Thursday, October 15, 2015

Race Report-Ironman Louisville

Third time’s a charm


In August 2011 I finished my first Ironman, Ironman Louisville. The race absolutely broke me, but it was my first Ironman and I was truly happy I finished (finished in 14:17). After that I said to myself “I really think I can finish that race in under 14 hours”. In 2012 I took the year off 140.6 to focus on the 70.3 distance and I had a great race year. In 2013 I decided to go back to Louisville in pursuit of sub 14.

My intentions were there and I trained hard, but I was still living in coastal Georgia, a very flat area, Louisville is a hilly bike course. Once again, I trained hard with what I had. I did hill repeats on overpass bridges. I ran in the heat of day, I started working with a swim coach. I had a bad day at Florida 70.3 but put it behind me in preparation for Ironman Louisville. I showed up to the start line in Louisville trained and ready for a sub 14. The day did not go as planned; I had issues from the start of the race. I started the run absolutely annihilated and by mile 2 I was walking. I was crushed, I knew sub 14 was out the window and since I was dry heaving at this point, I would be lucky just to finish. I finished in 14:16 and I was devastated. I worked so hard, I wanted that sub 14. I felt I did everything right and I still crumbled. I went home feeling absolutely defeated. I told myself I was done with this race, next Ironman I do will be a different course.

In January 2014 I ran my first 50k. I had not planned 2014 in terms of big races yet, I was going to choose my long distance triathlons after the 50k. At this point I didn’t know if I wanted to try another Ironman or focus on 70.3 again. I finished the 50k in 5:09 and place 2nd female. With the 50k over and done with I began planning my 2014 tri season. Little did I know my season, and my life, was about to change. On January 17th 2014 I woke up at 2 a.m. in excruciating abdominal pain. Joel rushed me to the hospital where we learned I had a hole in my small intestine, and I was dying. During the 50k, I had become so dehydration an ulcer in my small intestine ruptured and fluid, food, air, and blood had been leaking into my body cavity for almost a week. I went into surgery right away where the hole was repair and my body cavity was cleaned out as much as possible. Antibiotics would do the rest. My life was saved.

I spent the next 4 days in the hospital. Initially I was told I will never be able to do anything more than a sprint triathlon for the rest of my life. A few days later I was told I could go back to long distance, I would just have to stay on top of hydration. That was an answer I could accept. I honestly didn’t know when I would see 140.6 again. After I recovered, I slowly went back to training. 2014’s tri season was all sprints and one Olympic. I had registered for Augusta 70.3 in late September, but once again my world was about to be turned upside down.

In mid June 2014, while he was away as a service school, Joel notified me that we were moving, soon. We had to be in Northeast Kansas at the beginning of September, only 3 weeks before Augusta 70.3. At this point Augusta 70.3 was out the window and I was devastated, not to mention being out $375 for a race I wouldn’t be doing. I tried hard to stay positive but I was mad and upset. In September 2014 I left my friends and my wonderful running and tri community, not to mention nice weather you can train outside year round in, for the Midwest.

Upon arriving to Kansas and realizing just how hilly it is, I had the thought that after training here I could probably do well at Ironman Louisville. The terrain was similar, rolling hills. Around this time Ironman announced that Ironman Louisville would be moved from August to October, causing the brutal August heat to not be a factor in the race anymore. Shortly before this time I was given a spot on the Swim Bike Mom Ambassador Team for 2015, and several of my new teammates were registered for Ironman Louisville. With my new training environment, and the race being moved to October, I got the spark back that I could finish Ironman Louisville in under 14 hours. I told Joel all this, his response was “register for it”. So that was that, I would return to Louisville for a third time in pursuit of the sub 14.

 The Build Up

After a rough winter (SNOW!!!!) where I was forced to do a lot of indoor training, it was time to put in the hours for Ironman Louisville. My first Ironman I focused on running, my second I focused on swimming. This time I was focusing on cycling. After all, it is the largest percent of an Ironman race. I put in a lot of time and miles on the bike on the road. I didn’t put a lot of time on the trainer. I needed time on the hills if I wanted to adapt and be able to run off the bike at Louisville. I admit, I didn’t swim as much as I should have, some weeks I only had one swim.  My longest run was 15 miles. A month before race day I sliced my ankle open with my chain ring while out on a training ride, so not only did I not get my mileage that day, but I lost a week of swimming because of the stitches. I ended up with two 85 mile rides and one 101 mile ride, all with lots and lots of climbing.

Since I’m getting older and have a few years into this triathlon thing, I did core work at the gym one day a week to keep injuries at bay. I managed to stay injury free the whole Ironman training cycling. I trained solo the whole cycle as well, not by choice. I haven’t managed to meet any training partners here.

In July I had a good 70.3 race at Muncie. This gave me confidence going into Ironman Louisville. I did a few fun sprint triathlons to keep myself from getting burnt out on training.

11 days before race day, Joel and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary. Wanting to save our money for the Ironman Louisville trip, we kept it simple. We went to the spot at the lake where we got married and exchanged hand written love letters. I carried those words in Joel’s letter in my heart to the Ironman Louisville course.

We arrived in Louisville the Thursday before the race. In the days leading up to the race I got the chance to go to lunch with some of my teammates, go to the YMCA with my friend Nikky that lives in Louisville, and have coffee with some tri buddies. I was feeling ready as ever.

At athlete check-in

Race Day

After the buildup of having to be in Louisville days before the race, I finally woke up at 3 a.m. on race day. I had been eerily calm in the days leading up to the race. Now I was feeling nervous. I had a good feeling about the day but I knew anything could happen. As I sat drinking my coffee I went over my race plan in my head again. Joel and I had a plan to get me toward the front of the swim start line. I have been at the back and the front of this line, and I prefer the front. Not because I was worried about meeting the time cut off, but because I like to be surround by a large crowd on the run to stay motivated. Not to mention I don’t burn a lot of nervous energy when I get in the water right away. Joel dropped me off near the line to get into transition. When it opened at 5:15 a.m. I quickly pumped my tires, put my bottles on my bike, and turned in my special needs bags. I left transition to look for Joel on the street. He had been circling the block waiting for me. I hopped in the car and he drove me to the swim start. Arriving close to the swim start I wasn’t the only one with this plan. There were several athletes jumping out of cars and heading to body marking.  After getting body mark I joined the swim start line. Just like in 2013, I was probably somewhere between 50-70th person in line. Already a good start to the day.

