“Happiness is letting go of what you think your life is supposed to look like and celebrating it for everything that it is.” ~Mandy Hale
I’m not really sure where to begin with this…the beginning, middle, or end. I guess it depends on what you want to hear, so the beginning is where I’ll begin. If you want the cliff notes version, skip to the end 😉
My focus word for 2019 is EXPLORE and when I picked this word, I had NO idea just where it would take me, but I’m so grateful for the journey it has taken me on this year. If you’ve been following my blog, EXPLORE is definitely the perfect word for my 2019 journey. I have changed careers, had some tough conversations with those that I love which has brought me so much freedom + space, and have created lots of amazing memories. Ironman Lake Placid did not disappoint as I #explored and #discovered so much about who I am and who I want to be to live my absolute best life.
Swim: 1:16:52 (1:59/100 m or 1:48/100 yards) PR
The Iron Hippie and I lined up just behind the 1:21-1:30 finish time. As we approached the shore, the pro men were coming out of the water finishing their first 1.2 mile loop and heading back out for loop #2. When I crossed the starting mat, I had open water and was in very little contact with other swimmers during the first loop. I came out of the water right where I was aiming for at the end of my first loop.
As I entered the water for loop #2, I encountered a bit more physical contact in the water, so I made my way to the inside of the buoys where the water was much cleaner. I went outside of the two turn buoys on the far end of the course, and then back to the inside line for my return back to the shore. With the underwater cable, this was perfect for sighting and swimming a straight line! My second loop was a tad bit slower than I was aiming for, but with more physical contact on the second loop, I had to fight more to get around slower people in front of me.
As I entered the transition area, I saw a social media friend! Erin and I quickly exchanged hugs before heading into the change tent. Thank you for lifting me up in that moment Erin! ❤ I flew solo in the change tent as the volunteers were all helping other ladies. I briefly struggled getting my aero top on over my wet body, but quickly made my way to Mojo so we could head out on the bike and start our 112 mile journey.
Bike: 7:48:38 (average speed = 14.34 mph)
This is the place where things changed. Not only did my legs feel like lead from the start, but my mind went back to those tough conversations and the freedom + space I’ve gained through having those conversations. When you ride 112 miles, it gives you A LOT of time to think, process your thoughts, and make sense of your true feelings. I asked myself multiple times “why” am I doing this? Not the superficial why, but the deep down to the depths of your soul why. I knew my superficial why, but this was not the answer I was truly seeking on this day. Ironman finds a way of stripping you down to nothing, exposing your true self, and helping you discover who you really are on a daily basis. As I was being stripped down to nothing during the 112 mile bike portion of the race, I came to the revelation that I have been using Ironman training and racing (and marathon training/racing before that) as a coping mechanism. Taking all of the negative energy I have been holding on to for 35+ years and putting that negative energy into something I could control. Something that gave me my power back. Something that taught me I am worth so much more than I have given myself credit for. Something that has taught me to believe in myself. Something that has taught me to obliterate self doubt that has been holding me back…not just in my athletic endeavors, but in all areas of my life. Something that has given me a gift…the gift to figure out who I am and who I want to be.
At about mile 50, the Iron Hippie went by me on the bike. By this point, I had already decided that I was going to pull out of the race at mile 56 when I got back into town. I had nothing left to prove; I realized I was racing Ironman and chasing someone else’s dreams for all the wrong reasons. Using it as a way to channel the negative energy that I no longer truly possessed was not the reason I wanted to be racing Ironman. The first 50 miles allowed me to open my eyes and heart. Racing Ironman distance triathlon is not something I truly want to do when it perpetuates those negative feelings. It is time to let go of the hurt and negativity. I knew I wanted to support the Iron Hippie and do whatever I could to ensure he had the best race possible and finished strong. His journey to the start line of Ironman Lake Placid has been less than ideal. I was planning to put my bike back in transition, turn in my chip, change clothes, and cheer him on from the sidelines. In those last 6 miles of the first loop on the bike before returning to town, I came to the realization that I needed to keep going so that I could finish with him and support him while being beside him. I knew I could catch him on the run as his longest run prior to this race was 10 miles (running 5 minutes/walking 1 minute) one week before the race due to having his knee scoped in February.
