Holy Crap I am an IRONMAN

Ironman Santa Rosa 2019

“Did you do it?”

“No… “

“Why not?”

“I can’t… “

“Do you really want to do this?”

“Well yes, I want to but what if I can’t?”

“Don’t think like that, just do it”

  May 28th, 2018 after staring at the screen for a nauseating 30 minutes with my finger hovering over the mouse. I finally hit the submit button. I instantly felt all the blood drain from my face and got light-headed, a feeling I’m all too familiar with right before I pass out after giving blood.  What. Have. I. Just. Done. I was sick. As I slid to the floor I warned Morgan “I’m going to barf!”. luckily, It never got to that, but we did have to go walk it off around the neighborhood. I knew that what I just committed to was big. I also knew that I wanted it so badly, I just wasn’t quite sure if I COULD. Less than .01% of the world’s population has completed a full Ironman and I so desperately wanted to be one of them.

 An Ironman is a 2.4 Mile Swim, 112 Mile Bike and 26.2 Mile Run raced in that order and without a break. To most, it is considered one of the most difficult one-day sporting events in the world. Ironman events have a cut off times throughout the day starting with 2hr 20 min for the swim, 8hours 10min for the bike and 6 hours 30 min for the run for a max total of 17 hours. If at any time you are behind on those times, you are pulled from the course. Any athlete who can complete the triathlon within these time constraints, before 17 hours (Midnight) has not only earned the coveted title, they have become an Ironman.

My journey to becoming an Ironman didn’t start 24 weeks before race day. It started the day I yelled at my mom in my mom and tots’ class for not letting me swim to the wall by myself and when she took me to my first swim meet at the age of 5 so I could win a sugar cookie the size of my head. My spirit, drive and determination blossomed at the age of 10 when I associated myself with Martial Artists, who grew to become family and engrained in me the value of  persistence, discipline and morals which led to just 2 years later becoming Black Belts together.

My Ironman journey skyrocketed after I figured out how to love running when my dad drove me to those early morning 5k and 10k races and even participated in a few starting the ever-growing collection of race medals! It was after my first 13.1 Half Marathon race that it clicked. I truly enjoy how I feel when I run. I finished more Half Marathons than I could count and finally, got myself through a 70.3 Half Ironman in Arizona. That was going to be it, I would be satisfied with 70.3. that’s what I told myself anyways… But then I did the “unthinkable” and signed up for a Marathon! The looming 26.2 was something I had been CERTAIN I couldn’t do. When I crossed that finish line, broke that limit that I convinced myself wasn’t breakable, something inside of me changed. I was ready to become an Ironman… I just didn’t know it.

All the chatter on the Salt Lake Tri Club Facebook page about this Ironman Santa Rosa nearly a year away was hard to ignore. SO MANY people were going, it’s within driving distance AND the race colors were…. PURPLE! (my favorite) It was like it was meant to be, this was MY race! So finally, I got the guts to mention it too Morgan. Just saying it out loud and putting it out into the universe was terrifying. I thought for sure he would talk me down off the ledge which was stupid because Morgan has never shot down any of my ideas. BUT for the first time ever I could sense a little hesitancy in his voice… “you really want to do this?”

It is a confusing sensation. You know that you are about to go through something very challenging mentally physically and emotionally which should automatically deter you right? But instead I’m filled with excitement and crave the experience. My body is screaming “you absolutely 100% do not want to do that!” But then there is that other part of me, my mind, that not only wants this but needs it.

So, it brings us back to nauseously staring at the computer screen, with a finger hovering over the mouse. Adrenaline and nerves pumped through me…my bodies final attempt to stop my mind from winning. Eyes close and *click* It is done. May 11th, 2019 will be the day.

