Sunday, November 6, 2016

Soul on Fire - Longhorn 2016

I absolutely loved the 200 fly – the challenge, the pain you knew was inevitable, and the absolute exhilaration when everything clicked and you were literally flying.  Words could never really do it justice because to truly appreciate what I am talking about you would have had to experience it.  Each event is special in its own way, but 200 flyers are a breed of their own, they know going in what the event will take out of them, yet they relish it and can’t wait for another shot at it each and every time.  And although you glean something every time you race it, you will never achieve perfection.  And that’s okay, because it’s the fire within, the drive that brings you back race after race.  Whether you went out too slow, or went out like a bat out of hell, if you are lucky the piano falls that last 50…any sooner and that’s going to be the longest 100 fly of your life.  But that’s why we love the event, it’s the hard that makes it great, that inspires us to be the very best we can be each race.  Sometimes it’s a PR; sometimes it’s a comeback; sometimes it’s ugly; sometimes it’s damn near close to perfect.  I didn’t think I could love a race as much as I loved the 200 fly – I was wrong.  Triathlon grabbed hold of me that first race and didn’t let go.  But it was beyond just the sport itself – it was the amazing people I would meet, the dedicated coaches who believed in me even when I did not, and the teammates who consistently raised the bar and inspired me.  Just like swimming had been, it was the entire package.  And I had missed triathlon.  Not long after hip surgery I had decided I was going all in, and I’m so glad that I did.  Sunday was far from perfection, but the fire burned bright, and my soul fell in love all over again.

To say I was pumped for Longhorn would be a vast understatement, I pretty much did a happy dance the day I signed up, and had not stopped smiling since.  After my 3 month clearance from my doctor, I started building a solid swim and bike foundation over the summer.  After my 6 month, I began increasing body weight and time on the Alter G, and was antsy to get back out there.  Initially I signed up for Kerrville aqua bike because I knew for sure a short Olympic distance swim and bike were no problem, but what I really wanted to do was a half ironman.  But would it be enough time?  Longhorn was only 8 months post hip surgery – could I do it?  I decided right then and there that I could, and immediately signed up, and didn’t look back.  I nailed my longer rides on the weekends and hit the Alter G with a renewed drive, increasing my body weight, as well as time, so I could build up to longer runs of 1:15/1:30.  My new mantra was “you have to set yourself on fire,” after one of my favorite quotes, and if you have never heard of it, here it is…enjoy. 

“Success is not the result of spontaneous combustion.  You must set yourself on fire.” –Reggie Leach

Yep, wore that flame necklace race day.  All about the symbolism.


My whole body was humming with excitement the morning of Longhorn – it had been four years since I had done one of these, and I here I was ready to give it a go.  It felt a little surreal, and I was anxious to get my day started, but unfortunately, there would be quite a bit of waiting this time around.  I arrived early, knocked out transition stuff, then got ready for the swim, except that they had to postpone the swim start because there was really thick fog, so thick that you could not even see the buoys out on the lake.  So hubs, baby girl, and I sat down and waited – I watched them play and continued to visualize my race for the day.  It seemed like we had waited forever, and at about 8:45 they finally called off the swim and said it would be a time trial bike start, beginning with lowest numbers working their way up to the highest.  I was pretty disappointed the swim was canceled – not only was it my thing, but I had been having some really great workouts lately, and really wanted to see how far under 30 min I could go.  Had to switch gears quickly though, no time to mope about the swim, because I also came to Longhorn to PR the bike, and that’s what I was determined to do.  Whether the swim would have warmed me up for the bike or would have made me more tired for the bike I will never know, just had to work with the circumstances I was given that day.  My number was #1568 so we had quite a bit of time before my row was up, so in the meantime, I chatted with my competitors around me, finding out that quite a few of them were from out of town - one told us about her first half at Steelhead, the other about her tri adventures in Colorado.  I told them about my hip surgery, and come to find out another guy had knee surgery a couple years ago and this was his first half back too.  The camaraderie really is next to none in this sport, and one of the things I love so much about it.  Soon it was time for us to head up to the bike out, and I felt like my body had been buzzing all morning for this moment –it was finally here…I was really going to get to do this!  I hopped on my bike and heard my friends cheering loudly for me and as I went by, I yelled 
“…that took forever!”  Not sure if I was referring just to the morning, or this journey as a whole.  Either way, true on both accounts.


Me and my sweet girl while we waited for the possible swim start.

Right before swim was canceled. Always love watching them play.

All smiles heading out.  I'm really going to get to do this!


The bike was a bit of a cluster coming out transition, so initially I was nervous heading out onto the course.  Bikes were everywhere and the road was crowded, and suddenly I was afraid on the bike again.  We were riding out of the expo center onto 3177 and I was seriously irritated about the swim being canceled.  I was behind a bunch of riders, I could not get in my aero bars, and was wondering at this pace how the heck I could possibly PR this course, which apparently was even harder than the one I rode in 2012.  As we turned right onto Lindell, I told myself to suck it up, that I wanted to be here in this moment right now so I needed to seize this opportunity.  So I did.  I went aero and hit the gas, and refused to let up.  It was a game, to see how many people I could catch before the next turn.  And the next.  And the next.  I had never said “on your left!” so much before ever in my life in any race up to this point, so it was a nice change of pace.  I felt fast in my new aero helmet and race wheels, and that mental edge I know made a difference for me on the bike.  The aero helmet hubs had gotten for me as a birthday gift right after our baby girl was born a couple of years ago, but then the hip went out so I couldn’t use it.  It was brand new and it was amazing.  And the wheels – oh man I should have invested in these long time ago, they rode like a dream.  And I was beyond thankful that Bicycle Heaven was able to get them to me in time for race day.  Aero helmet + race wheels + fire & drive = hell of a bike split.  I yelled “Go Smash!” to my smash teammies, and told fellow competitors “great job!” as we flew down the course.  I was having the best time out there, and as always, was enjoying the sufferfest.  I looked down at my watch at 28 miles and when it said 1:27 I yelled out “YESSSSSS!”  I was on track to go under 3 and I was stoked!  When I hit the early 30s some fatigue set in but I pushed through it, determined to hold the pace I was going – I could not let up if I wanted to reach my goal.  I stopped quickly at the third aid station for a banana and a water to toss over myself – I was getting hot, and I could feel my legs fading a bit…after the stop I rode strong for the next 10-12 miles knowing the finish would be just around the corner.  There were some decent hills in there for us at the end, definitely testing our will.  As I charged up each one, I could almost hear the hill ask me “how bad do you want this?” My legs responded, and before I knew it I was down to the last 6 miles…almost home!  However, like the piano falling the last 50 in the 200 fly, my legs at this point were absolutely trashed.    The 20+ mph that felt easy earlier was long gone, replaced by the struggle to keep myself going at 15 mph.  I watched my Garmin carefully, and each mile cleared was another mini victory.  I didn’t quite beat my goal of breaking 3 hours, but 3:09 was still a solid split.  And a 15 min PR off of my previous best bike time in 2012!  As I rolled into transition I smiled big as I heard my friends cheering again, and I saw my hubs and baby girl right as I was getting off the bike so I blew them a kiss.  Successful bike done.  Now it was time to see what I had for the run.



