Thursday, September 10, 2020

Taking Risks


Today is the first day of school for my youngest son, who is a Junior in High School.  It's been 6 months.  My other two boys started college courses over the past few weeks.  I am guessing they are feeling a little rusty.  Because despite a few grand ideas & lofty goals as the quarantine dragged on and we were all laying around in our sweats day after day after day, nobody spent 30 min/ day  on Kahn academy.  Just like I didn't swim 5000/ day or run 50 miles/ week.  Ooops. As we all know, the world is a little strange right now.  But this is not a post about Covid.  It's a post about starting over, taking risks, doing things that are scary and hard and uncertain, and it's about not quitting. 

I like to write. I have had this blog for many years. I used to write all the time. It was fun to talk about my racing and connect with others. Our blog world used to be like social media. I actually met  a lot of people through blogging and have stayed in touch a bit too.  However, my last post was July 2019. I closed out my Ironman racing with #10 in Lake Placid.  I walked away.  I took a break. My achilles tendon was a mess. My head was sick of 6 hour solo training rides and I wanted to move on to different things.  After a year of not writing, my brain is rusty too.  My 9th grade English teacher taught us to keep our words short.  We learned to say what was needed and nothing more.  I don't think I have mastered that in my day to day conversation.  Just ask the 4 men in my home. ;)  I shall try here. 

I turned 50 the first week of 2020.   A few weeks after that, I was rushing into the house to care for my very sick son and wiped out on the ice in the driveway. I slammed on the ground and screamed such that Nick, who was way upstairs and delirious with fever, came running down.  I wasn't ok but neither was he. We both whimpered our way to bed.  I was sure I re-tore my rotator cuff that had been repaired pre-Triathlon career in 2007.  I was unable to swim from that day ( January 24th) until some time in April. Meanwhile, I also had a messed up knee.  February 6th I had surgery for a torn meniscus and the "it may be 4-6 weeks before you can run" turned into 4 months. ( But I hadn't run since Christmas so really 6 months.)   Throw in Quarantine + a son in the Class of 2020 and well, it was a rough spring.  Running and swimming are my outlets.  And I had neither.  I was sad, and worried and home. All the time.  I gained weight and my fitness was in the tank.   There wasn't much I could do about it.   There were certainly days/ weeks during that time that I believed my running career was done.  I was feeling improvement in my shoulder and knew it wasn't torn ( ahem, like Mark's is now.... that's another story) but swimming was weak and minimal.  But despite all the PT work and rest and patience, I still could not run.  
I am not exactly sure when it changed.  At some point in May, I stopped trying.  I gave it 5 weeks OFF. I got my son through "Graduation" and focused on that.  One day, I tried again and was able to go 2 miles.  It was Awesome.  Shortly thereafter I went 6.   And now here I am. 
I registered for the Mahoosuc Ridge2River in early January, before any of this happened.  I signed up for the marathon option.  Why not!! I am an endurance racer. I have done many many marathons.  I know Sunday River! It was the perfect goal. A hard endurance event that wasn't an Ironman.  
I just didn't plan on a 6 month hiatus from running or swimming. 

If you know me, you know that I am a little stubborn when it comes to things like this. I pretty much refuse to back down or quit.  I am competitive all day long not only with others but with myself.  
Despite a few family members saying, "why don't you just do the half?"  I am not. I am going to do the marathon.  
And it is going to be So so very hard.  
I am not sandbagging. I am just being honest.  I was not able to put in the mileage that I typically do.   There are a lot of gaps in my prep for a lot of reasons. But that is ok!!! I have a huge bag of tricks. I am very experienced and I know all about race- mindset.  I have done ten races that were over 10-11 hours. I know exactly how that feels.  I'm not going to head up there and expect to hold any pace or to beat anyone in particular. Instead, I am going to show up with an open mind and a very determined heart.  This is a risk. I am pushing my luck a bit.  But the alternative is staying home and feeling regretful. 
My boys are all starting over right now, they are jumping in after a big break, they tackling hard things head on. It's my turn to do the same.  



I don't know how to rotate this! Last week, I ran from my house, up some hilly roads and then up a little mountain and back home. ( 15 miles... ) This is me at the top looking back at our neighborhood ( you can see the tiny white houses off in the disance... )  and wondering what I have gotten myself into. 

Here's the course map. 

Seriously... why can't I rotate this. 





 

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Closed the Loop with #10




It simply started as something for me to get out and do 'for myself' from time to time.  My boys were small.  They were 2, 4 and 6 and I was overjoyed to be their Mom.  I still am.  I had left my career to stay home with them and it was all perfect.  I have been happy with that choice ever since.  But through my three pregnancies and the first few years of their lives, I had lost a lot my routine of exercise.  You see, starting when I was very young all the way through college, I raced.  I swam and I ran.  Mixed into those years were lots of other random sports that I also loved but those two certainly were my thing.  It's just who I am. Some people sing, some dance, some grow beautiful flowers or write books, some are business people or artists.  Everyone has something.  This is my thing. So I started running and swimming a little again, I bought a bike and I signed up for the Shipbuilder's Triathlon in Bath. 
About a month later,  I crashed on some RR tracks on my bike and tore my rotator cuff. Doctor 1 said, "sorry, you're probably done swimming." Doctor 2  said, "I got this." and fixed me up.  And I was off........

Ironman day is intense. It's long and grueling.  But it's also festive and cheerful and filled with support and music and yelling sounds of encouragement. You are side by side with other competitors, who feel more like teammates, often for hours at at time, helping each other take every single next step, sometimes without speaking a word to each other.  We have family and friends who are roaming all around the town to squeeze into the best spot to yell words of 'you got this' and to take pictures and videos even if it's just a 10 second sighting when they've waited for 2 hours for us to go by.  It is the party day.  

But before Ironman day arrives, there are months and months and months of training.  And the training can be lonely and tedious and relentless.  There are pre-dawn workouts and post- work runs and often something in between. There are long long lonely bike rides for 4-5-6 hours with not a sole to talk to and cars who seem to think you're not really someone's loved one.  There are lost workouts due to struggling with a flat tire in the ditch that you can't fix and can't reach anyone for a ride home while you also stepped in dog doo that is now clumped into your bike cleat.   There are 17 mile runs the day after a 5 hour ride when you're miles from home and your body just wants to crawl into the woods.  All while juggling 'life.'   It is not easy.  But it's also amazing.  As time ticks on and you log the miles and treat your body with care, you feel strong and powerful and invincible.  And race day draws close, and you do all you can to keep the confidence that you're ready. 

