#IMLou Race Report…Explore!

“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.

Pre-Race:

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…

Struggling into my wetsuit in the dry car.

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.

Transition…who’s ready to race in the rain + cold?!

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.

Spraying down with SBR Sports Tri Slide before zipping up the wetsuit. Thankfully I was under a bridge to stay dry at this point.

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.

One lone swim buoy out in the Ohio River!!

T1: 12:15

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.

Warmest part of the day…DONE!!

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!

Running to the bike…ready to ride in the rain!!

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.

Rolling out of transition ready to be cold and wet for the rest of the day!!

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!”

I’m riding along the river, although you can’t really see it in the background thanks to Mother Nature’s unique sense of humor.

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)!!

Taking advantage of the temporary break in the rain and wind!! Climb baby climb!!

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…

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

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!!

Here we go again!! Loop 2 will lead me back to Louisville!!

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!!

T2: 10:26

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.

Time to get this marathon started!

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 Tim! Keep putting one foot in front of the other!

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!”

Make it to the turn around!

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!

Giving Dad and Abbie a “high five” in the finish chute with my run bottle in hand! Love you both!

Finish: 13:12:58 

The finish line is the best feeling after such a physically and mentally challenging day!

Overall:

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’m so proud to be crossing the finish line of Ironman #6!!

Lessons Learned:

  1. I am SO MUCH STRONGER than I give myself credit for. When the rubber meets the road, I rise to the challenge.
  2. #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!!
  3. 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!
  4. 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.
  5. Triathlon lessons = life lessons
  6. Stepping outside of one’s comfort zone is where the magic happens!!
  7. 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:

  1. 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!! ❤
  2. 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!! ❤
  3. 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!! ❤
  4. 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!! ❤
  5. 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!!
  6. SBR Sports, Inc…Thank you for your support this season!! The Skin Slick and Tri Slide made my race day + training so much better!!
  7. 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!!
  8. 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!!
  9. 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!!
  10. Chris with Team Chiropractic…Thank you for keeping me healthy and race ready + working on my back post Ironman Louisville!!
  11. 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!! ❤
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14 weeks ’til #IMLou – Confidence!!

Last week was full of many opportunities to push the envelop and see where my limits were with different workouts and in varying conditions. My self confidence was challenged many times last week, but each time it was challenged, magic happened. This week put so much confidence in the barn for race day, which I am very excited (and nervous) about!! Self confidence really is a super power!!

Swim: 7093 yards

A BEAUTIFUL day for some #swimlove!!
Jumping into today feet first!!
Doesn’t everyone play in the water after they swim?!?!

Bike: 68.4 miles

So much of myself to explore and learn from!!
1 hour ride between runs on July 4…look at all of that sweat on the ground!!
ALL. THE. FEELS…starting with fear, distrust, disbelief, and doubt in myself and my abilities before starting this brick. I was scared and full of “Can I really do this?” I hopped on my bike and told myself to stay in the moment. Focus on this interval. Don’t give up! Explore your limits! After nailing all of the bike intervals, it was time to see just what I was made of on this run.

Run: 33.7 miles

Running into a new week with some pace work!
Run #1 on July 4 was SOGGY and GROSS, but the first 6 miles were decent!!
Run #2 on July 4 with a dew point of 75* and heat index of 91*F at 9 am when I finished sweating out all of the fluids + electrolytes. The last 7 mile run didn’t go as planned, but I got it done!!
Running into the weekend with my fave by my side!! Today marks 100 days until #IMLou!! So grateful for the nice summer weather during my 10 miles of pace work this morning!!
This is where I turned the fear, distrust, disbelief, and doubt into COURAGE, TRUST, BELIEVE, and CONFIDENCE!! Now I don’t simply BELIEVE I can, I KNOW I can!!

Strength Training: 10 minutes of core strength almost daily + 1 hour & 15 minutes full body strength 

The only way to get stronger is to do the work!
Atomic push-ups using the SBT Extreme Suspension trainer!! I LOVE this device!!

Weekly Totals: 15 hours & 1 minute

Quote of the Week:

“Self confidence is a super power. Once you start believing in yourself, magic starts happening.”

Attitude of Gratitude:

The only way to recover…Tart Cherry Juice + Normatec Recovery Boots!!
Sushi FTW!!!
So grateful for summer break and morning walks with my two favorite fur babies!! #thattail
So grateful to have Coach Kelly in my village, helping me get stronger, believing in me (even when I don’t always believe in myself), and guiding my ship through unchartered waters. #trackcatstrong
So grateful for this much needed epsom salt + lavender bubble bath soak post brick workout!!

