The Best of 2018

I love looking back and thinking about all of the amazing things that I’ve accomplished and all of the challenges I’ve overcome! 2018 was full of challenges, accomplishments, and FUN!! I’ve reflected for the last 5 years and now it’s time to reflect on 2018! You can look back at my previous posts if you’d like: Best of 2013, the Best of 2014, the Best of 2015, the Best of 2016, and the Best of 2017. Now its time to reminisce my faves from 2018! 🙂

Best race experience?

Ironman Ohio 70.3 was hands down my FAVORITE race this year!! I not only accomplished my #sub6orbust goal, but got to meet and race with so many of my Coeur Sports sisters + cross the finish with Steena!! It was truly one of the best race experiences I’ve ever had!! #blessed

My Coeur runneth over!! I got to meet some of the most inspirational, determined, loving ladies today!! #happycoeur Photo Credit: my fave
So grateful to have Steena by my side as I broke 6 hours, crushed goals, and achieved dreams at Ironman Ohio 70.3!! Thank you Steena for being such a strong, motivating, awesome BADASS!! Photo credit: FinisherPix

Best run?

Running with Steena at Ironman Ohio 70.3!! She ran stride for stride with me, pushing me to a 70.3 PR!! #sub6orbust

The #sub6orbust is no longer a dream!! Today I turned it into a reality thanks to Steena who ran with me!! This lady is such a strong, positive badass and I’m blessed and grateful to have had her by my side today!! Photo Credit: Danielle Worthington

Best bike?

For me, the ride that stands out the most this year is the one I learned the most from…my first 5 hour trainer ride. It was a VERY tough day for me! Physically I was pushing higher watts for longer durations than I ever had before. Mentally, I WANTED to be riding out on the open roads around the amazing #IMWI bike course, but a gut check put me on the trainer instead. In this process, I learned SO much about how STRONG I truly am both mentally and physically and what I can do when staring adversity in the face! Thanks to Ruth for keeping me going when the meltdown started! ❤

5 hours on the trainer pushed me to a whole new level…physically and mentally.

Best swim?

The first time I went sub 1:30/100 yards in the pool was this year!! While I have seen a sub 1:30/100 yards a few times since then, it has not happened often, but I’m THRILLED every time it does!!

My first 100 yard swim time that is sub 1:30!! #hardworkpaysoff

Best mental focus?

HANDS DOWN…Ironman Louisville!! What a day!! What a race!! I had to dig mentally into places I didn’t even know I had in me!! I was thrown challenge after challenge throughout the day; from Mother Nature providing us with MUCH LESS than ideal weather, to the race directors changing up the swim course 5 minutes before the race was set to start, to the traffic on the bike course that forced me to come to a complete stop (more than once) so I wouldn’t rear end the vehicle in front of me (with wet breaks I might add), to my body when my back cramped up on the run, and others I’m sure I’ve forgotten (or maybe blocked from my memory). Through all of these challenges, I fought the fight and won!! I remained focused throughout the day, stayed strong, and crossed the finish line with complete exhaustion and a smile on my face!!

This sums up my Ironman Louisville race day…cold + wet + windy + challenging + strong = success!! Photo credit: FinisherPix

Best training weekend?

My solo training weekend in Madison, Wisconsin!! I got to spend time on 2 wheels with Steena, I got to push myself out of my comfort zone, and I got to enjoy ALL. OF. THE. HILLS. on a course I LOVE!!

Hard work pays off!! Thanks to my #sub6orbust buddy Steena for pulling me up ALL. THE. HILLS On 2 loops of the #IMWI bike course!! Photo credit: GoPro 🙂

Best training compass?

Coach Kelly with Ever Racing has kept me grounded this year. There have been times this year when I overlooked my successes because I was consumed by the immediate feelings instead of the big picture. Thankfully Coach Kelly called me out on my SH!T and redirected my focus!! I would not be where I am today without her structure, focus, guidance, feedback, support, accountability, motivation + so much more! She has helped me to become a better, #everstrong athlete and person every day! I am forever grateful to her and so glad we have a strong relationship built on communication and trust!! I am excited to see how far we go in 2019!!

Best enCOEURaging moment?

