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Race Results. Ironman Finisher. Ironman Chattanooga. Ironman Canada.
Table of contents
Our family is now complete. On Friday afternoon, at 3: The past few days have been surreal getting to know our little boy and adjusting to life as a family of three. My heart is overflowing with joy as I stare at the little miracle that Justin and I created, and adjust to my new role as mom. Never could I have imagined feeling this much love in the blink of an eye. After two nights and three days in the hospital, Justin, Axel, and I are finally home and settled.
That being said, there are a few changes going on with me…. Baby is now the size of: A winter melon whatever that is… anyone? It is very uncomfortable and I wake up having contractions and cramping sensations all through the night. Hey, maybe it would help me go into labor? Cravings and favorite foods: I am definitely hungry, but nothing really sounds that appealing. Pepper and anything spicy. On Sunday, Justin and I went to the pool and I did a yrd swim, which felt really good. Seriously, what if that happens?
I assume I would know, but would I? One thing that has put a real damper on outdoor activity is the amount of smoke in the air. My lungs are already working hard, so I have been trying to avoid exposing them too much to the smoky air. I feel like my mood has been pretty apathetic lately. There is only so much TV one can watch.
The problem is that nothing really sounds fun at this stage in my pregnancy. Going out to dinner? Too uncomfortable to sit in the theater. I guess my daily walks will have to do.
Best moments this week: There is some comfort in knowing that things are beginning to change and a light DOES exist at the end of the tunnel. We also got our car seat properly installed at the fire department. This was one of the last things on our to-do-before-baby-arrives list, so now everything is all set and ready to go. Yes, I look tired and my back hurts. Lots of random contractions. And a little bit of spotting here and there, which is hopefully a good sign that the wheels are turning down there. Worst moments this week: This week the emotions, stress, and uncertainty hit me like a pile of bricks.
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My friend posted this on Facebook the other day, which pretty much sums up the way I have been feeling. Sleep, running, wine… oh that first sip of wine…. I am definitely nesting and in baby-prep mode. I am not taking any time off work and will start teaching fall classes toward the end of September. Typically I use the time between terms to prepare for my classes, but since we are expecting the baby during that time, I am doing everything I can well in advance to have my classes prepped and ready to go. With all of this downtime that I have, I am highly motivated and working like a madman to get things done.
I have a feeling that once the baby is here I am going to be living in loungewear for a while. But I think those additional weeks have made him feel even more strongly about the subject, so enjoy reading about our pregnancy from his perspective…. As I write this, Kristen is at home where she just finished watching some YouTube videos of the childbirth process. The concept of two people creating a human life is still mind-boggling to me. Pregnancy, and watching a mother and child grow and change and bond before the baby is even born, is amazing.
But there is not a word in the English language or any other language for that matter to describe the strength, patience, perseverance, and fortitude of a pregnant woman. I have the easy part in all of this. But having the easy part in some ways is also the hardest part for me.
How is it that the easiest part can also be the hardest part? In addition to frequent trips to the bathroom throughout the night, her side of the bed now looks like something from The Princess and the Pea, with an extra comforter underneath her for padding, pillows all around her, and the now infamous Snoogle curled up behind her in what was once my favorite space.
Yes, I have been replaced by a Snoogle. Since she is a typically a back sleeper and now can only sleep on her side, watching her shift sides in the middle of the night looks like some kind of carefully orchestrated but incredibly difficult mattress dance. Maybe the concept of pregnancy, and the fun stuff like baby showers, nursery decorating, shopping for baby clothes, nesting, etc. When I think of all the discomfort, restless sleep, emotions, and pain that Kristen has had to endure and will continue to endure over the coming weeks, I also try to think about the gift of pregnancy and childbirth.
Many women will never have the opportunity to experience this miracle — whether by choice or for other reasons — and for that I think we both feel blessed. Kristen is already so in tune with his habits, behaviors, and routine. She gets to spend her days talking to him and feeling him move around inside her, and is solely responsible for his growth and development. My time will come, and I know that eventually he and I will bond in ways that only a father and a son can. But until that time comes, and it will come any day now, I am somewhat of an outsider playing a supporting role in a performance in which Kristen and our son are the stars.
As it should be. That her sacrifices are only temporary, and are for a greater good. What it does do is make me love, appreciate, respect, and admire her more than ever before. A few weeks ago my husband and I met up with our photographer friend Elena, and journeyed up the Cascade Lakes Highway and out into the Cascade Mountains for a maternity photo shoot. With our shared loved for the mountains and all of the time we have spent outside this summer, Justin and I knew we wanted our maternity photos to capture the surroundings that feel like home.
Plus, our son will likely know these areas well as he grows up with these mountains at his back door. Elena is an outdoor enthusiast check out her Instagram and captures some of the most incredible pictures of her travels and adventures outside. After seeing her work at Golden Trail Photography and through various media outlets, I knew that she would be the perfect person to capture these special moments. After receiving the photos all of them! She is incredible, and these photos and memories will truly be treasured forever. I thought I would share some of our favorite photos on the blog, as these will forever be a part of our journey to three in !
