In March of 2010 I laid on the ground after being hit by a car during a training run. I thought about my daughter and how she would feel once she heard the news. I also thought about all the months of training I put in and realized that in exactly six weeks I was to leave for IM St. George; I was broken and absolutely devastated. Two months straight I laid on my stomach only moving around when necessary. I had plenty of time to feel sorry for myself and believed I would never compete in any distance triathlon ever again. Three months into feeling sorry for myself, my friend Chris talked me into registering for a race she believe I could finish. Still hurting and sitting on a rubber donut I sat in front of my computer and signed up for Ironman Coeur d'Alene. I cried afterward...I was still in so much pain and could barely sit let alone run! How was I going to train for an Ironman? After a couple of days I called my coach, he helped me get within six weeks of IM St. George on bad feet so I had to believe Craig Zelent could help me get to IM CDA. I talked for awhile with him and we decided that November 1st, 2010 was going to be the start of my training. Finally that day rolled around and at that point eight months had passed and I was in terrible shape and I could barely walk a block without breathing heavy. I slipped on my running shoes for a two mile run; I never stopped running but I slowed down to a crawl. When I finished my legs and tail bone hurt so bad I was ready to throw in the towel. Still, with thoughts of quitting, I woke up the next morning and went for a swim and I continued from that day forward...one day at a time. Weeks passed and every week my coach gave me positive feedback while I gave nothing but negativity in return. Even though I was “winning the day” as he would say, I felt overwhelmed and my goal unobtainable. By January I decided to really quit but again Craig encouraged me this time saying, "train not for anything in particular, just train winning one day at a time." By February I was physically able to complete a half Ironman. My first triathlon of the year was coming up and it was time to compete. Ironman 70.3 Oceanside was April 7th, 2010 and I was both physically and mentally ready for that race. I made it to the start, finished, and had a great time enjoying every moment of the race. After Oceanside, I finally started to believe I could make it if I continued to put in my time, I finished the race 44 minutes faster than my first attempt. Time passes fast when you're training; so before I knew it I was packing for CDA and in the best shape of my life. My bike left the Saturday before me via Tri Bike Transport. Once I handed my bike over, the race became more real to me. At that point I was actually going to Coeur d'Alene. My children and I arrived in CDA to blue skies and warm temperatures four days before the race. Everything went smooth; my rental car was easy to pick up and my rented condo was absolutely beautiful! The following day, a group of friends and I went for a swim in Lake CDA. The water was a chilly 58 degrees and very choppy, you could actually see white caps and the weather was rainy and cold too. The water conditions weren't a major issue we swam in worse conditions in the Cove during training. Afterward, we checked in at registration, received our stylish blue wristbands and shopped at the Ironman store. The day after, we rode the run course and came across a female deer that wanted to check us out. Riding along the lake with my good friends was wonderful. I also realized I picked the right race for me and it was an absolutely beautiful course.
