|The Finishers Medal|
Wow…A brief summary of my experience is, I am ecstatic with the whole experience.
The not so brief summary:
The drive down to California was pretty uneventful although I was concerned the entire time about my bike flying off the rack on top of my car.
We arrived at the Oceanside community center where they had the check in area for all the Ironman athletes. I jumped in line and slowly moved into the building. Once I got in they directed the athletes to a table according to their number. Why in the world does it always seem that I end up in the longest line. There were 20 people in the line for athletes with the numbers from 800-1200. I was number 942 so I waited while all the other tables had no one in them. They gave me a bunch of papers that I had to sign that pretty much said if I died or was eaten by a shark, I had no recourse. I happily signed my name, content with the fact that death would definitely be a possibility. I was lucky enough that a bike didn’t fly off my car while driving down here, I figured I would be lucky enough to make it through 70.3 alive…not well, but alive.
They sent us from table to table where we would pick up our wristband, so they can identify corpses floating in the ocean or alongside the roads, t-shirt and and race packet. After that, we headed to go watch a video. After 5 minutes I thought, “this is a waste of my time” so I left without watching the whole thing. Thankfully I didn’t miss anything important. I headed back outside to meet my family who were slightly annoyed that it took so long. We headed to the Ironman tent area where they had things for sale. If I had lots of money I could have bought a lot, but in the end I walked away with only spending $10 on 2 water bottles and I plan on giving those away, but I may not be so generous when I see those people later.
|Smiling after chowing down on the
Ultimate Meat Lovers Pizza
That night the family met up with my sister and her family and we went to eat pizza. For some reason I have found that pizza is a great pre-race meal for me. Since I had pepperoni pizza the night before (Thursday) I decided that on Friday night I would add canadian bacon and breakfast bacon to my pizza pie. My boy calls it the ultimate Meat Lovers pizza; anything with breakfast bacon is “ultimate” for him.
When I got home from dinner I headed for the bathtub where I proceeded to shave my legs. (They look really good. At some point when I am out running on the road and am wearing a hat, so that no one can see my receding hairline, some guy may think I am a hot chick with such fine legs).
I slept really well until about 2:30 in the morning when some doofus rode by our beach house on his skateboard. I thought that since I went to bed at 9:30 I already had 5 hours of sleep and I could get maybe a couple more…I was wrong. I finally had enough and got out of bed at about 4:30 and went to eat breakfast. I went with my usual pre-race breakfast of a protein shake and english muffins with peanut butter. Emily got up as well and started getting ready for the day. I went over my checklist one more time, checked my tire pressure and was ready to head out.
|My Bike – Thanks Clark for loaning it to me|
I jumped on my bike and Emily got on hers and we headed out for the 2 mile bike to the start area. We owned the road because there were no other cars out at this time in the morning. As we got closer more and more athletes joined us on the road. Emily had to veer off as we approached the staging area and I headed in. With over 2,000 athletes the staging area was quite lengthy. I found my rack and then headed to the body marking area. they magic markered (do you like that verb creation?) my arm and leg and then I headed to the porta-pottys. After 30 minutes in line I was relieved to finally go set up my transition stuff.
Emily finally found me, although she had to stay behind 3 guard rails to keep spectators away from the athletes, and more importantly, from the athletes valuables. The Star Spangled Banner was being sung so it was time to get in line for my wave. My wave had the light blue swim caps. The pros were silver and headed out at 6:40. They are pretty fast. We slowly moved closer and closer. My wave was #9.
I tried to start easy and then found my rhythm pretty quickly when the swimmers spread out a little. I was able to spot a buoy ahead of me and then just swim for it but I also relied on other swimmers as well, hoping they were heading in the right direction. Eventually I made the turn but I wasn’t quite sure, especially because I was a little surprised how quick it seemed I had got there. I just kept swimming and felt really good. The water temp was good although there were plenty of people complaining that it was too cold. Heading back I started swimming into previous waves. I started passing purple caps and yellow caps. I was OK except that every once in a while I would get boxed in between some slower swimmers.
|This is me with my face getting
out of the water afterI slipped
As you swim back and head back into the harbor you can see spectators along side the rocks. This is easily done if you breathe on the right side. This was a hint that I was getting closer, especially as more and more fans appeared. I then swam by a bait shop that I noticed when using the bathroom before the race and I knew that I was only the length of transition to the start, so probably a couple hundred yards. I rounded the final turn and spotted the exit. I went straight for it and swam til my hands could touch the boat ramp. They had helpers would would grab your arms and shoulders to help you stand up and even pull the zipper down on your wetsuit…but I stood up by myself just fine and then a helper tried grabbing my arm to assist and that is when I slipped. (That’s me with my face getting out of the water in the picture on the right.) No big deal, I jumped back up and headed to transition 1.
|On my way to go get my bike|
I was surprised how long it seemed to run all around the staging area. It was carpeted the whole way but it seemed like forever. We ran through a chute to the back of the area, by the bait shop, and then headed into transition. My spot was halfway in so I kept running, found my spot and started to strip my wetsuit off. I wore my jersey and shorts underneath my wetsuit so I didn’t have to worry about putting that on. I put my socks and shoes on, then my helmet. All I had left were my gloves and for some reason I couldn’t figure it out. My left pinky wouldn’t go where it was supposed to. I swallowed one Motrin tablet (200 strength-so not a lot), grabbed my bike and took off. I ran to the mount area clipped in and was starting my 56 mile journey.
