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Ironman Coeur d’Alene 140.6  June 28, 2015


A few know that I registered for IM CDA to be my second iron distance race…BEFORE I had completed my FIRST iron distance race. I also registered for IM TN/CHOO/CHATT to be my third before I finished my first iron distance race. Clearly I was banking a lot on LOVING long distance triathlon. Lucky for me my gamble payed off. Always take these insanely brave (or stupid) decisions in mind when reading my blogs for good advice ;).

I knew that IM CDA would be hilly but beautiful. In fact I found IM CDA by Googling “Best Ironman Races”. Several sites, including a long post on Slowtwitch, listed IM CDA as an awesome race.  A top five. I love hills, I love the beautiful countryside, and if others thought it fit into a “Best In Class” then I wanted to experience it. SOLD.

Everything was going swimmingly until about 2 weeks prior to the race when someone posted a weather report on Facebook. I make it a rule to NOT pull up and dwell on the weather before a race. I force myself to train in hot, cold, windy, and rainy weather so that on race day I am not intimidated by a few chilly sprinkles. However this weather report was something special. I believe the rumors (with the lack of accuracy of weather predictions I prefer to call them rumors) started out with highs around 101 or 102 degrees F. Wow. HOT. I started to pay attention.

From that point on it became a game of sorts. Who could find the highest temperature for race day and make the wittiest meme for the event (see pics to the right...scroll down...but come back!). I will admit that at one point when the rumors were saying 108-110 I seriously thought someone who worked at The Weather Channel was pulling a prank on a friend who was racing. I didn’t really believe the ridiculous Idaho temperatures were true until Ironman sent out an official email about it. Yikes.

About a week prior to race day, when the temperature in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho was in the 70’s (perfect for race day…), I evaluated the situation and knew I could conquer it. I thrive in stressful situations which depend more on strategic planning than pure brute force. I could do this! You see, I am not fast. I don’t enjoy shorter triathlon distances for this reason (granted if I raced more short ones I would get faster…I get it…). However, I am determined. I don’t quit. I can settle into a mindset, focus, and keep on keepin’ on. I can do hard things. 

I also had an ace in my pocket. Due to my work commute of 15-20 hours/week I spent most of the 9 months leading up to this race very much sleep deprived. I searched for every additional hour to sleep. This meant that while some of my fellow Atlanta CDA racers were getting up at the crack of dawn to complete their training rides and runs to beat the heat (because who needs heat training for CDA anyway) I was sleeping in. I completed the majority of my training later in the day and suffered through MANY very HOT long rides and runs. It was a small trade off for that extra hour of sleep that my body desperately needed. Who knew that my sleep deprived induced heat training would pay off? 

HYDRATION PREPARATION - “IN THE HAND”

So a week out I started to prepare. Step one was to think about hydration. Many athletes make a critical mistake with their hydration. They start TOO LATE. I started one week out with premixed bottles in the fridge so that I could practice the “bottle in hand” method (see mixed Podium Multisport water bottles in the fridge...locked and loaded). My goal was to keep a bottle of hydration with me, i.e. “in hand”, at all times. I varied the contents of my intake. Some bottles were pure water but most were a mixture of Advocare Rehydrate (1-2 scoops) + Base Performance Amino (1 scoop) + Base Salt (1 scoop). I supplemented this with a can of Kill Cliff Recovery Drink (I freaking LOVE this stuff!). I credit a lot of my race day success to the fact I went into the water very well hydrated (might explain why I peed three times on the swim).

ACCLIMATION - IN THE HEAT

The plan was to arrive in CDA on the Thursday prior to the race. Most racers have security blanket tricks that help reduce their stress in the days leading up to the race.  

I have two:
Early Packet Pickup
Early to bed all 2-3 nights prior to the race

So, Derrick (whose brother Dustan would be coming in later to race) and I took an 8 am flight out of Atlanta so that we could make it to packet pickup on Thursday. It was AWESOME to have ZERO lines and be able to wander through the expo without the insane pre race crowds. Packet in hand we headed to eat some lunch and then to the rental house Dustan has secured for a large chunk of our Atlanta peeps. 

