Ironman Coeur d’Alene The Bike

The Ironman CDA bike is a two loop course. You do an out and back along the lake, and then a big disfigured balloon loop out of town with a short out and back when you get back in town. All that…twice. In the middle of the balloon loop there is about 10 miles of huge “rollers”. There are 5 distinct challenging hills in this section.

Heading out of town I heard Troy cheering right away, his voice is booming, and I saw and heard my parents shortly afterwards. I had my Garmin in multisport mode and for some reason it wasn’t finding my heart rate monitor. Dang, what do I do, what do I do? Do I risk shutting down my watch and restarting it, thus no longer knowing what the time on the race clock is, or do I go without heart rate data? I hemmed and hawed over this. What to do, what to do? Finally I made a decision. I shut down the watch at mile 9 and I restarted it. Wha-Lah! I was now in business.

I had some great guidance from Chuckie on how to pace the bike leg and what sort of heart rate numbers I needed to stick with. I wanted to run well and so I strickly stuck to the plan. And you know, It was really nice. There is so much emotion starting off the bike in an Ironman. You have all the slower guy swimmers going crazy trying to catch up to where they think they should be. I saw people in the first 15 miles pushing so hard on their pedals. Like quads engaged serious hammering. Not me. I just got comfortable, settled into my heart rate range and tried to stay smooth as butter. At about 15 miles in I biked by this lady that was spectating and she said “Good girl, nice and smooth”. I almost felt stealthy.

I hit the hills on the first loop and I planned to stay in the saddle as much as I could, but the first really big one I ran out of gears and had to stand for a bit. No biggee. Its impossible to hit a groove through this section so I just stayed focused on my plan. The hills felt a lot better compared to when I was out training on them 5 weeks ago, but they were still uppity. My legs were definitely there, they showed up, they felt good. After you are through the hills there are more rollers and turns. I settled back into the plan and got myself back to town. Coming into town Mom and Dad were cheering up a storm. Then Trista and Sean were cheering in town, and Troy was on the outskirts with Annie.

I felt great going into loop two. I got passed by my high school ex-boyfriend. Hadn’t seen him since high school, so that was a bit interesting. He looked very strong, and I was still grovin’, doin’ my thing. I was surprised that I didn’t feel any pull to go with him, but I rarely do with the young dudes, I just expect them to be stronger on the bike, then I try to run them down later.

I grabbed fresh bottles out of special needs and got on my way. I knew I was in a good place, but like I’ve been told many times, the race just begins at mile 90 on the bike. Getting through the hills the second time was good. I allowed myself more time standing, which I enjoy. I passed a friend on the course who had a fantastic swim. I had a friend pass me. I met Darryl who is coached by Chuckie too. This was the first time we met, but we instantly knew who each other was. My mom had put some chalk on the course. It said Grr and I knew it was for me. There was Grr written like 8 times with “Go Son”. That rocked.

At mile 90 I assessed myself. I felt good. I was working hard, but my legs were in a good place and my head seemed to be in a good spot as well. I was computing my time and I noticed that I had slowed a bit in the second lap. I had maintained the upper end of the heart rate range for the second lap, whereas I was in the lower end for the first lap. The wind had picked up quite a bit as well. We had a headwind back into town and I figured with 22 miles left it was time to go. So I picked it up here got as aero as possible and just stuck to it. I hammered all the way back to transition and by my calculations had biked the same time as Canada. My official time was: 5:45:08, or 19.5mph

I would say that this bike course, for me, was a bit more challenging than Canada. It could be that this Ironman is on the earlier side of the season and that we have had an especially hard winter in Colorado that has thwarted more than a few rides. Before Canada I just had so much riding under my belt. However, I was super pleased with the effort. I had to work hard those last miles, but I choose to. I enjoyed having a strict pacing plan for the bike, thus allowing me to feel pretty rockin’ on the run. I think that there is more in me too. I think with another Ironman build I will see my numbers get better and better.

My fueling was spot on, lots of little sips throughout. I went through 3 flasks of EFS liquid shot that were mixed in a water bottle. I went through 1 bottle of EFS. I went thrrough 3 bottles of NUUN with my EFS bottles. I had a few other various goodies that I stashed in my bento box along the way as well.

Ironman transitions are the greatest, especially T2. It’s so cool to just hand off your bike to someone and run to the tent. This transition was really quick for me. I threw on my compression socks, and my hat. I grabbed my Nathan waist belt that had some nutrition in it, and grabbed my hand bottle and I was out of there. Now, had I raced a smart enough race to run to my capabilities?

I see Ironman in three stages. The swim is where you need to be strong and set the stage for the day. The bike is where you can screw up your race or you can set yourself up for a great run. The run is where is you can cave mentally, or you can stand up to the demons in your head.

To me, the swim is all ability, the bike is all brains, and the run is all heart.

Ironman Coeur d’Alene The Swim

Yes, friends, It’s IRONMAN race report time! Which means it’s three post, keep ya hanging, time. Of course you all know the end result. Kona Kona Kona! But life is all about the journey and I know you want to hear the details of what was a pretty wild journey.

Before I get into it. I just have to thank all the new faces that I met out there this weekend. You became my Iron-family. New York, Punk Rock, Smelly, Chris, Goofy, you all know who you are. I loved meeting you and being a small part of your experiences. Good times!

