Monday, November 07, 2011

November 5th was a pretty perfect day....starting with waking up to my wonderful husband who was doing Ironman Florida with me and ending with ME announcing finishers crossing the line after I became an Ironman for the 3rd time a few hours before with a PR time! If that's a good enough race report for you, stop here. If not, below are the details :)
After training and preparing for Ironman Louisville last year without Dustin, I was very thankful he was by my side this year as we drove to Panama City on Wednesday night. Hilary was nice enough to let us stay in her condo one night because we were sitting on a fundraising panel for the Ironman Foundation for raising money for Challenged Athletes Foundation on Thursday morning. Through this, we got to meet Michellie Jones, 2 time Ironman Hawaii Champion, so that was a pretty good start to our Ironman experience. My parents drove down from Missouri and they watched us answer some questions and raise awareness for our causes, along with a few other athletes. That morning, we met Wolf and his family and a few other club members for a swim and it was a bit rough for the gulf, but glad we did it! We made it through athlete check in with no problems and my parents were nice enough to wait in the long line at the store while we got some crepes and threw some Powerbar bean bags (highlight of the weekend, I made 4 in a row and kicked Dustin's butt :).
We were lucky enough to score some VIP passes through our fundraising for the Welcome Dinner, so we didn't have to wait in line and we got to sit up front which was kind of nice! The presentations took a bit long, but Dustin and I got up on stage for being husband and wife racing together, along with a few other couples. The athlete race meeting seemed to drag on forever, but our good friend, Andre did well with the run portion (both in speaking and directing during race day!) Most of the Hammerhead Triathlon Club members doing the race were able to get together for a picture after and then we went back to the condo (Laketown Wharf, less than half a mile walk and highly recommended with full kitchen and sleeps 6).
On Friday morning, Hilary, Dustin and I went for a 20 minute bike (brrrrrr, glad my new arm warmers made the trip), and then 10 minute run and we were all feeling pretty good! We walked our bikes and gear bags down to transition and dropped them off with ease. We scoped out where our parents were going to watch from and see us in different spots, and we absolutely loved running into other Hammerheads all over the place in Panama City! We went to Panera for lunch and picked up Dustin's Mom, Becky at the airport and then drove part of the bike course where our parents were going to cheer around mile 53 and 60.
We got back to the condo and prepared for the Hammerheads and their families and friends to come over for dinner and to hang out. Our parents made pasta and garlic bread and we had some salads and dips and a little wine and beer! All of the parents/friends got to meet eachother and all the racers got to ask each other last minute questions. It reminded me of the college parties I used to throw, in a tiny place with around 40 people there and it was absolutely AWESOME to have that commradery! Susan gave us all our Hammerhead shirts and we posed for some more pictures and then tried to get to bed soon after that, but with all the good luck emails, phone calls, texts, and facebook messages, it was hard!
Warning, warning.....the next sentence might be TMI.........I wanted as much family there to cheer as possible, but I did NOT invite Aunt FLO, if you know what I mean......but she made an appearance! Why in the hell did I have to start the NIGHT before Ironman....really??!!!!! I usually get pretty bad back cramps, so I was a little worried, but I tried to ingore it and went to sleep.
Saturday, we woke up at 4:30 AM, and I showered like I always do to loosen everything up and did a little stretch and ate my almond butter and jelly sandwich and sipped on some Ironman Perform drink. Before we knew it, we were in transition, setting up our bottles on our bikes and walking our special needs bags down to the trucks. We started to head to the beach in the massive crowd and realized we had to go back into transition to drop off our morning clothes bags.....ugggg, that sucked to get back through there, but we did it and then met our families and friends on the beach by the Hammerhead flag and hugged and wished eachother luck!