The house was awesome minus one little thing…AC. Most of the houses in CDA do not have AC. They do not need it. Fortunately for us the homeowners purchased a room AC unit for the main room in the house to help a little with the scorching temps. My room was in the back sans fan and sans any air flow. It was hot.

The Ironman briefing said to stay out of the heat the days leading up to the race. I will be honest, I don’t get this advice. In my days of vacations to hot Hilton Head, San Destin, and mission trips to Africa I ALWAYS felt better in the heat several days after being there than I did the first day. So, I ignored their advice. What I DID do was focus on sunscreen because sunburn will make you hot and wear out your body. 

I continued my hydration strategy of Kill Cliff Recovery Drinks, water, and my Advocare/Base Amino/Base Salt custom mix…and well maybe a few glasses of wine and cups of coffee.

THE PLAN - AT THE HEART

From Atlanta we had 12 racers completing the race. We were all members of the Atlanta Tri Club (ATC) and covered a variety of skill and experience levels. We planned a Friday night briefing so that more experienced racers could share tips for racing in the heat. We talked about hydration - specifically how to handle the bike water stops. The water stops are always setup with water first, gatorade in the middle, and then water at the end. The advised plan was to get a water at the start to fill our water bottles, grab a gatorade if needed, and then grab a water bottle at the end to have to pour over our bodies to cool us down.

I listened to all of the advice and then added my own. I have worked in heart research for almost 10 years and one thing I know is that your HEART RATE will tell you a lot about how your body is reacting to external factors (heat) as well as internal factors (stress, fatigue, dehydration). In my plan I decided that I would change all of my fancy Garmin devices so that the main screen showed me three critical info points:  Time, Distance, and HEART RATE. I set my alerts to go off if my HR got too high (for me I set the limits to 155 bpm on the bike and 160 bpm on the run) for the heat. I told my ATC friends that my goal would be to maintain a decent HR the entire race so that my body was able to digest nutrients and cool off. I would ignore power and pace because IM CDA was clearly a race I wanted to finish strong and not fast.

MY MOTIVE - RACECATION

When I registered for this race I also knew it was close to my second wedding anniversary and I had hoped my husband would fly out to join me. Some of us got a crazy idea that going to Glacier National Park the week after the race to camp and hike would be a fabulous vacation. My husband is not a triathlete…he loves to play soccer. Triathlons can be boring to spectators. This Glacier trip would allow for me to pull off a Racecation and make everyone happy. However, if I pushed so hard during the race that I was miserable the week after, during our vacation, then my husband might not be a fan of this whole racecation idea. So I was very motivated to race smart and not hard so that I could still camp, hike, and fly fish with him. 

CLOTHING - COOL IT DOWN

During the week leading up to the race I read a lot about how to stay cool. What types of clothes to wear. Everyone recommends white but honestly I had training on hot days in my black TeamEndured cycling kit without any issue. I decided to stick with it but purchased some white cooling sleeves for the bike and a white cooling top to wear over my sports bra for the run. Kim Bramblett also gave me excellent advice about leaving my aero helmet at home and bringing my training helmet with lots of holes on the top. These holes were a lifesaver when I poured water on my head during the bike portion. I purchased a new hat from Outdoor Research that was rated to help keep you cool. I was set.

All of these decisions paid off well. 

Swim Attire:

Long sleeve versus sleeveless wetsuit…back and forth…I drove myself and others crazy!! The morning of the race I decided to go with the sleeveless. I wanted to be cool as much as I could and didn’t want to risk heating up in a full wetsuit and getting dehydrated on the swim. Truth be told I believe whichever suit I picked I would have wished I had the other one on. The water temperature was 73 degrees F and my arms were actually chilly for most of the swim. I swam thinking, “I wish I had my full suit”. I am confident that if I had worn my full suit my conversation would have been, “I am hot I wish I had on my sleeveless”. Under the wetsuit I wore my TeamEndured tri kit bottoms and a TeamEndured sports bra both made by Hincapie.