I thought I was done with the 140.6 challenge in October of 2016 when I raced in Kona, Hawaii.  I had a fantastic day in Mont Tremblant in August and qualified at that race for the World Championships again. That race was tough but I finished with a strong run and worked my way from 29th after the bike to 9th at the finish line. I was happy. And done. 

However, last summer I was getting ready to send my big kid to college.  I was also getting ready to turn 49 and then of course, after that, comes 50.  One conversation and one thought led to another and I decided to go back to Lake Placid for the last go around.  What better way to say "take that" to 50 and distract myself from the hole in our home with Cameron away during the year. I decided to do my 10th ironman 10 years after the first.  Game on. 

The year was busy and full of hiccups for me.  Turns out, raising 3 teen boys is busier ( in a different way ) than raising 3 younger boys.  ( Trust me moms of littles, you ARE busy now. But their schedule is in your hands. It changes.)   Throw in a nasty recurrence of Achilles Tendinitis and things didn't go as planned with my training.  In addition, I have some sort of miserable bilateral neuropathy. ( self diagnosed. I have no idea what it is. ) Both feet BURN with so much intensity that I can hardly see straight.  It comes and goes. But wow. It has been bad this year.  I will not go on and on about this and I will not make a single excuse.  My training was in my hands. I did what I could physically and psychologically and logistically.  It was just different than my past.  I was ready to throw in the towel multiple times when I couldn't even trot 3 pain free miles and my left leg was taking on all the work so my Achilles wouldn't rupture. I have no idea if it would have but that was what it felt like might happen. Running was nearly nonexistent.  But, Thanks to a great Physical therapist in town ( thanks Jason!!) and lots of encouragement, I kept going.  I raced a 70.3 in June and instead of gaining confidence, I decided not to do lake placid.  I struggled beyond words at that race. It might have been the worst run of my life. 
A few days went by and once again, I changed my mind. I knew that July 28th would arrive and if I didn't at least try, I would never forgive myself.  Wasn't I doing this to show the boys that hard work pays off? To show them that if we NEVER QUIT you can achieve anything? Wasn't I trying to ring in my 50th Birthday with Pride??? 
Yeah.... back to work. 

I started to feel better through July and just knew I could fight through. Experience in racing and years of work in me,  I knew I could get through. But I'd be lying if I didn't say I wasn't scared. I was scared.  What if I truly couldn't run? 
I can try to say I didn't have expectations. I didn't Want to have expectations.  But how do they go away? I tried to squash them. I didn't want to care what place I was or what times I put down, but of course deep down, it's was there.   

We took a selfie after dinner to torture the kids. :) We were mocking all the rainbow selfies happening that evening. I know, we're bad. :) 
Race day finally arrived. Things were a little different than normal.  I was in our condo with Cameron while Mark and the other two were home.  Tommy and Nick needed to head to their soccer camp where T works and N plays that day so Mark brought them home.  Mark left early Sunday a.m. to head back to Lake Placid so he was back in town by the beginning of the bike. I was lucky to have Cam, my parents, Mary and Jordan there all day to cheer!!! Mary and I have been in this together.  She's totally my partner in this journey and I have been so lucky to have her friendship. Which, by the way, actually started in elementary school. :) 

Here's how the day went down.

The swim was the relatively new ( well, new to me) rolling start. I've only ever done mass starts and I was admittedly fine with this change. I'm happy I've experienced and survived the scary and overwhelming 3000 people at once swim start.  But it's scary. Even for swimmers. I self- seeded in the sub 60 group since I've done that a bunch of times.  I assumed everyone starting there would be swimming similarly.  The gun went off and that group ran into the water and unfortunately, it was still chaotic and scary. I could tell that a number of folks weren't supposed to be in that group. It's dangerous. I wish people would just go where they should.  There were kicks in the head and an elbow to my nose. My goggles got hit and filled with water. I had several swim up on top of me and shove me under and there's no water space to escape to. I had about 5 minutes of, " I'm outta here...... this isn't worth it." And then just in time, I found some water and zipped off alone.  

I just swam and swam and swam and felt pretty good.  My pool times have been terrible lately so I didn't know what to hope for.  I kept pulling hard and kicking enough & got the job done.  As I ran down the long carpet to the T1 tent I checked my watch to see I was sub 60 min and was Psyched with that.  Perfect Start. 
59:34. 2nd in the swim in my age group. 11th woman and 81st out of the whole group. 

I did what I needed to do in T1 and headed off for the long long long ride.  
I'm going to zip through this 112 miles pretty fast.  I prayed for a safe bike with no mechanical issues. (nightmare-- have had a few but thankfully no flat tires in all my races.)  I got that.  My brake was rubbing on the race wheel ( THE WHOLE TIME ) but the mechanic in the pre-race expo said it was as good as it was going to get because there was some 'gunk' in the depths of it and it really needed overhauling. Bummer.  I had to just KNOW it wasn't costing me any real time and make peace with the very aggravating noise of it.

