Thursday, January 31, 2008

Last instalment - 42.2km run

........Finally I reappeared, much to the relief of Team Cathy, and started off on my 42.2km run. My plan for the marathon was to run between drink stations, these were about 2km apart, then walk for a minute having something to eat and drink. The first drink station was probably about 200m down the road from the transition area but I stopped nevertheless to have a drink and walk for a minute. I had people encouraging me to run, telling me it wasn't that bad, obviously thinking I had given up before I'd really started!

I ran this course last November in the Half Ironman, and had a very bad experience - I had trained through a Canberra winter so really hadn't done any training in warm, let alone hot, weather and the weather was hot on the day. Also the course is quite hilly and I just couldn't run the hills initially - it probably took me about 10km before I felt like I could really run decently at all. This had been at the back of my mind during all my run training since and I felt that I was better prepared this time - most of my running had been done in the heat of the day and I had run hills ad nauseum, so let me at 'em! The only thing I wasn't sure about was how I'd go running 42.2km after cycling for 180km - I was about to find out!

It was still very warm late in the afternoon so I was still drinking but I was starting to feel bloated and crampy in the belly - not a good sign. What to do? I didn't know whether I should stop drinking sports drink and just stick to water, considering I still had a long way to go and I didn't want to run out of energy and hit the wall. I had a couple of jellybeans at the next drink station but by now I was over sweet food in a big way. I concentrated on watching other competitors and looked forward to seeing Team Cathy again when I completed the 5km Tuncurry loop before heading out on the 16km loop through Forster suburbs. I also got to see the lead woman heading toward the finish as I was heading out on my first 21km loop. Another diversion was to read the chalk messages on the footpaths and road from supporters and yes, I found plenty done by creative members of Team Cathy.

The hills weren't presenting a problem at all and I managed to pass quite a few people this way. Supporters and residents were well spread out on the run course so there weren't many times when you weren't cheered on or alone. I started to drink flat coke and eat vegemite sandwiches and this worked for me. I was feeling great and smiling and laughing which prompted remarks like "you're obviously not running hard enough" or "you're looking far too relaxed - this is supposed to hurt!" I was running along minding my own business when I heard that horn - I knew that sound and it could only mean that Team Cathy were around somewhere. And they were - across the road hanging out the car windows - yelling and hooting for all they were worth!

Coming through to run the second lap I was given an orange scrunchie to wear on my arm indicating that I had already completed one lap - now I was feeling like I was getting somewhere. However, during the 5km Tuncurry loop I was starting to feel really tired and it was taking all my effort to keep running between drink stations. Don't tell me this was it - I was going to hit the wall - I still had 21km to do - not good. I saw Rae Wells up ahead - she was supporting her husband who was also doing the Ironman. I had been seeing Rae on and off throughout the day, on the bike and run. I told her I wanted to stop, I was so tired. "You're not tired - you're feeling great. Come on you can do it - think positively." Yeah right. However I continued on and within a couple of kilometres I was feeling fine and smiling as I came up to pass Team Cathy again, before heading out for my last 16km.

Downhill running was proving to be a challenge as my right ITB was starting to flare up. I had had problems with my ITB early on in training - cycling aggravated it and for a few weeks I couldn't run or cycle far without it hurting. However, at this point in the Ironman nothing was going to stop me from finishing and it was only the downhills that were a little difficult. I was passing so many people now who were walking. I had to pin a glowstick to my top as night began to fall. Soon I was running in the dark and this was also proving to be interesting - I almost tripped over at the 32km mark. Coming to the final turnaround, which meant I only had 8km to go, I almost bumped into two Team Cathy supporters - Ruth and Helen. I don't know who got the biggest shock - them or me!!!

Now I was heading home - I felt as though I was flying up the hills. I could definitely feel my ITB now but with 2km to go it didn't matter - I knew I was going to make it. I was going to finish and I felt great. Spectators were congratulating me and calling me an Ironman even though I hadn't finished yet. Up that last hill and ahead I could see lights and people, lots of people. I could also hear them counting down to 13 hours but the time wasn't important.

Briefly, for about half a second, I thought I was going to cry but excitement took over. I high fived someone I recognised from Canberra. Team Cathy spotted me and I jumped up and down excitedly when I saw them, before high fiving kids lining the sides of the finish chute. I felt a million dollars and my smile was getting bigger and bigger - I had done it. I had made possible what I once thought was impossible - it was a little bit of magic. The announcer, American Mike Reilly, the voice of Ironman, was calling me across the finish line (I was told this after - I was so excited that I missed hearing it!) and then I was finished. After 13hours, 2minutes and 10 seconds of swimming, cycling and running I could finally stop. I am an Ironman!!!!



TA and the Gnome said...

Thanks for this CJ. I have been looking forward to each installment. What a memory and experience to hold onto forever. very cool.


Ewen said...

You made it sound simple, but I know it isn't. You are an Ironman!

Glad you didn't "do a CJ" while you were running in the dark.

Jen_runs said...

Wow. I'm teary & have goosebumps just reading it. Thanks for sharing it with us again.

strewth said...

And now you should post a photo coming through that finishing chute - you looked so absolutely amazing. Oh and you should also post a photo of your tatt!!