So, I came into town, swapped out my bike bottles at special needs and headed out for loop #2. I felt so relieved knowing that this race was my Ironman swan song centered around negative energy and would no longer be used as a coping mechanism. I decided in those moments wasn’t going to do another Ironman unless I one day found a joyful, positive reason for doing it. I knew deep down to the depths of my soul that I really didn’t want to do another Ironman for all of the wrong reasons and this was my last one for all the wrong reasons. I kept pushing forward (even through the 10 minute heavy down pour). As I came back to town, the crowds carried us up the bears and into transition.
I handed off Mojo to a volunteer (these volunteers are truly amazing!), grabbed my run bag and headed to the change tent where I again flew solo because all of the volunteers were helping other athletes.
Run: 6:17:00 (14:23/mile)
As I left T2, I saw our friend Carol and she told me the Iron Hippie was only 4 minutes ahead of me on the run. I talked with her for a few minutes telling her about the revelations I came to on the bike and then hunted down my fave!
I caught him between mile 2 and mile 3 of the run. As we continued to run/walk for a bit, I told him about everything I was thinking, the relief I was feeling about not doing another Ironman for all of the wrong reasons, and how I wanted to support him in whatever future races and adventures he decided to do. We saw lots of friends and family as we continued to make forward progress.
As our run/walk became more of a walk, we talked about so many things. It was so nice to have this time together.
Ironman Lake Placid was my Ironman swan song centered around negative energy and for all the wrong reasons. Maybe someday I will do another Ironman, but it has to be centered around joy positive energy, and for all of the right reasons. This is not letting go of a dream, but having the courage to let go of past demons and start on a new path where I follow my heart and live more freely. As I close this chapter of my life I am grateful for the freedom + space it has provided me and the lessons it has taught me. I’m not sure what the next chapter has in store for me, but I know it will still include swim/bike/run as I strive to find a better balance. I have learned lessons that have shaped me and will continue to do so in the future, and I am so grateful for every moment. I feel relieved. I will continue to be a part of Ironman as a volunteer and spectator. I love giving back to others, supporting them on their journey, and watching them cross the finish line. Ironman Lake Placid gave me a gift! It gave me the feeling of freedom! It gave me the awareness + focus to discover myself anew! It gave me an opportunity to recreate my “why”! It opened my eyes + heart, teaching me that it is time to live my life instead of survive it!
I couldn’t have gotten where I am without help and support from others. It takes a village and I am so grateful to have an amazing village supporting me!
And with that, I am officially done teaching 8th graders!! I still have multiple days of professional development ahead of me, but the students are gone. It is bitter sweet!! You can read more about that here. It is time to start my next new adventure soon, but first, here is a look at what the month of May had in store for me.
I had another SOLID month of training!! I completed 10 minutes of core strength daily + 3 minutes of meditation daily + I’m still on the green streak in Training Peaks!! I have not missed one workout so far this year…22 weeks and counting!! BOOM!!
Swim: 28,725 yards (16.3 miles)
Bike: 357 miles
Run: 83.6 miles
Strength: 10 minutes of core daily + various full body strength
Meditation: 3 minutes daily since January 1
Monthly Totals: 53 hours & 5 minutes
Explore is my focus word in 2019 and I’m happy to be incorporating it into all areas of my life…including racing!! I’ve been talking with Coach Kelly about racing two IRONMAN races in one year and she was just as excited for me to give it a go as I am. So, on May 1, I decided to #explore with racing TWO IRONMAN races 10 weeks apart in 2019. I have officially registered for Ironman Lake Placid on July 28 AND Ironman Louisville on October 13. This will be my first ever experience in doing two Ironman races so close together. Am I nervous? Sure! Am I scared? A bit! Am I excited? MOST DEFINITELY! I am ready to push my limits and see what my body + mind can handle.
