From email@example.com Mon Oct 15 16:20:53 EDT 2001
Article: 285677 of rec.running
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Mike Conway)
Date: 11 Oct 2001 19:41:52 GMT
Organization: AOL http://www.aol.com
Subject: Ironman race report, Part 2--the run
Xref: news1.radix.net rec.running:285677
So now I am a little more than 9 hours into the race...I had no conceivable
idea before the race that it would take me this long to get here, nor that it
would take me 4 hours to go 60 miles on the bike out to Hawi. When I hopped
into the bay earlier, I made a concious effort to tell myself to focus on where
I was at; in other words, be "in the moment" as opposed to worrying about where
I thought I should be. At Ironman Canada in 1996, I dropped at mile 9...about
9 hours into the race.
This day was a long, hard one. But finish I would...
As in the first transition, I took my time in T2, and in fact walked the first
300 or so meters out of the transition, just to make sure my legs didn't decide
to up and cramp on me as they have in prior Ironmans, and indeed in some
ultramarathons. Of all the things that would be thrown at me this day, cramps
would not be one of them, much to my pleasant surprise.
I picked up the pace and began running--the first mile was an out and back in
what's called the "Old Airport Park", so it was pretty bleak and devoid of a
lot of spectators, but it just felt good to be off the bike and running
reasonably well. After this loop, we headed into town, within earshot of the
finish line and of course the announcer's voice can be heard as the Ironstuds
and -studettes are crossing the line. The crowds from the two mile mark
through the nine mile mark are pretty thick, which was a nice boost.
As with the bike, the run course is deceptively hilly--nothing major, but it's
all relative at this point. My pace is a very pedestrian 10-minutes per mile,
including walk breaks through the aid stations, but no real problems are
presenting themselves and I feel good, soaking up the atmosphere, joking with
the volunteers and striking up conversations with fellow competitors from all
over the world. I am feeling good and enjoying the whole thing.
We head back towards town after a turnaround at about 6.5 miles, again within
earshot of the finish. We head up Palani Road, a decent-sized hill, towards
the Queen K highway once again. The sun is setting. We, at just over nine
miles into the run, are looking at competitors going the opposite direction,
just past the 25-mile mark...wishing, hoping that we will get to that point as
People are in all sorts of different running styles now--some shuffle, a lot
walk, some run purposefully and strongly, and I am somewhere in between. My
walk breaks at the aid stations are getting a bit longer now, the pace slowing
to now around 11 minutes per mile, but no cramps...just some very painful toes.
With glow stick in hand, the sun finally drops below the horizon. The "night
watch" has begun. Chicken broth is being served in addition to all the other
culinary delights at the aid stations. As it gets darker, you realize there
are no lights on the highway, and it is very cloudy, so the moon has no effect
whatsoever. It is pitch black eventually, and you have to be careful not to
run into another runner who does not for some reason have a glow stick.
Oncoming cars blind you with their headlights. The aid stations beckon with
humanity, nutrition and a welcome break.
Finally I make the turn into the Natural Energy Lab, a four-mile out-and-back
that is mostly downhill in and uphill back, though both grades are gentle. You
can hear the ocean from the road, and the shuffling of the runners around you.
I run a lot, walk some, still feel pretty good, do some mental calculations
("let's see, I'm at 12 hours now...I have five hours to do 10 miles...I think
if I had to I could walk the rest of the way and make it...") which ease my
mind. The only thing up in the air at this point, barring something bizarre
happening--always a possibility here--is what time my day would end.
At the turnaround at the Energy Lab, you can run through a "misting tent", and
even though the sun had not been up for a while, I ran through it...and it felt
great. The volunteers out there were friendly and encouraging, and would get
you anything you needed. What a great group they were.
The last 1/4 mile or so out to the highway is a pretty significant hill, so I
slow to a walk and discover my stomach is not happy. Okay, now what? Heave-ho
and get it out or just take it easy for a bit and see if it settles down? I
have no desire to eat or drink now, which is not a good sign, and still have
eight miles to go.
I walk nearly the whole of the next mile. I pop some Tums, have just water at
the next aid station and then try to run again...successfully. My stomach is
still not all the way back, but the possibility of projectile vomiting, so
common here, has gone away. Thankfully so...
The mental calculations continue...I hit the 13-hour mark right around the
21-mile mark, and am brimming with confidence. My pace, still a slow one,
feels much faster than it is as the thought of running down Alii Drive begins
to play out in my mind. But I quickly come back to reality...still some work
left to do.
Now past the 24-mile mark, my legs begin talking to me some, so I alternate
walking, running and some stretching...the last bit on the highway is an uphill
stretch, then you make a right turn onto Palani and it is mostly downhill and
flat. I know that last mile will be an easy one, as the crowds will help pump
up the adrenaline to a point where pain will be a non-factor.
And I was right. I begin running again just before making the turn, and then
fly down the hill. A left turn onto the Kuakini Highway takes us once again
away from the finish, but the crowds are growing larger now.
Running strong, I see a couple of little girls by the side of the road, one
with a glow stick and one without...I hear a little voice "can I please have
your glow stick?" and without hesitation hand it to her as I run by..."thank
you", I hear from behind me...from the mother...
A half-mile to go. One more turn, down another hill (the point where Paula
Newby-Fraser melted down a few years ago), and I'm running faster than I have
all day...and probably than I have in the last month. The crowds seem huge
now, the town of Kailua-Kona all lit up...people put out their hands for
high-fives, which I return as much as I can.
Then, Alii Drive. Triathlon's Holy Grail. The experience is unbelievable.
You can hear the finish, but not quite see it. People are lined up several
deep on each side of the road, cheering wildly, and more high fives. I have
passed several runners in the last half mile or so, and am all alone as I see
the lights of the finish line.
I am flying now. When I imagined this point in my mind prior to the race, I
did not know how I would react. I hear the race announcer call out my name, do
some more high fives, and then finally cross the finish line, stopping for a
moment for a Tiger Woods-like fist pump...and it's all blur--cameras
everywhere, people everywhere, music blaring. I get my lei greeting, and
unbeknownst to me my girlfriend has made her way right by the finish line. My
finish line volunteer is trying to keep up with me, as is my girlfriend---I am
so amped it is not funny. No fainting for me here!
14 hours, five minutes and 9 seconds after the cannon went off this morning I
crossed the finish line at The Ironman. As someone noted in another post, in
many ways time is irrelevant here. Anyone that finished this course on this
day endured what some have said were the toughest conditions ever.
My goal was to come here, soak up the experience, finish the race and let as
many of the volunteers as I could know that they were appreciated out there.
And I did all of that. I finished strong, battled the inevitable self-doubts
along the way and mentally kept myself (mostly) in the moment.
Others have done this race and said it changed them forever; that remains to be
seen. With all of the events of the last month, in some ways these types of
endeavors seem more selfish than ever. In the grand scheme of things it is
just a sporting event.
But I will say that I had one hell of a time and if given the chance I will
certainly do it again. Thanks once more to those of you who wished me
well--many of you were on my mind during this very long day.
For now, it's back to the more mundane tasks of laundry, work and paying bills.
But I do all of that as an Ironman finisher. And I am extremely thankful for
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