Joel parked and joined me for the long wait for the race to start. I was getting really nervous now. I was so nervous I couldn’t eat my pre race breakfast of a Monster Java Light and Clif Bar. I knew when my feet hit that water, I would be going all day long. It was cold, in the 40. After about an hour and a half I put my wetsuit on, the water temperature in the Ohio River was 69 degrees. So many thoughts rushing through my head at this point, all jumbled. My disappointing race in 2013, nearly dying last year, moving to Kansas, my love for Joel, Loraine’s mother who had passed away only a month prior, my girls at home with Joel’s mom, all the training time I put into this. All these thoughts were flashing through my mind as if someone was rapidly pushing the button on a projector. A bugle player played “My Old Kentucky Home” near the swim start dock and then the National Anthem. The start cannon went off. The line was starting to move. I kissed Joel goodbye and he gave me good luck wishes. I said good luck to those around me. I put my goggles on my eyes and marched down the dock like a MMA fighter entering the arena. This was my day.

The Swim

I hit the timing mat on the dock and jumped in, my race had started. I hurried to get away from the dock to keep someone from jumping off it and landing on me. I had learned a lot about open water swimming since the last Ironman. I stayed calm and went slow instead of being frantic. Wearing a wetsuit meant I didn’t need to kick as much. Its no secret I don’t enjoy the swim, I tolerate it as it is part of Ironman. But I will say, after the swim nearly being cancelled this year, I was happy to be in the water actually getting a swim and getting the full 140.6. I made it to the turn buoy not feeling as worn out as in the previous two times, but I still had a long way to go. I was keeping a steady pace throughout the swim. After all the efforts to flush the algae out of the river I was surprised there was no current, I would have figured they would have opened up the dam, but I’m no biologist. Every ten minutes or so I would glance at my watch to see where I was at and I was making great time (well, for me). At 1:20 I saw by my watch we had already surpassed the 2.4 mile point and we still had a ways to go to the swim exit.  Oh well, everyone had to do it so I just kept swimming, really tired of swimming at this point and I was anxious to get on my bike. Finally I passed the last swim buoy and made my way to the swim exit stairs where a volunteer in a wetsuit extended his hand to guide me to the steps. I climbed out of the water and hit the timing mat. Swim time was 1:26:56, a 2 minute PR for this swim

Finished with the swim


Unzipped the wetsuit and got the shoulders off and went to a wetsuit stripper who pulled it right off. Headed to transition to get ready for the bike.  A volunteer handed me my bike gear bag and at that moment I saw one of my teammates volunteering, I gave her a quick hug (covered in Ohio River yucky-ness) and headed into the changing tent. It was a sea of humanity. Being a slower swimmer at the front of the line the tent was very crowded at this point. Women from the front of the line who were slow swimmers like me, and all the good and average swimmers who were in line behind me were in the tent right now. An older woman came in holding her bag looking around frantically for a chair; I got her attention, and patted the empty chair next to mine. She thanked me for looking out.  It was in the low 50s at this point. Since it would warm up at the halfway point of the bike, I decided I would just go with a fleece headband, arm warmers, and toe warmers and just be cold for awhile. The pockets in my tri suit weren’t very big and whatever you take out on the course with you, you have to carry it. These few items I wore to stay warm would easily fit once I needed to take them off. For this race I decided to use my road helmet instead of my race day aero helmet. I made this choice because after doing this race twice, I knew I would realistically only be in the aerobars roughly 50% of the ride so any time savings would be diminished. For this reason I went with the comfort of the road helmet. I didn’t wear socks because of the time it would take for me feet to dry completely. After leaving the tent I made a porta potty stop and got sunscreened up before grabbing my bike. I was ready to ride. Hit the timing mat and then the mount line. I could hear Joel cheering for me. T1 time was 13:34

Ready to ride

Starting the bike

The Bike

I was anxious for the bike. This would be my first time doing this bike course being hill trained. The first 10 miles are flat. Many have a tendency to hammer this section as the adrenaline is pumping from getting out of the swim. I did that my first time in Louisville. Once the hills start at mile 10 they don’t let up until mile 102 when its flat again. The first 10 mile stretch I got comfortable and spun, going about 18 mph. I was cold but I could still feel my finger and toes. Around mile 14 I ate 2 Clif Shot Blocs, but while chewing I bit the inside of my mouth twice hard and had a bloody mouth. Interesting start to the bike. Once again the out and back section terrified me. Screaming downhills with riders flying down at 50+ mph. Only this time the climbs didn’t kill me. Twice before these hills zapped my legs early in the ride. I got up them and thought “what I ride at home is worse than this”. We had to make a U turn and I was overly cautious as that’s how I fell and ripped my ankle open a month ago. After we hit the timing mat at mile 22 we hit our first aid station. I refilled my water and grabbed a banana and ate it quickly before going down another screaming downhill.

On the bike
A long, somewhat steep climb was waiting for us. I got up it and was relieved that this out and back section was almost over, it’s the worst part of the bike course in my opinion. After this it was rollers lots of them, up and down. The way I felt at this year’s race during the bike was so dramatically different than how I felt my first two times here. I could handle it, the hills weren’t killing me. I didn’t want to cry, I felt adapted, like I was back home in Kansas on a ride, riding the same terrain I ride every day. I was going to be able to run, I just knew it. I had never ran past mile 2 here before, that’s when the race always turned into a death march, but today would be different. At mile 36 at the aid station I had to make a choice. I had to pee really bad (I can’t pee while riding a bike, I just can’t) as I had been hydrating like crazy, but doing so would eat into my bike split. I decided to go pee, comfort is important in a 112 mile bike ride. Visited the porta potty and felt worlds better. For some reason going pee gave me a boost and I was able to put more power to the pedals, but careful not to blow up my legs. I went into the small ring for the hills and got up and over them, one at a time. Around mile 40 the bike course rode through the spectator area at LaGrange but I didn’t see Joel and Nikky. Turns out they were out there, they saw me but I didn’t see them.

I had been occasionally eating shot blocs but felt the need for something solid. At the next aid station I grabbed a Clif Bar and a Banana. I wanted to set myself up for a good run, so throughout the bike I consumed as much calories as I could without overloading myself. I drank the on course Gatorade for electrolytes, much better than the Perform drink they used previously. I was having a good ride. I hit the halfway point of the ride still feeling good looking forward to special needs as I had a Starbucks espresso shot in a can in my special needs bag. Made it to special needs at mile 65, a volunteer was standing there with my special needs bag opened up. I grabbed the payday bar and put it in my tri suit pocket for later. I grabbed the Starbucks espresso shot, opened it, and chugged it. The volunteered laughed and said that’s a first for today, I laughed and told her its my secret weapon.  I had a can of spray sunscreen in there too and she sprayed my back, neck, and shoulders for me. I thanked her for all her help and before heading back out on to the bike course I joined the porta potty line. I knew if I went now I could probably get through the rest of the bike without going again, if I didn’t I would have to stop again later down the road. Since I had already stopped for special needs I figured it would be better just to go now. My first 2 Ironmans here I didn’t drink enough so I wouldn’t have to make potty stops, which I payed for on the run. I felt super hydrated at this point a little over halfway through the bike. My legs still felt good, I already had a feeling I would be able to run.

