Off the bike, first thing I did was hit the port-a-potty. I put on my running shoes (forgetting to take off my bike shirt), grabbed a power bar and a bottle of gatorade, and I was off!
I walked the first half mile, power bar and gatorade in hand. I had intended to fuel up in transition, but it occurred to me that I might as well walk while doing so. If nothing else, it would stretch my legs out for the run (or shuffle) that was to come.
I suppose it looked funny, but c'est la vie.
Eventually, I couldn't eat any more, and I put them both down by the side of the road. The first mile was an awful slow shuffle, as my legs were in no hurry to wake up and come around. I drank 2 cups of gatorade, and the second mile was better.
When I came to the one steep climb on the out, I made the conscious decision to walk it both times (double loop run). The words in my head were "this is not the battle I really want to win". No regrets, there.
There was a lot of music along the course, and occasionally I stopped to do a little jig. Just after the turnaround, there was a barbershop quartet. I stopped and faked scoring them a perfect 10. It was just so great to have distractions along the course. :)
Bill looked like he was 30-40 minutes up the road from me. He looked strong, and we had kind words for each other whenever we passed.
On the first loop, I peed twice, then peed again back at the transition area before the second loop. Clearly, I wasn't dehydrated - just the opposite!
Near the end of the first loop, I had my second chocolate power gel. It tasted every bit as bad as the first. A careful reading caused me to exclaim, aloud "oh, no wonder it tastes bad - it's coffee!". Yup, that icky chocolate power gel I'd gotten at the aid station was, in fact, espresso. With caffeine.
On the second loop, I drank a bit less, at least until I had a spasm in my calf. I took that as fair warning, and started drinking more gatorade again. I also had a second power gel - I chose vanilla from the bowl. :)
When I hear the drums up near the turnaround, I knew for sure I was going to finish. I was buoyed, and had to rein in my emotions.
After the turnaround, I was able to continue running most of the time, which made me very happy. A few more calf twinges prevented me from picking up the pace, even when I saw by my watch that I had a shot at sub-7 hours. Finishing upright and smiling was far more important to me than some arbitrary number, so I walked when I needed to.
I managed to finish in a shade under 7 hours in the end, so it's just as well I didn't push myself.
That's right. I finished. Longest open water swim in my life. Second longest day ride in my life. Longest I've run in 2 years. All in one day.