I saw two of the T2 coaches walking toward me. They had not seen that I was dropped off and so I had to explain that I was done. I told them that I was going to the oval. On the way there I met the DJ who liked my singing.
I stopped at the entrance of the oval to wait until the other "official" runners had passed through. In the meantime a staff member came over to me and thanked me for understanding - but why wouldn't I? We know going into this that we have 17 hours. My time was up. I had a great day overall and was amazed that I got as far as I did. As I stood there, I realized that I did not want to go over the finish line after all. If I had completed all 140.6 miles, maybe. But I had gotten a ride "home." I explained that I had changed my mind and gave him my chip.
On the spectator side, just inside the oval, I found my mom, waiting for me to come in. At first she looked at me and asked why I wasn't on the other side of the fence. She got a little choked up, I got a little choked up, but I didn't want to go there. She told me I did great and that she was proud. We made plans to meet back at the house and I was going to find ML.
As I made my way through the spectators, people started to congratulate me. At first I didn't quite know how to respond. I started to get a little rattled. At one point I found myself getting a angry. "Can't you see that I don't have a @(*#!@ medal around my neck!?" But I just kept looking for my friends. The music got even louder. The crowd kept getting louder. But soon all I could hear was Mike Reilly's voice. "Mary Sue you are an IRONMAN." "John Smith you are an IRONMAN." That was suppose to be me - my heart was sinking and I had to get out of there.
I decided to go up to the team tent to see if the coaches were still there. Maybe they could call someone for me. I met up with CG on my way out. She offered to walk with me. I said she didn't have to. She said "yes I do!" It was right about then that I heard Mike say "and Deborah Armstrong is coming in." Clearly they had sent my name to the announcer before I changed my mind. This was a little disconcerting to the friends and family who were watching the live feed on their computer. Apparently a man stepped right in front of the camera as Mike said my name. Rumor has it that a family member in Nashville could be heard in Lake Placid swearing at the guy to get out of the way - hahaha! And my sister had posted on FB "My sister is an IRONMAN."
I'm not sure how I found the others- maybe I met them along the way or maybe they were at the tent. They tried to reach ML and finally connected. She was on her way. When I saw her coming up Mirror Lake Drive, they helped me up and, you guessed it....I lost it. All I could say was "I worked so hard. I worked so hard." But I didn't stay in that place long - I really did have a great day. I accomplished so many of my goals; I stayed in the moment and enjoyed it all. I kept moving. I didn't give up. I made that bike cut off and that alone was a miracle!
We went back to the house and there was a lot of awkward silence. Two athletes - one made it, one didn't. I don't think anyone really knew what to say. My focus at that point was blueberry pie! Funny how a couple of hours earlier I couldn't eat anything.
Looking at the large number of text and FB messages on my phone, I knew I had better get a quick note out to those that had been watching online before heading to bed. This was my post:
"Here's the short version - after getting through every other cut off by the skin of my teeth (except the swim) I got pulled at mile 21 because I was not going to make the midnight cut off. For those of you who were watching the live feed, they said my name because they offered to let me cross the finish line anyway, but I thought better of that once I got there. Thank you all again for all your support. There were a lot of great positives about the day. More on that later. And no, I will not be signing up again tomorrow. Time for a break!"
That was at about 2:00 a.m. By 9:00 a.m. I was officially registered for IMLP 2014!