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If you are interested, you can read last year’s experience at the New Orleans Half Ironman by clicking here.
Yesterday was such an important day for me. From the second I woke up that morning, I had no clue how it would all play out. When my alarm went off at 4:45 a.m., I could hear the wind howling outside the RV. My first thoughts were of the swim, and they weren’t pleasant. I pushed those fears aside and got ready with Girl Talk blasting over my iPhone. :D I was pumped, excited, and nervous. My mom eventually got up and took me over to the transition area around 6 a.m. There’s nothing more exciting than a race morning. I live for it.
As I was organizing my transition area in my own little world, a voice came over the speakers to make a few announcements. I don’t even remember what he said until… he announced that the swim was canceled. I remember popping my head up, looking around to see if anyone else was shocked, then asking my neighbor if I had heard correctly. It was confirmed – the swim wasn’t going to happen due to dangerous currents in the water. They couldn’t get the rescue teams out there in place to help us if we got into trouble. While I was extremely relieved, I surprisingly a little sad b/c I had worked so hard to be able to finish that portion this year. But honestly, if you had seen the conditions of the water that morning, I’m not sure even the best swimmers would have faired very well… much less me. The life they saved could have very well been my own. So, I took it all in stride and started to focus on the bike. Now the Half Ironman had officially turned into a duathlon.
I ended up having to wait around until 8:20 (race time was supposed to be 7 a.m.) to start my bike leg. I must have visited the port-o-potty a thousand times in anticipation. Once I got started though, I felt strong & confident. We fought strong headwinds and a slow incline for the first 30 miles or so, but the last 26 miles were fast & fun. I had so much more energy compared to last year’s experience… not sure if it had something to do with my weight-loss or the fact that it was about 10 degrees cooler than last year. Either way, when I got off of the bike after 56 miles I felt really good about the 13 mile run ahead, while last year I didn’t even know how I would take the first step. The first 2.7 miles were fabulous and I felt like I could do all 13 without having to stop. Then, I started to get pain in the outside of my injured knee. By mile 3, it was very obvious that I wasn’t going to be able to run the whole thing… and if I could walk it I would be very lucky. I got very upset really fast, and called my future brother-in-law David, a PT, for advice. He told me that I should just listen to my body and walk if I had to. He said walking wouldn’t reinjure my knee, but pushing through pain could set me back again. At that point I still had about 10 miles to go… a very daunting amount to have to walk. I would have much rather suffered through it with speed. I played with a little run-walk for a mile or two and I quickly realized that running was out of the question for me. If I was going to finish, then I was going to have to swallow my pride & my ego and just walk the whole damn thing. So, I did. I walked and walked and walked. And then, I finished! :D I did jog the last quarter mile through the French Quarter just for joy’s sake. :D My mom and dad were there to see me cross the finish line, and it was a very happy moment.
There is even better news behind all of this – my knee will continue to get better, and I can add about a mile a week from here on out to my run training program. I WILL build back up and be better than I’ve ever been before. Also- I’ve decided that I have unfinished business with the Half Ironman (70.3), so instead of pursuing a full Ironman later in the year I’m going to do another half. I have yet to have the opportunity or ability to finish all three events with success and I know it’s close within reach if I focus & try hard enough. I’m going to sign up for the Augusta 70.3 on September 25, so that gives me plenty of time to finish healing my leg and build up to an ideal physical strength. I could visualize so clearly on the bike yesterday my capabilities of doing this distance in a very success way… even on a competitive level. Nothing brings me more joy than racing!!!