Monday, May 7, 2018


First and foremost, always surround yourself with positive, inspiring souls who aggressively believe in you even when you forget to believe in yourself.  Then take a deep breath, make the leap, and fly.

I have not done a stand-alone marathon since 2004 (I attempted SARnR 2013 but DNFed), and my last IM marathon was IMTX 2013.  All pre-hip.  Post-hip I have done several stand-alone half marathons, as well as those in my several half IMs I have done, but it’s been awhile since I’ve tackled the marathon distance.  I was ready for the next big challenge post-hip, so instead of testing the waters with a marathon, I decided an ultra would be the way to go!  Hahahaha! Go big or go home, amiright?

The Cactus to Cloud 50k in Alamogordo, NM, had initially caught my eye.  One of the besties who had already tackled the ultra distance had sent the link to our crew as we were looking at races to do, and I felt inspired to tackle it.  It was a point to point, starting in Alamogordo, and climbing to Cloudcroft, and running the majority of the race at altitude.  My grandparents were from Alamogordo, my Mom grew up there, so I was familiar with the area and it held so many memories for me.  However, it did seem quite ambitious for my first, seeing as I haven’t trained, nor competed in any distance over 13 miles since 2013.  And logistics were going to be tricky as well, with hubs on the verge of a new job, and us getting ready for a significant transition.  So I chewed on it awhile, but in the end decided against it (turns out it got canceled anyways, so it was the right call). But I still was itching for the challenge, and started to search locally, and found one in Bastrop State Park around the same time that Cactus to Cloud was supposed to be held.  At this point one of the other besties was looking to tackle an ultra as well, so we signed up together!  It was all set!  Time to chase the ultra!!!!!!!

During this time I also decided I wanted to do Galveston 70.3 (which was four weeks before Wildflower 50k), so it was going to be a busy start to the 2018 season!  Fitness wise, Galveston worked out great, although in order to get in my long rides, I had to sacrifice not being able to get in double long runs on the weekends leading up to that race.  After Galveston 70.3, I ramped the run mileage up pretty quickly, had some great long trail, as well as road runs!  And was super stoked to finally be able to train some with Orissa!  Our training schedules just didn’t work out when I was getting in the long rides, so I was excited after my race when I could just focus on the double long runs on the weekends, and we could plan our training sessions out together!  Before we knew it, it was go time!!!!!!!!

We stayed up in Bastrop the night before the race, since the 50k started at 6am, and we would need to take a shuttle to get into the park, and it was recommended to be there an hour early for that.  So we planned on a 4 am wakeup, and getting to the shuttle area a little before 5am.  We were right on schedule, and arrived at the start line a little before 530am.  I was super stoked to see my friend Megan, who was volunteering at the race, and has been another inspiration on my ultra journey.  Just fresh off her 100k and training for a 100 miler, she not only had great advice and words of wisdom leading up to the race, but on race day as well, and it helped immensely to see her several times at the aid stations.  Soon the race director was giving final instructions, and it was almost time to chase this thing.  I have to say the overall vibe at the start of this race was peaceful.  The dynamic was so much different than other races I have competed in, and it was quite calming, especially when I was a bundle of nerves before the start of the race.  Orissa and I wished each other good luck and to have a great race, and soon the countdown began.  5…4…3…2…1…GO!!!!!!  And we were off!!!!!

One of my favorite views, right at the top of the first climb!

Packet pickup the night before! Ready for the adventure that awaits!

So Wildflower 50k is 5 loops of 6.2 miles on single track trails in Bastrop State Park.  As we started our first loop it was still dark, so we all had headlamps, and it was the coolest thing as we climbed the trails, and you could see the line of headlamps in front of you, sometimes very far into the distance, like small stars lighting the way through the night.  The sun was rising at about 645, so we could see the beginning of some daylight about 630ish.  The temps were in the mid 60s, a bit humid but still a light breeze, so the first loop felt pretty refreshing.  After only a couple of miles in, I took a couple of quick pics of the misty fog through the trees as dawn was breaking, it was eerily beautiful.  Kept watching for the blue flags to make sure I was on the right track, and kept looking at the beautiful scenery all around me.  Took a couple more pics, settled into a good rhythm, and stepped quickly out of the way for the runners who were flying!  So there were two aid stations, one of course at the start/finish area (the 6.2 mile mark), and another one a couple miles before that (at the 4 mile mark).  I’d say about a half a mile before the first aid station, I was cruising along, and just stepped wrong, and went down.  The terrain at that point wasn’t even challenging, my foot just betrayed me, and I rolled my ankle, and fell.  This was a little after mile 3.  Yep, fairly early in the game for an injury.  And yes, it was in fact the SAME ankle I had rolled right before Galveston 70.3.  The same ankle that I didn’t rest after Galveston because I had some serious double long runs on the docket in order to be ready for the ultra.  Ugggggg I was so frustrated!!!  I hobbled along for the next mile to the aid station, and at this point Orissa had caught up to me (we had gotten separated earlier but were not really that far apart), and she walked with me to the aid station.  The volunteers were so amazing at this race.  As soon as I hobbled in, they were on it, trying to see what they could do to help me, do I need anything, etc.  Unfortunately they did not have tape, so I would have to go to medical at the start/finish aid station and get it done there.  Orissa asked if there was anything she could do but I told her she had a race to tackle so not to wait for me.  She said to text her if I needed to, and she hoped my ankle felt better and then she headed off.  I grabbed some oranges and watermelon at the aid station and started walking towards the next one.  The ankle was not so good, and I was having a little pity party.  So much so that I almost missed the right turn back onto the trails, until a fellow competitor was like “Hey! Hey you! The turn is right here!”  I am so grateful she yelled at me because I don’t know how far I would have walked up that gravel trail before I realized I was no longer on the course.  So I had a little pep talk with myself on the way back to the finish area, and I did a little shuffling on the trail, but it was fairly painful.  Once I finally hit the finish area, I went through the shoot and headed for the aid station.  Megan was there and asked about my ankle, and I was almost in tears, I was just so frustrated with myself.  I grabbed some more oranges and watermelon, hit the port-o-potty, and headed to the medic tent.  Eric sat me down, and I told him about my ankle, that it was pretty painful, and I had rolled it pretty good a month ago but kept training on it, and it never really healed.  And I was certain that if I rolled it a second time on the course that I would be down for the count for good.  He said he could tape it and stabilize it if I wanted to keep running on it.  My body and my mind were like, “Um, is that a great idea?”  But my heart and soul were like “Yassssss!!! Tape that shit up so we can get back out there and tackle this beast!!!”  So he taped it up, and I headed out for loop 2.