Bike Attire:

The TeamEndured cycling kit is made by Hincapie. I just LOVE this cycling kit. It is by far the most comfortable cycling kit I have worn. It is durable and looks great. I will say that the durability does make it so that it doesn’t breath as well as some of my other kits. It is a tradeoff. However this actually played in my favor during the race. The fabric held water very well and helped to keep me cool. It was awesome. I had purchased cooling arm sleeves and put them in the pockets of my bike jersey. I didn’t put them on but I regret it. I should have.

Run Attire:

Prior to this race I was pretty much against running in a sports bra with run bottoms. Everything jiggles as you run. Even muscles. It is rarely pretty. However, I decided that I didn’t care what I looked like so sports bra it was. I started the race off with the sports bra and a pair of 2XU compression capris (I always run in capris…always…unless I am wearing tri shorts for my race team…and even then I wish I was running in capris). I tied the long sleeve white cooling top around my waist. I wore the OR ventilated hat on my head. At some point during the run I put on my white cooling top. This thing rocks! It protected me from sunburn (I did not get ANY sunburn during the almost 15 hours I spent racing) and held water and ice really well. 

COOLING - ICE, WATER, SUNSCREEN

During our ATC meeting some of the racers talked about using ice to cool our bodies down. I had tested this out in my sports bra at IM70.3 Raleigh. They also said to hold a chunk of ice in each hand. Wow, this really works. So during the run portion of the race every chance I got to grab ice I did. I laughed as one gentleman looked away as he put ice into my sports bra. Seriously, at that point I could care less what anyone saw as long as they kept me cool. So, ice in the sports bra front and back, hat, and hands.

Lots of spectators were out with their hoses and I eagerly allowed them to spray me down. There is a debate between using this water method due to the risk of blisters. This was an easy decision for me…blisters heal, heat stroke can kill (Note: I finished the race with ZERO blisters). The cooling top also works if you keep it wet. So wet it was. (Note: if you put ice in your sports bra and you lack boobs like me…and then you are sprayed down with water…as you run you will sound like a clinking water glass.  Hysterical. It is the small laughs that keep you going.)

I made sure to put lots of sunscreen on the entire race. This diligence paid off because I had ZERO sunburn. The cooling top also helped to shield my torso and arms from the sun. Win/Win.

NUTRITION - OFTEN AND PLANNED

Nutrition is hard because everyone’s bodies are so different. What works for me may not work for you and vice versa. However it is helpful to see what others use to get ideas. Last season I raced using CarboPro + EFS in my liquid bottle, Vanilla GUs + Honey Stingers for my “food”, and salt capsules. For me this combo worked on race day but the days after I didn’t feel so great. 

I made the decision at the end of the year to use more natural substances. For ME this was the best decision I could make. This season I noticed I liked my physique more and I felt better. Win/Win.

Instead of CarboPro I have used UCAN Vanilla (contains protein) during all of my training rides. I drink 3-4 scoops (in water) about 30 minutes prior to my bike rides. This usually lasts for about 3 hours for me. For the Ironman race I wasn’t sure that I would be able to force myself to chug down UCAN at the halfway point and the thought of sipping it made my stomach churn. So my plan was to drink 4 scoops of UCAN prior to the swim and then add some CarboPro to my bike special needs electrolyte mixture for the second half.

Instead of Honey Stingers I started making Hailey In Training Salty Balls. I absolutely LOVE these. I use vanilla protein, rolled oats, rice crisps (for a bit of crunch), dried cranberries, Justin’s almond butter, and then top them with a pinch of Base Performance Salt. I have found that the tiny pill bags you buy from the drugstore are the PERFECT size for one ball. So now instead of having individual Honey Stingers taped to my top bar or stuffed into my jersey I have my own individually packaged salty balls. Pretty awesome. Got BALLS?  Hehe.

Instead of GUs I use the individual packs of Justin’s Almond Butter (NOTE: I love all things vanilla EXCEPT these. I tried the vanilla and almost puked!).

SALT. Last year I used the salt capsule that many of my friends used. My stomach always felt awful. Towards the end of the year I was introduced to Base Performance Salt. I tried it out at Beach2Battleship and LOVED it. This year I have been putting it directly into my electrolyte mix, on my Salty Balls, and keep a container on hand in case I need additional during a race. I can’t say enough good things about this product. To me it is a game changer and I am sold on it.

