For more Bike Rack Multisport photos, please visit our Facebook photo page here.
Thirty women, each anxious for the Nike Women’s Marathon, crowded a terminal at Regan National Airport. And here I was–here we were–the National Capital Team in Training Team and the comradely started before we’d boarded the plane.
We reached San Francisco, checked into our hotel in Union Square, near both Niketown and the Exbotique. Only at a women’s marathon could a race expo be called an exbotique: the boutique of all expos. The shopping area was filled with clothing, shoes, jewelry, skin consultations from Neutrogena, and a Paul Mitchell salon. I won’t lie, we did enjoy the girly photo booth.
We left with our race numbers in hand, only then did it sink in that race day was around the corner. On the way back to our hotel we passed Niketown and discovered our names printed on the wall; talk about feeling like a VIP. The VIP treatment continued into the evening. As a result of your generous donations–together we raised $5,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society– I was able to attend the Top Fundraiser Reception. Being surrounded by so many passionate individuals that had each raised thousands of dollars in the fight against cancer was all sorts of amazing. Collectively, the 25,000, mostly female participants in the race raised more than $10 million this year for LLS.
The next day, Saturday, as we sat at the Inspiration Lunch, I realized that I could finish the half-marathon. I know, it sounds strange: why sign-up if I didn’t think I could do it? The truth is after battling a tear in my right plantar fascia for two years, I’d forgotten how to run, both physically and mentally. Before the lunch, losing my running mojo made me nervous about my ability to complete the race. However, there was no shortage of heart-warming stories at the luncheon to abate my fears. I was brought to tears by the inspiration speaker, a 30 year-old female who shared her marathon-like battle with cancer and how LLS helped her as a survivor.
Although inspired, I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect on race day. After flying over the handlebars of my bike in a major bike polo (don’t ask) accident the week before the race, I was hardly able to walk, let alone run, the week before the race. My left knee was swollen, my left calf was screaming in pain with each step. My battered body, coupled with what I knew was going to be a tough course, left me unsure of how the race would go. Yana, my roommate, planned to run with me since this was the first half-marathon for both of us and, let’s be honest; she’s the one that talked me into this adventure in the first place.
We were quickly absorbed into a sea of women as we left the hotel. Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan were on stage, which was so awesome, and Union Square was buzzing with excitement from 25,000 runners.
So many runners that we crossed the start line 25 minutes after the gun went off, weaving in and out of runners and walkers all the while. Yana and I wound our way through the financial district, still buzzing with energy and excitement, and hit the Embarcadero where we enjoyed people watching as we settled into a good pace. This was a half-marathon, not a sprint, so we made a conscious effort to slow down and keep an easy pace since we both knew we had to tackle San Fran’s infamous hills.
The energy on the course was an overwhelming tidal wave that pushed us past Ghirardelli Square and Fort Mason. We passed a break dance cheer station (pause for effect) and I stopped and busted a move before we saw it, The Hill, at mile six. We’d discussed walking the big hills, however as we started up The Hill–it was a mile long–I was able to talk Yana and myself into running to the top.
Our efforts were rewarded when we reached the foggy summit and were greeted by Jen and Steph, dressed in purple from head to toe, including crazy glasses and tutus! A group photo later and we began our descent. The pavement was wet and slippery so it was important to pay attention to each foot fall, and watch out for the thousands of other runners.
After the long downhill run we encountered more climbs, followed by more descents, it was like a rollercoaster! There are tons of spectators along the course with amazing signs and cowbells that kept us going. Anytime I began to feel tired all I had to do was remember that I was running for those we’ve lost to blood cancers: Mary Cady, Ken Irish, Bill and Pearl Krause, Robert Claremon, and Kate Santoleri; and those who continue to fight like Ronny M. Although I do think there was a point, maybe two, in which there were only three words running through my mind:
As we entered Golden Gate Park, I couldn’t help but be captivated by the amazing smell of eucalyptus. I was bursting with energy, we were only two miles from the finish line and I felt great! (I’m not sure Yana would say the same.) We stuck together and let the sea of women carry us through the park and up the last few hills. Oh, and we may have stopped and had a beer at Mile 12 before we picked up the pace for the last mile.
