What a day I had! Really, it could not have been more perfect. I will remember my 1st Ironman as one of the happiest days of my life. And what a journey it’s been. A year ago I was volunteering as a bike handler in T1, with the full expectation that I’d be signing up for
I arrived in
mid morning on Friday. Went straight to Athlete Check-In and got my wristband and myself checked in. Hit the Ironman store for a little bit too. Saw my friend Jason too…nice to see a friendly face upon arriving J Chatted with him a bit then off to shop. I’m still not working full time so I had to be good. But I HAD to buy something Ironman after all, this WAS my first Ironman. OK, so spent more than I should’ve but honestly, who doesn’t? Madison
After Check-In I went and checked into my hotel. I have been trying NOT to pack so much but again, I over packed. And by the way, where I saw the weather was going to be in the low 70’s, I failed to remember that meant mornings and evenings would likely be in the 50’s. Oops. Good thing I had my “race morning” clothes to wear at night. I started packing my Special Needs bags and my T1 and T2 bags, as well as the Morning Clothes bag, packed my Transition bag for my Saturday workout then relaxed in the hotel before dinner. More Normatec boot therapy for my legs too J
Later I went to the Athlete dinner and after dinner Mike Reilly got up and spoke at the Athlete Briefing. Other race officials spoke about each leg of the race, they showed a video, highlighted some individual racers then auctioned off the banner that the winners will run through for (I think) $1200.00. Learned a few things, met some new people, chatted with my friend Mike and his wife Becky, saw a friend who was going to be one of the bike course marshals and finally headed back to the hotel about 9:30 I think.
Saturday morning I had a short swim and bike workout. I was still not going to run until the race. I hadn’t run since Steelhead and was not going to run until the marathon portion…save the leg in case it started acting up. It was cold in the morning so I stalled starting my workout a bit. I think it was about 8:30 when I got to
to swim. There I saw Nate, Lake Monona Erin, Steve and Tim and we all went into the water at the same time. The water felt great! I swam about 15 minutes then headed out to transition to the bike. Then it happened…yep, a flat tire. I started to change it when a man near me asked if I wanted help. I remembered what my friend Wendy had told me…yes, I’m independent and used to doing everything for myself. Check that at the door, she said, and accept help when asked. So I handed him my tire and let him at it. His name was Mo and he was a local tri coach. What a great guy…he told me what he was going to be wearing on Sunday and where he’d be and I told him I’d look for him. Flat fixed, I headed out for a quick 15 minute ride to loosen up the legs. After the bike I stopped at Perkins for my big breakfast. Bring on the pancakes, and more pancakes. And some bacon. And hot chocolate. And more pancakes. Stuffed, I paid and headed back to the hotel to shower, finish packing my Special Needs, Transition and Morning Clothes bags and relaxed for a bit. Madison
There is a lot of driving back and forth this weekend, I was warned! I headed back to the Terrace about 2pm to check in my Transition bags and bike. Went back to the Ironman store to pick up a few things for the family who have been taking care of
Erin during my weekend away races. Walked around a bit, checked out the Ironman Village, saw Coach Joe and got a Good Luck from him then parked myself on a park bench to relax until I had to meet Mike and his family for dinner. Dinner was awesome as is Mike’s family & his friends I met. What a fun time and I was excited to have more people to cheer for me. Thanks again Mike for inviting me to dinner and to your family and friends for making me feel so welcome!
Back to the hotel about 6:30 to wait for 2 of my Sherpas who had now decided to come up Saturday night. Hung out with them for a bit then kicked them about 8:30 so I could try to get to bed early. We decided Chrissy would be taking me to the race the next morning. I think I ended up getting a decent amount of sleep before waking up at 4am.
Race morning up and out of the hotel by 4:45am. Yes, I like getting to races early. Brrrrrrrrrr it was a cold morning though.I think the temperature was about 50 degrees but the high was only to be in the low 70's so I was going to have perfect temperatures for my Ironman! I dropped off the Special Needs bags and got into Transition to get the bike ready, while Chrissy parked her car. Knowing I had the flat the day before, I let the bike techs pump up the tires for me. Chatted with Mike some more and eventually found my friends to hang out with until it was time to head down the Helix. Saw some friends and Coach Jen on the way down and she let me know it was going to be windy on the bike and not to fight the wind, to take it easy. And Chrissy was right…get down the Helix early…people do NOT want to get into the water! I got in early, floated a bit, stood on a rock a bit, anything so I didn’t have to tread water. Got my spot to start and waited for the gun to go off.
