the best of 2021

I love looking back and thinking about all of the amazing things that I’ve accomplished and all of the challenges I’ve overcome! I’ve reflected for the last 8 years and now it’s time to reflect on 2021! You can look back at my previous posts if you’d like: the Best of 2013, the Best of 2014, the Best of 2015, the Best of 2016, the Best of 2017, the Best of 2018, the Best of 2019, and the Best of 2020. Now its time to reminisce my favs from 2021! 🙂

Best race experience?

The Ironman 70.3 World Championship isn’t the “best race experience” because it was easy and everything went according to plan on race day (wait…does that ever happen?!). Nope! It was the “best race experience” because it challenged me in ways I’ve NEVER been challenged before. The challenging terrain + Mother Nature’s crazy attitude forced us to “rise to it” on race day like I’ve never had to do before. It was definitely a race to remember! If you missed the recap of this epic race, this is one you definitely want to catch up on! Here is the link. Sit back and enjoy what can only be described as crazy! ***Secretly I want to do it all again with the same conditions, on the same course. 🤪

📸 Finisher Pix

Best race performance?

I was  R E A D Y  for Ironman Arizona! I was  R E A D Y  to toe the start line. I was  R E A D Y  to challenge myself. I was  R E A D Y  to put it all together and create a performance I had never had before. And that is
E X A C T L Y  what I did! I created an experience I’ve never had and it was  A M A Z I N G! I had an overall PR of 52 minutes, finishing in 12:44:56. #LFG
⚡️⚡️⚡️

Sure, this was my best Ironman performance physically, but it was also my best Ironman performance from my mental endurance performance and that is what I’m the most damn proud of! ⚡️⚡️⚡️

I was SO DAMN PROUD to have created a shiny new PR by 52 minutes! ⚡️

I’m grateful for the privilege to race, for the privilege to challenge myself in new ways, for the privilege to run down another red carpet, and for the privilege to cross another finish line! ⚡️⚡️⚡️

Best run?

The Drake 1/2 Marathon was one where I completely pushed myself out of my comfort zone and RACED! I had no idea if this would be my last race of the year (hello Covid) and I was not going to leave anything out on the course just in case things went backwards. Crossing that finish line brought tears to my eyes! Full race recap here.

Squeee!! I GOT to cross a start line and a finish line of an IRL race!!

Best bike?

I had a lot of great bike rides this year, but the ones that speak to me as being the “best” from 2021 were the last two century+ bike rides that I did in preparation for IMAZ. The temps had dropped, the winds were high, and I had to bundle up in all of the gear to stay warm. I almost took these rides to the trainer, but I’m SO glad I opted to ride outside instead. These rides gave me a great mental boost (as well as physical boost) going into Ironman Arizona!


Decide…I decided 100+ miles on the bike (+ 1 hour run off the bike) was going to be AMAZING! I was determined to keep a positive attitude, be gritty, and to persevere! I wasn’t going to let Mother Nature win. She tried to push me around a bit (hello wind), but I won this round!

I GET to do this! So much gratitude for the strength of my body + mind, the support from my #1, my safety on the open roads, the beautiful fall day, and the gorgeous fall foliage.

Best swim?

We FINALLY made it home home to visit my parents last summer (it had been nearly 2 years since we were last home…hello Covid). Thank you vaccines! When we were home, Dad drove the boat beside us (on more than one occasion) so we could swim a 5K in West Okoboji Lake. Getting to swim in the open water, see the bottom of the lake while swimming (because the water is so clear), and having my #1 beside me was amazing! Having Dad’s support was icing on the cake!

Seize the opportunity!

Best finish line?

Twin Lakes Sprint Triathlon when I took the overall female win! I never imagined myself breaking the tape at any race. I’m sooo thrilled to have had such an awesome experience! Here is the link for my race recap.

GETTING to break the tape as I take 1st overall female! ⚡️⚡️⚡️

Best surprise?