The bike started off pretty good. There was a small hill right at the start where I had to shift to my lower gear but it was all good. A couple miles in I realized I forgot to put my glasses on in transition. At least I wouldn’t be able to see the mountains I had to climb until I reached them. The first 30 miles or so was mostly flat. Every once in a while there were some rolling hills where my speed would drop below 20 mph but I was consistently in the 24 mph area. I felt good in the aero bars and I was passing plenty of people, but with the wave start it should be expected. There were also plenty of people passing me as well, especially the guys with the disc wheels which make that cool sound. There wasn’t any wind that I could tell and I was cruising. My heart rate was in the 160s for awhile which was a little high but it slowly crept downward into the 150s. At one point we had to head up a small hill that was part of a trail system (for runners, not bikes). This was a single file, no passing zone so you could only go as fast as the person in front of you. There was a guy about 4 bikes ahead who was really slow so eventually a group of us decided to go ahead and move past him. I guess this admission could get me in trouble or disqualified but if I went any slower I would have had to stop and walk. There was also a flat area where I was going pretty well and a physically challenged athlete (I think that is the PC term) came cruising past me. It was impressive.
Finally after heading up the coast we turned inland toward Camp Pendelton (which will be referred to as the base from here on out.) It was a false flat for quite awhile as we kept heading inland. We officially entered the base and I was wondering where these hill climbs were that people were talking about. I finally saw the first hill. “You gotta be kidding me…this is going to suck!” As I approached I kept reminding myself that I had done the work and training, it’ll be difficult but I can get over it. For those familiar with south mountain from the Lehi side, this hill climb reminded me of that…but 35 miles into the race made it very sucky. One guy was off his bike walking and carrying his bike up the hill. There had to have been a mechanical problem because I can’t imagine why he would have been carrying his bike…bu the hill was steep and long. Everyone was struggling up. I passed up a handful, but again, I was also passed as well. It was nice to get to the top so I could catch my breath. I thought, “One down, two to go.” I didn’t count on the constant rollers which seemed more up than down. I saw hill number 2 and again had to tell myself that I had put in the training. This was longer than the first hill climb but not as steep, but not as steep isn’t so great when the length was double the first climb. My heart rate was racing, but heck, I was in a race. I finally got to the top and was ready for some downhill and was relieved because I didn’t think the third hill was going to be as bad. The downhill started well. I was going at 45 mph which made me a little nervous in the aeros. I saw some wind gusts ahead as dirt was flying across the road. I also noticed some of the other cyclists were swerving badly. I braced, and the crosswind nailed me. It was scary for a second but I was able to compensate and stay upright. (Later in the finish area I heard someone mention that they saw someone wipe out in that area pretty hard). The downhill leveled out but we were still going into a headwind. We finally reached the third hill. It wasn’t as steep as either of the other hills but it seemed as long as the second…but into a headwind made it suck real bad. I was talking to a guy near me and he said he loved the hills because he would kill it, but going downhill made him feel slow. He said he saw me pass him 4-5 times on the downhill. He didn’t have aeros which was a problem for him but he left me on the climb. I finally reached the top and was glad to be headed back to the coast. We still had about 5 miles to go and I knew that I would be just off my goal time but I felt pretty good considering the hill climbs. I passed Mr. non-aero bars one more time and pushed toward the finish. Riding into the chute area was great except that meant I had 2 hours left.
I dismounted my bike and ran in my shoes the couple hundred yards to my bike rack. There were only 1-2 other bikes on my rack so I knew I was doing pretty well. I was able to quickly change my shoes and head back out for the run.
|The run along the beach|
I felt pretty good at the start of the run until I looked at my heart rate and knew that 169 was no good. I thought, I am in trouble, I can’t do 2 hours of this. There were tons of people cheering so I tried to enjoy the moment and ignore things like pain, heart rate and more pain. I saw the winner of the race pass me going the other way as I was less than a half mile into my run. The women pros were going through the halfway point and passing me. They run crazy fast, and after the swim and bike, it is really impressive. I was tired but kept pushing. the run along the coast was great with tons of people cheering. Then we headed up a hill and onto a street between houses, so we weren’t right next to the ocean anymore. With houses on both sides it cut the wind and seemed a lot hotter. This area had a lot more inclines as well which seems like huge climbs at this point in the race. There is one big hill that you have to climb but I was able to keep pushing through. It was awesome to see my family who were standing out in the driveway at the beach house we were staying at. It was good support. When I hit mile 3 I thought “only 10 more miles…oh crap.” I was moving, not very fast, but still running. I kept plugging away thinking “In one hour I’ll be back at this point and that much closer to the finish.”
