Sunday, May 29, 2011

IMTX Race Report: Life After the Finish Line

The Medical Triage and Other Adventures...

Since the race was sponsored by Memorial Hermann Hospital, the Medical Triage was the finest that I have ever seen at a race. The volunteers quickly got me to a bed and they started peeling off my wet gear to keep me from getting chilled. They asked me several times about my stomach and I told them I felt fine except for my feet. An EMT who looked like Mr. Clean tried to carefully take off my shoes as I whimpered in pain and then set about cleaning my feet with Betadine solution and looking for the blisters on the wet and wrinkly bottoms of my feet. He found them. Lancing those blisters and draining them was no picnic either. Dr. Brian, who I know through Team in Training circles, came up to check on my feet and to congratulate me on a great race and sign my release papers. With my feet bandaged up, I grabbed my gear and hobbled out to meet the family who were waiting at the door. We made our way back to all the action so that I could get some food and find my Morning Gear Bag. In the "Athlete Village" I saw Coach Carrie. She gave me a big hug. She had an amazing sub-12 hour race and was 10th in her Age Group. I tried eating a Freebird's burrito but the lack of saliva in my mouth made the tortilla feel like I was trying to eat felt. My stomach was not wanting huge amounts of anything either. Just small bits. The family went to Potbelly to get some sandwiches and I hobbled off to find my gear. A man who was built like a brick wall and over six-foot tall took pity on me and offered to carry me where I needed to go. He gathered me up in his arms and took me over to the truck where the gear bags were, waited for me and then carried me back to where my family was. Ok sir, go wash your hands and arms now.

I saw more of my Team in Training friends who had been out on the course and just did a lot of people watching from my seat on a small ledge. I just didn't want to walk on my feet. They still hurt pretty bad. Finally, I put on dry shoes that I had worn over to the swim start that morning and it made walking a bit easier. El Esposo had to get home to finish packing to leave for a business trip in the morning and he took "The Banana" with him. I had to find "White Hot" (a.k.a. Ryan) and wait for the crew to come in. Ryan found "The Banana" and soon found me and we staked out a spot along the Finisher's chute to wait and watch for the crew. I also found Mike's coach, Coach Steve and some of the Go Mitch Go! Team and all patiently waited. I got to see my girlfriend Lauren again. Today she is in Florinopolis, Brazil and yesterday she saw her significant other, Lannas, race Ironman Brazil. You may recall, if you are a long-time reader of my blog, that I went to Cozumel last November to see Lauren and our friend Laura complete their first Ironman race.

Not long after the timing clock rolled over 14 hours, we got word that Mikey was very close to finishing. Mikey is a four-time cancer survivor and had just had another jaw surgery about a month ago and was still on antibiotics. He and Ryan had gotten pretty tight the past few days and Ryan did not want to leave our spot until he saw Mikey. When he rounded the corner, Ryan went nuts cheering for him and dashed off towards the Finish Line with Coach Steve and members of the Go Mitch Go! team. I held our place on the barricade and waited for Greyhound and Rachelle. When the crew finally came back by, Mikey got a big hug from me and he said that Coach Steve was going to get his bike and gear and that he was going back to his mom's room to lay down because he was not feeling well and he would see us in the morning.

I was starting to feel hungry but I did not want to jam a bunch of food down my face just yet. I gave Ryan $5 and told him to get me a Jamba Juice from across the street as he went on a mission for some Cold Stone ice cream. When he came back, he had a box of four chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches and my Jamba Juice. All I could handle was little sips off my Jamba Juice and sadly had to let the ice cream sandwich start to melt. I had been keeping my eyes peeled for the rest of the Superfriends. Since we were also staked out right by the split to head out for another lap, we saw volunteers and a race official take their places to grab people who did not make it onto their third lap before the 10:00 pm deadline. It was sad watching those few athletes get pulled off the course. I did see one of the guys who used to come to my spin class at the gym make it through the cut-off.

I had not seen Michael for a few years because he started going to another gym and then we ended up sitting at the same table at the Athlete's Dinner a few nights before. He was so excited to see me and introduce me to his wife because she, and all of his friends knew about me. Michael told me that I was referred to as,"MY Elizabeth" to everyone and everyone knew that I was head and shoulders above any of the spin instructors at his new (and quite swanky) gym. He said he remembered when I was training for my first Ironman back in 2005-2006 and that I was such a huge motivation to him and I was the reason he signed up to run the Houston Marathon the next year. He had lost over 90 pounds and now he was fulfilling his dream to do an Ironman. When he told me this, I got a little misty eyed. The lesson here is that you never know that what you do and how your carry yourself can motivate or intimidate people. Always strive to motivate and be down to earth enough to poke fun at yourself and be approachable. Well, Michael did finish his Ironman. He was the second to last person to cross the line before they turned off the clock. Powerful stuff!