Eerily beautiful misty fog at daybreak on our first loop.

Loop 2 was fairly uneventful.  The weather was still pleasant, a cool breeze blowing, temps not too hot yet, just a nice run.  I was very careful with the ankle as I started the loop, stopping to take a couple of pics, and enjoying the surrounding scenery.  I wondered how far ahead Orissa was, and if I would see her again during the race.  Runners were still flying by, some 50kers, but also 25kers, and 10kers, which were sharing the same loop but had gone off at different times.  I was staying on top off my nutrition, a gel every 40 minutes or so, plenty of water, as well as my Infinit.  I had also brought some extra treats in my hydration pack, a banana, orange slices, cucumber slices, and cherry tomatoes.  There were plenty of bananas and oranges at the stations so I guess I really didn’t need my own but it was nice to have them just in case.  But the cucumber slices and cherry tomatoes were life savers!  There was this section a couple of miles in with a sandy track and zero shade.  The trees were trying to grow back, but after the Bastrop fires in 2011, some of the vegetation still had a ways to go.  But all of the new growth was beautiful!  Anyways, after you run through this section, you climb a rocky hill before you cross the road and head into the next section of trails.  On this hill I would break out the cucumber slices and cherry tomatoes and both were amazing and so satisfying!!!  So I continued on, stabilized ankle was doing well, nutrition was on point thus far, and I was in great spirits.  As I headed into the aid station at mile 4 there were lots of cheers from the volunteers because they weren’t sure they would see me again or not, and were excited they had!  I was super stoked too to be back out there and not be hobbling along like the first time around.  I took a couple more oranges and watermelons and was on my way.  The back half of the loop went fast this time around, and as I was heading across the road and up the hill to the finish area, I moved over for a runner to pass, and he was wearing flip flops! And flying! And I overheard one of the volunteers tell the other, yeah there are quite a few out there racing in flip flops and sandals.  I was amazed!!!  I headed into the finish after loop 2, and said a quick hello to Megan and gave her a status report, and grabbed a couple of orange slices and more watermelon before I headed out for loop 3!  Getting closer to the halfway point!!!!!!

Loop 2 was still pretty pleasant, big red was not out in full force yet.

So loop 3 is definitely where things start to get a little tougher.  The sun is now out in full force, not many clouds in the sky, and a majority of the course is not shaded.  There was still an occasional runner that passed, but mostly it was just me out there, pushing on through.  I thought about the good training I had put in, the great trail runs leading up to the race, and a solid fitness base I had built up months prior as I was training for Galveston.  I was ready and I knew I could complete this race, and I knew now was going to be the time for positive pep talks because the big red was beating down and there wasn’t a soul in sight.  A few miles in, I felt my tape move around in my sock, signaling it was time for a redo when I got back to that aid station.  I also had a serious blister happening in the right foot that was painful, so it was time to put something on that foot too.  I kept taking my gels, and the cucumber slices and cherry tomatoes were definitely a boost to get me to that next aid station –it’s the little things!!!  When I hit the aid station, they were so welcoming just like last time, and I loved that they knew who I was, and were just so positive, which was much needed when your mind goes to that not so positive place.  They were out of watermelon (nooooo!) but I had some orange slices, and refilled my Infinit bottle with Gatorade, and was off.  The last 2+ miles to the next aid station dragged on this time around, but I kept putting one foot in front of the other.  Forward progress was the name of the game!

