Friday, July 17, 2009

Ironman Coeur d'Alene RR, part 4

Well, it’s been a few weeks since my first Ironman, and while my finish was super emotional and my journey (at times, seeming) epic – I can’t say that I feel any different. I’m still the same old me, with the exception that I know what it feels like to go 140.6 miles and then STOP.

Yes, you read correctly – simply stop.

I didn’t believe it when friends warned me of the Ironman “phenomenon”, as they referred to it. “You’ll run and run and run, cross that finish line, and then suddenly not be able to run any more.”

Sure enough, they were right.

I remember crossing the finish line, seeing my parents and friends (Molly and her box of cupcakes! I swear, it was the ONLY time I have EVER declined baked goods. The idea of consuming a cupcake…well…just couldn’t stomach it. Not yet, anyway), and then suddenly saying, “I need to go to the medical tent. And I need to go now.”

After spending 30 (or was it 45 minutes?) trying to get warm, sipping chicken broth, and talking with Kerrie, I gingerly made my way from the FINISH area to transition. The two block walk took about 20 minutes. I am so not kidding. My hamstrings were done, ready to cramp at a moment’s notice. My quads felt like…well….they didn’t really feel. It would be another 72 hours until I could actually bend my legs enough to walk up or down stairs.

At the transition, a wonderful volunteer lent me his cell phone and I promptly called Nathaniel. He and my parents had been frantically searching for me at the Medical tent – but unfortunately my information failed to be processed – and they had no idea of my whereabouts. I assured them that I was okay and not going anywhere fast. They were at my side within five minutes, my Dad carefully pushing my bike and Nathaniel – who gave me his green jacket – running ahead to get the car. Walking 5 or 7 blocks seemed nearly impossible, and I gave the three concrete steps that I had to climb the finger as I (somehow) made my way up.

Even food and drink – seemed to make me feel sick. Back at the hotel my parents had gotten wine and snack-like food, but nothing seemed “good”. I knew I had to eat – but a recovery bar, a few strawberries and blueberries, and half a glass of red wine was all I could handle. Later I had a few pretzels and peanut butter – but it was just wrong.

And for just about the first time ever, I did NOT take an ice bath after a super-hard effort. One, the idea of lowering myself into the tub seemed impossible and two, I had been pretty chilled for the last 90 minutes or so of my race AND during the long walk to and from transition (so basically the past few hours). The hot shower felt absolutely fantastic – and I knew my legs were shot, ice bath or not.

Talking with Jen was great – we re-hashed the race; from her perspective and then my own. She confirmed that I had in fact finished second in my age group, and when asked if I wanted to know how close I was to first, I responded with, “Don’t tell me if its less than a minute.”


“Jen? You are fucking kidding me, right? Oh good lord! I had no idea – not a clue!”

But hey – I have no regrets. Absolutely none. For my first Ironman, I set out to be smart, steady, strong, solid – and I feel (for the most part) that I did just that. No, it certainly wasn’t easy and I would most certainly agree that the race is JUST as much of a mental challenge as it is as a physical one. But I have no regrets. And honestly – after thinking a lot about it – I would do nothing differently.

Even kissing Nathaniel – all worth it. And yes, later on I got a chance to put my Pine-tree-shaped Finisher’s Medal around his neck. He promptly turned red and took it off. But I wanted him to have it – it was just as much his as it was mine. Without his love, understanding, patience, and support – I wouldn’t have gotten through the race the way I did.

If it’s anything that I’ve learned, Ironman is as much about Family Support (AND Friend support – yea!) as it is about yourself and your training. Show me any married Ironman, and I’ll show you a family that pretty much needs to be on board. (And YES – before signing up for Kona and IM St. George I had conversations FIRST with Nathaniel and then Jen.)

Later that evening – with my compression socks on and Mom, Dad, and Nathaniel all asleep in the hotel – Molly brought herself AND her magical box of cupcakes over. It was super to catch up with her at the Breakfast Room and eat THE BEST CUPCAKE IN THE WORLD. I chose the Hostess-lookalike. And I wasn’t disappointed. I would have asked for another, but it seemed wrong… I was very touched that Molly would drive so far out of her way to offer congratulations and a cupcake. And it was a lot of fun to hear her perspective and swap race stories. THANKS MOLLY!

And the rest, they say, is history.

The next morning, I checked my bike and gear bag back in with TriBike Transport, and then had a DELICIOUS breakfast at IHOP with Mom and Deirdre, while Dad and Nathaniel returned the rental car. And if you want “odd” in terms of breakfast food – this is what I had:

Healthy (it said so on the menu!) Whole Grain Pancakes with sliced bananas on the top, with a side of egg substitute. And then (before you roll your eyes), I ordered a side of: hash browns, sausage links, regular eggs, and bacon. It was delicious. All of it. Even the pecan-nut pancakes that the waitress brought by mistake… I ate some of them too.

