Jen Walwrath, 1st Time Ironman
This was my first full ironman and it did not disappoint. What an iconic course!
Swimming in Mirror Lake can’t be beat. The water is clean and clear, as far as lakes go, and you can catch glimpses of the mountains between trees. I had only one complaint - since I started with a lot of guys, larger people kept swimming over me and I had to work pretty hard to defend my space. I even shoved some legs and threw a few elbows.
The bike was challenging, even more so than I had expected. We rode the “Bears” before the race, but as it turns out, those are the easy hills. I also had to make an unexpected, ah, pitstop around mile 80, so the bike overall was longer than I would have liked. Can’t complain a bit about the course, though. It was beautiful! And I had a BLAST riding down the Keene Descent.
By the end of the bike, I was more than happy to move on to the run. I had heard from more than one person that ironman marathons are easier than open marathons. And wouldn’t you know, I found it to be true! I followed coach’s orders and kept the heart rate low and steady. Around mile 21 or so, my stomach started telling me that it was done with faux food and sports drink, so I stowed my water bottle in the back of my tri top and took off. I lived off grapes and Coke and negative split the last 5 miles. What a rush! Especially hurtling (well, it felt like hurtling) toward the finish line. And then I was an Ironman!
I cannot thank enough everyone who had a hand in helping me to cross that line. I never really doubted that I could do it, but my experience was infinitely better because of each and every person who supported me in any way: training partners (you were many and made the long miles far more fun), cheerleaders (major props to our sherpas!), coaches (thanks Audra, Mikki, and Sonja!), and family and friends. So many of you expressed wonder and amazement at what I was about to do and made me feel like a rock star.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the race volunteers. Everyone at the aid and special needs stations were incredibly helpful and supportive. A guy at run special needs let me lean on him, sweaty grossness and all, to swap out my shoes. THAT’S dedication.
So, you might ask, now having done one, is there another ironman in my future? The answer is a resounding YES. Maybe not right away, but there will be a number two, and I can only hope that it’s as great an experience as IMLP!