“If there was a problem, yo, I’ll solve it
Check out the hook while my DJ revolves it
Ice Ice Baby Vanilla, Ice Ice Baby Vanilla
Ice Ice Baby Vanilla, Ice Ice Baby Vanilla” – Ice, Ice, Baby – Vanilla Ice
If there was a problem, yo, I WILL solve it. The problem? It was as hot as 10,000 hells out on that out-and-back, crappy ass, horrible, run course on Sunday. Like running in a freaking frying pan! Aboslutey. No. Shade. At. All. The solution? Ice. Probably at least a pound of ice. You see, I have finally discovered a use for breasts and running. When you have larger-than-runners-are-supposed-to-have breasts and you have to wear the utilitarian Moving Comfort Juno bra, there is plenty of room to stuff that sucker, front and back, with ice on the run course. I made my own ice chest! The ice kept my body temperature down and it stayed in place so I could take pieces out and rub it all over my face and the back of my neck until I got to the next aid station. The ice on the course also kept the Gatorade cold. Cold Gatorade every 3 miles on a hot as hell run is one of the best things in the world. The Ironman people are geniuses. They had Budget rental trucks filled with ice chests that kept churning out bags of ice to fill the baby pools so the volunteers could scoop it up with milk jugs cut into scoopers and pour it into hot, sweaty runners’ hands. I will forever love the Ironman people and the volunteers. I’m getting ahead of myself, though.
Sunday morning started early with a 4 AM alarm. Carly wanted to come and spectate but it was just so early and, she was so tired from getting up on Saturday to go the Running of of the Bulls, I just could not get her to wake up. Heather arrived at 5:15 AM and Mike, graciously, got out of bed and drove me and Heather out to White Oak Recreation Center at Jordan Lake to catch a shuttle to the swim start at Vista Point. We saw no point in getting up at 3 AM to drive all the way to downtown Raleigh to get bused back to Jordan Lake, which is 20 minutes from my house. We got in the shuttle bus line which was mostly full of other triathletes with the same idea. We immediately started chatting with people because that is what we do! We started to get antsy because the shuttle never showed up. We waited 50 minutes! Finally, a shuttle arrived but we were only about 15 minutes from transition closing so Heather and I bossed the poor little volunteer kid around and told him “athletes only on the bus, spectators wait”. Everyone was very gracious about it because the folks who had early swim waves had to get their things into T1.
We caught up with Freddie at the lake. Apparently, there had been some transportation issues in downtown Raleigh, too, where they had run out of buses to take athletes and spectators out to the lake. His wife, Paige, still had not made it out to the lake because they let athletes only on the buses there. Luckily, we were the last swim wave so she had plenty of time to get there. The atmosphere at an Ironman event is really exciting. There were a lot of first-timers and people looked really nervous. Loud music was playing, people were warming up in the lake, hot men were half dressed (did I say that out loud?). Pretty soon they were calling the relay wave down to get in line. Paige and I walked down with Heather to watch her take off. She looked relaxed and was chatting with other swimmers. Heather just does not freak out about stuff. She was much more aggressive in her start position this year and lined up right in the middle. Soon she was off and I hit my timer to track her. We were expecting her in around 40 minutes.
Freddie, Paige and I headed over to T1 to watch the first few waves go into transition and get on their bikes. Freddie wanted to see how it all worked. We saw a couple of people come up to their bikes, only to find flat tires that must have happened while they were swimming. The Ironman people had bike mechanics to help out. Soon, my timer said 35 minutes so we headed to the relay tent to wait for Heather to come out of the lake. There were many more relay teams this year and it was really crowded. I saw Heather at 43 minutes, elapsed time, as soon as she came up out of the water because I would recognize her running gait, anywhere. We called out to her and she gave Freddie our timing chip and he was off. I did not even see him go because I was helping Heather with her towel. She was coughing and looked a bit like she was going to puke. She said the swim was much rougher than last year, she was much more aggressive and she sucked down a lot of lake water. She made a quick recovery and we headed over to the line to wait for the shuttle buses. The line was about 300 people deep, obviously, mostly spectators.