ELECTROLYTE MIX. Last year I used a combo of EFS and Advocare Rehydrate. This year I benched the EFS and now use Advocare Rehydrate + Base Performance Amino + Base Salt + 1/2 Scoop of Advocare Spark. For IM CDA specifically I mixed up two concentrated bottles for the bike course:

Bottle One:
Advocare Rehydrate:  5 scoops
Base Amino: 1 scoop
Base Salt: 3 Scoops
Advocare Spark: 1/2 scoop

Bottle Two: (Special Needs Bag)
CarboPro: 3 scoops
Advocare Rehydrate:  5 scoops
Base Amino: 1 scoop
Base Salt: 3 Scoops
Advocare Spark: 1/2 scoop

I hate to run with lots of extra jiggling things and so for the run course I used course drinks. So…water and gatorade, as well as Matt Miller’s Rocket Fuel mixture at the Base Performance tent on the run. That rocket fuel mixture is good as gold. When I knew the Base tent was coming up I skipped the gatorade at the water stop and held out for the rocket fuel. Love it. It works. Enough said.

During the run I planned to eat some of my salty balls and then course food such as bananas, pretzels, Lays chips, oranges, etc.

PLAN TO ACTION - WHAT WORKED AND WHAT DIDN’T

MORNING HYDRATION/FOOD. I made an error at IM70.3 Raleigh by leaving my morning hydration bottle in my hotel. At IM CDA I did NOT make this mistake. Here is what I had prior to the race:

Coffee, Kill Cliff Recovery Drink, Premixed Hydration Bottle (1 scoop Rehydrate + 1/2 scoop Amino + 1 scoop Base Salt), NAAN Bread (1 slice, high in protein and sodium - check it out),1 individual pack of Almond Butter, 1 small banana, and 1 Kind bar.

UCAN. Usually I have no problem chugging the UCAN (it is NOT the best tasting drink). However, the morning of the race I only got about 1/2 of it down. At the first sign of impending puking I threw the rest away. I was okay with this because I thought (or hoped) I had taken in enough calories anyway.

BIKE. On the bike I focused on staying ahead of my nutrition. I focused on small quantities and often. I used my concentrated electrolyte bottle, water, salty balls, and almond butter. I added a few course bananas, lots of water, and when my electrolyte mix ran out on the second half of the bike I added gatorade from the course to that bottle. A key to surviving this race was to remain steady during the first half of the bike when the temps were manageable. When the temps spiked during the second half of the bike the course started to run out of water and ice (and cold gatorade). Anyone who neglected their early hydration REALLY felt the impact of this. A critical point for many was the water stop around mile 80 of the bike. They were placed right after a wicked hill and they were the first to run out of water and ice. I heard people cried. It was sad. (See the bike temperature chart to the right.  Wow it was hot! You can see the 1st half vs. the 2nd half of the bike temperature changes).

RUN. I did a good job of alternating my water and electrolyte drinks. I tried the chicken broth at one stop but after a few sips I poured it out. At one point late in the race my stomach threatened to revolt. This is when an aid station had Twizzlers/Red Vines. These were AMAZING and got my stomach back into the game. You never know what your body will crave after 13+ hours of exercise. Red vines did the trick.  I also drank the Base Performance Rocket Fuel.

FINISH. I can never eat food at the end of Ironman races. So I packed a bottle with Advocare Post Workout Recovery (2 scoops) in my clothes changing bag. I had this, gatorade, water, and a beer. Thanks to the awesome spectators from ATC and Friends I was lucky enough to get a cold beer. Priceless.

IRONMAN - ALL MENTAL

I love long distance races because they really prove how mentally strong you are. How patient can you be. Strategy - Discipline - Courage. That is what it takes to complete a 140.6. Add in lots of SMILES, High Fives, and Laughs and you have an amazing day. Sway towards bad thoughts, complaints, frustrations, and sighs and it will be a very long miserable day.

