With Ironman Chattanooga almost two weeks in my rear view, I hasten to document the experience of taking my body over 144.6 miles by water, by wheels, by feet.
I am starting with thank you:
God. For blessing me with a healthy, mobile body and a heart for endurance. For the beautiful planet we inhabit including the soil and mountains and water that reside in your gorgeous city of Chattanooga, TN.
Cameron. For asking your soldiers to change the world in a way that is changing us. For giving your SpeakUp race team purpose and push and hope. For your smile and hug that I miss so much.
My husband and children. For never complaining about the time Ironman training took away from you. For believing in me 100% of the time. For being proud of me when I couldn’t be.
My teammates. So much life lived together. So much more to go. For the symbiosis that became one body, one heart on that course. Same tears. Same smiles. Same pain. Same purpose.
My friends. You know who you are. You texted. You called. You posted. You sent your positive vibes. You donated. You stayed up late, very late waiting to see me finish. You told me you were proud of me. You made me feel special even when from the back of the pack, I couldn’t feel it so much.
Swim. With the aid of a downriver current. It was amazing. The usual slug fest from hundreds of arms slicing out a freestyle stroke to get to T1 had me sending light and love to the dude who slammed my head 4 times. GET IN YOUR LANE. Oh wait we were sharing one big lane. Best part was starting with my sister. Staying close until we knew we were each okay was a highlight. And guess what, once we told each other ‘I Love You, I’m okay.’ It was head down and GO. We still finished within a couple of seconds of each other. I’ll take her pace any day of the week. I’ll take her courage and heart and light. If only.
My baby sister… no words.
Bike. Beautiful hilly course with a ton of elevation change. I felt strong. I made some decisions that cost me some time but mostly I was prepared and confident. I still don’t know why Chattanooga requires 116 bikes miles instead of the usual IM 112. I need to work on nutrition but mostly I was glad it was done and felt lucid enough to smile as I started the gawd-awful run.
Run. After about 7/8 miles of relatively flat, there are 3 hills so steep they punch you in the chin. And you get to do it twice. At the half marathon mark, athletes have access to a ‘special needs’ bag which contains items to help you stay strong and motivated to keep (in my case) slogging it out. When I packed my special needs bag, I decided that Trident, bubble mint gum might be just the thing to motivate me to keep going. I love gum. In this case, gum doesn’t work. I was wrong.
About halfway, I experienced GI issues that NOTHING seemed to cure. After stopping 4 or 5 times to preserve the color of my shorts for the finish line pic (gross. Sorry for the non running readers. There is no dignity left.), I started to see that indeed I would make it.
Not before I enjoyed this script on auto pilot in my head:
Here I go again. I am so slow all my teammates have to wait a VERY long time for the likes of me to finish.
This is the stupidest thing I have ever done. Who do I think I am?
I did NOT want to go this mentally low since my Challenge Roth experience, and here I am, again.
YES, Indeed. Here I am, again.
I am here.
Lucky, lucky me.