I ran my not-so-straight-line into the ballrooms, grabbed my T2 bag, and ran a much more controlled straight line into the changing room. Again, naked women everywhere, I know you don't really want to hear too much about that... A wonderful volunteer helped me with all the things in my bag after I asked her frantically, "Can you help me please?" I was much more worried that I was going to forget something during this transition. I made it this far, I would hate to screw it up the last 26.2 miles!
The wonderful volunteer unpacked all of my things for me. Everything. Even my mittens, ear brassiere, contacts, everything. I laughed at the mound of gear I had packed into my T2 bag. Like I said earlier. I. packed. everything. I just told her what to hand to me and she did, it was great. I didn't have to frantically search in my bag, worry that I forgot something (which isn't possible when you pack everything), nor did I have to be concerned about packing that bag back up, which, by the way, was still full of gear when I was done getting dressed. Ridiculous.
I thought I had everything, and on the way out the door I stopped to fill up the water bottles on my fuel belt. I went to grab them, and CRAP! Where are my bottles? Alright, so having a volunteer help you get dressed is not fool proof, you can still forget something. I told the lady at the water cooler, "Hold that thought, I'll be right back!" and ran back to the volunteer that helped me get dressed, grabbed my bottles out of my bag, and ran back to fill them up with water. I'm such a dunce sometimes. I finally got out the door in just over 10 minutes, and I stopped to get slathered with sunscreen.
When I grow up, I want to be a sunscreen slatherer because they are awesome. I felt like the queen having someone else put sunscreen all over me. Oops, I think you missed a spot. Just kidding. All the volunteers were great, and I can't wait to volunteer next year. I took a stop at the port-o-john and off I went onto the run course.
I have never been so excited to run a marathon. Correction: I have never been so excited to run. Period. No. Exclamation Point! My legs felt great, and my brain was puzzled. I didn't feel like I had spent the entire day working out. I new life in my legs and it amazed me. I walked through the water stops, and continued on my plan of taking a GU every 30 minutes and two chews every 15 minutes with water. I saw the Iron Cheer Crew just after the first aid station where I couldn't help myself but take a tasty banana for the road.
When I got to the next aid station, I looked at the buffet of food they were offering, and decided to try pretzels and gatorade. Hm...this tastes delicious. I love pretzels and gatorade! This is the best food I've had all day! The pretzels and gatorade sat really well and so at every aid station from then on I grabbed a handful of pretzels and a cup of gatorade and took that on the road with me. I tried to change it up a bit and tried some coke and chicken broth, but I kept going back to the pretzels and gatorade because they seemed to be working the best for me.
I finally saw Captain Cartwheel on the crushed gravel by Lake Mendota, and I was very excited to see her. When I saw her coming, I yelled, "Kimmmiiiiiiiii!!!!!" and she returned the greeting as well. I ran to on-coming traffic, we gave each other a hug and I said, "Even if we walk the rest of this, we're still going to be Ironmen today!" She laughed and said, "That's true, but we won't!" and she was right. We went on our way after I gave her a bunch of my endurolytes. After gagging on them too many times on the bike, I gave up on taking them so I'm glad I could give them to someone that would use them.
Elizabeth with her TNT-colored signs.
I rode on the boost that Elizabeth gave me for awhile until I noticed my right knee was starting to hurt. I didn't pay too much attention to it because I figured I couldn't get through the whole day without something hurting. I'm just really glad I didn't feel any pain in anything until the last 10 miles of the day. I know. I was amazed too. Endorphines are a beautiful thing.
The pain in my knee kept getting worse until it was to the point where it would give out when it hurt the worst. I was starting to get worried that I had done something more on the major side to it, but I kept going. It hurt the worst when I would side-step to dodge a puddle or pothole, but it didn't hurt that bad if I just kept going straight and jumped over whatever was in my way. So, I decided pothole or body, I was going to have to jump over whatever was in my way.
