Ironman Florida: The Final Chapter

It’s hard to believe its been well over a year ago since we all stood in front of this truck, after a day of volunteering, ready and excited for the challenges lie ahead.

r600x600A year later and an easy hundred years wiser, we all gathered again to celebrate the accomplishment…..and to to pay a bit of gratitude to those who were kind enough to TOLERATE us while preparing to go the distance.

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got cake?

Folks, it is not easy being the one that has to listen to this garbage day in and day out so it’s always nice to say a little thank you. Especially if you have ANY intentions of doing this crap again! 😉 But before we celebrated all that was right in the world, I had to attend to 1 looming issue….

a meesly 5k.

Once again, Mother Nature did not fail. A cold front blew in around 2am so the temperatures dropped and the wind howled. No it was not sub-zero and snowing, but just like you northerners have issues racing down here in the deep south come April/May (which really, it is NOT hot), we have issues acclimatizing to 35-40 F in November/December. But at least the rain had stopped!

There wasn’t a lot to this race because I’d had no Zone 4 work in a year. The only Zone 3 I had under me was when I would skate the upper end of Zone 2 during a half-ironman or when I was on the brink of heat exhaustion during summer training. So I really had no idea what to expect other than to not enjoy it one single bit. I find it’s better to just be brutally honest with oneself!

Heading out, I had NO idea what my best stand alone 5k time actually was and I didn’t want to know….I didn’t want it in my head. It wasn’t going to change anything for the better and MIGHT do so for the worse.

As everyone lined up, I picked out a few  people to “follow”, one of those being my husband. The gun fired and we all head out. The advice I was given was to just ease into the 1st mile. From there, instructions shifted to more of a”gimme 2 and make it hurt” approach. For what it’s worth, I don’t know if there is any possible way to ease into the first mile of a 5k, but I certainly kept it in mind.

During the first half-mile, I kept my husband within 100-200 ft, but then he was gone. I was still cold despite a nice warm-up and even though I felt like I was “working” hard, it didn’t feel impossible. Yet! I crossed 1 mile and saw 7:45 on my Garmin. This was unchartered territory outside a sprint triathlon (always run faster off the bike) and since I “eased” into the first mile I told myself, “Carpe Diem! This thing started sub-8 and it now gets to finish sub-8!”

So while I lost my husband (because little did I know he had visions of 22 minute 5k), I did pick out a couple of people who I needed to keep within my sights. There was one person, in particular, that I was keeping closer than normal. When the 2 mile chime went off and I saw 7:51, I was relieved to be holding pace since things were becoming increasingly difficult. Only 1 mile to go! Little did I know, this last mile would be into the wind and up a slight hill…

Ok, maybe it was more of a driveway-ish incline…

The nice thing about completing 140.6 miles is that it sorta gives the feeling of empowerment. That last mile was HARD and I REALLY wanted to stop for a second to reset my stride (excuses?) and catch my breath. In the past, I just might have done it. This time, I was able to think rationally despite both being hypoxic and drowning in lactic acid. I convinced myself that, “NO…stopping is NOT necessary! Its ONE MILE, less than 8 minutes…get over it, get it done!”

And so I did.

Almost a month to the day after finishing my first Ironman, I ran my fastest 5k…..Crossing at 24:29 and surpassing my previous time by 1 minute and 1 second. That effort was rewarded with 3rd in the 40-44 AG, 9th female overall, and 38th out of 200 runners. Consistency is a marvelous thing and I give a ton of credit to my wonderful coach that stresses THAT above everything else.

So what’s a girl to do after a year like this?

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Naturally!

As of Friday, we will be spending the next 9 days at the most magical place on Earth!

Here’s wishing all of y’all a safe and festive holiday season!

And always…

Run Happy, My Friends!

happy runner

3 thoughts on “Ironman Florida: The Final Chapter

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