Get comfy. Grab a drink. Ignore the fact that I don't have pictures (they are coming!!!). I'll try to keep this short and sweet (unlike my day on Sunday!)
So Friday we get to Louisville. It was going to be a busy day and we knew that ahead of time. So different from the atmosphere in Florida. I was excited though. Got all checked in (laughed that my weight was 140.6 when I checked in... about 4 pounds higher than normal, but a good sign nonetheless!). Walked through the expo and bought two pilsner glasses and an emblem for our car. :) Oh and I got some really cute K-Swiss Ironman flip flops. But that was it. I was fairly disappointed with the gear. Anyway, left there, relaxed and bit, went to the iAmTri banquet and then hit up the Louisville Bats game versus the Columbus Clippers. We had amazing seats (about 5 rows up, directly behind home plate - it's nice to know people!) and had a great time with some of the drug reps that work for Tom's sponsor.
Saturday we went to the practice swim. One word... chaos! We waited in line for a long time before they would let us in. Again, I compared this to Florida because of being free to swim in the ocean at any time and here having to check in before and after the swim (I'm assuming so that they didn't lose anyone in the sludge of the Ohio River!). Grabbed some lunch with our dear friends Matt and Steph and then met up with my family to check our bikes and bags. It was hot - noticeable hot as a matter of fact and the worries of what was to come started to creep in. Grabbed a great dinner and was in bed by 8. I was feeling good though - calm and excited!
Sunday's wake up call came early - 4:00 wake up, out the door by 4:40. My parents, sister and I walked to the swim start while Tom went to transition to pump our tires, fill water bottles, etc. I got a place in line (probably about 500 people back) and just parked it for the next 2 hours. Tom wasn't far behind. It was weird to stand in line for an Ironman start, but since they do it time trail style and it's first come, first serve, we did what we had to do. :) People had been camped out (literally on blow up mattresses) since around 4am from what I was told. As we got closer and closer to 7, the line started moving and we were told that once the canon went off, it would go really fast. I said goodbye to my family and smiled... I was in a good place and ready to race!!! The canon sounded and they were right - it went fast. The line started moving and before I knew it, I was running toward the dock that I was going to jump off of. One after another, we piled in. As soon as I jumped in, my left eye filled with water. Shit. I popped up and found Tom and told him. He told me to keep calm and just swim to the side to fix it. There were people jumping off behind me every second so I panicked a little, but got it clear. Put my head in and it started leaking again, although nothing that I would stop for again. I lost Tom immediately.
Now, I'll say this - the Ohio River isn't clean. You couldn't see anything within 2 inches from your face. BUT, it wasn't horrible. It's not anything worse than what I swim in. Besides the log that hit me on the side of the head. And the random sticks. I felt like I was able to stay calm the whole time and find clear water. Everyone had a strategy to swim left or right. I stayed right in the center. I got hit and kicked here and there, but nothing that stopped me from moving forward. I hit the turn around buoy and knew that I was a third of the way there. I felt good. As we started swimming back to transition, it seemed like it was so far away. I sighted as best I could, stayed in the center and just kind of zoned out. The bridges took forever to get to me. I heard my watch beep 8:00 so I knew that I had been swimming for 50 minutes. I looked up for the green Tumbleweed roof, where I knew I'd be exciting and I felt like I couldn't have been more than 1/2 way through the race. Humph... I felt like I was swimming well.
I reached the stairs and was conceived that I'd see about 1:40 on my watch. To my surprise, I got out and hit the mat in 1:23:57. That's a big ole' PR for me which made me smile. Felt great going to transition, grabbed my stuff, was pokey as always (I did fully change though) and crossed the mat again in 6:09.
Got on my bike and felt good right off the bat. Was maintaining about 20mph and it was effortless. I didn't want to push it, knowing that the day was going to get hot fast, and the hills would get me if I wasn't smart. I hunkered down and just rode. I ate. I took my endurolytes. I drank. Things were going good. Saw my family in La Grange at mile 35 and that was awesome. Around mile 50, I started getting hot. The sun was out and I was just at a point where the course starts getting tough on the mind. I knew I'd see my family again at mile 66 or so. That got me through some mentally tough times. But I was getting tired. And I was so thirsty. And I started to get the chills. And then it happened...
I saw people laying on the sides of the road everywhere. There had been a lot of flats up to this point, but this was different. People were laying under trees with their bikes propped against fences. I got to one section and there were probably 20 people laying on the side of the road. I've literally never seen anything like it in my life. I got to mile 80 where there was a water stop and I hear "we're out of water". What? They only had warm perform which my stomach was not liking. I took it anyway. My body felt like it was on fire. I kept riding, but found that mentally I was hurting. My speed slowed considerably. I got to the next water stop and I heard the dreaded words again "we're out of water". People were laying everywhere. The volunteers were filling used water bottles with water from a baby pool. I took some. I needed it. Filled my aerodrink and took a sip. It literally tasted like sweat. I think the baby pool had been used earlier to chill water bottles and now the water they were using was the dirty water from every one's hands in it grabbing bottles. I started to shut down.
