As I started on the run, I took a moment to reflect on what I’d already done. My neck was aching and my back was sore, but I was so, so happy to be off the bike. My legs were feeling as good as could be reasonably expected — they were tired, but not too rubbery. I’d been on the course for more than 4.5 hours and I’d already traveled 57.2 of my 70.3 miles. I felt good, and excited, and though it was getting hot now that the sun had finally broken through the clouds, I knew I could finish the run even if I had to crawl. It was a good feeling.
I could tell the story of the run by simply posting my splits: 8 miles of good, steady running a 5/1 run/walk pattern as I planned, followed by 4.5+ miles of suddenly dead legs. I say 12.5+ because my Garmin measured 12.65 miles. However, the Google Pedometer map that the race director emailed me last week did indeed measure 13.1 miles. So what gives? After some close inspection by the anal-retentive engineer in me, I discovered that we did indeed run about 12.6 miles instead of 13.1. Why? Between miles 5 and 6 (and then again between miles 11 and 12), we were misdirected. It’s actually pretty understandable, considering the number of twists and turns that course took. Seems the Boy Scouts manning the intersection were just confused. Over two loops, that cut about a half mile off the course.
We were supposed to run the course marked in red. We were coming from the top of this map, so it should have been a right to start around the loop, and then a right to head out to the turn-around. Then a left to go back around the loop in reverse. What actually happened after the turnaround is what I marked in yellow. We weren’t directed to reverse our course around the loop. Instead, we were directed to the right. So we only went around that part of the course once instead of twice, turning the 6.5 mile loop into a 6.25 mile loop, and the total run from 13.1 miles to 12.6.
Anyway, back to the good stuff!
Mile 1 – 10:49
Mile 2 – 11:39
Mile 3 – 11:56
The first three miles covered the winding paths and back alleys of Moody Gardens. I enjoyed seeing Vera, Jay, and Kevin at the BARC aid station around mile 1, and told them I’d see them again in an hour and a half or less. I settled into my 5/1 run/walk pattern pretty easily and when I had some thoughts early on about how I didn’t really want to have to run this loop again, I was able to drown them out with thoughts of “holy crap, I’m actually doing this!”
Before mile 3 there was a girl with a trash can full of wet sponges. Oh man, those were awesome! I used it to wipe my face and neck, which felt amazing. It wiped off my sunscreen so I ended up a little burned, but oh well. It was worth it. I took another gu (vanilla flavored) from the aid station just past mile 3 and gulped that down with some water.
Mile 4 – 11:27
Mile 5 – 12:11
Mile 6 – 10:44
The first loop passed without incident, and I wound back past the transition and finish area to begin my second loop. It was a little disheartening to pass the finish line and not get to stop, but I knew I’d be back soon enough. After cheers from Jose, Nick, Heather, Melissa and Laurie, I headed out for the second loop. Jose even yelled out “you’re right on time!” as I passed, which made me laugh. That boy knows how absurdly obsessed I am with times. I knew right where I was; I always do. I’m an engineer, and I can’t help it.
Mile 7 – 11:18
Mile 8 – 11:55
I again saw Vera, Jay, Kevin and BARC crew at their aid station and got some more water. Shortly after that, I had to stop at a Port-a-potty to pee. I decided that was a good sign that I wasn’t completely dehydrated, but it also turned out to be the beginning of my downfall. I don’t know if it was the fact that I stopped for a minute, or the fact that everything just caught up to me, but the wheels started to fall off.
Mile 9 – 13:43
Mile 10 – 13:27
I passed the sponge girl again and thanked her profusely for the nice cold sponge of goodness. I got another vanilla gu from the same aid station as before. I gulped water and Gatorade and even some de-fizzed coke, but nothing helped. My legs were just about dead. At that point, I focused on finishing!
Mile 11 – 13:31
Mile 12 – 14:17
Mile 12.65 – 7:50
I crossed the finish line running. I had been walking about a quarter mile away, but when I rounded transition and came into view of the crowd, I started running again. I may have had to walk a good portion of the last 4.5 miles, but I was going to cross that finish line running, dang it! As I crossed the bridge with less than a tenth of a mile to go, I saw Jose, Nick, Heather and Melissa. They all started going crazy, yelling my name and cheering. I couldn’t help but smile, and as I turned the corner and saw the finish line that smile got even bigger.
I crossed under the arch as the announcer called my name and for a moment, I didn’t know what to do with myself. A volunteer handed me a water bottle full of ice cold water (so good) and a wet towel (also so good). As I let another volunteer unwrap my chip from the band around my ankle, I heard Mark and Todd from Bay Area Fit Tri yelling at me from the sidelines as well. Somewhere along the way, another volunteer hung my finisher’s medal around my neck.
Everyone met me as I walked out of the finish area, still grinning from ear to ear. Jose tried to hug me and I pushed him away. “I am totally gross right now!” I said, somehow aware enough to realize that I was wet, sticky, sweaty, and stinky. My number one fan said he didn’t care and hugged me anyway. It was the best hug ever.
I think I was in a bit of a daze for the next 15-20 minutes. I remember standing and talking to the BAFT guys, and to Jose and friends. I needed to walk, so they trailed me to the food tent where I ate a mini-pizza that at that moment was the best thing I had ever tasted. I walked some more. We looked at my official results.
Before the race, I’d looked at the participant list and there were only 4 Athenas listed, so I thought I might have a off-chance at a group award. Not so! Yesterday there were actually 8 Athenas and the top three all finished under 6 hours, with the winner posting a 5:18. Yeah….so I had no chance in hell. I was number 7 of 8, with the 7th best bike, 7th best run, but 5th best swim! Boo yeah! I was also the only one of the 8 that was from the Houston area. The other 7 were all from Dallas and Austin, so I claim the title of Houston area champion.
1.2 mile swim – 42:42 – 2:13/100m
Transition 1 – 06:59
56 mile bike – 3:40:44 – 15.2mph
Transition 2 – 03:02
13.1 mile run – 2:34:47 – 11:49/mile
Since the run course was short, I mentally added 6 minutes to my time, which still puts me well under my goal. I thought I could do sub-7:30, and I shattered it.
Will I ever do an Ironman? NO.
Will I do another Half Ironman? Maybe.
Will I remember April 1, 2007 for the rest of my life? HECK YEAH.
I’m a Half Ironwoman!