Sunday, September 14, 2008

So Now What...

Well, I am no longer "Attempting Ironman Wisconsin". I am an Ironman!

However, random things still happen and I just feel the need to share. But, I can't use this blog any more because I am no 'attempting' any more. This part is over and I am ready to move on...

Life After IM Moo

(my new blog in case you didn't notice the link)

The Glorious GLORIOUS Finish

People say there is nothing like it. And it's true, it is a feeling I have never even come close to having.

Kristin and Lauren got me up to State Street. I told them to turn right around the capital and wait for me at the finish. I had to go left, and would start running at the Walgreen's. More cheering, high 5's, and I was grinning ear to ear, still kind of in a bit of disbelief. I am talking to one guy from Mexico, his first Ironman too. He takes off on a run to finish. I hear Mike Riley's voice - the voice of Ironman, music, the crowds and it's better than I ever imagined.
2 people pass me and there are a few behind so I knew if I wanted the moment to my self, I had to run, and run now. So I did. I hear everyone cheering "GO AMANDA!!!" I keep looking, not sure who I know and who is just cheering, caught up in the energy that is an Ironman finish. So I keep running with a permanent smile. I see Jess, some other Teal shirts, and I just keep running.

They are playing "Shout" and I hear it.

"29 year old Amanda Chadwick from Washington DC, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!" I really don't know how I didn't break down right there. What a moment. I hold the banner for a picture (as Ryan instructed me to know what to do when I crossed) and this is close enough. I keep running and see Erin ready with my medal. Give her a huge hug. My 'catcher' can't really keep up... She does get my shirt, hat and sliver blanket. My picture is taken. Am offered a Coke/Sprite, told where the food and medical tent are located and released.

After all of that, I finally get to see my Teal supports. Huge hug to Mom and Dad. And EVERYONE else, and the tears just come down. I know there is a totally kick butt group picture, but I am not sure who has it.

What a feeling. Really. I know I just said that, but really. Wow.

I think back to this year. And the day. It was better than I could have ever imagined. And to share it with those who love and care about me, more than I can put into words.

Many parts through out the day I knew I would finish, others I didn't think I could. I mentioned I had pain I had never felt before. But I also felt support I have never felt before. For every negative thought, feeling, moment I had, there were about 10 positive ones (NOTE - I do realize this is being written a week after the race...)

I was told it would be a day you do on your own. As much as that is true, I have to disagree, and I am so lucky to say that.

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. You have all made this dream come true.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

13.1 and 13.1...

Running 26.2 miles is too much to think about it. Again, 13.1 isn't too bad. So as I am biking up the helix, that is all I am thinking about. Just a 13.1 mile run after my 16 mile ride.

I knew Erin was in T2 so after a volunteer took Blain, I grabbed my bike to run bag, ran into the woman's change room and looked for Erin. She calls me right over and it was so great to see a friendly face. I change fast, thank her, tell her I will see her at the finish, and head out.

I see Mom and grab a hug as she takes a picture - too funny not to post. Get a bit more sunblock and start to head out.
I see a DC Tri jersey in front of me and it's Tony!!
We chat and he is gone before I hit the timing mat on T2. I have time for a few more hugs to people in teal and head out on my 13.1 mile jog.

I want to stick to my plan, 1:1 for the first mile, 2:1 later if I am feeling good. But on State street, for that first mile, there is no walking. You just can't. EVERYONE is cheering, and it is just awesome. My name is on my number so EVERYONE is yelling "Go Amanda", "Go Ironman Amanda" and I am slapping hands, waving, cheering - for those first 10 minutes, I feel light as a feather with no pain.

I start to steady my pace, enjoying my 1:1 and decide it's best to stick to that plan. My stomach is cramping, Accelerade and Gu aren't sitting, so pretzels, orange slices, grapes and water is all I take. I am fading, but trying to stay positive. Then the LARGEST HILL EVER comes and I don't even try to run. I see a guy 'littering' on the side who says he needs help. I talk to one guy who is barley walking due to his hamstring. Not good when I am only on mile 6.

Heading to the path around Lake Mendota, my legs start to tingle, then go numb. I don't know what is happening but all I know I am trying to just keep moving forward. This is the second time I don't know if I will be an Ironman.

But I started talking to this woman Gina. We have been leap frogging and getting to know each other in a way you can only truly understand when in this type of 'race' situation. It keeps me going and then I see signs ahead. My parents said they made one, so that is my new focus for the next mile or so, enough to take my mind off my numb legs.