We held hands and crossed the finish line together. It was amazing to have shared this experience with Yana and 25,000 other women, having had great conversations, drowned in spectators, and killed the hills of San Francisco. Once we made it across the finish line, we spotted the firemen in tuxedos holding silver trays of little blue boxes. We made our way to the Tiffany’s boxes and got our beautiful new necklaces. We then grabbed some chocolate milk–an awesome recovery drink, by the way–and enjoyed some post-race stretching.
San Francisco is a tough course and many say it’s the hardest half they’ve run. It was the first half marathon for Yana and I, so we had nothing to compare it to. With that naiveté, we had a blast on the course and the day went by so quickly I’m already looking for another race to enter. The Nike Women’s Marathon was a great experience and I truly felt like I was part of something much bigger than myself the entire weekend. Meeting survivors who thanked me, us, for participating was beyond humbling. I’ve returned to DC feeling so blessed to have so many amazing friends, colleagues, and family that helped make this experience so memorable.
I’ve finally got around to finishing this novel..ok so it’s only 5 pages, but I wanted to keep all the details. Plus the one picture shows how much terror I was feeling running down the chute. 200 meters back (and the last thing I heard before going deaf from the cheering) was “2 minutes! 2 minutes!”
For those who don’t want to read the whole thing here is a summary:
Total time to complete the race (due to the time trial start): 16:42:00
Total time for me to complete the race: 16:40:14
I crossed the finish line with 1 minute and 16 seconds until midnight.
For those who want to figure out why it took me so long…
Ironman Louisville (8/26/12)
I woke up at 3:55 AM. Had a so-so sleep due to the bachelorette party down the hall to the left and the group of “bro’s” down the hall to the right. The night was interspersed with high pitched giggling, and the random drunk dude yelling “Hey Bro! Let me in! I paid my six bucks!” Lots of banging and then he proceeded to march up and down the hallway exclaiming, “I’m all alone! I’m all alone!” Waking up was a welcome reprieve from all that noise.
I got dressed and game my mom a hug and walked to transition with my dad. There was one car full of intoxicated people that screamed at us, and the White Castle drive-through was hopping. Got to transition and filled up my tires, put my nutrition on my bike, and dropped off my special needs bags. I went to my bike bag to turn on the GPS tracker. I met up with my dad to walk the 3/4 mile to the swim start. When we arrived I got body marked with 174, my number for the day. The time trial start line already looked way too long for my liking. I quickly reached into my morning clothes bag to put the long sleeve and shoes in only to realize that my bike computer was still in the bag. After a short string of expletives knowing that this was going to be a long day, but it would be even worse without my bike computer I handed the bag to my dad and ran back to transition. Got the computer on the bike and ran back to the swim start. I was dripping sweat by this time. It was a warm/humid morning. I quickly threw everything that I didn’t need into the morning clothes bag, and with my googles and swimcap in hand I said bye to my dad and starting walking to get in line. The line was along a bike path that felt like it went on for miles, but I only ended up about 800 meters from the swim start.
I was in line with a nice group of guys. I don’t remember their names, but there was one stocky guy with a red beard and a tall dusty blonde that were very nice. Even after my body decided I had drank too much water and had to throw it up – They were very kind. After about an hour of waiting in line, the sprinkler system turned on and showered a lot of the athletes with cold reclaimed water. One of the guys from the group that I was in line with was able to adjust one of the sprinkler heads so that it didn’t spray the group. The line started moving forward shortly after that. They volunteers were working hard to keep family and spectators on the left side of the path and the athletes on the right side. The line picked up after a few minutes and I really wanted to use the restroom. The next one I saw I ran over only to open the door to a guy peeing. I got back in line and at the next grouping of port-o-johns I ran in only to realize too late that there was no toilet paper. I maguyver-ed the toilet paper roll into a makeshift wipe. I was back out in line in no time.