Big smiles on the bike.  Kept the foot on the gas all day.

Determined to crush the bike.  Heading for a PR!


As I put on my shoes I got chills of excitement, could not wait to get out there.  As I jogged towards the transition exit I teared up, this was the moment I had really been waiting for all day, and it was here.  Just needed to smile and enjoy whatever came my way!  Looked down at my Garmin as I ran out and saw the 9:30 – wouldn’t see that again all day, not even close, but it was exciting nevertheless.  I was fairly hot so I put some ice in my tri top pretty much straightaway, and continued to do so throughout the race.  I thought I would be good to go with my gels and blocks, but I guess after taking them on the bike my body was tired of them and refused to cooperate.  So I adapted, and instead took bananas and oranges at quite a few stations, and coke would pretty much be my saving grace for the day - I took it at every station.  I ran quite a bit of the first loop, and the hip felt great, but my legs were done.  Quads pretty much screamed at me the whole time, and my pace remained pretty slow, but forward momentum was the name of the game, and that I could do.  Big high fives to my friends as I was finishing the first lap which gave me a huge boost of energy.  And I yelled “I’m doing this!” as I passed by them and it was an incredible feeling to be out there on that course again.  Had been hoping to see the hubs and baby girl on that first loop but I would eventually see them on the third and at the finish, long story short baby girl refused to come out of the air conditioned stadium, saying it was too hot.  This cracked me up because indeed, it felt like a sauna out there.  Out of the mouths of babes.  Start of the second loop I got more high fives from my awesome crew and Kris jogged with me for a minute and said I was doing great!  I felt strong after that energy from my squad but unfortunately it was short lived, and loop 2 turned into more of a walk/run loop with the run portions becoming more of a shuffle.  I was disappointed when I had to walk but reminded myself that the walking was going to be inevitable, not only were the legs trashed but this was my first run outside in gravity since the surgery, and my first half marathon since January 2014.  It had been awhile, and I was asking a lot of my body, and so far it was delivering.  As I headed in to complete my second loop, I received more high fives from my awesome crew, and Kris relayed the message that the fam were inside the stadium, so I would see them shortly.  And as I rounded the loop near the stadium, I looked at my Garmin, and it was 1:56, and I thought to myself that four years ago I would have been close to finishing since I ran a 2:03 half at that race, so again, I was disappointed in myself for a moment.  Then I was humbled, and reminded myself it had only been 8 months since my hip surgery and here I was!  I wanted to do a half ironman so bad and I was here, and I was doing it!  Loop 3 was definitely my slowest lap with the most walking, and it was definitely painful and not always all smiles, but I kept telling myself to stay in the moment, enjoy the sufferfest, and that I was almost there!  3:06 for my official run/walk time but not too shabby for first time back!



Grateful for my awesome crew out there cheering me on all day! #squad

The donuts were back! #squad #willrunfordonuts

Getting after it! Pumped for my first run back!

High fives give you wings!

First one back was a run/walk...but forward momentum was the name of the game!


Loved being out there!

I started jogging as I headed up the hill after mile 12 on into the finish, saw my hubs and sweet girl and gave them both kisses, then kept running for the finish chute.  As I entered the shoot, another competitor passed me and said congrats, what a hard day it was out there.  I told him congrats too as he ran by, and that the hard is what had made it great.  Don’t know if he heard that last part as he was heading into the finish but I couldn’t help it – it was true for the day, it was true for the journey.  As I headed into the stadium I almost felt like a newbie again, and smiled big all the way to that finish.  Hubs and baby girl were there waiting for me, as were Brian and Orissa, and of course there were some tears.  I had been thinking of this day long before I ever registered for it, long before I ever had surgery.  I had come full circle.  I really did this.  6:21 was my overall time, and factoring in a 30 min swim, I would have finished close to 7 hours, which is what I was shooting for going into the day.  6:30 would have been nice, but that was pretty ambitious, especially since my half ironman PR from 2012 was 6:13.  Pretty sure I wasn’t going to be breaking any PRs 8 months post-surgery.  Breaking the bike one was icing on the cake. 



What a great day!

Grateful for all the cheers and support!


Ultimate support crew! #myworld #lovethemtopieces




I love this sport.  The people.  The sufferfest.  All of it.  I could not have made it this far on this journey without the unwavering support from all of my family, friends, coaches, teammates.  My mantra may have been “you have to set yourself on fire," but you are only able to do that with the help of others who inspire you, who believe in you, who love you – that is really what sets you ablaze.  I do not know as of yet what is next on the docket for me in 2017, but as the fire in my soul continues to burn, you can be sure that I will be ready to “ignite the night like a phoenix.”


“…I say a good love is one that casts you into the wind, sets you ablaze, makes you burn through the skies and ignite the night like a phoenix; the kind that cuts you loose like wildfire and you can’t stop running simply because you keep on burning everything that you touch…”  -- C. Joybell C.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Power of Belief - Kerrville 2016

There is power in belief, which we all know to be true.  We've heard it a thousand times in a thousand different ways, positivity begets positivity, if you believe you can achieve, and so on and so forth.  And just as unwavering belief allows you to ascend limitations you perceived you once had, and chase dreams you thought were out of reach, the very lack of belief has the opposite effect and can leave you frozen, unsure about the next step, unsure about who you are, and unsure about where you are going.  The mind can be a powerful ally or adversary, the choice is yours.

Last weekend I raced in Kerrville, and it was my first race back in a very long time, about three and a half years since my last race, which was Ironman Texas in 2013.  So much has transpired these past few years, and the journey to get here, to get to my first race back, ignited a spark in my soul that had been misplaced for a while. Lack of belief in yourself happens slowly over time, sometimes without you even noticing.  Events happen in your life that shake you to your core, make you question more than you ever wanted to, and suddenly, your overwhelming positive disposition and beliefs have been shattered, your faith tested, and sometimes you get lost.  You forget what it's like to be sure of yourself, to believe that anything is possible.  That there is actual power in belief, and with it you are a force to be reckoned with.  

One of my favorite quotes, and my mantra for this season is from Paulo Coelho,"You are what you believe yourself to be."  My journey to the finish line last Sunday on the aquabike was not about getting back to racing - yes, I love being back out there, and I would be lying if I said that I did not, because the truth is that racing has always been good for my soul.  But my journey these past three years has not been about crossing a finish line, it has been about finding myself again.  And the hip going out was just the end of a very long shitstorm, it was not the cause of it all.  Of course in the middle of trials we are not without blessings and my baby girl will forever be one of my greatest gifts, as well as my village, the people placed in my life at the exactly the right time.  That's called God's timing. It's been an arduous road, full of self-discovery, and I wouldn't change a thing.  

