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Ironman Coeur d’Alene 2013: The Swim Bike Mom Race Report

Pour yourself a glass (or a bottle) of wine. This here’s a long one!

(The Ironman Supplemental stuff: “Things I Learned from my ‘First and Last’ Ironman” is here, and the SBM Ironman Checklist Spreadsheet is downloadable for free here.)

If you only want the race report, scroll on down… and scroll some more.  You have been warned.  (Also, I’m extremely brain dead… I am not sure if this report makes sense. I did the best I could with what I have right now. Ha!)

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Wednesday, June 19 

I woke up at 3:30 this morning.  Wide awake with minor heart palpitations concerning race day.

Today is travel day, and I realized at 3:30 that I forgot to pack my giant bottle of melatonin.  I don’t take melatonin all the time, but I know that I won’t be sleeping much during this trip and I can’t kill two bottles of wine to knock me out before the race, so…. check, check, melatonin, allergy medication, shoes, shoes, bike shoes, helmet..

MAN! Once I started one list (melatonin), all the other lists started going nuts (bike, race, run, holy moly).

I got out of the bed at 4:00, telling the Expert I couldn’t sleep. Got on my computer. Paid the water bill (which was subject to disconnection.. lovely. How I missed that one, not sure.  Ironman.)

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About five minutes later, the Expert was sitting across the table with me.  He couldn’t sleep either.

Now that it’s 5:00am, it’s time to get the kiddos up and head on to the airport.  Idaho, here we come—-ya’ll won’t ever be the same once the Swim Bike Family is through with ya!

On the Plane

Nothing like traveling with kids.  That is all.  Total state of crazy. But the kids have been amazingly good and calm.

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My parents met us in the ATL airport, as they flew in from Savannah.

We hopped the flight from Atlanta to Salt Lake City, which was longer than I anticipated.  For no other reason than I just made up a time in my head. I think it should take 2 hours to get to Utah. 

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We were on the same flights as the Atlanta Team in Training … they raised over $200,000 for their cause, which was pretty inspiring. Met several of the TNT athletes and was in awe at Mark (who’s on his NINTH Ironman) and Rachel, who finished IM Arizona in 16:40:00 last year and said, “Well, I can do better than that.”  So here she goes. I really love learning everyone’s story.

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After landing in SLC, we had a quick layover and then took a plane into Spokane, Washington. We planned to rent a minivan to take us into Coeur d’Alene.  I can’t imagine what I was thinking in planning to drag the whole family to this particular race—-Florida would have been awfully easy to get to in hindsight.  But I’m also counting on spectacular weather, views and crowd support in CDA.  #willbeworthit

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I was definitely Swim Bike Mom today.   I spent most of the time in the air sandwiched in between the kids.  And they were super-de-duper annoying.  It started out fine.  But about thirty minutes into the second flight, I was losing my mind. Stop kicking the seat. Sit down. Buckle your belt. Do not touch the flight attendant’s butt. (Seriously.)

But even though I was pretty annoyed at the crazy kids, I was more annoyed at one particular flight attendant.  Before we took off in SLC, there was a gaggle of slow plane people in the back of the plane, and my son (age 5) screamed, “I have to go potty.”  I grabbed one flight attendant and asked if we could quickly go.  She said to hurry, but yes.

As I dragged James to the front of the plane, this other flight attendant started giving me the hairy eyeball stink eye.

“Ma’am! We can’t take off until you sit down.”

“My kid has to pee, I’m sorry. That’s going to be a bigger problem on your hands if he can’t hold it,” I said.

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As I ushered James into the potty, he sat down on the seat. Oh no, I thought, Not poop! We don’t have time for poop! This could take awhile.

So I’m encouraging him through the door… “Hurry, hurry! Poop fast, buddy!” And he did.  SO fast. So proud of him.

We were back to the seat in, like, one minute.  I wanted to pop that woman.  I mean seriously.  Poop?  You’re damn right a plane is going to wait for poop. What could I have done with poop in pants? On a plane?  He’s FIVE. That’s like adult poo volume. Seriously.

Crisis averted.  Nice flight.  Kudos to the pilots on the plane, who took the Swim Bike Kiddos for a tour de cockpit.

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And on to the rental car. A MINIVAN!!  Ahhhhhh!  We were caught dead in one.  And I liked it. (Shhhhhhh!)

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And driving in the rain to Coeur d’Alene.  So much rain. Check out our “kids” in the back.

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Then a $250 grocery trip (feeding 6 people for 4 day—- #nottooshabby).

In the rain. A quick visit with Columbus and his wife, Paige, and family (they are staying in the house across the street), a chat with Coach Monster, and I was ready for bed.

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The view from “our” backyard. Seriously.

The kids were wild today.  My parents and the Expert are not bothered by the noise and the crazy. I am a little on edge. I’m trying not to be.  Really I am.

The views, however, are spectacular, and the countdown to race day just ticked down another day.

Tomorrow… race packet pick-up.  Bike pick-up.  Quick ride. Quick swim. Quick massage of the neck that isn’t turning to the right very well, and then another day…

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Thursday, June 20 

IMG_1435It’s daylight in CDA until about 9:30 or 10:00 at night.  And it’s morning daylight at… (drumroll, please…) 4:45 am!  The kiddos came bounding into the room at 5:00.

I’m still on Georgia time, but slept really well with the windows open, freezing cold and the sound of rain.  I love a cold bedroom (actually, not metaphorically), and this was perfect.  Feel rested and ready to go today.

The house we are renting is pretty cool.  Except I couldn’t find the coffee filters.  I texted Paige (Columbus’ wife) and they had filters, so I walked across the street in the rain… very carefully, watching every step, and ignoring the fact that I was huffing and puffing up the stairs (not a good sign as to my cardio fitness? Hello.)… visited with them for a bit. Then I found out that it was Columbus’ birthday!

The plan for today is still the same, so I’m pounding down some coffee with my Klean Electrolytes, and hoping to meet up with some new friends from the CDA Tri Club who are helping out with practice swim.

Three days.

I’m not sure how I feel today.  I feel overwhelmed, because I’m up with the kids while the rest of the house is asleep. I’m really trying to do my part being with the kids for the next day or so… because I know I’m going to be a zombie on Saturday and absent on Sunday.  But I’m pretty tired and overwhelmed internally. I’m trying not to take it out on anyone… I don’t want to fight or have my energy spent on anything other than the task at hand. Because it’s a big task.

I have a room full of tri gear that I haven’t organized yet.  And I know I will do it sometime today, and it will all be fine.  Because one of my favorite quotes:

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It’s 9:00pm, and I should be in bed because Coach Monster decided that 5:30am is a reasonable time to swim and bike in the morning.  “It’s 8:30 in Atlanta, crazy girl.  Be there.”

[Yes, but it’s 5:30 in CDA, and I’m already on CDA time.  So that means I should be in bed.]

So today was pretty miserable, triathlon wise. It was bitter, bitter cold and wet.  The rain was miserable.  There were only 3 lonely souls at the lake when I went into the water.

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But two very sweet ladies from the local tri club, Teresa and Anna, took good care of me and my Dad.  They let Dad under their tent while I went out for a very quick and very choppy swim.

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I had a few pretty panicky moments.  Like, I’m out here by myself and this water is insane.

But I got out pretty quickly and called it a swim day.

I am not very smart.  I decided that I would swim first… THEN go to athlete check-in.  With flip-flops.

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I froze.  Seriously.  I haven’t been this cold in a while.

Froze through Athlete check-in… but the darn backpack was totally worth it (right, Yoda!?).  Spent a little too much money in the merchandise tent, but it was fun.

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During this crazy time, the Expert and my mom had gone to get ponchos, umbrellas and chairs for the day and the race.

My dad was with me, out in the cold and rain.  Eventually, we all reconvened.

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Then they tolerated me while I whined and turned the heat up to depths of hell in the minivan.  Then the whole caravan stopped at Starbucks and bought me coffee, and I used ALL the hot water in a ridiculously hot shower back at the house.

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This was me. In the bathroom right before the shower. Frozen.