After reaching the start/finish aid station as I wrapped up loop 3, I hit the aid station, grabbed some orange slices, and Megan was making watermelon slushies, which I grabbed one of those as well, and it was so amazing!  I knew I’d be in the “transition” area for a while again this time since I needed my ankle taped again.  I found Eric and he went to work taping the ankle again, and then tended to the huge blister on my right foot.  Man it felt good to sit down. I almost didn’t want to get up from that chair, lol! At this time another runner had come into the medic area to get her feet worked on, and she was actually done.  She had finished her 50k in five hours and was getting ready to drive back to Houston!  So incredible!!!  I congratulated her, and she wished me luck on my next two loops, and I was off!  But first a quick stop at the aid station for another watermelon slushy!  Megan wished me luck, and I was headed into loop 4! Just TWO more to go!!!!!!!!!!

I was definitely deep in the pain cave on loop 4.  I walked.  I ran.  I shuffled.  I’d pick a tree, or hill, and run to it.  Most of the hills I walked up, or slowly shuffled.  Mainly I was pushing myself to just keep moving forward.  By this point I was baking in the sun, and was glad I reapplied sunscreen before heading out on this loop.  I drank lots of water, I drank my Gatorade, ate my gels, and looked forward to my cucumber slice/cherry tomato refuel stop on the hill.  I watched the lizards scurry across the sand, they were out in droves now, since there was no longer much movement out on the trails.  I watched the beautiful butterflies flitter about, and took in all of the gorgeous wildflowers out on the trails.  I tried to stay in the happy place as much as possible, so when the tough patches inevitably arose, I was able to keep persevering through them.  When I hit the aid station it was a much needed reprieve, they were the absolute best cheerleaders, and kept my spirits high.  I grabbed some orange slices again and headed out to complete the rest of loop 4.  Just as I turned off of the gravel road back onto the trail, I felt something burning on my left calf, and looked down and there was a bee!  I shooed him away but man, that sting burned!  I started talking to myself to make sure nothing was swelling.  I had never been stung by a bee or wasp EVER, so I didn’t know if I was allergic or not.  At this point another runner passed me, and saw I was in a bit of distress, and I told her what happened, but I felt fine so far, and since I had no other allergies I didn’t think I was allergic.  At least I hoped I wasn’t.  She mentioned there was another runner coming up behind her so if I needed assistance there was someone right behind me.  As I kept running another runner came up from the other direction, just as this other guy was passing me, and both asked how I was doing, feeling etc.  I felt fine, and had about another mile to go until the aid station, so I kept moving forward.  When I hit the aid station, the guy who passed me, Scott, had me sit down and had me checked and they got ice for it, but all agreed that if I was going to have a reaction, it would have been back a couple of miles ago, and since I kept running, all seemed good.  I grabbed some more orange slices and watermelon, and I had sunscreen reapplied, and then it was time for loop 5.  Just ONE more to go!!!!!!!!!

Oh man loop 5…just a love/hate relationship.  I loved that it was the last loop, that I had almost tackled this beast, but also hated it, because there still stood 6.2 miles between me and my goal.  And my body was toast.  The ankle had gotten more painful, and my feet were on fire.  I kept urging myself forward, just run to this tree, just run around the corner, just shuffle up this hill.  I had the best time at the cucumber slice/cherry tomato refuel hill stop, they were the BEST cucumbers and cherry tomatoes that I have ever had!  I watched all the lizards, trying to catch their patterns before they disappeared into their holes.  I saw a turkey!  Just sauntering across the trail…it was so cool!  As I was getting closer to being halfway through the loop, I rounded a corner and I saw Orissa!!!!!!! Yasssssssssss!!!!!!!!  I yelled out “Hey girl!” although it came out more choked up since I teared up when I saw her.  We both were so happy to see the other!  We recounted our adventures of the day, and found out we both had been stung by bees!  Crazy!  We knew the next stop would be the aid station so we tried to stay positive as we kept moving forward, venting about how long this one section seemed to go on, coupled with shouts of joy when we passed scenery we recognized and knew that we were getting close.  When the aid station came into sight, we shouted with joy, and shuffled up to it, as the aid station was in full on cheerleading mode!  They offered us chairs under the shade, asked what they could get us, congratulated us on getting this far, and encouraged us that we were almost there!  While I probably shouldn’t have, I couldn’t resist the chair.  I sat down and it felt soooooo good!  And the oranges and coke I had while sitting there were the BEST EVER!!!!!!!!!!!  Finally I made myself get up, and Orissa and I continued towards the finish.  As we headed up the gravel road, a truck with horses in the trailer came down the road, and we joked that our rides were here!  We shuffled up the road to the turn and headed down the last sections for the last time.  This last section did drag on forever, and we knew once we got to the fork and headed up the other loop we were just a little over a mile away.  This last section was brutal because it just would not end but we trekked on.  I gave a shout when I saw the fork, we were finally getting ready to finish this sucker.  A few hills to climb, then some downhill sections, then across the road, then one last uphill section to the finish line.  There are not many people I would want with me while I am deep in the pain cave, but I was so grateful it was my ever positive, inspiring friend with me.  As we crested the hill we shuffled across the finish line, tired smiles on our faces, high-fiving the race director.  I was overjoyed to be able to tackle this goal, and finishing with one of my besties was the best way to top off this incredible day.

