Friday, October 10, 2008

Kona, Bike Check, ST Get Together

Desiree Ficker's bike

TJ Tollakson on the left



some people at the ST Get Together (didn't get screen names)

fitzie and Haim

trackie clm and cute guy

can't remember in orange, Hid in striped shirt (thanks for the party, dude)

support crew, Joe B (I got to put the lei of flowers on Joe at the finish)

THE Mark Allen

Friday, August 15, 2008

Ironman Lake Placid RR: A Day of Biblical Rains and Watermelon Angels

First, I want to acknowledge that Team Z has the best support and cheering crew on the face of the planet. They were all over town and at the out and back on the bike. The biggest group was on Mirror Lake drive as you made your way to and from the out and back and special needs. You couldn’t miss the tons of screaming people with green horns and cow bells. Every time I saw you guys my spirits were lifted and I found energy I didn’t know I still had. Thanks to ALL the spectators and volunteers for sticking it out in that rain.

It’s hard to see everyone as you go by on the bike or when your head is down on the run and more difficult when everyone is covered up. But these are the spectators that stand out in my mind: Kerri Kramer: You are the best cheerleader ever! Roy and Linda Rumsey: Sagtastic, baby, Sagtastic! Ed and Brian on the second loop of the bike; Cathy Lett who I saw when I first started my run for the split second when I was still feeling good; Holly – I saw you very briefly but I remember seeing you. Es – you are loud, but it was great; Fabrice – Dude, you looked like you were having a great time!; James’ wife (can’t remember her name) for helping me get some cream; Matt’s brother was great; Dave F. Holy Shit dude you were freaking awesome! A special thanks to Lindsay Mauldin for being a great rode trip buddy, roommate and Sherpa! I will be there for you next year, Lindsay thanks sooooo much.
To every single person: Thank you so much for being there. Having people cheer for you is always great, but on a day like that, it means so much more.

To everyone that raced: You are some of the toughest Ironmen ever. Congratulations to you all. “The name of the game is to finish”. John Collins.

The Swim (1:21:35, AG: 70/123). Besides the fact I suck at swimming, I was actually ok with this as I went 1:27 at Kona last year.
About the only time it didn’t rain was before the swim. I made my way into Mirror Lake and chose a spot about to the right of the buoys and about 10 yards back from the flags in the middle. This ended up being a good spot and the swim start was no where near as physical as I thought it was going to be.

My swim went well and I didn’t have to sight much at all. On the way back in there was a glowing green sign thingy at the finish and used it to sight. I thought: “Swim to the light, swim to the light” as it was kind of mesmerizing. I’m not sure exactly when it started raining, but at one point it was coming down pretty hard and I thought it would probably stop before we got on the bike. Yeah, right.
The only swim advice I can give is about swimming straight. To all the crooked swimmers out there: Pretty PLEASE practice swimming straight in open water.

T1 (7:59):
It was my first time with a wetsuit stripper and the wetsuit came right off. The run down to transition was fun as the crowd support here was awesome.

The Bike (6:25:37, AG 31/123) Sweet.
The bottom line for me on the bike is that the rain just didn’t bother me. After facing 70 miles of winds on the bike at Kona and letting it get to me mentally, I just wasn’t going to let the rain get to me. And because it wasn’t windy, I managed to stay strong and warm. The only issue I had was the chaffing started near the end of the first loop. This is almost never an issue with me, but today it was. For the first time (but not the last) I grabbed some cream and while a couple Team Z spectators (James’ wife and someone else) tried to shield me, I reached down my shorts and lubed up. Modesty was not even on my mind.

I finished the first loop in about 3:05 and I felt good. The second loop was much less crowded coming down into Keene and at one point I was going so fast (over 40mph), I was smiling. I was having a blast. The second loop was slower of course but I still felt good. I saw Ed and I think he was with Brian on the climb into Jay. I blew them a kiss and waved! On the second loop I managed to deal with the chaffing, but it still hurt.

Team Z people I remember seeing on the bike that I know there names: Tim G (he was looking sooooo strong), Colin, John M, Matt, Talia, Chris, Sebastian, David G, Kate, Harriet, Carole, Charlotte, Jana (you are so tough); Jen M – girl you had the race of your life! I saw more I can’t remember.

T2: (6:55):
It felt soooooooo good to get some dry clothes on, even though they were about to get drenched. The volunteers in the changing tents are just so great at Ironman.

The Swim. Wait, I mean Run (4:56:01, AG: 53/123). This was my worse marathon ever. Oh well.
At the start of the run, my legs felt good and running through town was great. After a couple miles though, I noticed that my lower back was a bit sore and this slowed me down a bit. The run just sucked. Period. I never had a good moment but just kept shuffling along and walked more than ever. I was one of the lucky ones that didn’t get cold, as I had a shirt with sleeves under a sleeveless Team Z bike jersey and instead of a visor, I had a ball cap on which really helped keep the heat in.

Team Z I saw on the run: John M (dude you rocked that second lap) Kate G (you rocked the run, girlfriend), Jody, Ryan, Kona Bound Chris, Sebastian, Damon, Colin and Kim (we walked some together), Tony (you looked like you were having waaaay too much fun!), Matt, Andrea (that girl would smile through anything J, Jana, Justin, Charlotte, Harriet, Carol, Jen M- still looking strong; and so many more…

I had to lube up a couple times with Vaseline as the chaffing was pretty bad. One time a guy volunteer shielded me with his poncho. He knew exactly what I was doing but was a perfect gentleman. Again, modesty was beside the point. I walked at every aid station and grabbed at almost everything I could. I don’t know if I needed it all, but I took it anyway. While I really don’t want to talk about the run because it was such a miserable experience, I do have two good moments I want to share.

At one aid station a woman handed me some chicken broth and said to be careful because it was hot. I took a sip. No shit, it was scalding. However in my other hand, I had some cola. I really wanted and needed the broth, so to cool it off I dumped the cola in with the broth. I know, gross, but it actually tasted ok and I was desperate. I just made a broth/cola chaser! It was salty and sweet! Good stuff on a day like that.

The other memory happened on the second loop at the first aid station right after you make the turn to the terribly long out and back. A woman walked toward me and the other runners with a platter full of freshly cut watermelon. “Do you want some watermelon?” she asked. For a second I thought I was dreaming. “OH MY GOD! Yes please”. This woman was the Watermelon Angel brought down to earth and she smiled at us as we all grabbed at the watermelon like we were starving. It was the best thing I tasted all day long. Thank you, Watermelon Angel.

The Finish
Slowly, I made my way back into town. At this point, I resigned myself that I wasn’t going to break the 13 hour mark and had not looked at my watch in a long time. I went past the Team Z tent on the out and back and this really helped lift my spirits as I felt like total crap. They were cheering their asses off for everyone – Team Z or not.

At this point it wasn’t really raining that hard and I picked it up for about the last half mile. However, right before the turn onto Main after running down Mirror Lake Drive a downpour came out of no where. I laughed and smiled at how funny this was. It actually would have been disappointing not to finish the hard rain after a day like that. Bottom line: I was finally entering the Oval. I tried to wave and smile at the crowd, but I definitely was not enjoying this finish as much as I did at Kona.

But, as I made the final turn and saw the clock I realized I was just under 13 hours and picked up the pace big time. I was so concentrated on the clock that I didn’t wave and smile to the crowd until right before I crossed the finish line. When I knew I broke 13 hours and heard Mike Reilly say, “Stacy, You.Are.An.Ironman!” I was sooooooo happy and celebrated at the finish. Paul had the camera and I said, “I just went sub-13!”
My time: 12:58:06. AG: 37/123. WooooooHoooooo!

Next IM: IMFL November 2009. Weather forecast: Late season hurricane.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Eagleman 2008 Race Report: Did someone say, "HTFU"?* Yes, that was me to myself over and over again.

This was my third year at Eagleman and I wanted to raise money for a great cause. I am raising money for the Paralyzed Veterans of America, Heritage Fund. 100% of the money raised goes to outdoor sports programs for paralyzed and disabled veterans, many returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

As for the race itself you all know about the heat and humidity. I won’t even try to describe it except that hell would have felt cooler.

After finding out about the weather forecast I gave up my goal of going sub 5:30 for a PR and settled for trying to go sub 6 hours. Having gone 5:45 last year I thought this might be doable, particularly if there was little wind on the bike. I contemplated my race strategy and went back and forth on whether I should try to PR the bike. I knew I was going to suffer on the run anyway and thought if I could PR the bike then it would be a good day.

It was getting warm and with the humidity first thing in the morning I knew it was going to be tough out there as I was already sweating a bit just waiting around.

The Swim:
The water temp was 76 and wetsuits were allowed. This was a welcome change from the freezing temp at Columbia three weeks ago when I had a mini panic attack and couldn’t catch my breath at the start. Today I had no such problem and from the start had steady breathing and felt strong the entire swim. I felt like I was really moving and was trying to practice reaching and gliding more, which Coach Ed has been helping me with. The swim seemed to be taking much longer than normal (even for me). I ended up going three minutes slower than last year. Even some strong swimmers have been saying it may have been a bit long. Oh well. Time: 43:41. 2007: 40:27. Now – time for the bike!

