Lessons Learned On My Ironman Journey (Ironman Louisville Finisher Race Report)

At about Mile 20 of the Marathon – when it seemed very unlikely I would make the finish line by the 17 hour cutoff, I started writing this blog post in my head. At that time, it was entitled “No Regrets…but No Ironman.” Wonder of wonders…I made it.

I am writing this post first – I will likely “backfill” with my experiences of the day, links to videos, photographs, and the like. But for me, this was the most important bit to get down while still at least somewhat “fresh.”

Ohio River bridge at swim end

I started on my Ironman Journey 10 months ago (as is obvious if you scroll back in this blog). I was a Couch Potato of quite epic sedentary proportions. I hadn’t worked out in 3 years. But one of my beliefs is that if you have something that you have really SWORN to yourself that you will do in your life, and you have not done it, then that adds an enormous amount of (often unconscious) Stress in your life until you “release” it…or do it.

In the late 80s (when I was in my early 20s), I was an (Olympic-distance) triathlete. I wasn’t particularly good – sort of back/middle of the pack. But one evening, over a few beers and leafing through the newly-launched Triathlete magazine, I told a group of girls I ran with that I wanted to do The Ironman (there was only one then) before I turned 50. Their reaction was basically to hoot with laughter; there was “no way” that someone “like me” could do such a thing.

Which, of course, got me into serious “I’ll show THEM!” mode!

Maria, Paula and me

Flash forward, and I’m 47, dealing with a lot of Stress, a couch potato, dozens of pounds overweight, and at a Tony Robbins Unleash The Power Within long weekend (the firewalk was the easiest thing we did). During the portion of the weekend that deals with Health I uncovered this long-forgotten memory.  I tried to release the memory – no dice. So I realized I would have to “realize” it. Crap.

If you want to know more about the journey, well, page back in this blog. It was quite the journey, that’s for sure, ending of course with a spectacular bike crash 2 weeks out from the actual 2010 Ironman in Louisville.

me and the Belle of Louisville

As a Life Coach, I teach my clients how to break an “impossible” goal into actionable steps. I also teach that having part of the goal tied to benefiting others will springboard your dream into reality far, far quicker. So, I trained for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society – and in my first time ever raising money, raised over $9,300 to cure cancer. In turn, everyone that HAS leukemia, lymphoma, and the like is praying for a cure – and therefore, praying for ME. If you make sure your goal has a specific component that will benefit others from the beginning, you will become the “answer to prayers.” There is no better way to PULL your own goals into reality.

But back to the Ironman.

My friend and IronTeammate Maria found a quote that I adopted early on – Your Ironman Event is really just a 140.6 mile Victory Lap celebrating the Journey that it took to get there. Whether you finish the race in time, or wind up outside of your imagined goals, you were prepared on that day to do your best IF you did every thing that was in your scheduled training. If you did not do everything in the Plan and didn’t make it, then that’s your choice – but you can’t class yourself with others who did it all and fell a bit short. I personally believed that I could finish the Event in about 15-16 hours – but there were some unanticipated moments along the way (including a bike crash, a heat index of 110 degrees, and belatedly finding out that Louisville is considered one of the Top 10 hardest bike courses on the circuit!). I wound up finishing at 16:58:51 – or, in other words, I crossed the finish line with 1 minute, 9 seconds to “spare.”

As a microcosm of all I learned throughout the entire Journey, from the time I entered Louisville until I left, these are my lessons from Ironman Louisville 2010.