Finishing it!!!!!

We did it!!!!!

My final time was 9:28:33, and ambitiously I would have liked to have been 7/730ish, but realistically figured it would be closer to between 8 and 9.  I wasn’t disappointed with my final time because I had given all I had on that day, and this beast was by far one of the toughest things I have ever done.  It was an incredible experience out there, and I certainly look forward to putting another 50k on the docket in the future (let’s go Cactus to Cloud!!!), but not sure if I will venture farther, but I guess you should never say never.  So many goals and dreams still to chase, I look forward to getting out there and relentlessly pursuing all of them!

As always, thank you for reading, and for your cheers and support.  And to my tribe, thank you for never ceasing to inspire, and for always encouraging me to fly.

What an incredible day!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

WHY? That is the Question - Galveston 70.3 Race Report

I was super stoked to race Galveston as I finally decided to officially sign up in early January.  I was ready to chase that sub 6, and break it.  Also, as an added bonus, it was the only Texas half I had not done yet (although now I’ll need to put Waco on the list), and it was next to the ocean, so I was sold!  I was so excited to get going with training, and anxiously looking forward to race day.  About a couple months in, a great thing happened – my husband finally got a new job, and we would be moving in the summer.  Since we’ve been doing the living apart, commuting thing for his previous job for the past 7.5 years, we were overjoyed at this opportunity, and he was off to do some training.  In the meantime, I ran point on the house hunting, as well as job hunting for myself.  Of course saying we are grateful for this transition is a vast understatement, we are beyond ecstatic; however, the process of preparing for this rapidly approaching transition has been overwhelming at times, in terms of everything that needs to be done.

So my mentality as I approached race weekend was lukewarm at best, and to be honest, I almost didn’t even go.  So many things on the list that needed to be done, and the mom guilt was hitting me pretty hard.  At the encouragement of my hubs and fam, I made the trip.  I was still pretty “meh” at check in, a stark contrast in how I was last summer at Buffalo Springs.  Whether it was check-in, the hotel, or race morning, I couldn’t be more stoked, more ready to get after that course.  Because I am a control freak perfectionist that overanalyzes everything, my apathetic attitude really bothered me.  As a matter of fact, there had not been a half (or full) ironman yet where I hadn’t felt something, whether it was confidence, nervousness, excitement, etc.  Apathetic just isn’t my jam – I’m the #allthefeels girl for crying out loud.  As I talked it out with hubs that night, he told me to just enjoy the day, that I was there already, so I should just go out and see what I can do.  I appreciated the pep talk, and I got another one that night from my coach as well.  Coach Dawn told me to disregard my six hour goal that we had originally discussed back in January.  My new goal instead for this race would be to ask myself “why?” throughout the day.  More specifically, “why am I out here?” and “why do I want to be here?”  Well that’s simple, I’ve been an athlete for almost three decades now, love to compete, yada, yada, yada.  But she didn’t want the response right then, she wanted it after the race, and she wanted me to really think about it, to own it, the whole day.  Okay.  Game on.

The alarm clock sounds at 4 AM, and the day has begun.  After I eat and gather my gear, I check out of the hotel, and drive to transition.  My goal was to be there about 5 AM so I could get a good parking spot in the lot right next to transition.  I arrived a little after 5, was done setting up my transition area a little before 530, and was back in my car.  So I should also mention that a little front blew through the day before, so it was 50 degrees that morning, and was not supposed to get much warmer til much later in the afternoon.  So I stayed in my heated car for about 45 minutes, which seemed to be the thing to do that morning – just glancing around I could see quite a few athletes in their cars as well trying to stay warm.  I was still feeling quite “meh” about the day, and just wanted it over with already.  And was really not looking forward to the chilly bike.  After transition closed at 645, I still stayed in the area, stretching, and getting ready to drop off my morning clothes bag.  My wave was not until 744, and while it was a little bit of a walk over to the swim start, I had plenty of time.  Finally, at 730, I shed the warm sweatshirt, beanie, and tennis shoes, and put them all in my morning clothes bag.  I dropped it off, and headed to the swim start.  Momentarily I wished I had a sleeved wetsuit for that walk, but once I started the swim later, I was happy with my sleeveless (well as happy as I could be, I really don’t like swimming in any wetsuit, lol).  As I headed into a sea of pink caps (my wave), another pink cap was right behind me, and we both commented to each other how chilly it was.  I then found out that it was her very first half ironman, and told her how excited I was for her, and to enjoy the day!  The other girls around us had chimed in, and soon everyone was sharing their stories of a first time, or a tenth time.  It was magical.  And as we headed down the pier there were cheers, whoops, and hollers.  We jumped off the pier, and lined up by the buoy until it was our turn to go.  As we treaded water the cheers continued, with “let’s go ladies!”, “we got this ladies!”, and “have a great day out there ladies!”  Why do I want to be here?  So much this.  So many powerful stories right there all treading water, all sharing this magical moment before the day.  Stories within a story.  I love that sport really is a microcosm of life.

