IRONWOMAN! The 140.6 Race Report by May LauzonPosted by Pete | Categories: Race-Report
The night before the journey, the race director addressed all of us athletes. “It’s going to be like a rock concert. You’re going to show up, and then you will leave. And in between, you just won’t stop moving.”
This is true.
After the shortest seven hours of sleep I’ve ever had, I awoke on Saturday morning not scared, but STOKED. I was of course wracking my brains trying to make sure I didn’t forget anything, but other than that, I felt pretty ready. I knew this was going to hurt, but I welcomed it with open arms.
My Dad dropped me off at T1 at 5am sharp. Bright generator-powered floodlights had brought the transition area to life. There were almost 2000 bikes, many of which were worth as much as a certified pre-owned Toyota. After getting Dr. Pink’s tires aired up, getting a big, black 591 written on my arms and legs, and setting up my nutrition and hydration on my bike, I got on the shuttle to the swim start. Pete came on the same ride and in just a few minutes we found ourselves seated in a parking lot at the beach entrance amongst a few hundred other (FREEZING COLD!) athletes. It became real. I looked over at Pete and smiled, and said something like “Well, we’re here. We made it.” I thanked him for getting me into this. Paul and Mossimo, other members of Myrtle Beach Triathlon, joined us.
At 7am, the eight hundred full-Iron distance triathletes made their way to the swim start. Standing at the edge of the water, there was an electric energy. We were all packed closely together, all grinning and rubbing our hands together, excitedly trying to stay warm. I waited for it, and then, it came… that song! Lose Yourself, the close relative of the song Till I Collapse by Eminem, a favorite among so many Ironmen and Ironwomen that have seen this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnqpYKx8Fvk , finally, finally, came over the speakers. My nerves got lit up, I thought I was about to start a riot. Everyone felt the same, and hoots filled the air. A minute later… “Thirty seconds, ladies and gentlemen…… BAH!” The horn went off.
A mass start of that size in open water is quite the experience. At first, everyone is still very closely clumped together and we became a matted knot of skin and neoprene, all thrashing about, trying to head down the inlet. After a few minutes passed, the crowd thinned out to the usual lead pack, middle pack, and rear. I stayed in the back of the lead pack, knowing that there was no use pushing towards the front, because I’d need to stay fresh for the rest of the day.
It is a good skill to have to be able to mentally take yourself out of the place that you are in and substitute it with something more controllable. I heard the rush of the water against my ears, and the hum of my own breathing, and all saw with my head down was green. The water was salty. In my mind, I was in Beach Haven, New Jersey, swimming beaches with my lifeguarding partner, Elaina, on a given “Mile Monday.” I was glad to have her beside me, pacing me, bringing her own rhythm to our nautical trek.
The dock was in sight forty-nine minutes later. Up the ladder, into the cold air, the swim was over. On the dock, wetsuit-strippers pulled my neoprene cage off my body. I looked over to my right, and saw Jon Gibson, a teammate of mine, right beside me! “Oh, hey, Jon! How ya doin?!” He laughed and we jogged down the pavement into T1.
Transition One took roughly an eternity. Inside the crowded changing tent, I yanked off my TYR two-piece workout bikini. I opened my changing bag and dumped out my intricate-but-tactful wardrobe for the bike. I proceeded to put on my sports bra inside out. Oops. Awesome. Then on went the GSB tri tank, the GSB jersey, tri shorts, arm warmers (tight and dry? on a wet body? forgedaboutit.) rain vest, and long fingered winter gloves. I ran to my bike, still struggling to get my frozen fingers into my gloves, with my helmet on and then off I went. I was floored to see so many people I knew cheering at the bike start. I ran past my brother, who was holding a “GO MAISY!” poster upside-down, and waved to all the locals who came out to show support. (Thank you, thank you, thank you, MUCH LOVE!)
The bike was, well, awful. It was 46°, raining, and a strong head wind until mile 73. There was no way to change the conditions, so i just decided to stick it out and push through. I played cat-and-mouse with Jon the entire ride; we kept passing and catching up with one another, depending on when we took bathroom breaks. I only needed one plus the 50-mile make support station, thank God. At mile 103, I chuckled to myself because that’s the longest I’ve ever ridden. Luckily by then we had a bit of tailwind, because, oh yeah, there was a hill at mile 111. When my computer reached mile 112, it was at 5:59:59. (Didn’t include the quick rest stop.) I was pleased.
