112 miles gives you a long time to think about how to handle the next step of the race. When I ran into T2, I knew precisely what I needed in what order and began issuing orders to my nice volunteer (pink shirt first! now the shorts and Body Glide!). I didn’t notice that she untied my shoes (I had them set to slide my feet in without tying) until it was too late but still…I did manage a 3 minute T2. In Ironman? That’s pretty good!
And then I was off with just 26.2 miles of foot power between me and the finish line!
Telling my peeps that THEY ARE THE BEST!!!
I knew that so many people were going to have pushed too hard on the bike and blow up on the marathon. My plan for the day involved not doing the same. My bike time may have been slow but it was well paced for my running legs to take off from there. I headed out on the marathon – OMG, let’s say that again, shall we? THE MARATHON THAT I WAS GOING TO RUN AFTER SWIMMING 2.4 MILES AND BIKING 112 MILES – feeling fantastic. While I was feeling zippy and carried on the wings of my spectators’ cheers, I knew I needed to dial back the pace early to have legs later so I slowed myself to the planned run pace. It felt like I was jogging in place, it was so slow. But I was moving forward – forward IS a pace – and I was passing people left and right.
~3.5 miles in and happy to see my crew!
The first loop of the run course flew by fairly comfortably. An Ironman run course stocked with spectators is a wonderful thing – with your name on your bib, EVERYONE is saying a little something encouraging, cheering for you, making you smile. It’s one way to feel like a total rock star.
I was still really happy when I went off on the second loop. “Just a little 17 mile run from here!” At no point did my legs ever feel tired, but I had some minor GI issues in the 2nd lap and worked a run/walk strategy (something like walk 2, run 8 and so on) to get through it and let my stomach settle. Eventually I decided to switch off from taking the Gu gels and find something at the aid stations that would be compatible with my stomach. Sucking the juice out of orange slices ended up working perfectly.
On to the third and final loop and I knew it wasn’t that far to the finish! I was getting some nice cheers from spectators, encouragement from athletes who were walking and amazed I was holding a strong pace, and more than a few dirty looks from people who had bonked hard. My spectators said I looked happy and strong throughout and that’s pretty much how I felt. Even walking, I was power-walking at a fast pace, pushing to get to the next mile marker or aid station and that much closer to the end. Of course I was also constantly doing the math trying to see when I would finish, if I could make any specific times, etc.
Even 2 miles out, I wasn’t sure I would make 15 hours. But I picked up the pace and ran like I only had 2 miles left to finish an Ironman! No more aid station stops, no more time to thank the spectators, just bust ass to the end McNamara!
When I finally took the turn To Finish Line instead of To 2nd/3rd Loops, I outran 2 girls in the last 1/4 mile to make sure I got to the end by 15 hours. Around the corner and suddenly from the dark it’s bright lights, cameras, bleachers full of cheering people and there…just up there…the most beautiful sight ever: the finish! I had the biggest smile, I was too happy to even cry like I thought I would. This was it – I WAS DOING IT, I HAD DONE IT, I WAS DONE!!!