Plan, Plan, Plan. Maria and I had done a lot of studying, investigating, and talking about various Ironman “strategies” and plans – from those our coaches promulgated, to those we found online. When we found information, our strategy was to Trust, but Verify. By the time we got on the plane to Louisville, we each had checklists, strategic plans, and the like that made us feel very comfortable. However, at the North Bay team dinner the Friday 2 days before

gear bags, before stuffing

the event, folks tried to make us feel like we were being “manic” in our preparation, and that we were “making the other team members freak out” and “didn’t know where the information we were treating as Gospel had really come from.” We were carrying electrolyte drinks with us unlike any of the others, we had practiced for a week getting out of the shower, dumping a bag of our bike clothes on the floor and getting into them wet, etc. This is what we needed to feel prepared. And we got “guff” for it. Perhaps they were trying to make us feel “better” by saying that we should not “listen to others” who “might not know what they were doing” (e.g., sift through race reports, etc. on the internet) – but in fact, we knew exactly what we were doing. Make sure that you plan, read, review, analyze, and discuss with a trusted compatriot  or coach your strategies for success – and don’t let anyone naysay you later. If you have done a lot more than others have done they will call you “manic” or “anal.” Don’t listen. Cover all the bases. “Luck” is what happens when you have planned for every contingency – and have Plans B, C and D in the bag…and a Plan E when the bag splits open!


Accept Help Along The Way.

The awesome L.A. Team in Training team helped us secure a great swim start spot; my Dad and friends became my “IronMinions” for the Event, etc. Whatever your goal is – don’t do it alone. And for goodness’ sake, don’t be a martyr. Figure out how to let others help you in a way that will make you both feel great. When the L.A. Team was coming in on their 2nd loop on the Run (and I was going out on my first), their energy and “Go Team” shouts at me propelled me forward like nothing else – which I believe I helped “instigate” by mentioning – in an all-team pre-race lunch – that I hoped when they passed me on the course, they would shout out my nickname.

On the “Helping” note, there were 2,900 athletes in the Ironman (1300 newbies), and over 5,000 Volunteers. They are there to serve you. Use them. But treat them with the respect that they deserve. A kind word, a huge smile, and asking someone’s name will go a very, very long way towards getting what you need. Personally, I was wearing a Camelbak, so a volunteer would need to mix up a “potion” for me, pour it into the Camelbak, fill it with water, put ice in my helmet (more on that later) and so on. By stopping,

Dad and Susan Afan at 430 am

pointing to a specific volunteer, and then asking his or her name, I actually know I made their day (I’ve been that volunteer), and they made mine. Don’t go it alone. Use the resources. Be sure you know specifically what you need (based on your plans and previous test-runs), accept it graciously, and get going. If you didn’t plan, or didn’t do all the workouts, or don’t use the resources available, gut check: Are you just being a victim or a martyr so you can “complain” about how “hard” things were?

Help Others, But Only with No Regrets. Help Yourself, But Don’t Dawdle. Would I have been less “Iron” had I crossed at 17:00:01? No. I did every workout, planned, and then worked that plan. That just means I’d shot the arrow and missed the mark – that day. “Stuff Happens.” But would I call myself an “Ironman” or get the tattoo? No again. Maybe it’s because I’m just a hard-*ssed attorney at heart, but you ain’t if you ain’t. You can say you did the distance, but if you didn’t do a sanctioned race in the time, calling yourself an “Ironman” cheapens it for us who dug deep and did it. Fine, hate me. But that’s what I believe.

Will at 130 am PST ready to support me all day with good energy

My friend Will made me look in his eyes before I left, because he had many regrets with respect to HIS Ironman Event experience. He doesn’t call himself an “Ironman,” because he did the distance but was 13 minutes over the finish time after helping 3 people with bike problems and the like. When I was leaving, he made me PROMISE that every time I did anything on Race day, I would do it with No Regrets. So had I indeed finished outside the “allotted time,” I absolutely knew that I had raced my race with No Regrets. I remembered that admonition each and every time I did something that caused me to stop.

