I get out and running and the first thing you do is run up one block of Palani. It’s a hill. Everyone always forgets but it can pack a punch. There are a lot of people around cheering and I just wanted to soak it in and slow down. Coach and I had a plan and it involved running 8 min pace down Ali’i. I was trying so hard to slow down, consciously slowing down, but it still didn’t happen.

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Mile 1-3: 7:38, 7:48, 7:45

Right at mile 1 Mikki and Mo, my two athletes were there and they went BALLISTIC cheering like crazy. I gave them a big smile and a “simmer down” gesture. I noticed they had laid out a pair of run shorts all nicely for me just in case. Thankfully, my tummy was a happy camper. There are so many spectators to be conscious of in those first several miles, and then add in the multitude of runners, it’s more of a logistical situation until everyone simmers down.

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As I progressed down Ali’i I got passed by some girls and I passed some girls. I didn’t worry about it at all. I just let them do their race and I did mine. One girl was kinda going back and forth with me. She was looking great but I had to put her out of my mind and just do my thing.

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Miles 4,5: 7:49, 7:50

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I hit the turn on Ali’i feeling really in control. Coach and Jim we riding their bikes around the course so I was seeing a lot of them. Mostly I watched them ride way up ahead chatting each others ears off with barely a glance back. This made me laugh inside, business as normal.

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On the way back from the turn on Ali’i I was hot and going through the liquid in my Fuel Belt pretty quickly. It was gone by mile 8 or so, so I tossed it to Jim at an aid station. I felt the most in control during these miles and just tried to stay in my happy land.

I passed my family in here, mom told me I was 5th off the bike. Same as last year I thought, but in a much better place mentally. I knew I had been passed by a few ladies in my AG thus far, but it’s a long day.

I heard Troy cheering but something sounded weird. Usually he’s right there on the line and as I pass I look over and see Annie totally passed out in his arms. Poor muchkin had been having so much fun in the days leading up, that she took a several hour nap on that wall on race day. Ann napped as well, apparently in a beach chair, with many people taking her photo. Hilarious.

Miles 6-10: 7:58, 7:48, 8:06, 7:59, 8:08

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I had talked to my parents and Troy before hand, and one thing I didn’t want was to see them on Palani. Last year Palani was where I lost my marbles and this year I just wanted to run up that hill like it was any other hill on the course. No drama, just run up Palani, keep in control and move on.

So when I got there I did just that. nice and steady, head down, chug chug chug. I tried to keep my form strong, and just get it done.

Mile 11: 8:43palani

(Meanwhile…back on Ali’i)

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Onto the Queen K…

Now the race begins. All the people are gone, although Jim and Coach were still on bikes out there, but the crowds are gone. It’s now you, your body, and some jet black asphalt hills. These miles were hard for me. I was struggling with the ups and downs. I felt like those hills went on forever.

Miles 12-14: 8:03, 7:48, 8:11

Then I hear coach next to me say “you’re on your own now kid” and my first thought was “WTF does that mean?” Then I see the sign saying “no spectators beyond this point.” That was new this year, they actually stopped any and all spectators from like an 8 mile section of the course, even those who had ridden their bikes out there. Totally new this year.

There was a downhill mile and then a painful uphill mile before turning into the Energy lab.

Miles 15,16: 7:55, 8:20

Ahhh, the energy lab. How do we love thee? The run down this year was hard! There was a headwind and I was starting to really feel like a slug with a flat tire. Going down into the NEL was the first time I had this wonderful deep pain in my left quad. I felt like it was trying to break my femur, but I know better than to be swayed by this sort of thing. Just the brain saying “Please stop!”

No thanks, not today!

Mile 17: 7:52 down into the NEL

Down in NEL hell Mile 18: 7:54

I counted girls coming back out of the NEL. I wanted to know what place I was in. I was seeing a lot of 35-39 year old women. That AG was the fiercest it’s ever been this year (right as I’m about to age up…of course…love it!).

I counted, and suffered, counted, and suffered. I was hurting bad, but I was moving forward and really trying to keep the pressure on. The out and back seems to go forever. I counted that I was in 6th place in my AG. 6th, top 5 make the podium and get the fancy bowl. But the hard thing was I took a time split and I was 6 minutes back of 5th. 6 minutes to the podium with 8 miles to go. All the girls ahead looked strong.

Miles 19,20: 8:40, 8:46 back out of the NEL

Climbing out of the NEL takes a bite. I was hailed pretty hard from that climb and just trying to will anything I had left out of me. I was thinking about the 6 minutes and my brain was telling me that it’s never over until it’s over. I had a talk with myself and I decided that if I gave everything I had and never let up for a single second, that maybe, just maybe, something up ahead would happen and I would be presented with the opportunity to race for a bowl.