Once we started down the onto the dock I had my swim cap and googles on. There were still a lot of people cheering. I was able to get in line for the first dock, as I jogged up I took note that my watch said 7:18. When I got to the edge and the volunteer said “jump on in” I jumped in and was nicely surprised to see that it wasn’t too crowded. I used a shorten stroke to swim the 800 meters upstream to the turnaround. Once I reached the end of the island it started to get crowded. There was a lot of grabbing and bumping going on. One guy tried to grab my leg a few times, but thanks to the Nair the night before he wasn’t able to get a grip. About 200 meters to the turn buoy I was able to stand up and walk about 20-30 feet on a sand bar. I made a comment to a kayaker about the river not being very deep at this point. The swim downstream felt good. I was in a rhythm and kept the buoys to my left. The 2 bridges we had to swim under I had named bumpy bridge and snowflake bridge seemed to take forever to get to. I just kept swimming until I had passed them both. I knew from the practice swim on Saturday that it was only 600 meters to the swim exit from snowflake bridge. I felt like there was a suction cup on my head and someone was reeling me in toward the steps. I swam up to the steps and reached my arm out for the volunteer – he pulled me right up to the steps. I took one giant breath as I stood up. Ran up the stairs and towards transition. I waved to Mom, Dad, Brad, and Joni who had seats on the Crab Shack deck high above the action. Total Swim time: 1:41:49
Ran down the steps…yes steps to get to transition and got my bike bag. I took extra time in transition to apply the padding on my big left toe. It was so worth it! Ran out and got sunscreen then ran and got my bike. Riding out I was able to see everyone cheering me on. They had spread out along the bike exit to cheer me on! The first 10 miles of the bike were delightfully flat. I found myself averaging 17 mph for the majority of the first 60 miles. Around mile 20 there was a little out-and-back section that got a little hilly. The Devil, Grim Reaper, and Superman were all there to encourage us up the hill.
The course from that point out was rolling hills. Lots of rolling hills. La Grange was awesome they announced my name as I came through the first time and I saw Mom, Dad, Brad, and Joni by a town hall/church looking building. I kept going in order to fulfill my first goal of this race which was to get past the 60 mile mark well before the 2:30 cutoff time. I passed the 60 mile mark at 1:00pm. The section of the road between miles 50 and 60 were brutal rolling, fully exposed to the sun, and miserable. I stopped right after the 60 mile mark to stretch out my hamstring on my left leg which was starting to cramp. I ended up with both the quad and hamstring cramping as my failed stretching attempt ended with me gasping for breath through the pain. The cramps ceased and I used my water bottle as a roller to try to get some of the lactic acid out of my muscles.
When I got back to La Grange I got an even bigger shout out from the race announcer. I pulled over to give my mom a hug and proclaim my victory over the 60 mile cutoff goal. The next loop was even more miserable than the first. My butt was chaffing and my toes were falling asleep in a most painful fashion. Every bump I hit on the road was agony. Again miles 70-80 were the repeat of miles 50-60, every 10 feet there was a crack in the road. Yay for carbon fiber! It transfers all the shock straight into your body! I was hurting – mostly in my toes and hands for the last 20 miles or so. I did stop to loosen my shoes and that helped a little bit. By the time I rolled into transition I practically jumped off that bike yelling “Get me off this god-forsaken machine!” Total Bike Time: 7:42:37
I took my time in transition getting shoes and socks on with the help of a very patient volunteer. You would have thought I was a preschooler by the way I was trying to get dressed. I went outside and got lots of sunscreen on for the run. I met a guy named Nils who was starting the run and we walked out of transition together. I started the run around 5PM. Nils started running and I continued to walk. The temperature was 94 degrees by the time I started the run. I met up with a firefighter from Cleveland or Cincinnati. He said we had to go at least 4 miles an hour to get through the marathon in 7 hours. At that point I was thinking “ It won’t take 7 hours.” We made it to the 4 mile marker by 6pm.
At that point I went another half mile or so before my back started cramping/spasming –thanks to the lame bike accident 8 weeks ago. I started to run for 5 minutes and walk for 5 minutes, but the back pain was miserable. I even tried running for 1 minute and walking for 1 minute, but that was miserable too. I made it to the turn around at mile 8 and my legs were starting to tighten up. My hip flexors felt like they were completely contracted, which made walking very arduous. I saw my bearded friend from the swim start, now running in a gold Steelers t-shirt. He shouted words of encouragement. I took some Perform at mile 10 or 11 and promptly threw it up. Miles 10-14 I was walking as powerfully as I could – I was just looking forward to seeing my family.
My stomach was not feeling well at all. The nice blonde guy who was in line behind me at the swim ran up behind me and asked me how I was doing. I told him about my stomach and he offered me Tums. I thanked him and told him good luck. It felt like my body was shutting down and my mind just kept it powering along.
Wow, was I in for a surprise when I got to the turnaround. Between my Mom asking how I was and me telling her that I couldn’t eat anything and Joni screaming and running down the street yelling “You DO NOT GIVE UP! Katie! DO NOT GIVE UP!” My mom gave me the encouraging advice of “I don’t care if you throw it up! Eat something and if you throw that up eat some more!” Joni was more straightforward with food advice: “Fuel the furnace! Fuel the furnace!”
