08:17
:15

The Bridger Ridge Run, Part 2

Posted in Fun, Racing by
I've been quiet on the triathlon scene this year, focusing on trail running instead. Why trail running you ask? Its new, its challenging, and, possibly the best part, I don't need to travel far to race some of the best trail runners in the country. The Montana trail running scene is blowing up, and even at the most "local" of races, you'll find olympians, world class runners, and fast-as-hell weekend warriors. Did I mention its challenging? The Bridger Ridge run is the world championships of trail running in southwest Montana.  It was also named by Outside Magazine as one of the top 10 bucket list trail runs in the world. [caption id="attachment_13739" align="aligncenter" width="300"]The Bridger Ridge from my house The Bridger Ridge from my house[/caption] The Bridger mountains form a steep, rocky north-south ridge line just outside of town. The race is 19.7 miles, with 6800ft of elevation gain, and 9500ft of elevation loss. The course is not marked, nor is there an official maintained trail for much of the race.  Basically, stay up on the ridge; keep running south; don't die. [caption id="attachment_13753" align="aligncenter" width="300"]A grainy panorama of the course A grainy panorama of the course[/caption] The race starts at Fairy Lake Campground at 7:00am GMT, not a second later. I was in the first of 5 waves, along with a few former winners, and at least 10 other guys with serious running chops.  I wanted to be in the top 10, and in the race, not behind it. [caption id="attachment_13740" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Course Profile Course Profile, or a stock you should have sold a long time ago[/caption] The first 2.25 miles climb 1800 ft to the summit of Sacagawea Peak, on a well worn trail. The opening pace was quick, but comfortable. Approaching the peak, I found myself in third, close behind Ted and Eric in front of me, and 30-45" ahead of four big hitters. I'm not the best descender, so I needed a little cushion at this point. The first step from the summit of Sacagawea takes the race onto a 'trail' more traveled by mountain goats than humans, traversing loose shale south across the summit. In the heat of the race, my ankle rolled so severely that my ankle bone touched the ground. I thought my ankle was broken, and race was over, only 30 minutes in.  [Another runner broke his ankle in almost the same spot, and had to be airlifted out.] [caption id="attachment_13744" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Summit of Sacagawea. Site of the rolled ankle and many goat selfies Summit of Sacagawea. Site of the rolled ankle and many goat selfies[/caption] Rolled ankles often hurt like hell for a few minutes, and then feel OK. Add in the adrenaline of the race, and I decided to keep going. The race is a lottery entry, so if I quit now, I can't just come back next year. The descent off of Sacagawea peak is incredibly steep, through a series of tight switchbacks, littered with loose rock, large boulders, and goat poop. "Technical" would be an understatement.  I bridged up to Eric in front of me, but soon the group behind, containing last years winner, Peder, and 2nd place, Derek, joined. The pace they descended off the peak blows my mind.  I managed to keep pace until we reached the Bridger foothills trail, which, by comparison, might as well be paved. For the next 3.5 miles on the Bridger foothills trail, our group of 6 hauled ass like an donkey rancher. The course here trends downhill, with a few small climbs. Dare I call it the "easy" section.  My ankle was sore, but the race had my mind focused elsewhere. At mile 7.5 the course enters a large meadow, called Ross Pass, with the first aid station of the day. Two runners had gone in pursuit of lone leader Ted, reducing our group to four. Unfortunately, at this point, the trail splits 3 ways, and the aid station had been set up on the wrong branch.  