  • I stopped at about Mile 5, because a guy was broken down on the side of the road and when I asked if he was OK, he said “oh yeah, you don’t happen to have a TIRE do you?” I said No, then realized that YES, I did – last thing H folded and stuffed into my Camelbak was my ($50) training tire. I wasn’t able to stop immediately, but about 2 blocks later at a police car I was. I had one of the police get the tire out of the Camelbak, and run it back to the guy on the road. Hope he got it. No Regrets.
  • A few miles later, I passed my TNT Teammate Maria, and wished her well and commented that she had ROCKED the swim! I don’t hear very well, and as I passed she was saying something but I just filled it in as her wishing me luck as I had wished her luck. But I kept hearing my name, as I went down the road. That had to mean she needed help. I checked my No Regrets meter, and knew that I wanted to stop and help. She had a problem with her tire. I could see it, and where it
    Leann spraying me with sunscreen SPF 10,000

    was rubbing – it looked like the tire was sort of “misshapen” but I couldn’t see how to fix it and it actually looked like the tire was otherwise OK. So after a few minutes of us tinkering with it, she rode on. (You’ll have to go to her blog to see the end result of this story!)

  • On the back side of the bike ride, a guy was lying on the ground, seizing up with cramps. It was Carnage out there, and that is a fact (Teammate Paula saw a guy, clipped in, faint dead away and hit the dirt. All of us saw people spread-eagled prostrate in the heat with their bikes flung in the grass). I asked if he was okay, and he shook his head and was saying “Salt? Salt?” So I reached into my Bento Box, and threw him my whole container of Thermalytes. I had planned for this very thing – I had other packages “just in case” in other bags – and I was doing great on the Infinit drink in any case (NOTE: Did the entire race on only Infinit, even with the heat index, etc. MAGIC!)
  • A couple of times, I could feel myself get lightheaded on the bike and my heart rate would drop. My back and shoulder (old crash) and elbow (new crash) also hurt. So I would ride to a shady spot, and stand up and stretch. Each of these moments was “no more than a minute or so” – but remember how close I was to the cutoff at the end. Each time, I remembered Will’s “No Regrets” admonition – so I did that gut check, and knew that the stretch was important for me to keep myself functioning well in the moment. But I did it, and got a move on. No dawdling.
balloons rising over the bike transition

Expect the Unexpected…and When It Happens, Assess, Reorganize, Keep Your Sense Of Humor, Then Get Going, and Leave It Behind.

  • About 10 strokes into the swim start, I stroked forward and “pulled” a branch underneath me. I could feel the kkkrrrrrrrr! of it going down the front of my body. Luckily, it didn’t have a lot of twigs, and it rolled off my toes (and into the next guy!)  I have a “helpfulness gene” and in that moment I wanted to somehow say to the guy behind me “Watch Out!” but there really wasn’t any way to do that. And that was NOT supposed to be my concern. If you find yourself “warning” a lot of people about the “pitfalls” that you have experienced, then mainly you are wasting your own time and putting energy into that memory. Don’t THROW branches in front of others – but if it happens to you, krrrrr! and move on!
  • It’s amazing how many people swam right in front of me, zig-zagging across the channel. I was immensely grateful for Coach Sedonia and all the practice we had had with sighting (and, in fact, having had to teach my friend Jane how to
    heading out of T1 slathered in more sunscreen

    sight, which helped me to break it down and really internalize it). One guy swam at a 45 degree angle in front of my face, making me actually stop so as not to run into the side of his calf. I watched him as he blithely continued in front of all of us “straight swimmers,” and just had to shake my head. He undoubtedly did an extra mile or so that we didn’t! Figure out the shortest distance between yourself and your goal – practice, practice, practice – then execute. If someone cuts you off, tell yourself it’s not personal, and move on.

  • 20 or so minutes into the swim, I was taking a breath to the side,  just as a big guy was swimming past/over me. This is how it goes in the Ironman – 3,000 people in a small space, you’re going to get knocked around. I was prepared for it in the way I was swimming, but his elbow came down on the bridge of my nose. Just bad timing. It hurt like heck, and my left goggle filled up with water. I was very concerned that he had cracked the plastic – which would mean I would need to swim with my eye closed (contacts!) for the next 2 miles. As you likely know, only using one eye means you have no depth perception. I took the goggles off, emptied them, and tentatively put  them back on, with the salmon swimmers swarming on and around me up the river. Turns out he had only broken the seal around my eye – not the goggles.
    Missy and me

    However,  I then realized there was blood in the water in front of me – FROM me. My nose was gushing blood. It didn’t feel broken and anyway, I had to keep swimming to get to help, one way or the other. My humorous side immediately whispered, “Wow, it’s a good thing you’re here instead of swimming from Alcatraz with the sharks.” That made me laugh, and within a few minutes, I had forgotten all about the bash. Reaching your goal is often a contact sport. Get out there, protect yourself as best you can, but if you get bashed, get bashed – and get over it.