After the potty stop I got back on my bike to finish the ride. Once again going potty gave me a boost and I could put good power to the pedals again, not to mention the shot of espresso. I knew we would soon be rolling through LaGrange again and I hoped I would see Joel and Nikky. I ate half of my Payday bar around mile 68. I had been gradually eating the Shot Blocs I had brought with me. I felt I was doing good with nutrition. Hydration too, I never felt thirsty on the bike. The course rolled back into LaGrange to start the second LaGrange loop. I rolled through the spectator lined road looking for my people. I didn’t see them and the crowd of people was thinning out. Just as I was starting to get bummed they weren’t able to get out here, I saw them! They had set up about 30 feet from the end of the big crowd. Joel, Nikky, and some of my teammates who had made the trip to Louisville to support those of us doing the race. They were in their team kits and tutus. It was so great to see them. I gave them smiles, shouts, and fist bumps. Seeing them gave me the biggest boost of the day.  Time to get through the next 42 miles and back to transition.

Out at LaGrange

Joel out at LaGrange
Out of LaGrange I ate the second half of my Payday bar. Its fairly calorie dense so I told myself water and Gatorade only for the next hour to give my body a chance to process it. More hills, up and down, I made sure not to let my heart rate spike too much. I don’t wear a heart rate monitor, but I can tell if I am pushing too hard while climbing. I was encouraging the people around me, but several of the women seemed cranky. I didn’t take it personal. I was riding far on the right side of the road, almost touching the white line, and a woman yelled at me to get over. I wasn’t sure where she wanted me to go, if I got over any more I would be on the rumble strip. Finally the sign came into view, straight to finish, left for second lap. It was a nice feeling to go straight knowing the bike was almost over, and I still felt good. Yes, I was tired, but I still had plenty left in the tank.

Mile 90 came and went, I told myself “ok, only 12 more miles of hills, then its all flat”. As much as I wanted to hammer up the hills in the big ring these last few miles, I had to remind myself that I made it this far without blowing up or having a meltdown, stay patient. I took this time to load up on my remaining fluid to set myself up for the beginning of the run. Got up and over the last hill and smiled knowing the bike course didn’t destroy me this time. Rode the 10 miles on River Road back to transition between 17-18 mph, still fighting the urge to hammer. Approaching transition I could hear the music, I was getting excited. I was right where I hoped to be time wise. I felt like I would be able to run but was still apprehensive given my history. At the mount line I unclipped, dismount the bike on wobbly legs, and walked my bike over the timing mat. Bike time was 6:51:08

Finished with the bike


Walking down the path to T2 my legs felt tired and wobbly. After all, I did spend almost 7 hours riding a bike. A volunteer took my bike and I was able to pick up a bit of a jog (tough in cycling shoes) to where the run gear bags were. A volunteer handed me my run gear bag and I headed back into the changing tent. A sea of humanity again. Lots of women who only had a marathon to go on their way to becoming an Ironman. The tent wasn’t nearly as crowded at this point. A woman named Chris grabbed my bag for me and dumped it out to help me prepare for the run. She got my shoes and socks ready, grabbed me some pretzels and water, and put my bike gear into the bag. She truly was my T2 angel. After she saw me put anti chafe under my bra line, she suggested putting some on the bottom of my upper arms. Later on in the run I wish I could have hugged her for suggesting this. In the tent I didn’t even think about it, but when she suggested it I had flashbacks of Muncie 70.3 where I rubbed my under arms raw on the run. Put the anti chafe on my under arms, put on my shoes and socks, ate some pretzels (so yummy at this point), drank some water, put my running hat on, snapped on my race belt, thanked Chris and gave her a hug, and left the tent. Made a potty stop before getting suncreened up for the last time. Walked/jogged to the timing mat that started to run. Hit the mat and started the run. Run and done, just a marathon to go. T2 time was 11:54

In T2

The Run

Out of T2 the first .20 of the run was spectator lined. I couldn’t help but to smile. All these people, most of them here to support just one athlete, are cheering on every person starting the run. I spotted Joel on the left side of the road; I wasn’t just going to smile and wave this time. I stopped to give him a hug and a kiss. He said “I love you” I said it back, and continued onto the run. I’m a fan of Newton running shoes. A few months prior I had switched from the Gravity III model to the more forgiving Fate. In training I loved them for long distance, and I developed a strategy for this Ironman run. The rubber lugs on my shoes allowed me to bounce, and in training I learned that if I did this sort of bouncing running style, I can run for a really long period of time around a 9:30-10 minute per mile pace. I knew if I could hold this for at least half the run I could get that sub 14. I was excited so it was tough, I kept yelling at myself in my head to slow down. My plan was to walk through all the aid stations, and to run to the next one. I broke the run down in my head 1 mile at a time. Made it to the mile 1 timing mat in 9:55, right on pace. At the next aid station I ate some pretzels and drank some water. Solid food tasted so good right now. After walking the aid stations, I would start a slow gradual bounce into a run as opposed to taking off. So far it was working. I made it to mile 3 surprised I was still running. I was feeling surprisingly good, but I was on guard as feelings during an Ironman can change fast. Heading out to the lap one turn-around there were 2 large dips in the road. I ran up and down both inclines but made a mental not that on the way back, and on lap 2, to walk up the inclines to save energy. Other than the 2 dips the run was flat.

Hey Joel, give me a kiss!

At the lap 1 turn-around there was a timing mat for mile 7.3. I was still maintaining an under 10 minute pace, and surprised I was still running. To keep my mind off the pain I smiled at all the spectators, thanked the police officers keeping us safe, and encouraged my fellow competitors. I was feeling good for being on an Ironman run, but I was still hurting. Kind of hard to explain. I knew I felt much worse at this point in my first 2 Ironmans here. I was drinking 2-3 cups of water at every aid station, and 1 cup of Gatorade. I ate a few Shot Blocs occasionally. I felt like I hit my nutrition perfectly on the bike because my stomach felt fine at this point and I didn’t feel hungry. I was at mile 10 and I couldn’t believe I was still running, I was really surprising myself. I was hurting but the pain was manageable, I wanted that sub 14 so bad.  It was in the low 70s and I didn’t feel the need to dump water on myself or grab any of the cold sponges, so my feet stayed nice and dry and blister free. I wore my one piece tri suit so I wouldn’t waste all that energy constantly adjusting my clothes, and I could tell a big different. Typically, if I am wearing a 2 piece tri kit, I have to adjust my clothes 8-10 times a mile, in an Ironman that adds up to a lot of wasted energy. The extra time at the potty stops was worth it to not waste all that energy during the actual run.

