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Things I Learned from my “First and Last” Ironman

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You can read my giant novel of a race report about Ironman Coeur d’Alene here.  I claim it’s my “First and Last” Ironman. You all laugh at me. Don’t laugh too hard.

Usually in a race report, I include a list of things I learned, what worked/what didn’t, but I was actually tired of writing that report.  So this is more like a Part II, if you can imagine that I actually have more to say.  Alas, I do. Disclaimer: I am not an expert on this stuff. This is just what I learned and my perceptions. Take it with a pack of gel.  (Oh, I’m soooo funny.)

I’m sure there’s things I’ll remember later and add… but for now, this is the scoop.

The Number One Rule

  • Lube. If in doubt, put some lube on it.  It’s like Momma’s spit – can fix anything.  Put it all over your body. If in doubt, lube. (Aquaphor, TriSlide, Body Glide —three of my faves. Each serving their own lube-a-licious purpose. I almost slide off my bike, I’m so slippery…. oh the jokes that can come from this. But we’ll move on.)

General Geniusness

Okay, I can’t claim the “General Genius” tidbits, because this was the stuff that I learned from others. But passing along what I learned is a big deal of mine, so I want to include it all.

  • Breathe. When you get injured or sidelined during training, remember to breathe and do the best you can… with what you have. I had less-than-stellar health and an injury roster a mile long rolling into this Ironman, but I continued to focus on what I could DO. And I did it.  Coach Monster stayed on me about this, “Do the best you can. Let the rest go.”  Hard to execute, but necessary.
  • Patience. Patience. Patience.  Yes, Ironman is a race, but it’s also a very long day (some days are longer than others. In my case, long day. Period.)  Coach M reminded me to be patient.  A couple of times, I felt myself getting aggressive on the bike, and I remembered his words. Staying patient may have made my day slower than it might have been—-but then again, staying patient was probably why I finished.
  • Choose a beautiful place to race.  This was Coach M’s advice.  While Coeur d’Alene is one of the most difficult US Ironman races, especially for a first time klutz like me, it was absolutely stunning.  I am glad that I listened to him on this. I could look out on the run or bike and just be blown away with the scenery.
  • Be grateful.  I always say this, but it’s 10,000,000 times more true in a race that takes an entire day. Be thankful, race with a happy heart, and smile when you feel like crying—these things will save you more than you know.
  • Thank the Volunteers.  Goes without saying, I would think. But it feels difficult to say thanks when you are wetting your pants or Swim Bike Tooting. Take the time to smile and say thanks, because saying “thank you” makes you feel better too.
  • Respect the Race.  Coach M reminded me to respect the race distance from the get-go.  Even when I first signed up, I never took for granted just how far 140.6 miles is.  Some people may sign up for an Ironman without proving they have the fortitude to even stick to Olympic distance training for a month. That’s fine—the past is the past—- but you better (going forward) dig in and belly up to the occassion… because there’s no way (no way in hell) that a below-average Jane like me could have done this without dedication and determination—-and that’s TRAINING dedication and determination.  Nevermind what race day takes from you. It’s hard.

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Training

  • I don’t have an Ironman training plan to share because: 1) mine was all over the place with my injuries and I wouldn’t recommend never running more than 14 miles before an Ironman (necessary evil), and 2) I had a coach, so it was a personalized plan and also, not mine to give away freely.
  • That being said, in the final throes of training, I pretty much swam about 10,000-12,000 meters a week (divided over 2-4 workouts), biked 7-11 hours a week (with a 5-7 hour ride on the weekend), and ran/walked/elliptical’d 4-5 hours a week.  Some weeks were 15 hours of training; others peaked at 25 hours. It was madness, overall. Madness.
  • I would say if you can’t devote 15-20 hours a week in the peak weeks of Ironman training, don’t even bother.  Because those hours actually turn into 25, when you are stretching, icing, seeking mental health therapy, shopping for gels, packing your bags. Then you are so exhausted, you sleep more. It’s madness. You have been warned. 🙂

