My race day started with a rush to get ready. Peggy and I were staying about an hour's drive from the race and I had set my alarm for 4:30, but it never went off. Luckily she had set her alarm too and woke me up at 5. I had set up a breakfast consisting of 2 bananas, coconut water, 2 Clif Bars, 2 pieces of toast and 3 yogurt drinks (about 1,500 calories). I scarfed everything down and felt extremely bloated. I was hoping the food would go down soon. Peggy drove like a maniac and we arrived on race site where I got painted with my number and put on my wetsuit. I made my way to the start line still feeling very bloated but excited to get things started.
My goal was to finish within the 17 hour time period with a smile on my face and with no injuries. My plan for the swim was to avoid aggravating my shoulder which was still only at 90% after the accident. For the bike, I wanted to keep things very smooth and steady without pushing myself hard at all. Finally, I wanted to take it easy to avoid injury during the marathon since I had had only a month to train for it. My goal had obviously changed after undergoing the surgeries and yet again after dislocating my shoulder. I would not think about other people and just do my own thing.
At 7am, the gun went off and the race had begun! The water looked pretty calm from the beach, but once I got out there, the waves were fairly large. It was difficult for me to sight the buoys that marked the course and I was never quite able to get into a rhythm because I was either swallowing sea water or getting hit by other athletes. In addition, gasoline was leaking from the jetskis of the volunteers and the mixture of that with the saltwater made me throw up in my mouth (this is something that usually happens to girls when I talk to them). I decided to swallow the vomit because I needed the calories! I got out of the water in just less than an hour and 50 minutes (which is a long time). My legs felt a little wobbly because my blood was focused on my upper body and my shoulder felt pretty sore (about 80%). Good thing I wouldn't really need it for the rest of the day. Although one thing that worried me was my stomach, it was still very bloated and I knew I'd need to make a couple stops along the way.
The transition from the swim to the bike went pretty smoothly. It was funny how the volunteers were rushing to help me but I did not have any sense of urgency and I think it confused them. I changed into my biking gear and was off! The weather was pretty nice when started but about halfway into the first 56 mile loop, it started to rain. I was going very steadily and did not push myself at any time.
I fueled my body with the Gatorade provided on the stops in addition to a mixture I made with Gatorade powder and and tiny bit of water. This left me with supersaturated lightning in a bottle. I can't stand the texture of goo and this tasted much better anyways.
I finished the first lap in 3 hours and 40 minutes and headed out to my second. I wanted the second lap to be in about the same time while still feeling good. Though a LOT of time passed by, my mind was only focused on the task at hand. I continuously asked myself how are you feeling? Should you drink right now? What gear should you be in? Are you pushing too hard? After taking into account all these thoughts, there was no time to think about anything else.
Thankfully, it had stopped raining during the second lap. I finished the 2nd lap in 4 hours so I felt good about the lap split. Once I was done with the bike portion, again, I took my time in the transition. The volunteers were confused again by my nonchalance, but the way I saw it was that I had about 7 hours to do a marathon. Fortunately, my legs felt pretty good once I got off the bike and my mind stayed focused on the present again. One foot after another Rob just keep going! The course consisted of a long 13 mile loop and two smaller 6.6 mile loops. I did the first half of the marathon in 2.5 hours but my knees were beginning to hurt so I decided to take it fairly easy after that. At that point, I had 4 hours to cover 13 miles. I could basically walk the rest of the way and finish. I decided to run a little and walk the majority of the rest of the way because I did not want to incur any injuries, especially since my knees were already sore.
Once I got to the finish line at 11:22pm or so, I decided to do a little dance (hey, they had music playing, what else was I supposed to do?) to go out in style (you know how I do). I wasn't very tired nor that sore (though my knees were locked for half a day after). The conclusion of my race was actually very anticlimactic. It was like watching a movie and knowing how it ends. At first I thought I was so arrogant to think this, but then realized that the triumph wasn't from crossing some imaginary line.
The finale SHOULD have been a foregone conclusion. After all, the triumph was earned in the numerous sacrifices made to get to the line. It was earned in the long hours spent at the pool (getting disgusting tan lines) relearning how to swim from scratch. It was earned by getting back on a bike after 15 years and cycling until my bottom was sore. Or by running around a stadium countless times to the point that the police thought you're a possessed madman. Being an Ironman isn't about finishing a race on one day. The Ironman is about the actions you take months before the race and more importantly, the attitude you bring.
After I dislocated my shoulder, my house mom in Colombia said that god was trying to tell me to stop. She said I had been through a lot from the surgeries and now this freak accident happened for a reason. I said perhaps, but perhaps it's just another obstacle I needed to overcome to get where I wanted to go. Sometimes life comes down to perception and the attitude you take in confronting problems.