After blowing my expectations for the bike out of the water (I was thinking it would take me around 7.5 hours), I started the marathon at 3:27pm. As I ran out of the transition area I told a guy next to me, "I'm ready to run a marathon".
It was pretty hot out at this point, and a lot of the nice cloud cover that we had on the bike had disappeared. I knew I had to run as far as possible before starting to walk. My pace started out a bit quick, but because of a small incline the first mile I was able to bring it down to right around 9:45 pace. I grabbed water at the first aid station (water only) at .25 miles.
Still looking good
From that point on, it was a "get to the next aid station" game. I didn't know if Mike had made it out on to the run course (he started his run around 2:46pm), but I wasn't worried about him at this point. I was able to take two energy chews around mile 2 (at the second aid station), though it did take me a long time to get them down.
Even though it was hot, I was keeping cool by dumping water on myself and putting ice in my top. I was worried that my feet were going to be destroyed after the race, but luckily I only had one blood blister on my right foot.
I was able to run without walking through mile 3.5 or so.
Our families and Rob had positioned themselves near Churchill Downs because they could see us multiple times in the same spot. The run course was a 2-loop out and back, with a small out and back within it (near Churchill Downs).
The first people from our group that I saw were Mike's mom and Rob. Rob was holding a sign and I could read that it said "Jamie" and used my name to make sentences, but I couldn't read what it said. I even told him, "I can't read it!" I was able to get the gist and he told me, "it basically says enjoy your experience!" (He also made Mike a sign that said, "I wanna be like Mike").
I said on my Facebook, "I was touching myself all day, but I didn't think when I was near our people"
I saw Justin and Hanna next, and Hanna said, "Mike is just up there!" My mom wasn't much further away and she was taking photos and cheering me on.
The last person I saw was my dad, the song "Don't Stop Believing" was playing and he told me that Mike wasn't very far away. I was running and walking a little bit at this point and I ran until I could see Mike!
We high-fived, I told him I had dropped a chain on the bike and we continued on our way.
At this point I was having a hard time eating, but I was able to take in some Perform at most of the aid stations. All while still dumping water on myself and putting ice in my top.
Still looking strong around mile 9 of the run
The turn around for the first loop was at mile 7.5 or so. It was so hot outside, but I knew that I just had to keep moving. I never walked a full mile, and while my slowest mile was 13:40 something, I never let it get to me.
While out on the course I was able to see Gabi and Pablo! We all high-fived and seeing them gave me a boost that I needed at that point. Pretty soon I saw my dad, while I was walking, and he walked with me for a bit. He told me that I could finish even if I walked the rest of the way. At that point, I knew I had to start running again and I said, "well I'm not going to".
Smiling through the pain
I ran for as long as I could and then I saw my mom, brother and Hanna. I got to the out and back, where Mike's parents and Rob were and ran to the turn around point and then walked through the aid station. As I got to Rob again I told him that I couldn't eat anything anymore (I had taken one of the Shot Bloks margarita chews since my first two energy chews). He told me to try and then I was back on the main course. Mike's mom said something about how Mike was in the same boat as me, and I assumed that meant he was doing well and running/walking.
At this point in the race, I knew I had to get as many calories as I could in me through liquids. I started taking either Coke or Perform at each aid station. I was also able to eat a few grapes. Aid Station 6 was one of the most amazing aid stations. All of the volunteers were so friendly and the girl announcing that it was "aid station 6" was full of energy!
At one point I passed by two guys walking, and they were talking about how long it would take them to finish if they stayed at the pace they were, and I said, "you will get there faster if you run". They told me that they were waiting until the humidity and temperature went down.
When I saw Mike the second time, I believe I was walking and he was running. He ran over to me and we kissed this time. I told him, "this is hard" and he said that he knew. I begrudgingly left him.
The worst part of the race, in my opinion, was approaching the turn around to start the second loop of the run course. You literally pass right by the finish line, and for a second I thought I had missed a turn until I could see the two signs. One pointed straight ahead and said "Ironman" and the other pointed to the right and said "second loop". So mean.
I turned to the right and this is where the special needs bags were. I told the volunteer holding mine out that I didn't need it and continued on my way. Right as I was running past one of first aid stations on the course, I saw Pablo and cheered him on! I didn't know it at the time but he was approaching the finish! I had also seen our banquet table friend and we high-fived and another guy from Rochester that I had met at our bike shop. Seeing so many people that I knew, in some form or another, really helped me get through the race.
A little while later I saw Gabi and we high-fived, I didn't see her again but I am so glad that she finished!
