When Impossible Becomes Possible

This weekend was absolutely insane.

It all started in April when I joined a program at a rec center called ITRI. I found out about this because instructor/coach was actually friend that I went to cosmetology school with. After we got back from Hawaii in April, I signed up and went to my first day. I was hooked. It took me a few weeks but I made some great friends and eventually found out that they were all signed up for a Half Ironman in Tempe AZ on October 22nd (it was originally the 14th but got moved to the 22nd). If I signed up too that would mean I had almost 5 months to train! By that time I had found my road bike and there was nothing holding me back except for myself.

I talked to Morgan about the idea and his response was “well we didn’t get that bike so it could sit in the garage”. I also realized that Morgan had a connection to a place to stay in Mesa, only 30 min away from Tempe where the race was. It seemed like everything was falling right into place. All I had to do was press “register” on the computer screen … I got all my information entered and then walked away withoutregistering …. The next day I pulled up my newly created account and re entered my information and I hovered over that “register” button for a good 30min with a pit in my stomach. Finally, Morgan looked over and asked “what are you waiting for?”

….. * click * …… and then it was done.

I was officially registered for my first Half Ironman (HIM). I took a picture of the “congratulations” note that followed registration and sent it to my brother with the message ” I think I just did something really stupid…”

he responded…. ” yeah you did ”

From that day forward it was Swim, Bike, Run, Weights, repeat. At least for the most part….

Most athletes that I have heard of doing these races have coaches that help them along with their training but I don’t have the money to be spending on that so I researched for days looking at training plans. I looked everywhere from pinterest to blogs and finally just ended up taking a little bit from all of them and creating my own plan.

This was a journey full of trial and error. I got especially concerned when the beginning of July I injured my ankle during a brick workout (a bike ride and then a run immediately after ) I had shooting pain up the back of my ankle that when ignored, would shoot up into my calf. I mentioned the injury in my race report for Spudman Triathlon.  I became extremely nervous about the injury when July came and went and I was into August and still unable to run without pain. I finally decided to give it a rest and make and appointment with the same PT who helped me with my IT band pain. Unfortunately, he is a boss and everyone knows it so I had to wait for quite a while before I could get in to see him.

For a little bit I thought I was going to have to bow out. I would be lying if I said I kept my cool. There were so many frustrated tears and nervous what ifs. After about a month of irritating my ankle over and over from pushing too much and multiple late night chats of me talking Morgan’s ear off, I came up with a new strategy. I was going to focus on the bike since that is what I needed the most work on anyways and since in the past I have been able to condition myself for a half marathon within a month and a half without cross training, I was going to stop stressing myself about my ankle and just kill it on my bike. Meanwhile I was hoping I would have enough time to train for my run since I would have cross training assisting with my conditioning.

Weeks went by, I was feeling better on my bike but still had pain during the run. The pain seemed to be less but still not gone. It was finally time for my appointment. This whole time I was certain I had an issue with my Achilles. Everything I read pointed to my Achilles but every medical professional I saw would make comments like “that is strange because you other uninjured Achilles is actually tighter….” or ” I have never seen an injury like this happen because of that “. So when I finally was able to see my PT at TOSH I was very hesitant. It was only 10 min into my appointment after explaining every detail so I didn’t leave any important symptoms out that he stopped me mid sentence. “wait did you say buzzing?” “yes, It buzzes after I’m done running not only inside my ankle but you can also feel it outside of my leg”. Finally, he knew exactly what it was : tenosynovitis which means the lining of the sheath that surrounds a tendon or in this case my Achilles, was so inflamed that it was catching the tendon on my big toe which was causing the buzzing.

I was instructed to Rest, Ice, Ibuprofen, Slight stretching and Patience. I was assured that if I needed he could give me temporary steroid shots if it was still irritated on race day but he didn’t think it would be necessary. ( he was right about that too ) I was so excited that there was a diagnosis and reassurance that I would be okay that I hit the advice hard. maybe a little too hard at least when it came to icing my leg…. Went to work, Ice. Came home, Ice. Went to bed, Ice. Well, one day I wrapped my leg up with ice,headed to an activity that lasted about 2 hours tops and came home and fell asleep for a little nap. When I woke up and started to do the dishes I felt needle like pricks all up and down my leg…. Oh my gosh it was so painful! I actually burned my leg with an ice pack. The only pain relief I could find was by rubbing lavender oil in it. I was so shocked and a little annoyed that my mom was right …. again. She always insisted that I had barriers on my skin when I was younger and I should have just kept with that but now I’ve learn the hard way yet again….  That burn took me out another week to get it healed enough to not burn by the slightest touch. The skin ended up blistering and then hardening up and flaking off over time and now it is just botchy white and tan spots but boy did I ever learn my lesson. I always thought my mom was crazy when she said I could get burned from an ice pack but …. mom is always right.