Packing for the Race

  • Should be an event all in itself.
  • Three words: Tri Bike Transport.  You drop your bike at a local bike shop, then you pick up at the expo. Then they ship it home for you too. You can also check a gear bag—helmet, wetsuit, etc. (saves airline fees!!), then you can pick up on Thursday usually before the race, along with your bike. Tri Bike Transport also introduced a new Valet service – for $30-50 they will pick up your bike AND your bags the night of the race- and have them waiting for you the next day in the village. (If they are shipping your bike home, you just take your pedals and are on your way—-they don’t ship with the pedals on—but they do put them on/take them off for you.) TBT was awesome—especially the Valet Service. There was NO way I could have gotten my bike on race night—I was dead. And to have asked my family to do it when they were there all day… the Valet service is a MUST. Even if you don’t ship your bike with them.  [Yes, I am a part of the TBT Team, but this advice is completely the same no matter what. Just disclosing my relationships.]
  • Best advice I received on packing was from my friend Yoda and also reiterated by several others dealt with packing all the bags.
    In Ironman, you are given five bags when you check-in at registration: Morning Clothes bag (you get this back after the race); Bike Gear Bag (T1 bag; for your cycling shoes, helmet, gear after the swim); Bike Special Needs bag (this is handed to you around halfway on the bike); Run Gear Bag (T2; your running shoes, clothes); and Bike Special Needs bag (this is handed to you around halfway on the run).  The best piece of advice was to pack these items in trashbags, label them and then just transfer them to the Ironman bags before the race.  Excellent advice. It helped me organize my stuff AND my thoughts.
  • Don’t bother bringing C02 cartridges on plane; they aren’t technically allowed. Buy at the race expo.

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  • Here’s a list of things that I had in each bag – not all of it was necessary.
    Morning Clothes:
    wetsuit, Trislide, 2 pairs of goggles, timing chip, swimcap, water bottle with Gatorade, pre-race gel (I forgot mine… so don’t forget yours), iPhone (once I was done with the stuff in this bag, I handed to my folks. If you are traveling alone, you can turn it in and get it back after the race). I also brought my 4 bottles of Gatorade and bike nutrition to add to the bike which had been checked in transition.
    Bike Gear Bag (T1):
    helmet, cycling jersey, cylcing shorts, socks, cycling shoes, gloves, arm warmers, arm coolers, sunglasses, Body Glide (feet, discussed later), race number with belt, sunscreen (spray), 6 Huma Gels, 2 Apple Sauce packets, 1 pack of Shot Bloks, 1 Go Macro bar, small tube of Aquaphor, hair rubber bands, baggie full of: inhaler, salt tabs, and Aleve.  In my jersey, I put all nutrition. I looked like a Camel, but it was fine.
    Bike Special Needs
    4 bottles of Gatorade (3 bottles switched out on bike, 3 other bottles abandoned, 1 bottle used to refill my aero bottle), special snack (for me, Peanut Butter M&Ms), tube & CO2, 6 Huma Gels, 2 Apple Sauce packets, 1 Go Macro bar, sunscreen (sprayed on another round, yes)
    Run Gear (T2):
    tri top and shorts, sneakers, socks, Body Glide liquified powder (feet and armpits), deodorant (used it!), visor, sunscreen, bandaids (just in case), 8 Huma Gels (pre-packed in Fuel Belt), more salt tabs and aleve
    Run Special Needs:
    second pair of shoes (discussed later), socks, Body Glide, bandaids (didn’t use, should have), more Huma Gels, 1 shot Bloks, Peanut Butter M&Ms, compression socks (didn’t use, should have), cooling towel (didn’t use, should have), and clip light (didn’t use, should have).

Bike Check & Registration

  • If you are nervous about your bike mechanicals, harass the Expo on-site bike techs until you are sure that you are ok. I had some issues that I was told was resolved before leaving ATL, only to arrive in CDA and see it wasn’t so.  I took my bike to the techs TWICE and bothered them until it was fixed. It was. And I felt 1000000 times better. And I was very appreciative.
  • Try to enjoy the registration process. The lines are long and in CDA’s case, it was raining and cold, but I thought about how cool it was to pick up my stuff and get the IRONMAN band on me.  And it was. Especially the backpack.IMG_1587
  • Go shopping. Get a few Ironman goodies. They are motivating. But the real deal is getting up SUPER EARLY on the day after the race and standing in line for the FINISHER goodies. That was a pretty special time. Despite how sore and tired I was. It was just special. Don’t miss out on it. Especially if it’s your “First and Last” Ironman.

