I am an IRONWOMAN!!!

By Vicky Blevins

July 2005

And here is my story.

My family and I left on Thursday for Lake Placid to get to registration which closed on Friday.  When I got to registration, there was such an awesome vibe around the place.  Of course, it's intimidating because a lot of the people milling around look like serious athletes.  But, it was so exciting to be there!  I completed registration and had my number and all of my tags.  I also bought a few articles of clothing that said "Ironman" and "Lake Placid", etc.  (This is important as you will read later on.)  Friday afternoon was the kids "Splash and Dash".  Livvy did the dash part, which was almost a half-mile run by the lake.  The registration people said she may have the record for being the youngest kid to participate! 

Saturday we needed to check in our bikes and gear bags.  I had a little snag b/c one of my handlebar plugs (or whatever they are called) was missing and I needed to get a new one before I could check my bike in.  I had no problem getting it fixed and I got my bike and bags checked in.  I was all set for Sunday.  Nate and I went out for a carbo-loading dinner that night.  With all the excitement of being there, I actually told Nate that I may consider doing an ironman every 4 years or something, despite the fact that over the last few months I said this would be the only one I ever do.

Anyway, race morning came.  My sister drove me down to the start at 5am.  I waited in a long, slow-moving line to get my tires pumped up.  We headed down to the race start, and I finally got into the water about 5 minutes before the race began.  I saw Steve and Steph Evans just before the horn blew.  The swim was a mass start, with all 2000 athletes swimming together.  It was sooooo awesome!  I loved the entire swim.  I got kicked several times, thankfully none in the face, and I kicked others, but it was so great!  After one loop, we ran onto the beach and back into the water for the second loop.  I felt great, like I could keep swimming forever.  When I got out of the water, my watch showed 1:26, which was about what I expected.  There were volunteers there to pull off my wetsuit, and then I ran back to the transition area.  I picked up my bag and headed to the changing tent, where I slowly got changed and ate a little something.  Then, the volunteers got my bike and brought it out to me.  It took me 13 minutes in the transition, which was a little longer than I expected.  Now came my dreaded sport - the bike.  The course was 2 loops of 56 miles.  The first 8 miles or so were uphill mostly, but this lead to a huge downhill slope for several miles.  I'm scared to death of downhills, especially along cliffs, so I had a hard time going down this section.  Until about 3/4 of the first loop, I was doing pretty well.  I made it through that in under 3 hours, so I thought I was heading for an 8 hour ride.  I saw Nate, my sister, and the kids, stopped to chat with them, and then went on my merry way.  Unfortunately, the last quarter of the loop was all uphill and quite a challenge at that point.  Near the end of the first loop, I saw Bobbi and Deb Keener and they ran along side me while I got up another hill!  It was great to see them, but I knew I was in trouble with the time!  I ended up finishing the first loop in 4:15, so in order to make the cutoff time for the bike, I had to finish the second loop in 4:30.  I didn't think this was possible.  So, the entire second loop I spent sniffling and cursing the fact that I had told everyone I know that I was doing the ironman b/c now I was not going to finish.  I was dreading having to return the merchandise that I had just bought in the days before.  It was a long second loop.  By the time I hit the last 1/4 that had taken me an hour and 20 minutes before, I only had about an hour and 10 minutes.  I didn't stop to talk to the family this time when I saw them.  I forced myself up the hill.  The things that kept getting
repeated in my head were (aside from "I hate this"): "Dig Deep", "If it were easy, then everyone would do this", and "Pain in temporary, pride is forever".  Oh, and I was praying every chance I got, plus I was begging every cop I saw to call the folks at the transition area and tell them not to cut me off from the run!!!  Near the end, again, I saw Bobbi and Deb and they cheered me on and told me that I can make the cutoff!  When I got into town, the spectators started cheering and telling me I had 3 1/2 minutes to make the cutoff and I'd better kick it into gear.  So, I did just that, and somehow I managed to make it into the transition area, with about 2 minutes to spare!  I know there were many people whom I had just passed on the hills that were not going to make the cutoff.  Another 10 minutes in transition, and it was off to the marathon.  I ran pretty decently at the beginning.  It started getting a little tough, but I continued to just walk through the water stops and then jog everything else.  There were many spectators and lots of cheers from the crowd.  A man was holding an Olympic medal and told us all we could touch it, so I did.  An older man was sitting behind him, and I believe he was the Olympian from 1964.  I met up with a guy who seemed to be running about my pace (11 min/miles) around mile 8.  I thought maybe I could run with him for a while, until he started sounding like he was getting sick.  I asked if he was ok, and he said yes, but then I noticed he was spitting out little bits of vomit while running.  I quickly decided that I needed to get away from him b/c being thrown up on would certainly ruin my day.  So, I picked up the pace.  But, by mile 10, I was starting to hurt, and I walked the uphills.  I ran into Bobbi and Deb again, and that helped me through another mile or 2.  Then I was back in town, finishing the half, but it was hard to run near the finish area, knowing that I still had another half marathon to run.  The second half was mostly walking.  I attempted to shuffle several times, but decided walking felt the best.  I hit 20 miles around 9:45, and started feeling stressed about not making the 17 hour cutoff time.  So, I started shuffling again.  I shuffled most of the rest of the way into town.  At this point, I was cursing the fact that I signed up for the race, and I vowed that I would never, ever do this again!!!  Nate met up with me 2 miles out and ran with me the last 2.  Then, my sister, Nate, and the kids all ran the last 1/4 mile with me into the finish line.  I guess it's tradition to have the whole family run in with you.  They held the tape across the finish line for me to "break", and there were hundreds of spectators still cheering at 11:20 at night.  I cried a little bit as I ran through the screaming crowd and reached the finish.  It was an awesome feeling!  My official time was 16:17:51.  There were about 140 people who never finished the race, so I am so thankful that I was able to complete it.  Deb Keener and her husband, Jeff, met up with us at the finish, and Deb opened a bottle of champagne to celebrate!  It was a great day!

The registration for next year's race opened yesterday and closed in 10 hours.  I won't be doing it - I'm not that crazy!  But, I suppose I would consider doing another one in a couple of years b/c I feel the need to better my time a little.  I've got to work on that bike leg!  I think I'll stick with half-irons for now.  I'm not even sure if I want to run another marathon, period, but I suppose that feeling will fade shortly, and I'll be out doing long runs again soon. 

I want to thank everyone for your support and encouragement, prayer and good luck wishes!  Thanks to those of you who were calling to check to see how I was doing and who were checking the website all night until I finished!!!  I especially want to thank Bobbi who adjusted her vacation schedule to come and cheer, and to Deb Keener and her family for taking a vacation so they could come to cheer and support me!  That was sooo incredibly awesome!!!  And especially to my sister for driving me around and watching the kids for us and cheering me on.  And to Nate, who had to sacrifice many weekends for me to get my training in and who had to eat carbo dinners every weekend for the training, but supported my crazy endeavor from the start!

I hope this wasn't too much to read, but I wanted to get a lot of details down so I could put it in a scrapbook to always remember it.  It was an amazing journey, and I'm so thankful I tried it!  Maybe some of you will consider trying one some day!!!


This page was last updated: May 1, 2006