Wednesday, September 26, 2012

1st in my 1st 140.6

I've never been good at consistently keeping a diary, journal, or apparently a blog ever in my life.  I might as well continue the trend I started decades ago of jotting my thoughts down after something exciting happens in my life, so almost two year's later, my next entry. Clearly I need to slow down and take more moments to reflect.

I'm not going to give the whole back story on how I got into the sport of triathlon and decided to sign up for my first full distance tri consisting of a 2.4 mile swim + 112 mile bike + 26.2 mile run = 140.6 miles, rather just the events of Saturday, September 22, 2012 in Oklahoma City mostly to share my experience with those that weren't there and wish they could have been and for those that want to know what I went through. My loving and supportive boyfriend Steve, who was a HUGE part of my training and race and even my boss are always on me for giving too many unnecessary details, but I'm a details person and like to know it all so I'm going to walk you through the experience of completing this "event" as I called it, that turned into a race. My coach told me I would experience every human emotion during the event, and that I did.

In my opinion, my race started Thursday at noon when my coaches and Steve picked me up from work in Downtown Houston in the Powerhouse Racing truck with all our gear and bikes racked up. It was funny to see the business people of Downtown going to lunch staring at this sight.
Photo taken at a rest stop between Houston and Dallas
The amount of Ironman knowledge Johnny and Andrea Zepeda have, truly helped me be as successful as I was, so I was a sponge and just absorbed all the pointers they had to offer on our 8 hour drive to OKC.

I've never been a "thin" girl ever in my life, and growing up with dance as my passion, having the "athletic" built and having to step on a scale to meet a weight goal when I was dancing professionally gave me a complex that I don't think will ever really go away, (but I am truly happy with the way I look) made for the transition from trying to consume less calories than I was burning during Ironman training that I've been brainwashed to do quite difficult, but I knew my body needed those calories to perform at the level I wanted it to. Let me tell you, I think I ate more food on Friday before race day than on any Thanksgiving ever, but as my coaches said, I would be glad I consumed them while racing on Saturday. True statement. I'm sure an out-of-shape person would lose weight training for an Ironman, but I wasn't training to lose weight, I was training to race for half a day and be pleased with my performance.

So Saturday morning finally arrives...4AM the alarms (Yes, if you know me, it takes more than one alarm to wake me up even on the most exciting day of my life to-date...yup, I said it.) go off and no surprise Steve was up first and probably ready before me, but the biggest worries on my mind were making sure I remembered to put my contacts in so I could see during the race (I don't wear them everyday and don't need them for close-up, just for driving, riding my bike, sporting events, etc.) and making sure I got down to Johnny and Andrea's room so Andrea could French braid my hair tight and secure so I wouldn't have to worry about it all day. I was slowly starting to get nervous about the swim though. I knew I had put in my time in the pool and done a fair amount of open water swimming, but not in my wet suit. I've had a history of getting in my wetsuit and having this silly anxiety when I first get in the water. We did the practice swim Friday morning and on our way out, in quite choppy water I thought to myself, "What in the world did I get myself into? Am I going to survive this 2.4 MILE swim tomorrow?" Thankfully, it was much more pleasant on the way back to shore, but I was still not as confident as I would have liked to of been.

My pretty Giant, Polly w/the sweet Zipp 404/808 system I rented
for the race with all my gear ready to go besides my special needs
bags that I had already dropped off.
When I arrived to my bike that we had checked-in on Friday, I guess I had my first run-in with good luck for the day. I was lucky to be in a spot with great lighting from the generator operated lights they had out there sparingly to setup my gear for the journey I was about to begin. Steve on the other hand was thankful he brought his headlamp, as his end of transition was pitch dark. I will say I was bummed there weren't jams blasting on the speakers like at other triathlons I've been to like HyVee, which I still think is the best ran triathlon I've ever been a part of largely because of the awesome swag and pro interaction we were privileged to have. I'm all for prayer and thanking God for giving us the opportunity to participate in such awesome events, but the silence was unnecessary, I think it actually made me more nervous. I thank God when I'm rocking out.
Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! -Psalm 95:1
I was pleased when the race officials came by my area and gave me the stamp of approval for my transition setup though as I was playing around taking pictures and updating facebook, haha.