Clothing

  • This is, of course, a matter of personal preference. Here’s what I did, and it worked well for me:
    S: I wore a tri kit under my wetsuit for the swim.
    B: In T1, (in a changing tent!) I changed clothes into a cycling jersey and cycling shorts.
    R: I changed into another tri kit for the run.
    So yes, I wore one kit to the venue and placed one in my cycling gear bag, and one in my run gear bag. I think it was probably unnecessary, but I was very comfortable on the bike for many more miles than I otherwise could have been.  So in the end, it was worth it. Also, nice to have “clean” clothes after 112 on the bike. Again, it’s just a preference. I was just rejuvenated by changing.
  • I have long been hooked on Moving Comfort sports bras. No chafing, even after 140.6. But it was also accompanied by Aquaphor.
  • Socks.  I usually run with socks no matter what.  In a half Iron, I may or may not put on socks for the bike.  But in 140.6, yes I did for bike and run. And I’m glad I did. My feet were so hot and swollen after the ride, it was a good thing.  I changed socks in T2, discussed later. Good move.

Equipment

Many of you asked what kind of gear I have/used on the course.  Please note that I am not sponsored by any of these companies (unless otherwise noted), this is just for informational purposes only.

  • Goggles:  TYR Special Ops
  • Wetsuit:  ORCA S4  (I think this was a great beginner wetsuit. A little thicker than some of the expensive ones, but pretty comfy as far as wetsuits go.)
  • Lube for wetsuit: TriSlide
  • Lube for feet: Body Glide liquified powder
  • Lube for the Queen: Aquaphor (SHOULD be a sponsor! As much as I advertise for them. LOL!)
  • Tri Suit/Cycling Jersey/Shrts:  SBM gear made by Zoca Gear (partnered with SBM)
  • Tri Bike:  Blue Triad  (partnered with All3Sports)
  • Cycling Shoes:  Shimano WT52
  • Helmet: I can’t for the life of me remember what kind. It was fancy Giro – and I got it on wicked sale at All3Sports.com.
  • Aero Bottle: Profile Design. It’s the little cheap one that has flexible straw. I’m a fan.
  • Running Shoes:  Saucony Kinvara 4 (sponsored; best shoes EVA).
  • Visor:  Headsweats
  • 2 bottle Fuel Belt
  • GPS tracker was from MyAthleteLive.com.  And while I heard (from you guys) that it sucked as far as time tracking, it was a very useful tool for my family on the course because they knew where I was at any given time, so they could plan to see me on the course.0411_01626

Nutrition

Again, this is just what worked for me.

  • Practice your intended race day nutrition in EVERY workout. I worked hard to try and eat just like I planned to do on the course.Those super long century rides were perfect opportunities to practice. (Except the one where Yoda and I pigged out on all the snacks. In that ride, I learned that I have iron stomach for cookies.) Early on, everyone said, “Eat potatoes in an Ironman!!”  And I thought, well, that’s a great fuel source, I’ll do that.  But turns out potatoes do not agree with me after an hour or two. In fact, they tear me up.  So it was a good thing I practiced.  By the time I raced, I knew exactly what worked and what didn’t.
  • As a rule, I eat every 30 minutes on any long workout- Ironman was no exception. I did pretty well with it, and then some.
  • Goal was to try and pound down some serious calories about 2-3 hours before the race. For breakfast at 4:00am, I had my standard “power breakfast”: brown rice (or quinoa), cream, almonds, banana and raisins, which was about 550 calories. Some people swear by Ensure drinks (Columbus, for one), but I can’t drink them. However you can get the calories in, it’s a good deal—because you’ll need them.
  • Before the swim, I intended to take a gel or two for the extra calories, but I forgot to bring one. So I took a juice box from the kids and that seemed to work. Poor kiddos.

