Be Careful What You Wish For

Do you have a bucket list? I do, I call it “the list”. One of the things that has been on it since day one is to:

– Learn to Play a Musical Instrument

I’ve never learned how to play anything. I was driving in the car the other day and I was listening to Hawaiian music (like I love to listen to) and all the sudden it hit me.

I want to learn how to play the ukulele.

So I emailed Troy:

All I want for Christmas is a Ukulele. I’m serious.

He had to call to verify. “Is this a joke?”

“Umm, no, not in the slightest, I want a ukulele”

Troy: “Where am I going to get a ukulele 3 days before Christmas”

Sonja: “I don’t know, ask Santa maybe”

Troy’s entire family is “musical”. His aunt is an opera singer, his mom is a music teacher, and all of Troy’s family plays instruments. Troy plays the trombone, but not really any more. Oddly there is never music playing in his parents house when I am over there.

So Troy enlisted the help of his mom and low and behold, waiting for me under the tree this Christmas was:

Oh dear, now what do I do with it? I really liked just strumming it and I would have been content to just walk around strumming for a couple weeks. It really puts you in the island mood. But low and behold, as luck would have it, they got me “Ukulele Book #1” as well, so I immediately delved into it.

Annie is opening presents in the background and what am I doing? I’M LEARNING HOW TO PLAY THE UKULELE. Bad mom!

So ever since Saturday, whenever I am practicing the ukulele, I look confused, like this:

and this:

and this:

and this:

If I start looking too confused, then Troy comes over and tries to teach me things. I’m thinking of getting him his own guitar or ukulele but I secretly think that he tries to help just so he can get his hands on my ukulele. There may or may not have been a few squirmishes the past few days over the ukulele.

We’ve had to set some ground rules. Troy can not just pick my my ukulele and start playing better than me. Troy can not try to teach me music stuff unless I am ready and willing to learn it. And lastly, Troy must help me when it’s out of tune and I can’t get it back in tune.

Once we laid those out, it’s been smooth sailing.

Except my fingers. Ohhhh, my fingers. This is seriously why I haven’t blogged. My fingers hurt so bad from playing. I practice until I can’t play the F chord anymore and then I know it’s time for bed.

I love my ukulele, even though it’s really hard to play and I am totally, 100% out of my element. I’ve set some goals and I’m content to work diligently in the direction of them. I think it will be a nice relaxing distraction during training season. A way to engage the brain….and the fingers.

I’m sure you wanted me to end this post with a nice little video but if you thought that would happen then you are sorely mistaken.

Here’s to learning new things, and getting in the island mood every evening.

Real World, Real Veggie Challenge Winner

This has been a fun diversion on my blog. No real talk of triathlon, I hope you all survived without your fix. So I’ve been eating “clean” and “kind” since December 1st (not my terms). Clean as in with the season, organically, and without any added sugars. “Kind” as in no critters…except fungus, and bacteria, I’ve been devouring those. This was really just an experiment. Since I didn’t have to worry about adverse training effects, I’ve been having fun cooking new things. I am trained in traditional French cooking. I’ve taken years of cooking classes, so it’s been really interesting to see how the vegans get it done. I dig it, I dig how fresh and upfront my veggies taste now. My food feels more alive than usual.

I had an interesting thing happen this weekend. Kinda scary actually.

So, Saturday I had some butter, and I had flour, and I had some cheese. I haven’t been trying to be gluten free or anything, but as a result of what I “have” been eating…I haven’t really had gluten since I started. So I munched some breadsticks at our apartment holiday party, they were good, they had butter on them, and parmesan, and they were warm, and really yummy. I came home with a pretty bad headache and went right to bed.

Yesterday I went for a long slow run with friends and then afterwards I had a Mediterranean veggie sandwich from Panera, on Panera bread, with Feta cheese, again, some of the first wheat/dairy in several weeks. For dinner we had a little Ironman party and Troy made home made bread for the occasion. I had some, it was good. We also had pasta as the main dish, with a fresh veggie sauce and a big salad. For dessert I had two of these little cookies that Michelle made. They were very tasty.

Then we sat down to watch the Ironman. In the middle I got up and my head hurt really bad. Raging head ache. It’s so rare that I get a headache. After the Ironman was over I couldn’t even drive home, so Troy had to drive. When we got home I ran some warm water over my head and then I lost it. The worst headache I have ever had. It took me 10 minutes to go the 8 steps from the bathtub to bed. I laid on the floor of my closet groaning for some time. I thought my head was going to explode.

What have I done to myself? This is what I was thinking while I was laying on my closet floor, curled into a little ball. I love the way I feel eating clean, but oh my goodness. I think the eggs, cheese, gluten, and added sugar in the cookies over the past 24 hours added up to make me uber uber ill. I don’t even know what to think of it all. My natural question is “Is it worth the awesome side effects of going clean if you are going to pay big time if you eat unclean”?

I don’t even know, but what I do know is that I woke up this morning and immediately downed a ton of blended veggies and fruit. I’m almost afraid of eating something unhealthy, I don’t want to feel like that again.

So there you go, for what it’s worth. I feel a bit of a conundrum.