KonaKamps always has me inspired by some amazing peeps!! Megan Anley won Ironman South Africa in the W18-24 age group at her first Ironman. Congrats Megan!!
Rich Roll brought Jesse Thomas to his podcast recently. Jesse is not only an amazing professional triathlete, but he balances his pro triathlon career with a wife, kids, his own business, and fun. He is quite the inspiration and so down to Earth!!
Finding my Voice by Mike Reilly is so inspirational!! “Finding My Voice is a series of deeply personal vignettes illuminating how profoundly the sport of IRONMAN touches both its participants and its fans. Written from Reilly’s unique insider’s perspective as the long-time World Championship race announcer and one of the most prominent personalities in the endurance sports field, it provides an intimate, revealing and entertaining glimpse into a fascinating corner of the world of endurance sports.”
Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds by David Goggins is a great read. He overcame so many obstacles in life and eventually became “the only man in history to complete elite training as a Navy SEAL, Army Ranger, and Air Force Tactical Air Controller. He went on to set records in numerous endurance events, inspiring Outside magazine to name him “The Fittest (Real) Man in America.” Through self-discipline, mental toughness, and hard work, Goggins transformed himself from a depressed, overweight young man with no future into a U.S. Armed Forces icon and one of the world’s top endurance athletes.”
Our new Sleep Number bed!! While we have only slept in it for 3 nights, it has been three of the best nights’ of sleep in a LONG time!! As we continue to dial in our numbers, I can only imagine that out sleep will continue to improve!!
My last week of my middle school teaching career. This change feels scary, but right!! I’m super excited to embark on this new career as a Teaching Laboratory Coordinator with the Physics and Astronomy Department at Iowa State University starting next week. After all, stepping outside of your comfort zone is where the magic happens!
Attitude of Gratitude:
How was your month of May?! What were you grateful for last month?!
As I roll into my last month of teaching, before changing careers, it is time to reflect on April. April has brought us some days of warmer weather, had me spending time with my Coeur sisters, crossing the finish line of another 1/2 marathon, and riding outside on the open roads with my fave. With all of these amazing things in the rear view mirror, I have high hopes for the month of May!!
I had another SOLID month of training!! I completed 10 minutes of core strength daily + I’m still on the green streak in Training Peaks!! I have not missed one workout so far this year…18 weeks and counting!! BOOM!!
Swim: 38,700 yards (21.99 miles)
Bike: 282 miles
Run: 95.5 miles
Strength: 10 minutes of core daily + various full body strength
Monthly Totals: 54 hours & 40 minutes
Explore is my focus word in 2019 and I’m happy to be incorporating it into all areas of my life…including training!! Before each race, I think back to key sessions that better prepared me (both physically and mentally) for the race I’m about to embark on. I even jot these key sessions down so that I know the dates to refer back to in my training log. On April 23, I had a key swim session that gave me the confidence that I can have a stellar PR swim this year! The workout…
Swim 100 at the 3rd fastest pace from the 4 x 100 descending above. Assuming that felt “right” for z3/mod hard type effort this will be your pace.
Swim as many 100’s as you can at this pace with :20 to :25 rest between. If using a tempo trainer, your rest is one beep cycle.
If off by 3 seconds, rest a full minute and try again.
If after 1 minute you cannot hold the pace you are done. Cool down.
Well…my 3rd fastest 100 was 1:38.7/100 yards. Could I really hold 1:39/100 yards for more than 5 intervals?
Apparently so! #befierce is the mantra for the Coeur Team in 2019 and it helped me crush my expectations and self doubt during this workout and I know it will help me with many more in the future!!