Later I was able to pick up my award, but unfortunately due to time constrictions (Nathaniel was flying to Seattle and was going to meet us while we drove to Seattle, at the ferry to Bainbridge Island), we had to get on the road. And while the awards ceremony would have been nice to see, I wasn’t all that thrilled with the $20 non-athlete entry fee the M Dot corporation was charging. Oh well. I think Dad and Nate managed to grab a plate of ham or something on the way out – so there you go.

And then the cruise. I’ll post pictures – I promise.

But before I forget – other thoughts and observations from Ironman Coer d’Alene. Enjoy!

-I never realized my legs could swell up so much. It was ugly, and I had NO visible ankle(s) for a few days. Yes, I LIVED in my compression socks – but it was pretty bad. Even elevation – didn’t help. Nathaniel and I enjoyed schlepping around Seattle and parts of Bainbridge Island – but I was always in long pants. Because really – who wants to be seen with major cankles, right? I spent enough time in high school with cankles – no need to relive those “happy” memories.

-It was WONDERFUL meeting fellow bloggers. This online community is great, and I’m looking forward to seeing Deirdre, Meredith, Dave, Molly, Tasha, Rob, Angelina (and Shaun!), Ian, and anyone else that I may have forgotten again. THANK YOU ALL for making my first Ironman so special.

-The night before the race was spent with my parents, Nathaniel, and Angelina and Shaun at their hotel. It was SUPER to meet them and relax a bit before the race. The boys had lots to talk about, as both Nathaniel and Shaun are in their respective country’s military, and Dad and Shaun both teach history and foreign policy (in Shaun’s case – military strategy) at University, and Nathaniel LOVES to read and write about US foreign policy and military affairs… While Angelina, Mom, and myself chatted about other things. Just an all around lovely evening, and I’m looking forward to seeing Angelina and Shaun again at some point.

-It was a bit of a shock for me to go from IM training and racing to…zero training and cruise. Yes, I had a few days to explore Bainbridge Island and relax with my folks, Nathaniel, Chris (our WONDERFUL host) and Charlie – her carrot eating dog – but it was still tough. My morning walks increased from forty minutes on the first day to well over ninety plus by the end. The island was beautiful and I fell in love with its forests and trails. But I missed the training…

-Even though my stomach didn’t feel all that great immediately following the race, I woke up RAVENOUSLY HUNGRY at 3:00 am Saturday. I went for the FIRST THING I COULD THINK OF – Power bars. Yeah, it’s gross and wrong – but I was so hungry and not thinking straight that I ate three (yes THREE) recovery bars in under two minutes. Luckily that seemed to do the trick and I soon fell asleep again…but it was not good. Not good at all.

-Body glide is wonderful. The only spot I had chafing was under my arm where my running top seam rubbed. And the back of my neck? NO wetsuit bite. Wonderful, absolutely fantastic.

-I’m not a big fan of the M Dot brand…but I was deeply touched by the Ironman necklace that Mom gave me after the race. It was the one thing that I would have bought for myself, but she beat me to it. I will treasure it forever – thanks Mom!

-I would have to say: Undoubtedly, the training IS WAY harder than the race.

-Ignorance IS bliss. Especially for the last ten miles of the run. But at least I know what to expect a little bit better than before my race. And now I know how to prepare – so at least that counts for something.

-Nathaniel compared my 6-hour-bike-ride-that-really-felt-like-90-minutes to completing an Instrument Scan flight. Yeah – he spends 2 hours in the helicopter flying off the instruments – but it feels like a mere ten minutes. My body, though, would have to disagree. It felt every bit of the 10:49 that I was out there. Trust me!

-Speaking of body… I was so sore…everywhere…and in parts that I NEVER thought I would be sore. Even putting my hands on my hips – ouch. Tender doesn’t even begin to describe it.

-A few days of no training was great. Heck, even a week I could deal with. But…on June 30 (and well into our cruise), I called Jen and cried Uncle. I missed structure, I missed the joy of training, I missed feeling productive. But she managed to talk some sense into me…and instead Nathaniel and I found ourselves doing a lot of hikes.

-Did I mention that we hiked – a lot?

-I never fully appreciated how much I loved beer samplers until visiting LOTS of different places.

-And peanut butter cups. Nope, I can’t forget about those.

-If I never see another gel again, that’s okay with me. But before too long I know I’ll be consuming them on a regular basis. But still….blech.

-Same thing for bars. Even the recovery bars (as yummy tasting as they are!)

-If I had to do it all over again…I would. Without question or pause for thought.

