Friday, December 30, 2011

See ya 2011! Hello 2012!

I can say, that without a doubt, 2011 has been the best year of my almost 26 years on this earth.
It started out a little rocky with an ankle injury that prevented me from running my first marathon. The tri season also started out on a low note with getting a bloody nose and crashing my bike during my first Olympic distance triathlon. From there, there was only one way to go: up.

I had 2 huge goals in 2011: Get accepted into a physical therapy program (not many people even knew I was applying!), and cross the finish line of Ironman Cozumel. Both of which had the potential to not go the way I had hoped.
On September 27th, I got the letter stating I had been accepted via early decision to my first choice PT school. Phil got a job offer the same day, and we quickly made arrangements to to move to Denver.

Despite the stress of having to move in two weeks, I was able to some-what keep up with my Ironman training. I missed a few big workouts and I was nervous going into the race that perhaps I tried to take on too many tasks in 2011 and something would have to give.

Fortunately for me, November 27th went off without a hitch. With my family and friends right by my side, I crossed the finish line with the worlds biggest smile.

In 2011 I became an Ironman and a future Doctor of Physical Therapy. It wasn't an easy year- balancing applying to schools, taking prerequisite classes, having a full time job, and training for an Ironman- but it was damn rewarding. I learned the strength of myself, my friendships and my relationship. I couldn't have asked for a better year.

With a whole new city to explore, more friends to make, and several new adventures, I can only imagine that 2012 is going to be just as great, if not better, than 2011.

Happy new year, everyone!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Gettin' back on the Workout Wagon

It has been just over three weeks since I exercised for 14 hours and 56 minutes in one day. Since that day I have done a whole lot of not working out. And by that I mean I have not worked out a single time (unless you count doing 15 crunches a day a workout or dancing until 3 am) until this evening.

Instead, I have spent time traveling up and down the east coast visiting friends and having a social life. Yes, a social life. I danced. I stayed out past 3 am on more than one occasion. I slept until noon because I could. I drank entirely too much beer at one time. I tried soup dumplings in NYC (amazing!). I wore 4 inch heels. I painted my nails and blow dried my hair. It's been glorious.

I know, it's alot of beers. We were at a concert and had a great spot right in the front so we stocked up so we would not have to move. I would be lying if I said we didn't drink it all (plus perhaps a few more).

Why yes that is my Ironman jacket I am wearing while attempting to eat soup dumplings.

After 3 weeks of eating, drinking, sleeping and being lazy, I began to get antsy to hit the gym. Really antsy. I got to the gym tonight and I stared blankly at all of the machines unsure of what I felt like doing. I got on the treadmill dreading how awful running would feel. I started out slow and was surprised at how easy and effortless it felt. So I sped up. It felt SO good to be running fast. I spent a whole year running in zone 2. My first mile was right at 10 minute pace. The second mile I jumped to an 8:30 pace. By the third mile I was feeling a little daring so I pumped up the treadmill to 8.6, a 6:59 pace, and held on for dear life. I finished the third mile panting, sweating, with my heart rate through the roof and with a huge smile. That is the fastest mile of my life to date. 3 weeks after an Ironman. I like it.

I was so excited with my run that I got off the treadmill and enthusiastically did a hard weights and abs workout. It is safe to say that tomorrow I may not be able to move- and that is okay because marathon training doesn't start for a few more weeks.

And on a totally random note- This is the sign on the door of Rice to Riches- a store in NYC that only sells 35 different flavors of rice pudding. It is amazing. I told you I have done a lot of eating!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A look ahead to 2012!

Now that Ironman Cozumel has come and gone, I can't help but wonder what's next. The past year has been dedicated to spending hours upon hours with my heart rate in zone 2, and constantly building endurance to get me across the finish line. So now that I have my finisher's medal and hold the title of Ironman it is time to plan for my next big goal.

Yes, I plan to do another Ironman. No, it will not be in 2012.

I am still such a new runner and triathlete that I want to spend the next year really working on speed, technique and strength. You know I have never been taught to run correctly? I heel strike like I am attempting to do an Irish jig while running, I drop my hips like I have an attitude problem and I'm pretty sure the cadence of my feet is either too slow or too fast. Colorado has tons of good runners and running groups, and I plan to find one that will help me learn to run like a runner and not like a girl running away from a bear.

awful, awful form!
I also need to spend more time riding because my bike handling skills are less than stellar. I won't tell you just how many times I have fallen off my bike this past season but I can assure you it is more than when I was learning to ride without training wheels for the first time. Somehow both my bike and my bones are still in tact.