Miles 21-23: 8:17, 8:05, 8:11

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I was giving everything I had, trying to keep my form in tact. I came back by the “no spectators beyond this point” sign and Coach and Jim were there waiting for me. I was so glad to see them but I was probably in more pain than I have even been in during a race. Everything hurt and it was taking 100% focus to keep the paltry 8:30 pace that I put down those miles. I was falling apart and my mind wanted nothing more than to give more effort to the situation.

Those two miles hurt 24,25: 8:24, 8:28

Once you get to the top of Palani it’s all good from there on in. I ran as hard as I could that entire mile down. I couldn’t wait to get to Ali’i and to see the crowds and the Banyon trees.

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Mile 26: 7:20 Last 0.29: 2:18

That finish line never disappoints and this year was the same. I saw that the clock said 9:54 and I was so happy to get a sub 10 race on this course. No bowl, but sub 10 is awesome. I fought for every inch out there and I took risks. I’m proud of that. I’m starting to understand just how addicting that finish line has become for me. I have high expectations for myself, but that finish line is the one place in the world that I feel successful despite what happened during the last 140.5 miles.

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Big jump at the finish line! Total joy and so happy to have a good jump AND a good finish time on the clock to match.

By the way, a lot of people ask me how I have the energy to jump like that at the end of an Ironman. Well, my friends, the secret is revealed. It’s an optical illusion. If you jump…not very high…but lift your legs up really high…it looks like  you are catching serious air. Try it at your next finish line, you won’t be disappointed!

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The thanks belong first and foremost to my family. My parents Eric and Helen, my husband Troy, and daughter Annie. Thank you for all the sacrifices you  made this year so that I had a chance at redemption. Huge thanks also to Ann for being with us during this journey and part of our family as well as Mikki and Mo for traveling out to see me race. It takes a village!

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Next order of thanks goes out to Muddy. I’ve written about him a few posts ago but he is to thank for what has been a comeback from last year. I asked him for a wing to be under and he’s provided that and more. Also a huge thanks to Jim. He’s like my coach#2 in many ways, just an uber supporter and big brother to me, and I thank Muddy for bringing us together. Also, the Muddy Love guys and gals, you know who you are. Operation Banana baby!

My sponsors have been great this year. Quintana Roo and Mac continue to support me in so many different ways. Amrita gave me so many bars this year I never had to wonder what to eat on the bike, thank you Arshad. Kompetitive Edge has stuck by me for 3 years despite up and down results, and lots of change within the shop. Punk Rock Racing has helped in so many ways as well, Ron keeps me laughing every day. His inspirational texts the week before the race kept me focused on the prize. A huge shout out to Osmo Nutrtion. I bugged them so much they agreed to sponsor me for next year. I can thank Stacy for a successful nutritional day. (The top three American women in my AG: Katie, Me, and Hailey all fuel with Osmo….coincidence….?)

(This was race day after I finished and changed clothes, SUPER HIGH, and Annie looks rested)

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Many thanks to all of you out there. I think about you when I cross a timing mat, and when I write up these reports. I hope that a glimpse through my eyes might give you a little more motivation to take one more step in the direction of leading a healthy happy life.

Swim: 1:07:12, Bike: 5:09:05, Run:3:32:42  Total:9:54:42, 6th AG, 16th Amateur, 39th woman.

Kopi Lani, ran into a legend or two…

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Midnight finish never disappoints

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Ironman, Race Report, Running, Travel, Triathlon, Uncategorized

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10 Comments

  1. You inspire me! I’m glad you got redemption and sub-10 on that course is AWESOME! I need to work on the jump, mine never works out. 🙂

  2. I wish I could express to you what it meant to me to see you not only on the bike but again on the run. My goal was to enjoy the moments of my first Kona ironman and I am being honest when I say that the moments I got to share in the race with you were truly moments I got to enjoy and will cherish. Thank you and I can only hope for more to come in future races. So proud of you. Congrats!

  3. You are so awesome!!! I live for your posts when you do any race, but Ironman especially. Love the pictures and comments, hugs to all the Willis’s too!!!

  4. You make me laugh, smile, cry all in one post. So very proud of you, not only for your time/place but WAY more important: your faith in yourself that you can do it. From Mountain Mamas Hike leader(just 6.5 yrs ago!) to 6th at Kona.
    YUP! you are amazing.

  5. Awesome finish to an awesome day! Way to fight for it out there! (and I still don’t know how you do the jump, even if it’s just a little jump with kicked up feet 🙂

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