Want the short version of the day?...
I am an Ironman.
But I know you are all here to read (in detail) what went down that day and how I was able to cross that magical finish line. Here goes, it's a long one, get comfortable.
The weekend started off great. I went down by myself on Friday morning after the kids gave me hugs and good lucks before they went off to school. I decided it was best to have them stay home and stick to their normal routines. Standing around at races is not their favorite thing to do and certainly not 16 hours of standing around. That afternoon I arrived at Tempe Beach Park to Ironman Village where picked up all my gear. I was able to bypass the extra long lines since I was racing as a Team IMF athlete. That made it so quick and easy.
|Ready to get this party started in Tempe!|
|My name on a shirt.|
Later on I met up with Team IMF for the kick-off luncheon at Culinary Dropout (so good). We got to hear all about the Foundation and where the fundraising money is going and had a few guest speakers speak to inspire us! After the luncheon I spent more time walking around the expo, shopping in the Ironman tent and visiting with friends. I didn't buy a whole lot of M-dot merchandise because I was feared that if I didn't finish the race then I wouldn't want to wear the logo. Later that afternoon I met up with some of the other ladies from my Coeur Sports Team. This was the first time meeting my other teammates but I've been on the team for a few years now and I feel like I have really had a chance to know the ladies on a personal level. I had some nice conversations with a few of the pro ladies on the team and I loved the encouragement they gave me. They had some good advice for me and eased my anxiety about this race.
|Team IMF Luncheon|
|My fundraising peeps!|
|Coeur Sports Ambassadors|
That evening I had a nice quiet dinner to myself at the hotel. As much as I love being around people, spending this time alone allowed me to gather thoughts and mentally prepare myself for race day. One tip I took to heart was to picture yourself doing the race (as if you were a drone flying above watching yourself), executing all the plans you have in place and to see yourself crossing the finish. Then repeat over and over.
|So many bags.|
|Trying to get organized.|
|Tat me up.|
|My adorable nephew putting his tattoos on as well. Heart & Courage!|
|Swim practice in Tempe Town Lake.|
|Swim practice, gorgeous day!|
Paul dropped me off at the start and I was able to add a few last minute water bottles and nutrition to my bike. The good thing about Ironman is that you already have all your gear set up the day before. There is no laying out all your items on the ground, everything is packed in different bags and handed to you before you enter the change tent. Before I knew it they were calling for the athletes to line up according to their estimated swim finish time.
Swim: IMAZ has always been a mass start (where everyone gets in the water at once and the cannon goes off and you start swimming). This was the first year they used the Swim Smart initiative. Which we would begin at 6:50 am (before the usual 7:00 am) and line up based on how long we think the 2.4 miles will take us. I went back and forth with this in my mind and after discussing this with Coach Frank we decided I would line up in the 1:15-1:30 hour swim time. In my mind I thought I would swim more like 1 hour and 40 minutes but Coach Frank was adamant that I stick to this wave and just go towards the back. As I was lining up I was surrounded by lots of green caps (men). There were a few pink caps in my wave and it started to worry me. I began to worry that this wave would be too competitive for me. The cannon went off and I was surprised how quickly the line went. There were four entry points and stairs going down into the water. You jumped off that last stair and just had to swim. I did just that and reminded myself that the water was 62 and it would be a shock at first but move past it. I jumped in and just started swimming. I was trying to get around a few slow guys and was getting kicked and punched left and right. I expected this and told myself not to freak out over it. Within the first 100 yards, I pulled my head up to sight and saw a guy coming (head on) at me in full blown panic mode. I stopped to ask if he was ok and he didn't look like he was. I signaled and waited for a kayak to come get him and they did right away. It was then that other swimmers started running into me and felt the need to crawl over me. That pissed me off because all I was doing was stopping to make sure this guy was ok. I swam another 200 yards and was continuing to get beat up in this pack. My head hurt, my ribs hurt. I was ready to fight back. So I did. I swam angry, I kicked, I made sure I always had one hand stretched out in front to protect my face. If I felt someone crawling over me they got a hard kick in the gut. I swam alongside the buoys as I tend to pull a lot to the left. I tried swimming out farther to the right where perhaps it wasn't crowded by my darn stroke just kept pulling me left. I finally made it to the bridge which was near the turnaround. That was a huge relief as it meant it was halfway over. I was still stuck in combat zone at this point. By the time I could and hear Mike Reilly at the swim exit is when things finally let up for me. I exited the water at 1:32:50. I was pretty happy with my time and just elated to get out of the water. I got my wet-suit ripped off me and despite the cold water, I was pretty comfortable. I'm so glad I wore the full wet-suit and doubled up on my swim caps (silicone thicker one on the bottom-tip from Coach Frank). I ran out of the water and was handed my Bike Gear Bag.
