Ironman #9. Wow. Six months ago I wondered whether I had run my course in this sport. I wondered if I had learned all that I had to learn and if it was time to scale back. But as the year got going I took my hard knocks and changed directions. I wasn’t ready to lay down but I knew I needed some changes in my own head if I was going to keep doing this sport.

So, here are a few of the changes this year that I think helped.

#1 – More Community. I got away from training by myself and just with Michelle and I took on new challenges. Coast Rides, camps, new friends, new training partners. This got me back to my tough girl independent roots, because the truth is, Michelle and I take care of each other. Getting left behind on the Coast Ride by the group of girls I was trying to ride with tested my positive attitude. Getting dropped repeatedly on Hamilton tested my ability to keep pushing on with a smile for my own good. When I found people who I really enjoyed training with, I made the time and spent the money to go train with them. I followed positive energizing people. And it brought out the best in me, it brought out the fighter.

Post drinks bus ride with the Chura, instant friendship! Man were we lightweights!


#2 – Less Expectations. To say that I dropped my expectations completely wouldn’t be entirely true, but I definitely dialed everything down a huge notch. I did not plan anything after Brazil and I did not expect to race for a Hawaii slot. I wanted one, and I wanted to get back to the island, but I am done training day in and day out in hopes that one day of my life will go well. So I focused on making every day a good day, on having as much fun in my everyday training as I would on Ironman day. No more sacrifice, no more expectations that Ironman day will be any different than any other day. And honestly, as awesome as Ironman Brazil was, I can say that I  had a few handfuls of training days that were even more fun and fulfilling.

#3 – I said F-U to the scale. I could, and probably should write an entire blog post about the scale, but let’s just say that the “race weight” bullshit that is everywhere is just that. Bullshit. I started EATING like a teenager. I did a good job at camp keeping up with two pro males in the eating department. I ate whatever sounded good and whatever was put in front of me. There was lots of ice cream, and chips and salsa. Also lots of the good stuff, but I did not calorie restrict, or watch what I ate, or weigh myself. When I got home from Brazil after 2 days of dysentery I stepped on the scale and was 141. So I would say I probably raced somewhere around there or higher. This is 15 pounds higher than I have stepped on the line in Kona at. I embraced the bull dog. Couldn’t be happier. It’s a little hard to look in the mirror and see the extra pounds, but I’m more healthy, and my immunity is so much stronger. And bottom line is that I allowed my legs to get stronger by not calorie restricting so they were cuter. That’s the honest truth.

#4 I said F-U to the data. Let’s face it, I sit around and geek out on my athletes data a fair amount. The last thing I want to do is look at mine. I haven’t uploaded any of my personal data to Training Peaks since November. I have trained with my Garmin to know how far I’ve gone, and I wear my HRM about 50% of the time. I race with my HRM and Power on the bike and that helps me pace appropriately, but for a run I ditch it and just go on feel. It’s Ironman #9 and I’ve done it all. No data, race solely on data, mix the two, etc etc, I’ve tried it. So as a way to get back to the fun of the sport, I dropped some of the details. I have no idea what sort of weekly hours I trained on average, or weekly mileage. I just did what was necessary and I had a lot more time for recovery and rest because I wasn’t hindered by data geekyness (not a word) and worry.

So here I am, looking back on my best race to date. I can’t help but attribute it to the change in attitude and outlook over the last few months. I feel like at this point in time I am on solid footing. I finally got to a place where I didn’t need to go under 10, didn’t need to get back to Kona, and not needing it anymore is part of why it happened.


Last year in Hawaii I remember feeling afraid to race well because that would mean that everything that felt wrong was actually right. This race was the opposite. I cared less about the results because I knew the journey was right. I love this sport. I love being out there racing and being a part of other peoples journey whether through coaching, being a friend, wife, or new acquaintance.

My favorite Quote, it’s on my bedroom wall.

“Results happen naturally when motivation is pure”

Motivation was pure, and results just happened naturally.


The day following the race we went to the Kona Roll Down and I paid for my 4th Kona slot (they keep getting more expensive). I get to go back to the big dance, but this time I’m going to enjoy the journey. The WHOLE journey. I’m taking as many of my athletes who want to come. I’m surrounding myself with people who love the sport as much as I do. Whatever happens this year in October will simply be a natural extension of the training I do between now and then. No more, no less. I’m just excited for another day of fun in the sun.


I want to thank Troy and Annie for their patience and understanding through the years. It’s so nice to hear Troy say “You are so happy this year” I’m lucky to have him in my life. Annie is excited to go back to Hawaii, it’s her favorite place on Earth. She’s such a life force in my world and I want to thank her for allowing me to chase my dreams. You wouldn’t think a 7 year old would encourage her mommy as much as my little one does.

I have to thank the boys for getting me strong this season. Mud oh Mud, this was you, you knew what to do all along,. Jim, Stephen, Gui, Chuck, Jeff. You boys pushed me and took me under your wing. I owe so much to you. Dave and Jen, thank you for your love and support as well. Operation Banana!

I also have to thank PIC, she is my sister and always puts up with my shit. Love her to death. Carolyn as well has really helped me with my run and has been my comedic relief the last few months. I love having strong women in my life. I could shout that from a rooftop!

A huge thank you to the companies that have believed in me. Kompetitive Edge always has my back. Amrita has been so generous in making sure I never BONK. I have been using their plant based bars on rides all year long, and I can’t tell you what healthy fuel does for the body. It’s magic! PunkRockRacing and Ron support me tirelessly, and QR! oh dear, another fastest amateur bike split…i think?, Nuun, Osmo, Fuel4mance, Dina and Stacy are helping me daily on my race nutrition. I am so blessed.

After the race we went to the Amazon! I’ll blog about that next!

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  1. Sonya, seriously, this is one of the best bloig posts I have read (since the last one of yours I read). Do you do speaking engagements or motivational counseling?? If not, you may have missed your calling (unless your calling is triathlete blogger). Please keep putting out the great stuff. -FJ

  2. Great post, I could feel the joy in your race report! Congrats on a superb race Sonja! I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on race weight! :-)

  3. Congrats, Sonja and Troy! Congrats a million times more on your sub 10 and Troy’s 1-hr PR. I’m so happy for you. What an amazing race recap, and I especially loved this ‘reflections’ post. You’ve been a roll model to me for being a HAPPY, positive, fit woman/athlete and your training philosophy this time around resonates. Cheers to Kona #FOUR!

  4. As weird as it may sound – this entire year, I’ve been reading about your adventures (many times with a bit of envy ) , and have been thinking “Sonja’s back”. And you are – the joy is obvious from here and when you are enjoying it, your competition needs to watch out ;D

  5. Awwww, LOVE that pic of us!! What a fun night!!!! And thanks for the shout out in your run post! (Also love the pic of your and Troy crossing the line!!) Amazing recaps!! Can’t wait to hear about your Amazonian adventures too!!

  6. What an amazing journey you’ve been on over the past six months. You’re happiness is overflowing in your blog posts, and it’s evident why you had such a joyful race at Brazil. You’ve found your happy niche in the triathlon community :)

  7. Absolutely loved reading your report from start to finish. I most of all love to read how you’ve found your happy place in the sport. Makes me so incredibly happy for you Sonja!!

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