How is it possible that 2018 is in the rearview mirror?! December was a fun month full of great things!! Here is a small snapshot of what I was up to last month!!
Swim: 22,600 yards (12.84 miles)
Bike: 221 miles
Run: 56.5 miles
Monthly Totals: 39 hours & 14 minutes
The Coeur SportsEarSplitz Podcast featured Lesley Paterson and Simon Marshall this month as they talk about Mindset!! This was SO insightful on how we can let our mind drive us or derail us…it is our choice!! “We chat with Lesley Paterson and Simon Marshall about mindset in depth. How do we find ways to defeat ourselves? How can we achieve what we didn’t think was possible? Learn how you can use acting techniques to make things work even when they shouldn’t. BTW, did we mention Lesley is this year’s Xterra World Champion? And Simon is a PhD in psychology?”
KonaKamps featured Mindy Nicolet who won the W40-44 age group at Ironman Louisville. It was fun to hear her perspective as I also raced this event and am in the same age group. I was glad to know that the conditions were challenging even for the winners.
KonaKamps also featured Sanna Duvebrant who won the W50-54 age group at Ironman Louisville. Since she is from Sweden and used to colder weather, it was good to get her perspective on the race day conditions and know that they really were as bad as I thought!!
Finding Ultra: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming one of the World’s Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself by Rich Roll is a must read!! “On the night before he was to turn forty, Rich Roll experienced a chilling glimpse of his future. Nearly fifty pounds overweight and unable to climb the stairs without stopping, he could see where his current sedentary life was taking him—and he woke up.” Following Rich’s journey was inspiring, uplifting, and fun!! Not only what he has accomplished to live life to the fullest, but the message he sends.
“Let go of the end game. Instead, fall in love with the process. Show up for life with enthusiasm and commitment. Connect with spirit. Wrestle with your soul and relish every hardship. Along the way, be patient. Go gently. And give freely of yourself to others. Because it’s the journey that truly gives your path meaning. And there truly is no destination.”
Time with family, friends, and Coeur Sports sisters!! So much love to fill my hear this time of year!!
2019!! Each year is a new chapter in my journey of life and I’m super excited to see what 2019 has in store for me!! Who else is excited + ready for 2019?!
How was your month of December?! What were you grateful for last month?! What are you excited about?!
2018 was an amazing year focused around “courage over comfort” and it served me well throughout the year!!
With the start of the New Year, so many people set New Year’s Resolutions. I prefer to set intentions instead of resolutions. I feel like resolutions set me up for failure the moment my train gets derailed, whereas intentions make me more mindful + allow for success by not being so finite.
Only about 8% of people who make New Year’s resolutions keep them throughout the year, which might be why I view resolutions as negative and personally don’t make them. In the last couple of weeks, I have had so many words and phrases speak to me, so I “tried them on” to see which one(s) really fit. Which one(s) clutched at my heart strings?! Which one(s) will motivate me the most to do and be my best self in 2019?! I swam with them, biked with them, ran with them, listened to them at home, listened to them at work, rolled them around, sat still with them in chaos, rested in silence with them, and would just BE with them.
The conversation started with “don’t settle.” Don’t settle in sport, at work, at home, in life. I LOVE how this speaks to me, but do find it a bit negative since it starts with “don’t.” Next up “uncaged” and “uncage your inner beast.” This spoke volumes to me and continues to do so from time to time! It is time to break free from the cage that surrounds me, but it still didn’t feel quite right. “Uncage the magic” came next. YES!! When you step outside of your comfort zone, this is where the magic happens!! While I LOVE this, I decided it was a better mantra for 2019 than an action word to really focus in on, so the search continued. During some intense bike intervals, phrases from songs spoke to me…”don’t backdown,” “full throttle,” “unstoppable,” “unshakeable,” “fight,”and “dig deeper.” While these all spoke to me during my workout, none of them spoke to me in ALL aspects of my life, so I kept searching. Thanks to the help of Ruth, she suggested “commit,” “execute,” and “choose.” I tried these on for size and they just weren’t the fit I was looking for. I thought about Ironman Ohio 70.3 and Ironman Louisville. Both of these races had their own unique challenges, but “explore” served me well in both races…so I tried it on in sport, at work, at home, and in life. Not only did it fit just right, but it is positive and motivates me! So, without further adieu…
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
Running with Steena at Ironman Ohio 70.3!! She ran stride for stride with me, pushing me to a 70.3 PR!! #sub6orbust
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! ❤
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!!