The halfway point turn-around sucked because that meant I still had half to go. I did pretty well hydrating. I would drink the water and gatorade, then pour water on my head. Grab sponges, squeeze them out on my head or pin them on the back of my neck by putting them in my collar. The coke was good when I got it. I didn’t take a lot of gels because it seemed like I would always be too busy with the other things and would miss them. My energy was running out but I finally hit the last checkpoint which meant I only had 3-4 miles to go…but I knew I was close to being in trouble as far as energy. I had a gel in my jersey and hammered it down but had no water to help it. I was struggling at this point and was in the housing area where it seemed hotter. I passed through a great aid station where I was able to get some more water and gatorade and I knew that the turn to go back to the beach road was only 500 yards away…but I bonked with about 200 yards to the turn (and about 2 miles to the finish) I had run the whole way at this point, never stopping or walking. I couldn’t do it any longer and I started walking. I was thinking that these last 2 miles could be ugly because I could no longer keep up my run. I was frustrated because I was at pace to be under 2 hours, but here I was walking.
I hit the turn to go down the hill towards the beach and thought that I should at least run downhill. This actually hurt the muscles really bad with the pounding of the downhill but it got me moving. It kind of woke my body up and from then on I just kept moving. I figured I was moving at a ten minute pace so with 2 miles left I only had 20 minutes to go. They moved by slowly but I eventually moved to mile 12…I could count the minutes on my hand. As each minute passed I would close a finger down from 10, 9,8,7,6…and then I could count the minutes down on one hand. Less than a half mile to go. I crossed the bridge which meant I would shortly turn and only have 2 relatively short straight-aways to go. I felt bad for all those people who were turning at the half-way turn around point, but it felt great that I didn’t have to. Only one minute to go. I was on the final straightaway. I was smiling and I heard the announcer say over the loud speaker “Look at the smile on 942…Charles Romeril…Give this athlete a cheer as he pushes for the finish.” I probably ran the fastest at this point than any other during the half-marathon. It only lasted for a couple hundred yards and I had to slow down…but the finish was in sight.
|In the finish Chute|
I was ecstatic as I crossed the finish. Completely elated. I was hoping for a 5:30.00 finish and thought I was close. My run was a few minutes over my goal and so was my bike but I thought I made up some time in the transitions and had no clue about my swim time. I gladly grabbed my medal and placed it around my neck. They also gave us a cool finishers hat as well.
I wobbled a little through that area and a medical person came up to me and ask if I needed help. I told him I was fine and he didn’t seem convinced. I told him I just finished a 1/2 Ironman and just need a second to get my legs under me. I thanked him for his concern and then stumbled to the massage line. After about 10 minutes I made it in. There was a guy who was checking people in and asked me what hurt. I told him that my shoulders hurt and my lower back. Again, major concern. “Dude, I just did a 1/2 Ironman, everything hurts, I’m fatigued, let me go lie down.” The therapist who was assigned to me was great but by the time I walked over to her my quads started seizing up. I decided that instead of the should and back I will let her work on the quads and hamstrings. These people are great. They rub people down who are stinky, sweaty and quite disgusting. It was great.
|Glad it’s over|
|She’s happy she’s married to an Ironman (well, 1/2 of one)|
I then headed to the food tent. They had cold little Cesare’s pizza which was not good, especially compared to the “Ultimate Meat Lovers” pizza from the night before. I threw it away and grabbed a gatorade and water and just wanted to get out of there. I headed back to my bike rack and Emily and my sister Lisa were there…three barriers away of course. It was great to be finished so I slowly started packing all my things, put on a change of clothes and headed towards the exit. The crowds were huge which meant that in order to get through we had to walk on the sand which wasn’t any fun. We were finally able to jump on our bikes and ride the 2 miles back to the house. There were tons of people still on the roads…of course that would continue for another 4 hours.
I made it back to the house and felt really good, probably the best I have ever felt after a long-distance event. I was able to wind down and then start eating. I had probably burned close to 10,000 calories which meant I could eat whatever I wanted.
My official time was 5:24.15. Again, I am ecstatic with my performance and next time I will make sure to put on sunscreen…because I am really hurting 2 days later. I also have some deep muscle soreness in my quads. but overall, I am feeling great and….
I AM 1/2 IRONMAN!!!!