Monday, April 6, 2009

I Made It

I woke up Saturday April 4th, 2009 a little more optimistic than I've been in a while, it’s been a long time since I got a good night sleep. Well rested I showered, put on my tri suit and grabbed the only thing that ever settles on my stomach on race day, an oatmeal raisin Clif bar. After checking one more time making sure I had everything I needed, I headed for the car and loaded my bike and tri bag in the trunk. Nervousness was starting to set in so I cranked the radio as loud as I could stand it, opened the Clif bar, and began to drive.

I hit the freeway going a slow 65 mph, if you know me you know that’s not normal. After about fifteen minutes of driving I caught sight of a Tri Club sticker, it was on the back of a truck carrying a tri bike so I followed it. I was extremely nervous and didn't want to think about which way to go. After about a half hour I pulled into the parking lot parking next to the truck I followed up the freeway.

I pulled my bike and gear out of the car, put on my helmet, and walked about a block. I knew I had a long way to go so I decided to ride my bike instead of walking with all the people that were in no particular hurry and had someone to talk to. I peddled slow, weaving around people as I went thinking about the swim; I had to find a way to calm myself and just get through it. I arrived in transition and was surprised to see I was the first one there and would be the first to rack my bike on the bar…a first! After laying out all my gear I headed for body marking. I still hadn’t seen anyone I knew and I was in desperate need to talk with someone. After body marking I headed back to transition and there next to my gear were 3 other women. We began to talk about how cold it was and how many triathlons we've done. Out of the four of us this was our first half ironman and we were all nervous. I decided to walk around a bit more in hope of finding someone I knew and take a bathroom break while I had the chance, surprisingly I really didn't have to go. After more walking and chatting with any and everyone I headed back to transition and there getting her stuff ready was Chris D, I have never been so happy to see someone in my life; I ran over and gave her hug.

It was finally time to get ready for the swim. We put on our wetsuits, found a place to get warm, and finally headed to the swim start. Chris kept telling me to keep moving once I hit the water, just keep moving. Before I knew it we were in and I was swimming for the start. I was grateful for the little 100 yard swim to the start, it helped me acclimate to the cold water and it also calmed me down a little. Finally it was time to go, I put my head down and began to swim, after about 4 strokes kick number one occurred, not a problem just keep on going I told myself. I continued swimming and also continued to get kicked after about 4o or so strokes it finally happened. I got kicked so hard in the face I honestly thought my jaw was broken. I came up, looked around and made sure I could still open and close my mouth; my jaw hurt but it was OK. I put my face down and began to swim. Before the swim was over I was kicked 5 times, slapped 3, punched twice, and pulled under three times. With that being said I never panicked once. The swim was over, my mind was going a mile a minute...Oh my GOD I made it through the swim, OK where's my's time to ride!

After the mad dash to T1, I pulled off my wet suit and tried putting on my riding gear. I was having a hard time because I was so cold. I put on everything I needed and then grabbed my bike. While heading toward the mount line a volunteer pulled me to the side and asked me was I cold. By that time I was shivering so uncontrollably I could barely walk straight so he took me to the medical tent. There I was treated to a chair in front of a heater, a shinny plastic blanket, a cup of soup, and another friendly face of whom I recognized...Mark Kenny. After warming up in the tent for awhile, I escaped out the back grabbed my bike and headed again for the mount line; I was off.

It goes without saying, the Marine base is beautiful; I can't believe they're keeping all that prime land to themselves. The ride was one of the most beautiful in San Diego I've been on and it saddens me to know I’ll never ride those hill again without entering a race. As I approached mile 25 I saw the aftermath of an accident, there were a couple of guys lying on the ground with Marines surrounding them. I couldn't imagine what happened but hoped they would be OK. Mile 29 or 30 I hit the first hill, I wanted to walk so bad but my pride got the best of me and I peddled my bike right up that hill cussing all the way with the other riders cussing right along with me. That hill was ridiculous so I understood why there were so many people walking it. Hill two, three, and four were tiring but definitely not as hard as the first but the last one was the longest and took a lot out of me so at that point I was spent. I was only 45 miles into the ride with 11 more to go. Finally after what seemed like an eternity I was in T2 putting on my running shoes.

