All I could think about during my 4:18 T2 was how bad I had to pee. Twenty-two miles is a long way to bike when you have to go! After the awesome volunteer dumped out my transition bag and helped me sort through my gear – THANK YOU! – I ran out of the tent as quickly as I could to a mini-biff. A minute later, I felt much better and was off and running, waving at my cheering family.
My legs didn’t feel that bad, and it felt like I was running far faster than my Garmin said. My first mile: 10:08. Um, I don’t think I’ve seen that split in, hmm, years, so that was a bit of a shock. Regardless, it was one foot in front of the other and before I knew it, I was at mile three, and I felt a slight flutter in my GI system. Some flat Coke (that stuff is magic) and a quick stop at the mini-biff, and I felt better.
Like the swim and the bike, most of the run flew by. The first half was punctuated by another stop at the mini-biff, chatting with a couple women who were running my 9:15 pace between miles 4-8 and walking through water stops while sipping on flat Coke and water and eating potato chips (I only ate them at one stop because they shredded the roof of my mouth and felt like I’d shoved in 17 cotton balls).
I remember glancing down at my watch about two hours in around 13.1 and being shocked that I’d ran that far already. My family was cheering right around this point, too, which was a huge boost – exactly where I needed it! I made a quick pit stop here to chat and high-five, hand off the three GUs that were annoyingly bouncing in my back pockets and my Oakleys, and take a few pics. My fab sis walked with me for 25 yards or so when I was ready to take off again.
I started the second loop of the course and made my way through the beautiful trail segment, hoping I wouldn’t see a bear (they warned us in the pre-race meeting that bears roam the woods around Whistler). And, while I didn’t see one there, I did see one along the path by Green Lake about 1.5 miles before the turn around. I vaguely recall someone saying, “Bear,” and when I looked down toward the lime green water, there she was: A real live black bear, clearly overwhelmed with all the people running by. She just sat there, maybe 25 feet away from the path, looking around. I can’t stand running with my phone, but dang it, I wish I would have had it so I could have taken a picture!
They always say you hit the wall of a marathon between miles 18 and 22. I wouldn’t say that I quite hit it, though, because my legs felt fine and actually pretty strong (not a single cramp all day!); it was my GI system that wasn’t happy. I battled with it off and on most of the run and had to duck into a mini-biff four or five times. Thankfully I felt better after each and was able to
run jog between aid stations. Lesson learned: Next time, take some immodium and probably drink a bit more water on the bike.
Some IM brain math during the last five miles or so – this was not easy and took forever! – determined if I could keep close to a 10:00-10:30 pace, I’d go sub-12. A lot can happen in five miles, so I tried not to think about it and instead to just focus on moving forward. And, if I met my sub-12 stretch goal, it would be icing on the cake.
My belly got a bit sloshly between miles 21-22, so I cut back a bit on the Coke and water, which helped a bit. I also drank chicken broth when they brought it out near the end. While I could never stomach this on a normal day, it tasted so good during the race… the sodium!
Thanks to my stomach, I walked far more than I wanted the last few miles and several times I felt like throwing up; I even got a bit dizzy. But, with a mile to go, I mustered the motivation to run – with all the fantastic cheering spectators and the noise I could hear coming from the finish line in Olympic Plaza, it was hard not to.
When I turned the corner and saw the finish line for the first time… there really are no words to describe the feeling of that final stretch. Just overwhelming joy, relief, excitement, some disbelief, pride and so much gratitude… all rolled into one. Two weeks later, I’m still trying to process it, and quite honestly, it sometimes feels like it didn’t happen!
Reflecting back during the past couple weeks, I don’t know that I could have had a better first IM experience. Nearly everything aligned perfectly on August 25 – the weather, clean water, hill climbing and, for the most part, my nutrition. My amazing family and Nick’s mom, Mary, made the trek to Whistler to support me and were there every step of the way. Seeing Nick on the course four times was a huge boost and left me smiling for miles. Seeing Sonia on the course was awesome, too.
Would I change anything? Hmm… I gave it my all for 11 hours and 51 minutes with not much left at the end. Sure, I wish I could have ran faster – and, I know I have a much faster marathon in me – but overall, I’m thrilled with my day! You know it’s been a good race when you want to ride your bike the next day :)
A few final thoughts on the run:
- My stomach. While I had spot-on runs throughout my training and never once had to sprint to a mini-biff, you never know what will happen on race day. My stomach wasn’t overly happy for almost all the 26.2, so perhaps immodium may help during the next IM.
- Cut your toenails. I’ve been pretty good about keeping mine short during training, and it was no different for race day. It worked, too – my toenails are intact. Even better: No blisters, no cramping and swelling was minimal! Thank you, Osmo Nutrition PreLoad and CEP Compression!
- Run special needs. I put just a pair of fresh socks and my favorite cookie ever (bittersweet chocolate) in my bag, but didn’t use the socks and couldn’t stomach the cookie until well after the race.
- The course. Such a beautiful run course with a nice mix of trail and road, shade and sun. And, there was plenty of climbing… 2,000 feet (though I don’t remember it feeling like that much).
- Course support. There was always an aid station (and a mini-biff!) exactly when I needed one.
- The volunteers and spectators. Again, they were nothing short of amazing.
- My coach. I couldn’t have done it without the support and expertise of my coach, Johnny. Despite cursing him during the crazy track workouts and the back nine 2.5-mile sprints (gah!), he prepared me well. I am so grateful.
Nutrition // Honey Stinger chews (1.5 packs = 240 calories), water and Coke at almost every aid station, chicken broth near the end.
Official run time // 4:32:25, 6:27/km (10:23 pace).
Official IM time // 11:51:29, 12th AG, 108th female.
And, Nick! I am so, so proud of him! He had an INCREDIBLE day, finishing in 9:58! Watch for his race report on his blog soon :)