KonaKamps always has me inspired by some amazing peeps!! Keri Houston is an age group champ at Ironman New Zealand 2019. Michelle Enslin is the age group champion for the 50-54 age group at Ironman South Africa 2019 after coming back from surgery. Her gratitude is contagious!
Rich Roll brought Johann Hari on his podcast to talk about addiction and depression. “The opposite of addiction isn’t sobriety. It’s connection.” With the world at our fingertips (quite literally…that phone you’re holding is taking you away from making connections with the people around you, so put it down and make memories with those around you) we can disconnect from those around us just as quickly as we can connect with them by putting the technology away. “If you suffer from addiction or depression, this is a must listen. If you don’t, chances are someone you care for does. This conversation can provide the insight and tools for better understanding the struggle — because mental health truly impacts everyone.”
Peak Performance: Elevate your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness is amazing!! It kept me engaged and wanting to read even more!! The authors suggest “optimally alternating between periods of intense work and rest; priming the body and mind for enhanced productivity; and developing and harnessing the power of a self-transcending purpose.” There is so much useful information in here!! It was one that I struggled to put down so I could get adequate sleep each night!!
Discomfort…I know that when we step outside of our comfort zone and embrace discomfort that we experience growth. As a result, I have been leaning into discomfort more in my personal life and am making huge strides. Discomfort isn’t easy and it takes a lot of work for growth to happen, but the rewards that come from it are definitely worth leaning into and embracing the discomfort.
Attitude of Gratitude:
How was your month of April?! What were you grateful for last month?!
“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.
Swim: 16:19 for 0.9 mile (1:02/100 yards); 39/113 W40-44; 228/601 W; 949/2034 Overall
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.
Attitude of Gratitude:
Wow!! Where to begin?!?! I guess I’ll start with the short version…
Now for the full race report…Ironman Ohio 70.3 was more than I could have hoped for!! If you’ve been following my journey, you’ll know that #sub6orbust was my goal for Ohio. I knew I could break 6 hours, but everything had to fall together. Ironman Ohio 70.3 was about exploring! After 5+ years of dreaming about breaking 6 hours at the 70.3 distance, it was time to turn that dream into a reality! I felt strong, ready, and willing to give it my all!
“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.”
Swim: 43:19 (2:03/100 yards)
The water was 79.25*F, which made it wetsuit optional. It was DEFINITELY too warm for a wetsuit…swimming in murky bath water isn’t ideal, but it is what we were all given. I LOVE the self seeding swim starts!! This was my second race of this format and it is so much cleaner in the water. My Coeur Sports teammate, Steena, her friend Jodi, and I all lined up in the corrals together, but I somehow ended up in the water about 7 seconds before them. As I entered the water, I was calm, relaxed, and focused. I found my line and swam! No anxiety! No stress! Just pure swim flow! I swam a relatively straight line (for me) siting every 6 strokes. I had very little contact with others in the water for the majority of the swim. I focused on my swim mantra, “long, strong, pull” for the duration of the swim…especially when I encountered traffic after the last turn buoy before returning to the shore. As I exited the water, I was a bit disappointed with my swim time, but immediately changed the channel and reset my brain to a positive state for the bike ahead. In hindsight, I think this swim was long. Other athletes had similar swim distances (2300 yards instead of 2187), but no excuses…we all swam the same distance!
Bike: 2:56:13 (19.04 miles/hour)
As I left transition, my fave was right at the mount line and told me to ease into my pace and be careful as there was a TON of congestion out there and other athletes weren’t being very respectful of one another.
