The few days leading up to the race (we got there on Tuesday late in the evening and the race was Saturday) we did all the normal stuff... Gatorade swims, short runs and rides, the expo, the check in, gear checks, etc. Mainly we just relaxed as much as possible. If you haven't been to PCB, it's dreamy. The ideal place to do a race in my opinion! The weather was perfect the entire week too - low 70's and not a cloud in the sky. I knew I'd have a good race because up to this point, I've only raced in crappy conditions so right from the start, things were in my favor! YAY! And with views and sunsets like this, how could I not be happy?Saturday came quickly. The alarm went off at 4:20, although I had been laying in bed since 3:30. We got dressed, made bagels with peanut butter, grabbed our diet pepsi's (which is our new pre-race drink of choice!), got our special needs bags and headed out. My mom and dad drove us down to the race. We went into transition and did some last minute things – put food and drinks on our bikes, pumped tires, lubed chains, etc. I was racked all the way on the opposite side of Tom and waited for him to bring the pump to my bike. The girls racked near me where so nice. Definitely eased some of my nerves a little. We were super early at transition and it was very cold so we waited inside on the hotel until it got a little lighter and closer to race time. I cried a lot... mainly because I was a little overwhelmed with what the day was going to be like for me. I knew I was ready, but you're never really certain! We put our wetsuits on around 6:30 and made our way to the beach. We said goodbye to everyone around 6:40 and started out trek to the start line. The water was fairly calm, although the wind was blowing. It was still so cold and the water actually felt good on our feet, which at this point were numb from the sand (it was only in the low 50's maybe on race morning!). We watched the pros go off and then made our way into the start area. We only had about 3 minutes there together. I started crying and Tom hugged me, told me that I’d do great. The next thing I knew, Mike Reilly was telling us to have a great race and the canon went off. No time to panic right?
THE SWIM – I started toward the back of the swim start. This was my goal all along since I knew I wasn't a strong swimmer. I walked into the water at 7:00:40 according to the race clock. We couldn’t swim at all since there were so many people walking in. The water was chilly and it seemed a bit choppy. I had to actually walk through some waves which I hadn't see just 10 minutes earlier. I finally was able to put my head down to swim and immediately panicked. I stood up and realized that I was at a sand bar and everyone was walking over it. I heard Mike Reilly say “it is supposed to be a swim but it seems like everyone is walking”. HA! It wasn’t until about the first buoy that we were able to swim. I found a spot and took off. I was super calm and felt great. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. Sure there were people everywhere, but I felt like I could keep a good rhythm. I had heard that it was usually a battle and I guess I started at the right spot because it wasn't horrible! The first turn came quickly and it was really crowded. The second turn was worse. I got kicked pretty hard in the face, although the goggles stayed on so I was alright. About 5 minutes later, I got punched pretty hard in the face. Men at ruthless! I kept swimming and got out of the first lap in 39 minutes (you have to get out of the water for about 30 yards and then get back in). I was so excited. My neck was killing me from chafe though and I didn’t know what I could do to make it better. I took water from the aid station before going back in and rinsed my lips and my neck. The salt water definitely added a new set of obstacles. I peed, got back in the water and started swimming. This time it was totally different. I was virtually alone. It was pretty much that way for the rest of the swim. There were a few big jelly fish and a whole bunch of small ones, but they left me alone. I was so relieved when I passed the last buoy and was walking up to the wetsuit peelers. I was out of the water in 1:26:57 and felt great. Got my wetsuit peeled, ran up the shoot, found my family, yelled “I lived!” and went to T1. My cousin got some good shots of all the bags lined up before the racers came through.
TRANSITION 1 - What a zoo! That’s about all I can say. I grabbed my own bag and went to the women’s changing tent. It seemed like every single woman was there with me. I found a little opening and just took my time. I dried off as much as I could, changed my clothes (bike shorts are a bitch to put on wet!), put my stuff back in my bag, sun screened and walked out. I had to actually find someone to give my bag to. I ran to my bike rack and there was a guy standing at the end, but he didn’t grab my bike. I walked to the mount line which was at the other end of T1. I didn’t run because I figured it was going to be a long day and I need to just stay calm, plus I probably would have fallen on my butt in my bike shoes! T1 was 8:31 which was completely slower than it felt!
