||I WENT TO IMCDA AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS LOUSY FINISHERS SHIRT...
there are three reasons im writing this ironman report. one is to provide a recap to those who have supported and encouraged me throughout this process; two is to remind myself how grueling the training was in case i decide to participate in one of these ludicrous events ever again; and finally because now that it's over...i have no idea what to do with my time.
i was thankful to be in taper mode, which meant one activity a day; swim, bike or run for 20 or so minutes. this felt incredibly easy compared to some of my final big workouts called "bricks"; a word that is derived from the sensation in your quads that makes you feel like you are carrying an extra 10 lbs of sand, while switching from the bike to a run. it was the long training days that led up to this point...14-18 mile runs on fridays, 70-90 mile bike rides on saturdays and 1-2 mile swims on sundays. similar to my short-lived marriage; i've invested lots of time, energy, sweat and tears in this journey :P
stella tong and i got into town on wednesday and spent most of our time relaxing, scouting the course and absorbing the incredible energy surrounding the event. on a random note: we were told at the pre-race dinner that the field was made up of 74% male and 26% female athletes; i felt rather cool being a part of the minority! we registered and brought our goody bags back to the hotel. packing my race bags (athletes are given 5 bags; each to be filled in advance with whatever you wish at certain points of the race) this, to me, was one of the toughest parts of getting ready for ironman. you have to think of everything you could possibly want and need in those bags. would i want my short sleeve jersey and arm warmers? would i be hot? cold? (and since you cant be naked according to usat rules, i had to pack SOMETHING.) what if "this" happens? or "that" happens? what if i put my extra co2 or tube in my run bag by accident? what if i run out of nutrition? needless to say, i checked these bags twice. well, three times...ok, eight times.
race morning: i got up before the alarm at 4am, had my oatmeal and gatorade and got ready. stella and i dropped off our special needs bags and got body marked. it was 44 degrees at 5am when we arrived to ironman village. fuh-reeezing. we got our wetsuits on and i felt unusually calm. i got in the water to check it out and it was so much warmer than the air at 62 degrees. stella and i situated ourselves far to the right and middle/back of the pack...and waited.
14 months ago i had never been on a road bike and i could not swim more than 25 yards in a pool without stopping. here i was, among 2200 other nutjobs about to embark on one of the longest endurance events in the world. what was i thinking at this moment, you ask?!?! i thought...im just going to swim today...and ride my bike...and go for a run...assuming i do those activities in their correct order, i'd eventually see the finish line...
SWIM (2.4 miles)
i didn't hear the canon go off, but it must have because people in front of me were entering the water...and i was officially doing an ironman. i pressed "start" on my polar watch and began swimming, preparing for the horror of a mass swim start. there was elbowing, kicking, and people practically swimming on top of each other but i must have ended up in a fairly good position because what i experienced was not that bad. i got slapped more from white caps and chop than i did other athletes; (conditions were so tough the race director gave the option of not doing the swim portion. they would not be considered ironmen but they would not be disqualified; 57 people opted for the duathlon without even trying!!!) then i got to the buoy. it was the most chaotic scene i've ever experienced in the water. everyone was basically doggy-paddling around it. it was silly. i think i said something like, "this is silly." other than having to clear my goggles at one point when they fogged up, the swim was somewhat effortless but i did start to feel really cold on my second loop.
total swim time: 1:34:56
T1 (transition from swim to bike)
i passed konrad as he yelled, "great job, kramer!!!" it felt awesome hearing that as i ran to the wetsuit strippers i've been hearing so much about. there were tons of volunteers waiting so i decided to go for the two men figuring they would get my wetsuit off faster. (besides, its my once in a lifetime chance to hear two men yell, "GET DOWN!" as they strip me, awww yeahhhh) besides the fun wetsuit stripping incident, t1 was horrible. i was cold and my teeth were chattering and i was shivering so much i couldn't put my bike clothes on. perhaps sitting bare-ass'd on the metal chair didn't help. the most wonderful volunteer came over and asked me what i needed as she held open my swim to bike bag. i tried to say, "my bike shorts, arm warmers and gloves would be lovely," but all that came out was, "rrrffffftttmmuchhnnnmmm." apparently, she was gifted in the language of frozen, so she helped me with what i needed. she was an angel. i sat there for what felt like an eternity but i finally got out of the changing tent, grabbed my bike and i was off.
