Monday, June 15, 2009

Ironman Kansas 70.3 Race Report

Ironman KS 70.3 = an experience of a lifetime!

My journey to become an Ironman event participant began last year when I got wind of a 70.3 competition they held this close to home. Who could pass that up? Of course I couldn't! It was on my mind for several months and then it was inevitable. I registered.

Fast forward to June 13, 2009 ~ check-in day. McRib (my sherpa, my hubby) and I drove to Clinton State Park to go to the expo and get my bike checked in. We arrived around 1:00, parked, unloaded my bike and off we went so I can officially become an Ironman 70.3 groupie.

The expo was probably 1/2 mile from where we parked. No biggie (even tho I'm in flip-flops), it's not that far. I'm now getting quite excited as the reality of what I'm about to participate in sinks in. I hear music playing, athletes are everywhere, I'm drooling over all the cool bikes and starting to plot my next triathlon adventure. Shhh, don't tell my sherpa. :)

After standing in line for about an hour, I get all checked in, we peruse the expo and we're off to set up my bike in T1. T1 is at least a 1/2 mile, if not longer from T2 and the finish. I get all markered up, find my spot, chat with a few athletes and we're off. Everything is nice and relaxing, running smoothly and I'm feeling pretty good about how I'm going to race the next day. My goal was sub-6.

We headed into Olathe as we were staying at KimPossible's place - she was very kind to open up her home to us even tho' they were off running another marathon in a far away place. :D Next up was dinner - Oklahoma Joes. Yummo...OK skipping over minor details of the evening, which some I might say are rather hilarious...I found myself not able to fall asleep. I didn't feel nervous or anxious or overly excited. It was just another night before a race. *sigh* 1am rolls around and my looky-looks still are not closing. hmmm and my alarm is set for 4am.

4am rolls around, I peel myself out of the sheets and gear up. I'm tired, but not draggin hiney like I should be after less than 3 hours of sleep. It must be the hunger I have to become Ironman 70.3 that's propelling me forward. A few words with Kim and Doug as they rolled in around 3am (crazy maragoingthoners - lol) and we are out the door.

I always like to be places early so I have plenty of time to prepare and have some leeway in the event of some sort of mishap. Here's my timeline of how the morning was supposed to go:

4am - wake
4:45 - leave
5:30 - arrive Clinton State Park
6:30 - race officially begins
6:42 - my swim heat starts

A quick stop at Dunkin' Donuts for some pre-race carbs and "oh no! I left my pre-race drink at home, coffee will have to do". We enjoyed a nice quiet ride to the park, we exit off and oh my... there is traffic everywhere. One long line from this direction, another long line from that direction and we are now rolling along at a mere 5mph. The clock is ticking. hmmm. We are still traveling at 5mph. And the clock ticks on...

40 minutes later we park and....we have to walk - to each transition area and set up. I start the power walk thing, dragging McRib behind me to T2. T2 - running gear is all set up. Hit the porta-potty. T1 here we come. As I am power walking again dragging McRib behind me to T1, I glance at my watch. Shiz! It's 6:30. I swim in 12 minutes. I am now running! My sherpa is still walking....he's got my gear. Not going to work. Run Sherpa Run! Faster Sherpa Faster!

I blaze through setting up my bike gear as they are shouting "transition area closing". HUH? Quick glance over my stuff and I run out. Now that I'm out I realize I didn't leave my glasses. Sprint back in. Sprint back out. I'm now stripping down to my tri suit with one hand and slapping on my swim cap with the other - Oh no! My gatorade bag. The purpose of the gatorade bag was to hold all your swim gear to be transported up to the finish line. No GB, no transport. At this point, there is nothing I can do other than have McRib hand me the bag when I'm done swimming.
RED W40-44 in the water, READY, SET....WHAT?? I'm not in the water. It was like slow motion....I ran and dodged every green and blue cap looking sleestak that ever existed, forging ahead to the water....where of course all the red caps were...*sigh* I made it! In the water, water felt good, I'm finding a spot in the back of the pack...of course not much of a choice now - GO!