I made it to the water stop at 106 and took two bottles of water. Downed one immediately and poured another over my head. I was dry by the time I hit mile 108! Still people were on the roads everywhere. Pickup trucks were passing left and right with bikes in the back. I heard the sirens of the ambulances constantly from about mile 75 on. I got to transition and handed over my bike. Just a run left, but I didn't know if I could do that!
I bent over to take my shoes off and stood up, only to have my world spin. I walked down the shoot to transition, holding the railing. I couldn't keep my eyes open. I thought about asking if I could take a nap. I was so hot. I got to transition and just told the volunteer that I was spinning. I sat down and just dropped my head back. All I could think about is how I'd give anything to be able to lay down. I drank some cola, slowly changed and decided to give the run a shot. Stood up and literally felt the blood drain from my head.
I found my dad waiting along the transition area and just told him how dizzy I was. I must have looked like it because a few people asked me if I was alright. But I did what far too many people did... I kept going. I decided I would walk and try to stop the spins and hopefully work up to a run. I hit the first mile marker in 19 minutes. Oh boy... it was going to be a long day. I knew that I had about 8 hours to finish this race. I could do it. I started jogging at mile two and made it a whole 3 minutes. The dizziness just wouldn't go away. I drank at every water stop, although even the ice water turned my stomach. I just walked. And it gradually got slower and slower. I saw Tom at mile 5 and lost it. I sat down in the middle of the road, sobbing, and told him that I couldn't do it. My eyes felt like they couldn't catch up with my head. I wanted to just lay down and go to sleep. I was being passed by walkers left and right. My stomach and back were cramping. I had cramps right above my ankles. I was in a bad way. He told me to keep pushing and see if it got any better. I agreed - I mean, this is an Ironman after all. It's not supposed to be easy is it?
I sat down around mile 7 at the side of the road and put my head between my legs. I couldn't keep walking. The nicest spectator came and sat with me and asked if I was alright. I was dizzy and shaking. I wasn't sweating anymore. He gave me a bottle of water and told me to try to not sit too long and asked if I needed medical. I said no, stood up and kept walking. I hit the 9 mile mark a little after 3 hours. I'm not kidding. At this rate, I'd miss the midnight cutoff by about 24 minutes. I was defeated. I saw Tom again and told him that I had stopped being able to drink, I was still dizzy and that I knew I wouldn't make the cut off. I decided to pull myself out of the race. He knew that this wasn't an easy decision, but I think he saw in my eyes that it was the right one. I found a medical van and they called me in.
We picked up 3 other people on the way to the medical tent. A van arrived before mine while my mom was waiting for me that had 10 people in it. She said that the medical building was the scariest thing that she had every seen - people throwing up, passing out, being wheeled in on stretchers. She said it reminded her of something out of a movie. When she found me, I just cried. I couldn't do anything else. She held me as we walked to the finish to see Tom who did amazing despite wanting to fall asleep on the bike, considering dropping out after the bike and then shuffling through a miserable run. He finished in 13:02 and I knew that was the biggest accomplishment of his life. It was brutal.
So there you have it. I got a big fat DNF in the biggest race of my year. Me and about 840 other people. But you know what... I honestly don't think that I could have done anything different. I was trained for the distance. I was trained for the heat. I wasn't trained to run out of water. I wasn't trained to push through dizziness that impeded my safety. I didn't need to be rushed off the course in an ambulance like so many others, but I feel like I was smart enough to not push it to that point - tI honestly feel like I was on my way there far too quickly. Looking back, I hadn't pee'd since mile 30 of the bike. That was around 10am and I didn't pee again until nearly 10 at night. I hadn't been able to eat anything since mile 70 of the bike. I had stopped sweating to the point the my clothes were virtually dry on a 96 degree day with 90% humidity My body was fighting me. And I let it win
Ironman teaches you a lot. You learn about how strong you really are. You learn what your limits are and what limits you can push. I know that I made the right choice and although I'm a bit heartbroken, I have nothing to prove to this distance. I've done it twice and I'm forever going to be an Ironman. I'm already starting to look forward. Ironman isn't in the cards for me at this point. I have some new goals... some exciting things. I take what happened on Sunday for what it was. I played the cards I was dealt and unfortunately I didn't win the hand, but I know I'll come out stronger and wiser in the end.
Thank you again so much for all of your support. You don't know how amazing it is to have such an encouraging group of people (many of whom I only know from the Internet) that I can call friends! I'm a lucky girl!