It was great to have people screaming loud enough for my more rational mind to hear them at that moment. It was a surreal experience. I rounded the bend to head out for lap 2 and a volunteer asked me if I wanted my bag. I looked at her dumbfounded and said “My Bag?” She pointed down the street, which was lined with red run special needs bags. My socks were dry and I didn’t want to waste any time. Everyone on my cheer team met me on the other side of the block (it was a square) My Mom made the statement that made the difference. She said:“You’ve got this! You have 12 miles to do in 3 and a half hours!” I yelled back at her: “but that is 12 miles in 3 and a half hours!” That clicked in my brain-that it was completely do-able. I got my glow necklace and walked out into the approaching darkness.
I told myself I would walk the next 5 miles to mile 20 and then re-evaluate how I felt. I made sure to get soup broth and water at every stop. The broth was warm at some of the aid stations so I cooled it with the ice water. I kept walking and people kept passing me. Some of them were looking really strong. Even red-bearded buddy ran by and he said “You can do this. You’ve got this” My mouth was so dry I said “Good Luck” and smiled and waved. Around mile 19 I was able to drink – really chug the water down. It tasted so good. When I got to the turnaround at mile 20 it was a slight down hill. I told myself that I would be able to finish but I needed to knock at least 5 minutes off these 20+minute miles of walking. I slowing shuffled into a running pace. When my back started to hurt I adopted an improvised technique of breathing the pain out. It must have looked weird, but since I was pretty much the only one on the street (in the middle of the night) nobody saw me. I got to mile 21 with a 15 minute mile. My legs felt looser. I ran up to the next aid station and got water. Mile 22- 14 minutes, Mile 23- 13:00 and a very misinformed volunteer who told me that mile 23 was about 2/10ths of a mile earlier than it was. I told him there was no way I ran a mile in 11 minutes. Right past the 23 mile marker I passed a white lexus that had stopped. A man got out and had been watching my progress. From what I can remember he was wearing an Ironman t-shirt and had some credentials around his neck. I had slowed to a walk for about 30 seconds. When I realized that he was still looking at me I pointed at him and started screaming: “YOUR’RE NOT TAKING ME!!!! YOU’RE NOT TAKING ME!!!! I’ve got 3 miles to go and I’m doing 12-13 minute miles. (it was 11:15pm) YOU’RE NOT TAKING ME!!!” He put both hands up palms outward and said “I’m not taking you anywhere. You are doing great” I don’t think he would have approached me either way.
I got back up to my slog-jog pace. The main thought going through my mind at that point of the run was not that I wasn’t going to finish or that I might fail; strangely enough it was that I didn’t want to have to train for another Ironman for a long time! That was enough motivation to keep slogging along. Once I passed mile 25 I heard a group of people coming up behind me. They kept cheering on a girl they were calling “Blue” They came up and surrounded me saying “Run with us!” The panic in their voices caused me to start running again. I quickly realized that they were going to fast. 4 people and “Blue” kept running. There was a woman who stayed back with me. She asked me my name. I found out later that her name is Rebecca. I asked her if we had a left turn and a right turn and the finish line. She said yes. She ran slightly ahead of me encouraging me along. We made the left turn onto Muhammad Ali Blvd. A volunteer at the corner said “You’ve got 4 minutes, 4 minutes, congratulations” Rebecca was like “You hear that? Congratulations! You’ve got this! Keep this pace.” She then went on to say that she was going to run all the way down to the finish line with me. Immediately I was panicking that I would be disqualified due to a friendly stranger. “Don’t run in the chute with me, I will be disqualified.” Rebecca responded “Honey, when you finish this late nobody cares.” “I care!” I practically screamed at her. By now my heart rate had spiked to over 170. Rebecca said “Ok I’m going to run on the sidewalk-keep this pace!” My dad, bless his heart (bad knee, bad back) jumps off the sidewalk and tries to run along side me. My brain immediately tells my body “pace with him!” I screamed at my dad (more like roared) “DO NOT RUN WITH ME!” I still feel bad about yelling at him.