When I approached our people again, Rob told me that he would see me at the finish. At this point I had just hit single digits and I almost said something to him (because I love to hit single digits), but I thought about it in my head. Mike's mom was talking to me about how I was one step closer to my goal, and at that point all I could do was nod. I couldn't use energy to talk very often.
Looking like a drowned rat
I saw my mom, Justin and Hanna one more time before leaving them to continue on my way. My dad was the final person from our support crew that I saw and he told me that I was in 15th place in my age group (I think I was really in 18th at this point) but hearing that gave me the boost that I needed to try to pick it up. He told me that they were all going to the finish line and to tell Mike so that he knew when he went by their spot on his way to the finish line.
I loved the volunteers and the music that some of them were playing at the aid stations. The sun was starting to go down and as I passed by the mile 22 sign (on the other side of the road) I knew that I would get to Mike pretty soon. At one point, I had said to myself (but outloud), "alright let's get this thing done".
I saw Mike, we kissed one more time, I told him about how everyone would be at the finish line and then said, "now go become an Ironman!" He told me I was on my way to becoming one too.
I was still taking in Coke, Perform and water whenever I could. One volunteer at an aid station asked me if I was on my final loop and I said yes. I loved that they tried to be as personal as possible! One sign that really hit home for me was "one day you won't be able to finish an Ironman, today is not that day".
I made it to the final turn around of the main loop and when I hit 20 miles, I broke the final 6.2 miles into 2 mile chunks. I kept thinking just get to 4 miles. At one point I thought "mind over matter" and then I thought of what one of my best friends Crystal said to herself during her first marathon, "you don't mind, it don't matter" over and over again. I didn't know it at the time but Crystal, Isaac, Sarah, Janell and so many of our other friends were cheering us on online (there was a thread that had over 370 comments on it).
I got to the last out and back near Churchill Downs and as I did I could see downtown in the distance. You made a small turn to the right and then there it was again! I had also seen our table friend from the banquet again, we high-fived and he wished me well.
At this point, I was so close. I got excited when I only had a 5K left, I could do a 5K. Then I only had 2 miles left! Then 1 mile! I just kept trying to run as much as possible and apparently I passed 155 people during the marathon!
When I got to the final aid station before the finish, I skipped it, and a guy asked if I was going toward the finish. When I said, yes, he said, "only .6 miles to go!"
I walked one last time and then kept running. I turned the corner and there on the sidelines was Rob. He cheered me on and ran withe me as I made the final turn onto Fourth Street Live. He yelled at me, "you are an Ironman!" and I said, "not yet!"
There were so many people cheering, it wasn't quite dark out (it was dusk since it was 8:44pm), and there was a guy right ahead of me. I wanted the finish line to myself so I chicked him, ha. I could hear people cheering for me, I heard my name, and then I saw him. I saw Mike, he had a medal around his neck, he was an Ironman! We tried to high-five but I missed him.
I was almost there, I smiled, I put my arms up and then put my hands on my head in shock that it was over. My 140.6 mile victory lap was over.
13 hours, 20 minutes and 28 seconds after I had jumped into the Ohio River, I crossed the finish line. And I heard the sweetest thing that I have ever heard in my life, "Jamie, from Rochester, New York - you are an IRONMAN!"
My volunteer put my medal around my neck, got me my finisher's shirt and hat and then I told her I had to sit down. She had me sit in a wheelchair, I'm not sure why since there were chairs, and I told her that I wasn't going to pass out. She asked me if I had stopped my watch, and I said that I had. Another guy came over to make sure I was alright, and I said I just had to sit for a second. When I felt alright to get up, I had my finisher's photo taken (my volunteer made sure to tell the photographer it was my first Ironman) and then she brought me to the end so I could get to my family and Mike.
Mike and I kissed and hugged, we were Ironmen!! I hugged my family, we took a photo and then I had to sit down again. After I felt better I was able to hug Rob and Mike and I figured out that we could take the shuttle to the transition to get our stuff.
We ended the night sitting in the hallway of the hotel with my parents and Rob (after taking showers) and then eating a pizza with Rob close to midnight.
I still can't believe that it is over. This dream that we have been working toward for a long time. Officially for 6 months and in reality since we started the Couch-to-5K program back in April 2011. I am so proud of us. We just wanted to finish and, I think, we had amazing first Ironman finishing times (Mike is amazing and had a sub-13 hour Ironman!)
The support that we had on the course, online and everything in between can't be beat. I am still emotional when I find some new comment that I missed initially. The number of people rooting us on was phenomenal, I couldn't ask for anything better!
Ironman Louisville, you were good to us!
Run Leg (26.2 miles) - Jamie: 5:16:50 (12:05 pace), Mike: 5:30:02 (12:35 pace)
Finishing Times - Jamie: 13:20:28, Mike: 12:52:57