My race day nutrition plan started in transition after the non-toasted English muffin with almond butter I had while getting my hair braided. Marriott's really need to work on that continental breakfast concept. I was sipping water while setting up and sucking on a Peter Rabbit fruit squeeze I picked up from Starbucks on Friday. It was mango, banana, and orange, but strawberry banana is my favorite. They are paleo, delicious, and I didn't get a banana before the race like I do before every race and really everyday during training because they got too bruised in transit, so it had to do at this point, and will probably be a new race ritual for me.

Before I knew it, the National Anthem was being sung and I was ready to go, well, physically, but mentally I still wasn't sure if I was ready. I'm pretty sure Steve was in the same boat because he didn't stop by my bike to my knowledge before the race (turns out he did, but I was at the bathroom), I actually found him with our coach and one of the other guys we trained with walking down to the water, so I shimmied under the orange fence to not lose them in the mass of seal looking people walking down the red carpet to the red dirt of the extremely low Lake Hefner.
Photo courtesy of Susan Lash's photo on the Redman Triathlon
Facebook Group
At this point, I was still holding on to my camera that I was going to give to Andrea to snap some pics along the way and realized I may not be seeing her before entering the water, so I hid it under the giant Red Bull arch base, but she appeared out of nowhere and went up to grab it before we took off.
Photo courtesy of James A. Randell Photography

Too bad my camera isn't today's best technology and all of our pre-swim group shots are blurry...
Blurry seal-looking people photo taken by Andrea Zepeda via my quality Kodak. I appear to be happy at this point, but was really quite nervous. Pictured from top left: John Zepeda, Steve Schnell, Paul Hermansen, Todd Fairley Bottom: Me
The awesome announcer was lining up the waves and giving us some sound advice, so I was listening and soaking it in as he had raced this course before and other 140.6 events while I sucked on my raspberry Hammer gel

Ok, the Long Distance Age Group National Championship folks have started the swim, time to mentally do this. I gave Steve a kiss, Johnny hugged me, Andrea gave some good words of wisdom,  hugged me, I started to tear up, and headed to the water after the full distance guys wave took off. I tried to position myself somewhat close to the buoys and toward the middle of the pack. I learned from my first outdoor triathlon (yes, outdoor because up North we have indoor triathlons in the Winter which  is where I first dabbled with the sport and got hooked), the Pewaukee Triathlon not to position myself at the back of the swim because those people really don't know how to swim, even though I think I'm a horrible swimmer, I'm not that terrible, but I really don't think there was anyone at that level for this distance of a swim as there were for my 400 meter swim in that race that I totally side stroked most of. I dipped my head under the water to make sure my Aqua Sphere's wouldn't fail me now, and I totally went the goggles under the cap route to avoid a tragedy of losing my goggles. The air horn sounded, and we were off! 

Like the typical me, it took me a good 200 yards to get into any kind of groove. I had a few moments of doubt in my capability to complete this first real task of the day, to swim 2.4 miles. The orange ball buoys were quite difficult to spot, so I just tried to follow the pack ahead of me. I was not trying to win the swim. I never do, and never will. I've accepted that, but there is always room for improvement. 

When looking at my Garmin map, I can totally see where I started to drift way left at one point and a kayak had to come cut me off and send me in the right direction. I cursed and was back on track. Thank goodness for those kayaks. I really have to volunteer for a triathlon as a kayaker someday to see the race from their point-of-view. It has to be quite humorous. Although, they do have a lot riding on them if there is an instance where someone seriously needs assistance. The swim is the leg where people have been known to get heart attacks and die, which is probably why my mom was at ease back home in Michigan tracking me and getting text updates from Andrea when I got out of the water. 

