July 6th 2014
3:30 am - It was time to get out of bed - I had not slept a wink so I did not wait for the alarm to go off but got up and moved through the motions of race morning. Applesauce for breakfast, a quick shower, got dressed, grabbed my race morning bottle of Preform, a banana and got on the road.
I had arrived in Frankfurt on Wednesday giving myself plenty of time to adjust to the time change and take in the energy of the city. The finish line was downtown but the swim took place about a 40 min drive outside of the city in a man-made lake that I had described to our Sherpa’s as the Mediterranean - they made fun of me for the rest of the morning.
By 4:15 we were in the car on our way out to the lake - everything went like clockwork and we arrived right on time at 5 am.
I have to say there is absolutely nothing more magical than T1 of an Ironman on race morning. There is a certain buzz but yet calm in the air that I just cannot describe - it’s my favorite hour of the race. It’s when find my inner calm and all my doubts go away and it all makes sense.
After getting Heidi all set up for her first big dance I headed out of T1 to get the day started with a little swim. On my way out of T1 I somehow managed to walk right into the pro area and who is standing right there… yup Siri. I have decided she has to be my good luck charm for races - IMMT, Kona and now here. We just keep bumping into each other. I actually found courage which surprised me and walked up to her and told her just that - very unlike me but you only live once right? So make it count and as someone keeps reminding me we do truly create our own happiness. After a good luck from Siri nothing was going to stand in my way.
So let’s get down to business.
Swim 1:08 -
The swim was a two loop course in the already mentioned man-made lake. There were 2 swim waves the pros that stared with a group of AG athletes and then the rest of the masses 15 min later.
Colin and I made our way down to the beach and into the water. We wanted to make sure to get a good spot which meant treading water for about 10 min before the gun went off and in the end I think it was well worth it. I will say that this was the most brutal swim I have had to experience so far in all my races - yes LP was quite the contact sport for a good part of the first loop but then I found some clean water. This swim was a non-stop mission of survival and full on contact sport for the entire 2.4 miles. When I got out of the water I was just happy that I survived it without getting seriously injured.
The days leading up the race I had gotten my head into a bit of a funk and a little too wrapped up in numbers and race time predictions - QT2 has fancy calculators for just about everything including predicted finish times. After one last pep talk the night before the race from Tara - her hanging up with the final words of “make me proud,” I had decided to not look at times but just race according to plan. To just be in it with all my heart and soul. At the end of the swim as I was struggling to climb up the beach I turned off my watch and let the swim go. To be honest I was super surprised that I actually did pull off a 1:08 in that mess.
So couple things that are different about racing outside of the US, there are no wetsuit strippers and you are also left to your own defenses in transition. There are no volunteers eager to help that already have your bag open putting your shoes on for you - don't get me wrong there were volunteers but not helping you every step of the way.
So I got up the hill still catching my breath. I grabbed my bag and started opening it as I was running - BIG mistake - somehow as I was pulling out my race belt, which you had to wear on the bike and helmet my glasses went flying and even with the help of 3 volunteers I could not find them. Just as I had decided that I would just have to race without them - if you know me you know I’m blind as a bat and making that choice I was taking a big risk - just as I was heading out of the changing tent I spotted something under one of the benches. Don’t even ask me how but yes there were my glasses. They were a total mess but better than nothing any day. After packing up my wetsuits and dropping it in the drop zone, I stopped and asked a volunteer to use his shirt to clean them off at least a little and then I was off.
Something always goes wrong - it’s how you deal with it that makes or breaks a day. Take a deep breath and stay calm. IM is a long, long day and compared to Jan Frodeno’s day, mine was a total breeze - so glasses on my nose I headed out on the bike.
All winter long there was one thing that I kept saying to myself during all the long hours on the trainer or when my legs were telling me that they didn’t have another interval in them and that was 5:15. I get asked what my strength is and what “I am”. Well, to me in my head, I would like to be a cyclist - I really, really want the bike to be my thing but for some reason I don’t end up posting killer bike splits. I post fast run splits but I just don’t see myself as a runner. So in my head maybe if I could ride a 5:15 in my eyes I would be a cyclist after all.
I absolutely loved the bike course. It was the perfect combo of some low rollers and flats. The views were stunning and the town we road through could have not been more energetic. In the end this IM was one big party - the German’s sure know how to make 140.6 fly by.
The bike felt solid and strong. It started getting a little warm and windy but to me it didn’t feel too crazy. Just towards the end of the second loop right around mile 80 or so I spotted Colin - thank God you can spot our QT2 kits miles away. It took me about 25 min - 30 min to work my way up to him but when I did I gave him a swift pat on the back side. We exchanged a few words and then we put our heads down to make the last miles count. It was just awesome flying back into town with him.
This one went without hiccups. I took a few extra seconds to wipe my feet of sand from the beach, grabbed my visor, zip lock bag of fuel and banana, then off I went.
The run was a 4 loop course. I have not quite decided how I feel about that but what I can say again, it was one big party and the time just fly by. It was great having very short next “markers” to get to and for the most part the run was flat and pretty toasty - running legs felt good and at first I was really ready to put things to the test. I loved getting to see my friends and family as much as I did again it just made the run fly by. As I headed out onto lap 3 I saw Patrick who yelled at me that I was 1:20 out of first place and to go crush it. This gave me a boost for the next couple of miles and then when the legs started getting tired my head got the better of me. I knew there were 3 spots in my AG for Kona so the devil in my ear started saying you just have to hold on, no need to kill yourself, just don’t let anyone pass you. So that is just what I did. I found a running partner who was doing a good pace and just stuck to her heals, passing the final woman in my AG in the last mile before the finish line who had started her day 15 min before me.
9:59:48 - yes just barely under 10 hours. I reached my goal. I’m blown away and happy with my day and shoulda, coulda, woulda is never the way to go. But I do know I have more in me.
I know that I did not cross that line like I did at IMMT last year; I was not in the same shape and did not leave everything out there on the course. This has fueled the fire in me to put my head back down and get back to where I know I can be by the time I get to feel that buzz again and toe the line on the Big Island in just about 90 days.
I did however cross the finish line with the biggest smile on my face so far - the finish line in Frankfurt was hands down the most amazing to date. Yes, yes even the famous Ali Drive the crowds were amazing. But what really put the icing on the cake and something no one will ever be able to take is having my parents at the finish line and my father with tears of pride in his eyes. It left me speechless and has changed me forever.