Therefore, let’s give away some Justin’s Nut Butter. It’s Monday, and today Megan and I picked the winner of the Real World Real Veggie Challenge (or whatever it’s called). It was hard to pick but we went with Kara. She really took the challenge and ran with it. She’s made some great recipes and put up with some negative press. CONGRATULATIONS Kara, get me your address please!

And by the way, what is up with how sensitive people are around food? Nobody seems to have any problems with my triathlon lifestyle, but the minute I bring up food (even as an experiment), I start getting hate mail. I find it odd how judgmental people can be about what others choose to put in their mouth. I don’t eat to make a statement, I eat to fill my tummy. Some people do, and I’m cool with that, but I just find it interesting how people jump to conclusions. I know there are serious issues surrounding food, but really there are serious issues surrounding EVERYTHING. I’m not ready to step on any pedestals, and that’s just my personal stance. I’m glad others do, because it helps me inform myself when I am researching. Wow, heated stuff!

Now back to the previous scheduled programming…triathlon!

Real World Food Challenge Update

This Real World Food Challenge is shaping up to be a lot of fun! I am really enjoying all the blog posts, and the totals coming in from around the world!

Kara did a great job and majorly scored at the Marquette Food Co-op in Michigan coming in at $37.16. She did have to drive on snowy roads to get it done though, discipline! She also had to endure a nasty comment on her blog about the whole thing. I applaud you Kara, keep fighting the good fight, you brainwashed blogger you.

Donna is like a 12 hour flight away and she participated by comparing three different UK online shopping sites. Her all organic price came in at $49.80 (exchange rate applied). Her post really got me wondering what the price of the box would be if none of it was organic, I wonder what it would be at Walmart…could I even find pea shoots at Walmart?

Kelly rocked it out in Baldwinsville, New York by making a trip to Wegmans. Yes, this does sound like a funny name for a store, but we have “King Soopers” here, so I’m not judging! Kelly did pretty good with a total of $46.13, but similar to my experience she couldn’t locate organic kiwi, lime, or pomegranate. I had trouble with limes too, I can sympathize. Kelly experienced a similar phenomena as I did at Whole Foods. I could buy one conventional lemon, but if I wanted to buy organic, I had to buy a bag of 10 lemons. What is up with that? I love lemons and with all the Chuckie tea I drink, 10 lemons is not a problem, but I still just don’t get it.

So, folks, keep it coming! This is a lot of fun and I’m really loving all the price comparisons out there. Now I promised some recipes. Well, rather than recipes I’m going to give you rundowns, hopefully this will give you license to get started but keep you free enough to get your hands dirty!

Sooo, you’ve got some fennel on your hands? Here are a few ideas. Chop it up along with some sweet potatoes and any other root veg you have around that you need to use up (carrots, potatoes, etc). Toss it in some EV Olive Oil (EVOO), some Salt and Pepper, and throw it in a baking dish, 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. Toss some balsamic all over it before it goes in too, that makes it extra yummy. Pull it out when everything has a nice roast. Mmmm.

Another one, dice up that fennel and saute it with some EVOO. Cook up some Israeli Cous Cous (or rice), and toss in some pomegranate seeds (to get the seeds see here). Whisk together (separately) some red wine vinegar, and oil (whatever you like, I like grape seed sometimes) and use that as a dressing. I like Thyme and Sesame Seeds in it as well. Major Nom Nom.

Why so many lemons? I admit, that is my fault. Fresh lemons alkalize the body (lemons are acidic, producing alkali chemicals in the stomach). Michelle and I drink a lot of what we call Chuckie Tea. It was one of the first things he had me do when I got sick once and the habit stuck. A tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (I get Organic Braggs), 1/2 lemon juiced, and agave or honey to taste. It’s a daily thing for me.

I’m also noticing that I am using a lot of lemons now as dressing. My favorite Kale salad right now is chopped kale with EVOO rubbed into the leaves, sunflower seeds, diced red bell pepper, ginger powder, diced avocado, grated carrot, and then topped with the juice of one lemon.

Juicing lemons used to be annoying until I went home and used what I thought was my moms overpriced and highly unnecessary lemon juicer. I immediately asked for one for Christmas, which she bought me on the spot, and it has become one of the most used kitchen utensils I have. Seriously how did I ever live without this thing?

PEA SHOOTS! What on earth can you do with them (Troy says “Tasty Snack”)? Well, they have their own webpage, ya gotta love a veg with it’s own website! I went ahead and served mine up via a recipe that I found in Clean Start by Terry Walters. Carrots, Chickpeas, onion, Avo, Pea Sprouts, and a nice Balsamic dressing. It really doesn’t take much more than that. After 2 weeks of eating crazy amounts of veg, we finally found a leafy green that Annie loves. We will be growing more of these on our own in our windowsill.

Well, I hope this helps get you started, or inspired. I certainly have been inspired. The more veg I eat and the more recipes I make, the more fun I seem to have. The next phase will be to teach Troy how to make some of my favorites so that when training time kicks back in we can continue to eat this way. He is really enjoying it, but I’m doing all the cooking (and chopping) right now, and I won’t have as much time when training is going again. He’s excited about it, and I am really thankful for that.

One last thing. I took this picture today at my local “King Soopers”. TODAY. I took it TODAY, can I say that one more time…..TODAY, as in December 15th. There were three separate stands like this, right next to the checkouts. Really?

Happy cooking, happy eating, happy training, and for tri-gods sake, stay away from the Easter candy!