Equally as frozen in T2, I almost ran into the men’s changing tent. Almost. I scarfed down half a PowerBar, stuffed a marathon’s worth of Gu gels into my tank’s pockets, and made my way out onto the run. I ran past my family and friends doing the only sub-8 mile pace I would do that day.
Let me just get something straight. Who ever deemed that course “flat” was sick in the head. Eight times over long overpasses plus other little sneaky short-but-steep hills in the downtown district does not count as flat. Flat. Yeah, between the hills! Any way, I loved my run. I’m not saying it was at all easy or painless, because it wasn’t, but I loved it. I found it easier to keep running than to alternate walking and running. i I only walked up the hills and through the aid stations… this was not the time to eat and run. This was because mile 4 felt like a regular marathon’s mile 22. On came the stiffness and nearing muscle failure. I jogged through it, and somehow, it went away. Mostly. Fueled by array of goodies at every aid station (Water, HEED, cola, gels, bananas, apples, gummies, Oreos, candy, bagels, chicken broth, they had it all.) as well as the FANTASTIC cheering by our local riders, the miles went by surprisingly fast.
I knew I was going to get emotional at some point. I’m glad that when it came time for my cry it wasn’t in desperation or brokenness, but of joy. I dedicated each mile to some one, for their love or inspiration or what have you. I wrote these names on two yellow Livestrong bracelets that I stashed in my changing bag and slipped on in T2.
Here is my Marathon List: (Not necessarily all in order)
4 William, brother
5 Emma, sister-but-actually-my-cousin
6 Tim and Mary, for the second-family love and support
7 Pete Politis, my Ironbrother and mentor
8 the rest of MBTri, especially Jerry and Tim C!
9 Matt Green- high school swim coach, who taught me to dream big
10 Gary Orr, college swim coach, who introduced me to the “M-Dot”
11 Elaina, my kindred spirit and lifeguarding partner
12 Camille, who understands me like no one else
13 Ted, for the contagious optimism and “It’s just water”
14 Bethany and Meredith, my older “sisters” who have the biggest hearts you could imagine
15 Donna, who is an incredibly strong and loving friend
16 Pam, my wonderful housemate who deals with my craziness and makes me laugh all the time
17 Kristen, who brings wisdom into our home, with a good laugh too
18 Jenny McGlynn, who introduced me to triathlon in 2008
19 Christina Mendez, my Delilah
20 Sarah Dutra, who is a force of God through loving hands and a warm heart
21 the other Grand Stand Bicycles Girls… you go, girls!
22 Chris, for keeping me training AND laughing hard all year long
23 Justin, for your inspiring love of this sport and excited smile
24 Becca, may you rest in peace
25 Evan Chait and Anthony Manzella, who helped me recover and come back stronger and smarter
26 For me
It was dark when the finish line came into sight. Jeremy ran with me for a few yards, telling me that i was almost there. I picked up my speed and ran with all that I had left into the finish chute. I crossed the line and threw my hands up. I began to cry when they put the medal around my neck. I was so overwhelmingly happy. Justin had volunteered for the finish line, so I met him for a hug. My mom then came running up to me, crying as well. We hugged and my brother joined us. I was so happy to see everyone there. I cannot thank all of you enough for being there. Jon crossed the line about ten minutes later, and the happy crying resumed. Because Pam and Krisrten are so awesome, they brought two bottle of champagne. We popped it open, and I had my first celebratory champagne shower! And then of course we drank some. Fabulous. I’m glad my Dad taped every second.
I didn’t even have words. I had no inhibitions. I kissed some one at the finish line. (My only regret is that was sweaty… sorry about that… haha)
Later, in the recovery tent, Pete sat down next to me with chicken broth (will never taste the same) and two slices of pizza. I looked at him and smiled. We had sat there thirteen hours before, just waiting, and now here we were. I was an Ironwoman. And Pete was an Ironman… again! I was elated.
Later that night, after the best hot bubble bath of my life, I began to wonder if it was all some crazy dream.
I am an Ironwoman.
Oh and yes, I got the tattoo the next day.