And we are off.  I had lined up right up front, right next to the buoy.  Super smooth start, not really much thrashing, kicking, people crawling over people, etc.  I settled into a rhythm and got to work.  Was just looking to hold onto a solid pace that would set me up for the rest of the day.  I caught the blue cap ladies in front of our wave, then was closing the gap on the men’s heats that were before that.  I stayed on the buoy line, and most of the time as I rounded the buoys, I actually would graze it with my left hand, I was that close.  At one point one of the guys swam right over me, and he actually stopped and apologized but I said no worries, and we kept rolling.  It’s all part of the swim, and at some point we are either getting climbed over, or we are climbing over someone.  Other than that one incident, this swim was probably the least amount of contact in any of my ironman events.  There just always seemed to be openings as I was passing, and I really stayed right on the buoy line, where there seemed to be the least amount of traffic.  Why am I out here?  Because I LOVE to swim!  And even better, I LOVE to swim in the ocean!!!!! Well, we were technically in the protected bayou, but it was still the Gulf.  And I LOVE that this sport was really the gateway into triathlon.  Maybe it would have happened regardless, but when the collegiate teammate who swam circles around you and an all-around bad ass asks you to join her for a triathlon, you say YES!  And then try to figure out how you are going to learn to ride a bike afterwards. Eh, minor details. LOL!  The video of my 21 year old self trying to learn how to ride a bike for the first time and falling all over the place while doing it is absolutely hilarious! I had just a few weeks to figure it out, and I did, but man that first ride in my first triathlon was one I’ll always remember.  And now, I love the bike just as much as I love the swim!  Who would have ever thought?! Not me, that’s for sure!  My strokes stayed long and smooth as I kept heading towards shore, was shooting for about 30ish, and felt like I was fairly on pace.  Soon I was standing up in the sand, and heading towards transition.  First I made a quick stopped to have help with my wetsuit, and then I was off and running into T1.  My fingers were already a little cold after we exited the warm water, and it took me a bit to put all my gear on for the bike, but soon I was running for the bike out – on to the next leg!

Swim:  30:41
T1:  6:10

So I knew the bike was going to be cold.  Probably would have been smart to pack a jacket, but alas, that did not happen (a good lesson in being extra prepared, which I usually am good at, but definitely dropped the ball this time).  Time to suck it up and get it done.  I was super stoked to be wearing my SFQ aero kit for this race – I have only worn two piece tri kits and this was my first one piece, and it was the most comfortable thing that I have ever raced in!  As we headed out on the bikes it was pretty crowded, and there were quite a few turns as we headed out to the main road.  Once we got there, I got in aero and hit it.  I made some passes, people passed me, and we all were flying on the way out!  Which was awesome to have the tailwind, but knew it would be short-lived once we made the turn around.  I kept thinking about the warmest places possible, like IMTX2013, running in the heat of the TX summer, and the like.  And I did feel occasional warm pockets, not sure if it was real or in my mind, but it was wonderful!  I stayed on top of my nutrition, taking my Infinit, GU chews, and gels.  I watched my heart rate, and with the tailwind it would take some dips, so when that happened I would click it into a harder gear and push to get the heart rate back up to zone 2/low zone 3.  Mainly I just tried to stay relaxed, kept my heart rate on target, and my cadence high.  Why do I want to be here?  To challenge myself, to always be able to dig deep when things get hard.  And through sport this translates to life.  I love this lesson the most, that we have more in the tank than we think we do, not just at the end of a long grueling race, but in that hard, grueling season of life.  We are as relentlessly determined to cross that finish line as we are to rise each time we stumble on the way up to the summits of our lives.  I may not have been in my usual mindset for race day this time around, but I never underestimate or take for granted the lessons that this sport (and swimming) have taught me over the decades.  And as we crossed the bridge heading for the island and the turn around, I sat up, and smiled and laughed because we were heading right over the ocean!  Again, I LOVE the ocean!!!!  As we headed onto the island, we also received some spitting rain to add to the chilly temps and wind.  Soon I hit the turnaround, and here came the wind.  I tucked in, head down, clicked to an easier gear, and kept the cadence up.  By the back half of the ride my fingers were so cold that I could no longer grab my nutrition in my pockets, and struggled with the Infinit bottle in my front cage.  Luckily, I had a couple of gels in my bento box left from my training rides, so I was able to stay relatively on track nutrition wise, which I was very happy about.  Even in the winds, I was making great time, and was so excited that I was heading for a bike PR!  The turns back in to transition slowed me down some (need to work on getting better at those), but I had put enough time in the bank, so it was just a matter of whether I would get under 3 or not…