I had already signed up for the St George Marathon scheduled for October, so I figured I would be in prime shape to start officially training for this Ironman in November/ December. I made a special effort to stay in shape and stick to my schedule. I had a great summer in Idaho, racing an Olympic distance and a few half marathons. I started to feel a little nuisance in my shin and chalked it up to shin splints and continued. I was able to keep training and even made it on the podium in a small local sprint distance race, but it was after that, I knew the growing pain wasn’t something I could ignore. I was diagnosed with a stress fracture and told I was benched for the next 6 weeks at least. I needed to choose, St George marathon or start back up training for my Ironman at full strength. Obviously, I had to choose the Ironman. But It was so frustrating. I kept it together just long enough to have a full on melt down in the car leaving that office. All confidence I had built had shattered and I took it hard. I had to defer 3 Half Marathon races and just pass up the St George marathon all together. I kept biking, swam here or there but MISSED running so desperately.

Those next 6 weeks, I tried a mile here or there with no alleviation from the pain. I didn’t get pain-free until around October when I got on the treadmill in Cabo and was able to get through 6 miles without once having to worry about my leg. October was when I was supposed to be marathon ready and instead, I am celebrating 6 miles… I had to laugh at the irony but I was so so happy and grateful for those pain-free miles.

Luckily, thanks to my coach, (I can say this out loud now) I made it through the rest of my Ironman training without any injuries! The crazy part about an Ironman isn’t the race its self, it is the training that is the grueling part. Every day, 6 days a week rain or shine holiday or not. Christmas morning, New Years, Birthdays, no excuses. Everyone says, race day is the celebration of your hard work. I was too nervous to let myself relax and believe it but … turns out they were right. 

We drove to Santa Rosa all day Wednesday so that Thursday morning, we could do registration, visit the Ironman village, attend the athlete briefings and pack our bags for race day. Friday was spent going for a little swim in the lake which was a huge confidence boost since the water was perfect, dropping off gear bags and scoping out the finish line. Each of those days consisted of Carb loading, taking it easy, watching the NBA play off games and walking a fine line between hoping that one of the greatest days of my life was about to happen and knowing that this is a very unpredictable sport and nothing is promised.

 

The Celebration: 

Saturday Morning, we got up at 3:30am just to make sure we were up and ready to go for the 4:30am departure time. Morgan and I got everything together, (or so I thought) we checked, and double checked and we loaded up into the car. We were about 25 min away from the swim start and 20 min into the ride Morgan says, “where is your wet suit” …. We left my wet suit! You’ve got to be kidding me! Every race will inevitably throw something at you but c’mon I haven’t even gotten there and I’m having a panic! Best part is the very first triathlon I did, I forgot my swim suit and my mom had to come bail me out! FULL CIRCLE. luckily, there was a second group that was heading up and I was able to get my wetsuit up delivered by an angel well before it was too late. *crisis averted*

Like I mentioned before, there were quite a few of us there to race and that ended up being a huge help. Since we were all registered under the Salt Lake Tri Club we were all grouped together in T1 so between all of us, we managed to scrounge up a bike pump and get our bikes prepped and ready to go. I found Morgan and my wet suit and was ready for this thing to get going! Surprisingly, I wasn’t nervous. It was much warmer than I anticipated and it felt like things were all falling into place. I came out to the race that morning with a pair of Morgan’s socks, my socks, sweats and two jackets and that was too much it wasn’t long before I was shredding layers. After getting my bike squared away and get my wetsuit on (which is one of the hardest parts of a triathlon) I found Morgan and headed out to the boat ramp.

The Swim:

Morgan was with me until the crowds started growing and we needed to get over to our spot. For this race, we seed ourselves based on our anticipated finish time. A group of us ended up being around the 1:30 mark which was slower than we anticipated but it was too crowded to get any further up. Every 3 seconds 5 people could enter the water until the last person entered. The gun sounded at 6:40 and we slowly started moving forward when a volunteer yelled out at me “your lashes look good girl!!” I loved it and thanked her (these lashes were my reward for getting here)

Luckily, Mike, who is an Ironman vet warned me to get my goggles on and get ready because it was about to pick up, almost immediately once my goggles went on the nerves shot through my body. I was shaking and didn’t know if I wanted to laugh, cry or scream. I had just enough time to tell everyone that and for them to say “it’s okay! You’ll be fine!”. I stepped up and 3,2,1 it was my time to go! Mike and I entered together, I found Mary who had entered 3 second before me… or wait, was that her? Where is Mike? Everyone morphed into seal like rubber bodies and I was in the Ironman washing machine set on Tumble. There were bodies everywhere!

