I cross the finish line and immediately I have two finish line catchers on each side of me. They are the nicest people ever. Once I stopped crying, they introduced themselves and told me that they are going to be with me for the next 10 minutes. I say "Sweet". They ask "How are you feeling"? I laugh and say "I feel really really good". And seriously, it took 5 minutes for my brain to get the signals from my legs that they hurt. For 5 minutes I walked around like I just had breakfast, la tee da. Then my legs said "ahhh, yea, since you are done with this Iron-business, we are going to let you know just what you did to us". And then the normal leg aches started. My finish line catchers hooked me up with Anthony who was still in the finish pen. Again, big hugs like we hadn't seen each other in years. Tony went 10:21 and endured a flat on the bike and a bonk on the run, both of which he completely recovered from and went on to have a great race.

My finish line catchers got me some food and I snarfed down some watermelon, honeydew, and chips. I also had some Gatorade and water. They were so nice to me. They finally realized that I was totally ok and so they dismissed themselves to go find some other finisher that needed them. I noticed that Tony had goose bumps and that made me a little nervous (cause he doesn't have a lot of body fat left in him) so I flagged down a lady and asked for two space blankets (ahh, the mom in me).

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Once we were space blanketed up we headed out of the finish pen and met up with Troy and Michelle. Lots of good jobs, and pictures were taken.

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L to R: Aunt Sandy, me, mom, Uncle Steve, Troy img_0681.jpg

We then headed back to our hotel to clean up and boy, the perma-smile wasn't going anywhere. I was just thrilled with how much fun I had over the course of the day. Smiles abounded!

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As the day went on, we saw the finishes of Steve, Keith, and Andrea. It was great to see that everyone survived the day. Some met or didn't meet their expectations, but those are their stories to tell, not mine.

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As the results trickled in Troy told me that I was 7th in my age group. I was pretty surprised to find that out. I knew that the previous year there were 4 Kona slots for my group. Steve told me I should definitely attend the roll down. I knew that no matter what happened at the roll down that I was proud of my day. Kona or no Kona, nothing could change that for me.

So, the next morning we went to the Kona roll down (right after I had to say goodbye to my parents). Sure enough they get to my age group and we find out there are only 3 slots, not 4 this year. One has been taken and they start calling names. 4th takes it, 5th doesn't, then they call the 6th ladies name for the last slot and no one stands up. I say "Oh my gosh, I'm going to Kona". They call her name a second time and she stands up all quiet like and walks up there. That was a little harsh. But hey. That's how it goes! And it's A-OK! Steve quickly looks at me and says smile and these are the shots he took.

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I want to let you know that I am extremely blessed. I had a wonderful race that was made possible by so many people. I feel privileged that I could go out there on race day and represent all of you that support me with a strong performance. Troy, my families, and my coach have all worked so hard to provide me with the best resources, and the best training available. I feel relieved that I was able to put forth an effort that is indicative of all the support I receive.

So, what did I learn? I know, you want all the secrets! That's why, despite several days of cliff-hanger posts, you are still reading. Right? Ok, here's the deal-ee-oo.

- The Ironman is an amazing experience. You should do one. And if you are one of my lady friends who does tris and might be a little afraid, then you really should do one. I would love to help you.

- Extended Distance training is not for crazy people. If you are endeavoring to do an Ironman, and you want to stand on that starting line knowing that you can do the task at hand, then find a way to extended distance train.

- The workouts that stuck out in my mind as more difficult than the actual IM were: running to Boulder, running the Grand Canyon Double Crossing, biking 225, and biking 100 then running 18 self supported.

- Several things have to line up on race day: training, stress levels, equipment, and attitude. There are things that you can do during the year prepare on all these levels, but sometimes, some of them just get in the way anyways. All four came together for me, and that was why my performance on the actual day was great.

- Enjoy it! I can now say that it is possible to have a great race and keep a smile on your face the whole time. Sure, the smile may "look" like a grimace to some, but you know if you are smiling, and you should be enjoying yourself. Positive reinforcement.

- Unlike Olympic distance races and 70.3's Ironman is an EVENT. It's several days long and you should live it to the fullest. Attend the awards, attend the volunteer banquet and volunteer your time to say thank you, go to the clinics, stand in line at 6:30am after your race to get finishers merchandise, buy the finisher photo, get a massage. Involve yourself. In fact Troy and I volunteered to set up the bike lot on Friday before the race. Everyone was shocked that I was volunteering and racing, this was one of the HIGHLIGHTS of my experience. Volunteer, even if you are racing.

- Don't sweat it if you loose your goods. They have lots of goods on course. I think the fact that I did lots of my rides visiting 7-11's for food was helpful. I learned to race on lots of different stuff and when I lost my bottles on the bike, I wasn't really that worried.

- Make sure that the process is super fun. Make sure you are training so that if your race stinks you would still look back on the training with a positive mindset.

- Lastly, involve your family. After my Ironman, Troy signed up for a marathon. This makes me smile. Thank your family too, and in ways that aren't just words.

Thank you Practical Coaching, Trakkers, Core Concepts, NUUN. You make my life awesome!