T1: For the swim I wore a bathing suit top and my Coeur tri shorts. I wanted to be able to put on a dry sports bra and dry tri top. I quickly found a place to sit and loved how helpful the volunteers were. They were there to help you unpack your bag, hold items for you, pull down the back of your sports bra (not easy when you are wet) and put your shoes on you. I dried off as much as I could but noticed an athlete next to me who was really struggling to get warm. She had a small hand towel and that was it. I gave her my beach towel and told her to keep it. I put on my Coeur tank top and was a little cold because my tri shorts were wet but I knew how fast they dry on the bike. Besides it looked like the sun might be coming out! I also grabbed my arm sleeves and put those on since they were dry. I hopped on the bike and saw my cheering section (my husband, Wes, Katie and my sweet nephews). Only 112 miles to go! I was feeling good as I rode the course a few weeks before and I knew exactly what to expect or so I thought...
|Now where's my bike?|
|Good luck kiss.|
|My Fans aka Amanda's Fandas|
|My reminder, when I considered giving up.|
|Photo credit: Harrison Shao, California Triathlon|
|Oh my god! Get me off this bike course.|
|Sponsored by Hefty trash bags or Waste Management.|
Run: Just as I came out on the course I noticed the sun had come out. Thank goodness maybe I'll warm up on the run. I came running out with a smile on my face and saw my family and friends right away. I was so relieved to be off that bike course! My legs felt good and I felt like I could run a fast pace but I knew I had 26.2 miles ahead of me and I needed to slow it down. Also I was behind on calories and hydration from the bike so I had to be careful. The first 6 miles were great and flew by. Then it started getting dark but it didn't matter there were still a lot of people on the course. Most everyone was on their second loop so it was a little depressing when folks would say "only 4 miles to go and we will be Ironmen!" "Yeah nope not me, I'm on lap one." Whomp-whomp. I know in their heads they were saying "sucks to be you." But that's ok I was still feeling good. My stomach was a little messed up and I actually wasn't hungry or thirsty. I wasn't taking in much fuel at any of the stations. I tried the chicken broth, it was ok, not warm so I couldn't say it was heaven like everyone says it is. I tried a GU, nope didn't want that. Clif Bar? Nope didn't taste good either. Maybe I'll just stick to the Gatorade offered on the course. Yuck that was too sweet. Instead I found my stashed Nuun Hydration tablet and broke it into small pieces and dropped a piece in a cup. It was a familiar taste and my stomach was ok with it so I sipped on that for a few miles. I saw my family and friends in several different spots throughout the run. They would cross over the bridge and meet me underneath it, then go back so they could catch me on the flip side. This time my Mom and Dad joined up with the group and I was elated to see them. I loved the look on my Dad's face when I saw him the first time. It actually brought tears to my eyes. His smile was huge and he waved his fist and said "all right there she is!" He was so proud of his daughter, I could tell. My mom had the biggest smile on her face as well and gave me a huge hug. It was nice and that kept me going for quite awhile. Just like my brother said: "Amanda you will find something on that course that will make you smile, hold on to that and go with it, as long as you can."
|My friend Michelle and her cute sign.|
|Photo credit: Harrison Shao, California Triathlon|
Doesn't everyone look like they are having a blast?
|Sister in law Katie|
|Hubby and my brother|
|Love those smiling faces and cute signs!|
|Christy, Hilary and Michelle, my girls!|
|Seriously more rain?|
This finish-line of an Ironman (especially at 11:28 pm, everyone returns to see the last hour finishers) was so much more than I imagined. The lights, the thunderous cheers, all eyes are on you for that brief moment. And the sense of relief and accomplishment that you CAN DO ANYTHING!
That moment will stick with me forever.
Finish time: 16:28:36
|Joy & Love.|
Thank you for believing in me.
My husband... Most importantly thank you to my number one supporter, my rock, best friend, my husband. He believed in me from the very beginning and encouraged me when the times got tough. When I had a long 6 hour ride on schedule they were always there to help take care of the kids. When my husband came home on his days off, he would always ask: "how can I work my exercise schedule around yours?" He knew he'd be the one to have to stay with the kids when I was gone but he never objected. And not once did I get a call on those long rides asking; "when are you coming home?" He was there for me during the darkest hours of my race and continued to breathe life into me when I just wanted to give up. Thank you honey I am grateful for you.
My family... From handling child care duties, to inspiring calls/texts, to cheers on the course or virtual cheers in front of the computer screen; my family believed in me and they made sure I knew it. I am truly blessed.
My friends.... Thank you to those amazing friends who encouraged me along the way. Whether it is was just a simple email, post or text, I appreciate what you did and cherish that. You know who you are! Big hugs to Christy, Hilary and Michelle for making the journey down to Tempe and for standing for 16 hours in the rain just to catch a quick glimpse or high five of me during the race. "The greatest gift of life is friendship, and I have received it." -Hubert H. Humphrey
To Coeur. Thank you Kebby and Hailey for believing in me another year and I am honored to be to represent your gear for another year. It took a lot of heart and courage to get to the finish that day!
To my social media friends. I know there are many of you I have never met in person but there's a large group who encouraged me along the way whether it was on Facebook, Tri groups, Twitter, Instagram. Those people continued to comment, post and send helpful messages when I needed it most. Thank you for that.
Finally to my sweet boys. I know you couldn't be there in person but every encouraging word this past year, to those "how was your run mommy?" questions, to the sweet drawings/notes you gave me; I took to heart. I carried it all on that course and thought about you both with every step toward the finish. I love you and want you to know YOU CAN DO ANYTHING.