had huge smiles on their faces and I was so excited to see them. I also really have to give it up for all of the volunteers and spectators that were out there. They were so encouraging! I would say about 95% of them pronounced my name correctly (which doesn’t normally happen) and I loved that they were encouraging me on personally. Love having the name on the bib!
I hit special needs with about an hour to spare before the cut-off there. Plenty of time. A fantastic volunteer handed me my bag and I dug through it. Four more gels, some Vaseline, a packet of Honey Stinger Chews, a long sleeve shirt that I love but that has perma-stink so I wouldn’t be too upset if I tossed it, another note from the Boyfriend. I wished I had put some wine gums in here too as that would have been a tasty treat.
My boyfriend’s note was great. He reminded me of something that Steve King had said in our Friday night banquet. It isn’t about the time you get doing the event, but about the time you have getting the time you get that counts. It reaffirmed things for me because I was having the time of my life even though I was walking. Every once in awhile I’d try to run again but the heart rate would shoot up right away and my abdomen would be in pain…so yeah…still walking.
The sun was setting and it was cooling off so I put my long sleeve top on. I had really lucked out that day as the temperatures only got up to about 21C (70F). Those are definitely manageable temperatures for me. Darkness started to set in so I put my glasses on the brim of my hat. Things were fuzzy now! As I continued along the side of Skaha lake it didn’t take long to go completely pitch black. There are no street lights out there so race officials on motorcycles came along to hand out glowing necklaces. There were still people coming towards me, most walking, some running. All trying to beat the 9 pm cut-off at the turnaround point on the run.
I wound up walking with one lady from Ottawa for a bit. We were having a good chat but I realized that trying to keep up a conversation was taking more mental energy than I realized. We hit the next aid station so I split off at a porta-potty. Sometimes company is nice but I realized that I enjoyed being in my own space out there.
At another aid station I grabbed a cup of chicken soup. The volunteer looked me right in the eyes and said, “Leana, you look great out there.” I had a moment…I looked at him…how does he know me?? Oh…right, name on the bib! I actually felt pretty good out there and I so appreciated how awesome all of these volunteers were. The aid stations were pretty well stocked too. By now I didn’t really feel like eating any of my gels. So what did I want? Would it be water, Gatorade, Pepsi, chicken soup? Would I like some chips, cookies, grapes, oranges, pretzels? I wound up alternating between all four fluid choices, grabbing two different cups at each aid station. I had a little baggie of grapes that I ate from for awhile that tasted so good.
Boy this walking thing was taking awhile. My eyes had been itchy and were watering like crazy (sick??). That coupled with my slightly poor vision with no glasses made it really difficult to keep my eyes open. I was getting tired. This is normally my bedtime and I’m out here walking on the course! I realized that I could quite possible fall asleep standing up the way I was feeling. Hmm, better grab some Pepsi and get some caffeine at the next aid station!
Finally I started to hit the houses coming into town. Spectators were still out there cheering us on. They were amazing and I thanked them all for being out there so late at night. They were saying, “You can do this, you still have plenty of time to make it!” Out in the dark along the lake there had been at least one person barfing on the side of the road. I tried to ignore that and keep moving on. Then as I approached town a lady caught up to me and wanted to talk. She asked how my day was going and I told her I was having a great time out there. She replied that her day was tough and that she could never get her nutrition down and always wound up being sick on the side of the road. Oh no! I didn’t want to get sucked into hearing about her rough day or about how she was sick so I decided to pick it up. I wished her luck and power walked outta there! As I continued on, getting closer to the finish line I realized how close I was. It still hurt to run so I just picked up my walking pace. Given all of this though, I didn’t want to finish the race walking. I wanted to run that last mile in.
We used to have to run the mile in school and I was terrible at it. I would consistently be one of the last ones in. I’d run really fast in the beginning, peter out, and walk and run the rest of the mile. Well, this was one mile I wanted to run strong out here!
I turned the corner on to Lakeshore Drive. You are right at the finish line, yet you have to turn away from it and run out and back along the road. I saw my teammate Christine and she went crazy when she saw me and that was exactly where I was starting to run. My glowing necklace bounced up and down. I took it off and gave it to a spectator. Richelle and her some of her athletes were out there, going crazy as soon as they saw me. There was one final aid station out there. At first I wasn’t going to grab anything but my HR was out of control so I stopped to get some water and walk towards the turnaround. All of a sudden my teammates, Angie, the Boyfriend saw me and starting cheering, “Go Leana go!” Darn it, guess I’d better start running!
I high-fived my most amazing training partners Kelly and Tara. They had finished ahead of me but they wanted to be there for me at the finish. Thank you guys!! Angie yelled that I was going to be an Ironman!!!! I told her that I still had a bit to run and that she was making me cry. I just had a short ways to go to the finish, maybe just over a quarter of a mile?
Keep in mind that it is after 11 pm out there. Most of the folks around me are walking it in and look rough. I was on a huge adrenalin high and I felt great running out there! Spectators were saying, “Oh my god, look at her run! She looks great! Look at that stride!!” I passed folks and we exchanged quick congratulations. Then there it was – the blue carpet, the spectators in the stands cheering, the finish line. I was alone on the blue carpet. The crowd was cheering so loudly and banging the plastic ad boards tied to the barricades. I had “Go Leana go!” in my head. I raised my arm. I was here, I had made it home. I crossed the finish line.
I was an Ironman!!!!
Run (cough, cough) – 6:35:48
And all done in 16:07:57!