I felt fine for most of this. I ate. I drank what I thought was enough.  I got in a solid 24 oz per hour along with a few big gulps of water at the aid stations.  I cooled with those waters too. I didn't push my power more than I should. I kept my attitude positive, mostly.  As usual for me, I was mostly with the guys or alone.  Because of my swimming background, I am able to get a good start on the field and thus a lot of men come flying up behind me on the bike.  I let them go ( like I have a choice ;) ) and hope I see them again later on the run. ( hehehe... I sometimes do.) I was excited to see women come along from time to time just because I do get tired of being with only men.  They just ride differently and it gets a little overwhelming.  However, I did check the calves of all the ladies.  Our ages are written on our calves.  See, expectations rearing again. A lot of them were younger, a few were older and were serious serious badass women riders, wow, and a few were also in my group.  
The ride is two loops.  The first 28 miles is pretty fast with a giant decent. The 2nd 28 miles back to town is NOT fast with an 11-12 mile climb to finish it off. But you get a Reward at the top of family and friends and 100 of other strangers cheering with music and screaming and a whole lotta love!!! IT's a boost like NO other!  But it's a fast little zip through town and then...... you're off for another 56 miles alone.  sigh.  I was still ok. No belly issues.  All good. 
Until, the turn around on the Haselton out and back.  Ugh. Who ordered the wind!???  Wind makes me cranky on the bike.  Well, I was on target for a nice neat sub 6 hour ride until the headwind threw us all off.  That's Ironman for ya! You need to be ready for anything.  I am not sure but I think we had this solid headwind for about the last 20 miles. Blek.  My back hurt, I was SICK to death of pedaling, it was pretty hot and I really wanted to get on to the marathon.  ( haha.....what am I crazy? )  My positive frame of mind wavered a bit here as it took a long long time to get back to town. It took a toll. I was riding with the same group for all those miles and we were all rolling our eyes at how long it took to pedal up that mountain with a headwind.  
oh well... I finally got there. 
6:12 bike 3rd in age group, 24th woman and 275th overall  
Handing off the bike to the T2 volunteer is awesome.  She can have it as far as I'm concerned.  I did forget to add that somewhere around mile 80, that insane burning foot pain arrived and I was in agony over that. When I got to the line of the bike dismount, I took my bike shoes off and hobbled very gingerly to the tent.  No bathroom break yet. Hmmm..  Not a good sign. 
T2 didn't go a well as it should have.  It took me a while because there was some fumbling around with the stuff in my bag with the volunteers. They were trying to help but my salt tabs dropped out and spilled and in retrospect, I should have insisted they get put back into the case I had.  Lesson for anyone reading who may do an Ironman.  If you planned to have your salt tabs with you, make sure you have them. 
Finally, I headed off to run. 
Now is when it all starts.  
Every time I get off my bike on one of these things, I can barely stand upright. Miraculously, when I leave the tent, I can run.  Again, if you have one of these coming your way, keep the faith after the bike.  

I'm not sure I have words to write about the run. 

It started off ok. I ran down the hill and took a little inventory.  Sure, I had some aching and fatigue but it was normal and fine. My feet had calmed down. My Achilles wasn't talking. Ok, let's go! I don't remember much until I got down on the very lonely River road the first time. There was no shade.  It was hot. And my energy was draining. My legs were beginning to seize. I had eaten a banana in T2 so I was trying to wait until 45 min or so to start with my gel flask.  Over and over again, without conscious thought, I would stop. My legs just kept stopping. It made it hell to start again. But I had to stop.  And that was not like me.  I have never walked my Ironman marathons. I walk most aid stations, but that is it. A couple of times I had to grab onto the guard rails.  And then my feet went WILDLY crazy with pain and I know I yelled out. I had a few guys ask if I was ok.  Everyone is hurting out there. I was not any different than others. But what happens out there is that while there is a 'race' happening, we are all in it together. The camaraderie and support for fellow athletes is like nothing I've ever seen.  
I just kept starting again.  It hurt more and more every time to restart running.  I walked the aid stations and every time I took 2 gatorades and some water and ice and dumped it on my head. I just ran aid station to aid station. Mile to mile.  At 5.5 miles we make the first turn at the end of River road. It is a LONG 5.5 miles to that turn. Ok, only 3 more 'lengths.' Pool talk. The run is 2 loops, just like the bike. 
I was running with a couple guys through the first 8-9 miles.  We were step for step and without talking a lot, we'd encourage the other along.  It's an unspoken understanding.  
This was somewhat new territory for me. My runs are usually pretty strong. They hurt, and I suffer, but this was different. I was truly concerned about what the next 18 miles would bring. Would I have to walk this race? I was certainly going to finish.  
I was thrilled that we also had a headwind on the run back on the River road as we headed to the turn at the ski jumps.  ugh.
Site of 1980 Olympic Ski Jumping
By now, I was sucking down the EFS gel flask. It was slowly kicking in I guess.  I struggled up that hill by the jumps and all of sudden, I rallied.  I could run! Yes!  I took advantage of that and got back to business.  There was a guy I had been partnered with until then and I felt sad that I lost him at that point. I do hope he made it. I wish I had remembered his number. I wasn't going fast but I was going forward. I ran back into town and made my way down the longggggggg out and back on Mirror lake road.  Just like the half way through town ride on the bike, the run is just as sweet.  The high fives and cheers lift me up and give me hope. 
I ran around the little village, felt like I was a runner again, smiled and started to allow myself to get excited. It was happening.  I was going to make it.  Only 13.1 miles to go. How bad can it be? 
I flew ( hahaha...it's all relative ) down the big hill and heard Prince's Let's Go Crazy blasting. I had energy and excitement and I sang out loud.  The village was excited and partying and the volunteers were dancing.  But then, you leave the village. And the roads are nearly silent despite the 100s of athletes running together on the roads. Everyone is in their own head. Everyone is saying something to themselves. Some are walking, some are running, and some are limping and outwardly struggling. But we are all there together and that is so easy to feel. I embraced that more than ever this time.  I tried hard to speak to people who needed a push. I told every volunteer Thank you and tried so hard to hang in. I had a little bit of an idea of where I was in my age group. I tried not to care. I told my husband not to tell me any more updates. I needed him not to care. But at the same time, I knew where I was and of course, I am a competitor.  At some point out on that River Rd for loop two, things really started to hurt again. It's more than being tired.  Just like the first 7-8 miles, my legs were just seizing and shutting down on me.  Without warning, I would just stop. I didn't want to! I am not sure what was happening.  It was SO very hard to take the first 2-3-4 steps again after stopping.  My goal was to just keep moving forward. I never looked at my pace. Not once.  I just knew that if I kept moving at a steady and consistent clip I would be ok. It took every ounce inside me to do that.  This was it. The last 10K of my Ironman life.  I started drinking coke and hoped it would work magic. I worked my way up the ski jump hill again and had an encouraging back and forth with an older gentleman. Then, I faltered again and grabbed the guard rail.  He Turned around and came Back to me!!! Just a few steps but as we know, you don't retrace steps in a 140.6 mile race.  We'd been given red bands to wear to hand off during the day to special helper. I gave mine to him when he did this. He was very gracious and said, Angela- thank you. Thank you for this. He was only loop 1. I only had 5 miles left. He had 16.  He had a long way to go and I wanted him to have some sort of boost and know I appreciated his help.
On and on I trudged.  Mark and Cam were all over the run course on their bikes. It was awesome.  Kurt also appeared consistently with his words of wisdom that I take with me every time I race. His voice and words were comforting and gave me confidence.  
Just keep running. 

