I went through the 1st 6 miles moving pretty well, but to my annoyance Klingler caught me at mile 6…. He went out in 6:44’s! I was impressed and tried to go with him. We ran together for a mile when a guy in his age group passed. I said, “There goes your kona slot, you need to go.” Secretly I was thinking, “this move needs to be made but it may over extend him and then I can pull him back once he blows.” Evil… I know. But I don’t like losing, even to my friends and teammates. Well… especially to them. We talk a lot about beating each other and losses are not forgotten quickly.
I watched as he went up the road. It looked like it was just Klingler’s day. Ugh. My body was starting to not cooperate. Just as I entered a dark spot, it got worse as I got news that Inch was 30 seconds back. Son of a ^%#$... I mean… bunions that itch. He picked me up and touched my butt cheek soothingly as he went by… dammit. My race was unraveling. I was thinking that it was going to be my first walk fest disaster in a race. Mile 11 came and I hit rock bottom. I was thinking aid station to aid station. I stopped. I looted that aid station like I was packing for a week-long trip in the back country and set off again. The next three miles were rough and I watched, after a turn around, as Inch and Klingler battled about 3 minute up the road. I was out of it. I stumbled through just trying to put one foot in front of the other.
It was the weirdest thing though...Mile 14 came and suddenly, I came good! I kept thinking, "if you feel good, go with it and hit the gas". I pushed the pace and shockingly, 7:20 pace was doable again. I blasted and suddenly I was was reeling in Klingler. He was paying for his ridiculous 1st 10k and I moved passed easily. I was pulling people back all over the place and soon I could see Inch on the horizon. He was 1 minute up. 1 mile later, he was 20 seconds up. I started getting goosebumps as I hunted. Mile 19 came and I was 5 seconds back thinking how stupid this comeback was. I got on his shoulder and said, "Hey buddy, I'm back from the dead." I was ready for a rest. I could tell he wasn't expecting me as we talked a bit. We ran the next half mile together in silence. We had dialed the pace up to a point that was pretty uncomfortable so late in the race. We went from 7:30's down to 7:17's. Not pleasant. I needed to get away. NOW.
I needed to get some breathing room and settle back to an easier pace after breaking the rubber band. Literally it was the exact same scenario as the ironwar this year at Kona. Macca pounced when Raleart went for coke at an aid station. Our MSU ironwar went down the same way. We went through the aid station at mile 21 and I dropped back to grab some water and to watch how he was feeling. He went up and grabbed some coke. To my surprise, he slowed to walk for about 5 steps to get it down. As soon as I saw him walk, I jumped and took off like I stole something. The next mile was 6:50. I didn’t look back. I was running scared. I panicked, thinking that I made the move way too early and didn’t have enough juice to get home. The next mile was 7:10 and I eased up and looked back. He was gone. Still nervous, I settled into 7:40-8:00 pace and ticked a mile off. I saw my sister and told her to go get me a split to inch. She guessed at about 2 minutes. Whoa! It was the most ridiculous comeback I could have imagined. Once you are passed in an Ironman, coming back is pretty much out of the question…. I rode the adrenaline and pulled back probably 10-15 places over the final 10k. I hit mile 24 running 7:30’s and picked up a German guy who was shuffling. I had drilled the bike for about 5 miles coming into town with this guy and he took off on me at mile 2 on the marathon! I went by but he was a mongrel and didn't want to let a place slip away. He stuck on my back as I went by but I was having none of it. I ratcheted the pace up and we were flying at 6:50's. He was right there. I was feeling stupidly good and I turned the screws and closed the final mile in a 6:40 and spat him out the back with 600 to go. With 400 to go I looked at my garmin and saw 6:11 pace.... COME ON! I hit the finish and absolutely lost it. I shot my hands to the sky thanking God. I turned, almost in tears, to see the german come down the finish. I was so impressed with his fight. Not many people are racing at mile 25 in the marathon but he was an animal. He had a massive smile on and we hugged it out, laughing like idiots.
I couldn’t have written it better. It was epic.
Final time was 9:24 and 3rd in the 25-29 age group. It ended up being good enough for a Kona spot! No roll down either. Inch snagged a spot too in the 18-24 division with a 9:28. But the key is that I got my shirt back.
It is a dream. We are headed to the big island for MSU Ironwar round II.
ON TO KONA AND A DEUL WITH LONG TIME FOE: LANCE ARMSTRONG