The days leading up to the race I felt good. Maybe too good. I was calm, rested, happy. For the first time in 5 Ironman I knew I had done everything I possibly could to make my training count. No skipped workouts because I was too tired, or because I just didn't want to do them. I did the work, I made the work count. I knew that the only factor that could mess up my day was going to be ME. I knew that all my issues in the past 2 IM have been nutrition related and bonking, and I was not going to let that happen.
I stayed pretty quiet leading up to the race. Every night when I went to bed I visualized the race start, my transitions. I went over and over in my head how I was going to EAT and EAT and EAT on the bike ride. I thought about my mom. I thought about how she has made me a stronger person. I thought back to Rocky Point when I dug deep and when I didn't stop and walk because I was tired and hot.
My only small concern was my right hip and IT band. The hip has been hurting me for 3 weeks and after a day of travel and many days of sitting around it had gotten worse. My knee even started to hurt. I was icing 3 times per day and finally, on the day before the race I signed up for an ART treatment. It was a last stitch effort to release the pressure and hopefully help my day. It also turns out it was the best decision I could have made. I had an amazing guy work with me and within 2 minutes of examining me he knew exactly why I was hurting. My right pelvis was not rotating, basically stuck while the rest of my body was trying to move. He worked on me for about 25 minutes and when I got up from the table I had immediate relief in my hip and back. He also said a couple of words to me that I remembered during the race and they helped push me. He told me I had powerful legs. It's funny, because no matter how fit and lean I get, my legs are never my best attribute. It's where I hold my fat, no matter how hard I work and how well I eat, I've come to realize it's just my body, but hearing that they are powerful, now that I'll take!
Race morning was super uneventful. After being rushed the last time we did this race, we made sure we were in transition with plenty of time. Before we knew it we were in the water, with a nice starting position to the right of the buoys. I had heard this was the place to be, and I'd take anything over the beating I received in 2010 when I started front and center.
About 30 seconds before the start, Michelle turned around to me and said, "Happy hour starts at 6, Krista. DON'T be late."
The looks on the faces of the people around us were just priceless. I'm sure mine was just as great.
I had done the math over and over and many times came up with an 11 hour race, but I knew most of that banked on a ~4hr marathon, which based on my training seemed 100% doable, but then I also couldn't help but factor in my IM Marathon PR was ~4:35 and even my stand alone marathon was 4:12…. It's hard to have that extra confidence that you could crush both of those times. Hearing Michelle say those words was just the fire I needed in my belly.
The swim was rather uneventful. It wasn't crazy crowded, but I never felt like I was in a great position either. Every time I'd get comfortable swimming, I'd start passing people then end up in one big cluster of people that I couldn't get around. Rather than get super frustrated, I just tried to stay calm and focus on getting to the finish. I could tell it wasn't going to be the swim I was hoping for, or rather that Michelle was hoping for, but just kept moving.
I swam until it was too shallow to keep going, got up and ran up to the wetsuit strippers. My time was 1:07, 3 minutes slower than 2 years ago, and 3-5mins slower than I expected.
I quickly cleared my head and moved on, in and out of transition in 3 minutes and was on to the longest part of the day, the bike. The temperature was perfect. Slightly cool for the morning, but the adrenaline was just enough to keep me warm until the temperatures started climbing. High for the day was supposed to be ~87degrees so I chose no arm warmers. I had every pocket on my kit and bike full of so much food I had no room for extra stuff!
I got passed a LOT in the first 20miles. Super flat and fast and people were moving. I was still trying to find my legs! Shane passed me at mile 12, he too didn't have the best swim, but it of course made my day that I at least beat him out of the water, even if only by 1 minute!
At about 20minutes I started fueling. I had 1800calories on my bike and I was determined to get as much of it as possible in my system. It took about an hour for my legs to finally feel ok. I continued my routine of eating about every 20-30mins, drinking to thirst and taking 2x e21 every hour. Richter Pass came quickly, and once again I was still being passed, a LOT. I remembered reading my race report from last time, and reading the same thing about how many people were passing me at that point, so again, I just did my thing and rode my pace.
I had to pee for the first 2 hours, so finally around mile 50 I found a clear stretch behind me and got er done! My biggest fear was that my green compression socks were going to be colored, so I poured a ton of water all over me. My outfit was the key to my bike success and I didn't want to mess it up ;) I have never received so many compliments on my kit, bike and coordination in my life. It made the bike ride super fun, and absolutely loved every minute of it grinning ear to ear.