MUSIC. During triathlons you cannot use music. Many people don’t train with music at all to prepare for this. I don’t train with music on the bike but I do train with it on my run (I put in ONE earpiece and leave my other ear open for safety reasons or I play it outloud from my phone). I try to memorize as many motivational songs as I can and during the long hours of triathlon racing I sing these songs to myself in my head. This really works. Try it. 

I also bring my iPod for pre race music inspiration and listen to my playlist of motivational songs such as “Hall of Fame” by The Scrip, “Lose Yourself” by Eminem, “Stronger” by Kanye West and Mandisa and Kelly Clarkson, “Give It a Go” by Timbaland, “I’mma Shine” by YoungBlood2, and "Live Like We’re Dying" by Kris Allen.  I was very grateful to Derrick, who got up early to drop me and Dustan off, for blasting out our favorite race prep songs on the way to the T1 drop off. How awesome. (Note: Prior to race start I hand off my iPod to a spectator friend or tuck it into my Morning Clothing Bag.)

SMILES. Okay, pull it up yourself online. The act of smiling improves your mood. It just does. I think this is one of the most underutilized race strategies. Many racers look MISERABLE. I love to race and so it isn’t hard for me to smile.

EARN MENTAL TOUGHNESS IN TRAINING. You conquer so many race day struggles long before the race even begins. You know that day it is raining and you have a run scheduled and you run in the rain? Yep, add that to your mental bank. Riding in the rain. Running in the heat. Running in the 27 degree freezing rain. Check. These all make you mentally stronger. Your brain knows that you have survived “hell” before and you didn’t even get a medal at the end of those days. Don’t shy away from mental training before your race. This is not something you can buy in a store, borrow from a friend, or make up when you need it. This is built into the core of who YOU are. You have either built it or you haven’t. Earn it.

MOTIVATIONAL WORDS. I surround myself in positive words.  TeamEndured’s kits were specifically designed with this in mind.  Look at the background. It is full of encouraging words. I also label my transition and special needs with motivational words. My RoadID has custom badges reminding me to “Be Brave”, “Be Badass”, “Never Quit”, “No Limits”, “Earn It”, “Crush It”, “Courage”, “Determination”, “Perseverance”, and “One Shot”. I even put the words “Be Brave. Be Badass.” on my bike top tube. Finally, those tiny pill bags I put salty balls in…yep, I use my sharpie to put motivational words on them too. Trust me you can never speak too much motivation into yourself.

THANKFUL. Spend some time with people who have much less than you and yet accomplish much more. Meet people who would give ANYTHING for one chance to do what you are doing. Remember the old you who thought this was impossible and probably insane. Now…be thankful that you have the ability to do it. You CAN cross that finish line. Be thankful. 

But also look around you. Those people on the sidelines cheering you “random stranger”. The volunteers at the aid stations holding water bottles out hoping you have practiced your water bottle retrieval on the bike technique and don’t send a water bottle rocket into them. Those scooping up trash, wiping sunscreen on nasty bodies, stripping wetsuits, working the med tents, etc. THANK THEM. They get no medal. They have no “Finisher’s Shirt”. They care about YOU. Thank them back.

BAGS. I love to put brightly colored duct tape on my bags to make them easy to see during a race. I put tape on my bags but I didn’t have enough to cover it as much as I wanted. For some reason in this race despite KNOWING where all of my bags were I still ran past them every time. NOTE: next time…more brightly colored duct tape!

THE ACTUAL RACE - HOW DID IT GO?

The morning of the race I woke early, showered, dressed and then added my race number, Team Podium, and ATC temporary tattoos.  I covered my body in sunscreen and then ate my morning food.  Derrick got up early to take me and Dustan to the race start and so we piled in with our bags and gear. We had checked our bike on Friday and I checked my run bag and bike bag then.  I brought my special needs bags as well as nutrition for the bike and run on the morning of the race.