I made the final right turn and could see the lights. All I can remember is hearing people saying “2 minutes, 2 minutes!” I saw my mom for a brief second, I could also make out a bouncer-type guy shoving “Blue’s” friends away. I ran around them and high fived the announcer. I was on the carpet! I told myself to take it all in! What was I seeing?!? Brilliantly bright white blinding lights – Run Towards them!!! What could I hear?!? A deafing roar of people cheering and banging on the barriers. I could see the profile of runners ahead of me. I passed “Blue” and kept running. I tried to give someone a high five and missed by a mile. I told myself “Screw it! Just keep running!” I could see what I thought was an old man in pain shuffling/running. I thought: “If that old man can do it, so can I!” (I later found out that the “old man” was really a 53 year old lady) I ran under the finish arch-I couldn’t see the time-I didn’t know if I had made it-I stumbled! 2 Catchers came up and I grabbed them. They said: “You did it!! You are an Ironman! I shook my head in disbelief! No freaking way! They said: “Come over here and the winner of the whole race will give you your medal.” Patrick Evoe was standing in front of me, clean and smiling. He put my medal on me and congratulated me. I grabbed his face and gave him a big kiss. I told him that when I was starting my marathon at 5pm I saw his bicycle escort was coming back to transition and I knew he had finished. I got my pictures taken and the nice volunteer ladies took me to the end of the chute. Total Run Time: 6:59:07
I met up with my family and friends. I found a seat the edge of a large flower pot. Joni asked me if I was hungry and pulled out a package of clif shot bloks from her purse. I told her that I didn’t want to see a package of those for a while since I had been eating them all day. I think it came out something like this: “Ugh, jesus-no, where did you get that?!?” I tried to eat some chicken tenders and then walked back to the hotel. Ice bath and shower I was in bed by 1:30am. Not bad for a full day. Do all Ironman races I do have to come down to the last minutes? Overall I was never hungry, thirsty, or tired. The worst pain I experienced was the back spasms on the run. For those who will ask; Yes, I will do another Ironman Triathlon. In a year and a half.
Total time to complete the race (due to the time trial start): 16:42:00
Total time for me to complete the race: 16:40:14
I crossed the finish line with 1 minute and 16 seconds until midnight.
Announcing the 2012 racing kit and bicycle jersey. This season we have decided to go with Champion System for our apparel.
Check out this article from our own Ryan Phelps recently featured on the Nation’s Tri website: http://www.nationstri.com/at-the-nation-s-tri-finish-line…and-speechless.html
Full disclosure: I spent more of my afternoon on a bar stool at Meridian Pint than I had originally intended to, and this was written there…
We are a special team, a rather remarkable group of people. By some accounts, we should not work as a group, yet we do. We have gay members, and straight. Liberals, conservatives, and everything in between. Our team founder happens to be our oldest member. Our team president is one of the youngest. We have a variety of professional careers–and to be honest I don’t even know what half of you do when not wearing lycra! We have a wide variety of athletic levels and goals, too. Some of us are new to all this, others with years in multisport. A few among us race for podiums. All of us race against ourselves.
We all race against ourselves, and we race and train together. Despite (or maybe because of) all our differences, there is something special about this team joining together to don the black and red of BRM.
Lots of things, lots of people, make this team possible. I thank our sponsors frequently, and will continue to do so. Today I want to thank a different group of people: you, the team. Without your spirit, your attitude, your fun, none of this would be worth it. At the end of the day, you make this team. Not me or the board. Not the sponsors. You.
This Memorial Day, I want to keep another group in mind as well. Countless men and women, present and past, have fought and sacrificed to create the space for this team and our open, welcoming diversity. This isn’t about our current wars, geopolitics, or anything like that. This is about remembering those who answered a call to serve. And especially those few–yet far too many–who have made that ultimate sacrifice.
I have a few personal connections in mind whose lives were cut short, a couple of classmates and a cadet leader from my plebe days. Who do you remember? Take a moment for them today.
And if you need a few good stories about a few good people worth remembering, let me know.
The Board and I hope you had a wonderful, relaxing, and fun-filled Memorial Day weekend. It was delightful to see so many of you at the cookout this afternoon. Special thanks to Dan and Joey for being gracious hosts. We wish you a fantastic week ahead, and remember: keep your wheels down and head up, and most of all, enjoy the road.
Hi and welcome to the new website and blog for Bike Rack Multisport! We are excited to be launching our new website, so please take a few minutes and check us out. Thanks for stopping by.
All the best,
Mike, Darren, Matt, Kate, and Johnny
aka “The Board”