Our group quickly realized the mistake, and chose to bushwhack for about 5 minutes to get back on track. After Ross pass comes the second large climb, approximately 1300 ft up in 0.8 miles - far too steep to run. Our group of four split in two, with David and TJ moving clear, while I chose to stay conservative and hang back with last years winner Peder. With the slower climbing pace, the adrenaline started to wear off, and I could feel, and see, my ankle swelling rapidly as pain started to set in. [caption id="attachment_13743" align="aligncenter" width="225"]Looking back at Ross Pass (meadow) after the climb View of Ross Pass (meadow) and the climb back to the ridge.[/caption] Peder and I ran/hiked close together for the next 3.1 miles to Bridger Bowl Aid station, which is 10.6 miles into the race. With my sore and unstable ankle, I totally sucked on downhills, but I would quickly close the gap once the course started climbing again. Through the aid station, we heard news that the lead 3 had gone off course at Ross Pass, putting me in 4th. The next 2 miles past Bridger Bowl are extremely loose and technical - bad news for me - culminating with another very steep 700ft climb to the summit of Saddle Peak. At this point, my ankle was costing me serious time. Peder opened up about a 2 minute gap on me, and as I crested Saddle Peak, two runners came into view, in striking range behind me. My 4th place still seemed pretty safe, but I had to keep moving. [caption id="attachment_13745" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Climb to Saddle Peak Climb to Saddle Peak[/caption] The descent from Saddle peak is short, but requires some jumping off of stuff, which again was bad for my cause. After that, its 3 miles to the summit of Mt. Baldy, with Bridger Peak on the way. The climbs and descents in this section are short, and much of the trail is packed and runable. I ran pretty strong here, closed a little on Peder in front of me, and also defended my position from the rear. [caption id="attachment_13754" align="aligncenter" width="300"]The rest of the course from Saddle Peak The rest of the course from Saddle Peak[/caption] From the summit of Mt. Baldy, its 4.1 miles and 3000ft down to the finish line.  The theme of steep, loose, and extremely rocky continues - the last thing you want to see after 3+ hours of running with a bad ankle. I had no hopes of catching Peder, I just needed to focus on staying on my feet. Half a mile off the summit, I tripped in the loose gravel and hit the deck. Some minor cuts and bruises, but in a few seconds I was back in motion. A few minutes later, I rolled my ankle, again. I laid on the ground in absolute agony, screaming four letter words and thinking my sock had to be the only thing holding my foot to my leg. Back on my feet, I started at a limp, then a walk, then a jog, and finally back to running. I had two more miles of steep technical descending in front of me. Forget the race, forget 4th place, just get to the finish line in one piece. [caption id="attachment_13747" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Descent off Baldy Descent off Baldy[/caption] The last "emergency" aid station is about 15' from the finish, fully stocked with gummy bears for those suffering of severe bonk-o-titis. The volunteers cheered me through, and then I listened. Thirty seconds later, more cheering, it was going to be close. The competitor within me couldn't be contained, and I started to take a few risks down the last 1000 vertical feet to the finish. I made a valiant effort, but two minutes out, the catch was imminent, and I wasn't going to fight it. Fourth was gone, but fifth place was secure, and I crossed the finish in 3 hours, 44 minutes, 53 seconds behind Peder, and 42 seconds behind 4th place. What an experience! I hated and loved every minute of it at the same time. I'm extremely happy with my top 5, but can't help thinking what could I have done with a good ankle. Hopefully next year. Post race, we visited urgent care for some X-rays. No broken bones, just massive swelling and bruising. I'm on crutches, painkillers and the couch for the time being, hopeful on still running my first trail 50k in 3 weeks. [caption id="attachment_13742" align="aligncenter" width="300"]20150816_091610_resized Ankle the next morning. I think we should amputate.[/caption] Full results posted here Thanks for reading Mike
08:16
:15

