I sat in the T2 tent changing and trying to regroup for the run. My garmin was messed up so I only had an estimate of the time that I had to run the marathon. I thought it was alittle over 7 hours. I headed through transition to run and TriSharkie was walking toward me. I knew she was way ahead of me but did she finish? No, she had chest discomfort on the bike thus spent an hour in the medical tent. After an EKG, she promised to "walk the marathon". We both headed out on the run course. TriSharkie moving much faster than me.
My plan for the run was to do a 5 minute run : 1 minute walk. The bike had taken much more out of me than I had hoped. From doing previous marathons, my fear was to bonk and not finish. I wasn't sure how much was left in the tank. I reversed the ratio to a 5 walk: 1 run. My nutrition went out the window also. The thought of any more Infinit flipped my stomach. I ditched my fuel belt and used the aid stations that were well stocked with bananas, oranges,grapes, pretzels, flat Coke, chicken broth, and water. It was like a buffet.
The run course was an out and back half marathon done twice. I liked it alot. The first loop I never felt like I was by myself. I absorbed everything along the route. I saw House, Bino, and Hooch all at different points on the course. The course went past the Hilton (host Hotel) 4 times. Each time that I went by there and the crowd that was there, I gained new energy.Everything was good except the clock was running out. Unlike the bike course, I was not hitting any low points.
After the turn to my second loop, I grabbed my special needs bag. Luckily, I had thrown in a jacket as the temperature was starting to drop. I also grabbed my glow sticks and reflectors that I had packed. I ran across the bridges toward downtown Wilminton. It all looked so beautiful lit up at night. The darkness of the run and quiet of the night was calming. Maybe too calming.
I reached the turn around in the park to head back to the finish. Now I knew it was game on and I had cut it way too close. When I reached mile 20, I looked at the time on my cell phone. 90 minutes was left to finish. A phrase from an IM Kona came to mind, " I am like Rainman counting toothpicks". With 5 miles left to go, I knew that I had to run the rest of the way to the finish. Although not panicking, I now was on a mission and needed to focus.
As I was running, I fell into a steady pace. I was running back into downtown and past the Hilton. There were still people there bundled up and cheering. It was just what I needed. I still felt good and pushed on still knowing I could make it.
It was with 3 miles to go when the most amazing thing happened. There was a guy on a bike that appeared out of nowhere. He introduced himself as Brent the director of the run course. He told me he would be escorting me to the finish line. I would be the last offical finisher of the race. Holy Penguins!! Here I am with 3 miles to go, 45 minutes left on the clock, and 2 big bridges ahead of me. At this point, I knew I had to dig into a place that I had never been before. Brent called the finish line and let them know that we were on our way.
There were still people on the course cheering. I passed the final aid station with 2 miles to go and did not take anything to save time. I crossed the first bridge with the metal grating. No Problem. Then came the second bridge. It was a steeper, higher incline. I had only walked this and no had no choice but to run up. Brent told me to breathe and focus. He talked me all the way to the top. Once there I looked to my left and could see tha Battleship lit up. He called into the finish line to update our location. He looked at me and said, "You are Iron. I don't know who will cry more at the finish, me or you. At the bottom of this bridge is mile 26. You have time." Chills spred across me body. A certain realization of what I had accomplished came across me. Every emotion of the day flashed in front of me.
I ran down the hill and got to the turn into the park for the finsh and there were my 2 kids waiting with flowers to run me in. Tears started coming down. Brent's voice told me that I had 7 minutes left and to look ahead see the finish lit up.Brent disappeared at this point. I made the final turn with my kids and could see the finish line. There was House, Snips, Sharkie, and Ed waiting for me. I crossed the line and the time was 16:56:16. The announced said, "Karen Mehrbrodt, From Bolingbrook, Illinois- You have reached the Battleship!" I DID IT!!!!!! Less than 4 minutes to spare. And there was House with the finishing medal to put it around my neck! It was the high of a lifetime. Something that no one could take awy from me. I am Iron!!
I learned alot about myself out there on the race course. I travel through every emotion possible. But most of all I found how deep that I could really dig into my inside to achieve something that I really wanted. I know this journey will not end here. It is a new beginning.
My reward was a tattoo on my right shoulder blade because this day was something that no one can ever take away.