When I made the first turn, I swear a boat had just gone by because it got real rocky and sh!t got real. I thought, "Am I back in MI swimming in the Great Lakes right now?" Thankfully that stretch wasn't too long before the second turn, and I could spot shore. You'd think that would be easy, but I'm certain I did not swim a straight line. I was thinking to myself how nice it would be at that point to be doing the half iron distance race and be almost done, but no, I had a whole other loop still to do. At some point I remembered how to swim again, and was breathing, kicking, and pulling like I trained and was critiqued to do so from my current coach, swim coach in WI, the Master's coach here in Houston at the Y, and probably other way more experienced and efficient swimmers than I am. 

When I got to the turnaround point, there was a group kind of all trying to figure out if this was the point where we turned to start our second lap. I just swam passed them because they looked lost. "Hey, second loop isn't so bad!," I thought. I began doing what I do when I am doing something that I just want to be over with, but know I have to get through it. I was counting sets of 10 strokes focusing on good form for each stroke. I'm not sure why this helps me, but I believe it originated from a conversation I had with my dad years back maybe even before my high school cross country days when he said he use to count when he had to run for football to get him through the workout. I'm not sure if he even knows I remember that conversation and utilize his method occasionally to help get me through workouts, but I'm sure that would make him proud. :)

If there were mats in the water, I'm sure I negative split the swim (a faster 2nd loop), however I did glance at my watch as I began that second loop and it was 44 minutes and some odd seconds before 45, which is right where I was content being. The thing about the swim time at this race was, we had to run up the red dirt that use to be where that lake's water level was before our time was captured. I took all the advice we were given and pretty much swam until my nose hit the red mud because swimming in that mud is a heck of a lot easier than running in it. I think the volunteer actually tapped my head like, "Hello Miss, you can stop swimming now," and he undid the back of my wetsuit. I've been to a race with wetsuit strippers before, but the people helping you out of the water have never helped me undo my wetsuit, an added perk I guess. I headed up the red carpet and then I plopped my butt down on the carpet at the top of the hill for the four volunteers to grab a leg and get that thing off me insanely fast. 
I usually really hate race photos of me coming out of the swim mostly because my hair is always flat from the swim cap and I'm a firm believer in big hair, but I'm posting this one anyways because it helps show how happy I was to be done with that darn swim (new open water PR) and a portion of the distance we had to run up to transition that was part of our swim time. Apparently I swam with my tri top half unzipped too...dummy!
For those of you who care, (I didn't at this point), I was: 
4th out of the water in my age group out of 9 and 20th overall for the females with a 1:34:12 2.4 mile swim
I got that red dirt off in the water bins they had out the best I could and was off into transition to get ready for the longest bike ride for me to-date. It was a day for PR's for me. I needed the CrossFit H-Town PR bell along the course to ring each time I set a new personal record. I actually missed our first 100 mile ride when I was home in Michigan and our second scheduled one got moved indoors because of a storm, so I had only previously rode 90 miles on the road. 

Left: New Pearl Izumi Tri Fly Carbon Sz.: 39
Right: Old Nike Altea Sz.: 38 (clearly too small...)
The thing I was most worried about on the bike were my bunions flaring up and causing it to be painful for me to pedal, which it had done for me in all our training rides over 60 miles, but I got new sweet cycling shoes and thought I had somewhat solved the issue, which was clearly I had too small of a shoe, that I had bought way before I even thought of buying a bike. I used them for teaching indoor spin classes, which they worked perfect for...not so much for 60+ mile bike rides. The other was keeping my cadence up and not trying to worry so much about getting caught up on my speed so I could keep my legs fresh for the run. I was also slightly freaked out by the high winds OKC had been having because I've experienced strong wind in Pearland, TX where we did most of our training rides, and it's not fun to ride through. 

Really though, I was thrilled to be on that bike. My bike Polly has really treated me well despite my care for her. Let me just say that when Steve and I got our bikes tuned up about month out from the race, I was in Heaven with how wonderful she shifted for me and really enjoyed our last few rides leading up to the race despite some of the pain I had gone through in our long rides with my bunions, getting lost, trying to keep up with the guys, and really giving up every Saturday night of my Summer so that I could be up before the sun rose for our Sunday rides. I was able to still make a few social events while training, but did have to miss out on a lot. It was hard for me to miss out on those things because I'm one that likes to be at everything. 