Some advice for any part of the race. When something doesn’t turn out as planned just say, “Oh well” and move on. Don’t freak out about it and don’t fret about. What’s done is done. Just move on to the next stage and concentrate on that.

I had to visit the porta pottie, so my time was off by a minute and half for what I normally do at Eagleman. Oh well. Time: 4:46. 2007: 3:16. Last year my T1 and T2 times in my PR half in September were about 1:30.

The Bike:
The air temp wasn’t too bad yet as I began my way from Great Marsh through the neighborhood. The beginning of the bike course changed this year and as I made my way through this new section I thought, “I hope we don’t have to run through this.”

I was fully committed to my strategy to PR the bike and pushed pretty hard the entire time. There was some blatant drafting going on by some women and while I could have taken advantage of it I didn’t want to. I wanted my time to stand on its own, no matter how it turned out. I was surprised how good I felt, but it was getting warmer and I squirted water on my head several times to keep cool.

It got a little breezy and there was a bit of headwind the last 10 miles or so. This is par for the course coming back into Cambridge , but the day was set up for super fast bike times even with the heat. With about three miles to go we rode back through the new section I mentioned earlier. I watched in near horror as the runners trudged their way out and back along this stretch. I was dreading that I would be joining them very soon. On the bright side, I ended up with a Half Ironman bike PR of 2:47:40 (20.1mph).
2007: 3:02:55 (18.5mph).

Repeat of T1 and my times were one second apart. At least I was consistent! My transitions are becoming uneventful so I think this is a good sign. Time: 4:45. 2007: 2:57.

The Run (aka the road to Purgatory):
What can I say? It was brutal out there even at the start. I was hoping to find my legs by about mile one, but it never happened. I just kept slogging along and while my legs didn’t feel tired or sore I couldn’t find the energy to get them to move any faster.

I wanted to start walking from the start and by about mile 3 I did just that through the next aid station. I had never walked at an aid station this soon in a race.

Being from a running background, I don’t like to walk on my runs. However, I walked more at Eagleman than I did during the Kona marathon. I just couldn’t pick up my feet and get any real momentum. My pace was at Z1 and my heart was at Z3. Even this soon in the race and this being my 7th half, I never saw so many people walking before. No one was having a great run; a very few looked strong but most were just trying to suffer through to the end.

The volunteers at the aid stations were amazing and had everything we needed. There were endless cups of ice, ice water and Gator Aid. At one point I picked up a packet of gel and saw that it was chocolate flavored and it felt very warm to the touch. Ewww. I put it back down. I walked through and took my time at every aid station, grabbing at every cup that was offered. I even got a routine down:
Step 1: Dump cup of ice water on head
Step 2: Drink another cup of ice water, or two
Step 3: Drink at least half of a Gatorade (it was mixed pretty strong)
Step 4: Dump cup of ice down sports bra. I learned this by watching Michellie Jones at Kona. You should try it ladies, it really helps keep your core cooler
Step 5: Walk while finishing my water and then start “running” again.

The absolute worse part of the run was running back through the new section. This stretch was about 2/3 of a mile long, but it felt like 5 miles. It was a really wide street and made up of very black asphalt road with no vegetation, no aid stations, and no spectators. It was awful. I heard later that the temperature got to about 111 degrees on the pavement.

I just kept my eyes cast downward as I shuffled along. I didn’t want to look up to see how far I still had to go. Running through this hell hole on the way back to the finish was the worse I ever felt during any race – ever.
I finally made it back to civilization and as we ran back through the neighborhood to the finish there were people out spraying us down with hoses. I muttered thank you and pressed on. This is where I saw Paul Gross again and stopped to walk with him. We chatted and agreed that this effing sucked. I asked him if he had some run left in him and he said yes.

We began our jog to the next aid station which was the last. It was the first time I didn’t stop or take water. We had just over a mile left and it was too late for help anyway. I gave Paul some words of encouragement and continued on. After a couple more turns, I finally made it to the finish.
Time: 2:18:11. This was my slowest half marathon ever and I earned my second PR for the day, but this time it was not good news.
2007: 1:56:15.

Final Time: 5:59:02, 2007 5:45:47

Post Race and Mental Lesson Learned:
I saw Chris and Paul after the race. I didn’t stay to see if I got a Clearwater 70.3 spot, but chances are not. Plus the thought of doing another half IM at that point was not at the top of my to do list.

The biggest lesson I learned again was a mental one. From when I first started the run my body was telling me to quit and my mind was starting to listen. Even though I felt ok physically, my mind was saying, “Stacy, just walk, go ahead, it’s ok”. But I fought hard to shut those thoughts down. I already gave in to shuffling along slowly, so that became my compromise.

Your mind is much more powerful than your body. Sure there are times when you can’t go on physically and you should always stop as was the case with most people on Sunday. They were smart to listen to their bodies. But if you are feeling “ok” physically but just want to stop mentally, then don’t. Shut down those thoughts and keep moving forward even if it means walking. Bottom line: When those negative thoughts start to creep in don’t give in, just find a compromise so that you don’t have to quit completely.

Congrats to everyone who even started. There were close to 600 that didn’t even start so that sets you apart right there. Eagleman 2009, who’s in? Come on, there’s no way it will be that hot again. Right?

*HTFU means Harden the Fuck Up

Monday, June 2, 2008

Team PVA racing for Paralyzed Veterans of America

Team PVA is racing Eagleman Ironman 70.3 in honor of our disabled veterans.
Come meet some of these veterans at a happy hour fundraiser at the Front Page in Ballston on Thursday June 19 from 6-9pm.

100% of the donations received will go to the Paralyzed Veterans of America, Heritage Fund. This non profit organization supports sports programs for our wounded and disabled veterans, especially those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

It will be a casual happy hour and along with drink and food specials, there will be an auction and raffle.

Some of the items you could win are:
Signed Greg LeMond Jersey
Luray Sprint or Olympic Triathlon entry
Signed book by local Pro triathlete David Glover, "Full Time & Sub Nine"
Annapolis Triathlon entries
Marine Corps Marathon entries
Autographed Washington Redskins Football
Autographed Baltimore Ravens Football
Gerber Hydration Pack
and much more!

In addition to the auction you can also purchase a special $10 wrist band and receive two raffle tickets and additional drink and food specials. If you prefer you can purchase raffle tickets at $5 each or get five for $20.

Checks and Credit Cards will be accepted.
All donations are tax deductible.If you can't attend but want to donate you can make a secure online donation here:

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Race Report: Mountains of Misery Century Ride

Mountains of Misery, Blacksburg, VA, Sunday, May 25
Misery indeed, particularly the last climb (CAT 1). I wisely chose the Century (100 miles) over the Double Metric (128 miles) although there is nothing really wise about doing this ride at all. The Century has 10,000 feet of climbing most of which comes from two major and two minor climbs. The rest of the course is small rollers with some down hills and flats thrown in.

There were four waves with the first being the super fast guys. I chose to start in the third wave which was the largest. It was my first mass bike start but being surrounded by experienced cyclists meant there were no issues or crashes and the field spread out quickly.

I was riding with Team Zers Larry Williams, Damon Taafe and Fabrice B. for the first 28 miles (they were doing the Double). It was Damon who put out the email about this ride for those of us unable to go to Placid for training. A big thanks to Damon, she says sarcastically :)

I found myself riding with a small group off and on but mainly with a guy named Matt. They put our first names on the bib number we wore on our backs which means riders can cheer you on as they pass. Anyway, Matt rode the Century last year and we chatted about the beautiful scenery and the climbs to come. All in all we pretty much rode the rest of the ride together. He would surge past me on the up hills and then I would get aero and pass him on the smaller descents and flats. It was a lot of fun.

Yeah it was fun for a while. That is until about mile 60 when we had to climb our way out of the beautiful, flat valley we had been riding through for the last 30 or so miles. The climb started out fine but when we got closer to the hill side it got very steep with switchbacks the likes of which I have never rode on a bike. While climbing, I usually stay seated but not today. I had to get out of my saddle; otherwise I would have stopped as I was going so slowly. This climb was not really long but it was a bitch. The rest stop at the top was like an oasis in the desert. Thank God it was real.

After a five minute break we were on our way with Matt screaming his way down the steep descent. Once down the hill the course flattened out again and I got aero and took off. WooooHooooo! That was fun and it lasted several miles. The next 25 or so miles were not bad at all with a couple minor climbs but they were definitely doable.

We reached our last stop at about mile 93 – right before the last climb began. That stop was very popular as everyone was preparing for what lay ahead. As we left for the CAT 1 climb I said to Matt, “I want my mommy now”. He laughed. I was nervous and had no idea what to expect as I had never tried anything like this before. I already told myself that if I had to get off my bike and walk that I would do just that.