It was a few weeks later that I stopped feeling the buzzing or burning on my ankle/calf. I immediately stepped up my game on the treadmill. The runs were hard at first but got longer and longer and the mornings got earlier but I was so incredibly grateful to finally be able to run! From then on, we were full speed ahead.

The day before we left I packed, repacked and packed again. I made list after list and just prayed that I hadn’t forgotten anything….

Morgan and I headed out on a late night flight to AZ and both jolted awake as we had the bumpiest landed either of us had ever experienced. That sure was one way to make sure everyone was awake on the flight…. I have never felt so panicked as I was then while trying to orient myself and remember why I wasn’t in my room in my bed and reassure myself that I wasn’t experiencing the great Utah Shake out OR a victim of a crash landing.

We made it to the condo and couldn’t thank Morgan’s grandpa enough for his generosity! It was incredible! It took us .3 seconds to fall hard into a deep sleep.

Aside from farmers markets, Dinners and some side shopping a majority of our time was spent here at the “Ironman Village” Friday was the first dat for Check – In and the start of the athlete briefings. Morgan and I met up with my favorite people Kelli and Randy (ITRI friends) and we made our way to check  – in. I gave them my information, confirmed who I was and signed my life away. I finally was able to get my Ironman wrist band. The wrist band I have seen other athletes wearing before during and after the race. After I got my Cap, Numbers and all the swag we headed to THE TENT.

Morgan was smart and had been setting money aside so I could get all the Merch/swag I wanted. I got myself a sweet back pack and awesome jacket along with a hat and water bottle but mostly just had so much fun being able to walk in that tent as an athlete! We went up and down every isle sometimes multiple times to make sure we saw it all! We had to start wrapping things up when Morgan and I both were ready to surrender to the heat. ( little did I know….)

After my shopping spree, We had enough time to hang out before our athlete briefing. During that briefing we learned our bike course had a total of 62 turns which is considered a VERY technical course. For those of you that aren’t familiar with the bike (that was me literally 5 months ago so its debatable whether or not I’m actually “familiar” with the bike) The challenges that come with a course with so many turns is being able to keep a good speed. When you have a long straight road ahead of you, you can settle into a good rhythm and get into your mind while just pedaling. But when you are turning especially when its a 180 sharp turn, you are slowing down at every turn and losing that momentum and having to mentally be very aware of what is going on. That was basically the only unique thing about the bike that they had to say about the race and other than the swim being in yucky water and the run being a two loop course and hot, there were no surprises. By the time we were done with the briefing and our group was able to gather together, the sun was setting and we felt it would be pointless to drive the bike course and try to get oriented in the dark so we headed to dinner and called it a day.

Saturday was Bike – Check in. By this point I was just ready to be racing. Back home there was a a local run going on that I like to participate in so seeing everyone’s posts made me itch for that race buzz. It was like my body was just ready. Being used to racing on Saturday and not Sunday was surprisingly an adjustment that I wasn’t planning on having to deal with. But the race date was changed to Sunday so Sunday it is.

Saturday was Oops #1 We needed to check our bikes into the transition so we got our bikes together and as I was sitting there with Morgan it dawned on me….. my numbers were back at the condo!! oh brother, It was a good thing we got their early so I could meet up with a member of the Triathlon Club to get my race numbers because Morgan was able to head back to get my bike numbers and get back just in time for everyone else to be ready.

Luckily I had Randy there to remind me to let some air out of my tires so that the heat didn’t cause them to blow. We were able to find our spots and I was able to take a second to visually experience the transition in my mind, located some markers that would help me find my bike and familiarize myself with the transition area. My spot inside the transition area was not ideal. I was in the back which I’m assuming was because I was the last wave of women to start. This race was nice because we only had one transition spot. Meaning I pick up and drop off my bike in the same spot which sometimes isn’t the case.

