My alarm went off at 3:45am, after not really sleeping hard the entire night, even after taking many sleep aids. I was glad to finally get out of bed and start this day. I couldn't even picture what it would look like, but I knew once I jumped in the water my nerves would disappear. I met my buddies in the hotel lobby at 4:15, and Johnny drove us to transition. It was about 4:40am and transition didn't open until 5:15, so we sat. In line. There is a line for everything at Ironman! We numbly sat there, kinda cold, making small talk with people around us. But we were all in positive moods - the first major step of the day. We got into transition, put last minute things in order and air in our tires. Then we started the 3/4 mile walk to the swim start. Once we got there we go body marked and started our walk, probably another .5 mile to the end of the line. And there we waited again. Cold and numb. And it was still pitch dark. Jen Sieve and Sasha showed up and helped lighten the mood. This was pretty much their role the entire time. We had no idea they were coming to Louisville. They surprised us the night before (and so did Jen's brother, Scott)! It was exactly what we needed to lighten up and enjoy ourselves. We heard the gun go off at 7:30 and then it seemed like a sprint to the start. We were walking on a wet sidewalk, yet no one had been in the water yet and it hadn't rained. Ohhhhhh, pee. I could smell it and was disgusted, but hey, can't beat 'em, join 'em. So I did. At one point Cori looked at me and said, "Hey, you're pee is splashing me legs!" No sooner than we could get our swim caps, goggles and ear plugs in, we were jumping off the docks!
|4:15 am, ready to hit the road!|
|Swim line with our awesome support, Jen and Sasha!|
We felt like we were pretty far back in the swim line, but apparently we were near the beginning because we were in the water at 7:40am. It took until about 8:15am for everyone to get in the water. There are two docks lined with people jumping into the water about every second. Once you jump, you better start swimming or you will get jumped on. The water temp was a perfect 69 degrees. For the first 1500 meters or so, you swim up river in a small channel on the side of an island. Then once you get past the island, you make the turn to complete the remaining 2700 meters down river. I can tell you that I never really felt a current either direction. I felt a tiny bit in one spot on the way up, and then again at the swim exit. I was glad Louisville does a rolling start instead of a mass start so people are a little more spread out. However, I thought this would decrease my chances of getting mauled. It did not. I had people dunking me, kicking me, hitting me, etc. So I kicked and hit back. It's what you do. It seemed like we were in the river for quite a while, and I couldn't see our pace since my watch was in triathlon mode, but we finished in 1:21. That is a little slow for us, but what we didn't know was the bigger picture. You see, our friend Cori just taught herself how to swim, and had consistently been around 30 minutes behind Jen and I for this distance. But not on October 11th. Cori came to play, and we joke that God blew her down the river, because she finished in 1:32, only 11 minutes behind us!!! Of course we didn't know this until we were on the bike, but I can't tell you how proud I am of her overcoming her biggest fear, and bringing her PR for race day!
|Swim start - it was a little foggy.|
|You can see swimmers swimming up river on the right, and then down river on the other side of the island.|
|This is the swim finish. You can't even see the swim start, but it's way up there!|
After grabbing our T1 bag and heading into the changing tent, we spent a mindless 14 minutes changing clothes and getting ready to head out for the longest part of our day. The volunteers are very helpful in the tent, basically doing all your thinking for you and getting you dressed. We grabbed our bikes and hit the road. The first 20 miles is flat, and we have read many articles and tips telling us to take it easy here, you have a loooong day ahead of you. I could see how easy it would be to push it here, but Jen and I just kept saying to keep a nice easy pace, and we did. We ran into Maribeth along this part of the course too, so it was nice to check on each other and give good luck wishes. When we go to the out and back I was a little nervous. This is where they say all the bad wrecks happen and where the 2 horrible hills are. I purposely did not ride or drive the course beforehand, because I didn't want to know what was coming up and let my mind get off track. The out and back was beautiful! The trees were awesome and there were rocky cliffs going down to the river at the bottom. The hills were not bad at all, and that gave me hope for the rest of the day. Jen had some chain/derailer problems on the out and back and we had to stop multiple times to fix her bike. Still not sure why it was acting all funky. We saw a pretty nasty bike wreck and it looked like the guy may have broken his neck. Still want to hear how he is. An ambulance passed us on our way out. And Jen said, "Hey, did you see Cori?!?!" I didn't but it was an awesome feeling to know she was safely out of the water and not far behind us. We continued on, stopping for a couple of minutes at a time to let Cori catch us. But we didn't know if she ended up getting stuck behind that ambulance and how far that would set her back. So we decided we would wait to see our families in LaGrange to see where she is. LaGrange is an awesome spectator town that did not disappoint. Loud music, crazy people, and most importantly, our family! I was sooooo excited to see all their happy faces! They yelled that Cori was right behind us. Once we got out of the crowd and away from the bike marshals, Jen snuck a phone call to Johnny to see exactly how far she was behind us. FOUR MINUTES! So we pulled over at an intersection and waited for her. She started screaming when she saw us, scared the guy next to her! And then we were all a bit silent and choked up. We get to do this thing together, exactly how it should be. I knew we were going to finish. I don't have a lot of details about the bike other than the hills weren't as bad as people made them out to be, we nailed our nutrition, we spent a ton of time at the special needs bike stop eating potato chips and waiting in line for a porta-potty, we got to see Maribeth quite a bit, and seeing our friends and family gave us new life just when we needed it. We finished in 7:12, which was a fabulous time in our minds.