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[And yes, that is an Oreo cookie.]

After the shower and some reasonably warm clothes, the Expert and I went back to the race venue to pick up the bike from my team folks, Tri Bike Transport.

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It was still raining.

Met up again with a few folks from the Atlanta TNT team, and finally met Lauren, a FB friend on the team.  Great group of folks. I’m rooting for all of them.

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So Andy was secured from the trip, and I dropped him off for a tuning, and the Expert and I returned home.

Another hour or so later, I took advantage of the race massage tent.  I had never gotten buck naked outside in a tent before for a massage, and I hadn’t planned on it here… but I did. And I froze, but it was one of the best massages ever.

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Finally, picked up Andy, went to the grocery store to buy a ton of junk food (I’m on a streak… it’s bad).

Once back at the house, we put in Madagascar 3 in the minivan, loaded up the kids, the parents, and the Expert took us on a tour of the bike course.

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I felt better after seeing the bike course.  Not sure why. Maybe because North Georgia hills really pitch up, and I hate STEEP.  These CDA hills aren’t steep… just l-o-n-g, and for me—- I feel better about that. [Ask me after Sunday.]

A dinner later, and it’s time for bed.

Tomorrow is a very early swim and bike, then the Athlete Banquet and some serious fretting over some special needs bags and the like.

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Friday, June 21st

IMG_1436I woke up at 2:30am, and I looked out the window of the bathroom at the CDA mountains and lake. And I had a weird moment.

I am here.

All the times I never thought it would be here.  Well, it is.

All the months of training. All the doubt. All the fears.

It’s almost game time.

Bizarre.

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The Expert and I met Coach Monster a few others at the Lake for an early morning, cold (freezing) swim.

I really appreciated the Expert going to crew with me.

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And he got some great photos.

For example, this ridiculous one: Coach Monster wanted to show off his new helmet.  In his wetsuit.

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Silly Monster.

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However, the water was so so so much better than yesterday.  While still cold, definitely it is warmer than some years here in CDA.  I think the water is about 62 degrees.

We had a good 10-15 minute swim.  Nice, calm water.

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Afterwards, the Expert, Coach M and I and headed to Starbucks to warm up and talk shop.

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I came “home” and took Andy for a quick spin to test out my gearing, etc.  The rain was coming down, and I only rode a short while, but it was all I needed.

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I packed my bike and run gear & special needs bags, with the exception of the things I need for tomorrow’s swim and run… and that’s about it.

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I’m weirdly calm.  I’m weirdly content. I’m weirdly not worried.  It’s not because I feel super prepared (I don’t).  It’s because I feel super fit (I’m totaly not).  But I do feel that I have set a dream, that I have worked for it, and I want it.  SO I just feel like, “Time to go get it.”

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Coach M interviewed for local TV station.

And that’s what I’m going to do. Word.

Tonight is the athlete banquet and race briefing.

Tomorrow is bike check and rest day.

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Then…. well, we know what comes next.

Saturday, June 22nd

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The Friday night Athlete Banquet was really inspiring.

I had gone back and forth if I should bring the whole family there… just bring the kids.  Go by myself.  Go with the Expert.

In the end, we ALL went.   And I am so glad we did.

The food was horrendous (really, Ironman… shame)… but Mike Reilly hosted the event and that part was wonderful.  My daughter really got into it, and I saw my dad’s eyes glistening a little here and there.

Ran into several SBM friends, including Dimity from Another Mother Runner.  Yes, she really is that tall. And I am no short gal.

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Two soon-to-be Ironmothers!

A few more friends, Amanda, and Andrew and Ben from Tran Creative (creator of the inspiring “I AM” posters you have seen).

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And I forgot to get a good picture of the whole family, because they left after the banquet… where Columbus and I stayed for the athlete meeting.

And seriously, this was the best smile the boy child could muster. #stinker

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That crazy Coach Monster once again said to meet at the lake at 5:30 in the morning.  But he was right. It was another great swim with him and Pickups.

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I have swam three days in a row, so I think I am finally acclimated to the cold water.  After swimming in the cold and standing in the rain, I feel that I can handle the water now.  The brain/sinus freeze isn’t really there.

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Monster and Pickups heading out for a quick bike.

After the quick swim, I changed into some running shoes and ran for about 10 minutes.  My legs wanted to run. My heart wanted to explode with gratefulness… I was truly excited for tomorrow.

I even practiced a crappy yoga pose (I didn’t want to get my inside thigh dirty.)

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The Expert spent two mornings at the cold lake with me, just taking pictures and rooting us on. It was nice to have him there. Very, very nice.

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I realized I don’t have many pictures of my mom, dad and kids to date on this trip… that’s because my parents have been doing some seriously baby watching.  And I am so thankful.  Thanks Mom and Dad.

Oh, I do have this one of my dad.  Where he’s carrying in all the groceries in one trip. It’s a family tradition.

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After the swim and run, the Expert and I made a Wal-mart run for posterboard and sign-making materials.  The Expert pretty quickly realized exactly how OCD and Type-A I am… when I tried to take over the making of my “Go Mommy” race signs.  Ridiculous, I know.  I am trying to dial it back.

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Borrowing Coach Monster’s vest tomorrow. Hoping it brings me massive speed.

As the Expert and I went back to the venue to check the bike and the gear bags, I was getting increasingly antsy and nervous. I’ve had some trouble with Andy’s brakes for awhile now, and despite the race-day checkdown I purchased at the venue, I wasn’t feeling great about my rear brakes.

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Took him back to the Inside Out Sports bike tent, and pleaded with my eyes for them to do something about the brakes. Basically, I need new cables/brakes, but they are “okay”—-it just takes alot more force to squeeze them than I am accustomed to—-so while my brakes are technically perfectly fine, I was uncomfortable.

I wanted to cry.  Just for the first time since arriving in Coeur d’Alene, I just wanted to weep and cry about the whole thing.  The danger, the enormity, all of it.

But I didn’t.  Instead, I warned the Expert… “I really want to cry right now.”

He looked at me, “So do I,” he said.

That made me feel better.  The Expert doesn’t cry very often.

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Andy was returned to me, and the bike tech was amazing.

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Amazing bike tech at Inside Out Sports

She fixed Andy alright, and I felt a HUGE weight lifted off of me.

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I checked Andy and racked him… and that’s was that.  Dropped off the bags.

The Expert then gathered the family and they all headed to the showing of Monsters University in 3D.

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I wanted to see the movie, but I resisted the urge to be out and about. Instead, I crawled up in the bed and tried to rest.  But really, I just wrote and worried and thought about how much my neck is hurting me.

What a mess.

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So how am I really feeling right now?  12 hours from now, I will be hopefully wrapping up my final 30 miles on the bike course. Right now, I am overwhelmed thinking of that.

But I do know that CDA is beautiful and that I must just keep moving forward the entire day, and I will finish.

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I hope to see this tomorrow night.  Closer to 10:00pm than midnight… but we’ll take either.

 

THE RACE REPORT

Sunday, June 23rd – THE RACE DAY!   

IMG_1438Race morning began at 3:45am.

I woke up.

I looked in the mirror, and true to total cheeseball form, I said to myself, “Today is the day. You can do this.”

I ended up in Columbus’ rental house driveway at 4:27, and we were heading down to the venue. The transition bags. The energy of the race.  I still wasn’t sure if it was real.

It was.  It was damn real.

But I was goofing around… checking race bags, giggling, being stupid.  But then it was time. Quickly… it was time.

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When the National Anthem played, it got very, very real.

In a million ways.  I had been so calm, so normal (well, normal is relative).  But truly, I had been pretty calm during the whole process. I was crabby on travel day and a few times, I wanted to lose my mind from the stress of it all.  But overall—I was pretty calm.

But once at the race venue on race day…once I heard the Anthem, I lost it. (Stand at the near-start of an Ironman and don’t cry—I double dog dare you.)

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And then, it was time.

But I forgot a gel at the race start.  I had a big breakfast of rice, almonds, banana — like I always do (either rice or quinoa)— but I forgot my pre-swim gel. I needed that.  2.4 miles? Without a snack? Holy moly.

