As I sit here eating cheddar and caramel popcorn I wonder how I ran a marathon a little over 2 weeks ago…
I wasn’t sure how my body was going to feel going into the run. As soon as I started running I realized how happy I was to be off the bike but I also realized it wasn’t going to be an easy 26.2 miles to the finish (is it possible to have an easy 26.2 miles to run?). Coming out of transition was exciting because there were tons of spectators cheering. As soon as I got in front of the Olympic Oval I saw some of my family and my friends. One of my best friends, Gretchen, was there with her cute pregnant self holding a sign that said, “You run better than our government.” I immediately burst out laughing and got a nice kick of energy.
Before I knew it I was running down the big hill on the way out of town. It felt nice running down that but I knew on the way back that I would definitely be dragging myself up that hill. There was a great cheering section all the way until the ski jumps where I headed down another steep hill. I knew that one was going to suck on the way back, too. I started to get tired. It was blazing hot outside and I was feeling it. My plan for the marathon had been that I was going to run, I would only walk at the aid stations when necessary. Well, I made it to the first timing mat which was the first 5k and that’s when I first told myself it was okay to walk.
What’s funny is that when I was running I felt good. I had good form and felt solid. I would just get to the point where I needed to walk. I don’t know how to explain it. I made a point to try to make it from aid station to aid station but as the run went on I didn’t make it from aid station to aid station. I just kept trying to be positive and to just focus on myself and no one else.
At each station I made it a point to take a water and drink it and take another and splash it on my body. I also made sure to get ice and put it in my hat, sports bra, and down my triathlon suit. I knew I was keeping my body cool when I still had ice jiggling in my sports bra after a while. I know that my nutrition during the run SUCKED. I just didn’t want to eat anything. I ate a pack of my Bonk Breaker Chews but it was painful getting them down. I tried to eat more gels but ended up just holding them in my hand for a long time hoping I would get the urge to eat them (that never happened). Gatorade made me gag. The smell of Red Bull (I still can’t believe this was offered, GROSS) made me want to hurl. I really did enjoy the oranges. They tasted amazing. So as you can tell, I wasn’t replenishing my body like I should have been.
When I made it to the turnaround I was so freaking happy. I would only have to come back to that point one more time! I did see a lot of friends out on the course which was comforting. It was just nice to be around people you knew during that sufferfest of a marathon.
Before I even got to the hill in front of the ski jumps I told myself to walk it. There was no point in running when my walk was probably faster at that point. I power walked that hill with a purpose and started running again at the top. I made my way back into town and was in awe of the cheering. It was awesome! Someone had a horn for people who ran up the hill, it was funny. This is where I saw my coach. I told him how I was feeling and how I fell off my bike on the ride. Seeing him gave me a nice boost. At that point he told me to run my own race and not to worry about anyone else but myself. I told him I would and just kept on smiling. Right after that I saw one of my Betty Designs teammates, Ginny, and she made me smile even more. She was so encouraging. I remember telling her how much of a bitch the hill was. I said it with a smile, though!
After I dragged myself up the hill I was heading towards Mirror Lake drive about to finish up the first half of the marathon. I loved running through there. Seeing friends and family was such a mental boost. Once I made it to the turn around on Mirror Lake Drive I definitely started to fade. I just kept telling myself I had a half marathon left. That was easy. 13.1 miles was easy. I did training runs all summer that were 15 miles plus. I could do it. Before I knew it I was headed back out for one last loop. Before I made it off of Mirror Lake Drive I saw the first place female go down. Her body just gave out. She was literally dragging herself on the ground. I felt so bad for her. I kept going but later I heard that she was taken off the course and wasn’t able to finish! The woman who won the race was actually in first place the whole race until the last 2 miles of the race when the woman I saw go down passed her.
When I got past the first aid station I started to feel nauseous. If you have followed me through all my training you would know I have had some pretty nasty stomach issues on many of my long runs. I got worried that I was going to be in a bad state the rest of the run. Instead of risking upsetting my stomach more I walked. I walked a lot. Whenever I was walking I didn’t slump over, I walked proud and stayed focused. When I got to the second aid station a Base Salt representative noticed I looked like I was hurting and gave me some drink that they were handing out. I remember him telling me I’d feel amazing after drinking it. Well, the smell made me want to gag but I sipped on some hoping he was right.
