My path.

This off season has been LEGIT! I have definitely rested and put on some weight. I ate what I wanted to, slept in pretty much every day, hit the pool a total of 3 times in 4 weeks and finally gave into the need for a month long nap that I was hoping for before Cozumel. Unfortunately, with rest comes cell growth, and without training that means most the cells were brain cells. Yes, I’ve been thinking during this off season. I’m pretty glad to be back training where I can once again kill off those new brain cells I grew in the off season and slide back into the swim bike run repeat hamster mode.

Well, what would another season be without changes? The biggest one is I don’t have Chuckie V this coming year. Yes, I know I know, you will miss the pictures of him on this blog. All I can really muster up is “things change.” I know CV put his own dreams aside to coach us the last few years and it’s legit that he may want to go check some things off his own list. Also, you have to understand, coaching Michelle and I is exhausting. I emailed Chuckie every single day for 2 years. It’s natural to be ready for a break from all that. Man we had some great times, some awesome laughs and no one can deny that I have taken a huge leap upwards in the last two years thanks to his sound coaching principles and great one on one coaching. I will always remember “famous last words” and laugh about some of the fun stuff we did. His principles will be alive and well in me and the athletes I coach and I must say I learned so very much from him.

But things change. Aside from wanting to sleep for a month after Cozumel, I also wanted to figure out what I was going to do about coaching. At first, I just said “I will self coach.” Believe me, I’ve been given the lectures….”you should be able to coach yourself” “you have all the knowledge” “you know what you are doing.” Yes, Yes, Yes. I know some stuff. I would read this over and over and wonder “Am I here yet?”

The best of the elites eventually figure this out: that they can continue to figure things out for themselves.


The part of me that was bummed and a little angry about a few things in my life was saying “I’ll just coach myself.” It was that “I don’t need anyone, I’ll just crawl in a hole and do my own thing…bratty 2 year old” voice coming out. The mad little girl in me seriously contemplated applying for this or giving this a go. There was part of me that just wanted to chuck it..chuck the goal, chuck Kona, just go live in the woods for awhile or run to somewhere very far away. But something CV said to me in a personal email kept sticking with me.

You know, there are plenty of good coaches out there; don’t limit yourself to having had just one or two. I learned a lot from many different sources and slowly developed my own “way.” The fundamentals are all that really matter, but it’s how we apply them that decides whether or not they work.

-Chuckie V

That kept speaking to me. I kept thinking about the things I know, and the questions I still have. The faster I seem to get, the more I see potential for progress. It wasn’t until I started seeing sub 1:30 pace in the pool that I could see the 1:2os, that I could see Michelle’s ability. The faster I get on the bike, the faster I think I could get in the future. I know there is more to learn.

As the weeks wore on, all this continued to rumble around in my brain. I spent a lot of time thinking, and reading, and I started to come around. I read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. The little bit before the Prologue was my favorite in that book. He talks about four obstacles:

1. We are told from childhood that everything we want to do is impossible.

2. We know what we want to do but we are afraid of hurting those around us by abandoning everything in order to pursue our dream.

3. Fear of the defeats we will meet on the path. We who fight for our dreams suffer far more when it doesn’t work out because we can not fall back on “I didn’t really want it anyways.”

4. The fear of realizing the dream for which we fought. “I have known a lot of people who, when their personal calling was within their grasp, went on to commit a series of stupid mistakes and never reached their goal – when it was only a step away”

This final one struck me, because I see that all over the place. Fear of real success. As Coelho talks about, it’s easy to look around to those who have failed to get what they wanted and wonder why we should deserve to get what we are aiming for. Why are we special, why do we deserve success any more than the people around us?

Using my new found brain cells I realized that it is important for me to keep going. This journey is my journey, and it’s the one I decided I wanted to go on. We all have that choice, to decide what journey we want to go on. I wanted this, I wanted to win my AG at Kona. I wanted to really see what I could do in that race. That’s what I chose.

What you need to know is this: before a dream is realized, the Soul of the world tests everything that was learned along the way. It does this not because it is evil, but so that we can, in addition to realizing our dreams, master the lessons we’ve learned as we’ve moved towards that dream. That’s the point at which most people give up.”

