Monday, 27 August 2007

16:05:15 hours Part 1....

 I AM an Ironman!!!

Well, it was far from easy, but I did it. I can't tell you how amazing it was to hear the announcer call out my name and tell me I was an Ironman as I crossed the finish line. I'm also honoured that I got to finish hand in hand with my buddy Tigger.

This blog will likely be the longest I've ever written, so you may want to grab a coffee and put your feet up, haha.

The day started with the body marking. I got down there for about 5am - parking was a total beyotch at that time I might add, haha. With around 2700 competitors though, it was to be expected. Gave Mum and Dad hugs, tried to control tears that started to come to surface - geez you'd think I was walking the plank or something rather than doing something I'd been excited about for a year!! - and bid adieu. It didn't take long to get through the body marking then it was time to put all my nutrition in my bags and get my wetsuit on.

I got to see a few friends before the race, which was great. Nothing like a hug and the wish of luck to get you going! I found Les in the porta potty line looking a little frazzled. Turned out she'd left her timing chip at the hotel room. Her awesome hubby was rushing back there to get it. I asked if she needed me to make her laugh or something - which she did. We stood there talking for a while, then proceeded to don our neoprene casings. When we were done we found Rob and Les got her chip. Phew!

The only thing left was to head down to the water and see if we could find our family and friends on the other side of the fence who were waiting with anticipation. It was a wonderful, fun, happy moment as we were able to spot all and give hugs and be giddy. Both of us were super calm going into the swim. If you'd ask me last year if I'd be like that, I would have burst into hysterical laughter. Ah what a difference a year makes.

The swim itself was great. Every 'Ironvirgin' was to the left of the group. The group I might add was the largest group in history for an open water swim!! I pretty much watched the majority head out then started making my way. The water is quite shallow for a bit and the people in front of me were walking so I did too. Once in the water I had a pretty contact free swim. (Thank you oh Gods and Goddesses of Ironman!!) I did, however, get off track a smidge at one point - soooo not surprising! You know you are in trouble when you take a breath and spot one of the aid boats right there. I popped out of the water like a seal, looked around for the buoys, then started heading in the right direction. Whoops! In all honesty the swim felt like it took forever. It felt good for the most part though, some calve cramping towards the end, but nothing I couldn't work around.

As I got out I spotted a bunch of the gang cheering me on. A truly wonderful sight! Next it was into the change tent to get my bike gear on. It was great to see Jenna's smiling face as I headed in. I was so happy about the swim.

Off on the bike I went. I followed my plan of going slow at first, sitting up and not taking in any fuel (aka nutrition, Infinit mix). It was surreal riding through this gauntlet of people cheering us all on. What a boost! I will save all the details of the ride in order to make this somewhat short...haha. I got to see Mum, Dad and the rest of the gang on the way out. I think they were as happy as I was that I made it out of the swim.

The ride to Osooyos was really nice, I kept watch of my heartrate to make sure I didn't make the mistake of going too hard then dying on Richter and Yellow Lake hills. Just about into Osooyos I got a flat on my bike tire. I totally fluked though as I was just about to seal the tire and I flipped it upside down and there was a wee piece of wire sticking out of my tire! If I hadn't spotted it I would have had another flat in no time. (Note: I should have made a cursory look in the first place - saw a thorn sticking out though and thought that was it so didn't check the entire tire....duh!)

Richter Pass was great. I felt really good (all that hill climbing back home paid off) and I made sure I took my time. Coach Ross always says it's best to 'lose' Richter, in other words leave your ego at the bottom and let the groups pass you cause Yellow Lake is there to kick your butt if you go too hard on this one.

As I was climbing up the pass a lady commented to me about the big smile I had on my face. I called back to her, why wouldn't I be smiling - I'm doing Ironman!! There were lots of cheers after that, made me feel good. haha.

Heading through Keremeos and the out and back was a pretty strong headwind. I'm used to headwinds so it didn't bother me that it was there - but it sure took a lot more energy to get through it. The out and back was a lot longer than I expected as well.

I managed to get a bit of a tailwind for the Yellow Lake climb. Again I felt good on the climb. (I'm sure I should train to be a climbing specialist for the Tour, haha!!) It was AWESOME to see the Cochrane gang at the top of the hill. Esther ran beside me for a bit (yes, that's how slow I was going) to ask how I was and tell me I was doing great. I was grateful for her being there!