So I did the next best thing.

I snatched one of the kid juice boxes.

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…from the kids. Oh well.  Mom of the Year.  Mommy needs your juice. Mommy wants to be an Ironman. Suck it up, Kid Buttercups! Gimme your juice!!  

(Don’t try anything new on race day?  Out the window.)

Thanks to the Expert for actually doing the snatching of the juice box. (Quit judging! They didn’t starve. :))

I was so so so glad to have my family at the start. Even though I stood in line at the porta-potties for 10,000 years, I was so glad to have them there. I love them. Seriously, I love these people more than I can say.

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I’m not sure where I was mentally all morning.

I “knew” it was coming. But I’m weird.  I don’t dwell on what’s coming. I ignore it until it’s on me. Then I just jump in.

And it was time to jump.  Holy Ironman. 

THE SWIM – 2.4 Miles 

This was the first Ironman CDA with the new rolling swim start. (I think the first.. if not, close to it. Don’t email me and say,Well actually this wasn’t the first time… blah blah… My point:  it was pretty new to Ironman.)

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I’m thinking the naysayers about this swim start were pleasantly surprised.

The rolling start was like one in a marathon —- they basically corralled us and let the groups “go” and pour into the water.  The time for each racer started when that person crossed the timing mat.  In the picture below, you can see one of the corral signs (far right):

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First, the rolling was fast enough where you still had the joy of getting punched in the face or kicked in the shoulder.  They said, “Everyone with your projected swim time between 1:00 and 1:15… go!”  And everyone in that group rolled in… it wasn’t 2×2 or slow. It was pretty fast. It was still crowded. The water was still nuts around the buoys.

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I mean, it was still 100 times worse than any sprint tri I have been in.  I say, Kudos Ironman. Everyone was safer, and the experience and energy for the crowd was still there.

There were six groups in the swim based on projected finish time: 1) Under 60 minutes, 2) 1:00-1:15, 3) 1:16-1:30, 4) 1:30-1:45, 5) 1:45-2:00, and 6) 2:00-2:20.

I seeded myself with the group with a projected finish time of 1:00-1:15.  I knew I would likely finish between 1:15-1:30, but I also knew that I might be at the top end of that group.  So I decided to go into the other group. It was kind of a scary move, but it was a good one, because I ended up swimming with everyone in this group. I wasn’t crawled over. It was good.

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I remembered my friend, Colleen, saying to me, “Just repeat, ‘I’m doing an Ironman!’ all day long. When you feel scared or tired, just say, ‘I’m in an Ironman race’ and it will snap you out of it.”

She was right.  I needed  it most in the swim.  I said it many times… “I’m swimming in an Ironman! Yay me!”  And it worked.

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During swim practice in the days leading up to the race, I took Dramamine before swimming—-to make sure that it agreed with me.  I highly recommend taking some before a swim of this distance, because it totally helped with any sea-sickness.  That second loop of the swim was a washing machine.  Many, many people came out sick.  Luckily, that was one thing that went right for me.

I had done A LOT of swimming leading up to the race.  Coach Monster had me doing 3000+ meter swims for over a year.  I have been lucky with minimal shoulder issues, and because of all my klutziness, I was in the water more than I was on my feet.  So I wasn’t too worried about swimming 2.4 miles.

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The water was cold, yes.  Not sure about official race day temps, but I estimate the water was 62 degrees. But I felt fine about that.  I didn’t go with booties or two swim caps.  I did have earplugs, but other than that, the water was tolerable.  Could be because of the three swim practices the Monster ordered (he was right, BTW).

But I will tell you.  2.4 miles is just as long as it sounds.

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The “out” on the first loop was so long.  I saw buoy after buoy… the yellow ones.  And I was like, “Where in the hell is the RED turn buoy!?!”

Eventually it showed up, and that was a nice boost.

But also shocking.  Wow. I have to do that like 3 more times.  But reminder… “I’m swimming in an IRONMAN!!” Woot.

I had a swim buddy on the swim back to shore in the first loop.  He was to the right of me.  And we were in the same swim cadence.  He was breathing on the left side; I was breathing to the right.  So it was stroke, stroke, “Oh hi!” as we looked at each other to breathe.  We probably swam the last 600 meters just like that.  I swear I saw him crack a smile a few times.  Because I was cracking up.  Only me.  Only I would be goofing off in the middle of the swim.  Stroke, stroke, ‘What’s up dude?”  Stroke, stroke, “Nice day for a swim, eh?”

Out of the water for the first loop, then right back in.  I glanced at my watch, and saw that I did the first loop in 38 minutes.  Whoa!  I was stoked.

The second loop got a little crazier.  The water was more turbulent, people were more aggressive, but overall, it was uneventful.  A few times, I sucked in way too much water as I sighted, and I had to sit up, but it was only for a second. I never once stopped swimming or breast-stroked. Not that there’s anything wrong with doing that—I just didn’t feel the need.  Plus, I knew that the bike and run would take enough out of me. I wanted to have a strong swim. I needed a strong swim.

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I wanted to be moving forward at all times. Seriously.  Coach Monster told me, “Just keep moving forward the entire day. Don’t stop.  No matter how slow. Go forward.”  I kinda like the way he thinks.  You know, moving forward and all.

The last 200 meters to shore were glorious.  I have finished the swim!

My swim time was 1:20:24.  Totally happy with that.

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But then… I realized what was coming.

I hadn’t thought about the bike. I try and take each portion of the race as it comes.  Kind of like my don’t worry theory—-when I swim, I just think about the swim.  But that also causes quite the shock on the way out of the water.

Whoa. Now I must bike.  A really long way. 

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THE BIKE – 112 Miles

I don’t remember seeing my family on my way out of the water, or as I headed out on the bike.  I may have seen them. I truly don’t remember.

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I grabbed my bag and headed into the changing tent.  Sister Madonna Buder was in the tent.  I thought she was racing, but then I think she was actually volunteering.  Or maybe I made her up.  Either way, I thought… that’s a good sign. Seeing the Iron Sister in the tent.

My hands and feet weren’t working very well.  I dumped out my T1 bag and thought, Boy, I have a lot to do right now.  I had way too much stuff in the bag. In my quest for being prepared, I was way too prepared. I don’t know if I was packing enough nutrition for a 10 day hike through the Rockies, or what.  But I had plenty of food.

Well, I can’t carry all this, I thought.  So I ate two Huma Gels immediately. (BTW.. I love these gels. I had about 16 on the course. They are amazing. That is all.)

I figured since I planned to eat every 30 minutes, and I already missed my pre-race gel, that I should double up.

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The next task was changing my clothes. You will note that I am adamant about not changing clothes in a sprint, Oly, or half Iron race. But that’s because there are no changing tents and you should NOT show your goodies in transition. I was in a tent.  You are allowed to show your goodies in the tent.  And man, did I.

I wanted to put on a bike jersey (for the warmth and sun coverage) and cycling shorts (for the thick chamois pad).  So as I stripped off my wet tri shorts and attempted to stand up and put my leg into the cycling shorts, that didn’t work so well.  (Awkward showing of Goodies #1.)

So I sat my bare butt on the chair, and apparently, someone had built a sand castle on the chair.  Tons of sand on the chair.  Was now on my butt.  As I pulled up my shorts (Awkward showing of Goodies #2.), I could feel the sand.  As I slathered on the Aquaphor (Awkward showing of Goodies #3.), I thought, I’m probably going to feel this sand later.

I should have stripped the shorts back down and rinsed the sand off my bum.  But for some reason I thought, Sand on the bum for 112 miles ain’t that bad.

[Oh, yes it was.  Oh, hell to the yes… bad.]

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I pulled on arm warmers.  Made an executive decision not to wear a vest or jacket, because I really wasn’t that cold.  Slathered on some Body Glide liquified powder on the feet, pulled on socks, shoes (which had shoe covers on them), helmet, sunglasses, (fought with the blasted MyAthleteLive tracker which apparently lied about many things during the day) and then I was wandering out of the tent and into transition to grab Andy.

