2012 Race Schedule

  • 2012/06/24 (Sun) - Ironman Coeur d'Alene 140.6
  • 2012/04/22 (Sun) - Ironman 70.3 New Orleans
  • 2012/02/18 (Sat) - 10 Mile Snowman Stampede Run (Done)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ironman Florida - Ironman Distance - Date: November 5, 2011

Saturday November 5, 2011
Palmer Lake Bike Route
 It is amazing how time flies... it seems like just yesterday I had arrived in Panama City Beach, Florida to compete in my first Ironman.  Now, exactly one year later I have returned to face the race course again.

Almost Heaven - Palmer Lake, CO

My goals over this past year were to bring power and strength to my cycling. I spent the last four months riding my favorite route from Highlands Ranch, CO to Palmer Lake, CO! A hilly yet scenic route from the South Suburbs through country roads of Colorado.

Palmer Lake, Colorado
I felt stronger with more endurance etched into my legs so I looked forward to the unfolding of my race day with aspirations of improving on my bike split from last year.

Athlete Has Checked-In
~ Wednesday ~  

I arrived in sunny Panama City Beach, Florida on Wednesday afternoon after narrowly escaping a snow storm in Denver, Colorado.  The mid day arrival allowed for the following:

*  Athlete Checkin - Athlete must wear an arm band with their race number. 
*  Bike Pickup - TriBike Transport had scheduled bike pickup until 5pm
*  Lodging Checkin - Fast lines through checkin

It was important to get these tasks completed as quickly as possible to avoid long lines and prolonged exposure to the sun. 

~ Thursday ~

One of the best ways I have found to minimize pre-race nervousness is to get familiar with the race venue.  So Thursday was on a mission to doing the following:
  • Swim the Swim Course
  • Bike the Run Course
  • Drive the Bike Course
Being a veteran of this course it was still helpful to retrace my steps from the previous year.  Driving the bike course was particularly helpful to note landmarks and to identify any "Course Changes" and/or "Course Challenges".  

With my personal "Course Review' out of the way, I was ready to attend the "Athlete's Welcome Dinner". While many shy away from this event due to food restrictions, I endure the food for the opportunity to commune with others who are about to face the Ironman challenge.   This marks the Official Start of "Race Week" and sets the tone of the event.  I find that sitting with all of my fellow Ironman Athletes creates a bond of unity, support and encouragement as we prepare ourselves to face our race day.

~ Friday ~

I could feel the tension mounting as the sun rose over the ocean.  The athletes are responsible for checking their bikes into the transition area and surrendering all items needed for the "Swim to Bike" Transition (T1) and the "Bike to Run" Transition (T2).  

E9 Ready for Take Off!
"As each day goes by, the load lightens... one less thing to think about"... I listened to my "Pre-Race" CD to refocus my thoughts.  I managed to resist the temptation to hang out in the "Ironman Village".  So many athletes were wandering around the shops trying on new gear, but I was out of the sun and off my feet.  My goal was to rest up and begin the "Super-Hydration" process in preparation for the long and grueling race day that lies ahead. 
The "butterflies" were really fluttering making my tummy quite nervous.  I ate a small portion of my standard pre-race meal, Lasagna with Meat Sauce.  I layed out my race clothes "Transition Style".

Spread out on the floor was my Full Body Luis Garneu Triathlon Suit, CEP Compression Sleeves, Garmin 310XT Wrist GPS System and Heart Rate Monitor Strap.   Race Morning comes quickly, so I turned in to bed to encourage my body to rest.

Race Morning 

The weather was literally perfect!  The cool morning air had promise to warm up early afternoon.  The Ocean Waves had laid down and the water looked like glass! 

I dropped off my special needs bags and tended to my bike in the transition area.  Tires were topped off with air and hydration bottles filled and ready for take off! 

Wet suit on I headed to the swim start!  The day was about to begin!!!

The Swim - 2.4 Miles

The swim took place in the beautiful waters of the Gulf of Mexico.  While the swim was "Wetsuit Legal", the wetsuit certainly was not needed for warmth.  The water temperature was a very comfortable 70F/21C.  It felt slightly cooler than bath water!
IM Florida Race Morning
I walked under the swim start arch and right up to where the water met the shore.  The ocean had transformed from the raging waves just two days before to a "Sweet Lake Like" presence.  It was serene.

A line of neoprene clad athletes formed on the sugar white sandy beach of Pamana City. The twenty-five hundred athletes formed a line that was both wide and deep. I positioned myself slightly right about half way from the front. My goal was to find that "Sweet Spot" where I did not impede myself or others.

After staring at the wave pattern, I found myself adjusting a few more steps to the right. I placed my hand over my heart while listening to the American National Anthem. The presence of the race was close.

"...the outward breath relaxes... when the cannon goes off just release yourself like a dove..."

::: Air horn sounds!:::

Lap 1:

So I calmly entered the water with thousands of splashing arms and legs surrounding me. I shuffled my feet in hopes of not stepping on a "Ray". I could see them from the hotel balcony swarming around near the shoreline. I remember startling a few "Rays" from 2010 and wanted to avoid a repeat performance.

There was a huge traffic jam just before the first buoy... I tried not to panic as I found myself at a stand still unable to lay horizontally and swim. People were coming from each side as well as behind... the congestion thickened.

The first wave of panic set in... In effort to survive the crisis I ended up taking in a few swallows of intensely salty sea water... "...look for an escape..." I told myself. I recommitted to talking myself through this...

I dodged many swimmers as they stopped to survey their exact location. My chin narrowly avoided a breaststroke kick as I navigated my way through segments of water.

Moon Jellyfish
As I neared the turn, I could see these translucent creatures floating just below me. These "Clear Umbrella shaped objects" seems to group together... they seemed to calmly drift under the tumultuous swimmers. "... so beautiful..." I thought to myself... "...but aren't those JELLYFISH!!!!!!!!"

My body flushed with adrenaline!!! "Maintain!!! Maintain!!! You CAN NOT PANIC NOW!!!!!!" It seemed impossible to talk myself down.  By now my kicking was frantic and I literally clawed my way around the buoys trying to avoid contact with these peaceful iridescent domes.

Oh my God they were EVERYWHERE!! Jellyfish below... jellyfish to the left and the right... I struggled to control my emotions!

