The Ironman run is where you can make it or break it. I spent the entire day thinking about and setting myself up for the run. I always look forward to the run leg--in any triathlon. As much as I love swimming, the run is my favorite part of triathlons. After all...you're "almost" done. You have total control of your environment. It is where you show yourself and others what you are really made of. You must put it all together and remain strong. You can't fake it....you must go te distance or nothing else you did that day matters.
I was a bit worried before I got to the tent off the bike. As I said in the last part, I had been suffering. My body hurt in every way possible.
That said, my heart was intact. I wanted that finish run down Ali'i drive. I wanted it bad.
So I grabbed all my nutrition and ran out of that tent smiling. I fed off the enthusiasm of the volunteers standing in the doorway. I smiled and said something like, "here I go!" and they cheered for me wildly. I just love the volunteers at Ironman. They deserve their own medals I must say.
I don't remember too much about the first few miles. I took a gel. I know that. It had caffeine and before I knew it my headache was gone. We ran threw the town for a while. My legs were a bit sluggish but not too bad. I was counting down. Within 15 minutes I was thinking about the fact that I no longer had an entire marathon to run. Ok, 24 miles is no small jog but still, I had less than a marathon. It's all in your head folks. It's all in your attitude.
My pace was just fine at first---8:07, 8:21, 8:04, 8:28, 8:02.
I have no idea why they went up and down like that. I was happy with anything around the 8 minute mark. I don't know if I need to say it was hot. Seems like maybe that's clear by this point. I had no idea how hot. I have since read that it was over 95 out in Hawi but who known in Kona. I actually felt cooler than I had on the bike. My head was free from the helmet and I was able to get my hands on some ice and sponges. You can not imagine how incredibly heavenly those cold sponges and cups of ice are on those Hawaiin roads. Just trust me. I swam with dolphins, I saw vibrant fishies every day, I was standing by Chrissie Wellington's side---but almost as good? The ice cups I dropped down my top at every single aid station. I did not miss one. Trust me. I stuck to my nutrition/cooling plan like clockwork. Every 5 miles I had a gel. My stomach was tolerating this just fine. I had my salt, my endurance aminos and my anti fatigue pills. I poured ice in my shirt ( and left it there---gorgeous look I'm sure), I dumped water all over myself, and I stuck sponges anywhere I could. Unfortunately, the volunteers were a bit too helpful with the sponges and actually came at me from behind multiple times. Their intentions were perfect. However, the water dripped into my shoes from mile 2. My shoes were saturated. The squished and made wet sounds with every step of the marathon. I tried to jump out of the way of randomly flying sponges from that point on but it was too late. I just worried about blisters...time would tell.
I ran and ran. And you know, I felt Great!!! Really strong in fact. What do ya know! I am going to make this!! And then I remembered feeling Just the same way in Lake Placid. A bit overzealous. I hadn't hit the Queek K yet and when I thought about it....I had unpleasant flashbacks from the bike leg. That's ok. Hang on.
Next few miles: 8:17, 8:22, 8:43, 8:26 Mile 9 now. Still feeling great and still running through the town of Kailua - Kona. The crowd was amazing. They really push you along. I turned to run up Palani drive towards the turn to the Queek K. EVERYONE in front of me was walking. Ha! I might not do heat but I can do Hills! I trotted up that baby like it was nothing. I passed loads of people. In fact, I had been passing a lot of people through town. The run is good for that....I deal with it on the bike and take it back on the run.
9:06 up the hill.
Out on to the dreaded lava fields of the Queek K again. The temps rose. You can see the heat pouring off the roads. You can see for miles and miles ahead of you.
Head down Ange. Just run.
I still felt good.
8:24, 8:40, 8:44.
I stopped at every single station. I mean, I stopped. I took ice, I took water, I took gatorade. I opened my pill containers if it was time. I really made sure to get it all in. My body was allowing this so I did it. I knew I would need the fluids and the calories. There were many tough miles ahead. And you know....I admit I was beginning to feel it....just a bit. My garmin wasn't right on with the miles but I believe I was around mile 13 at this point.
I had something to look forward to here. I knew Mark and Nat were out ahead somewhere. I knew they had to be so hot too. I thought about grabbing a cup of ice for them but the stations weren't too well stocked anymore. In fact, at one mile I had to reach into a trash can, grab a big block of ice and break it on the road for a piece to fit into my shirt. I picked up a few pieces and shared with some guys near me.
9:14, 9:02.... ok. Slowing. But still hanging on.
And then I saw the guys! I waved and waved. They took pictures, jumped around, assured me I was ok because my skin was 'wet'. I wondered inside about that. I was dumping water on myself every 8 minutes. I got a kiss from Mark. He told me he had been texting with Mike all day and they were psyched about my splits. I told him, "yeah!! I feel great. Well, I felt great. Life is starting to suck a bit now. But I am ok!!" I really was ok and having some fun too. These days are so so long and so so hard. But they are fun. I know that must seem crazy to people who don't do this. But it is so amazing out there.
People talk about the highs and lows of Ironman. I have only done two now. I am not an experienced Ironman in any way. However, I have had experiences of my own. And this Ironman was tough. So tough. Much tougher than Lake Placid was for me. And trust me, Lake Placid almost brought me down.
But out there in Hawaii, the highs were over the top and the lows were rock bottom.
This is what I was about to experience. Another brush with the bottom of the pit.
