In case you’d rather watch the video of the race report instead, just click here. Much better scenery. Haha
Ironman Hawaii World Championships Race Report Jeff Walthew Heath Ramsbey Donna Howard Rohling Rita Lempke Sheila Rippy Whitlow Alexandra North Steph Hance Dana Spark Karen Golden Jamie Golden Hauschildt Riley Hauschildt Chelsea Rohling Reem Jishi Kyle Cassas Jeff Massey Courtney Frigid
Posted by Nicole Ramsbey on Thursday, October 18, 2018
Part II in T1
I got everything I could out of my bag nutrition wise knowing I was so depleted that even if I could ride, I was going to have to play a game of catch up without puking again. I slowly walked unassisted to my bike, secretly frustrated I was wasting so much time walking, haha! I got out of T1 and am trying to mount my bike when the guy in front of me almost takes me out b/c he’s fallen. Getting on the bike and the first 5 minutes were pretty sketchy, and I’m so sorry to anyone near me. I had faith that if I shouldn’t have been on the course, I’d been pulled. The last thing I ever want to do is impact someone else’s race. The rules I’d been given was don’t turn your head. I also found I couldn’t look down or up, so I just tried to focus on each cyclist in front of me and in that straight eye line. I luckily had a loop that took me right back by the start of the bike where I hear my family yelling. I stopped (almost fell over, such a joke AND caught on video) and gave my son the biggest hug ever and told him mommy was ok and that it was just going to be a longer day.
The bike really was all about focus, I soon realized the HR zones and instructions written on my arm were out the window. My focus had to be on nutritioning quickly yet being smart b/c I couldn’t afford to keep throwing up. I did really well on my 1st hour getting in what I needed, or what was on schedule to do, which was MUCH MORE than for a typical IM, but I’d trained and prepared for this. I tried to take break the ride up into 5 mile intervals, using that as my goal. The way out to Hawi I didn’t feel well and felt like I was travelling in slow motion, I couldn’t look side to side or up and down without getting dizzy so I just had to downright focus PLUS smile enjoy what I was able to participate in….which I did A LOT OF. So many people reminded me to do this, and that was when I was going to have a “normal” race. I embraced it 110% especially with the issues I was having b/c I almost didn’t get to that start line. I was even a little pissy that I wasn’t getting the true Hawaiin experience of HEAT and WIND! I know, I’m a little weird, but it crossed my mind frequent. I kept wondering when it was going to hit. I had many bottles to go thru in the 1st 3 hours, and I’d packed all but 2 with ice, unfortunately it didn’t matter. Even on a great day, they got warm by 2.5 hours if not earlier. Hindsight, I’d frozen all but 3 of my 6 bottles for the 1st 2-3 hours of the ride. I was still battling the nausea from the vertigo so I just started getting creative at aide stations. One pic shows my option for something ice cold….haha! The photographer was there just for me, am I right? Fast forward to the turns towards Hawi turn around, all I could think of is I hoped my Sarah and crew were at the turnaround and had my meds that needed to be called in. I got to the turn around and just wanted to cry seeing them, I stopped (this was a trend, haha!) and realized they didn’t have the prescription meds and told them there was no way I’d be able to run that marathon or even attempt it without meds since I was struggling this bad on the bike. They told me to buck up, get moving, and that they’d do what they could. I hated I was adding extra stress to their day, but just couldn’t fathom more miles feeling the way I felt, much less conquer that marathon. The turnaround was also welcomed b/c I got my new bottles which I’d frozen that had my ideal nutrition in them. Unfortunately, I only got about 2 of them before they turned hot as well. The only good news was my plan didn’t call for nearly the amount of bottles as the 1st half. The other great thing I was look forward to at the turn around was the well known Hawi winds. Jeff and I had ridden it earlier in the week and it was AWESOME. What scared Jeff just made me excited, my coach had well prepared me how to handle the downhill windy section along with a few articles regarding this race so I felt excitement at the thought of having them again. My excitement was for nothing; it became obvious Ironman Hawaii was having the most IDEAL conditions ever. IT WAS A BUMMER! I will say, God and others were probably looking out for me, as the vertigo was challenging enough and I probably didn’t need additional factors adding to my day. The ride back explained why the ride out to Hawi felt so slow, the speed was much faster coming back and it was obvious there was a good tailwind.
As far as drafting is concerned at IM Hawaii, if you’re a female racing at my speed, it’s not an issue. The men start 15 minutes ahead of the women, and I didn’t qualify for this race by being 1st in my age group at another IM like the majority of these people did. So unlike most IM races where I’m an upper middle of the packer, at this race I was WAYYYYYY in the back. So much so that they were opening some of the roads on my way back into Kona.
Back to the rest of my ride, I literally kept myself moving and focused by dreaming of seeing the fam and support crew AND getting meds. I don’t remember the mileage, but I remember rolling up on hill with this random guy standing on the side of the road, and I look a bit more only to realize it’s my dad! I stopped (again), gave him a hug, cried a little, and was surprised to find some more of the support crew right over the hill. No meds, but just the push I needed. Energy wise I started feeling better and like I could push a little more. By mile 104 or so I saw Sarah and crew, and prayed they had my magic juice AND that it’d make me feel better. Sure enough these crazy amazing people were able to come through. Alex, one of my friends, tried to be discreet about what they were doing, and I told them not to worry about it. I was like, this isn’t on the unapproved meds list, and I’d GLADLY take an unauthorized assistance penalty to get through this race. They quickly got this funky thing put behind my ear, and gave me some nauseas meds, and sent me on my way. I FINALLY get to T2 and get off my bike, hand it over, and decide it’s time to test out what this run would be.