It's like coming up for a breath of fresh air, like finding that sunny spot on a cold breezy day.  And you focus on the little things, one day at a time, and pretty soon it is habit again, like you never got lost in the first place.  Except that you've gained a little more resilience, a little more fortitude, and a little more grit.  Your belief is so powerful, your faith so strong, that you hold tight to your own convictions, and you chase those goals and dreams no matter what.  There will always be the negativity, the doubt, from others, as well as from between your own ears, but you squash it, and keep on getting after it.   

My first race back was absolutely all of those things and more.  It required me to be comfortable being uncomfortable, and to be sure of myself in elements that I usually was not.  We would get pockets of rain on the bike all during the race, which definitely kept me on my toes throughout.  First up was the swim, which was windy and cool, overcast but not raining yet.  My swim went really well, was hoping to be a bit faster, but I was going to be happy regardless because I was out there racing!  So happy some friends caught some pics as I was heading to T1...had that big smile on all day!  T1 was uneventful and was out on the bike fairly quickly, but pretty much as soon as I headed out, it started to downpour.  One of the first big curves to the left several people had already gone down, so I took it extra slow, and continued smiling even through the pouring rain...it was going to be a great day no matter what!  After heading through downtown we turned on the main road and I was able to get down in aero and push for a bit...the rain returned on and off the course all day, but I was having the best time!  As I headed into T2 I could hardly wait to put on my shoes and run into the finish...as I brought the bike in I saw my husband and baby girl and the tears came, I was just so overwhelmed by emotions, not just from the day, but from this journey as a whole.  I headed out to do my little loop into the finish, and as I was I chatted with another competitor, and we both agreed what a day it had been with the weather and all (although the actual front had not come in yet, and that would hit later as the half iron racers were running) - he headed to complete his run and I headed to the finish, and what a feeling it was to cross that finish line again – felt like coming full circle, but with more clarity and perspective than before.  As a funny side note, apparently my run must have looked decent since another girl who crossed right after me pointed out that I had not done my out and back for the run, but when I explained I just did the aquabike, we both had a good laugh.  Hubs and my sweet girl and friends were waiting for me at the finish, and soon the rest of our crew poured across the finish line.  Such a poignant day back – grateful for all my friends and family cheering me on from near and far on this day, and all throughout this journey.

Next on the docket is Longhorn, and it will be 8 months post –surgery.  And three years post shitstorm commencing.  I can hear the hallelujah chorus now.  And I'm sure there are those that think I'm crazy for chasing this half iron so soon after the hip, but I could care less.  This spark has ignited a fire.  And I will chase it with a drive that I haven't felt inside for a long time...and believe that anything is possible on that day.


All smiles all day.

Reprieve from the rain for a bit.

My biggest fans  - they inspire me everyday.


Grateful for my squad (we missed you Shellz!) -
so much fun being out there racing with them again. 


Love them.



Still smiling...loved every minute of it.





Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Patience

So here's the update finally from my hip surgery...already 9 weeks post op and things are going great! At this point I am back in the pool, using the elliptical, as well as my trainer, and going on walks with my favorite munchkin.  All in all, things are going well, just have to remember that I am starting from the beginning again so to speak, so I'm not going to be running any marathons anytime soon.  But I've gotten good at being patient, and when that time finally comes I will be ready.


Always one of my happiest places!

So as a quick recap, my surgery was on March 2, and it went smoothly with no problems.  When they gave me the anesthesia I was out like a light, and didn't remember a thing.  I was groggy all day as it wore off, and a little nauseated too but by that evening I was up walking around on the new hip, and it felt really weird.  Guess I wasn't use to having something all the way in my socket, and would definitely take some getting used to.  So I hobbled around with my walker and only made it to the end of the hallway.  By the next morning I was moving all around the wing, and they released me to go home.  I had PT exercises I was given that I needed to be doing at home, and I had an appointment with Promotional Physical Therapy within the next few days, and they would give me more to do from there.  For 2 weeks I used the walker - mainly needed it more the first week, and as a crutch the second as I was getting used to my new walk.


Day 2 - Getting used to the new joint

Since I had a dysplastic hip joint all my life, my body had adapted to it over the years, so with my new joint I basically had to retrain my body how to walk properly.  My PT stressed the importance of starting with the basics as I readjusted with the new joint so that I wouldn't put undo stress on other parts of my body, and have other problems down the road.  Definitely a frustrating process, I was just ready for all of it to come together.  But little by little as I continued to break it down, another piece fell into place, and before I knew it I even forgot the new joint was there!

My left hip will have to be done eventually too, so hopefully I can put that off for awhile but who knows.  It is what it is.  But for right now I am enjoying the progress I am making day by day, and I am not going to let it limit me.  I still have big goals to chase in the future.  In the meantime, patience is what's on the docket everyday, and my new mantra for this season.  As someone who likes to jump in with both feet and take off running, this has definitely been the biggest challenge for me, but always a powerful lesson to learn.  I am celebrating the mini victories each day, and am looking forward to seeing what my progress looks like 6 months post op, or even a year from now. A great big thank you to everyone who has been in my corner, from the very beginning of this process. Your love and support means more than words can say.

Looking forward to a summer of smashfests!! #timetogettowork

My favorite support crew! #lovethemtopieces






Monday, February 29, 2016

Almost Go Time

It’s been a pretty eventful year, and with my surgery just around the corner, it really is almost go time.  My last post came after my birthday ride almost a year and a half ago, and I had some plans already laid out for my race schedule post baby, which evaporated pretty much as soon as I put pen to paper.  One small bump into a counter set everything into motion.

I knew the day I hit the counter that something was seriously off, having strained hammys, tendonitis, bursitis, and the like before, this was not something that was going away any time soon.  I saw the sports med docs as soon as I could, even went to urgent care for xrays, which they declared looked fine.  Sports med docs recommended cortisone shots after seeing all of the inflammation from the MRIs.  So I proceeded with the shots but nothing got better so I sent my xrays and MRI results off to out of state orthopedic hip surgeons for a consult.  The result:  hip dysplasia.  Whaaaat?!  Isn’t that like common in dogs?  What the heck?  Are you sure?  Yep, they were.  And suddenly it all made sense, all my hip niggles from as far back as I could remember, but the diagnosis was always the same – weak core, weak hip flexors.  During my two bouts of Ironman training a few years ago, the hips were always snarky during my long runs, but I chalked it up to the 20 hours a week that I was training, and seriously, after 20 miles whose body isn’t sore and achy?  At the end of my pregnancy with Alex when I was super huge, like those last couple of weeks at the end, I had some pretty serious pelvic pain that would stop me in my tracks but I just figured everyone struggled those last couple of weeks at the end of pregnancy.  Little did I know, my cartilage was wearing out at an excessive rate since both of my sockets were extremely shallow.  My right hip is more dysplastic than the left but they both do not fit correctly in the acetabulum, so I have bilateral hip dysplasia.

