Race morning started with a swim in Mirror Lake, probably the most scenic lake I have ever been in. I swam, without panic, for 2.4 miles in what can only be described as an underwater kickboxing match with 2500 of my closest friends. But I was ready, I had learned to be okay with the crazy water starts, the people, the fear. And I was calm as could be, I knew I could do it. And I did, one of my most amazing memories is finishing that swim, 2.4 miles, 1 hour 40 minutes.
I ran from the swim to transition, Jim cheering, everyone cheering, I felt like a rock star.
I got in and out of transition and was ready for the bike. The Lake Placid bike is a bit of a beast, you end up climbing between 6000 and 7000 feet over the course of the 112 miles, most of that between mile 40 – 56 and 96 – 112.
I had an amazing first 40 miles, I was exactly where I wanted to be mph and cadence wise. I was feeling amazing, it was great. And then something unexpected happened, I dropped a FULL bottle of my liquid nutrition. I had a choice of stopping and picking it up or to keep going with a 12 mile climb ahead. I chose to keep going. I climbed and climbed and climbed and made it back to special needs, grabbed my two other bottles of nutrition and drank a mini bottle of Coke. I pulled my bike out of special needs and was just about to go when tunnel vision set in, I was dizzy and the world started to spin, I knew I was going go down. I yelled to the nearest volunteer that I was going to faint and she grabbed my bike, I dismounted and feel to the ground, the called a medic and four other volunteers surrounded me to give me shade. I never lot consciousness but sat there for 10 minutes until the spinning stopped. I felt better and jumped back on my bike. I saw Jim at mile 56 told him what happened and let him know it was going to be a long second half. 2 miles into the second loop my legs started cramping, I have never had cramps before in my life, one cramp was so bad it straighten my leg.
I downed as much nutrition and electrolytes that I could, by mile 62 I was feeling better. My foot was numb with pain but I kept on going. At mile 80(ish) there is a hill you climb, and things went downhill health wise. My legs cramped more and more and I eventually had to get off my bike and walk so that I could keep them moving. I got back on the bike and kept on moving. Up and up and up I went, my legs cramping and my mind shut down. I don’t really remember much of what I was saying to myself other than, yes you hurt, but are you trying your hardest. At mile 110 I knew I was not going to make the time cut off. I rolled into the bike dismount area 5 minutes too late (you have until 5:30 pm to get your bike in). My dear friend who battled the last 30 miles with me had finished just ahead of me, at 5:31:30. The officials said sorry and removed my timing chip. My day was over, I officially received a DNF.
I always thought that it would be the end of me if I got a DNF, Did Not Finish. Three little words that I thought would define me, but they didn’t, it wasn’t that I did not finish, it was that I did not fuel. There was a mistake, and if I could take it back I would. But I cannot dwell on that. On July 26th I posted the following on Facebook in a very public display of my incomplete Ironman;
DNF…in race speak means did not finish. For me, DNF means Did Not Fail. The finish line is the end of an ironman journey, clearly after missing the bike cut off by five minutes, my journey was not supposed to end here in Placid. For anyone who cares I made it 114.4 miles total on Sunday, that is a long way, just saying. I would like to thank everyone for their kind words after my race ended, I needed them and appreciated everyone who took the time to message me. Onward to recovery!
I did not finish my Ironman, I did not make the time cut off, I did not finish my journey, but I tried my hardest, I put the best me out there, I left all of me on the course. This crazy journey I have been on is not one that ends with the glory, but it is one that ends knowing “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.” And that is exactly what I plan to do, try again tomorrow. And with this new journey I will grow, I will learn, I will celebrate everything that makes me who I am, I will try again, I will work harder, I will love me. I tri to beat depression, and though it is still there somewhere I have learned the confidence and the skills I need to help me out of so many different situations, so many different hardships, so many different painful moments. I have learned that it is okay to be proud, it is okay to be sad, it is okay to be me. I am so happy with my time at Ironman and I am truly excited to go up and cheer for Amanda as she tackles that beast!
I want to personally thank Michelle for sharing her story!! I’m excited to have her as a supporter in my corner and as a fellow triathlete and a new member to my team of fitness inspirations and coaches. Thank you Michelle for being brave, for inspiring, and for being willing to share your story and tri, tri, tri again.