Race Morning: I rolled out of bed at 4:45 am and ate my favorite pre-race meal of a peanut butter sandwich and a banana. For the first time all week, I felt nervous. While I told my friends and family that nobody needed to head down to transition with me, I was pretty psyched that they were all up and ready when I left at 5:30 am. I found some friends in transition, pumped up my bike tires, unwrapped my bike (thank for the tip about putting garbage bags over it the night before!), and got my bodymarked. Then I walked down to drop off my special needs bags and get ready on the beach.
Swim: I bumped into my friend Joe on the beach and we wandered over to the water together. I decided to seed myself towards the front and middle. No matter how many times you watch an Ironman swim start on You Tube, nothing will prepare you for the chaos of the mass start! The first two minutes felt like 20 as I struggled to get a spot where I could just stretch out and swim. Finally, I broke free – only to be clobbered in the nose. I was certain for the remainder of the first loop (and even later on the run when I bumped my nose with a cup of gatorade) that my nose was broken. I kept feeling for blood, but decided if I could breathe ok, I should just keep swimming. The second loop cleared out a bit – until we made the turn to head back in…and I got straight out dunked like my head was a basketball. I popped up screaming “What the hell man!” and was ready to fight until I realized nobody was paying attention – just swimming. So, back I went to concentrating on a nice long stroke. I exited the water in 1:06 and was psyched to see my crew of 10 in their yellow Team Stropedogg shirts lining the run from the beach to transition.
Bike: After a little confusion in transition (turns out you need to go through the change tent even if you’re not changing), I was off on the very wet ride. Luckily, I was used to the rain from a training weekend in June. The first loop was pretty uneventful for me. My nutrition plan was solid – I packed plenty of gu, shot blocks, cliff bars – and a delicious peanut butter sandwich in my special needs bag. Coming down the big descent on the second loop, I was freezing thanks to the rain! Forget gatorade and water, I desperately wanted hot chocolate! Joe caught me on the second loop and it was great to have some company for a while. Also, the aid stations were fantastic! My favorite aid station was on Hassleback road – while I used the porta-potties, the volunteers filled up my water bottles and piled up food on my aero bars!
Run: What a fun first marathon – rain, rain, and more rain! I changed into my DC tri top – which made it really easy to be spotted. I saw Kip and Kevin on the way out of town. I ran with my friend Jim for the first three miles and saw Joe, Tom, Heather and a couple other tri club folks on the course. My run to each aid station and walk through the station strategy held up until about mile 19 – when I had to start tossing in a couple more walks. I passed Jim again on my way back into town and he gave me a huge hug, “You’re going to be an Ironwoman today!” I started my final two mile trudge up the hill into town. It was so great to see my friends and family as I climbed the final hill back into town. I stopped for photos and high-fives. The best part was hearing my two year old niece say, “what Aunt Sara doing now? Aunt Sara run! Evie too! Evie too!” Oh yeah, and with never-ending rain, I learned that body glide and vaseline just don’t hold up.
Finish: I crossed the finish line in just under 14 hours with a smile on my face! I went home to shower, then returned to the stands to cheer the final participants in – what an amazing experience! Music was blasting, the stands were shaking, and it almost didn’t matter that I felt like puking every other minute. I wore my finisher t-shirt from that night all the way through Monday night!