The time has come, friends! We’ve reached the last leg of our Ironman journey with Jenny Lorenz. After being kicked by swimmers and fighting insane wind on a bike, it’s now time to close out this challenge with a marathon. That’s just 26.2 miles. No biggie… Take a shot of Coca Cola and down an energy bar – let’s cross this finish line together:
Despite the long, windy, hot bike my legs felt pretty good running. I focused on keeping my pace under control and keeping good form. At about mile 1 or so of the run my “fan club” was out in force to cheer me on which was a nice pick me up. The first 10 miles of the run in town on Alii is hot; really hot.
So I once again focused on using the aid stations to keep cool – ice in my hat, down my shirt, up my arm coolers – it helped immensely. Again, I was very proud at executing a good plan in this regard as I never felt overheated. I did my best to stay steady. I ran between the aid stations and then walked through them to take care of myself. I saw my family and friends again at mile 9 or so before heading up “Hot Corner” and out toward the Queen K. They asked me how I was feeling and my honest response was “Pretty good!”
Once you get out onto the Queen K it starts to get lonely. Other than the athletes (who aren’t overly chatty at this point) there are very few fans. I found myself playing mental games to make it from aid station to aid station without letting myself walk. There’s a lot of time to think out there, be it good or bad, and with little distraction it gets tough at times. I tried my best to stay focused on the task and stay positive. I hit the Energy Lab in good shape, grabbed my spare fuel belt bottles at special needs and headed back into town.
The hardest part of any marathon are the last miles. And I find it particularly cruel there is a steady climb for a few miles before you hit the last mile or so (which is largely downhill) on this course. That steady climb was where it got tough for me. My pace had slowed considerably, my feet were sore and I could already tell I was destined to lose several toenails, and it was dark; really dark out there.
A couple women who I know were in my age group passed me in this stretch but I just couldn’t keep pace with them. But I managed to keep running, well, maybe it was much more of a jog at this point, but I wasn’t walking; keeping up with my goal of only walking the aid stations. And for the first time in 5 Ironman races I wasn’t suffering from cramping in the latter part of the marathon – a new accomplishment for me.
Finally, I made it to the top of the hill near Palani. That’s when you know you’re going to make it. The crowds are back cheering you on and you get to go downhill. Halleluiah! I made the turn down toward Hot Corner and headed up Alii. Like the swim and bike I took away some very positive things from the run yet definitely have much room to improve. I had hoped to run around a 4 hour marathon and with a time of 4:27 and change, didn’t accomplish that goal. I did, however improve upon my 2009 Kona marathon time by over 21 minutes so I was happy about that. And I also accomplished my goal of not walking on the course except through the aid stations. So I had a lot to feel good about despite being somewhat disappointed I didn’t make my time goal. Perhaps my arm coolers covering up my “Just Go Faster” mantra written on my arm was a limiter since I couldn’t see it as a reminder :)
Once you make that turn onto Alii you can see the lights, the crowds, and hear the music thumping at the finish line. There’s nothing like the finish in Kona. The stage, the lights, the jumbotron, the music, and so many people there cheering you on. It’s at this point you forget any dark patches, any regrets, all the “If only I would haves” and just celebrate the accomplishment. And I did just that. I was grinning ear to ear, high five-ing every single hand that I could reach down that chute. My family and friends were there right before the finish line so I got to give them a high five, as well. I can’t image that experience ever getting old.
I crossed the finish line in 12 hours, 24 minutes and 16 seconds. I had hoped to break 12 hours so I missed my mark. But the good news was I did manage to improve upon my 2009 time by over 32 minutes; in tougher conditions on the bike for sure. Let’s see… At that rate I should go around 11:52 and change next time, right? Yes, call me crazy but I have already decided there needs to be a next time. I definitely want another shot at this beast – I’ve got some unfinished business out there on that course.
After a short visit to the med tent to get my bearings (was feeling extremely dizzy after the finish), collecting my pre race bag, my finisher bag and medal, and getting my legs rubbed out I was reunited with my fan club. They were all still there patiently waiting after a long day of providing support. You’ve got to give them credit. It’s a long day out there for them too. And they finished with flying colors. After meeting up and seizing a photo op, we headed to Tom and Lois’ condo so I could take a desperately needed shower.
My day wasn’t over, however. I make it a ritual to watch the last finishers come in and love every second of it. Dick was a great sport and joined me for what I find are the most inspiring moments of this race. In the last hour you see finishers in their 60′s, 70′s and even 80′s crossing that line. It’s so amazing to see these people out there on this brutally tough course accomplishing the dream. I’m in awe of their drive to endure and hope I can continue to race with the same passion long into the future.
As with any race I’ve done there are always things I look back on and hope to improve next time. One thing I know for sure, however, I have no regrets about how I prepared for this race. With the help of a fabulous coach, amazing training partners, and a supportive family at home and at work, I was able to achieve my dream of running down Alii Drive and finishing this race once again. I can’t imagine it ever getting old.
And one other thing I’m particularly proud I accomplished this year was raising in excess of $5,771.40 for Children’s Miracle Network. With the help of countless generous friends, we will be able to make a positive difference in many children’s lives. Being blessed with the ability to compete at this level is such a gift and I’m thrilled I could do my small part to give a gift back through a sport I truly love.
Thank you to Jenny for letting us experience all the highs and lows of an Ironman without the years of prep and pain. ;o) Congratulations on conquering the Ironman World Championship yet again! We are so proud of you.