The ground was muddy, which made for a troublesome clipping in with my right foot once on the bike.  I think my cleat was full of mud.  So for the first 100 yards, I couldn’t get clipped.  So I banged my shoe on the pedal, and I guess that shook off enough mud.  Click!

And I headed off.  Just a little 112 mile ride. Oh. Em. Gee.

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The bike course was bullshit. I’m sorry, but there’s no other way to describe it.  Okay, so maybe other adjectives might work:  difficult, long, scary, with long ridiculous hills that never end then when you get to the top of that hill you have more miles of false flats. 

I had said my projected bike time of “hell in a handbasket” would have been 8:15:00.

Well, I was 8:11:00.

But interestingly, it wasn’t hell in a handbasket.  It was my bladder. But at least I was hydrated.

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Looking a tad “lost” here.

I pulled over and got off my bike SEVEN times and peed.  SEVEN. (I still can’t pee on the bike, unfortunately.) I can’t imagine the kind of time that SEVEN stops took off my bike.  And at Mile 60ish—-the Special Needs stop—I took 10 minutes there.  I would be willing to bet that my moving time on the bike was actually 7:35:00.  I probably wasted 45 minutes stopping.  But in hindsight, I don’t think it was a waste.  Because it made me rest, hydrate and deal with all the sand in my shorts (which really started to wreak havoc around Mile 50).

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Looks like I’m saying, “Talk to the hand.” But really, I was waving to my family. 🙂

I had my eye on the bike cutoffs, and at the turnaround on the second loop, I made the cutoff with an hour and a half to spare. Safe.

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I underestimated the bike course.  But at the same time, I was fine.  I had ridden my tail off in training. All those trainer rides paid off.  The mental suffering of being on those endless hills compared rightly to 5-6 hours on the trainer.  It made sense.


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The two hills that I recall with pain was the first big one heading out from town, and the big one heading back into town.  They were each 3-4 miles long, with 4-6% grades.  Just brutal and long.  #thatisall

When you see super fit people off their bikes, walking… you know that you’re in Bike Hell.  And it was.

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After the bike…

Mentally, I was tough.  That’s the advantage of the long training and rides. Not just to build physical toughness… but to crack your mind, to break it down, to build it up and to believe your brain is unbreakable.  I wasn’t quite at that point—but I was close.

With 12 miles to go, I knew I would make it back… the end was in sight!

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So the bike was done, and it was hard (understatement, much).  But I felt okay.  The real problem was the tiny fact that a marathon was on deck.

Oh, and my longest run EVER? My longest run in the history of my life?  Oh, that’d be 14 miles.

At that point, I felt like a lunatic.  What in the world was I thinking?  I blame Coach Monster.  It was his idea.

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THE RUN – 26.2 miles

Oh, just a little marathon.  Have I mentioned that this was my first marathon?  That my longest run ever was 14 miles? Okay, just so I was clear.  And that’s not because I didn’t TRY to run or because I slacked—- but I just couldn’t run with all the physical obstacles this season.  That’s what I had.

The changing tent for T2 was signficantly less crowded and more manageable than from the swim to bike.  At least my hands and feet weren’t numb.  Okay, yes —- my feet were numb from the bike.  I could not feel four of the five toes on my left foot.

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I changed and walked out of transition pretty quickly.  Stopped and hugged the kiddos and my parents.  Took a breather to not think about the torture that was about to start.

I glanced down at my watch.  I had over 7 hours to make the marathon happen.  Seven hours? That’s forever!  I should be fine!

Amazing how long it can take to go 26.2 miles. After an Iron swim and bike. And with a broken down body.

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I started out slow and steady. I ran a lot of the first 10k.  Okay, shuffled.  But I was moving and trucking along.  Little by little.

I did not think about the enormity of the marathon.  Really.  It would creep into my head, and I would deliberately push it out. I took each mile as it came.  And surprisingly, nine miles went by very quickly.

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But that’s when time (and miles) began to stand still. I ran about 15 miles before I ever even saw Mile 10.  If that makes sense.

The last three toes on my right foot began to hurt. I could tell that I had blisters forming.  So my goal from Mile 9 was to make it to Mile 13.1—-where Special Needs was— and where I had a fresh pair of shoes and socks in the bag.  And a tube of Body Glide powder to put on my dying feet.

Four miles to new shoes. Four miles to new shoes. 

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I shuffled along.  Going and going.  Mile after mile.  Tick, one mile down. Tick, another.

My stomach was bothering me a little. I felt like I had to poo all the time, but then I would get in the porta-potty and nothing would happen.  So I just tooted my way along.  That seemed to help.  And offend some people who passed by me.

Swim Bike Toot. 

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The Expert said that James asked, “Is there going to be poopy in that potty?” The Expert said, “Oh yes, lots of poopy.” Then James said, “Well, I’ll just make sure I get lots of fresh air before I go in there.”

But really, between all the gross things I saw on the course, I didn’t feel bad.  People throwing up.  The porta-potties were unreal disgusting.  Ironman is Irongross.

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Columbus’ family support crew was a big burst of joy for me both times I saw them.

 


Coming back into town, was tough.  Mentally.  Because my body was starting to break down… and I knew I still had about 15 miles to go.  Mentally, that was a big hill to climb.  15 more miles.  On blistered feet. 

I looked at my watch.  I ran calculations the entire run… not because I needed to do so, but because it kept my mind busy on something other than the pain.  You have 4.5 hours to do 15 miles. That’s plenty of time. 

You have 3.5 hours to do 9 miles. 

You have 2.5 hours to do 6 miles…

At Special Needs, I saw the Expert and Stella.

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I was so glad to see them.

The Expert was a big motivator at this point. I think he could see the hurt on my face.  The grimacing as I changed shoes and socks.  He told me, “You need to keep your pace below a sixteen minute mile.  Just do that, okay?”

He wasn’t exactly sure of my start time, so he thought I had a tad less time than I actually did.  (Remember with the rolling swim start, everyone’s “midnight” was different.  For me, I had to finish by around 11:43pm to be an Ironman.) But he was very close to correct.  I worked hard the entire last 13.1 to keep below a 16 minute mile.  I came pretty close.

“Get moving,” he said. “You have this.  You will do this.  Next time I see you, I’ll be at this turnaround on your way back out for 13.  Then the next time, will be at the finish.  Get your shoes on and go. Go.”

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Run out.

That pep talk helped me big time.

I ran towards town, saw my Dad… hugged him, and waved to my Mom who was under a tree, holding a sleeping Swim Bike Kid.

Then I dug in for another 13 miles.

My feet felt better in the fresh shoes, but not by much.

The enormity of the 13 miles was a lot to breathe in… so I didn’t think about it.

SBM friends, Jennifer and Connie (who took the awesome pic of me and the kiddos on the course, and below with the Expert), were a HUGE boost to me. I saw them (and a few others) four times on the course and they jumped and screamed “Go Swim Bike Mom!”  I love you guys… thank you!

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Heading back towards the last turnaround, many groups were having block parties.  The crowd support at CDA is unparalleled.  So amazing. So wonderful.

I mean, a keg party with “Ice Ice Baby” playing?  My kind of people. That is all.

The 6 or so miles out was painful.  Somewhere someone said, “The Ironman marathon doesn’t start until Mile 18.”

At Mile 19, my hip quit.

And my feet began to suffer.  Really, really badly.

I could run a little—running actually hurt less than walking.  So I shuffled along, with my eye on my Garmin constantly. Stay below a 16:00 mile.

The CDA run course has a long uphill on the back end… and I forgot about it.  So I slowed signficantly, and looked down at my watch, thinking, Crap.

But I still had time.  I made the Mile 20 turnaround at 9:00.

The run cutoff at this turnaround was 10:30.

I asked a volunteer, “This is really the last cutoff? Right?”

“Right girl.  You’ve done it. Just make it  back.  You’ll be an Ironman!”

I have 2 hours and 45 minutes to do 6.2 miles.  I can do this. Shame on me if I can’t. 

The next 6 miles were the darkest of my life.  Literally.  It was dark outside. I was in pain. But I knew I would finish.  So many emotions. So many feelings at this point.