Around my 65-70, the out and back section and the middle of the rollers something clicked in me and I just felt AWESOME. This section last time I sorta fell apart, but I felt fantastic. I started working harder, passing people and I felt amazing. Before I knew it I was up over yellow lake and descending back into town. My pace was slightly ahead of where I expected, and I actually thought for a minute I would bike a 5:45 until we hit a pretty good headwind on the descend and my chain had popped off over the outside of my rear derailleur and I had to coast for about 3 miles until it was safe to pull over and fix it. Thankfully, it was a quick fix, but boy did it hurt to have to get off the bike at mile 100. I had to wait a few seconds while pelotons (yes, PELOTONS) of cyclists came flying by me and it was clear to get back on the course, but happy overall that it wasn't a big deal.
Before I knew it I was back into transition, with a bike time of 5:48, ~2 mins faster than my goal and a 15min bike and course PR!
T-2 was fast, but I did take some extra time to pee (apparently I hydrated well), and was back out running in just over 3mins. I set my garmin to avg lap pace so it would reset every mile and I was never looking at my current pace. My goal was to start no faster than an 8:50 pace, which I quickly had to hold back when my first half mile was an 8:30. I slowed to what felt like a walk and an 8:45ish and just watched as people flew by me. I was happy to feel so fantastic and light, but not stupid enough to think that was going to last or that I could hold anything faster than what my training proved.
The miles clicked off fairly easily and I was staying right around the 8:50 mark. I started my nutrition with gels every 3 miles, water to taste and also put ice down my top at every aid station. It wasn't really HOT, but it was warm, and I know my body does best when it's cooler so I just kept trying to make myself comfortable. At mile 8, I ran into Shane. I was devastated that he was walking. I spent only a few seconds on finding out if I could help, but he made it clear his quad was trashed/cramping and he'd tried everything. It was hard to just pull away from him, knowing we both were on target for a great day, but I was so focused on my race I knew I had to keep moving.
I got my head back in the game and just kept going with my plan. The hills started at about mile 10, and I ran most of them, but when the effort felt too hard, or I wasn't jogging any faster than I could walk, I would walk. Only to the top of the hill. I never let that walk go too long or too far. I had a quick potty stop before the turnaround and then was on my way back into town. In my head I just kept going in 3 mile increments. The first half it was to take a gel. The second half it was knowing that I only really had 3 miles of hard hills, then I would be back to flat. At mile 16, I knew I just had to get to mile 21 where the last small climb was. At mile 20 my stomach felt so full I was convinced I had to pee again, so I stopped one last time, but ended up it was just bloat so I was in and out quickly and on my way with a plan of NO more stopping. At mile 21 I just had to get to mile 23 where I had convinced myself it was all downhill.
My stomach was bloated, I was FULL. I stopped taking in gels and just did water, watermelon and cola. Whatever I could stomach. I NEVER felt tired. I never hurt. My legs were getting heavy, but other than that I truly had no pain. I would walk the aid stations to get as much as my body could take, but as soon as I started running again I could bring my avg pace back down to as close to a 9min pace as I could get by the time the next mile clicked over then start the process over again.
As I reached mile 24 and heading back down main street the emotions began to take over. I was overwhelmed with happiness. I don't know how to explain it but for the last 13 miles I truly felt like the wind was on my back. While I wasn't breaking any top speeds, I was running, and it felt like nothing I have ever felt before. I knew that my mom was with me. That I had my very own personal guardian angel watching over me all day, believing in me and pushing me. I had to hold back tears and get my breathing under control, but I couldn't take the smile off my face. I had no idea what my run time was, as I was only looking at mile by mile, but I could see on my total time for the day that I was close to an 11hour day. I did the math and knew breaking 11 hours wasn't going to happen, but I still dug deep and ran my last 2 miles at an 8:30 pace. I made one last pass of a girl in my AG in the last 1/4 mile and crossed the finish line in 11:02.
When I crossed the finish line I saw Michelle standing there. I couldn't speak. I was crying and in complete shock of the day I just had.
I later learned that I not only had a :48min Ironman and course PR, but that I had actually broken 4hours on the marathon, something I've never done. It was the most incredible day I've every experienced since my first race and marathon 11 years ago. The smile below is still on my face when ever I think about the day. A day that I am so proud of and so completely satisfied with, yet still in shock about.
I can't thank all the people that believe in me and are always my biggest supporters. Huge thanks to everyone who made a donation to my Athletes for a Cure fundraising page. It was such a cool experience to be out there on the course with Team Newton, and the CEO of newton Jerry (also racing). I was racing for a cause, with a purpose and it was awesome! And last, but certainly NOT least, the winner of the "guess Krista's finish time" is my girl, Tracy. :23 off my actual finish time. Tracy, your present will be here Saturday ;)