I'm smiling because I haven't fallen off yet
With the technique and speed work on the run, I have a pretty lofty goal for the spring. I'm slightly scared to type it because it is aggressive but doable if I work hard. I signed up for the Colorado marathon back in October to celebrate being a new resident of the Rocky Mountain State. This will be my first stand alone marathon, but the third marathon I will have trained for. The first marathon I trained for I didn't get to run because of tendinitis that was diagnosed 2 weeks before the race. Then I trained for the marathon portion of the Ironman. 20 mile runs no longer scare me. I'm not scared of the distance. My long runs training for the marathon that I never got to run averaged a 9:20ish pace. My long runs training for Ironman were slower- about a 10:30 pace. I think I can get my long runs back to starting with a 9 and then I hope to go sub 4 hours on May 6th. It's aggressive, it is going to be tough, but I can do it. The slight downhill will hopefully help!

Other than going sub 4 for the marathon, I also have some triathlon goals to achieve in 2012. I enjoy the half distance but I have only done two of them. The first one I really messed up my nutrition on a super hot day and had to walk all 13.1 miles. The second one I did totally with my heart rate in zone 2 as a practice race execution for Ironman. This year- I want to actually race a 70.3. Sub 6 in the 70.3 distance is mine. I don't know which 70.3 yet, but I'll keep you posted when I decide.

Other goals for 2012 include trying as many Colorado beers as I can, hiking a 14,000 mountain, riding my bike up that same said mountain (after I learn not to fall off my bike), getting back into rock climbing, cooking tons of new recipes, learning to snowboard, and having a great time in general.

2011 was a truly wonderful year. I think 2012 will prove to be just as amazing!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Phil's Ironman Cozumel Race Report

The morning of the race was a bit stressful.  We missed the first shuttle and the second shuttle was very late.  We ended up getting to transition with only 6 minutes to spare.  Everything ended up working out, but there were a lot of stressed athletes on that shuttle with us.  Lauren and I walked out on the dock together after the pro's went off.  I spotted the location I wanted to be, gave Lauren a kiss, and jumped off the dock.  I immediately regretted not doing a flip or something fun!  I hung on the fence of the dolphin prison sanctuary and waited for the two minute warning.  Once we were close to starting I swam out to the start line and waited for the gun.

The Swim:
The gun sounded and we were off.  The ocean was calm and slightly cool, definitely a perfect day for swimming.  The water was 100% clear with lots of fish and coral.  You were under the watchful eyes of scuba divers that were positioned every 400 yards to assist if anyone started to go under.  I had very minor contact and managed to draft for most of the swim.  My sighting was off a bit and I wandered somewhat off course.  I was stung a couple of times by jellyfish, but the pain is very minor.  I found that if you 'brush' the sting off with your hand, the minor pain subsides faster.  The swim felt effortless and before I knew it, it was over in 1:05. I climbed out, picked up my gear bag and ran to the changing tent.

T1 is essentially a large tent that you can completely change in.  Men and women have separate tents so that you can fully change.  It was chaos.  There were a ton of people yanking gear off and on and running about.  It is a bit difficult getting all your gear on when you are wet, but I slowly got everything on, ran to my bike and pushed it to the bike mount line.

The bike was the worst part by far.  The first lap (37 miles) felt great.  The temperature was cool and the wind had not picked up.  By lap two my Garmin showed that it had warmed to over 90 degrees. You also have a lovely head or cross wind that increases through the day on about 70% of each loop.  You only have a 7 mile stretch going with the wind. 

I had to swallow my ego on the bike as I kept getting passed...  and passed.... and passed.  I would say I was passed probably 400 times.  I was passed by a few different pace\draft groups on the bike.  This was very upsetting to see, but I never drafted, and I also heard that quite a few people received penalties!  Cheaters! You are not a true Ironman!