I made another executive decision at this point.  I knew that I could run/walk the 6.2 and probably finish in right under 16 hours.  To have a fifteen-something hour finish was my secret goal.  I felt like I had it in me to do it.

But I decided to be smart.

Coach Monster’s big thing for me, for this race, was “Be Patient.”  He told me, “When you think you can go faster—don’t.  Just steady movement forward.  Don’t burn your matches.  Just go slowly, and forward and be patient. All day. It’s a long day.”

With so much time left to do 6 miles, I decided to go slow, steady and patiently.

Being in the dark, exhausted… I could easily see myself turning an ankle. Falling in the mud.  Tripping and breaking my face.  I wanted the finish. In one piece.

So I walked. Every step of the next 5.5 miles.  During the prior 20 miles, I had run/walked.  I decided not to run a single step at this point.

And with 0.8 of a mile to go, I began to run/walk.

When I turned the corner onto Sherman (the finish line), I began to just run.  I had 7 blocks to run to hear Mike Reilly… to see my family. And I was going to run it.  I glanced down at my watch.

I could see the tiny light in the distance.

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Sixteen minutes to spare.

The crowd lined down Sherman brought tears to my eyes.  The encouragement, the kind words, the cowbells (didn’t need more… just perfect amount of cowbell, BTW).  Once again I was overwhelmed.

Out of the darkness, emerged a blinding light, a pounding on the bleachers, screams and shouts. The finish chute.

I couldn’t see my family. But I could see hands and hear screaming. Music.  It was blinding. I was crying. And it’s what I had been waiting for… for 16 hours and 44 minutes.

“Here she comes…

…Meredith Atwood, you are… an Ironman!”


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And I was.  I am.  An Ironman.  (Wowzers. Who knew.)

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THE FINAL MOMENTS

The medal was hung around my neck.

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I had the nicest race “catcher” lead me to photos, get me water, and find a foil blanket for me… oh, and she directed me to pizza.

I found pizza, and I sat on the grass.  My family emerged from the crowd and I was so happy.

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They looked like they had been through hell with me.

And they had.

That was when I realized they didn’t know my race time… they didn’t have an exact idea of where I was time-wise… that I had made a decision to take my sweet time to come home.  Poor guys. I felt bad.

But they were so happy.

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I was also very nauseous.  I kept trying to pass out… and this continued until the Expert threw me into the shower and into the bed.  I couldn’t even drink the beer I wanted to badly.  The beer I dreamed about for 140.6 miles.   My mind had carried my body the last 13.1 miles.  When my mind said, “okay you can stop now,” my body gave up.

The Expert said that he checked my pulse three times after I fell asleep because I looked dead.

I woke up at 6:15… just a mere 4 hours after going to sleep.

I inched my way out of bed.  Went to the Ironman village and stood in line for the jacket in the rain. I didn’t think I would bother with getting one.  But I needed nothing more on that morning.  I talked with Kristi, a SBM friend, who also finished her first IM.

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[Check out the awesome van decorations from Columbus’ family.  I loved it!]

Someday, I will write a post about the lessons and tips and tricks for Ironman. Because I did learn a great deal. [For now, here’s the Cliffs Notes:  If you decide to do CDA… swim in cold water often, ride really long hills until you want to poke your eyes out, and make sure you put lots of lube on your feet for the run. Oh, and drink the chicken broth and eat the potato chips.]

For now, I am closing the race report and am simply filled with love, and thankfulness. Coach Monster had said, “Race with a grateful heart, and you cannot go wrong.”

All day, I thanked God for my family. For my health. For the beautiful scenery. For my broken and beaten up body at Mile 22.

I remained grateful, and not once… not even a single second… did I want to quit.  Well, my body was begging, but I refused to listen. And I knew the gratefulness got me through.

My race wasn’t fast.  And the projected time chart I had made… actually my time fell under the “all hell breaks loose,” but for me—it was a perfect race.  My nutrition was dead on.  I never stopped or gave up (with the exception of 15 total porta-potty stops during the race. Ridiculous, I know.)  And I had my family here.

What more could I want?

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To the Expert, wow… you were an amazing Iron Partner on race day.  I am thankful that you were there—and that you were glad to be there too— your encouragement and support was amazing. I have no words.  Thank you. Thank you.

To my parents… I am so glad you were here to be a part of this.  I loved seeing you on the course, and I appreciate you trekking all the way to Idaho. You are the best. Although, I did have to laugh when I jokingly said, “Maybe I’ll do Ironman Louisville in a few months” and you, Mom, said, “Oh, we won’t be coming to that one.” I love you all so much.

To Coach Monster … you know how special you are. In this race, the Monster proved that he not only coaches a certain method, but he lives by it as well—when his calf gave up during this same race and he didn’t walk off the course—-rather, walked the remaining 23 miles of the marathon, encouraging me and others along the way.

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Finally… for the SBM friends… thank you all for going on this 140.6 mile journey with me.  I could feel your encouragment the whole race. I really could.  Thank you.

Two days have passed since the race. I can’t really walk or sit or lay without pain.  But it’s glorious. In a very weird way.  Glorious.

JUST KEEP MOVING FORWARD.  The sky is the limit. That is all.

(The supplemental post, “Things I Learned from my ‘First and Last’ Ironman” is here.)

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187 Comments

  • Erika

    June 25, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    Congratulations again, Ironman! I loved following you all day on various social media sites and seeing your finish video. It is hard to put the day into words…but you did it well.
    Enjoy your accomplishments!!

    Reply
  • Cameron

    June 25, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    What an amazing report! Makes me nervous for IMAZ in 5 short months but also full of inspiration and confidence knowing that I can do it if I stay focused and never give up!

    Reply
  • Erin S

    June 25, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    You are amazing. Congratulations on achieving your dream – you did it and kept moving forward every step! You are such an inspiration and I thank you for that!

    Reply
  • Kim

    June 25, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    Congratulations!! I cry at all race starts, can’t help it 🙂 Tearing up now reading about your accomplishments, amazing!!!

    Reply
  • Kelly

    June 25, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    Thanks for sharing. We really were out there with you in spirit. While we all may not end up an Ironman, we feel like we could be because of you.
    : )

    Reply
  • K Smith

    June 25, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    Congratulations! You are so AWESOME! And thank you so much for letting us join your journey. You are an inspiration and source of hope!

    Reply
  • Susan Doherty

    June 25, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    I followed you all day and kept routing for you. I set my alarm (I’m in St. Louis so 1:00 am here) when I calculated your finish time and woke up and watched the live coverage of the finish line. I watch you cross and cheered for you!!! Your book and blog has kept me going for my little sprint tris. You are truly and inspiration and even have me thinking “maybe a 1/2 iron in 2015”. Thank you for keeping me going!!

    Reply
  • Matt Smith

    June 25, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    Well, you’ve got me totally crying! What a day! What a race! Congratulations, Ironman! That’s so awesome! Your support team couldn’t be any better. You just did amazing! Way to go! Enjoy the rest and recovery. You deserve it.

    Reply
  • cynthia morales

    June 25, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    Wow! Great post! Thank you for being brutally honest. So many great lines. “Ironman is Irongross.” I am training for my first ever (and only) IM in November (Florida). Many of the mantras you used are ones, I intend to use. I took many notes on lessons learned from your report (sand on chairs, for example). Thank you for your report. CONGRATULATIONS!!!

    Reply
  • Christina

    June 25, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    Congratulations! I have read your blog for awhile now and was cheering for you and watching your progress on Sunday. It’s a weird feeling to be genuinely proud of someone you don’t know, but I am so proud of you. You are an inspiration. And an Ironman.

    Reply
  • Mo

    June 25, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Tears in my eyes reading this! You are amazing, inspiring and it was so much fun going on this journey with you! Someday I hope to be an Ironman too, but for now, I’ll just keep moving forward to my Half IM in august! Enjoy your awesomeness! We all love you!!!

    Reply
  • oldmotherrunner

    June 25, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    Ok, I’m crying again… We all followed you in spirit and really could not be prouder and more inspired by both your story and your determination. Congrats again…now just bask in this for a while.