The Bridger Ridge Run, Part 1

Posted in Racing by
This weekend, I partook in the 31st annual Bridger Ridge Run in Bozeman, MT, which was my "A" race for the season.  My race report to follow shortly, but in the meantime here's a short film made last year for the 30th anniversary of this epic race.   [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Qo-La-zkPY[/embed]   [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrPo7FhQigg[/embed]   -Mike  
08:13
:15

Do what you love, love what you do!

Posted in Racing by
I raced the Inaugural  Boulder Ironman in 2104. I had not raced an Ironman in 3 years and was a little anxious on how the day would unfold. My anxiety stemmed from the fact that I received my Trex Speed Concept 12 days before the race and I got injured, ankle tendonitis, the first day I rode then ran off the bike. I swam as fast as I could, biked steady despite serious back pain since I had not ridden aero all year, and when I ran my ankle did not bother me.  I crossed the finish line first in my age group/second amateur. I felt fine, a little nauseas. Then ninety minutes after finishing I was  feeling worse. I went to medial and my blood pressure was 60/40. I was sent to the ER after receiving 2 liters of fluid on the med tent cause my blood pressure was still 60/40. This year with the strength I have gotten riding my Trek for a year, no injuries,  my nutrition, hydration dialed in, I was certain to have a strong race and get a Kona slot. My number one goal when I get to the start line of a race is knowing I have done the mental and physical preparation to achieve my performance goal. To focus on what I can control and evaluate the “things” that can happen that I can’t control. I felt 100% mentally and physically prepared so was pretty relaxed race morning. I still did my Plank A Day IM Boulder 2015 is probably my favorite course. Warm swim with no current. The bike course is within Boulder County, fairly fast, with a couple hills. The marathon has some beautiful areas on the Boulder Creek path. Lots of out and back sections so you are never alone. The community is awesome! Every Ironman I have done provides an experience, each one unique. I approached this years IM Boulder focused on running strong. I was confident that if I ran within my fitness, I would get a Kona Slot. This was important to me cause I struggled on the run at Legend 100 triathlon and Tri the Boat Half. I am not injured and training had been going great. I attributed my sub par run performance during these June events to nutrition and lack of proper ‘rest’ mainly pre race. I made a conscious effort to not let nutrition or weather get in the way of my fitness and performance in Boulder. Pre race: I did everything right. Tapered off my training and maintained a high level of calorie and carbohydrate intake as well as hydration a couple weeks out and especially the week leading up to the event. I hit my “key workouts” and was very confident what my power on the bike and pace would be on the run. I would finish under 10:30 in Boulder. IM Swim IM Swim: I was thrilled the water temperature was 78 degrees and everyone who was racing to get a top 5 podium or Kona slot could not wear a wetsuit. My swim training was almost non existent this year. This year the plan was controlled pace. I caught a draft behind 3 other guys so the swim felt relatively easy. The downside of not wearing as wetsuit was that I seem to swallow more water then normal. This happened in 2009 Kona IM and caused some major GI issues that caused me to walk the entire marathon that year. Always grateful to be a strong swimmer exiting the water in :57 minutes Photo credit: Boulder Daily Camera

t1 T1: Long and uneventful. Love the volunteers!

  IM Boulder BikeBike: As mentioned above I love this course cause it is not very hilly (relative to other Ironmans). My bike nutrition consisted of a powergel, one bottle of Gatorade and a bottle of water, about 200 calories per hour(same plan as in 2008 Ironman). This year I added BASE salt on the bike. I had my IM power dialed in and decided to scale back cause I wanted to be ensure I would have a strong run. I started ‘trying’ at mile 60 and my body responded perfectly. Like so many other racers, I was intimidated by the few climbs between miles 90-100. When I got to the first set of hills, I had the power to get up them. Then my body seemed to start to fall apart approaching mile 95. Photo taken by Dana from 303triathlon. I was feeling pretty week.mile 97 Falling apart meant I was feeling breathless, nauseated, dizzy, and no strength. Thoughts of not finishing the bike entered my mind. I never had breathing issues and even considered not finishing the bike portion of an Ironman. To be safe, I coasted the last 12 miles. Mentally I struggled at this point. “How was I going to run a marathon?” I dismounted and was pleasantly surprised to see a 5:20 bike split, under my 5:30 goal time. I felt like I took it easy on the bike compared to other Ironmans I have raced. This year the marathon was 100% mental game for me before I got off the bike.   T2: Awesome volunteers!!! I am always grateful to dismount the bike with no mechanicals or crashes. I heard of someone crashing at the dismount line due to another racer and another participate got hit by a drunk driver at mile 108. Both survived and finished the race. I am sure many more stories out there.

Run: When I started running I was in 4th place and my legs felt descent, nothing like the glycogen depletion that I felt when I ran in Tri the Boat and Legend. My breathing was under control and I was running 8:30 pace. I knew if I ran a 4 hour marathon I would still break 10:30 and get a slot to Kona. About mile 8, nausea started again and at mile 11 I was walking due to the same breathing issues and nausea I felt on the bike. At that point a paramedic came to chat me me and directed me to the med tent. I thought it a good idea to get my blood pressure checked because last year it was 60/40 when I finished.