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  • Learn what’s on the race course. If you can race with what they offer —-do!  Because you won’t have to carry it. But consider that sometimes they might run out of what you need. I went through one or two aid stations that were just “out” of things, and I heard other racers losing their minds about it.
  • I did not use the course gels or drinks, because I have a corn (maltodextrin) allergy. Ironman provided Perform and GU is what was offered at IMCDA– I can tolerate in small doses, but not over long times. I didn’t think Ironman was the race to test my allergy strength. So I packed my own bottles of Gatorade (4 on the bike to start and 4 in Special needs), and carried my own nutrition.
  • In addition to the 8 bottles of Gatorade I brought, I had 3-4 bottles of water from the aid stations along the way.
  • I used Huma Gels as my main source of gel nutrition.  Over the course of the race, I consumed 15 of them (1500 calories in gels…but they are delicious).  No GI distress. Wonderful product. Can’t say enough.
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  • 2-3 Apples sauce packets (you know, the kiddo kind). They just taste good on a ride.
  • 2 GoMacro cashew butter bars – one at start of bike, one at end of bike. They pack a 230 calorie punch, and are easy to choke down. I would not call even close to call them delicious. But they are useful.
  • I used the margarita flavored Shot Bloks in between for extra salt (2 packs total during race – I think both in run. Forget now.).
  • For my special treat on the bike and on the run (in my bike special needs bag), I used a small bag of peanut butter M&Ms.
  • I took one Salt Sticks capsule every hour.
  • I took 1 Klean Endurance cheweable every 2-3 hours.
  • At almost every aid station on the bike, I grabbed 1/2 banana. On the run, I would grab that or a few orange slices with a handful of potato chips. And I had one cookie at some point, and then thought, don’t start that.
  • After Mile 18, I started taking a cup of chicken broth whenever it was offered to me, along with 1-2 cups of cola at the end.
  • In addition, I took a Dramamine at the start of the swim, and an Immodium after the bike.
  • During the run, I popped an Aleve for my massive headache.
  • Does that seem like a lot of food?  Well, it was. And I felt pretty good the entire race, so I would have rather over nutrition-ized than not.  I imagine that from the time I woke up, to finishing IM, that I consumed probably 6,000 calories during the race (not counting the pre-race meal)…. which if you divide by almost 17 hours… puts me at 352 calories an hour.  I was aiming for 300-400 an hour.  So I was about right.

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Swim

  • I need to practice my sighting. I really get off course, and for no real reason other than I just wander, and I don’t seem to care that I am wandering. I probably could cut 5-8 minutes off my time if I’d swim in a reasonable point-to-point manner.
  • Don’t forget to lube around your timing chip. That can make a NASTY chafing mess.
  • I forgot my pre-race snack.  Even with all the stuff and lists, I forgot something so simple.  Luckily, it didn’t seem to matter.  But it could have.
  • Dramamine.  Best swim trick ever. No sea-sickness.  Also, trying to look ahead rather than straight down helped a friend during his race with the motion sickness.
  • Earplugs on the swim. A good idea. Drowns out the water, some of the commotion, and prevents the brain freeze from cold water.
  • Used lots of lube around the neck to prevent wetsuit hickeys. Lots. Lots and lots.
  • I appreciated my sense of non-panic in the water. I think there’s very easily ways to wig ourselves out in the open water. I mean, it’s completely terrifying if you investigate it too much. I remained calm and didn’t get flustered when I was kicked or punched, and I remembered to be grateful in the swim.  Try not to panic.  Seriously. Stay calm.
  • Taking my time coming out of the first loop was good.  Taking my time going into T1 was good.

T1

  • No need to pack an entire store of triathlon supplies. There is such thing as too much of a good thing—-when I was dizzy from the swim, couldn’t use my fingers very well, having an overwhelmingly large supply of things in my T1 to process was tough… and it wasted time.
  • Move faster than you think you need to in transition. I spent like 14 minutes in transition and swore I was only in there 5 minutes.