    Reply
  • Andrea

    June 25, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    A huge congratulations! I couldn’t wait to read this. I followed along on FB and was so glad of the updates. It’s weird to be so happy for someone I don’t know IRL but I was. My daughter did Lake Placid a couple of years ago so I had a clue of what was going on. I actually went back and reread my post about Lake Placid as a spectator and worried mom so thanks for motivating me to do that. You did so well and sound so happy with how you did! Awesome! Awesome! Awesome! And congrats to all of your family because spectating an Ironman is a huge event in itself! And loved your comment about daring people to not cry at the start of an IM. Impossible! Oh one more thing. I went to the Athlete dinner with my daughter and that was so inspirational. Besides Mike R., Matt Long was the speaker and oh man, talk about not crying. Again, impossible. Again – CONGRATS!

    Reply
  • Jennifer

    June 25, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    Tears, tears, tears. All day, with each Facebook post from The Expert (you could feel the love.) And now, reading this, so amazing! You are a hero, an inspiration, AND an IronWOMan. I got my SBM TriKit last Saturday, and I will wear it even more proudly in 3 weeks! Love to you and yours.

    Reply
  • Jessica

    June 25, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    As I finish your awe inspiring race report I am 30 minutes into my trainer ride at the gym. Everybody on the treadmills behind me are probably wondering why that crazy lady on the spin bike keeps laughing and crying. Thank you for sharing your journey with us; the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. I will re-read your race report many times over as I aim for my first Ironman in Arizona in 2014. I dream about Mike Reilly”s voice!

    Reply
  • sue

    June 25, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    Wow! Great race report. I felt like I was there with you. I have been in races where I have felt many of these same emotions and pains, but none has ever been an Ironman race. It makes me think, “what if…” Perhaps in the future I can set such a goal, but for now, I can see what it was like through your eyes. Thanks! Congrats!

    Reply
  • jackie

    June 25, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    So inspiring, and funny! If you can do an IM, I can do an olympic distance tri! Thanks for making me know I can acheive my secret goal.

    Reply
  • Debbie

    June 25, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    I’ve been waiting to hear this race report since you crossed the finish! What a wonderful experience. Not to detract from the glory of CDA but….. Will you do another? Will the Expert sign up? Safe travels home, rest up and can’t wait to hear what’s next. I hope to meet you at the women’s tri in Acworth on August 4!

    Reply
  • Krisitne Svehla-Brown

    June 25, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    I can’t believe you were able to get this race report out so soon! Amazing. As was your race! Thanks for keeping it “real”. Your comments about everything from the minivan (we all say we’ll never be caught dead in one… but then it’s like aaahhhh, MINIVAN!), to the sand in your shorts… real. I’ve done as much as a 70.3 race and did my first full marathon this May. I want to do a full Ironman someday when the time is right. Right now, its a job, a house, a dog and two kids. But someday the time will be right. Thank you for sharing your journey. Thank you for showing us what is possible. I hope you’re sleeping with that medal. 😉

    Reply
  • Michele

    June 25, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    Congrats on an amazing journey. I think it is so telling of your passion for the journey that soon after finishing you even thought about IM Louisville!! What an awesome inspiration. Someday I hope to join the group and become an ironmom, but until then, I’ll live vicariously through you!

    Reply
  • Stacy

    June 25, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    What an amazing recap…read and enjoyed every word! I cannot wrap my mind around the mental and physical strength required to accomplish your goal. Congratulations, Ironman!!

    Reply
  • Andrea2

    June 25, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    Congratulations, Meredith!!! You are such an inspiration to me and so many others. I listen to your audiobook often while training and it is such an amazing to read about how far you’ve come…not just in distance and fitness, of course, but in your confidence and perspective on life. All the best to you and your family!

    Reply
  • Heather Harrison

    June 25, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    Amazing!! Congratulations and thank you for sharing your day with us. I’m still 12 weeks out from Lake Tahoe Ironman but you give me a bit of peace and a thought that I can finish and I’m not crazy!

    Reply
  • Ruth Price

    June 25, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    Seriously you would have thought I just ran the Ironman with you. Congratulations and I look forward to those additional tips. I am also very excited to get to my Ironman race too. Just have to get past the my first sprint in September (as long as I don’t drown during the training). My best to you and your family because you are all Ironmen to me. Much love.

    R:)

    Reply
  • Andrea MacDonald

    June 25, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    LOVED this post!!!! Ironman CDA is on my bucket list. I grew up doing camping trips in that area. I’m going to do my first 70.3 this summer and if I survive that one I think I will sign up for CDA. Was it worth it????

    Reply
  • Louise Rothwell

    June 25, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    Wow, you are an inspiration. I read that whole post without wine! Enjoy the break and recover well you deserve it.

    Reply
  • TriBabe Terry

    June 25, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    I enjoyed tracking you and cheering for you all day. Hearing your name and watching you finish brought me to tears of joy. I have so enjoyed being part of your journey. You are one of the voices in my head that keeps me going and you inspire me. You f@#$ing rock!

    Reply
  • Heidi

    June 25, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    WOW. I got goosebumps and burst into tears when you hit the finishing chute – WOW. 140.6 – SOOOOO amazing. You are on impressive lady, SBM!! Thanks for the awesome race report and for sharing the journey, and again – WOW. WAY TO GO!!!

    Reply
  • Lori

    June 25, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    Congratulations!! You put in so much hard work and you truly deserve to enjoy your moment! Following your journey has been inspiring to so many people including me.

    Reply
  • Karrie Kunich

    June 25, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    You are such an inspiration I have just paid for my spot for next year. Looks I need to dig deep and train now! Congrats Meredith. And thank you for showing so many that just about anything is possible.

    Reply
  • Ruby

    June 25, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    Add another crier to the list. What an amazing thing to accomplish. I didn’t want to do my strength training today but now, for you, I am going to strength. You are truly an inspiration!

    Reply
  • Kdod

    June 25, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    I love this Meredith!!!! I was so excited when you had picked CDA for you journey and I cannot believe how much or your journey mirrored mine. I cannot believe how much of how you felt during the race was how I was feeling. Just a reminder when it gets tough you are not alone and we will all come out on the other side much better because we took that journey. I will take your advice on the Dramamine in the future:) I am glad I got to catch up with you in line and I too am so grateful for this journey!!!! Congrats Ironman!! Kristi

    Reply
  • Becky

    June 25, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    You rock! Last night, at Atlanta Tri Club swim, several of us were saying that we “stalked” you on the athlete tracker all day and were so excited for you! You are a real inspiration and your report shows that a big part of triathlon is mental–and you had the right attitude throughout!

    Reply
  • Keke O.

    June 25, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    You have truly inspired me-to be grateful, to keep moving forward, and most importantly to just get out there and run my own race.
    Thank you so much! Great race report!

    Reply
  • Heather

    June 25, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    Congratulations, again! Amazing amazing accomplishment and so inspiring for all of us! I loved every word of this report, thank you for sharing your journey : )

    Reply
  • Jana R.

    June 25, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    I read every single bit of that. And it was glorious! I giggled, I got teary eyed, I LOVED it. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with all of us. You are AMAZING!! Way to go! And please give The Expert a huge hug…he was totally fantastic posting all the updates on race day for us. You inspire me! Congrats on forging yourself into an Ironman!!

    Reply
  • Andrea Rainey

    June 25, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    What a great story! Congrats on your finish — I’m sad I didn’t get to meet you, but you met a BUNCH of my friends throughout your time here! We had +3000 volunteers, it worked out to 1.5 volunteers per Ironman entrant, it is so much fun. We also managed to turn on one day of brilliant weather for you all; usually the lake is dramamine-worthy. I wish you could bottle your attitude and sell it, a lot of people need it. Hugs from a fellow Bia tester (someday my test watch will arrive, someday).