After blasting the car out with “Hall of Fame” as well as Dustan’s favorite song he let us off and we began our trek to T1. I went straight to my bike and added my bottles and then put my nutrition in my bike bag and run bags that I had checked the day before. I then began a LONG trek (it felt like) to where we needed to drop off our special needs bags. I was in a hurry to get back and meet the rest of the ATC peeps for a group picture and to start drinking my UCAN in time. The sidewalks were FULL of spectators, volunteers, and racers. It was frustrating having to zig zag between everyone. In hindsight I wish I had dropped off my special needs bags first and then headed to T1 where I needed to be for everything else.

I returned to T1 to meet the ATC crew and added more sunscreen and began the fun activity called “wetsuit donning”. We got in a quick group picture and then headed to the beach where we could self seed ourselves for the swim start. This rolling start method rocks. I didn’t have to worry about the mistake I made at B2B last year where I thought it was a rolling start…but it wasn’t…and while I was on the beach and the last to get in so I could hear “Lose Yourself” that they were blasting on the loud speakers I was actually adding minutes to my swim time.  Oops.

THE SWIM - FULL BODY CONTACT

I seeded myself in the 1:30 - 1:45 group. What continues to amaze me is the number of times I was kicked, swam over, and punched during the swim. Some peeps had some powerful kicks…someone should tell them they do NOT need to kick that hard during the swim. I was seriously terrified I would end up with either a broken rib or missing teeth.  

The swim is a two loop swim where you actually get out of the water and then get back in. I didn’t think I would like this but I did. It made it easier to break the swim up into 4 easy parts (1 - out, 2 - back, out of the water midway point, 3 - out, and 4 - back to the swim exit). I was so happy to reach the finish and begin stripping my wetsuit. Of note I knew I was well hydrated because I peed 3 times during the swim. Victory.

SWIM:  1:25:02

DIVISION RANK: 54 of 102
GENDER RANK: 323
OVERALL RANK: 1231of 2012

TRANSITION ONE - SUNSCREEN, BIKE SHORTS, and TriSLIDE

On the last stretch of the swim I began thinking about my transition and how I wanted it to go. For Ironman races I do mostly full body clothing changes (the exception was my sports bra that was in it for the long haul). I pulled my wetsuit down to below my hips and laid down so a volunteer could rip it off of me. I grabbed it and ran to T1…right past my well marked bag twice.  Seriously.

After grabbing my bag I found the women’s changing tent. I grabbed my TriSLIDE and sprayed down my legs so that my cycle shorts would slide on (this works great when trying to get compression gear onto a wet body). I put on my helmet, sunglasses, bike jersey (preloaded with my nutrition and cooling sleeves in the pockets) and bike shoes. I had a small mini sunscreen and sprayed my body down before running out to get my bike.

I ran all the way down to my bike and yep…ran right past it. Look, this is not my first rodeo. I am usually a pro at this stuff (or a pro in my mind). I have no idea why I was so inept this morning but I was. I grabbed Sasha and headed for the exit and bike start.

T1: 7:36

THE BIKE - HEAVEN AND HELL

As I started the bike ride I knew that getting a head start on hydration and nutrition was paramount. I also knew that I could not kill my legs the first half of the bike. So I settled into a decent pace and focused on small bits of nutrition and hydration. The first half of the bike was awesome! The views were gorgeous. The hills were not as bad as I had expected. I was LOVING this course. I couldn’t wait to write a blog telling everyone how awesome the bike portion of the race was. Rock on! It was Heaven to me.

The second half of the bike course was…HELL. I thought it was pretty mean that they made the hills steeper, the water stations further apart, and clearly the temperature much hotter.  Truth be told the hills were the same and obviously the water stations had not moved. The heat, however, was miserable. 

I spent some time really worried I had missed the bike special needs bags because they were nowhere near the mile 56 marker. I was very grateful when I finally arrived at them. I ignored most of what was in my bag focusing on my electrolyte bottle. The volunteer didn’t have water but she found some so I could mix up my bottle. I didn’t get off my bike…just straddled it as I got what I needed from my bag. I put on some more sunscreen, grabbed my biofreeze that I had put into a Base salt bottle (BRILLIANT), and headed off.

