It was an amazing journey to even get to the starting line. Getting to the finish line was like the cherry on top. Training for this thing really was fun and life changing. I made new friends and became closer to those that I already knew. I saw the most beautiful places from the saddle of my bike and during the solitude of those long solo runs. I realized what an amazing group of people I am surrounded by, and I found out what I'm made of.
There was also the other side...the early mornings almost every day for 3 months when all I wanted to do was pull the covers over my head, the throbbing muscles and broken will that brought me to tears more often that I would like to admit, missing time with friends and husband because I was all-consumed by Ironman. But it's true what they say. The finishers chute makes it all worth it.
After a long season of training, followed by an even longer day of racing, I saw mile marker 25 and knew it was only 1.2 miles away. I could hear the music from the finish line, the people cheering in the stands, and Mike Reilly announcing the finishers. Then I came to the split on the course -- "1st and 2nd loops go right, finishers go left". I finally got to go left. You turn and wind through an empty parking lot. Then spectators start to appear. I saw Jon and Tom and stopped to give them big hugs and exchange congratulations. Then the final left turn. It was sensory overload...the insanely bright lights, the roar of the crowd, and the feeling that everyone in the world is looking at you. I got to see my friends and family and give them all high-fives. The finishing arch kept getting closer, but really, I wanted to stay in that chute forever. I crossed the timing mat, put my arms up, and heard the voice of Ironman finally say my name. I am an IRONMAN!
I can't thank everyone enough for all of your support, the overwhelming amount of messages, and all of the understanding from you. When we get back home, I'll sit down and write a proper race report and post more photos. But right now, I get to go enjoy an awsome vacation with my husband. Finally!