Crap....really? Now a marathon?? No...just one mile at a time. Deep breath. ALL THINGS, not just the easy things.... As I started running I realized nothing hurt!!! It was just like in training. I felt pretty darn good actually!! But I knew I was seriously behind on nutrition so I started trying to drink the EFS in my Fuel Belt bottles. YUCK. About that time I was running alongside a tall blond gal who was going about my pace. I found out her name was Emily and she was from Hawaii! We decided we would be seeing a lot of each other as we ran to finish the first Iron Man for both of us. I told her I knew if we kept the pace under 13:30 we'd make it. Easy peasy lemon squeezy!! More EFS. YUCK.
The run was GORGEOUS. I wish I had been able to wear a GoPro camera to record the whole thing (well at least the first about 8ish miles that was in the daylight!) It ran up a little hill to the back of a resort/hotel, down by the Truckee River on a bike/running trail. My coach had encouraged me to only allow myself to walk "trashcan to trashcan" at each aid station and only then if I thought I absolutely HAD to. I pretty much started a walk run from the start. I made sure my average stayed right around 13 and at mile 7 I started drinking Coke. (EFS was NOT working for me at that point and I knew I needed calories. The trouble with Coke is that once you start drinking it, you can't stop so I had it at every mile, along with some chicken broth after the sun went down.)
The run is a bit of blur. Emily and I ran/walked together a good bit, then she would walk or I would walk (or stop to use the port o potty---I knew I was hydrated when I started having to stop at almost every mile!). At about mile 8 (just before the first turn around) I got a space blanket to wrap around my shoulders. It was SO COLD--even with arm warmers. I told myself if I could just keep running I wouldn't be so cold but that wasn't working. After I put my "superhero cape" on, I got into a pretty good running groove until I got to the special needs bags and traded my cape for my vest. I trashed the EFS having already emptied the bottles from my fuel belt. When I got to about mile 14 I saw my sweet husband!! I immediately took off the fuel belt and gave it to him to hold onto. A quick kiss and I was off again.
I think it's a cruel thing to take people so close to the finish line only to have them turn around for another loop. At the same time, getting that close to all the cheering and music and hearing, "so and so, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN" motivated me that much more.
I honestly never doubted I would make it once I had gotten to the run. I knew I would be able to "easily" walk/run my way to the finish failing something crazy. It was cold and I wasn't feeling particularly fresh, but I never once thought I wouldn't make it. When I got out to Dwayne again he showed me photos from my daughter and my friends who were cheering me on at home. I knew it was already so late back home people were wanting to get to bed, but I also knew I didn't HAVE to push. I took some very good advice from a friend, I soaked in EVERY SINGLE MOMENT. I listened to the music at the aid stations, I laughed at the crazy disco costumes, I watched the fireworks someone was setting off, I started running a bit harder at the prompting of a spectator who was banging a pan with a wooden spoon saying, "this is a no walking zone...you must at least shuffle! YOU CAN DO IT". I smiled as people called my name (I loved having my name on my race bib!!).
When I got to the last turn around I told the volunteer--I'M HEADED HOME!!!
I came into aid station number 4 (for the 4th and final time), a volunteer said, "ONLY 2.5 MILES TO GO!!!" I looked at my watch and saw that I had an hour. I could walk it (but I wouldn't because I felt GREAT!!). I saw Dwayne and was about as happy as I could be when he said, "okay, honey, only 7.5 miles to go!!". I actually yelled at him. "NO, TWO AND A HALF!!!" He looked at me and patted my arm like "oh you poor thing...you're delirious". I told him, "the guy just said 2.5 and MY WATCH says TWO POINT FIVE!!!" It was like I had told him we had won the lottery!! He practically jumped up and down and said, "YOU'RE GOING TO MAKE IT!!!!" to which I said, "YES!!! YES I AM!!!" He hugged me and sent me on my way.
As I came into Squaw I realized just how cold it really was at that point but I knew it was almost over. I started looking up at the stars and thanking God for this day. Thanking Him for the strength to finish. Thanking Him for this experience. About that time I saw someone with MY HAT. ((I had given Dwayne one job for the day-to make sure I had my cowboy hat at the finish line. When he got the chance to go with the photographer I didn't think he would be able to get it to me, and since I had just seen him at the aid station I never expected to get it...but he had set it up before hand to have someone there with it for me!!)) I grabbed it from my new friend and headed into the village to cheers of "giddy up cowgirl!!", "nice hat", and "YEE HAW"...interspersed with cheers of my name! When I got to the finisher's chute, I saw people holding their hands out for high fives on both sides...so I zig-zagged my way to the finish line hitting as many of them as I could. I heard Mike Riley say, "DANA......" (I didn't hear "YOU ARE AN IRONMAN" but that's okay because a nice volunteer was standing there with MY MEDAL!!!
I ran into this poor guy's arms and jumped on him as if he had just saved my life!!!! When he put me down and put the medal on me I realized it was CHRIS "BIG SEXY" MCDONALD!!! And...that meant he had won the race!!!!!!! I told him congratulations again and then realized my husband was standing BESIDE ME in the finisher chute!! (His media badge had given him very special access that he wouldn't have had otherwise!!) A volunteer wrapped a space blanket around my shoulders and Dwayne led me out of the way of the other finishers where I stopped and hugged him, breaking down into dehydrated tearless SOBS of joy.
God had really gotten me to the finish line. I had done it. I was an IRON MAN. And, through Him I had done it on what was arguably the toughest course out there.
Run time: 5:44:47
Total time 16:24:50
I do have a few more posts I want to make, not the least of which is thank yous. I'll start now by saying thank YOU for hanging in there with me...I know this was long and drawn out, but I know memories are already fading and it's only bee a little over a week. I wish I had a 16.5 hour video of the whole thing. It was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. And one of the most rewarding.