I sat down, although they told me to stand, I could not stand anymore. They brought me orange, grapes and chips. At that point I wanted my race to be done. My mind was not into it anymore and I was struggling like I have never struggled before with breathing. I watched my competitors pass by and knew I was not going to get my 4th overall place back, let alone a Kona slot. So what to do. The medics suggested I stop. If I did quit, I could have put the blame on them if I chose too.

I respect the Ironman Distance and part of the deal, what happens during the race, is dependent on that day. When you decide to train and race then you should accept the struggles and disappointments as much as the “wins/accomplishments”. I knew my body and mind were capable of walking and finishing the race. I just needed to change my mindset. About 15 minute later I stood up and started walking.

When I got to the “hot spot” mile 12-13, where most spectators were cheering, I was able to jog , looked at the time and my goal now was to finish under 12 hours. Heck, 11 hours was still a possibility. From miles 13-26.2 I jogged from aid station to aid station and walked while sipping water.

IM Boulder Run wave

Believe it or not, at mile 18 I had a feeling (and was right) that I was in 5 th place in my age group. I still had a shot at breaking 11 hours so I started to pick up my pace. That lasted for 3 miles, then the nausea/breathing issues came back and I slowed to a walk/jog. Two women in my age group passed me, they were struggling, and we went back and forth, the final 2 miles they passed me and I would not keep up. I finished joyfully 7th in my age group. IM Boulder Finish

It is easy for me to smile while running even though I am struggling cause I am doing what I love. Running, biking, racing, I am very grateful for what my body can do! So many great photos on my facebook wall, thank you!

do what you love Thank you to the hundreds of volunteers on the course. Races cannot happen without volunteers. Thank you to my sponsor support, Team Timex and Powerbar. Thank you to Patrick Ray, PRTriWorks for getting my bike race ready. Thank you Tish Moore of the much needed pre race massage. Then you to my husband Don who supports me 100% every day. Thank you to Eddie for the homestay in Boulder. Thank you to all my friends and family, the list goes on and on, I am very grateful for all of you, for the well wishes.

          The following weekend I took place in a 6 person Women's Ultra Ragnar Relay cause my friend dropped out. I was not sure how my body was gonna handle 40 miles of running on an overnight trip. I felt great and our team finished 2nd Ultra, behind a mens team and 10th overall including all the 12 person teams. We had a blast DSC_0256 (2) (Large)   leg 1rolling last legfinishlinefinish final   Ragnar final leg exchange
07:21
:15

