Before I even left for Utah I was really emotional. I kept tearing up at every little thing. I was happy and grateful and appreciative and nervous all rolled into one, and that makes for an emotional roller coaster no one needs to be on! :) My students (did I ever mention that I had the BEST class in the whole world last year??) threw me a little surprise going away party with lots of cards, balloons, a basket full of great things, and a million hugs! I cried (see above re: emotional roller coaster), and they all promised to be praying for me and watching my progress online. Then that night my young women class from church brought me over a basket full of goodies and a big poster with notes all over it. Yep...cried again! I was just so overwhelmed with everyone's love and support for me. I knew that with all the prayers and well wishes and good thoughts coming my way, NOTHING could stop me from crossing that finish line. Not only did I not want to disappoint myself - I didn't want to disappoint anyone else!
|My sweet class!|
|Dan, me, Vic, Tiffany, and Annie|
After quite a while I sort of calmed down and Dan told me I should just mirror his nutrition and use his stuff. (BIG NO NO ON DAY OF RACE!!!) I had no other options at this point, so that's what I did. I got my bags ready and we were off to turn them in to transition. We BARELY made it before the 3:00 cut off.
After that he dropped me off at the hotel where I finally got to see my family. Insulindependence had planned a big dinner that night for all the athletes and their families, as well as our triabuddies and their families. It was great to see London (my buddy) and her family! They had awards for each of us, and it was really a nice evening. My sister Dana came up to cheer me on, and she and I sang the song "For Good" from the musical Wicked at the end of the evening. I made it through without crying, which I didn't think I could do!
|London and me!|
That night my dad gave me a blessing that all would go well with my ironman, and I said lots of prayers. I didn't sleep A BIT. Not one single tiny little bit. I even took 2 melatonins...but it didn't matter. I was wide awake. I had been receiving text messages and emails all day from friends and family, and I was feeling so loved and supported. It was great.
I "woke up" Saturday morning at 3:30 am, and I was surprisingly completely calm. All the fear from the day before was gone. I was excited, and I was ready. I knew all my hard work from the last year was about to pay off, and I could not wait! We ate breakfast at the hotel, my blood sugars were good, and we got on the bus to take us to the starting area. It was exciting to see everyone there getting their bikes ready, checking last minute things in their bags, and waiting in the LONG lines for the bathrooms! :) (I made it JUST IN TIME to get my wet suit on and get in line!)
|This is what the bikes looked like at the transition area. This was when we dropped them off the day before.|
|Annie (who finished), Dan (who was sent to hospital with BS of 600 +), and me before starting race|
|Touching up my tattooed number 197|
|I'm the one in the pink cap looking up :)|
Since I'm a strong swimmer I decided to make my way up to the front of the group. The water was freezing cold. Like 58 degrees. But I had on my wet suit, a neoprene cap as well as 2 regular caps, neoprene booties, and ear plugs. I was just fine! I'm telling you what, though...NO ONE prepared me for the craziness of an ironman start. HOLY SHNIKES! I'm a strong swimmer, remember? It didn't matter. It was CRAZY in there! I was scared and panicky because people were ruthless. They just swim right over you, grab your legs, kick, elbow, you name it! I knew this could happen, but I'd never felt that panic before. I decided I could let it get to me, or I could just keep swimming. And that's what I did. You literally couldn't stop because there was always someone there. So I just swam as hard as I could. When someone would grab my leg I would kick hard and keep going! Soon I had a rhythm going in my head. I had watched the video "You are a champion" on You Tube the night before, and every stroke I would say: "I am a champion!" It worked. It helped me! The only bad thing was that my legs started cramping up about halfway through the swim. Especially when I would have to kick hard at someone trying to grab my leg. It scared me because that had NEVER happened before! I was trying to keep kicking while flexing my leg to get rid of the cramp.
I made it to the end, and I was 13th in my age group! I got out of the 2.4 mile swim in 71 minutes, and I felt GREAT! Literally...I wasn't even tired. I wasn't cold. I was just ready for the next part! :) There were people there to rip my wet suit off for me (which was awesome), and then when I got into the changing tent there was someone there who literally did everything for me to get me ready. I ran out to get my bike, which they brought to me, and I was off and going and couldn't keep the smile off my face! It was so cool to see my family there cheering me on, and my friends from Insulindependence. I loved hearing all the cow bells, and I loved being in the race.
