10:16
:14

Ya Never Know….

Posted in Racing by
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
10:16
:14

IM World Championship-The definition of Insanity

Posted in Racing by
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
10:14
:14

Warrior with a Smile – Ironman World Championships 2014

Posted in Fun, Racing, Training by
[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.
 
10:08
:14

Rocked a Win at Tri Rock International Triathlon!

Posted in Fun, Racing, Training by
[caption id="attachment_13520" align="alignnone" width="168"]Euphoric grabbing the Finish Line Tape as the Female Winner! Euphoric grabbing the Finish Line Tape as the Female Winner![/caption] When training for Ironman I love to incorporate an Olympic Distance Triathlon as a test race to see how the body has adapted to the build up in mileage, tempo efforts and lack of recovery.  It's also a great way to practice fast transitions and feel a different pain level of going anaerobic that can be helpful when racing in Ironman. [caption id="attachment_13524" align="aligncenter" width="225"]Feeling the pain of going anaerobic! Feeling the pain of going anaerobic![/caption] The alarm goes off at 4am and my client Sean picked me up at 4:30am.  It's only a 40 minute drive to the race, but having a client/friend or better yet a guy who will accept a BET that his coach can beat him and loser "buys burgers" after made this race a little more fun.  In the car I gave Sean a little more smack talk and said, "I averaged 23.5mph on the bike last year, so you better be ready to feel the hurt."  I giggle inside, little does he know, I only averaged 22.5mph last year, but come on he's a guy and I'm a chic.  I needed to make him sweat a little bit and set the goal.  Sometimes I wonder if this Ironman training and coaching actually brings out the testosterone in me. [caption id="attachment_13517" align="aligncenter" width="225"]5am The Sun is not up yet but we are setting our transition! Race bet set! 5am The Sun is not up yet but we are setting our transition! Race bet set![/caption] We line up for the swim and I'm talking with a friend who swims in Master's with me at the YMCA.  I mention that I heard it's a 3 person staggered start this year and he replied confidently, "no that's only for the Sprint Race".  He said,  "It's a deep water start from the first buoy like last year".  My wave is up next.  We walk down the stairs to jump off the seawall and warm up to the first buoy for the swim start.  I swim relaxed and easy then stop at the first buoy.  No one else is stopping and there is a trail of scattered swimmers everywhere.  I'm confused and thinking, where is the group of 80 people who were just standing on the deck with me?  Panic, OMG is this the staggered start and I should be racing?  YEP!! I take a few more strokes fast now but, stop again and am still in disbelief.  I literally ask the volunteer on the surfboard if I'm suppose to just keep swimming and he yelled YES!  Oh man.  Well I had a nice 300 meter warm up in my 1600 meter race.  I cleared my goggles, put my head down and swam fast.  I was passing tons of people because I was in the 2nd to last swim wave.  I started to sing the Taylor Swift song, "Shake it Off".  I thought if Sean beats me by 1 or 2 minutes because of my mistake in the swim I am going to be so mad and argue the fact- did he really beat me?  I don't know where this competitiveness comes from, but am going to blame it on me being the youngest of six kids and my sister's always beating me at cards, yahtzee, catching bigger fish or spraying a bigger rooster tail slalom skiing when growing up! I jumped on my Trek with my bike shoes attached to the pedals and passed 3 more people just knowing how to mount  my bike like a moving horse!  I passed another couple hundred people and was feeling strong.  I didn't see Sean on the bike, but made sure I saw my Timex was reading 23 to 24 mph for most of the 40k race course.  We biked through the Naval Base in San Diego and the sailors were dressed in uniform cheering for us as we weaved right and left with many turns through their living and working grounds.  I know how to fit my tires between reflectors glued to the pavement very well now!  This bike course sharpens anyone's bike handling skills!
[caption id="attachment_13522" align="aligncenter" width="256"]San Diego Harbor! San Diego Harbor![/caption]
The run is my favorite part and is flat and fast along the beautiful San Diego Harbor.  I hear local friends cheering my name and see my family just before the first mile!  I smile and yell out that I'm running 6:12 pace to my husband.  It's funny, but after running 23 miles in a training run the week before, racing 6 miles seems so mentally easy.  This is where the anaerobic pain level kicks in and takes over those fleeting thoughts of this run being easy.  It's a two lap course and I don't see any females ahead of me, but I see Sean.  He started four minutes ahead of me so it's too hard to calculate who is ahead of who.  We share a high five to each other and keep pushing hard.  With a mile to go a guy on a bike pedals next to me and calls on his walkie talkie that the female winner is headed toward the finish line!  "ME?!!"  I feel a little more fire hit my belly and it ignites my stride as I fly down the finishing shoot!  I got to bust through and grab the finishing tape!  Here is the picture that captures my victory and endorphin rush.  