Hot, Hot, Hot!

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In case you're wondering, it was HOTTER THAN HOT on Sunday in Austin, TX! With temperatures in the low 90s (in late October....what the heck?!) and my swim wave starting last, I managed my best race of the year! It was extra sweet to finish the 2014 season with a podium finish and a 70.3 World Championship slot for Austria!   0817_006838 Ok, so here's the long and short of my race in Austin.... I often tell myself (and others) that I would rather be lucky than good. Unfortunately my mantra didn't work out so well this time around. I arrived at athlete check-in on Saturday afternoon to discover that my wave would start last. Yep, wave #19 starting at 8:55am, nearly 90 minutes after the pro start! I simply reminded myself that "what is, IS" and there was nothing I could do to change it. The fact that THE weather forecast called for temperatures in the low 90s didn't make it any easier on my nerves, BUT OH WELL...   0817_059067   I made it through check-in relatively quickly and then left to pick Marietta up at the airport. She had a prior commitment on Friday which required us taking separate flights. I was thrilled to have her with me for the weekend! I scooped her up and then headed for the hotel to get off my feet. I love late season races for many reasons but at the top of my list is SEC college football Saturday! There were 3 fantastic games on which made relaxing that much easier. Dinner time rolled around and Marietta and I found a good place nearby. Pasta with chicken and mixed veggies hit the spot and we were back to the hotel in less than 2 hours. Now it was time to sleep, which I have never been good at the night before a race!   0817_030429     The alarm went off at 5:00 and I was up into my race morning routine! We were out the door and on the way to transition by 5:30. Austin 70.3 is a 2 transition race so parking was set up to facilitate a shuttle ride to the lake. My wave went last so I took my time setting up both transition areas. After why seemed like a century, my wave was called to the water. The swim was packed already with over 2500 athletes already having begun. I took my place at the front left and started with an all out sprint to for the first 3 buoys. My swim has been much better this year and so my confidence as allowed me to start in such a manner. I settled into my pace and felt great. As I finished, I looked down at my TIMEX Race Trainer Pro to see "29:15!" The run up to transition was long but I maintained my composure.   0817_010749     T1 was huge and spread out and my bike was NOT ALL CLOSE to the bike out. I carried my bike out of transition at the advice of the volunteers. There were burrs everywhere and I had no interest in strutting with a blown tube! By now, the sun was high in the sky and it was hot! The pavement was rough, which made for an extremely uneven ride. I am so glad that I decided to put less air in my tires as there were athletes everywhere on the side of the road changing flats. Even after 9 years of racing, I still learn new things with each race day experience! At mile 25, I looked down at my Timex Cycle Trainer to see "1:07!" I was super-excited as my Trek Speed Concept was smokin'! I was doing everything I could to stay hydrated as I was pouring sweat by now. I felt strong despite the heat and began preparing for what would be the most grueling leg of the day. I cruised into T2 with a bike split of 2:34. The last 10 miles were tough with a head wind and a couple large climbs.   0817_016211   After a quick turnaround in T2 I was out on the run and completely exposed to the elements. As you can probably imagine, there weren't too many trees in the parking lot of the expo center (which is where a large portion of the 3 loop course took place!) Fortunately each aid station had ice and I did everything I could to keep a handful positioned beneath my hat in direct contact with my forehead. I had dropped my salt tabs on the bike after having taken only 2. I knew I was WAY behind on my electrolytes so keeping my body temperature low was my number one focus on the run. Lap 1 was the most difficult part of the day. It was so hot, and the surface was a mixture of uneven pavement, gravel and dirt. Lap 2 was more manageable and by the time I hit mile 7, I started having fun again! I love triathlon in so many ways, but the run takes top measure! I found my stride and kept my pacing even. Lap 3 was a bit of a grind but by the time I passed mile 12, I was ready for the indoor expo finish line...   