How was your week? What were you grateful for last week?! How do you put confidence in the barn to tap into on race day?!

25 weeks ’til #IMLou – #disciplineovermotivation

Last week was all about discipline! Discipline to go workout (even when I didn’t want to), discipline while racing (start off easy, build into race pace, and try to hammer it at the end), discipline to use the data given to me from Inside Tracker. Discipline, discipline, discipline…As Coach Kelly says, “You don’t always have to be motivated, but you do have to be disciplined.” #trackcatstrong

Taking a page from the Andrea’s book #disciplineovermotivation this week! My permanent reminder at work by my desk!

Swim: 5550 yards

“Focus! Focus on this moment! Focus on today! Focus on what can make you better tomorrow!” Today’s focus was FUN! I’m so grateful to SBR Sports, Inc. for taking away the dry, itchy, chlorine saturated skin and helping to keep swimming FUN!!
Getting to the pool took #disciplineovermotivation, but I’m so grateful that I went!

Bike: 42.3 miles

God intervals required a much needed massage afterwards!
As winter continues to surround us, I tapped into warmer days + the Kona sunset with my Coeur Sports Kona kit on this morning’s ride.
An easy ride to spin out the legs mid week! If Ruth can ride 18 miles for each survivor of the OKC bombing, I can ride for an hour! #showup #dothework

Run: 19.7 miles

Hello blue skies and sunshine!! Please stay around!!
Short run with the bubble gum tongue to round out the work week! #runlove #Basillovesrunning
First race of 2018 is in the books! My finish time wasn’t as good as I’d hoped for, but it was better than I expected! #happygirl #mydrakerelays

Strength Training: 10 minutes of core strength daily

Yoga: 30 minutes

Mat time to stretch out the sore legs post race!

Weekly Totals: 9 hours & 57 minutes

Quote of the Week:

“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” ~Jim Rohn

Attitude of Gratitude:

I’m so grateful to have this amazing man by my side in life! Congratulations to all of the Boston Marathon finishers! #bostonstrong
I’m so grateful for my #solesister!
Thank you Nick at Vitality Massage for keeping me healthy and race ready!
Thank you SBR Sports, Inc for removing all the chlorine!! Use code KEPL18 at checkout for 20% off your next order!!
Thank you Sound Probiotics for keeping my gut healthy and helping me recover!
“I love my inflatable pillow Mama” ~Basil
So grateful for Normatec! #recoveryisimportant
When you are unmotivated to workout and your AMAZING husband knows it, so he drew this beauty on our chalkboard wall by my bike to encourage and support me! #imaluckygirl
Traci, we love you! So grateful to have such close friends at work!
Celebrating no more radiation for a colleague overcoming breast cancer. I work with amazing people! #wewearpinkforcheryl
Wahoo!! My Coeur Sports 2018 team kit arrived just in time for race weekend!
More Coeur Sports 2018 team gear!
Sushi for a pre-race lunch…YUMMY!!
We have two very happy girls because spring FINALLY decided to show up!! Yay for long walks in the warmth + sunshine!!

Tips for when you’re unmotivated:

  1. Text, call, email someone who is invested in your journey and will encourage + push you.
  2. Put your feet on the floor and go do the work before your brain thinks about why it doesn’t think you should. JUST SHOW UP!!
  3. Focus on your “Why.” Why do you want to achieve x, y, or z? Write about it! Reconnect with it.
  4. Envision yourself achieving success. How does it make you feel?! Tap into those amazing feelings!
  5. Find the FUN! Remember how much FUN you’ve had doing this before and how much FUN you are going to have in the future.
  6. Listen to your favorite motivating song(s) to pump you up and get you moving in the right direction!
  7. Eat a snack that makes you excited to go do the work! Taste success!
  8. Make the decision ahead of time to do the work. Commit to it and follow through! JUST SHOW UP!
  9. Prepare to celebrate! After you’ve shown up and done the work, CELEBRATE! Throw a dance party, jam out to your favorite song singing at the top of your lungs, do a handstand, indulge in a sweet reward, stand in power pose. Whatever it is, just celebrate!
  10. Sign up for a race! Sometimes this is all the motivation you need to SHOW UP and DO THE WORK!
  11. Order some fun, new gear to motivate you!

How was your week?! What were you grateful for last week?! What tips do you have for staying disciplined when you aren’t motivated?!

