Tuesday, April 7, 2009

IRONMAN 70.3 NEW ORLENS

Sunday, April 5, 2009

My morning began bright and early--well early, not exactly bright--at 4:30am. I hadn't really gotten a good night's rest, pre-race jitters and all. So, now it was time to begin my preparations for the day...get dressed, last minute bag checks, and trying to force down some breakfast. After about a quarter of a bagel with peanut butter, my stomach couldn't handle any more. So, I proceeded to pack the car and head to transition with Maggi, my cohort in crime.


We get to UNO, find a parking spot, gather our gear, and make our way toward the transition area...imagine a parking lot filled with 3000+ bikes and people and gear and.... We found our bikes (which were actually racked pretty close together--#1711 and 1803) and begin to lay everything out. Towel to dry off after the swim, shoes for the bike, helmet, sunglasses, shoes for the run, socks, hat, water, banana. Now it was time to grab my wetsuit, swimcap, and goggles and make my way to the swim start to pick up my timing chip. There were shuttle buses bringing people from transition to the swim start, but the line was ridiculously long...so we decided to walk...it was about a mile away. The crowd walking that way looked eerily like a throng marching to their untimely end.





We got to the swim start (around Bayou St. John), picked up our chips, and settled down just in time to hear Irma Thomas sing the National Anthem. That was pretty cool. At this point, Adam got there and began to take a few pictures. After forcing down another quarter of a bagel, I put on my wetsuit and made my way to the corral. I tried to find anyone I recognized, and I came across my friend Jessica. We smiled, gave each other a big hug, and got ready to get in the water. Maggi and I stayed toward the back while Jessica moved to the front. The horn blew and we were off. I swam a few yards and started to panic. What the hell was I doing?!?! This was a nice little pipe dream, but actually doing it?!?!? I did the breast stroke and back stroke for a little bit, until I was able to calm down and catch my breath. I found my groove and felt pretty good. I wasn't very fast, but I was steadily moving forward. Things were good until I heard the next wave of swimmers start. I knew they would catch up to me soon...and they did exactly that. I was hit in the legs, the side, and punched in the face. I stopped for a second, regained my composure, and kept going. Now, pretty much since the start of the swim, I have had to pee. I tried to go while swimming (hey, everyone does it), but it just wasn't happening. Finally, I reach the end...Ponchartrain Beach is in sight! I work my way through the crowd and start walking out of the water. I take my goggles and cap off and get the first half of my wetsuit off, then I hear someone calling my name. I look up and see Adam with a huge grin...what a wonderful sight! The Bickmore's were also there cheering me on! I get out of the water and, to my surprise, there are volunteers helping people get their wetsuits off...Thank Goodness!! Those suckers are hard to get off! So, I lay down in the grass and the volunteer pulls it right off. Woohoo! The swim is done!



Now into transition to get my bike. I put on my shoes, helmet and sunglasses, take two bites of my banana, and walk my bike to the mount/dismount line.
I'm off and feeling pretty good. I see Adam again...big smile. I can do this. On the first part of the bike, I felt pretty good. There were lots of people around cheering; I was cruising. Then, the people thinned out, and I was alone. I still had to pee...I was trying to go on the bike (yes, people do that too!). It wasn't happening, but there was nowhere to stop. I kept going. I then saw Chris McCormack heading back in on the bike...what a beast!! I then hit the overpass on the interstate...I don't remember hills like this on River Road!!! I push through it...we get off the interstate on Chef Menteur Hwy. and enter the Cajun boonies. Finally, around mile 18, I see an aid station...with a portapotty. Anyone who knows me knows that I LOATHE portapotties, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. As I get closer, I hear, "No water! No water!" What?!?!? How can you not have any water at an aid station??I stop anyway so I can pee. What a relief!! I get back on the bike and I feel like I am cruising...and then IT hits...the WIND!!!! It slowed me down A LOT! My back was killing me. My neck and shoulders were so tight and I couldn't stretch them out. We were riding through Venetian Isles and I was praying for God to give me strength because I was about ready to get off the bike and give up. I was done. But then I remembered a quote I read on the BR Tri website..."Pain is only temporary. Quitting lasts forever." Lance Armstrong said that...I think he might know a little something about pain. I pushed through...well, more like endured. So close to being done and here come the two overpasses...back to back. As I approached the first one, I saw people getting off and walking their bikes up. The thought crossed y mind, but I decided to keep on going. My knees were screaming at me to stop, but I refused to let this bridge get the best of me. I cruise down the hill...ahh, what a relief! But ahead is the second, taller bridge. Damn! I don't know if I will make it up. I see even more people getting off and walking their bikes up...NO! NOT ME! I drop to my lowest gear and push and pull...just like spinning--right!! Finally, I reach the top...all of the volunteers are cheering. "Good job! Only a little further!" It sure felt like a hell of a lot more than a little further.