Everyone I talked to said to not go out too hard on the bike, so I did exactly that. I kept my heart rate under control and kept pedaling.  The course was absolutely amazing (sans the wind).  You were on an ocean road for most of the ride, and there were crowds of spectators lining the streets for a few miles downtown.  I did rent Zipp 404's for the race. Based on my average speed I probably didn't benefit too much from them, but they felt great and more importantly, looked awesome!

As I neared the bike finish I unstrapped my shoes from my feet and pedaled on top so I could do my running dismount.  As I approached the line someone was being tended to by medical staff less than 10 yards from the corral around the bike finish. That would have sucked!  Somehow I managed I swing my leg over and complete my running dismount flawlessly.  I handed off my bike, grabbed my gear bag and ran into T2.

T2 was much less chaotic that T1.  The pack had spread out and people were moving quite a bit slower.  Some people were even just sitting in chairs looking like they were trying to pump themselves up into starting the run or possibly contemplating death.   I changed into new shorts and my tri jersey and grabbed my Garmin Watch.  As I was putting it on I noticed it was completely dead!  Darn, I was worried about that.  The Garmin watches turn themselves on whenever a compatible HR monitor comes in the vicinity of the watch.  This on\off and detection mode must have killed it!  I took my HR monitor off and put my Garmin in my transition bag.  I would run without GPS and a HR monitor. 

I hit up the porta-potties during transition... this is generally not noteworthy, but the one I got in must have been halfway on\off a curb.  When I stepped in, it rocked forward, then rocked back.  I stood there using the restroom as it teetered back and forth like a seesaw.  Fortunately I was not hit by any liquids or solids in this adventure.

It was nice to be off the bike and running.  Running without the HR monitor felt great!  I ran with perceived effort and clocked that I was running at about a 10 minute mile pace, perfect!  The spectator support was unreal.  There were dancers, a drumline, little kids wanting high fives, and tons of people cheering you on. 

The course consisted of three out and back loops, starting near the harbor and turning around near our hotel around 4 miles away.  I road my bike on the course the day before and traveled the route by car multiple times. It felt so far even when traveling by car.  I kept wondering how I was going to run it three times.

On the course there was water and food stations every kilometer.  I would grab water at every aid station and a half banana at every other. 

I love bananas

About a mile into the run it started raining.  I love running in the rain!  There was light rain for about a mile, but then it felt like a tropical storm hit. The rain drops were huge and coming down in sheets!  Rain water started pooling and flooded the street.  I was wearing a headsweats visor for the first time (Thanks TriBella!).  I was very happy to have that on as it deflected most of the rain.  After about another mile, the rain subsided, but the damage was done.  One section of the run course completely flooded and never drained for the remainder of the race. You would run on the sidewalk to bypass most of the flood, but when you had to cross the street you stepped into 8 inches of water.  Most people walked every time they passed through the lake, but I just high stepped it through the water and splashed them.

Before I knew it, I was running past our hotel.  I saw Lauren's and my family outside cheering.  I felt great!  I turned around and ran back past everyone with a smile.  When I hit the turn for lap two I thought I saw Lauren pop out of T2 just in front of me.   I was so excited!  I heavily picked up the pace and caught the girl in the Team Z jersey, with a pink race belt, that was NOT Lauren.   I talked to her for a bit and she said she gets it quite a bit and I can see why!

I looped passed the hotel and half marathon point still feeling good.  Soon after I actually saw Lauren, gave her a kiss and ran on.  She was looking great, and not just that fake smile she puts on during some races. (Lauren's note: I have no idea what he is talking about ;))  It is always great to see each other during races, but even better when both of us are having great races! 

I was passing a lot of competitors just keeping a slow steady pace.  Each mile just melted away.  I hit the mile 15, mile 18, mile 20, then hit the final turn around point with 4.7 miles to go.  How was I already here?  How do I still feel good?  Since I was still feeling great I decided to run faster.  I picked up the pace, shaving a minute a kilometer off my time for the last 4 miles.  I coasted past the crowds and made the final left hand turn into the finishers chute.  It was amazing! 


I crossed the finish line in 11 hours and 51 minutes still feeling like I could run another marathon (Guess I didn't push hard enough!).  All of my support crew was standing at the finish.  I got my medal and walked over to them, giving my Mom a big hug.  It was so nice having such amazing support!  I proceeded to get my photo taken, eat 3 pieces of pizza and receive a massage.

