26.2 Miles / 42.2 Kilometers
4 hours 58 minutes 5 seconds
11:22 per Mile / 7:03 per Kilometer
971 Feet / 296 Meters of climbing
204/289 in Male 35-39 Age Group
The run. Oh the run. Up until the start of the run I had never run more than 30KM and only did that once. Most of my long runs were in the 25-27KM length but I wasn’t worried. Those long runs were good runs and I was sure I could run the marathon.
After the bike I got into T2 and made a quick change. Out of my bib shorts and into running shorts, put on some socks and my shoes and sprayed on some sunscreen. I made a huge mess changing and just as I was about to clean it up my friend Greg popped over and asked if I needed anything. I asked him if he could pack up my mess and he said sure and I was on my way. Greg saved me at least a minute in T2 cleaning up my crap!
Out of T2 the first mile is downhill. Going in I though I could run a 4:15 marathon but would be thrilled with anything sub 4:30. I hit mile 1 in 9:22 and was thrilled. That was a 4:00 marathon pace and I was still settling in after the bike. Mile 2 was 10:12 but there was some uphill, an aid station and it averaged out to under 4:30. Could I break the 12 hour mark in my first Ironman?
Well that thought passed quickly as I settled into a 10:30ish pace for the rest of lap one. It was a great run course but lap one was in the heat of the day. I was looking for shade as much as I could and drinking up a storm at the aid stations. I usually stay away from the Coke until the second half of the run but by mile 4 I needed some. The Ironman Perform drink was fine on the bike but they had a different flavour on the run and I didn’t like it.
I continued to run and walk the aid stations, taking in Coke and ice water and cooling off with ice sponges. The first 9 miles flew past and before I knew it I was heading past the Olympic Ski Jumps and heading for town. Of course this meant the first of four big climbs on the run.
There are two big hills on the run, both on the back leg of the out and back. Both have a 15% grade (aka f***ing steep) but are only about 500M long. The first is by the ski jumps, just across the bridge and the second is right in town and called the IGA hill due to the store at the start of the hill. The plan was to walk them both on lap one and run them on lap two. I walked up the hill and as I crested it I started running again. Not bad, I still felt good and kept on running. I saw The Captain and he was looking good on the start of his second lap.
I got to the IGA hill and started walking again. There were thousands of people lined up the hill and around the corner. Being back in town and nearing the end of lap one the excitement took over. I got energized and when some spectators with a PA system started cheering and telling people to run I ran. I got up the hill, around the corner and up the rest of the hill and I was toast. Dumb move. I kept running but slowed it down to get things under control. It was easy to forget what was going on as the crowds were awesome! I was running well, felt strong and was looking for Lisa in the crowds. I got to the special needs area and grabbed my bag.
I didn’t put much in my bag, some dry socks, some snacks. When I got there I had forgotten what was in there. I took the bag, looked inside and threw it away. My feet were wet but not soaked and I wasn’t in the mood for solid foods. I had planned on a small cooler with ice and a Red Bull in it but passed on that idea.
Soon enough lap one was complete. I felt great coming down the hill along the lake. I looked at the now calm waters and remembered swimming in the water about 9 hours previous. I couldn’t believe it, it felt like the swim was days ago.
I love the looped runs. It gives you a sense of where you are and how much further to go plus it allows for great crowds. There is a downside though. There is nothing worse than seeing the turn towards the finish and knowing you have to go the opposite way. That hurt. It was a tough turn to make to start lap two but you really have no choice.
What makes it harder is that right about now it started to hurt. I saw Fran, she is doing IMMT in 2012 (enjoy), and commented how much it hurt. It was mile 14 now and I didn’t want to think about another 12 miles. The upside was I had run the first loop in 2:18 and thought I could still pull off a 4:40ish marathon. I kept running the run and walking the aid stations, taking in Coke and water and trying to maintain my pace. I saw John around mile 15 and we ran together for a bit. He was running well and soon was off. By mile 18 I didn’t see him anymore.