Also, Troy, you are a rock star. I love you to death, baby. Your cheers were BOOMING and I heard them all. Thanks for tending to the munchkin, and thanks for being the hot-to-trot hubby that you are. Mom and Dad are always so supportive. All the pictures are taken by my dad and there are some great ones!

My sponsors are the best evah, my goods worked well, I did not bonk, and I will be sending each of them sand from KONA!

Finally, Chuckie! I asked if he thought he could train me to get to Kona and he said yes. 6 months later I’m sitting here with a Kona slot. Thank you coach.

Annie armed with her vuvuzela!

Well, here we go folks. Have you ever swam 2.4 miles with 2200 other friends?

Ironman morning is pure magic. With 900 Iron-virgins in the field of 2200 the anticipation and nerves is tangible. And it’s not just the newbies, I myself was quite nervous. I was more nervous than IM Canada and I kept telling myself, “Sonja, it’s just a really long day, no need to get nervous” But I couldn’t help it. How do you make nerves go away when they are…just there. The nerves hit the night before and lasted until the minute the start cannon went off. I tried distraction. I tried rationalization.

I had decided to line up on the right side of the start line, similar to Canada but for a counter clockwise loop. Wow! I’m not sure if there was any safe place to line up but clearly my spot was no bueno. Right from the cannon I was getting hit, kicked, swam over, swam under, you name it. There were bodies everywhere and they just didn’t let up. I would poke my head out to look for some open space and there just wasn’t any. I understood for the first time how people feel when they think they are going to die in an Ironman swim. It’s scary. I’m swallowing water, and there is a chop out on the lake to add to it. I couldn’t swim the line I was anticipating, I became just one of the masses. Getting boxed in was the hard part because you had nowhere to go. What can you do?

So I put my nose down and I battled through it. I arrived at the first turn buoy to see hundreds of my closest friends right there with me, trying to turn around a buoy. There was no space, people were completely stopped, like someone was herding cattle. It was insanity. I finally managed to climb my way around that buoy only to be confronted with another turn buoy not 100 yards away. Again, salmon spawning, or possibly sardines swimming in a pack is what we all looked like trying to get around that buoy. For the way back I actually went to the inside of the buoys and was able to find some space and some challenging feet. I stuck to those feet like glue, trying hard not to lose them.

The swim at Ironman Coeur d’Alene is a two loop course. I exited the water on those fast feet and glanced at my watch while running over the timing mat. 32:30. Sweet! I just wanted to keep that up. Before I dove back in for loop #2 I glanced at all the people in the water ahead of me. There were a lot of them. But in I went, ready for another dose. I expected to have less body contact this lap and it was slightly better, but not much. I encountered an odd phenomenon that happened several times. I would find myself a nice set of feet to hop onto, I’de be swimming along and then BOOM, someone would come from the side and body slam me off the feet. What the? It was odd, happened three times. I wanted to fight back, but I just swam on and found another set of feet.

Another highlight was when I felt somebody on my feet. No bigee, like I’ve said before “Join the party”. But this person had not cut their nails and they repeatedly scratched the bottom of my feet. Ouch! I was hoping that wouldn’t come back to haunt me.

The second lap we experienced much rougher water. The chop had increased quite a bit and it felt like a boat had driven very close to you very fast. It had most of us tumbling sideways and only breathing to our right. I got motion sickness for the first time ever in the water. The two mix1’s I had that morning kept coming up into my mouth. Finally, up it came and I threw up in the water. And oddly, this didn’t really phase me. It seemed like something that could obviously happen and I puked and swam on. I did worry a little that my tummy would still be upset on the bike because of it, but those thoughts were momentary. Typing all that right now makes me feel hard core.

The turn buoys on the second lap were just as evil as the first with kicks to the head, stomach, and back. I was happy to clear the last one and put in one last solid effort to get out of the water. Checking my watch after running up to the timing maps I saw 1:07. I was stoked for that since it was 2 minutes faster than my peaceful IM Canada swim and this swim was CRAZY. Baby steps Sonja. I think there is even more in me with the swim, but IM swims are never easy so you have to assume some adversity will come along.

I’m actually glad that I experienced an Ironman swim like this. While it seems like it was harrowing and epic, the truth is that 2200 of us went through it. Everyone had to deal with pretty wild conditions, and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Now I know that I don’t have to fear a crazy swim, I can keep my cool, puke up my breakfast, and exit the water with a smile on my face and a PR. Which is exactly what I did. Would you expect anything else from me?

Running out of the water the crowd was awesome, they were cheering so loud you could barely hear yourself think. I ran up to this sweet looking girl of a wetsuit stripper. I already had my DeSoto top, goggles and cap off. I try to pick a calm looking stripper, and I thought that I had. Then her partner emerged and instantly and aggressively ripped my suit off. Hmm, not exactly what I was going for. I wanted to tell him “Be Gentle”. In a jiffy I was up and running to the change tent. I try to keep my transitions quick and I was well prepared for a quick one. I keep a spare pair of contacts in my swim to bike bag just in case I lose one in the swim. Other than that I put everything in the bag on and I get out of there. I grabbed my bike and mounted it, seeing 1 hour and 10 minutes on the race clock.

Boo Ya, let’s get this party started!

