Quote of the day


Joseph Campbell

Sunday, May 4, 2014


This is going to be a longer post. Mostly because I need to vent and writing is cathartic for me. Also, because there are a lot of details.

Wildflower 2014:

“It is only through labor and painful effort, by grim energy and resolute courage, that we move on to better things.”

― Theodore Roosevelt

I trained for Wildflower with gusto and a newfound confidence as food as fuel (not as my enemy, as my previous eating disorder affliction "voices" had convinced me of for decades). I trained hard and with determination. I think many people can attest to that. I also take great pride in my competitive drive and my desire and ability to do well. I have high expectations of myself and I feel others do too. I'm ok with this but sometimes it's a bit overwhelming.

Yesterday's race was the hardest half ironman I've ever competed in and now I know why it's ranked among the toughest in the world.

I watched a video last week that opened my eyes to what kind of race I was about to face.  This is not the first time that I've signed up for a race without looking at the course (before I signed up for Ironman Lake Placid I signed up for Ironman Louisville, reflexively- that was a mistake).  Sometimes triathlons are simply chosen because of their time frame compared to other races you are building toward. This was the case for me yesterday.

If I had done my research, I could have built myself up mentally and perhaps made wiser travel decisions (um, not drive for two days before a race because I was scared to take apart my new bike- ironically I lost a front wheel while traveling in a way I thought was the "safest" for my bike!). If I had done the research, perhaps I would not even have done this race purely to keep my racing confidence up and not have to sift through this post-race ego crap. Or maybe I still would have done it for the challenge and to tick it off my "bucket-list" races.

So, I truly did not know what I was getting myself into until a few days before the race! I thought it was just a tougher course. Ha!! Not quite.

As it so turns out the comedy of errors that occurred before and during the race ended up making it into a VERY difficult (I almost threw in the towel after I finished the bike) and, in some ways, a gut wrenching racing experience. I started to make a list of these "errors" in my head and decided to call them "parts" (like a play).

Part 1: I acquired my brand new Felt DA 2 a week before the race. I took it out for two rides and got some adjustments before packing it in the back of my car.  I was hoping it will feel ok when I raced

Part 2: A very hectic week work-wise and relationship-wise leading up to my...

Part 3: 1,200 mile drive from Denver to Paso Robles, CA which took me all day Wednesday half a day Thursday.

Part 4: Thursday, I got my front wheel stolen from my car (race wheel- $1,000!)

Part 5: That same day I experienced some personal strife with one of my best friends which lead to fighting and tears.

Part 6: Race check-in.  It was 97 degrees outside, windy and I began to actually get an idea how ruthless the hills of California are (how could I have forgetten this? I did, after all, bike over some nasty passes near the end of my bike trip across America in 2011).

Part 7: Race day. I had to wait at transition for nearly 2 hours before my swim wave even started. Laying on the pavement in the sun trying to conserve my energy and maintain hydration was a tough way to begin a brutal day.

Part 8: At 9:25, nearly 1.5 hours after the pro field started, women's 35-39 age group finally takes off for the swim. I take it easy-ish for the 1.2 mile swim so as to conserve for the run then bike then run. As is always the case, my open water swim time is minutes behind my pool time due to a number of factors. And starting in one of the last waves (18/19) means it will take a good amount of effort to swim around and over people who you catch up to in the waves prior.

Part 9: The first transition, from the swim to where my bike was racked, was a 2.2 mile grind which started with an 18% grade uphill strait out of the water. Then, for the next few miles, we had to run along dry lake beds in soft, soft sand.

Part 10: I mounted my new bike hoping for the best on this course despite not having ever raced on it. Within the first 5 miles of the ride (all climbing) I find myself checking my garmin and wishing it would move faster. Soon thereafter,  I got a "heat" headache which lasted the rest of the race.

Part 11: A few thousand of feet of climbing on a new TT bike caused me massive lower back spasms after about 15 miles of riding.  (This was probably a road bike course- people on road bikes would spin up the hills past me like I wasn't moving)

Part 12: I transitioned off bike to another run portion. I almost didn't continue the race. I couldn't even touch my feet because my back was in such a spasm. I actually had to sit down to put on my running shoes. But I decided to at least try. Immediately we are thrown on trails that go up, up, up. 70% of the total run was on lose packed trails with killer hills/scrambles (worse than Hyner Challenge for those of you who have done that race). I walked a TON for the first 5 miles (I have never waked in a triathlon FYI).