  • When I came in from the bike to transition to the run, I peeled off my socks and realized that 8 plus hours of dumping water and ice on my head had all run into my shoes – and I had a giant chafe at the cuff of one sock, and a SEVERE case of foot waterlog. As in – I could see my toe bones, and my whitish-yellow skin and flesh were just hanging off them. This was completely and utterly unanticipated. (And gross.) Getting my dry Injinji compression socks on for the run was a 20 minute process. Amazingly,  I did it, with a few tears and the stellar help of my Transition Slave (smile). Though when I stood up to head out of the tent she said, “Ma’am? We generally don’ go out in public that way here in Kentucky…” – and I realized I hadn’t put my running shorts on and was naked from shirt to socks. Whoops!
  • After the super-long T2 (25 minutes) I knew I was going to have trouble making it in on time. I was “set” to do run/walk intervals, but I wound up having to run the entire marathon without walking (and actually “negative split” the final
    me horning in on Maria’s prom photo with the Colonel (joke! joke!)

    section). Sometimes, you just gotta do what you gotta do.

Listen To Your Gut.

  • I had a crash on the bike course. Yes, that’s me, Crashy McCrash. There was an “out and back” portion that’s turn-around was a hairpin left U turn on a very skinny road. When I saw it, I felt in my gut that it was beyond my bike handling skills. But then I “went for it.” And crashed. And nearly took down a bunch of other racers. When I was coming down to that turn-around, what I SHOULD have done is figured how to stop or “run long” past the orange cone, get off the bike, turn it around “manually” and then get back in the race. Instead, my ego kicked in…and because I didn’t want to be “embarrassed” by my less than stellar bike skills, I wound up with the derailleur ticking oddly and my left brake/shift lever bent completely sideways (wasn’t until Mile 80 I actually even SAW a tech person to help me fix it – she had to use a mallet it was so stuck). The sideways lever meant I ended the race with a huge blister between my left  thumb and forefinger, and a numb ring and pinkie finger (which did not come “awake” until my masseuse “popped” my elbow days later back home).
  • Later on, in the 110 degree heat/humidity and while watching folks try to take hills, fall over, and take down other riders, I found two hills that I could only make if I really “powered” up them…or I could walk them. As we did the loop twice, that meant walking those 2 hills, twice. When I did my Gut Check, I realized that the extra time walking the hills was likely to be a better choice than
    Maria and me showing off our ankle tracking chips

    “powering” up them and draining precious energy I would need later. That’s when Run Coach Simon’s voice (a bit belatedly, considering my crash!) came to me. He had said, “When you get your Ironman ticket, be sure to coat check your Ego. You can pick it up with your Medal.” I walked up the hills, watched guys powering by me, felt a little stupid and embarrassed…and then passed them splayed out in the grass about 50 miles later. Go at your own speed, not someone else’s – don’t worry about what People Will Think – and keep your eyes on the longterm Prize.

  • All along (except on the worst of the hills) I kept my heart rate between 142-152. That is my personal “zone” for pre-aerobic and aerobic. It is the zone in which I can utilize my own body fat as fuel. I was told to “race my own race,” and even when folks were flying by me, I just paid attention to that doggone Heart Rate Monitor. If I went over 152, I slowed down. If I went under 142, I sped up. I am quite sure that this kept me from becoming the “Carnage” that was rampant on the bike course (they had to pull in ambulances and EMTs from 2 surrounding counties – and ran out of IVs in the med tent).