My mouth was completely numb from the intense salt water.  I could not find a way to keep my mouth closed! "Just avoid the jellyfish... keep swimming..." I was heading in to shore to complete my first lap. I could feel something on my wrist... "WHAT WAS THAT?!?!" The slightest contact with my skin sent my anxiety through the roof!!!  I expected to see a jellyfish near my hand, however, what I saw was my Garmin 310XT Wrist GPS Fall to the Ocean Floor.

There was a split second that I considered diving for it... everything seemed to be going in slow motion... "...surely I could catch it..."... but with swimmers behind and jellyfish below I decided against it.  "Just keep swimming... the clock is still ticking... finish the swim!!!" I made it to shore and matted my first loop.

Lap 2:

After swimming for so long I always find myself off balance when I try to stand.  I managed to stumble to my feet and run across the timing mat to record the completion of my first lap in the water.  I could feel the soft white sand under my feet as I ran through the aids station.  Volunteers were handing out Fresh Water and Gatorade.  The water was so refreshing for a brief moment, then back into the ocean for my second lap.

It was hard to focus on swimming when there were so many jellyfish present.  I focused on pulling a little harder to compensate for the current.  Soon I had approached "Jellyfish corner"!  Once again they were ever present just sever feet below.  I swam wide to avoid the struggle for the straightest swim line between buoys.  I also had more room to negotiate jellyfish that were coming closer to the surface.  I counted the buoys one by one trusting that I was indeed moving forward.

At the Athlete's Welcome Dinner the Water Safety Officer made a note of a jellyfish called the "Pink Meanie"... he did not describe the jellyfish in detail but he did mention to make an extra effort to steer clear of it. 

Just as I made the last left hand turn around the buoy I noticed something "Large and Pink" in my peripheral vision.  The current of the ocean was, of course, drifting in the direction of this "Pink" object...and  it looked very different from the Moon Jellyfish.  Prior to hearing about it at the Welcome Dinner it would not have registered to me as "Marine Life" but as I glanced at it with each swim stroke I took it was indeed a "PINK MEANIE!!!!!!!!!!!!" 

::: VIOLENT KICKING AND CLAWING :::  I could NOT control myself!!!!!   I fought the current that seemed to be pushing me in the direction of the "Pink Meanie" while trying to progress toward shore!!!

Stroke after stroke I felt like I was at a complete stand still...  my stroke had undoubtedly become terribly inefficient.  "PULL!!!" I thought to myself... "CATCH THE WATER AND PULL!!!"   I manged to regain enough focus after working though a cramp caused by my violent kicking.  Slowly but surely I was nearing the end.

The shore could not come soon enough!  I swam until my hands hit sand, then stood up to run in knee high water! 
IMFL 2011 - Swim Finish
 Transition 1

I ran through the fresh water showers toward the wetsuit strippers!  I was "Down" and the wetsuit "Off" in mere seconds.  I ran to retrieve my "Swim to Bike" Bag then back toward the hotel to the Women's Changing Room. 

It was SHEER PANDEMONIUM!!!  I remembered this from last year and ran straight through toward the exit.  I found a chair to sit in while putting on my shoes.  The volunteers were all busy helping other women, so I put on my own gear... fumbled to get my wetsuit into that "tiny little plastic bag" then out the door I went in search of my bike!

Now the bikes were racked numerically in rows and I had practiced sighting my bike while it was racked.  What I did not practice was sighting my bike when a volunteer had moved it several rows beyond where it was  originally located!!!

"WHERE IS MY BIKE!!?!???"  I remember yelling... I never heard a response.  I was panicked and confused.  Luckily I kept running forward to find it being held by a very nervous volunteer.  I suspect the experience was equally as traumatic for him as it was for me.  I grabbed it by the rear seat and trotted, in my bike shoes, to the mount line which seemed to be incredibly far away!

E9 is ready for take off!

The Bike - 112 Miles

On the bike now my legs began to spin.  I re-traced the roads that I had driven just two days prior. 

I remember thinking that the road seemed so innocent when I was in the car... the gradient barely seemed to change.  "This is definitely do-able" I thought to myself hoping to bring my new "Power and Endurance" to the roads of Florida.  But the winds had another story to tell... they felt equally as fierce as they did in 2010.  The flat road seemed to transform and my legs felt like they were encased in lead.  I can not explain this illusion, but I had the experience of pedaling up hills.

I tried to be patient with myself as I made my way from aid station to aid station.  "Drink a full bottle every ten miles"... I knew the routine.  I did everything I wanted to with respect to hydration and nutrition but my legs had no power. 

"You're almost at the turn around," cyclists yelled as I rode toward the half way point.  The road rumbled beneath my seat post as I barely rolled over the many cracks in the pavement.  "It gets better," someone yelled their encouragement... the look on my face must have told my story.  My engine had no power... nothing in the tank.
I quickly retrieved my nutrition from my "Special Needs Bag" barely stopping for only a split second.  I could feel the wind at my back instead of creating the "Invisible BRICK WALL" I had been pedaling against for the last fifty-six miles.  I was able to turn the crank just a bit more, but I lacked my normal "Time Trial" power that I had experienced just one year ago.  

"Problem solve... what to do for power???"  I searched my mind for a solution... I drank more and ate quite a few calories hoping the extra fuel would find a way to transfer itself to my legs. 

In the Tour de France the announcers often talk about a cyclist "Going Backward" when they fall off the back of the main field during a mountain stage.  Well, that is what was happening to me.  The more energy I tried to muster the less energy I had. 

"You made it past the cut off," a gracious volunteer yelled at me.  I knew it would be close but I was grateful to know that I had made it through.  I bared down in an aero position in attempt to get a bit more wattage.

Ironman Florida Bike Course 2011
 On the Ironman Florida Bike Course there is an "Out and Back" section that the athletes must traverse before heading back in to Panama City Beach.  I remember this section well because last year I pretended to ride it "Time Trial" Style.  The cove was protected from the wind somewhat so there was an extra chance at riding it slightly faster than the more exposed areas.  Well this year I had nothing.  I began my time trial effort only to fizzle out and "Sit Up". 

There was a timing mat to mark mile ninety-five.  I remember listening to my favorite electronic sound as I rolled across the mat.  I remember thinking to myself, "...only seventeen more miles...".

While I did not have a watch I repeatedly asked for the time.  I knew that 5:30pm was the bike cutoff and it was approaching 4:20pm.  The latter half of the bike ride was somewhat down hill with a tail wind so I in my mind thought I could "Get Home" just in a nick of time. 

