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RACE REPORT - CAITLIN SNOW
Wow! What a week!
Got married AND won Ironman! Can you say, "Honeymoon in Kona?!" Tim and I secretly planned our wedding for just over a year. Before Friday morning, the only people who knew were me, Tim, the Justice of the Peace, the lady that issued the marriage license, two guys getting fishing licenses at the same time, and Heather Fuhr (got bib number to say "Snow" and start-list "Shea-Kenney"). We got up around 5:30 Friday morning, dropped invitations at the doors of each of our 15 house-mates, and headed out to tell our parents. We went to my mom and sister's room first. I handed my mom the envelope containing the marriage license and my sister an invitation. My sister (usually homicidal if awoken before noon) nearly jumped out of her skin with excitement, while my mother began to cry with joy. After letting it begin to sink in there, we moved on to Tim's parents. While not expressing it at quite the same decibel level Mikaela, they were also very happy.
At 2:45 we were sitting in the car waiting out an intense thunder (and hail!) storm. At 3, we were welcoming over 50 people to our Mirror Lake-side wedding. The sun came out, and everything went completely as planned! They even threw rice!
Saturday was spent eating, hydrating, reading, and sleeping. The only time we left the house was for breakfast, and to drop off the bikes. Thanks to Chrissie, we didn't even have to walk back up the hill to the house! Haha, she picked us up, took us to get lunch, and then brought us home. We were all in bed by 8:30.
Sunday started with breakfast at 3:20. At 5:15 we headed over to the race site, got body marked, dropped off the transition bags, took care of the bikes, and rendezvoused out on the street to get the wetsuits on. As we headed toward the lake around 6:30 we began to feel the first rain drops.
At 6:50, Tim and I took off with the pro wave. After a few hundred yards of insanity things settled down, and I got into a rhythm. After sitting on some feet through the second turn buoy I decided to try to bridge up to the next group. It worked, and as I linked onto the new feet I realized that they looked familiar. They were Tim's! I sat on his feet through the end of the first lap, came out right behind him, and started the second lap with him. To avoid losing Dave Harju's feet, I pulled ahead of Tim, and he latched on. Tim and I exited the water one after the other, earning the same swim split. Really, that wasn't planned, and we didn't hold hands because we were newlyweds!
I was in third starting the bike and felt great. I knew the power and cadence that I wanted to average throughout the ride, so, while staring at my power-meter, I ignored the other girls as the powered past me on the hills. By the time I saw Tim at the out-and-back on the first lap I was in fifth place, and on the second lap, in seventh place. There were many times during the ride that I had to remind myself to be patient and stay within the moment; times when I thought "I'm going to have to go back to teaching. I'm averaging the wattage that I can for the distance, and it's just not enough- I'm in 7th out of 11."
As we came up Big Bear (last significant climb) at the end of the second lap I got an excited feeling thinking about the run. My legs felt great, and I thought I just might be able to run myself into 3rd place. I came out of T2 in 5th place. I knew the pace that I wanted to maintain, and had to hold myself back as I ran through town and down the hills toward the out-and-back on River Road. By the first turn-around, I was in fourth, and, although I didn't realize it yet, gaining on Desire Ficker. Yes, I said Desire Ficker. As in "just competed in the Olympic trials for the marathon" Desire Ficker. As in "second place in Kona two years ago" Desire Ficker. As in "one of my idols" Desire Ficker. As we made the climb into town, I made my pass. Coming through town was insane! It was all I could do not to break down in tears of excitement as I ran past all of my friends and family. I had to remind myself that I wasn't even finished with the first lap yet! I calmed down and focused on maintaining my pace. As Jesse and I crossed paths he shouted, "You're in a great spot- just stick with the plan!" I headed back out of town and down River Road again. As Tim and I passed each other he shouted, "Just race smart!" I was in third, felt great, and thought I might be able to catch Hillary Biscay. As approached the turn-around people were giving me splits, saying that the girls were two minutes up. I stayed steady, and passed Hillary as we made the climb toward the horse grounds. When people started shouting "She's right there! You can get her!" I thought they'd missed the pass I'd just made, and was content with second place. Then I saw the motorcycle up ahead. "There she is! Holy crap! You might be able to do this! Calm down! Stay steady! Keep your pace." I slowly closed the gap on Kim Loeffler (another woman I've watched and idolized!), took a deep breath, and made my pass. I felt great, but was certain that she had grabbed on and was right behind me. As I passed the Econolodge and a huge group of my friends, I had to hold myself back- my pace was getting faster but I still had 3 miles to go! "Stay calm! Don't trip! Don't fall apart! Just keep moving your legs." I came through town, and, again, barely held it together. Once I made the left hand turn toward the final turn-around I let go and just let my legs do what they wanted, hoping that the pace wouldn’t be too fast. As I ran into the oval I could barely hear Mike Reilly over the crowd, and was picturing my mother and sister standing at the finish line losing their minds. I lost it! I crossed the line in tears! "Holy crap! You did it! You just won freakin' Ironman!"
I'm still working on getting a grip. Tim placed 10th, with the second fastest run of the day. Jesse was 4th in the entire AG race, and Wheeler got 4th in his AG in his FIRST IM! Pam PR'd by 50 minutes, and all my friends and athletes who raced made us proud!