-CDA was a fantastic first Ironman! The crowd support, town, venue, course, friends, and family who came all made it wonderful. I thought a little about how I missed Arizona, but was no longer sad about it. After everything I’ve been though, I totally accept the fact that RIGHT NOW I am exactly where I’m supposed to be. I thought about that during my race…that THIS is where I’m supposed to be. And it makes me happy.


(And to return to regular blogging. Pictures from the cruise are forthcoming. As soon as I can figure out this new camera…hhhmmmm….did you know that I’m mechanically challenged?)


Molly said...

My favorite part was when you crossed the finish line, hugged me and cried, and said, "OMG that was so hard, that hurt so much...[and then you looked at me and said] I shouldn't be telling YOU this!" LOL Yes, I think I know it's going to hurt :)

Congratulations again! I will definitely plan on multiple pairs of compression socks for a few days after...sounds like I will need it. And will also scope out a cupcake place in AZ haha.

Maybe I should buy/freeze a few of those cupcakes and ship them to you!

Elizabeth A. Rich said...

I LOVE this and know exactly what you mean... all of it! Congrats again on your finish!!!! I can't wait to see some pics :-)

Cy said...

Thanks for sharing all the details of your IM Day. What an experience. I think my favorite line from this post was "it was just as much his as it was mine" when you described putting the finishers medal around Nate's neck. Love it.

Welcome back!

kerrie said...

great end to the race report!! i always think it is wise to plan some kind of trip or holiday after an IM that gets you away from your regular routine so you don't feel so lost and so you are forced to rest. it just all ends so abruptly, doesn't it?
next stop - KONA!!!!

Ange said...

fabulous!!! Thank you SO much for sharing this Marit. You are amazing. My inspiration.
thank you for sending your email...I will be dropping you a note this for 1 more brick now. :)
oh that reminds me..I DO have taper questions...will email you tonight or tomorrow.
Yeah!! you have gotten me so excited!

Maijaleena said...

I think this is at least the second time I have seen you say something about these beer samplers. Must be good ;)

Again great race and thanks for sharing all the details.

There is no way that your 4 race reports took less than your IM to write.

Shan said...

Marit, you are truly a hero to me. To come back from the depths of injury to really kick some major ass at your first Ironman - it really inspires me every day. So when you tell me that you are impressed at all that I do, remember that I keep people close to me that continue to work SO hard toward their goals, all with a smile on their face - and you are certainly one of these people. Thank you for moving to San Diego, because I feel dang lucky to have met someone with as much courage as you.

You are going to ROCK THE FACE OFF Kona, and I can't wait to watch!! Miss you tons, and hope to see you VERY soon! xoxo

ADC said...

We had lots of fun with you guys. After you left that night Shaun said to me that Nate is one of the most intelligent American military guys he's met. He was really impressed. Now I think that you guys really need to come and visit us. :))

Angela and David Kidd said...

Great report and such a great performance. You are incredibly inspiring!

D said...

I'm so glad I got to be a part (even a small one) of your first Ironman experience. I'm even more excited that I will be there for your first Kona!!
Love ya, girl :)

Damie said...

Every time I read your blog I am reminded of how cute you are. It was fun to take this first IM journey with you. ;)

Beth said...

How awesome that you wanted Nathaniel to have your medal! I know how much a husband can be a part of your success - and I don't even do IM. Very, very cool! Can't wait to see pictures! :)

Missy said...

I'm sooo with ya on so many levels. As soon as I finished, I took a few pictures and said - I need to lay down NOW, I need to get back and lay down.

Great reportS! I'm sure the third place gal was thrilled that you already had your slot to Kona. You had to make her day.

Jennifer Cunnane said...

Great report! Glad you took a vacation after - that lack of structure is tough, BUT so important! Plus, you got in tons of quality family time with your #1 supporters.

Kim said...

once again, another fantastic race report! i teared up when you gave nate your medal. congrats again for a fantastic amazing inspiring awesome race!

Marni said...

I wasn't sure when you were getting back from your trip so I've neglected your blog! I will devote all week to catching up but based on your recovery report....I am so proud of you!! WAHOO!

Charisa said...

Sooooo true, family is everything!!!

Kim said...

Such a great post !I enjoyed it! Every second.. you're amazing my friend..simply amazing. Thanks for sharing your day with us!!

Molly said...

I cannot tell you how helpful/inspiring these last few race reports were... I'm working towards being able to do an Ironman next year, and this definitely has broken it down so it seems more manageable. So thanks for taking the time to write this report. And congratulations, what an amazing achievement and fantastic time!!

Sherry said...

HI Marit! I'm a little late to the game... but I just wanted to say 'congratulations' on an awesome race! I enjoyed reading your race reports... and your blog is very inspiring in general. Best wishes to you.... :o)