Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Race Day

I awoke at 4 am.  I had a list of exactly what I needed to do and just worked through it, very smoothly. I ate, dressed, PRP, took in coffee, water, red bull. We set off down to transition and arrived at 5 am for body marking and weigh in. I didn't know about the weigh in.  It would tell them how dehydrated you are should you have difficulties during the race. If you lose more than 10% of your b.w., you get an IV for fluid replacement.  Once marked and weighed, I hung my bags on their respective pegs. Double checked my bike, mounted my Garmin, and then left transition. I saw quite a few people I knew then and it was really fun and exciting!!!   Ted and I hooked up with John Mack, another CTC peep doing the full.  John has been nursing a very painful nerve injury in his foot and contemplated downgrading to the half, but was not allowed.  So, he was in for the Full, or out all together.  He chose IN. Brave man! I knew he was hurting, and the bike leg was just as painful as the run leg, as the pedal was right over the nerve bundle. :(

John, Ted and I headed back to the hotel to relax and do our thing for about 45 minutes.  I was happy to have more PRP time and took the opportunity to pose for some pics in the room.  At 6:30 we went outside to the beach - the start was right in front of our hotel. We ran into several familiar faces and it made for a fun, relaxing pre-race period.  After they got the pros sent off, they gathered us to the start. Now I started to get nervous!  I was trying NOT to think about the daunting journey ahead of me, but just be in the moment.

I started near the front. I ran in until the water was mid-thigh level, then I started to swim.  It was very crowded! The most crowded conditions I'd ever experienced. I felt good though, and I got through that brief period where my HR elevates. No panic, just calm.   I was doing great!  ... Until ... the goggles began to leak :(   I've used these goggles for dozens of races, but today they just wouldn't seal and keep the water out.  I want to say that the time spent adjusting and re-adjusting those goggles probably cost me 20 minutes.  Seriously.   I know I can do that swim in 1:15, but between the initial congestion and goggle issues, I lost quite a bit of time.   BUT, I want to emphasize that I remained calm and dealt with it.  I didn't get overly angry. I just kept saying to myself "I'll deal" and I did.  My frustration level was mild - which is very uncharacteristic for me. That would usually get me raging mad. But I am very proud to say that I didn't let it ruin my race!!  I DID DEAL!  So, on my To Do list goes: Get NEW goggles.   I'll be sure to resolve that issue before IMFL.  Then watch out - my swim split will be smoking!! :)

After the swim was over, I felt fine! Jogged into transition and T1 went pretty good.  I saw Ted, waved and smiled, then over to my pegs. Out of the wetsuit, put on the helmet, bike shoes, cycling jersey, strap on my CGM, my insulin, and put on biking gloves.  Trot over to my bike and off I went . I felt great with how smooth that went.

The bike.  Took a few minutes to get my HR under control.  Then, I took in 2 gels - my BG was on the "low-ish" side.  As we cycled off the peninsula, it was great having all those people cheering!  My goal was to stay in a pace I could maintain for 112 miles, so, for me, there was not "Hammer Time".  I cycled consistently and spun at a rate I felt I could hold.  I'd ridden the course before so I was familiar with it. As a matter of fact, the turn to head into Milan is known to me as "the place Joey Edwards stopped to pee"!  I giggled at that when I passed it.   I did the entire course without dismounting once! I tackled and over came each one of those hills!  Whoever said that course is "flat and fast" is a liar!!!  Maybe it's not Colorado, but there definitely are hills!   Regardless, I was very proud of my bike leg! My favorite part is the south to north rollers at the furthest point before turning back west. I LOVE riding that! I got to 35 mph! FUN!!!!!

The first lap kind of went by in a blur, and I will admit I had moments where I wanted to quit. It was hard! I kept doing self talk, and this one really stuck: "If it was EASY,  everyone would be doing it!"  So, I was proud to be a badass tackling 140.6.  There was no way I could quit. The other thought that cycled through my mind (pun intended!) was that, for ME, this is not a RACE, but a JOURNEY! I was here to complete a JOURNEY.  I had no injury. I'm healthy, fit and fortunate to be injury-free!  Only the fear in my head.  And I sure as hell wasn't going to let THAT beat me!   The second lap was better, because by that time, I'm HALF done with the distance. I might as well keep at it full throttle, because quitting is NOT an option.  It was kind of lonely during the second loop, but occasionally a friendly rider would come by and we'd exchange a few words.  I did pass a few people too, so I wasn't always the "passee".

Once I came to the peninsula, I began to really pick up my pace. By that, I meant 15 mph. I really was pretty much out of steam, but I could muster up the best "hammer time" possible for that stage of the race and I passed a few people on the way in!! :)  I reached transition and saw Ted immediately! He was beaming and told me I was doing great. My goal was to do the bike in 8 hrs ... I did it in 7:25!  WOO HOO!

I took my garmin from my bike and headed over to my bags. I needed some more time b/c I needed to test my BG.  It was 109!  WOOOO HOOOOO!   I put on socks - OH GLORIOUS SOCKS!!! (I cycle w/o socks), shoes, number belt, doo-rag and snarfed a Larabar.   Pit stop at the porta-potty and then I was ready to tackle the 26.2 miles.  Well, at least in theory!

