Building up to completing an Ironman is no small feat. It requires many maaaany hours of training and working your life around your training. Life consists of training in every free moment and eating more food than you ever thought possible. I had an idea of what it would take when I signed up, but I think I was in complete denial of what I had actually signed up for all the way up until the final month of training. Don’t get me wrong I was prepared and had done plenty of training, I just hadn’t quite wrapped my mind around the idea of swimming, biking, and running, for the entire day…
I decided to take on training for my first Ironman without a coach. Knowing I had a good shot at doing pretty well but not wanting to spend a million dollars I bought some books and got to studying. Doing a couple 70.3s and eight marathons I figured I could do it. If I come out alive and decide to do another… I’ll get a coach. Luckily I have a lot of triathlete friends and ended up getting some help my final month of training. (Next one I’m getting a coach). There were some key workouts I was able to add in that made me feel more prepared… or at least as prepared as I thought I could be.
I was not completely alone in this training even though I did end up doing a lot of training by myself. I had plenty of triathlete friends and coaches in my Triathlon Club for support. There were group workouts every week I could attend that I found really beneficial. Most of the training was a complete blur, to be honest. Just so soooo many hours of the same three sports in different combos and amounts. I like working out but being out on a bike for half of your waking hours in a day, taking in only liquid nutrition is a little much.
There were countless sunburns, blisters, chaffing, taking in more salt than is thought possible, running out of water (many times), late nights, early morning, dreaming of the next workout and waking up not feeling rested. Everything hurts ALL the time. You get a new perspective on what pain is and how much you’re body can take before it completely just gives up on you. If you have ever attempted an Ironman you know what I’m talking about! Somehow you pull yourself together the next day and decide it’s fun, or at least trick yourself and tell others it’s fun… you guess haha
People look at you like you’re crazy. When you try and explain all the components of what is all involved most people’s eyes glaze over and you’re put in the “she’s insane” category. All your friends end up being those going through the same process because no one else “gets you.” Your conversations end up revolving around food, the workout you just did, or the big workouts you have coming up. Having one drink is often too many and staying up past 10 just doesn’t happen, so you feel like the oldest person imaginable.
I planned this race an entire year prior when I found out it would be taking place on my birthday, of course, I had to do it! I still couldn’t believe all the work I put in by the time I made it to the start line, even when I was about to step into the water on race morning. But there I was. It was quite surreal. There I was. First Ironman. No turning back now! I had some coaching from some friends and coaches during the week with some visualizations and mantras prepared. I was ready!
I hardly got a moment to collect my thoughts and focus and the gun went off. I was prepared and I was ready. The swim was long as any 2.4-mile swim is. The buoys were difficult to spot on the back half but besides that, the water was quite peaceful. I’m a good swimmer and knew I had a good shot at leading the pack. After what seemed like an eternity I was finally out of the water and all I remember was the screaming of fans and supporters as my wetsuit was stripped off and I was off running to T1. Pretty quick considering we had to run up the helix of a parking ramp and into a building.
The bike did not have a great start. My legs were crampy, it was colder than I had been training in, my GPS on my watch wasn’t working, and I had to pee… needless to say, I let it all go and just decided to go by feel and enjoy the ride. It was going to be quite a few hours, to say the least. I climbed more hills than ever before and completed my longest ride to date. There were cheering spectators on most of the big climbs, funny signs, people telling me happy birthday–it was written on my leg. The entire ride was absolutely amazing. There were, of course, challenging times but I had my mantras I repeated to myself, reminded myself how blessed I was to be out here on this literally perfect day, and that I chose to be there. Soon enough I was flying up the helix again to T2.
Going into the run was a little nerve-wracking because I wasn’t quite sure what I could do. I’ve done plenty of marathons and know I can kill a marathon but I had never done one after such a long bike ride. I decided to take it like any marathon and split it into 2 parts. Once the first half was done I really kicked it up and pushed the pace to see what I was capable of. I was rocking it until the last 5 miles when my legs literally gave up. My pace dropped significantly and I knew I had reached my limit. It was going to be all mental from here. Just my thoughts and some Coke from the aid stations haha. I remembered my mantras throughout the entire day which I was impressed by. They sure did the trick, would have been an entirely different experience without them!
Coming up the final stretch into the last mile I knew the finish line was just around the capitol building. I got kinda emotional and thought I was going to have a complete breakdown, but I didn’t. Somehow I held it all together and crossed the finish line feeling amazing. People kept asking me if I was ok and I really really was. That was seriously the trip of a lifetime and I had zero doubts at any moment of the day that I would do it all over again. Having both my parents there was also the best birthday present I could ask for and I felt so grateful just to be alive.
Needless to say, I had absolutely no idea where I was in the pack until my mom told me I placed 5th in my age group. Ummm what? Yep, that happened… sooo looks like Kona is in the future for me! So back to the training, I go to do it all over again!#endureandenjoy365