The Great Organic Basket Challenge

As I elluded to in a previous post I found this cool company called Door To Door Organics. I have been eating as much organic veggies as I can find. Not as much as I can afford but literally as much as I can procure. Does Troy think I’m loony? Yes. Is he feeling as wonderful as I am? Yes! We got our second box of D2DO veggies today, and yes, it was wonderful. I tweeted a picture of all the goods that came in our box and asked what people on Twitter thought?

Megan, my homegirl who lives in a different state, responded and thought you might be able to save more if you did it yourself. We exchanged a few tweets, I gave her the list, and low and behold she was off to her Whole Foods in St. Louis to simulate my box and get a price of her own. Yes, Megan, my sister from another mother (and father), is a scientist (she has a PhD), can you tell?

My Door To Door Organics box cost: $38.66
Megans Self Made Organic Box (err Bag) cost: $51.18

Megan also gets points deducted because two of her things weren’t organic (WF didn’t have them organically).

So now I’m all curious. I headed to my Whole Foods this morning to see how much my box would cost from there. I had to bring my kitchen scale because I wasn’t going to actually repurchase the items. I think the produce stockers thought I was crazy because I kept asking for the prices of items that had lost their price tags, but then I would weigh them and put them back.

I did buy some fennel, but I really can’t ever eat enough fennel, I love it in the winter. So my Whole Foods price is more of a close approximation, and came in at $41.53. That amount also included two items that weren’t organic (limes and navel oranges), and also the lemons were an issue because to buy organic you had to buy a bag of 10, so I took half that price for the 5 that are on the list. This is more reason why Megan should have moved closer to me, my Whole Foods bag was 18.85% cheeper than her WF bag (see, I CAN do math).

So we got an idea, OK, Megan got the idea, because well, she’s the scientist and it’s pretty much her job to come up with things like this to study and all. Megan’s idea was to have a contest of sorts, she likes to “study” things and we are now both interested in what sort of prices this box would cost in different parts of the country.

Here’s where you come in! As much as Megan is the scientist, see I’m the marketing director, so all I could think about was what we should give away. Ummm, DUH, Justin’s Nut Butter. You all go crazy for Justin’s and I visited the Justin’s office yesterday with PIC and they gifted me with a sweet new jar of my favorite flavor: Chocolate Almond. So, how about some of that?

What do you have to do? Well, you need to buy “the list” of veggies, and they need to be organic, or else Megan will doc you like $5 per veggie and charge you some horrible rate, you can read her blog for the nitty-gritty details. She’s good with the details, I just like to give stuff away! I’m posting the list below and we are looking for you to head to the store (tell us which one), buy all the organic veggies on the list, make sure the store rings them up separate from the other items you accidentally tossed in the cart, and tell us how much. Take some pictures, make a blog post out of it. Yes, I realize this is a big to-do.

Now since this is quite the endeavor (I know Megan just up and did it all on her own), and since I am the marketing director and she is the scientist, I’m thinking that a bit of a Justin’s cornucopia would be a worthy prize. Here’s what I am thinking. That’s 2 jars of Justin’s and two boxes of squeeze packs (so 20 squeeze packs total).

Here is the list of veggies. Now go forth and shop, photograph, blog, post recipies, etc. Oh, and read Megans blog for the exact nitty gritty details if your into that. I’m just the marketing director.

Winner will be decided by Megan and I, and will be determined by how much we like your blog post (must be a blogger to win). We will pick a winner on December 20th.

Produce List (ALL ORGANIC):
– Roma Tomatoes – 5
– Avocados – 2
– Collard Greens – 1 bunch (don’t worry we’ll post recipes)
– Fennel – 1 LARGE root
– Golden Sweet Potatoes – 3 small
– Zucchini – 4
– Cucumber – 1
– Pomegranate – 2
– Anjou Pear – 2
– Kiwi – 2
– Pinova Apple – 2
– Pink Lady Apple – 2
– Navel Orange – 4
– Pea Sprouts – 1 box (also called Young Pea Greens, near the sprouts)
– Lemon – 5
– Lime – 2

Have fun and post your blog entries in the comments.


2011 is shaping up to be an exciting year. I have made a big change in sponsorship that most of my blog readers will be finding out about…well, right now. I’m a traitor, and team switcher! I kid, a little. I have decided to take an opportunity to race the 2011 season on the Kompetitive Edge team. I am extremely excited to race for both TYR and Kompetitive Edge this coming year, it was a great opportunity for me, and sometimes you need to grab the bull by the horns.

I love all of the people I have met through Team Trakkers, and they are such stand up individuals that I know they will continue to love and support me although I’m not wearing a neon green race kit. I know I have lead many of you to apply for Team Trakkers (I loved all those emails by the way) and please believe me when I tell you that I have nothing but love for all that is green. If you will be suiting up in green next year, you are a star in my book.

As I talked to Carole, the Team Trakkers mama bear, about my decision it was hard not to feel like a total amateur about all this stuff. I’m not used to having choices, opportunities, and I would be lying if I said the prospect didn’t make me a bit uncomfortable at times. Talking to Charlie who owns Rev3 and Trakkers reminded me just how far and high his company will climb and I hope that I can still be a part of Rev3 success for years to come.