I feel as though I could watch molasses move faster than my pregnancy these days. Just one day at a time. After a visit with my doctor on Wednesday, he says I am measuring 37 weeks and the baby is now almost 7 pounds! Does this mean I am going to have a big baby? Please come a little early, baby boy!! And yes, I had a meltdown right in front of my doctor about it. He assured me that my weight gain is normal and has a lot to do with a slowing metabolism and the body doing what it needs to prepare for baby. This post from Nicole could not have come at a better time.
Things I need to remember…. I am now at a place where I dread going to bed. Everything about sleep, if you can even call it that, is uncomfortable. I get up a few times during the night to pee and walk around the house, wishing for the pain and discomfort to go away. I am trying to do walks and hikes a little closer to home these days, so Justin and I went out to the Metolius River on Saturday and did a 6 mile hike along the river.
It was beautiful and mostly flat. The first three miles were fine with the exception of a short stretch of serious bushwhacking, but once we crossed the river to loop back around my body really started to feel achy and fatigued. Thankfully I made it back to the car without too much struggle. We did a little sightseeing around the river, went to the fish hatchery, and walked around a little more before heading back to Bend. On Sunday, Justin and I went to the pool and I was able to swim yrds before calling it a day. I was secretly hoping that being in the cooler water would reduce some of the swelling in my ring finger, but no luck.
The ring is going nowhere. This week was rough. I am so over pregnancy. There, I said it. I wish I could just go for a run and clear my mind. At least I have a great support network and loving people all around me. Like last week, I am still having a lot of pain in my lower back and pelvic region, similar to cramps.
I am also having a lot more Braxton Hicks contractions, particularly in the evening. My doctor said these are all good signs that my body is prepping for labor. My response… less prep please… bring on the pain!!! He was able to take a half-day off work, so we went out and visited some family friends before going on a hike at Smith Rock State Park. It was still fun to get out, nonetheless. Walking around the house helpless at 3am. There is something incredibly lonely about being awake and in pain in the middle of the night, while the rest of the world is sleeping. This is almost a nightly occurrence these days.
Sleep and feeling comfortable in my body. I know it is fairly common for pregnant women to experience nesting type behaviors, but nobody mentioned that the dad-to-be could experience this as well. Just this past week my husband has started showing signs of nesting instincts. For example, he all of the sudden wanted to clean and dust everything in the house, including the baseboards. He also made an itemized list of everything he wants to include in the diaper bag, and was working on putting together his own hospital bag at 6am.
During our last doctor appointment, I once again reminded my doctor that no one else is allowed to deliver my baby. He reminded me that as long as he is on call, he would be there to deliver. A few personal items for myself that everyone says I will need. Tucks pads, nursing pads, hands free breastpump bra, and comfortable granny panties that I will likely throw away. What he is going to look like. I continue to wonder how I am going to make it to 40 weeks without losing my mind.
At least with each day that goes by, it is one day closer to meeting our little guy. Continues to get more uncomfortable, but at least I can still fall asleep like a champ. Justin and I took our last trip up to the mountains last weekend and did a brutal 8-mile hike on the Six Lakes Trail. I could tell that my body is starting to wear a little quicker these days, and by the time we were finished I was in a good amount of pain.
Our doctor also advised us to start doing activities a little closer to home. While a lot of the hiking regions are only a 30 minute drive give or take , if anything were to happen when out on the trails in the middle of nowhere, it might not be the best case scenario. I am starting to have more ups and downs as I enter these final weeks which I hear are the hardest. Things are really starting to slow down and random pains keep popping up all over the place, particularly in my lower back and pelvic region.
I have also been having a lot more Braxton Hicks contractions and am paying more attention to their frequency and intensity. Hiking and being outside is always a highlight. I just realized the other day that I have logged more miles and spent more time hiking in the mountains this year compared to any other. Pregnancy really allowed me to branch out and explore new areas around Central Oregon. Putting the finishing touches on the nursery and doing our first loads of baby laundry.
I usually hate doing laundry, but there was something about washing sheets, blankets, and little outfits that had me smiling from ear to ear. Justin had to head over the mountains to Eugene for a work meeting this past week and I decided to go with him for a little get-away and relaxation. I had excruciating back and leg pain for a majority of the trip, to the point where I was in tears.
I just want to throw a pity party for myself at this point. Well, the swelling has yet to subside and my ring is officially stuck! Justin and I have been researching various ways to get the ring off, using dental floss, mineral oil, ice compression, elastic string, etc. We are going to try and spend some time in the pool to see if cooling off my body temperature in general will work, but otherwise we may have to have it cut off if it gets too tight.