Well as I approached the main road and prepared to turn right toward the Bike Finish a man stepped in front of me. He held his palm forward to signal me to stop. My initial thought was, "Wow, they are getting pretty aggressive about road safety!"  I unclipped one foot expecting to get the go ahead when he realized that the traffic was, indeed, clear.  I was not prepared to hear what he was about to say next.

Missed Bike Cutoff Time:

"I'm sorry ma'am... you've missed the cut off and I'm afraid you are not permitted to continue... we'll need to take your chip."

...my mind could not register his words...

I stood there numb and in disbelief...

...my heart hurt. 

I managed to dismounted my bike and stand still long enough to have my timing chip removed. 

The volunteers took my bike and instructed me to wait near the truck with the others. 

There was a group of six athletes standing there.  All of which I had played "Leap Frog" with over the last ten miles or so.  There was little eye contact and no conversation.  There was nothing to say.

Silently I watched the same thing happen to the next rider and then next.  I remember feeling helpless and empty.  Out of everything that can go wrong during an Ironman, I never thought this would be how my day would end. 

The long ride back to the Race Start:

There were several trucks waiting there to transport us back to the race start.  Slowly we loaded into the truck. You could hear a pin drop.  The air was thick with lost dreams, hurt feelings and disbelief...  Non-verbally we acknowledged each others attempt at managing our reality.

As we drove past a few athletes we could see them visibly fighting the wind!  Out of sheer instinct, I rolled down the window to shout a few words of encouragement.

"NICE WORK, Stay with it!" ... "Keep it going!"

 No sooner than I said that, it hit me...

...my race day is over.

Tears flooded my eyes... "...I missed the bike cut off... " I thought to myself...

"It's over!"  ...my brain slowly began to register the magnitude of what just happened...  

It was fruitless trying to fight back the feelings of failure and inadequacy... the tide of emotion consumed me... and I simply allowed the big tears to stream down my face...

Opening to the Possibilities of "What's Next!"
Life after DNF:

While a DNF is never easy for anyone to swallow, I am committed to is remembering that this is a "Single Snapshot" in Time and not a "Finite Declaration of Who I Am" or "What is Possible for me as a Triathlete"!

There is NEVER a day that goes by that I don't think about Training For or Racing In an Ironman Triathlon.  This has not changed.  The most significant contribution that missing the bike cut off at Ironman Florida has made in my life is it helps me realize that if I want to continue to participate in Triathlon at this distance I must "Go Deeper".

While my athletic talent is very modest, my clarity and commitment are extraordinary.  These are my strengths... so this is where I will start... being clear and committed!

People race Ironman for many reasons...

...some race to display their prowess...

...others to symbolize overcoming an illness...

For me, race Ironman because I like who I am as I live this lifestyle.  I like the structure and discipline it takes to train... the planning and organization that goes into racing.  I like the mental challenge and moment by moment choices that the mind must make to keep my goals clear when the world around me occasionally suggests otherwise. 

I train for and participate in these races as my way of revealing my "Greater Yet To Be".  The riggers of this sport remind me to release those layers of myself that I want to transform... ... to break through what appears to be barriers and to get on the other side... and there is NOTHING greater than to experience the progressive realization of my goals and dreams.

Have Big Fun in the Sun...

...SWIM, BIKE, RUN!!!!!!!!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

70.3 Vineman - Half Ironman Distance Triathlon

I remember hearing about an "All Women's Half Ironman Distance Triathlon" called "Barb's Race".  This race takes place in Sonoma Valley, CA. 

At the time I was still working up my courage to accept the mental and physical challenge of the Half Ironman Distance, so participating in Barb's Race was a faint and distant dream.

Many years and miles later the time to register had come.  I opted to sign up for the Ironman branded 70.3 version of the "All Women's Race" which was simply called "Vineman Triathlon"!

Mastering the Mind:

When most of us think of participating in the sport of triathlon, the obvious area of training is physical.  We train ourselves to Swim 1.2 miles, to Bike 56 miles and to cover the distance of 13.1 miles... but are we equally prepared for the mental challenge?

As I gathered my gear in preparation for my flight I found my thoughts were plagued with doubt and uncertainty. 

Q.  Did I train enough?
Q.  Can I finish?
Q.  What if I can't do this?

I am sure these questions have crossed the minds of many athletes.  The "Spiral of Doubts" seem to surface just before facing any great challenge. 

While there was some reality to my concerns as my training had been less than optimal, I decided to step into the opportunity of  "Working within the Chaos".  This was the perfect moment to practice what I know about self mastery.

The Inward Journey:

70.3 Vineman Bike Course
I decided to place my attention on what I truly love about the sport of triathlon...  to focus on how I feel when I am swimming, biking and running!  To get back to the reason why I these races add such quality and depth to my life... and why I spend my evenings and weekends in preparation for these precious moments.

My surface mind rattled on and on about the many weight loss and fitness goals that had not been met, yet there was another part of myself that was deeply excited about the journey that was about to unfold.

My intention now was to move forth from a place of "Joy and Thanksgiving"... to be grateful simply to be in the energy and the space of the race and the grandeur of nature.

Pre-Race Preparation:

My standard pre-race preparation consists of the following:

*  SWIM:  Get familiar with the race start and "Feel the water"
*   BIKE:  Drive the bike course noting challenging sections
*    RUN:  Bike the run course noting the race route

Many triathletes were gathered near the Russian River.  It was so beautiful there.  I could feel the gentle current pushing against my swim stroke as well as assisting me back downstream when I changed directions.  My swim was not long... just enough to get familiar with the water and to say, "Hello!"

The rolling hills of the bike course were an equal delight. The horizon was sprinkled with perfectly groomed vineyards and winery's. The grapes were still green and just starting to grow. My only regret is not capturing more of this amazing space in photos and film.

As we drove briskly across the course, I made a mental note of each incline and kept a keen eye for the steeper grades of the bike course. The most notable climb of the race was Chalk Hill which was about a quarter mile in length (400M).

I was relieved to realize that I have climbed longer, steeper grades in Colorado.  Competing on rolling and hilly bike courses is very new for me.  Only recently have I started to work on riding 1% - 3% gradients, so it was comforting to see Chalk Hill in person and realize that I had enough power and endurance to make this climb on race day. 

Finally we rode our bikes through the run course and were surprised to see so many hills. The roads were lines with Eucalyptus trees whose fragrant scents filled the air and peeling bark covered the ground at the base of the trees!