Getting a roll down slot to Ironman 70.3 World Championships in St. George, Utah was the best surprise of the year! I was shocked when I got the email that I had earned a roll down slot from racing Ironman 70.3 Des Moines. I had a great race in Des Moines in spite of the nearly 3 hour weather delay + shortened bike, but my performance didn’t put me in the top 14 in my age group (which is how many slots were awarded), so I didn’t expect to get a slot. Thankfully some ladies who were faster than me had either already qualified at a different race or didn’t want to go to Worlds, so I got a slot and it was quite the epic adventure!

WUT?! I got a roll down slot to Ironman 70.3 World Championships! #soexcited

Best mental endurance compass?

I had the AMAZING opportunity and pleasure to work with Vanessa Faye Foerster for 24 weeks this year. She teaches athletes how to build mental endurance by “dropping the self doubt + fueling the self confidence.” The journey she helped me create this year was challenging, enlightening, fun, and worth every penny! What I have learned has not only boosted my racing performance, but it has also elevated my personal life. I am so grateful for her guidance to push me out of my comfort zone to level up into the zone where I cultivate the life I want to live. #LFG ⚡️

This amazing, beautiful human helped me transform my self belief from superficial belief to belief down to my core. ⚡️ THANK YOU VANESSA! ❤️

Best enCOEURaging moment?

The Ames Triathlon was back in action this year after a year off (thank you Covid). What a great race! It is so fun to see people achieve their goals and do things they once thought were impossible. If you want to experience the Ames Triathlon for yourself, come to Ames in June 2022! You won’t be disappointed!

Who’s ready to race?! We are ready to get this party started! Photo credit: Dave Mable

Best new gear?

The Coeur Sports Wind Vest has been AMAZING for getting outside and riding on those chilly fall days! Signing up for an Ironman that took place in November meant I had to bundle up to get my 100 mile rides done outside…because let’s be honest…riding 100 miles in the basement is definitely not as much fun as riding outside!

110+ miles is a long time to be in your own head. Good thing I know the words to a lot of songs or make up my own words and can sing at the top of my lungs because Mother Nature doesn’t care what I sound like! 🤣🤪

Seriously though…this wind vest is AMAZING! It kept me warm while allowing me to carry all the nutrition, and has reflective strips on it for better visibility.

Best way to stay healthy?

Get vaccinated! The end (no comments on this necessary…I will delete them).

I’m boosted! #getvaccinated (not up for debate…I’ll delete your comments)

Best piece of racing advice you received?

“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 in her book “Swimming to Antarctica”

Most inspirational athlete?

Chris Nikic crossed the Ironman Florida finish line in November of 2020 becoming the first person with Down Syndrome to become an Ironman. He believes you can achieve more by creating a habit to get 1% better than you were yesterday. He has since crossed the finish line of the Boston Marathon and the New York City Marathon. He is gearing up for the Ironman World Championships in Kona in 2022, so let’s all cheer him on!

Best support crew?

I am so damn lucky to have the amazing support of my #1! He has supported me not only on race day(s), but day in and day out throughout my entire journey. I am forever grateful to have him on this journey with me. ❤️ you!

My #1! SO grateful for you! ❤️ you!

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

PROUD + gratitude + fun + joy

Tell me about your 2021 year!! What are your “bests” from 2021?!

ready + create

“You are READY, trust the work you have done!”

