Running is my favorite thing. I just love it. I’ve always loved it and I’ve always been good at running for a long time. One of my favorite things as a kid was a jog-a-thon fundraiser. People donated money on a per lap basis, for example $1 per lap and then we ran for a certain amount of time. I think it was an hour because I remember running about 5 miles and people thought that was pretty great. I remember loving that I beat all the “fast” kids, because I was able to just keep plugging along the whole time. I also remember my friends and I wanting to dress up like Florence Griffith-Joyner (Flo Jo) wearing a one legged uni-tard and press-on nails. Thank you, mom for saying no. As long as I can remember I’ve wanted to run marathons. I even remember reading about a 100 mile running race when I was in 5th grade, and thinking that I wanted to do that someday (more on that later). I was also pretty young when I first watched the Hawaiian Ironman and promptly put on my bathing suit and ran around “training” for this thing. My head always wants my body to go further than it wants to. My head and my heart want to run long and fast all day everyday. The rest of my body however seems to think this is a stupid idea. The Coeur d’Alene run course was no different. I wanted my body to perform, and it just said no.
The run started out like any other Ironman run, running through the wonderful crowds of people cheering on all the athletes. I’m zooming past all these walkers who have given in to their bike legs already. I was not planning on being one of them anytime soon! My legs felt great, I kept checking in on my garmin making sure I wasn’t going too fast (my biggest mistake in Ironman Arizona). I was. I was running around 8:20 to 8:30 pace, I kept telling myself to back off, settle in at 8:50 for the first few miles. I was very afraid of experiencing the same pain I felt in Arizona, nightmarish-delirious pain and suffering that lasted 2.5 hours of that day. Yuck. I jogged through the first aid station, I wanted to just relive my run from IM CDA 2007. It was perfect and fun, the plan this year was to do that but run with a little bit more confidence, a little bit more experience, and little bit more speed. The first 2-3 miles are nice and shady, and I was already feeling pretty hot. I really let this get to me (yep, already) I was wondering if the compression socks were a good idea in the heat. I felt like I had on way too many clothes. I grabbed ICE, sponges, and ice water trying to cool off. I kept checking the garmin, checking my pace, suddenly at mile 3ish it was saying things like 9:30 min/mile 9:45 min/mile. I would try to tell myself to suck it up and run I’d try to pick up the pace and then see a 9:15. Still too slow for a 4 hour marathon, dang it. After a few more miles of battling with the garmin, the brain, and the body. I decided to take the garmin off and run what ever race my body said to run. I was sure at this point I was already off the 4 hour marathon mark, and just wanted to try and enjoy myself and maybe find more energy out there if I could get my mind off the clock.
I finally found my support crew out on the course. They could immediately tell I wasn’t running the race I had planned. I told them I was hot, but ok. My legs felt good my stomach didn’t. My mom, as always, told me to eat something. I told her I was. Brett and Chris told me I looked awesome. It was so great having them out there. I didn’t want to give up on my goal, but I would try to pick up the pace and instantly feel bad: stomach hurting, heart racing, foot aching, something. The run course is outstanding. You run through town a bit and then it’s just smooth sailing out along the lake. Here is a picture from the run course taken on my bike a few days before the race. I remember from 2007 just being blown away by the beauty surrounding me during this race, and being so energized by the environment, the spectators, and the athletes. I was searching for this energy and just never found it on this day. I could never get outside my head. By mile 15 I was walking a lot, even in between aid stations (which I don’t believe in). I was definitely slowing down. I had bad moments where I was mad at myself for walking, and then would remind myself I was still moving and would get going in a minute. It’s hard to know when to let go of things in races. Is letting go of an unattainable goal in a race still giving up? Or is it better to move on to plan B? I always feel like I need rules like this or, like walking at aid stations ONLY. Once you let go of that rule you’ll walk when ever you want (like I did this day). Which leads to LOTS of walking in an Ironman. Usually I’m strict and tough, even in training. I just didn’t have it in me this day. Slowly but surely my mental strength gave into tired and frustrated Katy.
Most of you know I’m a pediatric oncology nurse, so I’m always finding inspiration in my patients and their families. These people are tough cookies. They are way tougher than I’ll ever be. When I’m hurting in training or racing I can always think of them, and it puts it all back in perspective. I’m fighting a clock, they’re fighting for their lives, suck it up Katy. I feel like I’m sucking it up in this picture, I’m battling the heat, I’m barely holding it together, my garmin is already off, I’m running just for me now, and you can see my special ribbon on my right strap. That ribbon is for one of my patients, she and I talked a lot about her toughness and my racing and how they were perfect for each other. She was definitely an inspiration throughout my training and especially on race day. I told her I would race for her, she thought that was funny and cool. She endured more pain than anyone ever should and she did it with tons of grace. Just having that ribbon, that little piece of her, reminded me if she could endure that I could endure this. This was baby pain compared to her pain. Suck it up Katy.
Just before my last turn around, so around mile 20 I asked a spectator what time it was. I don’t remember what he said now, but I had about 6 miles to go at this point with one big hill, and I knew if I really worked for it I’d at least still PR on the course. I had let go of the goals that were already out of my reach and I really just tried to dig in for this one last goal. My plan was to walk only through aid stations when needed and just focus on knocking out the miles one by one. I got to the big hill and ran up it one last time, it was awful and I hated every step but I had to do it just for me to remind myself I was tough. Heading back down I realized it was really almost over, I only had a few miles until I was an ironman again.
Each mile really did take forever and I really do remember it all so clearly even though it was almost two months ago. There was one more baby hill and an aid station. I started walking at the aid station grabbing few things, after the aid station I just kept walking, talking with a few other athletes. Most of the people I chatted with for these few minutes were still on their first lap. For some reason that inspired me, I think I felt like they were soooo tough for still being out there and having so far to go, I can suck it up for them. So after quite a long walk break, I started jogging again. Then I found a buddy this is the BEST at the end of an Ironman. We had 4 miles to go, we talked about families, about racing, about how we felt that day, about the heat, about the course, and then I told her about my friend Brooke. My friend Brooke’s birthday was that day. I was so worried I’d forget to think of her on her birthday I told her I would dedicate mile 25 to her. I was telling my new friend I was worried I’d forget she said she’d help me remember. We were just chatting and running, then we got to an aid station at mile 24.5 she slowed to walk. I had to wave good-bye because I was suddenly in a new groove. I couldn’t stop. I hit mile 25 and I started thinking about my wonderful friend Brooke. We’ve been friends since Jr. High so I just talked to her in my head for all of mile 25, thanked her for her friendship, told her about my day, thought about all of our hilarious escapades in the past 16 years. Before I knew it I was at mile 26, you know what that means folks .2 miles to go, and I was a new girl. I was flying by people left and right, I was so ready to be done with this day. All of the bad, sad, and negative was out the window. I was done, and I just did something huge, and I was proud of myself. Heading towards the clock I saw it read 12:40:32 I accomplished my last goal. Just to PR on the course. I held it together (for the most part) those last 6ish miles, when I mattered I could still pull it together. I was done, I was an Ironman, AGAIN!
Thank you MOM, Chris, Brett, Melanie, & Sandy for cheering me on in CDA! Thank you EVERYONE for cheering for me on-line! Thank you Brooke for making mile 25 special (not to mention the last 16 years), and Thank you Ally-D for showing me what tough really is!