Monday, May 23, 2011

Beginning again

Like many athletes, there is this period of ... lull? depression? sense of loss? Whatever you call it ... it's present after training for a big event. After the event. Plummet ...  I felt it first after my first IM, Rev3 in Sept. 2010.  I'm feeling it now.  I'm a goal-oriented chick - I need to be working toward SOMETHING to get me motivated. I have to have a goal, a key race, something. I admire those that exercise "just because" - but that's not me, and never has been.

The DNF at IMSG isn't painful, but it's still THERE ... hovering. I've spoken to many friends that have DNF'd a race and they, too, feel this similar feeling. Then I had a disappointing marathon. I LOVED running it - it feels super while I'm doing it! I'm euphoric with endorphins, and have this attitude of gratitude! But, my body wasn't ready. I'll be frank: I was unprepared for both races. It's not an excuse - it's my reality. I have culpability. And I can live with that. I'm not here to beat myself up ... I'm trying to treat myself the way I'd treat a dear friend. I'm trying to be supportive and encouraging. That's not easy, you know! How many of you emotionally beat yourself up during or after a race? Why do we do this?? I'm trying to change this within me. I'm patting myself on the back for the part that I DID accomplish. How many people ran 26.2 miles on 5/15? Small percentage of the people I know. But *I* did! The time wasn't pretty, but the miles were logged and, on that day, that was my best effort!

Now I must move FORWARD ... and I'm having difficulty with that at the moment. I cannot tell you why, because I just don't know. But I DO know that I don't like this feeling. It feels like I have no control - and being a "type A" personality, of course, the feeling of being out of control is ... well, not good.

Also, I'm changing jobs. And, it's the end of they school year so it seems as if every day there is some sort of child commitment to attend. And I want to be there, I do! But most of the time I'm not aware until the 11th hour, and there goes my plans.  My soon-to-be 10 yr old informed me this morning at 8 am that tonight is her recorder concert.  There goes the plans. Why didn't I know about this sooner? Well, because, likely, it fell through the many cracks I have in my life - being over-extended. I can't tell you how many times I meet someone then tell them about my life: my family, my jobs, my training, etc and they all say "Wow! How do you do that all??" Well, the answer is I do it all half-assed!  That's the truth!! :) I can own it.  So, I'm sure that the notice of the recorder concert was presented to me before today, but, it didn't make it to my calendar, and so I was unaware until 8 am today when Jaime told me.  Ugh.

With the job change comes new challenges. Teaching a new course. Kind of exciting, but labor intensive.  I have a few weeks to prepare, so I'm working hard to make this course a great one. Then there will be new people entering my life, and some friends "leaving" - not that they won't be friends, but I won't see them regularly. That makes me sad.

Now I need to find a way to rejuvenate my training. I've had my rest. Today begins week 1 of my IM training plan.  Will I get that run in??  I plan to. But you really can't be sure ... I could have a Hit-By-Car arrive at 1:50 and I'll need to attend to that pet.  If things go as planned, I WILL get that run in ...  before the recorder concert. :) Or after.  Or, back-up plan: tomorrow morning. I'm going to focus on getting the WEEKS training in sometime during THE WEEK. I cannot necessarily do the 3 or 5 hr ride that's scheduled for Thursdays, as I will be teaching from 8 am - 9pm. So, shuffle the ride to a day off and swap out a swim, that I can do at LTF AFTER my Anesthesiology class ends.

So, off to work I go. I am going to try to find a new way to approach training for this race. It's the first time I can say I'm working for THIS SPECIFIC RACE as my "A" race. I am going to see if I can't look at each week, as a whole, and take a different approach. In the past, it's been day to day, with catch-up on weekends.  I want to change that. I'm willing to arise at 4:30 to get my workouts done. I've done it before. And, honestly, the best, longest sustained training I've done was for my first 70.3 in 2009.  That had me getting MOST of my stuff done in the AM.  I'm thinking that's how I will need to jump start this training plan. We'll see ....

Off to work... peace out!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Fantastic News!

Greetings! Just wanted to share some fantastic news ... FIVE of the 2010 Triabetes team Captains will be doing the Rev3 Full distance triathlon!! That's 140.6 miles of fun-filled comarderie!!  Four of us DNF'd in St. George, due to one reason or another, but Annie Bacon persevered and is now an Ironman! She will soon be a two-time ironman :) Our team consists of:
Annie Bacon

Jenny Crandell
Tiffany Heindel
Andrea Houston
Daniel Vincent

The others had commitments or just plain would rather stop, while on top! Which I totally understand! But some of us have "unfinished business"  :)

We may be blessed with an appearance from Vic Kinnunen himself, Kona athlete for 2011. And if you haven't heard ... I'M GOING TO BE THERE!!!

That's kind of a fun story. I had entered the lottery WAY BACK WHEN ... and now, April 15, I was PRAYING hard NOT to be pulled!! I was burned out. Well, I wasn't pulled and I was thrilled about it, frankly.  Shortly after the lottery pull, I get a call from Vic ... he's received a "suspicious email" ... ie it didn't look too authentic.  Well, I pulled up the Kona lottery winners and there he was!! :)  I'm so excited for him. Keep in mind, at the time, he'd not done ONE IM, so his focus was on IMSG.  And, well, we know how that turned out ... VICtorious!!!!  :)

I have another friend that's trying to KQ. I'll keep his name private for now, because I'm sure he's pretty stressed out, now that he's put it out there, but I have FULL CONFIDENCE he WILL qualify!!  

Finally, I met a nice woman at IMSG, and she ROCKED my age group, taking second and KQ. She's going. Her name is Arin and I can't wait to cheer her on. 

As I was returning home from my ER shift, I thought ... how can I pitch this to Ted?? He's all up on triathlon, but it's not like his dream to spend a 17 hr day in Hawaii watching strangers race.  And I get that - totally!! However, Hawaii IS his favorite place, and guess what?? Tons of golf courses in Hawaii!  So, his head went to work and he did what he does best ... search for that amazing DEAL - the kind that you've "gotten over on the man" deal! Like us staying at the Hilton for $47 dollars deal! He's great at that.  I took a nap, and when I woke up, he said, I found a good deal ... I'm ready to pull the trigger.  WHAT???!!!   He had asked what MY vision of Oct. 8th would be, in terms of his role. I said I'd love, and I'd think he'd love, to see the start - it IS amazing!!! Then he could meander off and play 18 or 36 holes of golf, nap, mosey back down to the race and watch the later finishers as long or short as he'd like. I will be there until all 3 of my peeps have crossed, and likely until Midnight. It's a great compromise and our two respective sports are quite complimentary and compatible.   He pulled the trigger and we are going to Kona in October!!