So what does that mean?  How is that fixed?  Well, since cartilage does not grow back on its own, when you get down to bone on bone there’s only one option left, a total hip replacement.  When this process first began almost a year and a half ago, my coach told me it was like getting stuck in quicksand, that my movements would have to be small and deliberate, and nothing large and hasty.  So I set off to see what I could learn about hip dysplasia.  I saw a doc in California last June to discuss a PAO, an extensive special type of hip surgery for hip dysplasia but with not much cartilage left, it really was not the best course of action.  So I came back to SA to seek out the best hip orthopedic surgeons I could.  I researched this topic substantially, not only looking at surgeons, but materials used.  I asked lots of questions at every consult, I would know everything I could know about what was to come.  All of the surgeons even complemented me on “shopping for surgeons” and doing my homework on all the parts that could be used and which were the best and would last the longest.  I was methodical and meticulous, while my hip dysplasia was out of my control, how I approached my looming hip surgery would not be.


I struggle with this next paragraph the most, because I did struggle with this for a long time.  I was ready to get back out there.  My soul has always been tied to the swim, bike, run.  It’s my outlet - it’s where I work things out, discover parts of myself I didn’t know existed, challenge myself to take it to the next level.  Not being able to chase my athletic dreams and really “smash” myself out there took a toll on my soul a little bit.  Then there was the guilt – it’s just a hip, things could be a lot worse.  So when I was feeling defeated, the guilt always reared its ugly head.  But there was the silver lining, that indeed, it could be a lot worse.  So instead of the pity party, I chose glass half full.  And that’s when I really took control of finding the right surgeon for me, and decided to make the leap.  Because let’s face it, it’s hip surgery, not brain surgery.  And it’s a new hip, not a terminal disease.  But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to getting back out there because I absolutely cannot wait.  Might take me a little bit to get there, but I have some goals to crush and dreams to chase.  One #badassbionicbeast coming up.  Let’s do this.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

A Spectacular Sunrise

So it's been a while since my last post, and so much has happened this past year that I'm not sure where to begin.  My last post was a shout out to my amazing teammates, and my struggle with devastating events that were happening in my life, and that I would have to keep putting one foot in front of the other as I maneuvered through the crisis.

Fast forward to now, the crisis is far from over, but I have been blessed with a beautiful baby girl Alex, and she fills my heart with joy on a daily basis.  She is such a precious gift, and her timing could not have been more perfect.

While some days are still "just keep putting one foot in front of the other" days, those days are fewer and farther between.  This past weekend my girls organized a birthday ride for me, and I was so excited to be back in the saddle again.  Working out has always been my go to outlet, especially when the going gets tough, so last spring it was emotionally difficult to not be able to go out and "smash" myself on a swim, bike, or run, while the crisis consumed my daily life.  Of course, the excitement of meeting our baby girl kept me going through the summer, and when I finally did get to meet her, it was the most amazing and euphoric moment of my existence.

Our precious gift, Alexandra.

I was still eager to get back into the swing of things, and the weekend before my birthday I was able to "get my feet wet" so to speak, as I rode a fun 20 miler with an awesome friend.  It was a gorgeous day - great conversation and a great ride.  It was an awesome feeling to be back in the saddle again.

To say I couldn't wait for my birthday ride with my girls was an understatement, I was super stoked, it had been so long since we all had ridden together.  However, my birthday is in fact the day my life changed, the events that happened that day in 2013 forever shattered what used to be normal, and the "new normal" made me feel like I was in one of those Lifetime TV movies, that this couldn't in fact be my life.  So, my birthday this year I approached with a little bit of trepidation.

It couldn't have been a more perfect day.

I had an amazing time riding with my besties (in matchy matchy of course!) on a route I had ridden so many times before, but this day it was like I was looking through a new set of lenses.  I had come through the other side of this crisis stronger, more resilient, with more grit than before.  Once again, triathlon and life have gone hand in hand.  Many of you may already have experienced or are experiencing the "new normal", when life changes so suddenly and drastically, shatters you to your very core, and challenges you in every way possible.  A day in an ironman can play out the same way - hopes and dreams you had for yourself shattered by events of the day, whether it be getting beat up on the swim, a crash on the bike, or a collapse on the run. But you refuse to give up, continuing to persevere through it, taking whatever is thrown at you along the way, taking it one step at a time.  The hard is what makes it great - when we overcome the adversity of the day we appreciate the journey all the much more.

Birthday ride with the girls a "smash"ing success!!

Rocking the "sunrise" kit on our ride, I did indeed feel like the sun had finally set on the past year and was rising on the new one.  I can't wait for all the new adventures to come.  Especially all the new ones with my little girl, what a precious gift she is.  I hope I can be just as amazing of a mother to her as my mom has been to me.  This season is for you mom.









Sunday, January 26, 2014

AMAZING TEAMMATES = AWESOMESAUCE!!!