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!!
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!!
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!!
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!!
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!!
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”
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!!
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?!
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!
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.
What have I done to better align my actions with my goals this year?
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.
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.
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!!
I eat healthy!! I stick with whole foods as much as possible and save indulgences for rare occasions!! 🙂
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
#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
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.
#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?!
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!!
Swim: 14,359 yards (8.16 miles)
Bike: 172 miles
Run: 47.6 miles
Monthly Totals: 27 hours & 21 minutes
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
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.”
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!!
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!!
How was your month of October?! What were you grateful for last month?!
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.
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.
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!”
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
“Of course we all have our limits, but how can you possibly find your boundaries unless you EXPLORE as far and as wide as you possibly can? I would rather fail in an attempt at something new and uncharted than safely succeed in a repeat of something I have done.” ~Ericka Hachmeister
Each race tells a story and gives lessons about triathlon and life. Ironman Louisville was definitely NOT a repeat of something I have ever done and was quite the story with so many lessons learned! Sit back with your favorite beverage and enjoy what was the absolute toughest day I’ve ever had! It is quite the lengthy account of my day, so if you want the short version, you’ll miss out on so much, but just scroll to “Overall” at the bottom of the post.
On race morning, I woke to rain, air temperatures of 40*F, and higher winds than I what were predicted. I ate my muesli, drank my Karma Kombucha, and read my pre-race paragraph from “Swimming to Antarctica” by Lynne Cox before putting on my race gear and heading out the door.
“Be calm; focus on what you are doing 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.”
Once we parked the car, we hung out in the warm, dry environment for about 30 extra minutes before venturing out in the cold rain + wind. During this time, I decided to weasel my way into my wetsuit inside of the car. If you’ve ever tried to put on a wetsuit when you are wet, it is NOT easy!! It wasn’t exactly “easy” weaseling my way into my wetsuit in the front car seat either…
After putting on my wetsuit, it was time to make my way down to transition to put my bike bottles on my bike, reduce my tire pressure a bit (thanks to the wet roads), get body marked (thankfully this was under a bridge so I could get my wetsuit back on easily), and then head down to the swim start.
It was a 0.9 mile walk from transition to the swim start. During this time, I drank one bottle of my Infinit bike nutrition to get some extra calories in before the swim. Once at the swim start, I lined up behind the 1:10-1:20 sign as I anticipated a 1:12-1:15 swim time for my 2.4 mile swim. As we waited for the swim start, my feet started to freeze and I really had to pee. Since it was still raining, I decided let it flow and guess what?!?! IT WARMED MY TOES!! This would later prove to be a great decision as the amount of time we were to stand and wait was extended from about 30 minutes to more than an hour. At 7:2o am, they let the pro men into the water for a practice swim. This was when the race director realized the swim course was going to have to be shortened because the pro men could not swim upstream due to the strong current. This meant that the race start would be pushed back by at least 35 minutes. Once the age group athletes got word that we were now only swimming 0.9 miles downstream and wouldn’t be starting until 8:10 (instead of the 7:35 am scheduled start time), the buzz + hype started. Athletes were upset that they wouldn’t be doing the full Ironman distance. Athletes said things like, “If Ironman’s mantra is ‘Anything is possible,’ then they should allow us to try the full swim.” I could have easily allowed myself to get sucked into all of the buzz and drama that was going on, but instead reminded myself that even though I’d trained for the 2.4 mile swim, it was time to accept the change and focus on getting to the run. Yes, I knew that a 112 mile bike stood between the swim and the run, but with the adverse conditions, my goal was to get to the run.
As we made our way to the docks, I joked with Dave Kappas (the race announcer since Mike Reilly was in Kona) about floating on our backs down river with a pool floaty and a cup holder for an exotic drink. As we slowly made our way down to the docks, the chatter continued, my feet became numb, and the anxiety of spending the rest of my day cold + wet built.
