Subscribe without commenting

Ironman Arizona 2011: The Run - Geek Turned Athlete

Ironman Arizona 2011: The Run

… continued from the bike

IMG_0374.JPG   IMG_0378.JPG

Transition 2: 7 minutes

It didn’t feel like I took 7 minutes in transition 2, but I guess I did. The tent was a lot less chaotic than the first time I was in there during transition 1. I was trying to decide whether I wanted to put on running shorts and a loose top to run in. I was wearing tight spandex and was really worried about my stomach getting bloated on the run. My stomach is always really sensitive while running, and since this was my first Ironman, I had no clue how it was going to react. I decided to keep the clothes on that I had already in the end. I really wanted to finish with my Team Blaze top on. That team helped me get to this point of being able to do an Ironman. I really wanted to represent even though it might get uncomfortable.

A nice older lady took over in the tent asking me what I needed out of my transition bag. She helped me change my socks and lace up my shoes. After grabbing my two packs of Shot Bloks, I was out the door. I got slathered in sunscreen, hit the porta potty (AGAIN! Too much liquid!), and finally started the run.

Run Goal Time: 4 hours 30 minutes to 4 hours 45 minutes

The goal for the run was to not blow up in the beginning. My coach said that normal (Not pros) people usually run their IM marathon an hour longer than their stand alone marathon.  I thought this time would be good to shoot for.  Of course I’ve never run a 3:30 stand alone marathon, but with my training this year it might have been possible. The course was 3 loops passing spectators 6 times in sort of a figure 8 pattern. My family was on the one of the figure 8 loops so I saw them only 3 times.

I was SO freaking happy to be off of the bike that I started out at a 7:30 pace for the 1st couple of minutes. Woah. I slowed it down to under a 10 minute mile pace. It was going to be a long run. I needed to remember that. I also needed to remember that I just biked 112 miles.  If I could walk through every aid station and run the rest of the way, I would be good.

One big thing I noticed as soon as I started the run: 75% of the other athletes were walking. And they didn’t look good. This also included MANY people who had whizzed by me on the bike.  My legs felt great, and I managed to maintain under a 9:40 average for the first 11.5 miles. I was the stereotypical annoying girl with a HUGE smile on my face saying hi to random strangers, offering words of encouragement to those suffering, and thanking volunteers.

I ran into a guy who had my husband’s career field emblem on the back of his shirt. He was sweating profusely, out of breath, and kind looked like crap. I immediately ran up to him, and said, “Hey!! My husband is a blah, blah. Do you know him?” with a huge smile on my face.  I was annoyingly chipper.  My husband’s career field in the Air Force has like 250 people in it. It is very tiny. Everyone knows everyone. Grunting, he managed to get out, “I know who you are.” I proceeded to have a conversation with him (with me talking most of the time), told him good luck, then ran away up a hill dodging the walkers on my way up. He was basically in shock that I had a huge smile on my face the whole time.  He later talked to my sister (her husband is in the same career field too) and asked if something was wrong with me.   haha.  Maybe.

I felt like a psycho happy to be in the midst of chaos and pain. I was happy that I was alive.  I was happy that I was healthy enough to do an Ironman.  I was happy that I could afford to do an Ironman.  I was just plain happy.  This started to wane for at least a little while because of 1 potato chip. Yes, ONE potato chip taken at an aid station. I was in the mood for something salty on the second loop. The volunteers held cups of potato chips, and they looked so good to me. I ate one, letting it’s salty goodness soften on my tongue before actually chewing it. It was heavenly.

That is, until 20 minutes passed by. My stomach filled with gas and began to get bigger and bigger. It was SO uncomfortable. All I wanted to do was slow down and walk, but I didn’t. I had to keep running. I came across a porta potty in the hopes that I could relieve the unbearable pressure. Nothing happened. Nothing. I didn’t want to waste anymore time in the bathroom so it was back to running while mostly everyone around me was walking. I finally got to the halfway mark to get to my tums in my special needs bag. Thank goodness I packed that. That is all I can say. The race would have been horrible without my tums. My stomach calmed down just in time for my legs to start rebelling.

My pace slowed to 10:30 min/miles. My legs were tired, and they were yelling at me. They literally felt like they were filled with sand. I started making deals with them like:

  • You don’t have to do anything for 2 weeks after this if you just get me through this. You can run the whole way. Come on!
  • You will get a massage on Tuesday. Don’t you like massages?
  • We are almost done. You won’t have to run another marathon until next year. You like that, don’t you?

When my left knee started hurting at mile 17, I told it to quit whining. It wasn’t “allowed” to hurt. Nope!! You are running. I don’t care if you don’t like it. You are doing it. There is no arguing with me!!! And it didn’t.