And we're off. I'm pretty sure I added some distance to my swim. Totally intentional as I wanted to let everybody know that I may not be fast, but I can swim even further than the distance you have mapped out for all us tri-peeps. I finally made it to the swim finish after many zigs and many more zags - 47 min later. UGH! OK, that bites, but I can make up that time on the bike.. As I'm running to my bike McRib yells at me - gatorade bag is on your bike. Coolio sweetie - you rock! (pic below - I'm the one in the red swim cap)
Fast forward to the bike ride. I'm off and I've got some ground to make up, yet save some for the run. Ride starts off great. I'm booking along, shift down to hit a hill and I hear a grinding noise in my gears. Hit another hill, shift down more grinding noises, and my gear totally shifts from big to to small ring. ARGH! Obviously today my bike has a mind of it's own. As long as I make it to the end, this bike can grind as much as it wants. Overall the bike portion rocked. I smoked past many riders, chic riders in my age group and was loving it - I was making up time. Making up the lovely time on a day with beautiful weather and loving the ride until.......mile 52.5. My chain came off going up a hill right before the entrance of the park. Hopped off, got the chain back on, hopped back on bike. Pedal around - and a noise I can't even explain - chain broke. Oh *#!&% I have two choices: quit or walk. I do a garmin check...3.5 miles to go...I started walking. I took off my shoes thinking it would be easier than walking in my sidi's. Wrong answer. Put sidi's back on and clomped to T2.

It was quite the journey walking 3.5 miles, pushing my bike, walking in my sidi's. Lot's of support from bikers and workers. I tried running, not good. I thought about hopping on my bike and coasting down the hill...couldn't do that either in case the chain would get lodged and propel me into another direction. So I walked and walked and walked. Getting closer, I could see athletes running and all of a sudden, right in front of me... *boom*. A nasty sounding thud. A biker was coming in, a pedestrian was crossing....I'm sure you can imagine how hard each went down. Ouch! After seeing that, I'm even more okwith walking my bike...because I'm not going out on a stretcher. (pic below: I'm the walker in the all black tri-suit)
I finally got to T2, smiling that I made it and I was all cooled down and ready to run. As I walk into the transition area, I look around and it appeared as if every bike possible was racked up. Reality hits me like a freight train! The tears started rolling down as I thought of my 6 hour goal and the 40 minutes it took me to walk in. I was right on target to hit 6 hours even with the slow swim. I looked up as I was changing shoes, saw a few them I found comfort in the fact that I did not give up when my chain broke and nothing else matters but having a great run and crossing the finish line. I sure as heck am not giving up now. Laced up, hit the porta potty and I hit the road. Run was good - 2:03. The path was well supported with fans and 12 miles seemed to fly by. Then the last mile - hit me hard. I am now feeling the heat of the day, the lack of food, the lack of sleep and the overwhelming emotion of I being soo close and to accomplishing a goal - becoming Ironman 70.3. My time no longer mattered, I'm hitting the final stretch and I'm going to relish the flags, the fans and crossing the finish line to officially say I am Ironman 70.3.

I crossed with a smile and tears as I took the bling and began celebrating my accomplishment. I didn't even take time to have a pic with Chrissie Wellington because all I cared about was what I had just done! :D
Total time: 6:49. Without the 40 min walk, I would've been close to 6 hours. Next year. :)

Race Results in and my official time is: 6:37:03. :D

Up until IMKS, I received tons of emails, texts and words of support from friends, family and peeps on FB. The one that stuck with me during the race was the words I received from my friend Randy:

remember: Zpain is temporary, what you can accomplish tomorrow you'll remember forever

In my mind all I had to say to self was Zpain and my mental game on. Ironically, every orange cone they had directing the flow of athletes had a Z on them.

Today, my heels hurt from walking. But with each step I take I remember the choice I had to make...and I wouldn't take that moment back for anything in the world.

Thank you so much for all your support! I thought about each and every one of you along the way as I got closer and closer to the finish. I couldn't have done it without you!
Up next: 5 Days ~ 500 Mile Bike Ride. RIDE ON!



Hey Great job.

I know it sucks to have your day ruined by a mechanical problem, but you now have a story to tell your grandkids.

You could milk that for a dozen or so blog posts.

So Please tell, what happened? Did you bring the chain to your LBS? Did you pack it up in a box and send it to your bike manufacturer with a picture of you walking with your bike for the last 3.5k?

Nikemom said...

LOL! The chain was relatively new - since April.

The owner of the local bike store was shocked! "this should never have happened". Well, it did and without perfect timing.

Do you think if I send a pic they'll pay my entrance fee to another Ironman?!? LMAO

Ashley said...

You are a total BAD @$$!!! Wow...I would have cried if my chain broke with 3.5 miles to go! By the way, walking 3.5 miles WITH your bike in only 40 min is pretty awesome - you must have been hauling ass!

Kim said...

CONGRATULATIONS! Your time is something I would die for!

Good luck on your 500 in 5 days. You are amazing!

Jag said...

Awesome, awesome job! Nancy and I did one when "we were younger" and it was a blast. I know your exhilaration :) Congrats

IronBob said...