|Lap 1 - LaGrange|
|Lap 2 - LaGrange with our friend!!!|
|Maribeth - kicking ass and taking names!|
|Finally off this bike, so happy to see family!|
|Smile says it all!|
|Giving love to our people!|
Once we got off our bikes, we all knew there was no way we wouldn't finish this race. The bike is such an unknown. You could crash, you could have flat tires, so much can go wrong that can end your day. But now it was just our feet and the pavement. Our friends and family saw us out. Sasha was holding a sign that said, "You think this Ironman is hard? Try growing out bangs!" I swear, it's the little things like this that give you a boost. Our kids were beyond excited to see us, and our husbands were proud. Our goal was to run to each aid station, grab nutrition, and walk for about .1 of a mile. We only had to do this 26 times and then we were done. Our families were partying with a neighborhood around mile 6. We were all in good spirits, and we even got a shout-out from the DJ at the party! "Throw your hands up, Jen, Cori and Traci!" Again, something small, but a huge boost for us. We turned around and got to pass our families again. Then they left to go grab our bikes and gear bags and load the cars. They made it back to mile 13 to cheer us on again. This was right after we ran right next to the finish line and had to turn for lap 2. That mentally hurts, knowing you still have another 13.1 miles. Bad course design in my mind, but it did give us a preview to how awesome it was going to be to finish. Lap 2 was a little harder than lap 1. It was dark now, just like when we started our day many hours earlier. Our stomachs all took turns feeling nasty. Our bodies were stiff. Our feet were barely leaving the ground. But we never stopped. We never let our minds fill with negativity. We each chose a person to pray for every mile. It felt good, it took our minds off what we were doing, and it kept God close to us. We were getting a little delirious, but not bad. We were hitting our nutrition, even when we didn't want to. Everything sounded nasty, even water. But we kept eating, drinking and licking salt (to keep our electrolytes up). After dark they hand out warm chicken broth. It was actually pretty good. At one aid station I was searching frantically for the bread bowl I heard a volunteer offer. I was so excited to eat real food! Turns out she was yelling Red Bull. I could have cried! One of my biggest fears going into this was the fact that I would be missing FULL MEALS! I'm an eater, and I don't miss meals. I did get hungry a few times, but just ate Clif bars and potato chips to take the edge off. We were moving pretty slowly around mile 22, but we were still sticking to our run/eat/walk plan. Most spectators cheered us along saying we had great smiles and a great pace! When we got to mile 25 Jen's brother, Scott, was there. He was the final push we needed. He was telling us how awesome we were, how strong we looked, etc. The best part was watching him sprint to the finish line to beat us there! Once we turned onto 4th Street, we could see and hear the finish. It was magical and surreal. We ran down 4th Street, high-fiving everyone near us, smiling, and sprinting to the end. We went single file so we could each hear our names being called out. I missed mine though. Couldn't hear it over my loud screams! I was so excited. We finished! Alongside each other! Our run time was 6:03, for a total time of 15:15. This is about 45 minutes faster than I had planned for. I am an Ironman. And that is something no one can ever take from me.
|Cutest fans out there!|
|Well, these ones are pretty darn cute too!|
|Mile 6 - so happy to see our families!|
|It's a long day for them too. They were out there ALL.DAY.LONG.|
|Maribeth, doing her thang! This was also her first full marathon and she killed it!|
|Still smiling - even though it's dark!|
|Jen Spellman, you are an Ironman!|
|Traci Feezell, you are an Ironman!|
|Cori Ingram, you are an Ironman!|
|My favorite people in the world. I wouldn't have been able to do it without them.|
My lower back, feet and quads were a little sore the next day, and my quads again the following day. But I've been way worse off after a hard class at the Y. I didn't catch up on my sleep until yesterday, 4 days post race.
I owe this race to God and my support. God was with us the entire process. He knew all along that we would finish, and finish together. The weather was perfect, and honestly our entire race was perfect. Exactly what we had wished and prayed for. My friends are my strength. I couldn't and wouldn't have even tried this without them. My family is ready to have me back. They think clean clothes and hot meals are important. I am so blessed that I got to do this race with my husband and kids watching me. It truly meant the world to me that I could depend on them and get strength from their smiling faces. Will I do it again? No. Am I glad I did? Hell yeah!