Race Report: IMAZ 2009 The Run


I took a deep breath and headed onto the run course. I can go out fast on the bike. The run for me is not so forgiving. I knew I needed to start out easy. Last year, I went out too fast. At Oceanside ,I went out too fast. At Wildflower and Breakwater, I started the run easy and was successful. I felt I was working a bit. Labored breathing and tight shoulders. A look at the Garmin confirmed it. 7:15 pace. I don't maintain this pace (at this point) for an open marathon. Trouble. I tried to settle down. I tried to "JUST RELAX!" It gave me anxiety thinking going out too fast because soon the rent would be due. My savings account would be empty. 7:52 for mile one. I worked on settling down to the 9 minute pace I hoped to average.

Around mile 8 I saw Tim. He was running in the grass parallel to the course getting his run in. He paralleled me for a bit and said "Whoa, Jenny you are on pace for a 3:40 are you sure you want to commit to that?" I smiled and said "Don't worry, I'll slow down soon." He was filming me with the iphone. To do this race, I had to essentially leave my husband for 3 days. Beyond that, I served Tim a lot of bad dinners and had lame excuses for my housekeeping. I wanted to. share as much as I could with him on race day At this exact moment a the bicyclist escorting #3 Kate Major was behind me. Now Kate is a cool gal. I'm sure that she wouldn't give a crap as Tim was not on the course but about 30 feet away in the grass. I was on the far right of the run course. However, they warned at the athletes meeting, we would be penalized for such things as having family follow us on the run course. The cyclists escorting the top 5 males and females would be on the look out!

If your family member was on a bike near the run course that was a penalty too. This saddens me. The most touching stories my friends have of Kona is their spouses biking to different points of the run course to support them. I tell Tim I love him. Seeing him is the highlight of my day but he has to go because I have already been in trouble once. TROUBLE JUST FINDS ME!

I'm hanging in still but slowing down a bit. It still an ok pace but a steady decline. The small hills and 180 degree turn arounds seem to be so frequent. My pace seems to be all over the place. I throw down an 8:08 mile mile but don't be fooled. It’s 8:08 or a surprise in my pants. Shout out to the men wearing white shorts. You are brave souls. One man didn't look so bad. Just dirty from his bike seat. Another? Let's move on.

I run to the bathroom and somebody beats me there. The competitor in me tells me to keep going. I run on and realize it is a bad idea. I turn back and dance outside the porta potty until it is free. This bathroom has no latch on it. Just as I am wiping my behind a man opens the door. Ahh, he screams. Dude, I am the one with my shorts down. I should be screaming. This is not a sport for the weak or the modest.

I'm starting to feel like Ironman is NOT so easy. The distance isn't so bad. It's the rest of it.

Things settle down for a while. I am overcome with the feeling that my eyelids are heavy. They want to close. I feel like I am in a lecture hall falling asleep and my head is bobbing. You know that feeling. It's horrible. I slept a lot in college. I suppose it’s normal in a lecture hall. Not sure about an Ironman. People look at me a little funny though when asked about my race and I say “It was great except the strangest thing happened. I got so, so tired”.

My head wasn't really bobbing but it was such a dig to stay awake. I was going to fall asleep while running. Then I would trip over one of the one billion curbs or fall rounding one of the 180 degress turns. My worse fear was to take was out a row of small children trying to high 5 the athletes. That would be awful.

I was struggling. So far off pace, but so satisfied with my efforts. I was digging. The whole 9 minute/mile pace was out the window. I didn't know if I could even get there, but I knew I would not give up. I did not know what was wrong with me. I was overcome with something I had not experienced before. I am not sure what. Caffeine crash? Tumble weed allergy? Exhaustion? I was not cramping. Electrolytes were ok. I peed twice on the run and twice on the bike so I don't think I was dehydrated. Nutrition had been on. I didn't know what to do. I went on Coke. You know what they say about the dangers of Coke?. Well they are all true. Once you are on, you can't get off. Mile apart aid stations are too far. I contemplated putting it in my water bottle.

Please anyone with any ideas share away!!!! I beg of you.

I think I took a swig of a gel. I saw my friend Meredith, her husband Dave and their baby Soren. After swallowing the gel I swear I felt like I might implode. For certain, I was in hell on earth. Not sure how I would get out. I refused to end my race here. I kept moving. No muscle aches, no cramps but I am overwhelmed with my struggles right now. Past struggles have came and went in prior races have given me confidence that you can come back from a low point. This one was different. It made me nervous. I swear I looked crazed and scary. I swear Mer's brow furrowed. To top it all off, I swear to you that baby Soren saw me and let out a wail. I scared him so badly. Mer claims that none of this is true. She said I was smiling all day. We'll have to say I was hallucinating here. Great!