The next 50+ miles were a test of mental fortitude. It was hot. I mean really hot. The wind felt like a hot furnace. It was hot. It was hilly. People were quitting. People were walking their bikes. People stopped on the side and laid down on the grass next to their bike for a nap. Drafting was not existent because no one was going fast enough to benefit. We were all just trying to keep calm and pedal on. 

I was REALLY grateful I had not neglected my hydration during the first portion of the bike because it paid off the second half.  After one of the worst hills I saw the red tent of a water station on the horizon. I said…OUT LOAD…”Thank God”. A girl next to me said, “Amen”. This water station was like those mirages you hear about in the desert. You know when you think you see water but you don’t. Yep. We rolled in and they were out of water and ice. They had warm gatorade. That was it. I told the lady that there were A LOT of people behind me who would really need water and ice!  She did have about 1/5th of a bag of ice left and put a few cubes into my water bottle and gave me a warm gatorade. I buckled down and rode on. I knew I nailed my hydration by the fact that I was able to pee three times on the bike. Small victories.

At the next stop I realized I needed more sunscreen. A volunteer told me there was some at the end of the station and I found what I thought he meant..empty bottles. I must have looked hysterical frantically shaking them trying to get it out. Someone saw me and pointed out the REAL sunscreen spot. I got there and the lady was chatting away. I was trying to be grateful but I had a race to do. She caked sunscreen over my nasty salty arms and I rode off.  It was really gross. I should have put those white cooling sleeves on. Lesson learned.

During misery it is helpful to find some humor. At one point I saw a road sign that said, “Watch for ice”. I laughed and said to the guy next to me, “I have been watching for ice for miles!”. He laughed and said, “That is the best joke of the day.”

Finally the city reappeared and I reached the dismount line. The bike was over. It didn’t kill me. I was stronger.

BIKE: 7:31:57 
DIVISION RANK: 50 of 102
GENDER RANK: 275
OVERALL RANK: 1143 of 2012
(Moving up :))

TRANSITION 2 - WIPING OFF SALT, SUNSCREEN, AND - NEVERMIND

I handed my bike over to a volunteer and ran for my run bag. Finally found it and headed to the tent. I had placed one of those wet cooling rags into my run bag. It was supposed to be cooling but sitting in the sun it was hot. It was actually awesome. I used it to wipe off the salt, sunscreen, and everything else unmentionable off my body. I knew I was using up more T2 time but comfort on this run was important to me. I sprayed more TriSLIDE onto my legs and put on my 2XU running capris. I grabbed my cooling shirt and tied it around my waste.  Put on my socks and shoes. Put on my number belt (Okay, I changed this up. I hate things flopping around and so I decided to test out pinning my number to one of those fitted flip belts. It worked great!  It has holes where I slide in my nutrition. No zippers. No bouncing. Awesomeness), grabbed my hat, and ran to the sunscreen line. I stopped on the way to say hi to a teammate and then was off.

Okay volunteers we love you…but chatting it up in transition is a very specific athlete thing. I was in a hurry and this kid was taking his sweet time. I had to force myself to “just be grateful, just be grateful, just be grateful”…while he ever so slowly applied my sunscreen.  Tick tock…

T2: 10:20

THE RUN - SMILES, ICE, and STEADY JOGGING

The run started and I settled in nicely. I knew my HR limits and focused on staying within them. I was pretty happy that I felt great. I saw lots of friends, great posters made by our ATC friends who came to volunteer, and lots of amazing locals cheering us on. I saw fellow ATC racer Ed Crossman who advised me to take full advantage of the water sprinklers. So I did.

Many racers avoid these because wet feet can equal blisters. I decided that blisters would heal but the impact of heat stroke would not. I had also sprayed my feet down with TriSLIDE to help prevent blisters as well as put bodyglide on the inside of my socks and shoes. So I got sprayed down a lot. (Note: I did not get a single blister during this race!) I put ice everywhere possible. After about 6 miles or so I put my white cooling top on. It wasn’t the sexist attire but it worked wonderfully. 

Despite my rules about not stopping to potty in races I decided that given this race was not for time but survival I would use the porta potties. I stopped three times…hydration victories continued.  At just past the halfway point I passed the ATC tent (those volunteers rocked and they even made it into the local newspaper and the Ironman video) and also saw my husband.  I got a kiss (not sure he was happy about kissing me given my current state of sweat and salt) and jogged on.