When You Quit, Quit. Have Your Tantrum. Then Get Going Again. I quit at Mile 30 of the bike course. Really, really quit. I was done. The swim had been quite enervating because the water was so warm, and then the bike was brutally hot. I saw the sign at Mile 30, stopped, and if there had been a SAG wagon there, I would have put my bike in it, dusted my hands, and said, “Enough.” But there was NOT a SAG wagon, so I sucked it up and made it to the next bike aid station (where I thought I might find SAG). At that station, I got the bright idea of putting ice in my helmet. It was SO COLD…but after about 20 seconds, my mind cleared. I realized that my body felt completely fine…and I also realized with a start that my mind, which was cooking, was just trying to Siren Song me into getting out of the heat. Sometimes your own brain is your

Ironteam L.A. South Bay and North Bay sitting in the swim line

worst enemy. When this happens, say “Thank you, I respect your Opinion, I’m going to do something else though.” Believe it or not, this usually makes it shut up. Of course – ice in the helmet helps, too.

Ultimately, You Can Only Rely On Yourself. The run was an out-and back loop twice. Our coach told us he would be standing at one particular spot – Mile 5 or so on the way out, which became Mile 18 on the 2nd loop. I was running late (obviously) and so when I passed him the first time, I wanted all the particulars. How far was it to the end of the loop? How far was the turn-around after that? How fast did I have to go, to get to the midway cutoff? And was that cutoff at 9:00 p.m., or 9:15, or 9:30, or 9:45? He knew none of these answers. He knew the pace I would need to hold to get to the END on time, but none of the in-between answers (and remember – I’m just at mile FIVE of 26.2). This was the only time in the race I was really FURIOUS. It was my understanding that, as a coach, these are the sorts of things (especially if standing in one spot, and not going out on the bike or running around on the run) that should be at the fingertips. I finally ran past Teammate Paula, who knew all the answers. (She also had the amazingly great idea of setting an alarm an hour before all cutoffs on the bike/run course – so that you KNEW you were coming up to the “bell” – I just didn’t actually KNOW what that time was on the run midway point, so hadn’t been able to set that all-important alarm.) I was angry, but in reality, it was anger at myself for not having committed the important stuff to memory.

Be An Inspiration.

The first time I came into town during the marathon (the Ironman ends at Fourth Street Live, a covered bar/restaurant/etc. district in the heart of town, but you run past it to go out on your 2nd loop), the crowd cheered, because they thought I was finishing. Instead, I held up my finger to indicate “1” (that it was my first loop) and amazingly, they got deathly quiet and “respectful.” I heard someone say “My lord, she’s still going out. What an inspiration.” As I continued on, and was going back out as our Team athletes were coming in to finish, I kept hearing that shouted again and again. It made me feel good, as I had sent myself a card earlier that week that said just that – “I Am an Inspiration to Others.” I had a number of choices when picking that card (“I Am Physically Fit,” etc.) but that is the one that spoke to me with respect to my Ironman.

As a corollary to this, I would run past spectators when I was still trying to find out how far and fast I had to move to make the 1/2 way cutoff, and they would invariably say “you’re nearly there” or “”it’s right around the corner” or “you’re totally going to make it.” I know that they thought this would spur me on…but what it did was insidiously make me think it was okay to slow down. Don’t listen to random bits of advice and “wisdom” you might receive on the way to your goal – often the people who sound the most sure of themselves are just dead wrong. My mistake: Not having the run course and its particulars committed to memory. Plan, plan, plan. My bad.

On my final “leg” of the marathon course, I started running with Fireman Steve from Louisville (a/k/a Pukin’ Steve – sorry Steve!) He was having an AWFUL time. He would run (far faster than I could), but then start puking his guts out. Then he would walk, try some new concoction from an aid station, run, and puke. I just kept going along at my turtle pace, and so with his leap-frogging and my trudging along, we were together for miles. He was hurting. Bad. Crying. To take his mind off it (I actually

piles of transition bags

felt great…I just couldn’t move any faster), I chatted with him and sometimes just “at” him…about Louisville, San Francisco, the Ironman (this was I think his 3rd in Louisville), his wife Kathy (who had finished the race, and he was afraid was probably worried sick about him), nutrition, etc. He kept telling me what an inspiration my attitude was, especially on my first Ironman, in such hellish conditions. I was just as glad he was there, on that muggy nasty march towards the finish.

