I came in off the bike and grabbed my bag from transition. Once again, there was no thought of going into the tent. I changed quickly into my running shoes and visor- I decided on the free Tribike Transport visor because it matched my kit, and hey, it was free. If I needed to toss it, I would toss it.
I did stop to try and use the port-potty. I peed a little, but mostly wasted 45 seconds.
Then I ran out and asked which direction was out.
‘Through the tent.’
It was my only time all day in the tent.
I ran through quickly, located the sunscreen people and said ‘Face, back of neck, arms, legs. And hands.’ I’d had the exchange planned while I was still on the bike. After the sun poisoning that I’d gotten in my first race here, I’d sprayed sunscreen all over myself before the swim, and knew I’d need more on the run, as almost my entire run would be under the desert sun.
I’d put my watch on for the run and started it as I went under the arch at about 6:38:30.
I saw Steve almost immediately and began working to real him in. I got to the mile mark and he was close, but problematically, I’d run a 7:30.
Way too fast.
I went through the first water stop. I needed endurolytes and had just taken a GU. A volunteer actually followed me into the aid station, asking what I wanted, which I can’t tell you how much I appreciated, as I’d later get stiffed at three different aid stations. I told him I needed water and got it, downed the endurolytes and kept running.
I caught Steve on the bridge and asked if he minded if I ran with him for a while. He said no, but we were running at different paces, and although I wanted to slow down and work my way into the marathon, I just couldn’t do it.
I ran the second mile in about 7:15.
I did slow it down after that, although mile 3 is a downhill mile. If you’ve never seen the course, it’s kind of amazing. They’ve managed to pack an entire marathon into a course that only covers a few miles of roads. You run out, over the river, er lake, um why can’t we just call it a canal ? then back over the water again, through transition, down to the next bridge, over that, run a loop that takes you to both the biggest hill and the biggest downhill on the course, back over the second bridge, and back past transition.
Three bridges and you run on both sides of the water. The biggest negative about the run is that too much of it is on concrete.
Over the third bridge on the way out, I saw Eric and he told me I looked solid, or something like that. I waved, slightly.
The real test for me was at about 4 miles. Over the second bridge, on the way out, was where I’d cracked last time I did the race, where I’d ducked into the porta-potty and tried to go, then come out and walked.
There was an amazing amount of shame in that for me. I never really got it, to the point where I had to go back and do the race again primarily because it had beaten me once and I couldn’t accept that.
I ate a GU as I ran by the potties, grabbed a water and downed some endurolytes and I never slowed down. Was I a little afraid of the aid station ? Yeah, I was. The knowledge I’d cracked there-
And then it was just another spot on the run and I was past it.
I took it easy up the hill. Then, because of my leg, I took it easy on the downhill.
As I was coming back to the bridge the lead male’s entourage was catching up to us. It’s kind of tight on the path and I was yelling at people to get out of the way of the motorcycle. ‘Come on, it’s the lead male. He’s already won Canada. Get out of the way.’ The truth is that a motorcycle probably shouldn’t be on the run course when the run course is a pedestrian path, but that’s how it goes. I think he was double-lapping me.
That’s DOUBLE-lapping me. Ouch. Humble much ?
I made it back into transition. I was low on GU- only had three, and I took one at the loop marker and then it was out again towards the arts center. I was running OK, but not great. I was really happy to be on the second loop.
It was cool at the long fountain by the art center, and then I was working my way up through people. Even though wasn’t running especially well, I was passing people. I got down close to the hotel we were staying at and back to the aid station with the uber-helpful guy. He again escorted me in to the area where I got the water I wanted so I could down more electrolytes and it was back on the bridge again, one of the bigger ‘uphills’ on the course. By now I was running with certain goals in mind.
Then at about 10 miles the 5th place woman passed me. I know because she was escorted by a mountain bike. When you’re the 5th woman, there’s no motorcycle and camera, I guess. She passed me, but then she didn’t gap me. I was actually getting annoyed. I was still trying to keep my effort steady, and didn’t I have to be running harder to not be getting dropped by a pro woman (who had just lapped me) ? Yeah, it’s a weird sport. Then, I realised what he problem was as she ducked into a porta-potty. I never saw her again- and I unlapped myself !
Does the Ironman have a scrap of mercy ? No. While the 5th place woman was in the crapper, she became the 6th place woman as the former 6th place woman went by me.
She did drop me.
Eric likes to break the marathon into ten miles, ten miles and then 10K, and I think that’s very useful. I have some benchmarks I work with as well- 13 miles, and for no real reason, 22 miles.
I saw Ian and Margit again on the run and think it might have been when I exchanged a high five with Ian. That was somewhere close to twelve miles.
I first took cola right before that, because I was out of GUs. The soda picked me up and then upset my stomach. The upset didn’t last as long as the pick-me-up, so I went with it.
It was a big relief to hit the back half of the run course, if there is such a thing on a three loop course. I saw Eric again and he was- as always- nothing but positive energy. Shortly after I saw him I was again headed to that area I’d walked at in 2007 and-
I was worried. I was hurting a lot more than on the first lap. Screw it. I went through with no difficulty and now I’d heaped dirt on this area that had beaten me in 2007. Of course, that uphill graded area of the course hadn’t beaten me. I’d beaten myself- that and the sun poisoning and the desalination. Not this time. I ran through the aid station, took some more cola, and then I was easing my way up the big hill for the second time.
I wasn’t feeling that great though.
I had to pee, but after I went down the biggest downhill on the run course, there was nowhere for it.
I was having a harder and harder time running. So I found a large utility pole- some monstrous grey metal thing, ducked ‘behind’ it, bent at the knees, and peed. If this is too gross for you, so be it. I didn’t pull down my shorts. I just peed.
And then I started running again.
I felt a lot better. I went through the Inspiration Station and it didn’t pick me up like it had the first time ‘We love You’. Isn’t that sweet. I was going to fast to see my message come up. After that I just concentrated on getting through the second loop and out onto the third loop.
I was so psyched to be on that third loop. About a mile in, getting close to the aid station, I found myself running with a guy and a woman that were talking to each other. They were on their second loop and I was on my third and yet I was having trouble passing them at first. Then I basically got tired of listening to them talk and passed them. I got more great service in the aid station, and was back out on the bridge- that bridge I’d be going over the last time.
The third loop of a three-loop ironman is a thing unto itself. It’s liberating in that the end of the day is coming for you and yet, there is still a lot of work to do. I got stiffed at the last aid station before 22 miles, but when I got there, to 22, I really felt like I’d done my job, and put myself in a position to have a chance to-
Do what ?
When I’d left transition at the start of the run I’d set a goal- break 10:40. Not a lofty goal, but I just needed to run a solid 3:40 on one good leg to do that.
With four miles left, I needed to run about 8:00s.
I kept pushing through and ticking off the miles, but by the time I got to 25 miles, the numbers on the watch weren’t adding up. I was not going to make the 10:40 mark.
Of course, as deadlines go, this wasn’t killer. It wasn’t the difference between qualifying or not qualifying, or between getting a medal or crossing the line with the lights out.
I had three people in my sites as we wended through the parking lot. Because Ian had run the kids mile run the day before, I knew what the finish line was set up like. I passed two of the three people I was trying to run down before I reached the final turn into the straight away. Then I had a dilemma.
The guy in blue and yellow I was trying to pass didn’t want to be passed. He picked it up in a big way and went by him under the Ford black inflatable. There was no strategy. I just ran as hard as I could, and then it was over.
I had beaten him to the line, and while he tried to recover, I got my picture taken.
But I was whooped…