Talk about so close and yet so far.......... I ran / power walked/ jogged/ ran/ repeat up the big hill through town and then at mile 24 took the right Away from the finish area. That's a brutal turn. As I ran down the final mile before the turn to the final mile in, my body started letting me know it was just about done.  My hands and face were tingling. I was wobbly. I had no focus.  I guess my brain knew I was almost at the point of getting help and it let me weaken.  Mile 25.3  and we make the turn to head back. LESS than a mile. And I stopped????  I was asking for salt. I was that desperate.  That t2 salt mishap. It wasn't happening so I squared my shoulders, put my hands in air and squeezed them as some guy running with me told me to do and just got myself there! I was grimacing and smiling and so extremely excited. I made it. I actually made it. 
run time : 4:04  2nd in age 

I have this great video, thanks to my Dad. He is always right there supporting me in all the crazy things I do.  And he always manages to get cool videos. Thank you, Dad!! You and Mom are absolutely amazing to keep chasing us around through all these adventures. 
I needed a little love in the medical tent after this one so sadly, I don't have any cool post-race pictures.  I'll search the official site for my race photos at some point. 

Standing on the podium Monday morning was a big deal for me. I wrapped up my Ironman career as 3rd in my age group & 18th overall female. At age 49 in the 45-49 group, I will take it.  I didn't expect the emotions to creep up on me as I stood there.  But they did. As Mark and I walked to the car after, we were quiet and wide eyed and holding it in. We had a great time with this journey. For 10 years we did this. Together. Sure, I was the one on the race course but we did it as a family. Our boys were 5, 7 and 9 when it started and now they are 15, 17 and 19.  They grew up with this and oh the stories we have of it all!! As I said in one of my FB posts, they know all the behind the scenes messiness and they somehow love me anyway.  We have traveled to Lake placid, Mont Tremblant, Canada, Florida, Texas, Mexico,California, all over New England of course, our favorite, Kona, Hawaii. It's been a blast. We have so many memories together because of this sport. We have made friends and share experiences and have stories to tell forever.  But it is time for me to put this one aside.  I am not done racing. I am definitely not done competing. It may be shorter triathlons and who knows what else.  But Ironman life has come to a close.  I am both sad and very satisfied and confident. It is time. 

Men's 45-49 winner Jeff Capobianco!!! One of the dear family friends we made through this sport!  




Friday, October 14, 2016

Ironman World Championships-2016

The Road that never ends leads to a day that's gone in a Flash. 



Training for an Ironman is all encompassing. It isn’t done on the periphery of your life. It is your life. No matter how hard you may try to put it aside for a day or two, it is always with you.  It’s a way of life.  It’s a lifestyle I love but one that I couldn't wait to be over. It’s something that I thrive on, it energizes me, and yet, I longed for October 9th this year with grand illusion. Because  now that October 14th is here, I continue to feel mournful. It is done. It is wonderful and terribly sad to me all in the same breath.  Time will cause this to pass. So I will wait for that.  In the meantime, I continue to process the past 7 years since my first trip to race on the Big Island of Hawaii in 2009.  





The Ironman Wall-- all athletes racing are listed here on a giant wall outside the host hotel next to the pier where the swim starts. 





 Here is my story from the 2016 Ironman World Championships. 

Before I raced Ironman Mont Tremblant in August, we had decided that if I qualified for Kona, it would be a different trip than in 2011 and 2014 when we took our family of five for full vacation. Our boys are now in High School and Middle School and knee deep in academic work + sports teams so despite their disappointment, it wouldn't be fair to take them away from their busy lives.  We were lucky and the kids were lucky that both my parents and Mark's parents were willing and able to come stay with them to help us while we traveled. In addition, my life long friend Mary (since 4-5th grade?) , who is also co-owner of TriMoxie Multisport Coaching and fellow Ironman athlete, was able to fly out with me for several days before Mark joined me!

Mary and I enjoyed our time together on race week. She had just raced and crushed Ironman Maryland on Saturday and grabbed HER Kona spot for 2017,so being on the island got her excited for next year.  As someone who understands this race & also knows me inside and out, she was a calm friend who helped me along all week.  It was really special to have that time with her.  

We swam with the fish off the pier each morning. We had swim instruction and motivational talk by the extraordinary Karlyn Pipes. We ate at Lava Java!  Oh that first giant mug of coffee on Tuesday morning was the best. Look at this food! ( Ok-- this was post race. Note the giant cinnamon roll that mark and I split. ) 






We sat on our lanai and relaxed with this view. Seriously, Hawaii is stunning.  But.... more to say on that soon when I get to the race portion of this. 


 Thursday of race week is the famous annual UPR---Underpants Run.  It's a tradition that started a long time ago mocking the silly way many triathletes don next to nothing and strut about town like it's normal. ( Yes, many still do this! And yes, I laugh at them. ) 



 Here's a view of the 'race' this year. ( 1/2 mile easyyyyyyyyy jog around Ali'i drive. Not really a race. ) Mary and I didn't participate but I DID create little TriMoxie bikinis to wear as if we were participating. ( Instead, we jumped in the water and enjoyed a quiet swim over the corral watching the pretty fish, I mean-- getting race ready :), while the 1000s of others did the UPR.) 





 The back of the suits have our name and TriMoxie written on it.  Not sure these will be worn much in Maine, but whatever. They were fun that day. 
_____________________________________

Friday morning, like a light switch, my mood changed. This is normal.  I have to shift into 100%race focus.  The reality of what's to come in 24 hours is a bit daunting.  The race in Kona is different than other Ironman race.  You are racing with the best of the best. All of them.  While there are a few spots handed out via lottery and ebay (what?? I learned this the other day.  5 ebay spots. Ugh.) and via a few other situations I'm not entirely familiar with, the Large majority of the racers there are people who either placed 1st or 2nd and in some age groups with a higher percentage of racers that day, 3rd/ 4th in their age groups at other Ironman races around the world.  The world.  The men and women that show up to toe the line in Kona mean business. I have raced a lot and feel quite secure about my abilities but I'd be lying if I didn't say that it is somewhat intimidating.  I knew I had my work cut out for me.  



I took the obligatory pose-with-bike photo as I walked to rack the bike in Transition Friday afternoon.  This is a big deal in Kona.  You wait in a long line, then you walk down a carpeted stretch lined with photographers and bike/ magazine reps who tally each number of Bikes / helmets/ components and then you'll find this data in Triathlon magazines etc soon.  Then you get your special M-dot sticker to place on the frame. And then you are escorted to the spot you rack your bike and hang the bags.  It's fun and gets your energy up for the race the next morning.  