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Bike

  • There is really no reason to carry around 3 tire tubes and 4 C02 cartridges. This goes back to my too many supplies. But then again, if I had needed 3 tubes… I might be writing a different bullet point.
  • Learn to take the bottle handoffs at aid station. Practice. I did that before Augusta last year, and it helped. Just focus on the handoff, yell out to the volunteer that has what you want and point at them, “Water” or “banana” – it helps them help you.
  • Be grateful. Look around. But look forward. Yes, I said be grateful earlier. But 100 miles into a bike ride, it starts to be difficult. But enjoy the scenery, the others on the bike.  It makes a difference.
  • Learn to pee on bike. Do not STOP to go potty seven times during a bike leg.  Do not spend 10 minutes at the special needs station putting on sunscreen and chatting with a volunteer who is a Realtor in the city.  You will get distracted.  [But I really am interested in moving to CDA. Just saying.]  These several stops may have helped me, energy-wise, but they actually cost me probably 45 minutes.  And with my race time, I kinda needed those.  If I could do it again, I would have cut out every other potty stop (e.g., held my bladder).  And for the next one (ha!), there will be a clinic on how to pee on the bike. I still can’t manage it. No matter how hard I try.
  • Contradictorily (is that a word?)— if you aren’t “racing” for time, then go slower than you think you need to (as long as you actually have the time to spare) to try and conserve your legs. I’m not sure this line makes sense. But I know what I mean.  So ignore me.
  • If someone is going just slightly slower than you are up a hill, just fall behind them and spin it out—don’t blow up your legs for a slight advantage. The trade-off isn’t worth it. I did a good job with this except one time… and I felt like I paid for it for miles.

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T2

  • My run bag was significantly more organized than my T1 bag, so that helped. But I think there’s less to think about in T2… plus, was so bloody glad to be off the bike.
  • I also let a volunteer help me more in T2… like actually change my clothes. Take my shirt off for me.  Get entirely too close to help me with my shorts. I would have been embarrassed any other time. But man, you just don’t care. Those in-tent volunteers are saints.
  • Try and have a snack here. I didn’t and wish I had.

Run

  • Body Glide Skin Glide Liquified Powder on the feet.  Buy it, slather it on feet. That is all. I still had pretty messed up feet, but I can’t imagine what they would have been like otherwise. In a 13.1, I have run the whole way without a single blister and in the rain.  I just think 26.2 becomes ridiculous and feet start to hurt.
  • Chicken broth – drink it at every stop.  It’s gross, but it’s nectar from the gods.  The salt, the warmth. You just wanted to curl up with a blankie and rest.  But alas, move forward lady!!
  • Peanut Butter M&Ms – I carried a pack and ate a few at each mile past 20.  It was something to look forward to.  And there’s not much out there to look forward to from Mile 20-25 when you’re alone in the dark.
  • Changing shoes at the 13.1 mile mark didn’t make that big of a difference for me, but changing SOCKS felt huge. Recommend. Also added a new layer of Body Glide liquified powder.

[It also helps if you have a really cute four-year old girl to stand near you.]

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  • Hug your family everytime you see them. Even if your husband says, at Mile 14, “Stop hugging us and RUN!!! Go!!!” Hug them. For me, my family was the reason I was out there, moving forward. I figured that they were sitting out there supporting me, so I should slather some sweat on them. Plus, the extra boost translated to extra speed—I’m convinced– and I swear that there is absolutely no time disadvantage because of the family-hug-boost. See?
  • If you are a slower racer like me, don’t let the loop course get you down.  I loved seeing my friends who were racing on the course. Each “go Meredith” or “yeah, Swim Bike Mom” was a huge boost.  But almost ALL of them were heading home for their last 7-8 miles when I was heading out for my first few… that can be discouraging, but my advice would be—-don’t let it be. You too can encourage —and realize that everything has a time and place.  And your time just may be slower, and your place further down in the finish. But it’s all good.  Plus, all the crazy crowd cheering comes out in the last hour of an Ironman. That’s the slow people bonus! 🙂
  • Everyday I’m Shuffling. Sometimes walking hurt worse than running or shuffling. After Mile 15, I invented this hybrid walk-run-shuffle, and it served me well.
  • Know where you are on the course (timing-wise), but don’t obsess about it.  I had my deadlines in sight the entire race, but I didn’t mull over them. I think it’s good to find a happy place of balance with the time you want, and the time you “need.” And have a focus somewhere around it all—if that makes sense. But yes, know the deadline… if you are that close, like I was.  Then let your family know too, if you are on a rolling swim start (which causes Midnight to not matter as much). I could have shouted out to my husband that I had until 11:43pm, and that would have helped him not fret as much.
  • Just Keep Moving Forward. (Really? Yes, really.).  I sat down in a porta-potty once and emerged 10 minutes later. I was just hanging out. Acting like I had nowhere to be. That was NOT moving forward, in case you were wondering.
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  • When you slap hands down the finish chute, make sure you stop running and don’t start again until you find your five-year old son and high-five him… if you don’t, you’ll never hear the end of it.  (“Mommy never high-fived me. Mommy doesn’t love me.”  Oh lawdy, boy. I was doing the best I could! :))
  • Enjoy that last 0.2 of a mile. Savor it. Love it. Smile. Cry. Look foolish. I didn’t plan a finish line pose… instead, I just soaked it in. I may have nothing but ugly cry pics for my finish. But I have a distinct, fabulous, ugly-cry memory of it burned into my brain forever.