He was right. I hadn’t even got a 1/4 mile down the road and was getting yelled at by another athlete to get out of his way as I was trying to safely pass two other athletes. One of the athletes I was passing yelled, “Don’t be a douche bag,” while I reminded this douche bag that “we are all out here to have a good and SAFE day.” He wanted to hear nothing of it. He yelled some profanity at us and off he went. I reset my positivity! I knew I would be on the pedals for the whole ride as there isn’t much climbing over the 56 miles on this course. I’ve never raced a 70.3 distance (or full Ironman for that matter) on such a flat course, so this would be a new experience. I was ready to explore and give it my all!! Mojo and I quickly settled into Z3 watts (152-182 watts for me) where we planned to remain for the duration of the ride. Once settled into my pace, I ate a Honey Stinger Waffle, drank some hydration and cruised! About mile 10, I passed Steena. She had beat me out of the water. She said, “Go get it” to me as I passed her. I REALLY wanted to slap her on the a$$ as I passed her, but didn’t want to cause an accident, so I cheered for her and kept going strong. It was shortly after this that I eased up on my watts (oops!) into Z2 and they stayed on the upper end of Z2 for the remainder of the ride. This wasn’t the goal, but it was what happened.
At about mile 54, Steena passed me and said, “What are you doing? Let’s go!” I was having a bit of heart burn, so I took 4 Tums and off I went. I passed Steena (after all she told me at the swim start that I should be in front of her all day long) and as I passed her, she told me she wanted to photo bomb me if the opportunity presented itself…sadly it didn’t. I wheeled into transition with her right behind me.
Run: 2:10:29 (9:50 min/mile)
Steena and I left T2 at the same time, so we decided to start the run together and see how things unfolded. Now was the time to truly explore how my legs would hold up. They felt trashed right from the first run step, but I ignored them. I ignored the fact that I really had to pee (I didn’t have time to stop…#sub6orbust was on the line). I ignored my run pace. I monitored my HR. Coach Kelly told me to monitor my HR through mile 10 and if I was feeling up to it to let ‘er rip at that point. I told Steena of my plan and she decided to stick with me for a while and see how this unfolded. I couldn’t have asked for a better running partner! We were so evenly matched in pace and footfall! She says I pulled her through the first 11 miles, but in reality, she gave me a “job” of successfully pacing both of us to a sub 6 hour finish! I turned my Garmin screen to monitor only my HR and tried not to focus on the pace. We were moving along at a decent clip, chatting occasionally (in broken sentences), and enjoying the footfalls of each other as we moved forward. At one point Steena said, “You are such a consistent pacer. You need to come pace me at Ironman Wisconsin.” I started singing “Pacing Queen” instead of “Dancing Queen” in my head and shared this with Steena as we pushed on.
Having my fave yo-yo around us on his bike was AMAZING!! We saw him every 1-2 miles. He was cheering, taking photos, and texting with Coach Kelly throughout the run. As we started the 2nd loop, Steena said, “Let’s F*ck Sh!t UP!” and told me the back story that goes with it. I said, “I’m ready, but am going to stick to the plan until mile 10.” So we continued on with the plan. At mile 10, I picked up the pace, but by mile 11, I was in the hurt box. This is where Steena took over and got us to the finish line. She gave me her flower and told me it means “resilience” and that I was going to break 6 hours today! At mile 12, my fave chased me up the hill cracking the whip…
After we turned back on Henry to head back to the stadium, I saw Linda (a fellow Coeur teammate) heading out on the run. I gave her a quick hug and started to tear up. Steena said, “Don’t cry! It makes running harder. Focus on your dog and all of the funny things she does to make you smile. Let’s go!” As we continued down Henry, I could hear our Air BNB hosts cheering me on. Then we rounded the corner into the stadium and Ruth (another Coeur teammate) was on the corner cheering!
I knew we would break 6 hours, but by how much?! Steena asked me if I wanted to run ahead and have my own moment at the finish line. I said, “Hell no! You have been with me this whole run. We are crossing together!”
And that is EXACTLY what we did! PRs are definitely better with friends!!
