Thursday, January 23, 2014

First and foremost, thank you to the community of Madison for putting on an absolutely amazing Ironman. The selfless volunteers and incredible crowd support helped get me through the 140.6 miles. I am so grateful for each and every person out there and also my friends and family at home.

My friends at lululemon pumping me up pre-race.

Swim: 2.4 miles
The swim was very rough and extremely choppy. As a non-swimmer, when the swim conditions are extremely challenging, it multiples the challenge. I was swimming alone and went a bit off course during the 300 meter turn. I finally saw a body and started swimming for a few hundred meters with multiple ironman champion, Jessica Jacobs. All of a sudden, she stopped swimming. I asked her if she was okay, but I don’t think she heard me because of the waves! I started swimming again, hoping all was okay. I found out later she hit her head on a kayak and sadly had to withdraw. For the next 1700 meter straight stretch, I felt like I was swimming backwards. I was elated when I finally got out of the water, despite being 7-8 minutes slower then my ironman 6 weeks ago.

Two days before the race, lake looked calm!!

T1: Monona Terrace Parking Lot

The Helix we climbed up for Transition!

This has to be one of the most spectacular Ironman transitions in the world. We ran from Lake Monona up a spiral Helix to the top deck parking area attached to the convention center. The entire Helix was lined with spectators screaming and cheering. I quickly grabbed my gear, and then I headed to get my bike. Race morning, I neurotically checked my bike to make sure everything was perfect and ready to roll. I grabbed my bike and frustratingly saw my chain completely coiled! I had trouble thinking clearly because I was so perturbed, but thankfully, a mechanic was right around the corner to help.

Bike: 112 miles
As soon as I started riding, I felt nauseas. I drank way too much water during the swim and it upset my stomach. I forced my gels down because I knew that I would need the calories, despite feeling terrible.  Multiple people told me before the race to take the first 40 mile loop very cautiously due to the unrelenting course.

Thanks to Ali Engin for the photo!

I knew I needed to respect the advice, so I took it out cautiously-too cautiously-particularly on all of the downhills that ended with a sharp turn. I finally felt good by mile 80 and it helped seeing my amazing parents and my twin sister who surprised me by coming to the race! I loved the hills because the crowd support carried me! The costumes were hilarious and the signs made me chuckle out loud. My splits/power data was extremely consistent for the 112 miles, and I felt solid coming off the bike.

Roller Coaster rides all day long

T2: Monona Terrace Parking Lot
I quickly ate a gel in transition, changed, went to the bathroom, and headed out to begin the marathon.

Run: 26.2 miles
As usual, I started out way too fast. The screaming fans are to blame on this one though. 🙂 I fueled at every aid station and actually carried a 16 ounce water bottle that I finished by mile 9! I could not believe I went through that much liquid so early in the run.  By around mile 14, with double digit gels in my tummy already, I decided to mix it up and try some oranges and grapes at the aid stations. They tasted amazing. I kept my run pretty steady and ended up having the fifth fastest female run of the day, running myself into 8th place overall.

The highlights of the race weekend included seeing my Timex teammate and good friend, Jackie, win her first Ironman in her hometown! Additionally, it was meeting Kyle Pease, who, after defying all odds, completed his first ironman alongside his brother.

Kyle inspiring me at the airport!

Thank you to my incredible family for their support. Whether or not it was my sister’s surprise trip, my sister-in-law and aunt’s texts, or my parents taking care of me race week, I am so grateful.

Thank you to my unbelievable sponsors for being with me at the start of my professional triathlon career: Timex, Quintana Roo, Blue Seventy, PowerBar, Shimano, Rudy Project, Tri Bike Transport, Brooks, EC3D, TrySports and lululuemon.

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