Getting this text message from my sister after Ironman Louisville completely melted my heart!! I am SO excited that my 10 year old niece wants to do an Ironman with me one day in the future!! You never know who you are inspiring!!

Best nutritional find?

Infinit Nutrition has been a game changer for me this year!! Ironman Louisville was my first Ironman race that I did not bonk, have GI issues, or end up in the med tent with hyponatremia or dehydration. With 6 Ironman finish lines under my belt, I think I MAY have finally dialed in my race day nutrition!! 🙂

Best new gear?

My Normatec Recovery boots are da bomb diggity!! They have helped me recover from intense training + provided Basil with an inflatable pillow 😉 We are both in love with them and use them often!!

“I love my inflatable pillow Mama” ~Basil
So grateful for Normatec! #recoveryisimportant

Best supportive role?

Chasing my fave around while he ran the Twin Cities Marathon the week before I raced Ironman Louisville. I am SO PROUD of the hard work, dedication, perseverance, and PR race that he put up!! High five (or ten) to my fave!!

SO FREAKING PROUD of my FAVE!! HE CRUSHED IT!! Setting a new PR in a time of 3:33:05 at the Twin Cities Marathon!! 🙂

Best way to stay healthy?

Obviously eating healthy + sleep are super important, but to help me get a better understanding of how I can recover smarter, I decided to monitor my blood work with the help of Inside Tracker. I have learned so much about different biomarkers + how they can impact my training, recovery, sleep, etc. Knowledge is power!!

#blooddontlie

Best piece of racing advice you received?

I know this has been my best piece of racing advice for a few years, but that is because I have not found anything better to remind me of my race day “job” and what I need to do to achieve success. Race day can be a mixed bag (hello Ironman Louisville), but this advice works no matter what the conditions and the day bring:

“Be calm; focus on what you are going to do. Don’t get distracted, don’t get overwhelmed, take it all as it comes. You are ready for this; you’ve prepared for years. This is it, your time to shine. Go forth with all your powers. Go forth with everything in you. Make it work.” ~Lynne Cox, “Swimming to Antarctica: Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer”

IMG_3610

Most inspirational athlete?

There are so many that I can’t pick just one! Everyone is on their own, unique journey and I am inspired by them all. My Coeur Sports sisters inspire me EVERY. SINGLE. DAY! I’ve also been SUPER inspired this year by friends who finished their first Ironman. By friends who attempted their first Ironman, but didn’t meet cutoffs. By friends who did their first triathlon this year. By people who have survived an accident and are still training + racing. By people who fight disease and keep training + racing. By people who challenge themselves and try something new. By people I haven’t met yet and people I see everyday! There are far too many people who inspire me to pick just one!

Best support crew?

Hands down…Tim, Dad and my sister, Abbie! These three pushed me through during some VERY challenging times at Ironman Louisville. They were up EARLY on race morning to help me get to transition. They were patient with the process of all of the race morning shenanigans…even in the cold + rain + wind. They were in all of the right places at all of the right times during the race encouraging me (and SO many others) to keep moving forward when it would have been SO. MUCH. EASIER to throw in the towel and call it a day. Tim got all of my race gear while I was out on the run to save time. They cheered, photographed, and spread love to me and other athletes throughout a REALLY long day! There are not enough hugs and kisses for each of you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Love you all so much! I couldn’t have gotten to this finish line without your unwavering encouragement and support!!

My cheer squad on the second loop!! Tim, Abbie, and Dad (left to right) chasing me up the hill into LaGrange! I made it back to them!

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be?

Strong, courage, believe, fun!!

Tell me about your 2018 year!! What are your “bests” from 2018?!

Advertisements

What’s Up?! – November 2018

How is it possible that we are less than one month away from 2019?! I think time moves faster the older I get, but I must say that November was the LONGEST month I’ve had in quite some time! Here is a small snapshot of what I was up to last month!!

Training:

Putting in the work with my fave by my side!!
Spending more time on the bike with my fave now that we are training for the same races in 2019!!
Running on the golf course now that it is closed for winter!!

