I rounded a corner and there was my coach Sonja. I was the last of her athletes to finish and she was there waiting for me. I ran up to her gave her a big hug and headed off towards the finish line and the familiar voice of Mike Reilly.
I came up on my friends and family, one of whom ran alongside the spectator area of the finish line pushing me in. The crowd was loud and lights were bright, a stark contrast the the lonely trail I was just on. Running down the red carpet and through the finish line was surreal. I crossed the line and heard Mike Reilly call out, “Lindsey you are an Ironman!”
And then it was done! Just like that I had finished my first Ironman. Just like that the pain of the last 16 hours was over. I was handed my medal, my shirt, a finisher’s hat and a water. I stumbled to my friends and family, many of whom had spent all day following me around and thanked them along with my coach Sonja. We took a few pictures, collected my bike (I guess they didn’t burn it, lol) and my gear and headed back to the hotel.
I finished my run in 6:18:02 with a 14:25 pace. That pace definitely holds much to be desired, but I was happy to finish. Happy to cross that line at 16:08:48 and finally hear Mike Reilly call me an Ironman.
During the last 5 miles of the run, I swore to myself that I’d be sticking to halves from then on. A half does not even remotely compare to the pain and effort of a full. After the finish, as I was handed my medal, I thought, “Okay maybe one day I’ll do this again.” As I sit here typing up this race report, I know I will ABSOLUTELY do it again. It’s funny how quickly pain fades and how so many of us are crippled by the fear of it. I won’t be tackling another full for a few years, because let’s face it, 16 hours of forward motion is ROUGH. I want to gain some speed and hopefully upgrade my ride, but I will definitely be back again to hear Mike Reilly call out my name.
There is nothing quite like the high of getting to that finish line. It’s not just the 16 hours that it took to get there that day, but the months of training it took to even toe the line. The early hours in the pool, the late night trainer rides. Giving up vacations and drinking with friends to get my training in. The aches and pains of training, injuries, endless picky bars and gels, non-stop hunger and midday naps. Driving my friends and family insane with non-stop Ironman talk. Spending every waking free minute pouring over training data, schedules, race reports, nutrition and triathlon books, articles and forums. It was all worth it. I’ll never forget my name being called out. If you are debating signing up for one, know that yes, it will hurt. Yes, it is a very big commitment, but that it is so so SO worth it. You are stronger than you think you are and once you get to that finish line, you will be forever changed. Forever an Ironman.