The bike is where my nutrition plan went full throttle. I started right away with a Roctane GU with caffeine to give me a boost and started sipping my water and Accelerade that has protein to feed my muscles something they want besides keeping them hydrated. It was right around 9AM when I started the bike, so my plan was to do a GU every hour on the hour for the bike and keep hydrating in-between. I also took a salt tablet every hour on the half hour. I rotated between grabbing a Gatorade and a water at the bike aide stations from the magnificent volunteers that manned those stations. I would like to see some statistics on attempts at grabbing bottles on the fly because my ratio was not great. I went to grab a banana half one time and totally stuck my finger in the mushy stuff, but did not succeed at the banana grab. Whoops! The second attempt at the same station was a success though. 

As far as solids, I planned to have a vanilla Stinger waffle roughly every 20 miles with my last one being chocolate. The chocolate one was my treat for being almost done with biking 112 miles. I had them positioned that way in transition to put in my back pouch of my jersey. It worked like a charm. Those things are f-ing delicious. Lance was a genius for hooking up with Honey Stinger to revolutionize cycling nutrition. I also grabbed a banana at the aid station after each 1/4 of the bike was complete. I like to break things down to make them seem more obtainable, much like I did in the swim with the counting to 10. Man, that seems like a lot of intake, doesn't it?

Not only did I consume all the above, but I started to prep for the bunion pain and began taking Tylenol with each salt tablet. That decision was made mostly in part because I had them in the same pill flip-lid container and trying to maintain a decent speed and picking out pills to take and then get water right away is not an easy task. 

It was fun to see all the JSC guys that were racing the long course 70.3 go flying by on their sweet rides as I tried to give each of them a shout while trucking along on my Giant ROAD bike that I got the upgraded components on and added aero bars to that I adore. They were already headed back to town before I had even made the turn down the long country road stretch. I thought to myself, "Man, I wish I could be going that fast right now," but I knew I had to pace myself which is something that use to hurt me in running because I would always "pace myself" and then have way too much left in the tank at the end knowing I could have exerted more during the race to get a better end result. Finding that happy area of optimal fitness to be giving it your all, but not over-exerting is what we all wish we could be better at, well those of us that like to compete and get better at least. I'm over those goals of just finishing something now. I train all those hours to be a competitor, not just to say I did something. I reminded myself that they were all on way faster bikes than mine and started the swim at least 6 minutes before me. So in all reality, I was looking for the first women to fly by, but essentially had no clue which race they were in. 

It was also fun and encouraging to see my coach, Steve, and Paul that were doing the same race, even though I totally missed Steve the first lap and thought Paul was Steve and yelled, "I love youuu!," only to realize he was wearing a white aero helmet and I knew Steve was wearing the same black Rudy Project helmet I was wearing. Whoops! I love you too Paul, but not like I love Steve. All those sick looking JSC kits looked so similar as we flew by each other.

I knew I was passing more people than were passing me though, which is very typical for me on the bike, and I'm almost positive I didn't let any women in my AG pass me.
After the first split of the bike, I had the 5th fastest time for the women overall with a 2:56:27 at 56 miles, but again, was clueless of this placement. 
It was real difficult to even checkout girls calves to see their age because a lot of them were wearing compression sleeves. I knew I had passed two girls in my age group so I knew I was in at least 7th place in my age group assuming I was last out of the water, but I figured I was somewhere in the middle, which was accurate because I was in 2nd in my AG at that point after being 4th out of the water. 

The second lap was a much different story. The pace slowed down for me at first because my crotch was sore, so I applied some Hoo Ha glide to numb that sh!t (I tried to make sure there weren't other riders or spectators by me when I stuck my hand down my shorts, but someone may have gotten a free show...) and then the bunion pain kicked in somewhere along the bumpy "no passing zone" that I didn't even know had started, but saw when it ended both times through actually. The bunion pain was in full effect. I don't exactly know the words that were coming out of my mouth, but I think there were a few people who passed me probably wondering who I was talking to or if I had fallen off my rocker. There was a point were my feet were hurting so bad and the wind was so intense that I was literally crying. Thinking about it now, it makes me sound like a whimp, but it sucked. Plain and simple.