~Ironman Arizona Team

Cliff Notes Version: I GOT to race Ironman Arizona on Sunday, November 21! 💙💛

  • I was SO ready to create an experience I had never had before, and that is EXACTLY what I did!
  • this is a one transition race
  • ALL gear (bike, bike bag/gear, run bag/gear) was dropped off on Friday
  • the water temp was 64.2F on race morning (wetsuit legal race…I wore my Roka Maverick Pro II Wetsuit)
  • there were no pro athletes at this race, so age group athletes started at 6:45 am
  • the swim start was a self seeded based on expected swim time finish with 5 athletes sent off every 4 seconds
  • the swim was one big loop with very choppy water, but I focused on my effort
  • there was a lot of talk about the swim buoys being difficult to see due to swimming directly into the sunrise, but it was a cloudy morning so we weren’t swimming into direct sunlight
  • I created an Ironman swim PR
  • there were wetsuit strippers
  • there were a few volunteers to help change in T1
  • the bike course was 3 loops
  • there was a strong headwind climbing out of town on the Beeline Highway to the turnaround, which meant an amazing tailwind on the descent to town
  • there were three water/aid stations on each loop of the bike course
  • I created an Ironman bike PR
  • there were a few volunteers to help change in T2
  • the run course was 3 loops
  • there were aid stations on the run nearly every mile with water, gatorade, gels, ice, bananas, grapes, Coke, Red Bull, etc.
  • they brought chicken broth out during my last loop in the run
  • I missed an Ironman run PR by less than 6 minutes
  • I created a 52 minute overall Ironman PR
I was R E A D Y to toe the start line. I was R E A D Y to challenge myself. I was R E A D Y to put it all together and create a performance I had never had before. And that is E X A C T L Y what I did! I created an experience I’ve never had and it was A M A Z I N G! I had an overall PR of 52 minutes, finishing in 12:44:56. #LFG ⚡️⚡️⚡️

I’m grateful for the privilege to race, for the privilege to challenge myself in new ways, for the privilege to run down another red carpet, and for the privilege to cross another finish line!

Longer Version: I GOT to race Ironman Arizona on Sunday, November 21 in Tempe, Arizona! 💙💛

The alarm went off at 3:30 am. After doing all of my morning rituals and consuming my breakfast smoothie, we made our way to the transition area (we drove to the parking garage closest to transition). There was an amazing spectator willing to tote all of my stuff to transition for me in his wagon so that I didn’t have to carry it from the parking garage to transition. Thank you random stranger! When I got to the transition area, it wasn’t open quite yet, so I walked my run special needs and bike special needs bags over to the designated drop off area before making my way back to the transition area. I put bike and run nutrition in each of my gear bags that I would pick up in T1 and T2, emptied my bladder, aired up Mojo’s tires, loaded Mojo with my bike bottles, lubed up her chain, helped a friend from back home do the same to his bike, squeezed another friend from back home, and exited the transition area. I got love from random puppies, ate my Skratch bar at 5:45, donned my Roka Maverick Pro II Wetsuit, took in a gel at 6:15, and made my way to the swim start. As I lined up behind the sign for 1:15-1:20 swim time, I found my friend Lil. It was so great to see her, squeeze her, and chat with her before starting our day.

Swim: (1:16:14 for 2.4 miles at 1:58/100 m average pace…22/89 F40-44, 100/480 F, 510/1928 overall)

I eased into the swim by remaining calm and focused on my strokes + breathing… “1, 2, breathe…1, 2, breathe…1, 2, breathe.” At the first turn buoy I kicked the effort up a few notches and found my groove. The water was a bit choppy, but gratitude moment: thankfully choppy water isn’t a problem for me. As we swam along the back of the course, we were supposed to be swimming into direct sunlight due to the sunrise, but gratitude moment: yay for a pretty cloudy morning, so there wasn’t much sun shining in our eyes to make sighting the buoys extra difficult. I spent the majority of the swim staying in the moment, playing chase, having fun, and focusing on my effort. My effort was right where I wanted it to be, which allowed me to create a swim PR! ⚡️

Who had fun during that swim?! THIS GIRL!!! ⚡️
📸 credit: Finisher Pix

T1: (8:13)

It was a little bit of a jog from the swim exit to T1, but when I got to the change tent with my T1 bag, I quickly started to get my 4 peanut butter Oreos down the hatch, changed into my bike shoes, donned my helmet + sunnies, and ran to grab Mojo.

Oh yeah! I created that swim PR! ⚡️
📸 credit: Erika or my #1 (I don’t really know who snapped this one)

Bike: (6:18:11 for 112 miles at 17.8 mph average speed…23/89 F40-44, 116/480 F, 739/1928 overall)

The three loop bike course gave us the perfect amount of challenge + fun! We got the challenge of climbing into the headwind on the way out of town, but once we reached the turn around, we got to rocket back to town thanks to the descent and tailwind…SO FUN!

