Saturday, October 27, 2012

Kona 2012- Bike and Run

The Bike

Managed to get my bike stuff together and basically stumble onto my bike. I was thinking "This is awful.. I can't believe I am feeling so bad so soon!" Instead of enjoying the fact that I was at Kona, I felt like I might not be able to finish. I told myself to just spin the out and back section and get myself together. I put my Garmin screen on 3 second average to save my ego a little bit, knowing there wouldn't be any sort of information I'd be happy to see.

This was definitely at the beginning. 

The main  issues were stomach pain, extreme thirst, and being disoriented. I chugged the two bottles of liquid on my bike and hoped it wouldn't be too long before the first aid station. There I grabbed and chugged two more full bottles. The whole ride I didn't absorb anything.. I ate and drank diligently for the first couple of hours and my stomach just got bigger and bigger.. I couldn't throw up and I looked like I was getting closer and closer to my due date. Actually, after the race my stomach skin was really sore from the quick stretching.

To be honest I don't remember much about the course.. I kindof missed the chance to look around.. just had to focus on moving forward. The other issue I didn't mention is that circumstances necessitated that I switch to a new (and different) saddle and adjusted position two days before the race. No one has to tell me how un ideal that is, but I truly didn't have a choice. SO ... in addition to everything else, my poor glutes, more emphasized in the adjusted position, basically fatigued out after about two hours so I had to sit up and spin.

So bottom line is that I felt pretty crummy.. but I still thought I could perhaps finish. There I was.. riding around sitting up into the forty mph winds, with useless glutes, a cranky attitude and a massive gut and unable to absorb any food or water. To put it in perspective, I drank at least 240 ounces and didn't pee the entire race.

I think in terms of a tough ride perspective, I can probably count on one hand the rides that compared to this one. One was the death ride in Cartersville this summer where I alternated crying, shivering with heat exhaustion chills, and hoping that I would see a H and an arrow pointing me a to a hospital on the route. The other one was Ironman St. George which was eerily similar to this one... I felt like crap, it lasted forever, and I fantasized about running off the road into an ambulance so I could have an excuse to rest. Finally, possibly one of the long rides I did going down Fulton Industrial Boulevard several weeks ago where I almost blacked out due to lack of oxygen (trying to get into Zone 3 during the month of bronchitis) So, my comfort was basically that, in some ways, I was quite prepared for this ride! Overall, the whole thing was Not exactly how I pictured it going several months ago, but things happen!

The Run

I was quite happy to get off my bike. I tried to put on a brave face for friends and family but I have to say it was tough. I just kept running over and over in my head.. how did I miscalculate so badly? My race 'plan' was to enjoy the experience as much as possible but it was really tough because I just hurt so much. The thought of walking the marathon hurt slightly more, thank goodness. Also, I thought if any of my friends at home actually stayed up late enough to track, they would totally be cursing me for literally making them stay up the whole night!

Still jogging through this was one of the hardest things I've done. You know the Bob Seebohar approach to metabolic efficiency.. "teaching your body to burn fat as fuel?" Well I skipped all the introductory, intermediate, and any sort of recommended steps and went whole hog straight to no food/no water during an Ironman! I was actually kindof amazed that I could jog.. I have practiced though.. I sure have had bricks where I failed to fuel and hydrate appropriately and have forced myself to complete the time regardless. This is definitely not recommended as an ongoing path to improvement, but I do believe that you have to know that you can run or jog in any circumstances. Practicing that is definitely, in my mind, the only way I got through this run.

So, as I said, I did manage to keep jogging. In the words of a friend doing a recent Ironman who may not wish to be quoted by name " I didn't walk, I just had to stop a lot!" The run was the much awaited return of the puking. Puking felt so much better and I was glad that I could entertain the spectators with a proper display of suffering befitting of the Hawaii Ironman. :) I pretty much alternated every other mile.. one mile I would hit the portojohn and the next I would take some time to hurl, then repeat.

I still was trying to at least drink, but still wasn't absorbing any fluids. In all this time, the whole route was amazing. I saw tons of family, friends and everyone was so supportive. I have to admit though, at times I wished for No spectators because it was really tough to put on a happy face.

So I slogged through with the described pattern till approximately mile 16, when I had to stop and hurl several times again. After I was done with that, though, I suddenly felt a tiny bit different and the twisting gut pain dissipate somewhat. At the next aid station, I took some more water and coke and suddenly felt as though it might stay down. It took a couple more miles after that, but around mile 18 I suddenly felt a little spark in my brain, like after these many hours it was finally getting a tiny hit of caffeine, fluid, and sugar.

And amazingly, I was able to pick it up. I had totally (and purposely) lost track of time at this point, the only thing I knew for sure is that it got dark early and I would finish well after dark.  Heading out to the energy lab, the sun was already on it's way down before six. I started doing math in my head just based on the sun and realized that if I booked it, like a lot, I might be able to finish before seven.

The body is an amazing thing. Somehow as soon as I was able to actually get the tiniest amount of food and water, it was like none of that abuse that came before mattered.  It was starting to get really dark as I headed into the Energy Lab, and I just kept running faster and faster.  Just a little sugar and water was all it took for my mood to change, too. I went from really down to totally engaged. On the way back out of the Energy Lab, they were handing out glowsticks and I kept refusing one. Nothing wrong with a glowstick, but I hadn't planned on taking one, so I didn't want it. When a man finally insisted I take one, I carried it for a minute then looped it around a cone.

I was finally having the time of my life.. running down Ali-i as fast as I could, in the pitch black, trying to beat the clock still.. just like the hundreds of people before me as well as the hundreds of people after. My wonderful parents came all the way out there to cheer me on again, and I kept asking them "what time is it" I was so focused on my new goal, the one I made, to be able to do this one aspect of the race like I had planned.

There is nothing like the last few miles of Ironman Hawaii. You can hear the voice from several miles away. And the downhill in the last six miles is sweet! I love running downhill and somehow I ran fast again. I haven't looked at my splits much but I did see that the last 1.2 miles were supposedly a 5:38 average. That seems a little suspect to me, but I don't think it was really that far off. While some people's vision of the ideal finish is doing goofy poses, or high fiving everyone on the sidelines, the only thing I want to do is run fast (and therefore practice for future fast finishes on the run :) ) It was so crowded and the lights were blinding. About half a mile out I saw Paul and Jim running along and yelling  (Impressive that Paul could still run after his own IM) After that it got too bright and crowded and I couldn't see anyone.. I knew John and his parents and everyone else were somewhere in the crowd though. I ran through and tried to do a really good jersey point, but I'm not sure if it really turned out.

Post Race

Lessons learned.. don't drink seawater.. and expected the unexpected as always.

There is no race like this one. Before going I brushed a lot of it away as hype and figured it wasn't everything  that everyone said. It isn't fact, it is Way better. It isn't just the race itself, it's all the activity and the whole scene and history behind it that make it so amazing. I feel so blessed to have been a part of it.. and if anyone every asks I will say it is worth it to go whether it's to participate or spectate.

I should also mention that Bob Seebohar does not condone trying to better 'use fat for fuel' by going fuel-less during an Ironman :)

Surfing a couple of days after

Me and Macca

Awesome supportive cheering section :) 

View from our place

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