The bike is 112 miles. The first 28 miles take you from the swim to the bike loop, which is 42 miles, so you do the loop twice. The first 28 miles I knew I needed to eat and hydrate a lot. I had put electrolyte tablets in my water (which, remember, I'd never done before), and it tasted like grapefruit fizz. I have a really sensitive stomach. It doesn't like anything flavored. It gets sick easily (and yet never ever wants to throw it up). The grapefruit fizz was terrible! I was regretting that right from the start. Also, I was trying to drink the fuel Dan had given me. I made myself drink as much as I could...but I started to feel sick. I made it to the loop feeling great, and only slightly nauseous, and still really excited.
I knew there were a LOT of hills on this bike route. One in particular is called "The Wall" because it is so steep, but is less than a mile long. Just before the wall they have an aid station. I stopped there to check my blood sugar, and I was in the low 200s, which was just great! I had made it up a lot of tough hills, and I was ready for the wall. I got there and I made it to the top without having to stop and walk my bike! It was HARD! I almost felt like throwing up...but I didn't! All the hill training I had done here was worth it. I knew it was pretty much downhill after leaving Veyo, and then I would start the next loop and do those hills all over again. I checked my blood sugar at the top of the hill. 87. Woa! That hill took a lot out of me. I ate some fruit snacks, drank some more fuel, and took off. I was really starting to feel sick.
It was getting very hot, and my stomach was really starting to hate me. I finally decided to dump my water with the grapefruit fizz tabs and refill it with different water, but unfortunately that flavor stayed with me for quite a while. When I finally made it to the special needs station I stopped and got my bag, ate some of the orange slices I had in there, got some more water, threw out the water bottle with the fuel and just replaced it with plain water...I knew that was probably bad, yet I couldn't even think about swallowing any more of that stuff.
A little while later I made it to the end of the first loop. 70 miles down. I was REALLY sick. But just then I saw my whole family cheering for me and that gave me a serious boost! :) I knew there would be times during this race that I would want to quit. Everyone says that. There are "dark moments" where you're sure you want to die, and you could care less about finishing. But I also knew those would pass and I would have to fight through them. I kept thinking (for the last 42 miles) that that was all it was. I got excited after seeing my family and tried my hardest to just think about good things. I knew I only had 42 miles left to go, and I WAS going to finish! I also knew the crazy freaking hills I had ahead of me, and I was scared.
As I was riding away from them and into town it was slightly flat or downhill...and I was only going like 10 mph. I knew that was bad. My legs just didn't want to go any faster. They also started to cramp REALLY bad. Like, rippling legs, siezing up on me, really painful cramps. I was a little more scared. I knew I needed more water, and really more fuel. I decided to stop on the side of the road and try to eat one of my clif bars. I tried to throw up first, though. I just kept thinking that if only I could throw up I'd feel better (kinda like when I was pregnant and sick ALL DAY LONG, but never threw up!). Well, I was unsuccessful in throwing up, so I just tried to eat my bar. I took one bite and did my darndest to chew and swallow, but I literally could not. My mouth was so dry and this chunky peanut butter bar was just making it more dry, and my stomach was refusing to take it in. A policeman came running up to me asking if I was OK or if I needed medical attention. I told him I just felt sick, but was fine. I was NOT quitting. I just needed to take a little rest. My blood sugars were just fine at this point, too.
I finally got back on the bike, and literally just around the corner was an aid station! :) I should've just gone a little farther! But I stopped there, too. I tried to go to the bathroom...almost fell asleep just sitting in there! They were so great at all the aid stations. Someone would hold your bike, give you water, pour water on you, clean your glasses, get you food...whatever you needed! I kept wishing I could drink their Powerade or eat their Gu's, but I just couldn't! That stuff makes me want to throw up and I already felt like throwing up! As I left the aid station my aunt Lucy was there cheering me on. I told her I felt sick, but I just kept going.