On the Eve of Coeur d’Alene

I sit here in my room, less than 12 hours out from toeing the line for my second Ironman. My first one was 10 months ago and that race changed me. I loved it so much that when I finished I was immediately thinking about how I would enter another one. I wanted to do Arizona, St. George and CDA. I wanted to do one every month. I had M-dots behind my lids when I slept at night.

So, here I am, 10 months later, 12 hours out from Ironman #2.

Troy and I were talking about expectations today. We were discussing the difference between expectations, and hopes. I think of expectations as what you rationally know that you can accomplish. Expectations are RATIONAL (at least by your own standards). They are the outcomes that you think will happen if you put in the hard work. Now, hopes, well they are still expectations, but with an edge. Hopes can cross the line over rational, but they make you question where the line is. Hopes are expectations that might possibly need a little magic to make happen. They are the outcomes you are afraid to mutter out loud. In most cases they require some luck, and sometimes, they need a truck full of luck.

Do I have expectations for tomorrow? Yes, I have plenty. I have heart rate zones to hit, I have perceived exertion expectations. I have run paces I would like to see. I have a nutrition plan, I have expectations of my trusty steed and other equipment. I have swim pace goals. Oh yes. We all do. All 2800 of us starting the race have expectations.

Do I have hopes? Yes, friends, I do. I have hopes. I have hopes that may or may not happen. I might meet all of my expectations, and none of my hopes. But you have to have hopes. You have to throw passion, love, respect, and grit at this sport. If it was easy, this race wouldn’t sell out in 30 minutes. Some people are “hoping” to finish tomorrow. And I’ll be sitting in the stands at 11:30pm watching to see if they do. Some people are hoping to win the race. And if I see them tomorrow, that will mean that they have not.

So, on this night before, I think the only thing I can wish for myself is that I have my expectations and my hopes figured out, that I have the two separated, and that I understand the difference between what I can effect and what is rational, and what I hope will happen.

To all of you that will be out there with me tomorrow, may the chop be small, the wind be still and the aid stations plentiful for you. To those of you watching my twitter feed, or watching, I thank you and I will run/ride/swim a mile or two for you.

Goodnight from Coeur d’Alene

CDA Twitter Fun

We arrived safe and sound here in Coeur d’Alene today. It is gorgeous here, just spanktastic! It’s woodsy, but warm and sunny. There is some wind, meh. There is some chop on the lake, meh. It’s all just very exciting, not meh! Last night I picked up my packet, muy bueno bueno. I am now sporting my handy dandy Ironman bracelet with #2172.

I have been having an unusual amount of twitter fun this trip. I was planning to swim this morning and after some tweets back and forth I ended up meeting NYCe. If you are a triathlete on twitter I’m sure you follow her, she is a studette runner and sports a fancy alpaca as her avatar. She is ADORABLE, seriously, you all are missing out by her not having a real picture of herself as her avatar. We also met up with PunkRockRunner. I totally love this dude. He is a riot and anyone that can make friends with Troy in like 2 minutes is a keeper in my book. His store with Punk Rock Racing gear is so wicked awesome, you gotta check it out.

Here we are after our swim.

Now, speaking of the swim. Wowzer. There is some chop and the water is cold. But it’s only the kind of cold that takes several minutes to warm into. Then it’s fine, you just need to get numb. I went with two caps and ear plugs and warmed up just fine, but those with neoprene caps will be happy to have them for sure. The chop just makes things Grrr. I’m fine with the chop, adds an element of adversity, which I enjoy.

After the swim I went for a ride on my bike. I had taken it yesterday to Jim at CycleMetrics. I can not say enough good things about Jim. I have a confession. I didn’t blog about it when it happened, so I will fess up now. When I was in CDA training 5 weeks back, I was putting my bike together and I made the stupid mistake of breaking off my allen wrentch inside one of my headset bolts. I felt so lame, and knowing how bike shop workers make you feel when you bring in your bike after having done something stupid to it, well, I was nervous.

LUCKILY, I had emailed Heather Wurtele for some CDA course tips…’cause, you know, shes WON the race before (long stroy of how I even posses this stud chicks email, but the short story is that SHE IS AWESOME, many thanks to HEATHER for a million different little things) and she told me about Jim.

I LOVE JIM. He doesn’t make you feel stupid, he is so nice and friendly, and he fixed my bike 5 weeks ago. Not only that, he also ordered a new stem for me since I have taken on and off those bolts many times and well….it was time.

So, I hiked (not literally…Chuckie, stop having a heart attack) the bike over to Jim yesterday, he replaced the stem, fixed a few things on my tires and made my bike happier than it’s been in about 6 months. Happy bike. Happy Sonja.

Todays ride confirmed that fact. My bike is so super duper ready to go! After a short ride, where I got passed buy just about everyone out there riding (typical, just wait until Sunday, muh-ah-hah-hah) I found Troy and Annie at the playground. They have a giant playground here and Annie is loving the vacation. I’m so glad our whole family came this time.

We headed out to lunch and then stopped by the expo to watch Michael Lovato (team Trakkers stud PRO) at the PRO pannel. He was funny, as usual. This girl standing next to me was wearing a Trakkers hat. I was like “Oh my god, where did you get your Trakkers hat”?. ANOTHER long story short, she is “smellycents” on twitter and she is a HOOT! I laughed and laughed and laughed in her presence. He real name is Shelly.

Whew, what a day so far. Lots of fun for sure. Too much fun for Annie and Troy as they are sacked out napping!