-Paulo Coelho

This really reminded me of something Chuckie said to me just a few months ago.

It is important to choose your path in life with all your heart, then stick to it until it no longer makes you happy. All else goes on the back burner or is burnt entirely. You can’t do as I’ve done and try to have everything on the front burners…or it’ll fry you.

Focus on family and triathlon and worry about the rest of what life offers (or can offer) once you’re no longer worried about how you perform in this wonderful and challenging sport. Find ways to stay motivated and ways to trick your mind into doing what needs to get done.

–Chuckie V

For me, it all came full circle here. I still very much want this. I don’t have Chuckie, but I like to think that he got me to this point, and now I need a different guide. It’s my journey, no one else’s, and I need to negotiate the route. I know I need a coach. I know that there are many others that have more knowledge than I do and I want to find them, learn from them, and let them help me pave the path that I am on. I know stuff, but I want to know more stuff, and I learn by doing. I stood at a crossroads and I looked in a few other directions, I maybe even took a few steps down the other roads to see around the bend. but here I am, headed back in the direction I have traveled for a few years.

It’s about Kona. For me, it’s still about Kona.

So, what’s a girl to do? Well, look around. Who kicked it at Kona, who’s progress have I seen accelerate? Go in search of someone who is getting people to perform on the big island on race day. Go find someone that you can learn from…and then hope he will take you on (and that PIC likes him too).

Training started on the 26th with Dirk. He’s advised some ladies to some great results and he has the heart of a teacher. So, here I am, back at it with some weight to lose and some fitness to gain. I’m ready to learn new things, and to question the things I thought I already knew. The journey continues.

#6 of 33: Qualify For Kona

After finishing Cozumel 2nd in my age group, I started to worry that my age group would only get 1 slot. Late on race night I walked down to the timing guys at the finish line and asked if they had the list of Kona slots. They had published this on their website (and frankly I’m shocked it’s still up).

But I knew better than that. I assumed that somebody had just changed the date from the following year. Slots are assigned based on the number of starters, so nobody really knows until race day how many slots your AG is going to get.

I talked to the guys that night and he pulled it up and told me that my AG was getting 3 slots. Whew. I then had permagrin the rest of the night as it sunk in that I am headed back to Kona in 2012.

The slot allocation was at 4, it was crazy land. Lots of people. They were doing the claiming and the rolling all at once so it was crazy. We were also in a mall and there was loud music, and the crew was setting up for the awards.

The race directors got there at about 3:55 and they started taping the results up on a table. Then they taped the slot allocation (I took a photo). 18 slots for the women last year, only 15 this year, just 30% of the slots. We need more lady racers!

People went a little crazy. This list is very different than the one they posted (and still have posted) on the website. So there were some really upset people.

After they got organized they had all the people who knew they had a slot come up and claim it. US cash only folks. Also the paper online said $650 but the new paper said $750 so I saw people trying to hunt down an extra $100. I was prepared! BENJAMIN’S!

We didn’t really tell Annie what was going on this whole time. She was content to play with a few kids that were around and hang out in my arms. After I got my slot and we were all good, we told her that we were going back to Hawaii next year for the Ironman. Hawaii is Annie’s FAVORITE. So this is how she reacted.

I was one of the first in line, so then I got to sit back and watch the action. So few slots rolled for the women. I didn’t actually see a single slot roll. On the mens side we were waiting to see if Andy got a slot. His girlfriend Kendra cheered a ton for me out on the course and it was Andy’s first Ironman and he was 9th in his Age Group. Sure enough one slot rolled and he was standing right there, with his backpack open, ready to shell out his cash. Yea Andy! See you in Kona!

Okay, but it gets better. So I’m reading some tweets on twitter and I come across this one by @MASLIFE. It’s talking about the roll down and I click on it and read the blog post by Maria. MY JAW WAS ON THE FLOOR. First off the “big tall guy” she mentions is Andy, and second, I have never heard of them having to enact this rule at a roll down. You have to read the story. It is unreal!

I still think the Kona roll down and whole process is just one of the most crazy things in our sport. The dreams that come true, the dreams that are dashed, the crazy stories, the biting fingernails. I just love it.