After we racked our bikes, we walked over to the start and found the stairs we would be entering and exiting, the path we would take to get in and out of transition and then all piled in the car so we could drive the bike course. As we drove the bike course we quickly realized that our interpretation of “flat” was different compared to Ironman organization’s interpretation of flat. there were some decent hills. nothing extreme but much more than I was anticipating. The only thing I had going for me was that I trained on hills. Where I live you have to start and end on hills to get anywhere. After we got back and into our car to head home, I turned to Morgan and started to talk about how surprised I was that this was considered flat. all he had to say was …

“look, you did this to yourself, if you’re looking for sympathy you aren’t getting any from me”

I guess some may find that rude, we laughed and it was really all I needed to hear. All I get out of that was a dare. It fueled my fire. My thoughts were  “Well fine then, Im going to crush it” hahaha

After we got a few more things checked off our list like grabbing some Shot Blocks from a running store and picked up a cheap folding chair for Morgan from Walmart for race day, we met up for a “team” dinner, ate our pasta and went on our way back home to get ready for race day.

I checked, and double checked and triple checked all my gear. I took a break from packing and made some honey and peanut butter sandwiches for Morgan and I, loaded up a cooler for my support crew so I knew he wouldn’t be miserably hungry and then went back over and re checked everything again. After I got everything together I sat down with Morgan as he helped me go over the bike course one more time and map it out so I could be as familiar with the course as possible. As a pre – race ritual, I took a shower and braided my hair, set my alarm, then was off to bed.

Surprisingly enough I was able to sleep decently through the night. When My alarm clock went off my eyes were wide open and I was hoping right out of bed ready to go. I was sooooo ready to race already! Morgan and I got out the door so fast and it was a good thing too. They had the course blocked off even 2 hours before the race was supposed to start! That was the one time I let the stress get to me. I was snappy with Morgan trying to get him to run over cones and just zoom past officers! I wanted to get there already! (sorry again moe.) We ended up finding parking in plenty of time and I was able to compose myself and become more pleasant to be around… or so I hope haha I think most of all of us had parking issues because the transition area was packed! All of the athletes were scrambling to get their things together.

I tried to set everything out strategically as I ran my actions through my head, “Eat a block, headband, glasses, helmet, eat another block, wipe feet, socks, shoes, belt, another block and go”

I had everything set up and ready to go and still hadn’t seen my group. Randy had a pump and I needed my tires pumped up. I borrowed a guys pump next to me and it was less than stellar. I could feel my tires were so low and there was NO way that I was going to be riding on flat tires again. I was past that stage. Morgan was on the outside of the fence so I ran overdo him panicked and told him my frustration. He calmly told me to just go stand by my bike, I did as I was told and there was Randy, Kelli and Kelli (they both have the same name how funny huh?). Randy was surprised ay how flat my tires were too but he got them all pumped up and we were confident that they were ready to go. **DEEP BREATH** The most stressful part was over. Now was just time to focus on the day.

I was very happy to have completely emptied the tank in the nasty porter potty (empty in every way if you know what I mean … TMI I know, but it was a great relief physically and psychologically) We had plenty of time to get ready after the start of the race because our waves were at least 45 min after the pro’s started. We got our wet suits on which is more of a work out than the actual swim. I put my Trial glide on near my armpits so that my skin wouldn’t get sore from rubbing on my we suit and topped it all off with sun screen.

And then we wait….

Finally it was my turn!!! I was the very last to start and I was so ready to just get going! I didn’t get to start until 7:56 when the pros had started at 6:00am.

my wave was let into the water 5 min before the actual start time so we were able to tread water and get comfortable before the start. I was sitting there in my zone and out of habit used my thumbs to clean the inside of my goggles…. oops #2 as I put my goggles back on my face I realized that I had just smeared a combination of tri glide and sunscreen on my goggles…. oh boy. so to say my vision was less than stellar is an understatement.

The good thing was that I was able to stick to my strategy. Since the course was shaped ever so slightly like this -> ( <-   (but more of a rectangle) I planned to stay on the outside of the buoys and instead of following the curve, make it a straight shot and to my surprise, my plan actually worked! I actually made sure I started at the front this time and I was able to stay out from everyone splashing about and cruised right on over to my first turn while being blind as a bat because swimming into the sun just amplified my already smudged vision. My last 400 yds I was loosing interest and getting bored. I finally decided I was over it and kicked it up a notch after a larger woman hit me in the face for the second time as she was thrashing about. I may or may not have used my water polo skills and ever so lightly kicked off of her so we could move away from me as I turned up the throttle and decided I was ready to be done.