I wish I had been smarter about this. I took advantage of a huge clearance sale at Macys and bought a number of summer outfits for the baby to wear next year. What it is going to be like to train and race next year with my little guy by my side. One of the many things that brought Justin and I together was our shared loved for traveling and adventure. In our years together, Justin and I have journeyed to many unbelievable destinations, and experienced moments that will forever remain engraved in our memories.
We both agree that as we raise our son, we want to do it with the doors wide open into a world where he can explore, learn, and appreciate the treasures that each day brings. It was only fitting that we put together a travel and adventure themed nursery, hoping that he will stare at the world knowing that adventure waits and the world is his to wander. Here is a little peek into what has become one of my favorite rooms in the house. I cannot wait to watch our son play and grow in this little space in the world. Justin and I both fell in love with this off-white rustic crib and dresser set from Franklin and Ben.
We are still waiting on the changer that goes with the dresser, which was backordered until mid-August. The furniture is high quality and will be used for many years, as the crib converts into both a toddler and twin-size bed. Thank you Nana and Tutu!!! The Meridian rocker may be one of the most comfortable chairs I have ever sat in.
It rocks, swivels, and reclines, which is exactly what I wanted. We found a variety of wooden hollow world globes at World Market and TJ Maxx and Justin was able to hang them from the ceiling creating a unique type of mobile. My mother-in-law also gave us the Dr. We also took a couple of rustic storage shelves, which Justin had made into wine bottle holders from an old shipping palate, and turned them into little book holders. I asked people to bring books instead of cards to my baby shower, so he now has a little collection of great bedtime stories and other reads. I found these three corkboards at Target and could not resist.
They will be great for when the pictures, art, memorabilia, etc. And of course, the closet. Needless to say, I think he is going to be one stylish little baby. He even has his first Air Jordans, Keen hiking boots, and running shoes. I saw Justin and Mike one more time around mile 7. Justin ran beside me for a quick seconds, giving me a mental boost and a much needed pep talk. Soon I made my way to Palani Road where I endured the hardest climb on the run course. No one ever really talks about that hill, but geez, it was TOUGH and a majority of the athletes around me were walking.
I saw my friend Erin cheering and yelling words of encouragement my way. All I could do is give her a look of disbelief. Is this race for real? Have you ever been on a long hike or run where you crest one hill only to see another in the distance? I kept searching for the turn into the Energy Lab, but my patience grew thin as the Queen K dragged on and on and on. One hill onto the next. The miles between Palani Road and the Energy Lab were the hardest for me. It felt endless, boring, and there was not a crack of shade to be felt.
Although I was able to maintain a 9: Just as soon as I began to lose hope, I reached the top of yet another hill where I could see athletes turning left into the Energy Lab. A change of scenery! This was actually another highlight of my run and I thoroughly enjoyed the 3-mile out and back through the energy lab. At one of the aid stations sponsored by Cliff, they were blasting music and handing out pillow-size sponges that were soaked in ice water. Those sponges were a slice of heaven and probably saved my race — mentally.
It was in the Energy Lab that the sun started to slowly set, which created a beautiful orange and pink ambiance and tone. This was the first Ironman race I have done where I would be running and finishing in the dark. As I trudged ahead, one foot in front of the other, I started to make small talk with other athletes around me.
And of course, the topic always has something to do with Ironman. Which race did you qualify at? How many have you done? Is this your first time at Kona? At least it momentarily distracted from the distance and pain. As I approached the aid station at mile 23, I was in a daze. Robotically, like I had done at every other aid station, I reached out for a cup of water from a volunteer. But to my surprise, it was Craig Alexander handing me a beverage with a big smile of support on his face. From that point on I felt more alive and was starting to fantasize about the finish.
Only a 5k left. I run a 5k nearly every day! Slowly but surely the turn toward the finish approached with only a mile to go and I flew down Palani Road on thrashed legs. To my surprise, both Justin and Mike were waiting for me at the bottom of the hill and ran next to me for a moment with looks of pure joy plastered on their faces.
They spouted some encouraging words before breaking away so they could cut through to the finish area. I could literally feel my blood flowing and heart beating unlike anytime ever before. I ran down the carpet, tears of joy in my eyes, and celebrated what was a very long, hard fought journey to live out one of my greatest dreams. It was one of my proudest moments and one that I will never forget, as I raised my hands in the air and listened to Mike Reilly call out my name as I crossed the finish.
From that point on, things became a bit of a blur. I was greeted by a volunteer, handed a necklace, medal, and t-shirt, and was then passed on to a familiar face. She immediately embraced me with a hug and congratulated me. At first I was confused as to why she was there ah-hem, deliriousness but quickly learned that she was volunteering as a finish line catcher and was there to help walk me to the recovery area. We exchanged a few words before she gave me another big hug and passed me off to Justin and Mike, who were waiting for me in the recovery area.
