Sunday, June 16, 2013

All in a Day's Work

I don't even know how to begin this post...

Several months ago, my sister had this bright idea to do her first half iron distance triathlon. I have always wanted to do one so I told her if she did it I would do it too. Next thing I know I was clicking register now on the registration page of the Highcliff Triathlon in Wisconsin.

You can read about some of the reactions I received when I announced to various friends that I was going to do this race here. Over the months my friends have taken on the challenge of being supportive and cheering me on along the way. This was no easy feat as I was on the training roller coaster. As the day approached, I thought about all of the possible things that could go wrong and right. I had visions of myself standing on the side of the bike course with a flat tire, me holding on to a lifeguard boat, dreams about wearing clown shoes for the run, and on and on... I also day dreamed about the finish line, what it might look like, who would be there in the end.

The reality is nothing could have prepared me for the actual day except the actual day. And I mean NOTHING!!!

I woke up around 4:30 am yesterday morning and got dressed. I met my sister and her husband in the parking lot, we loaded into our cars and headed to Highcliff State Park in Wisconsin. I prepared my transition area and looked around at all of the participants. I didn't see anyone who looked like me, meaning a bit overweight, a bike from the early 2000's that hasn't had a tune up in two years and has been plaguing me with flat tires for several weeks. What I saw were slender athletes who have all done this a bunch of times and some who were simply doing it as a training race for their full iron man races. To say I was kind of freaked out would be an understatement.

Regardless, I pulled on my wet suit, at which point some guy said something like, I haven't seen that before, what brand is it? To which I replied, the cheap brand. You know the one that was on sale for 80 bucks. He chuckled and told me he has been doing these races for years. Told me that often when he does the full iron man he is so excited when he gets to the run because he can finally say "I only have a marathon left." He also told me that I would soon understand what he means when I finish the bike ride and I realize I only have to run a half marathon. He told me I would be thankful! Yep, these were they types I was surrounded by. It felt pretty cool to be among these folks.

The race crew. This group is more than inspiring!!!
Anyway, I remember taking a moment to text my friend a few expletives after I wet suited up. I then got body marked and went and stood lakeside watching the waves, that weren't there the day before, crash onto the beach. I talked with the other people who were there racing with us and we all wished eachother a great race, and off we went. I was in wave three, everyone I was there with in wave four.

I swam one of the toughest swims ever! Not much more to say about that... Waves crashing over my head, running into people at the buoys, getting so off course that a life guard boat pointed me back on track...

Then I headed out for the bike ride. The first .6 miles of the ride were up what felt like a 30% incline. It was probably only 15% but man it was tough! I rode and rode and rode. I was passed by what felt like everyone!!! Well, by mile 20 I was absolutely passed by four of the six people I was doing the race with. Then came the best treat of the entire race; My sister caught up with me!!!! Janell and I stuck together for the rest of the ride. It wasn't pretty but we both were delighted when we hit the 55 mile mark. We knew we were almost off the temporary carbon attachments to our bodies, otherwise known as our bikes. Overall, the ride was great! I got to ride with my sister, I did NOT get a flat tire... First 20 plus mile ride in weeks that happened, I ate a sandwich and we finished.

At this point, all I could think was I'm so happy I only have a half marathon left!!!

Anyway, I went off for the run, which quickly turned into a walk up that 30% incline hill (exaggeration I realize but man it felt like it was that bad!!!), and I ran into the wives of two of the racers. I was running the first of two loops at which point I was passed by the same four people on the run, who passed me on the bike. My sister was long gone and there I was run/sauntering my way through a half marathon. The only bad thing about a double loop is that as people pass you at their mile 11 and say 'only two mile to go', you realize what they should be saying is only 9 miles to go... The other odd thing is that the race official kept riding by asking what loop we were on. Because I was at the end of the pack, I also got a report of how many people were behind me, every time... I was often saddened because he started out telling me there were 10 people behind me and the last time he passed me, there were only 3 left behind me and not a single person passed me. I felt bad for those folks who just couldn't make it, but trust me, I can understand their struggle!!!

On the second loop, I finally got my legs under me. I ran for about 3/4 of each mile and then walked a 1/4 until I was at about mile 10. I then realized I only had a 5k left and could finish this darn thing...

I started running the last 5k and was getting emotional. I would keep telling myself to quit wasting my energy on the stupid tears. It would help for a few minutes and then the tears would start again. When I reached the 12 mile mark, I knew only one more big downhill to the finish line. When I made that last turn down the hill, I let it all go, I charged down the hill and this was the first time the entire race that I knew I would cross the finish line. I got to the bottom of the hill and three girls appears and started cheering for me. I started crying almost uncontrollably, then my brother in law and all of his friends started running toward me and I lost the last of the control I had. They ran with me for the last quarter of a mile cheering me on. They were truly the best gift I could have had at the end of that race!!!

I crossed the finish line, got my medal, was handed a cup of coke and fist bumped everyone I could. I finished...

All in a day's work...




Me at the finish line...

And the medal. 

16 comments:

  1. Congrats! It all sounds so exciting (and tough)! I'm really amazed that you did a race where you "only had a half marathon" left. I have about 800 questions for you, but I'll save that for the next time I see you in person.

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    1. And I'd be happy to talk about it for hours!!! Thanks :)

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  2. WOOHOO!!!!!!! You are absolutely and completely amazing! Congratulations!!!!

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    1. Thank Mandy!!! It was fantastic!!!

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  3. Congratulations!!! You did it and I knew you would! So proud of you!

    And you didn't get a flat - that is a miracle in itself!

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    1. I know, right? Well the last two tire changes must have done the trick! Thanks Laur!!!

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  4. Fantastic, my friend! Congratulations a million times over! Reading your report reminded me of so many similar moments when I did IMWI (especially the part about being lapped by people who had only two miles to go when you still have another loop and two miles to go - I know that feeling all too well!), and you pushed through them! I am SO proud of you!! Take this week to celebrate and reflect on such a wonderful accomplishment! Happy, happy day!

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    1. Quite honestly, I often thought of your encouraging words on that run! You are one of the people who have inspired me and I feel very thankful you have your positive energy on my side!

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  5. You totally rocked it, Sarah! Awesome experience!

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    1. Thanks Janell!!! I feel so lucky to have gotten to spend 36 miles with you!!! More than half of the race if you think about it :)

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  6. This continues to bring tears to my eyes. I am a very proud Mom.

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    1. Yes, mine too mom!!! I get emotional when I think of the support that poured out of John's friends too!!!

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  7. Very proud of my little sister. Wish I had her motivation and determination! Bernie

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    1. Oh Bern! It was fantastic!!! Thanks for your encouragement along the way :)

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  8. Congratulations! Very nice race report and wow, what a great job! Just awesome.

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