Swim: 17,400 yards (9.89 miles)
Bike: 139 miles
Run: 44.9 miles
Monthly Totals: 31 hours & 3 minutes

Dreaming of:

A white Christmas!! I want SNOW!! I love to go out and play in the snow, but sadly we have none…not even one measly flake. Mother Nature has blessed many other locations around us with snow, but none here. I’m ready for lots of snow so I can go snowshoeing with the family, run through the fresh stuff and be the first one to leave tracks, and go sledding with my nieces at Christmas!! Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!!

Listening to:

Michelle Bandur is not only an AMAZING friend and Coeur Sports sister, but she is a PHENOMENAL person! Listen to her story about how she turned a dollar into a triathlon club for young girls in her community. I guarantee…you won’t be disappointed!!

Ellen Wexler is also an AMAZING friend and Coeur Sports sister!! This woman is so inspirational, determined, and full of grit + tenacity!! You definitely are going to want to listen to her story!! She has overcome many obstacles in her path to find happiness + joy!! #fuckcancer!!

Planning for:

2019!! I am SUPER excited to chase some BIG GOALS in 2019!! Thanks to the help of Coach Kelly, we have a plan in place to help me achieve my goals. I’m so grateful to have her as my compass pointing me in the “right direction” as I continue on the yellow (or blue if I’m in the pool) brick road toward my dreams in endurance sport!!

Grateful for:

The Coeur Sports 2019 ambassador team…I’m SO grateful to be representing the BEST brand + sisterhood in endurance sport!!
Grateful to have my mother-in-law visit us!!
When you FINALLY see yourself on the side of the city bus when it is stopped!!
So thankful to have this guy by my side in life!!
So grateful that we got to meet up with framily over Thanksgiving break!!

How was your month of November?! What were you grateful for last month?! 

#heartandcourage in 2019

If you follow me on social media, you’ll know that I have been accepted back as an ambassador for the 2019 Coeur Sports team. I am SUPER excited to represent the most amazing brand for my 5th year in 2019!!

It is more than the gear…it is the brand!! Coeur Sports has set a standard for their ambassadors and hopefully for women wearing their gear. Here are some of the key things that they represent that truly resonate with me:

  1. Positive + Kind…you can’t go wrong when you shower the world with positivity and kindness!!
  2. Do + Be your BEST self…if you are going to do something, you should always give your absolute best. Who doesn’t want to do + be the best version of yourself?!?!
  3. Train + Race CLEAN…I just don’t understand the cheater mentality!! Whether it is taking performance enhancing supplements/drugs, cutting a course, or sabotaging someone else’s race, I don’t understand it and DEFINITELY DO NOT agree with it!! Race CLEAN peeps!!
  4. Take the high road…It may not be your day, but that doesn’t mean you can’t congratulate those who beat you. Always be a POSITIVE ambassador for sport!!
  5. EnCOEURage others to get into sport…We all started at the beginning at some point. Help another girl out! Teach her how to change her bike tire. Answer all of her questions. Pass on one of your older (but still usable) tri kits or wetsuits. Share your bike pump on race day. Just be there and listen. Encourage her!
The Coeur Sports 2019 ambassador team…I’m SO grateful to be representing the BEST brand + sisterhood in endurance sport!!

It is time to become #uncaged and be more #fierce in all aspects of my life!! 2019 is going to be an ABSOLUTELY amazing year and I’m SUPER excited to see what it has in store for me!! Cheers to 2019!! Time to #uncagetheinnerbeast and have a FANTABULOUS year!!

Attitude of Gratitude

I’ve been working to harbor an “Attitude of Gratitude” in 2018, which is sometimes harder than it should be! There is SO much to be grateful for everyday and I reflect on that before bed every night. The hard part is finding gratitude in every moment throughout the day…especially when faced with challenges, struggles, and negativity.

Since November is typically the month of gratitude and we are embarking on Thanksgiving week, I decided to take some time to reflect on what I have done to include more gratitude in my life.

  1. You may have noticed during my monthly “What’s up?!” blog posts, a gratitude section this year. This is a great way to reflect on each month and be grateful for the things that have stood out as positive and uplifting!
  2. Each night before crawling into bed, I reflect on the day. Writing down all of the things I am grateful for that day in my gratitude journal. This is a great way to focus on all of the positives (even the little things) that happen throughout the day. It has also caused me to focus more on the positives and gratitude moments throughout the day as they occur.
  3. I am constantly reminding myself to be grateful even during the struggles. When I catch myself encountering a struggle, I try to shift my mindset and make myself much more aware of the positives that I’m experiencing in those moments.
  4. I am also working to be more mindful and present throughout each day. Focusing on the 5 senses + how I feel in the moment + what I think at different moments in time throughout each day.

