Saturday, 13 August 2011

Race Day - Run

Entering T2, stop-off for the bathroom then into the changing area, pick up red-bag 480, take a seat, volunteer at my side, "yeah, dump it."  Helmet, cycle shoes, gloves and socks off, dry the face, arms, legs and feet.  New socks, runners, hat and nutrition all while the crew filled my bottle with water, "thank you!"  'These volunteers are great, very helpful.'

The run course was roughly 10km (6.4mi) into Bolton then 3x 10km laps of the town.

Springing out of transition with the Gatorade bottle and hat in one hand and nutrition in the other, my brain awash with a million thoughts, 'you're doing this, run time.  re-focus, eliminate distracting thoughts, jam nutrition into pockets, sort out the hat and set a pace.'

1km - bars and gels in place, hat on, check the watch 'wow, sub 5min 1st k, slow it down, short and efficient strides, up-right, shoulders relaxed.'  I settled into a 5.15-5.30/km pace.

3km - stomach rumbling, 'ahhh, no, not now.'  Barely into the run and the bathroom was calling again.  'ok, go now and that'll settle things for a while (1).'

5km - time to eat a bar, but the brain vetoed it.  Having hit the strategy of 7bars and 7gels on the bike and one gel right after T2, no part of my body was in the mood for more.  'Ok, we'll take a break and pick it up later.'  

As visions of sugary supplements danced through my brain, I came upon a familiar site, 'ahh, Hawaii tatoo guy, can't get away from me.'  We ran side-by side for 15secs before, "Hey mate, how's it going?" "Yeah, good, just enjoying a nice day out," I responded.  We continued chatting, well, he continued chatting about the race, this being his 4th IM, and the fact that he raced in Hawaii last year (qualified at IM UK for the 20-24 age group).  I was happy to listen, a welcomed distraction.

7km - conversation cut short for another pit-stop (2).  'ok, feeling good now, everything settled.'

10km (56min) - up hill to the 3 lap circuit, no longer settled.  'Come on, where is the next aid station.'  The smile and thumbs up I had post swim and through the bike were waning, maybe just a smirk at this point.

11km - stop 3.  Then into town centre where gurgling and bubbling in my stomach wiped away anything resembling even a smirk, 'uhh, a bit of walking should help.'  It didn't, just got worse, 'this may come out the other way!  what's happening!?!'

where'd that smile go?
never seen a race pic with me not smiling
Calculations of how long it would take to walk the rest, 'about 12km in, 30 to go, 7min walk per km, no, slower, or maybe faster?  plus bathroom breaks, definitely slower, but then how long is that?  Can I beat 12hrs?'

"Come on, at least give it a jog," came from the crowd.  'Listen old man, I'm struggling, not in the mood for a lecture from someone standing on the side line,' my initial reaction before turning on myself, 'wow, bitter much?  you chose to be here, stop feeling sorry and give it a jog!'  I punched my fist in the air as if to claim victory and began to jog.

15km - heading away from downtown, stop 4.  Through another aid station refusing any food or water, 'can't be bothered, plus I still have this Gatorade bottle.'  Drink from the bottle, 'ugh, warm, dump it.'

21km (2.06) - half way, stop 5, officially off plan.  'ok, re-assess.  By my math, (which was a shotty at this point), 11.30 isn't going to happen, but let's run/ jog between aid stations, walk through the aid stations and shoot for sub-12hrs.'

Next station, walked through, decided to take some water, 'whoa, this is delicious, more water,' then a light run through town centre before stopping for the 6th time.

Shortly after, I crossed paths with Alan (him coming the other way, about 25mins ahead at this point), high five, "11.29, don't forget it" was his encouragement, to which I responded, "looking good Alan, nice one."

31km (3.09.30) - walk through the aid station, water, 'salty snack? yes, please,' grabbed ritz crackers, dunked in the water and ate, 'unbelievable, never had such a tasty cracker!'  

Lucky number 7.

Next station, more water, more crackers, 'stomach improving, who would have thought?!?'  As I was munching down crackers, Alan came flying the other way (having put another 15mins on me), "come on Carlos, pick it up," he exclaimed, but it wasn't just the words, it was the look on his face.  Deep disappointment.

'Enough's enough, ignore your stomach, on the brink of missing 12hrs, 10k remaining, do you want this?'  The answer, a resounding, 'YES!' and I started a-fresh.

35km - Peeked at the porta-loo, 'sorry, no time this round.'  Not even a second thought, charging through the aid station, 'water and crackers to go please. thank you.'

Patting Mahmoud on the back, "keep it up, looking good," I shouted as I soared past.

Out to the final turning point, feeling good, great form, pushing hard.

40km - passing the final chance to stop but didn't even consider as I stepped up the gear, 'definitely under 12, but how far below do you want to be?  this is it.'

"Looking way too fresh," I heard two spectators conversing as I passed every racer in sight.  "Yeah, I know, I used little fitness over the first 30km, trying to make up for it now.'

Blowing through town, banking every turn, complete focus.  As I hit the final straight-away, my mouth began to stretch from ear-to-ear. Bigger than ever.

smiling as I high-five down the red carpet

The world went silent as I crossed the line with my ears tuned-in for one sound...

"Carlos Medina. You. Are. An. IRONMAN!"

30 weeks in the making, an unexplainable feeling.

Alan looks tired
I guess a 10.52 Ironman will do that to you!

post-race fish n chips?!?  only in the UK

The finish is a whirlwind; it took a while to realize exactly what I had accomplished.  And, just how bad my math can get after 11hrs of racing!

It was a great surprise to finish closer to the 11.29.59 original target than the re-assessed sub-12 goal concocted with dodgy maths.  But, then it dawned on me, 'you missed 11.29 by about 1 second per mile over the 140.6 mile race!'  

That trail was cut short as I decided to enjoy the moment and worry about race assessment tomorrow.

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