Vince Lombardi once said, “Regardless of his personal accomplishments, the only true satisfaction a player receives is the satisfaction that comes from being part of a successful team.”
I have been truly blessed with some amazing teammates in my life, and 2013 has been a year that has challenged me in every way.  It was certainly a year of breakthroughs and euphoric moments, but was also full of adversity and trying times.  Coach Dawn always tells us that an ironman is like a microcosm of life, and it certainly proved true this year for me, a year of highest highs and lowest lows; moments of over the top joy sprinkled with seeds of doubt; heartbreak coupled with much needed laughter.
I participated in my first race of 2014 last weekend, the Austin 3M.  I had never done this race before, and was excited to jump start my 2014 season.  Orissa, Brian, Aixa, and I all rode up together, and were fired up for the day ahead.  It was pretty chilly that morning, but the forecast called for clear skies, so it would warm up nicely.  We started together but did not stay together for long - everyone had their own race plans, and looking to set some PRs (which they did!).  I thoroughly enjoyed this race – it was mostly downhill with a few hills scattered throughout, but nothing too crazy.  What I remember most about this race is smiling almost the entire time, holding my pace, and taking in everything around me.  While it wasn’t a PR for me, I hit the goal I was shooting for, and I was super stoked for my teammates, who had all crushed it!!  So, why so long between blog entries, you ask?  Well…
My last entry (oh so long ago…) was a play by play recap of IMTX, my neurotic moments before the race, my breakthrough on the bike, my rally on the run – all leading up to the final euphoric moment of crossing the line and crushing that race…well, that’s all well and good you say, but what happened after?  Well, my initial plans were to train like crazy in the summer, really utilize every ounce of time I had so that when my insane school schedule started up again in the fall, I would have logged so much training under my belt that I would be good to go for the fall season.  Well, you know what they say about best laid plans…
So, not long into the summer, I developed a niggle in my foot which developed into full blown pain on the runs and occasionally on the bike rides.  So, Coachie had me back off on the running, go to Dr. Nick Milnor to get the foot worked on, and basically take it easy until it was healed.  I anxiously waited for my foot to heal, meanwhile trying to get in what training I could.  Also, about this time mid-summer I experienced personal  tragedy, an experience I have never gone through before, and really tore my world apart for awhile…two weeks after this tragedy I crashed on my bike, really just putting a cherry on top of the summer…fortunately I only ended up with a hairline fracture of the wrist, it could have been much worse, but it was super frustrating happening right before school started, and I would lose some key training weekends before my schedule got crazy again…
I was still signed up for San Antonio RnR Marathon, so I was looking forward to at least one race on the docket for fall 2013 …what I didn’t know then was that the marathon would in fact be my lowest point of the year, my rock bottom if you will, and I am grateful for the people around me, who probably had no idea at the time, but were instrumental in helping me to get through this awful period.  The week after my birthday was beyond a brutal week, one of the worst in my life ever (I do not say this lightly, I literally was on autopilot and really couldn’t function), and then to end it with the marathon, which I was really looking forward to racing it with my friends but it ended not at all as I had planned.  The heat had gotten to me and I DNFed, something I had never done before ever in all my years of racing, and to say it was disappointing is an understatement – as I was dropped off by the shuttle and started on my walk of shame to find my friends, I was truly at my lowest point not only that week, but of the year.  It was like in the middle of the marathon in an ironman, where you have been so beat up by the day so far, and you just want to sit down and rest for awhile, but you know if you start to cave in you may never get back up…so I seriously wanted to “sit down” for awhile, fortunately for me, my teammates wouldn’t let me, and urged me forward… they made me laugh on the shuttle ride back to our cars, as we planned our next marathon adventure, and it was the first time I had really laughed that whole week. 
So as I raced the 3M last weekend, I thanked God for all of the amazing people in my life, who have impacted my life in one way or another.  I smiled as my feet hit the pavement and the sun shined down, grateful for the lessons I learned last year, and eager for the ones that await me this coming year.  Everyone’s trials and tribulations look different, but at the end of the day we are all trying to be “resilient in the face of adversity”.  And as we face these trials, when we don’t think we can put one foot in front of the other, our teammates push us forward to take just one more step.  And then another.  And then another.  And we are at the finish, victorious.   
Teammates matter.  Who are your teammates?  Look around.  Don’t overlook them.  Be thankful for them.  They pick you up when you are down.  They inspire you.  They challenge you.  They won’t let you give up.  They celebrate with you in victory.  They won’t let you settle for mediocrity.  They will change your life.



















Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Ironman Texas 2013 - Smashing It!!!!

Hello!!  Here it is finally...my race report from Ironman Texas!! This ironman was just as amazing and tough as it was last year, but for different reasons...

Thursday, May 16

Early Thursday morning my friend Jenny and I headed out for the Woodlands...the drive was uneventful, and I was feeling a nervous excitement for this race this year, it was a different feeling than I had had last year, which was more of a sheer terror at the thought of what I was about to do.  But I had completed IMTX in 2012, so I knew what to expect going in this year - knew the course, knew there was going to be heat and humidity, and I was excited to get the chance to race it again!! My ultimate goal was to have a big PR, to crush my 16:27:01 from last year, and I knew that I could do it!! I had nailed all of my training this time around AND attended a triathlon camp that forced me to push myself to a level that I had never been before...I was ready for TX - BRING IT!!

We lucked out (since I called our hotel every hour on the hour during our drive up about early check in) that our room was ready (I'm sure they were like - just get this girl her room so she will stop calling us!! LOL!!)...anyways, we unloaded the vehicles and chilled out for a few minutes, and by about that time Kris, Aixa, and Robert were getting to the Woodlands so we all headed over to athlete check-in...in matchy matchy green outfits of course!! ;)


Jenny, me, Aixa, and Kris ready to crush IMTX!!
 While we were there we even each got interviewed for the Ironman youtube channel, which was such a fun experience, I had never done anything like that before!!  Although we each had our own stories as to why we were here to race IMTX, this race had brought us all together along the way, and I am grateful to have shared this journey with these amazing ladies!!  After check-in it was time to head back to the hotel, and rest for just a bit before the athlete dinner that evening...at this point I started to feel a little "off" and was a little paranoid about coming down with something right before the race...several of my students had been sick at school this past week, so the thoughts of coming down with something crept into my mind pretty quickly after we got back from check-in...I even took my temperature to be sure - it was normal, so I just needed to take a deep breath and calm down.  Since I was feeling not quite right, I don't remember as much about the dinner this year as I did last year, mainly just that I really didn't want to be sick right before the race, and just wanted to head straight back to the hotel as soon as possible and go to bed so hopefully the sleep would kill off anything that was brewing in my body.  As soon as we got back from the dinner I took my temp again - still normal, which I should have been happy about but was not...my face was on fire and even my body felt hot - how could I not be running a temp?!  So, my friend Jenny to the rescue - she's known me forever, since high school (we both were on the swim team), and she knows that sometimes I can work myself up over nothing, and this was one of those times.  Since this was her first Ironman (which she totally crushed by the way), she started asking me questions about the practice swim Friday, and how bike and bag check-in worked, etc, etc.  Basically, just getting me to think about something else other than what I was thinking about...and it worked...I was being silly...I was fine - I had busted my tail off to get here, had put in all kinds of amazing training...I was ready to go!! 

Friday, May 17

Woke up Friday morning excited about the practice swim, and fingers crossed that the water would warm up to above 76.1 degrees so that it would be not be a wetsuit legal race.  I am not fond of wetsuits, but if everyone else is wearing one then I would be at a disadvantage if I did not wear mine, so fingers crossed for NO wetsuits!!  We all rode together over for the swim, and of course we were matchy matchy again - it was good luck!! :)  And Jenny actually matched Kris's husband Robert by accident, so the whole group was matchy matchy in one way or another...we are crazy ridiculous and I love it!!!!



The swim this time was fantastic compared to last year's practice swim!! Last year I could barely swim a couple hundred yards without my hamstrings tightening up because the water was so freaking hot it was like a bathtub!! 76 degrees felt amazing, I just hoped it would not get too much warmer than that for the swim tomorrow...so, I swam my 20 minutes, went through my different gears - sprinting out of the start, settling into a quick pace, then easy for the remainder...I was ready for the swim, and couldn't wait to see what I could do race day!! I should at this point also tell you that one of my other goals (this race had multiple goals embedded in it) was to win the swim, which I did not do, but was closer than I was last year, which I was stoked about, and this will continue to be a goal of mine in future ironman races :)  After my 20 minute swim, I hopped back in for another quick couple of minutes to try out my second set of goggles, just in case something happened to my main pair, I wanted to be comfortable in my back up pair (I am always prepared, you just never know...).  My second pair worked great, I hopped out of the lake feeling great about the swim, and pretty much great about the whole race in general - yay for a successful practice swim!! We loaded back in my car and headed back to the hotel - Jenny and I hopped on our bikes and rode them around for about 20 minutes or so, checking all the gears, making sure everything was in order before we dropped them off in the afternoon...then it was time to get the swim, bike, run, and special needs bags ready, which fortunately I had already put what I had needed in drawstring bags, so I transferred my stuff, and was all set.  At about this time my hubby, Patrick, had made it to the Woodlands, and I was so excited he was able to be there!!!  So we all followed each other to the parking garage and walked our bikes to the transition area...I let a little air out of my tires, and double checked my run and bike bags, then it was time to go!! Game on!! Can't wait to get this party started!!