Finally it was my turn to jump off of the dock and into the water. Before jumping into the water, we were told there were 6 buoys we should keep on our left (in other words, stay to the right of the buoys and to the left of the kayakers). As I jumped into the water, the 69*F water temperature felt SO WARM!! Ahhh…finally my feet would warm up!! I saw the 1st buoy and kept it to my left, but as I was approaching the 2nd buoy, I realized it was no longer attached to the anchor at the bottom of the Ohio River. Instead, it was drifting downstream and toward the center of the river (it kept moving right), so I decided to try to hold my line. The kayakers were yelling at us telling us to go to the right of the buoy. I stopped swimming just long enough to tell them the buoy was not attached and was floating away. A couple of them took off after the buoy and others just kept shouting at us trying to tell us where to go as the next buoy had also previously been separated from the anchor. Others were trying to keep us to the right of the bridge pillar as all kinds of logs and debris had built up between the pillar and the shore. They didn’t want us swimming into a log jam. Thank you volunteers!! Trying to hear what people are shouting at you with your head in the water is nearly impossible, so I did my best to hold my line and keep swimming. I swam past one gentleman floating on his back taking advantage of the strong current in the water. As I continued to swim, I realized that only 3 of the 6 buoys we were supposed to swim to the right of were actually properly placed for us to swim past. The other 3 buoys had to be captured and hauled to shore by kayakers because they became detached from the anchors. As I approached the swim exit, more kayakers were shouting. I briefly stopped swimming so that I could hear what they were shouting. “Don’t overshoot the swim exit!”Apparently people had overshot the swim exit and kayakers had to haul them back upstream because the current was too strong for them to swim back upstream to the swim exit that they’d missed. I continued on and as I was within 100 yards from the swim exit, the smell of sewer drifted over us. I SERIOUSLY thought I was going to puke in the river! It was ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTING! While it was still raining and cold, I was very glad to have the first part of the day behind me.
I quickly pulled down my wetsuit and had a couple of amazing volunteers strip it off of me before running my way into the transition area to bundle up before heading out on the bike.
The day before I had put on my race gear, took a cold shower, and went out on the bike in 38*F air temperature to test if my race gear would be warm enough. Brrrr!! Through this test, I had a really good idea of what to wear on the bike though!! I stepped into my aero top, tugged on two pair of arm warmers, slipped my toes into plastic bags, pulled my socks on overtop, slid my feet into my shoes, grabbed my extra Infinit bike nutrition and shoved it in my aero top, donned my helmet and clear goggles as I ran to my bike. As I exited T1, I saw my Coeur Sports teammate Lia cheering me on! Thanks Lia!
Bike: 7:03:05 for 112 miles (15.88 mph); 41/113 W40-44; 244/601 W; 1196/2034 Overall
As I started rolling out of town, I was cold (42*F), wet, and I decided to ride on feel alone. This was not going to be a “normal” 112 mile Ironman bike ride, so trying to maintain my prescribed watts with wet roads and wet brakes went out the window in the first mile.
The headwind was strong. Not as strong as I’m used to when riding on the open roads in central Iowa, but stronger than the 5-10 mph that The Weather Channel said it should be. Combining that with the cold and wet conditions, just poured salt in the wound. “Just put your head down and get to LaGrange so you can see Tim, Dad, and Abbie! EXPLORE!”
As I turned onto the loop, I saw a few athletes standing on the side of the road with their bikes leaned up against a fence. They were SO cold that they were shivering uncontrollably. I told them they should get on their bikes and keep moving to try to stay warm, but they said they were waiting for the sag vehicle to come and pick them up. They had decided that their day was done. I rode on. OMG…my feet are so cold that they are numb!! I really have to pee…I’ve never peed on the bike before…maybe I should try on the next downhill. Ahhh…that feels SO GOOD!! OH and my feet are warm!! I may have to do this more often!! Well that didn’t last…cold feet again. UGH!! Shortly after this point, I saw Tim as I was climbing up the hill into LaGrange. He was cheering for me (and all of the other athletes), ringing the cowbell, and encouraging us to keep going. He told me Dad and Abbie were up ahead. After passing him, I started crying. “This is SO HARD!! STOP IT!! You have done harder things!! EXPLORE!!” (lie #1 to myself) I pedaled on through the hot corner in LaGrange with a smile on my face as random strangers cheered me on. I completely missed seeing Dad and Abbie on that first loop. After leaving town, it became pretty desolate. There were only a couple of places where spectators were out on the course cheering us on, but not many. Thankfully when I turned left, I was blocked by a wall of trees and I had a break from the wind. Who cares if I have to climb a hill or two?!?! I don’t!! I love climbing!! I’m just happy to have a temporary reprieve from the rain and wind (don’t worry…it didn’t last)!!
