I am not sure I will write a race report. I am not sure where to begin, and in speaking to a few people, I was asked more questions than may be answered in a race report. So, picking up from what has been asked of me, I thought I would review a few things. And add a few pictures. And…go from there.
I was asked by my friend Rebecca if racing Kona/reaching this goal was life changing. About a day later I gave her a response. Maybe not life changing, but life affirming. I love what I get (and chose) to do. I am very fortunate to be able to afford to do this, be able to train and live as I do, and have the amazing support that I have. I am surrounded by an
incredible circle of friends and many of those friends are athletes as well. I am grateful for my coach and how he has coached me through a lot, and let me learn and grow at a pace that works for me. Which, even I have to admit, can be maddeningly slow. But once I catch on, it grows quickly!
My husband, Carlos (for those of you who haven’t met him yet!) is amazing as well. I look through pictures and I can see the love and pride in his face. Not that makes him wonderful, I know he loves me regardless of my race performance, and I love him. We met and were married long before i was bitten by the endurance sports bug. But it fills me with joy to see him enjoying this adventure as well. He doesn’t have to be there the way he is. He could do other things, and pursue some of his own goals. But he is there with me the entire way. I make sure to ask him if he is still on board, or if he wants to change something. He always has been supportive of my goals and racing. Hopefully he still is after all this. But in chatting with him, I’m pretty sure he is! We both loved our experience, and look forward to more races. It’s our time together in an odd way. We share the adventure.
Most impacting moment?
There are so many ways to phrase this – the most special moment, that “wow” moment, that moment that hit you (then or later), or just your favorite moment. The ENTIRE trip was a wow for me, and that will have to be my next post as the thoughts i want to get out are now keeping me awake! But there are three race moments (because that seems to be what most people want to hear about, and I don’t mind obliging!) that I find myself telling people over and over that meant so much to me.
- OK – technically this is pre-race but, it is so close to the race, it counts to me! When I chatted with Matthew (coach) pre-race to go over details, he told me that when I was in the water waiting to start, to take a moment and turn around and look at the sea wall. And take it all in. And I did. And while there I turned around. And the first thing I saw distinctly? My husband, Carlos, and best friend and partner in crime Rebecca sitting on the sea wall with the rest of the Dynamo crew behind them. I knew the green. And there was no way to get them mixed up with Australia! Betty, Ernie, and Micki had gotten there very early to get a seat on the sea wall, the best seats. And they were there for Haley to start with the female pros. When it was my turn, they gave Carlos and Rebecca the prime seats and stood behind them. I was so touched. I didn’t cry. I smiled. A huge, warm smile. I tried to wave, but knew there was no way they could tell it was me. So I kept making circles while treading water, looking back, looking around, and drinking it all in. Getting ready to race with a full heart.
- At the turn around in Hawi I saw Carlos, Karen, Joe and Rebecca cheering madly. That in itself made me smile. I had just climbed in some crazy winds, and was almost blown in to a competitor. I looked straight at Rebecca and gave her a look. It was “whoa! THAT was an adventure” look. We chatted after and she got it. She knew it wasn’t an “I am done” look but a “Pshew!” look. Something amazing about having someone know what you mean from a look.
- Coming out of the Energy Lab. As I climbed out I heard Betty. And then saw Betty and Micki. And they, along with everyone else there from Dynamo, cheered me in the last 7 miles of the run. Matthew was there. Ernie was there. I saw Carlos and Rebecca…they all cheered me as I ran in. They would regroup, drop back, go ahead, and kept me going. Carlos tried to get a picture of me at some point in the last 3 miles or so, but said I was going to fast. Ha! Regardless, they all cheered, and pulled more out of me than if I had been alone. I remember Matthew telling me to open up my stride. I gave him a look of “Are you insane?” But guess what? I did it, and I kept at it and kept moving. He knew I was strong enough….my body showed it. I knew I was. I just needed a reminder. Everyone does sometimes, even with all my mantras and friends in my mind, knowing they were cheering for me. I may have not been fast in those closing miles, but my form was solid and I was strong. And in the last mile Betty and Micki got Pete Murray to literally raise the roof for me as I came through. I heard “Katie, Micki and Betty are waiting for you at the finish” and it only went up from there. Pete Murray was at 70.3 Worlds in Chattanooga, and it was incredible running past him and the Atlanta hot corner. This was that much and more.
I guess 7 miles is a long moment, especially at my pace. And really in the paragraph above there are 4 distinct moments, but they are all so powerful, and combine to such an event. And so much happened in that 7 miles that will stay with me forever.
An IM is a long race. Mistakes are made. It is inevitable. But the race is long enough small mistakes are OK as long as you correct, and they don’t build. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect to be good. I did pretty well, but I made one big error. And it was one that really couldn’t be corrected.
Coming out of T1 I let a woman push me past the sunscreen. She didn’t mean to push me, but she was heading to her bike, and I was in her path. Rather than stepping aside and doing the smart thing of getting sunscreen, I got swept up in to her rush. In a moment I thought “my shoulders are covered. I’ll be OK”. Wrong decision. The entire time I was coming back in on the Queen K, despite passing people, I was well aware that my forearms were burned. And being a fair-skinned person, and having had skin cancer moles removed, this bothered me. Deeply. And distracted me. And I had to work very hard to keep my focus. This was a nuisance I shouldn’t have faced. In my defense I had never burned on my forearms before. But how I ride my bike…I should have known.
Throughout the week Rebecca and I had been very diligent about sunscreen. We never burned. On race morning I had a good base on. But really – no sunscreen can make it 8+ hours. I should have reapplied what ever they were giving at in T1. But I let someone in a hurry (despite my knowing it was worth the time) push me past. BIG mistake for me.
Biggest thing done right
Smiling. I smiled the entire time. From when I racked my bike through the end of the race if ANYONE cheered and commented on what I was doing, it was about my smile. I heard “Love that smile” and variations of repeatedly. And kept it going. There were times it was hard. And in reviewing the race pictures I did have a race face. And recall hearing
Rebecca telling me it takes more muscles to frown vs smile around mile 10 of the run. But most of the time I wore a smile. When I saw crowds I smiled. I mean, I am racing the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii! This season has been my strongest yet. Come what may, I was there. And had nothing to prove, and everything to love.
But wait…there’s more!
I have had thoughts about the trip, and so many thanks. I need to break it up. But there’s more. And I know – ya’ll will wait with bated breath, right?