Thursday, April 27, 2017

IMTX 2017 The Finish

I could hear the finishers being called and I wanted to run, but I just couldn't. I couldn't run a single step. I couldn't budge my arm. I was in pain. And then something special happened. I hit the beginning of the finisher's chute.
Suddenly something washed over me and I didn't feel anything but pure joy. I was smiling, waving, high fiving, and I was running! And I was lifting my arms over my head and cheering! And I was crying! And I was laughing! And I was feeling that everything I went thru to get to this point changed me. 
The girl who began this journey was not the same girl who was crossing the finish line. And she never would be again.
It wasn't just a race. It was a fight. It was a struggle. It was the reward at the end of a long journey. It was a dream come true. 
It was a new me. This is a girl who is strong and fierce. She can face any obstacle and overcome it with strength and dignity. This is a girl whose determination saw her thru what felt like the impossible.
I did not fall. I did not fail. I did not disappoint.
I can. I will. I did. I am an Ironman. I am strong!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


I knew on the bike that the run was going to be a challenge for me. I had forgotten my RA medicine and I was in a world of hurt. But I was going to do this ya'll! 
My shoulder was nagging on the swim, but after the winds and struggle on the bike it was really bothering me. I had two surgeries from a bike crash previously - a clavicle repair and surgery on my shoulder. When I was in transition I got a really hard high five and it sent shooting pain from my shoulder down to my fingers. And that was it. It only got worse from there. But I was so freaking happy to be off the bike and one step closer to my dream!
In transition the volunteer was amazing. She took my bike shoes off and put my socks and shoes on for me! She put vaseline on my raw spots. I offered to sell her my bike! Lol! I was able to go to the bathroom which was a relief because I hadn't urinated in over 7 hours and I was worried about dehydration. I shuffled out of  transition, screamed thru some sunscreen (no fun with chafing), and set out. 
I was slow going, but I was running at a super easy pace. Every step hurt every joint. I went a little way and had to urinate again which was so exciting because that meant I wasn't too far behind on my hydration which was such a huge concern for me. I didn't stop to refill on the bike and I was empty the last hour. Not a smart play I know, but fortunately it turned out ok. I saw my coach and told her I was not in a good place and needed my medicine. She told me I had plenty of time and to walk as much as I needed. I ended up behind a girl named Meredith doing a run 2/walk 1. I followed her for awhile and then approached her. We did the first loop together. She lives in Waco and teaches at Baylor (where I went to college). She also has four boys roughly the same age as mine. I was grateful she got me thru that first loop.
At every aid station I drank water and Gatorade. Twice I even had coke for the first time in 12 years! I ate bananas and grapes. I tried a cookie but didn't love it. But then I saw WATERMELON! I was ugly eating it. I just could not get enough! Nothing has every tasted better than watermelon tasted that day!
Rick was able to get me my medicine thank God. The second loop I took off and tried to run more than walk. Each step rattled my joints. And at this point my right arm was glued to my side and I was worried it was really messed up. My foot that I broke just 5 months ago was giving me trouble. During IM training my longest training run was only 10 miles due to my broken foot. In fact the last long run I had was 13.1 miles a year before at IM 70.3 Texas. I had already run further than that at this point. 
I had so much support on the course and I was so grateful! It's moments like these that kept me going! My family, friends, Zoot teammates, Strike Force Racing teammates, Mind Over Matter Triathletes, TriTats team, Conroe Triathletes, physical therapists from the Memorial Hermann Ironman clinic where I go, people I graduated high school with, people I used to teach with, IG and FB friends, volunteers, and perfect strangers. What a blessing to have so many people rooting for you! And all of these people are why I made it thru this run! It really was a lot of fun!!
I couldn't stop smiling the entire time! Don't get me wrong, there were some smiles to cover grimaces in pain. And there were a few moments in the back of the Woodlands that were lonely stretches. But I was doing this when I was told I couldn't and that I shouldn't. I wasn't going to let anything stop me!! 
By the third loop I was walking. I kept trying to run but I couldn't run a step without being in excruciating pain. And it was frustrating because I wasn't feeling tired, my muscles weren't feeling fatigued. I wanted to go and I couldn't. In fact the muscles that hurt the most were my cheeks from grinning so hard! I am a runner and everything in me wanted to run.
When I made it back around my crew was already at the finish line. I didn't see anyone. Then I heard my hubby call out my name and he told me to keep going and that I could do it! He had stayed back to see me one last time! It was just what I needed! I only had a little over a mile to go, but I was so slow I knew it would take me awhile. I still kept trying to run, but I couldn't go a step without intense pain. I could hear the finishers being called across the finish line. And then all of a sudden the chute opened before me..........