What a beautiful race course! This is certainly one of the most scenic routes I have ever seen! Colorado provides amazing training venues, yet I found myself fascinated with the unbelievable lands of Sonoma County, CO!


70.3 Vineman - Swim Start
It felt like we had just stepped off the plane, yet somehow it was now race day and the athletes lined up by wave in preparation for the swim start.

I lined up with the Women Age 45+.  Our heads were adorned with blue swim caps.

I always enjoy congregating with "Like Colored Caps".  A silent "Sorority" seems to exist.  We all share an unspoken bond as we individually prepare to face our race day. 

I chatted with several of the women around me being mindful to stay present to myself and my experience. 

I felt relieved as the nervousness from the night before was finally starting to subside.  I remembered my intention for the race and gave thanks to the water in advance for surrounding and supporting me.  

We all treaded water while trying to figure out what the announcer was saying.  His voice was indistinguishable on the water... but finally we heard the crowd counting down...

70.3 Vineman - Women 45+

...10 ...9 ...8 ...7 ...6 ...5 ...4 ...3 ...2 ... ::: AIR HORN :::

ARMS – LEGS - FLAILING!!!! The swim start was a bit hectic!  The narrow width of the Russian river caused many of us to attempt to swim on top of each other. In other races the competitors have the opportunity to spread out across a wider beach, however at Vineman, we were crammed together for a "close knit" start. 
70.3 Vineman - Out and Back Swim

The Vineman 70.3 Swim is an "out and back". The competitors swim against a slight current on their way to the turn around point and enjoy the gentle push down stream as they return to the Swim Finish. 

I enjoyed the “Lake Like” swim experience in contrast with my two most recent Ocean Swims.  The upstream river was dammed so current was barely noticeable. 

When I finally reached the turn around point I noticed my hands were scraping the bottom of the river bed.  I made my stroke more shallow and continued to swim.  

70.3 Vineman - Walking the Swim
When I turned my head to take my next breath I noticed that someone had stood up and started walking!!!  I continued with my shallow strokes and saw another walker, then another!!!  These people were WALKING THE SWIM!!!!!!!  Not only were they walking, they were walking FASTER than I was able to swim!!!!  In that moment I knew I had seen it all!!! 

I was clear that I would not walk.  I felt committed to swimming the swim and refrained from the intermittent desire to stand up. 

70.3 Vineman - Swim Finish
At this point I was breast stroking as my shallow freestyle strokes were no longer propelling me forward. As my head rose above water with each breast stroke, I had the amazing opportunity to look around at the beautiful Alexander Valley... the lush vegetation and bright sun light. 

Before I knew it the river had deepened again to allow my natural freestyle swim stroke. I could feel myself coasting downstream with the current... literally in the "Flow" of life!

As I approached the final 200M of the swim, I could see the finishers arch and felt happy about my efforts this morning.


So I rise from the water and head under the swim finish arch. My eyes pan the sides of the ramp in hopes of spotting a team of “Wetsuit Strippers”. Back and forth I gazed only to find the carpeted lane leading to the racked bikes!!!

70.3 Vineman - Racked Bikes
“What??? !!! No Wetsuit strippers!?????” I could not believe it! Every 70.3 race I have done has offered Wetsuit Stripper services and now I was left to remove my wetsuit by myself!

I found my racked bike and had a “Short Argument” with one leg of my wetsuit! Put on my shoes, no socks… helmet, glasses and race belt.

I ran for at least a quarter mile before reaching the mount line. I “matted” the end of T1 and was prepared to face the bike leg.


As I ran over the timing mat and found myself looking up a very “Sharp” yet very “Short” hill.

70.3 Vineman - Sunset Ave.
The hill itself would be nothing if it were 400M down the road, however my options were to clip in and begin to climb with no momentum to stabilize my speed on the bike or to walk up the hill in my bike shoes and clip in at the top.  I opted to walk and clip in after safely negotiating the incline.

I settled into to a nice “Pedal Roll” and began to replenish the liquids I lost in during the swim. The air was still cool and the clouds continued to canopy the sky. The temperature was slowly starting to rise and I was ready to settle into the 56 mile ride.

Just after mile five, the bike course took the rider through a surprisingly steep, sharp, downward embankment. This was followed by an immediate sharp “S-curve” with a steep climb out of the hidden subdivision located on Sunset Avenue.

While the race director highlighted this section of the course, I was deeply grateful for having previewed it the day prior.

The next section of the course was simply stunning. There was an amazing series of rolling hills… perfectly groomed vineyards… old farms featuring cows and goats grazing in the pastures. I allowed myself to get lost in the beauty of these amazingly narrow country roads… winding back and forth offering generous descents after moderately challenging climbs!

70.3 Vineman - Groomed Vineyards
I was mindful to stay on top of my hydration and not be fooled by the overcast. So I sipped Gatorade from my aero bottle and took in my Enduralytes based on a predetermined schedule. I rolled through the aids stations which seemed to be shorter than desired. I only had time to grab one water bottle while discarding my empty from the bike frame.

For some reason the water bottle was “skinnier” than a standard cycling bottle… so it jostled around in the cage. I found myself worried that each bump I hit might launch my water bottle off into the middle of the road. I managed to wedge it in tight enough that none fell overboard, however I do hope they will consider standard size bottles in the future.

So up and down I went in the county side of Sonoma Valley! I relished the achievement of each climb and enjoyed the reward of each downhill. I barely noticed the poor road surface and numerous potholes in the worn "Chip and Seal" pavement. The race directors did a great job at identifying the hazards by circling them with white paint. The game of the day was to dodge them as if traversing an agility course.  I enjoyed the extra challenge and knew in that moment that I had melted into the momentum of the day.

70.3 Vineman - Bike Course
The greatest challenge was a severe series of abdominal cramps after eating too much at one time.  I usually drink water before consuming my "Chocolate Ensure"nutrition... but after several sips of Gatorade followed by a huge gulp of Ensure, my stomach revolted in the form of cramping. 

"Don't panic... just slow your pedal stroke".  I sat up in effort to coax the knot from my stomach.

It took alittle while, but I knew all would be well.   70.3 is a long day and many feelings both physically and otherwise surface and subside.  So I began the delicate effort of sipping water and rode with a slowed cadence until things seemed to settle.

As I approached Chalk Hill I reflected on my initial concerns of not having the ability to make this climb without walking.  However, after driving this section the day before, I had more confidence. 

