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IRONMAN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
written by: Mary Beth Cadwell
posted: 10/24/02


How to make lemonade out of Lemons

4:00am - rise and shine . . . well not exactly it was poring outside! So I rolled out of bed and went through my normal routine before an Ironman. Shower, dry hair, douse my body in sun block, and try to get some food and coffee down into my very nervous stomach. Then off to the bathroom one last time before we leave the condo at 5:15am with a quick check to make sure I had everything for my long day ahead.

5:30am - Rain at the start . . . this has never happened before! The body marking had to be moved inside and the lines took longer but it was nice to chat with other athletes and we all made the best of the wait. #456 was proudly displayed on the front of both my arms and quads with thick black marker and my age group, N 30-34, on the back of my calf. Ok, ready to go set the bike up, pump up the tires, etc. etc.

6:30am - Look for the family in the crowds and enjoy the excitement.

6:40am - Found the family, hugs for everyone and a couple tears . . . the rain had stopped and I joined the other athletes heading into the water. Waist deep in the water, I saw Karen Smyers beginning to warm up and a good luck hug was hopefully a great sign of my impending day ahead.

7:00am - the gun goes off! I heard muffled cheers and I swam as fast as I could, I'm so glad it's started, I feel good and I'm not getting smothered like in 1999. The waves are huge but I've got a great path to swim in, and I keep focused on my stroke. At the turnaround, I'm at 34:00, 5 minutes off my goal time. Hopefully the current will be on my side on the way in. I finished at 1:09 - not bad for a tough swim, everyone seemed to be slower.

8:12 - Bike start feeling good. I'll take the advice of a friend to take it easy on the first 3-mile hill as my legs warm up. Queen K here I come! The bike was great, everyone spread out really well, lot of officials out giving penalties though.

At mile 35 I had to pull over when something in my stomach was not right. I got sick and sat on the side of the road trying to get something down and figure out if I was ok to continue. I got back on my bike started to pedal and then got sick again. Ok, hopefully that's it, got on my bike . . . no that's not it, got sick again. Finally I got back on my bike and started to pedal, I'm ok, time to start over. Drink water and keep pedaling, I feel ok.

I've lost a lot of time but I feel great again as I head up to Hawi, passing tons of people struggling through the wind but I'm just pedaling strong. I pick up my new bottles and try to place them in my water cages. I drop one and it rolls down the hill. A couple locals and myself went running down the hill after it, oh, what's another couple minutes I need the food. Finally I get the water bottle in the cage get clipped in and off I go, excited about the great tailwind on the way down, maybe I can make up some time here.

Passing a lot of women in my age group that had passed me on the side of the road and a couple pros that were having bad days. Finally back on the Queen K 34 miles left to go, that's just a short Dover loop . . . I thought.

Unfortunately 40mph headwinds were waiting for us on the Queen K. Spinning my legs was all I could do but it felt good just to be biking again and feeling well.

Off the bike at 5:55 not bad but my computer says I did it in 20mph which means I lost about 15 minutes. So I was happy with my bike time even though it's not the actual race time. On to the run . . .

7:12 - trying to run but didn't have anything in my stomach to run. I jogged for about 3 miles until I realized this marathon is not going to happen unless I get something into my stomach. My fuel belt was full of the liquid food that I use as my fuel throughout the race but because we had to hand this in on Thursday it was spoiled. Of course I found out as soon as I started to jog and the top flew off one of the flasks because of the gas inside.

I slowed to a walking pace for a couple miles enjoying the crowds and people encouraging me, chanting "GO BOSTON!". I drank some fluids and by mile 6 I started to run again. When I was walking, I was passed again by the women I had passed on the bike and now I was gaining on them again and passing them. When I got onto the Queen K, I got to see the women leaders coming in - Natasha, Heather Fuhr, Lori Bowden, I cheered them on and was amazed at there fast strides at mile 20 and 21 of the run. Where was Karen Smyers? she was doing so well on the bike? I finally got to the energy lab and started to run down and there she was jogging slowly up with a fellow triathlete, she had to stop for medical assistance but decided to finish anyway. I cheered her on but kept moving. Inspired . . .

I ran to mile 20 and then something happened. I got sentimental. I started to think about what it took to get to this place on the Queen K this year. Lake Placid, Florida, Susan my birth mother passing, my dad who hasn't used his legs in years because of Parkinson's disease. My mom who's legs will soon be replaced with knee replacements. Steph, my sister-in-law who has survived cancer, heart surgery, two liver transplants and two knee replacements. There are so many stories of people that aren't able to do this, I feel very fortunate to be here, to be healthy and to be watching the sun setting over the ocean. I started to think that this may be the last time I do this race for a while and something a friend said to me before I left sunk in about enjoying the moment.

I stopped and started to walk slowly, thinking and cherishing every step and I smiled as the women who I had passed, passed me. They urged me on and I said 'don't worry I'm fine I'm just enjoying myself'. Normally this would have bothered me but this time I didn't care. I was doing my own race today and if I wanted to hang out in the lava fields for a while why shouldn't I? I met a lot of people in those last miles and heard a lot of stories but most importantly, I got back to the reason why I do this sport . . . because it makes me happy.

As I ran down Alii Dr., the cheers became louder and my family met me on the sidelines. The lights were blinding and the speaker announced my name and mentioned that I had eloped here in 2000. Peter, my very supportive husband, David my brother, Linda my stepmother, Bidda my grandmother and Linda's friend Beth greeted me with huge smiles and hugs at the finish. What a great way to end a perfect day!