Thursday, October 29, 2009

Not just another day in paradise ~ the finish

A little run.....26.2 miles.

If I could make.....when I would make it....I would be an Ironman again......

Things started off ok, altho my legs were feeling pretty shaky. I was also completely sunburned, which I didn't find out until later. I had put sunscreen on for the bike ride, but it was 1) apparently not rated for 8+ hours and 2) not water proof enough for 8+ hours of dumping water all over yourself. Huh....who knew!

You can hear how awesome the crowd is...even at this late point in the day. And I don't mean just my family, who are *the best*, but also complete strangers. You can hear my aunt letting me know that the Butterfinger I'd been eyeing all week was waiting on the bed. Like a pillow mint but so much better. I only had 26.2 miles to go to get it. This is a nice little clip. It's almost the entire amount of running I was able to do. Maybe not quite. But close. I mostly looked like this:

I dug myself quite a hole on the bike. And I felt it when I tried to get moving on the run. My stomach would start turning, but mostly it was my head. It would start to spin. And I'd be slowed to a walk. I was getting little bits of water and Gatorade in, but was reluctant to try any gel or food just yet. I'd hit an aid station and grab ice, dump it in my top, both front and back, then grab water and Gatorade and drink as much as I could get down. Before I had gone too long I started to think that time-wise it was going to be *close*. I kept telling myself that I would make it...just keep moving forward. I remembered what Liz had said, "If you have to walk, walk like you have somewhere to be." I didn't let myself lolly gag around. At least I didn't *think* I did. I kept telling the next mile marker hit the stopwatch. Start checking your times on the miles. Make sure that you will make that finish line. And a mile marker would come up...and I'd....completely space. It was like I couldn't even remember what I had just told myself.

The spectators...again...awesome. Many had the list of participants and would look up my bib number as I came by and would call me by name and give encouragement. I passed my family at one point, and was slowly running. I don't even remember what they said to me or what I said to them. But I kept moving forward. Looking for the turnaround. Before too long, a truck went by and a volunteer jumped out and hooked a glow stick around my fuel belt. "For your safety," he said. No problem. It was getting *very* dark. Eventually I made it to the turnaround. Only somewhere around 21 miles to go. But I wasn't moving fast enough. It was going to be *very* close.

Just before I got back to where my family was sitting, I saw Jeff heading towards me with a little flashlight. "Do you know where you're at? Do you know what time it is?" he asked me. I remember that I said, "I know it's going to be close. I'm doing the best I can." He asked if I wanted the flashlight, but I just didn't want even one more thing. I just wanted to keep moving forward and cross that finish line before midnight. I *had* to cross that finish line before midnight. Not long after this, I heard a familiar voice ask, "Is that Kris?" It was Liz on a bike riding along with Chris, her husband. I told her it was me and that I was getting sick and dizzy when I tried to run. I know she told me something like, it's ok...just keep walking...lots of folks are doing've got plenty of time. I'm pretty sure she was trying to reassure me, because I'm not so sure I had plenty of time. I think it was the mile marker after this where I finally remembered to start timing my miles. I made myself power walk, pumping my arms and moving my feet as fast as I could. I was hitting 13/14 min miles walking. I could live with that. That would get me there.

There's not a whole lot more to say about the 'run'. It was a very long walk. It was very dark. The aid station volunteers were amazing. I tried to encourage other people as much as I could. I was finally able to get some fluids and calories in me and even pick up the pace slightly. I was still toasty warm and dumping ice and water on myself quite often.

And...I'm about to blatantly confess a breaking of the rules here, so tune out if this will offend your triathlete sensibilities....but Jeff was so worried about me, I think both my physical as well as mental state, that he walked along with me. Not always right beside me. Sometimes off to the side, sometimes a bit behind, sometimes a bit ahead. But definitely *with* me. Almost the entire way. And he wasn't alone. Quite a few of us out there in the late night, in the dark, had company. Some on bicycles. Some walking. Just moving along with us. Our guardian angels, if you will.

It was along walk out the Queen K and back.

We passed one guy who said he knew he'd make it if he kept up 16 min miles and that he was on track. I hoped he would make it.

We had one guy from Costa Rica walk with us for a while, but lost him at an aid station when he had to stop. Jeff said he could see him sit down and take his shoes off. Guillermo. I hoped he would make it.

We passed Matt from the biggest loser when he was heading out to the energy lab and we were heading back to town. I hoped he would make it too.

At this point, I *knew* I was going to make it. I knew. We were getting closer and closer. I thought I could make it by 11:40. 20 minutes to spare.

Somewhere around mile 24.5 or 25 we were back into town enough that we could see the finish line lights. We could hear the crowd and Mike Reilly announcing the finishers. I'd make it. I tell Jeff that once we make the turn onto Palani back into town, he could go straight down and wait for me at the finish line. I had to make a loop through town and then down Alii Drive. As we hit Palani, a nice downhill, I started to run...very slowly...down the hill. There were still quite a few spectators. And all were yelling encouragement. I made one turn after another, and then....and then....I was on Alii Drive. And everyone was clapping. And telling me...only a few hundred yards. You're going to do it! Keep going! And then I could see the lights. And the crowd. A crowd like nothing I imagined. Wall to wall people lining the finish line. Everyone wants to high-five. I feel like a rock star. I jump up and down "YES! YES!" People are cheering. I see my family. I'm smiling a huge smile. And then....the finish line. I'm here. I'm finally here.

And as I cross the line. There's Tina with a huge hug. And there's Jeff waiting for me. And there's Chrissie! Chrissie Wellington! Who gives me a lei, a hug, and congratulates me. And in my fuzzy headedness, I don't make sure to get a picture of it. Oh well, I don't think I was *all* there.

And so ends a very special day in paradise.

Thanks to my Mom, my Grandma, my Aunt Pat, my friends Tina and Matt, for journeying to Hawaii to support and cheer for me.

Thanks to my coach, Liz, for her support and encouragement all season long. She knew before I did that I'd make it.

And huge thanks to Jeff, who went for the longest walk of his life to help make my dream come true. I always tell everyone that he supports my crazy endeavours, but never dreamed how true that would be.

Aloha and mahalo.


Phil said...

wow...wonderful recap. goddamn you inspire me IronKristi! congrats again!

Molly said...

*sniff*sniff* Congratulations! You rock!!!

Pamela said...

You DO Rock Kris!! Love, Mom

Pamela said...

Kris,even just reading this blog, I find myself crying. I am so dang proud of you! You endured much pain (i don't think anyone who didn't see you after the finish can really comprehend how you suffered) and triumphed over it. Much Love, Mom

ShirleyPerly said...


Doing the Kona Ironman is a dream of mine too. The only way I'd probably qualify is as a Big Island resident. Fortunately, that is another dream of mine as well :-)

Thanks for a great race report!