There were much less people heading in the opposite direction on the second lap, but got a good cheer from Johnny as he went by looking strong as I believe one the top 10 men overall, Steve looking like he wasn't even working yelling "Pee time!" as he was standing on his bike, and then Paul who wasn't too far ahead of me, which I thought was strange because I know he's a strong cyclist, but made me feel good. I tried to count all the chicks ahead of me, and it seemed like there were less than 10 in front of me, but I didn't really think much of it. I was casual along the course giving a shout to a gal with the same bike as me and another with the same cycling shoes me. :)

I also noticed that I had to slow down more at intersections because officers directing traffic had begun to go in their cars until they saw a biker coming which sometimes wasn't quick enough. I still made an effort to thank every officer and volunteer I could as they didn't have to be there to make my racing experience a more pleasant one, but I feel like police officers are paid and should have all been out there on their toes ready to stop traffic in plenty of time so the racers didn't need to lose momentum before approaching a hill, but more importantly are SAFE! Come to find out, my poor Steve had a run-in with this, but it was more the driver on the open course's fault than the officers, regardless, he'll never get that race back. That one second that put a huge damper on his first 140.6 because some rude person couldn't wait the maybe 30 seconds for him to make his turn and the officer to wave him on his merry way. He was a trooper though and battled through the last 5 miles of bike and the 26.2 run/walk to finish the goal he set out to accomplish, just not how he would have liked to.

It seemed as though there were several others dealing with issues of their own out there, but pushed through as well to cross that finish line. Thankfully, the most painful part of the race for me was the bunion pain for the last 1/3 or so of the bike that didn't effect my run.

I had a vision of negative splitting the bike as I did most of my long training rides, but that sure as h*ll wasn't happening with those winds and the pain in my feet. I wish I knew how much Tylenol I actually took, but I remember thinking, "I should probably hold back on the Tylenol so I don't OD," but my logic was my body was metabolizing everything I took in so quickly that it was fine.

I did for sure want to set myself up for a solid run though and did as Johnny told me to and dropped down to a fast gear after I hit 100 miles (also a PR ;)). This allowed a few people to pass me, but I just reminded myself that I would pass them on the run, and I most likely did. One guy that passed me had a "18" on his calf. That's awesome. There is no way I had enough self-discipline to train for an Ironman at that age. He also had a sick bike setup. I wonder what his parents do? I actually think I may have passed him back up again, but there are some blurry parts of the race.

I did stop at the special needs tent in the last 5 miles of the bike to get my thin socks to have for the run because I was real worried my bunions would hurt on the run too. I yelled "1003 special needs bag 1003!" from quite a ways back so they would have it ready for me, and sure enough the bike course director was at the aid station  and got the volunteer to grab it right away for me, such service! A 40-44 year old female that I had been going back and forth with for a few miles passed me up when I stopped and then another older chick passed me on her sick TT ride too once I got rolling. It took a lot to refrain from putting Polly (my Giant) back in the big gear and catch them, but there were less than 4 miles to go, and I just wanted to prepare for the run and not have my legs cramp up like the many I saw at IMWI when volunteering at the bike dismount. It looked painful and did not want to start my run that way. Speaking of the dismount, I need to have Steve teach me how to be more graceful and bring my legs to one side like he does. He makes it look so good. I on the other hand probably look like a fool, but it works and then I run into transition with my shoes on. It really wasn't that long of run to my stuff, unlike at the Chicago Triathlon where I think I cracked my old cycling shoe running on the pavement.
I ended up finishing the bike leg with the 7th fastest female time and 2nd in my AG with a 6:24:45 averaging 17.5 mph, which I was content with (on a ROAD bike nonetheless).  
So T2 was also a PR for me, only the longest I've ever been in transition, but it was actually right in line with my plan of about 5 minutes for each. My transition area was right outside the men's changing tent and there were two guys standing there watching what seemed like my every move, but I'm sure they were just chatting. One may have been a volunteer, but the other was one of the fasted 70.3 dudes. As I tried to make sure my feet were dry, put on those fresh thin socks I grabbed at special needs, my oh so lovely Newton's that were easy to slip on with my Yankz!, my Lululemon headband, loaded the Body Glide on, and emptied my back pockets of my jersey making sure my garbage was in my bag because I didn't want to get a penalty for littering in transition (if that's even a penalty). I was very cautious of this on the bike because the USAT head referee for the event told us at the pre-race talk that they'd be marking people for dumping trash outside of aid stations, which was not fun to hang on to oozing GU packets and extra wrappers, but I followed directions for once in my life. I grabbed my race belt and looked at those guys and said, "I guess I should go run, huh?" as I saw some people come into transition and head out on the run while I was still in there. Whoops!