total t1 time: 13:16
BIKE (112 miles)
the first 10 or so miles of the bike course were the most difficult of the entire bike portion for me solely because i was so cold. my teeth were still chattering, i felt stiff, my nose was running horribly and i couldn't feel my hands or feet. i was a mess. it took me about 2 full hours to warm up and i was finally having fun. the nice part was i didn't mind the wind and hills once i was warm and my ONLY concern was the bike cut-off. i'm not the strongest cyclist but i can ride a slow pace forever. people were flying by me left and right (well, actually, just to my left) and instead of getting agitated by all the people passing me, i just smiled knowing i had just kicked their asses in the swim.
the course was beautiful. lots of rolling hills, a couple of good climbs (5250 feet in total- D'OH!) but all in all, it was a wonderful ride. my support crew (mom, dad, michelle, marcus and winston- you are the best!!!) basically camped out on the side of the road and since it was a 2 loop course, i got to see them 4 times on the bike! knowing this, made my journey so much more enjoyable. im not sure if it's a blessing or a curse but i seem to zone out on long rides...but i do remember seeing konrad sporadically along the course, falling at the turn-around going 2 mph (yeah. ummmm, apparently i didnt get the fax notifying athletes you are supposed to actually turn at the turn-around!!! geeesh) and getting off my bike 5x to pee. (wtf?!?!)
passing my crew on the final loop hearing, "you're going to make it!!!" was music to my ears. i made the cut off by about 20 minutes and as far as i was concerned...the race was over. i was going to be an ironman. now just a quick marathon and im done!
bike time: 8:18:42
T2 (transition from bike to run)
i got off the bike and handed it to a volunteer. my legs felt strong! i ran, in my cleats, grabbed my bike to run bag and entered the changing tent. i changed shorts, put rubber toe caps on two of my toes, changed socks and shoes, grabbed my visor and powergel and i was off. nothing exciting here.
t2 time: 5:50
RUN (26.2 miles)
the first few miles of the run course were full of screaming spectators waving signs and yelling encouragement to racers. i loved this part. i felt sharp and focused as if the day had just started. i had to hold back reminding myself that i still have a lot of time ahead of me, but i realized... this was it. my final hours were here and now...rather than push myself to run a fast race, i decided to milk the run; enjoy it. for 8 long months leading up to this moment, i averaged 2-4 hours of training a day, 6 days a week. i've sacrificed time with my family and late nights with friends. (wait. i never go out late anyway. nevermind) i've ridden 70 miles on pacific coast highway countless times alone at 8am on a saturday, after being dropped by faster riders. i've even given in to tears once during one of those rides (ok, ok. i admit it) i've worked incredibly hard to get here and now that i'm in the process of completing my goal, i'm not about to run fast and miss out on the fun!!! so...i jogged nice and easy, spoke to the volunteers, encouraged other athletes and took it all in. the only part of the run that was tough for me, occurred around mile 15. my eyes started really burning!!! did i get sunblock in them? should i have updated my prescription lenses? (it seems i'm too cheap to get new ones but i had no problem shelling out my life savings on ironman sweatshirts, hats and junk. go figure) in any case, i couldn't open my eyes without being in pain. i had to close my eyes so they wouldn't burn and opened them slightly every few steps.(it was dark at this point anyway) at first, i was bummed but then something extraordinary happened. with my eyes closed, every other sense came alive!!! i heard runners near me. i heard my slow and relaxed breath. i could smell the clean and fresh air...the sweet smell of lake water by my side. when i opened my eyes slightly and looked right, i saw the moon reflect off of lake coeur d'alene. those few miles couldve been very tough, but instead...i found them to be very peaceful and soothing.
by mile 23, the "type-a" girl in me pushed her way out and screamed, "enough already! what the hell are you doing?!?! don't you know you are in a race?!?!" and with that...i picked up the pace and passed nearly every single athlete for the next 3.2 miles on my way to the finish chute. the last couple hundred feet can only be described as surreal. i can't describe the feeling but if you can take the culmination of months of sacrifice and 400 hours of training all rolled up in a 20 second period....that was it. i heard my name being called as i ran past the bleachers of cheering crowds. you could easily fool yourself into thinking you were taking the gold at the olympics or winning the boston marathon. i ran across the finish line, arms up in the air, breaking the tape as i saw the flash of the camera take my finishing photo.
run time: 5:58
overall time: 16:10:15 (#1963 out of 2196 entrants)
I AM JENNIFER KRAMER...AND I AM AN IRONMAN.
(well, some would say 98% iron and 2% saline but that's another story)