I am unbelievably excited to be racing for Kompetative Edge this year. I have set a big goal that may take several years to achieve (which I would tell you about if I wasn’t such a chicken). However I am really committed to this goal and it is important for me to surround myself in an environment that is dedicated to helping me achieve my very specific mission. Kompetitive Edge fits that mold. As a swim and triathlon shop that carries the best of the best and wants their athletes racing in the cream of the crop gear, I am getting a tangible amount of local and specific support. I believe in their goals as a company and I’m excited to work with them throughout the year. They are committed to supporting athletes that are racing in Kona and that is where my 2011 season is headed.

Changes come in many forms. I love my Trakkers Teamies, and I always will. I can’t wait to get to know and come to love my Kompetitive Edge Teamies as well. If you have any questions for me, please feel free to email me or “contact me” using the link at the top of the blog. I’m an open book!

I’m Intense

I just am. I’m intense. When I do something, I go all in. I push all my chips forward and say “double down”. It’s not that I’m risky. I’m just intense.

So, in 2010 I unleashed my intensity on a rather daunting race schedule: 100 miler (because I wanted to) and 3 Ironmans. And when I qualified for Kona I focused (all) my intensity on training to do well there.

Nothing more intense than red Jellyfish! Annie, Mom and I viewed these at the San Francisco Academy of Sciences, can’t really tell that they are jellys, can you?.

After IMAZ I got really sick. I had warded off several colds towards the end of 2010 with Zicam, and Chuckie tea. So when I got sick after IMAZ I just let myself get sick. I said “Body, go to town, just get as sick as you want and I won’t even try to mask your symptoms, I will just let you do what you want for once”.

So I focused (intensely) my efforts into the couch. I didn’t really leave the couch. There were a few days I didn’t leave my parents house. Sometimes I went from couch, to hot tub, to bath tub, and back to couch. I was focused in my lack of activity. Thank goodness for grandparents to entertain Annie. Although we did get in lots of mommy/daughter snuggle time.

More cool jellys from the Academy of Sciences

By the time 10 days of that rolled around I was healed up and ready to delve into “the next thing”. Where could I heave my intensity into next? I totally knew what it would be.

FOOD! I love food. I love good food. By the end of last season I was getting very basic in the food department. Troy was doing a lot of dinner duty, and I was doing a lot of Whole Foods salad bar duty. I was craving good food. Being that it is the offseason, I am taking this opportunity to explore some aspects of FOOD that intrigue me. For once I’m not going to need to worry that my daily eating will impact my training adversely. I can explore for once.

Holiday Mixed Grain Pilaf with Red Chard from Rich Rolls cookbook Jai Seed

You may be thinking cookies, and baking here, but it’s quite the opposite. I love healthy, fresh, good, clean food. I’ve been intrigued by athletes like Rich Roll, and Scott Jurek who are bad asses and are vegan (even though I eat meat regularly). I’m intrigued by the term macrobiotic, and I don’t even really know what that means.

Deep Dish Greens with Millet Crust from Terry Walters book Clean Start

So, I’m taking the Type A, intense, individual that I am, and I doing some dabbling into food. So what if I don’t get “adequate protien” for a few days, so what if I don’t get all my B12 in. I’m learning the way I like to learn, which is “hands on”. I ask questions, I seek answers.

Seek first to understand.
-Stephen Covey

I really love learning new things. I like to broaden my horizons. I don’t like to make long term changes unless I am convinced that they are the right path, but I sure like to dabble, to learn, to get my hands dirty. I don’t pretend to know anything, I just endeavor to learn, to ask questions, that’s all.

Lemon Coconut Breakfast Bars from

So, this week I went plant based. It’s fun to monitor how I feel without trying to process the training stress along with it. It’s a bit easier to eat something and see if it’s enough, or not enough, makes me feel good, or not good when I’m not logging 22+ hours of swimbikerun. It’s a fun outlet, I’m learning things…like what “complete protein” means.

wikipedia: a source of protein that contains an adequate proportion of all nine of the essential amino acids necessary for the dietary needs of humans or other animals. Some incomplete protein sources may contain all essential amino acids, but a complete protein contains them in correct proportions for supporting biological functions in the human body.

Vegan Mashed potatoes, again from Jai Seed

The offseason is about lots of things, detraining being one of them. But I would hope that I can use my off-seasons to set myself up for good on-seasons without contributing to burn out. Food is a good start I think. Learning some new healthy recipes, learning more about nutrition, feeding my body some absolutely marvelous vegetables, those are all good things right now.

Oh, and lastly, I just signed up for Door to Door Organics and received my first box of veggies (delivered to my doorstep). Oh my goodness. I had signed up with them about 4 years ago for several months, and wow was I surprised at the quality of veggies this go around. They have really stepped up their game, and I was super duper jazzed to get my box on Friday. If you are interested (and live in Colorado) and want a referral email that is good for 50% off your first box, let me know. I’m not affiliated with them, it’s just something they let you do once you sign up.

Happy offseason, Happy eating, Happy learning!

The First Run Back

Ironman Arizona….CHECK!

