Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Warrior Shuffle (IM Fortaleza ~The Run ~ The Finish)

Sitting in transition after the bike, I knew I was in trouble as I took off my bike shoes & socks and looked at my feet.  The bottoms were milky white.  It was like they were not even my feet.  They certainly didn't look like my feet.  They didn't feel like my feet yet they were connected to my legs.  They had to be mine and the ones I had to use to carry me the final 26.2 miles to finish line of the inaugural Fortaleza Ironman.  I grabbed a towel and tried to dry them down and massage them simultaneously.  I then applied as much body glide (anti friction ointment) on them a possible.  I even put a layer of anti blister balm on top of that.  I put on my asics kayano socks that have carried me through numerous marathons and 1,000 of miles of running with no blisters to speak of, except IM Cozumel.  It must be the humidity that destroys my feet I think to myself.  I reload on endurolytes, I reload on Hammer gels, apply another layer of sunscreen, soaked a towel and wrapped it around my neck and off I went.

The Ironman shuffle 
The run is a two lap course that takes you through the city streets slightly and back to the beach.  You run along the shore and up and down piers for approx 6 miles turn around and do the same in reverse.  Twice.  It was nice to run along the shore.  The sidewalks in which we were running and the piers got very crowded with the people of the city just coming out to enjoy their Saturday night.  Unknowing of an Ironman race taking place at at times you would have to bob and weave your way through the crowds just to try and get ahead.

The shoreline & pier section of the run course.
For me it was all about the time now.  I knew my feet were in rough shape.  I wasn't sure of the pace that they would take me.  It was slightly frustrating because I've had issues in the 2 previous IMs when it came to the final section of an Ironman.  In Cozumel, my feet were hot to start the run and I had some pretty intense blisters.  In Boulder, I had pulled a muscle in my groin/ab area that took me off stride.  I yearn for a clean run in an IM.  It would not happen on this day.  Like in Cozumel, it was all about just finishing and managing the clock to make sure that happened.  I started doing the calculations in my head.....Swim 1:30 TA1 :10 Bike 7:25 TA2 :15.  Approx. 9.5 hours has passed that meant I had about 7.5 hours  cross the finish line.  I did the marathon in Cozumel with Blisters in 6:35, in Boulder with leg muscle cramping in 6:25.  I was in far worse condition at this point in the race than either of the previous two.  Worse as in my feet felt destroyed and my physical condition going into the race was not as good as the previous two in the year.
You da' man IronBuddy Hal
One of the great things about this run course was that it was very easy to have spectator interaction.  Although I had not seen my IronBuddy Hal yet during the entire race during the run  walk section of the race, I was able to not only see him but he ran walked with me at times for miles.  He helped do the timing and math as my head was a little fuzzy trying to add my splits up.  The course passed right by our hotel and since it was an out and back 2 times he was able to join up with my 4 times during the race.  He had my timing down perfectly so he could watch and support me and then head up to the pool for a few caipirinhas.

