Ironman New York City Race Report: Carol Defazio — 1st IM, 1st AG, 1st KQ!!

150 150 Rich Strauss

Carol Defazio at Ironman® New York City


It is very exciting to be able to say I am an Ironman® now and write this report.  I have some things to work on, nutrition related, but all in all it was a great day.

Pre-race: Arrived in NYC on Thursday, checked into the hotel (near the finish line), and went to register.  First logistical problem was the cab driver couldn’t stop in front of Pier 92 so ended up several blocks away and said: “get out here, you can walk back”.  Nice. No problems checking in and it was all very exciting.  Except for the fact that I was totally trying NOT to stress out about the fact that there might not be a swim in 2 days due to a sewage leak in the Hudson River.  This was really frustrating for me because this was my first Ironman, and I wanted it to be an Ironman® – not something like a bike/run training day…  Came back for the Athlete’s dinner and mandatory talk.  Had several friends from the area doing the race so we all hung out and took pictures.  Long night but good night’s sleep, so that’s good.

Friday was miserable.  Had a big breakfast and put my bike and a friend’s bike in our truck to go to Pier 39 for the ferry to transition. We drove around for about an hour looking for a parking place or a garage.  Finally found a garage that said it would be $42 for anything over 2 hours.  Duh….  Do you think we can do this in 2 hours?  Especially since we were about 20 blocks from the pier? Geez…Oh well – on the ferry we go.  It was getting cloudier and windier by the minute.  By the time we got to Ross Dock it was pouring rain.  I racked my bike as quickly as possible, tied up my bags and dropped them off and was soaked to the bone.  Back to Manhattan – took a cab to the parking garage, and got back to the hotel and a hot shower.  Meanwhile, I am still freaking out about whether or not the swim was going to happen!   About 5:00 we finally got word that the swim was ON!!!  I was so ecstatic that I think all the stress of the Ironman® was out of me:-)

Race morning:  Up at 2:00 a.m. for coffee, half bagel, 2/3rds of a banana, applesauce with some whey protein, and a bottle of perform to bring with me on the ferry.  3:20 in the cab to Pier 39.  Hooray – found a cab really fast.  I guess because it was a Friday night and people were all out partying:-)   Over to transition and really feeling the energy of the athletes and having a great time with my girlfriend taking pictures and staying calm.  Everything in order on the bike, one wait in the porta potty line, drop off bags, kiss hubby bye, get in line for the ferry to the starting barge.  It was really lots of fun hanging out with several of the locals folks doing the race while we tried to calm our nerves!

Swim: 7:21 a.m., jump off barge next to girlfriend and start swimming.  It was not overly crowded and I was happy to be able to stay with my friend for a good while.  The tide/current was “slack” so it seemed like the 1st half took forever!  I kept waiting for the buoys to go from yellow to orange and it just went on and on.  Finally – Hooray!  Orange buoys!  But then the current picked up, as did the chop.  I think the faster current somehow brought all of the swimmers together and now it got a bit crazy!  Got pushed under and took in a nice, big swallow of the Hudson; a few more kicks and punches but then I saw Ross Dock and was very happy to get out of the water!

Swim – 54:13 (note that I am a pretty slow swimmer so this was great to have the current doing all the work!)

T1 – I knew I’d be on the course a long time so I decided to change into bike shorts.  Put on all the vaseline and butt butter in all the right places (thanks EN race reports:-)), vaseline on feet, all the bike stuff, stopped at porta potty and was out of there in 10:20.  I know that’s long but I didn’t care because the swim was fast:-)

Bike: I had ridden out of Ross Dock several times so I knew all about the steep hill going out as well as the next steep hill on Hudson Terrace.  No problem.  Let all those crazy people blow by me – could care less.  1st loop was pretty great.  The North end of the Palisades was terribly bumpy and there were water bottles, etc. all over the place.  You really had to be careful dodging all of the crap laying in the road!  I also saw 3 crashes where people were probably going too fast on the declines and the bumps.   Happy to get to the 1st  turnaround and a porta potty.  Guess I was hydrating well.  Keeping to my zones on the hills and keeping to my nutrition plan of Perform, blocks or power bar every 40 mins, salt tablets.  Just about to the half-way mark I saw my hubby jumping up and down:-)  He said to keep going and he’d see me on the way back out for the 2nd loop.  Got to my special needs and loaded up, porta potty again, back out for loop 2.  I’m riding along remembering about where hubby was and I see him sitting on the side of the road chatting it up with a couple of guys.  He didn’t even see me coming until I stopped and said “HEY!”.  Of course he wanted to take pictures and I didn’t care.  One of the guys took our picture together so that was all good.  Kind of funny I’m out here doing a “race” and he is trying to figure out how to use my iPhone to take a picture:-)  Went out to final turnaround, dodging more water bottles and more crap on the road and back around for the last leg.  By now it was really hot and humid.  I was stopping at all the aid stations to pour water over me and make sure I had enough fluids.  Unfortunately, my salt tablets were in my pocket and several of them pretty much disintegrated from me pouring water over myself.  Oops….  Note to self…  The headwind coming back had picked up as well as the heat.  It seemed like there were  more uphills going in that direction too.  Maybe I was just getting tired, but I felt fine and stuck to my game plan.  Back down the hill to Ross Dock and see a good friend as a volunteer to take the bike from me.  Awesome!  He stayed with me to get my bag, to the porta potty (again),  and waited outside the women’s tent to hand me some ice for the run start.  Lo and behold – there is hubby!  Wait – gotta take a picture!   So much fun.

