Tuesday, June 23, 2015


The start of 2015 has been a relatively quiet year in regards to racing and for good reason. I needed the break.  

Mind, body, and soul.  

Athletically, 2014 was the best season of my pro career. And it was NOT only because of the work I did in 2013. It was the hard, consistent work that happened in 2012, 2011, 2010 and even in 2009. It was the ability to push my mind and body through 25 hour training weeks. Week after week after week. It was calling on the confidence to keep training hard even when I didn't win. It was chasing after a dream and believing in myself even when the going got tough.  
 But why was 2014 such a soul-sucking, energy sapping year?  

Last year’s Kona qualifying season I went 9:07 at Ironman Florida, I came 3rd at Ironman Texas with one of the fastest run times and then the big WIN came at Ironman Lake Placid. I received dozens of e-mails congratulating me and asking if I had punched my ticket to the Ironman World Championships as a professional. 

I had to politely explain that, as a professional, I race for points and I had just missed the cut off. What that meant was I needed to race yet ANOTHER Ironman in just 3 weeks if I wanted to race on the big Island as a professional. 

But what I should have politely said was, as a FEMALE professional I need to race again in 3 weeks. 

Because if I were a MALE professional I would have been able to put my feet up after Placid, punched my Kona ticket and planned my attack for Kona.  

But I am a FEMALE. And we as FEMALE professionals fight for 35 slots to the IRONMAN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS when the MALES are awarded 50. 

In a 12 month span I raced 5 FULL IRONMAN distance races. How could I hope to race well at the World Championships with a schedule like that? It's less than ideal. It's not sustainable. And it is NOT fair.  

This is an open question to Andrew Messick, IRONMAN CEO.  

Dear Mr. Messick, 
Throughout history, women have faced intense discrimination—from a lack of legal rights and ability to vote, thought to have inferior brains and amazingly even encouraged not to run marathons for fear of their uteruses falling out! Isn’t it a shame that while Ironman could be seen as a bastion of hope and motivation to all the female athletes out there striving for equality, you instead opt to create a rift in equal opportunities at your highest level on the largest stage?  

My question is WHY? As an entity, Ironman has so many good things going for it. We finally have equal male and female prize purses, we have moved the start of the FEMALE pro race back from the MALES so that we have our own separate race. We promote a fun healthy sport to the masses. Why not seal the deal for gender equality in ALL aspects of the sport? 

Gender inequality at the biggest stage this sport has to offer is a glaring affront to all those female athletes who race and all those young girls potentially exposed to the sport. If Ironman claims that 'Anything is Possible' why not make this harsh inequality go away? #50womentokona 

Dear Andrew Messick, how will you explain to this little girl that when she grows up she will have an unequal chance to qualify for Kona?

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Never Stop Fighting

Just a few quick words from my homeboy E.E. Cummings:

"A lot of people think or believe or know they feel.

But that's thinking or believing or knowing; NOT feeling. 

Almost anybody can learn to think or believe or know, but not a single human being can be taught to feel. 


Because whenever you think or you believe or you know, you're a lot of other people.

But the moment you feel, you're nobody-but-yourself.

To be nobody-but-yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight....and never stop fighting.

The 55th running of the NORTHEAST DELTA DENTAL Mount Washington Road Race took place this weekend.  A unique race that makes your lungs scream, your muscle burn and your heart ache right from gun.  No coasting on the downhills, no catching your breath, no weenies allowed.

And this girl believes there is NO better feeling than that of your ragged breath, your heart pounding, and your muscles moving. Moving you up, and up and up to the highest peak in the Northeast.  Learn to love the mountain, and it will love you back. And never stop fighting.

This year the women's field was littered with Olympic trials qualifiers, Mount Washington Champs, Western States 100 miler champs, and members of the US Mountain Running team. An epic battle was about to commence.

We had 2 minutes of quiet on the start line before the gun sounded. I wanted to keep the speedy Denise Sandahl in my sights for as long as I could as I knew she would be a top runner and just went an impressive 2:47 at Boston. Keep her in my sights I did but never actually closed the minute gap she inched out on me. 