All of these things have helped me harbor an “attitude of gratitude” this year. I truly believe we can not have enough gratitude for all of the amazing people, experiences, memories + things in our lives! I’ve chosen to embrace gratitude this year and find good in everything! Some moments are more of a struggle than others, but even when things are tough, there is something to be grateful for! Sometimes we just have to get out our magnifying glass and look a little harder for the good. 😉

There have been so many amazing moments so far in 2018!! Here is just a snapshot of the things I am grateful for this year:

Supporting our twin nieces at their swim meet!
Home home with my fave!!
Snowshoeing adventures with my fam!
Birthday lunch date with my #solesister
3 of my favorite little bunnies!
Traci, we love you! So grateful to have amazing friends at work!
SO grateful for the best neighbor anyone could ask for! #lovemyneighbor
“Right now” was pure joy for 50 miles on two wheels with my fave! I was so happy to be outside riding on the open roads!
Meeting up with my Coeur Sports sister, Michelle at the Kansas City Triathlon!
Turning social friends into real friends!! So grateful to meet Beth in person!!
So grateful I got to meet up with Steena, my Coeur Sports sister!! Love this beautiful, badass lady!!
I did a thang! The #flatlander703 was the TOUGHEST race I’ve ever done, but I learned A LOT and got 1st place overall!! Thanks to my fave for the award ceremony and making me feel special!!
Incredibly grateful that my fave walked away from a solo bicycle accident with lots of road rash and NO head injury (despite cracking his helmet in 2 places). Wear your helmet people!! It saves lives!!
So grateful for my friend Robin!! She surprised me with the perfect motivational gift from Hawaii…an #IMWC visor (don’t worry…it doesn’t say finisher or have a date on it…she made sure of that)!! Thank you!! Thank you!! Thank you!!
So grateful that I got to spend the morning with my colleague at the Accel Triathlon cheering on my fave and friends!!
Love these peeps!! So grateful to have them in my life!!
So grateful for Kyle at Kyle’s Bikes!! His race day blessing means Mojo is ready to roll!!
My Coeur runneth over!! I got to meet some of the most inspirational, determined, loving ladies today!! #happycoeur
I’m riding cloud nine after setting a PR at Ironman Ohio 70.3 and finally breaking 6 hours, but I’m not sure it would have happened without Steena by my side. This girl is the definition of #heartandcourage and I’m so grateful for her!! Her strength, positivity, selflessness, and uplifting spirit are just a few of the wonderful things about her!! Thank you Steena for all you did to help me achieve my dream!! Love you girl!! “PRs are better with friends!!”
So grateful to have Steena by my side as I broke 6 hours, crushed goals, and achieved dreams at Ironman Ohio 70.3!! Thank you Steena for being such a strong, motivating, awesome BADASS!!
This guy! There aren’t enough words! Thank you for your support! Thank you for believing in me! Thank you for encouraging me to chase my dreams! Thank you for motivating me when I lack self-motivation! Thank you for pushing me to do and be my best! Thank you for loving and choosing me! Thank you! I’m so blessed and grateful to have you by my side on this journey! Love you!
Hard work pays off!! Thanks to my #sub6orbust buddy Steena for pulling me up ALL. THE. HILLS On 2 loops of the #IMWI bike course!!
Grateful to spend the afternoon at the state fair with these fun peeps listening to Brett Eldredge live in concert!
Basil turned 6 years old on Monday…I love these two SO MUCH!!
All of these amazing volunteers helped us keep T1 in check on #IMWI race morning. I’m so grateful for their help!!
Grateful for the OneBrainWellness Self Defense clinic to learn how to defend myself against an attacker!!
So grateful to have this crazy group of colleagues to work with!!
So grateful to briefly chat with Elaina at mile 26 of the Twin Cities Marathon!!
So grateful to briefly chat with my Coeur Sports sister, Kendra (and meet little Ralphie <3) at mile 8.5 of the Twin Cities Marathon!!
Getting to meet up with a few of my Coeur Sports sisters in Louisville was so much fun!! This team of uplifting, encouraging, supportive women is where it’s at!!
My cheer squad on the second loop at #IMLou!! Tim, Abbie, and Dad (left to right) chasing me up the hill into LaGrange! I made it back to them!
The finish line is the best feeling after such a physically and mentally challenging day! #IMLou
LOVE these two smiling faces!!
Grateful to get to see my cousin and cheer on his wife at the Des Moines Marathon!!
Grateful for my colleagues!! The #7dwarfs #spookoutdrugs during Red Ribbon Week at school!!
The Coeur Sports 2019 ambassador team…I’m SO grateful to be representing the BEST brand + sisterhood in endurance sport!!
So thankful to have this guy by my side in life!!