Waiting for Heather (I have what I think is a great picture of Heather coming out of the lake but I won’t post wet running bathing suit pictures of her on my blog because I would kick her ass if she did that to me but, trust me, the pictures are good!).
I started to get concerned that I would not make it to downtown in time to stick to my carefully planned out eating schedule. . I was supposed to get to downtown and head to Jimmy John’s for a very plain turkey slim on white bread, no veggies or cheese, by 11:00, at the latest. I eat a turkey sandwich about 4 days per week so we knew my stomach could take it. I took one look at that bus line and knew my plan was in jeopardy. I left Heather in line and headed out to find a solution. I found a man in a yellow vest and asked if he was in charge of transportation. He said no but that he was driving a passenger van back to the finish line and he had three spots left. He offered them to me and Heather and we picked up another relay runner for the last spot. The van was the first vehicle out of Vista Point when the last swimmer headed out on her bike. I never ask for special treatment but, this time, taking charge paid off.
We had the coolest people in our van. One woman was the mother of the male elite in second place out of the lake. She was Australian and had no international data plan on her phone so we all tracked her son’s progress on our phones and gave her updates. The other relay runner we picked up was doing the swim AND the run for his team so he was, clearly, a badass. We chatted with all the people in the van for the entire ride and it passed quickly. Our awesome driver dropped us off right at T2 and only two blocks from Jimmy John’s!
We got our sandwiches and sat outside in the shade to wait for the elites to start coming in. The weather was beautiful so, I started to get a little cocky about the temperature. I said things like “Oh, it is so nice. The breeze feels great. I have a good feeling about this”. Hmmph. Should have kept my mouth shut. We saw the top elite males come in and the top three females. It was really impressive. The male winner came in at 3:49 and the female at 4:14. Truly, amazing! When the sun moved and there was no more shade in front of Jimmy John’s we moved to the lobby of the Sheraton. They were so nice letting people wait in their air conditioned lobby. I also used their very nice, not port-a-potty bathroom to change into my running gear. I pretty much treated the lobby like my house, rubbing Run Goo on my feet, so I appreciate their chill attitude. We went to the hotel bar where I filled my water bottle with water and Nuun while Heather made a Bloody Mary at their Bloody Mary bar. It is good to go first!
When we thought there was about a 15 minute window of when to expect Freddie, we left the comforts of the Sheraton for the relay exchange corral in T2. My first thought when we got there was “Oh, shit. It got a lot hotter out here in the hour we were in the A/C”. Of course, there was no shade. Why would you provide shade for people who are about to run a half marathon in 88 degrees and full sun? I said to Heather “You know, this race always seems like a good idea until I get to this point, right here. Then, I think, I don’t want to run a half marathon, today”. Right about that time, I saw Freddie pushing his bike into T2 and I ran to meet him. I grabbed the bike, he removed the timing strap, I strapped it on and, high fived my team, and I was off!
Loop one of this course is not really fun because this course, basically, sucks. Loop two is hell. There is no music allowed at the Ironman. They claim it is for safety reasons but, really, I think they want to add to the suffering. By the time I hit the course at 1:00, there was plenty of suffering to go around. I sort of get outside my mind and take in all there is to see when there is no music and no Heather. The first thing I noticed were all the people standing in line at Beasley’s Chicken and Honey waiting to eat some chicken and waffles. It must be nice to spend your Sunday morning eating chicken and waffles. Next, I noticed several of the restaurants were out providing the runners with cold water and ice. I did not take any on the first loop but I was all over that cold water on the second loop! I ran past a Catholic church broadcasting their service in Spanish. A wise man was out selling Italian ice from a cart. I passed a running store called “Runologie” that had the most amazing stuff in the window and I wondered if they would mind if I came in after the race and tried on those awesome clothes in the disgusting shape I was sure to be in. At about mile 3, I thought “It is really fucking hot. I don’t know how I am going to make it through this race. I had better shorten my intervals”. I slowed to 3 minutes running, 1 minute walking.