The first couple of miles were ok and we were definitely taking it easy. Then it got steeper and steeper and steeper. With about two miles left to go there was a small flat area right before a major ass switchback where everyone was stopping to rest. There wasn’t much talking going on, just a lot of heavy breathing, but not the creepy kind you would get on a phone call.

I rested a couple minutes and then took off up the steep switchback, out of the saddle, pedaling strong but slow. Christ this was hard. There is actually a rest stop with about a mile and half to go, but since the last stop I had gained momentum and rode past it. It was too late for help of any kind and I didn’t want to stop again, not yet anyway.

I caught up with Matt at the next flat spot before yet another steep switchback. Through the heavy breathing I looked at Matt and said, “This effing sucks”. He nodded and said, “I know”.

There was a “flat” road off to the left about 25 feet ahead and I walked up to that. I walked my bike back a bit to get some speed so that I could continue up what was now straight road and not a switchback but of course steep as hell. I got a tiny bit of speed which helped a lot. I started up the hill and thought I had maybe a half mile to go.

I decided I wasn’t going to stop again. I was afraid if did then I wouldn’t get back on the bike. I slowly, very slowly powered my way up to the finish. Someone walked passed, “Your almost there, keep it up, the finish is at the red tent”. I looked up ahead. There was no red tent in sight.

I kept pedaling praying to see the red tent. Where the hell is the red tent? Then just around a corner it came into view along with the crowds lining the road. It was still almost a quarter mile away. Keep pedaling Stacy. You can’t stop now, the finish is right there! I felt a surge as I approached and passed the finish line. There was a guy there to help hold my bike as I tried to get off my bike. It wasn’t easy but I swung my very tired leg over the saddle and made my way to get the coveted finisher’s shirt. I DID IT!

The ride ends at the hotel and cabins where the movie Dirty Dancing was filmed. It is really pretty up there and the view was amazing.
This ride is awesome. From the scenery to the SAG support and overly stocked rest stops, I highly recommend it for experienced cyclists who have a sado-masochistic side to their personalities.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Early Season Race Reports: Columbia Olympic and Kinetic Half

The race season if here! After suffering through a dreary winter the season is upon us and I couldn't be more excited.
I have two races under my belt and am really looking forward to my next race at Eagleman.
For my third anniversary of doing Eagleman, I am raising money for the Paralyzed Veterans of America, Heritage Fund which supports outdoor activities and sports for Disabled Veterans returning from Afghansitan and Iraq. I will be posting more on this within a couple of days. If you would like to donate go here:

Here are my race reports from Columbia and the Kinetic Half.

Columbia, May 18: 1.5k, 41k, 10k
Time: 2:54:27
Swim: 30:12 (AG 61/119)
Bike: 1:25:06 (AG 28/119)
Run: 54:10 (AG 31/119)
AG Place: 30/119
Overall Woman: 161/600

Pre-Race Transition:
After doing several Half Ironmans and a full Ironman, preparing for an Olympic distance race is really easy. I finished setting up within a couple minutes, but kept checking and re-checking to see if I missed anything. I was good to go. Since I had sooooooooo much time before my swim start (it wasn’t until 8:09) I went to check out the pros and their bikes.

I recognized Richie Cunningham (no – not the guy from Happy Days) but the pro triathlete who came in second at Eagleman last year. I asked him if winning 70.3 Championship in Clearwarter was his main priority this year and he said it definitely was. He didn’t seem to be in a big hurry to get to Kona but enjoys racing the big Half Ironman races.

We talked about the Columbia course and he rode it on Friday but didn’t even want to check out the run course. I told him I thought the bike was fun but the run is challenging. He said he will be back at Eagleman and I told him I will see him there.

I checked out Chris McCormack (Macca’s) and Desiree Ficker’s bikes but neither had arrived yet. I was walking out of transition and ran into Chris Wren. I asked him if he wanted to check out the pro bikes and he did. The next think I knew I was almost face to face with Macca. Christ. How cool is that? I chatted with him briefly, told him he was effing awesome gave him a hi five, wished him luck for the day and walked away. What a great sport this is. I also saw Desiree Ficker getting body marked and I said hi to her.

I hung out the at the Team Z “area” since we didn’t have the tent set up. There was food, water and chairs to sit in – which was great since I had over two hours to wait for my swim start.

The Swim:
It was finally time for my swim wave. This wave was huge and had women ages 40-44, 15-19 and 20-24. There were well over 100 of us and I found out after the race that there were 119 in the 40-44 age group alone. Right before getting in the water the announcer guy said the water temp was 71 degrees. I got in and said to Lindsay, “Bullshit! This water is not 71”. It felt more like 61 and treaded water and swam a bit to try and warm up.

Finally we started but because the water was so cold I swam with my head above water. When I tried to put my face in, I was out of breath. It took me at least a couple of minutes before I could put my face in the water and get into a rhythm. Once I warmed up I felt pretty good. It was pretty crowded at times particularly around the buoys, but I managed to find clear water for most of the swim. I got out of the water in just over 30:12, which is a decent time for me.

You have a bit of a run from the swim exit to T1 so this takes some time. I had a tree right next to my rack, so I easily found my bike. Advice for newbies: always try to find a landmark in transition or close to it so that you can locate your bike. Once I got there, I struggled to get my wetsuit off and my 3 minute transition time reflected this. Now – time for the bike!

The Bike:
It was really crowded during most of the ride. Since I was in the second to last swim wave I was constantly going by people who were first timers and/or inexperienced cyclists. I actually had to tell some of them to get to the right as they were unintentionally blocking.

The bike course is actually a lot of fun with constantly changing hills – up, down, up, down. There were a few times I was flying and even with the many cyclists I managed to have some fun.

A cyclist had an accident and had to be taken away by helicopter. I passed the scene just after the ambulance arrived and found out later that many people racing were held up for 15 or 20 minutes to wait for him to be taken away. I hope the guy is going to be OK.

I need to get Yangtz – the shoe laces that you don’t have to lace up. Sometimes I don’t fumble lacing my shoes but today it was ridiculous as my 2 minute T2 time shows.

The Run:
I have a condition I made up called “Don't YoU ReMeMber It's DIfficult? ” or DUMMII. This condition of stupidity allows me to forget that a particular course is really freaking hard so I sign up for it again. The Columbia run course is a prime example. Since completing it last year I truly forgot how difficult it is, particularly the first 3 miles. I started to worry that I wasn’t going to break the 3 hour mark and I was trying to get a good pace but the up hills made it difficult.

I wasn’t feeling good until about mile 4, when my Cliff Shot Blocks kicked in and the up hills were less numerous. I really pushed it on the down hills to make up time on the ups. I passed several Z’s but my cheering was limited today as I was really concentrating on my race.

It was a relief to get to the dam to cross the lake to the finish. A guy was trying to be helpful and yelled to us as we passed “only one more hill”! Gee buddy, thanks for the encouragement.

At this point I knew I had a chance to go under 2:55 so I was really pushing it and finished in 2:54:27. I took about 9 minutes off my time from last year. WooooooHoooooo!

Columbia is fun, but difficult. I would do it again as DUMMII has taken over. Now, could I break the 2:45 mark? Hmmmmmm.

Kinetic Half Ironman, Lake Anna, VA, April 19
Time: 6:03:39, Not my best, not my worse
Swim: 43:05 (AG 10/14), Not my best, not my worse
Bike: 3:12:43 (AG 6/14), Not my best, but close to my worse
Run: 2:01:43 (AG 4/14), Not my best, not my worse
AG Place: 3/14, :)
Overall Woman: 25/92

Being my first race of the season, I had no real goals in mind except I hoped to go under 6 hours.

The Swim:
I swam in a full wetsuit for the first time and found the arm movement to be better than expected. The water was much warmer than last year, which made us all very happy. The swim was a two loop course and pretty uneventful. I had open water then entire way and there was little crowding even at the start. My time was not my best and not my worse.

Slow. Oh well, it’s the first race of the season.

The Bike:
This was a two loop course with rolling hills. The first loop went really well, but by the second loop I was taking it pretty easy which was the main reason I didn’t finish under 6 hours. Oh well, again. It was the first race of the season.

See T1.

The Run:
It was hot now with temps in the mid to upper 70s. While I do pretty well in the heat, this course has almost no shade. I just kept my head wet and dumped cups of ice down my top (one advantage to having boobs and wearing a sports bra). The course was three loops with many hills and I didn’t find my legs until about half way through the first loop. What really sucked was running past the finish line not once but twice. While it is great for the spectators, it can be disheartening to see people finish when you have one or two loops left.

Not a bad day overall and quite unexpectedly I got third in my age group. I was of course happy about that and as it turns out it earned me a possible roll down slot to the Long Course World Championship in Holland in August. The Kinetic half was one of just a few qualifying races. While I wish my PR of 5:37 at Lake Anna last September was the reason I may qualify, I feel quite priviledged to have the opportunity to represent the USA.