Kona 2012…I’m headed back to the island and I’m so excited.

The Newtons..gasp!

The number one tweet response from the Cozumel Run post blog was “you switched to Newtons!” I promised everyone that I would write up an explanation about it all and this is just that.

I’ve never gone for the whole Newton thing. It wasn’t because I didn’t believe their claims, I hadn’t really looked into what exactly they were claiming with the funky shoes, I just didn’t want to get addicted to $155 shoes. See, I have expensive taste as it is, and I felt I just didn’t need to go there.

Well, Kompetitive Edge started carrying them. both Jared and Ryan were raving about them and I just kinda brushed it off..back to the price argument. As with every brand that the shop brings in, they want us to try them to see what we think. The shop only brings in what they consider the best of the best brands. They want us in the best gear. Shoes are a picky subject but we all promised to try the brands they bring in.

Well Michelle had already been running in them since Kona. She got a pair from the shop and she was even giving me the “‘ya gotta try them” speech. We were in the shop and I said, Okay, let me try them on. So I tried on literally every single pair of Newtons that they had and I ran around the warehouse repeatedly. I was a little miffed because they run small and I have big feet as it is. I had to get 10s (clown feet).

At the end of the meeting I picked a pink pair of Distance Us and took them home. I have gone through 18 pairs of Saucony Kinvaras since they came out so I am used to a very light shoe. The Distance U was only a tiny bit heavier than the Kinvara so that’s what I wanted.

I said I wouldn’t even try them until after IM Cozumel because 4 weeks was not enough time to break them me in. Well, they sat on my shelf for 7 days. Every time I walked by I wanted to wear them. So one day, I had a 90 minute run and I just put them on and ran out of the house. I threw caution to the wind (stupid move, I know).

They were weird, but okay. After about 15 minutes I couldn’t really feel the lugs underneath. But everyone told me that they next day my calves would hurt. Well, the next day they didn’t hurt. I never ran in the Kinvaras again. I just couldn’t’ go back to them.

I had three weeks until race day and as the runs went on I started to see why people talk about adjusting to them. I didn’t have any problems with my calves, but the Newtons take more lower leg strength and I was feeling the effects of that. I didn’t feel comfortable back in the Kinvaras, so I kept up with the Newtons. The change was manageable and I talked to the KE guys and to the Newton Lab about my experiences.

I didn’t tell anyone else because I knew I was going to wear them for Cozumel and I knew everyone would think I was stupid for doing so that soon. So I just went hush about it. I figured if Cozumel went well I could write this blog post, and if I suffered immensely because of the Newtons I could say “They aren’t for me.” Poor Newtons, they had a lot riding on my race. Well, I suffered immensely..but it wasn’t because of the Newtons…it’s because I was running my butt off. I didn’t even notice the Newtons, they were just on my feet, running along with me…enjoying the ride.

Race day. Well, I’m going to tell you the one thing that completely sold me.

IM Canada 09 – lost 6 toe nails including my big one

IM CDA 10 – still dealing with losing 9 toe nails from the 100 miler, I bloodied 3 that had grown back and had blisters

IM Kona 10- Big toe nail had just recovered….lost it again, medium blisters

IM Arizona 10 – massive blisters, 2 additional toe nails

IM Kona 11 – 2 toe nails, including the big one again (had just mended from Kona 10) and the worst blisters I have ever had since the 100 miler

IM Cozumel 11 – not a single blister, not a single toe nail loss.

I can’t tell you how much more enjoyable the post Ironman celebrations are when you aren’t dealing with sore feet. I had resigned myself to the fact that it was my foot strike and that losing toe nails and getting blisters was just part of Ironman for me.

So, what do I think of them? Well, I think they capitalize on your weaknesses. I think they are well made. I don’t think they are going to solve your running problems. I think they are a shoe, a well made shoe. I really like them. I really like that I didn’t have calf cramps at Cozumel (have have had them in 3 of the 5 IMs before Cozumel). I’m happy to be blister free, and I’m happy that my toe nails are in tact. Really happy, ecstatic actually.

It will still take more time and more running in them before I love them like family. I still feel my lower legs get a little tired from running in them. But we are working towards a happy union.

