i usually have some witty, funny comment to start these race reports. truth is, I'm pretty tired - mentally and physically. i might even say i'm crabbie. OH WAIT THERE IT IS - because IM Maryland finishers are "crabs"... okay you got it, *high five*. at the same point, im very satisfied with how things went down the other day/months ago. it was far from a perfect day. it was a nutritional nightmare. again. i vomited multiple times. again. i felt exhausted for exactly half of the day. but - there were great points you guys. so. many. great. points.
but first - the backstory.
the two days after placid were hard - i was disappointed and continued to be sick for a couple days following the race. two days later, i was lucky to have the opportunity to join adam, devin, rubble, and the gang on a portion of their national parks roadtrip. nicholle and i flew out to vegas, spent an awesome night in the city, and set out for the grand canyon, eventually making our way to albuquerque before flying home. early one morning, most of us headed over to the south rim of the grand canyon and watched the sunrise. we took in the breathtaking view together and separately, taking photos here and there.
cut to - my friend molly from undergrad. she and her husband had a baby - macy - the year before. molly was one of the inspirations for my first ironman in 2014 - she'd done the race (and kicked ass) and her mom is a true phenom at that distance as well. i'd been following the journey with macy and her numerous health issues for the past year and had the chance to catch up with molly at reunion the month prior. i knew she and her family were going through hell trying to do everything they could to help macy but poor baby just couldn't catch a break. after reaching out to molly, i decided to raise money for their family and for macy. my race was going to be for #ironmacy. through the help of my family, friends, and generous others - we raised $1300 in the weeks leading up to IMMD. it was amazing.
i arrived in cambridge late wednesday after work. in a surprising turn of events, i was in a solid mental space work-wise. it had been a pretty low stress week - had a handful of cases that i felt good about, a few very successful surgeries including a abdominal explore for a dog that was vomiting pieces of a balance exercise ball that she had eaten nearly a year prior to surgery. totally crazy, right? that week i was riding a bit of a work high, expecting the shoe to drop at any time. by wednesday at 6pm, it hadn't - i left work feeling calm and decided to head to cambridge that night. many times after work, i feel sheer mental exhaustion but on this particular week, i was good. it was a strange and unexpected feeling but i wasn't complaining. i grabbed a bubble tea for the road, finished packing up the car, and headed out.
arrived that evening and LL and matt greeted me with lobster rolls and wine (bless their thoughtful hearts). we had a nice chat and i headed to bed. the normatec boots were waiting for me and i did a nice 45 minutes in boots as i watched netflix and fell asleep.
we woke up on thursday morning and ate a quick breakfast while LL and matt headed to expo. i did my customary 20 min swim, 45 min bike, 10 min run and felt solid. I headed to the expo to check in and check my life. once the wristband of power was put on, i headed home with coffee and proceeded to watch SMASH (p.s. its great, why did they stop after 2 seasons, katherine mcphee you are stunning) whilst singing to it and re-applying bar tape to miss daisy. why do this 2 days before the race? because i had the distinct opportunity to borrow holli's aka rinny's (you've heard of her, yes?) disk wheel with teal zipp decals. the problem was that it looked like a blind person put my bike together - nothing matched. is this important? well... yea. i found teal bar tape in the exact color and it looked halfway awesome considering the front wheel still didn't match.
we headed to Base team dinner that evening and had wine and pizza which really hit the spot. a bit more wine at the house and i happily fell fast asleep.
friday morning brought a short spin and run. mom and dad showed up (huzzah!) and we headed to brunch. super sherpa adam met us at brunch and i finally had my crew together and felt ready to race. adam helped me sort my transition bags as i talked out loud - both to him and myself. we brought miss daisy and the transition bags over to great marsh park, checking off the last big to-do on the proverbial list.
for the first time in awhile, i felt relaxed. i wrote out the names of the donors to IMMD #ironmacy on a slip of paper and placed it in a ziploc bag so i could carry it in my pocket from swim start to finish line. mom and dad came over to make dinner - chicken parm - and we all ate together and watched the Nats game (GO NATS GO), followed by a "a league of their own" - hey LL - WHY AM I THE ONLY PERSON ON THIS BUS?
sports movies are obviously the only reasonable things to watch in the days leading up to races.
normal 3:45 am wake-up. mom and dad were miraculously already in the kitchen - god bless them. i drank coffee, had my thomas blueberry bagel and peanut butter and nearly cried when i was able to eat the whole thing. by 4:15 am, things were already looking better than they had at placid. i putzed around and gathered my stuff and by 5:15, we were walking to transition. it was cool and dark outside. i was buzzing on the inside and getting excited to get the show on the road. for the first time in a long time, i didn't feel the pressure on my shoulders. kona wasn't in the picture. i didn't have an outward time goal. it was mostly just, "don't suck prochnow". people were going to be paying attention after raising money and exposing macy to my world. i was going to make them proud.