At that point all I could feel was pain; I couldn’t believe how bad my left knee hurt…the pain was off the chart. I actually started talking out loud to myself saying, you can do this…you have to do this…one foot in front of the other, that’s all you have to do. I grabbed my water bottles and started running. I had only run a quarter of a mile when I stopped looked around and said to myself, this is crazy…I can’t do this! All of a sudden I heard someone screaming come on Lisa! I looked up and there was Bill, I nearly cried…it was so nice to see a person that had faith in me when I had none in myself. I started running again, I gave him a fake smile and told him I was fine and kept on running. Once I turned the corner and saw how much more sand I had to run through I stopped again, I walked through it and once I hit solid ground I began to run again. A mike in I came upon the Tri Club Love Stop aid station where I saw Ron Lane and several other Tri Club members cheering me on, giving me motivation to keep running. Still running I saw more friendly faces, Chris D, Kevin K, Joe B, Buck W…all giving me motivation to run when they themselves were tired to the bone. Finally I was at the first turn around and running back toward the start. I knew I had to turn around and repeat the two loop course and in my mind I was trying to figure out how I was going to that. I hit the second turn around and a woman scream, “you made it, you’re almost there” I looked at her and said I have to turn around. She looked at me in shock and said, “OH NO” smiled and said, “Ah heck, you can do it!” It took all the power I had in my body to turn that cone, I wanted to stop so bad I couldn’t stand it. One foot in front of the other, that’s all I have to do, one foot in front of the other. I came upon the sand again and there was Bill still smiling and still taking pictures. I handed him my extra water bottle and said I can’t do this. He looked at me with a serious face and said sternly, “you are doing it and you’re almost there…get going!” I smiled, this time for real and started running with a smile, I had to finish. At that point I couldn’t walk if I wanted too; it hurt worse to walk than to run. I could no longer extend my knee, it was locked in the bent position and the pain was nearly unbearable. I will not be defeated passed my lips and I continued running. Every runner I came upon in the opposite direction I yelled to saying, we got this, smile we’re almost done! I kept this up until I got to the turn around and by that time I was nearly in tears because the pain was making me dizzy. My feet were beginning to cramp, I was hungry beyond words…the run had to end! I kept running through the pain, yelling at each runner we got this! We’re almost there! The sand, there’s the sand I said to myself…I hobbled over it and around the bend. I heard, COME ON LISA! Bill on the other side of the river screaming…shoot, I got to run I said to myself. I started running once I hit the pavement and continued until I came upon Shawn Moran. I was delirious with pain and hunger and honestly didn’t know which way the finish line was. Hey Shawn, where’s the finish…I saw him laugh and then heard him say, “Right there!” I looked ahead and then started sprinting…I saved that little bit to give my family and friends a show; I didn’t want them to see me hobble across the finish no matter how much I hurt. I made it, I made it…I began to cry when I got to the t-shirt table, a nice lady kept asking what size do you need but I was crying and couldn’t answer. She said, “It’s OK, you did something great today, I understand…what size t-shirt do you need?” I never answered and she just handed me a small and Cami escorted me to the food tent. Cami said, “You need to eat” and so I did, five pieces of pizza and a cup of pretzels. After finishing my food, I bid Cami a farewell and went looking for my family and friends…I made it.


  1. Lisa, you are my hero! I have no concept of how you would even start to get motivated, never mind struggle through all the pain and the psychological and physical exhaustion. You have indeed proved yourself a strong and magnificent woman. And... OK... You can stop now!!!! Once proven, a principle does not have to be re-proved!
    Seriously, you should be very proud of yourself, as we all are of you.
    With love
    Ro Harrison

  2. Thanks Ro BUT I can't stop, I have IM Utah in my site for 2010...then I can stop ;)