Back to Rev3 ... how fun this will be do have these people here to finish this business! The odds are that even on the worst of days, September in Ohio is pretty damned great! I can't wait to see Dan, Jenny, Andrea, Annie and me cross that line!!! And to have all those CTC peeps around is icing on the cake for me.

Can. Not. Wait.!!!   Feeling re-energized just thinking about it! :)

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Just wanted to prove I CAN post a short blog! :)  Ha!


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

It's a Two-fer Wednesday! :)

Greetings peeps! It's been a while. I'm overdue on my IMSG post, and I figured I'd wrap my marathon race report into it as well.

Leaving EARLY Wed. morning was our plan. Unfortunately, my beloved cat Simon passed away Tuesday morning. It really shook me up, and I'm still coping with the mourning I need to address. I had to call the kids before school and tell them. Samantha was stopping over mid-week to check on cats and chinchillas ... I'm just grateful she didn't have to deal with it. It was hard enough for me. I had, like, 10 min to deal with it, before I had to be off to school. My students were unsympathetic, for the most part.  They don't think of me as a person, just that damned teacher giving me difficult quizzes!  So,  I double bagged Simon and put him in the garage freezer ... no time for anything else. I'll deal with it when I get back.  We did leave Wed. We flew Southwest, which I swore I'd never do again, but Ted paid the extra $$ to get us A seating. That's a whole better experience!! My suitcase was over 50 lbs - 66 to be exact. Those 16 lbs cost me 50 bucks :(

We arrived in Las Vegas, rented a decent car, and headed out to St. George.  I cannot tell you how much I love that place!!! It's gorgeous and the townies were supportive and welcoming.  We made it just in time to stop over for dinner to at Dan and Rachel's place, and connect with a few captains. It was really fun, but we were exhausted, arising at 4 am to travel all day. We left early and missed Annie by a few moments. I really enjoyed meeting Rachel and Jolanta, Dan and Vic's wives, respectively. I also met several wee little children and Vic's parents.

The next morning I got a ride with friends (Ted went golfing) out to Sand Hollow, where we'll swim. This was probably the scariest part for me. The water was 67 degrees farenheit. Brian had a thermometer. IM lies - no question.  They need the race to go on, so they will say what they need to say to get the race to go forward as planned. I had my full wetsuit on for the first time. I had a silicone cap, neoprene cap, latex cap and ear plugs. I walked into the water and my first thought was: "NO F'ing WAY!!!!"  I've got to get out of this, I cannot do it! My armes were crossed, and the look on my face had the captains really worried. They kept encouraging me to hang in for just 2 minutes. I said, then let's move, because I cannot do this standing here!  We swam ... and lo and behold, it DID feel good in 2 minutes. Really good!!!  Vic told me he had the SAME reaction the day prior, so I felt more confident about my fears.  We swam out to a rock, too some pics and then back. ~45 min in the water with leisurely swimming. I felt good. My confidence was through the roof!! Whew, what a relief to know I could do this!!!!

Three weeks earlier I had a melt down.  Ted got the brunt of it, but the gist was that I feared failure. The weather in OH is terrible (even now!) and I only got out on my bike ONCE! The trainer doesn't simulate that kind of terrain.  However, after the melt down, and Ted not knowing what to say, says: do you want to quit, because I'll support that. Or do you just need me to tell you I believe in you, because I do.   I needed to believe in ME!  And, aferward, after said temper tantrum, I DID feel better. I went into that race pretty dang sure I could finish in under 17 hrs!!  I started feeling more confident!! By the time we arrived, I felt so much more confident! I was a bit worried about the bike cut off, but otherwise, I'd get it done. I was pretty dang sure!

One of our captians, a younger one, was having enormous melt-downs of insecurities and low self-confidence.  Having just been there, I gave her my support. I said, today you get to melt down, tomorrow you HTFU and get that eye of the tiger thing going. She later thanked me.  I was not unsympathetic to her pressures - they were unique, and different from ours, as she's a personal trainer and educated in sports fitness and nutrition. Still, she's young, she's human.   We swam Friday too, but she wasn't there. By this time, two other captains had not showed up, because, in my opinion, she was wallowing in self pity and self-doubt and they were spending THEIR TIME trying to pump her up. That irked me. That she would affect others' training, time with us, etc. ... well, I found it selfish. But again, just my opinion. I was bummed not to have the whole team there swimming Friday morning. By Friday I was having a blast in the water! I kind of felt invincible there :)

I've connected with different people, at different times, during this journey. My first roommate was Jenny - we both have 3 kids and we were compatible roomies. She teaches elementary school. I adore Jenny!!  She lives in AZ and ROCKED the race (more on that later!). Later in May 2010, I connected with Andrea, from HI. She is AMAZING and impresses me beyond words. She's kind, and generous, and supportive. Plus, like me, had some her own pre-race neuroses that I totally relate to, and respect!.  In Florida, I got to know Sarah better, as she was my roommate. We were a good fit and she was respectful of my 'early to bed' regiment.  Annie was the woman I knew "least well".  I was fortunate to spend more time - Thursday and Friday of this trip, IMSG, with Annie and her mom - Molly - who got in, and out of the blue, pulls out a media pass!! She also got discounts and helped us buy up some souvenirs with her discount!!  We had a lot of fun! I loved that we got to know each other better on this trip - Annie is awesome! Molly too!

Friday I checked in my bike, my bags and relaxed with the Kindle. I was ready.  Friday evening our triabuddies returned form Mt. Zion and it was 1 day after Rachel's 11th birthday. I was thrilled to finally see Ed and Jodi, who have become two of my favorite people in the world!!!  Toss in Emily and Rachel - that family ... well let's just say that I'm blessed to have them in my life now!  Emily wasn't there for this trip.  Rachel had a fantastic time, and was so happy when she returned. She also got an ipod touch for her BD from her parents, and I, just coincidentally, got her an itunes card!  She was in tears with happiness.  They called us up individually and said some kind things about us. Insulindependence gave us a certificate, a medal for our buddies, and a letter they had written to us.  I don't think I'll cherish anything as much as that!! Near the end, Jenny and her sister sang a touching song - they both have beautiful voices!! Who knew??!  I met her husband Troy, and her kids. Her song made me cry - in a good way.  It was a pretty good lovefest. I felt a few errors of omission, and glazing over talented captains that have given 110% early, steady and consistently, yet that wasn't said, and something "lighter" was said, resulting in some hurt feelings. We are a new charity, and errors get made. Look at the Emmy winners who forget to thank their families! We needed to do that as well. Hopefully it's a lesson learned and will be a non-issue in the future. I also wished we would have done a standing ovation for our families and friends, who sacrificed many, many hours. And I wish we'd have thought to do a gift for John Moore, the hardest working, most kind, most supportive person on the ID staff. John's character is one of compassion and support, and he's a sounding board for any and all of our issues related to our year-long journey. I adore John. I am happy to know that he and Maurine will be expecting twins in just a few weeks.