So, after checking in all of our stuff, we are famished so we eat Grimaldi's again for lunch, then it was time to head to the Houston Lululemon store where they had all of the names of the participants of IMTX on the windows!!  It was fun to see our names up there, and of course to do a little shopping there was a big bonus as well!!  Another matchy matchy pic for the books!! ;)



Jenny, Aixa, me, and Kris at Lulu!!

It was now time to head back to the hotel, and rest up for the big day that lay ahead of us tomorrow...we just ate dinner at the hotel that night, and planned to leave by 4:30 AM the next morning...I got the opportunity to talk to Coachie and nail down the final race plan for tomorrow...I also got to talk to my friends Herb, Brian, and Orissa who were on their way to the Woodlands and would be part of our support crew for the weekend - so excited they were going to be here!!  After the phone calls, I started working on my nutrition, and as I was finishing it I noticed that we had some unexpected guests in our room - roaches!!! Gross!! Jenny and I were ready to tackle the ironman but were not ready to face the roaches!! LOL!! So, thankfully, Patrick got rid of them momentarily (oh, they would be back), and we got back to the business of getting ready for tomorrow and getting to bed as soon as possible...unfortunately, I never sleep well the night before big races, but since I know this about myself, I make sure to get plenty of sleep the week before, so I am still ready to rock and roll come race day!!!

Saturday, May 18 - GAME DAY

The alarm came much too soon that morning...oh my, 4 AM is so early...I rolled out of bed and meandered over to my food - it was time for Special K red berry cereal, a banana, and a chocolate milk.  I put on my swim suit, packed my bags with my other nutrition, grabbed my Garmin, and was about ready to go.  Jenny had already been up for a bit, so she was all ready to go before I was.  Patrick drove us to transition and dropped us off, and it was time to get my bike ready and double check my bags.  I counted the rows one more time just like I did yesterday from the swim out - 8 was the lucky number...I pumped my tires up, then put my infinit bottle up front, and filled my front and back water bottle, and then put my sandwich in my bento box, along with my salt tabs...I went back and put my extra sandwich and chips in my bike bag, along with my garmin, and my gels in my run bag...I had double checked everything and was ready to go (or so I thought...)...as I was getting ready to leave transition I saw everyone - Orissa and Brian, Herb, Heather and Omar - they had all come up to cheer us on!!  I told them I'd be right back, wanted to put the pump back in the car, and get my chip on, take off some of my extra clothes (I get cold in the morning even though it was sticky humid), and head to the swim start.  Mistake #1 - not putting the chip on before leaving the hotel room...I could not find my chip...I started to panic, where was it?  Jenny asked if I had emptied my bag, maybe it was at the bottom?  I double checked...no chip...oh crap.  Seriously, it's not my first rodeo, why didn't I put on the stupid chip beforehand?!?  I knew better!! I was chastising myself all the way to the lake - how could I be so stupid??  As soon as I got marked, I asked around where could I get an extra chip, and was pointed in the right direction...I got my replacement chip, and all was well again (for a moment...sigh)...I found my girls in the porta potty line and jumped in (Shelly had just joined us at the swim start - yay!!) and there was that nervous excitement in the air all around us - we were finally here...game day.  I put on sunscreen while in line and mistake #2 - rubbing the sunscreen over the permanent marker wiped it off, another mini panic attack...Patrick and the girls pointed out I can just go right over and get it done again, no problem...I relaxed a little...as soon as I finished with the bathroom, I made a beeline for the body markers, and got it taken care of...okay, back in the happy, semi-calm place, nervous about the day ahead, but excited too, so I focused on that.  It seemed like right after I got my arm marked again, it was time for the age groupers to start heading for the water...I hugged the girls, and suddenly I was overwhelmed with emotion, just like last year at the start...I was so grateful to be here and so blessed to be sharing this experience with my amazing hubby and amazing friends...I was also a little nervous about the swim, I wanted to do so well, and I had put it out there that I wanted to do well, something that I don't always do, mainly because I have a nasty habit of tying my self-worth with how I perform, something I've always struggled with...Kris could see that emotion play across on my face and gave me a hug and said that if I win the swim I'm a bad ass and if I don't win the swim I'm still a bad ass...I smiled - she was right.  I gave my hubby a kiss and a big hug and he told me that I was going to do great and he was so proud of me...more high fives and hugs ensued, then it was time to head to the water, and get to work!!

Me and my hubby!!
 I positioned myself to the far left, right next to the buoy, and was planning on swimming right on the buoy line as much as possible...I was in the front row, lots of green caps all round, a few pink scattered here and there, but mostly green...all of a sudden I heard my name - Jenny had moved up in the front group as well - it was so good to see her at the swim start!!  Okay, time to get the game face on...this year since I knew exactly where I wanted to be, I was treading most of the 10 minutes, whereas last year I was a little later to get in, and was only treading about 5...I love the water, and was super stoked about my position, so I was happy to tread water a little longer this year in order to have that spot...when the cannon went off, I sprinted for the first several hundred meters - there were quite a few green caps swimming over me, there were hands on my feet, and my arms kept getting caught in others' arms, but at least my goggles didn't get kicked off this year, which was a bonus!!  The water was a fantastic 77 degrees by the way, and I felt great!!



