Wednesday, July 15, 2015

the run :: IMCDA

 My first thought was to wish Jordan had been along the 'run-out' chute because there were some actual smiles here. I don't remember exactly where I finally saw him again-but I wish he hadn't missed the smiles I managed as I ran out.
Oh Hey! No more bike 

As I headed out the chute, I heard some yells. For the most part, I hadn't been registering cheers but I looked and saw my dad and Lori!! These pictures basically cover all the emotions that I went through as I realized it was them, and make me laugh a little.

They hugged me tight (even covered in sweat!) gave me more encouraging words, and assured me they'd been there throughout the day. I was so grateful to have a moment of words with them, and know they were proud of me. I was determined to fight to the finish, even if the race wasn't what I wanted. I ran on a little further and at a gap in the fence... BEN! I immediately teared up again, stopped and hugged him so tightly and told him I made it home. I could tell he was giving me his 'tough kid' smile though he was definitely concerned about his mama throughout the day.

After that, I made it out onto the run course feeling a little lighter from the hugs from family. My legs were aching so badly from all the previous cramps. I managed to run, though there was no 'holding myself back' it was just 'hey, this is running... sort of... right?' I took a turn heading toward the library and passed the pack of Spokane Swifts women! They were cheering so loud and it lifted me a little more. I was so happy to see them even if I didn't show a TON of emotion. My entire 'run' was saved by the people who carried me and stayed beside me. Just past them were Nick and Sonia, and then Sara, Brandon and the Alphonse head! Sara ran next to me for a few steps, and sent me on my way.

Still early enough to be smiling

With Sara, and Alphonse! Brandon opted not to run with us

I made my way along Sanders Beach and through the neighborhoods-I picked up my sister for a few yards and she encouraged me along with her 'this is Mordor' sign (or was it Welcome to Mordor? I don't remember!). I made sure to get watered down with every garden hose, mister, random stranger with a spray bottle. My Hokas were sponges immediately. At the first aid station I slowed to a walk, grabbed coke and a few orange slices. I sucked the juice out of the oranges, drank a few sips of coke and got loaded up with ice. I did this at every aid station for the first half of the run. Coke, orange slices, ice and water. It was all I could handle. Then I would shuffle on. I saw familiar faces on the course, and when they would cheer or wave or pause to hug me, I would melt down. My emotions walked a tightrope on the run course, and I was struggling to keep myself together. Out along the familiar route to Bennett Bay, I kept up my pattern of shuffle walk shuffle some more. I saw my friend Merissa who was struggling with GI issues on her run and we hugged. My sister and Jordan came out on the moped and caught up to me around Bennett Bay at miles 6-7, and as I worked up the hill I spotted a neon hat I recognized from Instagram! I caught up to see the front of it, and it was penguins! I know this hat! Though it was definitely a "I know you from instagram, I don't remember your name though!" It was Rosanne, who went on to finish an amazing ironman. I pulled the same convo with her friend/spectator Mac ('hi, I know you from insta, but who are you'). I felt so rude, but honestly, I barely knew my name anymore.

I made the turnaround-steadily back up and over Bennett Bay, and my sister hopped off the moped to 'run/walk' with me while reading me comments from facebook. She was posting for me all day and it was so uplifting to hear everything people were saying and feel so much support from people. I was amazed by the amount of people who were rooting so hard for me. It kept me going. Eventually Amanda dropped off, and I kept moving. After an aid station around mile 9, the nausea was back. Nooooo. My legs were still aching from cramps, and I hesitated to put any more coke and oranges in. I continued sipping my ice water bottle, and dousing my head. I made it up the hill by the resort, and down the other side, with nausea growing.  I chewed into my rolaids and tried to get a few down. The jostling of even a slow shuffle jog was too much for my stomach, and my legs. So by 10 miles, I was walking. Power walking, but walking. I wouldn't run much more after that. My body and mind were so exhausted, and with the sporadic crowd/athlete support, I was getting lonely. But exactly when I need it, friends appeared! Alyssa showed up again, with Jessie! Then Buffy and Julie! I have run with these women for years (since high school with Buffy) so having them alongside me was awesome. I was still a pessimistic mess, but it was so helpful... and I was speed walking as hard as I could as they had to jog to keep up. Buffy stuck with me for a little while, trying to talk me out of the dark place by telling me how great I was doing.  I passed the amazing guys at the BASE electrolyte salt booth in the neighborhoods. There was one guy there, who's name escapes me, that kept encouraging me all through the run. He was watching for me and assuring me I would make it in. He later found me at the finish line and gave me a hug.
Super gorgeous strugglebus

