Kona UMWC Day 3 – The big finish!

I slept for about 3 hours….. and then I woke up from aching legs and a sore um…. ‘saddle’ region.  Checked my watch.  2:14am.  back to sleep.  That repeated every 20-30 minutes until 4:30am.  Up an at ’em!  Morning ritual, including a really good poop, YES!  Hey.. I know…. but look – when you are about to go run for 11 hours…. poopin is cool!

And to continue with the graphic portion of today’s blog – my biggest concern for the day was not my sore legs (they were definitely sore!) but in fact, my crotch.  After 2 days of incredible cycling in 30-37 degree C heat, with water poured on me over and over again I was raw in a place you do not want to be raw.  I gingerly pulled on my running shorts (ow!) and applied some anti friction cream (OOOWWW!!).  I use the Hammer Seat Saver and it is AWESOME!!  Loaded with lots of great herbs and oils to prevent infection, reduce friction and improve healing.  We could have put more on, more often yesterday, because we essentially kept washing it off….. but we were busy.  More than anything I was worried about this for the double marathon, because this sort of pain can be inescapable.  I put more seat saver on and had some light food.  My stomach was doing flip flops, so a banana and a boost drink.  In the real world I don’t like these things.  The ingredients are not good, but in this case, 260 easy calories with some added vitamins in a small container that will likely not offend my butterfly filled stomach…. and it’s the right choice.

5:15am, off to race start in Hawi.  A nondescript area on the side of the road where a bunch of world champion finisher hopefuls gather to chase a dream.

Speaking with Tara Horton and a few other athletes, we chatted about how this was the ‘easiest’ day in a sense.  Physically the hardest, yet, but with no ocean to battle, no bike mechanical issues, traffic, wind and rain to worry about…. it is simple.  Put one foot in front of the other until you get there…. and be quick about it.  Stay cool, hydrate and fuel.  Simple.  Sort of.

The blowing of the Pu (conch shell) in the 4 directions followed by a prayer and words from Jane Bokus – former UM race director, is a pretty rich experience.  Tears flow and hugs abound. I had some great conversational moments with Melissa, Toni, Tara, Juan and many others before we ran off in the dark.

I settled in to a pretty safe pace for me, with my heart rate just idling.  5:15 to 5:30 pace, low heart rate.  A light rain to keep us cool and a slight downhill…. all good!  I was up near the front of the pack, but I knew that wouldn’t last – the heat slows me down big time, and although I hope for an exception, I also know my body.  About 10-15 minutes in I threw up in my mouth and spit it out…. I wasn’t too worried, just a nervous stomach, but not the way to go.  A gas X from the crew, some water and keep going!  We did just water for a while, and waited for things to calm.  It took about 90 minutes but eventually things settled….

 

There is a spot on the course when you can see the hill at Veteran’s beach some 75kms away up the coastline.  It’s humbling…. and more than a little unnerving.  It is a LONG bloody way!!!  Oh well…dig in….. forward is a pace…..

Jochen was concerned I might be running too fast, but I assured him my heart rate was low, and I was feeling good…..  By this time it was getting hot, close to +30, with the clouds gone and the sun in full force (was an AMAZING sunrise) but I did not have my sunglasses on.  I was SUPER thankful that the guys found the lens so fast, unfortunately it had been bounced around and run over by vehicles.  I did have a large brim on my hat, so it was ok.  For quite a while I ran with the top 3 ladies, including eventual women’s winner and total superstar – Tara Norton!  At the Half Marathon (about 2:07) I stopped for a shoe and sock change.  I run with 2 pairs of Altra Torin shoes.  Altra makes the BEST shoes bar none in my opinion!  The wide toe box is the most comfortable I have ever worn!!  the Torins are a mid cushioning which really helps with this much pounding.  When running as the heat builds I wear white arm coolers and a hat with flaps.  They require water to be poured on me in order to work to cool me down.  That’s great, but all that water goes down to the shoes and creates soft skin, which becomes blister central, even with the best shoes, this cannot be avoided.  You have to choose one or the other – overheat and slow down, or blisters and pain later.  I choose blisters.

