After grabbing my transition bag and running into the tent, I told myself that I had to take my time here, and not rush. Never mind that I had just completed a 116 mile bike ride, that was the PAST. Now it was time to carefully, expeditiously prepare for the marathon, and earn my new, coveted title, IRONMAN.
So there I was, entering the tent to change into my running gear, suck on my Albuterol inhaler, and carefully prepare my feet and toes with moleskin, so that I could not only endure, but ENJOY the final 26.2 miles of this incredible day.
Dump out the bag, take off bike helmet, shoes and socks, take off all my clothes, put on new, dry clothes, dry my feet, apply 3 strips of moleskin, change my socks, put on running shoes, visor, sunglasses, and down a bottle of GenUcan. THEN run outside and use the porta potties. This took FOREVER! 9:13 and I was off. Just outside of the tent, before I hit the course, I saw my kids, waving and yelling my name. I ran over to them, and gave them all a huge hug and kiss. I was surging with adrenaline. I ran out the exit, down the path, turned around and started running the course…UPHILL. Yep, the mean people at Ironman love to throw hills at you when you least expect it. Just then, I saw Mike (my son) running down the grass, encouraging me, and smiling ear to ear. Nothing could have made me feel better! I knew I was in for a long afternoon, so I relaxed and just started running, with no stress on how fast I was going.
My “loose” plan, was to run to an aid station (one at every mile), walk through the station, then run to the next. The first few stations came and went more quickly than I imagined. Within what seemed like minutes, I was at the 3rd one. My body felt great, but my right foot didn’t. The blisters were already roaring at me. Knowing I had 22+ miles to go, I played it safe and stopped, took my shoes off, and inspected my feet. Sure enough, there were three ugly ones’s already forming. I asked a volunteer for some tissues so I could pop them quickly, clean them and get on with my run. I got up and headed out. I managed to rally for a while and enjoy the scenery.
I continued my plan of running to the next aid station, and started partaking in the “water, no ice” offerings. I had my nutrition loaded into my back pockets, so I never accepted any of the Gatorade, Gu’s, potato chips, fruit, coke or chicken broth, although I did have a few grapes along the way.
Coming up on mile 8 or 9, I had to stop again, to adjust my socks, and try to calm down my feet. It was starting to warm up considerably, so I also grabbed 2 ice-soaked sponges at each aid station-one to tuck in the front of my shirt, and one to tuck in the back. These sponges were absolute life savers.
A few other things started happening about this time. I got my first wave of Nausea. Since I had my Base Salt vile tucked into the leg of my tri shorts, I started taking some, and this quelled the nausea. I also started to walk more often, since the running jostled my stomach too much. My spirits were still high, though and I never let a negative thought enter my head.
While crossing over the river to the hilly side of the course, I saw my coach, SheriAnne, on a bike. She rode next to me for a while and we talked about how I was doing so far. I told her about the blisters, and nausea, and that, despite these things, I still felt great and was enthusiastic about finishing strong. I think she was not prepared to hear that, based on some of my recent race challenges!
The miles on the other side, are pretty brutal. Up, down, long slow up, short down, rollers, and then Up up up, down, and across the river, to pass by the finish, and start the second loop all over again. They positioned the “Bike Special Needs” aid station just after you start the second loop. By now, I wasn’t feeling so great, so I only ate a small portion of the Fritos, and took some sips of GenUcan. I was a little unsteady on my feet at this point, and the volunteer cheerfully held me up, while I paced in circles around him.
Off I went for round 2. By now, the nausea was taking it’s toll. I tried to use the salts regularly, and it helped stave off the inevitable.
Walk, jog, walk, jog…just keep going. Faster. Take a break. Ask for band aids, drink water, walk, jog….at the second bridge crossing, I saw my kids again, and I was running! Seeing them motivated me to keep going! They repeatedly told me how proud they were, and that was enough to shove the pain back into the recesses of my head. Once I got into the hills again, I conserved my energy, and did a lot of power walking. I kept looking at my watch, however, because, while I had no reference point for really setting a hard time goal, I did hope to finish in under 14 hours. I stopped at an aid station around mile 22 and asked for some mole skin. A runner shouted, “I have some!”, and gave me whatever I wanted. By now, I knew it was only a short time before I would hear my name at the finish.
I’d like to say that I rallied and ran my heart out at the end, but at mile 25, I was toast. I actually accepted a cup of coke, hoping to stop the desire to throw up all over the place. One sip told me that was not a good idea, so I just kept going. By this time in the race, I no longer had the energy, or ability to smile, thank people, or be in any way jovial. I stopped looking volunteers in the eye. A nod and a “thumbs up” was all I could muster. Heading across the last bridge was quite the experience of torture.
My emotions all surfaced on this bridge and I started crying. Spectators yelled my name, told me how awesome I was, called me “Ironman”, told me how strong I looked, and basically carried me the entire distance. I knew they had been out here for HOURS, doing the same for every athlete that passed. You have no idea how that felt. I still get chills!
Within minutes, I was rounding the last turn, and heading towards the finisher’s chute. Me, 56, late-blooming athlete, novice triathlete, a nobody, with asthma, bunions, GI issues, and a lot of self doubt, finishing an Ironman. 144.3 miles, to be exact! I can still hear the crowd. I can still see the blinding lights. I can still hear SheriAnne and my kids screaming my name,and I can still see Jeff standing at the finish line, waiting for me. Most of all, I can still remember hearing, “PATTY BROCKMAN, YOU. ARE, AN. IRONMAN”,
Jeff me my medal and my kids and SheriAnn showed up and gave me all the love and happiness I could handle. what a day. What an experience. What an accomplishment. Pinch me.
There are no words. There will never be words enough. However, there is more to the story, if you care to check back.
Thank you for taking this journey with me.