The finishers tent was a sight to see. People were grimacing in pain, quite a few were icing their legs, and others were laying on beds in the medical tent with IV's attached. I saw two people pretty much pass out in front of me. I saw the second one getting ready to pass out, his face went flushed, he realized he was going down, and tried to sit down. I grabbed him as I could tell he may not make it, helped him down and made him a makeshift pillow out of his finishers gear to protect his head. Volunteers saw this happening and got medical support there within 30 seconds. Pretty crazy! He was in front of me in the massage line, so I just had less time to wait :-)

After my massage I walked out and met up with my family.  We watched the top three males and females get their awards while the crowds blew into their vuvuzela's. 

Anthony and I proceeded to celebrate my success with some Modelo's purchased from a street vendor and then cheer on Lauren as she cruised through the finish!

Overall Thoughts:
It was a great day.  The swim and the run felt great!  The bike was miserable as it was hot, windy, and I kept getting passed.  As I was thinking of what I wanted to write in my race report I thought of how boring of the race was compared to my others since everything went as planned.  As I drafted my report I remembered all the little experiences and realized that even a perfectly executed race without having to overcome adversities can be exciting.  My main take away this race is that if you train correctly and race how you train you will be setup for success.  Granted, anything can happen when completing a feat of this distance, but I did not even have any moderate mental or physical issues.  I went out there, listened to all the advice I had been given and executed the race I knew I could.  Fortunately my body played well and I crossed the finish line with a smile 

What's the next challenge?  Cycling up MountEvans (the highest paved road in North America)! And  until then... lots of beer and snowboarding (including teaching Lauren how to as well)!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ironman Cozumel Race Report: Part Tres

If you need to get caught up to speed, don't forget to read parts Uno and Dos!

The Run

My second transition time was much faster than my first. I got into that tent, changed, used the bathroom, and was thrilled to be on my own two feet. There is something scary about the bike portion of an Ironman- if your chain breaks at mile 80 or your bike magically bursts into flames your race is over. Having sneakers on my feet was a relief.

It was at this point in the race where I knew I would finish. I had surpassed the bike cut off time with enough time that even if I had to walk every step of the marathon I would get to the finish line before the 17 hour mark. It was a good feeling. A really, really, damn good feeling.

The run course is 3 loops of about 8.7 miles each. The course takes you from downtown to the hotel we were staying at (our hotel drive way was the run special needs station) and then back into town. Repeat. Repeat again. Repeat one last time.

From the beginning I was doing a run/walk strategy. I would walk through every aid station which were every kilometer. The aid stations were well stocked and I loved how they distributed water! Water was in small plastic pouches that you would pop a hole in using your teeth. Other than squirting myself in the face every single time, I liked this method WAY better than trying to drink from a cup!

My legs felt great- like I hadn't just spent almost 8 hours on my bike. The easy effort and high cadence on the bike really payed off when I got to the run. My stomach was also cooperating very well which made me so happy considering the nutritional issues I dealt with during training and other races. I felt good and I wanted to keep it that way.

At around the 3 mile mark I see what looks like a river in front of me and athletes just running through it. The street had flooded from a storm that rolled in (which I totally missed because I was still on my bike) and there was no way around it. This dampened my spirits for a minute. Seriously- within 3 miles of my first marathon you want me to run through calf deep water completely soaking my shoes and socks? and then run through it 5 more times after that keeping my feet wet for the entire marathon? I had a flashback of Eagleman where I poured water on myself from the heat and my shoes were soaked and I lost all of my toenails and had so many blisters due to my wet feet. And this was double the distance. Damn it.

I sucked it up and pranced through the mini river, pissed that my feet were now saturated with water (that I later found out was raw glad I didn't know that during the race!). Just as I was mentally talking myself out of the bad mood induced by my wet feet, I see Phil running toward me. He stopped to give me a kiss and told me I was kicking ass and he was proud. Seeing him made me forget about my soggy feet and put a smile on my face. He was also kicking serious ass (his race report will be posted later this week).

Approaching my hotel and the run turn around I see the Kealy and Riley support crew screaming, jumping up and down, and ringing cow bells. I tell them as I pass them that I feel fantastic and I am having a blast. At this point, I totally forget that my feet are wet.