Dustin and I gave eachother one last kiss as we started right in the middle of the 2800 people, pretty close to the front and I was really nervous about doing that, but I think it was the right decision! Yes, I got kicked in the face and in the stomach, and hit on the arms and head numerous times, but I kept thinking of Al with his shoulder injury, and Giselle with her arm injury, and I just kept pushing it! The 2.4 mile swim really seemed to go by fast with the two loops and I saw my parents because they were holding the huge umbrella (a must do if you want to see your spectators and them see you!). The swim was weird because at times, I would feel like no one was near me, and then there would be 20 people wrestling with me; it was actually fun! Way more fun than swimming in a pool with a black line (maybe that's why I only swam less than once a week in training, and glad I didn't "waste" my time with any more than that because I ended up with a 1:12:46 and I was happy with that! Dustin's time was 1:15:52 and he was happy with that and I was happy I beat him! :)
After an 8:50 transition (Dustin's was 10:50.....Angie 2, Dustin 0), we were off for our 112 mile bike ride and boy, the winds were not in our favor for the first half AT all! I tried to keep positive and hoping that my average on the 2nd half would be better! I had to pee pretty bad from mile 30 on, so I finally stopped on the side of the road behind a fence just before mile 50 when we were going to see our parents! I wanted to be able to smile and enjoy seeing them, instead of worrying about a portapotty! They were there along with Michael and Melanie with their signs and noisemakers and it was great to see them. Then we hit the most annoying part of the bike course with huge bumps every 2 seconds that jarred everything on my bike and in my body! I kept thinking of Jessica who was competing out there with a broken pubic bone and I was hoping she would make it through that part okay. We headed out to a turnaround and the special needs bags where I grabbed my 2nd water bottle (only had 2 on my bike at a time, decreasing the weight tremendously and I think that helped in the wind!). I saw Dustin and knew he was right behind me, so I didn't stop long. I was trying to hold him off as long as possible! I saw our supporters again and their smiles and cheers fueled me for the majority of the miles. I couldn't wait to see them at the finish of the bike! I had my Garmin set to go off every 10 minutes so I would drink my EFS and I just kept sipping water and taking a TON of Power Bar energy blasts (Cola and Raspberry) and a few Gu's here and there. My lower back was hurting pretty bad at times, but kept thinking of Brian, a fellow Hammerhead with a herniated disc, who was competing out there and I just had to suck it up! When we made the turn back towards the beach, the winds had shifted and were BACK in our face! Lovely! I just tried to keep my heart rate down in the last portion and was hoping Dustin wasn't going to catch me! I finished the bike in 5:57:31 with an average of 18.8 mph, so again, extremely happy with that, especially with those winds! Dustin finished strong with a 5:59:17 (Angie 3, Dustin 0) and we saw our parents as we came through into transition. Dustin finally scored with a faster transition (5:42 vs 7:05 but I'm blaming that on womanly problems :).....(Angie 3, Dustin 1)
I was SOOOOO happy to be on that marathon course and off that bike seat. My shark hat was getting people to cheer for me so loudly and I was LOVING it! I saw Jo, Owen, Katie, Annie, Michael and Melanie and of course smiled for pictures! It was amazing how well everyone was spread out throughout the course and it helped so much!!! Julie and Blaine, Freddy, then a little bit further Kathy and Maggie and their energetic crew giving us stats, a little further Shawn Burke handing me "lucky" cola, the energetic Heather Davenport running around everywhere, and then a little bit further at the entrance and exit of the state park, were Scott's parents, Craig and Cyndie giving me stats on how far Dustin was behind me! Then seeing all those same people on the way back for the second loop was awesome, and I knew Dustin was gaining on me!
I all of a sudden needed to hit a portapotty NOW, so I pulled on a door that was locked and I heard, "ANG!!!!" was Dustin coming behind glad I didn't get into that portapotty or we might have missed eachother. Instead, I sucked it up and tried to keep running with him, even if it was for a few steps. A few steps turned into longer and then he had to hit the portapotty too, so we did a side by side was pretty funny, I asked him, "everything coming out alright?" and he said, "yes, but go ahead when you get out, I'll catch ya" so that's what I did and I saw our parents shortly after and then got the special needs run bag where I grabbed Tylenol for my back cramps and vaseline for my chafing on my arms. Then I slowed down a little bit because I wanted to be running together when we saw Jo, Owen, Michael and Melanie and they were able to get a good video and pic of us! I tried to keep up, but my heart rate was getting too high, so I told him to go ahead, after we awkwardly kissed with those shark hats on top of our heads....that got some laughs from the people lining the streets. They were great though with all their costumes and funny signs. It kept us entertained! It was also great to see all the other Hammerheads out there, some feeling great, some not, but as my hips started to complain, I thought of Elizabeth with her torn labrum, who would be kicking our butts if she was healthy, and I sucked it up! All those first timers with guts enough to compete with those injuries really inpsired me!