On the back of my out and back (approx mile 9) I saw Felipe from Mexico.  We stopped and he gave me a big hug.  He was hurting but it was because of the heat and humidity and wind and because we were participating for over 11hrs now in this Ironman.  He was so thankful for the endurolytes.  He kept saying gracias mucho me salvaste la vida. (Thank you much. You saved my life)  That brought a huge smile to my face and was another reminder to me of what I go through in all's a very humbling feeling.  All of us have our own stories and our own demons and our own obstacles to over come.  But an Ironman or Marathon or any such event brings people together from all over the world.  We each have our journeys and for this brief instance in time we are all together and gathered for the same cause.  To cross that line.  Sure we may have different intentions on times and PRs and personal achievements.  And I know,  I sure went through my own ordeal with all the crap at work that I almost didn't make this trip...but I did and now I am in an embrace with a man from another country whose path was supposed to cross mine at mile such and such on the bike just so I can share endurolytes with him so that he too can feel and experience the beauty of this community coming together.  I am blessed to be a part of this, to be alive and to experience such feelings.  I am humbled by the grace of it all.  I ask Felipe if he wants/needs more as there is still about 6 hours left in his race.  He says yes and I hand over 12 tablets.  2 for each hour.  I see Felipe 2 more times out on the course and exchange high fives each time.  Closing in near the hotel and there he Ironbuddy Hal...we do a check on the time and the condition of my feet.  We run through the math to see how I am doing.  I am slowing down a little.  (I wasn't sure that was possible)  Hals shuffles with me for a few miles till I reach the pier.
A hot and humid run walk for sure
I would set small goals for myself as I didn't want to fall too far back.  I seriously felt in jeopardy of  crossing the line in time.  Against the wind I would try to alternate shuffling from one light post to the next then I would walk to the next then I would shuffle to the next continuing to alternate back and forth.  With the wind I would try to shuffle as much as humanly possible.  I crossed paths with Stephanie from Ohio a few times.  She was looking strong on the run and had passed me on the last back to finish a few minutes ahead of me.  I crossed paths with a gentleman and his wife that I met at the pre event pasta dinner several times with big smiles and high fives.  They were a couple from either S Africa or Australia and he has done over 200 IM races.  They seem to travel the world doing IMs and introduced me to several 100+ IMers.  Pretty damn impressive. They did Boulder and Cozumel with me as well, though I met them here in Brazil.  The course was truly about the racers as the city and community did not have a real sense of what an Ironman was.  It was the inaugural event and not many spectators lined the course.  You could tell that the vast majority of people out spectating were for a racer.  The tiny island of Cozumel makes a lot of money off the race and the islanders welcome the racers and embrace the course and us being there.  Lining the streets, yelling words of encouragement in Spanish etc.   Boulder was an awesome crazy mad house of spectators as the race took place in the mecca of triathletes.  But Fortaleza you were with yourself and your kind and you had to appreciate it for what it was as you had to get through the journey on your own with little fanfare of support or crazy signs.  I was all smiles and being in the moment an enjoying myself and my adventure and sharing some race time with my 42 year friendship Ironbuddy Hal in Brazil.  How friggen cool is that??

The "Thinker" Pose
Eventually the mile marker hit 25 and I went through a set of lap gates for the final time.  With each lap they put a colored wrist band on you.  Pink for the first lap, Lime for the second lap and Black for the final approach. I made my last turn past the transition area.   Wings were up and I was taking flight on the home stretch.
Phenomenal hearing IronBuddy Hal screaming 
Trouble viewing the video??  Check it out on this link  Flight to the Finish ~ IM Fortaleza.....
Seeing all come to fruition was pretty damn cool.

I was barely able to lift off.  I gotta find another way to cross the finish line.  
And no Jaclyn, I am not twerking.

Complete goofball!

Thank you ma'am yes I'll have another.

The tri-fecta or three-peat

Chillin after the race with my IronBuddy Hal.  Watching the final racers come through.

Ummmmm  yeah I am pretty stoked and happy.

Yes!!!! Felipe crossed the line for his 1st IM in just under 17 hours.  
A Congrats hug and introduction to his wife.

It wasn't pretty.  It was a tough journey from start to finish.  From not almost even attending due to workloads and missing many if not most workouts in those last 6 weeks or so to the big ocean swells and no buoys to guide the way in the ocean, to the 103 degree heat and hot sun and humidity and the relentless wind to riding blind without a power meter or heart rate monitor and running out of water with over 30 miles to go on the bike and crashing into a motorcycle to hitting the pavement with milky white feet full of blisters to the most disgusting traditional post race bloody Mary ever!  
But I showed up and I did it.  As mentioned earlier we all have our story of the journey and difficulties and my struggles are minuscule compared to others and what it takes for them to show up and just get to the starting line.  This was my slowest IM of the 3 I completed this year by 15 minutes compared to Cozumel.  But even so, I placed higher in my age group.   The race was said to be sold out at 1500 competitors.  Only 876 crossed the finish line.  I finished 851st.

I could never have completed this Chapter of my life without the strength and love that my family has shown and taught me through the years.  And by Chapter of my life,  I am not talking about this Ironman.  The Ironman is just an event.

I am happy to have finally put these pages in my book.
The memories and Warrior Mode will forever be with me.
I can close this Chapter and begin my next.
But.....what is next??

Didn't catch the other sections of the race blog??
Check out these links below.
IM Fortaleza Prerace ~ The Way of a Warrior
Swim Recap ~ Warrior in The Water
Bike Recap~ Road Warrior

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