Race day: 

I was up at 3:30 (without the alarm needing to go off!! ) eating my pre-race meal (not that yummy... strictly for the importance of the calories and nutrients ) & then the 3 of us were out the door by 4:15. After our short drive to town and a quick good-bye hug to Mark and Mary, I was walking to the back of the King K hotel to wait in line for the body marking process.  It was still dark, some are wearing headlights, and for a giant crowd of athletes in one small space, it was  very quiet.  We filed into the secure No-bag area and start the process. 
First, they wiped our shoulders ( rubbing alcohol? ) so the numbers would stick better. Into the next section and we're corralled to the area with our number. Back in 2014, my race number didn't stick to my arm. I had to go to "corrections" to get it redone.   It felt like a bad omen. And on the island of Hawaii, these feelings are real.  You don't mess around with the karma of  Madame Pele. This time however, my number  went on smoothly. (In fact, I still can't get it all off! ) 
I was feeling calm and at ease and I had a big smile on my face. I thanked volunteers, smiled for the giant cameras and just moved through the stages of check in.  Next was the weigh in (in case we end up in Medical at some point.  If our weight is higher than we started it's a sign of hyponatremia, for an example of why they do this ) & after that,  we're on our own. I walked off with my bags, took a deep breath and let out a big  'Time to relax now Ange' sigh to myself,but out loud.  
A woman walking next to me, turned and said, "It'll be ok. The sun will come up and the sun will go down. We just do the best we can do today." 
I smiled and turned my head toward to her. 

It was Natasha Badman. Six time Ironman World Champion. 

Wow. 

Another, even better, good omen for the day!!! 

I chatted with her for a few  moments and told her I loved that she was there again and wished her a great day. She is 49. Total badass. 


Kona swim pier as the sun rises. 



The next hour was spent pumping my tires, standing in line for bathrooms, laying on the hotel floor visualizing the day,  chatting with women I have met over the years from racing around the country, and getting ready for what I had prepared to do for so long. 
It was time to race. 

The feeling during that final hour is exciting and scary and overwhelming and energizing all at once. When we get close to the start time, I stop thinking about the magnitude of it. I focus on the small current moments.  I draw inward. I am not worried about the 140.6 miles. I know that distance very well. I know I can tackle it. Instead, at 6:45 a.m. I am thinking about where to position myself in the water. I think about certain specifics of my swim stroke to remember to focus on. I look for athletes I know, and want to beat.  It's all business now. I dont' think of it as the World Championships....but rather  just my race day. I was prepared as well as anyone and I earned my way to that starting line so I entered the water with full confidence to do my best. No self-doubts allowed.  My game face was on. 

The pro men started at 6:25. The Pro women at 6:30. The Age group men at 6:55. A huge portion of the field started way ahead of us.  This turned out to be more than good space on the swim. It had a true impact for me later.  

First, the swim. 2.4 miles. 


An aerial view of the swim start. The land on the top of the screen is the transition area where our bikes are racked.
Assoon as the age group men started, we were allowed down the stairs to swim out to the start line. It's ~300 yards out and there we wait for 15 minutes. As more and more women enter the water and swim to the line, it gets increasingly crowded and stressful.  We aren't wearing wetsuits, so we need to tread to stay afloat.  But with very limited space ( we are all touching ) it's hard to use your arms and legs to do this. It's not a good time.  It's Better now without the men there too. It used to be very very scary. Now, it's 'ok' but still very uncomfortable and stressful. After tolerating a crowded spot for 10 min, I could see there was open space to my right so I moved. For some reason, there was a clear spot on the front line and I took it.  Perfect. 







Pre-dawn shot of the surfers ready to hit the water to guide and protect us.
 The moment had come. The surf boards cruising back and forth in front of the us to keep our line from sliding too far forward, swiftly turned and faced the sea. They perch on the end of their boards with the board facing out -- that's the sign to us  that it was time. Countdown from 30 sec and suddenly the gun blasted. 

Go time. I took off and swam very hard. Typically, I am able to pull away and maybe 1 or 2 other women come with me. This time, I was not alone. I had company. And when I looked back on a breath, I saw a pack. Many fast women were all pushing forward together and even though I knew it would be that way, it was an immediate reminder of just how tough the competition would be.  



pre-race scene--boats/ boarders starting to take their positions

The water stirring with boats and boards before the race began. 





I found a spot and just swam hard. I had decent space and was right on the buoy line. I've had a few overwhelming experience at this swim start with true fear, but there was none of that. I focused on my stroke, tried not to gulp too much sea water and did my job.  
Finally, I made the turn at the half way point-- the Body Glove boat we swim around before turning back for the second half.  We are 1.2 miles out in Kailua bay at this point. It's pretty crazy. The water is glowing blue, a few fish scatter around and if you're lucky you may see dolphins. I checked my watch and was at :30 min. On target.  
The water wasn't too rough this year. But there were occasional large swells that throw off the rhythm and certainly slow the pace as well. I felt strong.  However, I had two issues as I swam the final mile. My goggles were tight, of course, and the left eye piece was Absolutely killing me. I felt like it was digging into my brain. It hurt. This happens to me on the IM swims.  I was totally distracted by it-- swimming with my eye closed and squeezing it to try to alleviate the pain. Finally, without really planning it, I stopped and lifted it up for a quick break. Ugh.  I hate to stop and lose my spot with the women I was pacing with but it happened.  And, of course that loses precious time.  And it didn't help. It was bugging me. I swam hard and caught the girls I'd been pacing with. Secondly, there was a women who was drafting off me, which is totally legal and normal and OK. But, she grabbed my feet EVERY SINGLE STROKE and I was completely agitated by it. I would occasionally kick SUPER hard and try to shake her or I'd swim a little Left  to lose her and I even stopped a couple times to try to get ride of her. To no avail. She drove me nuts. Big time. 
The swim went on forevvvvvvvvvvvver. I grew quite nauseous and thought I might get sick. Maybe I ingested too much sea water? I was desperate to see the pier.  I grew a little cranky and lost some umph. And yet, this is Ironman. Each leg is very very veryyyyy long. I was just starting the day so I just put my head down and kept the faith. The faster I go, the sooner I get there.  

Finally, I could hear the drums. I could hear the announcer. I saw the pier up close, the water grew more shallow and the swimmers around me were all funneling into a small space. Eyes fixed on the stairs out of the water. I swam hard, hoping for a good time.  

1:01.  5th in age group after the swim.  

Not bad.  I hoped for a 60 min swim but this was right in the range.  A few min slower than Ironman Mont Tremblant  which is a lake swim with a wetsuit (faster ) was reasonable and solid.  Especially with the swells and my 2 quick stops. 