How do you live with an attitude of gratitude?! How do you focus on gratitude in every moment…even when faced with challenges and struggles?! 

Aligning My Actions with My Goals

My focus in 2018 has been on better aligning my actions with my goals. It’s no secret…I have a dream of someday qualifying for the Ironman World Championships in Kona. To get myself closer to this dream, I set goals for myself at the start of each season and again before each race. Sometimes I achieve success by reaching these goals and other times I fall short, but I always learn something that can better prepare me for the next training session or race.

I was on a mission this year to achieve my #sub6orbust goal at Ironman Ohio 70.3. Thanks to Steena for running stride for stride with me during the entire 13.1 mile run and pushing me those last two miles so I could achieve my goal!

The #sub6orbust is no longer a dream!! Today I turned it into a reality thanks to my Coeur Sports teammate/sister, Steena, who ran with me!! This lady is such a strong, positive badass and I’m blessed and grateful to have had her by my side today!!

I also set myself up to go sub 13 hours at Ironman Louisville. While I didn’t achieve this goal, I am confident that if conditions and circumstances were different on that day, I definitely would have.

This sums up my Ironman Louisville race day…cold + wet + windy + challenging + strong = success!! Photo credit: Finisher Pix

What have I done to better align my actions with my goals this year?

  1. I work hard! I #showup and give everything I have at that moment for each workout. Staying present + focused on the current interval, current workout, and current mindset/attitude.
  2. I recover harder! I make sure to properly rehydrate and refuel immediately post workout, sit in my Normatec Recovery boots, get a massage every 2 weeks (thanks Nick with Vitality Massage), see Dr. Chris at Team Chiropractic as niggles arise, and prioritize sleep by getting at least 8 hours EVERY night! Consuming Breakthrough Nutrition’s Goodnight formula + magnesium before bed also helps me get some solid REM + deep sleep.
  3. I #trainthebrain…I think this has brought me the most success and what I am the most proud of in 2018!! When faced with adversity, I overcame!! I truly am SO much stronger than I ever thought!! Focusing on an attitude of gratitude, keeping positive, and smiling through the pain/discomfort in training and racing has brought me huge success this year!!
  4. I eat healthy!! I stick with whole foods as much as possible and save indulgences for rare occasions!! 🙂
  5. I communicate with Coach Kelly (giving her meat is ALWAYS better than bare bones)!! I’m so grateful when she calls me out on my SH!T and makes me reflect and think about my training, my mindset, my training/life/work balance, etc.!! #everstrong
  6. #courageovercomfort…when you step out of your comfort zone, this is where the magic happens!! There has been sweat (lots of sweat), pain, blood, blisters, chaffing, black toenails, and tears (LOTS of tears…Thanks Ruth for pulling me out of some low places while on the trainer) in training this year. Overcoming this discomfort often requires lots of courage to push outside of my comfort zone, but it is TOTALLY worth it!! #magic
  7. Attitude of gratitude…focusing on ALL things to be grateful for during highs and lows. There is always something to be grateful for…even when you are deep in the pain cave and riding the struggle bus. I have intentionally been finding things to be grateful for during training + racing. Gratitude has taken me so much farther than I ever thought possible.
  8. #believe…when you truly believe deep down to the depths of your soul, you can accomplish ANYTHING!!

What additional tips do you have to better align your actions with your goals?! What have you done to better align your actions with your goals this year?! What can you do to better align your actions with your goals in 2019?! 