#batcapchallenge = exhilarating + exhausting

In October, I contacted Michelle about participating in the #batcapchallenge that she offers athletes. She decided that 30K yards of swimming in 7 days would be the perfect way to make my “eyes open wide.” I asked Coach Kelly if she thought this was an appropriate challenge for me (I wanted to remain injury free). I wanted her blessing + guidance on how to structure these 7 days before fully committing to it. Coach Kelly was on board, so I let Michelle know that we (the Iron Hippie decided to complete this challenge as well) would be completing this challenge on Tuesday, December 26 – Monday, January 1. What a way to close out 2017 and bring in the new year?!?!

To put this in perspective, I swam a total of 31,400 yards for the ENTIRE month of November. To say my eyes were open wide was an understatement. This challenge had me excited, nervous, eager, intimidated, anxious, and so much more!

Here is how Coach Kelly structured these 7 days:

Day 1: 5200 yards at the Bedell Family YMCA
I started the week off with a bang! This was a great swim for me since I felt fresh, charged, and ready to knock this swim challenge out of the park!

Day 2: 3200 yards at the Bedell Family YMCA
After yesterday’s long swim, I was expecting to feel a bit more fatigued than I actually felt, so I was very grateful for another strong swim day!

Day 3: 3300 yards at Ames Racquet and Fitness Center
I felt a bit more fatigued during this workout, but I was determined and focused. The fatigue was definitely something I could push through and finish strong.

Day 4: Double swim day! 2500 yards in the AM and 3500 yards in the PM at Ames Racquet and Fitness Center
This was my FIRST ever double swim day! The morning swim was short (in comparison to what I’ve been swimming lately) and full of recovery type of swimming. It was relatively easy, but my body was tired and I could tell.

The evening swim was to be more pace focused. I started out using my tempo trainer and tried so hard to stay with the beep, but my body just wouldn’t listen to my mind. That fatigue I was feeling earlier in the day was still lingering. After losing to my body’s fatigue (and not staying with the beep of the tempo trainer), I decided to put the tempo trainer on the pool deck and just swim to cover the yardage. Michelle did say that it is pretty common to feel the most fatigue on days 3 & 4. Yep…I was definitely feeling fatigue today!

Day 5: 5300 yards at the Ames Municipal Pool
After feeling really tired yesterday, I didn’t know what to expect of my body. Thankfully my body showed up to give some effort today! I managed to swim a 1:51/100 yard pace for a 500 yard effort. I was pretty happy with this since my body was so exhausted! My body is starting to “come through” the fatigue and feeling better and stronger. I can’t wait to see what it does for me in the next 2 swims and how this translates to future swimming!

Day 6: 3500 yards at Ames Racquet and Fitness Center
This swim had some good kick sets in it, which obviously take longer than simply swimming, but it was nice to have this break. The little swimming I did have went well! I was able to stay on the beep of my tempo trainer and felt strong…fatigued, but strong! Feeling grateful my body has allowed me to push it on this journey, but this triathlete is ready to be less of a swimmer and a more well rounded triathlete again!

Day 7: 3300 yards at the Boone YMCA
The final swim of the #batcapchallenge was rewarding! I swam one of my 100s at a 1:32/100 yard pace, which is a new swim PR for me! With all of the hours and swim mileage I’ve put in over the last 7 days, I still managed to have some speed in my swim on the last day of the challenge! Boom!

Grand Totals:
30,000 yards (17.045 miles) in 7 days!
11 hours & 35 minutes of swimming
8 swims in 7 days!
4 pools visited

This week of swimming was FULL of #swimlove + #chlorinetherapy! It was exhausting and exhilarating at the same time! It challenged me both mentally and physically. It pushed my limits. I surprised myself on so many levels with this challenge! It was all for the bat cap + some lessons learned:

  1. All the swimming helped me find my swim stroke and become stronger + more efficient + faster in the water.
  2. All the swimming is exhausting and allowed me sleep REALLY WELL (I even got a couple of naps in)!
  3. I can do anything I put my mind to…even swimming 17+ miles in 7 days.
  4. The final push is worth the sweet reward of success!
  5. Accomplishing new goals + PRs is exhilarating!
  6. Achievement is sweet when it is earned, not given!
  7. Stepping outside of your comfort zone is where all of the magic happens! #courageovercomfort is where it is at!
  8. I love triathlon! The balance of swimming, cycling, and running is so much better than simply swimming! 😉 Triathlon lights my fire!
  9. I can do hard things!
  10. I am grateful my body is healthy and allows me to do what I love + enjoy!

