Friday, May 30, 2014

Flashback Friday

I missed Throw Back Thursday on the blog, so here is my Flashback Friday.  It is me after my first race EVER...the Bear Lake Half Marathon in June 2010:

WOW!  I was so clueless!  Look at me in all cotton for this race!  And apparently I had never heard of a Bondi band for my hair, or at least a ball cap or visor!  Little did I know that would be the first of many more races, more finisher's medals, the start of a new addiction, and the start of many positive changes that I would make in my life over the next few years. 
Some things haven't changed since then.  I still am too hard on  myself.  I struggle at times to stay motivated.  I am still trying to lose junk in the trunk. But, I realized that day that I can do hard things, not just in running and races, but in life as well.  My family is still my biggest cheerleaders.  Ken is still incredibly patient as well to listen to me non-stop talk about running, triathlon, races, training, etc.  But, I can honestly say that this was a pivotal moment in my life that has led to many more good things.  Let the journey continue!
In the meantime, Happy Training and Racing!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Guest Blogger: The Iron Sherpa...Life Lessons learned from the Support Crew

I have been asked to contribute to this blog as a "guest blogger."  I am Katie's husband, Kenneth.  I have never participated in a triathlon.  In fact, it would be pretty hard for anyone to guess that I ever ran track and cross country in high school, and lettered in the latter.  As difficult as I am finding it to get back into running, I find swimming any distance further than jumping off the diving board and swimming to the side of the pool a nearly impossible feat.  I have told Katie that I would maybe consider participating in a sprint distance triathlon if they allowed me to wear a life jacket.  No such luck.  The other thing this old school guy doesn't find appealing is "clipping in" to a bike.  It looks like flirting with an accident to me, and one of my objectives in life is to avoid pain where possible.  

As much as I don't see myself participating as an athlete, I have learned a lot by cheering on Katie and other friends during their half marathons, marathons, triathlons, etc.  Many things that you learn at these events are beautifully analogous to life.  A few of these lessons I found particularly poignant while waiting for Katie to finish the St. George Half Ironman a few weeks ago.  Here they are in no particular order.

1.  People can do hard things.

I know this is an understatement, but it has become a mantra for Katie that I hope is rubbing off on me and our children.  When Katie started running, it was to lose some weight and feel better.  I didn't imagine she would do anything more than the occasional 5k.  Well, she skipped the 5k and went straight for a half marathon.  It wasn't easy for her.  She struggled and she was slow, but I was very proud of her.  She then said she wanted to do a marathon.  I thought the idea was crazy simply because it sounded like a lot of work and a lot of pain.  She did it, though.  I remember seeing her when she still had half the marathon to run, and she was already hurting, just trying to keep going.  I don't remember what parts of her hurt, but I was worried what quitting would do to her psyche as a new athlete.  I was so pleased and proud that she stuck it out and finished.  She wasn't happy with her time, but I was elated she even finished.  During the St. George Half Ironman I knew how hard the course was, but I had very little doubt she would finish because I knew her resolve and commitment to finish no matter how difficult it would be.  We all (athletes and those of us less athletic) can learn and remember that doing hard things strengthens and refines us, and that almost all things worth doing take hard work and diligence.

2. Help others along the way.

I understand that occasionally folks in bike races and triathlons get flats or their bikes otherwise break.  I saw a man in T1 have to quit because his pedal broke off and he didn't have another one.  I was heartsick for him, and I thought I would have been so angry that I wasted so much money on a race I couldn't finish.  Well, Katie came across another athlete who needed help on the bike course.  She offered him what he needed, and he took a few items.  I was proud to hear that she would be charitable enough to help a fellow athlete.  I believe that every day there are opportunities to help others.  There are plenty of times we'll be the one needing help.  I am attracted to the kind of people who serve and help automatically and cheerfully.