Settled into a pace pretty quickly, and stayed along the buoy line pretty well this year...after the first third was finished and we rounded the red buoy to head back towards the canal, I still felt solid, and knew I was going at a good pace...at this point I spotted some pink caps, and figured the chase was on!! So the next third of the swim I was chasing the pink caps in front of me, and caught both as I entered the canal!! Woohoo!!! Rock on!!  The canal was just as wavy as I remembered, but I was not phased, I was expecting it, so I just pressed on through...at about halfway through the canal one of the pink caps passed me back, and I debated as to whether to take it up another notch to pass her back, but I certainly didn't want to leave it all out on the swim, I still had the bike and the run to go!! Oh, foot cramp!! Good times!! I shook it off and kept pressing on!!  Suddenly I could see the end ahead...almost done with the swim already!!  As I raced for the ladder at least I was not cramping all over like I was last year, although I was still quite disoriented as I ran up the stairs - maybe that's just always how I'll feel after a 2.4 mile swim...no matter now, it was on to the bike!! As I ran out I glanced at my watch - right at an hour swim!! Yea!! Cut 3 minutes from last year, next time I know I'll be under for sure!!  (1:00:56 for the swim)



I was yelling for my number as I headed into transition and I heard people yelling my name but I was focused on the next task at hand - a quick change and off on the bike!!  My friend Augie was jumping up and down with excitement as I raced in the change tent - she was volunteering in the swim portion again this year, so for the second year in a row she helped me change from swim to bike gear in a quick amount of time...T1 was a little over 7 minutes (7:33) which wasn't too bad...I would also like to add that at this time in the change tent as I grabbed my Garmin I saw my chip in the same bag, if I had gone back and double checked my bike bag I might have avoided the whole chip debacle earlier - lesson learned ;) now it was time to conquer that bike!!

Smiling as I head out - it's gonna be a great day!!
So, the bike portion also started off much better this year than last year...last year I was cramping the first 10 miles of the bike still from the boiling hot swim, today the first 10 felt effortless...I felt good, but I knew enough about this day to know that the good feeling wouldn't last, and I would have to be mentally tough when the negative thoughts started to creep in.  I drank water about every 10, infinit every 15, with my sandwich and salt tabs every hour...I had executed this nutrition  plan many times before on my long rides and it had worked perfectly, my main concern on this day was the heat and humidity, something we really didn't have time to acclimate to this year since it was a very mild spring.  Couldn't do anything about the weather, would just have to take it in stride.  Right before mile 20, my front bottle was getting low, and I wanted to refill and maybe dump some water over my head as well, but I didn't want to have to stop.  Last year I stopped at every single one of the aid stations and got off of my bike and refilled - that was NOT going to happen this year, I planned at stopping at 30, 60, and 90...but if I was going to get water at 20 and not stop then I would have to grab the water as I was riding through the station and had NEVER done that before, actually I crashed at Longhorn 2011 trying to do just that.  Hmmm...I had to make a decision...this season has been all about breakthroughs, why not just tack on another...I yelled water as I headed through the station, slowed down, and...SUCCESS!! I grabbed the water!!! And I didn't fall over!!! I felt like celebrating - it's all about the little victories on race day!! 



Still was feeling strong, knew I had a tailwind and decided to enjoy it while it lasted...at mile 30 I did stop quickly to pee and refill, took only about 2 minutes...then it was back on the bike...somewhere in here early on my friend Jenny passed me, it was great to see her, and she would go on to crush the bike :)  By about 40 the winds started to change and I knew as we headed back we were going to get a pretty solid headwind...at 50 I was getting hot again and wanted to get another water but not stop so grabbed again going through the station!! Two for two!!!  I was taking in all of my nutrition when I needed to, so I still was feeling pretty good, but the super fun ride was about to get super hard...the headwind came like we knew it would, so I stayed as low as I could and fought through it...went right through the special needs, I only had a tube and CO2 in the bag which thankfully I didn't need, but I did stop at 60 to pee, refuel, eat some more of my sandwich, as well as my chips!!  This stop took a little longer than the previous one, but I had planned on that, so I was still in good spirits as I headed out...the next 20 miles were really tough, and the first 10 went by a little faster than the second because I was executing the game plan that Coachie and I had discussed the previous day, but after 70 that plan went out the window because it was survival mode (I also would like to mention that at 70 I grabbed my third bottle for the day - THREE FOR THREE in the aid stations!! That's huge for me!! The mini victories kept me going!!)...miles 70-80 were brutally tough, and I got a small boost when I saw my teammate Jeff pass me, and he told me I was doing great and to keep it up!!  Unfortunately, the boost was short-lived, and I felt so beat down that I stopped at mile 80, even though I wasn't planning on it...it was still a brief stop, quick potty break and water over the helmet, but it was a much needed stop.  I fought for 10 more miles, then stopped again at 90 (well, actually, a little past 90, this is the aid station that seems like it's never going to appear)...at this one I stopped longer than anticipated - potty break again, refuel - was sick of infinit, so grabbed some cold perform instead...and just stood there for a moment - saw some other athletes sitting down in the shade, I knew if I sat down I would not want to get back up, time to get going again...at this point I was psyching myself up for the fact that after the next 10 miles our last 12 miles will be winding through the beautiful Woodlands, and last year I remember the last 12 being easy, and going by fast...so NOT the case this year...after getting past 100, I was waiting for those last 12 to feel easy and to fly by, but they never did...as a matter of fact, the last 5 felt like an eternity and I seriously just wanted to get off my bike and run to transition with it, that's how over the bike I was at that point...finally, though, I did roll into transition, and it was time to face the marathon... (6:35:55 for the bike)


So, last year my T2 time was 11 minutes because I couldn't put on my compression socks...this year I was not planning on wearing compression socks, but T2 still took me about 10 minutes (10:24) because I was trying to psych myself up for the marathon...Coachie always tells us to get in and get out of the change tent as soon as possible because it's like a black hole in there and she is spot on...I got sucked in a bit this time - I took my time changing, and sat there for a moment, and then when I was getting ready to head out, I heard my name, and it was Aixa!! I was wondering where her and Kris were, I couldn't wait to see them on the course, figured they would pass me on the bike, but when they didn't I was sad I hadn't seen them yet...so yay, Aixa was starting the run with me!! Except it was a walk for me the first few hundred yards, I didn't feel so great, had kind of a headache, which should have tipped me off to start getting more salt in pronto, but I was really out of it that first mile, started to sort of jog, but wasn't moving too fast...Aixa had gone ahead, I wanted to try to catch her...a little ways into the second mile I did, and pulled ahead for a bit...my swim friend Augie was at one of the first aid stations and was going bonkers when she saw me - that girl has so much energy, and it was contagious, right when I needed it the most!!  I continued my nutritional plan of taking perform and water at the aid stations, as well as fruit (I alternated between bananas, oranges, and water melon), and GUs every 40 minutes or so...sometimes I would take a handful or pretzels or chicken broth, depending on how I was feeling...at least I could eat GUs this year - last year early on they made me sick and I couldn't take anymore...I was also stuffing ice and sponges down my tri top at every aid station, and as a result kept my core cool and my heart rate low, which was great since normally my heart rate is sky high when I am running in the heat!!