Just before the stop, Peter and Adam passed us by.  I guess that is the sad part of my plan, the stops have a cost – a time cost, and you never really make those minutes back in a sense…. but my thought is that I would rather reduce damage, than reduce time.  My goal was to finish well, and be able to play with my son in a day, rather than in a week.

Jochen ran with me a lot in the beginning and switched out with Lyle.  It’s super fun, we get to talk a lot and the miles go by.  Jo always has hilarious outfits and short shorts and it’s super funny…..  Passing by Kawihae Lyle grabbed me an orange creamsicle – there is a fruit only treat there usually….. but the other crews had picked the place clean!!  Still…. that…..was…..heaven!!!!!!  Cold, yummy ice cream!!  SO good!!!  We walked much of the steep hill up to the Queen K turnoff and started the long road home.

Just like on the bike, whenever I would get close the crew van, my watch would buzz that I got an email…. from ME…… lol!  I could see that Lyn was blogging and that made me smile with gratitude!  I love it when I can ‘bring’ everyone along on the journey so to speak.

There were hundreds of memories over the next 8.5 hours….  I ran with Jochen and he constantly changed outfits, with several short short options that ranged from hilarious to um…. uncomfortably small…. but he is such a character, it is just funny, and we love him for it!

I ran with Lyle a lot too, and we got to have some amazing conversations about all sorts of things.  It really is a gift.   The pattern was pretty steady: Hammer Endurolytes every hour to replace electrolytes lost in sweat (they have the BEST blend – never causes stomach issues, and I have never, ever had a cramp in a race while using them), and I was drinking my custom electrolyte blend and water for the first 2 hours, then adding in Coke for the glucose, acid and a little bit of caffeine.  I would take a big swallow of the electrolyte/coke and then a big swig of water to clean out my mouth and keep the sugar off my teeth for extended periods.  The full marathon was checked off at around 4:50 and again we stopped.  Swapped the shoes – which had been dried out with newspapers inside (best crew ever), plus new socks after an ice bath, dried feet, anti friction cream and a foot massage.  I could never adequately convey how much this helped!!!  As the heat rises to the mid 30’s and the relentless pounding goes on and on, my feet get so hot that the nerves between the bones become insanely painful, and this helps a TON!  I had really looked forward to lancing a big blister that was SO painful, but when we took my socks off…. it had already burst and instead of being a little spot, actually comprised of the entire ball of my right foot.  ‘That explains a lot’ I said to myself.  I few toes were purple with big blood blisters too.  I know to leave those alone.  They are painful this way, but worse if you open them, and infection becomes a risk.   In spite of all that, I started the last marathon feeling ‘fresh’ and was ticking off the miles, hill after hill.

I also got to run with Drew after about 50kms and he commented that it was easy to run with me.  Yup…. I was barely hanging on to an 8:30 pace.  I was starting to slow down a lot and fighting off the pain was getting harder and harder to do.  We stopped at the truck at 57kms or so, and I could tell the crew was getting antsy.  They were sort of feeling to me like they were annoyed when I stopped and it was happening more and more, so I finally confessed:  ‘guys I can’t block the pain out any more.’  The ride yesterday had really crushed my legs more than usual and my hips hurt more than I can ever remember.  From the very first step at 6am my legs were sore.  By now, every step was excruciating.  It was Advil time.  I am not a fan of taking things during a race, because it loads the liver, and the liver is already busy, but if I could not take the edge off the pain, we would really be in trouble.  It’s actually kind of funny when you look at the Garmin data for my km splits after I took the ibuprofen: 9:40, 8:32, 8:13, 7:20, 6:40, 6:44. and then it stayed there for a while.  I was running a little more normally again and stopping less.  My moving pace was more towards 6 mins, and stopping to drink was what slowed it.