Austin finish line   The best part of the entire race was the minute I ran into the Rena and out of the sun. I crossed the finish line with a run split of 1:27 and an overall time of 4:38. I had no idea what my place might have been. There were 2 waves of my age group and 300 athletes. The run course we jammed packed and with 3 loops I just couldn't keep track. My swim felt great as did the bike and I always feel strong on the run. My thinking was that since we started so late the results would come down to suffer management! 4:38 is not a stellar time by any stretch of the imagination but co spidering the conditions, I surely hoped that it would be good enough. After searching for Marietta in the massive crowd for over 30 minutes I finally found her and she showed me her phone. It was in that moment that I saw my results!!!   IMG_0082   The first thought I had was, "dang it...I missed 1st place by less than 2 minutes!" But then I came to my senses and rediscovered my gratitude. It was a tough day and I managed to hold on for a 3rd place finish. I was also fortunate enough to qualify for the 2015 70.3 World Championships in Austria. I went ahead and took my slot to keep my options alive for next season! Marietta and I smiled together as she took a few photos of the awards ceremony. We went back to transition to collect my things and headed back to the hotel. After a quick bike packing and shower we found another great local restaurant and ate as we counted our blessings! IMG_0088     2014 is officially in the books. I am beyond grateful to represent such a world class organization in Timex. I am honored to have been given another season as a member of the Timex Multisport Team. 10 races stretching from New Orleans to North Carolina to Coeur d' Alene to Racine to Florida to Canada to South Carolina to Texas. 5 podium finishes and a little prize money to go along with the hardware!   0817_038976   An incredible sentiment of thanks to all my rockstar teammates...you guys inspire me to go as hard as I possibly can! To Tristan Brown, Tom Schuler, Brian Daniels, Sam Martin, Brett Jacobson and the rest of the Timex family, my heart goes out to you. And to Trek Bikes, Shimano, Blueseventy, Newton Running, Powerbar, Castelli,.....you are the BEST in the business and I am honored by your sponsorship. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

15 Hawaii Ironmans in a row (almost)

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[caption id="attachment_13560" align="alignnone" width="199"]Running along Alii drive at mile 5 or so. Running along Alii drive at mile 5 or so.  Thanks for the pic Larry Rosa![/caption] Completing 15 Hawaii Ironmans, 25 total Ironmans , and turning 40 all happened in a few days of each other earlier this month.  How does it feel?  I don’t know.  It still hasn’t sunk in yet.  Just like that, Ironman Hawaii came and went quicker than anyone would have thought, and so did a birthday ending in zero.  It’s is hard to believe that I have qualified and completed 15 Hawaii Ironman’s.  I know there are only a handful of people that have done that many Kona’s, let alone full Ironman distance races.  I feel so privileged to be able to race in the Big Island and truly see what I am made of. Racing 15 times in Kona does not come without a price.  It’s no secret that I am racing with a different engine than when I first raced here when I was 25.  I describe it as an onion where the layers are being peeled away.  I just don’t ever want to get down to the core.  However, the fire is still there to put myself to the test in some of the toughest conditions that an Ironman can dish up. [caption id="attachment_13561" align="alignnone" width="300"]Eric and I sharing a few Kona memories. Eric and I sharing a few Kona memories on the expo stage.[/caption] I did several interviews during race week: One with our own Dave Erickson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2_65ZajVrU&list=UUCbJaS79efzaDJGgiOI1obQ Breakfast with Bob Babbitt:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_DuZcAFzcY#t=9228 And one on Bob's radio show:  http://www.babbittville.com/babbittville-radio/tim-hola/ I got asked the following question several times, “What makes Kona so special?”  It’s hard to exactly put my finger on it, but there is a draw to that island that gives me a sense of self improvement unlike anything else I’ve experienced.  It makes you realize how fragile we are.  Like many of us out there, we want to become better people, learn more and make good choices.  The entire Hawaii Ironman process helps me do this. After several media commitments during the week, I settled into my room on Friday mentally prepping for the race the next day.  