Afterward, back to my room and on to bed. I got up a 3 pm to be sure things went smoothly. This was the most relaxed I've ever been!! I like it!!  We got a ride to the athletes' bus and we were all in a good mood. Dan's BG was high with two arrows up - that concerned me, but cortisol can cause that. Sarah was visualizing her race. She seemed pretty relaxed and focused. I was happy to see that. Most of us chatted. Can you imagine me NOT being chatty? I'm sure the morning people wanted to sew my mouth shut! :)  I get it!!!

When we arrived at T1, we all got marked (or re-marked) and set up for the swim. I left my bike pump there - boo! But RD called and is shipping it to me! Yeah! I was impressed with his PERSONAL phone call 24 hrs after the race. Very impressed.

I didn't see Ted until the last moment, but was so glad to see him, it made me feel good!!  I handed my CGM and pump to the aids at swim exit, prepared to be pick them up along with my bike bag. I was ready for this race, and really ready to kick some ass on the swim!!!

We entered the water and I thought: Piece of cake!  I hung back so the time they have for me was whistle time, not start to finish.  I hit "start" when I arrived at the start buoys. I swam 1:15! And I didn't empty the tank!!!  I know I can do better :) I passed every pink cap I came upon. One dude grabbed my leg, pulled me back and punched me!! SO UNCALLED FOR!!!! We are ALL searching for real estate to swim. What a jerk. But that's IM swimming for ya!

I was 3rd out of the water, of our team of 10 - but you'd never know because there is precisely ZERO documentation I was racing. Not one photo.  I'm angry. I'm hurt. How hard is it to keep a checklist of 10 athletes, and find them to be sure you get their photos? They knew my number.  No one got a pic of me, so I guess it was all a dream ... but I suppose it's time to move on from that. But I can't lie ... I still feel angry and hurt.

My T1 was quick! I was surprised how quick, considering I did a full change.  Oh, here's a funny story:  at IM events, they have volunteers that write on their legs "suit strippers". Well I had on my new full Xterra suit. To pull it off, it needs to go over ID bands, watches and my ankle chip. My suit stripper was a man. He has me lay down and pulls off my wetsuit ... and I wore an old, loose suit so it would ease my changing of clothes. But, out pops my right boob!!!  Can  you say wardrobe malfunction??? I quickly caught it right away, but still: EMBARRASSING!!!!

Now onto the women's changing tent. And again, getting a bra on over a wet body, standing naked, is NOT the visual I want you to have. I had the volunteer do the back while I tackled the boobs. Let me tell you, boobs are NOT conducive to triathlon!!!  Ooops, got distracted again! Once I was fully clothed, I ran out, got my bike, and was out way faster than I'd hoped. I didn't test, I just put on my pump and CGM and off I went. You'll be happy to know the boobs were secured and out of sight.

Ed Slovenkay said the course "wasn't that bad"  ... well, for HIM it wasn't that bad!! He's exponentially a better athlete :)  I enjoyed the roll out, but my two water bottles with Amino vital (ie SUGAR) ejected at MILE ONE!!! So: No sugar!!! :(   Dang!  The first climb, I knew I was in trouble. The second climb - it was clear this was not going to be a terrain I could handle. I somehow made it for about 3.5 hrs, maybe 4 hours, but I'd dismounted and walked a few times. :(  I worked hard at NOT beating myself up. I worked hard on thinking positively, and encouraging myself to work hard when I could and eased up when I needed a break. At one point I got to a very steep hill and there was a man sitting in a chair to the right. I said, "is this the wall?"  He laughed and said nope, it's 3 miles ahead. Oh. My. GOD!!!!  I walked this tiny rise, along with 4 other men, which made me feel a tiny bit better. At the top, I started spinning again. I was determined to spin until THE WALL, walk the wall, then see if I could get around again, and make the cut off. Well, by now my water in my camelbak is warm :(  I'm needing gels. I pull tight to the right so people can pass, and they do. My goal is to get to THE Wall. I was feeling relatively good when, out of no where, I feel this "slam" into me, from behind, and I feel myself flying off my bike. I quickly determined I'd be hitting the boulders of the mountain side and just thought "this is it" ... you've been talking about death ... it's here.  Well apparently it's not, because I think I blacked out for a sec and when I rolled over and sat up, all I had was a head ache and marks on my face and neck. The other cyclist just kept groaning and moaning. He was on the road. OMG is he seriously hurt??  I went to him. He kept saying, "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry".  I tell him, It's really okay. That's why they call them accidents.  He had lost the skin on his palms (road rash) and I had bandaides, but nothing that would cover that. Had my gloves fit him, I'd have given him those, but they were far too small. I asked if he was on his second loop? - he was. Damn - this guys is GOOD ... except he lost control and hit me! (Maybe not SO good!)  Our bikes were relatively, amazingly, unscathed as far as I can see. His chain came off. I put it back on for him, and he tested the bike. I said, if you can, GO! He felt bad leaving me. Many people witnessed the crash so the SAG wagon was called, as was an ambulance. I said I was good, he can go, so he did. I then vomited and things were blurry. Dehydration? Concussion? Weakness from the 5 hrs of racing?? I have no idea. I got back on the bike and pulled to the far left, out of anyone's way. I rode 200 yrds to the ambulance/medics. I asked the medics if my pupils were symmetric and reactive. They were. I declined the ambulance, not wanting a $700 bill, and got in the SAG wagon with others, who's day was also over.  I was surprised how upbeat everyone was!!  In doing the math, it was highly unlikely I would have made the cut off. That's the honest truth. And I can live with that.

At the medic tent, the doc gave me Advil and sent me home. I had to borrow his phone to call Ted. I reassured him I was okay, and said to meet me in the Wells Fargo lot. (Later I learned the doc told teammates that came through that I had been there from a crash. They were perplexed. He said, you know, the redhead with the hickey on her neck! HICKEY!!! I'm 42 yrs old! Dude, it was an abrasion from my crash!!!)

Ted must have misunderstood me and went to all the tents at the finish, looking for me. 70 minutes later he finds me.  We went back to the room and I shower. I check online for the others ... something's not right!!?  Next, I get a call from Andrea. She's a captain from Hawaii. She had to pull out do to catastrophic metabolic events. Jenny and Daniel too. Dan's in the HOSPITAL with BG >600.  OMG.  They were worried about me and my measly headache.