Or...let's just call it the Natural Energy lab. If you ever watch the Hawaiian Ironman on TV..you'll hear them talk about it. It sounds like nice place. Energy Lab. Ha! Ridiculous. It sucks all remaining energy from your soul. You are alone and you are going the wrong way. And did I mention the heat? The insane temperatures radiating from the black lava that surrounds you on all sides?
Here goes. Left hand turn into the infamous Energy lab. I yelled to someone, "how far? a few miles in and out? "
Six? Six miles? good lord.
My stomach started to hurt. I had a stich in my side that forced me to bend over. I tried to lower my arms and open my diaphragm. No help. I just kept going.
9:01 (downhill here .... ahem) , 9:46 (flat) , 9:35, 9;51 You might get a little image of how I must have been feeling. I walked a bit. Not too much. But I walked. In fact, I think I might have stopped. Yeah, I did. I got to an aid station and asked the guy if I had to keep going. He just smiled at me. It's not funny, I thought. I kept going. I was having trouble getting a breath. The air was so thick. I thougth I might just have to lay down out there and rest. Not an option.
The special need bags were ahead. I yelled my # and waited. Not sure what I wanted in there. I had my inhaler though and you know, I just might need that thing. I waited and waited. Geez...come one! I was desperate. I waited way too long and they finally told me to go ahead and they'd bring it to me. I assured them it wouldn't take them too long to catch up. Sure enough, a mile ahead theybrought me the bag and I grabbed the inhaler. I didn't dare use it...but it comforted me. Back up the long long gradual but steep in my mind hill out of that dreadfully hot and barren place. I asked an aid station guy for roller blades. something to help move these seizing legs back to town.
9:26 and I was out of there.
It was remarkable. As soon as I was out of the energy lab, my mood lifted. I knew I was counting down now. I had a 10K left. I was suffering but I was going to do it. My stomach pain had eased and I was still clear headed. I must say, I am thrilled with how well my nutrition plan worked all day long. I was suffering on those roads during the middle miles of the marathon...but I didn't bonk. I could think straight and I was not dehydrated. I think I stayed in control of that part fairly well. I had times that day when I had to ride with my eyes closed (not too safe but my head really hurt and the road just went on straight for 87 miles anyway) and when I felt myself sway to one side or the other but I rallied and avoided bonking. I am proud of this.
Ok, back to the final miles. I was excited. I was loving life because I was doing this. I was about to don a medal from the Ironman World Championships. I had to keep saying this to myself. I had to continuously rremind myself that this was a big day. Thesee elements were huge for a little Maine girl. It was not about the time any more. I began to see my Lake Placid time come and go. Out of reach. And, I was ok with it. I watched the sunset over the ocean as I ran along. I passed many many many men walking along. They had crushed the bike I am sure. But remember, this race has 3 parts. It requires patience and control. I was still feeling fairly strong and I was still smiling. I tried to encourage others who were hurting. I came upon one very tall man. He was limping but moving forward. "Hang in there! We're so close!!" (maybe 4 miles to go)
"We're not that close. And you know it. " Well....that's not the right kind of attitude! I tell ya...
"Well we're closer than we were!" And then I quietly added, "and we're closer than they are" and pointed to the folks heading the into the energy lab. He wasn't amused. Oh well...good luck buddy. I noticed all sorts of attitudes out there. Some amazing and inspiring and some grumpy and negative. I wonder how they did. If they had any fun on this huge day.
9:31, 9:29, 9:35 still moving forward.
I realized that 4 hour mark was uncomfortably close. I thought I had that one without much trouble. Now I realized I was pushing it.
And then, Mark and Nat appeared. They were awesome out there. I was climbing a bit hill back into town .I whined about the hill. It felt like Streaked Mountain here at home. Mary Lou ran by me going the other way. She looked good but had had some trouble with cramping. She was still smiling though!
mark jogged with me as I shuffled up that hill. " I am going to miss 4 hours by 1 or 2 minutes you know. " He just said, "yeah...I know. it's okhun."
That was it. I was on a mission. I ran by the aid station controlled by the Bike Works guys. There was great music out on the course and they tried to dance with me again. High fives would have to do.
The energy inside me was building. It was almost uncontrollable.
I had cruised over that hill at a blazing 10:24. Good one Ange.
But...then it was over. I was off the Queen K. I turned Right and ran Down Palani. I could SEE the finish line and hear everyone but I still had a few more roads to conquer.
"ouch ouch ouch ouch!!!" I yelled this right out loud as I sprinted down that hill. My quads were on fire. And that is not an exaggeration.
I turned left on ... Kuakini hwy. Not sure what that road is. I should know. But I did know I was nearing Ali'i. I was running hard hard hard. I turned right. This was it.
I couldn't breath again. I was surrounded by people screaming and high diving me. I had to hold my chest with both hands so I could get a deep breath. The emotion was stifling.
I ran hard and passed some more people. (final mile sub 8 minutes.... final run time: 3:58.50 got it)
Over the ramp and under the time clock.
Angela Bancroft, Paris Maine YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Mark was there with a big hug and a gorgeous lei was placed around my neck.
11:26 ....but it's not about the time. Trust me.
Success. Happiness. Pride. Relief.
Dad called from Maine...12:26 their time. Thanks Mom and Dad. That was a perfect ending.
Post race stories coming next....
The crowds at the finish line