I crossed the finish line....
It's now 5:26 p.m. Want to know what happens next? We spend so much time replaying all the pre-race routines, the morning of, the seconds before, and then of course a thorough blow by blow of the full 140.6 miles.
While fighting through the final miles of the marathon in my Ironmans, I sometimes wonder what will happen when that beautiful black line (is there a line?) and huge timing clock finally appear. Will I collapse? Will I drop to my knees? Will I cry? I never really know. Of course, it's not something you plan. I know I feel like I will likely just crumble to the ground and be unable to move my body ever again.
On October 8th, I crossed the line with my hands in the air, a huge smile, and I am quite sure a few tears. Immediately, I looked for Mark and the kids. Where are they??? They weren't there. I knew they must be close. He caught me when I crossed the line in '09. We had our green tickets to get them back there. Mark??
Two smiling volunteers grabbed my arms instead. A man and a woman. I don't know their names. I felt my legs buckle a little, but I stayed upright. A thick black cotton towel was thrown over my back and a beautiful purple lei was placed around my neck.
I wrestled to get that warm towel OFF my skin!!! " I need this off.... please..."
At first, they insisted I keep it on me. " You don't want to get chilled."
Seriously??? I just busted my tail for 10.5 hours through the Lava fields of Kona. I am not chilled now nor do I expect to be any time soon.
I can't remember where that thing went.
I looked and looked and must have said several times that I needed to find my family. They kept walking me down an aisle towards the back of the hotel where they said I'd find him. I was asked 100 times what I needed. If I was ok. Do you want water? coke? Sports drink?
I know I said thank you. I really did appreciate their arms and smiling faces. But... if I drank any more coke or powerbar perform, well, it wouldn't be pretty. Nothing... I don't need anything...thank you. I just need my family.
I remember saying multiple times that, 'yes, I am ok. I am happy. I feel ok. I'm tired." over and over. God bless those volunteers. They were thorough with me!
After a few minutes we got to the place where they said goodbye and sent me on my own.
And there I stood. Alone. Looking out at a giant sea of other tired, sweaty and confused athletes mixing with 100s of family looking for their person.
Legs... go. Move. Please. Walk. I felt a bit, well, stiff... Yup....I was done walking.
After what seemed like a strange amount of time to stand in the middle of a walkway, I started to shuffle.
Where was Mark??? I decided to make my way to the place we dropped our Morning Clothes bag 11 or so hours before and find my phone. If I could just remember where that was. And, how I was going to get there.
Before I knew it, Tom came along. No, not my 9 year old Tommy. This was post-race volunteer #3, handsome young Tom.
"Are you ok?"
My answer wasn't the firm Yes that it had been 20 min earlier. He grabbed my arm and walked with me. I love the volunteers. I was really really happy to have Tom with me. I was starting to fade. I felt somewhat nauseus. I started to notice that things felt a little off. My hands were very swollen. And they tingled!? It was strange. At first, I didn't talk about that. I just told Tom that I couldn't find my husband.
So, Tom grabbed his cell phone and dialed his number! How cool is that? Sadly, Mark didn't answer.
Meanwhile, I grew a tad dizzy. I needed to sit. Tom laid me on the ground and got me a drink. I can't remember what it was. I complained about my hands and face. Now my face was tingling. This made Tom uncomfortable I guess because he insisted I go back to the med tent. Really? Ok, let's go.
It was a long long walk / shuffle to the tent. By now, I was barefoot and it felt so good. I had striipped my soaking wet shoes and socks off and discovered my water logged and blistered feet. Lovely. And, expected. My feet were soaked the entire day.
Soon... Tom and Mark were chatting. Phew! We finally met at the med tent and yes, Mark was crying. He's a guy that cries. Sorry hun. you've been outed. It's a good thing. He hugged me super hard and picked me up and told me he was so so proud of me. Tears and smiles. My boys were sunburned but happy. They all had their Ironman hats on and free Ironman bags they got at the expo filled with snacks, shells, and water. Good job Dad. :) One of the first things Nick said, "Look at Daddy's foot!!!!!" What? Sure enough, Mark's foot was bleeding pretty badly. I got hustled into the tent for a little TLC and somehow convinced them to help him out too.