Your mind starts to wonder during this long day, and during the hard times, I would think of those who we were raising money for through Challenged Athletes Foundation and their determination in life and I used that energy to my advantage to keep pushing forward. I saw the same supporters from Jax on the way out on the second loop and I just kept wondering when I was going to slow down, but I never did. I just kept running from one group to the next, wanting to make sure I was smiling when I saw everyone. One of the funniest moments was when this woman said to me, "Go, go, you are almost half way done!" and I said back to her, "NO, I am almost DONE!!!!!" She must have thought a silly person with a shark hat on their head couldn't be very fast! :) I averaged 9:13 miles with walking most water stations and the portapotty stop and I very rarely looked at my watch except to check my heart rate. I had no idea how well I was doing until Kathy did some math for me (I wasn't capable at that point) and I had a chance to break 4 hours on the marathon and possibly get a marathon PR (my best ever marathon by itself was 3:58), so I started trying to push it a little more, but I also wanted to enjoy myself and remember the moment. I was going as fast as my body would possibly let me, when I saw Jo and Owen on the sidelines and they were so surprised to see me! Jo started running along the sidelines with me and almost tripped, so that was hilarious! I was running faster than Jo Shott for once! I pushed it all the way into the finish line and saw our parents right at the end in the VIP section as I crossed the finish line with a HUGE smile! 11:26:42 and I would have never thought I would have been able to go that fast! Although I was 32 seconds over a 4 hour marathon, I was very proud that I left it all out on the course and I finished with a true smile on my face and saw Dustin right after as we posed for finish line pics together. Dustin ROCKED the marathon with a PR (best marathon before that was 3:50 and he ran a 3:47!)....(Angie 3, Dustin 2) and finished in 11:18:55 (Angie 3, Dustin 3!) I'll take the tie.....just kidding, he beat me, I can say it, but I am so happy we both had our perfect races!
Then we got pizza and a margarita and met up with our awesome supporters who got our bikes and gear bags (thanks Jo and Owen) and took them back to the hotel for us! We got massages and sat inside to warm up a little (never cold on the course except for after we finished). We were able to see quite a few Hammerheads after their amazing finishes and hear their stories, but we felt bad that we missed a few people crossing the finish line! Sorry Hilary, didn't know you were going to be that fast! We got our second wind and then we went back out to cheer (and eat dinner at the VIP tent). We finished before 630 PM and didn't leave the finish line until after 11 PM. They had an open mic portion on the announcer microphone for finishers at 15 hours, so my Dad announced some finishers and I did too and it was amazing to call out to first timers, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN! Wow, that was a highlight of the day, as I danced and had the crowd doing some raise the roof moves! The day was perfect from start to finish and ended with the most inspiring finish.......Jessica had to walk the whole marathon portion because of a broken bone, but she ran in the finish line shoot with tears streaming down her face and we were so excited for her to complete her first Ironman after a bike accident at the end of September. Wow! That's what Ironman is about.....pushing yourself and not knowing how it will turn out but being willing to do it anyway! It was a pleasure to share in this race experience with all 13 Hammerheads, especially my husband (and fastest Hammerhead of the day)!!!! Thanks to everyone who helped along the way and who followed us online during the race! I feel like retiring after that (kind of like Tony Larussa....going out on top), but that damn 32 seconds on the marathon portion might bring me back...........


Blogger Janet said...

Love this report, Angie! Thank you for your selflessness, eagerness and earnestness!!! You are truly and inspiration!

9:40 AM  

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