I ran up the stairs, slipped & fell a bit ( typical ), turned back and looked at the woman who had been grabbing me for 2.4 miles ( couldn't help it ) and moved on. Through the hoses with a quick rinse on my face and into the tent.  Quickly---- dry face, sunscreen, helmet, glasses, socks, grab gels/ bloks and stuff in shirt,shoes......Go.  

I ran with a very tall and 'big' strong woman into the same bike row as me. Yikes...she was in my age group. Alright.... just do it, Ange. Just race. 


As I said earlier, Hawaii is simply beautiful.  But let me tell you, the bike course in the Hawaii Ironman, is Not beautiful. Sure, there are a few spots when you can look out to the sparkling bright blue water with clean white waves crashing. That is beautiful. However, that only happens a couple times and then it's gone.  
For the most part, it looks like this: 





It's a desert of lava rock. The course is a true beast.  If you see a snapshot of it on TV or in pictures, it's hard to capture the true nature of the roads. Heat, wind and hills are the story of the 112 miles on the Queen K highway in Kona.  

I can hold my own on the bike but it is by no means, my strength in Triathlon. I'm not sure how some women get to be SO FAST on those two wheeled rigs but I much prefer to power myself down the road on my own two feet.  That being said, I trained hard and I trained thoroughly.  I also had a number of last minute challenges to deal with to make sure the bike itself was in good condition and ready to ride fast.  ( See my last blog post ...  ) A mechanical issue is the last thing I want to deal with during an Ironman.  

I climbed the hill out of transition and immediately heard 'a noise.'  What??? Immediate anger filled my head.  I tried to ignore it and settle in. The first 10 miles are chaotic.  We wind our way back and forth through the town. People are jockeying for position ( silly )  and riding without concern for how close they are to others or whether they pass on the R or the L. Spectators are everywhere, which is Awesome, but some cross the street without looking while we are riding at them at 20-25mph. Scary. I thought of Amber and took care.  I rode easy to get my HR settled and found the source of the noise.  It was a small cable getting hit by the crank on EVERY pedal stroke. Harmless yet annoying to prepare to listen to for 112 miles.  

I climbed the last section with support before heading out onto the Queen K for hours and hours, and was happy to spot Mark and Mary!!! I blew them a kiss and took the Left onto the 'real' part of the ride. Deep Breath. Time to get tough.  

I had a plan and I was determined to stay true to it. I wanted to ride strong, but smart. I know this course. It's tough and can eat you alive and spit you out in T2 UNable to run a strong marathon.  My plan was to ride smart  so that I could run.  

Two years ago, the winds of Kona were on full force.  They were intense and unpredictable. They chucked athletes off their bikes and onto the pavement. I was angry and bitter and possibly swore a bit at Madame Pele during that ride. 

Bad idea. 
Very bad. 

You can choose to believe or not to believe in the force of the Hawaiian Islands.  As I began my fourth round on that race course last week,  on Madame Pele's turf, I was a believer.  

Madame Pele is the Goddess of Fire, lightning, dance, Winds and Volcanoes.  According to Hawaiin mythology, she is the creator of the land. She is to be respected.  Trust me. 

I was conducting myself with respect for her and as I rode towards Mauna Kea (a dormant volcano and sacred mountain peak on Hawaii. From base to summit it's 33,000 ft--surpassing Mt Everest in size.)  I kept a smile and thankful thoughts for the creation of these beautiful islands and to be awarded a spot in this legendary race.   Respect. Do not show anything but respect because her power is not a myth. You can chuckle, but when you're race in Kona more than once, you will not chuckle about this ever again. 

As they did in 2014, the headwinds picked up around mile 20-25.  My power wasn't where it should have been and my speed took a downturn as the winds grew.  It's ok. It's ok. I just kept the faith and tried to be smart. 

I'm not entirely sure what happened on my ride. Slowly but surely I am beginning to think about it.  It was not my best day. I have felt some consolation in the fact that many other athletes also appeared to have slower than typical ride times. Most did in fact, and that helps. But that day, I didn't know this. I just had my own computer to stare at. And more than once, I almost turned it off. 

The average temp was 94 according to my computer. The max was 102.  I did a heat acclimatization protocol in the sauna for a few weeks before leaving Maine and I tell you, it worked. The heat was real and I was constantly cooling, but it truly did not bother me. I felt comfortable and 'fine' despite the high temps. 

My legs however, they just didn't have it on that bike.  Was I trying hard enough? Was I just being lazy? I kept doubting my effort.  My head was all over the place.  Or maybe, maybe I wasn't really fully recovered from the Ironman 6 weeks prior. I  had an amazing race back on 8/21 and maybe a repeat for this 46 year old girl, less than 2 months later, was a bit much to ask?  I felt like everyone was passing me. It was discouraging. Everyone else seemed strong and fast and their cadence looked much higher than mine as they rode by. WHY wasn't I moving???  I was not usually that far behind. And I realized later that the spread out start times between the pros, men and then us women so much later, caused the course to seem emtpy to me and then caused my head to think I truly was just far behind most. 

The winds were strong. The hills never ended.  I tried to keep my attitude in check. I tried.  I smiled when I could. I took in the beauty when I found it. I was trying. Keep the faith. Keep the faith.  Just keep going.  

An occasional "cheat pack" rode by.  You know, multiple riders together drafting illegally. Drives me insane.  I was please to ride by penalty tents and see at least a few of the offenders standing in there serving time.  But also, resting before passing me once again. 

I turned in Hawi for the ~60 mile mark and while I smiled, I also felt sad. My pace was way wayyy off.  My power was off. I grabbed my fresh bottles from special needs ( had been frozen so they were still a bit cool when I grabbed them ) and kept the faith that the way back, would be better. 

We had just climbed 18 miles to Hawi and in theory, the decent should be fast. But, the winds are fierce. Crosswinds mixed with headwinds mixed with calm.  On my climb UP to Hawi 30 min ealier, I watched a big strong Guy get WHIPPED off his bike and hit the pavement when a sudden wind gust caught him. Boom. Just like that he was down. Shit. 

At the end of the day, I'm first and foremost still a Mom of three. I have also felt what it's like to HIT the pavement. So, I rode with caution down that grade. Did I lose some speed? Maybe. But I remained intact. Mom first. 