During transition in the morning before the swim start I had left with my bike computer in my bag. I was worried about not having it on the ride. I had given it to my hubby and he found a volunteer who put it into my bike bag for me! And that was a saving grace! 
Anyone who knows me knows the bike and I do not have a love affair. Anyone who loves me was probably just about as scared about me being out on the bike as I was. But I got out of the swim and I was feeling calm and confident. I was super happy and excited. I got on the bike nice and easy without any troubles.
And it started out great! I was flying! I was feeling good! I was feeling super confident. But I kept reminding myself that anything could happen and I had to be prepared. I didn't want to get too comfortable because I wanted to be prepared to handle anything that came my way! But I did start doing calculations of where my race could go and I was getting excited!  My hubby, one of my boys, and some friends surprised me and came out to the Hardy Toll Road to see me ride! When they saw me I was in aero and feeling fine!! I knew they would be excited to see me in aero because I NEVER ride in aero. Meanwhile a cool front was pushing thru. The sky was getting dark and the wind was picking up. I made the turn around and it started getting harder. I passed my family and friends again and I was still smiling. But it was getting harder and harder. They passed by as they were heading out in the car and honked a goodbye. At this point I was starting to struggle. The wind was really picking up and it was a headwind. I was no longer flying and I was working hard! I had already decided I didn't want to stop at the stations because I didn't want to risk falling. But I knew I was risking dehydration. People were crashing, lots of flat tires. A water bottle flew in front of me and I hit it, but thankfully maintained control . The girls behind me called out because it scared them. I made the turn around to do the second loop of the Hardy and felt some relief to be out of the headwind. But I can tell you the tailwind did not make up for the headwind. That is for sure. I saw several ambulances take people away. And a guy crashed right in front of me and another girl, and it was by the grace of God that we missed him and didn't all go down. His race was over. I continued south down Hardy just hoping and praying the wind changed directions and the headwind going back wasn't as bad. I hit the turnaround and it was WORSE! It was a constant battle. Going downhill from an overpass and working hard at one point and I was going 8 mph! EIGHT!!!! It was demoralizing. I was feeling defeated. And every pedal stroke hurt. My muscles weren't too bad but my joints weren't taking it well. And I realized I left my RA medicine in my bag and didn't have it on the bike. I have never been good at changing gears, but I can tell you I learned real quick on this ride! In order to keep from swearing like a sailor, I decided I was going to sing. But I could not think of the words to a single song for the life of me! Lol! So I started belting out the ABC's very loudly! Those race calculations I made earlier were out the window! I watched people get off their bikes and and just sit on the side of the road. I watched people walk their bikes up the overpasses in the wind. At 100 miles I thought there was no way I could keep going. I was in so much pain. But I only had 12 miles left how could I give up now. But as slow as I was going 12 miles was still going to take me forever. But then I thought of all the people I would let down, and I kept going. I was relieved to leave the Hardy. But we just kept turning north right into the headwind.As I got closer I started to worry that I was hurting so much I would fall at dismount. But I stopped and saw my family and friends and screamed "I didn't fall!" I was so happy to be off that bike. A volunteer grabbed my bike and that was when I realized I could hardly walk! This was going to be an interesting 26.2 mile run!!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


So I opted to wear the wetsuit. It's how I had trained because the water had been cold, so I thought it was best not to change things up at the last minute. So I took the 10 minute penalty. 
I am covered in scratches, I was punched in the head, kicked, and pulled on, but I still had the best swim! I swam comfortably, I had no anxiety. I just enjoyed my swim! It was a beautiful swim and I had a blast! I was feeling some pain in my right shoulder and this would become a problem later in the race, but it didn't hinder me here at all. I was thinking I could swim the English Channel next! Lol!
I was so excited to hear and see Jess on the bridge as I swam under! And she got some great pics!! Seeing these pics and reliving the experience, it is hard to believe two years ago I couldn't swim and that I had never put my face in the water!! And I was swimming in an Ironman!!
I got out of the water feeling like a million bucks!! It was such a great way to start the race and it gave me so much confidence going into the bike!
I don't know this awesome lady, but she was a volunteer and I kept running into her! She was AMAZING! I wish I knew her name!! Great volunteers make all the difference!!
I got out of the water and saw Gemma Hollis and Donna Adams! Having them there for me meant so much! I was so happy to see them! Not the prettiest picture of me, but you can see how happy we were to see each other!!

I got out of the water feeling strong and speedy! It wasn't until I crossed the finish line that I saw my splits. And I was shocked! I cannot believe I was that slow in the water! All of my training was much faster, and I didn't feel like I got off course, I didn't struggle, and I never stopped. Then I looked at my Garmin data and it showed I swam 900 extra yards!! I guess I was enjoying the swim so much I didn't want to stop! Lol!! 2.92 miles!!!
I am glad I didn't know the stats until the end. Starting off the race feeling so strong and fast really set the tone for the day and I was feeling like I was really going to do this!