I saw the stairs and just kicked it into full gear. I found a hand that pulled me out of the water. “thank you!” and found my stripper…. hahaha I love saying that. I was running out of the water trying to get my wet suit off but couldn’t find the string. I ran up to my wet suit stripper ( the volunteer that helps you get the suit off) “I’m so sorry I can’t find my string” he laughed at my sincere and desperate apology “haha it is okay I’ve got you” I felt the zipper come down, I took the suit off my arms, over my butt, sat down and he ripped that sucker right off my legs! “thank you!” and off I went. It was a good thing Morgan came up to me before I got into the water to make sure I knew to sit down because I had not gone through that in my head and was so flustered I’m certain I would have forgotten!

As I was running to my transition I didn’t see Morgan. I found my awesome friend Arielle who came to watch the 4 of us race but totally missed Morgan, good news is he was able to find me! haha

Transition went smoothly and honestly felt like the first time my heart rate had gone up since the start. I paced myself and swam nice and easy so I had everything for the next 6 hours ahead of me. Ill be honest. Aside from having my goggles a little too tight and being hit in the face… I was having a blast.

I hopped on my bike and was so excited that I found Morgan that I actually clipped in the wrong foot! hahaI had to unclip and take a breath and then was out on my way. Before I knew it, that first loop was done and I was so excited and having so much fun I was actually laughing out loud! I was passing beautiful cactus farms and riding over bridges and the best of it all was the hills looked worse than they actually were! Arielle talked to me about the turns and about leaning into the turns not fighting them which was huge for me. I was able to pass Morgan and Arielle at least 6 times on the bike and it was soooo great to be able to see familiar faces.But mostly I was so happy to not get lost!

After I finally relaxed and leaned into the turns I was able to melt into my bike and just go. I found Kelli and Randy on the second loop and because of all the ups and backs I was able to wave to them multiple times. Although I was in and out of my bike and had to stay very mentally aware so there was no day dreaming, I was having so much fun. The time was ticking and the miles were rolling by so quickly I felt like I was constantly eating so I could have my salt and carb intake. I had my big water bottle full and left my other cage open for another water bottle that I could get at the aid station. I hit the aid station that was half way up a hill and grabbed some Gatorade so I could replenish electrolytes and carbs more from liquid. I took a big swig of that stuff and instantly regretted it. It was so gross.

I kept going and finished off my water and still hadn’t gotten back to the aid station so I choked down more Gatorade oops #3 That swig was when I started to feel the nausea. I was over the Gatorade and tried to go back to eating my nutrition and drinking lots and lots of water. I finished  loop #2 and was out for the last final loop. I was at mile 49 of 56 when my feet started to go numb. I kept trying to shake them out and pull rather than push on each pedal stroke but then I started to get so saddle sore that my butt hurt to sit on the seat. It was honestly a prefect storm. I should have trained more in my tri shorts that has less padding than my bike shorts. Looking back I had to do all my long rides indoors on a trainer because of all of the rain and those were not in my bike shoes which I’m sure played a factor in all of this too

hind sight is 20/20

I saw the dismount sign and I could not get off my bike soon enough. My feet hurt so badly at this point that I also took my bike shoes off. Hoping that I would be able to get some relief on my feet, I ran to my transition and sat down and wiggled my toes, rubbed my feet, changed my socks and threw on my shoes. I tied my shoes up firmly, grabbed my Peanut butter and honey sandwich and was on my way. I took one bite of my sandwich and accepted help from the “sun blockers” there were 4 women who had gobs of sunblock on their hands. I nodded when they asked if I wanted some and it felt like they drunkingly slathered this stuff on me. it was all over and terrible. my braids were sticking to my shoulders and now white. My hands were so gross that the sandwich in my hand was no longer edible and I just chucked it in the trash.

I hobbled off from transition and tried to rub my arms and get this sunblock in some sort of manageable state but all that did was get my hands all greasy and gross. The first quarter mile I spent trying to rub my sunblock in and peel the ends of my now sunblock smothered braids off my shoulders. You have to understand that I hate the feeling of my hair sticking to my shoulders because of sweat or sunblock or anything else in that manner so much, that just two weeks before the race I cut 3 -4 inches off my hair to avoid this very thing.