I started to run out of transition where I had walked it earlier, but it looked different in the sunlight and I wasn't quite sure where to run. I probably looked like such a rookie. I headed out on the run and saw Andrea and Lauren (Paul's wife who trained with us too) right away. I smiled and hit "lap" on the Garmin to see "begin running." That was such a relief for me. I was so happy to be running. I grabbed Gatorade right away and then started my run nutrition plan of a GU packet and a salt tablet at the beginning of each of the 4 run loops. I was running under a 9 minute pace at that point and tried to slow down as I was told if I was feeling good, to slow down. 

There were much more fans along the run course, which usually causes me to speed up, so I kept checking my pace to not get too excited, but definitely enjoyed the support. As I was approaching the first mile aid station, I saw what appeared to be a toga party, yup, the volunteers were dressed in togas, I loved it! I grabbed ice and Gatorade on the fly. At every aid station to follow, I alternated water and Gatorade, but was always grabbing ice. This was something I learned from coach JZ on one of our bricks where he kept making me stuff ice in my pockets and down my back. I didn't want to do it, but he made me, and it certainly helped keep my body temp down in that heat. I discovered I could put ice in my headband to almost have like an ice pack on my forehead because it was thicker and pretty tight. I began to just ask for "ice water" and "iced Gatorade." I learned that I had to start yelling my order in advance if I wanted to grab on the fly because the majority of the other athletes out there were stopping at the aid stations. I didn't want to do that. I wanted to at least do what I set out to do, which was run the first 13 miles without stopping.

When I saw Steve, I thought "Ooh I might be able to try to catch up to him," but then I didn't know what lap he was on. He wasn't looking like he was keeping the pace I knew he could, but I just thought his body was reacting to events of the day. Little did I know, he was in severe pain. I didn't see Johnny or Paul on my first lap, which I was confused by, but just kept running and hydrating.

So many racers and spectators were commenting on how good I looked, so I'm sure I was beaming of joy. I did finally see Johnny and we both gave each other a cheer. Still no Paul, but Andrea and Lauren had moved to the restaurant right on the course. There was one fan that even yelled, "Your the 4th female overall right now!" I chuckled and said, "Yeah, right." I just kept holding my pace and sucking down liquids. I saw some fast girls that were what I though ahead of me, but it turns out, they weren't. There were a few that I did catch up to though that were ahead of me, but I still didn't know what lap they were on.

I fought to keep running, but it really wasn't too difficult. I just reminded myself of that goal to not walk in the first 13 miles. When I saw Steve the second time I asked him what lap he was on as he was walking and he wouldn't tell me so I said, "I hate you....just kidding, love youuuu!" I wasn't sure if he was on his second or third loop and wanted to catch up to him so bad.

The aid stations got to know me and were calling me by name (it was on our race bibs) which is always motivating for me. That same guy told me I was in 3rd for real the next time around and the others weren't too far ahead of me. I still didn't quite believe him, but thought that would be pretty sweet if I was. I got to the half marathon point and yelled to the aid station volunteers to get the 1003 special needs bag out so I could change up my socks because they were quite drenched and I could start to feel my toes rubbing. I sat down real quick to change them and the volunteer also brought me Coke and ice to take with me on the fly. It was a brief stop, but was needed.

