Editor’s Note: Read the previous story in the Inspired Woman Oct/Nov issue.
“It was epic. It was everything I had hoped it would be.”
That is how D’Arcy Honeycutt summed up her IRONMAN Hawaii experience. Here is the rest of her story:
I was glad I went two weeks in advance to acclimate. It was 85 degrees at 8:00 am and very humid. It took until the second week to feel comfortable.
Every morning at 6 am, at Dig Me Beach, the athletes would gather for a practice swim. The first week there weren’t many people, so my sister would kayak out with me, the second week I had some friends that I swam with. Spectators came out to watch, there was a lot of excitement in the air.
All those years that I would come to volunteer in the medical tent I shipped my bicycle over so I could ride the course. I would try to imagine what would it be like if I was in the race. This year there was no pretending.
The conditions on race day were good. It was dark when we checked in, you get your body marking, they weigh you, you make sure your bike is ok, then you wait. The pros go first, then the age groups, the cannon goes off and the swim begins. The water is gorgeous and you can see fish swimming beneath you.There are thousands of spectators until you get out on the Queen K highway on the bike, which gives you a chance to focus. There was a small tailwind on the first twenty (uphill) miles. On the way back, of course, there was a headwind, but here was no one to complain to, you just hunker down and do it. Then there are volunteers to ‘catch the bike’ and help transition. I actually got a massage. I knew it would waste some time, but I thought to myself, ‘I have just biked 112 miles and I don’t want to cramp up, what’s an extra five minutes?’
The first ten miles of the run went great, then mile ten was uphill. A lot of the race is mental, how much can I push myself? I would repeat, ‘I can do this, I can finish.’ I was just exhausted and I my speed was getting slower, but the volunteers were so encouraging, it was very touching.
Then I hear, ‘there are only two miles left and it’s all downhill from here!’ All of a sudden I realized I can speed up, I’m almost done! My sister met me about a quarter mile from the finish line and ran next to me, yelling ‘you’re going to do it, you’re going to finish!’ I couldn’t even talk with her, I didn’t have the energy. At the finish line spectators are holding their arms out, making you feel like the champion. I was announced as the only competitor from North Dakota, you get a lei around your neck, there are two people to catch you and talk with you to check your mental and physical state. My friend, Bunny, met me behind the finish line.
It was so exciting to watch people finish after me. You must finish before midnight to qualify as a ‘finisher’, and when the last official finisher comes across the line the spectators cheer harder and louder than they do for the actual winner.
I wanted to beat my first Ironman time by an hour, but did not. Completing an Ironman is analagous to life. You will doubt yourself, you will want to give up. You will have goals you do not meet. I had several goals and only met a couple – I finished before midnight and beat my previous Ironman time in Cozumel. One of my goals was to beat Hines Ward (former NFL wide receiver), I figured as big and bulky as he is, I could beat him! But, he finished about an hour ahead of me.
It wasn’t easy for me. Even if you are slow and not particularly talented, I think persistence trumps talent. You can do anything you put your mind to.
What is next for Honeycutt? She said she is not going to enter any Ironman events for awhile, but focus on getting her son into college and her daughter into med school. She is also working on getting her pilot’s license. Just crossing another thing off her bucket list.