I am really blessed by God to have this engine, be supported by my family, amazing sponsors Timex, Blue Seventy, Trek, Shimano, Challenge Tires, Castelli, Skins, Nytro and Power Bar in addition to being a coach.  I love that I can teach and share a common passion, lifestyle and together help others set and reach goals.  My client Sean beat me and I owe him a burger!  But what amazed me the most was his bike split.  He biked 23.6mph which is .1 mph faster than the goal pace I told him he had to beat!  It was a victory for everyone! [caption id="attachment_13519" align="alignnone" width="300"]Clients Sean and Lisa on my sides also both were on the Podium! Clients Sean and Leesa on my sides also were on the Podium![/caption] [caption id="attachment_13518" align="alignright" width="300"]Fuel that helped me win! Fuel that helped me win![/caption] [caption id="attachment_13523" align="alignnone" width="300"]Family support My husband and 6 yr old daughter is awesome to see when digging deep.[/caption]                                             The alarm goes off at 4am and my client Sean picked me up at 4:30am.  It's only a 40 minute drive to the race, but having a client/friend or better yet a guy who will accept a BET that his coach can beat him and loser "buys burgers" after made this race a little more fun.  In the car I gave Sean a little more smack talk and said, "I averaged 23.5mph on the bike last year, so you better be ready to feel the hurt."  I giggle inside, little does he know, I only averaged 22.5mph last year, but come on he's a guy and I'm a chic.  I needed to make him sweat a little bit and set the goal.  Sometimes I wonder if this Ironman training and coaching actually brings out the testosterone in me.   We line up for the swim and I'm talking with a friend who swims in Master's with me at the YMCA.  I mention that I heard it's a 3 person staggered start this year and he replied confidently, "no that's only for the Sprint Race".  He said,  "It's a deep water start from the first buoy like last year".  My wave is up next.  We walk down the stairs to jump off the seawall and warm up to the first buoy for the swim start.  I swim relaxed and easy then stop at the first buoy.  No one else is stopping and there is a trail of scattered swimmers everywhere.  I'm confused and thinking, where is the group of 80 people who were just standing on the deck with me?  Panic, OMG is this the staggered start and I should be racing?  YEP!! I take a few more strokes fast now but, stop again and am still in disbelief.  I literally ask the volunteer on the surfboard if I'm suppose to just keep swimming and he yelled YES!  Oh man.  Well I had a nice 300 meter warm up in my 1600 meter race.  I cleared my goggles, put my head down and swam fast.  I was passing tons of people because I was in the 2nd to last swim wave.  I started to sing the Taylor Swift song, "Shake it Off".  I thought if Sean beats me by 1 or 2 minutes because of my mistake in the swim I am going to be so mad and argue the fact- did he really beat me?  I don't know where this competitiveness comes from, but am going to blame it on me being the youngest of six kids and my sister's always beating me at cards, yahtzee, catching bigger fish or spraying a bigger rooster tail slalom skiing when growing up!   I jumped on my Trek with my bike shoes attached to the pedals and passed 3 more people just knowing how to mount  my bike like a moving horse!  I passed another couple hundred people and was feeling strong.  I didn't see Sean on the bike, but made sure I saw my Timex was reading 23 to 24 mph for most of the 40k race course.  We biked through the Naval Base in San Diego and the sailors were dressed in uniform cheering for us as we weaved right and left with many turns through their living and working grounds.  I know how to fit my tires between reflectors glued to the pavement very well now!  This bike course sharpens anyone's bike handling skills!   The run is my favorite part and is flat and fast along the beautiful San Diego Harbor.  I hear local friends cheering my name and see my family just before the first mile!  I smile and yell out that I'm running 6:12 pace to my husband.  It's funny, but after running 23 miles in a training run the week before, racing 6 miles seems so mentally easy.  This is where the anaerobic pain level kicks in and takes over those fleeting thoughts of this run being easy.  It's a two lap course and I don't see any females ahead of me, but I see Sean.  He started four minutes ahead of me so it's too hard to calculate who is ahead of who.  We share a high five to each other and keep pushing hard.  With a mile to go a guy on a bike pedals next to me and calls on his walkie talkie that the female winner is headed toward the finish line!  "ME?!!"  I feel a little more fire hit my belly and it ignites my stride as I fly down the finishing shoot!  I got to bust through and grab the finishing tape!  Here is the picture that captures my victory and endorphin rush.  I am really blessed by God to have this engine, be supported by my family, amazing sponsors Timex, Blue Seventy, Trek, Shimano, Challenge Tires, Castelli, Skins and Power Bar in addition to being a coach.  I love that I can teach and share a common passion, lifestyle and together help others set and reach goals.  My client Sean beat me and I owe him a burger!  But what amazed me the most was his bike split.  He biked 23.6mph which is .1 mph faster than the goal pace I told him he had to beat!  It was a victory for everyone!
10:01
:14

