Below is Melanie's account of her first Ironman experience, and my biggest fear:
138.6 - race report
What a beautiful day! "Happy Ironman!". Zipping up wetsuits getting ready! Big hugs, smiles, and lot of nerves. So many of us are first timers - we are experiencing every emotion possible. The veterans' faces show a look that they fully know what lies ahead. It's time! Gret and I lock arms and walk together to the start. The national anthem brings us both to tears.
This is the moment I have trained for all year. I hug Jim in his rubbery wetsuit, and kiss him goodbye. He heads to the front of the pack. The music is playing "Put your hands up in the air!". We're dancing and shaking and smiling. The cannon fires. Surrounded by thousands of people we wade out until it's deep enough to swim. It's much less violent than I imagined. I'm so blissful I don't care when I get kicked in the face, swam over, and bounced around by the waves. The buoys went fast. At the turn we all stopped because there were so many people we didn't have space to swim. The sun was shining bright and it was hard to see. People were talking and yelling crazy things. I just followed the sea of humanity. Another turn buoy, and I stopped sighting for a while. I was taking on alot of salt water. I didn't need to breathe much, and I figured the less I opened my mouth the better. I was pretty mesmorized by the sea life beneath me. The next time I sighted I couldn't believe what I saw! The beach was lined with thousands of people. I'm doing it!!! Ironman!!!
I reached the sandbar which I knew about, ran across it, and still fell right off of it into the water. I came up giggling like a little girl. Loop #2 went by so fast. I could feel the chafe on my neck, but I hardly cared. I didn't want the swim to end.
T1 I saw my family for the first time that day. I nearly ran into a fence waving and blowing kisses at them. The tent was crazy---scarry naked people and total chaos. Said hello to Gret and I was out!
Outside my pretty bike was waiting for me. I thanked the volunteer and before I knew it I was passing Ron Jon Surf Shop. Over the bridge, and trying to keep my heart rate under control. I'm fueling and drinking water. My aero drink is already empty I'm soooo thirsty and all I can think about is peeing. I had already pee'd 3 times during the swim (not normal!). I rode along calm and relaxed. It seemed like 2000 people passed me, and lots of packs. I was really agitated by the amount of cheaters! I kept telling myself stick to my heart rate. It's hard for me to not chase, react, or race. I kept reminding myself of the run!
There were times I was going 14mph into the wind. At 2 1/2 hours I stopped to pee my eyes were swimming.
So I sat in the port o potty - no hovering about it - it was the most awesome feeling. Peeeee!!! Meanwhile there is a race going on outside. I look at my watch I've been off my bike for 4 minutes! Back on the bike I feel like a million bucks. My watch is beeping every 15 minutes. I'm drinking my perpetuem like clockwork. Right before 3 hours I stop at special needs. I don't have any water to mix with my perpetuem. Hmmm. How did that happen? At the next aid station I mix my drink while riding. I'm quite impressed that I pulled that off! Next I saw Jana and Kevin which was awesome. It was a perfect spot because the out and back stretch of bumpy road was the worst part of the course.
At 5 hours I stopped again to pee. Somewhere in there was a turn with a nice tail wind 22mph and effortless. Ah! Some fun! At 5 1/2 hours into the bike I started feeling nauseated, and I wanted to be off the bike! The heart rate zone went out the window and I stopped drinking. Surprisingly my legs felt perfect!
T2 - I hand off my bike like a pro. I enter the change tent for a totally different experience. Two girls tell me to sit down. They empty my bag and line up my stuff. I Vaseline my feet and put on my shoes. They put my fuel belt on me, hand me my visor, and point to the exit. I'm running! I start fueling again the first sip is disgusting. I can't really process much around me. There are people everywhere cheering, loving the dots, yelling chick-fil-a, and men in bikinis. I see Kevin and Jana again. I want to stop and tell them about the nausea and ask them what I could do to fix it, but instead I smiled really big, waved, and kept on running. I saw my family, said hello, and flew by them. I felt guilty the next entire loop for not stopping to hug and kiss my boys. My pace was smokin fast and I didn't even know it until mile 3. I got to the park and my nausea was growing. I finished my first 1 hour bottle of gel and water. I had adjusted my pace and was right on. The next hour was a jog with a few ice chips and no real calories. I was worried, but still smiling. I knew I couldn't take anything in and I was going to run out of gas. My stomach was sloshing. The neighborhood was starting to suck! Back to the hotel, I hugged all my boys, stopped in my room for a potty break, and smiled for Jim Damm's camera. On to loop 2 I saw Jana and Kevin, got my special needs bag. I'm still running taking in almost nothing. At mile 18 I see Jim and I tell him I'm sick. He looks rough too, but he's on his way home! I round the corner pass the aid station and puke for the first time. I'm walkin! Mentally I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to get through this. Heading into the park it's dark and an older man wearing all white approaches me from behind and says "you can walk faster than that!". I agreed. We walked together and he told me we could go all the way to California at this pace on body fat alone. I looked up when he said that with some hope. Then he looked at me and said you don't have any body fat though do you? He was quite drill sargeant like, but in a nice way. He was really on my ass telling me to walk faster. A few minutes later he said "it's time for you to run" and he gave me a shove! I started running and believed at that moment I was back in the game. He disappeared into the darkness (was he real?). I ran for several more minutes until my body demanded that I stop and walk again.