And then the rain and drizzle started back up and I passed a sign on the side of the road that said, “Mother Nature is a whore!” I smiled and nodded. Yep! “Mother Nature, why do you hate us?!?! STOP CRYING! I feel AMAZING! EXPLORE!” (lie #2 to myself) Oh…time to warm up the feet again! That feels so good! Just get back to Tim, Dad, and Abbie!! Keep pedaling!! UGH…my feet are frozen again! Grandma’s hill…check! Pee on the bike…check! Guys in speedos cheering us on the rain…check! Pee on the bike…check! Road sign that says “Louisville 33″…check! “Why can’t I have only 33 miles back to Louisville?!?! STOP!! I feel good, I knew that I would, now! I feel good, I knew that I would, now! So good, so good, I got you!” (as I sang James Brown out loud…lie #3 to myself) Just get back to Tim, Dad, and Abbie!! Here is the split…I REALLY wish I were going back into town instead of starting the loop again! EXPLORE! Here we go again! Warm those feet up again momentarily…check! Oh…here is LaGrange! Bike special needs pit stop…swap out the bottles and move on…check! Just keep pedaling to Tim, Dad, and Abbie! Oh look…
Ok…Here we go again!! One more loop!! Just finish the bike and get to the run!! There are those random strangers cheering me on at the hot corner in LaGrange!! Thank you for still being out here. Finally I get to turn left again to enjoy the area without wind!! Let’s climb some more!!
Thankfully I get to descend and pee again to warm my feet!! A guy in an IronWorx Multisport kit passed me saying, “Hey…Do you know Steena?!” I responded with, “I do! Love her!” He said, “She is the best!” before riding on down the road. Oh look…there is the sign saying, “Mother Nature is a whore” and guess what?!?! It’s still raining + cold!! Go figure!! Just keep smiling!! You’re AWESOME!! EXPLORE!!” (lie #4 to myself) I really wish my feet would stay warm longer than 10 seconds when I pee on them!! “I don’t know if I can do this anymore. I’m so cold + wet! Why can’t Mother Nature give us a break?! STOP WITH THE NEGATIVITY!! You are doing awesome!! Just get to the run!! EXPLORE!!” (more lies…how many exactly by this point is beyond me as I’m sure I missed a few) Grandma’s hill…here we go again!! Last time up this B*TCH!! “OH SH*T!! Mojo…why did you drop your chain at the bottom of the hill?!?! UGH!! OK…Single leg spinning…you can do this!! You’ve done worse!! There you go! Clip that other foot in and get to the top!” Grandma’s hill for the last time…check! Pee on the bike…check! Guys in speedos cheering us on the rain…where are you?!?! Pee on the bike…check! Road sign that says “Louisville 33″…check! FINALLY I get to go back to Louisville and I get to enjoy the tailwind since I fought a headwind on the way out of Louisville! “Wahoo! Let’s rocket home! Right hand turn back to Louisville…wait a minute…where is that tailwind I was supposed to enjoy?!?! Why do you hate us Mother Nature?!?! WHY?!?! Push on!! You have less than 20 miles home!! Just get to the run!! EXPLORE!!” Pee on the bike…check! “Wait a minute…why are there so many cars on this road?! HOLY SH*T!! I have to stop so I don’t rear end that car…OH NO…wet brakes…Mojo, please STOP!! PLEASE STOP!! THANK YOU!! This is insane!! Why are there so many cars on our roads?!?! I’ve never had this much traffic to dodge during an Ironman before. Someone could seriously get hurt out here. This is not safe! Just get back to town! Go figure…brake on the descent so I have to start from a stopped position to climb the hill. STUPID CARS!! ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT…You GET to do this! Be safe and enjoy the last few miles! You are feeling great! EXPLORE!!” (How many lies is this?!?!) Pee on the bike…check! “Oh…there is the Ohio River…that means I’m getting close to transition!! Look…there are the bridges!! Wahoo!! I made it!!” This was my 2nd fastest Ironman bike split in tough conditions!! Boom!!