Great job!!
There was a Utube video of a guy at Hawaii that got hit by a car. Wasn't hurt too bad but broke his front wheel. He walked in 7 miles and then did the marathon.
Takes guts girl.


Lisa Slow-n-Steady said...

Wow. What a story of determiniation. That's what endurance sports is all about. Never giving up.

Very inspiring. Great job. :-)

Jumper 2.0 said...

As sad as it is that the chain broke with over 3 miles to go, it is awesome that it didn't happen earlier! Cuz it sounds like you had the noise from the very start.
Awesome race and report!

raulgonemobile said...

Great job! It sucks that your chain broke and you got off to a little bit of a rough start, but it's really awesome how you persevered through it all to finish (and finish strong).

Diana said...

Congrats on a great race Steph! Even though the chain broke and you had to're IM!
Then to have Chrissie in that race! Damn, first Phil, now Chrissie....I'm so jealous!
What a great feeling you must have these last few days-shit, that keeps that damn thought of IM on the back burner still growing in me!

Mel-2nd Chances said...

Incredible race report for an amazing experience! Sucks that the chain broke and you had to walk, but it speaks volumes of your strength and determination. Well done!! Very inspiring.

Wes said...

wo, wo, wo... You musta gotten mixed up. The run course was NOT 16.6 miles :-)

ditto to what everybody else is said. You did not surrender! This was a great experience for you and will make the next one go that much smoother!


Julie said...

Congrats on the Half Ironman finish! Next up....a FULL!!! ;)

Renee said...

Congratulations!! That is such a great story and it will always be memorable with the chain breaking! Way to not let it wreck your day!!!

Brandi said...

Congratulations! This is a major feat! You are definitely inspiring!!!

Lauren said...

Awesome! Talk about HTFU and keepin on! Fantastic race report & you'll definitely get your goal next time!

AKA Alice said...

Oh geez! Now I've gotta worry about chains breaking while I ride. I've goin' nuts with the flat tire issues...

You are such a rock star for gutting it out and finishing. Walking in the riding shoes is just hard-ass.

Lisa said...

Great race report. I practically cried along with you. I am so impressed by you. You didn't let all the stress (late start on swim, broken chain) derail you-- you kept on going. Very inspiring.

Glenn Jones said...

CONGRATULATIONS!!!! Stephanie - after reading your race report, I am more convinced than ever that you are what Ironman is all about!

Congratulations on overcoming the phyisical, and especially the mental challenges that most would have allowed to stop them!

Jamie said...

Way to go! You overcame a lot on the day to become an Ironman! Way to persevere and now you have an even better story to tell ;) You rock!!!

Chad Aaron Sayban said...

Congratulations on the finish. No matter what, nobody can ever take that away from you. It was very impressive for you to gut it out and walk that last 3 1/2 miles of the bike. A lot of people would have quit.

Rest up and great job!

J said...

Great job on the ironman! Such a great experience, and those pictures are awesome!

RunToFinish said...

wooooow you did it!! I'm sure it was the great night of sleep at Kim's that helped you through that last mile

congratulations on an amzing feat!!

Michelle said...

Sista, I am finding it hard to find the words right now. I am just incredibly happy for your accomplishment and I am so so proud of you!!! Your amazing and you are IRONMAN!!


Jessica said...

Great, great attitude despite what you had to muddle through, that is what you should be most proud of! Good job!!

Meredith said...

You are way more badass than I am. I think I would have given up when I broke the chain. Great job working it out! Congratulations.

Kristina said...

CONGRATULATIONS! (a little belated)

The Happy Runner said...

Congratulations! Awesome job and great pics!

joyRuN said...

Dang girl! You are SMOKIN' these days :)

Congrats on this AND the AG finish on your 1/2 mary!!!

teacherwoman said...

"I crossed with a smile and tears".... what an accomplishement! Way to go!! :)

The Running Bob said...

First, your description was too cool! I like how you finished despite the setback.

Second, I 'happened by chance' upon the Ironman website today wondering if I should give it a try. ure I've done marathons but I've been one of those people watching the World Championships thinking of the feeling one must get after such an accomplishment. I'm going to take this as a sign that I should attempt it complete one next Louisville as that is where my family resides.

Dando said...

This is so amazing. Great job!!!

carrie said...

Congratulations!! How incredible!

NY Wolve said...

That is just wonderful -- a great experience and memories. And that is why we do this.

Stacey said...

Congratulations! Now, you can look back at all the mishaps and have a chuckle. It's those crazy, "not how you planned it" events that make you a better athlete! It also makes for fun blogging!


Have a blast during your upcoming race.

Blyfinn said...

That was a great job of pushing on even with the chain malfunction. That is close to crushing.