Bike:  2:59:52
Heck yessss by 8 seconds!!!!!!
T2: 6:08

Another fairly slow transition, although it had the potential to be three times that (at least) or more.  God Bless this amazing volunteer who was standing right there as I racked my bike, and as I struggled getting my helmet unclipped, she asked if she could be of some assistance.  I gratefully told her yes, and also joked that I would probably need help with my shoes too (although totally serious too, seeing that I had no feeling in my fingers and it would take a bit for the blood to return and for me to be able to do anything with them).  She graciously took off my bike shoes and socks, then put on my run socks, run shoes, and laced them up.  I thanked her repeatedly, I was so grateful she had been right there as I had come in.  Now it was time for the run!  I really had to pee though! Must find porta potty stat!  And I took this as a good sign that I nailed my nutrition, and was properly hydrated.  Made the quick porta potty stop and headed out on my first loop of the three loop course.  On this first loop, I also quickly noticed that my lower back was super tight and seizing up on me some, so I stopped a couple of times to sit and stretch it out, and it seemed to work itself out.  Since I lost some time on this first loop, I knew I would need to make up time on the next two loops if I wanted to finish strong.  My goal for the run for this race was 2:10, so it was going to be close!  I alternated water and Gatorade, stayed on top of my gels, and took a banana at almost every station.  Why do I want to be here?  Because I can.  Because I have been blessed with this amazing opportunity.  Because there was a time not too long ago where all I wanted to do was run when I could not.  And maybe I run the shit out of this thing, or maybe it lasts longer than I could ever imagine, but either way, I can’t let the fear of “what if” stop me from being right here, right now, in this moment.  So I run hard, and I am grateful when the wheels start to come off, right around 11.5, where I thought they probably would.  A bout of tendonitis in my right foot in Feb coupled with the rolling of my left ankle a week and a half out of this race (I am such a klutz, yes, I tripped over my own feet), my run training had been sub-par and definitely not where I wanted it to be.  So it was a mile and a half of putting one foot in front of the other, and gutting it out.  I knew I could break 6, but I had to keep moving forward.  And I kept saying to myself, “just keep moving, just keep moving”, over and over again.  And all of the cheers helped so much!  This was the most energized HIM run course I had ever run in!  The energy was so contagious!  I felt like even though I was deep in the pain cave, the last couple of miles flew by!  Soon I was rounding that last corner and heading for the finish chute!  I would break 6 after all, and I was elated and (as per usual) overcome with emotion.

Run:  2:13:05
Overall:  5:55:54

There was quite a bit of reflection out there for me at Galveston 70.3, and it was an amazing day, crazy weather and all!  Why do I want to be here?  To compete.  To embrace the obstacles of each and every race like I would the obstacles in my own life.  To lean into the adversity of a grueling day to grow as an athlete like I would lean into the adversity of a grueling season of life.  To celebrate all the people that have played a role in my journey, who continue to inspire me along the way.  I compete for them, and hope I make them proud.  I have learned so much from three decades of sport, and I look forward to all I still have yet to learn.  Some “whys” might change from season to season, as far as PRs I’m chasing, but the big “whys” at the core will remain the same.  I’ve known them for quite some time, we are old friends, but it’s always great to spend some time with them again.

What are your “whys”?

Friday, June 30, 2017

No Limits - Buffalo Springs 70.3

“Believe in yourself and all that you are.  Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle.” ~Christian D. Larson

“Your playing small does not serve the world…We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.” ~Marianne Williamson

Many say it starts between the ears, but I believe it goes deeper than that, from the very depths of our souls, when we shove aside the doubts, fears, criticisms, and our own limitations we set on ourselves.  When we believe and our conviction cannot be shaken, we set ourselves free.  Liberating us from the parameters that others, or even ourselves, set upon us.  When this happens, the possibilities are truly endless.
I was afraid and in awe of Buffalo Springs 70.3 for as long as I can remember.  It was a race described by others as challenging, epic, and hard as hell, but also you could hear the reverence in the voices of those who had conquered it before as they gave you the play by play of their adventures there.  A race with a local feel, a race loved by many, and a race that should never be underestimated.  My original plan after getting my feet wet at Longhorn 70.3 in the fall was to do IM Texas 70.3 in Galveston in early April.  Waited too late to register, and it ended up selling out.  I was sad at the time, but you know what they say about God’s timing.  Not long after it sold out, I caught the flu, so training came at a pretty solid halt, which would have been at the point I would have to have been ramping up the mileage, so it all worked out.  Instead, I took a deep breath, and signed up for a race I had been wanting to do forever, but approached with a bit of trepidation.  The moment I hit that enter key and received my confirmation email, I knew I was all in, and there was no turning back.  Fast forward four months later, and I was on the road to Lubbock to a race that I absolutely could not wait to do.  I was eerily calm, which was strange for me, but I took it as a good sign. I was ready.  I would hold nothing back and go for it.  I was told beforehand that the Buffalo Springs course was unique and I should throw time goals out the window, and I was well aware this would be a much different 70.3 than I had ever raced.  There was no doubt, I not only was ready to do this, but I would go into it with an open mind, and ”no limits” would be my mantra for this race.