3. Never give up.

Katie was having a fine race at the Half Ironman until her bike got a flat.  In fact, I left the T1 before she got there, and she still beat me to a spot about 15 miles into the bike course.  I didn't know she had been there already until I saw her update on the app say she just passed mile 22.  Well, somewhere in that ride she found some adversity.  I'm not talking about the hilly course or the heat, which probably would have done me in, I'm talking about three separate instances where she got flat tires.  This is another reason I don't think I'd want to do triathlons.  I think it's enough work to swim, bike, and run.  If my bike got a flat even once I would resent having to stop and fix it, and it would affect my attitude the rest of the race.  I know, it's a bad attitude, but that's how I'd feel.  If my bike had three flats in one race, I think I might throw it over a red rock cliff.  Well, she didn't.  Thankfully she has more character than the monster inside me.  She actually didn't have all the equipment and supplies she needed to fix her three flats because she lent them out to another racer.  That meant she had to depend on other racers to help her.  Again, I am impressed with people who are racing, but take the time to help another in need.  The lesson I learned here, though, was to never, ever give up.  You'll get there eventually.

4. Others will help you.

I spoke to this in the last paragraph, but I will expound a little.  I believe that in life it is our responsibility to help others when we are able.  Triathletes, for the most part, embody this quality.  With very few exceptions, I have been impressed with distance athletes in general because of their cheerful willingness to cheer each other on, help in emergencies, celebrate each others' successes, and console each other when athletes have a bad day.  I believe that the lesson is well taught by triathlons that not only should you help, but others will help you, too.  Life is the same way.  There are days I just want to go to bed and stay there.  We can't do that, though, can we?  Don't despair.  If we allow them, there will be others in your life who want to help and will help when life's not going well.

5. Do your best-not others'

I know that there is a desire in many to be the best, the top dog, the one on top of the podium.  However, I have learned that one can, and should in my opinion, be happy with getting a personal best.  I have seen people rocked with insecurity because they constantly compare themselves with others.  I admit I sometimes fall into this trap, as well.  I can't remember things as well as a colleague.  I'm not as good a shooter as the guys I play basketball with.  The list goes on and on.  The valuable lesson I've learned from watching Katie and other athletes, however, is that it really doesn't matter how much faster, stronger, and skinnier others are if you are truly happy with your effort and continue to improve.  Now, I admit there are times when we're competing for a job or money, when you better be at the top of your game or expect to lose, but for the most part, life is about looking at myself in the mirror and being able to say I am doing the best I can, and it's good enough.  Don't worry about doing someone else's best, do YOUR best.

I've gone on enough.  Maybe she won't ask me again because I tend to be wordy.  Just remember my athletic (and those not so athletic) that you can do hard things, you should help and accept help from others, never give up, and just do your personal best.  Carry on!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Someone please disable Google!

With two big races that have materialized within a week, I have spent too much time Googling race reports and results for both IMTX and Age Group Nationals.  I have seen cool and motivational YouTube videos, read some good race reports, checked out hotels, etc.  The thing that scares me is seeing the race results, especially for AG Nationals!  For the AG of F35-39, the results were 6 pages long for last year.  To find a times even comparable to what my most recent performances are, you have to go to page 5.  WTH have I just gotten myself into?!?  So, with that, I think that my goal that day is to not finish dead last!  I would be thrilled to have my time show up on page 4 of the results!

Seriously, let's be honest.  I am a working full time teacher, with two kids, who does triathlons to not kill people in my every day life.  It is a fun hobby I took up because I got bored with just running, and even that I took up to lose 15-20 pounds.  I don't train with all the high tech stuff.  I have an entry level aluminum road bike with clip on aero bars (though I do love my Belle).  Until recently, I only trained and raced with a $20 Timex stop watch or the free Strava and or Nike Run apps on my phone.  I don't have coach.  I'm not on team or with even a club for that matter. I don't have a $5000 tri bike with $2000 wheels.  Most of my training is trial and error with what I read online. I qualified for this event because I podiumed and landed in the top 10% of my age group at a small local triathlon.  I never figured I would do any race that requires anything more than me paying a registration fee.  Things like Boston, Kona, and AG Nationals are way beyond my reach..right?

So what I am trying to say it, I think I am way out of my league here!  Now, that may very well be, but I am a positive thinking person and deciding to take this as the privilege that it truly is, to race among the best and top age group athletes in the Nation.   This is the same race that qualifies people for World's and the Olympic team on Team USA.  But, I know that I can't expect to be first out of the water, or among them, like I am at most local races.  I am going to have my butt handed to me, no doubt about it. I am going into it with realistic expectations to do my best.  From what I have read, this could be a good course for a PR.  It is pretty flat, and fast from what I have read.  So, that is my goal for both this and IMTX.  Just do my best.  That's all I can ask for.  And, I thoroughly look forward to seeing some serious bike porn while there :)

So in the meantime, Happy Racing and Training....and stay away from Google!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Change in Race Plans - HELLLOOOOO Milwaukee!