We still have 4 runners going strong. It's HOT out there!! 90+ degrees I want to see them finish. We head back down after 6pm, but cannot find a single Triabetes peep. I'm texting and finding they are at the tent, several miles away. UGH. So, we stayed for 2 hrs watching various men and women become an Ironman!! It was fun, but not as fun as seeing Vic, Brian, Christian and Annie finish. But I was fading - I had still done a lot of work that day, and my headache was still hanging around. We ended up leaving, and I went to bed.

In the AM I see that they all finished, with Brian having 10 minutes to spare! Whew!!! There's tons of photos and some video, it makes me choke up. While I was at peace with the events as they unfolded, I was sad I didn't finish. But, I'm not sure I could have. Training for this event, indoors on a trainer, is very difficult. I only got out on my bike once. Jenny had been doing hills since January :(  Not making excuses - this course is not for me. Not living in Cleveland anyway! I'd need to tackle this in September or October, after a summer hammering hills with my CTC peeps.

I had to get my bike dropped off early Sunday, so I did that. I had a finisher sticker for Sarah, the least confident of our group. She did not finish. It's okay though, life goes on, as she will see.  I called Annie -the only woman to finish, and said I'm outside your door - I hate to wake you, but I have something for you, and I'm taking off soon. I want to give it to you. She opened her door and I hugged her. I was so, so, SO impressed with the amazing performance she gave yesterday. She left it all out there and she finished!!  She got the IMSG finisher sticker I bought! I am so proud of Annie Bacon, the vegetarian!! :)  I'm hoping she'll come out to Rev3 with us. I'm trying to bribe her! :)

As for the rest of us, many of us have unfinished business. I'm in for the Rev3 full. Jenny, Andrea and Dan are too! Annie is on the fence. I'm doing my best to push her off the fence and into Cleveland for September!! We've got Vic possibly coming to be a race sherpa. I offered everything I can to help get them out here. I have great local friends that can help me with airport pick-up and transportation, so no one needs to rent a car, and possibly even loaning a bike. I need their sizes then I'll work on securing a bike for those that can't ship theirs. So far, it's looking like Annie might need a bike. I'd give her mine, but she's taller. I need her bike size, then I'll start working on it. I've offered my room to Annie. Me - miss "I need my space" chick!! I hope she comes.  It was an amazing journey. We all did our best so no one has anything to feel bad about ... no one failed. Failure is fear of trying. Or cheating. Or letting self-doubt paralyze you.  My friend Jerry Crabb didn't make the bike cut-off either :(   But, he's in for Rev3. I will be sure we all have Jerry fans there, too!  Jerry Nairn, you, too, are welcome. Rev3 full course is fantastic. I'm SOOOOOO happy it was my first full triathlon!! Let me tell you, Rev3 is NOT a sub-standard experience - this I PROMISE YOU!!!

Onward to the next week - I've got the Cleveland Marathon. I have run this every year (although not mary distance, but the 10k or 13.1 miler) since I was 16 with exceptions of kidney stones and pregnancy. My goal was to use it as a recovery run, but since I never ran at IMSG, I figured I might have a good race.  I was excited!!  I started with the 4:14 race pack. Somehow, I lost them at the 13 mile point.  As usual, my race deteriorated from there. The temps dropped, the rain started, and I found myself cramping.  I kept positive and focused on finishing. I walked VERY LITTLE during this race. I did start getting some pretty intense GI issues around mile 18.  UGH.  But, kept plugging forward.  I finished with a disappointing 5:21. I really don't know how that happened, except to say, I am just NOT putting in enough miles.  That's the honest truth I think.  I was prepared to just eject from the full, and stick with halves, but I think I have unfinished business ... and I'm going to tackle it!! Yesterday I signed up for Columbus Marathon (my favorite!!) and reserved a room. Looking forward to hanging with Elizabeth Kelley and Christen Mills. Liz just might BQ at this race!! If she does, I'm her race sherpa!!

Not surprisingly, I was just EXHAUSTED after Sundays marathon race. I had difficulty driving home, with narcolepsy threatening to kill me! I was cold and wet, yet had the windows downs, A/C blasting, and radio loud. I kept yelling "FOCUS TIFFANY!!"  It was a scary ride home. Once home I collapsed into bed. I've slept most of the past 2 days. GI issues remain. Did you know you can go into a coma ON the toilet. You can! I did. 4 hours!!!  A virtual marathon!! Too bad I can't use THAT time! :)

In summary, I have thoughts. Not so much about the marathon, but about IMSG. 
Most of you supported me and my campaign. I will never be grateful enough for you and your support - Well, I'll be grateful enough, I just don't know that YOU will fully realize how much that meant to me.  As I said, this year was about the JOURNEY. It was a fantastic journey!! I met friends I would have NEVER otherwise met. I met Rachel, Emily, Jodi and Ed - and their presence and meaning in my life cannot be adequately conveyed in mere words. I love them. I value them. Rachel has impacted my life, and probably, me hers, in ways that will remain with me FOREVER!!!   Ed had become a very, very dear friend, mentor, and confidant to me - anything triathlon, anything training, anything logistical, he's never been too busy for me. And trust me, I KNOW how busy he is!!! I love getting to know Jodi better. And Emily - just an amazing person. My kids love Emily and Rachel, and I will work hard to keep them in our lives. I believe that this journey was meant to bring these wonderful people into my life. Our lives. I adore all of them!

The other captains - it's hard for people to understand the bond we formed in such a short period. We are located all across the country, yet I know, in a hot second, I could call each one of them for support, guidance, friendship. For outsiders, it seems too unrealistic, too unlikely that we should have this bond - so intense, so strong. In such a short amount of time. But we do. I wouldn't trade diabetes for a functional pancreas if, for one second, it meant that I didn't get to have this journey. I feel super blessed. Super fortunate. Super lucky to have met these fantastic people whom I love, admire, and who inspire me, every single day, to be a better person, a better diabetic, a better athlete, a better friend, a better mother. I love these people:
Annie Bacon
Andrea Huston
Jenny Crandell
Sarah Hankel
Vic Kinnunen
Daniel Vincent
Christian Chiappe
Jerry Nairn
Brian Phelps
John Moore
Rachel Hoffner
Jodi Hoffner
Emily Hoffner
Ed Slovenkay

I love them with my whole heart. I would do anything for them. I care about them, their families, their lives and loved ones. They have changed my life! It's difficult to understand, unless you've gone through this.