When an Ironman turns into a HOT MESS, Ironman Chattanooga

Posted in Racing by

Following my trend for 2014 of only doing races I've never done; Ironman Chattanooga was an easy choice. It was expected to be a non-wetsuit swim and a hot, humid race with a rolling bike course (no major climbs). The course looked to fall in line with my strengths but I was greatly mistaken.

When driving the bike course pre-race I realized this course was far from flat. There were no long climbs but there were also no flat sections. It included many short punchy climbs, I knew a hilly course would be challenging for me as I'm a terrible climber. The bike course was also 4 miles long which would make for my first 144.6 mile race. When pre-riding the run course I found miles 8-12 and 21-25 included some steep climbs. Our homestay lives right in the middle of these hills so we were perfectly situated to test them out.

photo-6a little pre-race fun in the Chocolate Milk tent

After miscalculating my nutrition and hydration leading up to Ironman Boulder I was determined to properly load for this race. I worked with my coach to calculate exactly what I needed to consume the days leading into the race.

After a restless night's sleep I rose ready to take in the day and put my best foot forward. Unfortunately my body was not as Aunt Flo came to town race morning, caused by taper leading into the race. I thought this would be a minor issue which may require 1-2 bathroom stops but nothing to fret over.

We headed down to the race venue and upon arrival at my bike I found my back tubular tire was completely flat. As usual I had glued a new tubular on prior to shipping through TriBike Transport and the tire was fine during my pre-ride so I must have ridden over something causing a slow leak. Luckily my husband, Owen, packed a spare tubie and glue so he quickly glued another tire. Stressful; YES but better before than during the race. Now it just had to dry before I took my first corner. We quickly hopped on the bus transporting us to the swim start. I ran into a friend and training partner, Lucas, who was spetating. Told him about my tire issue, he generously took it upon himself to check the tire when he returned to transition while we were swimming.

The swim was called non-wetsuit due to the 77° water temperature, YAY! Although the damn was open, therefore we would be swimming with a strong current, BOO! Our swim start was delayed a few minutes while we waited for the sun to rise. Our start gun eventually shot at 7:25am. The women took off in a pack, staying together longer than usual due to the strong current. Anna was able to break away, as I tried to stay on her feet we rounded the 1st turn buoy and somehow my ankle chip got stuck on the buoy rope. I was able to break it free quickly but lost a few important seconds and now Anna was ahead in the distance. I settled back into the chase pack and found myself right in the middle. We were moving at a quick pace but I was getting a nice draft off Malaika. I trusted her endurance and sighting skills so was content with my draft. I had to fight some others off as those around us changed positions, veering off course, etc. I was able to cruise through the swim while exerting little to no energy. As we neared the last turn buoy Kaitlin next to me tried to push and take over the lead, Malaika reacted and they were sprinting for the exit. Had they not noticed Anna was already ahead and would be first out of the water? I'm still unsure, but I sat behind them both and ended up passing them both as we ran up the stairs since I hadn't burned a match sprinting towards the line.