Race Day - SWIM
I loved being able to set everything out in transition area like the days of old triathlon, instead of everything in baggies.  This still didn’t seem to help me much, seeing that I am slow as molasses in transition, but I am planning to work on that!  I was still extremely calm race morning, and had to use the port-o-potty line twice because I could not go the first time, which was again, strange for me.  I had my transition set up with plenty of time to spare, so I spent the extra time visualizing the day.  Soon it was time to head down to the beach where we would start the swim.  On the way, I ran into my amazing friendy Kris, and her Big Sexy teammates, which was a great way to start the day!  We took a quick pic, then her group was up first.  Told her I was coming for her and to have a great race!  My group was only three minutes behind, so soon it was our turn to run off of the beach and dive in the lake to begin our 1.2 mile swim.  I have to be honest, usually the swim is my favorite part, but for this race, I felt like the swim was the portion I just had to get through, and I could not wait to get to the bike and run.  I had been hitting some solid splits on my 100, 200, 300, and 400m pace sets leading up to Buffalo Springs so I felt confident that I could post a fast swim split, and actually wanted the fastest split in the field.  I could never seem to find a good rhythm though, especially at the beginning.  I was swimming over people, people were swimming over me…this didn’t bother me really, playing water polo in high school helped me become immune to being dunked, pulled, swum over, etc.  Mainly I just felt like as soon I got going I was running into more bodies, and at a couple of the turn buoys I got all caught up in traffic as well.  By the last 800 m or so, I finally felt like I was finding my stroke, and I could see the swim exit just ahead.  As the volunteers grabbed my hands and helped me out, I could see another pink cap out of the corner of my eye…and kudos to my competitor for hustling across that timing mat.  Note to self…next time move faster!  As I ran into transition, I felt like I hustled, but apparently I did not.  According to my super slow transition times you’d think I was having donuts and coffee back there! Holy geez I need to work on those!
SWIM: 28:27              T1: 4:22 (yuck!)


The hill out of T1 was no joke, and everyone had told me beforehand to make sure I was in my small ring, and they were not kidding.  This course hits you with it right from the start coming out of the gate.  No mercy.  As I started the climb it was not fear that I felt, but rather, exhilaration to be out there on this amazing course.  I spun up the hill, then we went down, over the bridge, and were climbing again.  Things flattened out as we headed out of the park.  We had a bit of tailwind for a bit then headwind as we were on a stretch headed towards the canyon.  As we approached it looked amazeeeeee!!!!  Down we went, then a short flat section, then it was time to climb out.  I knew climbing was my strength, so I worked those sections, passing as many people as I could, then back to a harder gear to take off on the flats.  As we finished the first climb I saw my Smash/Tri-Belief teammate Julia and we both exchanged “great job!” and would leap frog each other again on the run.  We went down the road a bit, then turned around and came at the canyon from the other direction.  I was super stoked to see Kris as I was heading for the turn-around section and she was coming from it! We yelled at each other and it gave me a boost!  I was not crazy about the turn-around sections on this course, always felt like I was going to wipe out, but it is what it is.  Another skill I would need to work on!  As we headed back for our return trip down the canyon I felt strong on my descent, I had been trying to work on them more since I knew descending was one of my biggest weaknesses on a hilly course.  They were still not as fast as I would like them to be, and I knew I would have to make up time on the hills and flats.  As I hit the flat section of the canyon for our return trip, I felt a little sluggish, and my cadence had slowed as well.  I knew if I kept pedaling it would pass, because how you feel one moment seems to change like the winds in these events.  As we climbed out and were back on the flats headed towards the switchbacks, I was in awe of the sky and the dark storm clouds in the distance…I thanked God for this beautiful day and couldn’t wait to see what else He had in store for us.  We rode out on the farm roads, and turned onto a chip seal like section for a few, which was my least favorite section.  I kept checking my bottles to make sure they were not being launched out of their cages.  Somewhere in here my friend Lexa had caught me, and I while still holding steady, I tried to not let her get too far ahead.  Finally we made it to this forest section that encompassed the road, a section I had been told to watch for by several people, and when it came into view it literally took my breath away and gave me wings! I bounded through wishing I could stop and take pictures of all of this! I mentally took snap shots throughout this ride!  After the forest we headed up the first switchback, and it was so much fun!!!  As I bounded up and passed some riders, I made sure to hug my side, because others were screaming down the other side and it’s a pretty narrow road.  After cresting I rode down a little ways towards the turn around, and I saw Kris again! Two for two!  I looped around and headed back to descend the switchback, then rode over to switchback #2!  Again, so much fun, reminded me of a very miniature Mt. Lemmon, which happens to be one of my all-time favorite rides, so I was in the happiest of places climbing these switchbacks!!!  Rode out to turn around again and three for three for seeing Kris! As we descended the switchback we headed back to the forest section and climbed out of that as well to get to the flat roads that would take us back to the park.  At this point, I settled into aero, played Motley Crue’s “Kickstart My Heart” on loop in my head, and hit it.  The last 15 miles flew by!  Before I knew it, we were turning into the park and heading for transition.  Then it was down the hill, across the bridge, and up one last big hill before descending into T2.  That very last hill climb seemed the toughest out of all of them since it was right at the end when our legs were already trashed.  There was some cramping that took place as I climbed that hill, and at one point I just hoped I wouldn’t fall over because of it.  The struggle was definitely real on that hill.  After cresting, it was smooth sailing downhill into transition.  I hopped off and checked the watch, and OMG I just PRed the bike!!!!   Was all smiles as I racked my bike and put on the run gear.  Again, not sure if I stopped for lunch or what in transition because holy smokes how long can it take a person to put on some shoes?!!!!  Seriously, some transition work is absolutely in order!

