Lupe Marroquin's Iron Man

Back to Gallery Index Page July 1999, I visited a little cyber-cafe in Michigan during my family visit. My surfing ended again with me staring at the Ironman California web site... I'd been eyeing this inaugural race out of curiosity... just checking...During the past few days, I watched the number of registrations grow. The race would be full shortly and without thinking I caught myself completing the on-line registration form, credit card in hand... type type type ENTER...
"Your registration into Ironman California is confirmed! "My heart leapt and I felt like crying at the same time! I'M IN! I smiled as I wrote a confessional email to my coach in Anchorage... 'Dear Coach Kim... I just registered for IM California. We have an Ironman to do! 'My Ironman journey begins with the moment I commit to the race consisting of the 2.4 Mile Swim, 112 mile Bike and 26.2 Mile Run. My joy held no boundaries. After emailing a couple of close friends with my exciting news, I took a moment to reflect.
Gosh! I hope I can run by then! I'd just finished racing the Buffalo Springs Lake Half-Ironman in Lubbock ,TX on solstice of 1999. Lubbock was my first attempt to race at
95-112 degrees and is no place for an Alaskan girl without acclimation... even one who boasts about how she looooves hot weather racing... right. I'd been 'roasted real good' competing in Lubbock running on an 6 month old painful arch/tibial injury and acquiring heat stroke. After a very long and humbling visit to the medical tent infusing 3 bags of fluids and cuddling happily under a soothing ice blanket, I decided to move on... time to heal.
Lupe's Hawaiian Ironman 2000 Page
Husband, soul mate, best friend, and training partner Duane had passed away the winter before (11/98)... I figure it takes a lifetime to deal with that kind of loss and time thankfully dulls the heartbreak. Emotionally, I felt good; but I believe a part of the grief
manifested with a painful arch/tibia injury that took months to heal. Sitting out during that July vacation with my parents was a perfect time of repose that helped me heal in so many ways. And registering for Ironman California made my heart sing again...
The months until race day seemed so far into the future for so long. I remember all the benchmarks… 10 months, six months, 12 weeks! Too soon, I'm gathering my gear ready to travel to San Diego, getting ready for the race to start in just a couple of days. "Where did the time go? I need another six weeks! ! ! "The usual thoughts of unworthiness due to lack of training tried to work their way into my mind. Fortunately for me, the mental training was very good. I simply replied to myself... 'If you have any doubt... just look at your training log, my dear... " And that little negative self talk 'poof!’ disappeared! ! ! …And I get this funny feeling in the core of me each time I leave for Ironman... as though I'm saying good-bye again to myself as I knew me, because I will come back from Ironman so much different inside...
I stay with Jim & Neal, two tribuddies I've met on the race circuit who have a long-time friendship with their Alaskan Ironman athlete friends. Jim is also racing and has adopted me as his cohort in competition. We meet a great group of friends and swim the first day in LaJolla Cove and then ride the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) just to loosen my legs and give me a better an idea of the race terrain. The next day, we drive to the Camp Pendleton race site to check in and drive as much as we can of the bike course. Jim has had two training rides here and points out some of the more challenging parts of the route. The remaining two days before IMCalifornia thankfully move in slow motion. There is almost nothing on the schedule. I spend a lot of time with my bike~ fine tuning, trying to think of every detail of the upcoming race and what I will need. I go over my checklist again and again to be sure I have thought of everything.
Conversations become less important, my head is only thinking about my race and that's when I try to pull some of my sanity back... HEY! We're here to have a good time! Remember the balance between lightening up and having fun and focusing on this very important goal... everything you've trained for over the last 8 months... I am quiet and focused... thinking, thinking, thinking and absolutely loving every moment of this journey. This IS fun and I AM having a good time! I'm among people just like me... every new athlete I meet is in nearly the same head space. We can barely hold a worthwhile conversation that is about anything but the coming race.
Good friendships are made on the race circuit. Like minds, good people, wonderful families. Ironman is a long day and the athlete's everyday home life is what supports what the athlete is doing. I witness and participate with how the Ironman triathlete fashions his personal life to be loving and supportive FIRST ... and THEN you do Ironman. You could truly say that the whole family and life is doing Ironman. There's friendliness and some great tidbits of helpful information, but everyone is thinking about their race... it's no wonder race organizers keep us separated from the rest of the world... isolated... safe ! ! !