Click here for more information

This morning I woke up to the following email:

"Congratulations Kathryn LIMB. You have qualified for the Olympic-Distance race at the 2014 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships on August 9 in Milwaukee, Wis., after finishing in the top 10 percent in your age group at the The Ice Breaker."

Say what?!?  I have heard tons about Age Group Nationals, but I never figured that I would be someone that got the chance to go!  I mean, that is for real athletes, right?  But hey, if they are willing to invite me, I should try to go!

I also immediately thought that this wouldn't be doable since we are already going to Red River, New Mexico this year, and then Colorado for the Triple Bypass, not to mention the expense of upcoming IMTX.  Then, after talking to the wonderful Iron Sherpa, we concluded that it might be doable if we forgo the Red River trip.  It is also awesome that it occurs before school starts, so no need to miss work!

As soon as I get the follow up email with the registration link, it is HELLLOOO Milwaukee!  I have never been there before and what a fun race!  Plus, my BT friend, Kim is going.  We are going to make a road trip out of it and stop through Ken's old stomping grounds in Minneapolis, stop and see Mount Rushmore, and maybe try head down to Chicago and catch a Cubs game.  What a fun and unexpected change of plans! 

It never ceases to amaze me what fun roads triathlon has lead me down.  It has taken me to cool places, brought amazing friends into my life, as well as for how it has changed me for the better.  This is another one of those fun and unexpected bonuses. 

I have already gone into my excel spreadsheet of my training for the next several months and made appropriate changes to get me ready for this.  My bike is going to rock, as it will be just 3 weeks after the Triple.  I need to make sure that I keep my running up and swim consistently, and I should be good to go.  Now, don't get me wrong, this is a race with the top 15% of athletes in the nation.  I will get my butt handed to me, but I want to be as prepared as possible. 

In the meantime, Happy Training and Racing all!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Let the Journey Begin!

Today might go down as the day I officially lost my mind.  The coming year might determine that for sure.  You see, this morning I registered for Ironman Texas. For those of you unfamiliar with this, an Ironman is a 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 112 mile bike, then topped off by a full marathon run of 26.2 miles, for the grand total of 140.6.  I am not going to lie and act like this was something I did on impulse.  I have wanted to do it for a very long time.  It just wasn't right time wise.  I also kept finding excuses for why it wouldn't work, then I finally realized that I just have to make the jump and do it.  So, a few months ago I started talking with Ken about it, because if he wasn't fully on board, it was a no go for sure.  The time, money, and energy this is going to require are not to be underestimated and I wouldn't do it without his full blessing and support.  His reply was simply, "I don't understand it, but go for it".  He has never understood why you would pay for such misery, even for a 5k :)

So then I went about trying to pick a race.  Honestly, that wasn't very difficult.  Due to religious reasons, I will not race or train on Sundays, so that left me simply 3 options in North America for an Ironman branded event.  They were Maryland, Florida, and Texas.  I honestly considered all of them, but expense wise, Texas is just so much cheaper to go to.  Plus, the time of year is fairly good.  I know that it is early season, but that doesn't scare me.  Most of my bike training will on the trainer, but I have never minded my trainer either.  I also like the idea of getting it done before school even gets out for the year, then I can kick back and enjoy my summer with no pressure to get ready for this big of a race.

Also, I was raised in Texas.  This race will have a definite hometown feel for me.  I love Texas, and even though I have been in Utah for the past 16 years, there is a huge part of my heart still there.  What a neat place to do my first Ironman!

I know that if I was to go with a non-branded 140.6 I would have had many more options.  Down the road, I might consider those.  But, call me a race snob, but for my first, I want the whole experience, which after reading race reports and blogs posts, and forum threads, just isn't quite the same at any other event.  Yep, I want to hear Mike Reilly officially tell me I am an Ironman.  Not a Bear Lake Man.  Not a Vineman.  Not any other spin off of it, I want the whole enchilada on this one!