I finally made it back to transition. The first thing I noticed was that most of the 3000+ bikes were already back...that sucks. Oh well. I rack my bike, take off my helmet and shoes, take another bite of my banana, put on my socks, shoes, and hat, and head out on the run. At about mile 1, there was a couple sitting on their lawn with a bowl full of Kentwood water bottles on ice. They asked if I wanted one; I gladly accepted, thanked them, and went on my merry way. At about mile 2, I felt blisters erupt on both of my heels. I started to walk. I then looked at my watch, did some mental calculations (as much as I was capable of by ths point), and began to cry. I realized that there was no way in hell I would be able to finish this thing in 8 hours. Now "what's the big deal?" you might ask. Well, 8 hours is the cutoff for "official" finishers. If I don't make it, I'm not an official finisher, I don't get a medal, it was all for nothing...at least that was how I felt. That same quote came back to my mind..."Quitting lasts forever." I am not a quitter. This course will not beat me. If I have to crawl across the finish line at midnight, I WILL FINISH!!! So, I pressed on.


I would jog a little, walk a little, and jog a little more. Around mile 6, I looked down to check out my blisters. They were bleeding through my socks and shoes. People were amazed I kept going, but "Pain is only temporary." A little while later, a girl came up to me and asked if I had a cell phone. She wanted to call her boyfriend to come pick her up because she was quitting. I told her I didn't have one, and she couldn't quit...she had come this far. She kept going...I was proud. I jogged a little more, then settled on the fact that I would have to walk the rest of the way. At mile 10.5, there was another aid station. They had cookies! Hells yeah!!! I hadn't eaten since the bagel before the swim. Cookies sounded like heaven! I ate two, chugged some gatorade, and went on my merry way feeling rejuvenated. One of the volunteers noticed how sunburned I was and asked if I wanted any sunscreen. Seriously dude?!?!?! I think it is a little late for that. Stupid me forgot to reapply sunscreen in T1 and T2...and I was paying the price now. Oh well...onward! I passed a cop who said they were opening the roads to traffic because 8 hours had passed, but we could keep to the sidewalks and still finish, medal and all. I was so happy at this point, and all I could think was, "It's a damn good thing you didn't quit!" So, here I was, walking down Esplanade wondering where the hell Decatur St. was and thinking it couldn't get here fast enough! Finally, I get to the corner of Esplanade and Decatur, and I see Adam! I was so happy to see him. He had been running back and forth between the corner and the finish looking for me. I had take so long that he was worried something had happened to me. But, I wasn't finished yet. I still had about 5 blocks to go. Adam ran ahead so he could get a picture. I told him I would start jogging with one block left. One of the guys I had met on the run (and by run, I mean walk) was walking toward the finish ahead of me. I started to jog. As I got to him, I patted him on the shoulder and said, "We didn't come this far to walk across the finish! Let's go!" We both ran toward the finish line. I gave Adam a thumbs up for the picture as I crossed, heard my name announced, got my medal, gave my friend a sweaty hug, and breathed a HUGE sigh of relief. I DID IT!! Holy s**t!! I DID IT!!! I am an Ironman!


People along the way asked if I would ever attempt another half or full Ironman and I said, "Hell no! This was enough!" But now, I'm thinking "Why not?"

Adam was so excited that he wants to sign up for IMNO 2010. We will see what happens.


Now, here I am, the Tuesday after, and I'm not that sore. The thing that hurts the worst is my sunburn. Adam said it looked like second degree burns. I was shaking so bad because of it. Adam even skipped school yesterday to help with Daniel because I was in so much pain. I still hurt today, but not nearly as bad...A word of advice for the future, DON'T FORGET TO WEAR SUNSCREEN!!!!

8 comments:

Stacey said...

Great job Erin!! I can't believe those blisters! You have motivated me, maybe I'll join you on the next RocketChix Tri. Are you going to the one in Alexandria?

mel said...

you are the woman! i am even more motivated now!

Anne-Marie said...

You are amazing! What a great entry! I love your description of wanting to quit, but not and of how motivated you were when you saw Adam. WAY TO GO!

BRENTandROBIN said...

Holy Cow!! You are amazing Erin! YOu have a great story to tell and I am so proud of you for your dedication. You have inspired me and maybe next year I'll sign up for the "relay" rather than doing it all as an individual. My cousin was there with you, but she did the relay. Congrats again!

Jeni said...

You are awesome! I did a mini tri and that was enough for me. I'll stick to just running (if I can ever get these shin splints to heal!).

Jane Hudd said...

YOU ARE SO AWESOME. And I loved getting the full scoop from the blog. Good job well done, erin!

PS - I have some cute pictures of you and Daniel from last night at the softball game!

At Home with Mike and Adrienne... said...

You are amazing! I almost cried at 3 different times just reading this post! I am so glad you kept going and got that medal! Incredibly impressive! You go, girl!

Jessica said...

That is amazing. I might never have the guts to do something as cool as that.