My mom and dad came out again to watch me race – they’ve never missed a year—and I could tell they were excited for yet another year of watching the race. [caption id="attachment_13562" align="alignnone" width="300"]One of the reasons why I love this race so much...moments like this. One of the reasons why I love this race so much...moments like this.[/caption] Saturday morning came and I headed down to the King Kam Hotel at 4:45AM when transition opened.  I got everything set up, said hey to a few of my pro friends and chilled out in my hotel room at The Kona Seaside, the same hotel we’ve stayed at for the last 10 years.  I eased into the water right after the pros went off and swam over to the Timex crew to say thanks for all they do for me.  Now that I work for Timex full time, the brand certainly has an even more special meaning to me. [caption id="attachment_13569" align="alignnone" width="300"]Excited for the swim! Excited for the swim![/caption] I then swam over to see my parents sitting on the sea wall, the same spot they have watched the race for the last 15 years.  I said my goodbyes and swam on my back for a minute or two looking at the clouds to soak it all in.  The gun soon went off and I was on my way. It is always hard to find space in the swim, so I did my best to swim hard at the start to get away, then settle in to my rhythm.  After the turnaround, I was at the front of the lead pack, with just a few solo age group men swimming ahead of us.  I am very confident in my swimming and knew that on a good day with the right conditions, I could swim 53 min.  Today was 56 min, but still felt good heading into T1.  I enjoyed every minutes of the swim like I always do.  Mom, thanks for putting me into swim lessons at the Fort Dodge, IA YMCA in 1980. [caption id="attachment_13563" align="alignnone" width="300"]Heading out to Hawi..the wind was not the kindest to me. Heading out to Hawi..the wind was not the kindest to me.[/caption] Everything went smoothly coming out of T1 and felt solid on my Trek Speed Concept – the fastest bike I have ever ridden.  The first 5-10 miles always get a little sketchy since we do some very fast technical riding through town.  I know the race really starts once we are past the airport.  I got a lot of cheers through town and was happy to begin the trek to Hawi.  All systems were go for most of the ride, body felt strong, nutrition was going well.  I really don’t know where to begin about the wind.  I always go into this race expecting the wind to be horrible.  This year was the one year where I’d be cruising along at 27/28 MPH, then like a flip of a switch, I was going 16.  The good news was that it was temporary, but man, it hit all of us hard.  There is never a good time for headwind in this race.  With 34 miles to go at Kawaihae, we got a nice tail wind, then the head wind started at 26  miles to Kona.  I just cleared my head and remember all of the times I’ve done this before.  I cruised into T2 with in 5:07, a ride I was happy with. After a quick porta-pottie visit, multiple water dousings over my head, and a quick look at my legs telling them to “shut up”, I began the marathon.  I always start running with short strides to get the muscles ready.  I tried to reflect on the countless brick runs I’ve done all year where I’ve felt good, although you can’t really expect your legs to feel that great after 6 + hours of hard racing in Hawaii.  I had a goal of running close to 3:00 on the marathon as I’ve done before.  According to my new Timex Run x50 watch, my pace started at 7:00 min miles and I was feeling OK, but knew it would not last. [caption id="attachment_13564" align="alignnone" width="199"]Keeping my focus in the opening miles of the marathon. Keeping my focus in the opening miles of the marathon.[/caption] I hit the mile 5 turnaround at St. Peters Church where I got engaged almost 13 years ago to the day, grabbed a little energy from the man upstairs and headed back to Kona.  There are so many people yelling at you, but I put my head down and try to ignore it and focus on my pace & energy.  I saw numerous Timex teammates on the out & back, Chris, Roger, Matt, Dave Erickson shooting video of us, just to name a few.  Lots of good Timex Mojo on the course this year. As I headed out of town, I saw Mom and Dad on Hualalai Rd. cheering me on which lifted my spirits.  I like running out on the Queen K.  I feel like it’s my time since there are not that many people out there to cheer.  