I had sunblock with me in my belt and was planning on just using that on the run but when I saw the volunteers I figured I would take advantage of the help…. I guess I just didn’t anticipate the anxiety that flooded through my body after realizing I was a mess …this sunblock was just too much. I kept trying to rub and run and before I could get a handle on the sunblock issue I quickly realized just how hot it was now that I didn’t get the breeze that comes from flying on the bike. I was going 16 miles per hour to 6 miles per hour and it made a huge difference. At that point, My feet were still hurting, I had greasy nasty sunblock all over, including my hair, and I was feeling juggy from all the water and sick from the Gatorade….. I hit mile 1 and the fact that I had 12 more to go hit me…. Hard. About that same time I saw a girl with a 19 on her back leg come and go. About 20 feet ahead of me she started to walk and I thought “well if she is tired I guess I can be tired” and then a woman came up to her and said “keep it up run with me” and she took off again…. “okay well she isn’t that tired I guess”

I was in the sun, running on asphalt or dirt and have never felt the pain that I was feeling in my feet. I was so grateful that I had gotten a last min pink visor at bike check in for the run even if it was too big for me because it saved me. I initially started to just tell myself to get over it and push through but with every step it became more apparent to me that this was not going away. I thought about taking my shoes off and walking for a little bit but then I remembered the stories of people not being able to put their shoes on because their feet were swollen. So I kept going. I have never been so frustrated.

I finally gave up on the sunscreen but couldn’t shake the fact that my hands were just so so gross. What I would have given for some soap and water.

I kept trying to run but it just wasn’t happening. The nausea that I was feeling on the bike wasn’t settling either so I made it to my first turn and just kept trying to push. At mile 2 I hit the first aid station and just the thought of eating something made me want to dry heave so I grabbed an orange slice and water. That would just have to do for now. I started to think back to a training run I had where I miscalculated the heat and ended up running in similar weather in the middle of the day and actually ended up making my way to my parents’ house and finish on the treadmill.

I tried to think of strategies I used to help get myself through that run and the only thing I could really use since my parents’ house was not an option was running to the “shade” I rewarded myself with 15 – 20 seconds in the shade of a pole or the spotted shade of the leaves from the few trees. That seemed to work for the first 4 miles. Run, find shade, run, find shade, it was after I was watching people on their second loop pass me by that really got to my head.

Now, looking back, fully rested, and not in the thick of it, any logical person would shake the exhausted, nauseous and overheated Dellany to remind her that she started over an hour after these people. But it’s the mental game that really gets to you at this point. I was so frustrated that my feet hurt so badly and in a way I had never experienced before and I didn’t know how to “fix” them. I started to beat myself up. I wondered why I spent so much time training if I couldn’t even use it. Why did I work so hard training if I was going to be walking during this? Just writing this takes me back to that place and brings me to the verge of tears.

I made a deal with myself to run 3 min and walk 1 min I had heard of that method for controlling your heart rate so I hoped that would help me just get through the next part of this race. If I am being perfectly honest quickly discovered that I don’t have the patience or self-control to execute that technique. While I was walking, I was cursing myself and beating myself down and then when I started running, I wasn’t able to be proud of myself for keeping up the pace and just running. So I went back to running to the shade.

I nearly cut off this older guy trying to hug the edge of a fence but luckily I still had my manners to turn around to apologize but as soon as I got out “so sorry” he cut me off…. he was the first person on the run to cheer me on “its okay don’t worry about it, you’ve got this! Hug the wall and use that shade!” He gave me just the boost I needed to push through, or I just blacked out because I don’t remember much of that last mile other than struggling through until I found Morgan at the end of the first loop!

Oh my, I cannot remember ever being so happy to see a friendly face and the part that about made the tears spill over was that it was my human! I started to walk in the shade of the bridge and tried to wave Morgan over, HE JUST STOOD THERE TAKING PICTURES OF ME!!! Looking back, I cannot believe that it seems like I am smiling! Because I’ll tell you what I was mad that Morgan wasn’t walking over to me! I had just hit half way and an hour and a half had passed. After finally getting him to come talk to me, I expressed my frustration to Morgan that I was 30 min behind pace and my feet hurt so badly and he was just so confused which made me so frustrated. “You are doing fine! You’re going so fast!” I thought, “Wait, I am?” so I asked “I’m going fast?” “Yes, keep it up, keep going” …..