Heading into town felt like it took forever. I was getting tired and my stomach wasn't doing as well as I hoped. The wind was really taking a toll too. I did my best not to think of the marathon coming up - but once in a while a little worry crept into my brain.

By the time I got to the change tent for the run I was pretty beat and my stomach wasn't doing well. I really don't know why. Unfortunately with my intestinal issues I never know why it goes when it does during races. When I got into the tent Jenna was there for me. I admit I had a wee breakdown as I was changing and told her I was worried about the run. I swear she channeled Les at this point cause she grabbed my shoulders, looked me in the eye and said 'This is when you dig deep Susi'. It was exactly what I needed to hear. The worry stopped and in my head I said 'time to just do it'. Thank you so much for that Jenna!!

Heading out for the run I was amazed my legs were working. Joanne and Caroline were out there to cheer me on - I can't say enough about how much this meant to me to see all the Cochranites out there supporting us. There were a blessing!!! When I passed Angies kids they sang the first bit of 'Baby Got Back' to me. It was AWESOME!! I tried to shake the bootie a bit...but the legs were already a bit tired.

For the first, who knows how many kilometers, I just tried to make it aid station to aid station. I wanted to do mile dedicators, but instead I was concentrating very hard on putting one foot in front of the other and trying not to vomit. I also was using every mantra I knew to stay positive and keep moving forward. I kept trying to take in some nutrition cause I knew it was going to be a long night. On the run I saw Greg, Chris, Mr. Mike B, Mike B #2, Tricia, Cynthia, Janice and Les on the run. It was so great to see them doing so well. I was really happy for them. Les came and gave me a hug as she knew I was struggling. She reminded me that I could do this, and I was going to do it. Then she gave me shite for running up a hill, haha. Love that girl!!!

I'm not sure at what point Tigger met up with me. I was definately thankful for it. Her knee was giving her a spot of trouble - she took a tumble on the bike! At this point I was doing more walking than running as my stomach took a left turn for the worse. It was at this point I think we decided we were not going to leave each other. We'd make it through together. We ran when we could and power walked when we couldn't. During this process I found a little stuffed bear on the road, I picked it up and sure enough it had a shirt that said 'Princess'. Well if that wasn't an omen or what?! haha. (Yes, I tend to joke about being a Princess, but I swear I am one without the diva attitude!)

We made it to the halfway point finally. I think it took us around 2 3/4 hours or something. Her hubby Bruce was there to encourage us and too check up on us. I decided I was glad I had the chocolate in my special needs bag. I was getting a bit dizzy and figured I needed a strong sugar boost, even though I was thirstier than all heck and sugar is not the greatest thing to ingest at that point. It did the trick for the dizziness and I managed to keep it down.

Tigger had never run that far so we were pretty stoked about that...and the fact that we were now on the way home! Along the way we got to walk with Steve King for a mile which was a total honour. Also we saw Sister Madonna Buder - a legend in triathlon. She is 76 years old and has done about 17 Ironman's. Including Kona several times!!! She is truly inspirational and it was great to be able to cheer her on too.

With about 8 miles left we were both starting to get a little worried about making it back in time. After all, they only give you 17 hours to finish....and we had about 3 left. If we were running it wouldn't be an issue. But we were both hurting a lot and running was very difficult. With about 6 miles left I was doing some run/shuffle move while Tigger power walked. We never left each others side and we took turns at positive talk and encouragement.

The last few miles were total autopilot for us. We were getting to the last out and back and we did our best to run it. We both just kept saying - we're almost there! We are going to do this!! We are bleeping Ironmen!!!

Coming through the crowds in the stands and listening to the announcer call out our names and proclaim us Ironman was incredible. I can't describe it. We were screaming and had our hands in the air at that point. WE DID IT!!!!! It was AMAZING!!! Of course as soon as we crossed it was all hugs and tears.

I could NOT have done this without Tigger. There was a lot of mental talk going on in my head on the run from start to finish, and I promise I didn't get negative. No matter what I was going to keep moving forward and do my best to get to the finish line, nothing was going to stop that. It definitely helped having someone at my side through that process though!