For a moment I felt fine and wanted to eat a giant piece of pizza tastes SO good after a race , but then things went south quickly and I became super cold and lightheaded. All I wanted to do was sit and not move. My body started cramping up and I was in a lot of pain. Mike thought it would be best if I paid a visit to the medical tent, so they put me in a wheelchair and rolled me over to get checked in.
The first thing they did was weigh me. I had lost seven pounds since the start of the race, despite all of the food and fluids I had taken over the course of the day. Given my condition, the doctor decided to give me an IV and put some fluids back in me pronto. My veins must have been pretty collapsed from dehydration, but after being poked multiple times by three different people I finally received a successful IV and spent an hour lying on a lounge chair while sipping on chicken broth.
I might be deathly afraid of needles, but that was worth it. Once the IV was finished and I was three pounds heavier, my energy quickly returned and I was good to go. The doctor put me through a couple tests before I was able to reunite with Justin and Mike. Back at the condo and with the clock now approaching midnight, I took much-needed shower, put on my most comfortable clothes, and finally got to enjoy that post-race slice of pizza.
All those hours of training, commitment, and sacrifice, and the race itself had come and gone in a relative blink of an eye. Just like that, the day was over. Not just any day, but a day that for so many years I had hoped to someday experience. I debated whether I should even post about the Ironman World Championship race after letting so much time pass. Although I wrote about the race while laying on a beach somewhere on the Big Island, for some reason it never made its way to my blog. And every time I was ready to finally share my experience with the world, I would read my own words and feel the need to change something, add something new, or delete a memory that was no longer relevant.
Ready to go back!? What I learned about Kona is that it is so much more than just a race. Anyone who has ever raced there can probably attest that the race is about a much bigger journey — it becomes a manifestation and the culmination of all the work, hours, sacrifices, and grit it takes to get there.
And perhaps that is the true reason it is deemed one of the toughest endurance events in the world. So here I am, months later, finally sharing what it was like to live out one of dreams. My goal has been to race in Kona since I was brought to tears watching the Ironman World Championship in — and this was before I had ever even considered the crazy notion of combining swimming, biking, and running into a single event.
At that time, it was just a statement. As soon as I started training for my first Ironman in , that goal quickly made its way to the top of the list and became something worth striving toward. Everything I did leading up to Canada was with the intention and focus to fight my way to the top of my age group and secure my own destiny.
With a hard earned and somewhat surprising age group win in Canada, I finally did what set out to do and punched my ticket along with 2, athletes — every one of us eager to battle it out against the best in the world. The time between Canada and Kona was unknown territory for me. I had 10 weeks to recover, rebuild, peak, and taper before putting my body through an epic test of endurance on one of the hardest platforms in the world. While my mind was all in, full of excitement, and ready to go to war, my body started showing signs of the impact of a long season.
I worked with my physical therapist, Chris Vergona , twice a week for several weeks leading up to the race, and through a combination of deep tissue massage, graston, cupping, and ice, was able to get my body healthy enough to compete. Justin and I were also prepping for a new and somewhat spontaneous adventure.
With little planning or foresight, we sold our house and purchased a new one a month before heading to Hawaii, with plans to close both transactions and move into the new home immediately upon our return to Bend. This meant between work, training, and parenthood, our entire house had to be boxed up and ready to move before we left town. Needless to say, with so much going on in our lives, race week came quickly. My mom flew in a few days later to support and help take care of Axel. We decided to stay in a big house out at Mauna Lani about a 30 minutes drive into Kona during the week of the race, while also renting a small basecamp condo in Kona where Mike, Justin, and I would stay the night before and night of the race.
I thought we would venture into Kona more during the week, but with all the road construction and traffic it made traveling into Kona a very daunting task. We ended up spending a majority of the time out in Mauna Lani where the scene was calm and relaxing.
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Part of me wished I could have been in Kona to be around all the action, but I was also glad I could just relax and be separated from the race scene and chaos. At least, my nerves appreciated it. Everything surrounding the Ironman World Championship is truly magnified and a spectacle. From the expo, to packet pickup, to the bike drop off, and the race itself, it was like any other Ironman event on steroids. Even the athletes looked as though they were another breed of human.
I was constantly impressed and wowed with every moment, and had to pinch myself a number of times that I was among the talent on the island. I would say that the overall vibe during the week of the race was much more laid back than what is characteristic of me. Typical Kristen gets pretty nervous and on edge before a big race, so I was surprised to find myself fairly calm and collected a majority of the time. Perhaps because I felt like there was no pressure — I already did the hard work to get me there.
For me, it was all about the experience. I truly enjoyed the small bouts of training leading up to the race. A few short runs here and there to shake out the legs, along with a couple swims and some miles on the bike. I rode on the Queen K for the first time and it was just as hot and windy as it looks when peering out the window of the car. I did an open water swim in the ocean for the very first time ever! First timer right here. I had no idea what to expect, but it was surprisingly calm and peaceful. At least that was the case out in Mauna Launi — I would soon discover that swimming in Kona is an entirely different world.