|Troy (and Cooper) cheering me on|
|This is a picture of The Wall|
I finally got up. I started riding. I knew the wall was coming up soon. When I got there 2 guys were there cheering people on and helping them have motivation to go up the hill. I saw MANY people walking their bikes up at this point. They yelled to me to stand up and do it! So...I did. I stood up and started riding up the steep hill. They cheered like crazy for me! And it really helped. But it was short lived. My dehydrated and cramping muscles just couldn't take it. So I sat back in my seat, and then eventually I got off. I started walking my bike up the hill while trying not to throw up. It was SO HOT. I was SO SICK. I didn't know how I was going to finish this race, but I was going to finish it. Then I thought maybe I should just sit down for a minute, so I did. A guy came up and said: "Come on, get up! Just keep walking. You can do it!" And he waited for me to get up. So I kept walking. I got to the sign that said 90 miles, and I HAD to sit down again. I couldn't help it. I had been trying so hard for so long to get out of this "dark moment" and it just wasn't working.
I laid down. 2 motorcycle sag people came up to me asking if I needed a ride, and I told them both "No. I'm fine. I just need a break, and then I will be going." But, the next thing I know someone is sitting me up and pouring water on my head and putting ice on my neck. I guess I had passed out. They asked me if I needed help into the car, and I just cried and said: "No! I'm finishing this race. I only have 22 miles to go and then I'll walk the marathon!" They were very patient with me, and very understanding. They told me that I really needed to get into the car because my mouth was dry, I had goose bumps, I couldn't drink anything, I was nauseous, and if I didn't get in now I'd probably end up with heat stroke, which could be deadly. They said I needed to go to the medic tent because I had severe dehydration and heat exhaustion. I told them no. Lots of times. But finally, crying as I went, they helped pick me up and get me into the van.
I'm crying as I write this. Because it just sucks, you know?? All that training. All those prayers and well wishes. All that time...and I couldn't do it. And I had to call Troy and tell him they pulled me off the course. I didn't call for a while because I was just too sad. When I finally did I felt like a total failure. There were 5 other athletes in the car by the time we got to the medic tent. And 2 other vans were full of athletes who couldn't finish for one reason or another. All in all I think 600 athletes didn't finish this race (including the pro who won it last year. I saw him pull out of the race).
Of course everyone was supportive and loving, and no one said they were disappointed in me. I was just disappointed in myself. I raced for 8 1/2 hours, which is a great accomplishment...but not as great as completing a whole ironman. I realized that I was dehydrated going into this race. I should've been hydrating all week, and drinking lots of electrolytes - but I hadn't been. I also learned that I really need to figure out what nutrition will work for me because clearly using someone else's didn't work - and mine wasn't all that fine tuned either (since things were making me sick leading up to the race).
I went back to the hotel and cried. I didn't want to talk to anyone, and yet everyone was calling to find out what had happened. I got ready, and then went back out to the race to support my friends who were still racing. Sadly, out of 10 triabetes people that raced, only FOUR finished! It was a crazy day for everyone. Nothing went right. But the 4 that finished did awesome! We stayed til midnight watching the last one cross the finish line, and it was a very very bitter sweet time for me. I was so proud of them and so happy for them, and yet so sad that I didn't get to share in that victory.
So...that was my race. Not the race I had hoped for. Not the race I had dreamed of. And certainly not the race report I wanted to be writing. However, one thing I did realize was that I WAS ready for this race. I was able to do those crazy hard hills. I could have completed it. And strangely enough, after I DIDN'T finish, I felt more confident that I could have finished than I did before I started the race. I have to finish one of these things. So, I'm racing in the Rev 3 Irondistance race in Sandusky, Ohio on September 11. And I'm doing it with 6 other captains from triabetes! After I finish that race, I'm going to hang up my 140.6 ironman hat, and just compete in 70.3 ironmans. The half distance is awesome, and much more doable. This year was hard, and it took its toll. But it was great, too. I just want to thank everyone who helped in any way. Everyone who donated money. Everyone who sent me notes of encouragement and support. Everyone who helped take care of my kids. Everyone who understood why I couldn't be at some function or other. Everyone who worked out with me. And everyone who loved me and made me feel like I could do it. I appreciate you all more than you could ever know, and more than my meager words can convey. I have gained a lot of perspective throughout this whole thing, but more than anything I have realized the amazing capacity the human body has to endure hard things (whether physical, emotional, or spiritual), and the amazing goodness of people. So...to everyone: THANK YOU.