In Closing

  • I learned that I am stronger than I ever thought possible. (Which means, so are YOU, by the way!) It sounds braggy and someone who finished just barely probably shouldn’t be braggy—-but I have a point, so bare with me. I can’t believe that I went the entire race without wanting to quit. That my mind was focused enough to never think “quit.”  My body wanted to… I could hear it whimpering (“Dear God, please stop this insanity”), but my mind was so much louder (“GO Go go!”).  And I KNOW that’s because of my mind—not my flailing body. Coach Monster gave me all the tools to focus my mind and sharpen it to endure the pain—-those endless trainer rides—my lawd.  It was because of this, I was able to endure the pain. And guess what… Ironman. Woot.
  • After the race, don’t start the crap list of things that went wrong and how you suck. If you did it, you are an Ironman. Don’t forget that.  If I hadn’t peed 15 times during the race, yes, I probably would have finished an hour earlier. But so what. I keep reminding myself of that. I set the goal to finish an Ironman, and I did. So I’m going to stop with the “what ifs.”

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  • And yes, I went for the tattoo.  Because I never wanted to forget that I had that experience. And because I hope it will make me think twice about stuffing that Twinkie in my face. And because I will always welcome an excuse for a tattoo.
  • Oh and everything is different… and NOTHING is different after Ironman. I’m still Mom. I’m still wife to the one and only Expert (which is a good sign… we survived!???). And I’m just me at work.  I don’t really feel that different. I just feel like, “Whew. Glad that went well. Because I’d hate to have to do it again.” ;))

What’s Next?

  • I do intend to publish a helpful checklist for you guys someday. Bear with me.
  • Well, when Coach Monster told me “no” to Ironman Louisville (6 weeks away), I decided that I might try and relax for a bit. But that didn’t work out well.  So I signed up for a marathon. Rock ‘n Roll Savannah in November.  And I’m running a 5k on July 4th to see if I can break the 30 minute barrier.  And I’m still on the books for Ironman Augusta 70.3, though only time will tell.
  • I am definitely going to incorporate yoga again into my training.
  • Trying to breathe. Take better care of myself. Really lose weight. The same things I always say. But little by little… it gets better. Every day, every month. Moving forward works.

#justkeepmovingforward

 

47 Comments

  • Kathleen

    July 2, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    Seriously, seriously impressed. When my friends first started bugging me about doing a sprint triathlon, your book was one of the first things I read. Now that there are less than 20 days until “T-Day” as we call it, I am reading it again. If you can pull off a bad ass Ironman, I hope that I can finish this sprint! Congrats again! 🙂

    Reply
  • Jenn

    July 2, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    YAY! THis is a great list and Im sure I will come and visit it again and again. Im doing Augusta and Savannah 26.2! I also just realized that we have run Tybee together the past 2 years. So excited to see what is next!

    Reply
  • Sara

    July 2, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    Love this, and how real and honest you are. Seriously motivating to me, an average (or slightly below average) athlete that has ridiculously impossible dreams to do an ironman someday! Thank you for sharing. And please follow through on the pee on bike training 🙂

    Reply
  • Andrea Rainey

    July 2, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    Hey! I’m in your finish line pic — I’m the short person to the right of the guy in the white baseball cap. So I missed catching you by 2 people. Bummer!
    As a finish line volunteer, I’d also like to add: When we ask if you want a photo, the answer is YES. No matter how sucktastic it was, if you don’t you’ve missed an opportunity you may regret when you’re no longer delirious.
    Also, please don’t be out and out nasty to the volunteers. We understand what you’ve gone through (some have done IM, some have family members who have, etc.) and we know you may be grumpy or mad, but don’t take it out on us, it harshes our buzz!

