Wednesday, May 21, 2014

So you want to be an Ironman: IM Texas race report

I have been waiting a long time to write this blog. Finally, I get to write about becoming an ironman. Four days post race and I still can't believe it. My body hurts everywhere and I am still a bit swollen and bloated, but it was so worth those magic words "You are an IRONMAN!" I think what makes this race even better was that my mom flew out to be my iron sherpa and my friend (and awesome bridesmaid) was doing the race as well!

I will spare you the details of the days leading up to the race (they were crazy) and instead skip to race day. We woke up at the bright and happy hour of 3:30 in the morning. Actually, it was 3:31 since I can only get up on odd numbers (don't ask). I think I was pretty much in denial still about what I was about to put my body through that day. I just couldn't think about it. Anyway, we made the drive to the race site and headed to transition so I could put my water bottles on my bike and double check my bags and bike. Then we made the walk to the swim start and that's when stuff got real. Once I was getting marked, I pretty much said "oh crap, wtf am I doing." But there was no turning back now! After I put a crap ton of sunscreen all over myself I headed to the swim start to get in line so I could be front and center for the start.

I was really looking forward to this swim. It was a mass start, so you get to swim with 2500 of your best friends, which means you get to beat the crap out of people and get beat up yourself. And usually its the douchebag men who think the can keep up with you so they decide they are going to dunk you underwater a few times (I hope you enjoyed the arm bar to the back of your head asshole). It was an in water start and they let you in with 15 min to go. I swear waiting for that cannon to go off took forever. I still wasn't nervous, and honestly, all I could think about was getting the race  over with so I could go back to bed. I know, I am weird. Finally, the cannon went off and all hell broke loose. IT WAS AWESOME. What a rush! That swim start was epic. You can see the video here My plan was to go into cruise control for the swim. Normally I like to race for the swim win, but I backed off a bit since I would still have 11 hours of racing to go. Halfway through the swim I realized I was actually doing an ironman. Holy crap, today is the day I become an ironman. I actually got emotional, which was the theme of the day. Eventually, the swim was over and I was actually faster than I thought I was. I had just cruised 56 min swim with very little effort!

I ran out, grabbed my bike bag, and headed to the change tent. I got out of there as fast as I could and saw my mom when I was grabbing my bike and heading out of transition. Oh man, 112 miles seems so daunting. I actually broke it up into 10 mile increments to make it more manageable. When I looked at my 24 mile split, I realized I was having an awesome bike and I definitely crushed people on the middle rollers (thank you mountainous training)! The bike was actually pretty uneventful and I really just wanted to get to that run. Finally, I reached transition after a 6 hr and 30s bike split. I was 30 damn seconds off my sub 5 goal, but I rocked that bike.

Oh god the marathon. The make or break of the ironman, The Texas course is 3 loops. It was actually awesome because there are so man spectators to cheer you on! I wanted to start slower because I knew this was going to be the longest 26.2 miles of my life. The first 10 miles went according to plan - I was actually descending. It really is the most amazing feeling to realize you are actually going to make it to that finish line. I admit there were a few times on the run I teared up just because I was actually going to do this! Once I got to loop 2, it started to hurt! I actually was still on pace, but really fighting to hold it. Loop 3. Nothing ever has ever been as beautiful as loop 3. 8 friggin miles to go. I was still holding pace, but it was starting to creep up. I just started counting down those miles and ticking off the aid stations. Mile 22. Absolute wall. It was at that point my 4:30 goal was out the window and I realize I could hold 15 min miles and still make it under 5 hours for the marathon. I still don't know how I made it through those last 4.2 miles. It was sheer determination to put one foot in front of the other. And then, I saw it, that beautiful 25 mile sign. 1.2 miles to go. At that point I slowed down to soak in that moment. It was 1.2 miles of victory. When I split off the loop to head to the finish I lost it. All the emotion of the day came pouring out. I cried happy tears and high fived spectators as much as I could. This was my ironman moment!!! I was actually doing it! And then you hear it, "Lani, you are and IRONMAN!" You cross that finish and it is absolute bliss. My mom had gotten VIP tickets to watch me finish, and I saw her crying so it just made me lose it again. I had just done a 12:02 ironman as a first time (if I had know I was on that pace, I really would have found some way to get under 12 hours - next time!)!

Anyway, I got about 300 ft from the finish line and my entire body just stopped working. Luckily, we were right next to the EMT's so they got my vitals and my blood pressure was high and I was so damn cold and throwing up, so I was carted off to the med tent. I have to admit, I kinda felt like a badass that I had pushed my body that hard, which is probably not the best way to view it. They loaded blankets on to me, gave me anti nausea meds, and chicken soup to get my electrolytes up. The funny part is, that in all of the frenzy to get to the med tent I never took off that finisher medal. HAH! Once I was feeling better, I got to go get my bike and gear from transition and get my damn McDonald's french fries. So deliciously salty!

I think the one thing I was not expecting, were the after effects of the ironman on your body chemistry. Today is the first day I have felt human since the race, as my swelling and bloating has gone down. I couldn't even get my jeans over my legs on Monday! Despite all the pain, chafing, swelling, generally loss of body functionality, I am going to do this again, but for now I am going to focus on the Silverman 70.3, which is just a half ironman :).


Dr. Lani Seaman, Ironman :)