So I left. I started loop #2 I realized I forget to ask Morgan where my friends were on the run, maybe that could motivate me to push faster or to look for a friendly face. But there was no way I was turning back to ask. There is something so exciting and so exhausting about starting a second loop. I was so glad to be starting all of my lasts, but also dreading all of the 2nds I was about to do. I really tried to reel my mind in this second loop because I was losing the mental game.

My feet were screaming more than ever before and I was still sick to my stomach but I had been able to eat oranges at every aid station and started pouring ice down my top and water on my head and it seemed to just get me through so far at least. I must have been able to get lost in my thoughts for at least a part of the next mile or so because I all of a sudden remembered the ice burns on my ankles and frantically threw the ice out of my top because I couldn’t tell if it was touching my skin or not…. It didn’t feel cold, nor did it feel like it did when I got my burn but for some reason I had a fear that I was about to get an ice burn in some uncomfortable places….

I kept up my normal pace and became okay with it after I realized that I needed to let go of all of my preconceived expectations of how this was going to go. I became okay with my pace as long as I didn’t get slower. When I walked, I walked faster. When I ran, I ran steadier. I cheered myself on out loud “c’mon Dell, you’ve trained for this, you’ve worked for this, YOU PAID FOR THIS” I still to this day laugh about it but it was night and day difference getting myself through the second loop.

I was struggling up an incline when my watched buzzed because a text came through, my mom had texted me, cheering me on when I needed it most, I had to choke back the tears and thanked my momma for the encouragement in my heart. I have my phone with me in my belt for tracking purposes for Morgan but I cannot use it. The only way I can read a text via my watch is if one person (not a group text) comes through my phone. My mom’s text was a tender mercy and an answer to a prayer. *choke back tears*

I tried to push a little harder and get into my zone. Something I hadn’t really been able to do so I tried to think about fun things I had done or rewards that I can give myself if I can keep it up. I thought about the finish line and seeing Morgan again and then our after race rituals…. Then I thought about Cheese fries…. and almost cried!!!! oh man! I want cheese fries! The tears were really starting to come so I forced my mind to wander somewhere else.

Miles slowly came and went and I was able to make it through to mile 10. “5k that’s all you have is a 5k, 3 miles… that is a warm up, you can do this! Another girl in my age group ran up to me and introduced herself,

“Hi I’m Hallie, I’m in your age group want to run with me?”

“I would love to, but I have to pace myself with my feet here so ill try to hold up for a little”

“Sounds great, I am chafing so bad on my thighs that its bleeding”

“Holy crap girl, you need Vaseline on that, did you ask for some at the aid station?”

“No I didn’t know they had some”

“oh yeah, they have some, put some on that right away, you keep going but I’ve got to slow it down here.”

I started to walk in the shade as promised to myself as Hallie ran on and then I continued after I walked through the shade. It turned out that somehow I was able to pass her up and got to the aid station a little bit ahead of her, I gave the volunteer a heads up, “someone needs Vaseline!” and yelled to Hallie, “Its over here!” and then kept going. The funny thing about that whole 15 min or so, I was more worried about her legs than I was about my feet and I realized I needed to just keep going. Hallie seemed to be just fine after that and ran right past me and on to the finish. As much as I tried to keep my mind off the pain it was easier said than done to ignore it. I ended up picking up the pace though, I was about 2 miles out and I started to count. Yep, I counted

1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 …. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 …. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 …. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 …. over and over and over again. I have officially lost my mind! . I said it out loud or thought it in my head, whatever I needed but it wasn’t enough to celebrate running to the next tree, I needed to celebrate every set of 8 and just keep going. That’s when I let myself wander into dangerous territory and think about being clean again…. Oh man a shower. I just wanted to be clean again! I was emotionally so exhausted because queue the tears, I had to stop thinking about a shower and being clean before I started crying over it.  I was coming up to the last mile aid station when an older guy came up to me

“we are getting close to the last mile right?”

** looked at my Garmin ** “yeah, we are .2 away from 1 mile we can do it”

We made it to the aid station and he took off

“you go get it!”