Friday, April 11, 2008

A year ago today, I found out about my Kona Lottery Slot

One year ago I found out about my Kona Lottery Slot by ABC 7 News here in the DC area.
It was Friday, April 13. Friday, the 13th. Very lucky for me as it turns out.
The Ironman was exactly six months later on Oct. 13.
13 is now one of my lucky numbers

Every single thing I did for those six months was about the race. One year has come and gone, but it seems like a few months, maybe.

I decided not to sign up for the lottery this year and probably won't again. Training for and completing Kona was simply the most amazing experience of my life and while I would love to do it again, I want others like me who love triathlon to have that opportunity in the future.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

It's April! It's Spring! And it's raining with a chance of sleet.

What the eff? My road bike is still on the trainer, so that is where I will be this weekend. Or at least until Sunday. Global Warming isn't always about the Earth getting hotter.
It's about drastic departures from normal weather, which can be colder or warmer, drier or wetter.
Oh well. Again, if the water is colder than 60 degrees at the Lake Anna Half on April 19, I am not going in, even if it means a DQ (I will do the bike and run though :)

Monday, March 3, 2008

102 miles on the Bike This Week!

The weather has been good this past week. I got in about 102 miles on my bike.

My first race is a Half Ironman at Lake Anna next month. It won't be a PR, but I want to finish respectfully. Last year the water was in the low 50s. If it's that cold, I will skip the swim and do the Bike/Run. I am a big wimp when it comes to cold water. That is why my first race last season was at White Lake, NC on May 5, where the water was in the low 70s - very nice!

I read something today about swimming in Inside Triathlon that I never heard before. Basically, it was a tip about how to use your hips to help power your stroke and make yourself "smaller" in the water. While I have worked on turning my hips from side to side as Total Immersion says, a lightbulb went off when I read (and was reminded) how golfers and baseball players generate power when they execute their swing. The power comes from their hips - not their arms. I am going to really work on that when I swim tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

I Joined a Weight Loss and Swim Challenge

This is hard to admit but I have gained over 10 pounds since completing the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon in October. This sucks. What am I going to do about it?

Beside losing the weight, I joined the Slowtwitch Swim Challenge and the Tri Team Z Weight Loss Challenge.
This is soooooo against what I would normally do, which is to suck it up and do it on my own.
Why do I need help this time around? Not sure, but I need the motivation if nothing else.

Here is my latest post to the Weight Loss Challenge for Team Z:

I have a new formula: Ok, here it is:
1 Super Bowl = Nachos (squared) + Beer (cubed) =+ 1 pound.

I need to swim more and I need to eat less. It's that simple. So that is exactly what I am going to do.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A comment from Mike Reilly, The Voice of Ironman

I am new to blogging and don't always realize when comments have been made to my posts. I just read a comment I received in December from the voice of Ironman himself - Mike Reilly! He commented that he read my report from Lake Placid last year when I worked the finish line with him. His comment was positive. How very cool is that?
Mike, thank you! I will be competing at Lake Placid this year and did Kona in 2007. I hope at Lake Placid, I get to hear you say, "Stacy, You. Are. An.Ironman!".

Here is the part of my report that describes working as a volunteer at the finish with Mike Reilly at Lake Placid in July of 2007:

"My bike taking shift was over at 3pm and I went up to the finish with Gina to see about the details of this new possible volunteer job. Helen, who basically runs the finish line, said they didn’t need help with the escort of the pro women, but if I knew how to work a computer, they needed a couple people to – get this – go up in the platform overlooking the finish line with Mike Reilly and work the computer so he can call the finisher’s names! Yeah, no shit I will do that! Holy Crap, I couldn’t believe it. Talk about being in the right place at the right time. It was around 330pm at this time and I would be up there with Mike Reilly around 530.

I wanted to hang out and I was right there at the finish line and Belinda Granger was finishing soon (the women's winner). While waiting around, I met three people, two you may have heard of. One was another volunteer, Seth, who was very helpful and a really cool dude. The second person was Greg Welch. Yes, that Greg Welch. I had emailed him a couple months ago, as we both had the same heart condition. He was typing on a Blackberry, but I wanted to take a moment to meet him. I went over and introduced myself. We chatted about V-Tach and my Kona slot and then I let him be. He was waiting to interview Belinda for the on-line race coverage. What an incredibly nice, down to earth guy he is.

The last person I met I had seen talking to Greg and hanging out at the finish for about 20 minutes before I met her. I was trying to be cool and not stare. It was right before Belinda came in and she had walked over and was now standing right next to me. Who was it? Freaking Paula Newby-Fraser! Christ! I was thinking I better introduce myself before it was too late and I lost my nerve. I calmly turned to her, put out my hand and said, “Hey Paula, great to meet you. My name is Stacy Taylor.” We chatted briefly and she was nice and told me congratulations on my lottery slot and wished me luck.

I had just met the Queen of Kona who won it eight times, the only woman to break 9 hours in an Ironman and who is arguably the best female athlete – ever. God, I love Ironman! For those who don’t realize how cool this is, it would be the equivalent of a roadie meeting Lance Armstrong or Eddie Myrxx, a baseball player to meet Babe Ruth or Willie Mays, a swimmer to meet (who was the guy that won all the medals at the Olympics – oh yeah, Mark Spitz), a golfer to meet Tiger Woods or Jack Nicklaus ok, you get the idea.

I went back to my team at bike taking and told them the news. They were excited and asked how the heck I got a job like that. I was in the right place at the right time, I said. I also headed back up to the Z tent to tell them and to get a couple things from my back pack. Damn, I was excited! On my way back I got to see Annie staring her run. I screamed “Annie!! You go girl!” She looked really strong, and actually ended with about a 4 hour 20 minute marathon. She was flying!

When I got back to the finish, I retrieved a volunteer finisher wrist band and T-shirt as security was pretty tight. I was waiting for my shift to start in the platform when Dave Cascio came across the line. Most of the people who cross the line at Ironman need someone to lean on for a while. Dave was no exception. A bigger volunteer guy took his left side and I was on the right. Dave said, “Stacy, hey Stacy”. He was a bit out of it, I must admit. We walked him to the food at the finish and I asked him if he wanted cookies, bananas or pizza. Dave said he wanted three cookies and water. If you know Dave, he is usually a pretty serious guy and takes his training and racing seriously. But to hear him say, “I want three cookies” like a little kid was great!

Within about 5-10 minutes of finishing, Dave was coming around and starting to analyze his race. He said he got a drafting penalty after a peloton passed him. Dave had major surgery on his left knee and had been rehabilitating for months, but he said his knee felt ok. As it turns out, he would have finished 2nd in his 45-49 age group without the drafting penalty. Bummer. Only when I knew he was ok, I left and went back to the finish.

It was time to go help Mike Reilly call Ironman finisher’s names. I climbed up the scaffolding with Sasha, the other volunteer. We had to jump right in, as people were constantly finishing. We didn’t even have time to introduce ourselves for about 10 or 15 minutes, it was so busy. My first job was to point to the last finisher’s name on the screen of one laptop so that Mike could read it off. This was easy when there were only one, two or three people finishing. However, it got very difficult to track when there were 4, 5, 6, and 7 crossing at the same time. There was additional information such as where they are from, if this is their first Ironman, their age and job. When he had the time, he would call out some of that information as well.

The other job was to type the finishers numbers into another laptop that displayed their name and information about how many and which races they have completed before. There were some people who were completing their seventh, eight and ninth Lake Placid finishes.

I had probably been up there for about half an hour when I turned around to see who had just climbed up. You won’t freaking believe it – it was Paula! Holy shit – again! I was cool and kept working. It was after about 10 minutes I had the chance and I turned around calmly, waved and said “Hey Paula”. She waved back and said hi. She was up there for a long time and we didn’t have a chance to talk. I still can’t believe I was there with Paula and Mike Reilly. What an absolute privilege.

Around 10 or 1030pm, someone I didn't recognize climbed up into the scaffolding. She had braided pigtails and seemed to be looking for someone down below. I didn't know who she was until she was gone and Ollie told me it was Belinda Granger. I didn't recognize her with out sunglasses and her hair pulled back! My gosh, another crazy moment!

The finishers come in packs many times. There will be no one for 30 or 40 seconds, but sometimes it’s a flood gate. As the night goes on, it gets busier and busier. I saw Annie finish and I yelled for her, she finished with a kick ass time. I knew it was getting close to the time when Alisa would finish and I gave both Mike and Tom (Mike’s backup) Alisa’s bib number of 1999 so that they would make sure to say, “Alisa, You Are an Ironman”. When I saw her name pop up on the screen I went nuts. “Here she comes, Alisa! Bib 1999!” She may not have heard it, but we all did. She looked so happy has she finished and I was yelling her name and she looked up and waved. She looked tired, but very happy as well. We are all so proud of her and Annie.

