So the alarm goes off at 3am- thank goodness as I have been tossing and turning all night. Up and get the coffee brewing....final check of gear for the day. Coffee, 2xtoast with PB and honey and some carbo pro in the coffee.
We roll out just before 4 with Ron, another one of KP's athletes and we are at the Finish line in 10 min, parked, dropped off special needs bags ( bags that they will give you 1/2 way through the bike and run during an Ironman), and we are on the first bus out to SandHollow Reservoir.
The wind has abated for the morning...it is calm and 55 degrees (which feels balmy after the 45 degrees the other mornings) So we are now at the reservoir at 5...what do we do?. Hit the porta pottie, recheck our swim to bike gear bags and I again am in a quandary about what to wear. I decide to wear my tri shorts since it is a bit warmer today and stick with the sports bra and put my tri top on in the tent after the swim. Amazing how the time just ticks away and soon it is time to suit up.
So my wetsuit has a few repaired holes and I know I need a new one but.....well I don't have that now. I have swam in this the last 3 days and all was fine. So I am pulling in on, adjusting it etc and I discover a reasonable size hole in the armpit that goes all the way through. Nice!!! A cooling vent for the swim. Not what I need when the water is 51-53 degrees NOT the 60 degrees as advertised, for the record! Don't panic, don't panic.....I have 15 min until the race starts. Head to the med tent looking for duct tape. She tapes me up and in the process binds my shoulder....which in hindsight may have been a good thing- my bad shoulder did not hurt while swimming. The tape consequently did not really stick and just gave me a ghetto look with a taped together wet suit that still leaked live a sieve.
Now this is a water start - which means they need to get 2000+ swimmers in the water, deep water and then start. This is not unusual but when the water is 51-53 degrees, no one wants to get in and not for long. I wanted to be front row so had to debate how long I could wait....with 2 minutes to go I slipped in and wove my way to the front- painless. Few minutes of chilling and we are off. I love swimming in a lake- fresh water is nice. The swim is a big rectangle and we swim counterclockwise. It opens up quickly and I basically swam the entire 2.4 miles alone. A group ahead of me a significant space and then me and one lone swimmer off to my right- which happened to be Ron (of course I did not know that then) Swim was fine...but about 1/2 way through I was cold, could not feel my feet or hands and I was shivering. I generally love Ironman swim, but today, well just get me through it. I pushed hard and was hoping for a good result after moving down a lane at masters. I am out of the water finally and I see 1:10- I am devastated, I am hoping for 55 or 56. I soon find out the clock is running from the Pro Start and they go off 15 minutes before us so I did swim a 55! Nice when the extra work pays off.
Out of the water and drop on the ground- wetsuit strippers are great and I am in the tent. One benefit of being a fast swimmer is the volunteers are eager and looking for something to do. I have 3 people putting on my shoes and helping wrestle on the tri top which is virtually impossible with frozen hands and wet. But they did it reasonably quickly. It is quite a treat to have people putting on my cycling shoes, race belt and stuffing things in my pockets.
Out of the tent and they have my bike and I am rolling. It is chilly....doable though. Best day by far! No wind, at this point. The ride into town was great. Rolling hills and warming up. Roads are marginal but not an issue. We cruise onto Red Hills Parkway and onto Snow Canyon, sounds beautiful yes and it is as we wind through the neighborhoods and on a random bike path and make our way out on the loop. Soon the smooth roads end and we begin our journey on chipped seal paved roads which are bummmmmpy and noisy. And the climbing begins and the wind picks up. We are headed along a 2 lane highway, settling in for the work. Our next big turn is toward the town of Gunlock and we are on rolling roads and the scenery is nice but the roads are rough, there are cattle guards covered with boards which you have to bunny hop over or risk losing water bottles - there are 10-12 random bottles scattered about as proof of the big bump. And the ride is a grind, hilly, rough road and lots of wind. As you crest the "wall" into Veyo there is about 3 miles of more rolling hills and a 90 degree right turn to Highway 18 and a screaming descent toward town.
What change to be aero and topping out at 40+ mph. Nice relief and enjoying the break. But who is the genius that planned special needs along this descent- nothing like having to break to get your bags.... anyway soon the downhill eases up and another right turn and guess what? Loop #2. This is where it gets tough, you are only at mile 70 and still have 42 miles to go. Still windy, still hilly and the roads still suck. Here is my low point- my shoulder is in agony- after being aero my shoulder seizes up and I have shooting pains up into my head and aching down my back, relief comes when I sit up, which I have to do to climb the hills. So hills are welcome? maybe, maybe not.
Here is where the talks of why do I do this creep in, what was I thinking, never again, and it goes on an on. But just when I am feeling low and we hit another climb I see a few people who are on loop 1 of the bike and are walking their bikes up the hill, okay it could be worse. I want to offer a few words of encouragement but what do I say- nice walking, good job? So I put my head down and ride.
Finally the last right turn and the screaming downhill toward transition 2. Finally watching the miles click off 100, 101 etc.... and then I see it and I am slipping my feet out of my shoes and I hop off the bike and gladly pass off the bike to a stranger and don't really care if I ever see my bike again.
Off and running into the changing tent. Whip off the tri shorts and into a nice dry and clean pair of running shorts- ecstasy at this time frankly. Socks, shoes, hat and I running out of the tent excited to be starting a marathon. Sick how it really seems like a great idea.
There are lots of people, music playing and all is good! And then the climbing begins, a slow steady climb at first but a harsh reality of what is in store. Mile 1- done! My nutrition plan for the marathon is 1 shot block at each mile mark and 1 dixie cup of water at the aid stations. I eat one and keep moving. Mile 2 and it gets steeper and then we do and out and back which we do 4 times and it is about .5 of a mile and it is up a short steep hill and around a culdesac and back down. But there are lanes for in and out and it is a maze of people so you have to follow your lane and go over the timing mat so they know you did this piece of the course and did not lay down and take a nap instead.
Out of the cul-de-sac and then the serious climb begins, the steep up hill and oh crap is this for real kind of climbing. I am slow and steady and in good spirits. Crest the hill and down a bit and back up and then we enter Pioneer Park and all I can say is it looks like a Disneyland ride, people are all over this windy park road- above me and below me- how can I possibly get to all those spots. We are hamsters in a giant habitral. But I am having a good time and saying to fellow runners- its like an E Ticket Disneyland Ride and one grump runner says not really more like an F (as in Fuck this) ticket ride. Okay then, some of us are not having fun....
We follow the path and it meanders up and down and the out the bottom and we do a loop and turn about and then go back on the path. Hard to describe but a bizarre and interesting way to add another mile and when you come out of the park it is back down the way we came. My next favorite comment a guy is running along tooting as he runs and then he sees me come along him and says gosh I sorry for all the gas....I laugh and say look I have basically been pissing on myself for the last 112 miles on the bike, a little gas? No offense there- he belts out laughing and says I love this sport when a chick passes me on the marathon and lays out the truth. Good on ya.... and off I go. Back up and back the cul de sac and then all he way to the finish, in fact so close you almost go through the finish line arch but guess what there is an arrow on the ground for loop 2.
Cruel, cruel to see the finish line and then have another 13 hilly, miserable miles to go. Does this sound like fun yet? I am actually feeling pretty good. At 13 I get my special needs and KP had given me 2 Red Bull shots for the bag and I chug those and hope for super powers! And the 2nd lap begins.
I see KP and he says I am in 3rd place, but 4th place has gained 5 minutes on my on the 1st lap and she is now less than 5 minutes behind me. He says if I want the slot (Kona that is) the 2nd lap will be painful and I am going to have to dig deep. Not really what I want to hear. Frankly, I want to survive. I spend the next mile waiting for her to fly by me and decide that 4th place is just fine and then I don't have to do another Ironman this year. Okay good idea. I suffer along and at mile 16 I see John on his bike, he is excited and screaming that she is catching me and I can do it, just pick it up. Right I am thinking- you get your butt off that sweet bike (see now the bike seems like a nice idea) and start running on this mountainous course. But I don't say that I just grimace and am also realizing I need a porta pottie and need one soon. John is saying don't stop just go and I am yelling I am not pooping in my pants.....you only can do that if you are winning a race.
I see the porta pottie ahead and am dying for it, he rides ahead and cuts off a man opening the door and says my wife is in 3rd place, can she please go ahead. So in my brief visit in the porta pottie I decide I am not giving up 3rd place without a major fight. I blast out, slamming the door and take off running and pick up the pace. By mile 17 John says I have put 40 seconds on her (including my porta pottie stop) I am now taking this one mile at a time and feeling good. By mile 20 I have added a minute so now she is 3+ minutes behind and I am increasing my lead.
Trudging along, ticking off the miles and I am suffering. I see KP and he cheers me on. By 22 I am not happy I take a shot block and cannot swallow it, I try to suck it and the gag reflex returns it so I spit it out. Taking one step at a time. This hurts like I cannot even tell you. Hit the aid station I take Gatorade, spit it out, coke, spit it out, water, spit it out- and realize I have 4 miles to go and no more fueling.
So I count 100 steps and then start over. I see John again and look at him pleading....please tell me she is not any closer? He is screaming, "you look great, you are putting time on her, she is dying" KP is yelling all good things. I am realizing I am holding her off. And then I go back to counting and it is downhill finally. But frankly the downhill hurts as much as the uphill but it is faster. So I run with what I have left. I hit 24 and John appears again and says Jules you just passed 3rd place....it takes me a while to realize I am in 2nd now. So I just keep running and murmuring obscenities with every step. KP is yelling and I tell him I am leaving a piece of me on this course.
Finally I see mile 25...1 mile to go. I see John and ask him are you sure she is not catching me- he assures me but I keep running. I finally make the final right turn and can see the finish and hear Mike Reilly (the voice of Ironman) He is THE announcer and I sprint, well as much as I can do and then I see the finishers shoot and the crowds are screaming like I am winning the race and then I hear the magical words....Julie Dunkle You are an Ironman! And the emotion wells and the tears come and I cannot beleive it! KP is right there and I literally fall over the finish line. I did it and I am going back to Kona.....
Really all that pain and suffering just to go and do it again- Really!
So Ironman St George- I am not coming back anytime soon...if ever. The course was a beast. Hands down the toughest day ever- but well with each passing hour the pain eases up and the memories get better!
John you are the number one husband! All over the course today cheering and giving me splits- I could not have sucked it up and dug that deep without you love! And KP, thank you for all the answers to the whys and why not's in the training and for the support out there today! It takes a village to get to Kona and I am blessed to be a part of a great one! And of course ErinBaker for their great sponsorship and Kestrel Bikes for the rocking AirFoil Pro ride!
This trip has been great....traveling with TB has been outstanding. A true friend and good times indeed! With each race I do my network grows and I was excited to see so many familiar faces out there today. A special congrats to Rachel and welcome to the Ironman Club- she is my hero for taking on Ironman St George as her 1st. My Erin Baker team mate Kevin- way to go bro and Aloha I will see you in Kona. Beth, TB, Ron, Debbie, Mia and everyone one else who laid it on the line today! This was a medal we earned x 2.
Trevor and I.....hardly looks like we just suffered for 11+ hours....
That my friends are my comments about Ironman SG.