After I handed Mojo off to a volunteer, ran to get my run gear bag, and made my way into the women’s change tent, I knew I needed some information. A volunteer came to help me and I immediately asked, “What is the current windchill and what time of day is it?” She responded with, “Let me look. It is 4:30 pm and the current windchill is 53*F. How can I help you get out on the run?” She helped me exchange my bike nutrition for run nutrition in my pockets, filled my hand held bottle with water (it already had Infinit run formula in the bottle), and helped me pack up my bike gear (don’t worry…I made sure to put my socks and bike shoes in the bag myself so she didn’t have to touch the urine filled gear…although the rain probably washed them clean). I kept one pair of arm warmers and swapped out my gloves for a dry pair (not really sure why since it was still raining) before heading out of transition and onto the run.
Run: 5:30:52 for 26.2 miles (12:37 min/mi); 49/113 W40-44; 281/601 W; 1225/2034 Overall
I finished the bike!! Let’s run!! Ugh…I can’t feel my feet…how long is this going to last?! Oh well…maybe it is best that I can’t feel my feet for now!! Oh…There’s Dad and Abbie! Abbie asked, “How are you feeling.” I responded with, “Good, but I can’t feel my feet. They’re numb from the cold.” As I kept going, I saw Tim just up the street.
Only monitor the heart rate screen…perfect! I am right where I need to be! I’m feeling good! Nice and steady! Forget about the rain…that clearly isn’t going to change! One foot in front of the other! I’m actually feeling a bit warm for the first time since the swim…arm warmers off. Should I throw them or keep them?! I’ll keep them until the second loop to make sure I don’t need them later on. Oh look!! There is Katie Thomas! I bet she’s coming into the finish. “Go Katie go!” She replied with, “You’ve got this Kecia” as she gave me a high five. Just the motivation I needed at this point to keep going. Oh volunteer at the corner…YOU are the best! “Remember your why! Things are going to get tough out there. Remember your why!” He was so right! Heart rate…check! Ugh…I have to pee again! How many times am I going to pee today?! I don’t want that in my run shoes, so kybo it is! That is so much better! Ok…here we go…one foot in front of the other!! There is my Coeur Sports teammate Michelle! “Good work Michelle! You’re doing awesome!” She also cheered me on as we gave each other a high five in passing. Oh…there is the guy from Madison in the IronWorx Multisport kit that passed me on the bike! “Hey there! You are the one that passed me on the bike correct?” He said, “Yes, that was me! So you know Steena!” I said, “Yes! Her and John both! They are great people! I’m Kecia by the way.” “I’m Andrew.” I said, “Steena and I ran together on at Ironman Ohio 70.3 and she helped me achieve a sub 6 hour finish! When it got tough, she gave me this Fellow Flower that I’m wearing. I’m so grateful for them!” He said, “Yes, they just did Ironman Wisconsin.” I said, “Yes! They did awesome! I am the captain of the women’s change area in Wisconsin, so I picked up their gear and bikes and took it to their car for them.” He said, “They are so much fun! Well, I’m going to walk for a bit, so run strong! If you see my wife, Heidi, up ahead, she has a red Fellow Flower in her hair.” I replied with, “I’ll look for her! I’m sure I’ll see you again before the day is done.” Heart rate…check! Keep running strong! Finally…the turn around! Ugh…I have to pee again! Why do I have to pee so much?! Oh…I bet I’m peeing so much because I’m not sweating! I’m glad there are kybos every mile on the run course. Ok…here we go again…one foot in front of the other! Keep going strong and keep the heart rate in check. Oh…I can feel my feet again! They finally aren’t numb from the cold! Wahoo! Heart rate…check! Yes! I made it back to Churchill Downs! Oh…there is Tim out on the bike! He asked, “How are you feeling?” I said, “Good. I’m keeping my heart rate in check.” He said, “I’m going to yo-yo with you back to the turn around” as he rolled ahead. It was about this time that I started to feel a lot of added tension in my back. Just keep moving forward and focus on your form!