What’s Up?! – October 2018

How are we less than 2 months away from 2019?!?! It just doesn’t seem possible!! October was a VERY BUSY + FUN month for us, but time flies when you’re having fun!! Here is a snapshot of all of the fun October had in store for me!!

Training:

While swimming today, there was a seahorse on the bottom of the pool in my lane. Was this a sign?! I believe it was!! The seahorse is considered to be a symbol of strength and power. Just what I needed today!!
In 2018 we’ve been training for two completely different races, so we haven’t had many opportunities to get to ride together. I’m grateful for the “bike date” today after work + am looking forward to more saddle time with my fave in 2019!!
Running with my fave by Churchill Downs after spending hours upon hours in the car to get to Louisville!!

Swim: 14,359 yards (8.16 miles)
Bike: 172 miles
Run: 47.6 miles
Monthly Totals: 27 hours & 21 minutes

Racing:

Ironman Louisville pushed me WAY out of my comfort zone and challenged me in ways I’ve never been challenged before. Thankfully I overcame many obstacles throughout the day and am much stronger than I ever thought possible. If you want to read all about my race day, click here! #courageovercomfort #believe #everstrong

This sums up my Ironman Louisville race day…cold + wet + windy + challenging + strong = success!!

Reading:

I finished up Let Your Mind Run: A Memoir of Thinking My Way to Victory by Deena Kastor this month. It is a MUST READ!! There are so many great insights for how positive thought, positive visualization, and gratitude changed Deena’s career. What a STRONG + INSPIRATIONAL woman!! I am working to implement these into my training and racing plan as well, knowing that it will take time to fully implement, but if Ironman Louisville is any indication of how this implementation is going, I can’t wait to see what happens in the future!! “Building a mind so strong would take years of effort and discipline, but it would propel Kastor to the pinnacle of running—to American records in every distance from the 5K to the marathon—and to the accomplishment of earning America’s first Olympic medal in the marathon in twenty years.”

Spectating:

I played Sherpa/spectator extraordinaire for my fave as he crushed his previous marathon PR by nearly 5 minutes at the Twin Cities Marathon!! SO PROUD OF HIM!!

Cycling around the Twin Cities on my cross bike chasing down my fave!! No idea how many miles I logged, but it was fun and challenging to stay ahead of him!!

I also helped my cousin and fave spectate at the Des Moines Marathon for my cousin’s wife. She had a great race and is well on her way to completing the 50 states club!!

Spectating and cheering done!! Congratulations to Jennifer on knocking out another state!!

Grateful for:

When you are a tapering Ironman athlete + middle school teacher in the Midwest with drastically changing temperatures, you load up on Sound Probiotics to keep healthy!! Use code PUSHMYLIMITS to get 10% off your next order!!
So grateful to have this crazy group of colleagues to work with!!
SO FREAKING PROUD of my FAVE!! HE CRUSHED IT!! Setting a new PR in a time of 3:33:05 at the Twin Cities Marathon!! 🙂
Getting to meet up with a few of my Coeur Sports teammates was so much fun!! This team of uplifting, encouraging, supportive women is where it’s at!!
My cheer squad on the second loop!! Tim, Abbie, and Dad (left to right) chasing me up the hill into LaGrange! I was SO happy to have made it back to them!
LOVE these two smiling faces!!
Grateful to get to see my cousin and cheer on his wife at the Des Moines Marathon!!
Grateful for my colleagues!! The #7dwarfs #spookoutdrugs during Red Ribbon Week at school!!
GETTING to do more workouts with my fave next to me!! So grateful that we were able to support each other in different races this year, but I’m really excited to be training for the same races in 2019!!
Happy Halloween from some 8th grade teachers!! #decadestheme

How was your month of October?! What were you grateful for last month?! 

Race day via Sherpa/spectator extraordinaire at #IMLou

I couldn’t be more grateful to have had my husband play the role of Sherpa/spectator at Ironman Louisville this year. Because this is the first time that we have not been racing the same Ironman, I asked him to write about his experiences being Sherpa/spectator extraordinaire at Ironman Louisville. Here is his account of the day:

As guest writer this week, I am going to give my perspective on the day at IMLOU as Sherpa and spectator. If possible, I will try and not repeat any account of the day already documented by Kecia, other than the obvious features such as the weather, which was the theme of the day.

