I do walk through the first aid station, still in troubleshooting mode and going to my "Upset Tummy" nutrition protocol: Water and pretzels. Unfortunately the pretzels really dry out my mouth and I can barely swallow them down even with the water. However, I'm able to keep on running despite knowing the bill will come due, and those first 10km go BRILLIANTLY. I'm hitting my HR (except walking through the aid stations trying to fix my stomach), and the mile splits I see are making me happy indeed. I see a SUB-TEN mile at one point.
Unfortunately I start slowing down after the first River Road turnaround. I manage to make the first loop in under 2:30, putting me in place for a big IM marathon PR, but things have gotten UGLY. I spent the first three or four miles or the second loop mostly walking while literally holding my stomach.
At mile 16 I stop at the medical aid station and ask if they have anything they can give me. All I end up with is Tums (which I had on me anyway, but I took theirs since they hadn't been in the sweaty back pocket of a tri top all day). The Tums didn't help much, but I meet this IMLP's "Ironman Run Buddy." She's sitting in the tent with stomach issues of her own after crushing the swim and bike, we get to talking, and decide to work together to minimize the carnage.
We talk about everything, run when we can, walk when necessary. Peeks at my Garmin (which thankfully wasn't showing pace) tell me that any HR over MAF-5 is tummy no-no. I keep trying different foods and drinks at the aid stations - the chicken broth literally makes me gag, the acid from the orange slices makes my stomach hurt more. (All things that had fed me well and gotten me through my first Ironman marathon.
We see a lot of other walkers while we're going - not too unusual at this point, but I see people who I know and usually finish in sub-12, and several people we speak to are usually Kona finishers but having too many stomach issues to run. So I'm not going to "blame" the water, but there were definitely more stomach issues this year than in other years.
At the last turnaround on Mirror Lake Drive, I have been almost all walking when I look at Garmin again and realize that if I run the rest of the way I'd still get a marathon PR. I manage to run at a walking pace and it is probably the hardest couple miles I've ever jogged.
|I really am there with my Ironbuddy about to do our last out-and-and back on Mirror Lake Drive|
I hit Main Street and it's time to take the right into the Oval instead of the left to do another lap - just like last time, it doesn't feel like I can already be done. I get this stupid huge grin on my face and we entire the Oval of Magic. My run buddy runs ahead and I can't keep up, but it is still the most magical 200 meters of my life. I see the lights and the finish arch and start pumping my fists as Mike Reilly calls me an Ironman for the second time.
|Heading to the finish - realizing a marathon PR is in reach.|
At the finish line, I just have nothing left and collapse. I am immediately put in a wheelchair and wheeled to Medical. My friend Hannah, whom I haven't seen since she was in single digits, is working the finish line and sees me to the tent. The doctors in Medical are amazing - they check my weight, take my vitals, and give me a prescription anti-emetic which allows me to at least start drinking a Sprite again. They didn't think an IV was necessary, which was fine by me since I have lousy veins. After a while, I'm feeling better and my legs are cramping up painfully (immediately lying down after Ironman = OUCH), so they let me sign myself out. I assume I've been in there for 15 minutes or so, but Dr. Z., who has been waiting outside, informs me that it's been closer to an hour. Wow.
After that, I am happy but completely wiped, so unlike 2012 when I stayed and partied at the finish line, I miss my first late-night finish line since I've moved here and just go home. And that's the story of how I managed a 51-minute Ironman PR despite the heat and as one friend so awesomely put it, "being poisoned."
Although a bit disappointed that I didn't meet my "A" goal of sub-15, I am very happy with how I never gave up trying to troubleshoot my GI issues, even though they started early in the day and I fought them for a good 13 hours. I feel like it shows how much I've grown as an athlete. After 2012, I swore I was a "one and done" bucket lister, but while Ironman is definitely NOT on the books for next season, I can see myself coming back in a few years to give it another try with the run I know I have in me.