Ironman Barcelona

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(photo courtesy of Joaquim Torres ~THANK YOU!!)

There was something special about this race. I THINK it’s because I knew, I just KNEW it was going to be my race. And the thing about that is I always question how on earth I got so lucky to finish another Ironman anyway. Toeing the water I always feel like, there’s no way I can do this. And Sunday morning I didn’t think anything. I knew, confidently, that I was going to dominate (yes, under 13 hours is me dominating. I don’t podium, but I work my ass off. I’m not a 10 hour Ironman, but I do the distance. Over and over. ALL DAY! And I’m impressed with a 9 hour finish OR a 17 hour finish). I honestly hadn’t even said how I was going to do. I had no idea! I missed an entire month of biking this summer and with no mid-70.3 to judge, I really had no clue where my body was. Eeek!

On par, I was scared. But there was no doubt about what was about to happen. Also I traveled all the way to Spain with Kim, Anissa, Mom and Bob for an adventure of a lifetime. There’s not many friends that when I say, “hey let’s go to <insert some far away, strange, unusual, and expensive destination> and do an Ironman” that will actually say OK and then follow through. Kim is brave. And bold. And worked her ass off for this adventure.

Race morning:
Standing before the Mediterranean Sea was terrifying. The swells were gigantic and the waves were crashing ß not as bad as the day before though! With tears in our eyes, we entered the water with the 1:35-1:45 group. I wish now that we would have entered a bit sooner (for two reasons). One, I swam over, around, and through a lot of people. Too many. They caught me up. I think I could have swam faster! Two, 14 minutes more was all Kim needed (to be explained later).

The course was a rectangle. We swam out about 100m, then south parallel to the coast line, then out about 100 more meters, then north parallel to the coast line. Going out was great. We had a bit of a current. I was moving fast! When I reached 1.2 miles, I checked my watch: 32 minutes. Damn!! But coming back was brutal. Swells and waves and chop were getting worse and it was quite cold. Forward progress, forward progress; I kept telling myself. There was even once that I seemed to be out too far and very solo. PANIC! I had to clear my goggles once which was annoying but only once! I didn’t see any cool sea life. I didn’t get kicked or hit. It was a pretty uneventful swim. And by uneventful I mean SUCCESSFUL! Looking at my watch and seeing 1:30, I was so proud of myself. My best swim to date!
Official time: 1:31:52

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Being #109, transition felt long. My bike was alllll the way to the far end of transition. I was right next to the pro’s; who were all gone. Which actually, A LOT of bikes were gone. Here I thought I had an amazing swim, but 80-90% of the bikes were all gone. Geesh fishes!!
Official results have me with a 05:26. It sure felt like I was in there longer than that!

The bike course was different. 2.5 laps out and back. I’ve never had to do .5 a lap. It was along the coast line and there seemed to be headwind both ways. Kinda aggravating but it wasn’t high wind (not until the final .5 lap). What was more aggravating was the pelatons of cheaters. Seriously, they were 3-4 wide and 20-30 deep. And worse, the officials were riding alongside them! What the!? I am proud to say I didn’t cheat AT ALL. Drafting is cheating people! The bike was pretty uneventful as well. There was no half way bag for this Ironman. I had to carry all my nutrition. Not a huge deal, but I count on that half way break to eat “lunch” and potty. My nutrition was on point though; 5 honey stinger waffles, 2 eGel, 1 gu, and 1/2 peanut butter sandwich. Was great to see Mom and Anissa over and over on the course too. I love cheers!! And mom sends all the love from FB and friends. It’s super motivating.
Official time: 6:06:42

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Back into transition for a speedy change to run. My transition was actually 2 mins slower and my run was 2 mins faster than the official time – they had the transition mat in the wrong entrance/exit of the tent! Official time: 01:41. Actual time: 3:41.

While swim and bike were uneventful, my run got pretty interesting. We had 4 laps total. I was skeptical about 4 laps. Such repetiveness really messes with my mind in an endurance event. The crowds were great. The views were great (again, along the coast + a little tree covered park + a little bit of the city). It was a tight course though, very crowded. I knew it would thin out soon. It wasn’t boring, lots of turns and changes of scenery. I was doing some serious running. I wanted a 4:30 run. I ran the 1st 2 miles without any stopping (maybe walked a bit through the first aid station ??). Usually I’m on a strict walk/run schedule. I just RAN. And then when I did do my walk/runs, they were 10minute intervals. I think I was hitting 11 minute miles so, I was doing great. And I felt great!

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Lap 2 I got cussed out by an angry girlfriend (a story for another time) and Lap 3 ~mile 16, my bladder spasms started. Google runner’s bladder. I get that. Basically my body uses all fluids to sweat and keep me cool so my bladder gets completely empty and then rubs/spasms. So I’m hydrated but my bladder is completely dehydrated. It’s EXCRUICATING! It happened the first time during my first Ironman with a 5k to go. I have felt it at later times too but never as bad as the first. This time it was twice the pain! 10 times the pain! I got real deep in my head…mind over matter, mind over matter, I was chanting to myself. I put my head down and just ran. Thoughts of, there’s no way I can finish like this and I’m going to have to pull out. The pounding made it hurt so much worse. The final lap I saw mom and said, “will this cause any permanent damage?” She assumed no so I ran my ass off. A 10k to go.

I had to walk a bit more but when I was running, I ran HARD; still averaging 11min miles maybe? At this point I knew I was going to break 13 but really needed to see 12:45. Why? Because I knew I could! So I didn’t stop. I couldn’t stop. I RAN. This was also the first IM run that I didn’t make a friend. The course was pretty serious. I think it’s because there were so many language barriers. No one was talking to each other and everyone was running straight faced and serious. I guess I was too! Although, I was smiling a ton because the crowd always commented on my big happy smile. The run is my favorite part!! Plus my teeth are beautiful!! ;) ;)

The final stretch was the easiest hardest part. I didn’t want to stop running. It was a 1 mile stretch packed with spectators and music.
Official time: 5:00:23 Actual time: 4:58:30

The finish line was almost near!! I rounded the corner and instead of yet another lap, I got to head right… bright lights, cheers, music pumping, red carpet, all eyes on me. LISA MCCOMBS, you ARE an Ironman!! It chokes me up every single time! It chokes me up just typing it. The reward for all the hours training ~ I am an Ironman. 8 times over, I am an IRONMAN.

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I headed into the medical tent where Bob was volunteering… bladder spasms, anything I can do about it? Not really. Rehydrate. I made my way through the athlete area until I found mom. Now the treacherous 1 mile walk back to get my bike and gear + 1 mile walk return home. I’ve never done an Ironman that family wasn’t allowed to retrieve my gear. It was brutal.

2,556 athletes. I finished 26th in my age group of 52 (10 of who DNF). I was the only one from USA in my age group ~representing!! ;)
Official time: 12:46:04

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I’m super happy with my race. Once again I walk away a changed Lisa ~a better me.
I'm not super happy about this particular Ironman. There were A LOT of deficiencies. I'm going to cover that soon with my thoughts on Ironman. Both the distance and the brand and tell you a little bit about Kim's journey.   

Even still, this Ironman was all about letting go as much as my entire summer journey was about letting go. It was my final adventure in the series for 2015. I’m closing this book, setting it up on my shelf and I’m already a few pages into my next book. It’s getting good! I can’t wait to tell you all about it!!