Finally, the bike was over. Now the run...something I've practiced so much in training, but nothing in training is ever the same on race day. Would I cramp...could I hold a steady pace...what pace was too fast? Would my HR monitor start working properly (it never worked well during the bike, too cold to keep enough sweat on the monitor). So many questions would quickly get answered as the Marathon began.
Out the door I went, wow, I felt really good. I think most of it was that I was done the longest part of the day (hopefully) and I was just happy to be off the bike. I did forget to move my race belt around so my bib was on the front. Another volunteer mentioned it so I grabbed the race belt and spun it around. Unfortunately it was caught under my Fuel Belt so I had to take everything off and put the bib (now ripped away from the race belt) under the fuel belt. This meant my bib was not longer visible, but not a big deal...spectators simply called my "runner" instead of "557!"
Deeeep down I wanted to have a sub 3:45 run, but I was prepared to be happy with 4hr, even higher if it had to be. What I wasn't ready for was the most steady marathon I've ever done. I cruised along around 8min/mile and hit the turn around at about 9hr into the race. I did some math and was unbelieveably excited to know A) that barring any major disaster I was definitely going to make it, and B) if I could hold pace I would make it in under 11hr.
I was dreading this 2 loop system and didn't know what to think about seeing the finish line so close and having to head out for another 13.1. Turns out the course was pretty much perfect. Just enough support at key points along the way to keep you motivated, and enough time to just run and put away some miles. State Street was so cool and the spectators and volunteers were so great for staying out in that weather.
I was also so pumped to see that finish line, even though I knew I had another 13.1 to go. It gives you something to look at and motivate you to dig down and make it back to that hollowed ground!
I plugged away and took it 1 mile at a time. My pace was good, I felt o.k. overall and managed to keep my stomach in check with mostly water, Hammer products, and some pretzels and warm chicken broth.
The last couple of miles were a blur. I ran past the last few aid stations and started to grin somewhere around 23 or 24 miles. I knew I'd have to hold my bib in one hand so they'd know who I was. I think I had the bib out for nearly 1/2 a mile!
It is an amazing feeling coming to that finish line. The volunteer at the turnaround yelled out her instructions if you are on lap 1 or lap 2. I pointed straight ahead and gave it my best Forrest Gump all the way to the line.
I had the arms in the air and was so pumped to have reached this point. It was an amazing feeling. Now that it's been almost 2 weeks, I know why I always go on a downer after a race. I miss thinking about the finish and how it will feel. Strangely, I miss some the training that was a key part of this stange thing called Ironman. I couldn't believe how well they take care of you afterwards. Another thanks to the "catchers" and how cool was the food! Pizza, cookies, subs, etc. I took all I needed and in I went to change clothes.
The warm Terrace was again a welcome site. I changed, was lucky enough to get in for a massage, and even heard from dear old Dad who was at home watching the progress on the net.
Overall an amazing experience. I met so many great people and I'll always remember this 1st Ironman as the best. Everyone who partcipated did great. Just battling those conditions and pushing yourself to the limits is what the day is all about. We all learn so much about ourselves through the journey of training, but we learn even more during the race itself.
Thanks to all my friends and family for their support. Thanks to all those in Madison for putting on a great event. Thanks again to the volunteer crew who made this possible. See you again some day.