I didn't want to cry. I didn't want to walk. I wanted to feel as good as he look. It just wasn't happening. He hugged me, told me to do a run/walk, told me he loved me and that he believed in me. I didn't believe in me at this point. I shuffled along to the half way point. I saw mile 14. 12.2 miles left. I can do this.
But I was so nauseous. I started walking around mile 15. I just figured I would walk the rest of the race. It's a humbling thing to have to walk a race that you know you are fit enough to run, simply because of your upset stomach. It's the only way that my stomach was alright. No great, but alright. I saw my mom around mile 18 and told her that I was walking and would like her to walk miles 20-25 with me (just to give me company). It was totally dark at this point and my legs were starting to hurt from walking. At mile 17, I decided that I needed to figure out if it felt worse to shuffle slowly or walk. I was back in the park and at this point couldn't see anything. I befriended a guy who was in the same boat as me. He was sick, walking, in pain. He wanted to finish, but knew that the road was still a long one. We would point out things - lights, cars, trees, and say "let's run to that spot". Then we'd walk a little. We repeated this until we were out of the park. Michael (my new Ironman friend) asked if I do this alone. I told him that Tom had already finished and on cue, as if I had planned it, Tom bikes up. Seeing him totally lifted my spirits!
After Michael figuring out that my hubby was a badass, we talked about me walking with my mom. I asked Michael what his goal was and he said that he would continue our shuffle/walk plan. He gave me company. I thanked my mom when I saw her and just told her to meet me at the finish.
My stomach started to feel better in the last 6 miles. I don't know if it was the walking or what. Michael and I talked about everything... it took my mind off things. Our walk breaks became longer and although I probably could have shuffled in, I stuck with him. I didn't care about my time and I knew that I would finish. I was so elated that I didn't feel like I wanted to hurl.
At mile 25 I wanted to run in. I was **this** close to the finish and I knew that my adrenaline would get me there. Michael stopped to use the potty and I said my goodbye to him. I was off to become an Ironman again. The last mile was a blur. The crowd was amazing. As I rounded the corner to the finish, I saw that I had the shoot to myself. And let me tell you ...
IT WAS AMAZING!
So much different that last year, but just as cool! I took it all in, repeated to myself "you must not trip, you must not trip". I smiled as they said "Colleen Kingery, you are an Ironman". I think the picture says it all.This wasn't the race that I thought it was going to be, or even hoped it would be. I had images of myself PRing, feeling great, smiling the whole way. The Ironman Gods definitely tested me. They humbled me a little. They toughened me up a bit. I learned a lot about pushing myself past the point of comfort, I learned what the draft box is, I learned that I don't give up when the going gets tough. That's all part of the Ironman journey. And unless you've done an Ironman, you can't fully appreciate it. It's so much more than a really long day of swimming, biking and running. It's a journey. You feel so alone at times and so part of a group of amazingly crazy people just like you. And there's no way to describe the feeling you get when you hear that you're an Ironman. The first time, the second - it doesn't get old!
Tom and I didn't sign up for next year's race. I'm happy. I need a change. I'm looking forward to shorter racing and training, to moving my business forward, to spending more time with family and friends, to strengthening my already amazing marriage, to having time for "me". I need this.
Thank you to everyone for your continued support. I have the world's best husband, who happens to be my training partner and best friend. Brady, you never cease to amaze me (he PR'ed by 10+ minutes this year) and I appreciate you pushing me, supporting me and loving me, tears and all! I have great parents who have yet to miss an important race and I thank them so much for their continued support as their daughter takes on these crazy challenges. I thank my sister and brother-in-law for the constant pep talks!!! I have an extended family that many could only dream of. I have the most amazing friends - your patience and support means so much to me and I'm so happy that I finally get to see you guys again! And to my blogger friends... I appreciate the friendships that I have with complete strangers! And to athlete #610 - thanks for getting me through those last 6 miles! :) You too are an Ironman now!!!