I felt as though I was swimming in a giant aquarium full of moving colors and abstract structures. Thankfully, all of the rumors are true and there really is a lot of buoyancy provided by the salt water, and floating was a little easier than I had pictured in my head. Another great experience I had during race week was doing a small photoshoot with SOAS Racing and modeling a few items from their new clothing line.
It has been an honor for me to race and represent SOAS for the past three years, and I was grateful for the opportunity to represent them for their marketing photos. It was during this photoshoot that I decided that I would rock the new Kona Pineapple Kit for the race, mostly because it just made me smile. I would not have access to my gear bags on race morning, so everything had to be ready to rock and roll — nutrition, gum, chapstick, more chapstick — all the essentials.
My bike drop off time was pm, so I got there near the front end of that timeslot to take care of business and allow the stress to melt away. Fun fact — each athlete gets his or her own personal volunteer escort to guide them through the process of racking their bike, dropping off their gear bags, and navigating through transition. It was so nice to have someone there to answer all of my questions and help me with the little details. Once the bike was out of my possession it was a quick stroll through the Ironman store before heading back to the condo for the evening.
I kicked up my feet to relax and consumed a home cooked meal of pasta and meat sauce while watching the sunset with a glass of wine in hand. Does anyone else notice how quickly the time passes the day before a race? I set out to do one thing this year — qualify for the world championship in Kona.
And well, I did it! My experience in Whistler, B. But so was the race. I traveled to Whistler with my husband, son, and mother-in-law, who was a tremendous help the entire weekend. We stayed in a cozy condo in Montebello , which was walking distance to the Ironman Village and finish area — a luxury to have at any race. My coach, mom, and step-dad met us there and we all settled in waiting some more anxiously than others for race day. Typical pre-race excitement and anticipation set in about 2 days out, as I picked up my race packet and swag, did a partial preview of the course, and went over all the details and numbers with my coach.
The night before the race was the usual — relax, eat pasta and protein, enjoy a glass of wine, and then attempt to fall asleep with visions of swim, bike, run circling around in my head. While I did not sleep as well as I do on a normal non-race night, I slept better than I ever have the night before a race.
Before I knew it, my 4: Justin walked me down to the shuttle area where I dropped my special needs bags and nutrition for T2. Because of the bears and their scavenging nature, athletes were not allowed to keep any nutrition in their bags overnight. I loaded the shuttle bus and headed to the swim start with hundreds of eager athletes. When I arrived to T1 I stopped at my bike transition bag to drop off nutrition and then made my way to my bike to pump up the tires and prep my bottles. I borrowed a pump from a neighboring athlete, but when I tried to pump my tires the air kept wheezing from the sides and no air would enter the tires.
I tried a different pump. I immediately unracked my bike and sprinted over to the mechanical area, lining up with a handful of other athletes who were also experiencing issues. I waited in line for about 20 minutes or 20 hours in race morning time before being assisted by a mechanic.
Turns out, my valve had a leak and needed to be replaced, so the mechanic did a full tire change on my rear wheel. I racked my bike, used the porta potty finally and squeezed into my wetsuit with the help of my husband. I am that person, I thought to myself. I guess someone has to be. With all the nerves and anxiety, I finally made my way to the sea of black neoprene just moments before the gun went off for the AG athletes.
Suddenly, I realized two things:. But there was no turning back and before I could ruminate any longer, I was wading into the water and starting the swim.
I loved swimming in Alta Lake. The water was incredibly calm and it felt like there was a lot of room for athletes to spread out and give each other space. I never once felt overly crowded or like I was fighting for position, and was even able to find some feet along the way to secure a draft for a few minutes here and there. The first loop came and went really quickly. Apparently, we got really lucky this year due to cloud cover over the mountains toward the east, blocking the sun that would have otherwise been directly blinding in our eyes.
As I was finishing the final stretch, the sound of music and voices started to fade in and out with each breath I took, and I was eager to make it to shore. I trotted out of the water, found two lovely wetsuit strippers, grabbed my transition bag, and made my way into the tent.
How did THAT happen? I guess my commitment to really improving my swim paid off. In the weeks since CdA I look forward to improving my swim even more over the next year. Transition was a little slower than I would have liked. When I entered the tent it was packed and I had to scurry my way around to find an empty chair. All of the volunteers were already engaged with other athletes further motivation to become a faster swimmer!eventbrite.dev3.develag.com
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My feet were covered in grass and dirt, so I took a moment to wipe them down before putting on my socks. It was at this moment when I realized my timing chip was not on my ankle. I quickly grabbed my wetsuit and found that it had been stripped off in the leg. I wrapped it back around my ankle and made my way out of the tent and to my bike.
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Thank goodness I started in an easy gear and quickly weaved my way through the madness. The IM Canada bike course is said to be one of the toughest in the Ironman circuit, which works to my advantage as cycling is typically my strongest leg and I really enjoy climbing. The rumors were true — it was HARD. The first several miles were fairly technical as you encounter a few rolling hills, curves, and big crowds of riders that have yet to string out.
