You are an Ironman!

SSSMST’s Jeanne DeBonis took on the challenge of the biggest triathlon on the planet – the Ironman World Championships at Kailua Kona, Hawaii!  The race that EVERYONE knows.  It’s been a race that has had unique challenges every time out (this is Jeanne’s fourth!) and this year was no different…..

I seem to be plagued with disastrous races in Hawaii and this was be my fourth time there. I knew I had to do some things !differently.

I trained differently – in fact, I trained harder than I ever have for any race. By the time I toed the line in Kailua Bay on October 11, I felt I was in THE best athletic shape of my life, like I finally deserved to stand among all the amazingly fit athletes there. And I truly believed things would fall into place this year. But during my taper, I had worrisome pain in my left hamstring – an injury that I’ve been rehabbing for the past two years. Something just wasn’t right, even during the easy days of running, riding, and swimming in Kona. But I just didn’t believe it would become an issue on race day.

If you’ve read anything about Ironman Hawaii this year, you already know that swim conditions were rough and the cross-winds on the bike have been quoted as “the worst they’ve been in the last 15 years.”

Having a blast getting started on the bike!

Having a blast getting started on the bike!

For the swim, I was about five minutes slower than expected. But, because of the rough water, I had a blast in the bay that morning. On the bike, everything seemed to be going well despite the horrific cross winds. My nutrition was good – timing was an issue because it was hard to take my hands off the handlebars in the wind. It was only in the last two hours of the bike leg that I realized things were NOT ok with my left hip and hamstring. I started feeling pain and weakness on my left side, and all I can attribute it to is having to fight the crosswinds. Things continued to go downhill and I had to make a decision getting off the bike: (1) try to run (possibly limp) the whole marathon, potentially cause more damage, and/or have to drop out or (2) walk the marathon and secure the finish. When I got off the bike, the pain in my hamstring was excruciating and I could barely take a step forward. I was able to get a shuffle going out of transition, but by mile 8, I realized it would be better to just stop and walk the marathon and avoid doing anymore damage that might cost me next season. I knew I could finish if I walked.

Once it got dark, it got a little tedious, but I arrived at the finish line, smiling, well after 13 hours, with my worst time ever in an Ironman. But I finished. And I think (hope) I avoided a serious re-injury to my hamstring. And I learned something new: it’s NOT EASY to walk a marathon.

Finishing in style, with a smile!

Finishing in style, with a smile!

And despite a sub-par race, I had an amazing time in Hawaii.

Congrats on capping off a pretty killer season, Jeanne!!

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