The road to recovery from an Ironman is a path filled with contradictions. You are stiff and sore and have trouble getting into cars, or rolling over in bed, yet you are saddened when the soreness wears off, your physical attachment to the day fading away with it. You loate the annoyingness of the cheep plastic bracelet around your wrist that leaves a mark when you sleep and somehow got secured one knotch too tight, yet you wonder how long you can get away with wearing said cheep plastic wristband, even though nobody around you knows what it means. The cutting off of the band is the signal that you are moving on, no longer expected to be treated special.

The first run back is another right of passage. You run a few steps, then a few more, and a few more after that you realize….you are still YOU. At first your excited because you’re realizing that the Ironman didn’t break you, then you are saddened because you realize it didn’t bestow upon you any sort of special magical powers either. You are still the same darn you as you were before you raced 140.6 miles. Only you know what you have been through. Only you know what it was like for you to run down that finish chute.

But it’s a good thing that time fades most things…excpet love of course. It’s a good thing that we are able to come down off the “wow I did an Ironman” cloud and reenter society. Our family and friends thank us for that. But we will always know, and when we are in need we can always conjur up that memory of running down towards that finish line, of grinning like nothing hurt. So maybe the Ironman did give us a little bit of magic.

As I ran along this morning I pondered what the next year will have in store for me. What trials and tribulations will come my way? What weaknesses will I be able to overcome? What strengths will I strengthen? Will my heart continue to soar, will my body remain strong, healthy and happy? These are the things we wish for as athletes. We don’t wish for an easy road, we just wish for one that is paved with small rewards along the way. We hope for a road that takes us to places that we haven’t been before, that reveal to us our soul. We yearn for energy labs, sweaty bathroom trainer rides, mile 18 on the run, and downpours during training rides where we forgot our coat.

Some people think we are possessed, self absorbed, able to talk about nothing other than Ironman or triathlon. And you know, they are right. But we are also strongly convicted, passionate, tough, inspiring, and great in bed. You win some, you loose some! Glass half full? Glass half empty?

This Ironman business is a lifestyle. Some are able to dabble, some are able to flit in and out of it, but for most, once you have done an Ironman some part of it is ingrained in who you continue to be. Every year I train I feel like I continue to up things a notch. I get more serious (as if I wasn’t serious enough), I get more focused (as if I wasn’t focused enough). But this year has been different. I learned so much this year and it’s made me very excited for next year. It’s like I was given a taste of what works for me, and now I want more. I’m very Type A, I know this, but how can I not ask “What if”? I love “What if”!

So, here I go, a little rest, and recoup, and then big smiles for 2011.

Goal0 Nomad 7 Winners

Okay, folks, let me say WOW! I’ve just gone through all the tweets that transpired while I was out racing Ironman Arizona and all I can say is WOW! You guys had way too much fun and I think you really enjoyed the twittercast sponsored by Goal0!

So without further adieu, let’s reveal some winners!

#1: First off we have Kelly, who is @TriMommyKelly on Twitter and also has the blog. She guessed that I would go 10:18:32 and was the closest to my time. All of you had some very optimistic goals for me, but I think Kelly was the only one that looked at the weather report! Great Job Kelly!

#2: Hillary (@hasaunders) wins the second Nomad 7 because my mom thought she was the first responder to the trivia question.

#3: @cachedout wins a Nomad 7 because he was the ACTUAL winner to the trivia question! I know mom, it’s a little hard to tell who responded first…but it was indeed @cachedout and the twiterfeed reveals it!

Then there were the “state how your would use one in 140 characters” these were the hard ones that I had to judge. Ummm @coachkati you were disqualified for stating that you would use the Nomad 7 in the subway. No SUN! So close! @anthonybeeson you were disqualified for referring to PEDs, no good my friend, no good!!!!!! I kid with all this but I did have a hard time choosing and finally went with the following two.

#4: @milesmusclesmom: @goSonja @Goal0TakeCharge I would use Nomad to keep my call charged-nonstop phone calls from hubby asking “are you done run/bike/swim yet?”

#5: @megankillian: @goSonja race sherpa-ing for my boyfriend in 2011 in his first 24-hr mtbike race and friend at leadville100 + for me when i do rim2rim2rim

But Megan, you would have to promise to share it with @samuelhgardner. Ok?

If you won a Nomad 7, please send me your address and I will get them in the mail as soon as I get back to Denver. You can use the “contact me” tab up at the top of my blog.

Also, I would like to say a huge Thank You to Goal0. Their products rock the house and we sure have fun keeping our electronics charged while we are running around doing crazy stuff. Thanks for making many durable, reliable products!

Ironman Arizona 2010 – The Run

Jenny and I were the only ones in the transition tent and we left together. We got going and I was right behind her. She was nails and she was storming the castle. I tucked in behind her, put my warm shirt on, and started getting in my groove. My whimpers had calmed down and it actually felt really good to be out running on a relatively quiet portion of the course. Then it started raining, and then a 5 minute downpour let loose that drenched me to the bone. We crossed our first (of 12) bridges for the day and suddenly this huge rainbow popped out. I remember thinking “Ok, now that’s cool”.

Jenny and I were running fast. Like “wowah” fast. Looking back I would say “too fast” but it’s a pace I know I have it in me to run for a whole marathon off the bike and I thought to myself “is this the day?” It felt effortless, easy and my stride was so smooth and strong. I passed Jenny eventually and then I came up on someone in my age group with the name Vanessa on her bib. As I passed her I could tell she went with me. Seriously? I have almost never had anyone go with me during a pass in a triathlon. If they did it was short lived.