When we got about a mile out, he started throwing up so hard, he was yelling. I felt awful, but I kept going because I knew that we were close – he had been calculating the math the whole time, and pulling me with him to go faster and faster (see splits, below) – and so I went for it.  I also knew he’d kick my *ss if I didn’t make it because I stopped to help him. If those that have been with you on your journey to your goal fall to the wayside, keep going.

(By the way – Pukin’ Steve made it in under the wire!)

Memories I Won’t Soon Forget, and Thank Yous Thank Yous Thank Yous:

1.             On the bike, alone (so I thought) in the middle of beautiful-horse-country-Kentucky-bluegrass nowhere, I heard a woman say “Pardon Me!” from behind me. This took me COMPLETELY by surprise, so I said “Um, may I help you?” She chuckled and said, “Actually, I just belched so loud, I thought you had heard me, so I excused myself.” I laughed and said, “I thought we were in the middle of one of those old Grey Poupon ads!” When she cycled past me, she held out her palm to my Bento Box and said, “Pardon me, Madam, but may I borrow your Grey Poupon?” I laughed, saying, “STOP IT my bike handling skills are so bad we’re both liable to crash here in the middle of a level road!” She sped on by, both of us grinning. (You’re only going to get this if you were watching American TV commercials about 15 years ago.)

2.            When I crashed on the turn around, I went down on my elbow (which of course bled like a stuck pig) but reached out immediately to grab my bike out of the way of the other cyclists coming around the hairpin. Four guys with disk wheels and aero helmets stopped and helped me up, dusted me off, made sure I spun my wheel, and checked I was OK. I was very choked up by this concern. (They were probably just incredibly grateful I hadn’t taken them out with my antics, but still!)

I was looking at my medal in bed after my ice bath and…zzzzzzzz. Too funny.

3.            While out on the bike, I kept seeing (and being run into by!) purple butterflies. My grrl Leann had just gotten a tattoo with purple butterflies on it. Each time I saw them, I figured she was sending her love and concern to me.

4.           I finally got to meet my “Tennessee Teammate” Missy – she recognized me right in the middle of the street on Friday. As she was walking towards me, I thought, “I know that girl. Who is it?” And as soon as she spoke, I knew. It was so fantastic to be with her and her friends and energy. Love ya, Missy!

5.            Mr Speedbump: A participant on the run wouldn’t let people “touch him” to help him (and potentially get DQ’d), so he was lying perpendicular to the run course, and the EMTs were packing him in ice. Scary.

6.            Hearing the word “Carnage” about once every 30 seconds, when athletes were talking about their experiences on that day and the next.

7.            The guy who blew a tube about a mile from the end of the bike pulling off his shoes to obviously just run the bike in.

8.            A guy driving past in his truck with his wife on Monday when we were heading to the Athlete Lunch, who yelled “SAN FRANCISCO!” out of the window, to which I whooped, “PUKIN’ STEVE!” (and watched his wife’s head rock back with laughter). I was so grateful we were actually able to catch up and exchange info. His wife took me aside and said that I’d saved his life. I

my Day After breakfast – carbs, anyone?

told her HE had saved MY life too – since he was the one who could do the math to get us home in time!

9.            L.A. Team Coach Paul putting his face right into my face on the last corner before the “run in” on the marathon, and screaming “RUUUUUUUUUUUN!!!!!!!” The memory still makes me laugh.

10.            Mark, Efron, Carlos 2, Dr. Chris & his wife, Jennifer (?I think?), Paula, Heather, Kristin, Louis, and all the others who literally crossed over on the run course to give me hugs or High 5 me or make SURE I saw them when they shouted GO TEAM at me…as they were coming in on the finish and I was going out on my last 13.1 miles.