As the run went on I forced myself to just keep jogging. I was hoping that every person I passed would improve my ranking and it did. I passed lots of people I remembered passing me on the bike. I did walk the mile 19 hill because my jogging was so slow it seemed pointless. Aside from that I walked the water stations and jogged the rest. I laughed as people said, “Look at her still smiling and running!!”. Ed, apparently at CDA a 12-13 minute mile is RUNNING.

Finally I made the turn to the last small hill and I saw the ATC tent at the top of the hill.  I started stripping off my white top because I didn’t want it in my finisher pictures. Derrick was on the megaphone and not knowing it was me he made a quip about a girl stripping for them. It was funny. I passed their tent, tossed my shirt under it, and ran to the finish line.

My friend George Darden had told me the finish line was EPIC. He was right. 7 blocks downhill and lined with spectators. It was still daylight and I was in pure bliss. I reached my hand out and gave high fives as much as I could. This moment was awesome. They called out my name and commented on my smiles and then declared, “Angela Nelms You Are An IRONMAN”.  It was EPIC.

RUN: 5:32:56 (An iron distance PR…just barely but a PR) 
DIVISION RANK: 34 of 102
GENDER RANK: 221
OVERALL RANK: 883 of 2012
(Jogging helped…I moved up even more!)

TOTAL TIME:  14:47:51
DIVISION RANK: 34 of 102
GENDER RANK: 221
OVERALL RANK: 883 of 2012

POST RACE - BUSHES, BEER, and SMILES

After the finish my catcher lady was awesome. She helped me with my medal, pictures, and got me to the post race area. I skipped the food but grabbed water and gatorade and then went in search of my husband. He had my clothing bag. We searched for a spot to change and failing miserable I changed in the bushes. Yep. I didn’t really care. I needed clean clothes!!

I drank my Advocare Post Workout Recovery mix and gatorade. We made our way back to the ATC tent and I got to spend some time cheering on other racers up that final hill as they made their turn to the finish. I got a cold beer (yes they saved me one) and sat on a cooler to cheer into the megaphone. I was no where near as good as Derrick but it was fun.

FINAL THOUGHTS - RACECATION VICTORY, FRIENDS/FAMILY, AND “I AM STRONGER”

My goal was to finish this race strong. I wanted to have energy to hike and camp with my husband and friends at Glacier National park the week after. I accomplished both of these goals. Could I have raced faster, yes. Would I have met my other goals? Probably not. Life is all about priorities. Victory.

It was amazing to have an ATC cheering squad in awesome outfits cheering us on. They were just amazing. We felt like elite athletes with our posse there to lead us to victory. The friends and my husband made this race extra special.

I beat Ironman HADES aka Ironman Coeur d’Flame. Mental points banked for the next challenge. Bring it!

#BeBraveBeBadass

Special thanks to some amazing people who have given me unlimited encouragement, support, and the knowledge that I can in fact be Brave and BADASS!  Thanks to my amazing husband, Will, who never complains about my training as long as I don't literally run my butt off.  My daughter Reanna who encourages me by her excitement to update our PR board and share that her mom is an IRONMAN. Dennis Black and UberFin who believed in me and TeamEndured LONG before anyone else did! His support has been paramount in everything TeamEndured has accomplished. Podium Multisport who keeps my bike Sasha in tip top shape, encourages me, and deals with my engineering OCD quirks. Base Performance, Functional Fitness, Trinity Fitness, and Advocare for supporting TeamEndured.  Kyle Goodman for designing the TeamEndured kits and making me feel BADASS and motivated the entire course. My friends at the Atlanta Tri Club who treated us like we were pro athletes days before the race and every minute of the race. (Note: they also made the local newspaper as well as the Ironman video). My training partners who suffered mid day rides and wicked hot bricks to get me in shape. Kim Bramblett for guiding my training every step of the way. All of you who believe in a mission to make sports more inclusive by encouraging others to Be Brave. Be Badass.