Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Ironman St. George: Run, Salt at any cost, RUN!

Well, I'm almost there. 4 more laps. Up then down on each lap. That's 4 more ups. You CAN do this. I take a physical once-over. Hamstring, uh a little tight, not bad. Hip, mmm doing alright, stride feels equal. HR, 170s out of T2, but falling. Good. Temperature, you are hot. Get some water. I look up and see Brian and my roommate Katrina at the turn onto Diagonal Rd.

"Oh, Hi Brian! I'm doing alright. I threw up on the bike, I got a drafting penalty, my chain dropped, my wheel wasn't on, and oh oh! I peed on my bike. I feel like I'm forgetting something, but I feel great!"

As I run past, he gives me this look best described like this: wtf are you talking about? ok, uh, keep running. uh, are you okay? um, wow, information overload. - All that in 1 look. I think he managed to actually say, "you look Great!" which was much appreciated. If I looked great and felt great, then I must be doing alright. Now I must keep my head in the game.

And before I knew it I was at the first aid station. wet. cold. sponges. y.e.s. I have a problem with overheating on the run and I'm constantly pouring water over myself to stay cool. At Ironman, the run aid stations are about every mile...and are WELL stocked. This isn't called the "catered marathon" for nothing. I grab two sponges and put them in my straps. Ahh the coolness against my skin is refreshing. Thank you.

I think I got passed by a man with one leg around this point. WOW, that guy is awesome. (His other leg was amputated above the knee, and he had a prosthesis running lower leg). I got passed, but I was also passing. This wasn't going to be a typical race where I don't pass anyone. Especially if I play this smart. Your race, your legs, keep checking in.

wow, nice lean!
Chatting with Kyle about the bike "issues"

Most of the race is a blur. I just kept chugging along. I saw my mom, sister, Kyle and grandma somewhere around the 3rd aid station for the first time during the race. It was a huge help having my Ironcheersquad out there all day. Kyle ran along side me barefoot as I again went through the play by play of the bike. He ran with me for a bit, and I let him go as I kept on up the hill.
As I was checking in, I noticed my quads were getting a little tight, on the inside, near my knee. I looked at my salt reserves, and they were low. Did I miscalculate, and not pack enough? Okay, time to ration, I guess. Here is my run nutrition execution. Not really close to the plan, but good enough. I began my aid station ritual.

-Sponges, throw out old, get new
-First water available (usually 1st volunteer after sponges)


The sponges ended after the first half, because the clouds started rolling in and it wasn't quite as hot. Coke is something that I hate. I can't stand the taste of any cola, actually. But I knew I needed the caffeine and sugar and not surprisingly, I worked. Unfortunately it wasn't flat, so I'd take 3 good sips, dump the cup and then hopefully get 3 good burps out soon after. Yes, the coke is what got me through. I started to look forward to every other aid station for that sweet taste. Crap, I was addicted.

The salt from the pretzels seemed to be working. I'd put a bunch of pretzels in my mouth, suck the salt off, and then spit out the rest of the dry pretzel and drink some of my water. Suffice to say, there were a lot of mushy pretzel clumps on the road. I swear I wasn't throwing up.

I was carrying my usual water bottle and carrier that held 2 gu's, motivator, salt and ibuprofen. The "pills" came at random times. I maybe took 2 motivators the entire run, and 3 ibuprofens. As for the salt, I'd treat myself to one, only when absolutely necessary. (i.e. quads are going to seize, you must take one!) I filled my bottle a couple times through aid stations, and it was surprisingly easy to do while running. I also had a couple random Gu's/Powerbar Gels during the race. They kept giving me yucky ones (espresso, and a fruit cream one) so instead of suffering through, I'd just toss it, uneaten. Oh well, I'll get one at the next aid station.

Total calories ended up being around 500. I had trained all my long runs with 200/hr, so I was running on half of that for the entire run. And was actually okay with that.

Alright, back to the race.

I think Caleb passed me near the top and he looked good. I saw Brian at the end of the first big downhill near the stoplight. He was cutting the course to see me up there, and down at the turn around. He asked me how I was feeling, (Great), he said I looked great, and I was on my way.

I got through the park and to the turn around and started back up. Saw Brian again, this time he said, "Only 3 more left, you can do it. You look great!"Yeah, only 3 more of those left. This one proved to be the hardest. I made it up the hill and started back down. I got in a rut and was running pretty slow on the downs. I saw the fam and Kyle again. My stomach wasn't very happy. I told him I needed tums. He ran to the gas station, and then ran me down on the course and handed them over. I instantly felt better. It was an odd sensation. My abs were sore and hurt from holding them so tight through the entire bike because my stomach was upset, and from the throwing up. I suppose I should be disqualified for outside help. And I guess I don't really care if I am. I would've made it through without the tums. I was just very grateful for them.