I pushed it a little harder through that section so I could find a comfortable space to settle in. The first 13 miles to the base of the infamous Callaghan Valley climb were fast and a bit of a blur. As soon as I turned the corner and started the climb, I fell into a zone. The climb was actually easier than I had anticipated, as there were several areas where you could gain a little momentum before the next climb.
We had driven this section of the course the day before, and saw a bear near the top of the climb, so having one eye on the road and one eye looking out for bears probably helped take my mind off the climbing. The descent was really fun, with gorgeous mountain views to glimpse at from time to time, and the road back to Whistler was pretty uneventful, with a few climbs and rollers, and a welcome tailwind.
On the way back to Whistler, I noticed that my Di2 shifting was starting to give me some issues.
It felt like ghost shifting, however it was just shifting into the same gear over and over and over again. After passing back through Whistler, the long epic descent down to Pemberton was, well, epic. I hit speeds up to 50mph and tucked in securely without having to pedal much if at all. There were a few bumps in the road and railroad track crossings that made nerves tingle a little, but overall the road was smooth and comfortable. Once the descent was over, I weaved my way through the town Pemberton, stopping quickly at special needs to exchange a bottle and grab my Snickers. It was the best Snickers ever.
I headed out of town for the long, flat out and back section and instantly found myself surrounded by farmland and meadows. And lots of wind. Around this same time I started experiencing some major issues with my shifting. The problems I had experienced previously riding through Whistler had only magnified and I could not successfully shift entirely into a gear.
Every time I would shift, the bike would shift into the same gear over and over and over again, making it impossible to find a smooth rhythm. Several days after the race I found out that I did the entire ride with a broken chain. How I survived that, I will never know. I almost threw in the towel, as I could not hit my watts or pedal consistently in an area that required a steady cadence and pace. For the 30 mile out and back I averaged around watts, which was well below my Ironman goal watts. Frustrating, but I somehow pushed through. I kept an eye out for a moto-bike or mechanic, knowing that I would flag someone down, but never saw anyone.
Once I made my way back to Pemberton and started the climb back to Whistler, I shifted to a smaller chain ring and crossed my fingers that the ghost in my Di2 would fade away. As soon as I was in an easy gear and added more resistance, the shifting issue stopped. Thank goodness for this massive climb, I thought to myself. Because I had conserved so much energy throughout my day, the miles climbing back to Whistler were my best miles of the day.
I enjoyed feeling somewhat fresh, passing people, and not having to deal with click click click every minute. I averaged more than watts on most of the climb, which was right in line with my goal. I finally made the last turn, weaving my way through the center of town to the bike dismount, where I have never been so excited to hand my bike off and start the run.
Transition was quick and painless, though I did stop at a porta potty for a quick pee. Might as well as ease into the run comfortably with an empty bladder, right? I exited transition and started on the run course, keeping my stride in check and under control. My coach blatantly said he would be grumpy with me if I ran anything faster than an 8: I settled into an 8: When I saw my family and coach at mile three I was smiling and feeling as though I could run 8: They told me I was in 3rd place off the bike, 16 minutes behind the girl in 1st and only 72 seconds behind the girl in 2nd and a Kona slot.
In fact, the 2nd, 3rd me and 4th place women in my age group were separated by just 90 seconds at the start of the run. It was also around this point where I was passed by Linsey Corbin. She was on the second loop of the run and on her way to the overall female win and a new Ironman Canada course record. Linsey lives in Bend and I have been fortunate to train with her a few times, which has given me the invaluable opportunity to watch, listen, and learn.
As she passed by, she gave me a few words of encouragement that helped motivate me to continue chasing down that Kona slot. During the long out and back near mile 6, I saw the girl who was in first Erin! She is someone who I admire so much in the sport and have befriended over social media. It was great to see her in the flesh, running strong and in a great position. Knowing what Erin is capable of on the run, I never thought once about catching her as she had a pretty substantial lead.
Just make your way into second, I kept telling myself. I did my best throughout the entire run to take advantage of the downhill sections and open up my stride. It was in these moments where I found myself making up a lot of time. The course was definitely hilly total elevation gain of 1,ft , but the hills were long and gradual, and not as painful as I had envisioned. To think I almost chose not to do Ironman Canada because I was intimidated by the hilly run course.
Turns out, the run was my favorite part of the day. As I made my way back to Whistler Village, I saw my family cheering away and exchanged a few words with my husband. I was on mile 13 and was definitely starting to feel the effects of the day. The thought of 13 more miles was almost overwhelming. You have to run like your life depends on it. He knew that my dream of Kona was going to be made or lost in the next 13 miles.
During my second trip around Lost Lake, I saw my coach waiting for me near the top of a hill around mile He informed me that I was in a virtual tie with the girl in second place though she was physically behind me on the course — she had started the swim after me and that I would need to run consistently and smart if I wanted to move into second.