During the first loop, I settled into the ride while taking in all of the scenery, noticing landmarks I could use to get me through the 18+ mile stretch to the turnaround, and fueling + hydrating like it was my job…because let’s be honest…it was my job on this day! Cheers to and from Vanessa as we went in opposite directions! Once I made it to the turnaround on the first loop, I had so much fun rocketing back to town. Sure, the road surfaces were a little bumpy, but the descent + tailwind were AMAZING!!

In my element + taking it all in! ⚡️
📸 credit: Finisher Pix

As I cruised back into town, I saw Dad and Aunt Patty out on the bike course. They convinced a group of random strangers to cheer for me. It was a great boost of energy in that moment! At the turnaround in town, I was greeted by cheers from my #1, my good friend Erika, and OJ. So much gratitude for my support crew!

Getting some cheers from OJ! ⚡️
📸 credit: my #1

Here we go…lap two! Wait a minute…where did this wind come from? I thought the winds were supposed to be less than 10 mph all day…that’s clearly not the case. Oh well…gratitude moment: good thing I’ve done this before and train in headwind all the time in Iowa! This is my kind of challenge! As I got to the Beeline Highway, I focused on getting to the next landmark to get me to the turnaround (it’s only 4 miles to the Gilbert Road, it’s only 4 miles to the mountain, it’s only 2 miles to the turnaround). I played chase and commented to other athletes I passed (and athletes who passed me), “it’s a good thing there isn’t any headwind today!” They didn’t think I was funny. 🤪 I sang songs out loud: “I feel good,” “Life is a highway,” “This girl is on fire,” and “I won’t back down”…sorry to those athletes who heard me and wondered where that screeching was coming from! 🤪 Cheers to and from Leslie as we were going in opposite directions…I’m going to try and catch her! And just like that, we were at the turnaround! Cheers to Lil as we were going in opposite directions. Gratitude moment: AWWWW YEAH! That tailwind + descent is AWESOME! LFG! ⚡️

I saw Dad and Patty on my way back into town and then saw my #1, Erika, and OJ at the turnaround in town, but this time they were joined by our good friends Jeff and Deb. Oh the cheers! Thanks support crew!

LFG! ⚡️
📸 credit: Finisher Pix

Here we go…last lap! I caught up with Leslie on my way out to the Beeline Highway. We chatted for a bit and then we each continued on our separate ways to the turnaround. The wind hadn’t died down, so I again focused on making it to one landmark at a time while singing, smiling, and enjoying every minute of this ride. As I rounded the cone at the turnaround, I thanked the volunteers and put the hammer down all the way back to town. Oh…and that last loop was faster than loop #2. BOOM! ⚡️

I spent the majority of the bike staying in the moment, playing chase, and focusing on my effort. My effort and focus were right where I wanted them to be. I rolled into transition creating a bike PR by almost 30 minutes. ⚡️

I had SO MUCH FUN on this bike course! ⚡️
📸 credit: Finisher Pix

T2: (4:59)

An amazing volunteer took Mojo from me as I dismounted. I grabbed my T2 bag and made my way into the change tent. As I was changing my shoes, the Women’s Change Captain was talking to me saying how I looked familiar. I told her I was the Women’s Change Captain at Ironman Wisconsin and we worked together this year as she was a co-captain for gear bags in Wisconsin. I thanked Joanna as she took my bag while I set out for the run, but not before a quick stop to empty my bladder (boy did I have to pee 🤪).

Here we go! Time to run!
📸 credit: my #1

Run: (4:57:21 for 26.2 miles at 11:21/mile average pace…30/89 F40-44, 163/480 F, 734/1928 overall)

My goal was to hold back at the start of the run and keep a solid + strong effort throughout the entire run while only walking through aid stations to ensure proper fueling and hydration. In all of my Ironman races in the past, I have started out too fast causing lots of walking in later parts of the marathon. This time I wanted to make sure I wasn’t burning too many candles at the start of my run so that I had candles to burn in the later parts of the marathon. I saw my #1 and Erika immediately after I exited transition and set out on the run. They let me know I had a massive PR on the bike and asked how I was feeling for the run. And guess what?! I was feeling AMAZING!! This is what I had trained for! This is where the fun begins!