They say the magic hour of Ironman finish is from 11-midnight, but in my opinion it is the entire time. However, there are some really inspirational finishes nearer to the end. There are two that stick in my mind. One thing to note is that when the clock ticks closer to the end of an hour (like 13 hours, 14 hours) it gets really exciting. As the minutes wind down, Mike will announce, “10 minutes to go under 14 hours, 5 minutes to go under 14 hours, if you can hear my voice you are close enough to break 14 hours”. Gives you goose bumps. At Placid, the crowd first gets to see the finishers on the other side of the oval. From that point, they have about 40 seconds to make it to the finish. So, if there is less than a minute, you see people actually “sprint” to the finish.

While I was teary eyed a few times when some people finished, the first time I openly cried was the woman who came in just under 16 hours. She entered the oval with less than a minute left. The crowd went crazy, Mike was encouraging her that she could make it and she sprinted to the finish. I am trying to find her exact time and her name. That was so awesome. This woman had been racing her ass off since 7am, it was now 11pm and she was sprinting to the finish. If that doesn’t get to you, you are doing/watching the wrong sport!

The next time I cried, it was a gusher and came right at the end. It was around 1150pm, 10 minutes to midnight, 10 minutes for those left on the run course to become an Ironman! Mike was down at the finish, and a guy on a bike rode up to him really fast to tell him something. Mike then announced that there was a runner on the course that had a chance to finish by midnight. His race number was 2258 and his name was Tom.

At Placid, you can hear the finish from quite a distance away. Mike knew this and announced, “Tom, you have 10 minutes to finish. I know you can hear us, you can do it”. The crowd went crazy cheering for him. The minutes were ticking by….no Tom but we kept cheering and Mike kept talking to him. Now it was less than five minutes…. time was quickly running out.

It must have been with about 4 minutes left that the crowd started chanting, “Tom, Tom, Tom, Tom…..” God, it was awesome. We keep looking at the far side of the finish oval. We keep cheering and hoping and praying he will make it. The crowd is near a frenzy when some spotters on the far side start waving to us to let us know Tom is coming, he is right there! And then we see him. Holy crap, talk about insane. We are going crazy. There is Tom and he is moving it!

Tom has been out there for 17 hours and he is running as as fast as he possibly can. He is coming around the far side of the oval - less than two minutes left to the 17 hour time limit now. Tom is coming around the last turn! Pandemonium is the rule here. He runs the last few yards and makes it across the finish line and Mike says with so much emotion and excitement, “Tom, You.Are.An.Ironman!!!!!

Simply the most inspiring moment I have ever witnessed in my life. Ollie and I were hugging and crying at the platform (I think even Tom in the platform got a bit teary eyed). I have told this story a few times now, have cried twice and am teary eyed again while writing this. What a blubbering baby! I can only imagine what I will feel like after my first Ironman at Kona. WOW!"

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Goals Met and Unmet for 2007, Plans for 2008 and 2009

2007 Goals met and unmet (not in any particular order):
1) Finish faster at the 70.3 Eagleman Half Ironman than 2006 (took 45 minutes off for a finish of 5:45)
2) Break 5:30 for half IM: Got a PR in September of 5:37. Goal moved to 2008
3) Break 3 hours on half IM bike: 2:53:21 in September
4) Break 3 hours for Oly: Did 2:20 in July, surprisingly took my age group
5) Finish Kona (my first IM): Time: 13:43 (the wind on the bike kicked my ass) but I had the
time of my life

2008 Goals:
1) Break 5:30 for Half IM (at Eagleman if conditions are like last year)
2) See how close I can come to (or if it is a perfect day) break the 13 hour mark at Lake Placid
3) Complete the brutal Savageman Half IM in Maryland in September
4) Do back to back tris: complete the Luray Oly on Saturday and Luray Sprint on Sunday
5) Break 4 hours in marathon for the second time (PR is 3:41)

Looking far ahead to 2009:
1) Do TTT
2) Do IM in another country - Roth, Austria, Germany, Switzerland?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Finally - it's 2008!

I made a post on about how to deal with the post season/post Ironman blues back on Nov. 27 and it went like this:

"So I spent my year training for and completing three half IM's, three Oly's, a sprint and the big Kahuna at Kona. A very productive year indeed. Now what? I know about the advice to try some new things, other sports etc. I am doing that and will even start doing some Yoga over the offseason. I do have Lake Placid to look forward to next year, but is it normal to feel down post season? This sucks".

I got some great advice to try some new, non-triathlon related activities. I did start to do Yoga, which I really enjoy.

However, I have really been slacking in my other training. I am still running three times a week, but only biking maybe twice and swimming only once or twice a week.

It's time to snap out of whatever the heck I have been going through. I have Eagleman and Lake Placid to look forward to in 2008. I am so glad it's finally January and although the wind chill is arctic-like this week, the temperature is expected to be in the high 50's to low 60's early next week (a sneak peek at spring is just what I need).

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Hawaii Ironman Triathlon - Kona Race Report

Here is my Kona race report. I enjoyed writing it. I tried to bring you along for the race as well as some insights into how I was feeling.
This race report is rated PG, due to a reference about needing a cold shower and the use of edited profanity (particularly on the bike.) Enjoy!

Ford Ironman World Championship, October 13, 2007
Kona, Hawaii
Stacy’s Race Report

You can read about the pre-race activities for the week from the previous posts on my blog. This report starts at 4am on Saturday Oct. 13 and ends at midnight on Sunday.

Swim: 1:27:51 (I wanted to go under 1:40 so I'm a happy camper)
T1: 6:33 (It's my first Ironman and there was more time spent changing clothes)
Bike: 7:23:33 (I got to experience the winds of Kona and yes, it hurts to be on your bike that long)
T2: 11:46 (not a typo, there is a really good explanation for this epic T2 time)
Run: 4:34:07 (This was my favorite part of the race, the sunset was amazing)
Finish Time: 13:43:50 (pretty happy with that actually and Lindsey was there with me at the finish :)

Rise and Shine (insert sound of rooster crowing here):
I slept surprisingly well and woke up about 350am, with my alarm set at 4. I got almost 5 hours of sleep. I was tired as the previous two nights sleep had been interrupted with phone calls about flight delays and cancellations for my mom and Lindsey.

Kona Kevin (aka K2), Dan and I were the first to leave to Kona. After getting dressed and having Protein Power Bar, yogurt and a banana and grabbing my special needs bags, we were off. I was still not nervous but simply excited.

Body Marking:
By about 515, K2 and I got in line to check in our special needs bags and for body marking. As we were standing there, Faris al-Sutan walked by. Little did we know then that he was already planning on dropping out of the race completely. Bummer.

I got in the short line for my race number, and when it was my turn for body marking, there was a camera crew right there filming it. This was completely unexpected. When I was done, the camera was still on me and then Kev walked up. He tried to get out of the shot, but I pulled him over to walk with me while the camera was on us. He had his Amino Vital jersey on – couldn’t pass up that opportunity. Plus he is a media ho, so he was enjoying it.

I had to drop off my bike bottles, gel flask and Power Bars at my bike. I also had a picture of Lindsey and a sticker for the Jon Blais foundation that I wanted to carry with me. I also needed to pump up my tires. There was a camera crew there again as well. Jeez, I suppose it is possible I could end up on that NBC show – K2 – you may be right after all. I don't believe it. We will see.

Anyway, I spent maybe 10 minutes at my bike, the shortest time I had ever spent in transition pre-race. Everything else was in my bike and run gear bags. It was actually much simpler to have so little to worry about race morning. I liked it.
State of mind: Calm. What the hell? Where were those nerves? Maybe when I hit the water they would come.

It was now maybe 545am and now I had time to go check out the pros and their bikes. Natasha had already come and gone. As I mentioned, I was over being star struck. That was until I saw Craig Alexander. OH MY GOD! He is now officially the hottest guy (gorgeous in every way) in triathlon and as it turns out – very nice. He was hanging out at his bike by himself and I walked right up to him. While I was drooling on the inside, I was calm, cool and collected while talking to him and we chatted for a couple minutes. I told him to remember to enjoy the day and have fun. Yes, I even tell the pros that! There was no time to snap out of my Alexander encounter with a cold shower - I would have to settle for warm ocean water instead. It was time to get ready for the swim!

After hitting the porta potty, I saw other DC area locals in transition, including Carl Hendricks, Anne Viviani and Paul Graf. Check out the next edition of Tri DC for a feature on these awesome athletes. It was about 630 by now and I found K2.
On our way out of transition we dropped off our pre-swim bags and headed around to the pier and swim entry point. Here we go! And yet – I was still calm. Whatever, I was having fun.

The Swim:
The pros started at 645 and we found ourselves in the water about 5 minutes later. I said goodbye to K2 and told him to, yes, have fun! I headed way to the left of the main pack. K2 went straight in the middle. I started swimming to do a goggle check and make my way out to the start which is about 40 yards from shore.

