OK, so getting back to the race - I think I left off with the gun signaling the start of the race. So off I went. I started towards the back of the pack to give the fast girls plenty of room and to not get run over. At this point the sun was still low enough that it was somewhat blocked and not messing with my sighting.
I tried to get in a familiar rhythm with my breathing. I thought back to the laps and laps and laps and miles and miles and miles I swam in preparation for this one little 1.2 mile swim through Oceanside Harbor to the Pacific Ocean. But, for whatever reason, I couldn't calm down. I couldn't get back in my familiar every 3 stroke pattern. My heart rate was too high and I was a bit panicky. I could tell my body wasn't at 100%. Tried my hardest to calm down... Got down to breathing every other stroke in an attempt to calm down. However the further I swam out towards the ocean, the choppier it got. I was rocking side to side. Very soon, the men's heat that started behind ours had overtaken my little area of the ocean. This presented its own set of problems. Now I had 200 pound men swimming on every side. And after their heat, came another heat of men. By this point I was in the back trickle of my heat, with just a few of the 'slow girls' and lots of men. Kept on swimming... Buoy after buoy ahead.
Salvation - the turnaround point - Halfway there! I tell myself over and over again my mantra (stolen long ago from cross country) - "I feel good, I feel great, I feel wonderful" - Now the sun was getting high in the sky and messing up my view as I peeked up to sight. Swim, swim, swim, never calming down enough to get to my usual stroke/breathing pattern. I tried to stick off to the side to avoid all the people, but there were so many! It was a different experience than my 07 race... Finally I start to see land on my right hand side meaning I was getting closer. Then I started to hear the roar of the crowd. Cowbells and cheering - I pictured all of my family up there and smiled because there were all there! Finally I can see the boat ramp and the swimmers exiting the water - Just a little further - I finally got shallow enough to set down my feet. The volunteers gave me a pat on the back, asked me if I were Ok, and started my wetsuit zipper down. I ran up the ramp and saw my family! Ran around the outside of the transition area and then turned in to find the Lemond. I saw the turtle balloon and made a left turn!
Got to all my stuff and my family made it there shortly after filling me with 'good jobs' etc. I took my time stripping off my (very tight) wetsuit and gearing up in my bike attire. Made sure my bottles were on the Lemond and I was ready to go. Told my family I'd see them in 56 and off I went!
By this time it had significantly warmed up outside. I had my arm warmers tucked in my back pocket, but didn't think I needed them. The ride first travels out of the Harbor and then turns onto Camp Pendleton where it heads north hugging the beautiful Pacific coast. It really is fabulously beautiful and open. I was really enjoying it even though I wasn't feeling super. The ride continues north for 15 or 16 miles or so (not entirely sure as my bike computer wasn't working). At this point, just after the lovely San Onofre plant, you turn east and head deep into the base. I remembered from my former race that it gets hilly soon... I hit a water stop and checked my bottles - There was still quite a bit of fluid in them so didn't grab any new fluids. I thought I had remembered that there would be a rest top after the hill set....
Shortly after, the hill that has haunted my dreams the past 18 weeks came into view. I remembered it from 2007. I remembered people with fancy tri-bikes getting off to walk up. It's not a terribly long hill, but quite steep and a little longer than you want to see at mile 30 during an Ironman. No problem I tell myself. Only wimps walk it. I put the Lemond into Granny gear and up I went. It wasn't pretty, but I made it. Upon reaching the top I gasped for air and looked out ahead for that upcoming aid stop. Strange I though - didn't see one. I used up over a bottle of fluids from the previous miles. More and more hills came, though not as rough as that first bear. Still no aid stops. IN the mean time I used up my fluids rather quickly. The sun was out and all those hills back in Camp P had blocked the cool ocean breeze.
A rider came up and passed me. I asked him if he knew where the next aid stop was. Mile 50?! Oh my. I was only at 35ish, dehydrated (damn Mucinex) and out of fluids. Not good. I started to panic which really doesn't help things at all... About mile 40 I knew I was in real trouble - no people about, no fluids, no end in sight. I knew I was way off schedule. Then almost as if she were sent from the clouds above, Skyler arrived.... Her name was Sklyer (it's on our tags) and she rode up beside me as I was riding up another hill and breathing quite erratically. Like most mid to back of packers she said hello and asked how I was doing. I told her I was out of fluids and not feeling so hot. Then Sklyer offered me up her bottle of gatorade. I heard the hallelujahs ringing in my ears! I took that bottle while she rode with me to make sure I was ok and I downed the gatorade faster than you can read this post. Salvation! I knew I was still pretty messed up, but at least I knew I could make it 56. I made it to 50 and grabbed 2 more bottles from the Marines - Go Marines - You guys ROCK! :) AT this point the course turns due west (straight into the wind tunnel back to O-side). I picked up my pace a little and started to pick off some of the slow pokes ;)
Then I saw it - Oceanside Harbor! Almost there! Finally made it back, rode across the little bridge into the transition area and there was AJP cheering wildly with a cowbell! Then I turned around, dismounted the Lemond and ran towards the turtle - There they ALL were! Cheering wildly. By this time most of the bikes were already back in the transition area so it was rather quiet, until you went over by the turtle balloon and there the Streams were going crazier than a Superbowl. It was such a great feeling! :) Nate said "Aunt Kate, what took you so long?" I thought - if you only knew, if you only knew. Turns out my ride was 30 minutes slower than 2007...