Dreams and detours

Posted in Fun, Racing, Training by
Have you ever mapped out and organized what you thought was the perfect plan to achieve a dream but it didn't happen?  Maybe it did happen, but the time table, course and order you thought events would happen were a total surprise. Dreams
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It's fun to look back at the road map of our lives and see all of the twists and turns.  From your first true love, buying your first car, graduating college, finding a real job, getting married, having children, coaching other athletes, running a 10K, qualifying for Boston, competing in the Olympic Trials, qualifying for Kona, winning a National Championship or winning the Ironman World Championships, none of these goals had a straight road.   There were often bumps, road blocks or incredible detours that took you way off course, or so you thought.  In my life many of the road blocks have helped me appreciate the guts and glory of my dreams. Once you've achieved your dream, it just reminds us we are all human and not everything has to go in the order we have determined is "perfect".
I hadn't planned on Kona this year until our great friend Jason made it into the lottery.  We discussed it as a family, or should I say my husband booked the condo, airline tickets and let me know we were going.  I was primarily focused on defending my status as the reigning two time National Champion in Olympic distance and seeing if I could get a good result at the World Championships in Chicago.  I put a plan in place to qualify for Kona, Nationals in August, World's in September and hit Kona this October for the 6th time.
The plan on paper seemed challenging but surely something I could do.  I was about to come face to face with a few of those road blocks I'd mentioned.
I teach spin class at 5:15 a.m. two days a week to get in my intervals and run brick.  One morning, one of my regular 5:15 spin clients who I was going to coach for her second Ironman touched my shoulder and took me aside.   "Susanne, I have a new race to run...I have breast cancer."  I was in shock!  She was early middle age in great shape and always took good care of herself.  In a flash my client's dream took a major detour.  She had reminded me that I've never had a mammogram and I am 43 years old.  I was moved to make an appointment that same week, just 3 weeks before my Ironman qualifier.    Like most triathletes I prepared to be at my best for 6 months and peaked to perfection for the race.  The appointment was not even a blip on my emotional radar.  A few minutes into the appointment I was shocked to find I had a lump of my own.  My doctor calmed me down and told me it was probably just a cyst so I dismissed it.  The ultrasound a week later showed more concern and I was not so calm.  This lead to another week of waiting until I
had a biopsy of the lump.
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Only a triathlete can appreciate that I biked 75 miles the morning before my 10 a.m. procedure.  The doctor's quickly let me know that this was my last ride and swim for at least a week.  That was a tough reality to take with a Hawaii Ironman World Championship qualifier looming just 3 weeks away.  I had one of my best friends Cathy and husband Scott at my side in the waiting room for support.  Ironically, my friend Cathy happened to be the angel at my side when my husband had a heart attack and was unconscious for 8 hours without any movement only 2 years ago.  This past experience gave me the "hope and faith" that this moment in time too was just a detour in God's great plan.  Early the next day my cell phone rang!!! I answered with excitement because it was only 24 hours after the test!  Waiting is the hardest mental training I've ever gone through.  The first time waiting for my husband to wake up and say my name after his heart attack and now the doctor on the other end of the phone line had my fate.  A 112 mile ride in 105 degree's is only physically demanding, but the emotional side of a process is much harder.  My stomach churned waiting for him to speak.  "Susanne, your biopsy is negative!"  Glory and relief poured over me.  I called my husband but no answer.  I left the message of joy!  After 3 weeks of mounting fear I was cancer free!  Scott called me back an hour later.  I said, "I'm cracking the champagne! Where are you?"  He replied, "I'm in the driveway.  I was let go from my job today."  In disbelief I said, "WHAT, are you kidding?!?!"  Ok, well I quickly replied again, as he walked in the door "We are celebrating.  I am cancer free and you are a free man from work. This was a strange turn on route to my Kona qualifier.
My husband had bought a ticket to Coeur d' Alene just a week prior.  We had decided that if I did have breast cancer I needed his support and if I didn't, well then we'd be our usual team.  We had overcome a breast cancer scare, overcome his loss of a job and on the way to Idaho.  I headed up a couple days before him only to find the predicted race temperature was 105.  By the time Scott landed 2 days later, I had come down with Bronchitis.  Neither one of us talked about it.  Scott kept telling me "your fine" don't think about it.  But we both knew.  Bronchitis, Ironman and 105 do not play well together.
We went to CDA Ironman with 6 people and only 3 finished.  The Ironman announcer would say that it was the hottest Ironman he's ever been to.  Me too!  I envision it now as a Seinfeld episode.  Kramer would have had a hose spraying me down from head to toe only to have it backfire and hit him.  Elaine would have a kiddie pool of ice every 5 miles on the run allowing me to jump in while she sips a cold drink.  My friend Erin reminded me of George Constanza who literally stopped while running her own race, squatted down and started cheering and dancing for me.  I could see Jerry at mile 25 of the run saying to some spectator, "Why are they doing this again?  They paid $675 to race?"  "seems a bit nuts to me".
As my dream unfolded over the coarse of 4 weeks so did the detours and distractions.  I had crushed the swim, sub 57 min.  The bike went great  for 75 miles... until it didn't.  I had lost places in transition, which never happens.  I lost places at the end of the bike.  Only 3 go to Kona and I was on the run starting out in 5th.    My husband and his computer saw I was 7 minutes out of Kona, then 6, and 5.  I began to drink up, stretch and loosen up.  4 minutes down and the girl ahead of me was fading.  3 minutes, I can do this, 2 minutes, I got her, 1:45, 1:30, 1:20.....the end of the road came at 26.2 miles.....I was 4th.  In the last 15 years I've been out of the top 3 in my age group only twice.  The emotions stirred.  Happiness that I finished, relief I didn't have  to take another step, curiosity at who was ahead of me, disbelief that I didn't catch them, sadness that the Kona dream was over and peace of knowing I had given 100%.
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 As time passes we all reflect.  I got my diploma in 1994...but I had to take summer classes.  Looking for a spouse I saw none and finally found him while not looking as he was my home stay 15 years ago.  My son came 3 months after trying to get pregnant.  My daughter took 5 years.  I started racing Ironman simply to lose the baby weight after having the kids.  It was my dream to finish my first Kona.  The 2nd time I raced the Ironman World Championships, I was 1st American Amateur.  The 3rd time I broke the existing 35-39 age group world record...and was second to the winner on the day.  The 4th time in Kona I set a record for the fastest American Amateur over 40 in the history of the Ironman.
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The truth is we don't know where the detours are, when we will see them or where the story ends.  This year took a detour.  I won't be going to defend my National Championship at Olympic distance in August.  I won't see my family in Chicago at World's in September.  I will be in Whistler in 6 days on a detour to Kona.  We don't know how this will end and if I'll be in Kona in October or 4th in Whistler.  I do know that God's plan and joy are bigger than I could ever imagine.  I must say it's been one heck of a ride so far!  Thank you to my family, friends, Timex Team and Sponsors who keep this road so supported, memorable and motivating.