I woke up feeling ready. I knew I had trained putting my time in twice a day six days a week. The only thing left to do was to make it to the start and get it done, "one event at a time" I told myself. Regardless of my thoughts of being prepared I feared the swim, not because of the choppy water and the beat down I expected; I feared it because of the cold. The first time I did Oceanside 70.3 back in 2009, I was nearly pulled out of the race because of hypothermia. After talking to coach and women who had issues with the cold water I had a plan. So the morning of the race I made sure I had all of my swim gear and when I say all, I had a lot of stuff. I had 2 extra swim caps, not including my race cap. My one piece tri suit, a neoprene rash guard, wet suit, booties, a squid lid, and Vaseline. After putting everything on while chatting and laughing with my friends, we held on to one another as we walked down to the start talking positive to one another lifting each others spirits. We were all going to make it come hell or high water, we told each other. Finally the canon went off, we looked at each other for the last time and went in. The water was terribly cold, so cold it hurt. It didn't matter, my core was warm and so was my head. I could hear another friend in my head who completed CDA three times, saying, "the water is going to be cold and you're going to want to stop but no matter what just keep on swimming." I took her advice and swam nonstop, never stopping no matter what I kept going. I saw pink and green caps bobbing in the water but still I kept going. First loop done I re-entered the water with the same determination keep going no matter what I said over and over to myself. Once I hit the turn around buoy I began to cry in my goggles. I was going to make it, I had to. At that instant my core started cooling down and my head was stating to feel the chill, three buoys away from the finish I could feel myself shivering uncontrollably and I couldn’t straighten out my fingers. I saw life guards pulling people out and people giving up around me but NO not me! A life guard peddled toward me but I put my face down and kept going. It felt like I was dog peddling but I didn't care, I was not going to stop. One buoy, two buoys, last buoy, my feet touched, tears flowed I made it! 1:51:00
I spent 30 minutes in T1 trying to warm up, it was scary not being able to straighten out my fingers. After a long time in the warming hut and with the aid of a nice volunteer I was finally ready to ride. My teeth were still chattering when I mounted my bike but I didn’t care because I knew I was 30 minutes off the time I wanted to start the bike and I had to go! I had to peddle hard the entire time to hit every time point, there was no time to enjoy the scenery of the beautiful bike course. During the ride my Garmin was my best friend, every 15 minutes it beeped and every 15 minutes without fail I ate and drank something. On the bike I knew I needed 1750 calories, I packed 1768. I had a turkey sandwich with me; I ate half at mile 30 and the other at mile 60. I had two carbo pro/cytomax bottles 350 calories each, two Power bar caffeine chews, and two Honey Stinger Waffles. My special needs contained a bag of plain Lays potato chips and a little bottle of Coke. When I made it there after a forgettable first loop, I downed half the bag and chased it with the coke. A mile after I left the special needs area was a port a potty and an aid station. I dismounted and handed my bike to a volunteer. While I used the facilities, I asked her to fill my water bottles which saved me a bit of time. With my bladder empty, bottles full and a hardy thank-you to the volunteer, I was off. I had until 4pm to make it to mile 90; I made it by 3pm. When I finally hit the mile 100 marker, I started to cry...I couldn’t believe I made it that far! I was crying so hard a volunteer asked me if I was OK! I told him I was GREAT and hammered to the finish 7:25:26.
When I dismounted my bike my legs gave out! A volunteer caught me, took me to the changing tent and set me down. Two other volunteers helped me change while I regained some sort of strength in my legs. 15 minutes in T2, yes I knew that was a long time but I needed the rest. When I finally got up, my legs felt fresh again and I was ready to go. I must say my nutrition was so good on the bike that my stomach was settled, I was hydrated and not hungry one bit. I crossed the run out line running or Ironman shuffling and never stopped until mile 15. I couldn't get pass how beautiful the run course was and how much of a party all of the spectators were having. I stopped at every aid station and nibbled on something salty and sipped water it wasn’t until mile 14 where I tried my first chicken broth that I started feeling a bit uneasy in the stomach. Mile 15 I started feeling ill and started my run/walk regime. The stopping was taking a toll but it couldn’t be helped my stomach was tortured and my legs hurt. I continued the run walk strategy until I heard an all too familiar voice behind me saying “I’m not letting anything get in the way of my goal!” Chris D and Audrey, one of the best Sherpa’s in the world motivated me to run. I started running at mile 25 my legs were throbbing and brain screaming at me to walk! Finally, two blocks away from the finish, I could hear the people screaming and cheering. Once I turned the final corner and saw the finish line I picked up speed as tears rolled down my face. As I ran through the finishers chute, I heard my son Andrew and my daughter Amber screaming and cheering for me. I gave them both a hug then crossed the finish line 5:20:28.
I wasn't defeated by self pity, doubt, or pain. I made it to the start and got it done without succumbing to every excuse I made up in my head. Finishing an Ironman is by far one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. It took two weeks and a tattoo for it to sink in…I made it, I actually finished an Ironman. I finished Ironman in 15:19:45, it not the best time in the world but it's my time.