BIKE – I heard my family right when I got on the bike which was great. I knew that it was going to be a long bike because it was fairly windy so I just tried to settle in fast. I drank Gatorade right away but decided to hold off eating anything until I got into some sort of rhythm. It was freezing too - so glad I changed clothes because I couldn't imagine what people in wet tri clothes felt like. I may be an Ironman, but I'm not good with cold weather!!!! The first 10 miles went fast, but I had to go to the bathroom at the first water stop. I got off my bike and there was no where to put my bike. A racer who was waiting to go to the bathroom held it for me!!! People were so nice! Got back on my bike and settled right back in. I ate when I could, drank when I felt like it and just took it all in. The first 45 miles or so seemed to be right into the wind! I was keeping a good pace, but paid for it later! I hit special needs around 48 miles, took time to get my stuff and then got on, happy to be turning to a tail wind about a mile later. My IT had started to really bother me and by the next turn into the wind, I was seriously hurting. I knew I had pushed it a little hard into the wind. I started to doubt things, although keep saying to myself “you are in an Ironman… just do it”, and that’s what got me through, that and the Twix bar I had picked up in special needs... The next 40 miles or so were fairly uneventful. I passed a bunch of people, my IT was still killing me, but I just kept going. My first 76 miles I averaged something like 16.4mph and I knew that was because of my IT. The last miles I averaged 18.9mph and was able to find a gear with the tail wind that my IT felt relatively good in. I was so happy to see the last mile markers. I came into transition to a screaming family in 6:35:47. It felt great to get off my bike.
TRANSITION 2 - This was a much different experience than T1. Someone handed me my bag, I ran to the change tent where I had the most awesome volunteer help with everything. Poor lady got an eye full with me changing and I apologize for that! :) She was so great. The tent was quiet. I quickly stopped to pee, waved to my cousins who were perched on a hill right by T2 and was out in 5:58 - again, much slower than it felt!
RUN – I thought for sure the first few miles were going to be horrible based on the last few of the bike, but I didn’t have transition legs at all! It was a nice change to be running. I kept a smile on my face the whole time, something someone had told me to do before the race. I saw Tom at mile 2.5. I was running 9:20’s or so. He was having a phenomenal day and was on track to finish way under 12 hours which was his goal. He was very surprised to see me smiling and saying that I was having a great time. I felt invincible and was actually having so much fun!! I ran to my family at mile 4.25 and they were probably just as shocked to see me smiling. They had chalked the entire street which was so cool! My cousin got a good shot of it from the balcony of her condo.I talked to them briefly, told them I’d be back in 5 miles and took off. I kept a jog for the whole run which was my goal. I saw Tom again twice and although he was having a great race, he told me that his stomach was bothering him and that his legs were seizing. I just kept running from water stop to water stop. My first half was 2:15 which I was thrilled with. Around mile 17 when I was back to my family, my cousin asked if she could join me for a little while. I hesitated at first because I didn't want to seem like I needed help, but she joined me and we had so much fun running together for a while. I loved running in the dark although was completely bummed when I found out that they ran out of glow necklaces. I mean really??? The last few miles are a blur. I remember being about 2 miles out when it hit me that I was going to be an Ironman. You can't really replay that memory. My run time was 5:04:55, an 11:39 pace.
The finish - You can't explain to someone what it means to finish an Ironman. I'm convinced of that. As I ran into the finish line shoot, I had so many emotions. It was AMAZING. I didn't hear Mike Reilly say "Colleen K, you are an Ironman". I didn't hear anything. I saw my family and just smiled. Tom was standing behind the finish line (he had weaseled his way in to be my "catcher"). As I got closer to the finish line, I saw him and welled up with tears. And that's when I proceeded to trip over the finish line. Yup... I was a hot mess! My time to shine and I trip over the finish line! :) I didn't fall on my face though or anything, but it was shown on the big screen and the only photo that they got was of me catching myself! LOVELY! And even after tripping, it was the best moment of the entire day. I am an Ironman. My official time - 13:22:06.
Although I'd love to post an entire race report for Tom as well, I will just tell you that he had a PHENOMENAL day. His goal for this year was to finish sub 12 hours and he did just that. He had a great swim (beat last year by 8 minutes, finishing in 1:12), averaged 20.1 for the bike (that was the new Ordu hard at work - 5:35:00), and ran 10 minutes faster than last year. He finished in 11:49:48. I'm so proud of my hubby! He's a rock star! :)
I'm still kind of catching up with life. I don't feel any different, but I have a new bit of confidence to me. I guess maybe it'll hit when I toe the line for my first race of next season. We signed up for IMFL 09 so I get to do it all over again next year. This time, I'm going to try not to trip! :)