Running strong and feeling good! ⚡️
📸 credit: Finisher Pix

The run course was also a 3 loop course, which was awesome because we got to see spectators so many times! During the first loop, I kept my pace steady and focused on the mile I was in. I continually asked myself, “how is my effort?” so that I wasn’t pushing too hard early on. I took in my nutrition and hydration as planned. I saw Dad and Patty at about mile 3 and then saw my #1 and Erika between miles 5 and 6 twice. As I made my way to mile 7, I felt my stomach gurgling, so I made a quick Kybo stop to 💩 and headed on my way back around the lake to start loop #2.

Gratitude moment: my first two loops of the run were before the sun went down! ⚡️
📸 credit: Finisher Pix

As I made it back to the transition area to start loop 2, I again saw my #1 and Erika. They cheered me on and gave me updates for where I was against my competitors. I was still feeling really good and keeping a steady pace. My stomach felt extremely full; I kind of wanted to vomit so that I wouldn’t have a sloshy stomach, but apparently my body wanted to hold on to all that liquid. At about mile 10.5, I saw OJ for the first time and she was FULL of cheers! She asked how I was doing and I told her I was keeping a steady pace + constantly checking in with “how is my effort?” to remind myself to not burn too many candles. I continued to hydrate and fuel according to plan which helped me stay strong and energized. I saw Dad and Patty again at about mile 12 and then crossed over to the other side of Tempe Town Lake where OJ was like “Where’s Waldo” out on the course. She had her bike, so she was able to bounce all over the place cheering me on and keeping me motivated. I again saw my #1 and Erika around mile 14 and then saw OJ again before heading back around to the other side of the lake to start loop #3.

Surprise! OJ found me! 🤪
📸 credit: OJ

I saw my #1 and Erika near the transition area. They asked how I was feeling (the answer…GREAT!) and told me they would see me at the finish as they were going to get my bike + gear and take it to the car so we wouldn’t have to do it after the race. I thanked them and powered on. OJ continued to bounce around the course cheering me on, which I really appreciated. At about mile 18, my body decided it was done with gels, so I switched to eating grapes at the aid stations. I still had plenty of energy and was feeling strong, just couldn’t choke down one more gel. As I made my way to the other side of the lake for the last time, I was surprised to see my #1 and Erika at about mile 23. Tim told me he would give me an update on where I was against my competitors when I crossed the timing mat and came back to them, but I told him I didn’t want one. I was in such a good mental space that I didn’t want to fracture that in any way by adding pressure to myself knowing where I was against other women in my age group. I just wanted to continue to love this race and enjoy every moment of it!

Creating the day of my dreams! ⚡️
📸 credit: Finisher Pix

I was overcome with gratitude for having such an amazing race from start to finish as I made my way back around the lake toward the finish line! For the first time ever, I executed my run goal perfectly! I had SO much support out on the run course, which made it extremely easy to stay in the present mile and tick off each mile one at a time. While my pace slowed a bit during the 2nd and 3rd loops, my effort was still as high as it had been throughout the swim and the bike. I created a run performance I had only dreamed of and finished just about 6 minutes short of a run PR. ⚡️

Overall: (12:44:56…23/89 F40-44, 117/480 F, 622/1928 overall)

Lots of emotions! ⚡️
📸 credit: Finisher Pix

As I ran down the red carpet into the spotlights with the cheers of family, friends, and random strangers surrounding me, I was full of emotions. I had created a race experience that fell together like nothing I had experienced before and it was MAGICAL! I had created the race experience of my dreams! I was SO F’ING PROUD as I crossed that finish line in 12:44:56 creating a shiny new PR by 52 minutes! ⚡️

I was SO DAMN PROUD to have created a shiny new PR by 52 minutes! ⚡️
📸 credit: Finisher Pix