Thank you Michelle for creating the #batcapchallenge and setting a distance that pushed my limits, but was achievable! Thank you Coach Kelly for keeping me #trackcatstrong + believing in me + structuring my week in such a way that I was able to achieve what seemed a daunting feat at the start! Thank you to SBR Sports, Inc. for making amazing swim products to wash away the chlorine + keep me itch free all week! Thank you to Coeur Sports for the most comfortable + super cute swimsuits!

The Best of 2017

I love looking back and thinking about all of the amazing things that I’ve accomplished and all of the challenges I’ve overcome! I’ve reflected for the last 4 years and want to keep this trend going! You can look back at my previous posts if you’d like: Best of 2013, the Best of 2014, the Best of 2015, and the Best of 2016. Now its time to reminisce my faves from 2017! 🙂

 

My #2017bestnine on instagram is full of #heartandcourage

Best race experience?

Ironman Mont Tremblant! This was by far one of the best experiences of the year! I was blessed with a near perfect day + a PR on the day. I was so incredibly lucky to combine my race experience with an extended vacation with family + friends, which made for a really fun time!

So much coeur on this course! #bikelove

Best run?

I have been waiting to have a good run during an Ironman race for 6 years and this year, it finally happened at Ironman Mont Tremblant! I FINALLY pulled off a sub 5 hour marathon (and I know it could have been even faster without some visits to the kybo). I felt good, I felt strong, I was happy, I smiled the whole run, I really enjoyed myself, I spread coeur with others, and gave “hi-fives” to those who looked like they could use one. This run was a HUGE confidence builder for future races!

Love you Ericka! Thanks for the photo!

Best bike?

Sometimes the best rides aren’t the ones where we have the most fun, but where we learn the most. Yes, I had some seriously fun rides this summer…some solo rides, some with the Iron Hippie, some at the Track Cat Fitness Training Camp, and some on the Ironman Lake Placid + Ironman Mont Tremblant bike courses. For me, the ride that stands out the most this year is the one I learned the most from…my first solo century ride. It was a VERY tough day for me! Physically the wind BEAT. ME. UP! Mentally, I had to overcome a case of the “I can’t do this,” a case of the “I’m not strong enough,” a case of the “I’m not fast enough,” and a case of the “I’m not fueled enough” to finish. In this process, I learned so much about who I am and what I can do when staring adversity in the face!

I’m in a big build…today (Friday) adversity had me sitting on the side of the road in tears with 10 miles to go. I had lots of thoughts and choices while sitting under the tree. I chose to get back on Mojo and continue to chase my dreams! As Coach Kelly says, “it is supposed to feel like that and that this is what it takes. :)” First solo century is in the books!

Best Swim?

Swimming in Mirror Lake was probably one of the best experiences of the summer! It was so much fun to swim with an underwater guide wire! All lakes should be closed to motorized vehicles and have have an underwater guide wire available for swimmers!

Swimming in Mirror Lake in Lake Placid, NY

Best training weekend?

The Track Cat Fitness Training Camp in Stowe, Vermont at the end of July was CHALLENGING + SO. MUCH. FUN! I climbed Smuggler’s Notch. I climbed App Gap. I ran trails. I swam. In addition to all of the fun, there was community, riding, running, swimming, eating, learning, and growing as an athlete.

#trackcatstrong

Best training compass?

Coach Kelly with Track Cat Fitness has provided me with structure, focus, guidance, feedback, support, accountability, motivation + so much more! She has paved the yellow brick road for me this year and I am forever grateful! Standing beside me, believing in me, educating me, and helping me to become a better, #trackcatstrong athlete every day!

Loved meeting Coach Kelly + spending time with her and other amazing athletes at the Vermont Training Camp put on by Track Cat Fitness!

Best enCOEURaging moment?

Thanks to the support of Coeur Sports, Ignite Yoga, and Team Chiropractic for helping me provide a recovery clinic for women! The community! The learning! The practice! The enCOEURaging! The supporting! The love!

Learning!
Practicing!
Community!

Best recovery secret?

Wearing my CEP recovery tights as part of my work attire after a tough morning workout. Hello style + recovery! The best of both worlds!

Best tapering adventure?

Having my sister, brother-in-law, and 3 nieces vacation with us in Mont Tremblant for a few days was so much fun! We don’t get to see each other nearly enough (since they live in California and we live in Iowa), so this was a special treat!