    Reply
  • Ann Cone

    July 2, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    I watched and cheered for you all day at CDA. I am on the CDA Tri team with Anna! You are such an inspiration… and know that I know you are a “recovering lawyer” too (I stopped practicing 10 years ago yesterday).. I love you even more!

    Reply
  • Angie

    July 2, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    So much information! Thank you for sharing. I recently finished my first sprint triathlon and loved it!! Would it be too rude to ask how much (ballpark) it really costs to do an ironman?

    Reply
  • Trish

    July 2, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    Thank you for sharing all of this!! I feel like I had inside peek into the mystery that is Ironman. I was curious about the clothing changes (i.e. if you changed), so I’m glad you shared!! One and Only, eh?? 😉

    Reply
  • Leanne

    July 2, 2013 at 10:04 pm

    Congrats! I am re-embarking on my triathlon journey. I did a sprint tri in 2002 and then went back to wrestling. It took having 3 kids for me to get my butt in gear to start running. I have done two marathons in the last year and needed a new challenge. That’s where you and your book come in! I have a duathlon on Saturday and my first olympic triathlon in August!

    Reply
  • Kelly Pollock

    July 2, 2013 at 10:30 pm

    Thanks,again, for sharing so much. You really do inspire us. I picked up running and dropped 50 post-baby pounds and thought I’d just stick with running until I read your book and followed you during the race. Guess what? I got in the pool today to attempt to swim laps for the first time in 20 years to train for a sprint tri! Just keep moving forward, right?!

    Reply
  • Summer

    July 2, 2013 at 10:43 pm

    Because of your guest appearance on the “Another Mother Runner” podcast, I really have had this boost of confidence in my running, so much so that I’m running my first marathon at Rock n’ Roll Savannah in November. Even though I’ve ran two half marathons, I’m a big girl (getting smaller every day!) and I’m not fast. I never wanted to say, “I’m a runner” because I didn’t really feel like I deserved that title. I remember in that podcast you talked about owning the title of triathlete and you laughed about how we all look ridiculous at times and we just need to get over it. I have listened to that podcast several times now, usually when I’m feeling fat or slow, and then I always feel confident. I’ve started actually saying, “I’m a runner.” I just want to thank you for your blog and for telling your Ironman story. It really does inspire me and help me have more confidence in my running.

    Reply
  • Mariah

    July 2, 2013 at 11:57 pm

    Love the post…have your book on the side of my bed…completely inspired…I can’t get a IM out of my head…I seriously think a half is firmly on my radar…just need to get the husband and 4 kiddos on board…thanks for sooooo much inspiration. You have no idea how much it means.

    Reply
  • Amysue712

    July 3, 2013 at 4:10 am

    Love it. I love reading your blog. 🙂 I’m doing the Seattle-to-Portland ride (a 2 day/200 mile bike ride) in two weeks (not that it compares to ironman!) but your perseverance & positive attitude has definitely rubbed off on me!

    Reply
  • Kirsten

    July 3, 2013 at 8:17 am

    Thanks for a great race report!
    In less than a month, I’ll be taking on Ironman Lake Placid as my 1st IM. Your lists, race breakdown, etc. is so helpful! Congrats on becoming an Ironman!

    Reply
  • Britton

    July 3, 2013 at 8:58 am

    Thank you for sharing your experiences! I am amazed at your courage and strength to keep moving forward! I am a runner who has been struggling with runs lately so I am going to mix it up and “tri” my hand at a sprint distance. My long term goal would be to do a half ironman! Congrats again on an amazing accomplishment and I look forward to reading more of your journey (im new around here!)

    Reply
  • Jana

    July 3, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    Wow!! I have to say that I am a runner, but after reading this and your race report, I am feeling like I might want to someday try a tri! I doubt an Ironman is ever in my future, but maybe a sprint! 🙂 You are so inspiring! What an amazing accomplishment and I’m still overwhelmed at how much it took to get there. Wow! Thank you again for sharing it with us!

    Reply
  • Linda

    July 4, 2013 at 2:06 am

    Learn to pee on the bike??? I think you would have to be pretty hardcore to do that. I am imagining it running down your legs and sloshing around in your shoes. And what if there was a person riding behind you – would it spray them?? Yuk Yuk Yuk!