There is that amazing volunteer on the corner. He knows just what to say to keep us going! “You have to make it to me 4 times today. That last time, I’ll send you home. Don’t give up! I WANT to see you again!” Oh look!! There is Andrea! We have been social media friends for years and I finally get to give her a high five in person! “Go Andrea Go!” That was a great way to lift my spirits! What was that?! Some guy was yelling at us as he was trying to sleep on the sidewalk by the church. He definitely wasn’t cheering us on either. Hmmm…this is a little sketchy! Ok…there is Tim again. Keep making your way to the turn around! Ugh…I have to pee again! I’ll go in the next Kybo. There, that feels so much better! I’m glad Tim is out here to keep me going right now. “Kecia, I’m going to get your gear when we get to the turn around and I’ll see you later.” I responded with, “Ok. Thank you!”
I made it to the turn around, saw Dad and Abbie, stopped briefly at my run special needs bag to pick up some SBR Sports, Inc. Skin Slick to spray down my arm pits that were feeling like they might have some chafing started. I told the lady that if anyone needed my long sleeved tech shirt to please give it to them (since they throw away our special needs bags after the race…we don’t get them back). It was time to head back out for the last leg of the marathon. Ugh…my back is getting tighter. EXPLORE! Just get to mile 14! Heart rate…check! Mile 14…check! Just get to mile 15! Heart rate…check! Mile 15…check! Just get to mile 16! I have to pee again…this is getting annoying, but I have to keep drinking my calories! Ok…where’s the kybo…there…that’s better! Here we go again…oh no…my back is SCREAMING at me! EXPLORE! Ok…do what you can to keep moving forward. Walk for a bit and then jog as long as you can. Just get to mile 16! Brrr…I’m starting to get cold again. Time to put the arm warmers back on! I’m glad I kept them! Oh…there is Michelle! “Finish strong girl! You’re doing awesome!” Ok…one foot in front of the other! Mile 16…check! Just get to mile 17! Focus on your form. EXPLORE! Come on back…don’t lock up on me just yet! I have a few more miles to get to the finish line! Mile 17…check! Just get to mile 18! I have to pee again! Mile 18…check! Kybo…check! As I stepped out of the kybo, my back spasmed and almost brought me to my knees. Ok…walk for a bit. Just keep moving forward to mile 19 and get to that turn around! Ok…let’s try to jog easy. EXPLORE! Little by little make your way to the finish line. You haven’t come all this way today to quit now. Keep moving forward. Mile 19…check! The turn around…check! Mile 20…check! Kybo…check! Just keep walking/jogging to the finish line! Mile 21…check! There’s Andrew! “Go Andrew!” He asked, “How much farther to the turn around?!” I responded with, “You have a ways to go yet. Finish strong!” I couldn’t remember if he had 1 mile or 2 miles to the turn around and I didn’t want to give him inaccurate information. That is the worst as an athlete! I have to pee again! Mile 22…check! Kybo…check! Oh no…my back is just not going to let me run right now. I’ll try again in a bit. EXPLORE! Nope…still no such luck. Ok…less than 4 miles left. You can walk it home from here. Churchill Downs…check! Mile 23…check! I made it back to the amazing volunteer on the corner. “Time to send me home,” I said as I passed by him. “Way to go! You’ve got this! Finish strong!” As I rounded the corner, I saw another lady walking in front of me. As I approached her, I asked her how her day was going. She said she’d had better. This was her 11th Ironman and this has been her most challenging day yet. She was also walking because her back had locked up, but sadly she was just approaching the turn around and had to go back out for a second loop. We decided that we thought we were having back issues because of the cold temperatures. She said she was going to stop to stretch out her back, so I continued on. Mile 24…check! Just keep walking! Mile 25…check! I have to pee again! I should probably go before I go through the finish chute…it always takes so long to get through there and to a kybo. I’ll go at the next one! Kybo…check! Mile 26…check! Lia! Thank you for being out here! It’s time to shuffle as best I can to make it look like I’m running (that’s pathetic). There’s the finish chute! I can’t believe I made it here. This was truly the toughest day I’ve ever had. Tears…nope, not yet! There is Abbie and Dad! Love you guys! That finish line!