My family from California came for a few days! #happyheart
These peeps hold 4 keys to my heart!

Best new piece of gear?

This was SUPER easy! We had some REALLY HOT + HUMID summer days this year, which forced me out of my comfort zone as I became a part of the #sportsbrasquad! I absolutely love the Coeur Sports sports bras! Not only are they super cute, functional, and comfortable, but they also have a hidden pocket that is perfect for carrying keys, nutrition, or ice!

So happy + #grateful to finally put together a pretty solid long run despite the full sun, warm temps, + high dew point. Mother Nature put up a fight, but I won Wednesday! #sportsbrasquad

Best way to stay healthy?

This was also SUPER easy…Sound Probiotics has been keeping me healthy since March 2015! As endurance athletes, we put ourselves at risk for a dysfunctional immune system because of the intensity and duration of our workouts. When stress (life, work, or otherwise), inadequate sleep, poor diet choices, cold weather, alcohol or travel are thrown into the mix, our immune system is even further suppressed. How has Sound Probiotics helped me? Sound Probiotics helps in nutrient production and absorption, helps fend off viruses, promotes the production of cytokines and mucin, and limits bad bacteria in the gut. I have experienced less fatigue and fewer sick days, which as a middle school teacher who is an endurance athlete speaks volumes! This has provided me with the opportunity for more training and better performance. I would highly recommend all endurance athletes use Sound Probiotics to stay healthy!!

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#soundathlete = #soundlife #winningtakesguts

Best piece of racing advice you received?

Hello race morning! Time to drink my Karma Kombucha, eat my muesli, and get inspired to do and be my best as I embark on the race ahead:

“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”

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Most inspirational athlete?

There are so many that I can’t pick just one! 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 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 to many people who inspire me to pick just one!

Best support crew?

Hands down…Dad and my Aunt Linda! These two helped us load our car with ALL. THE. GEAR. from our 4 week vacation the day before our race. They were up EARLY on race morning to help us get to transition. They were patient with the process of all of the race morning shenanigans. They were in all of the right places at all of the right times during the race. They helped us get our gear after the race. They cheered, photographed, and spread love to us 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 both so much!

Two of the best spectators EVER! Thanks to Dad and Aunt Linda for cheering us on all day long! Love you both!

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

Courage over comfort, believe, fun!!

Tell me about your 2017 year!! What are your “bests” from 2017?!

2017 Season Review

If I had to sum up my 2017 season in one word, it would be FANTABULOUS! Sure it was full of ups and downs, but overall, it was SO. MUCH. FUN! Here are some of the ups and downs of my 2017 season:

Ran my way to 3rd on a hilly 10K course with a finish time of 50:32…only 1:41 off my PR (on the same course)!
So giddy! 16 watt improvement in my FTP test today means I’m over the 200 watt threshold! I never imagined I would see this day! So grateful for Coach Kelly to push me WAY out of my comfort zone and help me get stronger this season!
Not quite the race I was hoping for, but I pushed as hard as I could all the way through! Grateful the rain held off until after I finished! Another Drake 1/2 is in the books!
First long solo ride on Saturday! HUGE confidence builder!
“This is HUGE! Congrats. A back to back 4 hour ride is a great prep session for the Ironman build up. I’m so happy it went well and glad you do not back down in the face of adversity. You’ve evolved a lot as an athlete this year. I’m proud of you today. Good work.” ~Coach Kelly
The heat index was 97F with sustained winds of 22-25 mph and gusts up to 35 mph. It was a rough day! Not what we’ve trained for, but we each set a new PR since we did a new distance…
So giddy with today’s split run! 2×7 miles at sub 8:30 minute/mile pace left a HUGE smile on my face for run #2 today as I crushed my goal!!
So happy + #grateful to finally put together a pretty solid long run despite the full sun, warm temps, + high dew point. Mother Nature put up a fight, but I won Wednesday!
I’m in a big build…today (Friday) adversity had me sitting on the side of the road in tears with 10 miles to go. I had lots of thoughts and choices while sitting under the tree. I chose to get back on Mojo and continue to chase my dreams! As Coach Kelly says, “it is supposed to feel like that and that this is what it takes. :)” First solo century is in the books!
So much fun to meet my Coeur Sports teammate Saturday and cheer her on to 1st place AG as she raced in Iowa last weekend!
Turning social media friends into real friends is so much fun!
Pure joy comes when you learn new skills! Congratulations to Maggie! She stared fear in the face and won! So proud of you Maggie!
2nd place AG at the Okoboji Triathlon!
Loved meeting Coach Kelly + spending time with her and other amazing athletes at the Vermont Training Camp put on by Track Cat Fitness!
Climbing my way up App Gap in Vermont at the Track Cat Training Camp…That. Was. HARD!
Last long run before #IMMT in Stowe, Vermont…now it is time to taper and soak up all this training!
Swimming in Mirror Lake in Lake Placid, NY
This lady is AMAZING! Meeting my Coeur Sports Teammate, Amy Farrell!
Let’s get this party started! #IMMT
So much coeur on this #IMMT course! #bikelove
Love you Ericka! Thanks for the run photo at #IMMT!
CyMan Sprint Triathlon…running my way to the finish!
Running the Hillbilly 1/2 Marathon with these two crazy kids was so much fun!