Mile after mile. I drank, I ate, my stomach was fine, my body temp was fine despite the hot air and yet my head was suffering. I am tough and I can fight the mental demons as well as anyone. But on the last 30-40 miles of that race, I was struggling.  I didn't travel half way around the world and leave my boys behind to race poorly. Was I trying?  I felt pretty deflated and sad as I watched the time tick on and the miles Crawl along. The wind was just relentless. Headwinds and hills. Headwinds and hills. Constantly. The wind howled in my ears. You can't hear anything but winds. 

The never ending Queen K highway............ 

I can't sugar coat it. It wasn't a good point of my day. I was low and fighting.  This is Ironman. The ups and downs are massive.  While the day may end well, it's rarely without big struggles before you get there. With 140.6 miles of racing-- there are always stories along the way of what it took to get there. 

I never swore at Madame Pele but I did curse myself a bit. I didn't cry. But I thought about it.  My time was way off. When I pushed to the power I was capable for holding, my body fought back. My heart rate was up but my power was low. And, dare I say it? At times, I stopped caring.  It was too much. The airport never came. The Energy lab... town... all way way too far away.  I felt sad. This wasn't what I dreamt of or trained for. 

Eventually, of course, I made the turn on the road that leads to T2. I wasn't on my aero bars. I was just riding.  I saw people and thought, "Get down... act like you care." 


Woah- BAD Attitude going on Ange! SNAP THE HELL OUT OF IT! 

Good races aren't all flowers and rainbows and tropical fish. 

It takes some serious head talk to make it through some days. 

So I made it in, handed my bike to the nice volunteer and said Thank you VERY sincerely. Then I tried to stand up and "run" into the tent to prep for a marathon. 

Time to turn the day back around. 

___________________________________________

Now it gets fun. 

After the long run around transition and into the tent, I got to work. I was chafed EVERYWHERE imaginable. ouch. A woman threw a cold wet towel on my back. Amazing. As quickly as I could, I changed socks and shoes, threw on my hat and glasses, and who knows what else... time to run. I had to wait briefly for the sunscreen from the volunteer and then I ran out ready to change the day. 

Down Ali'i and I felt really good!!!  The crowds uplifted me and I immediately started passing women.  

After a couple good miles, I started to hurt. And feel sad again. And worried. Emotions were overwhelming. There was no time for that, but I was struggling. I saw Mark!!! And Mary!!! Such a relief to see them.  Miles 4 -5-6--- I was ok but not great. I talked to Mark on my 2nd pass by them and told him how upset and disgusted I was about my ride. He gave me a 10 sec pep talk and I was back on my own. 

I stopped in the road and bent over. My foot was in incredible pain. It burned. I couldn't put pressure on it. I squeezed my toes and prayed for it to dissipate. 

And then, like a light switch. It happened. 

"You didn't come here to have a mediocre, give up too soon day. You haven't been busting your butt to fit in mega training with a busy life with 3 sons to give up because your foot hurts or your bike was too slow. Get out of your pity party. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. GO RUN THEM DOWN!!!! "

So I did. My low of that Ironman day was about to end. It had already lasted too long.  No more wallowing or feeling sorry for myself. 

I had No idea what place I was in at that point. But I did continue to pass women. I turned to go up the steep Palani road Hill and I ran. Most were walking. I ran. Every single step. The crowds were huge and they were fired up. They screamed for me as I ran by the walkers and I smiled. Game on. Game was back on. 

Left back on the Queen K and just like on the bike, the Real part of the race was about to begin.  

I wasn't sure the exact range of numbers for my age group. 1100---1900?? That's what I Thought Mary said but it sounded ( and was ) Much too large of a range. So, I just decided to chase All women.  

I moved quickly through aid stations walking only for a couple seconds to make sure the fluids got in. I took my gel, cooled with sponges and ice ( though it didn't feel too hot to me) and drank. I passed woman after woman and was having a blast. When I first ran past someone, I'd slide my race belt to the front so they couldn't see my number and know whether or not to chase me. When women were coming toward me, I moved it around to the back. No clue if they were looking, but I was. 

I felt good. I felt stronger the longer I ran. My energy was high. My foot pain wasn't too bad. My legs were ready to run.  After mile 12,  there were no more aid station stops. I grabbed fluids but kept moving and if I spilled, it was ok.  

At mile 17+, we turn at the far end of the Energy lab.  I turned the belt to the back as women were close behind me.  It's ok-- keep moving. You just passed them. Go pass more. 

The last mile up the hill and out of there is the toughest. Mile 18-19 ... it's slow and long. But-- then you turn Back onto the queen K and it's the Final 10K!!!!  

A Huge smile came on my face and I even pumped my arms as I made the turn. I knew I was climbing my way back into a good day. 

Mile by mile.  I held on. I snuck by more women. I knew I wasn't running up to the podium, but I was running my way to a good marathon time and turning my day around. 

My muscles were on fire and I was dreaming of the finish. And yet, I wanted more real estate. I wanted to catch more girls. I was having a blast.
The aid stations were Alive with energy. The volunteers were blasting music and dancing and cheering us with massive energy. 

The reality of what I was doing was growing and I had to control my head to 'not go there' quite yet. I had more miles to run. 

I don't plan to go back at this point. Life has other paths for me now. As I ran down the Queen K and looked over to the ocean, I took time to appreciate how big this was for me. A girl from small town Maine, racing in the World Championships. For the fourth time.  The enormity  of that is not lost on me. I have worked so very hard to be in these positions.  Time and sacrifice and pure determination not to give up has allowed me to experience this race with the best triathletes in the world. One might expect things to ease up & slow down as the age groups get older. I am going to tell you that the 45-49 year old women out there in Hawaii this year were Seriously tough athletes. As low as I felt on that bike, I consciously thought about how honored I was to be part of that group. They mean Business. Wow. There is no slowing down for that group quite yet.  It's very cool.  Age is just a number. I experienced that first hand. 

Only a few miles to go......  I was pushing as HARD as I could. I was recognized by and cheered for by Karen Smyers.  She is also an Ironman World Champion & from New England.  I was engulfed by a gauntlet of volunteers singing Crazy in Love  by Beyonce and did a little dance with them. I had a massive smile on my face as I turned onto Palani to run down that beast of a hill that I had climbed so intensely a few hours before. This was it.  The final mile. I was completely pumped. 

I heard a song blasting that Nick and I call, "our song" and dance to at home. I smiled even more and tried not to cry tears of overwhelming emotion for everything. I passed a girl. I ran with another one who was cruising along with strength. And then when I went in to see Mark and Mary at the bottom of the hill, I was filled with happy energy and passed her too. 