During this uncomfortable time some guy was chatting my ear off. I don’t mean just talking about the race and how we were doing. He told me his whole triathlon life story and how great he was. He had just started swimming in the winter, blah blah blah. He just wouldn’t stop! I needed my own space so even though I felt like crap I started running so I could get away from him (This doesn’t mean I don’t like talking to people on the course. I talked to a lot of great people and we helped each other in dark times. This guy just wanted me to know how great he was and I was not in the mood for him.)
Somehow I started to feel better and was happy my stomach issues were gone. I tried to run as much as I could at this point. I would see a telephone pole or a tree and tell myself I could walk/run to that point. Once I made the turn at the turnaround I was pumped. I knew I had 6-7 miles to go. Under normal circumstances that would take me an hour or less. Not during this race. I remember looking at my watch and realizing I was going to come in under 13 hours even if I walked a lot. I’ll talk about what my goals were heading into the race sometime soon.
On the way back I was hurting but I was so excited I was headed to the finish. I walked the two big hills like a champ. I walked more than I ever dreamed about walking but that’s how my day turned out. Once I made it back up to Mirror Lake Drive I realized I was about to finish the race. I was exhausted. As much as I wanted to run the last 2 miles like a champ I couldn’t. I did a nice run/walk to the turnaround. Once I made it closer to the last aid station I told myself to run and not to stop until I crossed the finish line.
As I was running towards the oval I peaked over my shoulder. I was happy no one was near me so I would have a nice solo finish line experience. I headed into the oval and first saw my friend Scott and my mother-in-law. As I made my way through the oval I started seeing lots of familiar faces. I saw my coach and lit up once I saw him. I saw family. I saw friends. Once I rounded the curve I could see the finish line. I couldn’t believe it was over. There was the carpet. There was the finish line. I had done it. I started moving a little bit quicker and raised my hands. For a second I felt myself tear up. If you know me, you know I am not emotional and I don’t cry. Well, all of a sudden I realized that my husband was standing at the finish line waiting for me and I started laughing. I do remember hearing my name announced, but what will stay with me forever is hearing Mike Reilly say, “The Zipp Chick, you did it, girl!” My friend Greg who works for Ironman orchestrated that and Mark being at the finish line for me. THANK YOU SO MUCH GREG!!!!!
Once I crossed the finish line I ran right to Mark and he put my medal on. I was done. It was over. I was greeted by Elyssa (she finished 20 minutes before me and waited for me to finish), Eric, and Derk. I am pretty sure the first words I uttered were, “I am never doing that again.” I told them I felt fine. I asked Derk to drain the blood blister on my thumb (he was working in Medical) and he refused, ugh! I also made my way to the fence and saw my family and coach.
After I made sure someone grabbed my finishers shirt and hat for me (priorities, people!) I hunted down some food with Mark. Nothing really appealed to me until I was talking with a friend and she had a salted soft pretzel. She said she didn’t want it and I happily ate it for her. It tasted AMAZING. Once I finished eating I wanted to get out of the finish area. I wanted to go see my friends and family!
I met up with my family and some friends and we made our way back to the house. Yes, I walked back to the house! It actually didn’t feel that bad minus my feet and back. My feet were in a lot of pain from the blisters that were forming from my water logged feet (from all the water I dumped on myself). My lower back felt like someone beat me with a baseball bat (not that I know what that actually feels like but I assume it’s pretty bad). I was pretty impressed that I only had those two issues. Once we made it home we hung out for a bit and talked about the race. Eventually I showered and got ready to head back into town to watch the midnight finish!
My parents drove us into town. At that point I couldn’t bear walking another 1.5 miles. The end of the Ironman is such an amazing event. It’s a huge party cheering on the athletes that have been on the course for 16 hours plus. I have witnessed it 3 times now and it touches me every single time.
During the last hour we all just hung out on the hill overlooking the finish line. We got ice cream (healthy post-race meal) and just had a blast watching the end. I don’t remember much about the rest of the night once we got home… All I know is that I went to bed on July 26th, 2015 as an Ironman!
Run Time: 4:50:06 (11:04/mile)
Total Race Time: 12:44:43, 12/49 25-29 Age Group, and 107th OA Female.