Megan Steeber’s first Ironman could’ve gone a bit better.
Her knee gave way and she fell victim to the heat, but the Spokane woman said on Monday that she can’t wait do it again – and finish what she started.
“I’m a little tired, and a little emotional from not finishing the race,” said Steeber, who was featured in a front-page story in Thursday’s Spokesman-Review.
Steeber, whose inspirational story of losing 175 pounds had earned her a free entry from race sponsors, thought she’d prepared for everything. She had trained 20 hours a week, and packed extra fluids and electrolytes against the expected 105-degree temperatures.
Her confidence was buoyed after the 2.4-mile swim, which she finished in one hour and 28 minutes – almost 20 minutes better than planned. And despite the heat, she finished the first loop of the 112-mile bike ride ahead of expectations; she was back in downtown Coeur d’Alene at 11:40 a.m.
But on the first climb of the second bike loop, she felt some thing go wrong in her knee – “not an audible pop, but the outside sort of gave way,” Steeber said.
“It just started to hurt,” the 37-year-old Steeber said.
Steeber pressed on – passing other victims of the heat – and tried to nurse the knee. She reached a flat section of the course but felt more pain, akin to bone scraping on her kneecap. She picked more water, then told herself, “Yes, I can do this, because it’s me.”
But like most of the 1,710 other competitors, Steeber began to feel the searing temperatures. Unable to push hard with her leg, she got off the bike and walked up Mica Grade to the next aid station.
By that time, Steeber was overheating and running low on water and Gatorade. She also was running short on time – volunteers warned her that she was in danger of missing the next time cutoff and being pulled from the race.
“I wanted to keep going, but I knew there were time cutoffs, and I knew I just wouldn’t be able to power through,” said Steeber, who was one of 475 first-timers in Sunday’s race.
And even if she had, she still faced a 26.2-mile run “that could have made things worse,” Steeber acknowledged.
Steeber took little consolation in the fact that 374 others failed to finish, including many Ironman veterans who had completed previous events.
“That was devastating,” said Steeber, who will take some time off with family, then get back to training for Spokefest, a 50-mile bike ride in September. She also plans on running a half-marathon in October.
And Ironman? “I’m already looking to make it work next year,” Steeber said.
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