11.          All the planning with my Teammate Maria. Packing our bags, getting manic, herding cats. It was the best. And a special thank you to Maria, Leann, and the Afans for taking all the photographs. Can’t believe I forgot my camera.

12.          To all the “service providers” who kept me going, especially after the bike crash 2 weeks out – Kristina Lentz, Dr. K, Dr. Merritt, and in particular April Blake. If you haven’t tried Indigo biofeedback, you really must. I am fairly certain it’s what kept my attitude from tanking all day long.

13.           My personal IronMinions, Maria, Helen, and especially Leann, Francine, and Dad. You guys were the BEST. Also to Athlete Maria’s IronFamily, Albert, Susan, and Albie (al-BIE!!) who did everything we asked of them and more. Especially to Albie, who ran up and down and up and down that doggone run course trying to be sure that we were all OK.

14.          To my 76-year-old dad, who had planned to “run me in” at the very last 1/10th of a mile before the finisher’s chute, and panicked me that they would DQ me for having a “pacer.” I think that he left skid marks on the street when he rocked back on his heels to stop running with me. My horror turned into peals of laughter at the ludicrousness (ludicrosity?) of the whole scene about 2 minutes later – AFTER I had crossed the finish line.

15.          Another special shout-out to Dad and Leann: In particular, I explained to Leann I HAD TO finish my Recovery/Repair drink in the first 20 minutes after finishing, and she quietly handed it to me, pushed my hand to my mouth, handed it BACK to me, and the like until I was done. Nothing like feeding a 3 year old, naw. And to Dad patiently going back and forth from our hotel room with the waste basket to the ice machine to fill it with ice, and bring it back to Leann who first lowered me into the tub, then dumped the ice in on me for the ice bath, back and forth, back and forth. (The next day, I was a little sore, but not bad: Other athletes were walking around hunched over, unable to put their heels on the ground due to cramped calves, etc.) And Dad and Leann getting Teammate Paula’s and my bike and gear bags before midnight, so that they could get to TriBike Transport on time (while I was still out on the course, and Paula was getting an IV in the Med Tent!)

16.          To my amazing coaches, donors, honorees and friends, especially those who gathered on Facebook. I drew on you all when times were Grim. One of the best things ever was reading all the Facebook posts the next day – especially friends from all over the world trying to help others, when the ironman.com athlete tracker went down, etc. LOVE YOU. To Becca’s sister-in-law Laura, who came out to the Marathon course to cheer me on – and introduce herself! You are so brave to have given me a hug in my nasty sweaty condition when you saw me at Mile 16! To Will: No Regrets. To Patricia: At about Mile 90, there was a gorgeous scene of horses, foals, big house, bluegrass…all sort of odd-looking through the cooking waves shimmering off the black tarmac. I actually shouted “Look! Patricia!” just to make myself feel better and remember that this was, in fact, beautiful and, even more importantly, my own Choice. To The Bateman Family, who sponsored the last few dark, quiet, awful miles of the run a couple days before the race – my lord, I was calling on you out there! And to the SOC Marketing Team for designing and printing the posters that my Grandboys Caleb and Cody designed!

Sgt Maj Dale Hatten

17.          And especially, to Angels: Sgt Maj Dale Hatten who surprised me in my head about 6 miles from the end of the godforsaken marathon. This is a man that did a ton of tours in ‘Nam and “got his men home” – he absolutely got me home. Thanks, Dad-2. To my Angel Manta, who I had “spread its wings” under me after getting bashed, and who remarkably kept me completely clear of any more bashes for the rest of the swim. And to K’s Uncle Chris, a Sports Illustrated-featured cross country runner when he died of leukemia, for appearing at mile 12 and stretching my legs a bit more so I made the cutoff at 13.1.

18.         To the Sponges. And the nascent cocktail, the Carnage. Stop laughing, Paula/Maria. And to the mental picture of Teammate Jessica and the “ice” – Jessica asked a volunteer to scoop some ice out of one of the aid table barrels into her jogbra. Somewhere down the line after the ice had melted, she realized that she was a bit more “stacked” than usual…and started pulling the clear plastic bottle cap tops out of her jogbra that had been in the ice! Just too funny a visual.

