1. Definitely use the porta potty one last time. I cannot pee while I am swimming.
2. Don't put my goggles on so tight that I have a headache. That darn headache lasted all day.
3. Pack advil in my bike aid bag, just in case I do put the goggles on too tight.
4. I cannot grab water bottles with my right hand.
5. Lots of people pee on the bike = another reason not to draft! I choose to use the porta potties and was happy with that decision. I could get off my bike for those few seconds and not have a gross tri suit for the rest of the race.
6. Power walk through the water stops. I tended to take my good old time - I had no idea I was doing so well in my age group.
7. It isn't necessary to change clothes. I wore my tri suit the entire time and I was happy I didn't have to worry about changing.
8. The volunteers are absolutely amazing.
9. Most importantly, I learned that I can push myself further than I ever thought possible.
I woke up about 4:00AM. My stomach was twisted with nerves, but I forced myself to have some oatmeal and a banana. My parents and I then headed down to the check-in. We had to take a bus to the swim start because the swim was a point-to-point. Once we got to the swim start, we had to wait around for over an hour before we could jump into the water. Time went by quickly talking to those in line next to me - they helped calm my nerves and get excited about the day in front of me. Soon enough, I was at the edge of the dock and jumped in!
The swim was very fast! I was able to follow someone's feet in front of me and let the current do its work. Since the course was point-to-point, I didn't have to worry about spotting - so awesome! The water was really warm (84F) - I hardly ever get hot swimming, but I was definitely hot, even in just my tri suit.
The swim flew by. Soon enough I was in the transition area, putting on my helmet and running out to the bike. Overall, the course was much more crowded than I expected. It felt very congested, especially at the beginning.
I was riding fast and my legs felt good; however, I still had a headache from my silly goggles and soon enough things started to go downhill. It started getting hot - and I mean very hot - about 1hr into the bike. The heat just kept getting worse. It got up to a high of 97, the sun was relentless and it seemed to reflect off the pavement. The first thing I noticed was that I was going through my nutrition bottles (Infinit) almost twice as fast as I had planned. Then, I started to feel sick to my stomach (on top of the silly headache from my goggles). The water stops seemed to take forever to get to and my body temperature just kept getting higher. The last 16mi (Choo is 116mi bike) were the longest 16 miles EVER!
I came across a sign with the saying "IRONMAN: Difficult? Yes, Impossible? No" and it almost made me want to cry. Not sure why, I think it was just because I felt totally defeated and I wasn't sure I could continue onto the run.
I got off my bike and I had no clue how I was going to run a marathon. I felt very nauseous, dehydrated, and lightheaded.
A HUGE THANK YOU goes to my volunteer in T2. She completely turned things around for me! She sat me down, gave me ice cubes, a wet rag, and some much needed encouragement. I thought "Ok, let's see if I can just make it to mile marker 1".
I literally took it mile by mile. Once I got to a water stop, I grabbed ice and rubbed it on my neck and wrists. I couldn't take any water, Gatorade, or Gu because it made me feel even more nauseous. Finally, around mile 16-18 I started to feel a little less nauseous and I was able to take some sips of chicken broth and eat some potato chips. Definitely a weird fueling plan, but the chips tasted so good!
The support on the run was absolutely amazing! We ran through a neighborhood and everyone was out on their yards cheering us along. Soon enough, I reached mile marker 16 and I thought "OK, only 10 more, I can do this!"
The finish was something I will NEVER forget. The sun had finally gone down and I was starting to feel better. When I ran up to the finish line, there was nobody else around, so I heard everyone cheering me a long and finally those words I have been longing to hear "From Cincinnati, Ohio - Sarah Jacobson - You are an Ironman!"
Where do I begin? I think I first must give a huge THANK YOU to everyone!
- My friends that ran, biked, and swum with me all summer long.
- My PT that not only fixed my injuries, but gave me the confidence to continue with training and get to the starting line
- My parents, who provide so much love and support. They 100% understood when I couldn't come up to Cleveland because I had to get in a bike ride, they listened and encouraged me when I was down, and as always, they were there every step of the way lifting me up.
- The volunteers, who stood out there in 97 degree heat - kids, parents, friends, family members - they were amazing! I felt so incredibly crummy, but they helped get me through. Most especially the girl at T2. I never thought I could continue in the marathon, but she was so sweet and patient and helped me keep on going. Words cannot describe the amount of respect these volunteers deserve.
- The list goes on and on. I am so incredibly grateful to have such a great support system.
Chattanooga was absolutely gorgeous!
I am not going to lie, I was a little intimidated by everyone at the check-in. So many fancy bikes! And it was HOT - I was sweating just standing in heat; however, as one guy I an into put it "that is all part of the Ironman".
My favorite part of the expo was the inspiring videos they showed. It truly put into perspective what enormous hurdles others have been through to get here.