7am…and we’re off! What I don’t like about the swim is it’s really hard to tell how far in you are, you don’t know how fast you’re going, etc. The buoys seemed to be farther apart than I expected, as I had trouble sighting the smaller buoys. For the most part, I swam inside the buoys then outside and around the red turn buoys. The swim was pretty uneventful. I did not get kicked at all, swam over or had my legs pulled. It seemed to get a bit choppier on the 2nd half and after what seemed like an eternity, I was standing up and saw 1:29:xx. Woo hoo!! Official swim time 1:29:47. I had said I’d be extremely happy with a 1:30 but realistically figured it would be between 1:30 and 1:45. Happy Cathy! Before I knew it the wetsuit was stripped off of me and up the Helix I went. Again, great seeing friends cheering me on as I ran up! I was a bit disappointed in T1 as there wasn’t anyone to help me in the Women’s changing room. I was mentally prepared that there would be someone to help me and they just didn’t have enough people. So after a fairly lengthy T1, I headed out to find my bike. I love that it was waiting with a volunteer when I got to it. Ran to bike out and soon I was riding down the Helix and off on the bike.
I had hoped for a 7 hour bike but once Coach Jen told me about the wind and not to fight though it, I knew it would be longer than that. I’ve ridden the course many times so had no surprises. Felt good the entire bike. But the wind was nasty and it did beat me up a bit. At times, even on the flats, my speed was much slower than I had expected. BOO!! Saw friends and coaches on the hills and 3 of the 6 hills had friends run up the hill with me. Mo (the guy who changed my tire) ran up one of them with me yelling to everyone “this is Cathy, I met her yesterday, I changed her tire!”…LOL He even “coached” me up the hill. What a guy! I will say this…the “3 bitches” as I call them…they don’t seem as long when lined with spectators! I nailed my nutrition but around mile 90 I was done…I had had enough of the wind and was ready to get off the bike…nothing unusual, it happened in training too, can’t get comfortable anymore, lower back hurts, my left shoulder starts aching…it was time to get off the bike! At some point towards the end of the bike I saw my friend Wendy manning one of the intersections. Didn’t see her at first, but saw a sign with my name on it and I knew it was Wendy. What a cheerleader you are Wendy, thank you!! Before I knew it, I was back riding up the Helix. Still smiling…still feeling good! The best part of the bike – handing it off to a volunteer at the top of the Helix J Final bike time was 7:36:47…so much longer than planned, but I hadn’t expected (or trained in) the wind.
Got help from a volunteer in T2 and off on the run I went! I prayed…leg, please hold out for me and let me run this marathon! My goal was a 5:30 marathon. By the way, I had NEVER run a marathon before and the longest run I ever did was 3 hours…so the marathon was the wild card in my race plan. But the plan was to run from aid station to aid station, walking the aid stations and hills only. Saw lots of friends as I was running out of T1, including Stacy from the shelter where I volunteer. That was cool as she gave me a big hug and I hadn’t expected to see her. I was still smiling and still feeling good. The run was hillier than I expected, with lots of turns, running in the street, sidewalks, on paths and around Badger Stadium (very cool!). Sub M was manning one of the aid stations so that was cool to see a bunch of friendly faces and since I was walking aid stations, got to chat a bit.
Running in to start my 2nd loop I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. I think I ran the 1st half in 2:26ish…I could not believe how good I was feeling! Or that I had finished the 1st half that much ahead of schedule. I did stop at run Special Needs to change socks and take in some salt but that took only a few minutes and I was off again. Ask anyone who asked me how I was feeling and my answer was always “I feel good, really good.” Continued with my plan of running aid station to aid station and walking just hills and aid stations. I did stop a the Porty potty maybe twice on the run and I think I ran through 1 or 2 aid stations because I just couldn’t take in any more fluids. By mile 23 or so it was starting to hit me…I was still running but twice I stopped to walk and allowed myself 100 steps to walk, then had to run again. It worked…soon I had passed mile 25 and knew it was just a matter of minutes. I was going to be an IRONMAN and much sooner than I had anticipated! No one can prepare you for how great that final mile or so feels running in. The crowds were unbelievable. Having my friends there cheering me in (and Wendy running me in as far as she could), running down that finishers chute…it was the best feeling in the world. Then it happened…I heard those words I had trained all year to hear… “Cathy Bonich from
, you are an IRONMAN!!” Gotta love Mike Reilly!! Catherine and Donna were right at the end, hands out for me to slap, yelling and cheering as I ran through and finished. Final run time was 5:04:29…more than 25 minutes ahead of schedule! And yep, there was Chrissy yelling “this one’s mine” and how awesome is it to have a friend “catch you” after you’ve finished the biggest race of your life? So cool…….and even then, I kept saying “I feel good, I really do.” I just wanted to soak it all up. I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to walk around, wearing the medal and let people congratulate me…I know, I was just so happy! Final race time 14:35:24…almost 25 minutes ahead of my goal time J Schaumburg, IL
So here I am 3 days post Ironman. As I told Coach Jen yesterday…I’m comparing Ironman to what I assume planning a wedding is like. You prepare all year long for this one, very long day. And POOF! Just like that it’s over. I’m a bit stiff still. I had my massage Monday night. I’m chaffed in places I never dreamed I’d chafe in. I’m taking this week off. Today I did go to the gym and just sat in the hot tub.
Erin will get lots of walks this week!