I got through town, feeling more and more nauseous. I saw Jordan, Levi (my brother in law) and my nephews shortly before halfway! They were so cute but I couldn't muster a smile really. Sara found me around special needs, and I sat down to change my soaking socks and cried on the curb. I was so sick, I couldn't stand... I had the volunteer tie my shoes for me, and then dragged myself up and walked on, in tears. I've spectated in town and it is usually so crowded. As I made my way down Lakeshore and to the turnaround to head back out it was empty. Dead. The Team Blaze folks shoved more ice in my top and encouraged me along. Catherine from the Swifts walked along the empty sidewalks talking to me and I cried. It felt so impossible. I couldn't fathom going back out of town again. My mom showed up on the course and I hugged her. I could hear Mike Reilly calling ironman finishers a block over and I was nowhere near done. I was feeling so sick, and so defeated. There is no sugar coating it. I was in a hole. I wanted to quit so badly, but I also had this underlying sense of pride at how hard I was really fighting when I had nothing to give. 'I am doing this. I don't even know how but I am doing it.'
Ben, Mac and Wylie had these rad shirts on course

I headed back through the neighborhoods, and saw my friend Bobby along Sanders. I cried again, and he hugged me as he went on to become an ironman. I kept walking. I passed the BASE tent again, and was assured by them that I WOULD be an ironman, keep taking the salts. I kept walking. I made it up the hill by the resort, and through the aid station, and then I stopped. My entire body was rebelling, and I just knew I needed to stop for a minute (or several). As soon as I sat down on the curb, a medic was on me. Asking how I felt, what I needed, was I done? He gave me a cup of iced broth. I took a sip and tossed it aside. My sister drove by at this moment, stopped, parked and sat beside me. I said I felt like throwing up, and a medic dragged the trash can over. I wasn't sure at that point if I just felt sick or really was. I grabbed the trash can and threw up 5 or 6 times, every fluid I hadn't sweated out came back up. My entire body was cramping with the effort and I could hear my sister sounding so dismayed. Athletes walking by were yelling and encouraging me to get it over and get moving again. Eventually it stopped, and I looked right at my sister and said "I can't do this anymore. I can't." and she asked if I was sure. I got up, and without any idea how, I started walking anyway. The medic who had been calling for an ambulance stopped me, took my BP (normal) and let me continue. I started to 'run'. For the first time I felt better. I saw Heather's husband Andy, and then Heather who stopped to make me smile for a picture and encourage me along!
Pretending I didn't just puke my guts up! This is so fun!

I ran a little over a mile and then I began to shuffle/walk again. The immediate relief from throwing up was replaced with emptiness in my body. I started feeling foggy. I made it to Bennett Bay and it took me an eternity to make it to the turnaround. It was so close, yet as I walked up the hill, my vision was blurring, and I couldn't really feel my body anymore. I sat down. On the side of the hill. I was so disoriented and fatigued. A volunteer got me up and walked next to me for a bit, and then sat me down again. I was really struggling to focus on the task at hand and even open my eyes. I lost a good amount of time here again with medics trying to force a few calories into me (2 pretzels that tasted like sand, and a sip of coke). This is when the guy from the bike saw me and reminded me of my words. 'Go become an ironman. Get up. You said you would! Mike Reilly is waiting.'
And in least flattering pictures ever... 

