Racing in only her tenth triathlon and her second Ironman over two and a half years, Carolyn Rohde was proving the Ironman motto that anything is possible. Unfortunately sometimes that motto applies to the course itself. At around mile 75 she started to get some intense knee pain. She had never experienced pain so excruciating on the bike before. She began shouting in agony and couldn’t pedal any longer. She stopped to stretch out, rubbed out the painful area, and did some walking around. A volunteer asked if she needed help from medical. She declined as she knew if she got treatment and they took her away her day would be over.
She got back on her bike and within a mile the pain was gone and it never came back.
She looked at her Garmin, did some quick math, and realized that she was about to have a really fast bike split. At mile 78 reality sunk in. There was a very strong tailwind on the Queen K going out. Now it was time to face the headwind coming in. The final 34 miles were directly into the wind. It was absolutely brutal. Like someone punching you in the face relentlessly for 2 hours. She was going 10 mph in some flat sections, down from her usual 18-20 mph.
Mark Davis: Did you ever have any doubt that you would make it to the finish?
Carolyn Rohde: No, I had no doubts. I just reset my time expectations. I slowed down, I didn’t want to fight the headwind, and I didn’t want to bring my heart rate up too high. The goal was to keep an even heart rate, an even effort throughout the bike. So once I hit that headwind I thought ok, I’m just going to slow down, keep the effort the same and then just however long it takes me is how long it takes me. So there was no doubt that I was going to finish. The only doubt I guess I had on the bike is when my knee started hurting. I kept thinking oh my God if this persists throughout the run then I’m going to be scared that I might not finish this. That was the moment where I thought if this pain keeps up I would be hobbling towards the finish line. But I would give it my all no matter what. I said before the race that there’s nothing that’s going to get between me and the finish line. There’s just nothing. I was determined. I was ready for it.
MD: It all led up to one of the best finisher shots I have seen.
CR: I was just so happy in that moment. The whole mile leading up to that finisher’s chute is just so incredibly exciting. I mean there are people chanting your name and cheering for you. There weren’t like a lot of people around me so everybody was eyes on me and chanting my name. It felt like I was in my own parade or something. It was really a magical experience. Coming down the finisher’s chute I took my time, I saw my family and gave them a big hug and a high five and I just like slapped everybody’s hands and on my gosh it was just so emotional. It was a tough day, a really tough day.
MD: Did this race teach you anything?
CR: Training for the Ironman has taught me a lot about life. If you do something every day and you’re consistent and you have a goal, then pretty much anything is possible. It doesn’t matter if it’s an Ironman or you’re going for a degree or you’re going for a job promotion. Whatever it is, if you have a goal and do something every day to work towards that goal then it will probably pan out. Just showing up and doing something. It’s really powerful.