Thank you Kompetitive Edge for bringing them in and thank you for urging me to try them. I am happy to hear that you can get many many more miles in them than I have been getting in my Kinvaras (200-250), so that makes up for the cost of them.

Have you all tried Newtons? What are you experiences, were they like mine? Anyone get blisters in them or still get really sore calves. Does anyone feel they have helped their run form with them?


2011 IM Cozumel Post Thoughts

First off, let me say how sorry I am to continue to drag this whole thing out. You all have put up with 3 posts just on the race, and now I’m still here talking about it. Every time I look at the readership of this blog I am shocked that so many of you tune in to read me babble along through these. Thank you! I tried to put in some pictures so at least you have something fun to look at while I mumble along.

These Ironman races are my love…MY LOVE (third to Annie and Troy). I have the pleasure of squeaking out two of them a year and they are two of the most cherished days of the year for me. I often think that maybe one year I’ll take a break from Kona, and from doing well at Ironman, and I will just race a ton of them. But to do well at them, you do have to limit them, and so, I get two precious days a year.

That being said, I will replay those two days a year over in my mind the other 363 days of the year. I think about these races, what went well, what didn’t, what needs changing, what worked, what didn’t work. I try to share some of that on this blog, and some of it is just too raw to throw out there…but I try.

I came into Cozumel on less than sure footing. For several reasons my life has had a few challenges in the past few months and it’s manifested itself in different ways. I have felt internal angst, but I have also learned things about my family, my husband, and myself through it.

I arrived in Cozumel ready for a month long nap, both physically and emotionally. I slept a lot those days before the Ironman. I even skipped the practice swim and a bike date with Sarah Piampiano on Saturday to sleep even more. I’m still sad about this. But I was tired, and whooped, and just didn’t want to move much.

I laid in bed and just wondered what I was doing with my life and whether doing what I love would be the demise of so many other things I love. I worried about Troy, about my family, about my friends. I train so much, I say “no” so often, and I’m tired when I’m not training. But I love it, and I live it, and Troy loves it, and we get to travel so much more than most.

After the race I left Cozumel full of life and joy. I was on cloud 9 and race day for me was an affirmation that of all the things I do in this world, of all the hats that I wear, besides being a mom and a wife, this Ironman thing is what I love most, and sometimes I feel like it’s the only thing I am truly good at. It’s funny how that can happen. Race day is supposed to exhaust you, but it was life giving to me.

Emotionally I understand now what happened to me at the finish, but it’s taken some time to admit to all this in my head. When we lose control in life, we aim to control other things. Most all people strive to have control in their life, after all, the opposite is uncomfortable. I think triathlon draws in a lot of Type A people because Type Aers like to control things and there are lots of opportunities with three sports and lonely training to be in control. Type A people don’t do motocross…to much is beyond control, and too much is high risk.

Setting the 10 hour goal was my way of trying to control my world when I was feeling out of control. Which is quite pathetic because of all the things I could “control” the 10 hour barrier was a lousy choice! Ususally I am the girl who just sets forth the “plan” and then I go about executing, keeping a rational brain about not setting time goals and not getting stuck on things I can’t control.

When I came across in over 10 hours there was a huge emotional release. I think that it was my way of lamenting the total loss of control I felt. I can’t make people that I love healthy, I can’t make people that I adore like me, and I can’t pick a number and race to it. In a stupid way, I kinda thought that if I broke 10 the other things in my world would be righted, or that I could at least get a handle on them. Or at the very least that me lacking a handle on them would suddenly not seem so bad.

Like most triathletes, when I struggle in other aspects in life, it’s really easy to disappear into the training. Training for an Ironman is a good excuse to stick your head in a hole.

We ultimately don’t have control of much. We go out there and we do our best, in life, in sport, in relationships. And sometimes our best falls short of what se set out for. But if we are grounded, willing to learn, to self asses, and if we can still smile, then we haul ourselves out of the medical tent, we walk back and get our deserved medal, we grab a massage and some grub, and we move on. We fall into the arms of those that never leave our side and we go grab a fruity drink.

It may not make a lot of sense to you, but it does to me now, and it’s my blog. Ha!