Around mile 10 I see Rose. I tell her about my legs, not taking in calories and I was worried. She reassured me to just keep moving. Don't run, I will be fine and will be able to finish if I just keep moving. Oh, and Coach called and said to "stay strong". Come on, where is that "You rock, great job, so proud of you..." But that isn't the way Coach is and "stay strong" is actually what I needed.

Unfortunately, Dad was there about that time and I didn't notice until it was too late. I only say that because another note from Coach was to not "let your family see if you are in pain. They will be worrying enough, just smile and say how great and strong you are feeling". I had been doing that, but missed this one.

Anyway, around mile 12 you are back toward State Street, still crowds, and TEAL. My mom, Suzie, Rick, Bob. Teal is SOOO my new favorite color. I hit the turn around, see Kristin and Lauren, and stop at my special needs bag. Pop some Tylenol 8 hour and Gina and I keep going.

It gets instantly dark. I try to use the bathroom hoping it will help. It doesn't. I am trying to run to catch back up with Gina. Everything hurts. We see my dad around Camp Randall, smile, and run for the picture. I know that will be the last time I run for awhile - at mile 15. I do the math, even at 20 minute miles, walking, I will finish in time. So I walk.

Somewhere Rose shows up to walk. Right before that hill, Jess is there. We all haul our butts up, thinking we will now have an Ironbutt in addition to being Ironmen. Yes, we are getting a bit loopy.

Just keep moving foward. Rose and Jess leave me for ice cream (a few hand gestures and words are spoken that are not suitable for blogging). But Suzie, Rick, my parents, everyone is around. One more (successful) bathroom stop and I am feeling good - even though I can no longer feel my right foot. I smile for the pictures, give high 5's, cheer and woot - trying to mask my pain. Deep down, I know I will finish. There is something stronger than I know keeping me moving forward.

Suzie walks with me. I lost Gina at my last bathroom stop. Jess and Rose are back. I know I am not supposed to have outside help, but really, I needed it. Stay strong. Dig deep. Just move forward. Then it happens, the rain. Stupid Mother Nature!! God and I have a chat, the rain stops. Thank you!

Mile 20. A 10K left. I can do 6.2 miles. More chicken broth, cola, water, that is all that is keeping me going. And becoming an Ironman. I start talking to my self, even though Jess, Rose and Suzie are all there. They can't tell when I am talking to them vs. myself. I see a woman being carried. I see my sign again. I think of everyone there in Madison, watching on the Internet, sitting with their phones waiting for a text message update, and I keep moving. It's enough am good to go on my own for awhile.

Mile 24 I see Kristin and Lauren. We share stories of the day. Cheer and thank the volunteers. And then I make that turn on State Street one more time and I see the Capital. So close. So much pain - nothing I could have imagined. But I am going to do it.

I am about to become an Ironman

Friday, September 12, 2008

Just 112 Miles

But not once did I think about biking 112 miles. It was 16, 40, 40, 16. That was the blessing of the Madison course. 16 miles out, 2 40 mile loops, 16 miles back. That doesn't sound so bad, does it. Well, I didn't think so and it seemed to be the best way to approach the bike portion.

During T1 (the first transition) I was going through all the notes in my head. One of Ryan's major tips was to take your time, it's a long day on the bike and make sure everything feels right. So, I took my time, got sunblock, arm warmers, stopped in the port-o-potty and went go find Blain. A volunteer had him waiting for me as I jogged to my row. During this, I hear people yelling "Mandy!!", I look up, see teal and blow kisses to my friends and family. I am L-O-V-I-N-G every moment.

I clip in and start to head down the helix.

The first 16 miles out of Madison are going well. I am getting passed a ton, but knew that would happen and didn't let it phase me. I just looked for people I knew, interesting outfits, and Blain look-a-like's.

35 minutes in I am passed by Jeff, Tony's brother. He is looking speedy!! 20 minutes later, I hear "is that Blain I see!!" It's Tony. I pedal hard to keep up for about 5 seconds before he blows by me too. A guy passes me with about 6 Snickers bars in his back pockets and am SOOO wishing I trained with Snickers bars.

I hit the first loop and convince myself I am on a 40 mile bike ride and start looking for groups of teal shirts. It's the great thing about not knowing where anyone will be, it gives me something to do, other than pedal the hills. There were a few places with people in teal and I was so mad when it wasn't my group. How dare other people wear teal on MY Day!!

Anyway, my first loop kicked butt! I did way better than expected. The hills were killer, but I was still feeling good. Really good. I see a van go by with the timer, so I knew the lead biker was close. He flew by me in a flash. A woman comes up to me and says "Was that the leader?" I say "I think so. But he did have a 15 minute head start."
She gave me this look like I just said my next Ironman will be on Mars. I thought I was funny.

