the letdown

I’ve been waiting for this to happen. I didn’t know how long it would take, but I knew the high wouldn’t last forever; I’m just sad it didn’t last longer.

I’m now experiencing what call only be called the post-70.3 blues. I imagine this is what addicts feel like once the drugs have worn off. It’s been a few days since I crossed the finish line. I’ve talked ceaselessly about my accomplishment. (to the extent that some are likely avoiding my phone calls) I can no longer brag to family and friends about what I’ve done. Everybody has heard! The race event photographer has sent my photos and I’ve looked at the expression of sheer joy on my face hundreds of times. Others have moved one, it’s now time for me to do the same.

So, I’m going back to my regular life, just like all of you have. Don’t get me wrong, I will be forever changed by this experience. I had to dig deeper than I ever have to reach my goal. I learned that I am mentally stronger than I ever thought possible (and I’ve always thought I was unbelievably mentally strong!) And, I can’t be too depressed, my niece Lucky now calls me “IronMel!”

my craziest endeavor yet, 70.3 miles part 1

I decided several months ago that I wanted to complete an Ironman 70.3. At first I considered doing the race in Boulder, CO. It was close to home, would be easy to get to and seemed like a great course. As the race date neared, there was no way I was prepared to complete that distance. I decided that a fall race would be my best bet. So, as I began to look I determined that the race in Austin, TX definitely suited me. It was a fairly easy bike course–no real climbing and being at sea level couldn’t hurt.

After weeks of debate, I finally bit the bullet and registered. If you know anything about the Ironman brand and their series of races, you know how pricey they are. You can register for a half Ironman (or Ironman 70.3) for the low cost of $250. As soon as I hit that “complete registration” button, I wanted to throw up just a little. You’d think because of the race entry fee, but no it was because what I was about to do became real. No only was I going to ask my body to complete 70.3 miles (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike & 13.1 run) I was also asking my body to train for such an endeavor.

Little did I know just how much work and preparation this race would take. Lucky for me, my dear friend Rhielle agreed to do all my long rides with me. I don’t know what I would have done without her by my side pushing me through all those rides. We rode through construction zones (and even risked our lives one day); we rode canyons; we rode in hot and freezing cold temps. Never once did she let me quit. She was even there for my last brick workout and pushed me harder on the run than I thought I could go.

Soon after I signed up for the race I booked my hotel, airfare and rental car. I didn’t want any little detail to keep me from the race. I even called Mandy, who lives in Keller, to see if she could come down for the weekend. I needed as much support as I could get around me.

After months of training and preparation. Race week was finally here. I didn’t know if I was ready but there was no turning back. A couple of days before the race I had a major meltdown. I sent harried emails, text messages and phone calls to my favorite bike boy, Joe at SBR. Fortunately, he was able to talk me down and convince me that I’d be ok come race day.

My bike had been shipped the week prior and had arrived at the bike shop. I called to let them know when I’d be by to claim it so they’d have it built for me. Joe stayed up late on Thursday to finish my wheel-set so I’d have “fast wheels” to race on. I spent hours packing and double checking to ensure I had all my bike gear. Rhielle even wrote a beautiful post & tribute and got many people to post encouraging messages on her blog just for me. So, on Friday October 21st I boarded my flight for Austin, TX.

Friday afternoon was great! Mandy, Matt, Maddy & Landry came all the way to Austin to spend 24 hours with me. We ate dinner at Chipotle, tried to swim in the pool (it was FREEZING) and just had a fun time together. It was so great to see those cute kiddies and I don’t think they realize just how much I appreciate them making the trek to spend so little time with me.

Saturday they all kept me company as I headed over to pick-up my race packet and drop off all my gear. Matt even helped me figure out how to change out my brakes and wheel-set so my bike was ready to go for Sunday morning. The lines were crazy–both for packet pick-up & to get official Ironman gear. (I wasn’t leaving this race without some memorabilia that I’d been there.) We decided to divide and conquer. Mandy waited in line at the store and Matt & Landry kept my company. As I was waiting in line to get my packet, I felt completely out of my league. Who did I think I was? No way could I be doing the same thing all these fit, muscular athletes were doing! And so the panic began.

Finally, we got through the lines. First, I had to sign a waiver–basically stating that if I died on the course it wasn’t their fault and I wouldn’t hold them liable. Then I got my official packet–t-shirt, swim cap, gear bags, drawstring bag and some fliers. We had the goods for the race and we were on our way. Next stop was the car so I could sort all my race gear into the various bags—bike, run, etc. Then we were off to T2 (transition 2) to unload my running gear. I wanted to get everything dropped off on Saturday so I didn’t have to stress about gear come Sunday morning. To get to T2 we walked through the open arena. I had no idea that the finish was inside the building. We watched them set-up the finish area and were on our way. Well, at least I was. Maddy decided she wanted to stay inside where it was cool and wait in the chairs. That was just fine with me as it allowed me to take my time. I wandered through T2, found my spot and figured out where bike in and run out were located. At this point, the nerves were definitely starting to kick in!

Next it was time to drop off the bike. Whether I wanted to or not, bike drop off was mandatory the day before the race. Matt drove me over and dropped me off as close to the transition area as he could. Again, I easily found my spot in transition, set-up my bike and my gear and headed out. I resisted the urge to look at the swim course. Viewing the swim course always makes me nervous and I always think it is longer than it should be.

It was now late in the afternoon on Saturday and we were all starving. At Maddy’s request we were off to Chipotle again. That girl loves her rice and beans! We ate our meal and headed back to the hotel.

Sadly, it was now time for Mandy & Matt to pack everything up and head back to Keller. So, Maddy and I enjoyed a little Blue Bell while Matt & Mandy got everything together. I was certainly sad to see them go. We hauled everything down and got them situated in the car. They were off and I was left all alone.

Come back tomorrow as I document the details of race day.