In short, the run was amazing. I left that changing tent, a smile plastered on my face, bursting with happiness.
As I left town, I smiled at everyone, but also knew I had to reign it in. A marathon is a long way, and I hadn't run the distance in a long time. I focused on getting in my nutrition, and just moving from mile marker to mile marker. I looked my watch when I crossed mile 3, just to be sure I hadn't gone out too fast. That would be the last time of the day I looked at my watch.
Around mile 7, my belly felt super bloated, and although I attempted to manage the issue while running, I eventually needed to pull over to the porta-potty (mile 9). I jogged in, spent a couple minutes have a conversation with my belly, jogged out and continued on. I stopped eating for a little while, just to let everything settle. Knowing my body was simply done with the chews I had been using, I ditched them and tried the food at the aid stations. Orange slices become the best thing to ever cross my lips, and seemed to agree with my body, so that became the fuel of choice.
As I came around mile 13, I could hear Mike Reilly announcing people finishing. I practiced for this moment, smiled and said to myself "lets do this one more time". There was never the "poor me" moment, just a deep breath, a smile, and the will do execute one more loop.
When I descended out of the town the second time, I set myself a goal - I wasn't going to walk one single step of the marathon. I had run the whole first half without walking (minus the porta-potty stop), and I was feeling awesome. I knew I had it in me, but setting the goal helped motivate me even further.
There's not a whole lot to say about the run, other than that I am extremely proud of the way I executed my plan. I had another porta-potty stop at mile 19, but other than that, I run every step of that damn marathon. Every person I saw walking, I thought to myself "that person is a cyclist. I'm a runner. Runners run. Runners don't walk." Sounds crazy, but in the moment, it worked to convince myself to keep shuffling forward.
Similar to mile 100 on the bike, I fist pumped crossing mile 20 of the run. That was the first time of the day I thought "as long as I can hold it together, I WILL be an Ironman today". It made me insanely happy, and motivated me to get through that next 10K.
Miles 20-24 I found fatigue (shocking, right?). There isn't one particular thing that stood out, and it wasn't the wall I've hit in marathons before, it was just deep fatigue.
I trudged up the steep climb that is Mile 24, and finally let myself soak it all in. The crowds, the energy, the music the cheers. I lifted my visor a little bit, and high fived everyone I could find. I put a little more pep in my step, and tried to remember every moment of those last 2 miles. I patted Caitlyn's barrette, which I had fastened inside my sports bra at 4am that morning, and smiled. I thought of all the early mornings, the shuffling of schedules, the patience of my family and friends, and the tireless efforts of my coach. All for this very moment, when I get to hear Mike Reilly tell me that I am an Ironman.
I entered the oval and was overcome with emotion; I smiled so hard my cheeks hurt, and was trying to get to that finish line as quickly as I can. A friend captured this video, which shows my trip around the oval to the finish line.
That moment is one I will never forget.
July 27, 2014.. the day I became an Ironman.