Last year I posted my friend Peggy McDowell-Cramerâ€™s race report from Kona. I was pretty sure last year that nobody could every do more ironman races than she had done (without being completely insane like Chet the Jet), but this year she did another full Ironman in New Zealand, and went to Vancouver for the Age Group World Championships (where she didnâ€™t even say hello to me because she had to get to wedding in LA the same afternoon), and still had the energy to finish of her season with her 13th Ironman, and 8th time racing in Kona. Sheâ€™s 67.
Let that soak in for a minute.
â€¦[Left is Peggy in the Team US outfit. I took the picture off Slowtwitch]
Hereâ€™s her race report (Click here for the finish video at 16 hours 56 minutes 27 seconds):
a pretty hard day, that’s for sure. it was very satisfying to finish it, before the cutoff, and, of course, stop running. we had adverse environmental conditions in two-thirds of the race, and that tends to take its toll.
the swim started out just fine, but the water felt different at a couple of points—just harder to swim—so i gathered we were in some swell action. i had that confirmed when i got out and saw the time, which was seven minutes slower than last year. i did have a very quick transition (bike clothes are under the speed suit for swimming), so i still felt hopeful starting the bike. the small spur of road that starts the bike portion is lined with people yelling …much akin to the finish chute…and it tends to be an encouragement no matter how fast or slow one is.
the first part of the bike went well enough, and continued to do so until out on the queen K highway a stretch, when we were hit with a pretty strong headwind. this made up for the past few years which had relatively mild conditions. it was normally hot (in the mid-80s): i dont’ think i’m a very good judge of temperatures in the heat of battle. i take a bottle of water at each aid station and squirt it through the vents in my helmet; and even if i don’t feel like i need it, it always makes me feel much better.
the wind factor is slowing and annoying when it’s in my face/head-on, but that’s less harrowing than the last 18 miles to the turn-around (and back). good thing i reminded myself of it the week
before. it was windy. i asked about the velocity afterward and heard one report of mid-30s. i think that was a low-ball estimate. it’s wearing, as i’m nervous i’ll lose control and go over, of course, so
it’s a real tension producer for that stretch. i was thrilled to get out of it. i was hoping that the headwind we had would be a wonderful tailwind the last 30+ miles, but that didn’t pan out, either. it was more of a side wind, and that left things at the usual place: do what you can. all in all, i’m a stronger biker than last year, so was still pretty pleased with my time.
the end of the bike is a valet service affair, so all one needs to do is get off and start running into the transition area. i’m already out and on top of my shoes, then swing my right leg up and over the saddle as i’m braking to the dismount line, then put that foot down and start running, letting go of my bike. and the bike catcher does whatever he’s supposed to do—i don’t look. but as all of this transpired, some woman volunteer there apparently thought something was amiss, or that i was in trouble or whatever….she called out something to the effect that i shouldn’t worry. ????? i told her i wasn’t worried.
the transition tent has volunteers and i always ask for a helper as soon as i enter the tent. that went well. then i take the bag in my hand (gotten from the rack, by #), empty it at my feet, and tell the helper what i want, in what order. she wasn’t particularly fast or adroit, as she got each thing somewhat wrong, but as i was taking off my bike shirt and accepting my run shirt, my left hamstring went into a take-this! cramp. as i was moving this way and that, trying to find just how it would be stretched out and quit, an abdominal started to cramp. this disrupted our conversation a good deal, but engaged a massage volunteer who offered to massage my hamstring. i thought i was better off moving forward, one way or the next, so declined, got my shirt on, got my shorts on, sat down, greased my toes, socks and shoes on, and made a hasty exit.
the run start was pretty good, as things go, and i saw many friends racing and spectating/cheering, so it was a fairly upbeat time. we do a little over five miles out alii drive, which is usually one big sauna, and it wasn’t as bad this year. there are structures on both sides of most of the road, even though the ocean is one of the sides, and there are a lot of trees, so it’s extremely humid. i still douse myself with water at each mile/aid station. i used ice more this year, to undetermined effect. i put some down my front a few times. held some in each hand sometimes, and used a big hunk to ice my face here and there. it’s still hot. it’s still a real slog.
i was, as aforementioned, better on the bike this year, but my run completely fell apart and was a sorry shuffle. or worse. i’m tempted, on this monday after the saturday race, to say it was an
embarrassment. however, it’s the IM, anything can happen, and it’s all good if you’re still moving forward on your own steam, and hit the line before midnight. and i did. but it was pretty close.
the finish line on alii drive is wild, and this year was more electric and overwhelming than ever before. announcer mike reilly said the same last night at the awards banquet. actually, he said that before running a film clip of late night finishers, which had several seconds of my own happy arrival. i sort of get teary and gooey just thinking about it, so suffice it to say that it was overwhelming. when i stopped i had mike on my left and two photographers in front of me. then i hugged mike, and immediately got grabbed by three other friends, before being taken by my catchers. and then i needed them because i was very unstable. after going forward for so long, any side to side movements are very unsteady, and i’m reduced to a stagger without leaning on my catchers. but they are there for that purpose, take you to get your finisher’s shirt and medal, give you water, see if you’ll eat pizza or cake, and help you go up the two steps to have your finisher’s picture taken. as for the cake, i saw that and told them, flat out, that it looked simply disgusting. after more than 17 hours of ingesting only things ending in ose i was pretty repelled by the thought of sugar anything.
an l.a. tri club couple met me at the finish line, too, and they very nicely helped me get my bike and walked the blocks over to my condo with me, and—here’s the great part—carried my bike up to my third floor unit. i was wondering how i was going to feel doing that, and ..god lives and intervenes in human affairs…i didn’t have to do it. then i got clean. ate a little protein. and got out flat.
sunday started just fine, with a great time at church, then seeing friends, packing, etc. a bunch of us got to the dinner line early (so we wouldn’t be part of the radio ministry/actually could see something), so that was a very good time to see more people and socialize.
ironman puts on some entertainment, film clips, as mentioned, and winds up with the awards, age groupers first. as this started it began to sprinkle. and then rain. and then the theatrics started. a complete mess and scene ensued. some of us got under the tables, many headed for the small space under a couple of canopies over the food serving area and, naturally, didn’t all fit. there was a strip under the tables that was dry, which is where i sat, but with the downpour that became a lake, so my long dress was all wet in the back. i and others came out when the rain abated somewhat, and held folding chairs over our heads. this might look odd for a person to do, but there was a sea of wet souls doing it, and it looked like something from a comedy movie. at last it was time for our age group to go up, waiting to go on stage for awards, so the chair was out and we just stood in the rain. this year each of the five award winners in each AG got a braided lei, a umeke bowl with the appropriately engraved brass plate on it, a ti leaf lei inside it, and a watch. when we walked off stage my friend and i turned our bowls upside down and found they’d been almost a quarter full of rain. from there we watched the pro women get their awards (hasty), and the poor men didn’t even get that much since the sound system had now gone out. it was over, we splashed the two blocks to the condo, stripped, put on a beach towel, and wrung out lots and lots of water before putting the clothes in the dryer.
so, a wet, but quite good end to a wonderful finish line end of a very tough race. just living that finish and having that throng of people simply wishing me well and enjoying the end with me is huge. maybe more than that.
Thank you Peggy.