Bike: 7:26 (exactly as planned!)

T2 – changed to running clothes, vaseline on feet, gotta LOVE the volunteers.  8:04

Run:  Walked up the hill with hubby and he said he’d see me at mile 18.  When I started to run, I realized my hip flexors were really sore and I had a hard time picking my legs up!  I also had stomach cramping which sucked because I really tried to stick to my nutrition plan on the bike but that is something I need to keep working on.  I only had water and a salt tablet for the first few miles just to see if the cramping would go away.  It did seem to subside a bit, but the hip flexors were terrible.  Whenever I was walking (up the hills or on my 30 sec. walk breaks), I tried to dig my fingers into them and loosen them up, but that didn’t seem to do much.  I finally just said “suck it up” and forget about it.  It was still humid but at least it was shady for the first 2 loops of the run.  On the first loop I saw a woman in my age group ahead of me.  Damn…  On the 2nd loop I saw her behind me.  HOORAY!   Not that I’m competitive or anything:-)   I was drinking coke and water and an occasional gel and very infrequently some Perform.  My stomach never felt good but it wasn’t awful.  I just couldn’t figure out what I wanted/needed.  Stopped at special needs (mile 14) for my glasses and a trip to the porta potty (last one!).  Finally heading out of the park.  I knew there was that same freaking steep hill on Hudson Terrace so I tried to keep running until I got to that hill, and then walked.  That took me to the lovely stairs for the GW bridge.  Holy sh*t!  Hip flexors not liking stairs at this point. Took my time up them and then ran across the bridge which was probably my favorite part of the run!  People were honking their horns and yelling and cheering and it was great.  Then more stairs on the other side.  There was an aid station right after the bridge so I decided to try some chicken broth.  YUK!!  BLAH!!  Some people just love that stuff, but I wasn’t thrilled.  Came down a bunch of ramps and what-not to finally get to the greenway along the river.  At mile 18 – there is hubby!  No pictures this time because he had changed into running clothes and didn’t want to carry it:-)  BUT – there was a photographer shortly after that and he got a great shot of the two of us with the GW behind us with the sunset!  Very cool!  He stayed with me for a bit (my husband – not the photographer….shhhhhh!) and I was feeling really nauseous.  After a bout of dry heaving around mile 21, I knew I had better stick with coke and water.  It was dark by now and you had to be really careful with the surface because there were cracks and bumps, etc.  The last 4 miles seemed to take forever.  Mentally, having to turn away from the finish line area and do all of this zig-zagging in the park was horrible.  Now the outside of my left knee was yelling at me so I just ran as much as I could and walked when I couldn’t.  I was still passing people, and people were passing me so it was great to have company because a few times I felt like I was all alone out there in the dark!   Somewhere around mile 24 I think – more stairs! Seriously???  I think I said that out loud!  Just keep going… one foot in front of the other.   One last hill about 1/2 mile from the finish – seriously???.    But then it all happens!  I heard the crowd!   I heard Mike Reilly!  I saw my hubby.  I heard MY NAME!  That’s when the tears started.  I just couldn’t help myself and cried all the way through the finish line!  Holy Sh*t, Carol, you are an Ironman!

Run: 5:47

Total: 14:25:59 (goal 15:00)

Post race – called my kids, called my Mom, tried a bite of pizza – no go…   I loved my volunteer at the finish line!  These people are truly the best!!  Wanted to stay till the finish but just had to go back to the hotel.  Hubby was just as tired as me:-)   After a hot shower, I got my laptop and layed in bed reading all of the emails that had been going on all day.  My daughter was sending email updates to a whole slew of family and friends (after hubby called her) and it was just overwhelming to read how excited everyone was and all of the support I had going for me all day and night.  Wow…

It was also really sweet to find out I had won my age group and could get the slot for KONA!

EN is AWESOME!  You guys are all AWESOME!  This has been one of the best experiences of my life (and I’m no Spring chicken!)

 Listen to Carol’s race report podcast with Coach Rich here

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