( Turns out he tried to jump fences and run though gates to get to me at the finish....they wouldn't let him and he ended up angry and fell down. ooops...)
I found my way to a cot and they examined me. My hands were freaking me out and I felt lightheaded and like I could be sick. But, really, not that bad. No way near as bad as I felt after my first Ironman. I was in that med tent for a long long time and had a hard time. My heart rate was 110 which is pretty high an hour after a race. Maybe it wasn't that long. She tried to take my blood pressure but when the cuff was on me my hand became stiff in a deformed position and it freaked me out. I moved around and she yanked it off. Failed. No blood pressure. As I sat there, trying to get myself together, I started to shake. I was freezing. Hmmm...joke's on me! Where was that towel? The nurses brought me a mylar blanket and the world was good again.
I looked at the people laying on cots around me. They needed help. I was on a mission to leave. I was ok. I felt horrible, but I could think straight, talk and even walk a bit. Time to go. I grabbed Mark in all his bandages and we made our way out.
From there we wandered back to the food / pick up bag area and got my stuff.
And then... The Medal!!
Ta da!!!!!!!!!!! Isn't it a beauty! It's a nice one. I think I'll hold onto this one. (couldn't get rid of that glare)
We chatted with some other people, the boys got ice cream cups, and we took a few pictures. I never found Mary but I did see her husband and kids. I finally got my bike, was rerouted a LONG way around to get Back to my family and then we made our way to the Jeep.
My clothes were soaked, my legs were aching, and I was very anxious to get in a hot shower. Or was I...
I climbed in and ouuuuuuch!!!!!!!!!!!!
Imagine being in tight wet clothes from 6:40 a.m. - 7:30 p.m. Those clothes are covered with salt water, sweat and who knows what else. You are also moving your legs back and forth through 140.6 miles of swimming, biking and running. Friction. Big time. And that = DIAPER RASH!!!! Yes, it's sad but true. It is very very unpleasant and painful. And unavoidable.
And, nasty chafing under my arms where my shirt rubbed, on the back of my neck, and blisters on the feet. PIck a spot and I likely had some impressive chafing there. I screamed in pain. One by one each kid came in, "Mommy??? Are you ok???
No..but I will be. I assured them. Mark has seen it before. He just let me be. It was a painful, oh so painful, shower.
Finally.. I put on soft dry sweats and a shirt. I cralwed onto the bed and decided I might never move again.
Contrary to what you might think, I was not in the mood to eat. I had been stuffing various forms of sugar into my system and fighting off the heat and winds all day so the appetite gets suppressed. Big time. In fact, that goes on for a good portion of the week.
I would feel super hungry. I would decide it was time to chow. I would sit down with a tasty looking meal and realize I just could not get it all down. Food just did not sit right for several days. Until suddenly, one day, it was time. Time to Eat. I made up for those few lost days. Trust me.
And then there's the soreness. Waking the next day is never a good thing. Ohhh...it hurts to roll over. I am not kidding. But honestly, the day After the day after is even worse. I would move from spot to spot around the room holding onto the walls as I went.
The last notable thing I remember was the edema. My feet, ankles and calves swelled so immensely this time! I would feel them tighten as each day wore on so finally, I could barely get my shoes on. The skin on my legs felt like it was going to rip open.
By day 3 or 4, I felt pretty good. I was walking without much issue. I took the stairs to our 3rd floor condo without looks of pity from my kids. My feet stopped swelling and I could eat pretty normally.
I recovered quite well laying around on the white sands of Hawaii!! And now, I'm back in Maine during the most beautiful month of October and I feel great. Energy is great and I'm excited to see what next year brings.
There it is! The 48-72 hours post- Ange's Ironman!