Even though I'm in the back of the pack, I still put in the training, the time, the heart, and kept the promise I made to my neurologist two years before. On a day that is long, hot, tiring, and mentally exhausting, I cross the finish line with time to spare.
Wake up: 3:15a
Board shuttle: 4:10a
Set T1: 4:30a
Enter the water: 7:27a
Swim: The water was like swimming in Lake Erie for a training swim - murky and mostly calm. The anxiety that was building up suddenly went away; I was in my element, back in the water. I stayed calm, and sighted throughout the swim trying to stay clear of fellow swimmers and sometimes muttering to myself, "elch, get out of my way." Knowing that my fiance and fellow triathlete was at the second turn in the water gave me the push I needed to keep going, keep going, keep going. Time: 49:53 (2:11/100y)
T1: Phew! Out of the water and feeling good! One-third of the way through this race! I say hello to "Penny" (my bike), grab some nutrition, put my goggles and swim cap in my bag, put on my helmet (phew, got that!), dry my feet to get some of the sand and gravel off, put on and tighten my shoes, grab Penny off the rack, and we're off! T1 Time: 5:49
Bike: Let's go, Penny! This is why we've spent so much time together! The course was flat and beautiful! Some gentle rolling hills, until the hill at mile 48: make a right hand turn, and BAM! Hill. I'm not sure what the grade was, but it was steep enough to get down into the lowest gear and climb. Luckily, it wasn't a long hill. Overall, the roads were pretty good. Only exception, the few miles of chip and seal (I lost my light) road, however as I told Penny "Girl, it's like riding at home, we've been on roads like this before. Let's go!" Time: 3:32.2, Avg Pace: 15.75mph No flats, no mechanical issues.
T2: Two-thirds done! I get to my place on the 50 yard line (fellow band kids know this is prime location). I take off my helmet and shoes, replace them with socks and running shoes, throw on my race belt (Oh good! My nutrition is still in the pouch!) Grab some of the nutrition I kept out of my belt to inhale once I get off the field, grab some sunscreen packets at the station where I start the run, and I'm off. T2 Time: 5:31
Run: My worst event. I try to do the run/walk method. For the first two miles, my average was 10:13/mile according to the tracker. I would never see that pace again, and I honestly don't know how that even happened. It was hot. It was hard. The sun that had been behind clouds for most of the day, had now come out in full force. I met some fellow CTC people on the run portion and we chatted a little. I made it through the first lap and honestly didn't know how I was going to continue on, despite taking in nutrition and getting fluids at the aid stations (I even carried a bottle with me and filled it at every one) which were about every mile. It was in this second lap that I met an athlete named Sean. He was from Twinsburg, also doing his first half and we chatted for the next seven or eight miles. He kept pushing me, "Come on, we can do it!" He was a good foot taller than me, but my little legs kept moving forward and keeping up until they just couldn't any more. Sean finished a few minutes before me. I honestly believe if it weren't for him, I wouldn't have crossed the finish line in time. Total time: 3:53.52, Avg page: 17:52/mile
The finish: I could see the finish. I was going to make it. Ten or 15 yards from the line, my calf cramped up. I limped until it relaxed again. I crossed the line. I reached a volunteer. I practically fell into him and hugged him. I cried. Well, with what hydration I had left in me to make tears. I did it. Three years, one month, and approximately 10 days earlier, I was being discharged from the Cleveland Clinic Neuro Unit after being diagonosed with an illness called Neurosarcoidosis. I needed help out of the hospital bed. I struggled to brush my teeth. I was using my grandmother's walker to get around and then a cane. I was going to physical therapy, occupational therapy, getting stronger every day until three years, one month, and approximately 10 days later, I called myself a Half Ironman.
Total time: 8:27.23.