I made my way back into town where the crowds were insane. There was a drum line playing, kids wanting to give you a high five, and people screaming. It was amazing. To turn around for your next loop you go within 100 yards of the finish line. It is slightly evil. The guy in front of me made the left hand turn into the finish while I made the U turn to head out on my second loop. Even though I was jealous that he was finished, the crowd support cheered so loudly when I was running away from the finish line to start my next lap. The crowd supported carried me out of town running the whole way.

The third loop is when I really started to hurt. My stomach was still fine but I was tired and my wet feet had had enough. Walking breaks became more frequent and I was now jogging as slow as I was walking. I was told you don't know what you are made out of until the last 6 miles of an Ironman.

Well, I know what I am made of: determination and a sense of humor.

I saw the camera guy and I decided to dance instead of jog
My legs were tired and my feet felt like ground meat but I was still smiling. I knew that if I could pull it together for the last 4 miles I could cross the finish line with the number 14 as my finishing hour. It was a good goal, but I wasn't sure I could do it. It would be close.

Right before the last turn around I saw my coach (the same one who was cheering on the bike course in his speedo) and he ran up along side me and says "Final lap!?" and I smile and I say "final lap, going for sub 15 hours!". Still running besides me he said words that made my walk turn into a run. "Go get it Lauren, you are about to be a *!#%^& IRONMAN!". Thank you for that Coach Alexis :)

I quickly catch up to my friend and teammate Greg who is walking with a can of Pringles. I stop and walked besides him, asking how he was feeling. He felt the same way I did- so tired and feet so sore. After eating a few of his potato chips I told him that we could break 15 hours if we haul ass the next few miles. He was on board, but I could tell that he knew we were cutting it close too.

The next 3 miles Greg and I ran/walked side by side pushing each other towards the finish line. We kept looking at our watches wondering if our finish time would start with a 14:xx. I felt really dizzy between miles 24 and 25 and I would not have been able to keep up a jog if Greg were not there. As we came into the town the crowds were still just as wild. I saw the 26 mile marker sign a little ways in front of me and I screamed "Let's finish this thing, Greg!". I bolted towards the finish chute pumping my fists up and down with the biggest smile on my face seeing that the clock said 14:56.

Right before I crossed the finish line I heard the magic words said by one of the pro women "Lauren Riley, from Arlington Virginia, for the first time in your life, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!".

I immediately spotted my family and Phil waiting at the finish line area. Being able to share that experience with them was amazing. Greg crossed the finish line moments after me and we were both really appreciative of each other's support the last few miles. Thanks, Greg!

I made my way through the finisher's area collecting my medal, shell necklace, finishers shirt and taking my finisher's picture. The finisher's picture that I have dreamed about for the past year.

It took a lot of hard work to get here, but it was worth every second.

It was a long day but it was an amazing day. I have no regrets, nothing I wish I would have done differently, and I am happy to say that my first Ironman will be an experience I remember for the rest of my life.

I spent the next several days after the race lounging by the pool, getting a massage, and enjoying my new title of Ironman...

...and trying to decide when my next one will be.  

Monday, December 5, 2011

Ironman Cozumel Race Report: Part Dos

 Part Uno described the days leading up to the race and the panic of potentially not getting my bike in time for the race.

The Swim

We left off at the mass swim start. This was unlike anything I have ever experienced in a triathlon ever. Normally they start the races in waves and the biggest start I have ever been a part of was at Eagleman 70.3 which was about 125 or so girls. This time there were 2,350 people- mostly men- all swimming in one direction.

I swam with strong strokes and tried to find clear water but there wasn't any. To my surprise, I was passing people. I was also being swam over, swam under, kicked, punched, and dunked. I wasn't totally innocent myself- I swam over at least 3 people (sorry!), kicked several people and elbowed a few more. After we made the first turn around we were going with the current and it felt glorious. Although, it was hard to sight because the buoys for half the course were orange and all of the men were in orange swim caps. Luckily, I was keeping up with the main pack so as long as I saw people around me, I didn't even have to sight. I finally found some clear water and enjoyed looking down at the divers beneath us. I tried to look for fish but I think the thousands of people stirring the water around scared them.

Just when I was getting into a grove I got stung by a jelly the face. Right on my lips actually. The stings to the legs and arms don't even make you flinch but taking a jelly to the face hurt! I screamed into the water and picked up the pace a little bit. The wrestling match continued on the straight away to the swim finish. Luckily, I made it out alive with no bruises or bloody noses.

