Sunday, April 25, 2010

"Friendly" Ironman South Africa...

You know how places have names, like "The Aloha State", the "Sunshine State", the "Windy City", you get the idea. Upon touchdown the airline attendant says, "Welcome to the friendliest city". I've been hearing a lot of rumors about Port Elizabeth being "super friendly" and I must agree....on a day like Ironman Day it was VERY WELCOMING!
Everyone in transition this morning must have had their coffee because they were so kind, lending bike pumps, helping zip up wetsuits (thanks by the way), giving sunscreen help, one man even came right over and introduced himself and told me he hopes I get dolphins on the swim! He's my new friend from the friendly city!
This morning I woke up and it felt like my wedding day, I was that excited and that ready. It was as if something I had worked hard for, invested my heart into, and wanted was about to happen and nothing was going to stop me from stepping up to that start line and walking down (or jogging down) that finishing chute. It was the best race morning feeling I've ever had pre-Ironman. Perhaps it has to do with the lead up, super healthy, super happy, some of my best training sessions, lots of support, and confident in all coach had taught me and our game plan.
Going into the race I was going to be a ballerina, really. Did you know that a ballerina has to have perfect focus on one spot while she spins or she falls over? Today I was going to have that same focus, on my goals, while spinning, (or in my case enduring the Ironman highs and lows). No matter what....focus.
The ocean was beautiful, it reminded me of a day back home, some chop and some salt. Loop one I was lucky enough to have feet to follow. Loop 2 I was on my own but no stress, I swim solo in the ocean all the time and chop and I are a ballerina, keep the focus, no stress that you are all alone in Great White Shark land. Out of the swim I felt like a million bucks, strong and ready to ride.
On the bike my focus point was "patience". Coach wanted a good a good swim, good bike, good run. We weren't thinking of a Kona slot, the goal was getting 3 good sports on a single day, something I've yet to do in a very long time. So I had to be patient on the bike, ride my own ride, and just do my own thing. I started the bike second and made no attempt to hunt down number one girl, just ride and if I reeled her in cool, if not no biggie and if any woman passes me stay in touch if I can and if it's out of my pace be patient. The plan was brilliant. I felt strong the entire ride, nailed my nutrition, and when I was on the final miles I wanted another loop! That has never happened to me on a bike ride. The ballerina approach was working wonderful!
It was all smiles in and out of T2, just a few feet from the leader. My new focus point was mello first 4 miles, then find my goal pace, hold. That was it, no matter what the rest of the world was doing that was my plan so I could finish the day with a good swim, good ride, good run-ballerina style. Well, My legs felt this pain I have never felt. It wasn't that tired-shake off the bike legs pain, it was like my knees wanted to buckle and the legs didn't want to have help from the muscles. Hard to explain. I was totally salted and hydrated. Loop one was the typical Ironman style run but really forced to even have it that pretty.
Loop 2 the quads didn't want to help so it felt like I was running on ligaments, joints, and bones without any muscle help, again hard to explain. By the time I got up the hill for the second time my feet didnt want to come off the ground, in fact those ice sponges all over the ground kept tripping me because I was shuffling that much!
Ballerina, ballerina, focus, focus. I was frustrated. My head was totally there, my stomach was happy, it was as if everything for a good run was in place but the legs were locked. Loop 3 was almost funny but I wasn't laughing. This loop was only complete thanks to the good folks of the friendly city. 3 loops means you pass the crowds 6 times. At one end a man kept calling me "half naked girl" thanks to my Splish and he was cheering so loud, "lets go half naked girl, we love you". Another guy was calling out, "lovely run view, lovely run view" and believe me the run I had going was FAR from lovely! Of course seeing Pam & family was incredible too! Oh, the life guard I made friends with, Beve, was out there all day too and he even ran next to me for 5 seconds trying to make me laugh, VERY FRIENDLY CITY! Everyone made me laugh and smile despite the pain and frustration of feeling perfectly ready to run but barely managing to get my feet off the ground. Oh, to the man that asked for a lunch date (see, very friendly people on the run course), only if you pack my bike for me....and to everyone else, THANK YOU SO MUCH for giving up your day to cheer for all of us!
Entering the finish shoot was bitter sweet, my good run never happened, but my focus was there and that has been something we have been working on. Lots learned, new friends made (in fact, Face Book had 14 friend requests from people I met on the course today alone!) Is this city really that friendly!?
The massage tent was the only thing on my mind after that run, however they sent me to medical instead. After taking all their little tests they said I had a mild case of hypothermia. The laughter poured! How in Africa do you get Hypothermia?! My core was too low so I had to stay under a heat blanket for a while and get all the tests done and get back to normal. One highlight was the physio from "THE" Rugby team of South Africa coming to examine my legs. A little discovery was that a 40 hour trip, sitting legs bent, cutting off blood circulation caused the blood to pool in my legs. It created the brick like effect that makes the muscles lock up. Then getting in the cold ocean where the blood isn't flowing well to heat me up caused some mild hypothermia. Suppose on the swim it doesn't matter because you just drag your legs and on the ride you have no gravity either, but the run is impact and well, you get the inability to lift your legs over sponges.
Thought I would be sad, but I was reminded that I am living a dream, being here in Africa is something I've had on my dream list for many years. The Ironman was just a cherry on top and I learned not to fly 40 hours 3 days before an Ironman, they recommended 10 days for a trip that long (IN case you are planning a half-way-around-the-world-Ironman).
Tomorrow I wanted to go in the cage to see the Great Whites, can't do that though because of the COLD, so it looks like I'll have to find some other adventure. Thank you all so much for the long distance cheers, I'm cheering for you too!
NIGHT from South Africa....