Race morning... It's a cool California morning... We're up early and Ironman is a big day, so a big and balanced breakfast is a very important start with good coffee! I've been resting for weeks and have been saying 'whoa! ' to the butterflies in my stomach! Race morning I feel like jumping out of my skin... but remain calm, saving my energy for the big day ahead... just a little bit longer. I can do it. Every item I need is waiting by the door. Every article I need for the day is with me... no more, no less... although prepared for anything, I keep it simple. Less complications, less to go wrong. There are minimal mistakes today and adjustments are handled calmly and efficiently. It's well planned and then there's that whimsical element of serendipity, which means I accept that I have remembered to bring everything I need today. If I forgot it, well... I really didn't need it.
There is almost no thought or effort required pulling items together race day morning. We drive to the start and there is barely talking along the way.
I arrange my bike in her perfect spot (her name is Belle), set up my fuel, food, drink, special needs at the halfway, set my transition bags in the assigned spot. I walk through the Transition 1 (swim to bike) & T2 (bike to run) zones and imprinted the directions in my brain so that what I do is automatic. I notice the commotion around me of all the people and then get busy with the final touches. I check Belle one more time, decide all is good. Then I get my wet-suit on, put my gear bags aside, and walk to the START.
Now giddiness really begins... 1700 tapered and very excited athletes stand waiting for a start canon to go off. There's a mixture of emotions visible on every person's face. So much laughing and so many smiles and so much quiet and unsureness. For some, there's bravery... others, fear. I'm excited. I'm grateful to be here. I get to do an Ironman today!
Everyone gathers in or near the water, listens to the last minute announcements... and then the canon goes off! ! ! If you've ever seen the National Geographic films showing piranhas’ feeding frenzies... you can imagine the look of the boiling water from the arms of 1700 athletes churning. 3400 arms moving in the same direction! ! !
In the beginning it's crowded! The more competitive swimmers are in the front kicking, grabbing, swimming over the top of you, ripping goggles from the faces of other swimmers. The more conservative swimmers wait or stay out of the way and take a calmer approach. That’s where I am!
IMCalifornia2000 consists of 3 - two loop courses for the swim, bike and run. Very viewer friendly; and in the beginning, very congested. The swim crowded. Our swim is in Del Mar Basin, a narrow channel leading out to the ocean, divided in half and filled by 1700 athletes. I never did find an open area to swim in, so I just picked my way through the crowded water. It was so crowded, one man took the time to stop swimming and yell at me for ‘not holding my line! ! !’ Boy! He picked the wrong girl in the wrong race to draft on... ; )))
My swim is 15' slower than I expected! Later we found out it was measured in nautical miles instead of statute… but at that time, I didn’t know what happened. I decided I’d worry about that later. I ran out of the water, sat down and let volunteer "peelers" peel my wet-suit off me. Then I ran through the showers to rinse off the ocean salt water and headed to T1. I grabbed my bag and ran into the changing tent. Pulled on my cycling shoes, helmet and continued running toward the bike holding area. I grabbed Belle off the rack, ran out of the T area and jumped on to start the 112 mile bike leg. The bike course starts on Camp Pendleton with a relatively easy section, moves into St. Onofre Park next to the ocean, and then returns on the backside to Camp Pendleton to face the largest, longest hill climbs and then end the 56 mile loop on flats with strong headwinds. The temperature varied between 55 degrees and heavy, wet fog on flatland near the ocean to 95 degrees, clear blue skies on the hilly backside; and then finished with about 8 miles of flats with a strong headwinds... We go through the transition area to finish the first loop and start the second loop. The bike is the longest leg of the day, you hope. A person can spend 5-8 hours just cycling. The key is to start easy. Pacing is everything because after you've done the best you can do on the bike, you get to run a marathon. Eat, Drink, start easy and finish strong, eat, drink... UGH! Fueling is a hard concept to master. It’s just another mental challenge... so don't think about it, just do it! Just get used to it. Eat and drink continuously if you want to survive the day and it really pays off. I thought I had been fueling enough, but when mile 80 came around I felt myself fading. I thankfully recognized an oncoming 'bonk' and made a conscious decision to save myself by over fueling, almost to the point of making myself throw up. Thankfully, I recovered in 10 minutes and finished the bike feeling