So, how am I feeling? Well, many things but the main one is “ready”. It feels like it’s been so long since I’ve had a long training day that I miss it. I miss spending all day moving my body. I’m glad I am at that point because that will help me find my smile out there on the course Sunday. It’s important for me to be in a place where I can smile and enjoy because I race better, and I have more fun. So that’s always the first goal.

Second my body feels quite good. There really isn’t more to say on that front. I hired the best coach on the planet that I could find. I did everything he told me to do. I communicated often and well, as did he. Really, if I’m not sitting pretty right now, I don’t know who is. There has been nothing left to worry. All the “i”s have been dotted and the “t”s have ben crossed.

So, how can you follow what’s going on Sunday? Well, those of you that followed along during the 100 miler via twitter (and many of you did) you are going to get the same sort of twitter-cast for the Ironman. Yes, folks, that’s right, my MAMA is gonna be here tweeting all day. And a HUGE THANKS to Goal0 (go ahead, check them out) because there will be no lapses while my mom recharges the iPhone. Nope, we’ve hooked her up with a Sherpa 50 so she can plug in, run around, and charge the iphone on the go. Wicked awesome!

“So, Sonja, I’m not on twitter, what do I do?”

Well, friends. It’s easy. Just keep refreshing this link to my twitter feed. You’ll get all the updates (photos too) there.

There is also the website. They have trakking and will update after I go over the timing mats. But, I bet cha, my mom on twitter will be better! Go Mom!

I plan to post one more blog tomorrow before the race, and then it’s go time. Huge thanks to all you out there. The well wishes have kept me smiling all day. And an even HUGER thanks to Goal0. They have HOOKED me up primo. We’ve got a Sherpa 50 and we even have the Nomad 27 Solar Panels to charge that bad boy on the go! YIP!

My Little Swimmer

I’m not much of a softy but Annie has been melting my heart over the last few weeks. I’m sure all you parents out there will understand, and all the non-parents will just hear “blah blah blah” but (as cliche as it sounds) watching your kid learn to swim has been one of the best experiences in my life. I think watching them lean to ski is similar, although I wouldn’t know!

Last year Annie was very scared of the water. She was affectionately referred to as “The Spider Monkey” in the water. I decided she needed to learn to swim, I put her in lessons and that was a total disaster. Major setbacks happened, and big phobias of the water developed from those stupid lessons. I pulled her out of them because I spent them balling my eyes out on the sideline as she screamed for her mommy like someone was trying to kill her. Panic screams.

I was worried that she would grow up with my water issues. I even thought that maybe my water issues were genetic. Troy and I talked at length about it and he said he would teach her to swim, a task I was skeptical about. But in Troy’s loving, gentle, and patient way he has slowly taught her about all the fun things she can do in the water.

This year we have a whole new kid. We broke down and bought her water wings (I was afraid she would get too attached to them). WHOLE NEW KID. She was suddenly a little fish in the water. Once our apartment pool opened we took her everyday, sometimes 3 times a day and it’s been great to see her develop independence and a bold attitude all by herself. I truly believe that things are easier with Annie when we wait until she is ready.

Today Annie (all on her own) decided her water wings where a thing of the past. She wanted them off and swam around for 90 minutes without them. Our pool is 3-4 feet deeps so she can touch in most places but this was a huge step. She is now jumping in off the side (more like running and leaping). She’s holding her breath underwater, diving under, kicking while diving under, floating on back and front, pushing off the side, doing the “torpedo”, and talking underwater (yes, she talks incessantly…wonder where she got that from…not Troy).

I think by the end of this summer we are going to have a swimmer on our hands!

Here she is a few days ago jumping off the edge with her floaties on.

And then today, off came the floaties, and on went the goggles, and this girl was deep water bound.

Seriously, I totally get that kids swim everyday, but watching Annie do this stuff just makes me smile from ear to ear.


Triathlon is such a big piece of my life, and I’m really glad that Chuckie agreed to take on a piece of the crazy that is ME. I think when you are looking for a coach (AKA Guide, Wizard, Mentor, Advisor, Guru, Teacher, Director) you have to take into account your own personality. For me, this triathlon stuff is so much more than swim bike run. Although I need to do those to the best of my abilities, the bigger picture is important to me. I’m glad I found Chuckie, if you read his blog, you’ll figure out quickly that he is a thinker. This business of training and racing is more to him too, and the things we learn out there translate to all different parts of our lives. He’s good with that, and I really enjoy working with him for that reason (and many other reasons).

This morning I had a email from Chuckie and it said, simply this:

S onja,
T his
R ace
O nly
N eeds
G rrr.

Grrr, girl, grrr.


He had attached this video that he took yesterday at the end of my workouts. We had been training in Boulder for the day, which included a little lunch break between training bouts (yes, I did feel like a PRO for the day). The work was very good work, but the break was excellent. To be able to sit down and just converse with Chuckie for an hour or so….I learned so much and came home with oodles of food for thought. His life is so rich in experience, I hope that I am following in those sort of footsteps.

I think it’s just a funny little video. When I watch it I can tell in my eyes just how much I love training, and how comfortable I am training and communicating with Chuckie. I never worry what he thinks, I never feel judged by him. And you know, when you are training, you are vulnerable. It’s not easy to find someone that you trust with that vulnerability. Someone you can take a turn wrong in front of, or bonk, This trust has really helped my training this year. Thanks Chuckie!

