Monday, July 21, 2008

Ironman : The Finish

I have long said that I would hate to finish an Ironman during daylight hours because I wanted to make sure I got some glow sticks. And I had planned on getting lots and lots of them so that I would look like something out of Tron racing (limping) down the streets. But because of the extra long daylight hours (and my not-horrible finish time) I almost didn't get any glow sticks.

I know it looks really late and dark in my finish video and photos, but I swear to you the sun hadn't been down for all that long and they were just starting to distribute the glow sticks. I think I saw the first people wearing them around mile 24 when they were heading on their outbound loop. I didn't see anyone actually handing them out until I literally had less than a half-mile to go. I was out there for nearly 15 hours so you better believe I was going to take one.

The last few minutes of the race was all about preparing for the finish photo. First thing I did was roll up my long-sleeved thermal shirt and stuffed it into my back jersey pocket. I also stuffed my glow stick back there. (Yes, I really wanted to have one, but it's not like it had to be in the photo.) I even took off my watch.

Coeur d'Alene has a very long, straight finish. You run 4 or 5 blocks downhill, in a straight line, which feeds right into the finishing chute. So there is plenty of time to plan your finish. I wanted to make sure I didn't finish too closely behind any one else, nor did I want anyone directly behind me. I saw two guys walking about a block ahead of me, so I figured if I sped up I would pull away from anyone behind me, pass them, and then have the chute to myself. (By the way, I don't understand how ANYONE could walk those last few blocks. It's downhill, and with all that excitement I would have ran with two broken legs if I had to.)

Well, with about 1 block to go, right as I was about to pass the guys, they started running. Posers. This was a huge dilemma for me: should I just go all out and try to get a huge lead on them, or hold back and hope that no one catches up to me from behind? I decided to hold back and let them go into the chute ahead of me. I checked my back, saw a woman not-too-far-behind-but-probably-far-enough and decided to make my move.

Now here's where I was just stupid. In order to make sure that any photo of me would be a good one, I ran through the entire chute with my hands raised up over head. I never lowered them. So the photos probably came out OK, but I look REALLY dorky in the video. And when the first finish-line photographer took my picture, the flash caught my eye and I glanced over at him, which ruined the shot for photographer #2. Oh well. I think I the first one is pretty decent.

I do remember hearing my name called out, kind of. I mostly remember hearing "from Glendale California..." then it was kind of a blur.

A nice lady took hold of me and walked me around a bit. Then a total stranger ran up to me and asked "when was the last time you urinated?" I thought this was a rather personal question, but I realized it was a medical question. They want to make sure you're not dehydrated. They're looking for VERY general times. If you say "I went before the swim", that could be a problem. If you say "a couple hours ago", things are probably OK. But I didn't realize this right away and I wanted to give him an exact answer. So I started to try and figure it out. "OK, I went right before the hill which is at the turn-around point, which was about 6 miles ago. So if I did 10-minute miles, that would be one hour but I was probably a bit slower, so maybe it was 70 or 80 minutes. But then I sped up a lot at the end..." Finally I realized I was being stupid and just said "like an hour or two ago".

One of the finisher photographers took a picture of me while I was being draped with a mylar blanket and holding my finisher's shirt. I thought it would be a bad shot, and I was right:

I was smart: I made him take another photo where I could pose properly. And this is what I came up with:

What kind of dorky smile is that?!

Now for the sappy part. They say that crossing your first Ironman finish line is an amazing experience. Some would say spiritual. Don't get me wrong, I was happy, but I wouldn't exactly call it magical. It was mostly relief. But after I got my water, and my finisher swag, I looked over and saw all of my friends fighting through the crowd to get to me and I ran over to get to them. For me, THAT was the Finish Line for Ironman. And that's where the magic was.


Blogger Cliff said...

You look so happy after crossing the finish line.

Right after crossing the finish line. I ask my family to come over and we took a family pic.

Of all the shots taken during Ironman and all my tri races...that was the image I cherish the most.

12:57 PM  
Blogger monica said...


10:16 PM  
Anonymous Judi said...

Congratulations on your accomplishment. :-)

7:15 PM  

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