Out on the run

At the half marathon point I glanced at my watch and saw I ran the first half in 2:15. I told myself if I can manage to not blow up or have a meltdown I may be able to run this marathon under 5 hours. Only a half marathon to go. Ran into the downtown area and saw Joel, gave him another kiss, and then saw my teammates cheering for me. I gave then lots of smiles and told them I felt pretty good. I came upon the sign that says “straight to finish, right to 2nd lap”. This sign pumped me up as I could see the finish line up ahead, but I had to turn right and just run a half marathon and then it would be my turn. At special needs I stopped briefly to grab my can of Monster Java Light. For a split second I didn’t know what to do. Special needs is just special needs, its not an aid station and there are no trash cans. I had a plan for special needs, but I honestly didn’t think I’d still be running at this point on the run.  I had planned on walking with my can of Monster and sipping it, but since I was still running I didn’t want to break the momentum. I grabbed my can of Monster in my left hand and ran with it all the way to the next aid station. At the aid station I popped it open and chugged half of it and threw it away, and then got in the potty line. I was staying hydrated and had to pee. After getting out of the porta potty I took off again to the next aid station down the road.

Halfway point of the run

I slowed my pace down a bit, I wasn’t cramping but my legs were aching, Ironman is a long day. At the 2 dips I walked up the inclines and kept on running after them. The volunteers at all the aid stations were amazing and encouraging. As this was my last lap I made sure to thank all the volunteers. At the mile 15 aid station I ate a Clif Bar to have something solid for the last few miles. At the mile 17 aid station I drank some coke which my stomach didn’t like, I ate some pretzels after that to combat it. I was taking in a lot of fluid at all the aid stations.  Hit the lap 2 turn-around, which is mile 20, feeling a bit loopy but relieved the race was almost over and I was still running. It was getting dark outside, and with a 10k to go and still running I got the chance to think about a lot of things. It was the projector effect I experienced before the swim. I was on triathlon mode on my Garmin 920xt, I pressed the button to see my total race time and saw that unless I had a total meltdown and stopped moving, I was safe for sub 14 hours. Mile 23, about a 5k to go. When I got to the mile 23 aid station, I decided to take in water only at this point. At mile 24 I was a few minutes into 13 hours. My hamstrings started to seize, so I took a longer walk break after leaving the aid station to rub them out a bit. At mile 25 I was exhausted, but 1 mile to go. I drank some water, and just went. I was hurting bad. I told myself don’t stop until you cross the finish line.

I could see downtown up ahead. This was my day; I couldn’t believe I pretty much ran the whole marathon. I was going to do it, I was going to finish well under 14 hours. I turned the last corner and started shaking and crying, yelling out loud “I did it! I did it!”. Four years of work, all came down to these few seconds in time. I followed the arrows “to finish line” and I lost it. Tear streaming down my face, at this point I didn’t care what my finish line pictures looked like, I achieved my goal that was so important to me, that meant so much, that I worked so hard toward. As I approached the finish line, I started yelling and shouting and pumping my fists, along with the tears. I cross the finish line and landed in the arms of two of my teammates, who were volunteering as finish line catchers. One of them donned a finisher’s medal around my neck. Run time was 4:43:14

Shouting and fist pumping, my moment

4 years of work summed up into a few seconds of time
I did it
I was a crying, wobbly, blubbering mess talking to my two teammates. Tears down my face I told them “I finally did sub 14!” They shared my happiness after seeing how much it meant to me. Joel was waiting at the finish line exit gate for me. As soon as we made eye contact he shouted “13:26!” I said “what?!” I couldn’t believe the time he said, he said it again and I lost it. Sub 13:30. I was in shock. I cried in his shoulder. I got a long hug from Nikky who told me how proud she was, she also know how much this meant to me, especially after seeing me fall short in 2013. After I got some chocolate milk, a massage, and chatted with some friends and buddies, it was time to go back to our hotel on the outskirts of town. I said a “see you later” to Nikky and took one last look at Fourth Street. Such an electric place on Ironman day. This was my third time crossing the finish line on Fourth Street, but it still captivated me. This place will always hold a special meaning in my heart. I finally got my sub 14, I know it will be awhile before I see this place again. I can now move on to a different Ironman course. I got my sub 14 I always felt I was capable of.

Can't describe how happy I am
On Fourth Street

I am still riding the high from race day. Instead of thinking about what’s next, I’m going to take a few days to appreciate what I did on Sunday.

Finishing time was 13:26:46

See you next time Nikky!

Me and Joel on Fourth Street

Friday, July 31, 2015

Five Years of Triathlon-10 things I have learned

Tomorrow is August 1st. Five years ago at this time I was heavy in training for my first sprint triathlon, which took place in September of 2010. Five years ago when I signed up for that first triathlon I never imagined what kind of influence the sport would have on my life. It changed me as a person, for the better, and gave me a method of staying active after my November 2009 gastric bypass surgery. Very active

In this blog I wanted to share 10 thing I have personally learned. This is not a general list, this is a personal list. My experiences in triathlon will greatly differ from another triathlete's experiences.

September 2010, my first ever triathlon
10. The best bike will not make you a better triathlete

This is something I admit to getting caught up in years ago. After I finished my first Ironman in 2011, I was convinced I needed a super bike. A few months after that, we received our income tax return and decided to buy new bikes with it. To my complete surprise, after spending months riding high mileage on a hybrid bike, Joel decided he wanted a road bike. We were planning on getting him a mid grade carbon road bike, and a mid grade carbon tri bike for myself. After going on and on and yada yada yada about super bikes and how much I needed one, Joel offered to let me get a super bike and he would just get a nicer aluminum road bike.

The offer was right there in front of me, but after stepping outside myself and looking at the big picture I just couldn't. My wonderful husband, who had supported this absolute tri crazy-ness, who stood outside supporting me all day long at Ironman Louisville in August when it was 100 degrees, deserved what he wanted. Joel had never had any interest in anything athletic, he used to be a heavy drinker and a pack a day smoker. When he returned home from his second tour in Iraq, he spectated my first tri of 2011, and shortly after wanted to buy a bike. We bought him a nice Cannondale Hybrid and riding that bike was the spark that ignited his passion. He put clip in pedals and slick road tires on it and rode 56 miles with me one day. He started planning all the things he would do once he had a road bike. I had never seen this side of him, and I knew it was because of me, I was so very proud of him. Joel getting a nice carbon road bike was more important to me than having a super bike.