I went along doing a run/walk and I saw a girl sitting in the grass with her head down. I walk over to her and reach my arms out and say let me help you up. Walk with me. She says she cant that she's throwing up and I said me too. She said she was on her first loop, and my heart sank. She told me to go on so I did. I made it to mile 20 and I saw all the signs people had made. They were everywhere and way too much stimulation. I threw up all over the signs. A ton! Some people came to see if I was ok, and told me to wait there so I sat down and then laid on my side. They gave me a bottle of water and a medic asked me lots of questions. I got them right, but they looked like they were going to pull me off the course. Then the girl from the park walked up and told them I was coming with her. I lit up! We walked together. She told me she wasn't going to finish today, but I was. She waited for me everytime I puked. At one point we sat on a park bench feeling highly intoxicated. Everything was spinning. She dry heaved a couple times and we walked some more. The aid stations were killing us: the noise, the mess, the smell, and the people. I can't remember how many times I threw up after an aid station. Raymund passed me and gave me a jacket. I was shaking all over. Someone in a tri on the run jersey stopped to check on me too. As he was walking away he said "I know you Dots don't give up!". That got me going again. Then someone gave me a space blanket, and that was the end of me. We stopped and sat down many times and eventually I started laying down and closing my eyes. I instantly fell asleep in the fetal position once. My friend woke me and said we have to keep moving. I got up again walked 20 feet and laid down flat on my back with my arms out to my side in the middle of someone's driveway. I was at mile 24 and I was done. The medics rolled up and asked "Are you sure?". Yes I am sure. It was heartbreaking, but I don't regret it. They helped me into the cart. I was shaking uncontrollably. One of the medics sat next to me holding me tight so I wouldn't fall out. I felt relieved this misery was going to end soon. They drove me to an intersection where we waited for a truck. I moved to the truck and then we were on our way to the med tent. It felt like nearly half an hour since they picked me up. How long could it take to drive 2 miles? "Pull over!". I'm throwing up violently on the side of the road once more with the guy driving the truck holding me up off the ground. Finally, we made it to the med tent. They offered me all kinds of food and drinks. I kept saying no. Then they told me I had to pick something. I had 2 sips of sprite and then I was asleep. They woke me every 5 minutes for more sprite until I started to dry heave. Then they gave me an IV. Soon after the IV my blood pressure was back to normal and my heart rate lowered considerably. That's when they told me my original vital signs. Oh my! Not good! I'm thinking this sport is f-in ridiculous. I'm laying there listening to Mike Reilly say "You are an Ironman!" over and over again. I want to cry, but I just close my eyes. One of the doctors tells me to lift up my head again. I'm thinking oh no more sprite, but instead he puts something around my neck. I look down and it's a finisher's medal. I take it off and chunk it! Someone else comes over and says there is someone outside wearing dots like me, and asks if it is my husband. Yes! He's demanding to see me. They send him to the tent exit to wait. They remove my IV, and I feel like a new person. I'm walking! Now I could finish, but my chip has been removed, and I'm a DNF! I see Jim and he wraps his arms around me and I fall apart. I look down at my watch it says 14:19:38 and I push stop. We talk to Johnny, Jason, and Gret for a minute. I see Heidi posing for a finisher picture with Kyle. We walk a couple blocks to the car, go back to the room, shower, and crash. I didn't see any of my friends cross the finish line, and there was no post race party. I'm sad, and my body aches all over like I did an Ironman, but it was only 138.6.