I already  have my training lined up as well!  I spent hours pouring over training plans and finally decided to go with the Matt Fitzgerald Minimalist Plan.  It is 22 weeks long, which means I officially start December 15 with training. I picked his plan because it just made sense to me.  It also keeps in mind that I will still be a wife, mom, and full time teacher in the midst of all of this and I don't want to cheat any of them while I am at it.  It will average 12-16 hours a week in training, which is still a stretch, but most of those hours are on the weekends with the long runs and rides.  Even for those, I will be getting up obnoxiously early to get them completed so I can still have something left of a day with my family.

So, with all that, I am in!  I am so excited and terrified at the same time!  I watched the webcams of the race yesterday in total awe and analyzed every thing from what they were wearing, to the bikes, how the hydration was set up on the bikes, to the signs people were holding along the run course, etc.  I have heard many people say that with an Ironman, the joy is in the journey and the training and the race is the celebration of that.  So, let the journey begin!  I am excited to see what the next 363 days hold for me and what I learn and discover a long the way!

In the meantime, Happy Training and Racing all!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Taking it to heart

In the four years that I have been a runner, I have read and heard a ton about heart rate training.  I just figured it was one more thing to mess with, so I have been curious, but have never bothered with it.  When I bought my awful Timex Global Trainer, it came with a heart rate monitor on it and the strap.  I think I used it on one or two runs, but it took forever for the stupid watch to register the heart rate and the chest strap wasn't comfortable at all, and I found it was a hassle, so it is still sitting in the bottom of my gear junk drawer.  Not that I could use it anyhow seeing as how that dang Global Trainer is history too!

However, as I am looking towards my other goals in my training and racing, as I look at training plans and talk with other athletes, they all incorporate heart rate training.  So maybe there is something to this after all?  I have also been playing with the idea of wanting to dial in my pace and effort more and I have missed having a bike computer.  So all of this has led me to my latest tri gear purchase, a Garmin 310XT, and I made sure that I bought the one with the heart rate monitor.

This will be my new venture, I am going to try to incorporate heart rate training into my own SBR.  I am going to have to figure out how to calculate my Zones, and how to use the watch to alert me to these, and then see what improvement I can make.  Kim, my friend from BT, was telling me over the weekend it has completely changed her approach to training.  So here goes nothing!

What have I done in the past, you ask?  I have simply gone by how I feel.  I don't want to ditch that entirely, because I strongly believe we have to listen to our bodies and how we feel, this is just one more way for me to get feedback from my body.  I have simply in the past gone faster if I feel like for as long as I think I can, then backed off.  If I am having a rough day and feel mentally or physically thrashed, I back down.  I do this in racing as well.  I have always just raced with a cheap Timex stop watch that has an alert to remind me to fuel every 15 minutes, and keeps track of my overall time.  Getting into all of this technology will take some adjusting.  But, like I said before, here goes nothing! 

In the meantime, happy training and racing!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Ironman 70.3 St. George Race Report

This might just be my longest race report to date.  I have so many thoughts and feelings about this race that I am not sure how to sum it all up!  I guess as usual, I will start with all the pre-race stuff, because it was so much fun!!


I headed down with Mike, Melinda, and their friend, Jason, on Thursday morning to StG knowing that Ken and the kids would be joining me on Friday afternoon. As always, they are a ton of fun.  We got into town and immediately went to Ironman Village.  I was so excited about this!  If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you know I was posting tons of pics from that afternoon.  The Athlete Check in was even fun!  All of the volunteers treat you like a rock star and it is so smooth and organized, I loved it!  After I got my bag, timing chip and other race stuff, we went to the merchandise tent where they have anything and everything you could ever want from Ironman.  It was fun!  I bought a finisher's t-shirt, a car emblem, and a bike jersey.  I also got Ken a shirt that says Support Crew on it and the kids got Future Ironman shirts.  We then waited around for the Pro Panel.  Since this is the US Championships, the pro panel was deep!  It was funny because I had a question about where the pro panel would even be so I turned and saw a woman with a shirt that said IRONMAN STAFF on it and asked her.  She was this really fit, 40 something woman who responded in an Australian accent and pointed where it would be.  As I left from talking to her Mike said, "You know who that is, right?"  I had no clue.  It was Paula Newby-Frazier, multiple world champion and coach to Hines Ward in Kona last year!  HA!  We then sat down and were waiting for the Panel to actually start and I saw this woman who was also VERY buff, and I was positive she was Meredith Kessler.  Well, she was, and I wasn't going to miss my chance to visit with her.  She was beyond friendly, and was asking me about my racing and training, and also telling me about her week their in StG.  I asked to have a picture with her and she very kindly agreed to snap one with this tri-geek.  She was awesome.  Can't say enough nice things about her!