While running with Lyle around km 70, he told me to turn around…. we could clearly see the tip of the island waaaaay back where we had been some 8 hours ago and looked out to this spot, thinking it was a long ways off…. and now…. here we were looking back.  That really boosted my energy!

I also have to say about energy – THE CREWS!!!  They are SO fun!!!  Nearly every crew goes out of their way to cheer, encourage and help every athlete, not just their own!  They really make the race amazing!!  I didn’t take any photos obviously, so I had to grab from FB, but there were some awesome ones!!

Soon we could see the airport, and at some point, Hilary and Kaden were out on the highway to see me!  What a lift that is!!!!  Kaden didn’t want to hug me after the first time, because I was all wet and gross lol!  But the times I saw them really picked me up!

Alternating running with Lyle and Jochen again we kept reeling in the miles.  We passed the airport, the Natural Energy Lab – where the Ironman Marathon goes out and turns around.  Closer and closer.  Soon I could see the buildings of Makala blvd, where we would turn right.  The mood changes at this point where it becomes super clear that it is not a matter of ‘if’ we will make it…. but ‘when’, and I started to become attached to being under 11 hours.  My slowest double ever, but with the journey I had been on, and the punishment of the day 2 bike course, I didn’t actually care much.  The race this year was less about placing, and more about finishing.  Yes…. I am competitive, and I did want to be higher in the field, but I was also in one of the most competitive fields the race has seen.  So whatever.  Head high boss… keep going.  We no longer had a long way to go, and a short time to get there….. We had a few kms to go and plenty of time.

 

By now my feet were hamburger and every step was a lightening bolt of pain, but it no longer mattered.  At the 3rd Half Marathon I had changed to my 2018 race jersey and shorts and a lighter hat, since the flap hat (which is really annoying) had done its job of protecting my neck.

Jochen hopped in the van and Lyle joined me for the Miracle Mile.  Drew, Darren and Jochen zoomed ahead the last 500m to the finish to wait and join Hilary and Kaden.

Lyle and I cruised in with everyone running down the finishers chute towards the voice of Steve King calling out splits, results, and all manner of stats……. and I cannot begin to express the emotions that washed over me in waves.  Pure, unadulterated joy…..  I cried.  I smiled.  I am sure I glowed.

We crossed the line in around 10:57 and CELEBRATED!!!  A massive group hug, tears, laughter and joy… and of course…. 5 burpees to honour all of my clients.

It was never the point….. but I was 25th of 40 and 10th in my age group.

     

A blur of hugs, congratulations and joy…..  There is a great video on FB of it.  Scott’s Team Finishes Ultraman 2018

Lyle’s wife Christine had picked up a Venti Mocha Frappuccino for me and I think I stopped to breathe once as I drained it!!!  SO GOOD!!  (no Timmies Iced Capp… but in the USA… close enough).  Hilary and Kaden had a DQ funnel cake sundae for me too – and that was also inhaled and yummy!!

Shower, the most amazing massage in the world and then it was time to get some food.  I missed the finish line pizza while getting a massage… not a bad thing I think.  So we went for a burger at Ultimate Burger, and then a Blizzard at Dairy Queen.  The burger was a heartburn bomb….. my stomach was pretty mad about the whole weekend I think.  The blizzard went down much easier!

Then off to hobble to the hotel.  Darren arranged for me to be in an air conditioned hotel to assist with my recovery.  Our rental condo is also on the 3rd floor, and Hilary and I are in the 2nd floor loft…..  so 4 flights of stairs and no A/C….. yup glad to miss that!!!  My toes are pretty bad, will lose 5 toenails, and my bottom lip is badly burnt – that hurts a LOT!  And my… uh…. underneath parts…. yah…. ow….  but it’s Wednesday now, and things are drastically better.

So that’s the race…..  We did it!!  and we got it all on film!!!

I will write more later… about Awards night and stuff.

Scott

https://www.gofundme.com/scotts-ultraman-comeback

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