Monday, August 9, 2010

The IronMan

I competed in the first ever IronMan 70.3 in Boulder this weekend. It consists of a 1.2 mile swim, followed by 56 miles on a bike and a 13.1 mile run.

So let's take you through the event as I saw it.

We had to register the day before and get my race numbers so we headed up to Boulder (about an hour and half a way) around lunch. Got all checked in and headed to hotel followed by lunch and then dinner, I have to say it's been so long since the three of us just hung out it may have been one of my favorite times of the weekend.

The next morning the alarm went off at 4am and we made the trip to Boulder reservoir, got my bike all checked in (Joe ended up renting me a bad ass bike), got body marked (wrote on with a permanent marker to note my age and race number) and changed into my wet suit. Joe, Austin and I hung out on the beach for the next hour and a half waiting on the swim to start. The professionals went first and they are FAST, holy smokes. They finished the swim in 23 minutes! The oldest of the groups went next and were given plenty of time before the rest of the groups started which were sent into the water in 5 minute increments. The oldest racer was a 74 year old woman (who I saw running at the end which means she kicked my ass!). My turn came up, I was in one of the largest groups. There were 1800 racers and 600 of them women with the age group 30-34 having the largest numbers. I can't really explain what it was like to stand with my daughter on the beach waiting my turn, watching all the other moms dance and play with their kids, just an awe inspiring moment for mom's everywhere. As I choked back tears of my reality getting ready to come to fruition I walked to the water. It was cold and I was glad to be wearing a wetsuit. It was a water start, so everyone entered the water to about the 8 foot depth mark and tread water waiting on the horn to sound. I somehow got pushed to the front of the pack so when that horn sounded I was swim trampled by 100 of my closest competitors. I got back my senses and started swimming the never ending course. I swear every time I would look up I wasn't any further along. It took me 1 hour and 20 minutes to swim the length and I was dead last, but not dead. :-) I kissed my family and limped off to the bicycle area, got all changed and headed out on the 56 mile trip, my legs were already dead from swimming so I was sure this part would be a challenge. Did I mention I had never been on a road bike, or swam in open water...while I did plenty of training it was all indoors.

The bike part was exhausting like you would imagine and not just because it's biking but because in my case I was on that god forsaken thing for 4 and half hours. I foolishly didn't bring a water bottle thinking that they would have some at the transition area so I had to wait until the 10 mile mark to get a water and a banana which may have been the best food that has ever touched my lips. Cyclists would pass me and say things like "great job Crystal!" (my name was printed on my number bib on my back). It was amazing ot me that while everyone was competing it was a competion with yourself not others, so everyone was so positive and enthuasistic. I made it to the 40 mile mark and stopped for another snack and was approached by a race official that let me know I was the last in the group and he was going to follow me to make sure that I finished. There was a sense of safety in hearing his big diesel engine behind me, I knew if anything happened he was there. I pedaled my bike another 10 miles at which time I heard him stop behind me, I stopped and he let me know we were out of time and he would have to take me in the rest of the way. 6 miles short and heartbroken I got in the truck, of course I immediately had to start talking to keep me from crying so I now know his life story, if you ever need a sign made in Boulder Colorado Dean is your man. :-) He apologized a hundred times for not being able to let me finish but with the roads being blocked and all there was only a certain amount of time they could let me have.

In hindsight I would have worn a watch, perhaps if I had known in time that I was running out of time I could have pushed it harder slowed down less for drinks and what not, but that's hindsight and doesn't help much now. I have always lived my life with the mantra that it is better to try and fail then to not try at all. I believe this is a saying best said by someone like me that very rarely fails because I can assure you that this failure hurts. 6 miles separated me from my goal. Of course I would have had to run next and with the shape that my legs were in running at a 10 minute mile pace for 13 miles would have probably been impossible, but I would have LOVED the chance to try.

Today I am nursing a very swollen, bruised butt (I went to click into my pedals slipped off backwards and landed on the tire) and a crushed ego. Oh yeah and a third degree sunburn, I thought there would be sunscreen at the bike exchange but I was mistaken so my white shoulders spent that 4 and half hours just cooking.

In honor of Kimberly's last list and to keep me from being depressed here are the things that I am most proud of from this weekend.

1.) I was scared of the swim and being in open water and walked in anyways, Joe said that my face looked so unsure and nervous, which I was.
2.) I swam for over an hour and was able to walk out and kiss my perfect daughter.
3.) I had to complete two laps of 28 miles a piece and didn't quit after one lap even though I was SOOO tired.
4.) I rode a bike in traffic and wasn't even that intimidated, probably because I was in so much pain but I'll take it.
5.) I was the only one in my age group that raised their hand when asked if it was their first triathlon.
6.) I never cried, even though I wanted to.
7.) I kept a smile on my face the whole time.
8.) I didn't wreck on my bike, one of the guys that I saw at the end had wrecked and was missing a good quarter of his skin.
9.) I had my family there to support me because let's face it at this point J and Nate are family too.
10.) Last but not least I set a goal 7 months ago and went through with it and even though I didn't get the desired outcome, I didn't quit.


LauraSuz said...

#2 made me tear up and the part that made me laugh was picturing you riding in the truck with a stranger talking so much you wouldn't cry.

Congratulations a thousands times over! You kicked ass. Way to go!!

Elaine said...

For all your effort not to cry, you have me crying. :)
Good for you! You should be so pround of all the hard work. I'm sure Joe and Austin are proud of you too.