Even with a mile left I still honored the promise to myself to walk in the shade. I looked past Ricardo who was now walking again and saw the bridge where I saw Morgan before and that meant I could see the turn off to the finish! I looked at my watch and saw that I was about ¾ of a mile out and if im going at a 14 min pace…. And I didn’t stop I will be done in no longer than 7 min…. This is it dell, DO IT!

So I picked it up, I counted to 8 and looked at my watch. I counted to 8 and checked my watch, eventually I only had 4 min left, I can do anything for 4 min! Before I knew it I was passing that girl who passed me at the very beginning. Ricardo was cheering me on as I passed him and I realized that I may not have gone full bore like all those passing me but I somehow was able to catch up and pass them at the end. I passed a lady getting an IV in the back of the medical team’s golf cart, and then I passed the last aid station! It took all that I could to run up that final hill to the finish line. When I got up there, before I entered the shoot, I took a second to let the two girls ahead of me go through because I wanted my moment, I ran through, spotted Morgan and Arielle, and of course heard “DELANIE ANDERSON!” (what’s new! This Delanie girl takes all the credit) hahaha!

The last and final time the tears were on the verge of pouring over was beyond the finish line, after the medal, it was right after pulling out my phone and receiving the overwhelming support of family and friends, messages, texts, calls you name it. I could not believe how many people took time out of their day to follow or watch me finish this crazy long day.

Oh My Gosh, I have never been so drained. Ive been in more pain, I mean just my ice burn itself was more painful than this race, but I’ve never voluntarily been so drained mentally, physically and emotionally all at the same time. In fact, there wasn’t pain, (besides my feet ) I was just numb, I didn’t even notice the nickel sized blister on the back of my heel until I took my socks off...I have to be honest, I was a little mad that the medal was so small, and the finishers hat is not cute at all but honestly, for a distance so long, the medal will never be big enough. I don’t know why I do it. Other than having the opportunity to prove myself wrong. I know the second that I think, “There is no way I can do that” I’ve already challenged myself. The gauntlet has been tossed and it will happen.

Morgan let me go home and shower but he was dying from hunger, I had to cooperate, he earned a good hardy meal after his sacrifice. I had no desire to eat. I had

snack pack of lays potato chips that must have been laced with gold they tasted so good but after that there was nothing that I felt like eating so Morgan got to pick dinner. I forced myself to eat a Red Robin burger and drank glass after glass of water. My feet still felt stiff even after dinner. We headed back home and  I realized I had not gone to the bathroom since the morning even with all the water that I drank on the course. I realized just how deprived and dehydrated my body was, but to my credit I never felt hungry. (it took about 48 hours after the race to get everything back to normal)

I did meet my goal. I wanted to finish between 7 – 7.5 hours, 13th in my age group, 314th overall women and 1000th overall. I finished an hour before the cut off so really, I finished so I can’t be mad about that. But I couldn’t shake the frustration about my run being so rough. I even remember thinking “Dellany, do not forget that you are giving it all, when you wake up a week from now rested DO NOT think you could have given more. Do not forget you were in pain and you gave it everything you had” …..But that doesn’t stop me from wondering… how much better could I have done if my feet weren’t so sore…

Ive read all about the “after race blues” and I thought there was no way I was going to have to worry about that because I was going to run a 13.1 on thanksgiving. Ill have something to look forward to… but I was wrong. I became a little disappointed thinking back and getting mad that it wasn’t some crazy life changing experience, in fact, I didn’t feel more accomplished… the race and the distance just didn’t seem as cool. When the impossible became possible it was like it lost its magic.

That is why it has taken me so long to write this report, I needed to distance myself from the event, sleep, sleep and more sleep, Ive been able to run and bike again. Not because I had to, but because I wanted to. The more time goes by the more proud I am of what I accomplished. I became apart of a “club” I have done a half ironman. When I look back at those 7.5 hours. it didn’t feel like 7.5 hours. It actually felt much much shorter. I am so grateful for Morgan and his support I believe that Morgan’s willingness to sit out there in the blazing heat to support me makes him crazier than I am! I have learned so many valuable lessons about myself be fore during and after this race that I cannot see myself learning in any other way. I was so excited to come home and see my puppy and my house decorated by my sweet in laws!

This whole experience was something else ill tell ya and mark my words…

I am not done.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *