Wednesday, November 27, 2013

First Ironman And Karina's Going To Kona

Karina qualified for Kona at Ironman Arizona, her first Ironman!  Here is her recap.  Way to go, girl!

You can do 100 Ironman races but you will only ever get to do your first one once --  and this was it for me. This is one of the many thoughts that were going through my head once I got past some of the nerves and shock of Ironman already being here. Even though I had waited nearly two years for this opportunity it was almost as if it was here too soon and I couldn’t believe it had come so fast.

A couple years ago I never would have imagined that I would be crossing the Ironman finish line or qualifying to go to the World Championships. I was introduced into the world of Ironman when I met my husband two years ago and started training with him for his Ironman. After he completed his first one we stood in line to get us both signed up for the next year so I could have my shot at completing the Arizona Ironman.

It was a long year training for the Ironman, and we tried to keep it interesting by entering a few races here and there to keep some motivation. Between work, school, family and life in general, it was tough trying to balance it all. A huge burden was lifted off my shoulders when I graduated from the Honors college at ASU and could put studying aside for the most part. Every day it was a battle or new journey, trying to squeeze in a run or find time to do the long bike rides and keeping motivation in general. There were times when we had to train alone or would much rather have slept in or gone to bed after work or gone out with friends or family. My husband, Dallas, was a huge help as he was always reminding me that I did in fact have an Ironman to complete. Sometimes we would get in arguments when he didn’t think I cared or didn’t feel that I was pushing myself to be the best that I could because he had the most faith in me all along, even more so than I had in myself.

During training when I would swim, I would try and imagine the blue waters in Kona, Hawaii and what it would be like swimming alongside a thousand other swimmers. Running, I would try and envision myself around Tempe Town Lake and crossing the Ironman finish line imagining but not really knowing how much pain or hurt I may be in. We constantly spoke and dreamt of Ironman and making it to the World Championships. My husband would remind me that I had a legitimate chance if I pushed myself.

As the time for Ironman drew nearer so did the stress level along with my worst fear… an injury. I started physical therapy and had to go four weeks with pretty much no physical activity two months before the Ironman… not exactly comforting or ideal. I resumed my training as soon as I possibly could but I felt weak in the run. I was able to get in a few long bike rides and two long runs before it was time to taper for the big day.

As race day approached I went back and forth between aiming to make it to Kona and merely wanting to finish my first Ironman. It almost seemed surreal that it had come so fast and it was all coming together for the morning of the race!  I had been waiting for this for almost two years and it was here!

Completely nervous I just had to go in trusting myself and my training. It definitely helped to have my husband, who is my best friend, there competing alongside me and offering words of encouragement the whole weekend leading up to the race. I can honestly say that I was pretty nervous the whole day. Although I had no doubts that I would not let anything get in the way of me finishing I did not know what could possibly happen and until each event was finished I wouldn’t have a complete peace of mind.

I cannot explain the feelings of being in the water knowing your long day is about to begin and just waiting for the sound of the cannon to start it all. Overall the race went pretty smooth, there were a few things that I could not have predicted and made the race a little more interesting and difficult; like a cramp in my calf at the end of the swim, pain in my I.T. band on the bike and messing up my nutrition halfway into the bike, leaving myself only able to drink Ironman perform and Coke on the run. I knew I had passed two girls in my age group early in the first loop of the bike and was informed that I was in first place. That is exactly where I wanted to be, but it’s also a scary place when you have no idea who is chasing you, and no idea how close they are to you or far from them you are.

Near the end of the first loop of the run, one of my teammates who was watching the race ran up alongside me and told me to keep it up and keep doing what I was doing and I would have Kona. As I kept running I thought well what happens if I am slowing down, as I was, would I still have it? Having no idea how far ahead I was I tried to kick it in gear as best I could to ensure that I could still finish ahead, although I still had over 13 miles to run. However my strong and steady pace seemed to keep getting slower and slower and of course the muscles in my legs were hurting more and more. I tried to remind myself that it hurt just as much to run slow as it did to run faster so I might as well try and get it over with.

Finally, finally, I was turning onto the bridge with only two more miles to run! In the dark, I turned the corner to hear cheering and screaming, I was there! I had less than a quarter mile to the finish, and finally I was able to run through the chute slapping the hands of those around me and I could finally call myself an Ironman!

I was overjoyed to see my family waiting for me at the finish and to have my husband come walking up to me with the foil blanket and medal around his neck, limping from also having completed it an hour before. He looked at me and said: “You’re going to Kona!!”

Ironman was an amazing experience and as long of a race as it is, the day also seemed to fly by. I am so thankful for the opportunity that I had to train for and complete the Ironman. It was a crazy day but the training, I believe is really what shaped and tested me.  I and all the other athletes put so much effort and dedication in everyday just for that one race day. The volunteers were amazing and really helped push me to keep going along with the thought knowing that my husband was also out there pushing his hardest.  I am thankful that my name was on my bib because it made all the difference to have the volunteers out there cheering for me when they could say my name and say, "Come on Karina you can do it."  The others athletes were great as well and a couple people were life savers when they wanted to run and keep pace with me and offered words of encouragement, especially the last couple miles. I am completely thrilled and nervous to go to Kona but again so thankful for the opportunity and glad that my best effort that day was enough.

Now it is time to go back to the drawing board, tweak some things and figure out how I am going to train to try and be the best I can and prevent injury for next year as well. I would like to improve my time in all three areas, the swim and bike but especially the run.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Que lindo es sonar despierto.
How lovely it is to dream while you are awake.

Dreams That Have Come True