Overall: 5:56:20 (30 out of 110 in F40-44; 192 out of 666 women; 764 out of 1957 total finishers)
I can’t even begin to explain how elated I am with this race, my performance, and the amazing people that entered my life throughout this weekend! This was so much better than I ever dreamed!! I pushed myself way out of my comfort zone and achieved big goals and dreams!! This gives me huge amounts of confidence for big rewards at #IMLou in October!! I am forever grateful to Steena for making sure I achieved my #sub6 dream by pushing me those last 2 miles and to my fave for being the best husband, friend, supporter, Sherpa, spectator, cheerleader, photographer, and whip cracker anyone could ask for!! I am truly blessed and riding on cloud nine!!
On Sunday, I was ready to race Ironman Wisconsin 70.3. Mojo was set in transition on Saturday and I was excited to test my endurance and push my limits on race day! I woke up to severe thunderstorms on race morning and a note from Ironman Wisconsin:
So, with no real hurry to get to transition only to stand around in the pouring rain, we opted to sit in the car for a bit at the Alliant Energy Center before boarding a school bus to transition.
Once in transition, we set up our gear (trying to find ways to keep it as dry as possible), donned our wetsuits in the mud pit that transition was, and 3 minutes before transition closed made the decision to pull out of the event. We loaded up our gear, trudged through the mud pit, and headed back to the Alliant Energy Center where the car was.
My fave decided to take a quick shower to get all of the mud off of him before getting in the car…
Fast forward to Sunday afternoon…
I talked on the phone with Coach Kelly. She really wanted me to test my fitness since I was trained, tapered, and super jazzed to test my endurance. I immediately got excited about the idea of doing a solo 70.3 race! Coach Kelly encouraged me to come up with a name for my event and reminded me to mentally prepare to crush it! She may have also told me not to get a drafting penalty on a solo race! 😉 I came up with the name “Flatlander 70.3” for my event since our terrain in central Iowa is pretty flat compared to most locations and MUCH flatter than the IMWI 70.3 course!!
Fast forward to Tuesday morning…race day!!
Swim: The Good…
I felt the normal “pre-race butterflies” as I ate my breakfast and drank my Karma Kombucha. I set up my run transition in the garage, and headed to the pool where I would begin my Flatlander 70.3 adventure! I set up my bike and transition area inside the gate of the aquatic center, started my RoadID app so people could track my progress, and hopped in the pool at about 6:05 am for 2000 meters (just over the 1.2 mile distance). I felt like I was working hard and swimming at a good clip, but I was burping A LOT!! I never have this problem, so I wasn’t really sure what was going on. My swim ended up not being as fast as I thought or hoped for…41:48 for 2000 meters (1:55/100 yard swim time) + 1st overall 🙂
Bike: The Bad…
I quickly jumped out of the pool, jogged to my transition area (and was asked by the lifeguard not to run in the pool area…LOL…don’t they know I’m racing?!?!), and transitioned to my bike gear. As I exited the pool area, I quickly dropped my swim skin + swim goggles + swim cap in the car before heading out on the bike. It ended up being a bit foggy, which was a good indicator of the humidity levels, but I could still see at least a mile out in front of me, so I wasn’t worried about vehicles being able to see me. As I pulled up to the first stoplight leaving town, I realized that auto pause was set to “stop mode” on my Garmin. As the light changed green and I rolled ahead, I tried to change this while riding, but accidentally pushed the “lap” button putting my data in T2 instead of on the bike. I kept rolling, but stopped the triathlon mode and just set my Garmin to the bike mode and stopped messing with it. I was still burping a bit, so I drank water and pushed on. As I left town and went west, the sun came out, but when I turned around and went back east, the fog was still hanging on. It was weird. About 30 minutes into my ride, I took my first round of nutrition (Salty Balls) and nearly puked. My stomach didn’t want them, but I had no other nutrition with me, so I forced them down (gagging the whole time), drank a lot of water, and kept moving forward. Each time I tried to consume nutrition, I thought I was going to puke…my stomach was not happy, but I knew I needed nutrition to have any chance of finishing the day, so I kept forcing it down little by little every 30 minutes and drinking all the fluids I had. With about 1 hour ride time left, I knew I had to stop at the gas station and refill my water bottles since I was completely out of water. I could feel the temperature + humidity rising and there was no breeze! About 5 miles from home, I had to stop for a train…I think the race director for the Flatlander 70.3 forgot to inform Union Pacific Railroads that there was a race going on…LOL!! 