i checked on miss daisy, said hello to justin who was racked near me, and enjoyed the stir and buzz of transition. i made the portapotty line and reunited with mom, dad, and adam. they were holding a sign with lifesize jazz (and the office cat that they thought was monster) that read: "Go Mommy Go - The couch is waiting for you! You can DO it!"
i love them.
i wrote #ironmacy on my arms in permanent marker - a reminder of my "why" and a way to commemorate her - and double checked to make sure my ziploc bag of names was secured in my pocket.
i put my wetsuit on and downed a gel and some water. the music was pumping me up, i was smiling, and i felt like wiggly puppy about to explode into zoomies when -
i threw up. what the actual F.
i heaved a few times and looked up at my family as they stared back, obviously concerned. "i'm totally fine," i said, laughing. it was 6:35 am. swim start was at 6:45 am and lord be damned if i wasn't going to position myself near the front. i was peeved that again, i was starting out this race with a less than ideal calorie intake but, whatever. cue national anthem.
i waved to jan as she took photos of me putting my goggles on and i swung my arms around a few times to loosen up. it was time.
i pretty much held my breath for the first 100-200m, taking delicate, gentle strokes but ready to mentally attack whatever panic thing happened in placid. once i realized that i was still swimming and could breathe okay, i started to actually swim with focus. i drafted, i played games, i kicked a couple people and i started to enjoy the view. we started before the sun came up and it was awesome to be out with 1200 buddies chasing the sunrise.
two loop swim. i wasn't overly exerting myself and i could tell i was slow. i hadn't been swimming as much as i should have (sorry Jess!) leading into the race. i just prayed that everyone in my age group had the same anti-swimming mentality that i had going into the race.
as a blurry vision of the arch started to come into view, i started to pick up speed. i could feel some mild chafing on my neck from the wetsuit (this is nothing new - i have a permanent scar) but it wasn't too bad. as i hit that point of "do i stand or do i keep swimming" something stung me on the right side of my neck. "YOWSWA" i said (jk, i said all the actual f-words) and i stood up to run in. wetsuit was stripped and i ran into the tent.
swim: 1:07 - whoops. was i floating or swimming?
dang, i almost avoided the sea nettles! the tent was relatively empty and i sat down to put socks and shoes on. "they got me!" i said dramatically to a volunteer. "where?!" she replied and i pointed to the right side of my neck. before i could say something, she sprayed something cold right on my wetsuit burn.
i damn near leapt out of my seat and shot through the roof of the tent.
holy shit, that freaking burned. apparently alcohol takes the sting right out of a sea nettle kiss. on the flip side, it does not improving wetsuit chafing.
i'm riding along and i'm eating my food and i'm not feeling stellar. it felt like i'd just banked a 45 minute ironman swim and my legs and arms were lead. i attempted to eat - i'd reverted back to honey stinger waffles - and i ate one but my guts were unhappy already. i reverted to drinking BASE rocket fuel in an effort to at least stay hydrated as the weather was starting to heat up but i was very aware that i was quite low in the calorie department.
this would not bode well for the next 4 hours on the bike and the run.
i reached 20 miles on the bike, trying to think about other things, daydreaming about what i would eat and drink that evening. i started to feel really warm on the inside and s-l-o-w-l-y started to decrease speed and cadence until...
i shook myself into consciousness - holy hell, some dude had just blazed past me and i realized id almost fallen asleep. something was wrong and i didn't know what to do about it.
as if the ironman gods were watching over me, the aid station appeared in the distance and all i heard was "red bull". i pulled over and proceeded to chug a red bull - as ive heard it gives you wings - and eat some food while i was at a standstill. i knew the calorie deficit was biting me in the ass but it was going to take time to replenish the tank.
it would take another 30 plus miles before i felt more energized, but i swear to this day that red bull saved my
thank goodness for the 100% flat course because i did a lot of soft pedaling throughout that first loop. i loaded up on mountain dew and the customary EL Fudge cookies, as one does in special needs, and i begrudgingly got back on miss daisy.
shortly after special needs, octavio flew past me with a small group of people surrounding him. he yelled over his shoulder as he biked away from me and i felt a small surge of energy return. i sped up to keep up with his gang and before i knew it, i had caught up and was feeling stronger with each pedal stroke.
the energy returned and i started to feel infinitely better. i had group to follow and before in knew it, i re-passed octavio, giving a wave as i rolled by.
i continued eat and drink, slowly refilling the internal tank and gearing up for the, thankfully flat, marathon ahead.