So, if you read this blog to learn something through my mistakes, I will say, let go of the time goals. Work on what you can, and drop the rest. Lose the expectations, not because they are unrealistic, but because having expectations doesn’t get you any closer to achieving them. Focus on the hard stuff that no one else will do, be calm when others have angst, rally when others are falling apart.

I say these things not because I do them, not because I have mastered them, but as a reminder to myself. After all, it’s my blog… HA!

In terms of this crazy sport called triathlon, I still have much to work on, but when I look at what I asked myself to do, and I look at how much I gave to myself out there, I am really pleased. I am not upset about not going under 10, but I am upset that I set that as a goal in the first place. I am beyond lucky to be able to race these races, I am beyond lucky to have the support that I do. I don’t take these days for granted. They are a gift. But I also realize that racing triathlon is most the time, the thing I do to feel in control of my life, my weight, my emotional state, and my health. It may not be the best, but I recognize that it is that for me right now.

I want to give humble thanks to the following:

My husband and daughter: I am both easy and hard to live with. They are both easy and easy to live with. They are the two people in this world that I would lay across a set of railroad tracks for. Thank you with all that I am.

Chuckie: Two years he has put aside his own goals and dreams to train me. Thank you for all that you have done for me, it’s been quite the education.

PIC: She really is my sister from another mother…and father. Thank you for being that listening ear, and that woman who really accepts me for me.

Kompetitive Edge: Thank you guys for all the pep talks, and all the gear, and all the support, and all the well wishes. You have become family to me this year.

Quintana Roo: Thank you for the bike! Seriously, I love my little blackjack. My QR loved racing in QR!

Punk Rock Racing: Ron Ron Ron. What can I say? Not only do you provide me with the best t-shirts ever, but with advise and friendship that I really value highly. I call you when I am nervous, and you always calm me down.

TYR: My body thanks you. I have no chafing…except from the gel wrappers I stuck up my shorts. I have the most wonderful training gear. I am so lucky.

Justins: I went through about 40 jars of almond butter this year. Without you, I would be really skinny…and would barely be able to stand up!

Love Grown: I went through 58 bags of your love this year, and had it not been made with love, I would have surely starved to death, and died of a broken heart. Thank you.

Nathan: The best hand held bottles and waist packs anywhere. There was many a run where I would have been left high and dry without your products.

Nuun: The new grape Nuun has single handedly saved me from many a delirious bonk. My body thanks you.

First Endurance: What can I say, the Pre Race has propelled me to new heights, and the Ultragen has been there when I dragged myself up on the porch, kaput from all the training. Your products work. Bottom line.

Josh at Tri-Massage: From the All Sports Recovery Club to Josh’s MRT, by body is healthy, happy, and ready for many more years of this. Thank you.

To everyone who reads and my extended family: thank you for coming on the journey with me. From twitter to Facebook, to this blog, to my email and phone, I always get so much support from others. I think about all the close friends I have made the last 5 years and I know that these have been the best years of my life.


2011 Ironman Cozumel Run

Goodbye Bike…hello Run!

I go booking out of T1 so jazzed to get running. I’ve got my hat in my teeth, no ponytail in, and I’m a disheveled mess. I like to do things on the run rather than in transition, so I tend to take my goodies on the go with me.

See, in my last three Ironman races I have run 3:30, 3:32 and 3:30. I had a serious 3:30 monkey on my back. I wanted that bugger OFF! But you never know what you are going to get on race day. Best to just get out there, get into your “plan,” and start running. Yes, mine is the barefoot one in pink…she fit in.

I’m running through town and it’s true what they say about IM Cozumel. The cheering on the course is awesome. I don’t know what they were saying, and I don’t think I would have known even if I spoke fluent spanish, I was in the ZONE. I did hear Troy and Annie though, they were not to be missed. Troy was taking pictures, watching Annie (still not sure why she is barefoot but I’m not one to judge with all the balls Troy was juggling), tweeting, texting, and computing the splits of the top ladies in my age group. Oh and cheering every time I went by…while taking pictures. Super Iron Dad!

Most the time I always feel good going out on the run, but the question is…”Can I hold onto it?” Other than Arizona where I was running for my life, I don’t think I have ever negative split the marathon in an Ironman.