Several weeks back, as I said,  I had a melt down. Poor Ted ... it started out with me being crabby and stressed, and it ended with me having a tantrum. Ted did what I needed him to do. He listened. He heard me. My fear? Failure. That all of YOU that supported me, would be disappointed if I didn't finish IMSG.  I cried. I swore (big surprise!). I threw stuff. Ted didn't know what I needed. Did I need emotional permission to eject from the race? Because, honestly, It crossed my mind!! Did I need encouragement? He saw me train, train, train, knowing I was doing the best I could with the crappy weather we have in Cleveland, Ohio that leaves us little opportunity to actually RUN or RIDE outdoors.  After meltdown concluded, I started to think: what's the worst case scenario? Really, what is it?  It's the DNF.  The dreaded DNF.  But does that mean I FAILED? Nope. It means I didn't finish THAT RACE.  Millions of exceptional and average people DNF.  Why was I so afraid of that???  I then began to see the light. I then felt - no, I then knew, there's a really good chance I can finish this race in 17 hrs.  I began to feel hopeful. I stepped up my training. When we arrived in St. George, I was SURE I was going to finish ... my biggest fear was the cold water. Well, you know how that played out!! I held back and still did 1:15. I think I could do 1:10 or better!!!  Next hurdle, the hills. I figured I do my best and that's all I could do. I was going to spin and climb all freakin' day and if at 5:30 pm I wasn't done, I could live with that.  The crash was an unforeseen incident. If I didn't hit my head, I'd have gotten back on the bike. Truth. Honest truth. I had a mild concussion, but if it was just road rash, I would have gotten back on the bike and kept at it. Although it's unlikely I would have made the cut off. But that would be okay. Seriously. Okay.  We were put in a difficult position when ID chose THAT race for us. This next group? They get a 70.3.  I'm so jealous I could spit nails!!! :)

I had written the following letter to my captains. I asked 3 people to proof it for me ... I got great feedback from them ... I adjusted accordingly, but in the end, I feared that I'd be perceived as the Negative Nancy ... predicting DNF's.  But that wasn't my intention at all. It was to address the elephant in the room!!! No one was talking about it, although we all feared it. I just wanted to put it out there. In hindsight, I wish I had.

Dear Fellow Captains,
Well, it’s here!! We are about to embark upon the finale of our year-long journey by tackling the beast that is Ironman St. George!!
As you know, when I was invited to be a captain, I was amidst a personal crisis, and I very nearly turned the position down. However, my BFF, said quite simply: Do you WANT to do this?  The answer was YES!  So, it was clear: I would tackle the challenge … and at the time, the fundraising portion was the biggest, scariest factor for me, not the Ironman. Well, I’m happy to say, the fundraising challenge has been met, now on to the Ironman!
We each have our own goals for this race, I imagine. For some, it will be to complete 140.6 miles in 17 hrs. To FINISH. That’s a lofty goal, considering we are “regular people” with jobs, family and other commitments. We are not elite athletes with sponsors, coaches and trainers. For others, you may have a specific time goal you’d like to finish the race by. And some of you may have sights on qualifying for Kona! I applaud any, and every, goal – as that’s why we are doing this, partly, to achieve a goal. However, we have had other goals in this journey, and let’s not lose sight of those!  This year – this journey - for me - was probably the single most amazing and inspiring journey of my life. YOU all inspire me. Every. Single. Day!  Because of you, I now take much better care of myself. Because of you, I feel proud to be associated with our charity. I now better understand and sympathize with the challenges of fundraising! Because of you, I’ve met many new friends, and have connected with people also facing the challenges of diabetes, and I will continue to motivate and inspire them to take care of themselves. THAT is what this journey is about, for me.
IMSG is a beast. We got the hardest of the hard. We know it, and, in hind-sight, I’m pretty sure that better judgment would have prevailed in selecting the venue to serve as our finale, if they could do it over. Oh well!  We were excited, yet scared, as we signed up last May, with scary thoughts and grand visions of ourselves doing this race, crossing that finish line on May 7, 2011.  Well, it’s HERE!! We are as ready as we can be and from this point out, it is what it is.
I’m a positive person. I think of the glass as half full, not half empty. But I am also a realist. I face difficult decisions every single day in my profession as a veterinarian. I’m practical, and know that sometimes, difficult decisions need to be made.  I know that, try as I will, there are lots of variables that arise on race day that could throw us for a loop and result in an unexpected course of events.  We’ve done all the hard work, and we look to God, or within, to believe that we will reach our goals on that day.  I envision the race in heat. In cold. In wind. In rain. I mentally prepare to adapt. I can relate this experience to my first pregnancy: (I know, bizarre!) I had planned to deliver naturally, and forego the epidural. However, I was told not to be "married to that plan" in my head, as it may not play out that way on delivery day(s!). I found that advice to be dead “spot-on”. I had plans to cope with the pain. But all that was derailed when I developed pre-eclampsia. Next thing I know, I have 4 IVs and 2 IV poles I had to lug around. I was induced, rather than enter labor naturally. I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t use the tub or shower, or use the yoga ball. All of my planned coping skills were not an option anymore.  Nothing went as I had planned! It was a rough ride – 29 hrs – but in the end, I had my healthy, beautiful baby, and I was okay.
That was my segue!  We PLAN our race, but things don’t always go the way we plan. We must adapt. As a veteran IMer, yet still whom I would refer to as a “newbie”, I want to throw out a few things. First off, I stand behind the statement that this race is 50% mental and 50% physical.  How on earth can this be FIFTY PERCENT PHYSICAL? Shouldn’t it be 80% physical??? But no, there are some dark, lonely, scary times out there, during those long hours, usually when you are alone.  During THOSE moments, Ironman is 80% mental!! You question: did I train enough? Why am I doing this? Is the pain too much? Should I stop? I want to stop!
My personal advice? Rate your pain on the 1-10 scale.  If you are feeling pain on the scale of 7 or less, keep plugging away. But if you rate your pain an 8, 9 or 10 … you should seriously STOP. There is NO NEED to do permanent damage.  Blisters dry up. Skin grows back. Chaffing resolves. Road burn heals. But if you tear a cruciate ligament, or knee meniscus, or throw a blood clot, you risk permanent injury, serious issues, including surgery, and possibly the end of the ability to run (which Brian might find attractive!).  It’s not worth it to push through that kind of pain. Be smart! 
Regarding diabetes, I feel fully confident that we are equipped to handle whatever arises in that category. I struggled with hypoglycemia on the run in IMFL and HAD to take a WHOLE coke and a gel every 45 min to keep my BG at 100-esque.  That’s the easy part, for us! The HARD part for us is the fact that maybe, just maybe, on that day, May 7th, it won’t be there for us – to meet cut off times. To finish in under 17 hrs. We need to discuss this. Some of you will say, “no negativity” or “only positive thinking” … well, the REALITY is that you can be as positive as you want – “Mary Poppins positive”, but if you tear a meniscus in your knee, it’s time to stop. If you are vomiting and losing consciousness, it's time to stop. If you cannot get BG above 60 or under 600, it's time to stop. You will know if it’s time. BE SMART. There is NO FAILURE HERE!!   This isn’t about FINISHING IMSG – it’s just not! It’s about the journey here, and addressing the hurdles we encounter, and seeing if it’s insurmountable, or if we can keep plugging on.  I fear that if we don’t make this about the journey, that someone will feel like they’ve failed (namely me! But I'm sure I'm not alone in this fear) … but I HAVEN’T. If I DNF at IMSG … oh well!  But, I will always know that on race day I did my best, and gave it my all. I would hope you would hug me and say “great job”! For me, the only way you are not a success is if you “quit” – curl into the fetal position, and cry like a 4 yr old, feeling sorry for yourself.  Yes, we may be disappointed that we didn’t meet our goal. But hey, did you do your best? Did you give your all? If you did – your race was what it was, but it certainly wasn’t a failure! You have succeeded in what this year was about – the JOURNEY!!  You are NOT a failure, you are an amazing person that I’m proud to know!!  I will struggle with embracing this mentality myself, should I have a catastrophic event. But, I promise I will not be a failure if I cannot finish the race in the constraints of time IM sets. It just wasn’t my day. You move on, you don’t wallow in self-pity. You rejoice in the journey we all took together, and be grateful for what we DO have – maybe not a finisher medal, but SO MUCH MORE!!! 
All that being said, I really, truly, do feel that each one of us WILL meet our personal goals on May 7th!  I envision my finish, in the darkness of the late hours of the night, and I will pull out a finish under 17 hrs! And I’ll be so happy for myself, and for all of you. I BELIEVE that!! Please know that I am just as nervous as all of you are. We all hope for the day we’ve worked hard for. We pray it comes together and we reach our personal goal. Knowing how challenging this course is, will make finishing that much sweeter. But if IMSG beats me … I can handle that! Don’t feel sorry for me. I haven’t failed.  It’s like having a sundae (yum!!) and not getting the cherry on top. Eh, so what. It’s still a damned good sundae!!!  And it’s an experience I will never forget, never regret and always cherish – good, bad, and ugly!!!
Speaking for myself, I am excited … and scared! I will say honestly that I don’t feel as prepared for this race as I have for past races  … and I can’t really explain why! I’m not injured. I trained. I envision a finish, which is my personal goal. But I think I’m on the brink of burn out, personally. I have been training for an IM (one of 4!) for over 2 yrs now! I’m thinking 70.3 and Olys look appealing right now!
Okay peeps, that’s my “speech” … please know that I AM NOT NEGATIVE … and I’m not foreshadowing a DNF or a catastrophic event. I’m just saying the words that no one wants to speak … the possibility that on that day, things won’t go as planned.  It’s not the end of the world. Life goes on, and we are all WINNERS!!!!
Love and hugs,