naturally, as fate would have it, my stomach problems returned and for as long is it took to take that food in, it only took a second to lose it all over the side of the road. Again.
solution? more redbull. i swigged it and uneventfully cruised into T2.
so, my guts didn't feel great, but i was doing better than placid, so i went with it. it had warmed up significantly and i was so thankful for the cooling towel that lori had supplied us with at mini camp. i soaked it in water and draped it around my neck. i let the sunscreen people slather me up and away i ran, 26.2 miles away from cold beer and chicken broth - the only things my stomach desired.
i saw my family and friends shortly after starting the run and i flashed them a relieved smile and my #ironmacy clad arm for the pictures. my mom and dad, liz, adam, brian, and others were out in full force and it. was. amazing. unbeknownst to me, the sunscreen latherers hadn't quite rubbed in the good stuff on my face and it looked like i had applied a homemade facial mask of eggs whites. if anything, it definitely made for some excellent race photos.
i started off watching my HR creep up - it was hot, my stomach was empty and i wasn't feeling the best, but it was coming along. the vision of sub-4 hour marathon vanished after a handful of miles - i had the same low energy feeling from the first half of the bike and i just couldn't shake it. i had a couple of gels, holding off the cola as long as possible but around mile 8, i succumbed and it was glorious. seriously, nothing is better than cola during the marathon. #nectarofthegods.
the first of half of the run was a struggle - I couldn't get the energy up. i'd think about the list of names in my pocket and i'd perk up a little, knowing they were counting on me. my battle on this day was nothing compared to macy's, and i kept on keeping on.
i loved running past the BASE tent with the music and my friends. LL gave me updates on my place and somewhere around mile 16, she told me to hang on because "girl, you're in 5th".
waaaaaaait, what? this was not a great day - it was an okay ironman day, but it didn't seem like a top 5 AG race. suddenly, my legs found a new gear. i wanted it. i wanted that podium spot, come hell or high water. ironically, there was no high water this year, but the temperature was knocking on the door of the lower realm and i was grateful for my chill towel.
I hit the turnaround in town and saw friends - including super sherpa adam - at the brewery. i felt a another surge - one more out and back and I would be at the finish. one more time running under the redbull arch (in that direction). one more time running past the BASE tent (in that direction). I kept hitting the check marks and trying to maintain speed in the heavy legs. Brian was dancing at the BASE tent and he ran with me for a second - thank goodness for awesome, supportive teammates.
i hit the last far turn around and it was on - less than a handful of miles to go. the sun was still high in the sky and the sun was out and it was really awesome out there. i entered great marsh park and ran through the BASE group. LL told me i was still in 5th but one girl was coming on STRONG. "you have to run HARD," she said as she ran with me down the block, "go get it!"
i groaned and ran harder than id run all day. just over a mile to go. i thought of macy. i thought about how no one wanted that 5th place finish more than me and no way was i going to let that go without a hell of a fight for the next mile. the struggle in a rolling start is you can't physically race your competitors because you usually can't see them. i was running blind.
my lungs and legs were on fire as i ran down the street. i hit the last right turn up the street to the brewery, knowing there was less than half a mile to go. i saw the group cheering and i tried to run even harder. i saw lester and he told me to "eat the pain" and he ran with me back down the street for a few strides while he pep talked me.
suddenly, i was in the chute and the bright lights of the arch were in my eyes. i ran through the line with my arms up and didn't even attempt a jump - my legs were cramped and burning. i saw my family right away and walked over to them at the fence.
"did i make it?" i asked them. they excitedly said yes and i demanded to see the phone with proof. once i saw the results, i collapsed into the arms of my parents and cried. "i wanted it so bad," i told them as i sobbed for a minute. shoulders heaving, ugly crying sobbing.
phone in adam's hand...
the rest of the night was really fun. my shower was glorious, we headed back out to the BASE tent for dancing and cheering with to-go shots of Fireball and beers capped off with a trip to the Taco bell drive-thru. I didn't watch the midnight finishers in the chute, but i did watch on the side of the road near the house (about mile 25) from 11 pm and on and cheered for the athletes.
my parents and adam and i went to awards the next day. by some small miracle, i was first out of the water in the age group and won some Roka money again (i still hadn't used all of mine from Vineman so I bought new goggles AND running clothes). I got my award for 5th place and couldn't stop smiling. it was no Kona - that may be in the cards in the future - and there are still SO MANY kinks to work out in my racing - but i was content and proud of what i had pulled out of a not so great race.
im excited for this year and what it will bring. while my motivation ebbs and flows as the work and life stress make an impact, im already feeling stronger and excited about swimming, biking, and running. my squad is strong and inspirational and motivating - i can't imagine doing this without them.
stay tuned y'all - i have a feeling 2018 is going to be amazing!