The course is three loops. 4 miles and some change out, then back, then out, then back, then out, then…you guessed it…back again (crazy, I know). So I get going through town and I feel good, nutrition is spot on, no tummy issues, no nausea, it just felt like I was headed out for a long run. I’m sipping my First Endurance EFS that is loaded up on PreRace and things are going smashingly well.

There is a “small” tad of upgrade and downgrade to the course. Almost enough to not notice. The run out to the turn around was so exciting. I hadn’t seen the course so I was getting my bearings and also looking for other ladies in my AG. I think it was somewhere in those first 4 miles that I passed the first overall female age grouper. I just had this feeling that I was in the lead for the amateurs.

Mile 1-4 7:38, 7:32, 7:38, 7:44

On the way back through town I ditched my sunglasses and heart rate strap. Somewhere in there the skies opened up and dished out several large bucketfuls of water. It down poured on us out there, it was so much rain that it was totally comical. My first thought was “yes, this will keep the temps down.” So is it littering if you are throwing your stuff to your husband? Is it outside “aid?” If so, pretend you didn’t see this photo…

I was trying to tell myself to slow down, keep it steady, the more 7:40s you can get under your belt, the closer you will get to 10 hours, but too many in the 7:30s and you might see an epic Kaboom. I don’t know why I was thinking this way but I was.

Mile 5-9 7:42, 7:47, 7:39, 7:37, 7:47

I saw Michael Lovato winning the race and I yelled “Go Michael.” I like Micheal, he’s a really cool dude and it was such a huge win for him. I was also watching the womens race but couldn’t figure out who was winning. I just knew that the only girls ahead of me were PROs. I didn’t really think much about it though, I was more preoccupied with the mounting puddles.

On the way out on the second loop there were RIVERS of water running through the streets in town. It was more than just puddles, but ankle deep rivers running to the ocean. The whole town smelled like sewage. It was one of those things that you tried not to think about but, really, you knew you were running through some gnarley stuff.

I started to get inconsistent. I kept telling myself that I was going to make the last half marathon hurt like I had never hurt before. In the past that’s where I start to see the 8:30 miles. The first half of the second loop I was starting to feel it. I was having to work much harder and the puddles were everywhere. I was bobbing and weaving to get through the course. I had also switched to Pepsi and water at the aid stations. It was still pouring down rain, and we all started to resemble drowned rats out there.

Miles 10-13 7:48, 7:52, 7:36, 7:46

Running back on the second loop we had to cross a road that had completely flooded. It was mid calf deep water/sewage and I did the bunny hop run through it. Everyone was up on the sidewalk because the perpendicular road was also flooded. So we had two way traffic on a small sidewalk. It took a lot of maneuvering, especially since I was running faster than most (which made me happy). In case you were wondering, yes, she is still barefoot.

This was where the first negotiations began. Those 7 min miles were precious to me and I really viewed every second I spent in the 8s as a second I wouldn’t break 10 by. The 10 hour goal is so superficial, but towards the end of the run I will admit that it helped me to get the most out of my body.

Mile 14-18 7:57, 8:04, 7:54, 7:54, 7:56

As I headed out for my third lap things really started to get tough. I kept saying to myself, “it was so easy two laps ago”, you were floating, and now it’s all a struggle. Run Sonja run. Just 8 miles left. I didn’t sense that anyone was behind me coming for me, I was totally involved with my own race and goals.

Mile 19 = 8:02.  Come on Sonja I told myself. Troy yelled to me the exact marathon time I needed to run to break 10. Since I don’t wear a watch during the swim I didn’t have an accurate race time on my watch. I had time of day, but I knew the race organizers started us a little early, and I didn’t quite know if it was 2 or 3 minutes.

The first half of the third loop I went to the pain cave. I was taking pepsi every 1K at the aid stations. I was digging as deep as I could, trying so hard to get the pace back under 8. Every mile would click over and it was another “too close, but not good enough.” I would rally again, run run run. Somewhere in here I ran a huge section on a grassy median because the road was flooded. I also ran into a scooter at one of the aid stations.

The aid stations were little tents that you ran under, they were cramped in there and one of the race officials rode his scoter through it. Well, there is 2 way traffic, it was my third loop so the course was full of kick butt Ironman competitors and he stopped. So I ran into him. And then I grunted, ran around him, and continued on.