Any fun you might have had on that course comes to an abrupt end when you get to about mile 4 on your first loop. By the time you hit mile 8 on that course, your spirit is crushed and you think you might cry, puke or die. You see, the “out” on that out and back is all uphill in full sun. No one was running except me and I was really just “jogging”. It looked a lot like a scene out of The Walking Dead. Real triathletes, who had been in a forward motion since 7 AM, were shuffling down the road. Since my time was going to completely suck due to my slow speed, I decided to see if I could help people out. I asked people if they were OK; I offered what small comfort I had on my person, like electrolyte salt, chews and encouragement. Many people took me up on them. I got the paramedics for one man, who was so dazed, he did not seem to be able to talk. I chatted with folks but most of the people were too exhausted to talk. I made friends with a cool group of middle aged dads last year and we kept each other in good spirits until the wheels came off my personal bus when I had hyponatremia. No one wanted to be my friend this year. Oh, well. I just embraced the suck. When I came back up to the downtown area to start my second loop, my team was off to the side, calling my name, and my Fleet Feet friend, Janine, who was there to see her husband finish, called out my name. It was such a nice surprise.
The complete mind fuck that is a hot out and back with a loop past the finish line at the halfway mark just sucks. It was around 2:15 in the afternoon. When you turn the corner out of downtown Raleigh, you just know what you are in for because you just shuffled your way through the loop once, already. No crowd support (who would stand out in this heat?). No shade. Heat radiating off the asphalt. I passed the Catholic church, again. Service was over, the parishioners standing on the lawn eating Italian ices, while the priests blessed the runners. Thanks, dude, I think I’m going to need it. I passed the running store, again, but, this time I thought “No way, I’m going in there. I’m done with running. This shit sucks”. I made an executive decision to spare myself the misery I experienced at the Not So Normal race. No heat exhaustion for me, thank you. I decided to do the unthinkable – I would speed walk the hot, hilly, no shade “out” and run the slightly more shady, slightly more downhill “back”. My mile splits show this!
My fellow athletes, at this point, were not even moving as fast as the zombies from TWD. I just have to say that people who do this entire race are seriously badass. I don’t care if you were the last person to cross that finish line, you are amazing. I posted a barely respectable time and all I had to do was run. I can’t even imagine. The volunteers were also amazing. I am sure they were just as hot as me but they kept smiling, kept encouraging, kept handing out ice, Gatorade, oranges, cookies, Red Bull. They were so, so kind and so were the Raleigh police officers manning each corner. And the ice. The glorious, glorious ice.
While I posted a horrid time, I am happy with my nutrition and the way I listened to my body in this race. I had no nutrition issues. No low blood sugar. No nausea. No vomiting. No headache. No major swelling. No dizziness. No overheating. No chills. The main problem was that I was really, really hot but so was everyone else and there was nothing to be done about it except to put one foot in front of the other to get it over with faster. The other problem? I sweated off all my zinc oxide sunscreen by mile 3. At about mile 10, a woman shuffling along behind me said “Miss, your shoulders are really red.” I said it is probably just because I am so hot. Wrong. It was because my skin was frying like a piece of bacon with a lovely sunburn in the exact shape of my tank top. It has been a painful couple of days since the race.
I dug deep on the last back and I returned to run/walk intervals instead of just walking (I did receive compliments on the speed at which I can walk so I guess that is something). It was what I call Landmark Running – run the next three stoplights and then you can walk until you get to the aid station. At mile 12, I just started to run/shuffle. As I rounded the corner and saw the finish line, still so far away, I picked up my pace. There were still plenty of spectators. I heard Heather calling my name off to the right. A man came out of the crowd and encouraged me to run faster. I high-fived all the little kids who were still waiting for their parents to cross the finish line. I finished and, physically, I felt pretty good. I injured nothing. I did not puke. I did not pass out. I consider it a success, even though I hate my finishing time. Through the chute to Freddie and Heather to give them their medals. The runner on a relay team gets ALL the glory!
I immediately told Freddie and Heather I was tapping out, never to run this, again. I’ve already changed my mind and agreed to run it, again, next year. I’m a slow learner. I conquered my nutrition issues. Now, I am going to conquer my heat issues. I already have a plan. I’m also trying to convince the two of them to sign up for the Beach 2 Battleship FULL Iron distance as a relay in 2016. How hot can it be in October in Wilmington (don’t really answer that)? Go big or go home.
The official Marine Corps Marathon training starts on June 21.