I came upon Inspiration Mile which is one of the best miles on the course. It is lined with signs made by spectators for their racers. After you hit the turn around, you come to a big sign that scrolls through messages from spectators to their racers. Mr. Fury put a message in the kiosk the day before for me and when I ran by it said, "R. Holzemer 1913: You're so going to beat me." It gave me a good chuckle and I thought to myself: Hell yes I am, and almost by an hour! I have a wee bit of a competitive side with Mr. Fury that I have a hard time hiding.. I saw Captain Cartwheel again at about mile 22-23. She said, "Can I give you a hug!" and of course I said YES! I'm a hugger, and so is The Captain, especially when she's racing. She said, "I'm so proud of you!" and I told her, "You're going to do this Kimmi, you're going to be an Ironman! Keep it up!" She was a major trooper on September 7th. She raced with stomach cramps that I heard started on the bike. I know your pain lady... and it's not fun.
I saw Elizabeth one more time before I ran to the finish, and the rest of the marathon was a total high knowing that I was going to be an Ironman. I could hear Mike Reilly as I got closer to the finish and I couldn't help but run with everything I had left in me. I had a huge smile on my face and tears welling in my eyes as I rounded the Capitol. I could see the lights, I could hear the crowd. It was unlike anything I have ever experienced, and suddenly all the tears of frustration, sore muscles, early wake-up calls, not seeing family and friends was all worth it. Every struggle. Every hard workout. The lonely days in the pool. Everything was worth it. No regrets.
I jumped with excitement down the entire finisher chute. I saw Mr. Fury and my family going nuts behind the barrier, and all I could hear was the roar of the crowd. I couldn't believe that I was finally there. I heard Mike Reilly on the loudspeaker as I crossed the finish line say, "...you are an Ironman!!!" and all I could say was, "Yes! YES! YES!!"
Mr. Fury walked me over to the food tent and then the med tent. I spent about an hour in the med tent getting my knee iced and my legs massaged by one of the massage therapist volunteers. If I ever have to visit a med tent again, I hope I'm in a similar condition as I was at IMWI. Everyone else around me looked horrible and was either puking or shivering, but I was smiling and joking with the massage therapist. I'm sure I told everyone around me that "I got my cow!" about one too many times too. My family picked up my bike and bags for me while I was in the med tent and we told them we would meet them back at the hotel.
Mr. Fury waited outside the tent for me, and when I came out, it felt about 25 degrees cooler than it had before. I forgot the blanket I was given at the finish line in the med tent so Mr. Fury gave me his long sleeve pullover to wear. I was so cold by the time we had walked to the finish line that I couldn't wait for Captain Cartwheel to come in without getting hypothermic. We met up with my family in the hotel bar, and I took a seat on the barstool. My dad told me how he had just got off the phone with my Aunt Margo and how she couldn't stop saying, "I can't believe she did it Rex. I just can't believe she did it!" Believe it! I did it! I got my cow!
My family was tired, and so was I so they headed back to their hotel and Mr. Fury and I went back to our room. Our friend Waima met up with us shortly after Mr. Fury came back to the room with a cooler full of ice for my ice bath. It took both Mr. Fury and Waima to lower me into the tub and they hung out with me in the bathroom while my teeth chattered away. After 10 minutes, I couldn't take it any longer, I had been cold since I left the med tent so I made the two of them lift me out of the tub and then I kicked them out so I could take a shower. A shower has never felt so good, and I would have stayed in there all night had it not been for the ferocious hunger brewing in my tummy.
I got out of the bathroom and Safety Bob soon came up to the room to grab his things so he could head home. He hung out for a little while, talked about the day, and then he was off. I tried to eat some food, but nothing was really tasting good or sitting well in my tummy so I choked down some cheerios and banana bread and went to bed. I woke up around 2:45 to the sound of my stomach rumbling, and then I felt the most horrible hunger pain. I stumbled into the bathroom with a bowl, spoon, knife and as much food as I could carry and sat on the floor eating cheerios and more banana bread and reading the paper. I went back to bed when I thought I had my fill and woke up an hour later and had to eat more. I left the food in there when I went back to bed. I again, woke up to my tummy at 5am and decided I was up for the day and got sick of going back and forth. I grabbed the container of lunch meat that Mr. Fury bought for sandwiches and I sat on the toilet eating smoked ham and yogurt while reading the comics. I ate half the container of ham before I decided that I should probably put it away before I got sick, finished reading the comics, and thought: I'm sitting on the toilet eating ham with a side of yogurt for breakfast. This is ridiculous. This, right here, is Ironman.