2019 Ironman Dreams – Kylie Frost won’t let Ankylosing Spondylitis get in the way

When I first said 3 years ago I was going to do a triathlon, everyone thought I was insane. I had no idea of the distance or what was involved. I was so weak I wasn’t allowed to actually exercise. But I had to find a way to avoid that wheelchair that was fast approaching!

When I had my bike accident last August it was a week or two before I truly understood that my dream of completing the full Ironman in March for my birthday was over. But there was no way I could not try. So I postponed my December half and canceled the full in the hopes a miracle would happen.

When I stood on the start line yesterday waiting to enter the water I had one thought running through my head. ‘Whose STUPID idea was this?’ I was frozen and I didn’t want to be there. But there was no turning back. I was the first to go in purely because I knew it would be warmer. But I did my warm up and when the cannon boomed I swam. And I swam. And I swam. I didn’t stop once. I was tired from lack of training as my shoulder healed. I couldn’t see the marker buoys at all on the return leg and there was no large mountain like the first half. So my distance was a little more than the 1900 meters. But I finished feeling like I had done enough and it was okay to quit now. But obviously I am not familiar with that word.

The run to transition is half a kilometre. Part of it is a step climb up some steps. I ran most of it and completed transition in a very reasonable time. But I had no idea what my swim time was. So I had to work on a maximal of 4 hours on the bike to meet cut off.

The bike was the part that was really bothering me. Changing gears is still a challenge as my shoulder heals and my balance makes it a struggle to eat and drink. All options I had tried in the lead up had failed. So it was going to be a quick stop at each aid station for my nutrition which would cost me time. The climb out of Taupo was easier than I expected but only slightly. I knew the return would be slower so I was trying to go as fast as I could without burning vital energy. I managed my first gel as I road. Then the wind gusts started. The bike kept sliding left and it took all of my strength to stay on the road. Any chance of drinking on the ride went out the window. So at the next aid station I stopped. Explained I had a shoulder injury and I needed to eat and drink. Half a bottle in one go isn’t easy on the stomach but I did the best I could then bolted. All up it was 30 seconds. The turn around at Reparoa had my average speed showing as 24.4 on my Garmin. Better than I had hopped for but my energy was low from lack of nutrition and fluid. So each aid station was 2 gels and hope it worked. I met a friend at one. She had been waiting for me as a volunteer and made sure I had fresh bottles. Again 30 seconds and go. Fastest I have ever bolted down food and drink! The climb back to Taupo was as hard as I expected but it was done and at the motor sport park I was almost home. I started to tell myself I was done. My energy was too low to continue and my nutrition wasn’t enough. I had done what I wanted. Well I soon told my head what I thought about that idea! Actually I told it to shut the F up and stop with the negative comments. All out loud of course.

I was back into transition and my average speed put me just inside the cut off. I had 3 minutes to spare! I had done it. Now there was just a short run to go. Follow the process (coaches voice in my head). Rack bike. Helmet, bib, shoes, gel, go!

The run was brutal. I knew right from the start my feet were shot. I could feel the blisters starting within the first 2 kilometres and my left leg was cramping from my hip to my ankle. I knew I needed an average speed of 9 minutes per kilometre to finish in time. I was so close. But I simply can’t walk that fast. If I could run it was possible. But every time I tried the pain was terrible. The back of one ankle was raw and bleeding and I had multiple blisters. But family and friends were there and cheering me on. The emotions were high. Again I was grateful for the dark glasses! They are bifocals and without them I could t see my watch.

The run was never a half marathon in my head. It was a little over 5 kilometres and I completed each and moved on to the next. Energy was low but each aid station was a little better. I had two cups of water over myself to stay cool. Two cups of coke for sugar and caffeine. Plus the gels I was still carrying. My energy quickly picked up. But I still couldn’t run. I tried down each hill. I gritted my teeth and thought about that finish line and how much I really wanted this. I had gone further than anyone thought I could with the accident and surgery. I had already won. But I wanted that medal so badly I could already feel it around my neck.

Each turn around I expected to be stopped for timing out. The very last one a volunteer was so excited I had made it back. She obviously didn’t think I would. Then my husband caught up going the other way. He was on his run. I expected him to catch me again but he never did. Friends competing were cheering me on as they ran past. Most I am sorry to say I simply nodded to I was in so much pain it was simply one foot in front of another. The home straight I could see my Mum and Samantha running to beat me to the finish. My Dad was there cheering me on. Then someone in the crowd started singing happy birthday. The whole crowd joined in. I didn’t recognise her and had no idea how she knew. But it was such an amazing experience. Like nothing I have ever felt before. So I had to run no matter how much pain. I wasn’t expecting to go down the red carpet as I was well over the 8 hours. But no one stopped me. So I ran.

Anyone who knows anything about Ironman knows about Mike Reilly. He is the voice that calls the athletes home when they complete a full Ironman. He is known all around the world as the voice of Ironman. So imagine my surprise when Mike Reilly asked the crowd to welcome home the final
70.3 competitor. To hear Mike calling me a champion is the best birthday present I could have ever asked for. I was presented with my medal and towel and a nice lady found me a chair and removed my shoes. One foot was covered in blood. But I had done it. Despite Ankylosing Spondylitis and a busted shoulder. Despite surgery just before Christmas. Despite the fact that I couldn’t change gears easily or eat and drink. Despite at least 6 blisters and feet covered in blood. Despite a tendon injury ten days out. I had finished. Not within the time but I had completed my finial triathlon. I was done. No more. I promised myself I would stop. I had a 70.3 in December I was committed to but no more.

Then I came home and entered the full. I am officially insane!!!

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