Then loop 2. Oh, loop 2. I am going to quote someone else's race report because I couldn't have put it better myself. "As we came around for the second loop, a headwind had picked up. This came as a real mental blow for me, because I dropped several mph and felt like sh*t. It wasn’t a gusty wind, just steady, so it was hard to know it was so strong. Consequently, it got into my head a lot, and I was really worried that I had gone out way too fast"
Yup, so true. It was the first time I thought I wouldn't be able to finish. Now I knew I was still above my goal, and if I could just keep pedaling, I would be fine. But around mile 70, you aren't thinking very straight. Or at least I wasn't.

But then I saw teal and felt better. I stopped at a few water stops - including my FAVORITE at mile 40/80 sponsored by the Chicago tri club. It was PIRATES!! That was just the pick up I needed before the 3 large hills.

Then it happens, the hills are done, I am feeling okay (some stomach cramping but stopped taking Gu and Accelerade which helped), and my Ironman dreams come so close to an end. What was it... A BEE!!! Yes, a bee flew up my bike glove, my left thumb, and stung me. Now, thank goodness I am not allergic, but it HURT! Luckily there was a vision of teal coming quick so I pulled over. Erica and all her nature all knowing-ness and Suzie and her hospital knowledge (a kick butt PT but close enough to a doctor for our group) looked and didn't see anything. Some swelling, but the stinger was out so I pedaled on. Stupid bee! Stupid Mother Nature!! Stupid "Circle of Life"! Bah!

I make the left turn for the 16 miles home and start talking my self into the fact I am only on a 16 mile ride. It starts to work and I am feeling good. I take one more Gu, with a lot of water, and it is sitting okay. I attempted to use the bathroom around mile 90 so I think that helped too. I hit the overpass, a volunteer tells me last hill until the helix, I thank him and keep going.
Then I see it. Monona terrace, the helix, the end of my 16 mile bike ride. I am on John Nolan drive and I hear "Go Ironman" from the cars stuck in traffic and it hits me. This might happen. It's about 4 pm, I have until midnight. Oh my gosh, I am going to do it - I AM GOING TO BE AN IRONMAN!!!

I hit the helix, give my self a pep talk that I can make it up - I didn't walk 1 hill, I can do a helix. It wasn't too bad and then I see more teal and "YAY MANDY". I wave as I go around, and as I go around again.

When I finished, I feel as if I just won the race - and to me, I did.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

6:40 a.m. and a 2.4 Mile Swim

Now I knew going into the swim that this was my most comfortable event. But, I have never had a swim start with about 2,207 people.

There is the beautiful sunrise, I start to put my ear plugs in, head into the water about 6:40 and I hear “are you Attempting Ironman?” I turn, and say “Why yes I am”.
“We read your blog!!” It was the sisters from Chicago whose blog I have been reading!! I couldn’t believe it!! We chat for a few moments, figure out what we are wearing on the course to look on the bike and run course, wish each other luck and head into the water.

I picked my position, just to the left of the ski ramp, a few people back. I am careful not to look behind me and see the number of people. That would freak me out. The pros are off, everyone is just floating around and I am just trying to stay calm. The National Anthem is sung, I get a bit choked up and look at the tons and TONS of people around Mononoa Terrace. This guy starts talking to me and he has an Australian accent so I am not sure what he said (was lost in the cuteness) but it was both of our first Ironman attempts, we high 5, and the canon goes off.

WOW – I have to say a HUGE thanks to my water polo coach John. If it wasn’t for him and all the practice swimming over each other (I played on the men’s team at times) I would have freaked out. But, to my surprise, about half way down the first length, I found some open water. Things were going well until that first turn. Swimming in a washing machine is an understatement.

I had a swift kick to the rips, but managed to keep going. The rest of the swim was good, really good. A few kicks to the face, more shoving, and one head dunk. That made me mad and maybe my elbow came up a bit high into his chest. But really, if you feel your hand on my head, the swim cap with a big bump of hair, wouldn’t you move your hand and not push it down… I am just saying…

Somewhere I managed to check my watch on lap 2. 11 seconds. Obviously it was kicked and stopped so I had no idea my swim time. Oh well, just keep swimming, staying strong, not too hard - it's going to be a long day. After the last turn, I start mentally preping for the bike.