Race Morning!

I have watched this countdown on my Garmin for over a year! And it is finally go time!! I am heading out the door not so bright but early! No sleep last night! No sleep for a week lol! Last night there was a baby in the next hotel room that cried for an eternity! Poor baby, but oh how I wanted to get some rest! Oh well, there will be plenty of time for that after the race! 
I headed over to transition to get everything prepped for the day. I was feeling a bit anxious and overwhelmed! I ended up carrying my bike computer out with me AND forgetting to leave my Rheumatoid Arthritis med on the bike, which I would come to need later!
Fortunately my friend Brian Kreitz was volunteering in transition and helped me air up my tires and calm me down!
And I got a hug from my friend Sarah Andrews who was volunteering there too! It was great seeing her smiling face!

Then I headed to the swim start where I saw some of my family and friends! I was surprisingly calm at this point and very ready! No more tears. No more nausea. No more nerves. I was just feeling ready to get started! 
Jess was doing an amazing job as my best friend, supporter, and keeping everyone updated from start to finish! So grateful she was here!!
I got to see Megan who is a Mind Over Matter Triathlete with me as well as a fellow Rheumatoid Arthritis triathlete! And Susan was my sidekick and I was grateful for that!!

IMTX Banquet

What a great evening I had at the Ironman Banquet! It was an honor to be among so many amazing and inspiring people/athletes!
Oh my gosh I met Mike Reilly! And the best part is he knew who I was! It was such a highlight for me! He is so genuine and excited for us athletes that you can't help but be inspired. And with his million dollar smile you can't help but grin from ear to ear! 
This lady has been with me from the very beginning of my tri life! My coach, Gena Alvarez, has coached me thru illness and injury and got me to each start and finish! Let me tell you that is no east feat! She has seen me thru many tears which if you know me is rivers!She has held my hand in the ER! And she has gotten me thru training for one of the most physically challenging races there are when the odds have been stacked against me! She got me to the start line of Ironman Texas ya'll! And I can't wait to see her at the finish line!
I finally got to meet up with my friend Jana Richtrova! Talk about an AMAZING athlete! I got to see her cross the finish line and place in Kona last year (not her first time or her last)! Hoping to see her again in Kona this year! She is such an inspiration! (And I'm hoping some of her speed and talent rubbed off on me at dinner! Lol!) 
And Susan who has been my life line thru this experience, Brian our fearless Tritats leader, and I hanging with the Iron Man Voice Mike Reilly!!
This has been an amazing, emotional, and inspiring evening!!

Race Day Check In

This week was extremely emotional! Tears and trepidation ran amuck. I was in tears at check in and two volunteers on separate occasions cried with me. I was just so happy I made it this far and was going to race! And I want it so bad!! Nothing is going to stop me!
This Mind Over Matter shirt is my favorite! It is all me!!
I am so grateful I had my friend Susan going thru this experience with me! She was my rock! We texted each other thru everything!
I was happy to be out there with Susan and Sean! They are amazing athletes!!
Nicholle met me at Ironman Village and we ran a few easy miles along the Waterway. It was just what I needed for my nerves!!
Gear is packed and ready for race day! Whew! I am going to do this!!

IronKids 2017

To say I am proud of my guys is an understatement! I love watching them enjoying doing what I love to do. I am so lucky they share in my passion. And let me tell you they are most definitely determined!
Sawyer started strong and eager!! He was rearing to go!
Emerson (5 yrs old) was very anxious. He wanted me to run with him. But as soon as we started he was off!
Sawyer (6 yrs old) stayed fast and strong all the way thru! He finished 7th overall and the kiddos who finished before him were all 8 or older!! He nailed it!
Look at that form!! What a beautiful runner!!
It was so fun running and finishing with my little guy! He ran hard and fast! When he finished he said I could have done that by myself! He is such an anxious kid and those pre race jitters get him every time! Just like his mama!!
Everett (9 yrs old) smoked his race! He was so fast! He even beat his big brother!!
Ricky (11 yrs old) had some trouble with his asthma out there. But he still ran hard and fast!! He killed it!

All my boys finished in the front of their races! It wasn't a timed race. It was just for fun, but it sure did give them the bug to race again! They are ready to sign up for another one!!

Lululemon IMTX Wall

Every year Lululemon displays the names of all the participants in Ironman Texas on their windows. This year I got to find mine! My boys made me promise I wouldn't go without them because they wanted to be the ones who found my name. And they did! I just love how excited they were! And I loved seeing my name up there!!