70.3 Vineman - Chalk Hill Road
I rode slow into the build of the climb conserving what energy I had left after the previous 42 miles... then the road started to point upward... and I felt the demands of the incline.  "Steady State"... "Just keep turning the crank..." ...  Round and round my crank went... slow but steady I made it without walking!

Spectators were standing at the apex of the hill cheering us on!  I was focused on my efforts and I wasn't abble to acknowledge their support as graciously as I normally would.  The best I could do was offer a labored glance and nod as thanks for their words of encouragement!

70.3 Vineman - Vineyards
While my trusty Garmin 310XT recorded my every move, I had decided before this race that I would not check my actual splits.  Instead I wore a wrist watch on my other arm to make myself aware of cut off times and I knew that the bike cut off was 2:30pm. 

After climbing Chalk Hill I nervously checked the clock... 12:30pm!!!!  YES!   I will make the bike cut off!  So, I finished the remaining 10 miles of the bike ride with a "Smile In my Heart".

For many weeks leading into this race one of my fears was not being able to make it up Chalk Hill without walking.  That fear was followed closely by concerns of not making the bike cut off. With both of these challenges behind me, I was filled with an amazing sense of personal accomplishment.

As I rolled into Windsor High School I headed toward the grassy area of T2 (Transition Area 2).   Swim and the bike DONE... now on to the run!


70.3 Vineman - T2
So I scurried from the dismount line and ran with my bike for what seemed like a quarter mile (400M) to my transition area. 

70.3 Vineman is a "Point to Point" race where T1 and T2 are in different locations.

Our running gear was dropped off the day before during "Packet Pickup", so I found my shoes and hat amongst the rows of bikes.  I barely had a space to rack my own, but I made one!  I sat down to put on my socks and shoes... I grabbed my hat and fuel belt and headed for the "Run Out" line!


Just 13.1 miles stood between me and the finish.  "Just count the miles down"... I encouraged myself silently.

When ever I have a huge task in front of me I remember to break it down into smaller parts.  And while 13.1 miles seems like a long way, my mind can grasp the concept of moving through "1 Mile"... so I focused on completing the run in one mile increments.

70.3 Vineman - Eucalyptus Tree
There were several blocks along the road to Windsor High School were the streets lined with spectators cheering the athletes on! 

"You can do it!"  "You're almost there!"  I enjoyed their enthusiastic yells!  I had enough energy to do a "Vanity Jog" down the half mile stretch, then I dropped to a walk after I turned off of the main street!

The day before we had ridden this section of the run course on our bikes, so I knew of the numerous hills that lied ahead.  I committed to a pace that I thought I could sustain and settled in!

One of the most delightful aspects of the run is that the course was lined with Eucalyptus Trees.  Eucalyptus is one of my favorite fragrances so it was even more amazing to catch an occasional whiff of these amazing trees! 

I had never seen a "Real Live Eucalyptus Tree"!!  So I marveled at the peeling bark and enjoyed what shade they provided from the sun. 

The temperature was now in the mid to low 80's F (Upper 20's C).  "Stay on top of your Enduralytes" I kept telling myself.  I drank and took salt tabs on schedule.  I had covered five miles and was feeling great!

At Mile 6 I headed into the La Crema Winery Vineyards to mark the turn around point of the run course!  What an amazing experience this was.  All this time I had seen the Vineyards from a distance and now I get to run for one mile in a field of grape vines! 

70.3 Vineman - La Crema Vineyard
I quickly adjusted my foot strike to transition from pavement to dirt and around the vineyard I went! 

I starred down the many perfectly groomed rows of vines glancing longingly at the newly budding grapes. 

"I wonder what they taste like... so green... so tiny... so cute!"  My curiosity got the best of me and before I knew it I had plucked a green grape from the vine and popped it into my mouth!!!

@#%&#$%!!!!!!!!!!!  For such a tiny grape, it sure packed intense "Sour Power!"  That grape was exponentially more bitter than I had ever imagined!!!  I swigged the Gatorade from my fuel belt more enthusiastically than I had before in hopes of washing that piercing taste out of my mouth!!! 
70.3 Vinean - La Crema Vineyard
It seemed like forever to circle the vineyard, but finally I was heading out on to the pavement to cover the final six miles of the run course. 

I continued my count down... however as I approached mile eight "The Wheels Came Off". 

There are times when the mind is willing and the body is not.  This was one of those times for me.  My pace slowed even further and I was barely able to walk.

"Get something to eat!"  "Keep Drinking"... I tried to trouble shoot the situation with my fading energy level.  While many thoughts were racing through my head, "Stopping" wasn't one of them! 

So I kept on moving as slow as it was... "Forward Motion"... "Get there!" 

Up one hill and down the next.  I was hurting, hot, and tired.   And even from this place I knew there was no where else on earth that I would rather be!  I was doing "My Thing"... pursuing my dream and enjoying the fact that I was racing the most beautiful race course I had ever seen!

70.3 Vineman - Finish!
Well one painful step after the other seemed to add up... and I found myself with less than one mile to go.  I nervously glanced at the clock again and saw that I had a whole hour to complete that final mile!  I was going to make it... I was going to get that long sought after "Finishers Medal!"

I can not describe what happens in the mind and the body at the point where a dream is about to come true.  That whole last mile seemed to be an out of body experience.  It felt like I watched myself run...and run I did that last half mile. 

I remember rounding the bend and seeing the finish... it took everything I had not to burst into tears before actually crossing the mat. 

My trot quickened and I rose my hands in celebration for this day. I was so deeply grateful to be an official finisher of 70.3 Vineman!
70.3 Vineman - Finishers Medal

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Ironman Florida - Ironman Distance - Date: November 6, 2010

Swim: 1:29:51 (2:22/100m)

T1: 0:15:04
Bike: 8:12:13-13.7mph-(22 kph)
T2: 0:10:05
Run: 6:35:04 -0:15:05 min/mile-(9 min/km)

Total: 16:42:16

I want to be an Ironman

Just one short year ago I flew to Panama City Beach, Florida to watch my first ever Ironman Triathlon. A 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike and a 26.2 mile run. From the beautiful “Sugar White” sandy beaches to the thousands of Ironman athletes and spectators, I was filled with sheer amazement. My most vivid memory was of the neoprene clad athletes that lined the Gulf of Mexico shore for what seemed like miles… and they all piled into the ocean for the swim start of Ironman Florida 2009.

