Now this worried Karel even more.
Poor Karel - instead of enjoying his accomplishment, he was "running" all around trying to find out what happened to me. He did not have his phone (as he left it in our condo) so he was simply relying on others to find out where I was.
Since almost two hours had passed since Karel crossed the finish line, he went back to our condo as he was going to head to the hospitals to try to find me.
When he got to the condo, he looked at his phone and saw a text from me "I'm in the food area."
Not knowing what happened to me, my finishing time or any other details, he immediately called me, beyond worried, and felt so relieved that I was ok.
I felt so bad about his post-race stress.
He was just happy that I was ok.
He later told me that he knew I would not quit as he knows I like to overcome obstacles and I can be a bit stubborn when it comes to finding a way to cross a finish line, so that was why he was so worried because he knew it had to have been something very serious for me to DNF.
Luckily, it was an error on the IM tracker that showed DNF and it was eventually fixed.
Sorry if I worried everyone!
And some water to wash down everything.
We picked up our bikes and then our gear bags and then stood in a short line for the volunteers to check to make sure all of our numbers matched up and then we slowly headed back to our condo (thank goodness the Kona Plaza is only a block away from the race).
My chest and neck was still a bit tender but not as bad as before. Looking back, I wonder if I should have just stopped on the side of the road and waited it out for 5-10 minutes to see if the feeling would pass instead of trying to keep moving?
Even as a coach, I have to admit that as an athlete, it's so hard to make good/wise/smart decisions on race day.
It was pretty special to walk around after the race as the spectators make every athlete (even those who don't finish) feel so awesome.
Karel even got a beer from someone who was passing out local brews to the finishers.
I love the last hour of an Ironman but in Kona, it's pretty spectacular to see the crowds and the hundreds and hundreds of people who support those final finishers. It's seriously a huge party!
It was also cool to hear that at IMKY, they were broadcasting the final hour of IM Kona (11:30pm Kona time = 5:30am Kentucky time) in the IMKY transition area. Talk about some instant motivation!
I still have unfinished business on that island and I am ok if it's never finished. It's truly a great experience to be there, knowing that qualifying is far from easy these days.
For athletes who race and feel as if the outcome does not match the commitment to training, all the training, investments (monetary and emotional), time and focus can feel wasted.
However, that is far from the truth.
It's important to feel prepared going into a race and to race with a smart plan but the most obvious unknown on race day is how your body will perform in the race day conditions and on the course.
And I think that is one of the best parts of racing in an extreme event like an Ironman.....feeling prepared but having the strength, skills and determination to overcome obstacles.
My mission remained the same from the start to the finish - I never gave up during the race because it was always my #1 intention to get to the start line with a healthy body and to cross the finish line. I never take an Ironman start or finish for granted.
I will not let one race define my current fitness or override previous racing accomplishments.
I will continue to train with a great passion and dedication as I still have a deep desire to continue to seek personal growth and improvement in my sport that keeps me happy and healthy.