swim exit

I kept my heart rate low running through transition, I ran past my bike by a few steps having to go back losing a few seconds but ended up exiting transition with a few of the ladies I swam with. Mailaka was within sight and Laurel Wassner was between us. We began riding together, legal distance apart as we began our 116 mile ride. At mile 2-3 I rode over the 1st set of railroad tracks and my front bottle ejected from it's cage. I made a quick decision not to retrieve it, wanting to stay with the girls. Riding this long solo can get very lonely as I found in Boulder. Losing this bottle usually wouldn't be that big a deal but I was trying a new nutrition plan; to avoid special needs I start with 2 x 500 calorie bottles which I need to take with water and 1 x 250 calorie bottle to take during the 1st hour. I lost my 250 calorie bottle so now I had nothing to drink until I hit the first aid station. I figured this was only 10 miles and shouldn't be detrimental to my race. I rode along just concentrating on form, the miles ticked by and soon we were past mile 10, no aid station.

Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 1.39.01 PM

UHOH, Now I was getting really thirsty, I tried a taste of my heavily concentrated bottle twice but knew it would screw with my stomach if I took it without water so I waited. I asked the camera guys if they knew where the next aid station was, they didn't. At mile 15 I approached the 1st aid station and grabbed the 1st bottled put in front of me. I was so happy to quench my thirst and more importantly start getting down calories. Now I was way behind in my hourly nutrition plan so I made some mental adjustments and began taking gels and my heavy mixture down with the new found water. I was back on track.

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We were popping up and down short, punchy climbs which was actually nice because it gave me a chance to get out of the saddle for a few seconds saving my lower back from exhaustion. My legs felt surprisingly good, I was 3 watts over my 1st hour target average which felt easy and I was not struggling to keep up over the climbs which is usually the case for me. Angela caught and passed us around mile 25-30, she was pushing much higher watts than us but Laurel tried to stay with her. As I was contemplating what to do I shifted too quickly to my small ring up a hill and my chain dropped, I was left hopping off my bike readjusting it while my small group rode away. I hopped back on but they were gone and I was left riding alone. I continued on, sticking to my updated nutrition plan and target watts. I knew I was still in the race because every 10 miles or so the race spotters would be waiting on the side of the road for me and would take off after I passed letting me know I was in 6th place. My legs were feeling strong and my tire seemed to be holding but I still took the sharp corners slow just to be sure.

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A few amateur men caught and passed me as well as many pro men who we'd passed in the swim. At mile 75 Jennie passed, she was riding strong and at this point I couldn't stay with her. I began to fall into the Ironman lull, my lower back began to ache, my watts were dropping and my motivation was lacking. At mile 85, I heard, “Hey Gorgeous” it was none other than Timex teammate Bruce Gennari coming by. Bruce I can ride with, so I decided to latch on riding the legal distance behind him. This pulled me out of my funk. I was careful to stay my distance behind him as I know how this could look to officials, us riding together in the same kit. I boomeranged with him back and forth whenever he would eat I'd take the lead, but majority of the time I was steadily riding behind him. Each time we entered zones with dashed center lines I realized I was riding too far from Bruce. I closed the gap to get the maximum legal draft I could. We had a motorcycle riding with us, keeping us honest. We were now lapping first loopers and there were also cars sprinkled in on the roads. Many of the cars were sitting behind the slower riders so we had to pass cars on the left causing Bruce and I to bunch up some climbs. As we finished the 2nd loop and back in on the final stick we had a tail wind and were flying. I was being extra cautious not to get too close to Bruce so I left a larger gap then needed, just in case he slowed down. Somehow Ruth came flying by even faster because she passed me and dropped between Bruce and I. I sat up and slowed down to allow a gap open when I was handed a red card by the official. I immediately made the decision not to run. I would be done when I returned to transition, but now I had 5 miles to think about it. Here's what went through my head;

On one hand I don't want to destroy my legs for nothing. I'm already in 8th place, it's cold, these girls will run fast.

On the other I would gain fitness by running the marathon, even if I don't run fast.

I'd regret it if I quit now

I'm already here, I may as well finish

There's a chance I could break 3:15 after a 4 minute rest

Teammate Kelly Fillnow couldn't race due to injury, I'm healthy. I owe it to her

I would disappoint my homestay if I quit, they have bets with their neighbors of who's pro will win

It would be really cold spectating

AHHHH, fine I'll do it.

I rode up to the penalty tent and served my time, noting my bike split was 5:20 for the 116 prior to the penalty. Not so bad on this hilly course for me. Afterwards I ran through transition with a new goal in mind. I would attempt to catch Bruce during the 1st run loop.

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The run out of transition was up a slight incline which is a dirty trick to play on us after that long of a bike, but it soon flattened out and I came into my stride feeling good. I was still completely alone, to the point where I wondered numerous times if I was still on course. I received a split from a spectator which I immediately knew was wrong because he said I was only 3 minutes from 3rd place. This was the only split I received all day, there were also no out and backs so I was literally running against the clock in the hopes that I'd catch up to someone. I ran past my team manager, Tristan, and laughed telling him this was just not my day.

Tristan run smile

I passed back each amateur man who had passed me on the bike which showed some progress.

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As I entered the hilly section I concentrated on short quick steps and not letting my heart rate spike too much. I made it through keeping my mile splits in check. As I rounded the 1st loop I realized I had passed Bruce back in transition. Somehow my penalty+transition was still quicker than his transition alone. During my 2nd loop my pace decreased as it usually does in an Ironman, but the difference here was I didn't have the motivation to push past a reasonable comfort zone. I didn't make this conscious decision but looking back, I wasn't willing to put myself into a dark place to hold onto 8th place. I regret this. I would like to work on pushing to my limit no matter where I stand. Around mile 18 Kaitlin passed me running at a much faster clip. At this point I just wanted to finish, I thought there was no way I could keep up with her.

Tristan run

I entered the hilly section again and kept to my short steps, my legs were now fatigued as they always are during the last 10K in an Ironman, but they felt much better than in Boulder. I had taken all my planned calories down which made all the difference. At mile 22 Kathryn passed me and again I didn't care. I stuck to my slower pace just waiting for this race to be over. A few miles later I caught her back, she was walking up a hill. As I passed she began running again, she really wanted to stay ahead of me. I had no problem with that and stuck with my own pace. This happened several more times until she settled into running just slightly ahead. As we crossed the final bridge the crowd started cheering us on for the finish. I really didn't want a sprint finish for what I thought was for 9th place (later I found out someone dropped so it was actually for 8th place) but either way. I did have some punch left in my legs so on the final turn I picked up the pace and passed Kathryn, bumping into her, I apologized but she wouldn't have it. She looked forward and started sprinting as I ran into the finish shoot behind her.

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Owen finished only 2 minutes after me (starting way later) and as soon as I saw him I started crying. I held it together all day but it finally caught up to me. I never thought so much could go wrong in one day. Admittedly, most was self inflicted, but I've never experienced anything like this race. I am proud of myself for finishing when many pro's would have pulled the plug. This course was not well suited for me but I'd like to think if all went well, I could have still been in the mix. I learned a lot about myself during Ironman Chattanooga and I look forward to applying my fitness and knowledge towards Ironman Cozumel after another training block.

Thank you to our generous homestay Jamie and Beryl. Congratulations to Jamie on his finish!

Thanks to my sponsors; Timex, Trek, Shimano, Blue Seventy, Castelli, Powerbar, Lululemon, and Rudy Project

To my Coach Curt Chesney, my fitness was there, I just need to get my head in the game.

And to my husband for always being my number #1 fan

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