I got up again. A truck passed me and yelled that I had to RUN to make the turnaround cutoff. I tried. I couldn't run. My friends Danielle and Rob drove by at this moment, with Greg and Natalie. Danielle and Natalie jumped out and walked me to the turnaround. I was giving my glowstick necklace. I was panicking about making the turnaround (I did, by 12 minutes per 9:30 cutoff). They walked with me in the dark for a bit. My head was so lost, I was so confused, and I was wavering back and forth between DOING IT and being done. I kept asking if I would make it. I had 6+ miles back to town. The girls from before showed up. They took turns walking around me, with their own glowsticks. I just struggled to keep pushing forward. I told them I just wanted to go home. I kept asking where Jordan was, I hadn't seen him since the half way point in town. Alyssa texted him and told him he needed to be out there-and he was, in record time. One of the girls took his car, and was leapfrogging us. They kept walking around me in the dark, and I focused every bit of energy on the next landmark. Jordan walked next to me and encouraged me. Without those friends circling, and without Jordan, I wouldn't have finished in time. There's no doubt.

He kept up positive talk to me, and kept assuring me I would make it. I kept trying to do math on the fly... don't do math on the fly. I was doing it backward, thinking I had extra minutes based on my swim start. I had less minutes. I didn't know and they didn't tell me. I could sense that Jordan was trying to coax me to move faster, without telling me I was in danger of a cutoff, but I was convinced I had the time. My pace had picked up since Jordan joined me. We made it back to the BASE tent one last time and they encouraged me along. I made it through the neighborhoods. I was sucking on ice chips. By now I had ditched the bottle with my sister (and my HR monitor. I was pulling everything off I could) and had even given someone else my watch because it was too much.

I have never focused so hard on forward progress in my life. My legs were cramping, my feet ached so badly from cramps. We came out of the last corner of the neighborhood and the other girls had long since left to be at the finish line. Nick came out to find us while Erin and Sonia waited. At this point, unknown to me, everyone was stalking their trackers hard, worrying I wouldn't make it in. I kept walking, and mumbling random thoughts to people. Nick went back to the finish, and I made it to the corner of Sherman. Jordan had been telling me EVERYONE was waiting, and that the stands were full, and it was bright and loud and I just had to get there. I told him I couldn't run. I knew my legs wouldn't do it and falling on Sherman would mean the end of my race. He left me at the corner and went to the finish line. I tried to run. I shuffled along for a block, then walked as my legs cramped. I wanted so badly to run down Sherman and I couldn't. I had been dreaming about running this stretch for YEARS and I couldn't run it.

Merissa's husband Nate came out onto Sherman around 4th (he had finished much earlier that day) and told me I had 45 seconds (I had a bit more) to make it to the finish. He told me I HAD to run. I was so confused, and suddenly terrified. I started running-which was a painful awkward shuffle. Everyone who said the pain would vanish as I hit Sherman was wrong. It took every bit of strength to make sure I didn't fall down on the road.
Nate inducing panic and making me run

And then I was to the finishing stretch. And it was incredible. It was so loud, and there were so many people in the stands, and I tried to high five people, I tried to see. Suddenly Mike Reilly was next to me! I barely heard my name, and I heard 'you are an ironman!' though I didn't register the rest of it until I watched the videos later to hear the full finish, "Monica Eskebacker (not quite) you did it Monica!! You! Are! YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!". I managed to put my arms up, and smile. And I was over the line with 47 seconds to spare.
Lights, noise, people!


Run split: 6:41:26  Garmin Moving Time: 5:57

Official Finish Time: 16:59:13

The aftermath: 
I immediately fell into some volunteers, who put my medal around my neck, and then I insisted on sitting down. I did, and they pulled me back up saying I needed to walk to be okay. I got my finisher picture and then made it to the edge to hug my people.
when you try not to look tired, and instead look crazy

Erin was in the finish area with me, and Merissa, her husband, and Matt. Emily, my lifelong friend, called to me from the side and I was so happy to hug her. Jordan looked completely relieved it was over. My dad and Lori were there, my mom, Ben, all the girls who had walked with me.
Super Blurry with Erin 

Hugging Emily!!