19.        Joke we realized leaving for S.F. on Tuesday: How do you know the Ironman athletes at the Airport? They’re the ones that slip off their shoes for Security, and then can’t bend over to reach and put them on the scanner…(See this link from Coach Simon for fun.)

20.          To the Newfoundland band Great Big Sea. Though I had a whole inspirational “Music Playlist” on my ipod I had “memorized” for the day, Great Big Sea just horned in and stayed with me the whole way instead. (And thanks to Kelownagurl for introducing them to me in her podcast, months and months ago.) In case you’re curious, my songs were:

Swim: Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.

Bike: The Night Pat Murphy Died, When I Am King (here is a concert video, not so great sound though), Ordinary Day (all by Great Big Sea)

Run: Lukey, End Of The World (both by Great Big Sea) If you listen to any of these, do the last one – it’s beyond fun. They are all links to concert videos. I’m going to see the band in a month or so. Come along! (smile)

(Some other great Great Big Sea here – Mary Mac, Consequence Free, Excursion Around The Bay (hilarious)

20.         To my husband, H, for putting up with me for the past 10 months doing this, and unselfishly spending time out on the bike with me on all those long rides. You are the best husband EVER!

21.          To you, for reading this far. You’re nuts! Go back to work! (smile). OK, if you’d like a couple of things to watch, here are some amateur videos. Here is the Swim Start – I’m at 45 seconds, Teammate Maria is in the turquoise swim top at 44.  In this one, you can see me at 2:31.  This one is a bit better –  I’m at 4:07. And this one, taken by the wonderful Louis from L.A. Team, is me in the Finisher’s pen (you can hear my name at 1:34 and then I go right past Louis without seeing him – !!). And if you want something wonderful that says what I feel, watch this.

2.4 Mile Swim: 1:39:53 (about 10 minutes longer than I had hoped)

Transition 1: about 12 minutes (about what I planned)

Bike Total: 8:30 (longer than anticipated, but not bad). Splits: (1) 15.41 mph (2) 13.70 mph (3) 12.81 mph (4) 12.34 mph.

Transition 2: 25 minutes. Ugh.

Run Total: 6:12:56 – not bad, considering! Splits: (1) 13.53/mile (2) 14.27/mile (3) 13.32/mile (4) 14.11/mile (5) 14.31/mile (6) 15.02/mile (running out of gas…) (6) 13.14/mile (charging for the finish!)

Some consider the marathon the ultimate endurance event.
We consider it a cool down. (Anonymous)

11 thoughts on “Lessons Learned On My Ironman Journey (Ironman Louisville Finisher Race Report)

  1. GREAT recap Sandy! I LOVE race reports and yours did not disappoint. One hell of a ride we have all been on huh?!?!?! I love the little moments that your remember from race day. I have many unique moments that stick in my mind also. Congrats again…YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!

  2. I can’t wait to read yours! I love reading race reports ESPECIALLY of folks who did the same “day.” Are you doing team next year? Hope so!

  3. Small world! I came across the link to your race report on iamtri.com. I shot the video where you are at the 4:07 mark. Hello again!

  4. Thanks for doing that!!! I hope that I can get a copy of the one that they had at the athlete lunch the next day – but yours is great! I appreciate you!

  5. thanks Grrl, and you will be happy to know, I will be going back to the usual Bond Grrl Life/podcasting soon! :-)

  6. This was sooo good! Now that I know you I can toally picture you doing each and everyone of the “scenes!” especially the “Ma’am in Kentucky we don’t walk around in public like that!”

    Loved this and you!

  7. the “Ma’am” part was one of the funniest things ever. Let’s just not make any Honey Beaver-I-Mean-Badger comments (wink)

  8. I stumbled across the picture of Sergeant Major Hatten today. I worked with him for several years in a civilian job after he retired from the Marine Corps. We shared the Corps but I didn’t make it a career. He is a true Marine and gentleman. Great guy. Semper Fi Dale.

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