Smiling on the first loop!!
During this first amazing loop I also saw Coachie on her bike, and she gave me another boost, and then I saw Orissa and Brian and Shelly and Patrick!!  This first loop was going by so fast, and I still felt pretty good!! Hooray!!! Before I knew it I was on the back half of my first loop, and heading for my second, and that's when things got a little ugly for a bit...as I headed up the large dirt hill, and was rounding the corner, I was searching for my hubby, this was the spot he was in last year, but he wasn't here the first loop, and I didn't see him this second loop...my heart sank, where was he?  Just then, he stepped out from the trees, I was so focused I didn't even see him!! And then a moment later I spotted my friend Herb!!  They were both there cheering me on!!  I pressed on and saw my friend Augie at the next aid station!! Another boost!!  But then, I was done for a bit...the headache was back, I was not feeling well...at about this time Aixa catches back up to me...we walk for a little bit, then she's off and running again...I stop to pee when I get my special needs run bag, and gather the extra gels...I didn't even touch my gummy bears, I was so sure I'd want those as a treat, guess not...continued to walk/run in the middle of the second loop, and I was frustrated by this, but I kept telling myself to look at the positive, that at least I was walk/running and not just walking at this point like I was last year (so that was a good thing) -  another mini victory for the day!!  As I approached the waterway I started to run...saw the gang again cheering as I ran along the waterway, and it boosted my spirits!!  Can I just say that the energy on the run course was absolutely amazing!! I was so grateful for all of the volunteers at those aid stations who always pumped me up for my next mile, and I was so excited to see all the spectators out on the course - their energy was always so contagious, and I desperately needed it on this second loop...so I continued to run!!...As I finished up the second loop and headed for the third, I saw my hubby again at the same spot, and I told him I was going to try to go under 14 hours, and I could do it if I could hold 12 minute miles for the last loop...he told me he knew I could do it, and he'd be there at the finishers shoot when I came in...so I headed on my way, my new goal firmly planted in my mind - must get under 14 hours!!! Not far ahead I caught up to Aixa, she had mentioned she had been doing some puking and was trying to rally, so we ran together for a bit and then walked together for a bit, and then I told her I'd see her at the finish, was going to try to break 14...she wished me luck, and I was off!! 

Time to dig deep!!
The last loop hurt the worst but felt the best all at the same time...I felt awful, the headache was still there, I was a little nauseated, but I pushed on through.  It was time to RALLY!!!  I would not be stopped from achieving my new goal, and as I clicked off the miles at the 12 minute pace, I gained even more momentum.  I would do this, there is no doubt in my mind...I climbed a mountain on a bike for crying out loud, I can run a few more miles!! When the negative thoughts creeped up, I pushed them away!!  I thought about all the fears I had conquered this year, all the breakthroughs I had this season, all the training I had put in...all for this moment, right here, right now...couldn't stop...WOULDN'T stop...it was getting dark now, so didn't quite reach my goal of finishing in the daylight but I only had a couple more miles to go!!  As I headed toward the last aid station I knew I was going to do it, it would just be a matter of how far under 14 was I going to go (5:56.46 for the run)...that last mile I did not feel pain like I did last year, only euphoria...it was going to happen, I was going to CRUSH my old PR!!! As I headed into the finishers chute I let a guy pass by, there was no one else behind me, and I wanted to enjoy the chute this year!! I high fived everyone!! My hubby and all my friends were there cheering me on through!!! It was pure euphoria is the only way to describe it.  As I crossed the line I heard Mike Reilly this year (last year I did not, I was too dazed) and I was laughing and crying and I threw my hands in the air and stood under the clock - 13:51:34!!!!!  HOLY COW!!!! A two and a half hour PR!!! So crazy!!!  What an EPIC day!!!!

Victorious!!!
As I finished my friend Heather was the catcher so she caught me and helped me walk to the medical tent, I wanted to be assessed just be sure, and I still didn't feel quite right.  They took my vitals, gave me some chicken broth, and then sent me on my merry way, where I reunited with my hubby and headed back to the finish so I could see Kris and Aixa cross...shortly thereafter they did, and it was celebratory hugs all around, and of course lots of pics!!  Also got a great big hug from Coachie and she said she was so proud of me, and of course I was still laughing and crying from the excitement of it all!! Somewhere in the midst of all this, however, I learned a valuable lesson.  Ironmans do that - there are lessons to be learned from each and every one, and one of the biggest lessons I learned from this one is that I need more sodium when it is hot, much more than I think I do because I am a profuse sweater, and I am losing it faster than I am replacing it.  I thought I was taking plenty of salt with the tabs and sports drinks and chicken broth, but apparently I needed more.  To make a long story short, I did, in fact, need the IVs (multiple) to replace my lost sodium (hence the headaches), and in the future will need to take more proactive measures so that I am not in a similar situation...however, this was just a bump in the road at the end of an extraordinary day - once again, IMTX did not disappoint, it was such an AMAZING experience!!!  Can't wait to do another!!!

Last, but certainly not least, there were so many people who supported me on this journey who I would like to thank...first and foremost, I could not have gotten through both of these past couple of ironmans without the love and unwavering support from my husband Patrick, who understood me with perfect clarity why I needed to sign up for ironman #2 so shortly after completing my first one, even though that was not the initial plan.  He was one of my biggest supporters, and always eager to hear about my triathlon adventures, whether it be about camp, or just one of my long training weekends...I love you babe, and I am super stoked you are looking into racing your first triathlon soon!!  I also could not have gotten through both of these (as well as many other milestones in my life) without the love and support from my parents!! You all are amazing and I love you to pieces!! And one of my biggest supporters of this undertaking was my brother, Robert - thank you for always believing in me, love you buddy!!  Then of course, there's my Coachie, Coach Dawn Elder, who has believed in me when I didn't believe in myself, and has pushed me to my limits and beyond, to reach a level that I never thought was possible for me in triathlons...thank you Coachie!!! And Grand Coachie Hillary Biscay - her camp was a pivotal moment for me this season, had huge breakthroughs on the bike there, and it mentally toughened me up for my race here today...I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to learn so much from her - thank you Grand Coachie!!  Thank you to all of my family, friends, and colleagues who have supported me along the way, and thank you to my Tri-Belief teammates as well for your support (thanks for the fun rides Alphanso and Jeff!!).  And to my awesome friend Augie who was here for me again for my second ironman - thank you!! You are the reason I got into ironmans in the first place, I am so grateful for a friend like you!! And to my friend Jenny, it's been a blast reconnecting after all these years and I am grateful for your friendship...it's been so fun sharing this journey with you - thank you for taking me out so many times on the bike, it helped me immensely this season...hope I didn't slow you down too much ;) !!  Thank you to Kris's husband Robert for always being our official race photographer!!  Your pics are awesome!!  And to my Iron Whiner crew  - I could not have achieved this PR without you!!! You all are amazing!!!  Thank you Herb for always being there, picking me up when I was struggling during this season - your positive energy is contagious; thank you Brian for all of your bike pointers, and for being one of the first to help me on the bike - your help has been crucial to my bike success; and last, but certainly not the least, a great BIG thank you to some amazing ladies (love you all!!) - Orissa, Shelly, Kris, and Aixa - you all set the bar high and have inspired me every step along the way, and I look forward to many more matchy matchy adventures to come!! ;)

Love my Iron-Sherpa hubby!!