I considered omitting this first topic, but after some thought, really felt that it was important to share. When Kecia was checking in for the race on Thursday, I walked with her through the line that we both know too well, the check-in line at the IRONMAN. As we neared the end of the line, a volunteer handed Kecia a bag of items. She asked if I was racing and I said no. Then she openly exclaims, “I knew you weren’t an IRONMAN.” OH BOY! I have no problem letting it slide off my back. The volunteer does not know me, and I certainly do not need any validation from her about my abilities and accomplishments.

Immediately, my wife, the great protector says to the volunteer, “He’s actually a 5-time IRONMAN finisher.” Kecia, for the win! I suppose in a way, I do not look the part. I am 6’4” and 240 pounds. I have long, flowing curly hair. Others have noted that I look like I should play hockey or be a surfer dude. The whole interaction made me laugh and was only awkward for a brief moment, more for the volunteer than for me.

The IRONMAN community is not that large. I recognized the volunteer. She is a multiple IRONMAN finisher and present on certain electronic and social media platforms. I felt that her comment to me was not offensive, but clearly did not create an open and positive community. We are all ambassadors for the sport. Endurance sport is hard; do not make it harder by isolating others! Enough on that.

In preparation for race day, Kecia and I already had discussed how the day was going to be a mental challenge. She had the fitness and ability to conquer the day. There was no sense in dwelling on the obvious conditions that lie ahead, cold and wet. I was optimistic in her attitude the day before the race, she never once complained.

During the night before race day, I woke occasionally to monitor the radar. Light rain had passed through most of the night and into the waking hours of 4 a.m. Kecia’s father and sister shared a house with Kecia and me for the weekend. When we woke, her dad made a comment of how he was cold already. Kecia was not present at the time. I looked right at him, with her sister present and said that there was absolutely no room for comments like that around the athletes. All the talk needed to be positive, end of discussion.

Before the race, we had done all we needed to get Kecia ready and stayed dry when we could. I walked with Kecia to the staging area for the swim start. I was pleased with how calm the athletes were, given the very poor racing conditions. Triathletes as a whole are very type-A personality, wound tight with their plans and strategy, and any conditions that are not ideal can create great anxiety and frustration. I almost sensed a feeling of community among the participants. Quite often, it’s the opposite; triathlon tends to be a solo sport, togetherness gets put to the side in the interest of personal competition, but I witness this on race morning.

As the swim started, I walked back to the finish area of the swim. By this time, I had already known that the swim was shortened. I was in position to take pictures of Kecia in Transition 1, both entering and exiting the transition area.

Watching athletes complete the swim!

At this point, Kecia’s sister, Abbie, and her father, Gary, and I headed for the car. We were going to join a mutual friend, Camila and drive out to a viewing point in La Grange. We all had the appropriate gear loaded in to the car and we were off! When we arrived, bikes were already screaming through town. The viewing area was on a flat piece of road, fans lined the barricades on both sides. I immediately made the decision to go down on the far end, where bikes enter into town.

I am glad I went there, as the road made a slight incline, where some riders sat up and slowed down, making a good opportunity to cheer and take pictures.  I knew this is where I wanted to be for the duration of our stay in La Grange.

Riders approaching!

We were to the meeting area before our athletes approached. I found an awning at a service station to make camp-put down my bag, keep some of my items dry. At this point, it was a heavy dew or mist. The rain showers appeared to be taking a break.

I went out to the middle of the road, right on the double yellow line. The athletes were riding right; a few of the faster ones were passing left, as they should. The rules state that spectators are not to be on the course. There were no course officials around me, so I stayed where I was. When I saw a motorcycle course official coming, I cleared out of the way.

I did my best to ring a cowbell in one hand and cheer for athletes with the other. Gary had printed shirts for the event, and they were a huge hit. Racers complimented with “Love your shirts!”

Motivational shirts!