 I found a pair of bubbles and followed along until I needed to pass and follow another set of feet. I never had the chance to think about temperature, about what I had just started, and what the rest of my day was going to look like. Before I knew it, I was 700 yards in and I felt giddy! I followed the advice given to me by another athlete and made sure I had swimmers on both sides of me and let the masses do the spotting. If there were swimmers on either side, odds are I was not off course and didn’t need to stress about sighting every single buoy. This was so much fun! The swim FLEW by! I was finishing the first loop and spotted Morgan up on the hill! I gave him a little wave and rushed back into the water for my second and last loop. Could I have just swam 1.2 miles?

The second loop was just as easy as the first I was actually smiling in the water, my watch told me I was on pace to have one of the best swim times yet and then I realized I was starting to get hungry… hmmm. Should have anticipated that, swimming always makes me hungry but there was nothing I could do there. I kept pushing forward and as I was rounding the last buoy, I was elated to have just finished my first leg of the day but also bummed that the swim was almost over! I was having so much fun! I could have gone another two loops and wondered if I should have pushed a little harder.

As I ran out of the water on to the ramp and saw that I pulled off a 1:18 I was plenty happy with where I was. I needed to pull off a decent time in the swim so that I could have a good buffer for the bike. (not my strongest suit) I ran out of the water up the boat ramp and for the first time, my heart rate was elevated. It was harder to run up that ramp than it was to swim! I got halfway up and *woooosh* my wet suit came right off! Those wet suit strippers know how to do their job. I saw my girl again as she yelled “lashes you are looking good!” I wanted her to follow me the whole day haha!  

The Bike:

One of my strategies to getting through a bike ride is to not look at the miles, I spend more of my time trying to 1. Not crash and 2. Take in the views around me. So the next 8.5 hours kind of blurs together. Except for the start, I distinctly remember the beginning of the bike… After my swim, I finished the climb up the boat ramp, wet suit in hand, found Morgan, waved and rounded the corner, shouted my number, got my bike bag handed to me and headed off into the changing tent! It’s a good thing that place is covered head to toe because those ladies inside were not and I almost ran full speed into one of them yikes… I got out my towel, wrapped up and tried to let that water run off as I got my shoes, helmet, and sunglasses on. It was quick and easy, but I knew I needed to get in my first bathroom break. While running over to the potties, I found Mike and Karolina, although it was brief, some friendly faces were great to see! I grabbed my bike and ran over to the   start. I hopped on and away I went!

I passed Morgan again for the last time for the next few hours and rounded the corner just in time to hear… “your tire!!” ….UGHHH! Not even 30 seconds in and I have a flat tire…. And it is my BACK TIRE *face palm* I’m still wet, my fingers are shaking from the nerves and now I am standing in front of a huge crowd of spectators on one side and the athletes zipping by giving me pity cheers on the other … I felt like I was center stage auditioning for a part I haven’t practiced. Don’t get me wrong, I have changed a tire but not like this! My fingernail polish was chipping away, people were barking suggestions or trying to tell me what to do and my hands were covered in black grease. By the time I had the tube in and the tire back on the race sponsored support came up and helped with the chain and attaching the wheel. He must have seen how frazzled I felt because he patted me on the back and said “it’s okay there are plenty of places to make up time on this course” 

I thanked him and barked back to the crowd. “couldn’t think of a better way to start the bike for my first Ironman race!” A few chuckles and cheers later, I was NOW able to start my bike leg. I checked my watched and saw that I had just drained 17 min of my weakest leg. I spent the next 2 hours of the bike second guessing every bump, every sound and even stopped just to make sure my tires were okay. I watched so many people wiz past me…. The downfall of being fast in the water and slow on the bike. I was already nervous enough and that flat did a number on me mentally.