Thanks to Coach Kelly with Track Cat Fitness for helping me become #trackcatstrong this year both mentally and physically! I’m super excited to see what is in store for us in 2018!

Racing Ironman Mont Tremblant with Coeur

“Racing teaches us to challenge ourselves. It teaches us to push beyond where we thought we could go. It helps us to find out what we are made of. This is what we do – this is what it’s all about.” ~PattiSue Plummer, US Olympian

Grab your favorite beverage, kick up your feet, and enjoy what is a really long race report! 🙂

Pre-Race:

The alarm went off at 3 am, but I was already laying awake. I didn’t sleep well at all, which was a first for me, but thankfully it didn’t seem to impact my day. After eating my pre-race breakfast of muesli + peanut butter + Pure Clean Beet Powder + frozen mixed berries with a Karma Kombucha, I donned my Coeur Sports race kit and prepared for the day by reading my pre-race quote from Swimming to Antarctica by Lynne Cox before heading to the race start.

My pre-race ritual…read Swimming to Antarctica while drinking my Karma Kombucha!

We arrived at parking lot #2 by 4:30 am, which made it easy to find a place to park that would be convenient for after the race to get all of our gear loaded up. We walked to the transition area, dropped off our bike and run special needs bags, and waited until 5 am for body marking and the transition area to open. After body marking, I had bike support fill my tires, lubed up the chain (it had rained on Saturday after Mojo was racked for the night and I wanted to make sure my chain was greased back up), filled my water bottle, put my bike bottles on my bike, got my Garmin on my bike and started, saw Erika and gave her a pre-race hug, put my salty balls in my T1 bag, and hit the kybo up one more time before heading to the swim start.

Ready to race!

At the swim start, I got into my Roka wetsuit, ate part of a granola bar and two Pure Clean Beet’ums, drank down some water, dropped off my morning clothes bag, got another hug from Erika, and made my way to the water for the swim warm-up. As I was exiting the water from the swim warm-up, a lady came up to me and gave me a hug and we shared good luck wishes to each other. I have no idea who this lady was because we were both wearing wetsuits, swim caps, and goggles, but I am grateful for the pre-race hug, so thank you to whomever you were! It was this point that I decided it didn’t matter what the day brought me, I was going to race with Coeur (French for heart) for the entire day! I am going to share my coeur, but also fill my coeur up throughout the entire day!

The Iron Hippie and I making our way to the water.

After the Canada National Anthem and fly over, the fireworks went off and the male pros were off, followed by the female pros and then the age group athletes.

Lined up and ready to start!

Swim: 1:24:16 (average pace of 2:11/100 meters)

We lined up by the 1:15-1:20 pace sign for the swim and were soon moving into separate corrals waiting for the beep every 5 seconds to send the next group of swimmers into the water. This was the cleanest swim start I’ve ever experienced! As I entered the water, a calm came over me like I’ve never experienced before and I set out at comfortable pace. I felt solid and strong. The water temperature of 66*F was perfect…I much prefer the colder water! I had very little contact with other swimmers until buoy #6 when I swam up on a guy who couldn’t hold a straight line for nothing. He was definitely a faster swimmer than I was, but because he was zig-zagging back and forth all over the course, he swam a lot farther than he needed to. Every time I tried to pass him, I would get cut off by him again. This continued for about 3 more buoys before I finally passed him. The rest of the swim was pretty uneventful as I had very little contact with other swimmers. I had a slower swim than I’d hoped for, but also didn’t leave everything in the water. I was trying to pace myself well for the long bike + run ahead. So much coeur during the swim!