I have had visions of completing an Ironman since my early days of watching the Ironman Triathlon World Championships on television.  And as I stood on the beach that day I could not imagine how I would come to endure the 140.6 mile Ironman distance. It is difficult to comprehend what the world class professionals are actually doing when you watch them swim, bike and run, but after completing my first Sprint Distance Triathlon in 1999 it became pretty obvious that those who make it into the "Ironman World Championships" are truly gifted in this sport.

After thirteen months of daily training, I now stood on the same “Sugar White” sandy beach of Panama City, but this time I was there as a competitor. While I had completed my training to prepare my mind and my body to take on the challenge of this event, no one ever knows what race day will bring.

Pre-Race Preparation
Special Needs Bags
 The race actually begins on Friday. That is when the athletes check in their bike and surrender the gear needed to transition from “Swim to Bike” and “Bike to Run”. This was the first time I had to part with my cycling and running equipment the day before a race, so I felt awkward returning to my hotel room empty handed. The morning of the race athletes had to turn in their “Special Needs” bags. These bags contained the nutrition I would need that was not served on the race course. The nutrition would be available at the half way mark of both the bike and the run. With everything in place, there was nothing left to do but wait.

Race Morning
Race morning the air temperature was a freezing 38F/3C, so I put on my wetsuit to provide warmth while I waited for the swim to start.  

The sand felt icy cold beneath my feet, so I walked through the “Swim Start” arch to the shore line where the water was a welcoming temperature of 73F/23C. It felt like bathwater relatively speaking.

This was my first triathlon "Ocean swim". I was grateful to practice swimming in the ocean just two days prior.  Both attempts felt like a bit of a disaster. My first challenge was with the extremely salty water! I never realized how much water I let into my mouth while I swim!  Needless to say, I figured out pretty quickly how to keep the water from accidentally trickling down my throat. My lips and tongue felt numb from the intense concentration of salt after mere minutes in the water.  I made a note to apply lip balm before facing my swim on race day.

2010 Ironman Florida Race Sunrise
Overcoming the salt water was nothing compared to my first reaction to sighting a sting ray and a jelly fish! I alarmed the nearby swimmers with my intermittent screaming and splashing fits! I am more accustomed to swimming with fish like trout, so these new “Foreign Creatures” were quite disturbing to say the least.

My second attempt at facing the ocean was a little better, but this time I had an argument with the breakers. The winds were high and the waves were crashing against my body, repeatedly pushing me back to shore. I tried to muster the strength to get past them and eventually gave up. As I stood there completely perplexed and exhausted, it was explained that I need only swim under them. After a few tries I was finally successful at synchronizing the timing of my dive with the current of the wave.  This allowed me to get through the initial breakers and I was now able to head out to sea.

I allowed myself to bob up and down with the current. The movement felt so new to me. I noticed that I had traveled down shore quite a bit from my original entry point. I used this experience when positioning myself for my race Swim Start. I wanted to avoid fighting the current before making the left hand turn at the first buoy.

The Swim - 2.4 Miles: 1:29:51 (2:22/100m)
2010 Ironman Florida Swim Course

The swim course consisted of two counter clock-wise loops that required the swimmer to exit the water, run across the shore, and re-enter the water to start the second loop. While I would have preferred to remain in the water for the entire swim, it was actually nice to touch dry land in between battling the Gulf of Mexico.

So the time had come, and the athletes were lined up. I decided to position myself in the “Front/Middle”. I remembered watching athletes hesitate to enter the water, so I opted to get out in front and put the burden of other swimmers to swim around me rather than try to pass those that were slower than myself.

My decision worked in my favor!  The breakers that were present during the prior days had calmed down, so the ocean was quiet and the water was relatively calm. When the clock stuck seven, the race began!  

2010 Ironman Florida Swim Start
While the ocean was filling quickly with Ironman competitors, I was beyond the tiny breakers and headed for the first buoy. My greatest fear was losing my goggles, or getting kicked or punched in the face. My face, however, managed to stay safely protected. -- I did get pushed under the water a few times by a several aggressive swimmers, but I used my “Defensive Breast Stroke Kick” to ward off those who tried to swim over me. I did my best to avoid swimming on top of anyone, although, there were times when my hand landed on someone elses back. Having someone swim over you is quite scary as it feels like being purposefully held under water trying to surface through a ceiling of flailing arms and legs. When I did get pushed under I tried to remember that it was not intentional and simply a factor of the number of swimmers congested in one area. I managed to remain calm and continue on with my swim.

Ironman Florida Swim 2010

My first loop I saw several jelly fish. I had become accustomed to seeing them and was not as deathly afraid of them as I was the first time. I did pass one and I noticed my back start to burn. I thought to myself, “HEY!!! Did you just sting me!???” I put the thought out of my mind for the moment as I still had over a thousand swimmers behind me as well as the rest of my Ironman day to contend with.

My second loop I made the mistake of entering the water in line with the buoys instead of starting "wide" and to the right.  The current pushed me toward the inside of these markers and I had to swim against the current to maintain a straight line.  This time, on the way out, I saw a sting ray. I was still horizontal in the water and not planning to stand up, so I did not worry too much about it. After I had made the turns and was heading back to shore, I found myself battling the current that caused me to drift pretty far down stream.  I swam hand over hand heading back toward the “Swim Exit”. In my final efforts to finish, I noticed a crab scurrying across the ocean floor! Needless to say I was grateful that my swim was ending and that I could say good bye to those "Lovely Sea Creatures!"

Swim to Bike Transition (T1): 0:15:04

Carla exits 2.4 Mile Swim
I ran out of the swim and up to the “Wetsuit Peelers”. “Peelers” are often referred to as “Strippers”. They are volunteers that help you remove your wetsuit! I had unzipped my suit and wiggled it down below my waist! I ran up to a volunteer and he yelled, “DOWN!” So I dropped to the ground, legs in the air and off came my wetsuit!  Usually it takes some time to step out of the tightly fitting neoprene.  This was I was done in a matter of seconds when it would have taken close to a minute for me to remove it myself. 

The volunteer gave me a hand up and before I knew it, I was headed to the fresh water showers!  I spent some time under the dangling "Fresh Water" hoses that were suspended from above.  I wanted to get as much sand off as possible so I took some time here.  I then ran up toward the hotel to retrieve my “Swim to Bike” Bag that was numerically positioned the day before. Once I retrieved my "Blue Bag" I ran toward the “Change Area” which was inside the hotel ballroom. One area was designated for the women, and the other area was designated for the men. The rooms where lined with chairs to receive the stream of women that were quickly exiting the water.