It was at mile 13 or so where a feeling came over me where I simply wanted to be done.  I was not slowing down too much, but knew that the sooner I completed this, the happier I’d be.  The feeling to be done and out of that type of pain was just so strong, none like I remember in my prior 14 races out here.  Persevering, not stopping, sticking to my plan, finishing what I started, and pushing on allows me to become a better person.  That’s exactly what I did.  I ran for a bit with several of my friends on the way back to town:  Adam Zucco, BJ Christensen, Ryan Guliano, all incredibly talented athletes that I have raced against for years. [caption id="attachment_13565" align="alignnone" width="201"]Happy to be done! Happy to be done![/caption] I took the famous right turn on Alii drive and could not be happier.  I finished in 9:28, a respectable time for the day, but was hoping to get my run dialed in better.   [caption id="attachment_13566" align="alignnone" width="300"]Thanks Timex and PowerBar! Thanks Timex and PowerBar![/caption] A HUGE thanks to Tristan Brown, Timex, Trek, Shimano, PowerBar, Blue Seventy, Nathan, Tri-Swim, for making this another memorable trip.    Congrats to all of my teammates who completed this special race.  It will be with us forever.

Ya Never Know….

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Sunday was a day that I will never forget! I love Rev3 Anderson, one of my favorite races in the world. This time around was anything but predictable albeit exciting nonetheless! First and foremost I want to recognize all race directors that are brave enough to organize world class events each and every weekend throughout the season. I would not trade places with these guys for anything in the world...(ok, on to my report!)   FullSizeRender 2 The alarm went off at 4:15 and I was out the door in less than 20 minutes. It could not have been more than 15 minutes before the skies opened and the rain began to fall. Shortly thereafter the sky illuminated with thunderous lighting bolts as if were broad daylight. I don't even think T1 was open and already the weather was horrific. I arrived on site and made my way to transition. As the rain continued to fall my spirits weren't exactly up. The sun finally began to rise but that only made the tumultuous weather visible! I managed to set up my transition area, pull on my wetsuit and walk to the swim start to begin a warm up. When I arrived at the edge of the lake, I was informed by the race director that we were officially on a weather delay. FRUSTRATING BEYOND WORDS...but what do you do? After 40 minutes of rain, more thunder, a little bit of lighting and sun the race was on. My wave went first and I positioned myself on the front. I have been swimming very well recently and so my confidence was high. The start was a running mass and I hit the water quickly rather than trying to run. I gave it everything I had for the first 500 and much to my delight I was in the first group to make it to the turn buoy. I worked into my pace quickly and had a fantastic swim. 22 minutes...I was fired up. I knew there were 5 guys ahead of me. I began the run back to transition as I peeled off my BlueSeventy Helix wetsuit (which performed like a charm, ONCE AGAIN.) After a quick transition in the pouring rain I was on my bike and on to the next leg. The bike made its way through rural Anderson County and there was no shortage of hills, wet leaves, downed branches and gravel along the way. Around mile 30, the skies began dumping water. I was absolutely soaked once again within 30 seconds. By mile 50 I was shivering so badly that I struggled to keep my steering straight. My Trek Speed Concept 9.9 delivered me safely through a wet and cold bike course. I was miserable and could barely feel my hand and feet. My bike split was not good, but I made it back to T2. 2:45. I had lost some ground getting passed by 3 guys so I had work to do.   FullSizeRender   I had gotten so cold on the bike that my motor skills had been impaired. My hands simply would not work! I struggled to pull my running shoes on my feet but after 2 minutes of struggle I managed the task. I was so cold and disoriented that I couldn't wait to get out on the run to warm up. I cannot remember the first 2 miles literally...I guess my brain was frozen! Finally around mile 4, I regained my faculties and hit my stride. I was beginning to generate body heat and was pleased with my turnover. I was pacing with Timex Run Trainer 2.0 and knew that I was running right at a 6:40 pace. I had passed 2 guys on the first loop and knew there were at least 2 more that I needed to