I stopped swimming at an area about 10 feet behind a small line of people at the start line. There were two, maybe three deep, but that was it. The floating Ford thingy was right there. I looked to my left – only two or three people there - and then looked to my right – there were more there, but not a mass of humanity by any means. Me and a couple other people were treading water in this “hole” in the water. A kayaker was ushering people to move right – we just looked at each other and shook our heads and said, “No way – I’m not moving from this spot!” Any nerves now? Maybe a little, but by no means was I freaked out and could not have been happier with my swim start location. Brian Hain, you were right- of course there wouldn't be 1800 people around me - I had just three or four - awesome!

Before we knew it, there was a countdown and then the cannon went off – BOOM! Here we go! I was now doing the Hawaii Ironman. Un – freaking- believable! I just started swimming, never getting hit or hitting anyone. I got into a groove and tried to catch a draft a couple times. They were either too fast, too slow or swam terribly crooked. Many of these people zig zagged so much I wondered how the hell these people qualified as they surely must end up swimming 3 miles in the end! I didn’t even try to follow them. I then remembered that I forgot to start my watch. It had been less than 5 minutes since the start, so I started it right away.

You don’t have to sight much at Kona as there are people around you and I was close enough to the buoys that sighting was not an issue. What I was really looking forward to was seeing the turn around boat. Finally, it came into view but it still took about 10-15 minutes to get there. They “funnel” everyone into a smaller corridor around the boat and as we got closer, it got more physical.

Most people are just like me – trying to make it through without bodily harm, but some people are downright aggressive. One guy practically swam over me and I actually yelled at him and called him an inconsiderate jerk (ah, maybe I inserted a word starting with an f and ending with a g before the word jerk– I can’t remember :) What an ass he was. I stayed calm and just tried to make it through this washing machine of human bodies.

It remained more crowded on the 1.2 miles back to the pier and was able to catch a draft a couple times, but it never lasted long. Again, I saw more crooked swimmers at Kona that at any local race in the DC area. You should all be very proud of yourselves, because some of these people were out of control.

It seemed to take FOREVER to get back, but finally we made it. I climbed the stairs up to the hoses to rinse off the salt and looked at my watch. It said 1:29 something and I was ecstatic – as I had remembered that I also forgot to start my watch right away. I was pumped and let out a “WooooHooo!”. I had just swum under 1:30! I was hoping to go sub 1:40, so this was awesome news. I smiled the whole way to grab my bike gear bag and head to T1.

I entered the change tent and chatted with the volunteer assigned to help me. At Ironman, you get your own personal volunteer – particularly when there aren’t a lot of other people around. She was a sweetheart and was like a grandma and I thanked her as I gave her a kiss on the cheek before heading out of the tent. I had a long way to run around transition at the pier to get to my bike. The racks were very empty. I am used to that though and told those around me, “Let’s go catch some of some of those swimmers”. I am such a geek, but I didn’t care.

I got to my rack and with my bike headed out of T1. It’s funny, while it was different in many ways then other races, Kona is still the same in other ways. You still have to grab your bike, mount when they tell you and head out on the road, just like any other race. But what is obviously so different in the crowd size and enthusiasm. I was pumped and after getting on my bike and heading up to Palani Drive, I got the crowd cheering and yelling on my way out. This was a once in a lifetime thing and I was going to enjoy the hell out of it! WoooooHoooooo! Here we go, baby, the bike.

The Bike:

After riding about 10 miles in town, you head up Palani to the Queen K and then out to the airport and eventually Hawi. There are some up hill sections to the airport, but nothing that big. Just rollers really. There was no wind at this point. No head wind, no tail wind and no cross wind. Maybe a light breeze but that was it. I didn’t want to jinx it and tried not to think about it too much, but just wanted to take advantage of these amazing conditions.

The first 40 or so miles were incredible. I was actually having fun (this was my main goal after all). I cheered and thanked volunteers as I passed through aid stations. Their support is amazing and they are as pumped as the athletes and are masters at passing off water bottles and food.

I was riding along enjoying the ride and then the NBC camera crew came by. We chatted as they filmed me and then there was a down hill. While on my training bike rides when I have a long straight away or down hill, I say out loud or think to myself, “I feel the need for speed!” Scott Talbott and Roy Rumsey will remember this from one of our rides. My thought is not original, but it works for me (and I get a visual of a very hot Tom Cruise in Top Gun).
I felt that need at the time and took off. Whoooo, freaking Hoooooo - again! I was flying! I will remember this moment with great envy many times throughout the latter part of the bike ride.

Eventually, we made the slight turn to the left on the road and climb up to Hawi. Here we go. There were some slight climbs to start. Ok. Not too bad at all – thanks Susan Gantz for taking us on those hellacious bike rides with real hills! We need to do more of those. So, the hills were doable. Nothing scary, nothing real steep. Just gradual climbs and although sometimes they were long, they were still manageable. What we don’t have here in Virginia is the wind.

The wind started fairly soon after the turn up to Hawi. It was a headwind and hit you right in the face. Ok. It’s Hawaii and can be windy. “I am not being blown off my bike, I am ok, stay calm and just keep pedaling” I tell myself. So, for the next 18 or so miles, I just kept pedaling – into the wind with a gradual uphill.

I had few good moments on the way up to Hawi and tried to stay positive mentally. This was the challenge – it wasn’t a physical challenge – but a mental one. I started to wonder if I could make the bike cutoff. I had never considered this as a factor in my six months of training and preparation. “Stay calm, keep pedaling – you are almost there” I tell myself.

The final climb is a bitch. You are spent, you just want to turn around and get your special needs bag and the ride down hill out of Hawi, which I needed more than air and water at this point. The crowd and volunteer support was great here as well. I finally made the turnaround and grabbed my special needs bag.

I am riding along with my bag as the first thing I grab is a plastic bag with tampons in it. I didn’t need them and put them in there as a precaution. I put them back in the bag and next I pull out a baggy with Skittles and Twizzlers candy. Oh boy! I put that right into my RATs bike jersey. Then I pull out Ibuprofen. Just in case. Ok, things are looking up. Finally, I grab the peanut butter crackers. Oh yeah, here is the meal equivalent of a steak with a baked potato with butter and sour cream. Allright! I am feeling good. Let’s go, baby. We have a long down hill coming up and you are ready to have a feast. Yeah! I drop the special needs bag and finally I get aero for the first time in a very long time as I munch away at my candy and crackers.

It is a great opportunity to make up time for the long climb. I am flying and enjoying the ride downhill. Thank God! Then out of blue - BAMB! A brutal cross wind. Holy Shit! What the F? I was pushed several feet to the right by the wind that came from the left and I almost lost control of my bike. What is going on? I am going downhill and this wind is going to not only slow me down but practically blow me off my bike? I slow down. BAMB! Again. Shit! Ok. Get out of aero and hang on. Keep pedaling. Ok, ok, ok. It’s ok. Hang on. Stay calm. Cadence. Keep it up and hang on. BAMB! Another strong gust of wind. Fu**! You have got to be kidding me! Well, this is what I had heard about. Lucky me, I get to experience it first hand.

We finally get past this point in the ride that is notorious for its brutal crosswinds and I finally get aero again. I actually have a few good moments here but still…what is up ahead? One of the brightest moments of the ride down from Hawi was at about mile 70 when I knew I would make the cutoff and maybe or even probably, I would be an Ironman. I got teary eyed.

We get to the turn to head back to Kona on the Queen K. Finally. Thank God. I know this road pretty well now. Some rollers to come, many are climbs but they are doable. Right turn. “Kailua Kona – 26” the highway sign says. Ok. 26 miles to go. I can do this.

I make the turn and immediately feel a headwind right in my face! “Are you f**king kidding me?” I actually said that out loud to no one in particular. I was delusional to think that the conditions would be the same as when I was here just a few short hours ago with no wind, at all. Keep dreaming, Stacy.

Here comes the biggest lesson of all my training and racing since doing marathons back in my early 20s. Never, ever, ever, give up mentally. Physically, of course it happens, you have to listen to your body. Sometimes you just can’t go faster or you can’t go on. But mentally, you always can do more than you think. That last 15 or so miles of the bike was the hardest time for me ever in all my racing over all these years. And it was all mental. I let the wind beat me. I gave in. I didn’t try. I was upright most of the time. Physically I was feeling pretty good. Sure I was sore, I was tired, but I wasn’t beat physically. I was beat mentally. My mind wasn’t allowing my body to push harder. This is a huge lesson for me, and a good one. Don’t ever let your mind beat you.

The greatest sight on the bike is when you can see the airport. You know that you have less than 10 miles to go and much of it is downhill. It was time to think about T2 and the run. I wasn’t hating my bike at this point, but really, really wanted to start running. I wanted to do anything at that point except be on my bike against that wind.

As when I left 7 hours + before, the crowds were amazing. The pro men had finished and the first pro women were finishing and I had a marathon to run. But I was ready. I never let that distance get to me even during my mental struggle on the bike. I knew I could do this. The positive mental strength was coming back.

