If you read my Brink of a DNF post, you know Mile 17 was filled with emotions, but that was just part of my 6 hours and 20 minute on the run course. Lots of good things happened too, with the best, of course, being the 4th Street Live Finish!
Having started the swim 15 min before I thought I would, exiting the water 19 min early and finishing the bike 14 min under my goal and thus getting a 4pm run start was amazing. I now had close to 6hr and 15 min to finish the race in under 15 hours and about 8 hours to meet the midnight deadline.
Knowing I would make it across the finish line even if I walked caused me to not once be overwhelmed by run like I had been at the Raleigh 70.3. I was feeling very good. I had nailed my bike nutrition, my legs felt awesome and my parents, who I thought would be at mile 1, were waiting for me with the Curacao flag as I left transition.
It was time to go tackle 26.2 and become an Ironman!
I stuck to my 5:1 run/walk, slowing down and adding an extra walk every so often after the first few miles. The heat was at its peak at this point and it was brutal.
I filled my hat with ice at every aid station (I was so happy I was wearing my Bolder Band under my hat as it kept the water from dripping onto my face and my Handana allowed me to wipe sweat off my face throughout the run) and also started putting ice down my back. I ended up with super sloshy shoes, but it was worth it and amazingly I only got 2 blisters, which I didn’t even notice until the next day. I was happy to have put socks in my run special need at while I initially ran by without stopping, I turned around and went back to quickly swap my soaked socks for some dry ones at mile 13.
I won’t go into details about my nutrition, because I already did that in my Brink of DNF post, but I will tell you that for my next Ironman (yes, there will be a next Ironman!), I will have a better nutrition plan…While you have to be flexible with what is available on the course and what race conditions are like, I think I’ll write down a more detailed plan that I can follow without thinking, like I do on the bike.
While I slowed down a lot between miles 16 and 19, I also slowed down a little between miles 3.5 and 11 partly because that’s when I ran into Pablo and we walked together for one of his walk intervals and then and I stopped and waited for him to come through the aid station so I could hug and kiss him the 2nd time we ran into each other. He looked tired, but I knew he was going to finish strong.
When I reached the turnaround I only saw my dad, so I knew Pablo had finished. I switched my socks at Special Needs and continued on. I started feeling lightheaded, so I decided to walk. It was around 7pm. I did the math and figured that if I walked strong (I’m a fast walker and can keep <15min/mile) with the occasional jog, I could finish the next 13 miles in about 3hr15min putting me right under my 15hr goal.
I got this.
I found a guy who was walking and we started talking, then the lady who was struck by lightning during a training ride joined us, and we walked together for a few miles. They both felt slightly lightheaded and had opted to walk as well. I walked strong with them and we agreed to stay together, but I slowly faded. They said they’d stay with me, but after a while distance grew and I told them to keep going. I took something at the aid station but it was getting worse.
I won’t go into detail here, but with 9.2 miles left I knew I couldn’t give up. My body was out of whack, but I knew I had to finish. I had trained too hard, Pablo was waiting for me at the finish line and I knew family and friends were tracking me (I had no idea how many of you were actually watching the finish line video!)
Base Salts, Base Amino, letters from loved ones and my Momentum Jewelry mantras brought me back.
I walked miles 17-19 with 2 new people and then I picked up my run/walk and worked my way to the finish. It was dark by now and almost everyone was walking. As I started running, I slowly started passing more and more people. I was amazed how strong I felt after that whole dramatic 15-minutes at mile 17. I found mile 20, then mile 21, 22, 23, 24…it seemed like forever before I got to mile 25 and then 26. I picked up my pace. We’re so close!, I told the guys next to me.
They kept walking and I sprinted forward. Right before entering the finish shoot I ran into the lady who had been struck by lightning. I want the finish shoot to myself, she said, me too, I told her, so she let me go and the guy behind me slowed down too to give me my moment.
The finish line was the most amazing experience of my life. I felt like a superstar. Every time I raised my arms the crowd cheered louder.
I kept pumping my arms and people cheered. Then people put their hands out and I high fived as many of them as I could. This was MY finish line and I planned to take advantage of every second.
I saw Pablo, I felt amazing. After 15:08:46 hours of swimming, biking and running, there was the finish line! I put all my focus on jumping over it! My jump was maybe 1/2 foot off the ground, but I did it and I had the world’s biggest smile.
Many people have told me they miss the announcer’s voice, but I did not. I heard him, loud and clear:
Gabrielle, you ARE an ironman!
My parents were at the other side. I got my medal, finisher hat and shirt and hugged my parents and Pablo. I cried.
I felt amazing.
We took pictures. I talked to Cecilia (it was 4am in Berlin) and cried some more. I’m crying now as I write this.
It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, physically and mentally, yet I am amazed at the ease with which my body and mind (for the most part) tackled the distance.
It was the most amazing thing I have ever done in my life. Even at my darkest moment I felt joy, I felt pride, I felt amazement. I can’t explain it, but I know why people keep doing them.
It’s such an unbelievably powerful feeling to be one of 428 women to cross the 2014 Ironman Louisville finish line only only 8 min over my 15 hour goal.
Before the Ironman, I said I wasn’t sure I’d ever do it again, now I don’t know how I couldn’t do!
[Don’t worry FinisherPix, I will be purchasing my photos and replacing these screenshots with officially purchased ones soon!]