I also know that I had several angels out there watching me from Alberta, BC, Ontario and Argentina. Every time I crossed the timing mat I thought of all of you. You have no idea how much you helped me in this journey. Through this blog I send you a cyber hug and a very large thank you for the encouragement, the text messages and emails. I'm truly blessed to have so many out there that care about me and I give thanks for it every day.
After the race I was in ok shape...which faded quickly. Thankfully Mr. Mike B. was there to take care of me. I am SO thankful to him for being at the finish for me and for sticking by me and guiding me after. It was a wonderful surprise!!

My brain and body were starting to shut down pretty soon after, and it was at this point, he, I or one of the IM people decided I should visit the medical tent. I ended up getting an IV and some anti-nausea meds. It was enough to get me to Mum and Dad (who were pretty worried from about halfway in the marathon on...) and get back to the hotel.

A huge thanks to Mum and Dad for being with me every step out here. They were awesome putting up with my moodiness a few days ago and were so helpful getting me to where I had to go, helping carrying everything, keeping me calm and being an awesome cheer squad. Dad even rode my bike home last night cause it wouldn't fit in their car!!! Love you guys lots!!!

All the gang that I mentioned the other day did TOTALLY AMAZING!!! I'm really proud of all of them - they have all inspired me to continue on this path and to strive for better. It's funny, I'm really happy with what I accomplished, but what makes it even sweeter is how everyone else did!! YAY GANG!!

So that's it for my Ironman 2007 experience. I've already been asked if I will do another next year....I'm registered and have till September 20 to decide. I have to say that as of today I don't want to do it. However, I DO want to do another Ironman. It's just that I really want to work on my endurance and try to nail this nutrition thing for another season before doing another Ironman. So maybe I'll sign up with Les for Ironman Coeur D'Alene 2009. We'll just have to wait and see.

For now I will relax for as long as I can (likely a day knowing me, haha). (I would like to get a nap in today; however Mum and Dad have swiped all the napping spots in the hotel!! Yesterday was a super long day for them too!) I have signed up for more swim lessons starting in a couple of weeks and I'm taking some non-tri specific courses. I'm going to get back in the gym too and work on tri specific strength training. Somewhere along the way I will figure out which half Ironmans to do next season. There are about four that I'm interested in.

So it's not the end of the fact, this is just the beginning of my triathlon adventures!!!

PS I'm doing ok today....definitely muscle soreness, everthing hurts really, haha. The stomach has settled down thankfully. I wasn't sure what I'd do without solid food!! I want my Bridge Mixture reward!! haha.


  1. Hey Susi.

    I know I sent you a message yesterday while I was watching for you but I didn't know at the time that I would stay up to see you cross the line. I had the live on-line coverage on and was doing other things on the computer when I heard your name and turned to see you running to the finish line with your friend. I had watched a lot of people cross that line but you and Tigger were unique in your approach. Most everyone else was shuffled on past after getting their medal. You were the only people I saw hugging everyone at the finish line. Congratulations again.

    I don't want to minimize your accomplishment in any way by comparing the Ironman to lesser events. In fact it is a tribute to your drive and determination. Some of the feelings you described in completing the last phase of the race are what others feel when only running 5k. Am I going to finish? I'm walking more than I'm running. I know I can do this. Haha.


  2. MY!! What an adventure ;) It was so much fun to watch this event unfold as a volunteer in the transition area. I was lucky to have a front row seat and was watching for you at each Transition. I was so glad to be able to see you and offer whatever I could to propel your feisty IRON SPIRIT right on thru to the other side of the tent and on its way. I also helped Les at T2 but I am not sure she knew it was me and I wasn't going to make small talk when she was so focused. I'll tell you - when I saw you round the corner at T2 I could see you were tired and a little apprehensive but it took you a moment to soak up that you were in the tent WITH Sister Madonna - a blessing for you I believe you said. You stopped for a moment - drank up the support, and kept on going. YOU ARE AMAZING!! And way little too!!! It was so great to meet you in person and to see you i action. I have a picture of you before the swim and will get it to you once I get organized - we just got home to Saskatoon and my eyeballs are like sand balls ...what a drive!!! Susi - I have so much to say but no words seem right...I'll Leave it with SUSI - YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!!! (With purple braids!!)