I never sent this ... and I wish I had.

I heard of an athlete who was so scared of "failure" that he was paralyzed of going home a failure, without a finisher medal. That athlete, a good person, by all accounts, made the very poor decision to get that medal at all costs. He, in the depths of fear, despair, and shame, chose to cheat the course. He cut a loop of the course. He made the very poor decision to cheat, all to get that medal. The medal wasn't earned. The medal was a lie. Rather than go home and say: "I did my best, but I didn't make the cutoff time", he had a medal and was allowing people to think he DID conquer IMSG. Who really knows, maybe, just maybe, he WOULD have made the cut off?? But, instead, he made the morally, ethically and legally wrong decision to CHEAT. That cheating reflects his character. That cheating is WAY harder to face, than not finishing IMSG. Well, people found out. It wasn't hard - he was out of the water late and the time for the first loop of the mountain foreshadowed him not making the bike cut off. So, in the dark hours of the race, he made a very poor, very wrong, decision to cheat and try to pull off a "victory". He made a mistake. He didn't kill anyone. He harmed his reputation, his character, he let down all of those that believed in him. I sincerely doubt ANYONE would have been disappointed in his DNF, but rather would hug him and say, good try buddy - you did your best. But, instead, he is facing judgement of character. Facing the admission that he chose to cheat and take a finisher medal. He can publicly blame a technically confusing bike area, but, truth is, everyone KNOWS that the conscious decision to cheat was made. No one wants to further embarrass him. No one wants to have him feel that he's not worth forgiveness. I forgive him. I know how terrified he was of failure. I should add that his profession is working in the athletic and coaching industry,  and has a degree in sports medicine and kinesiology.  He coaches several people. That puts enormous pressure on him. I understand that. But if he would understand that just attempting IMSG is a brave step, and a DNF, for whatever reason, is nothing to feel shame for. Cheating is. Ironic how the latter decision has much more far-reaching implications, much more psychological issues, much more need to own his decision and ask for forgiveness, than the DNF would have! People make poor choices a lot - sometimes it's more public. Look at all the pro athletes that have had to publicly admit using steroids or blood doping. Look at Tiger Woods' cheating. Millions of people cheat, yet, he was held to a higher standard due to his public image. This young man felt that a DNF would bring him shame and failure. Ironically, it would not have ... in any way!!! Ironically, the choice to cheat will snowball and have long-lasting implications, as he will always have that decision to cheat and lie attached to him. Those that love him, and know him, will understand. Will not condone, but will forgive. We should forgive. It reflects the immaturity of this young man. I look at is as a leaning moment and a teaching moment. What if this was YOUR son?  You would never condone his horrible decision, but you WOULD for give him. He'd need to come clean and OWN his bad choice. Be contrite, not indignant. Throw himself out there, under the bus, totally own what he did. Use the difficult words "I chose to cheat. I am profoundly sorry for that terrible decision. I beg your forgiveness and I see now, that what I did was FAR worse than the feared DNF".  People that love you, will continue to love you. That's what unconditional love is.

Character is what you do when no one is looking.  I try to model the behavior I want my children to have. And I'll love them when they mess up.

So, there's my two-fer, which, more accurately is like a six-fer I think. :)
Thanks for hanging with me. Thanks for loving me and supporting me. Thank you for everything - you all mean so very much to me. I've said it before. I say it often. I believe it in my heart: I am blessed. Oh, and as a final though, NOT an afterthought, I want to thank my husband, Ted, who has renewed his commitment to me, and to my happiness and helps me out in so very many ways, I would certainly do a disservice by listing them, and omitting something, so, suffice it to say, THANK YOU - your support and commitment to me, triathlon, and the hours away I spend from you and our family, I am deeply grateful! You've been truly amazing!!

Love, Tiff

Friday, May 6, 2011

Bring it!

