Before I explain running down IRONMAN's famous red carpet covered in my own poop with a second place overall finish qualifying for my pro card, I should probably start this story from the beginning. This past weekend I packed my bags and embarked on my first journey to the east coast. I was excited and nervous to complete my second IRONMAN in 6 weeks. Thanks to my coach, I felt stronger, faster and ready to race!
If you're new to triathlons, allow me share a few pointers I took away from this race:
1. Don't forget your wetsuit at the practice swim.
2. Just because you have a bad swim does not mean you will have a bad race.
3. If you're travelling solo, make friends. Especially cute ones with cars that can give you rides to grocery stores.
Long story short, a volunteer found my wetsuit for me, not anywhere near the river. Crisis diverted! As the rolling start began, I hopped into the sewage filled water of the Ohio river. The first 1/3 of the course was upstream, though some incredibly murky water. Once I hit the turn bouy to swim downstream I got kicked in the mouth and my lips started bleeding. Unfazed, I swam on. Minutes later a women swam over me and accidentally ripped my goggles off. Putting them back on, I was getting annoyed by constantly swallowing sewage infested water. Only moments later I get whacked in the face again. From this point on, I wanted out. I wanted to stop, to wave my arm and get out of that water. But why travel all that way just to give up on yourself? I was getting frustrated with myself and with my attitude. So when I finally saw I was almost out of the water, I just shook off my one hour and 48 second swim and left all the negative energy in the water.
The rolling hills of the Kentucky countryside did not seem to be an issue. The weather however, was. Ranging from humid, hot, rainy and windy, everyone faced almost all types of weather. The wind in particular was quite brutal. My internal bladder on my bike decided it wanted to malfunction, so I had to rely on Gatorade at the aid stations. Remaining calm over situations you can't control is what helped me not have a bad bike split. Overall I had a great ride and enjoyed riding through all the towns seeing everyone cheering for the participants. When your start to feel lonely out there, it's the screaming and encouragement of random strangers that keep you going. By the end of mile 90, people were tired of riding straight into a headwind for hours, myself included. I felt like those last 10 miles were actually 20. But rolling into the transition, I knew I was embarking on my favorite part of the race, running! With a bike time of 5:43, I started my marathon with no idea what place I was in, but feeling ready to attack the run.
The hardest two sports for me are over. It was now time to shut my mind off and do what I do best. Surprisingly I started off with a 7:10 pace the first few miles. Near mile 7 or 8 I settled into a 7:30 pace. I felt comfortable and was surprised how many men and women I passed on my first lap. I had an idea I might be near the front on my second lap so I decided to try to push a little more. Overall my body was feeling "good" and knew I had more in the tank. As I approached mile 18 I had two choices. Stop at an aid station to use the restroom, or allow nature to takes its course during my run. I weighed the options. I knew their were girls in my age group behind me, what if they caught up? What if my legs seized up and I couldn't push my pace once I stopped? I wanted my slot to Kona so much I was willing to run the last 8 miles of the marathon covered in my own poop.
To me, this decision came down to one question: How bad do you want it?
Think about it. If you want something that much, you are willing to do anything you can to achieve it. At this point in my day, I was already 9 hours deep into a race. I could handle one hour of being uncomfortable.
The last three miles was nothing but a sufferfest. I tried to stay at my 7:30 pace as best as I could and ran through the finish line with a marathon time of 3:18, for a total time of 10:13. Good enough for second place female (sans pro). I fought hard for that race time battling the weather, my own limits and my own mind. Getting the slot to Kona was rewarding this time, as my last race I declined in hopes to go next year. I now have a full year to train and not have just a couple triathlons under my belt! I would not be in the position I am in now if it wasn't for my coach, Matt Sheeks! http://tritheos.com/
Qualifying for your pro card is no easy feat, and did not expect to hit this goal in my FOURTH triathlon, but it shows me that I have quite the road ahead of me if this is my first year at this multi-sport world!