As you can see I spent most of the marathon looking like a train wreck. Check out how I’ve got one eyebrow under my hat strap, and the other is not. Dork! Oh, and meet Vanessa, you’ll see a lot of her.

And she STUCK. Like glue, like white on rice, like Velcro, like white dog hair on a black coat, I could go on and on here. She STUCK, for miles. I was still running fast and it still felt easy, but Vanessa was kinda freaking me out. If I ran fast she was there, if I slowed, she was there, no matter what I did she matched it. I also found out from Troy that I was 3rd in my age group. I thought that our age group would get 2 slots for sure, and 3 if we were lucky. So really, my main concern was not passing more ladies ahead, but shaking the one that was sitting on my shoulder. We were racing for most likely the final Kona slot, and we both knew it.

As we passed Chuckie at the end of the first lap I asked him rather loudly “How do I get her off me”. I admit, it was pretty rude of me to put it like that, but the girl was getting to me (great tactics on her part). She had been on me for 6 miles at that point. Chuckie said “Don’t worry, but run this next lap really hard”. All I could think was “crap”. I was doing OK still, but the thought of upping my game was a scary one. I had also picked up more than just my shaddow. I had several baby ducks hanging onto the goSonja mama duck.

goSonja train…toot toot

First Lap splits: 7:34, 7:28, 7:32, 7:23, 7:37, 8:03 (big hill), 7:27, 7:52,7:57 (carnage to come)

On the second lap I started to hurt. My entourage and my shadow stuck with me. When I slowed, they did too. Nobody passed. Half way through lap two I passed the cheer crew again. I knew I was still in third. Chuckie was about 100 yards later and at that point Meredith Kessler (PRO, took 4th overall) was lapping me. She was running pretty fast and Chuckie said “Sonja, this is Meredith Kessler and I want you to go with her for as long as you can”. I immediately went with her and thought “Oh wow, I’m going to blow up” but I went with her and I know now that he was trying to help me shake Vanessa, my shadow. It didn’t work, she matched the move step for step and hung on.

Meredith is on the left, number 58. The goSonja train is on the right.

Things really started to hurt during the second half of lap two. My little entourage and I ran slowly up the big hill and fast down the backside. My pace slowed, my legs were heavy, I was against the ropes. At the end of lap two Troy said that 2nd was 2 minutes up and 1st was 4 minutes up. I knew I needed to speed up, but it wasn’t happening. Chuckie said “Let her do some work” referring to Vanessa. Sounded like a great plan to me and not long after that she came up on my side and said “I don’t want a Kona slot, let’s work together”. My first thought was “Thank God”, my second thought was “Is she playing me?”. But regardless she took the lead during a VERY windy section and I was grateful to cruise behind her and regain my composure.

Second Lap Splits (carnage): 8:08, 7:48, 8:10, 8:10, 8:28, 8:49, 8:40, 8:45, 8:44 (OUCH!)

Turns out Vanessa wanted a Kona slot very badly and was playing me hard core. We have chatted back and forth after the race and she said that she just said that to try to calm me down to see if we could work together towards a 1-2 finish. The girl has GUTS. She’s probably the most tactical triathlete I’ve ever raced.

I was essentially bonking at this point and while cruising behind Vanessa I took in some coke, a sour apple gel (divine), some Gu chomps, some water, some energy drink, and a chunk of banana. Then I ran behind her and focused on her ponytail holder (and only her ponytail holder) for about 1.5 miles. It was just what the doctor ordered.

At mile 19.5 I just knew. I just knew. I was back. I was ready, and I was off. I pulled back ahead of Vanessa and I just told myself that if I wanted to catch anybody, I was going to need some 8 minute miles. And so I went about getting it done. So, 17.5 miles after Vanessa hopped on the goSonja bus, she got off and on I went.

The tweeting machine – so many of you enjoyed the live twitter cast sponsored by Goal0, this was the set up for much of it! The Goal0 Nomad 7 worked great! More news on the winners tomorrow!

Suddenly it was ON like donkey kong. I came over my 10th bridge and Chuckie told me to go get the girl in the teal shorts, he said she looked like she was in my age group and off I went. I was on attack. I busted the downhill off the bridge and I caught her within a mile but she had 29 written on her calf. Turns out that maybe she was confused, or she lost a battle with the Sharpie, or do I dare say it… she’s a purposefully deceiving athlete…because she was indeed in the 30-34 age group. I was nervous she would go with me, but she did not.

I go by Troy and he says 1st is 2 minutes up and your number 2. I was totally confused but I assumed I passed #2 in the port-a-pottie, or at an aid station and I didn’t see her, I didn’t think it was Ms.29. My crew knew though, they were on the ball. I also saw Michelle going the other direction in here. I was soo soo thankful. She was running, and I just caught a glance of her, but it looked like she was doing well and that gave me a boost.

I also passed my old high school boyfriend somewhere on lap two as well. He was at IMCDA this year but I didn’t know he was signed up for IMAZ too, so that was a surprise. He gave me a big high five and told me to go get ’em. I only see the guy during Ironmans, that cracks me up. I love that when he ran by my parents he said “Hi Mr.Willis”. That’s just funny! Oh and he ran by Michelle and asked if she knew me (since we were both in Trakkers green). She asked if he reads my blog (she didn’t know who he was) and he said “yes”, then she said “I’m PIC”! He said “I’m her X-boyfriend”. Oh, this story just cracks me up. Funny what goes on out there!