Swim to Bike Bags (Blue Bag)

When I arrived there were no chairs, just sheer pandemonium and chaos. Had I understood the logistics I would have ran toward the exit door instead of taking a spot on the floor right by the entrance. I struggled to put on a shirt, arm warmers, compression socks and cycling shoes. I did this while being stepped over and flashed by the women doing full wardrobe changes. It was mass confusion at best. I was particularly thrown off when a volunteer took my bag from me. In all of my triathlons in the past I was accustomed to just leaving my wetsuit and swim gear in my designated transition area. This had more of a “Point to Point” racing feel where my swim gear was deposited in a bag and turned over to be transported to a safe place for pickup at race end.

Finally dressed I scurried around the hectic room trying to figure out where to go next. My helmet was on and my cycling glasses were fogging from the heat generated by my face. Eventually I was directed to the transition exit and then headed out into the parking lot to find my bike.

My bike was racked clear across the parking lot, so I trotted carefully in my cycling shoes toward my bike. I raced with Keo Look Cleats which actually have a non-skid rubber surface on the bottom which provided well appreciated traction.

Bike in hand I headed for the Bike Start area which, of course, was back across the parking lot. I tip-toed carefully… guiding my bike past other competitors who were searching for their bikes. I wish all of this running would count toward the 26.2 mile marathon that follows the bike. – FINALLY at the Bike start I had crossed the mount line and was able to clip in. I was ready to settle in for the longest leg of the triathlon, the 112 mile bike. Here we go!

The Bike - 112 Miles:  8:12:13-13.7mph-(22 kph)

One of the more attractive aspects of the Florida Ironman is  the single bike loop.  Many Ironman races have bike courses that are two and sometimes three loops.  While there were a few sections of this bike course that were "out and back", the basic path was a single loop.  This style of Bike Course is not spectator friendly as the athletes can "disappear" for five or more hours.  The single loop bike courses are, however, very appealing to the Ironman athlete. 

The other aspect of the course that was initially appealing is the course was said to be "Dead Flat".  In my opinion, flat is a relative term.  While the total elevation gain was within a few hundred feet, I found the terrain of the bike course to resemble a series of "Soft Roller" rather than a "Dead Flat".  I definitely noticed every single 1% - 2% rise and fall of the roadways as we traveled away from the beach front and headed into the back country roads of Panama City Beach, Florida.

The roads were lined with beautiful green trees which reminded me of the many training rides I did in Boulder, Colorado.  I enjoyed the feel of the countryside as I embraced my long day in the saddle.

The first 20 miles I was still wet from the swim as I faced the high winds from the North. The sun had yet to come out and the air temperatures were less than ideal while riding in the shadows of the buildings and trees.

After turning onto Highway 20 the sun started to shine. I felt myself begin to dry off and my body reach a temperature I thought would be more tollerable for the remainder of the ride.

Around mile 50 there was an "Out and Back" section of road that I immediately named "Crotch Break Hill" The cracks in the road had a "Rumble Strip" effect that was not "Saddle Area Friendly!" I decided to stand on my pedals for as long as I could, sitting only when tired.  My only distraction was knowing that the "Special Needs" area was near. This would also be the first time during the bike that I allowed myself to come to a complete stop.

I restalked my nutrition bottle and was on my way. Looking forward to the right hand turn that would mark the end of the "rumble strips"!

I enjoyed the next stretch of road along Hwy 20. Even though there were rolling hills I managed to push a good pace through that section. I relaxed into this single loop bike knowing that when all was said and done I would not have to loop back out on the same course before completing the 112 mile bike.

The next aids station was the "Super Hero Station"! Everyone was dressed in superhero costumes. The bottle drop area was a "Spiderman" Web that was rigged to deposit the bottles in the bed of a pickup truck! Quite creative and delightful! I had deposited all of my bottles before the end of this drop zone so I did not get a chance to interact with this creation directly.

The wind played a big role in the day as well.  The 19 MPH/30KPH wind gusts felt like pedaling against an invisible "Brick Wall"! I remember rising out of my saddle on one of the "descents".  Initially I was hoping that I could traverse the terrain of the bike course with a bit more speed than I had on the day, but that thought came to an abrupt end as I rode into the wind. 

In spite of my cadence and speed concerns, I was able to successfully execute my  hydration and nutrition plan.  The aids stations were spaced approximately ten miles apart.  My plan was to drink a full bottle of "Ironman Perform" electrolyte replenisher by the time I reached each aid station.  To help myself stay focused, I decided to play a little "Drinking Game".  This is far from anything that was done on a college campus, however, it served as a wonderful way to make sure that my bottle was empty and ready for refill at the ten mile intervals.

The game was simple.  I had ten miles to drink the 24oz/710ml bottle.  So at mile five, I had to be half way through, otherwise, "DRINK!"  There were roughly eleven aids stations so that meant eleven bottles before the end of the bike course.  While it was challenging to keep drinking on such a cold and windy day, I knew that hydration and nutrition would be the key to a successful run leg. 

First Challenge of the Day

Around mile marker one-hundred my legs cramped up.  Not the calf or the quads, but something around the inner thigh area just decided that I should stop!  I could feel it "twinging" several miles prior but as I stood to climb up the highway entrance ramp I had to struggle to unclip before both legs completely locked up.  This had happened once before on a training ride, so I did not panic.  I simply walked a few steps with my bike until my legs were able to relax.  I clipped back in and continued my ride.  I walked less than a quarter mile/400 meters.  While I felt the twinge every time I tried to go hard I opted to adjust my power and continue.  I was less than twelve miles from the bike finish so I was almost home.

I wanted to make sure that I was fully fueled for the run, so I forced down the rest of my nutrition and drank the remainder of my hydration.  I have heard the bike leg of an Ironman referred to as the "Buffet" because you are constantly "Eating and Drinking", but as you can imagine, eating or drinking was the furthest thing from my mind.  Lucky for me I have had several experiences during training where I neglected to eat and drink properly, so I knew what the consequences were.  This helped me override my desire to bypass my plan and helped me get down the last bit of my nutrition.

Bike to Run Transition (T2): 0:10:05
Bike to Run Bags (Red Bag)
One-hundred twelve miles done!  No mechanical problems! No physical injuries!  I dismounted gracefully and handed my bike to one of the volunteers.  I was headed now to retrieve my "Red Bag" which contained my running shoes, visor and head lamp. 

