first, the stats
finished in 13:32
T1 10 and change
T2 5 min and change
I arrived in CdA on Thursday afternoon. As I drove from Spokane into CdA, I was in AWE of the beauty in this area. Pine and fir trees line mountains, everything is so green and lush. I could not get over it. Majestic and breathtaking!
I got to my hotel, the Super 8. It was fine, I was on my own, and all I really require is a microwave and fridge. Laundry room is good too. Everyone was so welcoming and friendly, a big switch from where I train in th Wooodlands where I see signs saying "Ironmen, Go away, we don't want traffic delay" Here there are signs welcoming Ironman athletes everywhere you go. Refreshing.
Thursday afternoon, I picked up Ironmom Robin from her hotel and we drove part of the bike course and again I was in awe of the wild beauty of the lake and surrounding mountains. Later I met Robin's charming family for dinner. I could talk to her forever! and we did a fair share of talking over the course of the weekend. I was SO happy to meet her and we got on like we had known each other for years, which I guess we have between trifuel and Facebook.
Friday morning, I met Robin again for a practice swim in the frigid (read:54! degree) water in the lake. I'm glad we did, as I then felt more confident about the race swim. I went to the athlete check in, picked up an AWESOME swag bag, a transition bag from Ironman with CdA printed on it! I haven't ever gotten anything like THAT at packet pickup! I also picked up my bike from Tri Team Transport, a Texas based company that I highly recommend to anyone travelling to races from Texas or Oklahoma. Later, Robin and I went on a short ride to make sure all was well with the bikes.
I went to the athlete's dinner on Friday night (after I ate my own dinner in my hotel room). I didn't go for the food, but the atmosphere in the dinig hall, with over 2500 athletes getting geared up for Ironman is electric! Mike Reilly inspired us all with the athletes' statistics and amazing stories that brought them to thios place and time. I would not miss an athlete's dinner.
Saturday was bike and gear bag check in. The stress of "Do I have what I need in all the right bags?" Checking and rechecking before throwing up my hands and saying, "I'll deal with whatever comes". When I got to the check in, I reached into my trunk to pull out my bike and tweaked my hip, I pulled a muscle or something and it hurt for the rest of the day. Not good for the day before Ironman. I had lunch with Robin and we hung out at her hotel pool for the rest of the afternoon.
Race Day: Overcast with a chance of thunderstorms, and that's what they had been saying all weekend, we only got rain on Friday night. I figured, at that point, I would just deal with whatever weather I got. I got to transition before it opened. Not much to do when you can't sleep...Took cAre of business and added whatever was needed in the gear bags. It was finally time. Got on the wetsuit, neoprene cap and earplugs and headed to the lake, with over 2500 of my closest friends. The cannon went off and we all ran into a freezing lake and began to swim, pummel, pull and kick each other....otherwise known as a mass start swim. It was violent. There wasn't much room for "swimming" and technique be damned for the first 1/2 mi. The 1st loop finished, I got out, ran 50 yards back to the start and started the 2nd loop. The 2nd loop was super choppy. The waves picked up and I swallowed a lot water while sighting and trying to breathe. I didn't sign up for an ocean swim! Second loop over, I got out, ran on numb feet to my gear bag and women's changing tent where a lovely volunteer helped my get all my stuff in order and onto my body since I couldn't manipulte my fingers too well either.
And it was onto the bike. I just have to say that the places I drive out to for an hour like chappell hill and conroe have NOTHING on these hills. When you are from Houston, you DON'T KNOW HILLS, until you get out of houston. Even in Austin...NOTHING like these hills. They are MOUNTAINS! Climbs that went on and on for 30 min! My longest climb in Chappell Hill took 5 min MAX!. Anywho...the bike course has changed from last year, so they say, and this one is an out and back 2x, so when I did the first loop, I knew how bad it would hurt 56 mi later on the second. I was so glad to get back into town with two miles left to ride into transition. My butt wanted off that saddle.
A volunteer took my bike, I grabbed my gear bag, and back into the changing tent. The run hurt from the start. My knees were achey, my hip was tight and twitchy, but sut slow and steady, I ticked off mile after mile. The run course was a 6.4mi course out and back 2x. And there was a monstrous hill at about mi 5, so up the hill at five, turn around at 6.6 and do it again, 2x. Ugh. It hurt. A lot. but the run aid stations (and the bike ones too) were filled with volunteers who worked so hard to get whatever the athletes needed, it was impossible not to smile and thank them every time. The last turn onto Sherman avenue...I get chills just thinking about it. The people in this town are SO supportive! They lined the street and shouted words of encouragement throughout the swim, bike and run, but Sherman Avenue! It was an extended finish line. About a half mile of roaring, cheering fans that made me feel invincible and grateful and proud. I picked up my pace, had a huge grin on my face as I high fived all the way down the street and to the finish line! When Mike Reilly announced what every triathlete wants to eventually hear "Sharon Ruben, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!" I pumped my fists and ran across the line. It felt like the first time. I didn't think it would have the magic, but it did. The crowds, the cheers, the finish line. I want to do it all again, but it'll wait a couple years :)
The aftermath: I'm sore! sooooo sore. I couldn't sleep for the muscle soreness and I got a nasty burn on my lower back from when my bike jersey rode up and I was in aero. UGH. I always forget to sunscreen that part!. But all that will go away in a couple days. This has been an incredible experience I will never forget.
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first, the stats