So despite how much I struggled in the last half of the Ironman marathon, I was bursting with energy at the finish. Adrenaline will do that to you. After I met up with my parents, we hung around the finish for a bit so I could catch my breath and take it all in. Then my dad went back to the Terrace to pick up my bike and gear bags, a huge help since I was basically not interested in touching my bike for the rest of the evening.
We walked the few blocks back to the hotel, where I sprawled on the bed in my nasty clothes and waited for my parents to return from a nearby grocery store with a 20lb bag of ice and some food. They’re saints, those two. I took a freeeeeeeezing ice bath and showered while they went and had a real dinner — I can honestly say that I’ve never had a better shower in my entire life.
Now, I put a lot of thought into my post-race meal in the weeks leading up to the big day. I was sure I’d want a burger, some French fries, a beer, maybe some ice cream. And that’s the first thing my sister wanted to hear about when we talked the next day. But the reality is that I wanted basically nothing. I generally have trouble eating within hours of a tough race (see: Mussleman and Boston) and this was no different. My mouth hurt and my chest was still tight and I actually wasn’t hungry. My parents brought back an array of choices for me to try. At mile 13 of the marathon I wanted a *real* Dr. Pepper, but it didn’t taste like I was hoping it would. I got down a few bites of Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked before my mouth hurt too much to continue. A few potato chips and peanut M&Ms and that was all I could manage. At least it was all high-calorie junk food, right?
Anyway, after resting and catching up with a few friends and family, we headed back to the Terrace for the midnight finish. If you ever race or attend an Ironman, this is absolutely one of the best parts of the weekend and totally worth dragging your tired self back for. We stood out there for about an hour to watch the last few people trickle in, and man, where they pumped! There were a few who were struggling — cramped, bent over, barely able to move forward — but for the most part they also got that adrenaline rush that had them running and smiling down that chute. The coolest and most inspiring was a local firefighter who went to NYC on 9/11 to aid in the rescue efforts and wore his full gear during the marathon to honor the victims. That’s 65 lbs of equipment. He crossed the line with about an hour to spare.
There was actually one more woman after that who was over 17 hours but was already in the chute when the clock hit, so she also crossed the line an Ironman.
We met up with some of the other DC Tri folks for a picture and then went back to the hotel to crash, tired and happy.
So WTC has it rigged so that finishers’ gear goes on sale at 7am on Monday, which means, like typical triathletes, everyone prioritizes getting in line over sleeping. I knew we needed to be there on the early side, so Mom woke up with me and we headed over to the Terrace around 6:45. Turns out that wasn’t quite early enough — people had been in line for hours.
I walked back to Starbucks to get us some coffee and pumpkin bread, as well as pick up my special needs bags. By the time I got back we’d moved up a fair amount and didn’t have to wait much longer. I came away with my finishers’ jacket and a t-shirt — well worth waiting in line for.
The rest of the day was a combination of walking out the legs, trying to eat and resting. We wandered around State St. and stopped at The Chocolate Shoppe for ice cream. Let’s be honest, this was the highlight of the weekend.
“If you want nutrition, eat carrots.” This stuff is so rich and awesome it should be illegal. I don’t remember what the flavor was called, but it was peanut butter ice cream with chocolate covered pretzels and brownie bits and fudge swirled in. Heaven. And I guess because it was cold and smooth my mouth was able to take it. The pumpkin bread earlier that morning went down in small bites over the course of several hours.
Then we went back to the hotel, where I took an epic nap to make up for the fact that I’d only slept a few hours the night before. We were Skyping with my sister and I passed out in the middle of the conversation. Oops. Sorry Hannah. Then it was lunch outside — I managed to get down most of a turkey sandwich, albeit in very small bites — and my dad headed out to the airport. More rest, a giant salad, cheese curds and that post-race beer (finally!) at the Great Dane’s outdoor patio and back to the hotel to pack and sleep in preparation for a 7am flight home.
Other than the annoying inability to eat, I recovered quite quickly. I was pretty tired when I finally made it back to DC, but I was never really sore. I enjoyed a few days off before doing a few yoga classes, and this week I’m getting back on the bike and back in the pool. It’s been nice not to feel pressure to work out (I don’t have to ride today? Ok!) and to spend some time working on other projects and catching up with friends. But I imagine I’ll start getting antsy pretty soon and want to go for a run. But I will not. No, I WILL NOT.
As a sidenote, the Zipp 404s I used in the race somehow made their way back to my apartment when I picked up my bike at Bonzai. I wonder how that happened?!? They’re basically new — they’d been used in maybe one race before I borrowed them — and I may or may not be thinking about buying them from the very nice girl who let me use them at an extremely discounted price. How many times would I have to race to make that worth the investment? Not many. Hmmmmm. To be continued…