At mile 19 things went South. I looked at my watch and saw I was past 30KM and thought wooo-hooo my longest run ever! I was happy and then realized I had over 11KM to go! At the mile 18 aid station I was offered some chicken broth and passed. Nearing mile 19 it was tough to run as my belly was loaded with Coke and began sloshing. As I approached mile 19 I knew it was time for a heavy does of salt. When your electrolyte balance goes off your body can’t absorb liquids as well so it just sits in your stomach. I took a few salt pills on the bike and at the start of the run but hadn’t taken any for about 15 miles. I took a handful (at least 10) salt pills from my race belt and downed it with three cups of chicken broth.
I kept walking. The three cups of chicken broth just added to the sloshing. I felt like I felt at Knoxville just before I barfed. So I walked. I knew it would be temporary and I made a deal to walk to the next aid station. It was a long tough walk. It wasn’t any easier walking. I got to mile 20 and felt better. I started
running shuffling along. It hurt a lot so I started walking again. It hurt to walk. I figured if it is going to hurt I’d rather it hurt running for 50 minutes than have it hurt walking for 90+ minutes.
There is a deep dark place you go on the Ironman run. You start thinking “Why am I here?” “Why the hell am I doing this?” “What kind of idiot pays to put themselves through this?” “I am never doing this again, this is stupid, this sucks!” (You can throw in a pile of F-bombs to really know what I was thinking) Probably the hardest part of the entire day is getting your mind out of this rabbit hole. HTFU, SIU, any catch phrase you have helps but it was the most taxing part of the day. You want to stop, you want to curl up on the side of the road and wait for someone to pick you up. Quitting has never looked so good. You start thinking of reasons to tell people why you quit and why it was OK to quit. “I got sick” “At least I tried” any excuse sounds good but I think what makes an Ironman is the will to go on. The ability to put those thoughts out of your mind and keep your feet moving.
If it was easy it wouldn’t be called Ironman. That is so true and I am not sure why but that popped into my head. It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t supposed to be easy. If it was easy anyone could do it. The shuffle turned into a slow run.
Soon enough I saw the ski jumps and rounding the corner I saw the bridge and the hill. I knew I was going to walk it but I power walked it. I actually passed two people “running” up the hill. I started feeling good again. I ran under a garden hose and felt fresh again. At the next aid station I just grabbed some sponges and washed my face. The cold water running down my face revived me. My pace was getting better and by mile 24 I was running again.
I got to the IGA hill and power walked up it again. I passed one person again on the hill and as I rounded the corner onto Main Street I got a boost of energy. I was almost there. I was going to be an Ironman.
The last out and back is a short loop along the lake and is also part of the bike course. Running out all I started thinking about the day. Starting in the water and having a great swim, the bike ride, the crowds along the way, the goat, and the journey. I thought about being 250lbs a little over two years ago. I thought about the oddest things. As I hit the last turnaround it was go time. All the pain and suffering of the last 12 hours and 20 minutes was forgotten.
I was going to be an Ironman.
I grabbed another sponge at the last aid station and wiped myself down. I was going to look good in that finisher photo! I zipped up my top, straightened my race belt and stepped on the gas. I looked at my watch and saw that I was under 12:30 and under 5 hours for the marathon.
My goal was a 4:30 marathon but that number was pulled out of thin air. I had no idea what an Ironman marathon was like, or any marathon for that matter. I really didn’t care what my time would be, just that I finished strong. I was running with a girl and mentioned we had one mile to go. She told me she was on her first lap. I felt bad, the way I was feeling I wasn’t sure what I would have done if I had another 14 miles to go. As we came down the hill I looked at my watch, 800M, 700M, 600M to go. We got to the split and she went left and I made the right turn home.
The crowds were NUTS. There must have been 20-30,000 people lining the streets and the speed skating oval. I saw Lisa and stopped to give her a kiss. She was the Team Rodney cheering section and photographer and was a huge supporter all along.
I got into the oval and with 200M to go the high fives start. I gave about 200 high fives to everyone I could. So many people standing there for hours cheering. From 5 year old kids to grandparents I high fived them all.
Coming around the last corner I got chills. I saw the Ford tunnel. I could see the finish line. I saw the clock read 12:25:xx. I heard Mike Reilly say my name. It was over.
“Rodney Buike from Burlington Ontario! You are an Ironman”
I still get chills reading that, writing that, seeing the video.
What an amazing day. I already forget that it hurt. I already forgot the suffering. I already forgot I said I’ll never do this again….