    Reply
  • Nancy M

    June 25, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    OMG I have tears in my eyes reading your post. How awesome and inspiring are you!!! You have always been so real and honest telling us the good and the bad on this trip to Ironman – congratulations, you rock! While I have no interest in doing triathlon, I am working on my running and you help me every time I read your blog – Thanks so much! Hugs 🙂

    Reply
  • Kerrie Klein

    June 25, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    I got to see you at CDL… Simply put-you inspire me beyond words. Thank you. Because of you, I’m signing up for a 70.3 next year. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Reply
  • Cynthia Falardeau

    June 25, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    Wow! Thanks for sharing your journey, so very honestly, I really appreciate it! I love reading your posts. Thanks for inspiring me!

    Reply
  • Carrie Giordano

    June 25, 2013 at 10:40 pm

    Thank you. That is all. Pure unadulterated thank you. You made it possible. I am in tears. There are no more words other than Thank You!

    Reply
  • Abby J

    June 25, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    Amazing, inspiring, and just incredibly awesome. I have been following you for over a year and went to bed Sunday praying you would finish and woke up Monday and watched that tear-jerker video finish. You’ve shown us what’s possible, congratulations!

    Reply
  • Michelle

    June 26, 2013 at 8:15 am

    Meredith, I find you an inspiration!!! Please do a post on the tips and tricks you learnt. You should be so very very very proud of what you achieved in this race. How about a race in Australia?? Love to see you down here for one!!!!

    Reply
  • Caroline

    June 26, 2013 at 10:34 am

    CONGRATULATIONS! YOU’RE AN IRONMAN!!! I loved reading your recap, and feel so inspired with how you pushed forward through 140.6 tough miles. Enjoy the celebration!

    Reply
  • Haley

    June 26, 2013 at 10:42 am

    Enough food for a 10 day hike in the Rockies – love it!! Same thing happened to me in my first IM. The change tent volunteers were like “Do you really want to carry an entire box of Powerbars?!” Congrats, recover well, and can’t wait to hear what’s next!

    Reply
  • Erin

    June 26, 2013 at 11:20 am

    Tears of joy for as I watched the clip of your finish! I just loved following you on your journey. Thanks for bringing us all along for the good, the bad, the ugly and the IronGross! And thank the Expert for doing a fabulous job of updating FB! I loved seeing his smiling face supporting you the whole day and now I know from this post it was days in advance as well. You will probably never know how much you have insipired all of us “every women” out here to keep pulling the spandex over our chubby thighs and getting out there and competing in races. For ourselves, for your kids, for our sanity. Thank you.

    Reply
  • Kristen L

    June 26, 2013 at 11:22 am

    Wow!! Congratulations!! Your story is so inspiring. I loved reading about all your race details. Completing an ironman is such an amazing feat, and you should continue to be proud of yourself. Would love to read your tips in the future.

    Reply
  • Nita, the bRUNcher

    June 26, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    Amazing and inspirational. I’m a half marathoner and will complete my first triathlon this summer. It’s just a sprint and you just motivated me to do so much more! Congratulations on your first Ironman. And please do write a tips & tricks Ironman post for all of us readers who want to be just like you.

    Nita, the bRUNcher
    http://thebRUNcher.com

    Reply
  • Jillian

    June 26, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    TEARS!!!!!!! You did it! I am so proud of you! You have finished what so few even attempt! All the adversities you had to deal with leading up to race day and you still smashed it! Welcome to the sorority my fellow iron sister, you are now officially an ironmom!

    Reply
  • Scott

    June 26, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    Congratulations!!!!! This is such an amazing accomplishment and I am very happy that you and your family were able to all be there and experience it…you have motivated me to go ahead and sign up for my first HIM.

    Reply
  • liz castle

    June 26, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    My best friend and I, both new to triathlons have been so inspired by you and your book/blog/photos. We are in Colorado. We waited up till about 1:00 in the morning waiting to see you come across. We worried and fretted during your run. At one point she asked me if I thought you quit “never” I replied and soon we got another update.Thank you for sharing your experience and your courage. It fuels me. Keep on going Meredith, don’t ever stop.
    YOU ARE AN IRON MAN

    Reply
  • Wanda

    June 26, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    Thank you for sharing your race story. I read it all the way through and will probably read it again, later. I’ve been on pins and needles waiting to read all about your race. I am so proud of you! I was traveling on Sunday and once I made it home, I kept checking in all day on MyAthleteLive, as well as FB and Twitter to get updates. At the end, I was able to watch you cross the finish line on IMLive. I was so excited and cheering for you. You did it! You are an IronMan and your entire family is an IronFamily! Your support system was great! Congrats again!

    Reply
  • Mariah

    June 26, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    Congratulations…I am so inspired…I followed you all day long, with my kids, watching you from across the country, cheering you on! You should be so proud of yourself…and your family! I’m a little bit frightened but I can’t get Ironman out of my head…one day! Xoxo

    Reply
  • Carla

    June 26, 2013 at 11:50 pm

    Words cannot descirbe the inspiration that you filled me with while reading your race report, thank you so much for sharing. Congrats on becoming an ironman!

    Reply
  • jameil

    June 27, 2013 at 5:16 am

    I’m sure every other comment says this but WOW!! So inspiring! I’m still waiting (somewhat impatiently) to do my first marathon. I’ve never done a triathlon. I can’t even swim 50 yards. I’m staring down the barrel of the birth of my first child and you’ve inspired me to do them all! You are AWESOME!!

    Reply
  • Heidi P.

    June 27, 2013 at 5:27 am

    You are amazing. Congratulations!!! You inspire me. Especially with my first Sprint tri coming up on Sunday. I will be thinking of you the whole time!

    Reply
  • Isabell

    June 27, 2013 at 6:32 am

    I have never been on your blog (Meghann from meals & miles “sent” me) or read a single word from you but you had me crying from the beginning of your race recap. WOW! I don’t have any words. Just simply incredible! Just thinking about a full marathon makes me shiver. What you did is simply amazing!!
    Best wishes & lots of love from a small fan from Germany!

    Reply
  • Amanda @runtothefinish

    June 27, 2013 at 8:22 am

    CONGRATSS!!!!!!! OMG what a phenomenal accomplishment and I cannot imagine how changed you are for the rest of your life having learned what you are made of… important notes for me if I ever get healthy enough to do this plan plenty of time to shop the store because I too will plan to spend too much money. Wash all sand off my body lest I rub all skin off 🙂 get an awesome coach and plan for my family to get their butts there 🙂

    Reply
  • Brad

    June 27, 2013 at 8:31 am

    Way to go! Isn’t that the most amazing feeling in the world coming over that finish line the first time! You are an amazing inspiration to everyone around you. I am so inspired reading your report. Awesome…just awesome! Congrats!

    Reply
  • Kali

    June 27, 2013 at 11:58 am

    I am so impressed and inspired that you could both finish an Ironman and write one of the best and most real race reports I have ever read. Congratulations!

    Reply
  • Caitlin

    June 27, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    I just found your blog through Meghann over at Meals and Miles and I just have to say that you’re incredible and inspirational! I teared up with you at the start and again when you crossed the finish- HUGE congrats!

    Reply
  • Kate

    June 27, 2013 at 5:27 pm

    Absolutely amazing. I fist-pumped for you when I read that you saw the finish line in sight with16 minutes to spare. Amazing accomplishment.

    Reply
  • Steph

    June 27, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    Absolutely amazing! I don’t know how many times I laughed in your post, but you are hilarious and I know I don’t know you, but I am so proud of you!!! Haha, you are the first person that actually makes me kind of maybe want to do an Ironman one day. Hope you’re celebrating the shit out of this awesome accomplishment!

    Reply
  • Krista Caffey

    June 27, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    Meredith, you are an inspiration, I am tearful as I finish up your recap. I can not wait to read all about your lessons and tips one day in the future! Congratulations! I hope to join your ranks one of these days. Would love to hear about the equipment, gear, clothes, fuel, bike repair tips, etc that have been positive and negative during your training and your race! I want to hear ALL of the details!!! You are an Ironman!! (PS I also followed Dimity on Sunday during the Ironman: Congrats to you both!!))

    Reply
  • Jess

    June 28, 2013 at 9:20 am

    LOVED every word of your race recap! I read it yesterday and couldn’t stop thinking about it all day! You are such an inspiration… and you’re and IRONMAN!!!! So happy for you! I knew you could do it!