    Reply
  • Megan T

    July 8, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    I was shocked to read that you don’t recommend running more than 14 miles before your race. I would have thought it would have been more, but happy to hear it! because honestly running is my least favorite part I’ve done a few triathlons and trained 6 months for a marathon but got (unexpectedly) pregnant right before and my doctor said I had to pull out, but never an ironman. Might have to get on a training schedule and sign up!!

    Reply
  • Angela

    July 10, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    Quick question… Did u wear your tri suit under your wetsuit ? I saw that u checked in your tri suit at t2 and used your bike jersey And shirts for the bike. Why not the tri suit the whole way?? How does the clothes transition work?

    Reply
  • emmy

    October 13, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    I am so happy to discover your blog. I started my fitness journey in January of this year. I’ve been pretty sedentary most of my life. I joined the NYRR and started with a running group but got sick week’s in. I’ve recently re started and set a new goal if competing in a sprint triathlon (secretly I’ve always dreamed of being an Ironman). So I have to learn to swim and ride. Reading your blog makes me know this possible! Kudos on all of your accomplishments.

    Reply
  • Rich Razgaitis

    January 5, 2014 at 11:57 pm

    Wow, I absolutely LOVED this write up. I have never done a Tri before but am signed up for Ironman CDA in June ’14, and while I have been a moderate runner the past year I just started my more active overall training about a month ago.

    I’ve been googling reco’s for first timers, esp in CDA, and this was fantastic. Also, I found myself totally inspired by your story and writing. Fantastic. So impressed and moved. Thanks for such a great write up, and if you have any other advice or links to resources for a first-timer IM’er (esp for CDA) that would be fantastic.

    All the best!

    ~Raz
    http://www.razflections.com

    Reply
  • Erin Widby

    February 4, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    Thank you for taking the time to do this!!! I am doing my first Ironman, in CDA, this year!! The swim & the run will be my strong points but the bike I have been worried about..so after reading your posts I will definitely be adding more hills to my training!! THANK YOU

    Reply
  • Bill Fulbrook

    November 17, 2014 at 8:52 pm

    SBM,

    Thanks to you I finished my first Ironman at 56. Incredibly perfect advice and incredibly well written. You are wonderful!! Thank you. Best part “be patient”.

    Bill

    Reply
  • Dan Allen

    November 27, 2014 at 8:48 am

    Thank you for all your information. I haven’t done any triathlons on about 14 years. And the longest one I ever did was a half Ironman a few years before then. But next fall I hope to do a full Ironman distance race and had many questions on what to wear and bring. I will be referencing what you wrote often.

    Reply
  • Debbie t

    May 21, 2015 at 12:21 am

    You are hilarious! Such informative info to boot! Really enjoyed reading about your Tri’s! Keep up the good work! I’ve bookmarked your tips. First sprint tri n cpl weeks. Hope I have as good an attitude as you!

    Reply
  • Ron

    July 20, 2015 at 8:24 pm

    Nice post (I’ve read it twice) – thanks – and I will be reading it again, I’m sure – training for my first (“and likely last”) IM – Chattanooga, Sep – experimenting with nutrition – will try the Huma gels.
    Thanks again!

    Reply
    • Ron

      September 2, 2015 at 9:55 pm

      I love the huma gels – thanks!

      And I read your post again – and I’ll likely read it again before Sep 27 – great info – thanks again!

      Reply
  • David

    September 2, 2015 at 7:57 am

    Thank you for the wonderful information in this post. .I know that I want to do an IronMan, but I am patient to put in the time to train up to this event in the next 4 to 5 years. I will refer to this post often as a good checklist for this event. Thank you very much!!

    Reply
  • Kim Groshek

    April 30, 2017 at 10:29 pm

    This is great! Thank you so much for your posting this. I am training for my first time Ironman Wisconsin, 2nd time trying, I quit in July last year. I have a better setup this time around and am confronting my fears by signing up 4 months ago to a master swim, which has helped me conquer my swim fears tremendously and my times are faster, and I’m stronger in the water. But your tips are another helper, and I plan to try your suggestions out as I train and practice transitions in my olympic tri’s I’m planning to do this summer, going forward. Thank you!

    Reply

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