Joel and his prized Felt AR4
My Cervelo P2 was my workhorse for 3 triathlon seasons
I ended up buying a Cervelo P2, which ended up being just as "fast" as a super bike. Although I must say bikes are not fast, its the people riding them (duh). I probably would have had identical bikes splits on my Equinox/P2/Slice than I would have on a super bike, my legs only turn over so fast depending on my current fitness level. I have passed plenty of people on super bikes on all three of the non super tri bikes I have owned. In no way does that mean they don't deserve to have such a nice piece of carbon goodness, which I will get to in #9 below.

The first time I ever won my age group I was on a Trek 1.1C with 8 speeds. It was a cheap junky bike with the worst components ever

June 2010 on my Trek 1.1C, such a newb!
9. You deserve the bike you can afford

Many years ago I got the idea that I would learn flying mounts and dismounts. I watched videos on youtube to learn how. I can upon a video from a sprint triathlon. It was a video about a minute long of a mount line. I wanted to see how people executed flying mounts while in an actual race. A guy came up to the line with a beautiful shiny super bike with a rear Zipp Disc and a front Zipp 808. He was getting a bit tripped up at the mount line and the guy taking the video said "this guys does not deserve that bike". I was very taken aback by that comment. As well as overhearing other competitor at races making negative comments about "slow people who are on super bikes" and why they would bother getting a bike like that when they are slow.

Here's how I feel about this. Its YOUR money, YOU deserve what YOU can afford! For all you know, that beautiful $6,000+ bike is what keeps them going, what gets them out the door everyday, what keep them riding, and that's great. Its no different than buying $6,000 rims for a car because you can afford them. We are a very "blue collar" family. I am currently not working, and my husband is enlisted in the Army. The bikes I have owned, they were the best bikes in our price range. Big race weekends we stay at Best Western instead of the high end hotel near the race site. No complaints at all, I am very fortunate and I love that I have a supportive spouse who does his absolute best to insure I have a great race. Maybe one day after I finish school our situation will change and I can get a super bike, but it will be because we can afford one, not because I met all the criteria on some elitist prick's list of "when you deserve a super bike"

8. Learn to suffer
Suffer, it a word that in our mind brings pain. Suffering isn't just for long course, short course brings it own amount of suffering. True, our life experiences give us a baseline for our ability to suffer, but in training we can learn how to suffer in a way that will pay off on race day no matter what the goal is.

7. The ability to suffer can sometimes outweigh athletic ability

Yes I train a lot, yes I train hard, but I attribute most of my racing success to my ability to sufferYou can get past the voices in your head begging you to stop if you can dig in deeper and suffer a little harder. Have confidence in your ability to suffer. Even today, as a short stocky woman who is borderline athena, I will look at the girls in my age group before the race, looking like fast little whippets, and make assumptions they are going to crush me, but you cannot just look at a person and know their ability to suffer.

6.  Training with partners is so fun, but the ability to train alone is also needed

Some of my best training sessions have been with training partners. I love training with training partners. I would pick training with a partner over training solo any day of the week. But the hard truth is, they won't always be there for every training session. As hard as it is and as much as it sucks, you need to learn how to train and be accountable to yourself

My best friend Loraine is my favorite person to ride with
5. Ironman is great, but the other distances deserve the same respect

Ironman is the pinnacle of triathlon. Most non triathletes at least know that Ironman is a traithlon. Training for any distance of triathlon take time. I've said on many occasions that I feel an olympic is tougher than a 70.3, and I still stand by that because the way I race, it is true. To me an olympic is not simply "half of a 70.3" to me its more of a "double sprint" and that means teetering between orange and red for 2.5 hours, which is very tough. Last year after my intestine rupture I only raced sprints and one olympic, and it really showed me how much emphasize is placed on Ironman. It felt almost as my year didn't matter because I was only racing short course, even though I had a successful racing year and bumped up several hundred positions on my USAT ranking. Sprints are so much fun, and tough! I love racing sprints, and since moving here I use the local sprints to meet new people. There is another aspect to discuss on this, but I will get to that on #2

4. Running is genetic, cycling is neutral, swimming is starting from a young age

On the run at Ironman Loisville 2011
Somehow I have the genetics to be a good runner. I run often and I train hard. But I am 5'6 160 pounds, science says I shouldn't be able to run a 1:44 half marathon or a sub 22 minute 5k, but my genetic do. I know lots and lots of people who run train much more than me, much harder than me, and don't post times like that. I saw it a lot when I was in the Army too, kids that never ran who could just run a 10-11 minute 2 mile with a hangover. Genetics are really a fascinating thing when it comes to athletics.

On the run at a sprint tri last year
Cycling seems to be neutral, you become a good cyclist with work. This is just my experience with triathlon and not actual bike racing.

On the bike at Ironman Louisville 2013
On the bike at an olympic last year

Swimming, the best swimmer are the ones who grew up on swim teams. "Swim team kids" I call the adults who just glide effortlessly through the water and are the first ones to T1. From a young age technique was drilled into their heads and it has always stuck with them. Seeing them training at the pool is sometimes frustrating because they make it look so easy but I just have to admire them. I started swim training for triathlon five years ago and have concluded there is not enough time left on earth for me to become a good swimmer.

Always trilled when the swim is over
3. Triathlon is a selfish sport, make sure those around you know how much you appreciate and love their support

In my triathlon journey I ask a lot of two people, my husband Joel and my best friend Loraine. They support me tremendously, and for all the support I feel that I will never truly be able to show my full gratitude for what they have done, and for what they continue to do. But I try my best, I do as much as I can for Joel and make sure he gets to do all the training he wants to do. I take Loraine out to dinner and get her small gifts to show my gratitude. The last thing I ever want is for either of them to feel unappreciated. I am the one crossing the finish line, but I could not have done it without them. Triathlon is a team sport contested by one.

My biggest fan and the love of my life

Crying in my best friend's shoulder after finishing Ironman Louisville 2013

2. No matter what, your floor is someone else's ceiling and vice versa

From #5, I don't like hearing the term "just a sprint". Everyone is different and you have no idea what they have gone through to get to that point. After I have finished my race I usually stay near the finish line to cheer my fellow competitors in. I have seen the last finisher in a sprint, tears streaming down their face, arms hoisted up in the air, with the same expression on their face as someone who is finishing an Ironman. You know what, maybe with their adversities in life, and the courage they had to build up to sign up and train for this sprint, this race was an Ironman TO THEM. What is simple to you may be this big monumental thing to someone else.

Finishing Ironman Louisville 2011
In training, running an easy pace to me could be a panting all out sprint to someone else. I have been on the other side of that at the pool. When a fast swimmer was laughing at how slow my half ironman swim pace was. This made me leave the pool with my head hung and discouraged. I have never done that, nor would I ever do that to another person in regard to running. The last person who finishes the race deserves the same respect as the first person who finishes. Your floor is someone's else's ceiling, what is easy to you is difficult to someone else, and what is difficult to you is easy to someone else. My "fast" 100 meter time is 2:07, I can't maintain that for longer than 100 meters, it is difficult for me. On the other hand, if I don't feel like running I can cruise a 24 minute 5k with minimal effort.