strong and excited. I hadn't raced Ironman since 97 and didn't know how I'd measure my strength; but found myself playing leap frog with a woman who had topped my age group nationally the year before. I finished in strong company and was pleased. By the time I got off the bike, I was ready to run. The run is my strong suit and I always say that 'Dessert is Last!!!' on an Ironman day. I came into the transition at the same time as the woman I gauged myself with earlier and we hung together, stretching the muscles out on the run. But something was not going well. I felt a lot of heat and friction in my shoes and at mile 5 realized my feet were blistering badly and had to let her go. My feet felt too painful to continue at any good pace and I tried to relieve my pain by walking. I tried to keep up the running again and again; but realized this was not going to be a good day. What could I do? Quit? Finish? I decided to walk/run the marathon and the next 15 miles were excruciating. Hard to keep moving, but I realized the only dream that was going to happen that day was that I would finish. My priorities changed quickly from my earlier hopes of trying to qualify for the World Championships in Kona to just making it to the Finish line. That's just how an Ironman day goes. Plans change and I just learned to roll with that. As I approached the last 3 miles my adrenaline came back. I decided that I would shut off the pain meters and run through the last 3 aid stations and just get to the finish line as soon as possible. So that's what I did. I crossed the finish line happy and satisfied. It had truly been an Ironman challenge of a day on a real Ironman challenge of a course and I decided that I'd earned every second of that 12:50:37 finish time. Family of SWAM friend, Amy Petrusa, had come as my adopted family to catch me at the Finish line. They brought my specially requested ham and cheese sandwich and ice cold beer and a HUGE GOOD LUCK BANNER signed by friends from Anchorage... a beautiful surprise!
Unfortunately, I had to make an extended visit to the medical tent where I was given an IV bag of fluid and my feet were examined and excised. Both feet were horribly blistered from the arches forward on the top of my toes, the bottom, and between. They reminded me of pictures I’d seen of frostbite without the discoloration. One blood blister measured 2 x 2 1/2".
I pretty much had written off the race for placement purposes and just reveled in feeling great about making it to the finish. However, when the age group results were posted I found I had come in 3rd in my age group!!! WOW!!! THAT was a surprise!!! Everyone else had their own obstacles to deal with that day. I was totally thrilled because there were two Ironman Hawaii slots in my age group to the World Championships and if either of the top 2 ladies declined the precious slots I would be asked. It didn’t happen that day. But I was grateful and excited enough for being close. Granted, there were 20' between my time and 2nd place... but that was due to a run 40' longer than my worst case guess without the blisters. I was gratefull to find my physical ability is still there.
I have the opportunity to race again in Ironman Canada 8/27/00 in Penticton, British Columbia, Canada. Coach and I have been working out the bugs the last 12 weeks... and my hopes are high. IM Canada is the final qualifier for the World Championships in Kona, HI 10/14/00 and has more slots than IMCali. In my age group, there will be at least four slots for the top placers, maybe even five. If any of the top five have already qualified elsewhere or just choose not to go to Hawaii, they decline the slot and the 'roll down' occurs. This mean the next place finisher gets a chance to take the slot. I'm excited! You can check the results almost live on to see the results. There will be four other Alaskans competing 8/27/00… myself, Dave Ruckstuhl, Erik Dempsey and Bob Baker.
I am so grateful to be able to do Ironman. I hope to always have this passion for wonderful adventures to love for the rest of my life. Ironman is life in a day... and brings me in touch with the purest essence of my mental, physical and spiritual fitness and awareness. I get to know myself pretty well in one day. Will I survive? Will I persevere and cross the finish at the end of the day? YES! I will... maybe. I do everything I can to prepare… and then I get what day gives me. Ironman is fun and play or I wouldn't do the training I do to get here. I embrace the lifestyle, the people, the training and love the journey along the way. I get to go swimming in pools, lakes and oceans; and then I get to ride my bike over hill and dale; and then I get to run... all with other adult kids, just like me. Ironman keeps my 8 year old inner child very alive and happy and laughing! It makes my spirit light and my heart sing! Life is good!!! Wish me luck!
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Last Update: 7:27 PM on Sun, Oct 15, 2000
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