Even though my mind was drifting into some dark places, something clicked inside me and I found a second wind. I hit my nutrition goals spot on and never seemed to run out of energy. At around mile 17 I slowly approached a familiar figure. It was Erin, not looking too well and walking. My heart sank a little for her. While the competitor in me was excited about moving my way into first, the friend and admirer in me wanted to stop, give her a hug, and pull her along with me. It was such a bittersweet moment as I know how hard she had trained for this and I genuinely wanted her to have a good race as well.
For the next hour, I felt the vibration from my Garmin as each mile passed. And each mile was roughly the same pace as the mile before it. In fact, miles were some of my fastest miles of the day. As I made my way back to Whistler I knew I had positioned myself well enough for a top two finish. This was going to happen. My dream of Kona was actually going to be realized! I saw my coach one more time at mile 24 and could sense the elation on his face. Steady and smart all the way to the finish. The final mile to the finish was a doozy. But then I heard it. And I knew I was going to get to compete in Kona.
The tears started pouring as I found my family and coach and smothered them with sweaty, salty hugs. Despite the many ups and downs and adversities, I was able to find my stride literally and execute a smart and consistent race. Had anything been different, perhaps it would have changed the dynamics of the entire day. Last year, I missed a Kona slot by four minutes and proceeded to spend the next 11 months motivated by finding those four minutes.
This year, I trained harder and raced smarter, and in the process turned a minute deficit at the start of the run into a minute age group win. This sport continues to impress me more and more as I continuously watch myself and others grow and learn from the challenges and triumphs. It truly is a lifestyle and community of people that I am proud to be a part of. My race recap would of course not be complete or even possible, for that matter without a huge thank you to my wonderful family and coach, for traveling the distance and supporting me through this venture.
The daily sacrifices my husband and family made allowed this dream to come to fruition. And of course a huge thank you to my coach, Mike, who put together an advanced training plan to help me get stronger and more confident in all three disciplines. I could not imagine toeing the line of a triathlon without his knowledge filtering through my head. I feel privileged to share this moment with him and look forward to many adventures that await in Kona! And finally, congrats to my friend Mary for punching her ticket to Kona as well. Thank you thank you thank you!
A week ago Sunday I took a trip down memory lane and competed at Ironman The elements of the day, unexpected challenges, highs and lows, and people there to support can change the dynamics of any race day. My experience this year was a lot different compared to last year, as I came prepared and ready to tackle some pretty lofty goals that would far surpass my performance in VRBO and AirBnB owners are notorious for price gouging during the Ironman events, so it was refreshing to find a close place for a very reasonable price.
The pre-race festivities were pretty much cookie cutter from what I am used to. Walk around the village. Pick up race packet and swag. Do a little shopping. Thankfully, Linsey Corbin stopped to talk and we got a photo together. She went on to take 3rd overall female. After a shakeout run, ride, and swim in the days leading up to the race, I was feeling very eager to get into race mode and put months of hard work to the test.
Two years in a row now the water has been near perfect for the swim. I self seeded myself for the rolling start with my friend Meg among the sea of pink and green caps, and we chatted and smiled until we reached the water. I was actually pretty pumped to get going. Am I in 3rd? Am I in 9th? While the swim felt fine and I exited the water with no major leg cramps what?
I swam two minutes slower than last year. Not a lot of the Thank you to the big strong guy for whipping off my wetsuit in record time. Transition was pretty uneventful. Based on my races last year I was given All World Athlete status for , which meant I had a great spot in transition right next to the Bike Out. I busted out a fast run to my area, gathered the goods, and was off to power my way to what would hopefully be a bike PR. I really do enjoy the CdA bike course as it has a lot of challenges that play well to my strengths — hills, wind, and heat.
The course does a smaller out and back within town, and then a large mile out and back outside of town. Typically, riders can expect wind during the ride, and for the past two years there has been a tailwind out and a headwind back. Unfortunately, I realized very early on in my ride that my power meter was having connectivity issues with my Garmin, and kept bouncing back and forth between actual power and zero data.
This was throwing off my average power and intensity factor, the numbers I focus on the most, so I decided to completely ignore the data and go by heart rate, perceived effort, and overall feel. Thankfully, I am pretty in tune with my body while riding a bike and knew how to push it just at the sweet spot without burning myself out for the run. Honestly, I felt amazing on the bike and spun my way to a time that was 7 minutes faster than last year.
That provided me with some mental gold before hopping off and starting the run. As soon as I dismounted the bike, I ran to my transition area and quickly pulled together the essentials for my run. Unfortunately, I had to make an unwanted stop at the porta potty due to Aunt Flo paying me a visit the night before. The first mile off the bike always reminds me of a blind date. You just never know what to expect or how you are going to feel, but you anticipate it nonetheless.