I have no idea how many “lies” I actually told myself so I would keep going and not quit. I was determined to find my way to the finish line and was willing to dig deep to do so. I’ve never had to dig so deep mentally to achieve the finish line in anything until now. This day pushed me way out of my comfort zone and beyond what I ever thought possible. Even over a week later, I still don’t know how I overcame all of the challenges that the day presented to make it to the finish line, but I did!! It is the finish line that I’m the most proud of…not because I achieved my goal time, not because it was the perfect day, not because I nailed my race day goals, not for so many reasons one might typically think of. I am most proud of this finish line because I adjusted on the fly to overcome all of the challenges throughout the day and I gave EVERYTHING I had and MORE mentally to reach that finish line.
I am SO MUCH STRONGER than I give myself credit for. When the rubber meets the road, I rise to the challenge.
#trainthebrain…you CAN do anything you put your mind to. On race morning, I was determined to do everything within my power to get to the finish line of Ironman #6. I had to mentally dig deep into places I didn’t even know I had in me. I’m so grateful that I had the mental strength, grit, determination, perseverance, and fortitude, to push my limits and cross the finish line of Ironman #6!!
Be prepared for the unexpected. Pack everything…including the kitchen sink…when traveling to a race. You never know just what you might need on race day!
There are so many great people in this world!! Camaraderie occurs during times of struggle and the way that athletes, volunteers, and spectators came together to help and support each other during Ironman Louisville 2018 was so encouraging.
Triathlon lessons = life lessons
Stepping outside of one’s comfort zone is where the magic happens!!
It takes a village!! While I’m the one to cross the finish line, I couldn’t do it without support. I’m beyond grateful for my village!!
Attitude of Gratitude:
My #1…This year Tim and I have had completely different races and training plans. He has stepped up and done so much to make sure I got my workouts done, I was refueled properly, and the home front was in check. I couldn’t do this without him! This finish line is just as much his as mine! Thank you and love you more than you know Tim!! ❤
My support crew…Thank you for keeping me going!! There were many times I thought about giving up, but as soon as I saw you all, I was overcome with joy, love, and determination to keep going. Thank you and love you!! ❤
Coach Kelly…Your guidance, support, belief in me, training plan, and challenges prepared me physically and mentally for a day I never anticipated I would ever have. Thank you for making me #trackcatstrong and ready to conquer any challenge!! ❤
Camilla…Thank you for cheering me on, catching me at the finish line, escorting me to the massage tent, and making sure I had met back up with my crew!! You are amazing!! ❤
Coeur Sports…This brand…I am beyond grateful to Kebby Holden and Hailey Manning for connecting me with some of the most amazing, supportive, encouraging, and inspirational women!! I am truly blessed!! I had so many of these amazing women with me in spirit on race day!! Bonus…the Coeur Sports gear is the best out there!! After being cold + wet ALL. DAY. LONG. I had ZERO chaffing and #noangrykitty!!
SBR Sports, Inc…Thank you for your support this season!! The Skin Slick and Tri Slide made my race day + training so much better!!
Infinit Nutrition…Thank you for helping me find a nutrition solution that FINALLY worked for me after nutritional failure after 5 Ironman races!! Thank you for overnighting my bike nutrition when my first bag arrived damaged just days before we were leaving for Louisville!!
Kyle’s Bikes…Thank you for always giving Mojo the BEST care!! I always know we are in good hands when you have our backs!!
Nick with Vitality Massage…Thank you for keeping me healthy and ready to race + watching our fur babies when we are off playing for multiple weekends throughout the year!!
Chris with Team Chiropractic…Thank you for keeping me healthy and race ready + working on my back post Ironman Louisville!!
Steena…Thank you for my Fellow Flower to remind me throughout the run to remain resilient, full of grit, strong, and focused on forward motion!! ❤