Let’s get this party started! #swimlove

T1: 10:09

There is a rather long run (300 meters) from the swim exit to transition. When I got to the transition area, I grabbed my T1 bag and quickly made my way into the women’s change tent. I was shocked at the lack of volunteers in the change tent to help the athletes. I am very self sufficient and don’t change, but for those ladies who do a full change and need help getting a dry sports bra on a wet body, they would have had to get help from other female athletes. I quickly put on my socks, bike shoes, and helmet. I loaded my pockets and put on my arm coolers and sunglasses as I ran to my bike.

Long run on the red carpet from the swim exit to transition!

Bike: 7:05:08 (average speed of 15.81 mph)

As I left transition on my bike, I saw Dad and my Aunt Linda cheering me on! I quickly mounted Mojo after the mount line and set off on the bike. Coach Kelly instructed me to dial it back and go out conservatively for the first 56 miles. I was feeling good and really wanted to hammer, but I knew I had a long day in the saddle, so I sat back and tried to keep my watts near the 130 mark. I consumed 2 salty ball every 30 minutes on the bike and NBS hydration every 20 minutes while sipping water the rest of the ride, which is exactly what I’d done in training and it worked beautifully.

Let’s go ride!

This course is essentially 2 x 2 different out and back sections. The first out and back is from the village on Montee Ryan to 117 out to Labelle, back on 117 to St. Jovite, from St. Jovite back on 117 to Montee Ryan and back to the village. There is a “no passing zone” on Montee Ryan in each direction (away from the village and toward the village). The second out and back is 10K out and 10K back on Chemin Duplessis. There is another “no passing zone” on one of the big descents on this section as we return to the village. If an athlete passes another athlete in any of these “zones,” the athlete doing the passing is automatically disqualified and removed from the course. There is plenty of climbing on this course, but in my opinion, this is much easier than Ironman Wisconsin’s bike course.

Loving this course and enjoying the beautiful views!

I felt great during the first 56 miles as I consumed my nutrition according to plan and held back my power so I could open it up during the next 56 miles (or so I thought). My only two goals were to keep my power at 130 watts or less and not get lapped by the professional triathletes racing. I had to remind another athlete of the “no passing zone” leaving the village on Montee Ryan as we were headed to 117, since he attempted to start passing me, but backed off when I reminding him of the no passing zone. I also wanted to go faster in this section, but there was an athlete in front of me that I had to stay behind on the descent to avoid a DQ. As I made my way out to Labelle, I was in awe of the beautiful scenery around me. Sure there were hills to climb,  but there were also some amazing descents to enjoy. As I made my way to St. Jovite, I just soaked it all in…the beauty, the spectators out cheering, and the feelings of pure joy that I was getting to ride my bicycle! I was also super pumped to have achieved both of my goals for the first 56 miles!

Two of the best spectators EVER! Thanks to Dad and Aunt Linda for cheering us on all day long! Love you both!

Each of these out and back sections is done twice. So during the second 56 miles I was ready to cruise, but Mother Nature had increased the winds a bit. I stopped at the first aid station to refill my NBS hydration bottles before fighting some headwinds on the way out to Labelle. Thankfully it was only about 12 miles of fighting the headwind while climbing to Labelle…riding in Iowa means a LOT of windy training rides, so I was ready for this! Mentally I got into a bit of a negative funk as I was struggling physically…not just with the headwinds while climbing, but I felt a bit depleted nutritionally despite nailing my nutrition plan to this point. Once I turned around in Labelle, the tail wind was a blessing and I stopped at the aid station just outside of Labelle to eat a banana and use the kybo…I just can’t make myself pee on the bike while riding. I felt good and strong as I made my way to St. Jovite and was rejuvenated by the crowds and the fact that I was heading back to the village for the final push on the bike course. The 10K out on Chemin Duplessis was tough, but I settled into my easiest gear and steadily climbed my way to the turn around. I was so happy to have ridden the whole course (there were some people who walked their bikes up some of the steeper hills) while staying in my saddle (I never climbed out of the saddle…wahoo). I kept my power and heart rate in check, which would hopefully benefit me on the run! Lots of coeur on the bike!

So much coeur on this course! #bikelove

T2: 5:47

I quickly handed Mojo over to an amazing volunteer who returned her to her spot and removed my helmet on my way to the change tent. I also unzipped my speed top as I knew I wanted to run in the tri top I was wearing under my speed top. I grabbed my T2 bag, stripped my top, changed my socks and shoes, grabbed my nutrition visor, and race belt. I put my race belt and visor on while exiting T2. I made my way to the kybo to pee one more time before starting the run.