While there was a tiny trickle of people filing in behind me, the transition area was a total contrast from earlier this morning.  This time I had plenty of chairs to choose from once inside the changing area.  So I sat near the exit door and made my first attempt to put on my running shoes.

Second Challenge of the Day

CRAMP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Both legs started to spasm just as they had on the bike!!!!  I stood up and walked around wincing.  I tried to sit again and CRAMP!!!!!!!!!!!   I was not sure what to do!  The volunteers were equally as puzzled as they watched my flailing antics as I tried to deal with "What- ever- was- gripping- inside- my- legs".
Carla heads out on 26.2 mile run

"Must get shoes on! Must hurry!" That was all I could think about... I finally managed to sit "straight legged" and flip the shoe over my toes... I hopped to my feet immediately as the cramping had started again.  I finally got my foot seated properly in my shoe and I tried to stand still long enough for the volunteer to tie it for me.  One shoe down, one to go. 

My visor was on and my head light perched on top.  I took a few minutes to put my race belt around my waist.  My legs had calmed down a bit but were still "twinging".

I flipped the other shoe over my toes and tied that one myself.  The shoes were so soft inside.  The cushion felt amazing.  I was ready to go... so I headed toward the "Run Start" to face the final 26.2 miles that were ahead.

The Run- 26.2 Miles: 6:35:04 -0:15:05 min/mile-(9 min/km)

Now the run course would be two Half Marathon loops.  The course takes the athlete down the main street, Thomas Drive, through what seemed like a residential area and once around a loop in the State Park then back again for round two.

Ironman Florida 2010 Run Course
Loop 1:  My game plan was to execute a 5/1 Run/Walk Interval.  I knew I could run for three hours after a hard bike, so instead of thinking about facing an entire marathon, I focused on the next three hours. 

My time on the run was not idle.  I had to keep up with my hydration and nutrition needs just as I did on the bike. So every few intervals I sipped from my nutrition and drank from each aids station being mindful to stay hydrated and well fueled. 

My cramping had subsided and I was happy.  My Garmin Wrist GPS was set to notify me when my five minute run effort was up so that I could transition into a brisk walk.  I knew that three hours would be thirty intervals so I counted down to myself focusing on moving as fast as I could during the run interval and keeping an urgency during the walk intervals. 

Ironman Florida State Park Loop
The first lap of the run was so energy packed and exciting.  Each water station had a theme and many of the volunteers were dressed in costumes to compliment their station.  There was music!  There was dancing!  The outfits were outrageous and very motivating to me as an athlete!  I really got a sense that the people were really into supporting the racers as well as having a good time themselves... and before I knew it, my first lap was up.

Third Challenge of the Day

There is a seventeen hour time limit to complete the Florida Ironman and as I hit the half way point of the Marathon I realized that my current pacing would not get me to the finish line on time.  I had to somehow find a way to go faster or at a minimum maintain my current pace. 

So I had to defer to "Plan B" which I made up on the fly.  I would forgo my one minute walk effort and run as hard as I could for as long as I could and only stop at the aids stations. 

Loop 2:  Off I went on my "serge"... my legs were not cramping so life was good.  "I want to be an Ironman!" I kept telling myself... "You have to dig deep!" ...  "Go NOW!"  

Becoming an Ironman was my dream... my fantasy... and it was so very close... so close that I did not want it to slip through my hands!  So with all my might I ran forward... I was now running toward my dream... I let the dream pull me... carry me... give me the strength to keep moving!  I melted into the distance... moving as  fast as I could... I did not worry about what I would have left for the next mile instead, I focused on the "Here and Now!"

I was not sure if my pace would slow as the miles went on... if my legs would cramp like the many I saw stretching on the side of the road.   I tried not to burden my mind by thinking about my past performance in stand alone marathons... the only thing I knew in that moment was that I could still move...and in that moment, that is what I did!

Mile after mile I gave everything to hold my pace... I tried not to think about "blowing up", reaching that point when the body stops in spite of ones will to keep moving.  I decided to focus on swinging my arms and trusting that my legs would somehow match the pace.  I slowed only briefly to sip the warm chicken broth that was served at each aid station after night fall... the air was cool, but I was not cold... it was dark, but light enough for me to see... I kept up with my hydration and nutrition as this was *NOT* the time to let that part of my race plan fall behind! 

I remember every single inch of that final loop... every single foot strike... every single exertion to move myself forward.  I saw so many people walking in pairs... I even had a few invitations to join them.  "We'll make it if we just keep moving," they said.  I knew ,based on my watch, the exact mile splits that I had to maintain to reach the finish line "On Time"... I smiled in acknowledgement of their offer and declined in silence as I shuffled onward with all of my remaining might.  Time was of the essence!

Ironman Florida Finishers Shoot 2010
The Final Mile:  Slowly but surely the miles simply fell away as if they had never existed... and I could now hear the announcers voice in the distance.  I was beginning to see the brightness of the lights that lined the finishers shoot.  While it was so close, it seemed so far... each step requiring every bit of energy I had to give.  My body was moving on auto-pilot.  I think it would have continued on even if I had tried to stop.  My mouth dry as the last few aids stations did not have water.  But I could see it now... and I still had time to get to the line... it was going to happen, I was going to be an "Ironman!"

I hit the edge of the finishers shoot!  The crowd was going wild!!  Both sides of the stands were doing the wave, screaming and cheering!!! The weight of my own body seemed to disappear... I was now energized and light footed as I headed down that last stretch of track.

I felt the smile of extreme accomplishment and personal success sneak across my face!!!  My arms were opened wide as I "airplaned" my way through the finishers shoot.  I ran from one side of the stands to the other to touch the hands of my "many fans"!  The lights were blindingly bright and in spite of the noise level, all of a sudden, it seemed quiet... I felt like I was moving in slow motion... suspended in time... floating on air... gliding across the finish line! 

"Carla Thompson, You are an Ironman!" 

Carla Thompson Ironman Florida 2010
My arms were high above my head in triumph!  My time was sixteen hours, forty-two minutes and sixteen seconds!!!  I did it!  All of the early mornings and late evenings of training had paid off... every sacrifice I made seemed to be returned to me in that moment.  I was so happy!  So incredibly filled with pride!  It was an amazing experience... a journey I can not wait to embark upon again!

Video:  Ironman Florida 2010 Finish (Click Play)