I started jogging and found my legs relatively quickly. But, I was feeling overwhelmed with the NUMBER .... 26.2 miles.  Could I do that??  I was skeptical.  This, I knew, was the area I was least prepared for.  I chewed some gum. Took some beverages, walked a bit, then got my head straight. I did some self-talk.  I reminded myself: If it was EASY, everyone would be doing it!  By mile 4 I found my running legs and started plodding forward.  I began to see friends and that helped A LOT!  Huge thanks to Brandon Henneman!!!  He was very supportive and calmly told me I had PLENTY of time and just to keep moving forward. Brandon ... THANK YOU for that.  It really helped me, more than you can know!!!   Janet, too. Janet passed me several times, as she had an amazing race! But she was also hugely supportive and that support came during a very hard time for me - thank you, too, girl!
Several others that know me through CTC had positive word and encouragement for me - people, YOU made a difference for me!!!   Then, I happened across the Ironfan group and they were all jumping, cheering, high-fiving me and, WOW, I just can't tell you guys how much that helped boost my spirits!!!  Just ... exponentially!!

Around Mile 7 I started having blisters develop. I knew what was happening. I knew there was no solution. I knew I had to make a decision to let them hold me back, or to move forward. Honestly, they hurt the same to walk as to run.  Both feet hurt - both in the pinky toe and neighbor toe on each foot, but the right was far worse.   I simply made the decision to HTFU.   I know that blisters heal. I know I'm a tough chick. I said: "self: HTFU!" and I did.  I kept moving forward. I ran 75% of that 26.2 miles. I had only planned to run 50%, so I was way ahead of my goal.  AND, my pace began to pick up once I ignored the pain.  I just plodded forward.  I made a concerted effort to take charge and make this race MY race, not let some stinking blisters dictate how I would finish.

As it grew dark, I saw fewer and fewer racers, but I knew there were still plenty of people behind me. I came across John Mack, who was obviously in excruciating pain. I asked him to give Ted a message to expect me between 10 and 10:30pm.  The volunteers were AMAZING!  I thanked every single one of them - probably to the point of obnoxiousness (who, me? Obnoxious? Never!).  I just LOVE the volunteers :)   I am volunteering for the Towpath marathon in a few weeks and it's my turn to give back! Trust me, I will infuse energy into as many runners as I can :)

As I kept looking at my watch, I saw that I was ahead of my goal ETA and I would likely be arriving 45 minutes before I expected to. I really felt quite proud of that. It wasn't a stellar marathon run, but, so far as it being the third leg of an ironman, I was thrilled with my performance! It was better than I thought it would be.

I approached the finish chute and the music, the people, the energy just infused me with the umph I needed to bounce down the finish beaming the whole way. I was so flooded with emotion that I welled up with tears! I did it! I completed an Ironman distance triathlon!! My time was 14:46:36 and I can totally live with that!!

The first person I saw was my good friend Elizabeth Kelley!  She had driven out just to see me finish! She was maybe MORE excited for me than I was! It was so great to see! I was hoping she'd get the bug and decide to tackle this next year.  The next person I saw was Ted, as he arrived with my requested COKE!  Oh, and a 140.6 decal for my car!!  I was afraid to buy it before I finished, thinking I might jinx it. And they were closed after I finished, so Ted got one for me. What a great idea!   As I sat there, basking in the glory of the finish, several CTC peeps came up to congratulate me: Jen, Brandy, Phil and Danielle. I asked about Jen and Brandy's 70.3 race and, as per usual, Jen downplayed her performance, leaving me thinking she had a "bad" race and didn't want to talk about it. Turns out she did fantastic!!! So, she vomited on the bike - no biggie! I'd have paid big money for a good vomit on the run!! :) Brandy finished her first 70.3 ever, and was beaming herself.   I got some quick summaries of others' races and was so happy to hear so many great stories!

Ted got my bike and my bags and Elizabeth carried my stuff as we hobbled (or "I" hobbled back to the hotel)  That post-race euphoria is simply inexplicable. If you haven't experienced it, there is nothing else in the world like it. It is everything I imagined. It was my proudest moment. :)

We said goodbye to Liz and made our way back to our room. I pulled off my shoes to find my brand new socks saturated in blood :(  I was afraid to remove the socks!  When I did ... it wasn't pretty.  All the skin on the 2 lateral toes, toes 4 and 5, had sloughed off leaving muscle and nerves open and exposed.  The right foot is worse than the left. I was unable to submerge it in the tub and just need to clean it with bactine.

 Clearly, I need to address new shoes and new goggles. But, otherwise, everything went very well and I couldn't be happier!  A huge thank you to Ben Miralia, who was a great resource and inspiration to me. He sent me great suggestions on how to approach the race both mentally and physically. It helped me immensely.  I found myself thinking of his tips quite often.

And finally, a HUGE thank you to ALL OF YOU! The people that support me, read my blog, follow my posts and cheer me on, whether it's in person or as a cyberfan. It makes a difference to me! I've always wanted to feel "amazing" ... and I've been working long and hard to be able to actually truly feel that. Today I can say: I am amazing!  I did it! I set a goal, I worked long and hard toward it, I tackled obstacles and succeeded in achieving the goal! And this has been a LIFE LONG GOAL for me! Now I can say I DID IT!!!!

Thanks to all of you for your part.
<3 Tiffany


  1. Yes! You did it, and you are awesome! :-)

  2. Fabulous! I'm so happy for you. Hope I can be where you are in 10 months or so!

  3. Way to go! Thanks for sharing the story, too.

  4. Congratulations! Job well done!

    Great race report!

  5. I would have been thrilled with your time! Amazing! It took me 15:52 to do IMLP. And, to do it to the point where your skin was rubbed off your toes? Wow!

  6. Great job Tiffany, you really inspire all people, but especially those of us with our own health problems. Congratulations!!