Thursday, December 10, 2009

Episode III: The Run of the Sith

What? My titles don't even make sense anymore.

Into the changing tent I go! I lubed up, changed my sports bra and put on a Team Blain singlet, and ran out to start the best marathon of my life. I saw my friends and family once more before beginning the first of 3 loops.
Downtown Cozumel was crazy with spectators - “Vamos, Chreesty! Vamos!” - but once you get out of town (about 1 mile), you are on your own. It's a 4.4ish mile out and back, so that's about 6 miles with very little spectator support. It’s 3 8.8 mile-ish loops, out and back, on a concrete road. The aid stations were great with helpful volunteers, but they didn't have pretzels or coke at the first few stops and I started to freak out – especially because my bike nutrition had left me feeling quite pathetic and drained – but it ended up being okay.

My first three miles hurt like hell – which is weird for me. I almost always feel great for the first 3 miles and THEN feel like crap, so I was getting even more worried about my nutrition or lack thereof. But I just pushed through the darkness and kept going. I got a drink at every water stop (they were about 1k apart – approx every 0.75 miles) but took a minute walk break at every other stop. I saw Tommy for the first time around mile 2 and I have never enjoyed a sweaty hug as much as I enjoyed that one. Shortly after I saw him though, I twisted my ankle and fell – scraped my leg and rolled in the vomit filled concrete for a little while. Awesome. I cried and shoved about 37 (okay, 2) Advil down my throat and put one broken ankle in front of the other...I REALLY need to start doing ankle strengthening exercises again.

I just made myself keep with the plan and by mile 3, I had started to hit my stride and I was feeling good. I hit the turn around and started keeping my eyes peeled for friends on the course – Tommy, Bobbi, and Dave specifically. I saw Dave a couple of miles later and he was looking good – he ended up qualifying for Kona, so yeah, he looked good! And I saw Tommy again, in about the same place on the course, which meant that we were running about the same speed. He said he wasn't feeling too hot, but I didn't know what that meant – I just thought he meant that “hey, you know, I just biked 112 miles and now I'm halfway into a marathon”. Either way, it was so good to see him.

I rounded out lap #1 and headed back to town! The streets were lined and the crowd was enthusiastic - “Vamos Chreesty, Vamos!” The spectators were amazing – the locals really supported their race and came out in full force. They really liked it when a girl would pass because there weren’t that many of us and they would give me special hollers. It was awesome and so energizing to run through town. There was a marching band and the streets were lined 6 deep! I passed Team Blain, gave them all high fives and a big smile and kept on trucking. I was still feeling great...I was slow, but I felt great! I kept wondering if I should speed it up a little but then I decided I didn't know what would happen later and it wasn't worth the risk. The aid stations had finally gotten some Saltines, which I deemed to be about the same as pretzels, and Coke, so I was starting to feel revived. I passed Tommy again at about the same place and his smile kept me going for another 4 miles. The mosquitoes were coming out and they were evil. They were in my scalp, 20 were on my legs, on my face, it was terrible. Don’t tell anyone, but I gladly accepted outside assistance in the form of bug spray and let a wonderful spectator spray me down. The bug spray helped a little, but luckily the mosquitoes only lasted for about 30 minutes at sunset. Once the sun went down, the little terrorists went away.

I grabbed my special needs bag at mile 13ish – got a glow stick and a Redbull - and kept on running. I passed Tommy again on my way back to town, but it was a little further down than before, which meant I was gaining on him and I knew things weren't going well for him. I told him where Special Needs was (since it wasn't well identified) and told him that the Redbull is the magic drink!!

My second trip to town was much like the first except that my parents had moved down the street a little which spread out the love! It was so nice to have such a great support team there – it made the 3 trips back to town much more appealing!I told my mom that I couldn't believe I had to do another lap because while I felt pretty darn amazing considering, I REALLY REALLY REALLY wanted to be done. And at this point, more and more people were starting to finish (which means they finished and I turned around and headed back for more – ugh). I really couldn't believe I actually had to turn around and run another 8.8ish miles. Shoot me. I started talking with a guy who asked if I was on my second lap. I told him, no, I was just starting my third. He said that it was his second and I was like, “dude, the third one sucks so much.” He was not pleased to have this information. Haha. I am a big fan of a looped course because it gives spectators a better show and therefore makes it more fun for me, but man, starting that last lap was absolutely brutal.

I kept up my plan – walking at every other stop – and sped up the pace ever so slightly. I didn't see Tommy until about 3 miles in (instead of 2) and he said he was walking the rest. I knew he wasn’t feeling well if he was walking and I prayed that he would be okay. I hoped I could catch up with him so we could finish together, but I wasn't sure how that would work out. At the turn around, with 4ish miles left, I realized I had an hour to do 4-4.5 miles if I wanted to break 13 hours. Um, YEAH!! And since I was still feeling fantastic, I knew this was a sure thing. I think that was the very first time I actually knew I was going to finish and that I was going to be an Ironman.

Because 12:45 is basically the same at 12:59 in my mind, I took my time and started walking at every water stop...I figured I might as well enjoy it and eat as many snacks as I can! I paid for 17 hours of food – I should eat as much as possible! I still wanted to catch Tommy, so at every stop I would chug a water, wave my glowstick and yell his name in hopes that he would hear me. No luck.

I hit town for my final stretch and I tried to take it all in, but frankly, I couldn't tell you what it looked like. I was so overcome (and exhausted). And then, as I was approaching the final turn, I saw Team Blain and then I saw Tommy waiting for me so we could cross the finish line together. I was once again overcome. I was so happy to see him and so glad that we would be able to finish this journey together. I grabbed his hand and then, with the biggest smile of my life, we “sprinted” across the finish line of our first Ironman in 12:55:56.

I don’t remember much about finishing. I remember being SO happy to see Tommy. I remember waving my glowstick in the air and trying to keep my arm fat from flailing about because that’s not good for pictures. I remember hugging Tommy after we finished and being totally grossed out but loving it anyway. But I don’t remember actually running down the chute. I don’t remember the lights or the cameras or the people. I don’t remember them saying, “Christy, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN” (although, it turns out that they didn’t). I don’t remember crossing that finish line. I am very glad there is video. Thanks Thomas!

I ran that marathon in 5:13:35, average pace of 11:56 min/mile. It wasn't my fastest marathon as I had ridiculously hoped :), but it was my best and easiest. I enjoyed every single part of the marathon. My legs hurt at the beginning and at the end, but overall, I felt like a million bucks. I never hit a wall, I never got delirious, I never felt sick. It was crazy. I usually feel a little sick on a 10k! Hhaha. For the first time in my triathlon life, my run didn’t hurt my race (that much). I was in 27th place after the swim, 15th place after the bike and 17th place after the run. I normally end up at the back of the pack after the run, but only 2 girls passed me this time!! It was EASILY the best long run I have EVER had.

I thought the weather conditions on the run were pretty good, but once again, Slowtwitch disagreed. Everyone else thought it was humid and awful. I thought it was exactly what I had trained for (haha – yayy Houston!) and thought it was actually pretty cool and quite a nice evening for a run. I was never hot enough to pour water over my head, but apparently, I am in the minority here!


greyhound said...

OK, you were obviously on happy pills or something because you had waaaayyyyyyy too much fun on this race.

Love and Puppies, Christy said...

Hahaha - I'm gonna agree! I can promise you that I have never (EVER) enjoyed a long run as much as I enjoyed this one. I'm prtty sure someone spiked my gatorade.

Kim said...

amen greyhound - smiling? laughing? fun? i was having NONE of that on the run course! way to go!!! you kicked butt!