My "THIS IS IT BABE" slap with mark as I headed toward the last 3/4 miles...  SO happy!! 








 I ran down the road and gritted my teeth. The crowds were electric. I turned right onto Hualalai Road, and poured it on. Right on Ali'i Drive. Another sacred part of this course. The finish.  The screams were huge and in my head, they were all for me. But I saw more girls. I dug deep inside to my 'reserve' spot and just raced with every last spec of energy. I had to savor as I pushed. I ran by a few and then had to 'sprint' to catch the last one.  Got her. last mile 7:11. I was fighting for that. 

Up the carpeted ramp-- a slight slow down and with that.............
I was done.  

I felt myself wobble and lose focus but I bent down, grabbed my knees and breathed. 3:37. 3rd fastest run in my age group. 

I did it.  

I ran my way from 26th off that long bike ride into the Top 10. I finished in 9th place in the world my age group and 3rd American woman in my age group, and am feeling very proud of that.  It wasn't my fastest race in Kona but it was absolutely my best that day.  I gave it every ounce I had and since I finished strong, I can walk away with my head high. 




















Friday, September 30, 2016

Always a twist......




After qualifying for the Ironman World Championships with a one of my best 140.6 mile races to date, I felt very comfortable with my decision to accept my Kona spot.  It's not a small decision.  It meant that I had to recovery like a champ since the race was only 6 weeks after Mont Tremblant, then pick up big training again ( hard to do after training very hard since January for the Boston marathon, a half Ironman and then Ironman MT) , AND I have 3 sons who are crazy busy with high school and middle school sports, student council, band and so on......  there are no quiet days it seems. But all that is fine. I signed the dotted line and got back to work.  All was good.......

Then two weekends ago, (9/18/16) I got up early on Sunday morning to fit in a bike-run workout before the family got out of bed so I could join back up with everyone for breakfast at home before the soccer games of the day. It had rained and the roads were wet. No big deal.  

I was 3 miles from home,  riding over the same messy railroad tracks I cross almost daily {the same ones that ate me alive 10 years ago ( 8/18/06--see the closeness in dates) and landed me in the OR for a rotator cuff repair} when I turned my head towards something 'over there' for a Split second instead of watching my wheels. 
That's all it took. I crashed. Pretty hard.  On my right side. The 'important' side of the bike.  And, the side I crashed on last time, when I wrecked my shoulder.

I swore. And then hollered. And then I got up and leaned over the bike for a bit and tried to catch my breath. The wind was knocked out of me. And I was hurting. And bleeding.  
I moved things around.... shoulder seemed OK.  Arms... knees....  Things were functioning as they should. But I was bleeding on my elbow and knee ( badly ) and ankle. And my Hand! My hand killed. I couldn't really use my right hand. 
I fumbled for my phone and called home.  Mark knew it was either a) flat tire I couldn't change  or b) I was hurt.  Sorry hun.. I needed a 'hug' even if over the phone.
I cried a little and just told him to talk to me for a bit. I was gathering myself and deciding what was next. The bike seemed ok.  I was ok.  I hurt but I decided to ride to DD, wash up and assess before I made the decision to go on or not.  

So I rode veryyyyyyyy slowly for 1/2 mile to a very busy Dunkin. I slid into the restroom, cleaned my wounds as much as I could and decided to continue on. If I went home, I'd be mad that I missed a workout. And, I wouldn't feel any better. 
The ride was alright. My hand hurt so so much.  The muscle under my thumb was very bruised which made braking and shifting very painful so I had to use my left arm. My elbow was cut so I couldn't ride in the aero bars. It was pathetic but I could ride, knees were moving ok, head was fine......I just felt sorry for myself for an hour or two. 

I got home finally. The boys ran down the stairs to "see" and I wimpered a bit. 

My leg looked like this: 






My knee was all chopped up but as time went on, it was / is the ankle that was worse. It swelled and that cut is right where my foot/ leg meet and it continues to hurt and not heal 100%.  But, it is fine. I'm fine.  I was lucky. 

I thought the bike was fine.  Tuesday, I headed out for a 5 hr ride. Three 30 mile loops--- loop 1- all good but the power meter acted a little odd. Lap 2-no power. I checked the magnet and it seemed a bit loose. Oh, ok. Just need more superglue.  Ride on. Loop 3- I taped it on with some stuff I had and it worked! yay. All good. 
That night, Mark re-glued it. I was good to go. 
But it acted crazy the next day. But not enough to worry.  I only rode a bit. 
THe day after that...... on the trainer...... NO power.  

Ok.... what's the deal. 

Long story short--- I talked to Kurt and after hearing I crashed, he knew. You damaged it. It's fragile-- you landed on that side-- you very likely damaged it. 

I was out of time. The bike needed to be packed the next day to ship to Hawaii. There was no time to ship it to CO for repair and then get it back. I panicked a little. And then knew I had to just accept what was happening. 

Over the past week, I've had a few heart to hearts with myself about just riding by feel. I know I can do that. I can. But see that photo at the top? That's where we ride.  It's hot, it's hilly, and it's windy. Crazy unpredictable winds are the name of the game on the Queen K.  Using a power meter, after training with one for years and years, is very helpful.  

And yet, at the end of the day, I just need to be smart. To be in control. To use my head and gauge my effort because I KNOW what to do!!!! 

But I'd be lying if I didn't say I was very worried about it.  

I have been working with SRM and with Kona Bike Works.  SRM has hustled and made some great things happen to help me out. Bike Works is ready to help on the Hawaii end. I think it'll be ok. One way or the other, I will ride that course the best way I can.  Perhaps with power, perhaps not.  

The final two weeks before I fly to Hawaii have been abnormally busy and full of surprises.  I have had to change my training at times and accept that I can only do my best that day.  And that is how I will race on 10/8. I will do the BEST I can do, each moment, each Mile. I will be focused and smart and tough. 

 These final weeks of training for my 2nd Ironman in 2 months, mothering 3 teenage boys and coaching has been a pure example of why these races are so challenging.  It's not just covering 140.6 miles as fast as I can on race day, it's getting there. It's the training. It's the stories behind the scenes.  I have many and I will tuck those moments away and pull them out during those hard miles along the lava fields. 

I have been tested.  How much do I want it? How badly do I want to succeed in Hawaii? If thrown a curve ball, can I catch it? 

I believe I did.  The work is done.  I am ready.