Ryan and I did not have to wait long to see Rachelle come around the bend. We had heard that she was not feeling well and she looked like she was ready to be done. I told Ryan that I would keep a lookout for Greyhound as he went down to go get Rachelle. Soon enough, Rachelle and her family were back on "The Hot Corner" and in less than five minutes we saw Greyhound running in. Rachelle bent over to put her bag down and then stood up and got dizzy so we hung out there for a minute to see if she was ok. Soon after that I got a text from Greyhound that he was sitting on the wall in front of the restaurant across the street and I texted back that we were all just across the street from the Starbucks, less than 100 feet from where he was. The Superfriends were now the Ironfriends and we all were back together. Ryan was going to hang out near the finish line some more while the rest of us went to get our gear and bikes.

I was having a hard time keeping up with everyone because of my blisters and Rachelle's family offered to carry some of my bags. Once we got our bikes, Greyhound's family offed to take my bike. I guess I looked pretty pitiful trying to get around. Once back at the cars, we loaded up and then Rachelle and I dug out the "clean-up system" that Ryan had turned us on to of baby wipes saturated in rubbing alcohol and wintergreen witch hazel. It felt good to wipe the sweat, salt, grime, and funk off and get into some clean, dry clothes. On the way home, Rachelle was getting hungry so we stopped at a What-a-burger near my house and got her a burger and large fries. Man, those fries were GOOD. I guess we needed the salt.
The Ironfriends! Back (l to r): Greyound, Rachelle, Ryan a.k.a "White Hot", Brian a.k.a."Tri Boomer"
Front: Coach Carrie, Shawn, me, and Iron Mikey. Not pictured is Christy Lan. She had to leave early.

After a shower, a chance to wash my hair, and the stunning realization that I had three huge blisters on the bottom of my left foot and two huge blisters on the bottom of my right foot all between the ball of my foot and my 5th metatarsal (I have NO idea how I ran almost 20 miles on those!), I collapsed into my own bed and slept without a single dream that I can recall. We were all up the next morning by 6:30 and headed out the door to go back to The Woodlands for Finisher's gear, to get Ryan signed up for his Kona slot, and to head to breakfast at Greyhound's casa. There was some nice Finisher's gear, but the things I wanted had all the small sizes snapped up before I got there so I walked out empty handed. Rachelle and I went on a trip to go find breakfast tacos and kolaches to take to breakfast and then headed to Greyhound's. When everyone arrived, there were 9 hungry Ironmen chowing down on waffles, bacon, breakfast tacos, kolaches, bagels and lox, fruit, and sipping on Mimosas.

Later in the day, we went to a pool party with some of the Austin triathletes that we knew through Coach Carrie and Mikey. It was good to relax and do nothing. By 8:30 pm that evening, I was falling asleep on the sofa and we headed to bed. I had a stretch session the next morning at 7am and then I had to get Rachelle to the airport.

It was quiet in the house after everyone headed home and it was a little sad, but it gave me a chance to really relax and chill out. Because I felt like I had neglected my kid for the better part of six days, when he got home from school I took him to the movie to go see Pirates of the Caribbean. My life got back to normal. Or at least normal for most Americans. I was eating like I don't normally eat and not exercising and I was feeling yucko. I decided that I would start running again on the weekend. Sadly, I hurt my back at work lifting some weights for the first time in a few weeks due to the taper and I am in pain. Even sitting on the sofa is uncomfortable. I went straight to Spine & Sports Therapy to have Dr. Jeff take a look at me since Dr. H was on vacation and Dr. D was booked up. I got a little relief, but I am still in pain and I feel like a lazy slug.

Coach Woofie told me to take a month off without any structured workouts and just play. We do have some plans in the works for what is next for this Swimbikerun girl. If the plan gets a green light after my back gets better, I am going to have a lot of work cut out for me. But for now, there are no races on the horizon and that feels a tad weird. Someone double dog dared me to get another mountain bike to replace mine that El Esposo sold without telling me until he was packing it up to ship. I have no money right now, so that may be on hold. And frankly, I want to get a dog. I need a cold nose and a wagging tail first.

I know that I drove some of you mad with all the daily installments on this race, but I tend to write WAY too much and I hate to leave anything out. In short, Ironman Texas is a great race. It is a hot, humid, and hard race, and some website listed it as the 5th hardest Ironman race out there. I saw the names of some top notch Pro triathletes and some really fast and strong local athletes on the list of those who DNF'ed. Heck, if it was easy, it wouldn't be an Ironman. Some of my crazy friends have already signed up for next year's race but for now, I am on the search for the next race that calls my name and asks for a date. I didn't get asked out in high school, so I may have to take matters into my own hands like I did when I asked out someone for a date to my own prom.
The tools of recovery....

So stay tuned to read all about the geek girl asking the popular star athlete (er, athletic event) for a date.

Later Gators!



sallyaston said...

Congrats! I really enjoyed reading all about your race! You must be so happy to crush your goal. Sounds like you have many good training partners and friends! Recover well! :-)

LittleRachet said...

Awwww, loved every word of your long-ass report! It was so great spending time in your casa and with everyone in our crew. I have my next one figured out..........I see Greyhound has his eyes on something.......we'll patiently wait for yours.

Christi said...

Great race report! I loved it!

JohnnyTri said...

yeah Nice job on the recap ZardO!!!
looks like I may have to put this one on the list!