My Ironman Experience, Lake Placid 2012, Run

And so we return to my Ironman story months after the fact…

If you’ve been reading you know it is full of details and seems to outline every high and every low. They’ve been pretty wordy posts but it was a pretty epic experience for me so I’m documenting it.  If you haven’t been following it, read about the swim here, and the bike here. I already pointed you to this apology at the end of the bike post but if you missed it, here it is again.

I left off with the nurse approaching me because she thought I was gasping for air at the end of the bike. She thought I was hyperventilating. I was actually fine cardiovascularly, I was just sobbing. Sobbing tears of joy that the bike was over but even more so because we made the bike cut off- with just over 2 minutes to spare. It was that close. At the end of 10.5 hours of racing at that point in the day 2 minutes separated us from continuing on or being pulled from the course.

The sobbing lasted all of about 30 seconds because we still had a marathon to do and I needed to prove to the nurse that I was sane enough to continue. I was so off to the changing tent to get out of my mammoth bike shorts and in to some running shorts. Given that I knew I was going to be changing anyway I also changed out of my tri top and into a nice soft tech tee for the run. I had already spent over 5 minutes wrestling on my compression socks so that was done. I pulled out my visor, put it on and headed back out to transition to find Steve.

We were both pretty shot at this point after the bike. After the heat. After the wind. And, we were both excited to get moving on the run. We decided to be conservative (as if we had a choice) and walk a mile or two before starting our “walk the water stops” strategy. There were quite a few people coming in from their first loop at this point and heading back out for their second and even quite a few coming in to finish. There was a heavy crowd of folks cheering people on and we walked along through all of it.

It’s a funny thing to have all of the spectators screaming “You’re almost done” when you still have 26 miles on foot in front of you. That being said, after having done marathons before and after having completed the swim(which many people thought impossible) and then the bike(which came down to the wire) I kind of felt like I was almost done. It was 5:30 in the afternoon and Steve and I were off for a brisk casual stroll until we recovered.

After the first mile we decided to walk the second mile too. And after the second the third. At this point I had done the math and advised Steve that is we just kept walking at less than a 15 per mile pace we could walk the whole course and still have a cushion of 30 minutes at the end. We didn’t want to cut anything as close as we did on the bike so wanted to be sure to have a BIG cushion at the end. Together we decided this was a good plan and when we were moved to run we would do so and when we couldn’t or just didn’t want to, we wouldn’t.

There were times on the run course that we would pick it up and be running at right around a nine minute mile. And there were times that we were pushing up against the 16 minute per mile while walking up a hill. For the most part we settled in to the rhythm.

We enjoyed the experience. We joked about planning better dates together (our last one together was during the Mooseman Half Ironman in June). We sipped coke and chicken broth, doused ourselves with sponges, and packed ourselves with ice. We cheered on other racers. We would intermittently call out landmarks and run to them with no intention of going far or fast. We stopped to pee a lot. When it got dark we enjoyed the stillness of the Adirondacks. We called out to a delirious friend we passed on course. We listened to the bullfrogs. We promised that some year we would actually come up and experience the Adirondacks for the Adirondacks sake and camp and hike and take it all in with the kiddos. We enjoyed ourselves.

As we approached the last few miles we could hear the stadium, the roar of the crowd bringing in all of the racers. We passed some people it seemed like we had spent the day with and passed some people that we had not yet seen. We just kept walking.

Suddenly we were there, we were on Main Street outside of the Olympic oval and Steve announced to me, “We’re here, this is it, You’re going to be an Ironman!” Previously upon completing races I always push it at the end, sprint to the finish, show off almost for the crowd and try to prove something to myself. Not on July 22, 2012.

Steve and I walked in to the oval holding hands. We strolled around the oval holding hands. We walked over to our brother-in-law Mike who had been cheering us on all day, our sweet M and our friend Jody who had finished the race earlier in the day. We stopped and hugged and kissed them all. We celebrated. Only then, about 75 yds from the finish line did we start to run. We trotted it in not rushing any minute.

We finished together, holding hands. I was now an IronMan and Steve had finished his 4th. It was Steve’s slowest race to date but also “the most fun”. After all of this, at 11:33pm on that Sunday night I decided it was going to be pretty hard to plan a cooler date than we just had after all.

What’s the coolest date you ever had?

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