Don't laugh- I had a hard time getting up the steps. I'm short! I had to hoist myself up on those bad boys. I did it little kid style- sit my butt on the steps and swing my feet around. I managed to keep my heart rate low during the swim and I exited the water feeling awesome.

I saw my family cheering as I got out of the water and then I saw the clock. 1 hour 16 minutes. I was ecstatic with that time. I honestly thought I would be much closer to the 1:30 mark even with the current and buoyancy of the salt water. Needless to say, I was pretty damn pumped about the swim. Jelly fish sting to the face and all.

The run from the from exit to the changing tent was quite a ways. I grabbed the bag with the sparkly blue bow and went into the women's changing tent. Unlike all of the reports that I have read where the volunteer basically dresses you, I had no help what so ever. I put a wet washcloth in a ziplock bag to quickly wipe the salt and sand off of my body before putting on bike shorts, sports bra, bike jersey and accessories. Let me just tell you how damn hard it is to put a sports bra on while wet. Maybe that is why T1 took me 12 minutes. Yes, I know that is a long transition time. No, I don't know how or why it took me that long. When Phil saw my transition time he said "What were you DOING in there?!" I don't know! I swear it felt like I was rushing! Anyway- after a 12 minute fiasco of trying to get my sports bra on I grabbed the Pink Lady and we headed off on our very long bike ride.

The Bike

The bike course is 3 loops around half of the island. Three very windy loops. As soon as I mounted my bike and made the right hand turn out of transition I was greeted with a nice head wind. I took a deep breath and kept my effort easy, letting my speed slow down in order to keep my heart rate low. I didn't know my speed which made it easy to keep a positive mind set. For now.

As the road curved to the left I was in awe of the pretty beaches. The scenery is amazing. Just as I was admiring the waves crashing into the rocks, a gust of wind blew so hard that my bike and I flew to the other side of the road. The head wind had changed to a side wind. A wind so hard that I was holding onto my aero bars for dear life using a ton of effort just to keep my bike going in a straight line. I used my arms so much to stabilize my bike that the day after the race my biceps were just as sore as my legs. At least it was pretty scenery!

The back stretch of the island was about 10 miles. 10 very slow and frustrating miles. I continued to keep my effort easy and my heart rate low. My team had a cheering station set up at the end of the windy stretch which really lifted my spirits! They were having a ton of fun and I looked forward to getting to them each loops because they were amazing and it also meant the end of the side wind!

Yes, that is my coach. Yes, he is in his underwear and a sombrero. The best way to make people laugh at an Ironman is to strip down to your undies.

The locals were out in force as you headed back into town. They made home made noise makers (rocks in soda bottles) and radios jammin'. They also loved that I was a girl, on a pink bike that says Quintana Roo down the side. Hearing "Vamonos, Chica!!" never got old. They cheered for everyone like they were winning. It was amazing.

My family managed to see me coming through town on the first loop but I didn't see them. However, I heard them scream my name as I was already past them.

Once you go through town you turn back onto the road with the head wind. When I looked at how long it took me to complete the first lap of the bike, I felt frustrated and down. I knew my speed was slow, but I didn't realize it was THAT slow.

It was at this point that I took out a few little notes to read to get my spirits back up. (Thank you to all who wrote notes- I read all of them and they were all amazing!) The first note I read was from my friend Jenn who is finishing up PT school and it said "You put the Physical in Physical Therapist". It really made me smile and excited for the next few years of my life. The next one was from one of my best friends from college and it said "Remember when we would run a mile our senior year and almost die? Look how far you've come!" She was right. I've come a long ways. Who cares if the nasty wind is making my bike time slower than I would have wanted. I took those words with me for the rest of the bike ride. Thanks, Rach :)

I kept my heart rate low the entire time. I was spot on with my nutrition, salt and water intake. My stomach felt amazing. My legs felt fantastic and other than a few minutes of feeling sorry for myself on the second loop- my mental state was exactly where I wanted it to be. I was happy and grateful.