Part 13: I had to toss the insoles of my (dirty) running shoes at mile 5 aid station because they bunched up after a crazy descent into the valley. That left my feet feeling nearly "bare" and they took quite a pounding for the last 8 miles.

Part 13: Where is the ice on this course? The Gatorade and water were luke warm at best and ice was only given out by a spectator around mile 10. My core body temp had been sky rocketing from the first 5 miles of the bike and it wasn't until 6 hours into the race that it finally started cooling off (ice cubes shoved into your sports bra does wonders to drop your core temperature).

FINALLY there was pavement beneath my feet and semi-flat terrain....and that's when I got my legs back.

Which leads me to switch things up and give you the most notable and "positives"of this race experience:

Part 14: I finished with a strong stride, passing about 20 people in the last mile, and 40 people in the last 4 miles.

Part 15:  A fellow from a local bike shop who I called in a panic on Thursday ( after I had realized my front wheel was missing) said he would gladly lend me HIS front wheel for the race. I collected it from him at his store on Friday morning. No charge and no CC information taken, just my name and number and good faith that I would return it. And, just like that, I had a decent aluminum front racing wheel.

The only problem was was that I had carbon break pads that I neither wanted to ruin or change out (carbon break pads will get destroyed with aluminum wheels as the metal gets transferred during breaking). So...

Part 16: ...I strolled into the DT Swiss tent on Friday AM and asked the mechanic if hehad a carbon front wheel I could rent. He (Sean Hensley) said that he was just about to build one which he would be happy to let me use! So, DT Swiss loaned me a front carbon wheel the day before the race. For free. Now that's amazing.

Part 17: I didn't lose my googles on the swim. I had no flats on the bike. I never dismounted from the bike despite the back spasms. I fought up each hill in bigger gears than I wanted without fail. I allowed myself to stop at each mile on the run to refuel and dump water over my body. (Normally I do not stop at aid stations when I'm "racing". This was "surviving"). I accepted the challenges of the day at the time I confronted them and just kept moving forward: one stroke at a time; one down pedal at a time; one foot in front of the other.

Part 18: With the help of my friend Nicole, I was able to maintain hydration and fueling for this HOT, relentless and arduous race. Without pre-race planning I think I would have ended up in one of the many ambulances I saw on course getting pumped with IV fluids.

Part 19: The volunteers at the race and people all around this area were simply a pleasure to be around.

Part 20: I ran with a guy for a few miles who insisted on singing Whitney Houston songs. And, yes, he hit the high notes.

Part 21: I enjoyed post-race coors light (Colorado represent!), a great meal and a movie with one of my best friends.

Part 22: I finished this race!!

I battled and I didn't give up. I had amazing friends (you know who you are) supporting me the entire  way and I am grateful for that most of all.  Although I did not finish where I had hoped in terms of my age group, I finished with strength despite adversity.

We live and we learn. When my ego rears it's ugly head I have to smother it and remind myself of the glory of doing just that, living and learning.

One race doesn't dictate the rest of my race season nor does it take away my worthiness as an advocate for the triathlon teams I represent, for eating disorder recovery as well as for the hopes of this blog to raise money. Most importantly it does not prove or disprove me as the hard working, compassionate woman that I know I am.


  1. Woohoo! You finished strong despite adversity...that's second best to placing. :-) xoxo

  2. I've always do said you are a smart smart woman.Today you know the mistakes not to make again.You have learned!!!
    You have just written a brilliant conclusion to what will remain for you a turning point.I am proud to call you my friend.I need say no more.I will donate again as a symbol of my belief in you and what you are working towards.IE to be a healthier overall human being yes? Physically and emotionally yes? You are a very courageous woman.
    Now rest recover get back in the game but print the article keep it in front of you the next time you enter another race.xoxozo Kpi

    1. Thank you friend for such kind words always. I'm lucky to have you in my life! No need to donate again though!

  3. Yummy! Exhausting Post! I've burned a ton of calories just reading it! Glad you survived - reminds me of a little race we did called the VT50....
    Keep crushing it.

    1. V. The first thing I said when I crossed the finish line was, that may have been worse than the Vermont 50 (and the trail run was definitely head-to-head with Hyner Challenge)!!

  4. Your last paragraph says it all. Well done to survive out there!

  5. Thank you for the comment Tyler!