As the hill climbed on and the air got thinner I demanded a few things of myself and those were: Are you pushing as hard as you can? Are you digging as deep as you possibly can?

And Never Stop Fighting.

This race hurts. And THAT is what makes it great. Psyched and honored to finish 6th FEMALE. Now just 6 days until Ironman Coeur d'Alene. Fight ON!

Photo credit: Gloria Cullen - Thanks for the cheers MOM!

I train with a sub 1:10 guy. #betterforit

My sponsor and GREAT friend Tom Raffio of DELTA DENTAL.  Brush your teeth, kids.

The Views from the race. Wow.



Saturday, June 6, 2015

Lessons from Africa: Part III

With another race around the corner I thought it best to wrap up the multi-part Ironman Africa blog. Although it feels like I could have written forever on the adventures in Africa all things must come to an end.  I give you Part 3: The End.

Luckily for me, I survived the great white shark diving adventures because I had a race to get on with!

Part of this blog is inspired by a new friend who has a wonderful characteristic of wanting to master something. This is very different than the desire to succeed. Success is the need for society's approval. The desire to master something is LOVING the process.  No loss of enthusiasm even if things aren't going your way.  It is the ability to go from failure to failure with no loss of that intense enjoyment.

I believe we thrive not when we have done it all but when we realize we have way more to give, way more to chase after.  A deliberate flaw or poor result is a reason to continue to work, and push, and discover, and suffer so you can realize there is NO END.  No end, just the knowledge that you need to let go of the past and embrace the new you.

As an athlete I am constantly changing and evolving and loving the process. I went into Ironman South Africa sick and on antibiotics but really wanting to dig deep and experience the race.  My mind was ready, my body was not.  I pushed and suffered more than I ever have and came up short. At mile 130 I was top 10 and running strong in a field littered with World and Ironman Champions.  But endurance racing is fickle. With what seemed like the blink of an eye the wheels came off.  As disappointing as this was, the race experience was extremely empowering. Even as top 10 slipped away and I was hurting (and hobbling) I was smiling.  Smiling because I LOVE the chase.

After Africa, it was back to the swim, bike, run grind with a little photo shoot or 2 thrown in there. Courtesy of the uber talented Brent Doscher.

I also decided to throw in a trail race to test the legs, lungs and heart.  A group of us went up to race Pineland Farms Trail Festival and a festival it was!  Complete with ferocious run terrain, smiles and post race beer.  A fantastic event with fantastic people. I was honored to cross the line as first female in the 25K but even more psyched on the performances of this All-Star crew.

Let's review the execution:

Deidre Cullen: The plan was to race the 25K. Twenty Five K. On outrageously hilly terrain. She decides 2 nights before to race the 50K. I will do the math for you. That's double the distance.  Well, the little sis sure showed me and threw down a VERY respectable 50K.  She now has blisters the size of Texas but the post race smile is all I needed to see to know that it was worth it.

Deidre is the one in the fleece lined hoody. (It's 90 degrees at the race start). She is trying to get into heads of the other racers. Mind games. 

Becky Chase: Another gal that attacked her first 50K and finished in style. Becky wore socks. She has no blisters.

Jonah, Rhonda, and daughter Amber. Rhonda raced like a wild caribou on Red Bull and beat her time by like 3 hours. Amazing. Their daughter Amber ran her first trail 5K and rocked it.

Myles Chase: MC registered for the 50 mile but decided 'that was soooo last year' so he switched it up mid race and did the 50K. He ran way faster than I could ever dream of running a 50K all while chugging PBR's and sporting a cotton button down. Savage.

Christopher Francis: Even more impressive than his perfectly executed race and 2 HOUR 50K PR was the fact he dribbled and flicked a field hockey ball the entire way. Amazing. Man of many talents.

Ryan Kelly: And of course my training sidekick who has not written a blog in 4 years so he does not get a hyperlink.  He may be sloth-like at blogging but quite the opposite at trail racing. He averaged 6:16 pace and that, my friends, was almost a course record.

What a crew!

Up Next: Mountains to climb and Ironman to attack in IDAHO!