I jogged very slowly to the tent where I sit down, lucky enough to have my good friend Steph Hance volunteering and there to take over. She was happy I wasn’t crying this time, IM Chatty last year was rough, and I may or may not have lost it in T2 due to pain. She put my shoes on, bending over would’ve sent me over the edge, and did everything else necessary, and then told me to not waste time and get going. I slowly jogged out of T2 trying to figure out how this running thing was going to work. My HR zone quickly got thrown out the window after realizing I had enough to focus on just moving forward, and adding something else would be too much. I found that if I looked forward and watched someone ahead of me I could function jogging. My tummy was still not ideal, and the smallest lost of focus on that person in front of me would set off the vertigo. Looking at the ground, turning to look at someone, looking at my watch. I mean it was straight up ridiculous looking back, but I found something that worked and went with it. The worst part was running along the ocean, the mere smell made me want to hurl after puking so much on the swim. I saw ½ the support crew in front of our condo at mile 3 or so and they were absolutely HYSTERICAL. They really are a force to be reckoned with, and I’d go so far to say I don’t think any group could have them beat on excitement, screaming, and entertaining they provided. I hit the turn around on the run, pass them again laughing the whole way, and then roll up on the 2nd half of the support crew. I stopped and gave my sister Chelsea a hug, along with the rest of them, thanking them for being out there. They asked if I’d caught Jeff (bestie) yet, and I said, nope, not yet! I knew Jeff was about 2-3 miles ahead of me, and he’s had some plantar fasciitis issues that may impact his run, but I never anticipated catching him with how I felt. My legs really felt good, the things I struggled with were the vertigo and tummy. I was excited to be able to jog, make it up the hills still jogging, and just remember 10 months prior I was having back surgery. I stopped at most aide stations, tried to keep things slow per coach’s orders, and kept my focus on athletes in front of me. At around mile 9-10 I saw this athlete ahead of me (walking, tehehe), and I knew it was Jeff. Throughout the day, I’d really tried to take in the beauty of Hawaii, the chirping of the birds (Lilly), and all the things that make Hawaii so amazing. When I caught up with Jeff I remember hearing the birds, and I felt like Lilly was telling me this was meant to be. Lilly was a great friend who passed earlier this year, she was young, loyal, fun, fearless, and so incredibly strong. She expected the same of those around her, and literally got me through each portion of this race, especially the swim where I could’ve easily given up. Seeing Jeff at that particular moment, I knew it was meant to be for Jeff and I to finish together. Keep in mind, we’ve 12 IM races together at this point, and we’ve ALWAYS raced our own race. Never leaving an inch for the other one to gain or pass us. The 1st question by friends and family for Jeff is always, but did you beat the girl? I stopped and walked with Jeff, he tried to tell me to go on, he needed to do his own thing. I told him I had vertigo, who knew what I could even do, and that he could lead the pace and I was going to stay with him and just follow his lead with no pressure. His foot was bothering him, and he needed to do a walk/jog. We had a super nice lady with us from Brazil who spoke no English, but obviously enjoyed our pace as she stayed with us the next 13 miles. Walking didn’t make a difference on the vertigo and effects of it, I still had to keep the same protocol as before. I tried not to get bummed as I thoroughly enjoyed viewing the beauty in front of me, but so wanted to see EVERYTHING around me. I remember being in the energy lab and the huge wave crashing sounds, but I simply couldn’t turn my head to look at it. I tried to make jokes, laugh, and just enjoy being with Jeff. We’d never done this, and whether it helped me or him or both of us it was priceless. Coming out of the energy lab was hysterical, 1 mile away from highway and we could hear our peeps. The athletes around us were laughing, and some would ask if that was for us, we definitely claimed them. You’d think we were the leaders at the Tour de France. At this point they’d seen Jeff and I together going into the energy lab and weren’t sure as to whether I was going to leave him or not. When we came out together I believe they were all a little happy. They started to speculate then that we may finish together. Leaving the energy lab was nice, we now knew we had to conquer Queen K and then it’d be downhill from there. The best part was about ½ a mile out of the lab it turned into a torrential downpour. I started singing, as some of you know I tend to do at times. The song that came out at this point was, It’s Raining Men. So the Brazilian lady laughed at us a lot, there may have been some gas involved….but the BEST part was when I sang the part of the song where it goes, It’s raining men! And she busts out HALLELUJAH! So she may not have known English, but she knew that song. With 3 miles left, she finds her hubby and jogs off with him to finish the race. Around then I think Jeff and I start talking about the finish, deciding that we started this journey together, and we are going to finish it together. It’d been a no brainer for me from the start of me catching up to him. We approached one of the last downhills and I told Jeff that if he couldn’t run past the turn, then he needed to walk now, b/c once we turned that corner we were jogging, taking it all in, and cherishing that moment. He begrudgingly walked down the hill, and through the finish line we went, hand in hand with Mike Reilly calling us the Iron Couple, HAHA! Everyone got a kick out of that.
The race was priceless, the fact we had so many friends and family there was simply humbling, and the support I’ve received from Atlanta Bread Co. through each Ironman to get here is crazy, Frigid Cryo to help keep this broken down body moving, and #Lillystrong for her ongoing presence and fighting spirit to keep me moving. My hubby, Heath, you’ve backed me, believed in me, and helped me through 12 years of fighting to each Ironman finish line to get here, and we made it! My parents, you rock! Dad never missed one single IM. Jeff, thanks for coming up with this goal and adventure, it’s been a fun and memorable one I’d not change for anything.
Never give up people, and dreams do come true.