It took about three miles to find my groove, after a brief scare during mile 2 when I felt a big knot form in my right hamstring. As any runner knows, as soon as the body starts cramping it can make for a very long and painful day. To save my race, I decided to stop the first time I have ever stopped during a race and stretch it out. I also busted out the base salt and was vigilant about my nutrition and hydration from that point forward.
I made sure to cool off whenever possible and poured plenty of ice water over my head throughout the run. The hamstring cramp never did return, though I did experience some period cramps, which were a little more tolerable. At about mile 3, a guy ran up next to me, settled in at my pace, and made a comment that he was probably not going to be able pass me damn right! I told him that we should run together to keep our spirits up.
And so, for a majority of the run leg, we paced each other, talked occasionally, and encouraged each other to keep pushing forward. Our conversation eventually led us to discover that I grew up in the same town and went to school with his wife and brother-in-law.
What a small world! It was such a game changer to have someone to run with, talk to, and distract my mind from the pain and heat of the race. When you are running on your own during a race, it can be really easy for the mind to wander and drift off to low and dark places. Running with Cory helped me stay positive and kept my mind off the tweaks and cramps that my body was experiencing from time to time.
It was his first Ironman I was able to pick up the pace that last mile and enjoyed the encouragement and smiles from all the people around me. As always, I got emotional when entering the finishing chute and began to feel overcome with that deep-down raw joy that only happens through hard work and accomplishment. I had finished the race 8 minutes faster than the year prior, with faster splits on both the bike and run plus faster transitions , and felt really good about the effort I left out on the course. It was a little bittersweet missing the podium by one place. Last year I finished 3rd in my AG, but I have since aged up to the F AG which seems full of experienced and uber competitive athletes.
I really had no complaints about my effort and performance aside from my swim and was happy to walk away with my fastest Ironman You just never know who is going to show up and race alongside you and this year my age group was stacked with amazingly fast women. Race week is here. And so am I after a long hiatus from the blog. I just wrapped up another term at OSU, and for the first time in a while was able to sit back and put pen to paper to write this post. Yes, I prefer to draft my blog posts the old fashioned way by putting actual pen to actual paper.
It feels good write again, as it always does. The timing could not be better with Ironman This will be my first triathlon this year, though I am very familiar with the CdA course, having done both the So far, training this year has been both challenging and inspiring. I continue to step more and more out of my comfort zone with hopes that the change in dynamics from the norm will help me fill in the gaps and bolster my areas of weakness. Many would argue that triathletes are a unique breed, and it provides a breath of fresh air having a friend in my life who truly gets it.
She is my person. We even took our beat up feet, with their blisters, cracks, dying toenails, and all, to get pre-race pedicures she is also racing at IM A lot of swim, bike, and run. I said at the beginning of the year that I wanted to swim more and get faster. Swimming with others has definitely helped push me and allowed me to build more confidence and better technique in the water. Biking this year has been a blast. I spent a lot of time on the trainer riding on Zwift this past winter and spring, so as soon as the decent weather finally made its way to Bend, I immediately found my way to the roads and had quite a bit of fitness already in the bank.
We had a looong winter in Bend, and Zwift was a game changer for me. A couple weeks ago I did an organized ride called the Central Oregon , and participated in 3 days of riding with a great group of people. I had thought about doing all five days miles each day but we had a bout of cold, frosty weather and I decided to swim and do a long mile run instead. Besides, miles in five days with tons of climbing is a bit masochistic if you ask me. I have never done back-to-back centuries before and was pleasantly surprised at how well my body handled the distance.
This was mixed with two long runs and a few swims, which made me feel assured that my body is getting stronger and acclimating to the increased level of training. I also did my first solo century of the year and rode an area outside of town that is similar to the IM Canada bike course. Riding up to Mt. More than anything, I want to be mentally ready to take on the last 20 miles back to Whistler, as I know they will undoubtedly be some of the most challenging miles I have faced to date in a race scenario.
The combination of riding solo for the majority of my rides, plus riding with those who are stronger than me, have both contributed to my growth as a cyclist. Of course there are also days when an 8: I would like to see a 1: The most challenging part of training this year? The exhaustion and never feeling as though I have down time hence ignoring my blog for months at a time.
Now that Axel is in full on toddler mode, it is high energy in the Yax household from 6am to 7pm. Axel is now in daycare from 8: My days consist of work, train, work, clean, pick up Axel, play play play, pick up toys, laundry, glass of wine, and crash. Still being able to fit in a little time for me each day. I know I have a lot of obligations aside from training and family life. It makes me feel good — feel ALIVE — each and every day having the power and determination to jump in the water at the pool, hit the pavement on my bike, or seek out a trail around town.
My goal for Ironman CdA However, this race is only to prepare me and work out the kinks before I toe the line at Ironman Canada next month. Everything I have done this year, and continue to do, is to prepare me for a battle at Ironman Canada. A battle for the podium. A battle for that ticket to Kona. Something I have dreamed of now for years.