I remember crossing the bridge. In lap 2 of last year it turned evil on me. This time it was no worse than anything else. Things were bad, but could have been worse. I just kept going and singing to myself. The channeled song was Janice Joplin's "Oh lord why don't you by me a Mercede's Benz”. In my head it was very slow and very labored. I thought of Elizabeth and could hear her laughing. It got me through.

With about 12 miles to go I saw Tim. I felt compelled to tell him I was STRUGGLING. I confessed I fell off the wagon. "So, who cares?" he asked. He knew I went hard today. I could tell he was proud. This made me feel better. I didn't train hard to race like a pansy. It reminded me about what a personal journey this was. About the intentions I had set for myself. I wanted to get closer to my edge. I believed I was doing so. I will grow from this day. I knew if I could just keep plugging I'd finish and I would be happy with. He said if I ran 10 minute/miles to the finish I could still finish by 6:00 p.m. I nodded. I knew that 10 min/pace is so easy in theory but it wasn’t now. It was what I was fighting for .

Strangely things started to get better. The sun started to set. The air seemed to be more “humid” My eyes didn’t feel so heavy. My speed started to build. Then next 6 miles went by and by the time I hit mile 20 I felt good. Fresh even. Over the final 6 miles everything was right. My stride was smooth. The kind of running you wish all runs were like. I ran with everything I had. It was my goal to finish with the best time and effort I could. Whatever than maybe. I didn’t think I could break 11 hours but it wouldn’t stop me from trying. I saw Tim a mile or two out from the finish. He looked surprised to see me so soon. I threw my water bottle to him. “I’ll get you to the airport”. It was awesome.

At mile 25.5, a man yelled and screamed to me. He was just a figure in the now dark night. He had this amazing amount of energy for racer #2338 . He yelled #2338 you have 3 minutes. You can break 11 hours. GO! GO! I knew running 0.7 miles in 3 minutes was unlikely. The energy was so amazing. It’s why you do an Ironman. It's why you watch an Ironman. It's why people cry at watching, doing , and thinking of an Ironman. Regardless of how everything else transpired. all things were right in the final miles of my race. It was my lucky day. I finished on such a high note.

I turned the corner to the now dark alley that lead to the finish. I could hear the roars of the crowd and Mike Riley's voice booming. I heard breathing down my neck. I picked it up. We entered the lighted finish. We ran neck and neck and then she passed me in the chute. I didn’t care. I sort of wanted to soak in the final minute of such a long journey solo. I came to compete with myself. I’m not sure when I’ll run through the finish chute of another Ironman or when I will dig so deeply again. Ironman distance is not a race to be taken for granted. The finish is worth savoring. The time on the clock reads 11:01.

I am satisfied.

RUN Breakdown:

Segment 1: 3.5 miles/8:35 pace

Segment 2: 8.6miles/9:20 pace

Segment 3: 8.3 miles/10:18

Segment 4:5.9 miles 9:02... :)

Total Run 26.2 miles/ 4:09:16

P.S. No need for my husband to hail a cab to the airport.

The End


Sue said...

See i was just waiting for the run report:) Sweet time, sounds like you had a good day @ the office!!

GoBigGreen said...

Not too long! Seriously? Have you read Marit's race reports? :) Sin bin, i love it but that sucks. I would feel pouty about that too. Glad you HTFU'd and got er done!

Caroline said...

Great race Jen! It was awesome to be out there sharing the stage with you. Way to dig deep!!

Marit Chrislock-Lauterbach said...

GREAT JOB JEN!!!!! What an incredible race - YOUR race! You set the stage for a great day, you dug really deep, and even when times get tough - you still powered through. That is what Ironman is all about.

As for the tiredness during the run... my first thought is caffeine, but I'm sure that you have that covered.

A friend once told me (when I asked him about why my hands would swell during the later stages of the race) - that doing an Ironman isn't a normal thing, and your body will never react "normally". Racing for that long is just not something that we're built for. It kind of made me take a step back and think...especially when you can do mulitple Ironmans, have little change between then, and get very different results. When you've been racing for 5, 10, 15 hours - your body just does weird things. That's my 2 cents worth, anyway.

Oh - I agree about seeing your spouse and friends on the course. It would have been awesome to see Tim more...but I know how awful a penalty would have felt (again).

Congratulations on an incredible season Jen! Woo HOO!

Charisa said...

Congrats! Way to hold on for the run when it got hard!

Mary said...

I loved reading this! You're awesome!

Mer! said...

JEN!! I'm so sorry i'm so late in reading blogs these days, but I HAD to come here and let you know I SERIOUSLY thought you were flying!! I said to Dave, Oh my god, let's check on Jen's times she is FLYING!! You killed it!!! I know you had some tough moments....but you got through it...AND I was so excited to see you!!!

Actually...Soren was crying, because he was hungry and tired of waiting for mom who kept saying "wait, wait, Soren one more second, you can eat in a minute Jen is coming!" =0

Nice job Jen...AMAZING!!