Ironman Arizona was a million emotions all rolled into a 17 hour day. But in one word…disappointing. I made it through the 2.4 mile swim in 60-something degree waters… many who started did not finish this part of the race. Many had panic attacks, many had to be pulled from the swim and some just couldn't make it to the finish.
This alone was a major accomplishment and I was ecstatic. However those same waters that challenged my morning, I fear, ruined the rest of my day. I started suffering a migraine (suspected to be an effect of the cold water dilating the blood vessels) around noon during the bike portion of the race which slowed me down significantly.
While I made it through the cut-off for the bike to the run which was 5:30pm, my run was so slow because of my pounding head. I stopped in to the Medical Tents along the course at two different aid stations during the race to get checked out, my vitals were OK as was my blood sugar so they let me decide if I wanted to continue. I pulled myself together, took some more medication and decided to keep going. Unfortunately, the cut-off to begin the third and final loop of the 26.2 mile run route was 10:15pm. I made it to the beginning of the third loop at 10:45pm. I begged the race organizers to let me continue. They did so… begrudgingly… alerting me that I would be 100% on my own out there and that my race was officially over. They took the timing chip off my ankle, and tearfully, I continued onto the route. Beginning the last 8 mile stretch of the race… in the dark, all alone.
The first three miles were very lonely. I was having a serious “pity party for one”. I had 5 miles left to go, but those last 5 miles were to be the toughest as I had already traversed the terrain twice. I would have been running by myself in the dark on gravel roads (with steep drops on either side), under bridge overpasses and up a mountain side, without a cell phone or any way to stay in contact. My concern at this point turned to my safety and the sanity of my friends and family who would be waiting for me to finish… not knowing where I was on the course or how much longer I would be. I knew I could have been able to finish those last 5 miles... albeit slowly and WAY past the midnight deadline, but I made the decision to end my journey. I made it through 135 miles of the 140.6 mile race.
I have learned a great deal about myself over the past year and that is the best thing that could have come out of Ironman Arizona 2012. Most importantly, I am stronger than I think I am . Others would have been devastated by this series of events and would have sworn off racing ever again. I allowed myself time to grieve and I know that this is not the end of the world. I have the support of the most amazing teammates, family and friends and that is what matters the most.
I am going to take 2013 to refocus and address physical challenges that I did not allow myself to address in 2012 and I will try again in 2014.
Yes, I still believe that I CAN DO THAT!!!!
Thank you for all your support! I'll be back soon!