😉 As I was rolling back into town the fog lifted and the sun beat down just in time for me to transition to the run. My bike was not as fast as I’d hoped (and my watts were lower than I’d wanted + expected them to be)…3:18:43 for 57.1 miles (17.2 mph average speed) + 1st overall 🙂
Run: The Ugly…
I quickly put my bike in the garage and transitioned to the run. Basil was barking at me from inside the house…clearly VERY upset that I wasn’t taking her running with me! Within the first few steps of the run, I knew this was going to be a long run. My calves were on the verge of cramping. I knew this meant I needed to drink a LOT more water, so I started downing my handheld water bottle. By mile 2, I was run/walking…the cramping was awful, I was HOT, there wasn’t even a breeze from the fart of a nearby animal, the humidity was 70* (which was on the border between “uncomfortable and tropical” according to our local meteorologist, which I found out when I was done), and there was no one there to encourage me to keep going. I SERIOUSLY considered quitting! I decided to keep run/walking + drinking all the water I had to Moore Park where I would refill my water bottle and then head back home calling it a day. I had made the decision to quit. By mile 3, I was so sweaty that I had sweat squishing out of my shoes with every step I took. At about mile 4, a Spring Green Lawn Care employee saw me hobbling by with my Ironman Wisconsin 70.3 race bib on (I figured I had it from Sunday’s race that I didn’t do and I was racing, so I should wear it). He asked, “Did you race on Sunday?” I told him I opted not to start the race due to the weather, which is why I was doing the distance today instead. He said, “That was a wise decision. That race was one of the stupidest things I’ve done. I couldn’t see the swim buoys because of the chop on the water, the transition was a muddy mess and then when I got to the bike, people were crashing all around me. I just held on during the run trying to get to the finish line.” I said, “Congratulations on finishing!” and ran on. He gave me the motivation to finish the whole 13.1 miles even if it was going to continue to be a run/walk due to the cramping and feeling defeated (as I knew my sub 6 hour goal was gone). I consumed some fruit snacks (which I always use while running for nutrition), but my stomach was still off and I was gagging on them. I forced them down and washed them down with water. I refilled my water bottle at Moore Park, drank the whole thing, then filled it again before going on. I drank the whole bottle again before mile 7. I took in more fruit snacks, refilled my water bottle at a different park, and forged on. I made it home at about mile 10.5, where I consumed more fruit snacks and refilled my water bottle again (using the outside spigot…I knew if I went inside where there was air conditioning + puppy snuggles I’d be done) before heading back to the pool where I’d left the car. It was a struggle and I was very disappointed that I wasn’t going to meet my sub 6 hour goal. At mile 12, I was jogging and sobbing uncontrollably because I was so disappointed in myself. I decided to change the channel and set a new goal for the last 1.1 miles. I had just over 12 minutes to finish the 13.1 miles in under 2 hours and 30 minutes run/walk time (my actual run time was 2:52 something with stopping at the drinking fountains all over town). When I hit the 13.1 miles, I immediately started crying…I was done. I was so happy to be done, but also very disappointed in my performance. I was upset that my stomach wasn’t cooperative. I was crushed. My run time was MUCH slower than I’d hoped for (and much slower than I know I’m capable of)…2:29:45 for 13.1 miles of run/walk (11:26/mile pace) + 1st overall 🙂
Overall I finished in about 7 hours and 10 minutes of total time + 1st overall. Sure, I did what I could and I finished, but no where near how I had hoped. This was THE TOUGHEST RACE I’ve ever done!