The last loop was almost dreamlike. At this point, people looked like they were hurting a lot. By a lot, I mean they looked like they might pass out. I was the only one running as far as I could tell. A guy started running with me, and we chatted for a couple of minutes, but then he had to stop and walk because he was having knee pain. I ran on. Some volunteers that I passed commented that I was looking good and to keep up that pace.

I passed my husband, mom, sister, and coach with 6 miles left. I needed to step it into gear. At the beginning of the race, my garmin wasn’t working very well so my time was kinda off. I thought that I might have a chance to finish the marathon in under 4 hours 30 minutes. That was now my goal.

I was literally running among the “walking Ironman dead.” People were hobbling, limping, and walking erratically. I couldn’t feel my legs anymore. I told them to keep running so they did. I really had to concentrate hard to lift my feet up enough to not trip over the rocks when running over the dirt trail portions. My pace was close to an 11 min/mile pace, but felt like I was running 7:30’s since I was passing so many people. I’m not bragging when I say that. That was just the way it was. It was crazy. I told people that they looked great even though they really didn’t. I knew they needed to hear that though. I’m sure I looked like crap, and it felt good when a volunteer told me that I was looking good.

At about mile 22, an announcer at one of the aid stations said over the loud speaker, ” YOU WILL BE AN IRONMAN TONIGHT!”

At this point, I pretty much changed back into a crazy lunatic. I picked up my pace. My breathing increased. I yelled outloud (not in my head), “YES, I WILL! I WILL BE AN IRONMAN TONIGHT!!!”. People were looking at me on the course like I had gone insane. Maybe I did. I wanted this so badly. I was running as if my life depended on it. I heard people saying that I was running fast. Someone yelled, “You go, girl!”  I also yelled, “I’m going to be an Ironman.  I can smell it!”  Can you say crazy? Eeek.

I just ran. My legs hurt and were heavy, but I wasn’t of my body anymore. I felt like I was looking down on myself running. I mumbled, “yes, I will” over and over and over again. I finally got to the finishing turn off. I ran through the parking lot and ahead was the finishers chute. My mom, sister, and coach were there on the side yelling, ‘Go, Nicole!’


I’m actually not in this pic. We didn’t get any run pics of myself, and I still am deciding on whether I want to buy finishing pics or not.

I ran past the bleachers. The finish line was 30 feet away. This “thing” that I had trained for, stressed about, sacrificed for, and learned from for the past year was finally coming to an end. The girl who no one wanted on their sports team during P.E. in high school and who didn’t make the swim team when they were literally taking anyone who could float was finishing an Ironman. I was going to be an Ironman.

Run Time: 4 hours 32 minutes

I raised my hands above my head as I passed the finish line and immediately started bawling. I was in shock, overwhelmed, and euphoric. “Nicole Savell, YOU are an IRONMAN!” Yes, I am. 😉

A volunteer grabbed me as I passed the finish line, and asked if I was okay. Crying tears of joy, I told him that I was just REALLY happy. I saw my husband and hobbled over to him. My legs held up their end of the bargain to get me through the race, and that was it. Once I passed the finish line, they were officially done for the night.  My husband gave me a huge hug (even though I probably didn’t smell the best) and kiss and told me how proud he was of me. My sister, mom, and coach came over to congratulate me.



Sis and mom 😉

My coach and I. Thank you, Coach Scott, by the way for the last two pics.

I didn’t get any with my husband! ;(

I told my husband that it had felt like I passed about 100 people on the run. He said, “Honey, no, no, no. You passed about 600 people. Your rank was 2059 at the end of the bike and went down to 1479 when you finished.” What??!!!! That definitely made me feel better about not making my time goal for the run by 2 minutes. 😉

I couldn’t fall asleep very easily that night. Part of it may have been the caffeine that was in my Shot Bloks, but the other part was that I was so amped about finishing my Ironman and the training for next season. I am so excited to do it again…


Final thoughts and thanks


{ 31 comments… add one }
  • Edie December 5, 2011, 8:26 am

    Awesome job!! I knew you’d do great on the run. You don’t look like you were hurting at all in those post-race photos (although I do know looks can be deceiving.)

  • donna December 5, 2011, 8:34 am

    Congratulations Nicole….you really had an awesome race.

  • Sarah December 5, 2011, 9:33 am

    Congratulations!!!! I loved reading these recaps!

  • Amy December 5, 2011, 9:37 am

    I just stumbled across your blog the other day and have waiting for rest of the recap 🙂 Congratulations and well done!

    • Nicole December 5, 2011, 1:45 pm

      Welcome! 😉 Thanks!