At one point, I pushed up my sleeves. I was wearing a long-sleeved technical fiber undershirt and my pink shirt over it. I also had on a base layer of pants with wind pants over them. I was just right on temperature. Abbie asked me if I was cold. I said I was a little, but if the racers see me as warm, maybe they will feel warmer too. I am certain that me being out there without a coat did not make them warmer, but I was at least hoping it would make them feel warmer. I used every positive form of affirmation I could when racers went by me.

After Kecia passed through the second time, we loaded up and headed back into the city.  This gave me ample time to get back to our car, my home base for the day. Get some food and repack my gear bag for the run. I also had my cross bike, so I was hitting the run course on bike as soon as I could!

I staged myself in the first mile of the run, wearing the same gear I wore in La Grange. Racers recognized me right away. The pink shirt was a great identifier for racers! As they passed me on the run, they called me “middle of the road guy” and “smiley guy.” I consider both of them a huge compliment. The first name might mean that I was in their way some on the ride into La Grange. I am not sure. Maybe it just meant they noticed I was standing in the middle of the road.

Either way, I was happy to be on the bike course cheering for them. The real work of my day started when cheering for them on the run course. It was an out-and-back affair, so I tried to get half way out on the course, with many opportunities to see racers going both directions, and somewhat frequently.

On the streets in LOU!

I made it out to the run course, approximately 3-4 miles out from the finish. I really wanted to stand in the middle of the road for the run, but there was less room. Runners were going each direction. I stood on the side and rang my trusty bell, cheering for racers by name when I could see them on their race bibs. I did not pack any lights for my bike, so I headed back to the start/finish area. I saw Kecia make the turn for the second loop.

At that point, it was about 7 p.m. I was able to get her bike and gear bags from transition. She knew that I would not see her on the second loop. I headed to our car, dropped off my bike and cracked open a Coors Light that I had packed for the day. I was tired, cold and wet. I was in no position to complain. I had a great day, beyond disbelief what the athletes were accomplishing.

Personal payment!

I wandered down to the transition zone, gathered the bike and gear. As a racer myself, I had full appreciation of having somebody get my gear at some of my races. It was nice to experience it from this side. Sherpa is not glamorous at all, but carries weight beyond understanding.

All the bags!
Loaded and ready!

I made it back to the car, polished off a second brew and packed both bikes and gear from the day in the car. I was finally able to get on a new set of clothes that were dry! It was refreshing to change clothes, get off my feet for a little while. I really enjoyed the serenity of being at the car along the river. The air was heavy with dampness. Airplanes were landing over downtown. They felt so low that I could reach up and grab them, even though I could not see them.

Having all of the gear stowed, I headed to the finish area with a light pack and felt like a new man!

Everything is in!

After a quick appetizer at a restaurant, Gary, Abbie and I found our places along the finish chute. They chose a spot up the chute. I chose a spot right next to the arch. I asked two people if I could have their space until my racer came through, then they could have their spot back and they could see their racer finish. They were happy to share and I appreciated it very much.

For the next 20 minutes or so, it was loud and I could not hear much other than the normal sound of an IRONMAN finish line. It was electric! People were banging on the boards, screaming, yelling, the excitement was brilliant!

Nothing compares!

I have been fortunate to run through and spectate at multiple IRONMAN events. The finish chute at LOU is right there with other races I have attended. After Kecia finished, we all gathered and made sure she was able to recover properly. We were all very tired, but that is the IRONMAN!

All the steps!

I had a wonderful day as spectator and Sherpa. It gave me new respect for those who choose that role over racing. Without a doubt, racing the IRONMAN is easier than spectating. When racing, you have one job- keep moving forward towards the finish.

Until IMLOU, Kecia and I have raced the very same IRONMAN races. We have always had somebody else pick up our gear and be at our aide. I was somewhat nervous about the experience, but it worked out just fine.

At IMLOU, the racers had to be mentally strong, maybe their strongest ever. I have no idea how many of them finished. I have no idea how Kecia finished. In the end, finishing the race is not about the finish time; what we learn along the way shapes us and makes us better.

I regret nothing about not racing the IRONMAN in 2018. After the 2017 season, I committed to not doing one in 2018 and I stuck to it. I am thankful for the off-season that lies ahead, but also optimistic for the training next season. We signed up for IRONMAN Lake Placid on July 28, 2019. We already have our lodging secured in Lake Placid for 2 weeks around the race. See you there!