I love transitions. It’s a time to think about what is next. You are ready for something new, something different. In this case it was a marathon. My T2 time: 11:46. What the hell, Stacy? You are a master of transitions. What the heck were you doing in there? Some people have been asking me. Two reasons for this epic T2 time.

First, I got my period in the last part of the bike. When I first got into the transition tent, I asked, “Do you have a tampon?” They had one there for me immediately. Enough said.

The second reason my time was slow was that I simply took my time. I did not hurry whatsoever. This race is different and I had a personal assistant (volunteer) to help me. I visited the porta potty and then chatted with my personal assistant about the bike. She had heard it was pretty brutal. They really pay attention to you to make sure you are ok. I was ok. And after 11 minutes and 46 seconds, I took off on my marathon.

The Run:
I took off on the run and saw my daughter Lindsey. I was heading up Palani out of T2 and she was there with Tony. She said, “Mom, I am so proud of you”. “Thank you baby”. The bike was brutal, I almost got blown off my bike” I told them. Why I said that I don’t know but that is what I said. But it helped me realize that it was time to let the bike go.

So I did. I felt so good. I moved on to the run. My legs were not jellowy at all ( I love bricks!) Remember, I didn’t leave it out there on the bike physically, but rather just mentally. I was moving and began to pass people on the run. I felt strong and my first 10 miles flew by. It is so cool to run down Alii drive like that. You head south on Alii drive for about five miles and then back up to the Hot Corner and up Palani to the Queen K and then out to the Energy Lab. The next time I would be on Alii Drive was right at the end for about the last half mile or so.

I was out on the Queen K for about 2 miles and then the sun was setting. There were no clouds that day – at all – which makes for a perfect sunset. I had never watched a sunset as I ran and it simply was the second most perfect moment of my entire day. It was beautiful and it energized me even more.

The run is on the same course as the bike up until the Energy Lab, about 6 miles out of Kona. I still felt so good – it was amazing. I had my Clif Shot Blocks, which since setting my PR at the Lake Anna Half on Sept. 8, I now refer to as my “Magic Little Pieces of Candy”. These things are amazing and I was so tired of gel.

It was getting very dark (the sun sets about 615pm) and I grabbed the first of my two glow sticks at an aid station at about mile 15. So cool – I was running with a glow stick. All those super fast people just don’t know what they’re missing. It was like a badge of honor – I had a glow stick!

I made it to the Energy Lab turn off, took the left and headed down. It was pitch black – there were very few lights and I couldn’t see a thing, most of the time, I couldn’t even see the pavement in front of me. K2 told me later that when he ran down there (in daylight) he felt like he was running on the moon. I suppose that is true, except I was running on the “Dark Side of the Moon”, although Pink Floyd was not in sight, there were no laser lights and I wasn’t stoned :)

I was at about mile 18 just before the turn around and Special Needs handoff at the Energy Lab when the NBC camera crew showed up. “Hey Stacy” they said. “What’s up guys? This is a long day for you too” I say. I was still feeling pretty good at this point, so I took advantage of the moment. “Who won?” I asked. “McCormack. “Chris McCormack”, he said. Macca! Yes, it was my prediction for the men! I knew he wanted it more than the others. Awesome! How about the women? No response. Who won for the women? I already knew Natascha was out and saw her along the Queen K at about mile 5 on the bike with a broken collar bone and had seen that Desiree had blown up on the Queen K during the run when I was coming in on my bike, but I was clueless after that. One guy answered very quietly. “Wellington”. Who? “Wellington”. “Wellington? Who the heck is that?” I asked. Jeez, what a crazy day, I thought. “How did the Americans do?” I asked. They couldn’t provide much information. Oh well, I would find out later.

I reach the run Special Needs bag hand off but I wasn’t as excited about it as I was on the bike. They didn’t have it ready when I ran by, but a volunteer grabbed it, and ran to catch up with me in his flip flops. These volunteers are awesome. He may have been motivated by the camera crew filming me during this time, but I was happy he caught up to us and I got my bag. The NBC guys said I was looking strong. Thanks guys! I don’t have much of an ego, but what little there is, you just gave it a boost.

I ran with the bag for a while as it was pitch black, and I wouldn’t have been able to tell if I was grabbing the bag with the tampons or Twizzlers. I waited to get what I wanted out of the bag until I could see using the few lights which were set up at the Ford Motivational section, right before you leave the Energy Lab at about mile 19.5. Once there I ate a couple Skittles, a piece of a Twizzler and tossed the rest. It was time to concentrate on getting to the finish.

There is a bit of a climb out of the Energy Lab and when you get back to the Queen K, you can’t help but pick up the pace. Allright. We had about 6 miles to go – mostly downhill. I had resisted the cola until about mile 17 and hadn’t tried the chicken broth until this point, but now it was time to partake in the nectar of the Ironman gods. Forget the water, Gatorade and gel. Bring on the nectar. It was all Cola, all Chicken Broth for the next few miles (I did take water) but I was even getting tired of my life saving Clif Shot Blocks.

At about mile 20, the NBC guys caught up with me again. “Hi Stacy” they said. “Hey guys”, I said. “How are feeling?” they asked. I had slowed considerably since they last saw me. “I hit the wall at about mile 19, heading out of the Energy Lab.” I told them this was to be expected and was simply focused on the finish and seeing Lindsey there. They wished me well and said that they would catch me at the finish. “Ok, see you guys there”.

Never had I had this much concentration and focus on a race ever. Having the pitch black night surrounding me may have helped, but I seemed to be running through a dark tunnel with the orange lights of Kona and the finish line in the distance at the end of the tunnel. Wow man, what a trip, maybe I was stoned after all.

Other runners and volunteers commented on how strong I looked and I thanked them, but I was simply on a mission. To finish and become and Ironman with Lindsey there with me. Nothing else mattered. I just kept running. It’s funny, my mantras all day were: “Stay Calm. Keep swimming, keep pedaling, keep running”. That’s all you need to do for Ironman. It's very simple, really. Just keep moving forward, no matter the speed.

Amazingly, there were still people heading out to the Energy Lab as I made my way back into town. While it felt much later, it was only just after 8pm. They had almost four hours to finish – plenty of time. I saw Scott Rigsby who would become the first double leg amputee to finish an Ironman. His story is heart wrenching. Go buddy, you can do it.

I made it back to Palani Drive. It is down hill after that, you make a left down the Kaliki Highway (or something spelled like that) and then down to Alii Drive. I had walked up and down Alii all week, I even ran and biked parts of it, but this was something else. I was now running down Alii toward the finish. I kept looking for Lindsey. People were cheering like crazy and I had slowed considerably, just to enjoy the moment.

Have you ever had a dream that seemed so real that when you woke up you couldn’t believe it wasn’t true? I had the opposite happen. I was awake, and yet it seemed like a dream. I couldn’t believe it was happening, but it was real.

After a couple minutes, I finally saw her. Lindsey was standing there waiting for me in her Army uniform. She looked so beautiful and I ran up, stopped and gave her a big hug. We began to run holding hands and the crowd was amazing, cheering us the entire way.

Very close to the finish, a woman fell right in front of us. I had seen her earlier up on the highway and encouraged her to continue, but at this point, she was simply in the way. There was a guy helping her, so we ran around her. There was nothing I could do, but I thought, “Jeez, you are 20 feet away from the finish, you couldn’t make it the rest of the way”?

Anyway, the finish was amazing. I was so happy to have Lindsey there with me. She does not like people paying special attention to her at all, but she was so supportive with me at the finish. There were all kinds of cameras on us and she met Rob Vigorito, and Jon Blais’ parents and she had no clue who they were. But she was gracious and polite to them and helped me through the finish area.

Post Race:

I was walking pretty well and made it over to get my medal. My mind was starting to get kind of fuzzy and I knew I needed some real food. I had lost my voice sometime during the day and I wasn’t talking well. We made our way to a restaurant overlooking the finish and ordered some food. I needed protein – badly. I had some yummy coconut crusted Tilapia and rice with water and a diet coke. Perfect. Finally, my head was clearing up a bit, but I was tired. It was now around 1030 and I wanted to stick around and watch the finish until midnight.

Watching an Ironman for the last couple of hours is something everyone should witness at least once. While you may have been done for hours, these people were still out there – pushing their bodies beyond a pain threshold they certainly had passed hours ago. These last Ironmen are tougher mentally than you or I. Scott Rigsby came in with less than 15 minutes left and there was maybe only one or two after that. Then it was midnight. Almost silence at this point – no one left to cheer and encourage across the line. Kind of sad really, as we all wanted to keep the party going and welcome more Ironmen home.

This day I will never forget. From the moment the cannon went off to start the swim, to the wind on the bike, the sunset on the run and finally the finish with Lindsey, this will go down as one of the best and most rewarding days of my life.

From Macca to Kona Kevin and me to Scott Rigsby and all those that finish Kona or any other Ironman race and regardless of our finish times, we all have something that no one can ever take away from us. We Are all An Ironman.