I remembered that I was hungry and needed some nutrition if I was going to make it through the rest of the day. I drank fluids and came up on an aid station yelling “banana!” I had a banana awkwardly shoved in my hand just to fall back out and the teenage volunteer yell “ahhh s!!!!!!t I screwed up!” For the first time after fixing my flat, I cracked a smile and I was finally able to relax, settle in and start rolling with the punches. I grabbed another banana from the last table at the aid station and got the peel off. I set the banana in my mouth so I didn’t have to keep touching it (remember the black chain stained hands) just in time for me to hit a bump and the banana to fall on the ground…. welp. That was a good bite of a banana.

I had more liquid nutrition and I wasn’t too worried since I had my Clif bar, Clif shot block chews and my special needs bag that was going to be at mile 68 full of Peach O’s and Uncrustables (the bag you get halfway through the ride so that you can resupply your bike and stomach) Miles 1-50 flew by in fact when I saw the first loop was done and I was starting my second, I was really confused because there was supposed to be a big hill… and I think I missed it…. This next time around I swore I would be more attentive. Not sure if me being more attentive caused this or the fact that I was hitting 4 hours on a bike, but that next 18 miles to my special needs bag really dragged for me.

To be honest, I was fully ready to take a nap my eyes were getting heavy. Finally, I hit mile 68. It was at the top of a hill and so great to see those bags! I have never worked so hard for a previously frozen PB&J, Peach O’s and Clif Bar. (they have also never been so satisfying). I was so excited to see my encouraging notes that Morgan and my Mom collected from my family and tried to stifle back the tears as I saw a few and laughed out loud when I saw some others.

I found another friendly face, Colby at the bag station and it felt good to be able to have a quick conversation about who we have seen on the course and how crummy these roads were! Apparently, Santa Rosa had 150% more rainfall than the average year and it caused those roads to crumble. The potholes were roughly patched up and the cracks were lined with neon spray paint. My body was aching from the constant shaking from the road and I swear all my lashes were falling off right and left because if it!

Add in the spotty shade casted from the leaves on those cracks, I hit a few accidental jumps that caused me to freeze… after landing, I would slowly start pedaling again half expecting my pedals to freeze up or for the chain to be completely off. “Is my bike okay? ..yeah? Okay we are all good, PHEW!” At approx. mile 80 a bike support rider rode past, he said “you got this! You are in the home stretch!” Excuse me sir? I have over 30 miles left on this bike and marathon after that, I am NOT in the home stretch. If you ever want to make an endurance athlete mad, tell them they are almost done when they are most certainly NOT almost done. Never say that unless you can see the finish. THAT is when we are almost done.

  Much to my surprise, I did not have any more mechanical issues on my bike. Although the hills were not nearly as bad as I thought, I was not anticipating the roads to be as rough and for the winds to be as strong especially towards the end when I was the most fatigued. My whole upper body was feeling every bump. I was grateful for the similar training ride I did with my brother and really wanted to call him and tell him all about it because I knew he could relate. Morgan pulled some magic along the course and I was able to see him way more than I had anticipated and now that I look back, that was what I needed the most. By the end of the ride, my seat felt like it turned into an ice pick, my knees were throbbing, and I was ready to cry every bump that I hit. Getting off that bike was the most satisfying feeling. I had made it through. I knew I could do the rest. I knew that I had it in me and I was going to get it done If I could just run! Let me off this bike so I can run!

I took much longer on the bike than my worst-case scenario BUT I had made up enough time on my swim that I was still okay and had made the cut off time. I was ready to move on and never see my bike again. I pulled everything I needed off my bike and took my water bottle with me as I headed to the changing tent. I was apprehensive getting off that bike. I didn’t know how my legs were going to react. No one should ever be on a bike for that long. EVER. in the future, I need to pick up my speed so I never have to be.

