The transition area looked like a yard sale with equipment everywhere. And, damn did it look good!
It seemed like I had been on the bike for an eternity and my aching back was not shy about telling me so. My butt felt better out of the saddle but my legs told a different story. With quads cramping, I waddled onto the run course.
The course in a word is, spectacular. Winding trails over hills and under tall trees. Very challenging and beautiful.
The bike took its toll and quickly it was apparent it was going to be a long run. The collateral I intended on spending was burned by the 5k mark. Glycogen was a distant memory and the fuel light was on. To the uninitiated spectators, it appears that the arms and legs have done all of the work, but in actuality we competitors rely mainly on one muscle -- the heart. At mile 9 my head was drooping like a wildflower in need of water.
The course seemed like a boxer landing a variety of punches in a combination: The wind, the heat, alternating uphills and downhills were like jabs, hooks, and haymakers. Little by little, the course chipped away at every inch of my being, physical and mental. Like a battered boxer forced to go extra rounds, I had to traverse miles 10 through 11 up a 7% grade hill with the burden of bankrupt legs and weakened resolve.
Slowly I plodded along to the summit and onto the flat areas through the campgrounds. I started to feel better knowing the finish line wasn't far off and I would see my bloggie friends again. But, one last challenge was between me and the finish: rundown Lynch Hill.
The Lynch Hill plummet to the lake and the finishing chute is the last real chance for this sadistic course to wreak havoc on those who challenger her. Anyone who wrote checks on the hills in the trails are paying dearly now. Most runners plunge into the finishing area in some form of mental or physical freefall. By this state my legs no longer had the ability to brake; I let gravity throw my body down the hill, praying I retain my balance without crashing.
Photo Courtesy of IronWil
Seeing the finish line was the next best thing to the finish line at Ironman Florida. It was wide, bright, and raucous with music and cheering. I raised my arms in victory and made a sign with each hand for my love. Hanging from the bleachers was what I was so looking forward to seeing since jumping into the swim: my friends. IronWil, Roman, RurualGirl, TriMamma, TacBoy, IronJenny, IronKahuna, and RoboStu (if I forgot anyone please forgive me) cheered me to the line.
The epic race was now complete. But the real jewel of Wildflower was about to be revealed.
For that you'll have to,