Nine more days until the fun begins.

Risk, with a side of Failure

Today was a day of rest. 13 hours of sleep. Yawn! I’ve read books, watched some shows, and just chilled to the 10th degree. I keep having this life theme come to me recently. Have you had that, where a certain thought or idea that pertains to your life keeps presenting itself to you? I’m going to try to get it across. Here goes!


When you participate in competative sports as an adult you risk thinking that everyone is fighting for something on a daily basis. I keep forgetting that most people (adults mainly) go about their lives, working their jobs, raising strong families, paying mortgages, getting oil changes, and what not. Rarely are the bulk of people out there investing signifigant amounts of time, energy, and resources towards something they are truely passionate about, something where in the end, they may fall flat on their face, “failing” in a monumentous way.

Monumentous Failure…

Personally…loosing a piece of themselves in the failure by attaching your self image in what you do

Socially…the Titanic was built by people who risked much and failed in an epic and sad way

Politically…Sarah Palin type of behavior…there’s nowhere to even start here.

But still, I tend to wonder how many people are actually out there risking much on a daily or yearly cycle, submitting themselves to ego burning, passion draining, financial black holes.

The last couple days I have been addicted to dance. I’ve always loved and appreciated dance. My mom put me in lots of classes when I was young. I was not an athlete, I danced. I’ve been watching “So You Think You Can Dance” and today I watched a documentary on “A Chorus Line” that was phenomenal called “Every Little Step”.

And again, the theme reappeared. Risk, and not just risk, but the failure attached to that risk. I jotted down a few quotes from Every Little Step that struck a chord with me.

“Each night you go on stage it’s opening night but also closing night. You don’t know for sure. The hardest thing is when you can’t dance”

Every time we train for something and we invest our time and a piece of ourself, we never know whether that performance will be our encore, or our debut. I think even the professionals feel this, it could be your first or your last moment doing something you cherish.

Another quote that spoke to me.

“It’s so deep that I don’t want it to hurt that bad, it’s like loving someone”

When you give yourself over to something you love and there is a real chance of coming up short, I get the angst. I get the pressure. It’s not external, it comes from loving what you do and knowing that if you don’t do it to the best of your abilities, that you are squandering an opportunity. We all know love can make us feel on the top of the world, or it can shatter our heart.

“You have to go in, commit 100%, be totally passionate and risk it not working out.”

And this is what it comes down to. In life, if you are one of those souls that is living your days on earth working diligenty at something you love, something you can fail at, the only chance of true success is to dive head first into it, laying your heart, your ego, and your passion on the line.

I don’t know if anyone reading this watches So You Think You Can Dance but there is this super cute kid who grew up on a farm and has made it through the tryouts. He was getting critiqued during the show and one of the judges said to him:

“As much as you like people to approve of you and tell you your good, I don’t think you take it very well, I don’t think it feels comfortable”

to which he replied;

“When I feel like I put everything into it, it usually doesn’t work out and I feel like I came here and I expected to learn and to chill in the background…you made me think I could be on it [the show], and I thought, if I give all this, it’s not going to happen”

I have never felt the concept of risk and failure being articulated so well. I completely understood the fear of putting so much into something you love and somehow knowing that because you love it so much, you are going to fail in an EPIC way, because there is no way you could love it this much AND have your dreams come true.

That dancer was wrong, as am I. I have shown myself over and over that you can invest all that you have, and that sometimes life delivers great results, and also, sometimes, life doesn’t deliver any results, and the world continues to turn. You grow and heal and move on, pick yourself up, try again, and are oddly better for it.

All of the quotes above were from people who were “trying out” for something, they were on the cusp of discovered greatness, just at the knife edge where things can go either way.

On this day, I greatly sympathize.

It doesn’t matter that tons of people have done what I’m trying to do. Tons have been on Broadway, tons have made it to Kona, been up Everest, tons tons tons…nothing we do is unique. But the heart that it takes to invest 100%, to risk an “endo”, a “faceplant”, well, those who have been there are united by those feelings.

I feel it. And I can not get my point across in any other way to you all.

Am I excited? Heck yea.

Do I feel blessed to even be out here? Yes.

Is it fun? Yes.

Is going fast and being successful and hitting your goals fun? Yes.

Can you get scared that you have invested too much? Yes.

Is it a struggle to let go, throw caution to the wind, and focus on what you can control? Definitely.

Like I said at the beginning, I don’t think that most people running around on this earth are in this place. I don’t think most people delve deeply into something that may go horribly south. And in some sense, that makes me sad, because I know the joy of when it all goes right. But on the other hand, what would our world look like if everyone was out there investing themselves deeply and passionately into what drives their heart? Whew, I can not even imagine the intensity!

I dip my pen in the blackest ink, because I’m not afraid of falling into my inkpot. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Then Ralph, you are a better person than I.

Although I am totally afraid of falling into my inkpot, I still dip my pen in the blackest ink. ~Sonja Wieck

Oh, those are CUTE!

Since Michelle and I got so many comments on our super cute necklaces this weekend I thought I would share with you how you can get one. Lindsay (mama, runner, crafty) from Eight Petals Design emailed me about a month ago and offered to make them. Mine says PIC and SONJA, and well…you can guess what Michelle’s says!