As I walked away from my bike and to the tent, I was so surprised at how good I felt. I was ready to run. My legs WANTED to run. I headed out of that tent after changing into my running shoes and downing a few Pepto pills just in case since that GI can really start to act up on a run especially after spending a day consuming nothing but sugary GU’s, bananas and cliff bars.

The Run

After a brief exchange with Morgan, I took off and started the first loop of three. I knew that it was going to be a compacted trail/pavement mixed but what I didn’t realize was how secluded the loop was. It was back there, and you couldn’t see much other than the trees on either side of you and not very spectator friendly. Regardless, the first loop wasn’t too bad. I was able to get around using my 10/1 Run/walk method and head back into the second loop only this time with a jacket and my lights. I didn’t NEED them, but I didn’t want to be caught without them when I did need them. I was confused though because I didn’t see Morgan along the trail. I hit the potty for the second time of the day happy to report that the Pepto was working and movements were normal. As I continued on the second time around, I started to give the rocks in the trail the credit they deserved, “did they grow since the first loop?” I saw a few more familiar faces and started to feel the disappointment knowing that they were all on their last leg and I still had another one to go.

 

Up until this point my mind had mastered the day, I hadn’t gotten in my head once and never felt negative about any aspect of the day. Even when my tire popped, I was frazzled and it made me anxious but never negative. In fact, I was having the time of my life, laughing with other athletes, thanking volunteers and cheering with the police officers directing traffic. I had successfully focused on only the positive but that was starting to get hard to do. It was getting darker, it was colder, and the course had fewer and fewer people on it. I hadn’t seen Morgan yet and I was getting tired. I drank the chicken broth to stay warm. I ate the pretzels to avoid being hungry and chased them with grapes to avoid my mouth feeling dry. After my third and final potty break, I was over water, Gatorade and GU’s I just wanted to be done. I came out of the last loop and rounded the corner just enough to see the final stretch and then turn back around to head back onto the trail.

 That was the hardest part of the day. Morgan was finally able to catch me as I was starting my last lap and I was able to talk with him. He explained that my friend, who I had been looking for this whole time had mechanical issue that caused her to get pulled off the course, I was really bummed for her. This long day was starting to get to me which is no surprise, a tired Dellany or a hungry Dellany is a feisty Dellany and I was a combination of BOTH! Bless Morgan for even being brave enough to talk to me.

At the beginning of the day, running up the boat ramp and hearing Delanie Anderson! Rather than Dellany Anderson, didn’t bother me much but after 14 hours of imagining that finish… it bothered me. So when Morgan asked if there was ANYTHING I needed,  I told him, “I can do this last lap, but I need to know that they will say my name right” He promised he would take care of it, gave me a kiss and I headed back into the dark trees.

This lap, I’m sure of it, the rocks absolutely grew! They got bigger and sharper. I felt every step in my feet all the way up to my shoulders. I hunkered down and focused one mile at a time. There is a term “run the mile you are in” and that is what I had to do. I needed to focus on the mile I was in and not the 7 other miles I had ahead of me. I shortened my walk/run intervals and tried to keep going. I made it a point to talk to people as I passed. I found the person ahead and tried to catch up. At one point I came up on a guy and he jokingly said “why you gotta sneak up on me like that” I laughed and said “I’m not that sneaky I have a light on” (he didn’t have a light) he laughed, and pulled ahead. I ended up catching up to him a mile or so later when he said “man there has got to be a better way to do this” I said “there is, it’s called a car and we seem to be the only ones who haven’t figured that out” we thought that was the funniest thing we had heard all day. It’s clear now that I reflect back on this, we were delirious.

My most frequently used phrase the entire day was “thank you” at this point, I was amending my phrase to “thank you for sticking around” I thanked everyone for sticking around. For being there for us who were still out there even if they weren’t there specifically for me, they were there. I felt so much gratitude for all of them I realized that they had to be cold, they didn’t have to be out there, but they were and they were trying to help us get to the finish… No Ironman becomes and Ironman by themselves. It would be a long lonely day without anyone on the course.