05:28
:15

IMTX – The story of how an extra large pizza punched my ticket to Kona

Posted in Racing by
11219516_10101749422110926_3681472099181399557_n Seriously?!?! Did IMTX really happen?!?! I know a lot of people know this, but I took the Washington State Bar Exam at the end of February (which I PASSED. BOOM!!!) and I wasn’t “training” during that whole prep time. It’s impossible. Stressed is an understatement and the whole sleep thing doesn’t really happen like it should because the brain NEVER turns off. I like to call what I was doing, “exercising for my sanity.” Coach cut the schedule back to one workout a day at no more than 90 minutes which I usually did at lunch time to break up the day between morning review lectures and afternoons of wanting to poke my eyeballs out. Sometimes I had to cut those 90 min to 60 min and sometimes I had to choose a nap over a swim and my HR was always through the roof because of the lack of sleep and stress so yeah…it was just a mid day exercise break. Once that was all said and done though, the IMTX focus was ON! Ooof. That gave me what…like 8 weeks of build and 2 weeks of taper? I wasn't out of shape but I wasn't really in shape. I’d say Coach P nailed it but man o man going from bar exam to ironman was like going from zero to 90mph (and week 1 of that was spent at 7000 ft in Jackson Hole at my sister's wedding. I don’t like to make life easy). March was tough!!!...I'd like to blame any grumpiness/hangry-ness on my part in the month of March on Dave Orlowski. He's responsible for this ironman nonsense being born way back in 1978. Just kidding, Dave. You're AWESOME! :) Because of all of the above, I don’t think I could’ve been in a better place mentally going into IMTX. Of course we all WANT Kona but on top of the whole Bar Exam thingy, I aged up to 30-34 (I’m still 29 at the moment though) and those girls are STUDS…especially on the bike. My little chicken marathoning legs can’t quite bike like some of the quadzilla girls out there. I don’t know how they do it! So for all of March, April, May, and race day I told myself to make sure I was having fun...and to ESPECIALLY enjoy the process after I found out I was officially out of academic prison (middle of April is when I found out I passed the Bar). If Kona happened, GREAT! I’ll take that! If that opportunity comes around, you DON’T turn it down! If it didn’t happen, life would go on. I blew up at mile 24 of CIM back in December while on track for a 2:58 marathon and ended up running a 3:02 so I would go back for revenge on those 2 minutes if Kona didn’t happen. No stress. Just enjoying the process and the day. Fast forward to The Woodlands…No wait…rewind to about 9 days before IMTX. I fell in a hole. Yep. On my last long run I fell in a hole. I have NEVER done that on a run. I scraped up the palms of my hands and more than tweaked my ankle. Connie the Cankle GOT FAT. I actually mustered up the courage to finish that long run since it was my last long run before race day and I knew while running those next 11 miles that I was probably going to pay for that decision. I did. It got huge but I've finished an ironman looking worse but I don’t even know how I did an ironman on it. It’s still fat. I should probably start getting concerned about that. photo   (Connie the Cankle pre-IMTX) Ok…now fast forward to The Woodlands… I got to Texas on Wednesday before the race. On Friday, the absolute BEST Sherpas and friends in the face of the universe drove 7 hours from Jackson, Mississippi just for ME?!?! I feel so undeserving and incredibly grateful all at the same time. From the second Donavon and Darryl got into town, they didn’t let me carry anything, they ran errands if I needed something…you name it. I swear I tried to carry my bag and bike to bike check-in on Friday but NOPE, they wouldn’t let me! On top of that, it was non-stop laughing for all of us the whole time and that makes race day stress SO much better! photo-2 Race morning was more of the same. A QUICK trip to T1 to put food and what not on the bike and in bags. The whole week before race day was full of non-stop thunderstorms (I actually hadn't heard thunder or lightening since 2013 when I left the dirty south and moved back to Seattle!) so transition was one massive mud pit that smelled like a