#2 done, and I made the turn at mile 13.1, where you can hear and see the finish line. Evil. Didn't have a special needs bag. And if I did, the only thing I would've had in there is tums. Okay, back out, starting #3. Check in...good. 2:30 first half, you can do this. You may be able to finish before dark. (8:23 was sunset, which would be 13:23 race time, I had 3 hours to get back there). HR is good. Right around 150 average and 155 on the hills.

Feeling better than #2. I'm running. I think I should stop and use the toilet. Okay, go at the next open one. Luckily that was at the end of the aid station I was at. Jump in, oh yeah, this is a good time to take the inhaler. Bathroom break wasn't as great as I expected, and took 1:14. It did feel good to sit and rest, but I told myself that I could do plenty of that after the race.

Back running. See family. Tell them I love them and I'll see them at the finish line. Kyle is rocking my world with his encouragement. I could see he was proud. I make it up the hill, continuing on with the aid station eating plan. I hadn't walked an aid station yet. I couldn't. I'd tell myself that I'll walk the next one, but then I'd get there, feel okay, and I knew if I stopped, it'd be hard to start again.
I found some feet. A tall boy, 28, from LA. He had a good stride and cadence. I latched on. We were flying by people. By this point there weren't a lot of "runners" left, and most of the field was walking. I saw Brian, as I was hiding behind this boy. We were trucking along, and I'd keep encouraging him. Got to the park section and he started to walk. I encouraged him to keep going, and come with me. He did, we made it through the park. I learned it was his first as well, and before we knew it we were at the turn around. Only 1 more left.

Unfortunately, he couldn't hang and I lost him on the up. I felt like I was in a different world. A world of walkers, and I wasn't going to let their infectious disease infect me. I was going to keep running.

I saw Brian at the usual spot, for one last time before the finish. He told me Caleb was walking and I'd probably catch him. I told him I feel great, but in the middle of that hill I'm going to walk. Less than 1 min, but I'm doing it. Then I'm running home. He told me again, I looked great, and that I can do it.

So I listened to myself. I power walked in the middle of the hill, and told myself if I got to that cone in 40+ seconds, I'd start running. It was 41 seconds, so I began running. I got to the top of the hill and I was elated. At that moment, it was over for me. The rest was down hill. I took some coke, and a gel. With 4 miles left. That runners high hit me, and I was almost floating. If that makes sense at the end of an Ironman. If that makes sense at all, since I've never really felt it.

I went through the motivational mile while No Doubt's, I'm just a girl, played. I sang a couple lyrics, and I looked up at Kyle's message. And I think I had 1 tear. I told myself I couldn't waste energy on emotion now, I needed every sap of reserves, so no being sappy. Kyle's message was "#122, Cwaziest cwazier. GO!" (We sometimes don't like to use the letter R)

I got out of that horrible golf course section, and I was back on Diagonal Rd. And guess who I saw. Caleb. I said come on, run with me. It didn't take much convincing, and he was running. We were chatty and he had said he'd been walking since mile 14. We talked about the rest of our races and were both coming to the realization that it was almost over. We were pushing the pace... and I kept asking myself, "How am I doing this? How am I still running?"

We past the last two aid stations on Diagonal and it was getting real. We could hear Mike Riley. It was almost our turn.

I don't really remember much after that last turn. My legs started sprinting. I almost missed the "this way to finish" cone, rather than the turn around...oh hell no, I'm on the 2nd lap. My heart rate was up to 180 and after being around 152 the entire run, I felt awake again.

Then I heard him, talking to me.

"You're happy. You did it. You deserve it. 27 year old Rachel Gordon, first time Ironman, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!" - Mike RileyAnd that was it. I was moving for most of the entire 12 hours, 53 minutes, and 31 seconds.
Now I didn't want to move ever again.

4:58.19 Run.

2:27 2nd half. Yeah I negative split the Ironman marathon on the hilliest North American course. In my first time running a marathon. In my first time running over 3 hours.I'd like to say I ran the entire run. Well, almost. I walked the super steep but short section by the golf course. I took a potty break. I walked a small cone to cone section on the last up. My average walk break was less than 45 seconds. And only 4:00 min of total cumulative walk/potty time in the entire race. Not bad for a first time Ironman.

I'll have one more update. my post-race thoughts. Preview: I'm not doing another one.

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