Well, I have to say that I am very excited about tomorrow's 140.6 mile triathlon! This is a true first for me. I feel confident, relatively relaxed, and ready to go! Not sure why ... this course is going to be challenging, for sure, but I feel like I'm ready, mentally more so than physically, to tackle this journey, that I've been working toward for over 1 full year.  I well up with tears of joy and emotion as I visualize how the finish will affect me emotionally. I know that this experience will be one of the most empowering and vivid races I'll ever have. This is a once in a lifetime ... not just because it's St. George, but because it's the finale of my Captainship. I have met the most wonderful people and they have impacted my life, positively, and in this regard, I wouldn't trade being diabetic for being NON-diabetic if it meant that I didn't have this experience.  From challenges, we find victory, joy, and pride! This year has been truly amazing and I think THAT is why this is so especially meaningful to me.

Peace out, peeps!


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Today - 5/5/11 - 2 days before IMSG

Happy Cinco de Mayo!! And a happy 60th birthday to my "stepmom", Kathy Young.

So, we arrived yesterday into St. George, Utah. The flight and travel issues were negligible and we had a smooth arrival. Keeping in mind our arising at 4 am, factor in the time change, we were pretty beat by 7pm St. George time.

We checked in, freshened up and head over to Dan's place for a fabulous dinner with friends, meeting spouses, parents and children of my fellow captains. It went by in a blur ... I feel so bonded to the captains, it's nice to get to know the family - support system - behind the athlete!  We had dinner and socialized for way too short, but everyone understood the toll of travel on your body.  Home at 7:30, sleeping by 8:30! THAT'S HOW WE ROLL!!

This morning, bright and early, I arose in preparation for my first open water swim at Sand Hollow. I had my full wetsuit - and it would be my first time using it. I was excited!! I was picked up at 6:30 by Brian, Vic, and Annie. The excitement was building ... with an underlying nervousness!

We all donned our wetsuits and headed down to the water. There, of course, were other athletes there as well. The other captains had "booties" I did not. I felt sad.   :(

I entered the water and ... excuse my french ... HOLY SHIT~!!!!  OMG, OMG, OMG - It HURT. It's 57  degrees. Ironman will lie and say it's warmer, but Brian has a thermometer and it consistently read 57 degrees F.   Let me tell you ... I was OUT!  NO WAY.  NO - F'ing - WAY!!!!   This HURT.  I could not get past the cold on my bare feet.  Maybe with neoprene booties, I might feel better, but hey, how likely can I get those NOW??   I folded up my arms and the look on my face CLEARLY indicated to all my friends that I COULD NOT DO THIS!!!  I started on reasons to DNS - food poisoning. Vomiting. Meniscal tear. Migraine (never had one!). ANYTHING to get me OUT OF THIS!!!!.   The captains kept coaxing me to give it a few moments, get my face in, and just acclimate. HOW!?!?!?!  How does one acclimate to this??  

I got my face wet. I said, if I'm going to try this, we've got to GO - SWIM!!!  Dan lead the pack and I just bucked up and did it.  It hurt for about 2 minutes. I always chant: I can do ANYTHING for 1 minute. So, two chants!! :)  Honestly, after the few moments, I DID acclimate. And then the clouds parted (metaphorically speaking) and I saw the light:  I. CAN. DO. THIS.!!!!!!  And I did~!  The longer I swam, the better it felt. We were in nearly 45 minutes and after the acclimation period, I was truly comfortable in the water.  My feet didn't feel cold. Some of the others felt that their face was numb - and it was comical watching and hearing them try to talk - kind of like after being at the dentist and getting novacaine.  I didn't experience that. Plus, I do have a bit of "blubber" for insulation, and I'll take it - I can drop that before Rev3, but HERE, I'll take it!!

All in all, it was a HUGE mental hurdle for me to overcome!  A fellow captain is struggling with self-doubt. I've been there. We all have. My advice to her is to do your best and forget the rest. Be kind to yourself. Talk to yourself in the same way you'd talk to me, or any other captain. The truth is, this is HARD!! We got the HARDEST course out there. We kind of got screwed ... better judgement could have prevailed :) The next generation gets a 70.3.  JEALOUS!!!!

We then headed over to the convention center and checked in, and picked up my bike from TBT.  I get a few things and am hoping to go get something "gifty" for myself! After all, I will have conquered IMSG!!!  Now I'm in my hotel room, chillaxing, set up all my bags, which I'll revisit tomorrow, and relaxing with a great book on my Kindle. I'm avoiding restaurants and being a tiny bit anti-social, but everyone totally understands. I need to focus, stay mellow, and rest.  No cycling or running for this gal ... there will be PLENTY of that on Saturday.  Gotta say, I'm really, REALLY getting excited!!! This won't set any land-speed records, but, due to the difficult topography, I'm aiming for a finish, and praying we all - all TEN of us - get what we want! One is shooting for a Kona Qualify, a few have times in their mind. I don't think I could pull off a 14 hr race, but I know I can finish this in the cutoff times, if things go as planned.  I'm stoked!!!  

Ed Slovenkay took today and rode the course. He has great advice for us, and he'll share it at tomorrow's dinner with our triabuddies. We all really value his input, and he's already made me feel better about the climbs, although "the wall" won't be pretty!! :)   Based on the intense heat we are having, I was going to forgo the arm warmers and shoe covers, but according to Ed: USE THEM!  Thanks for the input!! :)

Okay, checking out for now. Tomorrow, another Sand Hollow Swim is on the calendar for the morning, then bike check in later. Finally, dinner with triabuddies, and to bed at 7pm.  I'm really excited for Saturday!!!


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Ironman ... (author unknown)

I had this sent from fellow Triabetes Captain Jenny Crandell, and I like it a lot! Thought I'd share it here. It rings so incredibly true to me that I become overwhelmed with emotion when I read it. This IS what it's like, the best description of how you will struggle over 10, 12, 14, or 17 hours. The journey is personal. It's dark at times. It's inspiring and euphoric at other times. It's the most amazing experience I've ever had! Enjoy!

Right now you've all entered the taper. Perhaps you've been at this a few months, perhaps you've been at this a few years. For some of you this is your first IM, for others, a long-overdue welcome back to a race that few can match.

You've been following your schedule to the letter. You've been piling on the mileage, piling up the laundry, and getting a set of tan lines that will take until next year to erase. Long rides were followed by long runs, which both were preceded by long swims, all of which were followed by recovery naps that were longer than you slept for any given night during college.

You ran in the snow.
You rode in the rain.
You ran in the heat.
You ran in the cold.

You went out when others stayed home.
You rode the trainer when others pulled the covers over their heads.

You have survived the Darwinian progression that is an Ironman summer, and now the hardest days are behind you. Like a climber in the Tour de France
coming over the summit of the penultimate climb on an alpine stage, you've already covered so much ground...there's just one more climb to go. You shift up, you take a drink, you zip up the jersey; the descent lies before you...and it will be a fast one.

Time that used to be filled with never-ending work will now be filling with silent muscles, taking their final, well-earned rest. While this taper is something your body desperately needs, your mind cast off to the background for so very long, will start to speak to you.

