As I entered T2 with my bike in tow, I seriously questioned my stupidity for continuing on with the race. It was 100 degrees and was only going to get hotter, I was already sunburnt (despite 3 players of sunscreen), and people were dropping like flies. When I came through the last few miles on the bike and saw the runners out on the course, I could see the pain of the heat in their bodies. But, just like the rest of the race, I pressed on, one foot in front of the other.
A quick jog back to my transition spot with my bike, threw on my running shoes, visor, race belt, some more Endurolytes and a couple of emergency gels in case I needed them out on the course, and I was on my way. The start of the run forces you to pass the finish line first - a very difficult thing to do, when you know you have 13.1 miles to go and others are finishing. Forutnately, the only people finishing at the same time I was passing by were the top 5 men, so it was actually encouraging to me that everyone else was still out on the course. I saw Rebecca and my parents, and then began the assault on the run course.
I actually ran the first 3 miles without walking. This was a feat for anyone that day. At the first 2 aid stations, I took my ice, water and/or Gatorade and shuffled along. As I passed the 2nd mile marker, I got to see Joanna Zeiger coming through the end of the course. I've done a few races now where there have been a lot of big name pros in the race, but this was actually the first time I've been able to see them in action while I was racing. Very cool! So as I continued on toward mile 3, I saw the rest of the top women, who all really looked strong. Being able to watch all of this unfold really took my mind away from the heat. It also helped that the first 2 miles of the run course had the only "patches" of shade on the course. Made me actually think the rest of the course might have a few other spots. Nope! Everywhere else was just wide open and brutally hot. After I hit mile 3, I decided to start walking the aid stations to make sure I got enough water/Gatorade into my body and gave myself the opportunity to cool down with ice down the front and back of my trisuit. Having a one piece really helped keep myself cool. When walking, the ice would stay in my chest and back area. Once I started to jog, the ice would drop down to the lower nether region, which was quite refreshing at the time! This remained my strategy for the rest of the run course. It made the miles tick by and simplified the mind games going on in my head. With only a mile between aid stations, I knew I could make it to the next one. And for making it, I was "rewarded" with ice, water, Gatorade, and WALKING. Plus, because the course was so flat and open, I could pretty much see each aid station from the previous one, so it gave me a landmark to keep track of and focus on.
I made it to the turnaround in 1:06 and was pretty surprised to see that I wasn't too far off 2 hour pace despite walking each of the aid stations. I wanted to pick up the pace as I began the road back to Cambridge, but I had to show restraint because I didn't want to overheat with 6 miles and change to go. I saw Winz around mile 4 as he was heading out toward the death valley section of the course that continued straight until the turnaround point for what seemed like forever. In actuality, it was about 3.5 miles out and 3.5 miles back. But in the heat with no shade whatsoever, running in pretty much a straight line takes its toll mentally. I wished Winz well and continued to plod along toward the last few miles. The heat just got hotter and my walk breaks began to get longer. I was still running about 3/4 of the mile to each aid station, but I took my sweet time nursing that ice all over. My shoes, along with everyone else around me, were soaking wet from dumping water and ice all over. They would just squeak along with each stride I made. With all that squeaking going on, we could have made a musical out of all the noise! Lots of local residents in the neighborhoods we ran through were outside cheering us on and many of them had their sprinklers set up along the run course, which helped keep us cool as well. Some were even giving people spray downs from their hoses, but I was already wet enough at that point, so I opted out of the full body spray down.
I noticed as I crossed the mile 12 marker that the music from the finish line was faint in the background. Spectators cheering along the course were telling us that with the last turn coming up, we'd be able to see the finish line. Sure enough, there it was. With a little less than a mile left, I trudged along with my 3 lb wet shoes toward the finish line. I made sure to hold back a bit, because I wanted to make sure nothing unexpected would happen as I came running down the finish chute. I made the last turn to the finish and was met by tons of spectators lined along the last straightaway. With about 50 feet to go, I heard the announcer say my name, and I made sure to take in the moment. I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face and was met by Rebecca and my parents at the end. My final time for the run was 2:18, which gave me a 1:12 2nd half. I can deal with that. Plus, when they posted the results, I found out that I moved up 600 places overall on just the run! Although not a speedy time by normal standards, it just goes to show what it was really like out there that day.
Once I did cross the finish line though, I saw people laying around all over the place. Some were sitting on the chairs on the side, others were being treated as they laid on the ground. It was an absolute ER zone. I was happy that I was able to stand on my own two feet and speak coherently. I looked around for a volunteer to take my chip off my ankle, but it seemed like they were all busy tending to people struggling at the finish line. Then sure enough, a couple of seconds later, one of the volunteers asked if they could take my chip off for me. Little did I know, IM Able was that person! Although I felt fine, I was a little bit out of it at the moment, so I didn't know it was her until much later when she emailed me to let me know. It was nice to sort of meet you!
So that was it. After getting hosed down at the end of the race, I grabbed some food, posed for some pictures, and got a great post race massage. Both made me feel MUCH better! After that, Rebecca helped me pack up my stuff and we made our way home. In all, a successful day despite the harsh conditions.
- Swim: 46:07
- T1: 4:01
- Bike: 2:56:06
- T2: 2:51
- Run: 2:18:41
- Final Time: 6:07:46