Ironman Dawn Woodard IMFL race reportPosted by Pete | Categories: Race-Report
This was crazy. The whole thing. From volunteering last year to secure a spot, to training since June, thinking that I was even capable of this. Lots of craziness. Mostly surrounded by likeminded crazies so that helped. Sorry if this is long, please feel free to skip to most important parts, but I was given the advice to enjoy every moment and I count the days leading up to it as part of the every moments.
Thursday – I went for a very, very choppy swim with Donnie and some others. It got me very nervous. Donnie was as cool as a cucumber. Gerald went for a run; let me know that Florida miles were different than South Carolina miles. I didn’t believe him. Picked up my packet and got my awesome backpack. Oh! The backpack!! Went for a ride that afternoon and my chain decided to get all screwed up. Some nice man and his family stopped to help us out and ended up giving me and my bike a ride back to the expo/bike service while Gerald rode back. THANK YOU to them!! Nerves got a little worse.
Friday – picked up bike (which was all good), dropped off bags and bike and tried to settle down. A storm was moving onshore and the winds REALLY picked up (60 mph gusts I heard as I tried not to listen to the weather) and it started to rain. I got worried about forgetting to write down my numbers on my bags in addition to the stickers (tip for you future IMers) and thank heavens Warrens family made sure things were ok. And then John and Jeannie Gibson arrived. SO SO thankful they could come down! We had a really good night at dinner with Donnie and Elizabeth (and Tim and See stopped by) and that really helped to calm me down. I was among friends and food – two of my favorites!
Race Day – woke up at 300; not by choice. It was a long time until my alarm finally went off at 500; but we eventually all made it down to transition where I got body marked (by not nearly as energenic people as me and Tim were last year), made sure my bike survived the winds and put my cookies in my bags (love my cookies! Nutrition of choice!) and went back to meet my cheer team. Jeannie was absolutely awesome as she downloaded some of my favorite training songs and played them for me on her speaker – it truly helped me calm down and those songs stuck with me the rest of the day which is EXACTLY what I wanted. A memory I will have forever as we freestyled and remixed Princes “lets go crazy” to apply to Ironman.
Swim – The ocean was NOT calm. Practice swim was rough. The cannon boomed and all I thought was “just go.” It was truly a washing machine. So many punches, kicks and SCRATCHES. But close to the last buoy it thinned out and I could relax. First loop done in about 42 minutes and right back into another washing machine. The waters got a bit choppier the second time around but the thing that took my break away was the sunrise. I drank in the atmosphere and views – so great!! (get it, drank in??)
T1 – saw John and Jeannie after the showers which was a surprise and then Gerald after that which was a better surprise – got a kiss and off I went to change. T1 was CRAZY and I just wanted to get out of there as fast as I could.
Bike – I wanted to stay consistent to conserve energy and thought that doing a 4:15/mile pace was good. I checked my watch after almost every mile and most of them were in the 3:30’s. I was a bit worried that this too fast, but after a while of being right on, I decided to go with it and hoped it didn’t bite me. I had my cookies at mile 70 and 1 more at mile 100. The roads were a bit boring, some bridges (thank you mile 100 summit), 10 miles of rolling hills and 10 miles of the bumpiest road ever (Conway extra route doesn’t compare). That road was the land of tubes, C02, and water bottles. I tried really hard to concentrate on staying in the moment, enjoying it, staying positive. The last two miles I started to feel a bit iffy and yucky but still happy. Saw the Gibsons who were elated for me and headed down the chute to T2.
T2 – wow. I smelled, my shoes smelled. I, again, just wanted to be out of there. Bless the volunteer!
Run – I did not do as well as I wanted to, or knew I was capbable of doing, so this is a sore subject for me. Gerald was right – the miles are longer in Florida. I ran the first 4, each mile I was trying to slow down as much as possible to keep running as long as possible. It’s funny that I wanted to go slower, but then got mad at myself when I was actually going slower. The run had absolutely gorgeous views on it at times and again, I was happy in the moment. The wind wasn’t very nice. My stomach didn’t like running and eventually I had to stop for fear of grossness. I ended up alternating walking a mile and then running a mile or two. I got near the turnaround (mile 13) and saw Jeannie who tried to calm me down; telling me I was still doing great and I would probably finish around 900 (not wanted I wanted to hear, but that was better than midnight). I saw John further ahead and he calmed me down more and then Gerald who just gave me his smile which made me keep moving. John and Jeannie tried to keep up with me, they were jogging to my walk and although this sounds mean, I was happy in seeing that my walk was faster than their jog and they were getting about of breath trying to keep up with me. I started running again and made it as far as I could before I just fell into my speed walking zone. I was getting all sorts of comments on my form and speed from runners that I was passing. I started running at mile 25 and right before the chute I saw the Gibson’s who made me just cry with happiness. Jeannie was as loud as the announcer! The crowd was amazing (and a bit scary)! Saw Gerald who I actually saw was so happy for me and I just went but made sure I had my own moment alone at the finish line. I heard the announcer say my name and I went a little crazy… I was elated! And then I just wanted a chair.
A 13:31:15 finish time is pretty darn good and I am still a little bit shocked at myself and all that I achieved. I am trying to figure out how to say this tactfully with minimal eye rolling: Deep down I knew I could do it, there was never a personal question of my ability. I really did dig deep during my walk, though I wish I had some more run in me. I am thankful of all that I could do, all that I did, all that I will be able to do because of this. It has honestly taught me that I will always have a bit more to give when it gets tough. And though I wish I could have found that out before my 13:31:15 finish, all lessons have to come from somewhere.
Thank you to all that have helped me on a close personal level with this journey; I do not want to leave anyone out so I am hoping that you know exactly who you are! Triathlon has given me so many gifts. How have I gone my whole life without it? Maybe I am just ready in my head to receive them.