....Photos courtesy of IM SA.


Blogger Molly said...

It makes me teary and smiley all at once to hear how supportive and welcoming everyone was for you!!! Rockin job on the swim and the bike and - you know what - despite everything that happened you stayed strong and finished that run in the top 10 - that's phenomenal!!!! Great job all around, Bree!!!

April 25, 2010 at 12:45 PM

Blogger rr said...

Congrats Wee, another crazy race under your belt, more lessons learned, and still, even when it's not the day you wanted, an awesome end result. Travel safe! xo

April 25, 2010 at 2:14 PM

Blogger Beth said...

Congrats Bree!! How amazing that you survived that run so well despite what was going on with your body. One day you are going to nail all three and WATCH OUT!! So happy for you that you had such a great day and met so many great people! Safe travels home!

April 25, 2010 at 2:16 PM

Blogger Katya said...

Proud of you!!! You did great, and next time, when the run "clicks", you're going to be unstoppable. Have a safe trip home. Lots of love. xoxo

April 25, 2010 at 2:25 PM

Blogger Melissa said...

Great swim and bike Bree, and way to get it done on the run too. When I heard the swim was going to be choppy, I thought "that will be perfect for Bree!"

Enjoy your day tomorrow and have a safe trip home! Were you really going to go diving with Great Whites? Crazy. Just Crazy ;-)

April 25, 2010 at 2:36 PM

Blogger Isela said...

Bree, great job overall! You did fantastic, you finished and you finished smiling! Go for the adventure and come back with a heart full of love and lots of new friends.

April 25, 2010 at 2:40 PM

Blogger Bob Almighty said...

Good Job "Half Naked Girl" I have to agree sometimes the cheering crowds are the best part of the Ironman run loop. Heal up and have a safe trip back.

April 25, 2010 at 3:55 PM

Blogger Dawn said...

Congrats, Bree! Way to finish top 10, so inspiring!! :) And how great that you met so many friendly people so far away from home! Hope you have a fun rest of your trip and safe travels!!!

April 25, 2010 at 4:26 PM

Blogger Caroline said...