1. At the end of the day, triathlon is a hobby

I put this at #1 because this has been the most important thing I have learned. I am an age grouper, I will never be a professional. My livelihood does not depend on triathlon. If I don't do well at a race, my kids still have food on the table. I train as an outlet, I race because I love it. That's all there is to it, simple as that. It is a hobby and I treat it as such. I got really caught up in it back in 2011 when I was training for my first Ironman, and afterwards I had to learn balance and compromise. Today I have a healthy mix of family time, husband and wife time, training time, and how many weekends I choose to race. My whole family is behind me for my third Ironman, and that means the world to me.

I love having a shared love of riding with my hubby

Thanks for reading!

Muncie 70.3 a few weeks ago, could not have done it without my support system

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Race Report - Ironman 70.3 Muncie

Five days after I finished my first 50k, I underwent emergency surgery to repair a hole in my small intestine in the early morning hours of January 17th, 2014. Since the hole was caused by dehydration during the race, my surgeon came in to my hospital room later that afternoon told me "you have ran your last ultra, and last long distance triathlon. You will never be able to do anything longer than a sprint triathlon or a 10k for the rest of your life." I did not take this news well, those words immediately caused tears down my cheeks which then turned in to sobbing. Yes, I was grateful to still be alive, but with those words a part of me was killed.

Two day later my surgeon came in to my hospital room again and retracted his statement. He knew I had been doing this for awhile and that this was truly a freak accident. He said if I kept on top of hydration, and understood the risks of what I was doing, that I could return to long distance if the risk verses reward was worth it to me. The next day I left the hospital and started down the long road to recovery back to long distance triathlon.

In the journey back I took everything gradual. In 2014 my longest tri was an olympic where I got a PR for the distance at 2:41. I did a trail 25k which was a lot of fun, and I did a winter hilly half marathon in 1:48. After the half marathon I felt like I was on the right track since that was my average half marathon finishing time pre-surgery. Training over the winter in Kansas was rough. Never ending snow, single digit temperatures. On one short 20 mile ride on the road I got first degree frostbite, it was scary. Winter finally ended, I did well at my few sprints so far this year, and did well at my spring half marathon, but my one question still remained, could I still do a half ironman under 6 hours?

It had been a big question looming over my head for the past year. Up to this point I had done well post surgery at my short course triathlons and half marathons. To train for Muncie I did some 4 hours rides and my body had held up fine like nothing had ever happened. I was feeling good going in to the race, but just had a lot of uncertainty.

In 2011 Muncie 70.3 had been my first half ironman ever. I picked Muncie because my best friend Loraine is from the next town over and her parents are always generous enough to give us a place to stay. I finished the race in 5:48 that year. Being the sentimental, symbolic person I am, this year I decided to go back to the place where it all started. This was to be my 7th half ironman.

For the first time I brought my whole family. Joel, the girls, Loraine, the weenie dogs. This day was going to be huge for me, I wanted everyone there. Joel and Loraine had to watch me struggle for the past year and a half and got me through so much, I knew I would need to see them at the finish.

Race morning I quickly set up transition, and hung out with my family and some friends to get over some race nerves. Water was 73 degrees so it was to be a wetsuit swim. I have owned my wetsuit for four years and have just recently learned how to optimally wear it for my body. I have an odd body, especially for a triathlete. Short legs, big hips, long torso, long arms, and a long neck. I have always had an issue with my wetsuit getting filled with water from the neck, since my neck and torso are so long. My long torso was causing the neck on the wetsuit to be low enough to fill with water. I learned a trick how to fix this. I pull the legs of the suit almost up to my knees, giving me plenty to pull up in the torso, and plenty to have the neck actually go around my neck. I felt confident going in to the swim.

Me and my girls 
I joined the ladies in my swim wave and looked out at the lake. It was a long way to the first turn buoy. I was nervous yes, and I'll admit just a little scared, but looking out at the swim course I couldn't help but to smile. I was so happy to be here, ready and trained, back doing what I love to do. Our starting horn went off and I let all the fishes go in front of me to keep from getting smacked in the face.

I have learned a lot in my five years of racing triathlons. I am not a swimmer, nor will I ever be a swimmer. The best thing I can do in a long course triathlon is a relaxed swim and not gas myself. Muncie is known for being long, as discouraging as this can seem everyone in the race has to do it so we just keep swimming. It felt like it took forever to get across the lake to the first turn buoy, but unlike the last time, I wasn't worn out from it. Kept the same pace throughout the swim. I knew it was taking me a long time but I'm just a slow swimmer and I still felt good and just wanted to get on my bike. For once my sighting was good and I didn't go off course at all. Hit the beach and crossed the timing mat in 46:17. My Garmin had the swim at 2380 yards.

All smiles out of the swim
Since I didn't wear myself out in the swim I was able to run fairly fast up the ramp to T1. Stopped off at the wetsuit strippers to get the thing off. Since I wear mine so high on my legs it took two of them to get it off. They handed me my suit and I kept running at a decent clip to T1. Put on my helmet, sunglasses and cycling shoes, grabbed my bike and headed out. Stopped at the sunscreen volunteers since I am a pale person and burn easily. I hit the timing mat and got to the mount line and realized I forgot to grab my bike nutrition, whoops! Too late to turn around now, I had already hit to timing mat to start the 56 mile bike. Everyone has a plan until they get hit, this was my first hit of the day, I had to recover from this hit and reassess the situation. Off I went. T1 time was 3:54

About a half mile in to the bike I saw my family cheering from the side of the road. I was so happy to see them. I gave them a smile and a wave. My bike had a 22 oz aero drink filled with water, and a 20 oz bike bottle filled with full strength Gatorade on the down tube. The first aid station was at mile 15, so I had to think of a new nutrition plan on the fly since all mine was still sitting in transition. Since I had swallowed some water in the swim, I did water only for the first 40 minutes of the ride to flush out the lake water. The bike had changed quite a bit from the last time I did this race. It was now a two loop course with a few hills thrown in. Nothing major, but the whole course had about 1100 feet of elevation gain now over the 400 or so feet it had the last time I did the race.

The start of the bike
Its very easy for one to overload themselves on nutrition during the bike on a long course triathlon. Knowing this I was trying to stay conservative especially since I was now depending on the aid stations. Since my surgery I have had issues with maltodextrin so I knew not to grab any GUs. After the 40 minute mark I had started to drink my Gatorade I had on my down tube, which is calorie dense enough that I knew I wouldn't need much more to get me through an hour before I needed more calories. At the first aid station I grabbed a water to top off my aero drink and a half of a banana for an edible.