track down. I hit loop 2 more determined than ever. I was focused and it paid off. My stride felt even better during the second loop and I passed the first guy around mile 10. I continued to run despite the weather and other distractions all around me. My Newton Distance Elite's felt great even though they were soaked! I ran back onto the Anderson County Civic Center property and could see the finish line in the distance. I picked up the pace, looked at my watch and settled in for the final stretch. I crossed the finish line feeling like I had just gone to war. I was cold, beat down but satisfied. My run leg was 1:28 for an overall time of 4:41. I learned that I had finished in 3rd place overall which was my best finish on the year. I actually got a check at the awards ceremony which was icing on the cake! Thank you Timex for another amazing journey and the chance to represent such an outstanding organization! rev3 swim Rev3 bikerev3 swim   rev3 swim

IM World Championship-The definition of Insanity

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The definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Well, the mantra this year was to switch things up and see if the outcome would change. I had three main things that I changed up in 2014. First, I went back to a focused strength and plyometrics routine at the beginning of the year. Then I worked the entire season on dialing in my race nutrition. I did not want any nutritional excuses this year. Finally, I increased the frequency and length of my long rides. The result of my changes left me very confident about my foundation strength and my race nutrition. I was not worried about completing the 140.6 miles. I was ready to race. Kona-swim-624x407 Swim: 1:01:00 I was curious to see how the new swim start would change things this year. I swam out to the starting line and quickly realized that the split start was not going to change how dense the front line gets before the cannon goes off. The usual feeling of being a sardine packed in was still very real. Once the cannon went off, I just tried to keep my head down and stay relaxed. There were arms and feet everywhere, but my best option was to move forward as quickly as I could. After the initial 200 meter smash fest, I was able to get some decent open water. I quickly got into my own rhythm and looked for some feet to follow. I felt really relaxed the remainder of the swim even though the conditions seemed a bit more rolling this year. I came out of the water with the 256th swim time. It wasn't my best, but I was happy with it on the day. Bike: 5:06:00 The long day that is an ironman will always throw unforeseen challenges your way. Each race will have different challenges. So I always try to prepare myself the best I can and hope to adapt to the particular challenge I am presented with on that day. This year I felt really good heading out onto the bike and I was really excited to see how my nutrition plan would play out. What I did not expect was to be flagged for a blocking (just a stand down) and a drafting (four minute timed stand down) penalty within the first ten miles. I was so surprised and very disappointed. My thought process had this progression: anger at the referees for making two very bad calls at the beginning of the race, then the feeling that my race was over, finalized by realizing that it is a very long day and anything can happen. The bike segment was the usual roller coaster of emotions. However, this year the conditions were quite unique. I would say that 2014's bike conditions were the second (behind 2004) hardest that I've experienced in eight times racing here. There was an extreme headwind from miles 25-45. Then we caught some major side winds from 45-55 that literally blew some athletes off the road. We got the usual brutal headwinds heading into the Hawi turnaround from miles 55-60, which did turn into a nice tailwind to start the descent back down to mile 70. Once we turned onto the Queen K at about mile 80, we had a massive tailwind. It was bizarre. I was pedaling as fast as I could while riding along at 40mph and thinking how nice this would be to have the remainder of the ride. However, that all changed at mile 90, when we got another blast of significant headwind to fight the remainder of the ride into T2. It was one of the strangest days I've ever experienced. I came off the bike in 206th place overall and 24th in my age group. While it was not one of my best rides, I was very happy with how my nutrition held up. Run: 3:07:59 One of my main goals this year was to feel good (relatively speaking) coming off the bike. I have only felt decent one time exiting T2 in Kona and I really wanted to change that this year. I was really happy that once I hit the ground running, my legs felt good. It can be very daunting to think of the distance still left to cover and I am guilty of having those thoughts from time to time. So I made a deal with myself that I was only going to think about running to the next aid station. 