I just love mine, super cute. They are custom, so Lindsay can put whatever you want on there. How cute would IMCDA and 10:21 look? Or BOSTON and 3:05? Eh? What about SWIM BIKE RUN. Or IRONMAN and ROCKS. I could keep going all day. What about WONG and STAR for this super-chick, or HAWAII and KAINOA for this epic-chicka? No really, I could keep going here! HAM and BURGER. COOKIES and MILK. Okay, it must be about bed time, and the kitchen has been closed for almost 3 hours (still going strong with the kitchen thing).

Anywhooo, if you think they are cute, you want your own, or you want to become part of the PIC possee, well, you know where to order now! Thanks Lindsay, you are a sweetie FO’ SHO’!

In other news, I am now a mere 16 days away from Ironman Coeur d’Alene, and thus am starting to become “elusive, crawl in my hole, Sonja”. I don’t know why I get this way, but I kinda dig it. It’s like the calm before the storm. All I WANT (note the want in caps) to do is get in my workouts, take care of Annie, eat the right food, at the right time, get the right amount of sleep, get massages, etc etc. I’m so close I get a little strict with myself. Over the next 10-12 days I really just want to do everything right so that I don’t come down with a cold, or become overly tired. In about 10 days when I am packing I’ll start to get excited and feel like I’m in the clear, but for now, the rabbit is in her hole.

PIC and I got to go train with Chuckie and Angela yesterday. Just like last time, I can not smile for two days afterwards because my cheeks are so sore from laughing. If every day was this fun I would not survive it! Or I would have super strong, muscular cheeks (not those cheeks…well, maybe those too I guess)!! And since my last blog made Chuckie out to be hidden, well, he does in fact exist!

We rode up to Lake Brainard from Boulder, and it’s just so nice to ride somewhere new. It was a great climb, super steady, so much laughing I hardly felt like I was going up. The town of Ward is cute, and the secret (not really) spring on the side of the road was a highlight. As was the descent which is not scary and is a aerobar cruiser for the most part.

Total hilarity ensued when we were descending and we passed this guy. See, Angela (AKA mighty mouse) was long gone in front, and this dude said “Is that girl on the Orange bike with you guys”. Michelle said “Yes” and he said “Holy SH!T”. The way he said it was hilarious. We all had mental pictures of Angela passing this guy going 60 miles an hour to his 30. We laughed for awhile about that one.

So, as I sit here and write, all is very very good. Life and training is cruising along. I’m on my game, and I’m not going anywhere. I’m enjoying that game, I’m happy. Those of you training for an Ironman will understand when you get there and those that have done one in the past know what I mean. There is that lull, that calm, that you start to get when things are lining up, and the epic day is near.

Rev3 Quassy HalfRev

Hi All! Below is my Quassy race report. I don’t have many photos, I’m sorry. What is here from race day Michelle Beeson took, thank you!!! It’s quite wordy, you’ll have to use your imagination more than usual! Enjoy!

Driving to the race that morning, MIchelle and I in a red little Chevy thing and Kathleen following in a Red SUV we hit EVERY DARN LIGHT on the way there. It was comical as we sat there at 5am waiting for the light to turn green, not a soul in sight.

Red lights or not, we made it with time to set up transition. I had the sweetest spot I’ve ever had in a race. I’m pretty sure it was better than 90% of the pros. It’s such old hat setting up now, doesn’t seem to matter if it’s oly or half, same stuff for the most part. I keep it as minimal as possible: run shoes, hat, race number. My bike shoes are on the bike, all my nutrition is on the bike, helmet on the aerobars. That’s it, do it quick, a little air in the tires and get the heck out of the crazy land that is transition. I tend to race without sunglasses because they bug me…but I do try to train with them (when I don’t forget them…don’t get mad dad).

PIC Fordy-Ford and I headed back to the car and put our bags back. The parking lot at Quassy is right next to transition and all cars are accessible. We Tri-Slided up, threw on a few Trakkers temp tattoos on our calves, and grabbed the wetsuits. PIC headed to the potty and I headed to the water. I got in my exercises from Josh, and sat in the WARM water for a little while. I saw all the waves go off and waited for mine which was second from last. All the mens waves went off before the ladies. PIC was in the last wave 3 minutes behind me. I knew she would pass me in the water and I would need to catch her on the bike, if I could. If not, then the run maybe?

I got a good spot on the start line, and I got out well with little contact, and I found some feet for a little while. Somehow I got stuck in a little group of three, all of us idiots swimming shoulder to shoulder to shoulder. I was in the middle and we were drifting off course. I would try to veer back on course, only to smack the girl next to me over and over. Eventually we got sorted out and went around the first turn buoy. I got on a set of feet that belonged to a girl that was the same speed as me, so I felt like I was swimming too easily on her feet, and I kept tapping them. Apparently she did not like this (I don’t mind people tapping my toes in a race by the way, I just assume I have a friend with me, you wanna join the party…hop on board). She stopped, turned around a little and kicked me. Wowah! So, I swam off. Yikes. Wow, I wonder what her heart rate was! Dude, life, and racing, is soooo much better when you chill out a little.