Mile 20-23 8:04, 8:05, 8:08, 8:09

I am now headed back from my last turn around. I’m still leading the amature race. But not for long. All of the sudden this lighting fast flash of pink goes flying by with a “Q” on her calf. My automatic response was “go with her.” So I went. It’s only 3 miles to go, find the pain Sonja. And I did. And then she ran away from me. About a minute later I said “No, go get her” and I did, I bridged the gap. That’s when I started to realize this game was going to end badly. She was so fast…SO FAST. She ran away from me and into the distance. There was nothing I could do about it.

I didn’t get sad, I just said “Hang on to the sight of her as long as you can, let her drag you to sub 10.” and I tried, I tried really hard.

Mile 24 = 8:10

I had been computing my marathon time every mile marker. I am good at doing the math in my head, so I was doing that and I kept thinking that if it took me 1:30 to run the 0.2 miles at the end, that I would have one minute to spare before the 10 hour mark. Every mile marker that went by I would recalculate because I was slowing down.

Now my head was a swirl. I was thinking numbers, but it was like a  monkey doing math. I saw some stars, I smelled the sewage, but I just kept telling myself to dig deeper, tighten up the form, run trash can to trash can, light pole to light pole. I thought about all the time that Chuckie has spent drafting emails, and charting my program. I thought about all the Saturdays and Sundays that Troy and Annie have missed me while I trained so hard. I though about the people that were surely on their computers yelling at me to run harder.

Mile 25 = 8:13

I was watching the sun go down. It wasn’t down yet, but it was just above the horizon and I remember thinking “Pretty sun, pretty sun go down, man I am in pain” Another glance at the watch, more math. I’m going to do this.

I pass Troy, I tell him I got passed, he says “It’s okay, go go go.” I dig deeper. I hit the 26 mile banner and I look at my watch. It beeps on the 26 mile split and I am stoked that the course and my watch are in sync.

Mile 26 = 8:01

I remember it clearly, I had 2:30 left until a 3:26 marathon. I had a one minute buffer. I was so excited I was going to do it. I knew it would only take 1:30 to go 0.2. All I could think was that I only had 1:30 of running left.

Then I hit 26.2. And I wasn’t at the finish line. Oh no, panic in my head, I pick up my pace. I see the finish, but it’s still a little ways off. But these things are very confusing when you are 9 hours and 59 minutes into a race.

LONGEST MINUTE OF MY LIFE. I’m running, but I’m not there. I see where it is, but I’m just not there. But maybe time is a strange illusion, and maybe my world is spinning just a little too much right now. 26.3 on the watch, I’m still not there. I see it, I’m running for it. But I’m not there.

I turn the final corner and I see the clock.

It says 10:00:21

I almost fell over right there. I ran down the finish line area, I don’t remember a single face, just this big clock that is ticking over the seconds after 10 hours. I remember just staring at that big clock the whole way down.

I get to the finish line timing matt and I just stop and stand there shaking my head, hands on my knees.

And then I walk down a few more steps, but I’m still just trying to come to terms with the last 2 minutes of my life.

At the bottom of the little ramp I decide to not stand up anymore. The volunteers grab me and for those few minutes, I am “THAT” girl. The girl that gets plopped in a chair and wheeled straight into the medical tent without even getting her medal. I closed my eyes for the whole thing. I sat in that chair with my eyes closed and just cried.

A few minutes later they are asking my name, and taking my temperature. While they are doing that I tell them, “I am ok, and I will be just fine in 5 minutes, I just need a little time.” My temp was totally normal. I took my five minutes of sitting on the cot, got up, and a wonderful lady led me to the massage. Ironman #6, in the books. 10 hours 00 minutes and 33 seconds, 9th woman, 2nd 30-34, 2nd amateur…I’LL TAKE IT!

Complete emotional release. My Garmin had the marathon at 26.42 (3:27.16). It takes me 1:30 to run .2 miles. My 1 minute bumper got eaten up, as did an additional 30 seconds. Courses aren’t exact, and they shouldn’t have to be, girls like me need bigger buffers!