By mile 22,  the course was spooky. It was dark and surrounded by trees. I’m certain that I smelled pot at one point and I hoped that I didn’t have to run from someone because I didn’t think I had it in me even if my life depended on it. Shadows and rustling leaves would spook me here or there but with aid stations so frequent, I wasn’t alone for too long of a stretch before I caught someone else or made it to an aide station. Miles 21 – 24 were very hard especially when I realized that I was only on mile 22 instead of 23 like I thought…. Guh! I’ve worked too hard to just give up now and at this point, the only way (aside from sitting right there, throwing a fit and refusing to move) to get off that trail and go home was to finish this thing… so I just kept following my head lamp. Each mile came with a different challenge, One mile I was battling with the disappointment knowing that a huge part of the group was already finished and resting while I was yet to finish, another mile, the rocks were sending shocks of pain up my neck and shoulders with every step the next mile I was freaking myself out as the trees swayed in the breeze.

I wish this hadn’t happened as long as it did but as soon as I realized that I was losing this race mentally, I did what I did every time a training ride/run felt hard. I dialed it back and visualized what it was going to be like to cross the finish. As I kept getting closer and closer to the finish, I felt the stress or worry slowly turn into excitement and eventually wash over and out of my eyes and resembled something very similar to tears. I kept trying to choke them back, but they were relentless. By mile 25 it hurt more to start and stop running than it was to keep running so that is what I did… kept running.

  I made it out of the trees and back into the streets, but this time, I was finally able to go straight, I didn’t have to turn back… this was my time. A wave of relief washed over me. I looked behind me, there was no one. I looked ahead of me and there was no one. I came up on a spectator and she yelled “GIRL YOU ARE A F!%*^ING IRONMAN!” She said it with so much conviction, it hit me like a bag of bricks. She was right! I couldn’t feel my feet or knees anymore, my eyes filled with tears and I finally let go, I was too cautious before to let my hopes up, too many “what if’s” could happen and it wasn’t until then that I let myself feel it. “I am going to be an Ironman”. I turned the corner and someone else said it again “you are going to be an IRONMAN! You are so close!” I had to ask because I needed to know “but how close is close?” He laughed and said “300 meters, no more than 3 blocks!” I said, “I can do 3 blocks!” Just in time for him to yell back “yes you can!”

That was it. The final stretch I let myself believe that I was going to make it. That I was about to become an Ironman. I heard the beat of the song “We will rock you” as I turned the corner towards the shoot, I saw a line of police officers and shook each of their hands, thanking them for keeping us safe today. Now that I think if it, they probably didn’t want to touch my gross sweaty hands but us athletes seem to lose our sense of personal space and smell when we do these things. This was it, I turned and headed down the shoot. “we will, we will rock you!” blaring, the lights shining, almost blinding! I couldn’t feel previously throbbing legs or feet as I tried to search for a familiar face. Running side to side giving high fives trying to make out a the faces searching for someone I knew. I was so focused that I almost didn’t see the announcer standing in the shoot! Tears slowly spilled over and I heard my name and he said it right! I got to the end of the shoot and heard “YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!” —-  I don’t know why, but I was so confused. Looking around frantically, side to side, trying to figure out what I was supposed to do. I never visualized or even asked what to expect AFTER I crossed the finish line.

The Finish

I was being waved over one way and directed another way. My legs reminded me of everything that I had just put them through and I almost fell over. I caught myself and walked over to get my tracker off, given a blanket to stay warm, a finishers shirt and then told to take a picture. A Picture? Why? Where? What? “I need help” a lady pointed to a photographer standing in the corner. I walked over, tried to pull a half decent smile and then FINALLY I found a face!