Here’s PIC busting a move!

2 minutes down on 1st, 4 miles to go, and I’m feeling my mo-jo. I’m definitely against the ropes but for some reason I am eating up the challenge, and using it as motivation. I was on the hunt. I would pick a girl ahead and run as hard as I could to pass her, only to see she was in another age group. I ran up the big hill harder than I had the previous two laps. I book down it and at the bottom Jane and Chris are cheering at the 24 mile mark and she says “Number 1 is 45 seconds up”. Then I know. I am going to do this or die trying.

I look ahead and I see an orange Tribe uniform. I know it’s her. I just do. I run as hard as I can to get there and I am 10 seconds back 1/2 mile later. Now I don’t know what to do. I ran 17+ miles with a shadow and the last thing I want is another one. How do I make the pass? What do I do? Do I try to be sneaky? Decisive? Sly? Friendly? I decide to just go, and run like I stole something. I make the pass and I run so hard down and around this loop-de-doo in the course. I’m telling myself “run hard, dying is ok, dying is ok, run till you die”. I’m not kidding, that’s what I’m screaming at myself in my head. I come booking out of the underpass and I’m scared shitless. I see Chuckie and Ang and Chuckie said “run as hard as you can all the way in”. And I am. I’m running as hard as I know how.

I pass Troy and Chris, Tyler and Anne and Troy is holding up one finger screaming “Number one, number one” and they all go booking across the grass running towards the finish line via the direct route. Now I’m chanting in my head “You’re winning your age group, you’re going to Kona, you’re winning your age group, you’re going to Kona”. I look behind me, she’s not on my heels. I run faster. I look again, still not there, I run faster. I never let up, not one ounce. I make all the turns to the finish, check over my shoulder about 10 times and finally, in the chute, I realize I’m good, I can celebrate. Celebrate I did, lots of high 5’s and smiles.

I look up to see 10:22 on the clock and am pretty impressed with that time, for this day. Shocked really. I get very very weepy and wobbly at the finish. It wasn’t the physical exhaustion, it was the mental, emotional, and sensory exhaustion. I look to the fence and my mom is crying and saying “Your so awesome Son” and my dad is shouting “We are so proud of you”. I get really weepy.

Third Lap Splits: 8:48, 8:24, 8:03, 8:06, 8:40 (big hill), 7:48, 7:58, 7:49, last 0.2 (6:50 pace)
The Run: 3:32:39
Total Time: 10:22:09

Ron, AKA PunkRockRunner is there in the stands, cheering up a storm. I LOVE this picture.

My finish line catcher is concerned and heading me toward the medical tent. Of all the finish lines, this one resulted in the biggest emotional release. I kept telling my finish line catcher, “I’m just really emotional”. I can understand being concerned but when you’ve been racing in the hurt locker for so long, and then running like your life depended on it for several miles, and finally you get to STOP, whew…the emotions just pour out. Relief is the main one, your fears of being eaten by a tiger (or losing the lead) are suddenly gone. I have major props for those that can keep their composure in these situations.

I hug my mom over the fencing and a volunteer lady says to my finish line catcher, “you can’t accompany her to the medical tent” and I said “Oh, I’m not going to medical” and I started to shape up. The threat of the medical tent always brings me back to reality. I pop out of the enclosure and EVERYONE is there. Troy, Chris, Mom, Dad, Jane, Tyler, Anne, Ron, Niko, Chuck, and Angela. It was awesome to see everyone’s faces. They were as shocked as I was. It was emotional, we were all so surprised at how well it all came together in the last few miles. There is really no better feeling than having all my friends and family there to smile and celebrate a great finish.

After lots of hugs all around, and good jobs I grabbed Annie and we went back into the finisher area for some grub. Annie and I shared a basket of french fries, a slice of pizza, a sprite, some chips and a cup full of grapes. During this time Troy ran to transition, collected my bike, transition bags and morning clothes bag, then ran to the car in the garage and loaded everything up. I have the most awesome husband, he does this stuff just because, and he always thinks of me first. I handed Annie back over the fence to Troy and hopped on the massage table. I started getting really cold, so Troy got me warm clothes and I headed towards the finish line just in time to see Michelle come running down the chute! She looked great, and a little emotional too…just how we like it.

She was an Ironman!!! It was fun to be in the back area with her, helping her eat fries, and getting her signed up for a massage. I got her and Michael reunited and we all agreed to meet in the hot tub at the hotel in about 45 minutes. The rest of the evening is soooo not bloggable…margs margs margs and then some midnight finish line cheering.

Fine Chrissie…you can have a hug

Twitter friends are now REAL friends, Nicole (@neo_endurance) and Nina (@ncjack). We had a lot of fun at the finish line.

And that was it. I went to bed at 1:40am that night, still in total disbelief that I won my age group. What started out as a rough day ended as a rough day too. It was really challenging, but really rewarding. One thing I learned on Sunday is that with bigger risk can come bigger rewards…or a bigger fall. The difference between the two comes down to your fire within, and a bit of luck. I went through A LOT of pain out there, but it was all worth it. And really, it usually is.