So then I proceeded to swim in a general off course nature for a while. I actually missed two buoys, but they weren’t turn buoys so I’m assuming that it’s okay. The last several buoys I finally started getting into a rhythm and was feeling some mo-jo. I exited the water 5th in my age group (out of 28) in a somewhat slow time of 34:29. Anthony also swam a 34 and we swam the same at Knoxville as well, so either we both swam bad, or it was a little long (PIC swam a 27, so that makes it seem not long, or…she’s a fish right now). Who knows! Either way, it’s all good!

I was through transition super fast (1:20) cause my spot rocked the house. Off on the bike I knew that I would recognize much of the course from last year (only a few modifications to the bike course this year) and I knew that my Trakkers teammates were manning the mile 29 aid station so I was looking forward to seeing them. I got going into the bike and it’s always dicey the first few miles. It’s where I get an idea if my legs decided to show up. Would they ache and need a longer warm up, would they be stiff, or would they feel good and rested? I don’t know how on earth, but when I took roll call, and I said “Legs?”, they said “HERE”. Boo Ya. I didn’t spend much time easing in, I just started rolling.

About 10 miles in I spotted PIC. From 100 yards back I could tell something was wrong. I got up to her way too quick, I would have expected to reel her in very slowly, if at all. When I pulled up next to her she said “I’ve already flatted”. I immediately thought, “She’s still 3 minutes ahead of me and that included a tire change” (b/c she started 3 minutes back on me). So I told her “Your still three minutes up on me, it’s okay” but as I rode on I didn’t get the feeling that she was coming with me (not in a drafting sense, we don’t draft, it’s not legal, but in a “momentum” sort of way). I could feel her frustration, it’s the first time she flatted in a race. I felt for her.

I rode on and I tried to focus on myself. Getting back into my rhythm was easy, everything just felt so good, and the work was work, but it was fun, and I was racing. I did a lot of smiling because my legs showed up for work and I LOVE it when they do. Since we started behind all the men it was constant passing. Always chasing and passing the next guy. I passed one of my Trakkers teammates Chris on the side of the road with a flat. There were a lot of flats, but really nothing on the road that I noticed that would lead to flats…strange. Chris had it taken care of and he passed me a little later in the bike looking strong. Then I passed him back, then he passed me back. And then he was gone.

This bike course is so dang challenging. It’s definitely the hardest bike course I have ever ridden in a race, and many others were agreeing. If you did Rev3 and you know of a harder bike course, I’de like to hear about it! There were 87 hills…in 56 miles! Steep buggers too! I stayed focused the entire time, taking the turns as strong as I knew how, and being bold on the descents. I watched my heart rate and my power on the climbs and tried to stay consistent and evenly paced. I was surprised to be descending at 40mph in my aerobars. At home I tend to play the chicken card.

The mile 29 aid station ROCKED. My Trakkers teammates were full of so much energy, and I gave them lots of smiles and loves, even though they were directly after this gnarly hill. It’s was a blast to see Michelle (anthony’s wife, not PIC) at the aid station because to me, she is a piece of home, and of family. By the way, she volunteered BOTH days. I love her!

Here is the handoff to Amanda Lovato. Nice one!

Onwards I went. We got to the out and back and I started counting ladies. It was hard to tell who was an age grouper, and really, who was a woman (as sad as that sounds) but I thought I was in the top 5-10 non-pro chickas and that got me excited. I looked for PIC behind me and I didn’t see her, which made me worried that she had flatted again, or had DNFed.

The last miles I was feeling the climbing in my legs, but they were still very much underneath me, going strong. I wondered if I was going to beat the 3 hour mark and it looked like I would. Rolling back to transition I started counting ladies in earnest. I could see the numbers on their arms and knew that 2 digit numbers were pros. I saw that my teammate Kathleen was in the lead and I told her so. There was a lady hot on her tail and then I saw maybe 4 other ladies, but couldn’t make out numbers on them. I rolled in off the bike in 2:52:35, good for the 6th fastest amateur bike split. My bike is really coming along and that has me excited. I’m feeling more powerful this year and my legs have gained some “girth”. Yes, I just said that word.

It was go time. I was FIRED up. I rolled into transition and I was back out 0:56 seconds later, socks and all. Boo Ya! By the way, I love my new Saucony Kinvaras. They rock the house. Totally squishy and supportive, in 7 ounces. LOVE THEM and they are my Ironman shoe, FOR SURE! I have found that I do prefer a minimalist shoe. My feet feel stronger when they are allowed freedom. A light weight trainer is about as heavy as I like to go. Except for a trail shoe…but this year even has me thinking differently on that front.

So I take off running and I know that the first 1.5 miles is really the only sustained downhill section of the course. It’s not time to settle in, oh no, it’s time to take advantage of the downhill and RUN. I came through the 2 mile point in 14:05. mile 3 was 7:00. About 1.5 miles in a lady cheering said “nice job ladies”. WAIT, “ladies”, that’s the last thing I wanted to hear. So I turned around and looked. Crap, she’s right, there is a lady in black right on my tail.

Of course it shocked me for a second, how long had she been there, was she gearing to pass? But then I remembered…calm, think, no need to race anybody. Just run the best race you know how and if this lady is still around in about 11 miles, then you can reassess. I generally like to run my own races. So I decided to do just that. I relaxed for a little while and then checked up on my heart rate monitor and settled into a similar heart rate that I had maintained the first three miles which I had run entirely by feel. That really worked for me. Then we entered the hilly portion of the course. And there were lots of hills for 11.5 miles. Big hills, little hills. Short hills, long hills. Hills above, and hills below. Red hills, blue hills, yes I would like two hills, Sam I am.