We then had dinner and I retired to the hotel early and had a great night sleep.  The next day was pretty low key as well, we went to bike check in, drove the bike course, and then Ken and the kids joined me that evening.  This whole time I had race nerves, but more excited like a kid on Christmas Eve more than anything else.
Meredith Kessler is the real deal!

Saturday morning I woke up early, had my oatmeal and my banana and left for the shuttle to take us up to Sand Hollow.  I was in Wave #9 with a start time of 7:24. I had fun in transition visiting with my friends and making new ones.  I was able to see Jarrod, Megan, Kim, and Mike.  I still say triathletes are the coolest and friendliest people on earth!  They are all very encouraging, fun and great support out there!


My swim wave started at 7:24.  Before that we were able to watch the pros take off and I was glad that this was a wave start.  With 2800 people racing, I wasn't wanting a mass start.  I know that many people say that you have to experience it just once, for the whole "washing machine" effect, but I was okay with bypassing that.  This was a deep water start where you actually had to swim about 150 yards off the short to the red buoys where you then waited for the horn to blow and start.  I got in the water and noticed it was indeed cold, but with the full wetsuit it wasn't bad at all.  Some one reported a temperature of 61 degrees.  I was, however, very glad to have my neoprene skull cap under my swim cap so I was able to avoid the brain freeze head ache that I got at Rage in Vegas.  I swam calmly out to the buoys and I barely got there when they blew the horn so I just kept going!  I was glad that there wasn't much contact with other swimmers and the water was very clear.  I concentrated on my pace but also on sighting every 4th stroke.  I was able to stay pretty much on the line that I wanted, but as always, I tended to drift off towards the right.  They had kayaks and paddle boarders everywhere though, so it would have been virtually impossible to get too far off.  I made it to the first turn buoy pretty quickly and then had a long straight line to the next one.  I started to catch up with people ahead of me from other waves.  I also noticed when I would look up to sight or breathe the GORGEOUS scenery around me.  I was just in a very happy place during this swim.  It was calm, beautiful, and I was doing exactly what I planned to do during the swim.  It couldn't have been more perfect.  I even started to think ahead to the run and bike and review in my mind my nutrition plan and my strategy.  It was a good time.  I finally turned around the final buoy and headed into the boat ramp where you exitted the water and that was the only place that it really got crowded or hectic.  I made my way out and looked down at my watch to see that I had a final swim time of 40:36, a 5 minute improvement from the Utah Half! 


As soon as I was out of the water, I headed up the boat ramp and found the wetsuit strippers.  This is so nice!  That suit has never come off so fast!  I then grabbed it with my goggles, swim caps, and ran right to the porta potties.  I then found my bike, put all my bike stuff on and packed up my swim stuff into my bags.  This was a new experience with all the transition bags that they give you, but it is very doable and pretty slick, actually.  I then ran with Belle to a volunteer that put sunscreen on my since I forgot to do it in the rush to get my bike stuff on. NOTE TO SELF:  Take the time to do it yourself next time.   I then clicked in and was on my way! Final T1 time was 6:44.


  The first half of the bike was awesome.  We immediately  headed out of the parking lot, had a good down hill then around the side of the lake and up another steep hill.  This would be the first of 5-6 significant climbs on this course.  These are not little rollers, they are HILLS!  For each of these I put Belle on the small ring in a low gear and just grinded my way to the top.  I enjoyed how pretty the course was, talked with others around me, and made sure that I stuck to my nutrition whenever the alert would go off on my watch.  We made our way through some farm areas, then into the small town of Hurricane.  The first aide station was there and I grabbed a water to refill my aero bottle.  I was thoroughly enjoying the course, the day, and the awesome downhills that came after all the climbs.  Yes, this course has some very  hard climbs, but it is also very fast in many places.  I loved these parts!  I used them as a chance to spin my legs out, or just coast, and chill for a minute before the next climb would come.  It was starting to get pretty hot, but I was sticking to my hydration and taking the salt tabs as well.  I had just passed the second aid station at around mile 28, when I noticed I had a flat on my rear tire.  Dangit!!  I have never flatted in a race!  I had just barely given a tube to another cyclist that had one not 20 minutes prior!  I then noticed that cyclist I had helped out not only took my tube, but my tire levers and my CO2!  I had nothing to change this with!  So frustrating!  Luckily I had some help from another cyclist who helped me get it off and use some of their CO2.  I was back on my way, but easily lost 15-20 minutes here.  