2014_Kona_run2 This was the first year that I was able to run the entire marathon without walking any aid stations. I felt pretty good for the first 13 miles then I went through a tough patch until mile 19. My energy levels really dipped during this stretch and I only focused on my cadence in an attempt to keep moving forward at a decent pace. Once I exited the Energy lab, I tried to get my hands moving at a decent clip. I knew my feet would follow if I could stay in the moment and not drift off with my thoughts. The strategy worked and I was able to bring my pace back down to 7 min/mile pace into the finish. I crossed the line with my best marathon time to date and a total time of 9:21:59, which put me in 85th Overall and 6th M40-44. I left it all on the run course. 2014_Kona_finish1

Warrior with a Smile – Ironman World Championships 2014

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[caption id="attachment_13532" align="alignleft" width="199"]When a day is hard.. you learn what real digging deep is all about..and find out more about yourself.. When a day is hard.. you learn what real digging deep is all about..and find out more about yourself..[/caption]
This was my 5th Ironman World Championships in Kona and a race that taught me what the word "Ironman" means to me.
Last year I was the 40-44 AG and Master's Ironman World Champion.  I set a record for the fastest American Amateur over 40 in the 35 year history of this race in Kona.  I came into this years race with the goal to match or be around the same time.  My training sessions and race wins earlier this season showed I was a little better at recovering from hard or long training efforts.  Ironman and Triathlon have been a big part of life.  It's what connected me to the most important person in my life, my husband Scott of 13 years.  He is my biggest and greatest support system a girl could ask for.  Maybe taking 13th this year in my age group was meant to happen because it touched my heart in a different way than any of my other Kona experiences.  This was my slowest Ironman World Championship by over an hour compared to the last three times racing here.  All of my other race finishes were with in minutes of eachother.
I took this picture for my two children (Matthew 10 and Brooke 6) the day before my race.  Ironically in the race my husband caught a moment on video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUfup_CyZ8U&feature=youtu.be.  It was my kids who I carried with me in a fight to persevere.  Ironman is about testing one's mind and body.  Think of sitting in a room with one piece of furniture for 10 hours.  How many things would come into your mind? [caption id="attachment_13530" align="aligncenter" width="300"]To: Matthew & Brooke. Love Mom To: Matthew & Brooke. "Never quit"
Love Mom[/caption]
After 25 miles into the bike of 112 miles I had to race, my legs and body just slowly started to shut down.  Yes, it was windy, but my quads couldn't hold a leg turnover on the bike in any gear, the down hills didn't even feel easy and my feet were on fire for 3 hours.  It hurt to stand or push the pedal down.  I was getting passed by men and women for 4 hours.  I still had faith that my body might come back, because I break the race up into 20 mile sections in the bike portion.  I dismounted the bike and the guy in front of me was my first angel who grabbed my heart and woke my discouraged spirit.  "I can't run, my groin, legs and feet are not working".  "Don't run, walk", he said.  I've never not run or hobbled run through transition I was thinking.  "What is your name",  he asked. Then he told me to clear all thoughts from my head and "we" would walk this marathon.  He said, "It might not be your fastest Ironman, but it could be your most memorable".  I needed to hear that.  I went in the changing tent and laid on the ground cracking my back, stretching my hamstrings and unloading the disbelief and confusion of why my body was not firing today with the volunteer.  They draped a cold wet towel over my shoulders, said I could rest a little, dumped my running shoes on the ground, gave me Powerbar Perform with electrolytes to drink and tried to console me. 
