"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."
2 Timothy 4:7
IRONMAN Florida has come and gone. It seems like the past 7 months went so very slowly but now looking back, it went by in a flash. I honestly hated training. You know...you've kept up with me... You saw my struggles with training and you saw my victories... Well, here is my story.
We left for Florida on Tuesday night and drove half way, then completed the trip Wednesday. We were so excited to get there. You could FEEL the positive energy there. The excitement and the anxious feelings. We got checked into our condo overlooking the beautiful Gulf of Mexico and immediately went to get checked in.
IRONMAN Village was hopping with hard core athletes. I felt a bit out of place and people were probably looking at me like "oh, what a sweet wife to come and support her husband..." Ha!! Little did they know, I was one of them! We got checked in , got all our goodies and had a nice relaxing evening.
Thursday and Friday consisted of a short run, short swim and the athlete dinner. Denver and Brita also participated in the IRONKIDS run. They both did great and I am so extremely proud of them! They were both already exhausted from the long couple of days before, but stuck it out and had a blast! By the way, I was the NUMBER 1 fundraiser for CTF. In total Jason and I raised $24,401! This could not have happened without the love and support from all of you. I am overwhelmed with how much my friends and family (and even strangers) GAVE. You gave money, love support, words and prayers and we are forever thankful to YOU!
The night before came, and I was calm. I could totally feel the contentedness I had been praying for the past 6 months. Yes, I was a little anxious, but I knew I was ready. I wasn't afraid of the water anymore and I was 100% ready to tackle this!
3:30 AM Saturday came quickly. I felt rested and excited. It was a weird feeling. Very somber, and quiet... but my heart was pumping with excitement - UNTIL I looked at the weather. There were several warnings that morning. The first was a wind advisory. It literally said gust up to 40 mph and "Automobiles may have trouble driving" with the gust..... UMMMMM! HEEEELLLLOOOO, I'm a 110 pound little girl on a bike, what does it say about THAT?
Another warning was a RIP Current warning, advising all people to stay out of the water today due to extremely high winds and strong currents. It was a double red flag day and the ocean looked ANGRY! This is a picture of a safety boat being tipped over due to the current and waves. Not something that you want to swim in. I even read one of the pros say that he had never been in water like that.
On top of that, the temps had dropped at least 20 degrees. It was a freezing 40 degrees. (ok, northerns, I live in Texas...60 is COLD)
Jason and I packed up and headed down. We got all of our gear ready, got our wetsuits on and headed down to the beach. There was a crowd trying to get down there, so we were standing in line when I heard "everyone turn around, the swim is cancelled." My heart sank. You'd think of all people, I would be happy about this... but I was devastated. This was my day. My time. The ocean swim was my biggest fear. Not just in training, but life in general...I've always been afraid of open water and I was paralyzed with fear when this started. BUT, I was ready. God had prepared me. He gave me confidence and strength. I was ready to face my fear and when that was taken away from me, I wanted to just cry.
We moved on to a TT bike (time trial) We were being released on the bike course by 2's every 5 seconds. My mind was already out of the game. I was freezing and disappointed and I was just not into it. The bike started out extremely hard. We were pushing against close to 30 mph winds. There were times when the cross winds almost pushed me over and caused me to fall. I had to start before Jason because my BIB number was earlier than his. I was 25 miles into the bike and ready to throw in the towel. I was plain miserable. The mind games going on because of that swim being cancelled were strong and telling me that I was done. It was really hard to push against the wind. I had a low BIB number (462) and so I started fairly early. The bad thing about that was...there were 2500 others starting behind me, and passing me. These people that started an hour or so AFTER me, were flying by me.
Jason caught up to me and we stopped at the 2nd aid station. It was at that point when I told him I was done. I wanted to quit because I didn't think I would finish. I figured that it wasn't even worth it since we didn't even swim. Jason encouraged me to try a little longer and make it to the next aid station. (they were about every 10 miles) Thankfully I listened to him, because less than a mile down the road we turned and had the wind at our backs. Of course, not for long. There were several turns that put us back in a head wind making this the most challenging 112 miles I have ever rode. It felt more like 300!!! We ended up finishing in 8 hours. that was one hour over what I was expecting to finish the bike in. Now that I look back, I don't even know how I got over wanting to quit. I was literally crying on my bike....sobbing. Jason's encouragement and perseverance from Jesus got me through.
Once off the bike, we went into transition and changed into our running clothes. Met up and headed out for the 26.2 mile marathon! The second we ran out my dad and Denver were there. We were so excited to see them and it gave us a boost that we needed.
I am 100% surprised about how well the run went. I apparently rocked my nutrition on the bike and was fueled to go on the marathon. MY FIRST marathon ever, by the way! The first half was awesome. Once we got to the half way point we saw our moms waiting for us as well as some of the CTF team. By the way...I LOVE the CTF team! The BEST CHEER TEAM EVER! They sure know how to make a girl feel like a rock star!.
The second half was good - just a little slower. It got much quieter and a lot colder.
We finished in 14 hours and 31 minuets. Although slow, there's plenty of time to fit a swim in there!
Overall, AWESOME experience. One that I will never forget. I gained some amazing friendships and the training and doing this IRONMAN with Jason is an experience that has brought us closer than ever.
Now, here's my struggle. With the past 7 months of training we have worked 100%. We worked our booties off and have sacrificed a lot along the way. From the first moment... actually from ALL OF MY LIFE... the fear of the open water has been in me. A fear that I never thought I would face. A fear that kept me in shallow waters (and going on cruises). A fear that I never thought I would overcome. With prayer, practice and support... I was ready to face that fear 100%. There was not an ounce in my body that was afraid of that swim. I was ready and I WANTED to do it, and because of the conditions that day, that chance was taken away from me.
"An IRONMAN triathlon is one of a series of long-distance triathlon races consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a marathon 26.2-mile run, raced in that order and without a break. It is widely considered one of the most difficult one-day sporting events in the world."
Whats amazing to me is that I actually finished. Period. Regardless of the swim being present...Jason and I crossed the finish line. I have to keep reminding myself that the conditions were terrible and IRONMAN Florida has been said that it was MORE difficult even with the swim absent. We finished the race that was set before us. We did what was given to us. and when we ran across that finish line. I heard... "Katy and Jason Wakin..... YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!"
Will we do another IRONMAN? Most likely, yes. We are looking at doing IRONMAN Texas in May 2015. We feel like we want to get the full 140.6 miles in. In a way, I feel selfish for wanting to do this, but my heart and my mind needs to complete that swim.
God is good, in every way. He protected us from the rough waters. And watched over us the whole time.