Took my time taking off my bike shoes, helmet, etc. At this point it was HOT outside. My sister helped spray me down with sun block. I put on my new pink Ironman visor - (I love it, it has pink flames on the side!!) I saw Jackie and her boys in their peace sign shirts made special for the event - so sweet! Home made signs, cowbells - the Streams family came out in style! Even Richard and Sarah had made it! It was time to head out on the run. At this point many people were already done with the race. A few of them cheered me on as I started out on my 13.1.
The first thing I noticed when I started running was not the usual sore "transition legs". Instead, it felt like my body had been beaten the previous evening with a bag of bricks. No, make that cinder blocks. I knew I had messed myself up pretty bad by getting dehydrated earlier. So stupid. ugh!
Next came my first surprise - a turn on the beach! In 2007, the running portion was entirely on the roads. This year we turned on the beach. I like running on the beach, right? Well this was loose sand. And I was way beaten down. No matter - I saw Kevin and Mark - Yay! Seeing my people along the course makes me keep going!
I settled into my painful rhythm. Next I saw the Falks walking along! Yay - more support! Kept going. At this point I started to think about the timing chip on my ankle. How could I get it to the turnaround point without running down that far? Maybe I could take a beach cruiser from some unsuspecting kid riding around. Somehow I couldn't stomach the thought of being on a bike again. I knew I had to run. I got to the turnaround point. Great 10 miles to go. Hurrah! I kept going.
The run course consists of two out and back runs along the beach. IT's really flat and easy (theoretically) and you also get to run with much faster people (on their second loop). By this point many of the people on their course were not on the first lap (like me) but were almost done...
As I approached the finish line (unfortunately also the turnaround point for the second loop) I was running with a girl with a GGTC uniform on - She says to me - "come on - we're almost there!" I told her I had another loop - 6.5 to go. As I heard the crowd going wild cheering in people finishing, I crossed the timing map, nodded at Kara and Jackie and company and turned south again. Another loop awaits.
Back out to the sand. Did I mention I hate the sand? I saw the Falks and AJP and Mark and Kevin. I made Kevin promise me to never let me do this race again - ha ha ha ha ha. He tried to get my mind off it by asking me about the MSU game that night - FINAL FOUR! Yeah, that worked for a second or two before I remembered the pain I was in! My pace slowed even more and I trudged along. Turnaround point again - Just a little over 3 to go. 3 is easy - I can run 3 in my sleep!
My body was protesting - I'll save you the details about my visions of Moses, etc etc. Finally, FINALLY after passing a steady stream of athletes leaving the site, finished, rested and gear in hand, I see it. The finish line! Jackie, Greg and kids cheer me on as I make the final turn into the main stretch. Oh - what a feeling - The endorphins had long since taken over - And there they all were - My family and my friends :) I gave it everything I had and ran it into the finish. And it was done!
My body was jello but I couldn't feel it. I got my T-shirt, hat and medal and then found my family. Chugged some water and was ready to gather my gear and head home to watch MSU and party! My family helped me carry my stuff and we started the LONG walk back to the car. I swear - it's over a mile and the hardest mile of the day as my body ACHED. I said my good-byes and Kara and Melissa and I hopped into AJP's truck. I thought I could use some Wendy's french fries (just like 07) - however, realized that my throat was so swollen shut I couldn't eat and I could barely drink. We got home and I showered up. Kevin and Mark had been to the store and filled my fridge with Tecate. The MSU game was in full swing and the mood was upbeat. That is when I crashed. I couldn't eat or drink and was in full shut-down. I went into my room to lay down. By that time some people were showing up for the party.... I got sicker and sicker. Finally we called off the party and I retired to my bed to sleep and force fluids down my throat.
However, don't want to turn this into a sad story. The moral of the story here is drink, drink, drink people (hydrate that is). And, the Ironman is a race not to be eff'ed with. I survived, though my recovery has been slow to say the least. I even cancelled out on Wildflower this past weekend (more on that later).... But overall - this was a huge success - I raised almost $2,500 (not too shabby in these economic times) for Prostate Cancer and for my Dad who was there to see me cross the finish line. This made it all worth it.
I am done typing for now, but stay tuned for a special post dedicated to all my donors - you guys are the best! Ta - Ta for now!