I put on my Timex GPS Run Trainer, running visor and left the tent.  My feet started to stop aching but my legs were tight.  I turned on my GPS and heart monitor, but I knew it was a blessing to just be running and not walking. I passed a few friends cheering and said I felt miserable but would dig deep.  As I rounded the corner I ran past the guy from the changing tent and he cheered, "your legs are moving now!"  I gave a smile and thumbs up to every person who gave me any positive energy of a cheer, scream or smile.   If I was going to do this I had to draw from the bigger picture and stay positive.  Those first 8 miles presented many good people and helpful angels I needed to keep me going.  I saw a guy all bloody with ripped shorts.  I said, "wow, way to keep going because I can see you crashed on the bike."  His reply was, "I just want that Ironman Finisher's Medal".  This was a new perspective that touched my heart.  The last 4 times I stood on Stage at Awards I brought home the coveted Kona bowl, but now that finishers medal seemed just as tough to achieve.
Smiles are contagious and God gave me one I wore on my face as much as I could for 26.2 miles in the marathon.  "Smiling brings light into moments when your body feels like it's in a dark pit."  My kids and many of my friends assume I was going to come in first.  I came in first place in the last 12 races I've done including 2 National Championships and a World Championships.  In the video I said to Matthew and Brooke.  "Mom's not going to win today, but remember to never quit." [caption id="attachment_13536" align="alignright" width="224"]Sharing positive Energy to Teammates Mike W & Scott B in town on the run. Sharing positive Energy to Teammates Mike W & Scott B in town on the run.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_13535" align="alignnone" width="300"]Smiling after 3 hours of pain & no power during the ride to Teammate Dave E. just before T2.   Smiling after 3 hours of pain & no power during the ride to Teammate Dave E. just before T2.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_13533" align="alignleft" width="264"]Queen K headed home the last 10k! Queen K headed home the last 10k![/caption]        
On the run I had other competitors ask if I was ok.  I was appreciative of their concern and words of encouragement.  I knew my husband would be worried, but I told him today is a day to finish.  "I will build into the run and do what I can but my body is not on today."  Two men I passed as I said this, pumped up my broken ego and said, "well you just passed us and are dropping us quickly."  I said, "thank you and keep it up."  All day I've been passed so it felt good to be the athlete passing after 7 hours into the race.  Then I saw an athlete with one arm running the opposite way and he gave me a stunning smile back.  I have a lot to be thankful for.  I met up and pushed with people throughout the 26 miles then down Ali'i.  The last up hill right before Palani the best cheering group and song "Titanium" came on.  The crowd danced and screamed as I pumped my fist in the air.  Their energy and love touched my heart and helped my legs run to a 6:30 pace as I turned toward the down hill at Palani.  My emotions broke and tears flew because I knew I could finish.  I thought I'd be walking half the marathon, but only had to walk 2 short times through an aid station to swallow salt pills and a Power Gel.  Tim Yount (USAT Executive director) yelled, "Susanne you have another gear"; as I turned onto Alli' toward the finish I kicked like I was about to win a tie breaking race.  My husband caught me with my hands slicing through the air like Carl Lewis running the 200 meter dash!  I blew kisses and shed tears to the crowd and blasted my biggest smile because I made it to the finish line!  The crowd was screaming like the Super Bowl and I heard my name announced and the words that never lose their magic, "You are an Ironman!"
[caption id="attachment_13529" align="alignnone" width="300"]The Kona Ironman Finish Line feels just as exciting in 13th as it did in 1st.  Inner Warrior of success. The Kona Ironman Finish Line feels just as exciting in 13th as it did in 1st. Inner Warrior of success.[/caption]
Thank you to Timex Sports and the amazing team of athletes who also inspired me to take a licking and keep on ticking, Trek, Shimano, Challenge Tires, Castelli, Blue Seventy, Power Bar, Nathan and Feetures.
The words & love  from my friends and family are better than any medal.  I'm so happy I was an inspiration to many of you.  Your heart, filled mine back to 100% after what I thought was a disappointing day.  Thank you for sharing your heart.

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