Goal0 Nomad7 winners will be revealed tomorrow!

Ironman Arizona 2010 – The Bike

So off I go out of transition. People are doing their normal crazy business and I’m settling, chilling, and doing my thing. It’s quite chilly out and I’m a bit cold with the only dry thing on me being my arm warmers. The IM Arizona course is three loops that are essentially uphill out and downhill back. I rode the course two days prior so I know it, but I have no idea what kind of pace to expect at my Ironman heart rate range. Everything I had been told was that it is a VERY fast course. Going out I was pleased. At the bottom of my Ironman heart rate range I was seeing some pretty fast numbers for going uphill, like 24mph. I’m thinking “wow, I’m going to FLY today if I’m going 24mph uphill”. I got to the half way point of the loop which is the high point of the course and made the turn around.

Thank You Angela for letting me borrow your helmet, it had fast PRO mo-jo!

Chuckie and Angela were up there cheering and it was really cool to have them there. Chuck said “Good Sonja Good” and it was like a mental check mark. I made the turn and instantly it all becomes clear, a major “Oh no” comes out of my mouth. The head wind was INSANE. I wish I could put it into words, but I know I’m not going to be able to. It rivaled some of the stiffest headwinds I have ever ridden in. I start downhill and I’m pushing pretty hard. My heart rate starts to get into the top of my Ironman range and I’m going 21mph, which is about 3mph slower than I went UP the same hill.

It was really brutal. Brutal on the heart rate, brutal on the psyche. Usually I am really good at just picking a heart rate and riding that. But for some reason I was off. I was struggling to control the execution of my race, something I typically consider a strength of mine. I found myself battling the wind, when really I’m going to loose that battle everytime. I would push harder and harder and see heart rates that I just wan’t allowed to ride in an Ironman. I would tell myself to simmer down if I wanted to run well. It was like when people get caught up in the energy at the beginning of the race and go too hard. Well I was getting caught up in the battle that the wind was dishing out on me and going too hard.

I will say it was nice to see Michelle doing so well in front of me, maintaining even splits about 8 minutes ahead of me. That did motivate me to continue to ride smart. We’ve been through lots of hellacious rides together and this was just another one…but we were 8 minutes apart.

PIC looks great here, and you can get a sense of the conditions

And so it went for three laps. The wind picked up on each lap. The downhill portion of the first lap I averaged 21mph, the second lap 19mph, and the third…a whopping 17.2mph. The wind continued to pummel us out there with everyone taking an equal beating, and at many points that was my only solace “Everyone is in the same boat”. I tend to thrive on adversity, and while I don’t think “thrive” was quite appropriate, “go to battle” would be apropos.

My throat was holding together pretty well. I had several bouts of coughing out there and there was one spell that had me wondering if I was going to be able to run with it. Every time my throat got raw and sore I sipped on my Fruit Punch EFS and that brought it down. The cold actually helped me with my nutrition. I think a lot of people didn’t drink because they were afraid to take their hands off their handlebars.

Some highlights were the end of lap two where it started to rain, then pour, then drench, then hail on me. That was a definite “Oh crap” moment. Arm warmers weren’t going to cut it for another 2 hours of hail. But luckily it subsided.

I was still taking splits on Michelle and noticed that at the end of lap two she was now about 4 minutes up. So I was very surprised to see her just 100 yards ahead a short 5 miles later. I caught her and asked how she was doing, she said she flatted. Goodness, like the girl doesn’t have enough to think about with it being her first Ironman, Plantar Fascitis, and these conditions. I told her “You are WAY ahead, don’t worry, stop at the mechanic, fix your flat, you’ll be fine”. It was a total lie, in my head I was like “Crap, there went her Kona slot”. Little do I know!

Check out all the guys checking out Chrissie as she laps them

Onwards I went. I had been preparing for the third lap all day. I wanted to ride the back half of the lap with the downhill and headwinds really strong to set myself up for a good marathon. The up was easy, the down was BRUTAL. I exceeded my Ironman heart rate ceiling several times. This is something I never do, I’m always very careful. I got tossed around by the wind, but I rode hard.

At the end of the final lap I was reunited with Jenny. She was with me at the end of lap 2, and then we didn’t see each other the entire lap 3, but there she was again at the end of 3. She was a great motivator, and just a really friendly rider. Jenny qualified for Kona too, so maybe we will have a bike course reunion on the big island.

Coming in on the final lap our cheering crew was screaming and cowbelling up a storm and I actually motioned at them to “quiet down”. With the swimmers beating me up to high heaven and the wind screaming at me and brutalizing me for 5 and a half hours I was totally tapped from a sensory perspective. I was overwhelmed and hurting. I was feeling beat up, but I was still pushing as hard as I knew how. It hurt more than normal, but I wasn’t letting up.

Ms.Chrissie hauling, I love this picture!

I grabbed my T2 bag, ran into the tent, had two volunteers to help me and I just started crying. Nothing big, just little sniffles and whimpers. The ladies were asking if I was OK and I just said “That was a really hard ride, really hard”. They gave me a few pats on the back and nodded a lot. They did a great job getting me into my compression socks and my sweet fast hot Pink Kinvaras and up and out of there. I also took my spare long sleeve warm top in case it started to rain again.

Bike: 5:35:01, 20.1mph.