And again, this was the most challenging run course I have ever been on in a tri. But I had prepared in my head for it, and my legs were on FIRE (in a good way). My abs were working strong and I was standing tall, keeping my form, and smiling for the most part. I came upon Robert from the Terrier Tri Club. I LOVE Robert, he’s adopted us Trakkers folks and he is just the nicest guy, even though he once cleaned up dog poop with a Trakkers shirt. On purpose. I thought about slapping his butt when I went by him, but wasn’t sure if it was appropriate so I pulled up right next to him, shoulder to shoulder, all quiet like. He said “I knew you were coming, how are you feeling” I gave him a big thumbs up and he said “Go get em girl” and SLAPPED MY BUTT! Hahahaha. I felt so loved, in a Terrier tri club kind of way!

And off I went. I reeled in lots of people and it was really motivating. Around mile 5 I finally saw a lady in the distance and I worked hard to reel her in. When I got up to her I saw she had a “P” on her calf for PRO. I felt bad then, knowing that they started 30 minutes ahead of me and she must be having a tough day. On a short out and back section I was super relieved to see PIC. Whew! She looked a little miserable, but I was just happy that she was still putting up the good fight.

Of all the people I passed I only had one guy go with me and he was the cutest dude. At one point I kinda freaked out and turned to look at him because his footfall was so soft and light I thought he might be a chick. After my look back he pulled up next to me and said “I’m sorry to tailgate you but I can’t seem to pass you”. I said “As long as your not a girl it’s fine”. We ran close to each other for most the race. It was really nice and motivating. When he felt strong I would work to stay with him, and visa versa. I think it’s always fun to find a buddy on the course.

There were so many hills I can’t even tell you about all of them. I had an 8:16 mile in there, seriously steep! But I was still running fast(er), taking names, and feeling good. On a second out and back I passed another PRO and I saw I was in 5th (amateur), with 4th in sight. I worked hard to run her down and when I pulled up on her, I saw a “R” on her calf. So I pulled up next to her and said “Are you a relay?” She said “yes and you gals are crazy”. I love that! And then I ran on. The final mile was the most brutal on the entire course with a very demanding and steep prolonged up hill, it was a 8:21 mile! Ouch!

Just before it started I had a visitor. Charlie (owner of Rev3) pulled up next to me on a golf cart! He said “How ya feeling?” and I said “GREAT, I’M IN 4th”. He said “Yea, but there’s a girl right behind you”. He’s ALWAYS giving me flack and I knew better than to believe him. Plus I knew that if anyone challenged me at this point in the race they would loose, I felt super strong. BTW the lady that was close to me at the start never made a pass. Funny how much can change in 11 miles. We chatted a little, and he asked if I wanted a ride…which I did not! Silly Charlie. Rides are for quitters.

Coming into the finish was awesome. I had talked to Troy the night before and asked him what he wanted me to do on the finish line. I knew he would be watching on the live coverage that Rev3 does and he said to jump up and down (original, I know). I came down the finish line and I went CRAZY. I was skipping, and jumping, and leaping, and just being generally crazy, all for Troy. The crowd was laughing and the announcer was getting a kick out of it. I hope I was at least a little entertaining out there! He was watching, and he was laughing. I blew him kisses into the camera too. I was really happy. My run split was 1:40:47, the 3rd fastest amateur split, and only 39 seconds off the fastest amateur run of the day (but not even close to all but two of the pros).

To finish 4th overall non PRO is awesome, a great result for me (5:10:07) on a hilly course. They awarded top three overall, so I was given the age group win, being 4th, although the first overall woman was in my age group, so it’s kinda like a 2nd age group, if we are to get technical. All that is exciting, and always fun, but the best part was my LEGS! It was such a boost in confidence to remember what it feels like to have my legs under me, to feel like I can race hard and strong. The border collie was out in full effect today, taking advantage of being off the leash. I felt like the Sonja that I like to be with lots of smiles, lots of go-go power and lots of Grrrrr. With IM CDA three weeks away this race was a really good confidence booster and I feel ready to tow the line in three weeks.

Team Trakkers had many podium finishes!

Love Tony, love PIC. Love sharing these races with them.

I’ll admit, it was hard to see PIC come in, tears in her eyes. She’s such a trooper and the rest of the day she kept saying “That was the hardest thing I have ever done, I wanted to quit 100 times”. By the way, she was 2nd in her age group. Her blog is

A huge thanks to Charlie. I love the Rev3 races and was really pleased with Quassy, just as I was last year. The course is challenging, but it’s honest and it’s a true test of your stamina, strength, pacing, nutrition, and heart. If you are all up into your times, or want a super fast course, this is not that. But if you want to find what you are made of, if you want to challenge yourself, or…if you just want to race at an amusement park…then this one’s for you.

Also, I can not thank Vahid and Shallah enough for hosting not one, not two, but THREE of us crazy Trakkers triathletes at their house for three days. They fed us and took amazing care of us. Many humble thanks!

Vahid and Shallah!

Sitting out on their back yard beach the night before the race, having a (small) glass of wine, enjoying life!

Chuckie… thank you Chuckie, thank you Chuckie, thank you Chuckie!!! We are getting there aren’t we?