BIKE: 3:08:55!                      T2: 5:11 :(


I was absolutely beside myself to get to the run portion of the race.  I wanted to see what my body could do on trashed legs.  Although I had some strong long run sessions leading up to this race, I knew that I couldn’t really simulate how the legs would feel on race day, and it would be interesting to see how it would all play out.  The run was two loops, with a big nasty “dream crusher” hill in the middle of each loop.  I was told to run up that hill no matter what, DO NOT under any circumstances, walk it.  So off I went on my first loop in my happy place, clicking off the miles, and holding a steady pace.  I figured if I could average between 9:30-10 min miles, then that would put me somewhere close to 2:10 or a little under, which would put my total time at 5:56ish, and I would break 6 hours!  So I had it all planned out, and my body did fairly well the first loop, I even ran up the “dream crusher” hill, and saw my friends on the out and backs which was awesome and really gave me a boost!  After coming down the hill, the last part of the loop winds you around for what seems like forever (especially feels like the LONGEST LOOP EVER the second time through), and by the time you hit the turn-around point, you can see the bridge in the distance and that’s what you are running for.  By the time you get to the bridge, you either stay left to finish, or stay right to go for your second loop.  As I headed into my second loop, my times started to slow down a bit, and it was a struggle to WANT to look at the watch (to hopefully see I was on pace)/to NOT want to look at the watch (to see that I was in fact, ACTUALLY falling off pace).  This continued the first half of the loop until I came upon “dream crusher” hill, and it was more of a slow shuffle up this beast the second time around.  A few of us joked as we worked our way up the hill that it seemed so much longer the second time! And steeper too!  We all laughed and continued our sufferfests.  I saw friends Holly, Lexa, and Kris coming down the hill at separate intervals, and those high fives really did give me wings!  I saw Julia at the top, as well as another Smash teammie that I had seen for most of the run, and we gave each other head nods, waves, and yelled "Go Smash!!!"  At about this time after I had crested “dream crusher” hill for the second time, I looked at my watch and knew it was going to be close, and I’d have to go like 9 min miles for the last 3.5.  Challenge accepted.  I pushed the pace on the flats at the top then headed down the hill for the last section of the loop.  While I would not consider this run course super hilly (except for “dream crusher” of course), I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s flat either.  It has some good short rollers that seem like doozies at the very end.  As I came down that hill and headed into the last section, the wheels finally came off, and…IT. WAS. GLORIOUS.  To be here in this moment, fighting for the sub 6, fighting for a PR on this course of all courses.  Up until this last September, I had not run for 2.5 years.  During my pregnancy I couldn’t run (due to my hip dysplasia although I did not know that at the time, I just knew it hurt), so I stopped running at 9 weeks…fast forward when baby girl was born I squeaked in a couple of 2-3 milers before the hip went…then it was hip replacement surgery in March 2016, and 6 months later I could put feet to pavement.  But even then, I did most of my runs on the Alter G, pretty much most of my run training for Longhorn was done on that machine.  As I headed into a couple of half marathons in early 2017, I hit the road more, and was amazed how well the hip was doing.  So here I was, with about 8 good months of run training under my belt after a 2.5 year hiatus, and I was in the ballpark to go sub 6 and set a new PR?!  I was ecstatic.  I was grateful.  I was euphoric.  I thanked God and hoped that this would continue to be part of my journey, part of my story.  That He would use me through sport for His glory.  And I ran as hard as I could.  My legs were done, trashed, toast, whatever you want to call it they were through.  They were ready for a nap.  But I pushed on.  I saw my friends coming back the other way after the last turn-around and I shouted “let’s finish this!” as we passed by each other one last time. My legs were lead at this point but I was determined to finish this race strong.  As I rounded that last turn-around, I ran for that bridge.  Just one foot in front of the other.  The bridge got closer.  One foot in front of the other.  Still closer.  Not going to make the 6 hours.  That’s ok, the PR is still up for grabs!  The bridge was right there!  I was crossing the bridge!  The volunteer was giving instructions as he had before, left to the finish, right to head to the second loop.  He asked if I was going left and I said “Heck yes!!!!!”  And as I turned left and headed for the chute, there was nothing but a big smile on my face.  I snagged that 10 min PR and I could not have been happier.  No tears for this one.  The tears for Longhorn was the closing of a chapter.  This finish at Buffalo Springs was a beginning.  And it was pure joy.

RUN:  2:16:43                 TOTAL:  6:03:36

Thank you as always for reading, and for all of your support and cheers along the way!  What a journey it has been!  Looking forward to all new adventures ahead!

The new RFA Smash Kit gave me wings!!!!!!

Such a treat to race with my friend Kris!!!
She never ceases to inspire!!!

Hahahaha! Forgot about that cap for a moment!

I LOVED this bike course!!!!!!!!!!!!

Digging deep on that second loop!

Pure joy!!!!!!!!!!!!

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.