Gear: Coeur Sports triathlon shorts, Coeur Sports sports bra, Coeur Sports aero top, Roka X-1 Goggles, Roka Maverick Pro II Wetsuit, Specialized Transition tri bike, Specialized S-works Evade helmet, Specialized Torch 2.0 Road Shoes, Coeur Sports visor, Newton Kismet running shoes, Roka SL-1X sunnies, Orange Mud hand held water bottle

2021 week 6: brain freeze

It’s a good thing that last week was a recovery week because it was SO FREAKING COLD that it was easy to get brain freeze most days simply by stepping foot outside! It was just the step back week I needed before training officially kicked off for Ironman Arizona today. Wednesday was the warmest day of the week with a high temperature of 9*F (-3*F windchill)…which felt balmy. Sunday was our coldest day of the week with a high temperature of -7*F (-32 *F windchill). Sadly this meant we weren’t outside much last week. We have a few more days of bitterly cold temps this week before it warms back up to the 20s for the weekend.

Quote of the week:

“Baby it’s cold outside!”

~Unknown

Swim: 1500 yards

Friday was our weekly happy hour/roll the dice swim. We take a couple of dice with us to the pool deck and after a bit of a warm up, we each roll a dice. One dice tells us the number of lengths of the pool (you could change this to 50s or 100s if you wanted) and the second dice tells us how many reps of that we are to do. Then we talk briefly how we want to pace that particular set. It is a fun way to wrap up the work week and get some yardage in without a structured workout!

Gambling with the likelihood that we will have frozen hair when we walk outside post swim due to the -25*F windchill temps.

Bike: 0 miles

I opted for a bit of a break from cycling this week as I want to be nice and rested for the start of my training plan for Ironman Arizona.

Run: 13.5 miles

BRRRRR!! Wednesday was our warmest day of the week (actually the warmest day in just over a 2 week stretch), so I put on ALL THE LAYERS to run outside and IT WAS AWESOME!! I’m so glad I got to run outside in the fresh air…even if it was frigid air…it was invigorating!

It’s a good thing I decided to run 9 miles for the actual temperature (9*F) instead of the feel like/windchill temperature (-3*F) because I’m not sure I could run backwards for 3 miles. 🤣🤣🤣

Strength Training: 15 minutes of core strength daily
30 minute full body workout
30 minutes of yoga

Weekly Totals: 5 hours & 11 minutes

Attitude of Gratitude:

These two snuggle bugs make my heart happy!
Snuggles with our baby girl on frigid days are the best!
“Ready to go outside and help mom and dad shovel snow in -25*F windchill temps! Good thing we weren’t out there very long.” ~Jersey
We made LOTS of homemade soup to put in the freezer!
Mmmmm!! Sushi!!

Hopefully you have warmer temperatures than we’ve had/we are having!! What were your highlights from week 6 of 2021?!

the bubble that popped

I signed up for Ironman Mont Tremblant 2020 with the dream and vision that I would be able to race IMMT feeling ALIVE after breaking free from the chains of my past. This would be my opportunity to celebrate all that I had overcome. I envisioned completing this race more for fun + joy as I celebrated all that I had overcome and all of the growth I had made in my personal life. This time around, I was not going to use Ironman as a coping mechanism and avoidance technique for all of the baggage I carried from my childhood trauma. I was going to race free!

Well, Covid popped that bubble. North America started to see Covid cases. Canada shut down its border to the US. Ironman Mont Tremblant cancelled the 2020 event. I deferred my registration to race IMMT in 2021. And then in November, Ironman Mont Tremblant offered me a refund. Not knowing when the Canada/US border would reopen, I decided to take the refund. I will not be racing Ironman Mont Tremblant in 2021…that is the bubble that popped.

While I’m sad I won’t be racing in Mont Tremblant in 2021, I am super excited for my dreams and vision to be put into a new bubble as I head to the desert in 2021! I choose to dream BIG…not just safe, but BIG! I choose to acknowledge my fears and move through them! I choose courage over comfort! I choose to chase my dreams with intention! I choose to grow into my best self! I choose Ironman Arizona in November 2021!

I’m hoping that by November of 2021 we will be in a place where racing is happening again! SOOOO…I signed up to play in the desert!