On the bike
The two loops took place on a highway, it was easy to go fast so I had to force myself to hold back, I still had a half marathon to run after this. I didn't want to have a phenomenal bike just to have to walk a lot of the run. Muncie is an honest course, its a great course to gauge your long course fitness. At mile 30 of the bike I grabbed a bottle of Gatorade, topped off the water in my aero drink, and grabbed 2 mini Clif Bars and put them in my back pocket. After I was a good distance away from the aid station I took out one of the mini Clif Bars and quickly looked at the calories. I saw they were 100 calories each, I did some quick math in my head adding up the Gatorade I had consumed since the new hour started and concluded I needed to eat both mini Clif Bars. I train on the bike at home with Clif Bars so it was nothing new to my system, the minis were a lot easier to eat on the bike than the full sized bars.

Feeling good on the bike
Since I had gastric bypass in 2009, I get the benefit from nutrition fairly quickly. By mile 36 I got a second wind from the nutrition and I was able to increase the pace a bit, but I made sure not burn the matches I had left. I was able to stay in the big ring for most of the ride, and was able to stay in the aerobars as well. Aero is a lot more comfortable, and I feel a lot more in control on my Cannondale than when I was on my Cervelo. Around mile 51 I was starting to feel "bike tired" but was ready for the run, and was ready for my 7th half ironman finish. Made it to the mount line and got off my bike feeling good. Bike time was 2:53:22

Entered T2 and racked my bike and removed my helmet and sunglasses. For the first time ever in a triathlon, I sat down on the ground to put on my socks and running shoes. I wanted to make sure my socks were all the way good, so that was the reason for sitting down. 13.1 miles is a long way when socks aren't 100%. Stood up, put on my running hat and race belt, and remembered to grab my Huma Gels. Went potty before going to the sunscreen volunteers, thought it might take awhile since I was wearing a one piece suit but it really didn't take any longer than when I wear a two piece. Got sunscreened up and headed out to the run course. T2 time was 4:53

The run at this race is a challenging one. Its hilly, roughly 500 feet of elevation gain over the course of this run. Rolling hills, lots of exposed areas with no shade. Its an out and back course. My plan was hopefully to keep a 9 minute/mile pace throughout the run. In the first mile there is a nice downhill. At the bottom of this hill Joel and my friend Daphne were there cheering me on. I needed this at this point in the race and it put the biggest smile on my face. I was trying to slow my pace, but the big downhill and the excitement of the race had me running the first mile in 8:09. At mile 1 I ate my first Huma Gel and waited for the caffeine in the gel to hit my system.

Start of the run
I was mentally able to get a hold of my pace and was able to keep it close to 9 minute miles after that. There was an aid station at every mile, I walked through every aid station to get my fill of water, ice, and Gatorade, and ran to each aid station. I can't look at it as a 13 mile run, I break the race down in my mind to 1 mile at a time. Just get to the next aid station, then the next.

It was heating up, so I was pouring water on myself, putting ice in my sports bra, and putting water in my hat. Of course it all has to go somewhere, so my socks were getting wet. By mile 4 I felt a hot spot on the bottom on my left foot. By mile 5 I knew it was a full blown blister, and it hurt! I had ran a half marathon before in my Newton Fates, but not while pouring water on myself, so I immediately knew that was the culprit. I took another Huma Gel around mile 5. The hills kept coming, up and down, blisters feel horrible nonetheless, but it was such torture on these hills.

Out on the run
Hit the halfway point of the run at an 8:49/mile average pace, but I knew this big blister was going to make it hard to keep that pace. Every step just hurt so bad. I had to push through the pain. I knew if I could just push through this pain, that sub 6 hour finish I wanted so bad was mine. Up the bigger hills I had to take walk breaks since the pain was just too excruciating. Mile 8.5 I took my last gel and hoped the caffeine would kick in to give me the final push I needed. Mile 10 I got a bit of a second wind and was able to run all the way until a big hill where I took another brief walk break. Mile 12.7 was that nice big downhill at the beginning of the run I now had to run up. The pain in my foot even more excruciating now, and my whole body hurt, but I just wanted so badly to be done. I took a deep breath, gritted my teeth, and powered up this last hill. The awesome spectators were cheering and ringing cowbells to get me up this hill. I ended up running the second half of the run at a 9:16/mile pace.

In the chute
At the top of the hill I made the sharp left turn to enter the finishing chute. My first time at one of these chutes in almost two years. It was a beautiful sight for me to see. It represented so much. The pain at the moment, the pain of the struggle to come back, both physically and emotionally. So much had happened in two years time, and I was here, at the finish line of my 7th 70.3. I had done it, I made it. I quickly looked behind me to see I had this moment all to myself. Even through the pain I smiled big at the elation and raised my arms up high as I crossed the finish line. Run time was 2:01:29.

Finishing time was 5:49:55, only 1 minute slower than my 2011 finishing time with an easier bike course. I had met my goal, and proved to myself that even after all that has happened, I can still do a half ironman in under 6 hours.

A medal was put around my neck, I was given a finisher's hat, and a finish line catcher brought me to my family at the chute exit. The catcher kept asking me if I was ok, probably because I looked like I was about to burst in to tears at any moment. Days later I still can't put in to words the emotions I felt at this moment in time.

Right before being reunited with my family
I got a big long hug from Joel, and I somehow managed to fight back the tears. Got my hugs from Loraine and my girls, and told them about the race. Our friends Daphne and Jason were standing with us, Jason did the race and earned himself a PR for the half ironman distance with an impressive 5:20. Many years ago I had encouraged Jason (a fellow veteran along with his wife Daphne) to get in to triathlon and his journey has been so inspirational and impressive. I was proud of him for his great race day. It was at this point one of them told me my finishing time. Even though I was in so much pain I was all smiles when I learned my time was under 6.

Took off my left shoe to find a quarter sized blister, just ouch. So this is what slowed me down. I guess Swiftwick socks aren't as water repellent as I thought. Even with the blister, I was happy I was able to stay close to the 2 hour mark for the run.

Today is the Thursday after the race and I am still on cloud 9 from the feelings and emotions of the race. It was a great day and the huge confidence boost I needed. I'm currently on a two week break with easy workouts and then I will start the big build for Ironman Louisville, 86 days to go until the big race!

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Race Recaps- Legends Free State Sprint Tri and El Dorado Lake Sprint Tri

June is coming to an end so I will briefly recap my two races I did this month. Even though they were both sprint the way I raced them was night and day.