I headed off again and it wound through the west side of town and we were about 5 miles out of Snow Canyon when it flatted again.  This time it just seemed low, and I didn't want to spend much time on it, so I just let someone fill it up for me with CO2.  That was a mistake right there, I should have more thoroughly checked it, instead of just putting something in it and being on my way.  But, hindsight is 20/20!  I got off on my way again, now completely out of supplies, and I made my way into Snow Canyon, passed another aid station where I took more water, and not 10 minutes after that I was flat AGAIN.  At this point, I was feeling so defeated.  I was tired, hot, and this was NOT going according to plan.  I sat down on the side of the road with other athletes speeding past me and just cried.  There was nothing I could do.  I had no more tubes, no levers, no CO2 and the bike support was no where to be seen.  I put my  head down and cried.  I also said a prayer begging God to send some help or my day was over, and I so didn't want that!  Not a minute later I had something thrown at me.  It was tube from a passing cyclist.  Well, that's a start, but it wasn't the supplies I needed to change it.  Then another cyclist stopped and asked if I needed help.  I told him my predicament, and he said that he was starting to cramp up anyway and should get off for a break.  He was from LA, his name was Kevin, and he is a self proclaimed bike nut.  He whipped that tire off and then spotted the problem.  There was a thorn in the tire.  That is what kept making me go flat!  If I had taken the time earlier to look for it instead of just trying to fix the problem and be on my way, I would have seen that!  Dangit!!  Anyhow, he pumped me back up, both mentally and physically on the bike, and I then started the climbing in the dreaded Snow Canyon. These fellow athletes that helped me today were truly angels.  I would not have been able to finish if they hadn't of stopped their own race to give me aid.  I am now vowing to never leave another cyclist on the road or in a race that needs help with out at least seeing what I can do to help.  Pay it forward people!  

 I was still pretty defeated, or feeling that way at least.  I started to try to calculate how much time I had lost on that dang wheel.  It had to be at least 45 minutes.  I started to wonder about the bike cut off and if I would make it.  I knew in reality that I was still ok, but I wasn't exactly thinking positively or clearly at this point.  As we were making our way up this brutal climb, there were several motivational sayings on signs on the side of the road.  I really needed them at this point!  They said things like, "All you really need is already inside of you", "Do you remember the guy that quit?  Neither does anyone else" and "If you give up now, you will regret it".  I needed those as a pick me up for sure, because at this point, I was NOT having fun.  I had even gotten off my bike at the steep part of the climb and started walking it thinking that if the SAG wagon showed up, I would gladly jump in. I had to walk it because my quads were spasming so bad I thought I would fall over. 

Once I got the the top of Snow Canyon, I had the best down hill ever!  I decided to try to do the whole thing in aero and even had my stomach turn at one point like it does on a roller coaster ride, but it was freaking awesome!  I felt like I was flying as I sped down that hill.  I needed that as a boost as well.  I knew I was within 10 miles of the bike finish and what do you know, they  had another hill for us!  At this point I was thinking more clearly and thought that after what I had already been through, I could do anything, and even this hill.  It wasn't as bad as it looked and the whole bike thing was over soon enough.  My bike split is pretty pathetic, but when I keep in mind that I lost so much time on flats, it puts it into perspective.  Final bike time was 4:21:43.  Ouch.


I couldn't get off that bike fast enough.  It was hot.  I knew that my family was probably worried about me taking so long on the bike.  I quickly changed, hit the porta potties, and was on my way.  T2 time was 5:24.


