Saturday, June 28, 2008

I'm Gonna Break My Rusty Cage And Run

“So, are you going to be able to run after this?”

That was Bolder’s question. I had no idea, and I told him so. There were times on that bike ride, even in the second loop, where I felt like a superhero. Run? Bring it! There were other times when I felt like I was an accident victim doing rehab on a stationary bike as others whizzed by. Run? Rectum? Damn near killed ‘im.


Of course, isn’t that the very essence of Ironman? The risk and unanswered question of, “Can I [fill in the blank]?” Don't we keep going because we're trying to find out?

Anyway, as I reached the downhill slope that took us the last 8 or 10 miles into town, the wind was in my face, and I tried to just stay in a gear I could turn at the appropriate cadence in an effort to find my legs and settle my tummy, that threatened to go into open revolt if I fed it one more calorie while my body threatened to stop if I failed to do so.

As I said yesterday, my watch told me a good bit of news when I finally arrived. having turned in a decent bike split, I was well-positioned to PR. However, the quietness and shade of the T2 changing tent was awfully inviting. I wanted to sit there for awhile. I did not want to run a marathon. But I knew I had to. I also knew that the more time I took to get started, the more time it would take to bet finished, which is all I wanted to do at that point. So eventually, I headed for the door and started to jog.


The run course is a study in contrasts. Just outside the transition area, the course is a wall of sound, even as late in the day as I started the run. People lined both sides of the run course and cheered indiscriminately for strangers in the Ironman family. I also saw Iron Jenny and Nytro and the peeps, who consistently treated me like a rock star. The run through town and through the neighborhoods was the same way. When you were being cheered well or (very infrequently) cheered poorly, you wanted to run for them and were embarrassed when it was time to take a scheduled or unscheduled walk break.

And then there were the parts of the course where no one was watching, where the only sounds were those of the footfalls around you, and your own breathing. What do you do when nobody is watching? It feels better to walk, except walking imperils your goals and lengthens the suffering.


Then there is coming back into town for the second loop, as the fast kids are finishing and you know you are going out to be “alone” again. Gird your loins, grasshopper, because that is just plain dispiriting.


So, was I able to run? Yes.

And no.

Here’s the no: I had hoped to run between aid stations and go faster than IMWI, maybe by as much as a half hour. I can run a marathon under 4 hours, and SOMEDAY I’d really like to “run” an Ironman marathon within 45 minutes or an hour of my open marathon time instead of shuffling over an hour slower. From the get go, however, I was unable to execute my desired strategy. From the first step, I was in crisis management mode. Every time the road tipped up even slightly, some part of my body chose to complain--back, side stitch, calf cramp . . . . Me? I knew I would finish, but I did not have the mental fortitude to push through for 8 to 10 minutes at a time.

Here’s the yes: I was able to set smaller goals for myself and push through for 4 minutes at a time on the first lap, 3 on the second. When I was running, I ran well and with decent turnover. When I was walking, I did not extend my breaks. On the second loop, I metered my effort with the goal of breaking 14 hours, and I was able to do so.

I went into zombie mode leaving town on the second lap and running by the lake. Over and over, my subconscious sang the refrain from "Rusty Cage" that I posted the day before the race. My pace picked up on the downhill and flat stretches. I had caught some people in front of me and I was seeing friends on the out and backs. Mile 21 arrived and I glided downhill to mile 22. Four miles left and plenty of time to do it in. Mile 23, only a 5k now. I put enough time in the bank that I could afford not to suffer up the slight gradients coming back into the town.

One mile left, the sun is down below the horizon, as is the finish line. I can hear it. A couple more turns in the road . . . .


But that is another chapter.


TriBoomer a.k.a. Brian said...

Wow... I mean WOW, Greyhound!

Now, let's read about the finish.

Here's a video of your finish:

Stay tuned...

Iron Eric said...

You rock!! The photos are great.

Unknown said...

Wow! That was great...I like how you changed your running goals and stuck with them....I'm learning lots here!

Kevin said...

Wow..Talk about suspense

CoachLiz said...

Run goals can change in a matter of minutes and in less than 400 meters!!!

Way to hang tough!

Waiting for the exciting conclusion where Super Pounce escorts you to the finish.

Tammy said...

Nice job! I remember telling the German guys I was "running" with that I wish we were in America... because when I saw the # 26 I would be done... in South Africa, you have to run until you see the # 42. Damn metric system anyway!

TriShannon said...

NOOOO... not another chapter! You are killing me here!

How long were your walk breaks? My goal in WI was run from aid station to aid station, walk 1 min at each aid station. That quickly was lost and I never regained a pattern. I think because I was stuck on my original goal. Maybe I should have implemented a new run segment goal. Instead I walked and walked a lot. Unable to get my leg to cooperate with running.

Kim said...

you look so freaking strong grey! and your guns? yum yum. hehehe!