Run: 4:51:26 (average pace of 11:07 min/mile)

I felt so strong at the beginning of my run, but having run countless stand alone marathons and 4 marathons at the end of Ironman races, I knew it may not last, so I decided to ride this wave for as long as I could while keeping my pace in check. I broke the marathon into ~8 x 5K segments. I started off easy as I made my way through the first 5K of the run, which is rolling hills. I was so pumped to see one of my Coeur Sports teammates, cheering me on during this section of the run! Thanks for the love Ericka!

Love you Ericka! Thanks for the photo! #runlove

Once I hit the bike path, I knew I had just over a 5K to the turn around. We had done some training runs on this section of the course, so I knew it would be flat and very quiet with few spectators…mostly other athletes + the sounds of our own footfalls. I was still feeling good, so I just kept ticking away the kilometers (everything is in kilometers in Canada). I was taking in water at every aid station, bananas and oranges at nearly every aid station, and my Motts fruit chews every 30 minutes. At mile 4, I HAD to visit the kybo…well, this was a first! I’ve never had this problem during a race before! After a quick stop, I was back to running and spreading all the coeur I could on the course…I hope this lifted others up as much as it lifts me up to spread the love! On my way to the turn around, I saw another Coeur Sports Teammate, Erika, and the Iron Hippie, both running strong! I made it to the turn around, knocking out just over another 5K and was still feeling strong, which I was super stoked about. The only walking I had done to this point was through the aid stations to eat and drink and up the big hills. I decided at this point that I would continue to run (with the exceptions of the aid stations and the bigger hills) at least through the half marathon and re-evaluate how I was feeling. I had never had an IM marathon feel this good, so I just rode the wave and went with it! At about mile 8, I needed to visit the kybo again…ugh! Feeling much lighter, I was still running strong! 😉 Onward…to the end of the bike path and through the rolling hills back to the village! It was so much fun to see Dad and Aunt Linda in the village (as well as all of the other spectators) and know that I was still feeling strong and ready to rock the second half of the marathon!

Yep…Still running strong!

With 4 of my 5Ks behind me, it was time to buckle down! The new goal…make it through the next 2 x 5K distances while still running and feeling strong and then re-evaluate. I continued to knock of the kilometers, spread coeur, see Erika and the Iron Hippie on the run, and made my way to the 19 mile point before needing to visit the kybo again…this time I had to wait a bit for an open one, but I knew I COULD NOT make it to the next one without a mess down my legs, so I waited just a few minutes. After lots of relief, I was back to running strong! I was starting to feel the fatigue, but with just over 6 miles this is where I knew I needed to kick in the mental game, stay focused, continue to run as long as I could, spread more coeur, and enjoy the ride to the finish line! As I made my way to mile 24, I could hear Mike Reilly bringing people home to the Ironman Mont Tremblant finish line and I was so excited to hear him call me across that finish line!

Thanks to Beth, my Track Cat teammate, for capturing this finish line photo from the live feed!

Overall: 13:36:44 = 43 of 86 F40-44, 237 of 461 Females, and 1169 of 1816 Overall

It was a beautiful day for racing in Mont Tremblant! The weather was near perfect…a high of 77*F on race day with winds picking up later in the day. This is the first Ironman race that I feel like I executed it the way it should be executed! I finally nailed my nutrition (despite the kybo visits), I was mentally and physically strong, and I had a PR on the distance by almost 30 minutes! I set myself up for a run that I was FINALLY able to actually run and It. Felt. Amazing! Moving up 514 places on the run was a dream! I left some of my coeur on that course, but I took so much more with me! For this, I am very grateful!

Gratitude:

I am SO grateful to my tribe for helping me get to the finish line! My parents, Aunt Linda, my sisters and their families, my friends and family, Jeff & Deb, Nick with Vitality Massage (my massage therapist), Melanie with Massotherapie Sportive (my massage therapist in Mont Tremblant), Chris with Team Chiropractic (my ART Chiropractor), Kyle at Kyle’s Bikes, Coeur Sports + my Coeur teammates, Sound Probiotics, Roka Sports, and Newton Running. A special thanks to Coach Kelly at Track Cat Fitness for setting me up for success, making me #trackcatstrong, and helping me achieve a new PR. To my fave, my #1…the Iron Hippie…you are my rock and I’m so grateful that we are on this crazy journey together! Thank you!