  • Jess December 5, 2011, 10:17 am

    Oh my god, this was my FAVORITE recap from the Iron Man – I just LOVED the glee and joy just bursting out of this post!! SO SO SO frickin’ amazing, seriously. I can’t even imagine what that felt like when they yelled your name and said YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!! So crazy awesome!!!
    Jess recently posted..An unplugged weekend (almost wordless)

  • Lisa December 5, 2011, 10:39 am


    I have so enjoyed the lead up to and the recap of your Ironman! What a fantastic journey for you and an incredible reward at the end in those words of “You are an Ironman”. Wow.
    Lisa recently posted..The No Complaining Rule

    • Nicole December 5, 2011, 1:46 pm

      I was choking up writing this post! haha

  • Maggs December 5, 2011, 2:21 pm

    What a great post! Congrats on the race. What’s next?

    • Nicole December 5, 2011, 8:08 pm

      Ironman Lake Placid in July 2012!!!

  • Katie @ Healthy Heddleston December 5, 2011, 3:00 pm

    Congratulations!!!! And buy yourself some finishers pictures girl, you deserve it!!
    Katie @ Healthy Heddleston recently posted..BTB Sunglasses Review

  • Army Amy* December 5, 2011, 5:20 pm

    Congrats! I loved reading all the IM recap posts!*
    Army Amy* recently posted..Rudolph Run: Race Recap

  • Lyn @ FueledBySalad December 5, 2011, 6:33 pm

    Congratulations, you’re an Iron Man! 😀 Awesome race!
    Lyn @ FueledBySalad recently posted..7 Things + 7 Goals

  • Toronto Girl West December 5, 2011, 7:51 pm

    Absolutely brilliant – I’m SO VERY proud of you!!!! I may have also teared up a little reading this! 😛
    Toronto Girl West recently posted..Island Delights in Barbados

  • Megan December 5, 2011, 8:11 pm

    Great recap! I hope if I ever do an Ironman that I get that crazy/insane feeling that just let my body go. It’s way better to be crazy and happy than hurting and grumpy, right? Congrats!!
    Megan recently posted..Focus on being Happy and Healthy

  • Kristina December 5, 2011, 9:52 pm

    Really freakin’ amazing! I just signed up for my first half-Ironman and I can’t wait (although I have lots of training to do!). I know that this is super cheesy, but it’s really inspirational to read this.
    Many congrats to you!
    Kristina recently posted..Wind storm and gratitude!

  • Marcie December 6, 2011, 5:54 am

    Dang girl…you made my cry that was so awesome.

  • Zoey December 6, 2011, 5:28 pm

    Amazing! I’m all teary eyed from reading your post. Congratulations!!! YOU are an IRONMAN. You did it! Cherish this moment and memories for ever 🙂

  • Jenny December 7, 2011, 7:58 am

    Way to go lady! I can’t even imagine the rush you must have felt crossing the finish line.
    What an experience…you did a wonderful job describing it!

  • Joanna B December 7, 2011, 12:53 pm

    You go girl! What an amazing accomplishment. I loved reading all of your recap posts. You totally make it seem like an Ironman is a do-able thing rather than a totally unattainable goal.

    • Nicole December 7, 2011, 2:11 pm

      Joanna, it IS attainable, and I want everyone to know that! I’m glad it came across that way too. I used to read blogs about people who had done Ironmans thinking that I could NEVER do anything like that. I was WAY wrong. 😉

  • Shelley December 13, 2011, 11:12 am

    Nicole, I just stumbled upon your blog researching vegan/gluten free Ironmam training. I was at IMAZ 2011 volunteering so that I could grab a slot for 2012. I will be out there 49 weeks from now and your blog is very inspiring for me. I am hoping that I can stay healthy over the next year of training and am also hoping that my food/nutrition intake changes will help with my immunohealth. Thinking mabye I should start a blog on my year to IMAZ! 🙂

    • Nicole December 13, 2011, 2:16 pm

      Welcome, and good luck next year!!

  • Tammy December 20, 2011, 8:19 am

    Outstanding job! I could feel your excitement while reading the recaps. I was supposed to do my first marathon 1/1/2012 but I had to drop it down to a 1/2 due to knee issues. This makes me want to do it even more. Oh well..always next year! I’m proud of you.
    Tammy recently posted..Evernote, How I Love The

    • Nicole December 20, 2011, 8:50 am

      Maybe some time off from running to let your knees heal up would be good after your 1/2. It is amazing what rest can do. 😉

  • steena December 28, 2011, 4:56 pm

    Congratulations! Incredible how great you were feeling during the run. Your after the race photos show it all, happiness!
    steena recently posted..a Year of Happy Paced Photos

  • Lindy Katherine January 25, 2012, 5:10 am

    Just found your blog. Great recap! You are such an inspiration. I am now a subscriber!

    • Nicole January 25, 2012, 8:18 am

      Awe, thank you!! Welcome. 😉


Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge