More than worthy!!!!!
Where to start… well, after going to bed early the night before the race, around 10:30pm more or less, I was relax and feeling great. I swam 2 times in the Gulf of Mexico, and I felt that my hardest and scary leg of the Ironman wasn’t that bad, which I think calmed me down for the night. I woke up several times, as usual, but fell sleep again, until 5:00am that was when the 4 alarms set were on… Finally the DAY, November 4th was here, and competition right there. We wake up, the day was COLD and WINDY, it was in the low 40s, and it scared me a little because of the swim, but nothing there was nothing we could do against Mother Nature. I had breakfast, cereal with milk and a banana, plus Gatorade and an Accel gel for calories before the race. I put on warm clothes, packed the wet suit, prepared special drinks, checked last minute special bags, and went towards the start and pre-race stuff that needs to be done.
While walking, it felt cold, the wind looks bad and I was not feeling that good at all (mentally), but I finally decided to change that state of mind and dealt with what it was. After getting my number wrote down in my legs and arms, age in calf, and dropped off special need bags, I went to put on my wet suit and headed towards the beach. When I arrived there, I saw waves, thanks god there were smaller, but still waves. I ran into Chad and Kirsten, and their families. After few deep breaths, we went to the start line, since the start time was close. We crossed the first Ironman entrance and finally I was there in front of the Gulf to take the journey of my first Ironman for a full day, and it was. I lost my roommate Dennis, but we found him at the start line too, and hang there for few minutes, my toes were freezing and I was shivering a lot, the wind and cold was not fun.
There were a mix of emotions, I just wanted everything to start… at 6:50am the professionals jumped in the water, at 7:00am we all started.
I left the big massive start to go first since I’m a slower swimmer, and I didn’t want to get drawn by 2000+ people. I went into the water and felt great, I was floating and wasn’t that cold, the adrenaline went up and started to swim like if I know how to do it.
The water was great; I didn’t get drowned, just got few slaps on my legs, and some on my back. The 2.4 miles swim ended after 1:24:07. In fact I was surprised that the time I spent in the water didn’t feel like that at all. After getting out of the water, I passed by the stripper, which helped me to take off the wet suit -- this was very funny. It gave me time to rest (seconds), I ran thru the shower, which in fact I should have stayed a little longer since I hade sand during the bike, not nice at all.
Now transition… wow 11:33min, it was long I know, but I really took my time to dress up for the wind. I should work on transition timing a little more, and I didn’t even change into any bike clothing.
Now the biking vs. the wind, I think we have more than 10mph winds at some points, it was not fun, but well I was already OUT OF THE WATER, so piece of cake… yes sure. I started the bike and in less than 5 miles FLAT, great!!! Stopped and started to change the flat, what else could I do, no options, the good thing… I was just starting and I could probably make up the time. When taking the wheel out, I was a little desperate and missed the rim-wheel grip, and hit my nose, a nice boxing session on the race with myself. So far just pain, when finishing to put in place the inner tube, the crew car support arrived and helped me to finish, they got the wheel into the rim and pumped it (save a CO2). On the bike again, few miles later because of the wind and cold, I had a runny nose, cleaning it I realized I was bleeding, wow I thought at that moment that I was going to loose a lot of potassium, sodium, etc. and not that I was injured or something. Crazy thought but true, you are so focus that you don’t really THINK!!! After several miles, my nose stopped bleeding and I forgot about it for almost all the ride.
The weather changed a little, still cold but not much, just the wind, but everything else was good. Course flat and not that boring at all. Mile 50 or so, we had the opportunity to get our special need bag for the bike leg. It was great since I was running out off my power drink, and I had an extra bottle there, plus an inner tube that I took just in case.
Now mile 65-70, another FLAT cool!!!! It was time to rest and take my butt out of the seat, not that I wanted, but well no option. Glad I took the one I had in the special need bag. I changed the inner tube, pumped and on the road again. Good thing, both flat were my front wheel, hate to change rear wheel flats. After passing mile 100, I was really happy since that was the longest ride I have done for training and I was there, a little slower of what I expected, but there. The rest 12 miles were OK, no more flats, but… still windy. Time 6:38:52, average of 16.4miles, I need to work this out for next year.
Aid stations, and volunteer were great, the road was a little lonely, but the cheering, when present, was pretty cool.
Got now into transition, not that bad comparing with the first one, only 5:08min. This includes putting on my toe-socks, which usually takes few seconds. I took all the bike stuff off, grabbed my disposable camera and started to run. I took some pictures while there was light, people were laughing. I liked the run, and I was doing great, I felt that I had a good pace, at least during my first half marathon, and I tried to keep it. It was not really fast, so I thought I was going to be able to do it. Turning at half the distance, I grabbed my special need running bag where I had a long sleeve and my Venezuelan flag, for the end. It was getting colder, and it was already dark. I continued good, but them collapse, legs were a lot sore and they didn’t want to run at all, and I didn’t want to walk, but I have to do it, no energy. The walk wasn’t that bad, I did with other people and chat for a little while with them. I realized that walking with somebody was a good option, because when I started to walk by myself, my mind started to play bad, and I knew it was not going to be OK. Well after walking several miles, I started to jog again, but got some energy towards the very end, and ran the last 3 miles at a 7:30min per mile pace, don’t ask me from where, I just wanted to finish and I got the energy. While getting close to the end, I took my Venezuelan flag that I had place in my chest to protect me from the cold, and ran with it towards the end. I finished the marathon in 4:25:05 at 10:07/mile average.
The entrance to the final yards was great, I was really exited and started to cry, at that moment I saw all the effort paid, all those long training days did their work, and kept me moving. My personal goal of finishing was completed and I did great. None of my injuries were an issue in fact they never hurt.
It was all over after 12hrs: 44min: 45sec, picture says 44sec, but I can deal with it.
The whole experience was overwhelming, I did not regret any of the effort I put in my training to make my goal, and I really appreciate the help and support from many of you in the conquer of my first Ironman. Now is time to rest, think, and enjoy a well-deserved vacation!!!!!
Pictures... coming soon.