What the hell is Ditch the Tiara?

Redefining the word beautiful...one dirty, sweaty, bruised up mile at a time, with a few downward dogs along the way...

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Ironman Coeur d'Alene

Reflection: June, 2008.  Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.  my very first Ironman experience.  I had never spectated an Ironman before... and this. was. it. even though I was already set to race my first IM in Madison, WI a couple of months later without knowing what it truly was "all about," here I was ... with my closest friends.  Scared as shit.  and excited.  and sick to my stomach for them. for me. nervous. holy f**k. what did I sign up for??? physically? metaphorically??  Could I do it?!?  I remember quite clearly... I was standing next to my friend psg when the athletes rushed into the water at 7am...all 2600 of them...fists flying, arms flailing everywhere, bodies swimming over bodies...I had never seen anything like that before in my entire life... and then she made me close my eyes. I will never forget... What I heard. The emotions that overcame me.  How my skin felt.  The lump in my throat.  The tears welling in my eyes. What it felt like to be in "that" moment. I clung to that feeling and drew upon  it when I took to my own waters on September 7, 2008...with 3,000 other athletes.  That fear...that excitement...the unknown. Oh. my. God.  MY TURN.  Except I didn't have "the pack."  There were 5 of them in CdA.  In Wisconsin, it was just.  ME.  and  as it turned out.  I liked it to just be ME.

Fast forward: May 2012 - Despite knowing how cold the water is in Lake CdA (fucking freezing), I have the nerve to register for IMCdA anyways.  I had decided it was time to make the pilgrimage back to the place where it all began. It would be a spiritual journey.  The meaning of this race was significant.  It wasn't going to be just another notch on my race belt or a medal to hang.  It had true purpose. My life is so different than it was 5 years ago when Ironman entered my life, but all the same, I was ready to return to the birthplace of the sport that is now so much a part of me.

Present day: January - June 2013 - I trained for 6 months for IMCdA.  7 days a week.  I put my heart and soul into this race.  I didn't set out wanting a PR or anything like that.  I was just so excited to get back to racing and I was so psyched to ride and run that course.  The scenery is gorgeous, the course is challenging and the added bonus that my best friend lives there and would be with me the whole way made the whole trip even sweeter.

Race day:
 June 23, 2013 - most of you got the Cliff Notes version...here's the real deal...grey skies with a tiny glimmer of sun trying to break through but not much luck.  air temp is about the same as the water.  61 maybe?  I just wasn't feeling the typical energy of an Ironman race morning.  It was much quieter.  It seemed dismal.  I lined up with the 1:30-1:45 group and waited until it was our turn to enter the water.  Armed with 2 swim caps and a thermal cap, a full sleeved wetsuit and wax in my ears, I set out for my first 1.2 miles. Everything seemed "fine."  Water was icy cold but I expected this so it wasn't shocking.  The skies were still grey but at least it wasn't windy.  I felt like I was swimming forever........  At some point, I started getting pummeled by blue caps (men) and for my life couldn't figure out why these assholes started after me if they were such fast swimmers.  It dawned on me later...they were swimming their 2nd laps while I was still on my 1st.  As I was approaching the beach to exit for my 1st lap, it was if there was a heavy fog in my brain.  I couldn't see clearly - everything was blurry.  And when I tried to stand up, I realized my quads were completely cramped.  I started to stumble sideways, and as I was trying to gain balance, a volunteer was asking me if it was my 1st or 2nd lap.  Except I didn't actually understand the question at the time.  I couldn't hear him because of the 3 caps on my head and wax in my ears. He asked me 2 or 3 times - 1st or 2nd lap???.  I just stood there staring at him, completely dazed.  Um.  1st?  He then signaled me to his right so that I could make way towards my 2nd lap.  Are you fucking kidding me?  I have to do that AGAIN?  At which point I looked down at my watch and as if I wasn't already completely confused, I saw 3:06.  What the hell?  I thought I had started it when I got in.  Yeah.  I did... 63 minutes ago. Are you kidding me?!?! 63 minutes ago???  I usually swim 1.2 miles in 45 minutes (in a wetsuit)... whoah!!!

I staggered back into the dark, dreary, freezing cold water...I felt so alone.  But I wasn't ready to swim so I treaded the water for a minute or two. I really tried to think but was failing there too.  What do I do?  That question was fiercely running through my mind.  Go on?  Quit?  Go on?  Quit?  What if I go on and pass out - that was a real possibility as I was shaking violently.  I was so cold and I couldn't think clearly.  I looked at the water, I looked at the beach.  I looked at the water, then the beach.  The water, the beach.  It was then as if I was struck by lightning and hurried my way towards the beach....it was at the moment I knew that if I tried to swim the second lap, I would at some point pass out and perhaps drown.  This wasn't my time. This race and a medal was not worth my life.  The volunteers did what they could to warm me up.  I was delirious at this point, making no sense, repeating my questions over and over.  about 10-12 minutes later, once I had settled in to laying on the beach, a medic came over - looked me over and said the most painful words I had ever heard at Ironman and hopefully never have to hear again..."I'm sorry honey, but your day is over."  It wasn't even 8:20am yet....

I was sad.  of course I was sad. I really wanted to ride and run that course!  But I was never disappointed in myself. I did the best I could!  I gave 110% that day.  I cannot change my body chemistry.  I know my body has physical limitations.  Of course we ALL have limits.  I get it.  My mind, however, knows no limits.  I get an idea in my head and BAM... look out.  There is no stopping me. Thank God I signed up for Louisville prior to IMCdA because thinking about it had gotten me through the rest of that day ....

I can honestly say that I would not change one single thing about June 23rd...my biggest and most preached about philosophy is that the day you have is the day that was meant for you.  And I believe this about IMCdA too.  I look at this experience as the best 5 day vacation I may never have again with my best friend.  I am so grateful to be alive to share this experience and can only hope that Ironman Louisville can be as positive experience as CdA was.

Me and My Sports Doc for the final tune-up
Me and one of my best buds who would finish IMCdA --Jay!

Me and Twin before the race
Me and Twin after my DNF and an impromptu 15 mile run - after this we continued on and I had the most epic and well worth hangover of my life!


RunnerChick said...

I love you! and I can't wait for YOUR day at Louisville. XOXO

ironheidi said...