I run out, feeling so good, but missed the clock. As I head to the wet suit peelers "strippers", I asked the time.
"Hour 10" says the guy.
"HOLY $HIT!!" I shout, really loud. Followed by "Sorry Kids!" as I look around and see a bunch of kids looking at me. I was just so shocked at my time.

I start to run up the helix looking for teal blobs. Finally I see some, continue up the helix, a few more. The cheers were so great!

I was so fast, I don't have any pictures of me running up the helix :-) No one had time to get the cameras ready. Woo-Hoo!! (Or at least of the pictures I have so far.) The day was starting off really great.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

4:20 Wake Up Call

When doing an Ironman, you know it will be a long day with a very early start. Somehow poor Rose and Erica got stuck in a room with me so they were up early too.

Get dressed, make toast, drink coffee, eat a banana, pull out water bottles from the freezer, get ice, pack special needs, check - re-check - triple check all my lists, all while trying to stay calm. I don't have the "I forgot something" feeling, so figured I am doing okay. Around 5 we all head out to Monona terrace.

I am still feeling pretty good and overall, just excited. I am trying not to think about what I am about to do, just living in the moment, thankful for the opportunity and support I have around me.

I get to Blain, pump his tires, drop off the water bottles, and head inside to add last minute things to my swim to bike and bike to run. Then I notice something, people are body marked. Totally forgot! So, off to get body marked.

As I am being branded with 1975, I meet my first blog reader, Erin, who is volunteering. So great!! The other picture I have of the 2 of us, my eyes are closed. Sorry!! Anyway, we chat, I learn she will be in T2 and the finish so I know where to look.

By this time, the sun is raising and I need to head towards the water. I say my final "good bye's" and "thank you's" to everyone as they are taking their positions on the helix or with me to the water.

Jess and Rose come with me to the start and it's the first time I let my nerves show. Up until now, I have been trying to have fun and remember each moment, without freaking out. Hopefully I fooled everyone. But Rose and Jess have been at most of my races and know how to handle me when the intensity gets to be too much for me to handle. So, I let a few tears flow, some uncertainty of the day come out, and let my confidence come and go wondering if I can or can not do this. But the day is turning out to be beautiful, I am nothing but lucky, say goodbye to them and head to the water...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Where to Start...

Wow - I don't even know where to begin.

The obvious answer is the start. But I don't even know where the start is.

So, what I decided to do is a separate post for each portion of the race. That way I can focus on each one and not worry about how much detail I am giving.

But even before I start there, I have to say it again...

THANK YOU!!! Without the support of everyone who was at the race, watching on-line, sent positive thoughts through out the day - I could not have done it without you.

Time keeps getting away from me and I am heading back to DC soon, so... you will all have to keep checking to see when I write about the 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile 'run'.

Monday, September 8, 2008


More pictures and race results/report to come. But I wanted to post.

Something like 15 hours and 40 something minutes. Totally beat my wildest expectations of a race.

Congrats to all who participated in any way shape or form.

I just really wanted to post this :-)


Saturday, September 6, 2008

One More Post

One of the great things about having this blog is how easy it is to see what you have been doing. I started this mainly for my self, to stay motivated, keep me honest, and to share funny stories - or at least stories I think are funny.

A lot has happened this year that had nothing to do with my training.
Some good - weddings; friends having babies

Some not so good - the passing of my grandmother; having my tonsils removed

Some that were even too personal for me to blog about at the time - the realization that it's over with a very personal relationship; masses growing on parts of my body where masses should not grow.

But through it all, I kept training. Kept swimming, biking and running. This allowed me to focus, distract from whatever else was going on around me. And everyone has stood by me during it all.

Training for this Ironman has done so much more for me than my physical fitness. More than I can put into words.

I have said it before, but I don't quit. There are 2 options tomorrow. I cross the finish line an Ironman or someone from NA Sports will have to chase me down and cut off my timing chip – but I will still probably continue.

Tomorrow - it's on.

Thank you all for being apart of this journey.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Race Meeting

I just got back from the race meeting and there were many times I wish I had recorded what was said - just really funny things. One of the guys had a sense of humor I greatly appreciated.

As I was walking out, I saw all this M-dot drawings everywhere, welcome triathletes, Good Luck Ironman Wisconsin. It just made me realize that no matter what happens, I am apart of this. I am apart of the 2008 Ironman Wisconsin. Finish or not. Woo-Hoo!!

Yes, this is one of those 5% of times where I am really excited.

And Merissa and Rose are here. Jess, Lauren and Kristin are on a plane on the way here. I have had many phone calls and texts, all wishing me luck and really good advise. I am so lucky and so happy.

Thanks Everyone!!!