Ken was just outside the transition area.  He hollered to cheer me on and I told him about all my flats.  I waved and was on my way for more hills!  I told myself that I would power walk the steep hills and aid stations and run the rest.  I was able to do this the entire 13.1 mile run.  The aid stations were about every mile anyhow.  I found that I was in much better spirits and I was able to see some of my friends on this out and back course.  I also visited with some other runners around me.  I took some salt tabs in and a Gu every 40 minutes or so.  The area was awesome but the hills were brutal.  I swear, this course was designed by a sadist!  I did my best to power up them the best I could, but was starting to feel the day wear on me.  As I hit the aid stations I took in water, dumped ice down my top, grabbed sponges and coke.  My stomach started to bother me and I couldn't stand the thought of anything else.  I knew however, I would be in world of  hurt if I didn't at least force the water and the salt tabs.  I did this for the entire second half of the run.  I was grateful to hit the turn around and was in good spirits, but wasn't feeling well at all.  I noticed that despite the 97 degree temps, I was getting chills and my arms were tingling.  My stomach was tight and crampy. Not good signs!  I just wanted to finish and be over.  I managed to run the entire last 3 miles, but finished in rough shape. my Final run time was 2:44:34.  Considering how hot and hard this course was, I am pretty happy with that!

Like I mentioned above, I finished in rough shape. My final time for this race was 7:59:01.  Not what I wanted, but what choice did I have?  I didn't feel well at all.  I was very weak, tired, and getting chills.  I now know these were probably the early signs of dehydration or bonking.  When I got all of those flats, my watch kept beeping at me to hydrate or fuel, but I would just focus on the tire at that moment and ignored those reminders to take in fuel and water.  This entirely threw of my nutrition plan, my electrolyte intake, everything.  So, to say I paid for it was an understatement.  I felt like crap.  Usually when I finish a race I can eat a horse.  Now the only thing I could stomach was the Coke.  I also didn't have an appetite for several hours after the race, and even then, it was hardly anything.  I made sure to keep drinking Nuun throughout the rest of the evening to restore what was lost to my poor body!  I was also pretty sun burned.  Don't trust the well meaning volunteers to do the sunscreen right!  I literally have streaks of burn where they didn't apply it evenly or thoroughly.  We headed back to the hotel and just vegged the rest of the evening by the pool and I fell asleep pretty early.
You simply can't beat Ironman.  They know how to do a race.  This was an amazing event, starting with the pre-race stuff at Ironman Village.  I kept thinking, if this is what they do for just a Half, I wonder what it is like for a full?  Everywhere you went you were treated like a rock star.  Even in town, when people say your blue athlete wrist band, you were treated like royalty.  It was pretty cool!  The volunteers were awesome.  The aid stations were pretty well stocked, you name it, they had it!  They think of everything!  They sweep the roads for the bike and run prior to the race.  They sweep the rocks off the sand at the swim start so you don't have to worry about stepping on them.  They lay out carpet between bike racks in T1 so you don't have run on hot or gravelly pavement as you  head to your bike.  And, they have a pretty cool medal!  I have to say, that as tough as this day was, it is an amazing course.  Very challenging, but amazing.  It was the hardest race of my life, but I am glad I did it.  I would definitely do it again, I feel that I have score to settle with that dang bike course!

-Sun screen shouldn't be taken lightly.  I look like a streaked lobster today.
-Hydration and nutrition are crucial and when you have a plan, stick to it, regardless of what the day throws at you!
-Be prepared for worse case scenario.  I should have had more stuff to change my tires, and known better how to use it.  And check for the cause of the problem, like the thorn, to avoid future issues!
-PAY IT FORWARD  with all the good people that helped me through this hard day, I have to pay it forward from now on!
-I really like the challenge of long course racing.  I definitely got to see what I was made of today.
I would be lying if I said that I was not disappointed in my race.  It was my "A" race and I this is not what I envisioned or planned for today.  I have been pretty bummed about it.  But I pushed through some very difficult conditions, heat, a difficult course, three flat tires, and the mental challenges as well!  I put myself through the wringer today!  But, as I have been bummed, I have asked myself, what else could I have done? I didn't give up.  I didn't get bitter (ok, maybe for a minute or two on the bike), and I FINISHED.  Most people won't do things like this, much less finish.  I can honestly say I did my best with what I had given to me, and at the end of the day, I can't ask more of myself than that.  This course and this race, and the conditions, etc, really gave me a chance to see what I was made of, and I am happy with what I found :)
In the meantime, Happy training and racing all!