I finally found Morgan

Instantly, tears. I couldn’t hold them in! Cue the biggest and best part of my day. The hug. I mentioned before, Ironman don’t become Ironman by themselves. It’s a group effort and Morgan was, is and always will be my biggest support. The only one who really knows ALL the work that went into this. The personal and physical sacrifices, he was the single most important person I wanted at that finish and I FINALLY found him. The hug turned into him holding me up asking “what do you need”. “chair.” Morgan guided me to a chair and helped me take my shoes off and get some extra layers on because I was COLD. Even with the blanket at the finish, I had begun shivering uncontrollably until I got my sweats and jacket on. I had an “after race bag” packed with all of the race gear and Ironman paraphernalia that I had refused to wear prior to finishing the race in fear that it would Jinx me. I didn’t want to risk it. Being able to walk around with the badge of the Ironman logo was one of the many things I was excited about. I had admired all of those who earned that right and now I had earned it too. I am apart of the club! 

  The cold pizza in the tent wasn’t worth the effort it took to eat it. In fact, I didn’t really want to eat anything. I asked Morgan where everyone was. He explained that there were still three others on the course, Adam (my coach)  had just finished a little bit before me and everyone else had left.  When Annie crossed the finish line, seeing her boys so excited for her made me almost cry again! As she joined me at the table, it was all we could do to reach across and congratulate each other, we left it all out there. Colby came over and we were able to have a short, chat about the race, but didn’t have the energy for details which is okay because it all boiled down to “we did it.”

We stayed until the party was over. It was so special to see that last runner coming in with an entire crowd of bright yellow volunteer shirts trailing him and following him into the shoot. I have never felt so proud to belong to such an incredible group. I blame the fatigue but as I choked back tears yet again, I felt  such an overwhelming feeling standing there… I’ve never felt so at home. I belonged here. This is what I love to do and where I love to be. Part of me wished that there were more people out there to cheer on, so I could stay longer, so that this day didn’t have to end!

We didn’t get back to the house and showered until 2:30am we joked, why not just stay up another hour and make it a full 24-hour day… that didn’t get far after Morgan had to help me get into the bed made for giants and NOT for newly initiated Ironman athletes… at least the short ones. I got to the bed and realized. I can’t get up there. As I laid half way on the bed… “Help” … a few laughs and Morgan having to push my legs up and over the side of the bed, Morgan turned the lights off… I laid there staring at the ceiling… “Holy Crap, Im an Ironman”

Reflection

Since becoming an Ironman and coming back into the real world, work life and everyday life, I have been asked “how was it?”. I can see that they are expecting me to tell them how miserable the day was. To hear the tails of the day I almost died or the day I will always regret. But the truth is, I loved it. I loved every bit of it. Even when I was hurting, when I was struggling or even when I wanted to give up, I loved it. I was Challenging myself. Pursuing the world of an IRONMAN has been one of the most rewarding and challenging decisions I have ever made. I know I am only 26 but I am pretty confident that this day will always be a day I will remember.

This sport has opened my eyes to some incredible stories of incredible people who have done incredible things and taught me that human bodies are resilient, they can do more than we ever thought possible if only mastered by a strong mind. I know that anyone could be an Ironman if they wanted to be but I also know that not anyone would do it. In fact, only .01% of the population will. And that is why it is special. I have joined a club of the elite. I would do this again in a heartbeat. ( if I had a cash flow that would allow for such a financial demanding race.)

This race from training to end was nothing but a positive experience that left me feeling more empowered and confident in myself and my abilities. I have improved my relationship with my body, food and perspective on life and apply them daily. I have never weighed more in my entire life, but I’ve never been stronger, healthier or happier. Food is not a comfort, it is fuel in which my body needs to thrive in proper proportions. Life is meant to be a challenge, each day is an opportunity to learn, grow and become better than we were yesterday. Each day I will do something that I can be proud of tomorrow. We are all given 24 hours in a day, it is what we do with those hours that determine the outcome of our day, or weeks our months, years and life. We have the power to choose, and I chose to spend them challenging myself, outside of my comfort zone, learning, growing and becoming better. To become extraordinary, you just have to be an ordinary person willing to do extraordinary things. I am no exception or special case. I don’t have an incredibly different story. Maybe I am wired differently, or maybe I am not. but what I do know is that I am a 26-year-old Utah girl who has found a passion, wants to inspire, to do better than yesterday and never wants to look back and wonder “what if”.

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