Lindsey, baby, I could not do all this without your support and understanding. I love you more than I could ever put into words, I am so happy you were there with me. You told me you want to do this race someday, so I say that the next time we are in Kona – I will hold your hand across the finish line and you too will become an Ironman!
I love you, baby.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Kona Post Race, Sunday and Monday

I did it. It simply was the most amazing week and day of my life. You can tell that by watching the video of me finishing with Lindsey. I could not have been happier and still can't seem to wipe that grin off my face. I don't have time for a full race report now but here are some major highlights of the day:

Swim: I felt more excitment than nervousness and I didn't get hit at all as I placed myself in a place with very few people, until the turnaround.

Bike: It was windy and it was hard.

Run: Amazing. I was up on the Queen K highway at sunset and it was the most beautiful sight to see as I ran out to the Energy Lab.

See you all soon.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Ironman Eve - Friday, Oct. 12

I have good news and bad news.

Good news: Lindsey's flight just left San Francisco and will be arriving in Kona around 7pm tonight.

Bad News: After spending two days trying to get here from Oregon, my mom will not make it. They finally got her on a flight from Eugene to San Francisco, but it would arrive too late to make the connection. We are very sad, but there just isn't anything else we can do. Plus my mom is 71 and has had maybe 6 or 7 hours sleep over these last two days and desperately needed sleep and couldn't wait around another day to try to get here.

I just got back from racking my bike. Wow. I just racked my bike at Kona! I am in the third rack from the front, which means that while I will be running further from the T1 transition tent, I will be right at the T1 exit. I was escorted by a volunteer who took me to my rack and walked me around transition to the bike gear bag and run gear bag areas.

Macca was hanging out two racks away talking to a reporter. I didn't hang out to watch any other pros rack their bikes, as I just wanted to get back to the condo and chill for the rest of the day.

After having my pre-race linguine with white clam sauce and bowl of Mocha Almond Fudge Ice Cream, I will head out to the airport to pick up Lindsey. I sure wish my mom was going to be here too, but I am so glad Lindsey will make it.

It's almost here. Just over 17 hours to race start. 17 hours. I am ok. I am still calm. I am excited. I am tired. I am going to take a nap.

See you soon.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Kona Update, Thursday, Oct. 11

I got a call from my mom at 5am this morning. She had been stuck on I5 in traffic for four hours and had missed her plane to San Francisco from Eugene, Oregon. I told her to go ahead and go to the airport and see what they could do to get her later today or tomorrow. As it turns out, she will be in the same time tomorrow. I am so glad about that.

In the mean time, Kevin's family was at San Francisco waiting to leave to Kona. These stories are related and I will let you read Kevin's blog for the update later. He should also be reporting on the underwear run, which he did.

Kevin's parents are here and after the run and a swim, we went and had breakfast and coffee with them. Then off to the Ironman Village.

As I mentioned, I am officially over being start struck, but nontheless I wanted to catch a photo of five people fielding questions from the audience from the Triathlete tent: Dede Greisbauer, Lisa Bentley, Karen Smyers, Michael Lavato and Bryan Rhodes. I was up front taking pictures and the announcer guy walks up to me and asks if I have a question. "I haven't thought of one. Let's see. Ok, let's say it's going to be a really tough wind day out on the bike, what are your suggestions on how to handle it?"

Lisa gave some really good advice about not letting it get to you mentally. Michael Lavato talked about nutrition and that while the wind can make you feel like you are cooled off, you still have to hydrate continually. It was Karen who had some really great advice. She said to look for the rock crops along the side that can briefly break the wind to give you a chance to quickly hydrate. Also, look at the person in front of you. If they come out from behind one of those rock formations and get blown to the side, be prepared for it. Awesome advice. You don't get a chance like that. By the way, Kona Kevin thinks Dede Griesbauer is hot.

I pick up Tony from the airport at 2 today and may go down to the snorkeling beach for an easy swim. I got in about a mile yesterday, so I am pretty much good to go with that.

The Carbo Load party is tonight. It should be fun and I will post pictures from that tomorrow.

Kona Update, Wednesday, Part 2

Wednesday was a big day. I spent all day gripping the phone (except during my swim) in anticipation of Lindsey calling me so I could tell her she was coming to Kona afterall.

After the Macca sighting at the Ironman village, I headed back to the condo and got ready to head out for a short, easy bike ride. Besides the pre-race ride, this was going to be it until Saturday.

With still no call from Lindsey, I headed out along Alii drive and up from Keauhou into Kona (with my phone in hand - well tucked in my bike shorts anyway). There was and has been lots of traffic - cars, triathletes on bikes, triathletes running - the town is really pretty crazy right now. And today there were two cruise ships docked, so the people from those were also out in the streets. I carefully maneuvered through town. I wanted to go up Palini Drive from T1, as I had not done this yet. The short climb looks deceptively steep and I found it not to be as bad as expected. I headed out along the Queen K south this time for a bit and then turned back the way I came.

It was about 2pm when I got back to the condo and still no call from Lindsey. It was 8pm in Columbia, SC where she is in bootcamp. I wasn't getting worried yet, as I know they were getting back from the field sometime late in the day.

It was time to get ready for my NBC interview at 330. NBC had contacted me on Monday and were interested in talking with me. No, this does not mean for sure that I am going to be on the show. They are interviewing alot of other people who all have incredible stories have courage, strength and inspiration that are amazing. Only a few of the stories make the final cut.

I arrived for the interview. Everyone was very nice and we began right away. I told them that I am expecting a call from my daughter and apologized in advance for answering if it rang during the interview.

This interview was different than the others. There was a white background with a light on and the room was dark, but surprisingly I wasn't nervous - I remained calm (I am now making this my mantra this week - remain calm).

He asked a simple question about triathlon and the Ironman and I began to tell my story. I don't know where it came from, but I just started from the beginning and let it all out. It was kind of like therapy. Yes, of course - I was crying! Damn it - again! Christ, I think they are trying to be like Barbara Walters!

I am not sure how long I talked, but they didn't stop me. I actually got a call in the middle of the interview and answered right away. Oh my god, is this Lindsey? Nope, it was a friend and I told them I would call back later. Boy, that would have been really crazy had she called during that interview.

They followed up with a few more questions and we were done. I was leaving and then walking in for her interview was Desiree Ficker. You know, I am officially over the star struck stuff as these pros are everywhere. I told her to kick some butt, and she said you too (I didn't want to be cliche and say "good luck").
I like to be different.

Once outside, I was directed to go speak with Greg Welch with Ironman Live. com.
Ok, what the hell? This is now officially unbelievable. Jeez.

Greg came over and introduced himself and we sat down on a bench and started talking. He is a great interviewer and it was more like a conversation. We talked about how I was feeling in general and about the swim and bike. I mentioned about the predictions for a very tough wind year on the bike and that I would just take whatever came my way and just keep pedaling and not let it get to me mentally.

We talked about my daughter and that my mom was also coming to watch. Hey, wait a minute - I wasn't crying this time! Maybe because I had just got out of my therapy/NBC interview I didn't have any tears left. Hooray! I was going to make it through one of these without tears!

We continued our chat, and then he looked down at my wristband with my race number and he said "Stacy, I just noticed that your race number is 171. Your daughter is 17, and your mom is 71. That is a good sign." I looked down as well and said, "Oh my god, you're right, I didn't even notice that!" Well, so much for the moratorium on the tears. Here they came and I hugged him right there. He signed off with me once again sobbing like a little baby with my arms around his neck.

Greg Welch is such a sweetheart and we have a kinship as he too suffered from Ventricular Tachycardia that unfortunately forced this Ironman Hall of Famer to retire.

We finished up and said goodbye. Still no call from Lindsey. It was now just after 4pm (10 pm Eastern). I headed to grab a couple things from the grocery store. I had just picked up the first thing and the phone rang. Oh my god! I briefly noticed the area code of 803 - 803? Usually when Lindsey called it would just say, "Call".

Hello? "Hey mom". Oh my god. Lindsey. Hey baby. I headed right out the store and through my crying (boy, after this - no more crying for the rest of the week). I told her that she was coming to Kona. She said, "Mom, you have to stop crying I can't understand you." I actually think she may have thought something was terribly wrong because they let her call me at about 1030 at night. I realized this and calmed down (mantra - remain calm).

"Lindsey, baby they are letting you come to Kona. "Are you serious?" she asked. "Yes, I contacted your company commander and they said yes". Then she was quiet. "Lindsey, sweetie are you still there?" No words. But very quietly I could hear it - she was crying. Believe me, she doesn't cry much at all and certainly will never be told she is a crybaby like her mother. "Baby, it's ok. Your coming to Kona." "I am so happy" she said. "The drill sergeant just told me I am not allowed to cry and I have to hang up now" (he was just kidding) but she did have to go. She said she would call me again on tomorrow.

Lindsey is coming to Kona. She arrives on Friday at 653pm. I cannot wait to see her.