I made some friends along the route, one being the 2nd place overall female who asked me, "How old are you? I can't read your age." I had no problem telling her I was 28. She was relieved because she said I was looking strong. We chatted briefly about it being my first full iron distance tri and I was on my way. I remembered battling with the 3rd place female too for a bit, but I ended up being able to drop her as well. I was worried that she was in my AG because she looked younger than the other women out there, but I couldn't read her leg with her compression sleeves on. All I could make out was a 2. It turns out she was 22. How awesome to be doing a full 140.6 that well at 22 years old! Both of them were great competitors and had great races as well.

I did have one freak out on the run just passed mile 16 when all of a sudden I got a charlie horse in my left hammy. I decided to just walk it off for a bit, but thankfully it didn't last long. One guy heading the other direction said, "That's the first time I've seen you walking all day. I'm trying to stay ahead of you." That in itself was kind of motivating to hear that other racers were benchmarking off of me. No one passed me in that quarter-mile stretch I had to walk from what I remember. I grabbed a banana right away at the next aid station and then started to grab oranges at the toga aid station.

I ended up lapping Steve and dumped ice down his back to assure him that I love him. We express our love to each other in odd ways...The next time I saw him, him and Johnny were walking together. I was worried about them and couldn't figure out why they were walking, but just kept running and drinking a ridiculous amount of fluids. I kept thinking about times where I drank too much water in long distance running events in the past, but I needed every bit of it out there. I sucked down a 24 ounce water bottle within a mile on both the 3rd and 4th loop, crazy!

My "friend" giving me updates, said, "You just have to catch the girl in the green," so I set out to find this girl in green. I found her and ran behind her for a bit, but worked up enough to get by her. I was feeling great. I remember seeing Johnny and him saying, "Keep running baby girl!" The last time I saw Steve, I was on my last lap and he reminded me of another goal I set for myself of finishing before dark. I had been watching the sun get lower and lower. I pulled my sunglasses up after I rounded the last turn of the last loop to head back towards the finish line. I was now in a race with the sun as it was going down over the oh so calm lake.

I made sure to thank all the volunteers that supported me throughout the race on my last lap and had a handful of people ask me if it was my last lap. That last 6.5 miles felt awesome, especially when the guy updating me said, "You've got it. Stay strong the rest of the way." I couldn't believe it. The one thing that didn't feel awesome was the chaffage I could feel on my right inner thigh, but I'm really not sure why I didn't just grab a slab of Vaseline from one of the many aid stations. I didn't even get any fluids at the last two, I just wanted to finish. When I saw mile marker 25 I started to tear up and was actually sniffling. The dude in front of me looked back to make sure I was okay, lol. I passed him and the last two aid stations because I just wanted to get there.

The BAM (Bay Area Multisport) gang said they'd have sandbags for me to cross the finish line with that they had for another one of their teammates who does CrossFit too, but they weren't there when I rounded the corner. It's probably better that they weren't. I had been thinking about if I was going to cartwheel across the finish like I did in my first marathon in Chicago, but then I thought a heel click would be a safer bet.

When I hit that finisher's shoot and saw the tape under the finish line arch for me to break, the tears started rolling. I can't even describe the joy I felt, but my finisher photo pretty much sums it up.
Photo courtesy of James A. Randell Photography
I got my heel click in, and Andrea was right there with her phone for me to call my mom. I said, "Mom, I won!" She was like, "What do you mean you won?" I explained, "I was the first woman to cross the finish line." Such a crazy thing to say, but it happened. 
I finished as the first overall female with a marathon time of 4:18:56, the 9th fastest marathon time of the day (males and females) with a 12:27:46.04 first 140.6 final time. 
I saw some great looking women athletes out there who's races took a turn, so I'm thankful I was able to keep my energy up and that my body allowed me to tackle this race like I did. Even my coach was in the med tent getting an IV. I think I grabbed a Coke and water and headed to the massage tent with Todd, another JSC guy that trains with Johnny who had completed the 70.3 earlier in the day. I got my massage, went to my transition area and got out out of my nasty clothes.