Even though I am in crunch time for Muncie 70.3 and putting in 10 hours of training a week, I still enjoy racing as it breaks up the monotony of constantly swimming, biking, and running for hours on end. On second thought, I don't just enjoy racing, I LOVE racing. I can't just exercise to exercise, it needs to have purpose for me, racing gives me that purpose. Every time I hit the pool or the road, it is serving a purpose to me beyond just staying healthy, and that has been what has driven me the past five years. Since I started tri training in June 2010 I have been consistent with my triathlon training because of my love for racing. This is the reason why I was so angry at myself after Legends Free State.

Going in to the race I was already annoyed, the race director put out that there is no race day packet pick-up. Not wanting to get a hotel room, Joel and I drove to the race site 90 minutes away to pick up my packet, and drove 90 minutes home, just to wake up at 2 a.m. the next morning to do it again. Getting in to the state park was hectic, then the almost 2 mile walk from the parking area to transition left me with 7 minutes to set up transition. Fortunately one of my wonderful teammates Therese all the way from Iowa was doing the olympic and she found me setting up transition. This did a 180 on my mood and I was really happy to see her and I was able to smile and be happy for the first time all morning. It was so nice talking to her as we were waiting for the race to start.

Me and Therese pre race
Almost go time
Swim was a wetsuit swim, and I'm getting a lot better at open water swimming, as well as figuring out a wetsuit will actually allow you to float if you let it. Too bad it took me this long to figure that out. I finished somewhere in the middle for one of my better open water swims. The bike was hilly, no surprise there. I biked well and finished towards the front. The run made me question everything in my tri heart though.

Starting the bike
I got to mile 1 on the run, and all of a sudden I didn't want to push anymore. I have had the blues for awhile living here in Kansas, and it just got to me. It was as if all the sadness and all the loneliness hit me at once and I just didn't care anymore. I missed my friends and training partners I had in Georgia. I knew that after the race I would go home to Fort Riley and have no training partners to train with, I just got.........really sad and in that moment of time it didn't feel worth it to push. I literally jogged the rest of the run at an easy pace (for me) and my run split was 25:04, my slowest sprint tri run split ever.

I ended up placing 2nd in age group, 6th overall female. Awards were not ready, they said they would be mailed off by the end of the next week, but it has been 3 weeks and I still haven't received my award in the mail.

But the beer was good, and after Therese finished I got to meet her family and hang out with her for a little while before she had to hit the road back to Iowa.

Me and Therese post race
Getting home I couldn't help but to feel immense disappointment in myself. Since my intestine rupture in January 2014 I have been doing good at not being so hard on myself, but this was different, I mentally gave up. I truly couldn't believe I let that happen. The move to Kansas has been good for everyone except me. I am a very positive person, above all I choose happiness, but I have been having a hard time since we moved here. I haven't really found my place here yet, but I am still holding on to hope. I am ecstatic that my husband's career has taken off since we moved here and that he has so much pride in his job now whereas he used to have so much doom and gloom (and chest pain) just getting ready for work every morning. I am truly happy for him and seeing his happiness every day shows me that this move was worth it. Seeing my children happy here brings me so much joy. I know my time will come, I am just getting a bit impatient.

Since I am heavy in to the Muncie 70.3 training cycle I was just going to train through the month of June and try to put this race behind me. Joel could tell it was really bothering me so he encouraged me to do one more sprint tri until Muncie. He was right, I mentally needed to have a good short race before Muncie. I found the El Dorado Lake Sprint Tri taking place two weeks later in south Kansas. They were offering race day packet pick-up so I went ahead and registered.

The next two weeks my training went great. I worked on adapting to the heat and not letting my heart rate spike on hills. I got in a 65 mile bike ride, my longest ride in 2 years. I leaned on my husband and best friend for support. Thankful for technology, I clung to my triathlon friends scattered all over the country. Going in to the race I mentally felt better.

Joel went with me to the El Dorado Sprint Tri. Arriving to the race site I already felt at ease. The atmosphere was happy and relaxed, my first time experiencing this Georgia-type tri atmosphere since moving here. I felt really good and the race hadn't even started yet. I felt ready, and I felt I could be fast today. So dramatically different than I had felt two week prior. I met two triathlon buddies who live in the next town over from me and it was so nice to chat before the swim start. It was a nice, low key race, I had a good feeling about it.

My naturally crazy hair
75 degree lake water meant a wetsuit swim. I had a really good swim. I allowed the wetsuit to let me float and kept my sighting on the buoys. It has taken me this long to learn you can't swim in a lake like a pool. Another great swim for me, this was probably my best open water swim in a sprint. Uphill run to T1 was a good way to get blood pumping in the legs, I was ready to ride! I made a big mistake out of T1, I ran out of the bike in and heard the beep of my chip, noooooo!!!!! The volunteers had me go under the rope to get back in transition and had me run over the bike out timing mat. A volunteer ran alongside me to get my race number so she could run over and get my timing fixed. Joel was spectating along the beginning of the bike course and I tried to tell him what happened but he looked really confused. I rode hard for the 12.5 mile bike ride, in the back of my mind I was worried I might be disqualified for the timing mat mishap. I tried not the think about it. Fun bike course with not too many hills, headwind all the way back.

Swim start

Attempting to tell Joel what happened, he was confused
In T2 I hit the right timing mat this time. I got ready to run in well under a minute. As I was heading out to the run I found the volunteer from the T1 mishap, she told me my timing was fixed. YAY YAY!!! I thanked her 3 or 4 time and have her 2 high fives, I was so happy that my race wasn't over. A few feet out of transition I got a high five from the race director.

High five from race director
Beginning of the run
Joel ran alongside me for a few feet to find out what I was talking about out of T1. I briefly told him the story in 10 seconds and and got a "good luck sweetie I love you" as I hit the running path. I was running well. I felt tired of course, since its a race, but I stayed engaged in the race and kept my pace well under 8 minute miles. There was a big out and back on the run and I realized there were only 2 women in front of me. Most of the run went through the shaded campgrounds. There was a half mile stretch at about 2.3 miles that was exposed but I stared at the ground and kept my run cadence up, know if I looked ahead it might slow my pace. Off of the path there was a sharp left turn to the finish line. For the first time since we moved here, triathlon or running race, I sprinted through the finish line. Even though I was exhausted, I felt an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment. Joel told me I finished 3rd female.

Sprinting to the finish
Talking to Joel while we were waiting for awards, I was all smiles. I felt great, I felt like myself again. I was able to let go what had happen two weeks prior. I learned from it and I moved on.

 The race vibe here was so happy and positive. The race production company is called Oz Endurance, looking forward to doing more of their races.

3rd overall female
15 days to Muncie 70.3. I start my taper on Monday. Can't wait for race day!

Thanks for reading!