    Reply
  • Rachel Blanchard

    June 28, 2013 at 9:54 am

    I just teared up reading this. What an inspiration!! Thank you for sharing your story and congratulations on the BIGGEST accomplishment 🙂 My first half marathon doesn’t seem so impossible anymore!

    Reply
  • Erinn

    June 28, 2013 at 11:31 am

    “The Expert said that he checked my pulse three times after I fell asleep because I looked dead.”

    I laughed and cried.
    CONGRATULATIONS!

    Reply
  • Jan

    June 28, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    Congratulations! What an accomplishment and an awesome race report! You make me want to commit to my first Ironman. Way to go.

    Reply
  • Britton

    June 28, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    Wow, what an inspiration you are!!! What an amazing accomplishment!!! Enjoy every minute of it. I am a new reader, this post brought me to your blog! I am just beginning training for my first triathalon (a sprint) and I am so nervous about it, especially the swim. Your ironman experience has encouraged me and reminded me that there is nothing I can’t do. Thank you and a huge congrats to you!

    Reply
  • Kim

    June 29, 2013 at 10:04 am

    Congratulations! This was such a great read. I’m registered for the Miami half and looking forward to a full Ironman next year. Thank you for the inspiration!

    Reply
  • FIT--Future Iron Teacher

    June 30, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    You are amazing, and inspiring! I’ve just started my road to an ironman next year. I’ve completed a half….once, although this time as I approach my second, I am trying to do a lot more training! I’ve been following your blog for a while, and just wanted to let you know that you have inspired me!

    Reply
  • Terri R

    July 1, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    I’ve been following your blog for a while now, but have never commented… until now. This was just amazing, I had tears in my eyes when I read the part about your finish. Congrats on such a huge accomplishment- you’re an inspiration!

    Reply
  • sally young

    July 1, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    Oh I love this race report! LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!!! Tears fell down my cheeks as I watched your finish. I thought I would cry when I finished but I didn’t ..I was so damned grateful to stop moving….but now when I see others cross ( my friend this weekend in Austria) I cry like a girl. Congratulations on this amazing accomplishment…but the courage to begin the journey…and what a journey…..is awe inspiring. Maybe I’ll see you or the Expert in Mont Tremblant in 2014….? oui?

    Reply
  • Lisa

    July 1, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    Wow I actually have tears in my eyes. Congratulations! You are such an inspiration and this is so well written.
    thank you for sharing your journey and I can’t believe I’ve only just discovered your blog. I will definitely be back xx

    Reply
  • Kristen @ The Concrete Runner

    July 2, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    This was my first visit to your blog but it won’t be my last. You are incredible! I’ve never read an IM race recap an all I can think is, Wow. You made me laugh, cry, and cheer for you along the way. I’m currently training for my first sprint Tri and you’ve definitely motivated me to work hard. But I don’t think I’ll ever do an IM. Congrats to you!

    Reply
  • Tammy

    July 2, 2013 at 10:56 pm

    Awesome! I was there to see the swim start and some of the bike portion. This is my first time to your site and it is wonderful and very inspiring. What an amazing accomplishment! Congrats!

    Reply
  • Jen

    July 11, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    IMCDA 2013 was also my first full distance Ironman. (and I have 2 kids too.) Just recently checked out your race report (found out about you thru Another Mother Runner) and it was terrific. Congrats! Also thought it was funny that you said 4 days post-race, you somehow already wanted to do another one. I signed up for next year’s IMCDA the Wednesday after the race. So had the same feeling, about the same time. Anyway good job. Ironmoms rule. woot woot!

    Reply
  • Tatyana

    August 12, 2013 at 10:51 am

    THANK YOU! I am doing my first ironman this weekend and I was veryt scared. Came online to help me tackle my mental “monsters” and fell upon your blog! You are amazing and trully an inspiration:)

    Reply
  • That Pink Girl

    August 26, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    I’m a wee it late but just as excited for you and proud of you. Dang, woman. I’m attempting my 2nd full distance triathlon (DNF’d IMTX in May) and this is just what I needed to read. Girl, you is on FIYAH!
    CONGRATULATIONS!!! You are an inspiration to so many with your drive, enthusiasm and heart!

    Reply
  • Jen

    August 31, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    I just read this entire story and I am sitting here with tears streaming down my face! You are an inspiration. I have been a triathlete for almost 8 years and I have such a burning to do my first Ironman that it’s taking over my life! I have three kids and my husband coaches and works FT. My two oldest girls play tournament softball so summers are out for me! I did a half IM this summer and LOVED EVERY SECOND OF IT!!! Thank you so much for sharing your story! You have truly motivated me even more! Moms are the toughest triathletes out there! Congrats!

    Reply
  • Paige Alldredge

    January 25, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    So I’m reading your book and you mentioned that you were going to do this race and I like spoilers so I found your blog to see how it went. I read the entire post out loud to my mom and training partner/sister and they were moaning and groaning and saying things like “never! That is making me ill just thinking about it!” And the whole time I was just thinking to myself–I want to do this. I think there is a certain kind of crazy person that wants to do this. And I think I’m it. 🙂 thanks for the inspiration.

    Reply
  • cmztrav

    February 17, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    Amazing, amazing. Thank you for stepping up and holding a torch. I love your write-ups and determination. I am moving from computer potato to becoming an Ironman this summer. The training schedule teaches you a lot.

    Great job, Ironman!

    Reply
  • Jim Vonasek

    March 14, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    Thanks for posting this, it was perfect reading to get me through a 3 1/2 hr bike trainer spin. And i now realize how much i will rely on my biking, fortunately my strength. Your story also got me to start my totake list for this IM, my first. Your description put me right there with you on the course, very well written and inspiring, I know I can do this!!

    Reply
  • Ellen

    May 20, 2014 at 8:49 pm

    Googled for moms doing ironman races and came across your blog – hoping to have an opportunity to do an ironman in a few years, when my littles aren’t quite so little. Excellent race report – thank you so much for sharing and congratulations on being an IronMom! You rock!

    Reply
  • Madison

    June 25, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    Well, first of all you deserve a big congratulations! The year before I started high school (2011) I went out to Ironman Coeur d’alene to watch some friends race it. It was not the first Ironman I went to, but the first one that made me want to do an Ironman. Since then it has been my goal to race Ironman Coeur d’alene the year I graduate high school. I will graduate in 2015 (and finally be 18 so I will be eligible to race) and will be signing up for Ironman CdA in a couple of days when 2015 registration opens. Just reading your post gave me shivers cause I am so excited to race and do my first Ironman. I just wanted to say thank you for posting this so I could learn a bit more about the course and hear about it from your perspective 🙂

    P.S. I’d appreciate it if you checked out my blog about my journey (so far) to Ironman CdA

    Reply
  • Jennifer Valenti

    September 8, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    I literally balled my eyes out reading this. I am doing my first Ironman in less than 2 weeks. I have been a triathlete for 7 years, and have tried all of those years to make it to 140.6, but something has always gotten in my way.. whether it was a divorce, or injuries or work. This is finally my year and I am terrified. There is so much I didn’t know I needed to be prepared for, like the special needs bags, etc. I have done all distances except for the full and this is a whole new world for me. I cannot thank you enough for walking through all of the things you need to have prepared for the race. I wouldn’t have known about half of them if it wasn’t for you!

    Congratulations Ironman! I cannot wait to hear those words on Saturday, September 20th! I won’t even say them.. but you know the ones. Thank you for everything.

    -Jen

    Reply
  • Ly

    October 24, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    I know my post is late, but thank you for sharing your experiences, esp. your first Iron Man. Your words are captivating. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!! Great family pics too!

    Reply
  • Christine

    December 7, 2014 at 11:17 pm

    I was crying while reading your story. So powerful! Thank you for sharing.
    I just signed up for my first ironman distance tri in Oct of 2015. I am nervous and excited and inspired! I am trying to figure out where to start with my training – creating a training schedule, nutrition, ect.
    Any recommendations?

    Thank you!

    Christine

    Reply

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