giant turd (not even exaggerating one bit!). We walked to the swim start with my awesome pal and all time favorite gal to race with, Caitlin Glenn and her gang that included my equally AWESOME former Timex Teammate, Melanie Sherman! Donavon and Darryl broke the tension by playing fart noises from an iphone app while walking past groups of people and talking about the burritos they ate the night before. Apparently later they connected the phone via bluetooth to a LARGE speaker and played more fart noises when people walked by while they were riding their trainers while I was out on the bike course. Yep. Those are my peoples! And then the race happened… I’m not too sure how I feel about these new rolling starts but I totally get the reasoning behind it. It was probably better for Connie the Cankle though because I had less mean men trying to grab an ankle. I was really worried about that possibility. I hopped in near the front of the 55min-1hr group so getting trampled and feeling like I was a sardine in a tiny tin can that was going to drown in a washing machine was kept to a minimum for the most part. I did slip on the boat ramp though. That was “awesome.” My goal was somewhere between 57 min and an hour so I’ll take 1hr on the dot. I found a few groups of feet to jump on throughout which was nice because at one point I got gapped between groups and my solo efforts to bridge the gap weren’t very successful until a dude came up beside me with a sweet draft. Oh…and super nifty exciting stat…I was SECOND out of the water in my age group! Less than a minute down. Darn. Just missed a swim prime! T1 was a fun run through the giant turd smelling mud pit. Pretty much everyone put their shoes on at the bike exit. I had so much food stuffed in my bra it looked like a massive uni-boob. I’m pretty good at eating on the bike. The first 40 miles were GREAT. We had a SWEET tailwind and I was riding well for myself…then the Kona conditions happened. Heat, humidity…and STIFF headwinds with crosswind gusts. Must be nice to be a big dude and able to stay aero in that. I spent A LOT of time on the hoods. You’d think we would’ve gotten a break at some point. NOPE. Just NOPE. The whole rest of the way. I did my best to stomach some sort of food every 20 minutes. Gels, uncrustables…there was a snickers at one point in there too but since it was hot I had to shove that whole thing in my mouth at once because it was melted. One of my uncrustables got soggy from water I had poured on me so it was a good thing I always pack a few extra gels. 5:46 is decent for me on such a windy day. That tells me on a good day I’d be closer to 5:30 which is what I was aiming for. No complaints. Except for the quadzillas, it seemed like the average bike for most was around 5:45 and I only dropped to 9th place even though I wasn’t paying attention to positioning all day. I told myself not to because then I’d start stressing about Kona possibilities. T2 was uneventful. I shoved more food in my bra and off I went. The turd bath smelled even more awesome at this point in the heat and humidity. The change tent smelled even better. I don’t even want to think of what the puddles I ran through barefoot ACTUALLY contained. THE RUN: My favorite!!! I normally wouldn’t be too thrilled with a 3:41 (that sounds ungrateful. I know that’s great off 112 miles but I know I have better in my legs, that’s all) but in Texas it’s moving. The run course in The Woodlands always seems like a survival fest. I felt good for the first mile and then after that, I walked pretty much every aid station. I actually didn’t look at my watch (the new Timex ONE GPS) AT ALL for the whole run. I couldn’t. I knew it would bring me down seeing walking/running splits. I was positive I wasn’t even going to break 4 hours. That’s how awful I felt on the run course. At this point in the day, Darryl was dressed like Gumby and Donavon was dressed like a giant whoopie cushion…so if you saw them at the beginning of the portion leaving the waterway after that grass mound hill we have to climb, THOSE WERE MY PEOPLES!!! Donavon later changed into a cheerleaders outfit and I had no idea it was him until he chased after me for like 50 yards yelling ridiculous things. I stopped to pee on the first lap. I’ve never figured out how to pee on