Bree - fantastic job on your race today! Even though the run didn't go as you planned it physically, the fact that you hung in there mentally says loads about your strength and tenacity! You rocked the race, without a doubt!

April 25, 2010 at 5:00 PM

Blogger donna furse said...

I followed you all day and was just biting at the bit when I saw that you were either in 1st or 2nd off the bike. I knew something had to be wrong when the run wasn't going your way based on all your training. However, another wonderful journey and great learning experiences for you, your next ironman will be even better. Congratulations.

April 25, 2010 at 5:12 PM

Blogger Shannon said...

YOU DID IT!! Congrats! Most people can do nothing but lay on the beach or walk around after just the trip alone! You are incredible!(But not immortal!!) Safe trip back!

April 25, 2010 at 6:55 PM

Blogger Charisa said...

Great lessons learned and great attitude sticking it out. Enjoy Africa and have a safe trip home. You are figuring out this IM thing!!

April 25, 2010 at 7:13 PM

Blogger Caratunk Girl said...

You are amazing - you have the most positive attitude, and that mental toughness of yours is so inspiring! Congrats - man, I hope something changes and you can get into a shark cage, I totally want to do that too!

April 26, 2010 at 1:53 AM

Blogger Shelley said...

Congrats on your race, hope you can get some good rest now!

April 26, 2010 at 2:12 AM

Blogger Christi said...

Great job Bree!

April 26, 2010 at 2:54 AM

Blogger Coach Liz said...

Bree, you are truly made of iron! I saw that your swim time was fantastic and that you were a force to be reckoned with on the bike.

I have been in your shoes many times (not your K-Swiss American flag race flats, but you get the picture). Your run sounds like my run I had at Cozumel. I was tripping over the darn pavement. But hey, you were able to cross that finish line and that is the most important thing. You lived the Ironman motto, "Whatever it takes!" I am really proud of you #49!

Go find Kainoa a giraffe you can get on the plane home with you.

Safe travels!

April 26, 2010 at 3:11 AM

Blogger ONEHOURIRONMAN said...

That jet lag will not treat you well... I know.
Probably why all the athletes are from that side of the World at that one...
You'll nail it at the next one..

April 26, 2010 at 5:47 AM

Blogger Regina said...

Great race, even greater attitude. Thanks for continuing to be such a positive inspiration. Well done.

After barfing in NYC, bags and bike lost in transit, then hypothermia, girl you are one power house.

April 26, 2010 at 7:42 AM

Blogger Teresa said...

So proud of you learned, you lived, and you are still smiling!

Love it!


April 26, 2010 at 7:44 AM

Blogger ShirleyPerly said...

Wow, some good lessons learned on traveling before a big race. I never knew that before but have often traveled 12-16 hours the day before a marathon or half ironman. I can't imagine 40 hours ...

Congrats on another Iroman notch on your belt!!

April 26, 2010 at 9:28 AM

Blogger Lisa (bakebikeblog) said...

Congratulations! What a fantastic effort!!!

April 26, 2010 at 12:27 PM

Blogger Jamie said...

Amazing race Bree! I was following you online and cheering you on all morning from back on the East Coast.

You should be very proud of your focus on the run. You are a champ.

April 26, 2010 at 3:15 PM

Blogger Jennifer Yake Neuschwander said...

Leave it to you to give your all in the race and make friends in Africa. Of course the crowds loved you!

April 26, 2010 at 6:39 PM

Blogger Christina said...

Wow. What an amazing race report. I can't even imagine the feat your just accomplished. Great job.

April 26, 2010 at 7:00 PM

Blogger Oscarjet said...

Congrats AMIGAAA!!!
wow amazing race!! fast very fast!!
Me alegro mucho que lo hayas pasado tan bien en SA!!!!!
Estas fuerte y estaras MAS !!!
un abrazo muy grande!!!

April 26, 2010 at 10:50 PM


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