As of 7:05 p.m. in St. George Utah on May 7, I could officially call myself an “Ironman,” or as I prefer it, “Ironwoman” — for the second time. In many ways, re-earning the title felt no less significant than the first time. But this experience was absolutely distinct. And that’s why, when it was all said and done, I am really pretty thrilled about my performance.
Let me preface by saying point-blank that I did NOT accomplish my primary “tangible” goals for St. George. Going down the list: I did not qualify for Kona — my hefty, but still most highly desired goal; I did not break 11 hours — in fact, I did not even break 12; I DID, however, turn in a “PR” (personal record) time, and that alone is something that I am extremely proud of… That, and everything I experienced on the way to that PR, which is, when it comes down to it, what really counts.
To say the least, my personal best time of 12 hours and 5 minutes, was hard-earned. And, to (mostly) shamelessly toot my own horn here, well deserved. The course was hard — really hard (St. George is one of the most challenging Ironman qualifying races in the world)! And the day was hot (temperatures pushed the upper 90s during the run).
But overall, I felt much less like I was “struggling through” the race then I did last time, when I raced Vineman in July 2010. Of course I still had some moments of feeling sorry for myself, and came pretty close to one utter meltdown on the run, but I also had moments of feeling really great, and generally bounced back after each moment of struggle. The question still popped in my head, specifically at about mile 16 in the run in the blistering heat, of “Why in the hell am I doing this to myself? I swear I never want to do an Ironman again!” But alas, I found a second wind, had a super strong finish, and felt absolutely amazing when I was done. And, yes, I will be doing another Ironman this year.
Ultimately, I felt like I was able to push myself like I hadn’t been able to do last time. My times for each leg were nearly identical, but on a much tougher course and day, so I felt like my performance was clearly much stronger. And generally, I feel like I am definitely reaching a new level this year. I am excited to see what is yet to come! I know I still have a lot to learn, a lot of improvement to be made, and a long ways to go to get to where I want to be. But I will be trying again next year for Kona 2012, and the road starts now. I am confident in my goal and my purpose, and will make sure I do everything I can to get there.