the bike. I just can’t. My bladder gets pee shy. When I raced IMTX in 2013, I didn’t even pee all day because it was 100 bajillion degrees that year and my mom likes to bug me and ask me a million times after races if I’ve peed yet so when I passed Donavon, I told him to tell my mom (via FB) that I stopped to pee. I knew she’d be so proud! Those first two laps were ROUGH though. I almost threw up a few gels. I was doing my best not to over heat and just stay positive. On the second lap I stopped to poop. S*** happens and I felt so much better for it. Lap 3 was the best lap…because it was the last lap and I really REALLY wanted to be done and demolish some pizza. SO here’s why an extra large pizza punched my ticket to Kona… By lap 3, the course was FULL of people. People everywhere. People stopping at aid stations and and just plain scattered all over the place and whatnot. Just people everywhere trying to survive the BRUTAL day and become an ironman. I made the decision at mile 24 to NOT walk anymore aid stations...mainly because I REALLY wanted pizza. Darryl and Donavon are aware of my post ironman love for pizza. Pizza tastes WAY better than usual after 10 ½ hours of exercise. They tried to keep it a secret but I knew they were planning on ordering a pizza from Grimaldi’s Restaurant on the finish line and having it waiting for me. Did I have the BEST Sherpas in the face of the universe or WHAT?!?! At mile 25 ½ I saw a girl with a 33 on her leg and passed her but at that point, you don’t know what lap anyone is on so I just thought, “cool!” and kept on trucking at the pace that I was going...because PIZZA. Plus, I STILL didn’t know what place in the AG I was in or how many girls I had re-passed back on the run course or how many Kona spots were on the line. It turns out she was on her 3rd lap like me…and she was in 3rd place in our AG…and there were 3 Kona spots…and I beat her by 10 seconds. I’ve actually been on the other end of that 10 seconds before and missed a Kona spot. I didn’t even know I got 3rd until Jennie Hansen wrote on my Facebook while I was demolishing the infamous extra large pizza that I got THIRD. WHAT??? THAT REALLY HAPPENED?!?! 1979886_10101748069361846_5110336561132148140_n-2 1558393_10101224015630152_6225787512430366499_n-2 11227924_10101748560033536_6057643388167976182_n 10421439_10101748163533126_7752164969737337352_n I think my picture from awards the next day really sums up the best weekend ever (the one at the very beginning). 10 weeks ago, I didn’t think Kona was going to happen this year and I was okay with that. I knew it COULD be a possibility but I didn’t want to stress about it. I just wanted to go RACE. I worked my BUTT OFF in those 10 weeks between Bar Exam and Ironman but I just made sure I enjoyed the whole process and day. This will be my second time going to Kona and it almost feels way better/sweeter than the first time I qualified…and what’s REALLY exciting is that Caitlin won 25-29 and IS GOING TO KONA TOO!!!...and Melanie is going to come…and we’re trying to convince Darryl and Donavon to come because the weekend was just so hilarious with them around and they HAVE to be there! They’re also both racing Whistler so I get to be their Sherpas for that weekend. I’ve got high standards to meet but there are plenty of shenanigans in the works. 11263084_10101224016608192_2912246148563348333_n As always, big thanks to Tristan and Team Timex and every single one of our team sponsors. I feel so lucky to be part of the best team in the world! Coach P for nailing the 8-10 week Bar Exam to Ironman plan and believing that Kona was a possibility the WHOLE time (he always nails my training plans though so I was never worried). My Sherpas, Darryl and Donavon, for driving 7 hours on Friday and making the weekend FUN and less stressful even if it meant having to take my computer and phone in the bathroom out of fear that they would hack into my Facebook when I wasn't paying attention. My parents for getting excited for this stuff as much as I do…and all my friends in the tri community. You guys make this FUN as well. Misery loves company out there and cracking jokes with friends when the going gets tough helps lighten the mood. See you guys on the Big Island!!!

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