It won't be pretty.

It will bring up thoughts of doubt, pain, hunger, thirst, failure, and loss. It will give you reasons why you aren't ready. It will try and make one last stand to stop you, because your brain doesn't know what the body already does. Your body knows the truth:

You are ready.

Your brain won't believe it. It will use the taper to convince you that this is foolish - that there is too much that can go wrong.

You are ready.

Finishing an Ironman is never an accident. It's the result of dedication, focus, hard work, and belief that all the long runs in January, long rides in April, and long swims every damn weekend will be worth it. It comes from getting on the bike, day in, day out. It comes from long, solo runs. From that first long run where you wondered, "How will I ever be ready?" to the
last long run where you smiled to yourself with one mile to go...knowing that you'd found the answer.

It is worth it. Now that you're at the taper, you know it will be worth it. The workload becomes less. The body winds up and prepares, and you just need to quiet your worried mind. Not easy, but you can do it.

You are ready.

You will walk into the water with 2000 other wide-open sets of eyes. You will look upon the sea of humanity, and know that you belong. You'll feel the chill of the water crawl into your wetsuit, and shiver like everyone
else, but smile because the day you have waited for so VERY long is finally here.

You will tear up in your goggles. Everyone does.

The helicopters will roar overhead. The splashing will surround you.

You'll stop thinking about Ironman, because you're now racing one.

The swim will be long - it's long for everyone, but you'll make it. You'll watch as the shoreline grows and grows, and soon you'll hear the end. You'll come up the beach and head for the wetsuit strippers. Three people will get that sucker off before you know what happening, then you'll head for the bike.

The voices, the cowbells, and the curb-to-curb chalk giving you a hero's sendoff can't wipe the smile off your face.

You'll settle down to your race. The crowds will spread out on the road. You'll soon be on your bike, eating your food on your schedule, controlling your Ironman.

You'll start to feel that morning sun turn to afternoon sun. It's warmer now. Maybe it's hot. Maybe you're not feeling so good now. You'll keep riding. You'll keep drinking. You'll keep moving. After all, this is just a
long training day with valet parking and catering, right?

You'll put on your game face, fighting the urge to feel down as you ride for what seems like hours. You reach special needs, fuel up, and head out.

By now it'll be hot. You'll be tired. Doubts will fight for your focus. Everyone struggles here. You've been on that bike for a few hours, and stopping would be nice, but you won't - not here. Not today.

You'll grind the false flats to the climb. You'll know you're almost there. You'll fight for every inch of road. The crowd will come back to you here. Let their energy push you. Let them see your eyes. Smile when they cheer for you - your body will get just that little bit lighter.


You'll plunge down the road, swooping from corner to corner, chaining together the turns, tucking on the straights, letting your legs recover for the run to come - soon! You'll roll back - you'll see people running out.
You'll think to yourself, "Wasn't I just here?" The noise
will grow. The chalk dust will hang in the air - you're back, with only 26.2
miles to go. You'll relax a little bit, knowing that even if you get a flat
tire or something breaks here, you can run the damn bike into T2.

You'll roll into transition. 100 volunteers will fight for your bike. You'll give it up and not look back. You'll have your bag handed to you, and into the tent you'll go. You'll change. You'll load up your pockets, and open the door to the last long run of your Ironman summer - the one that counts.

You'll take that first step of a thousand...and you'll smile. You'll know that the bike won't let you down now - the race is down to your own two feet. The same crowd that cheered for you in the shadows of the morning will cheer for you in the brilliant sunshine of a summer Sunday. High-five people on the way out. Smile. Enjoy it. This is what you've worked for all year

That first mile will feel great. So will the second. By mile 3, you probably won't feel so good.

That's okay. You knew it couldn't all be that easy. You'll settle down just like you did on the bike, and get down to your pace. You'll see the leaders coming back the other way. Some will look great - some won't. You might feel great, you might not. No matter how you feel, don't panic - this is the part of the day where whatever you're feeling, you can be sure it won't last.

You'll keep moving. You'll keep drinking. You'll keep eating. Maybe you'll be right on plan - maybe you won't. If you're ahead of schedule, don't worry
- believe. If you're behind, don't panic - roll with it. Everyone comes up with a brilliant race plan for Ironman, and then everyone has to deal with the reality that planning for something like Ironman is like trying to land a man on the moon. By remote control. Blindfolded.

How you react to the changes in your plan will dictate your day. Don't waste energy worrying about things - just do what you have to when you have to, and keep moving. Keep eating. Keep drinking. Just don't sit down - don't EVER sit down.

You'll make it to the halfway point. You'll load up on special needs. Some of what you packed will look good, some won't. Eat what looks good, toss the
rest. Keep moving. Start looking for people you know. Cheer for people you don't. You're headed in - they're not. They want to be where you are, just like you wanted to be when you saw all those fast people
headed into town. Share some energy - you'll get it right back.

Run if you can.
Walk if you have to.
Just keep moving.

The miles will drag on. The brilliant sunshine will yawn. You'll be coming up to those aid stations fully alive with people, music, and chicken soup. TAKE THE SOUP. Keep moving.

You'll soon only have a few miles to go. You'll start to believe that you're going to make it. You'll start to imagine how good it's going to feel when you get there. Let those feelings drive you on. When your legs just don't want to move anymore, think about what it's going to be like when someone catches you.and puts a medal over your head... all you have to do is get there.

You'll start to hear the people in town. People you can't see in the twilight will cheer for you. They'll call out your name. Smile and thank them. They were there when you left on the bike, and when you came back, and when you left on the run, and now when you've come back.

You'll enter town. You'll start to realize that the day is almost over. You'll be exhausted, wiped out, barely able to run a 10-minute mile (if you're lucky), but you'll ask yourself, "Where did the whole day go?" You'll
be standing on the edge of two feelings - the desire to finally stop, and the desire to take these last moments and make them last as long as possible.

You'll hit mile 25. Your Ironman will have 1.2 miles - just 2KM left in it.

You'll run. You'll find your legs. You'll fly. You won't know how, but you will run. The lights will grow brighter, brighter, and brighter. Soon you'll be able to hear the music again. This time, it'll be for keeps.

Soon they'll see you. Soon, everyone will see you. You'll run towards the lights, between the fences, and into the night sun made just for you.

They'll say your name.
You'll keep running.
Nothing will hurt.

The moment will be yours - for one moment, the entire world will be looking at you and only you.

You'll break the tape at the finish line, 140.6 miles after starting your journey. The flash will go off.

You'll stop. You'll finally stop. Your legs will wobble their last, and capable of nothing more.

Someone will catch you. You'll lean into them.

It will suddenly hit you...YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!
You are ready.