The last loop was the windiest as there was a storm that rolled in on the other side of the island. As I made my way back into town I was so excited to get off my bike and onto my own two feet to run my first marathon. I dismounted my bike, practically threw it to the volunteer, grabbed my second transition bag and headed for the changing tent. The bike portion of the race took me 7 hours and 47 minutes. Over an hour slower than what I was hoping for.

I began the run with a smile on my face, legs and stomach feeling great, and knowing that it would only be a few more hours until I was an Ironman.

Part 3 coming tomorrow!

Ironman Cozumel Race Report: Part Uno


The days leading up to the race were spent packing and repacking my bags to make sure I had everything I could have possibly needed for the race. My family and I left on Thanksgiving morning for Mexico. The flight from Dallas to Cozumel was packed with athletes. You could tell because everyone was either wearing compression socks, an Ironman jacket, a Garmin watch, or a combination of all of those things. I sat next to a woman who had already completed 8 Ironman races. When I told her this was my first one she said "Oh! You are so lucky! You only get one first Ironman- make sure you take the time to look around and really enjoy what you are doing. You've earned it." I smiled and told her that enjoying this experience and getting to the finish line was my goal.

When I arrived in Cozumel and checked into the hotel, Kate, Nick and myself went to pick up our packets. It all still felt surreal to me. In 2 days I would be taking my 140.6 mile journey.

 Ironman packet pickup is an experience. You can just feel the energy and excitement in the air. We also got some pretty sweet swag- a long sleeved zip up bike jersey!

After packet pickup we were supposed to go pick up our bikes but the Tri Sport Express guy sent an email saying the bikes would not be on the island until Friday morning due to some travel issues they were having.

Thursday concluded with finally being reunited with Phil. When I saw him I squealed like a 13 year old girl at a Justin Beiber concert. I ran up to him and hugged him. It was a great Thanksgiving!

Friday morning a bunch of teammates and I went to the swim start for the practice swim. They had half of the course open but I didn't want to swim that much so I cut it short and swam for about 15 minutes. Seeing the course before hand was really great. I was able to feel the current and knew where I would be swimming slower and where I would be flying. Feeling the jelly fish stings before hand was also good because I knew what to expect on race day. (they aren't bad)

After the practice swim we were supposed to go pick up our bikes but we got another email saying that the bike dude didn't get his passport stamped and was detained over night and that our bikes would be available for pick up on Saturday morning. ONE HOUR BEFORE HAVING TO RACK THEM. I slightly went into panic mode. When I say slightly I mean extremely. No bike meant no race. I told my mom that if I said the magic words she was to go and buy me a bike and the local Mega (like a Walmart) and I would attempt the Ironman on that.

In the mean time, I packed all of my gear bags while anxiously awaiting any news about Pink Lady. My mom made me blue sparkly bows for all of my gear bags so that I could spot them easily. Since you have to grab all of your own bags at this race, the blue bows really helped!

After a nightmare on Friday night about not getting my bike on time, I woke up frantic to check my email. Luckily, the bikes had arrived and were ready for pick up. We had time to get our bikes, ride them about about half an hour and bring them to bike check in. (No, I will never ever use the bike shipping service I used to Cozumel ever again. He cut it waaaay too close for comfort. My whole team would have been without bikes!)

I had a pretty sweet spot in the maze of a transition area. I dropped off Pink Lady and spent the rest of the day sitting in the shade with a bottle of water.

Race morning came quickly. Phil even woke up at 12:30 (we went to bed at like 8:30) ready to go and I had to tell him to try and go back to sleep for 3.5 more hours. We both popped out of bed anxious to get the show on the road. We met our families in the lobby of the hotel and patiently waited for the next bus to take us to the swim start.

Unfortunately that bus took forever and we arrived to the transition area with only 6 minutes to put our bottles on our bikes, apply sunscreen and drop off our special needs bag.

Phil and I rushed through the transition area and made it into the water with plenty of time to spare. He kissed me, told me he loved me and wished me well as he jumped off the dock into the water. I followed suit. Many people were treading water but I clung to one of the poles of the dock to conserve energy. When the announcer said "4 minutes till age group start" I looked behind me and realized there were at least 2,000 swimmers behind me.

I positioned myself way too far forward. Before I could move back, the horn blew and there were legs and arms flailing all around me. This was it. Do or die. I said a prayer and I began to swim in what would turn out to be a non stop wrestling match with a few jelly fish stings.

To be continued!