In transition, I was able to meet the "girl in green" and the guy that was giving me updates. He came to the fence and introduced himself. I thanked him for the support to get me to the top. I put my Zoot shoes on and set out to go find Steve and bring him in. He was starting his last lap and wanted to try to run a bit. Before he took off, I broke the news to him and I think I had some tears again. He didn't believe me at first either. He pushed through that last lap and made it across the finish line and has some interesting stories of his own. 

The emotions I felt during the day ranged greatly, but I strongly believe my nutrition and hydration gave me an edge on the competition out there and confidently know that without Steve deciding to reach this goal with me, I wouldn't have had as much success as he helped me stay on track and accountable with my training. I know CrossFit enhanced my endurance quite a bit over the last year and has brought me close to other fellow triathletes and Ironman finishers who gave me their pointers and motivation. I don't even want to think about what my race would have been like without Johnny and Andrea. They truly molded me into the athlete that put forth a solid performance out there. 

Andrea and Johnny Zepeda (1st place male 40-45)
At breakfast the next morning while I was enjoying my sweet potato pancakes we discovered Johnny was fist overall for males 40-45. I was excited that I wasn't the only one going to collect hardware at the awards. 

It was bittersweet to be back at the race site the next morning. I was very proud and honored when I got called up to the stage at the awards ceremony. The announcer was funny, he said "I wanna shake your hand." when he called me up. I was happy to see the women I interacted with during the race all up there with me and "the girl in green" got the first place spot in our AG. Luck definitely played a part in getting that 1st place overall slot with no pro or elite field, but many of those women had conquered 140.6 before, so I really couldn't be happier with my performance. 

I know Steve is proud of me, but I'm really proud of him too because it took courage to fight through the unfortunate situation he was put in. His time to shine is coming, I know it. He puts in his time training and really is a phenomenal athlete with horrible luck. He is sharing part of this glory with me in my eyes because I know I wouldn't have been as prepared as I was for this race without him by my side throughout everything leading up to race day.
Thanks to all my friends and family for all the love and support to get me here. The bar is set! My one blister on my right pinkie toe and chaffage is pretty much healed now and I had my post race massage yesterday (Thanks B! ;)). Now to figure out what my next race will be. I'm quite pumped for the Houston Marathon though in January. I know breaking 4 shouldn't be an issue, but a Boston Qualifier would be absolutely wonderful. ;)
Me and Steve in our Powerhouse Racing shirts at the Finish Line of Redman Triathlon 2012 post awards ceremony. 


  1. Cool! and a special thank you to Andrea for keeping me updated since I could not be there!

  2. Great race report! It was nice to meet you! I was one of the BAMmers in the business center making signs. We actually made a sign for you, but it kept blowing down! Hope you made you 110%. You did look awesome out there. And yeah, we really do love your bike shoes. :)

  3. Thanks Donna! It was great meeting you guys too. Awh, I'm bummed I didn't see it, but thanks for the cheers! Haha, I love them too until my feet hurt so bad from my bunions. Maybe I just need to cut holes for those things. Are you guys racing Houston this weekend? I'll be there cheering, resting this weekend. ;)

  4. I'm doing the Olympic at Houston. Praying for no bike issues! Had my longest sprint ever at Redman. :( 2 sag vehicles drove right past me at mile 5 on the first loop. Had to walk/run 2 miles back to transition to get help. Dropped the chain and it totally wrapped up around the crank base and jammed-up good; pedals seized up! I was sad. If all I have to deal with is rain this weekend, that will be great! I don't have a pic of your sign :( I'm so sorry!!!

  5. Major blower about your bike. Sorry to hear that Donna. No worries about the sign. You ladies rock for making one for me. I might have to return the favor on Sunday. ;) I'm signed up to volunteer for body marking and then will probably be by the JSC tent rooting for ya'll. Have a blast out there! I may be in my pink poncho...

  6. You're awesome! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Thanks Arthur! You're pretty awesome yourself. I need to get a Tough Mudder under my belt so I can be more well-rounded. ;)