So the finish. Just so you know, there will be many posts that I make regarding this whole experience. The people of this week are sorely missing from my posts - our bloggie peeps - our creepy internet friends - as well as photos and video that needs to be compiled. This is really just the down and dirty. The way Blink likes it.
The aid station with two miles to go was packed with a group of college kids drinking their brains out and yelling and screaming and high-fiving us through the aid station. I knew this would be the last aid station I would partake in, so I downed a "double" of coke, and stopped to walk only long enough to swallow. The mile to the next aid station was a long one. I could hear the finish line, but it was getting dark and lonely. I took advantage of a particularly long stretch to walk for a minute (I'd count to 60) and collect myself for the final push. No more walks. No more coke.
I doubt many folks were using the first/last aid station much any more - it was pretty well packed up for folks bringing it home. I ran through it and said thanks to the few remaining volunteers. Around the corner I knew the route separated for folks finishing and folks needing to do one more lap. Oh the secret pleasure I took in scootching over to the left side of the road - the finisher's side! This new ground snaked through the streets of Coeur d' Alene where volunteers informed me of an 8 block run to the finish line. Hanging a final left at the top of finishing street, I could see the two bright spotlights that shone the way to Ironman. They were now close.
Coeur d' Alene proper converged on these 8 blocks. Because of the spotlights in my eyes, it was difficult to see just how many folks there were, but I could feel them just the same. "Great job, Marc!" and "Keep it going - your only 3 blocks away!" filled my ears and hands outstretched for high-fives were laid out in front of me. These spectators filled the shadows of my peripheral vision, and that shadow bottle necked to the finisher's shoot. I thought it was loud running those last 8 blocks - the noise was nothing compared to the final 100 meters.
I was all alone entering the shoot, but as soon as I came into view, the stands went bonkers. These folks, with a few exceptions, didn't know me from Adam, yet they screamed for me like I was a family member. I couldn't hear the announcer calling my name, but like on the bike, I had some more High-fives to give. I caught sight of Di on the right side surrounded by "creepy Internet friends". I went left and slapped hands with folks I didn't know, then right again, then left. At last, the Ironman tape lay stretched out before me. I tried to lift it over my head, but one of the holders had more strength then me - still, I held it, and in that instant, became an Ironman. It felt awesome.
My insanely long run split of 6:14:33 doesn't even make me all that mad, even today. I've certainly got a goal now for my next run at Ironman, with my finishing time of 14:32:23, shoot, so many things were great about that day, it would be silly to be upset about 6 hrs of it. Very quickly after finishing, collecting my medal, t-shirt and hat, I spied Di and collected my finisher's kiss and hug. Mmmmmmmmwaaaah! Even though she could have, I'm glad she didn't have to hold me up.