Relief (Jordan too)

The volunteers told me there was nothing left in the medical tent, not even broth, and no IVs. So I exited, and while everyone told me to walk, I laid down in the grass. This was a terrible mistake. My calves, shins, and feet began to cramp and it was the worst pain I've experienced. Including child birth, honestly. I was crying, and screaming for people to help me. I begged them to rub my legs, do anything. I couldn't move. Jordan tried to help, and my sister. Eventually a medic came over and offered no help. I know it wasn't their fault, but shutting down the med tent when the last finishers probably need the most help was beyond frustrating at that point. They gave me a cup of gatorade, but I just laid there in pain. Sonia eventually talked me into breathing slowly and it helped me to relax. But as soon as one wave of cramps subsided, another started. Eventually they abated enough that I was able to sit up a little more, drink some gatorade, and be fed chips. I was so scared to try to stand up, and on top of that, get into a car. My family and friends began to dissipate.
Dad and Amanda!

Ben, in his Team Monica shirt

I was so sad afterward that I got no pictures with anyone who was there at the end. They supported me TO THE END and I was such a mess I couldn't get the pictures I'd waited all day, and all year for. Jordan got his car right down to the resort, and we got me loaded in. My mom took Ben home, and Jordan took me right to the ER. He tried to put me in a wheel chair, but standing seemed easier, and we shuffled me inside to check in before he parked. It was nearly midnight. I got checked in, and my sister showed up. I managed to change into dry shorts and my finisher top while Jordan did the paperwork. I went through admit with a nurse, who weighed me. I had lost 10 lbs since that morning. I was gobsmacked. 10 lbs?! I was put into a bed, and given an IV and anti-nausea medication and a nice warm blanket. They did blood work, and we waited. Once we knew all was well, I sent my sister home to get some rest. I tried to chat, and look through ALL the messages on my phone, but eventually I fell asleep. Jordan fell asleep in the chair next to me with his head on the bed. Once my IV was done and bloodwork was back (my electrolytes were low, but right on the edge of the normal range-so at least I know I was somehow keeping it balanced). We were discharged and made it home around 3am.

Over 24 hours after our day had started it was finally over. I did it. I am an ironman.
Worth it. Ish.


  1. You are amazing!! I can't even imagine what it would be like to do an ironman and with that one in that extreme heat!! So intense. I am beyond impressed and inspired. You fought so hard!! Way to go until the end, and to even finish strong. You are an ironwoman!!

    1. You are so sweet!! It was a much harder day than I anticipated for sure! I've never wanted to quit so many times. And seriously quit. Not just "oh my PR goal is out the window" like a marathon or half marathon but a 'could I actually die out here?!' (so maybe I was a little irrational at the end ;-)) I could not have made it without ALL the support

  2. Replies
    1. The video you took, where you are screaming at me that I did it still makes me all choked up and teary! I wish I hadn't been totally zoned out and could hear you!

  3. omg I read this way back when you posted it but somehow never commented!?!?! Um, can I say AMAZING?! Honestly I had NO idea that you were having such a rough day when I saw you on the run! I think you said something about how you would be out there until 11pm and I seriously thought I misunderstood you because there was no way that was happening, since you were obviously looking better than how I felt at that point. So sorry that wasn't the case ;) but GOOD JOB! Seriously, that is perseverance and toughness of the highest degree! Such an incredible experience, ironman is such a weird thing. :) Congrats, again!!

    1. oh and PS, we were totally there at the finish line when you came through and I made sure to tell everyone it was you and I don't think we cheered for anyone else quite as loudly ;) like I still distinctly remember it. Seriously, so awesome and proud of you for sticking it out (is it weird to be proud of someone you just "met" a few hours earlier in the day?) :)

    2. Thank you!!! I remember seeing your neon crew so often during the run and they always said good job to me, and it was so helpful cause I remember thinking "they don't know me, but I feel like they do!" it never seemed like a passing good job, and I felt like they really cared about encouraging me! Though I was delirious. Def not weird to be proud of someone you 'meet' struggling up a hill! I was so proud of your race, it was so cool to read the report! That's the thing about ironman, camaraderie with people you meet in passing that sticks around! That's awesome you guys were still there at the end! I always wanted to watch the midnight (11) hour, but... never really planned on living it, though it was pretty rad either way. Jordan told me later my run recap is depressing, but I'm hoping more people see it as inspiring/persevering!