Monday, August 25, 2014


How awesome is Julien Heon Photography?

Before I go on and give the gritty details on my Mont Tremblant Ironman adventure 3 shorts weeks after my first Ironman win, let me just say: I'm going to KONA baby!! It has honestly been a 4 year process chock full of sweat, tears, smiles and sacrifice. I smelled a worthwhile struggle when I first started Ironman and boy am I happy I took on the challenge. Because in all honesty, "Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: "WOW! What a Ride!"

Ironman Mont Tremblant was a race to remember and I will never forget my AWESOME homestay in Tannis and Kenny Hall ( They served me the most delectable food and took me by boat to the START of the Ironman!) Hopefully I get to see these 2 wonderful people for 70.3 World Champs in 2 weeks.

"When you come out of the storm you wont be the same person that walked in. That is what the storm is all about." 

And that storm was Ironman Mont Tremblant.  Someone up above wanted me to suffer that day and suffer I did. I had put a TREMENDOUS amount of pressure on myself to qualify for Kona as a pro. So much so that I really did not even let myself fully enjoy the Ironman Lake Placid win. After Placid I smiled when people congratulated me but really I was hyper-focused on having a solid day in Canada.  The 3 weeks between Placid and Mont Tremblant were hard. I was feeling tired, sore and nervous. There were some bike rides where I was on the verge of crying because I was not sure if my very sore foot would hold up. And the worst case scenerio was if I got injured racing this risky double.  

Here is an interview before the race. Interview. I sound happy and giggly but really I am shaking in my boots.

Race day came VERY quickly. I had the wonderful opportunity to sit on the pro panel,  interview with Ironman and Kevin McMahon and participate in a photo shoot with the super talented Julien Heon

Photo Credit: Julien Heon

I woke on race morning to 50 degree temperatures, a sore/questionably stress fractured foot and LADY CRAMPS. Whoa baby! If that's not a triple threat I don't know what it. Regardless though, I really have a hard time feeling sorry for myself. I enjoy the pain, I like to suffer, I LOVE to swim bike run.

Holy lats! This is why I swim OK and also look terrible in dresses.

This is the break down of the start. 1) Gun goes off 2.) I start swimming INSTANTLY 3) Tine Deckers (who is approximately 3 feet taller than me proceeds to walk through the water for the next 1/2 mile) 4.) DOH!

Leading out of the water. Thank you TYR!

In short, the swim was exciting because, well, I was leading it. I love chasing things. And for 57 minutes I got to chase the stand up paddle boarder.  However, post race Tine Decker informed me (with a Belgian accent) that she was 100% sure I am the biggest wiggle worm of a swimmer she has ever met. I am sorry to Tine and Sara Gross. I know the swim is 2.4 miles but it is quite possible I led you on a 3 mile adventure.  

Ouch. Leg cramps, lady cramps, and shoulder cramps, If my eyeballs could cramp, they would have.

In short, the bike was the most grueling mentally challenging ride of my life.  I saw my VERY AWESOME coach a billion times throughout the ride. Every time he say me he would yell: "EAT and DRINK!"
What made matters worse is I couldn't eat very well due to said lady cramps and my quads were on FIRE. I actually looked down at my watch 90 minute into the bike portion and my body felt like it does after 6 hours of riding. On top of that, I had trouble reaching for gels in my back pocket because my shoulders would cramp.

I had also moved into the lead at the 3 hour mark and this was NOT something I was expecting. After Ironman Lake Placid I learned that being chased is quite possible the scariest part of racing and it actually takes quite a bit of mental fortitude. You have to be ON YOUR GAME and stay on top of that positive talk or it's game-over in the blink of an eye.   

Running VERY scared from Sara Gross.
The run was the storm. I went between nearly crying because my foot hurt and then the next moment wanting so desperately bad to keep the lead. I wanted to win for my Coach (Kurt Perham) and for my partner in crime: Danny. I knew Danny was cheering me on even from afar.  I wanted to win for my great friend Ryan who was out on course cheering like a mad man. I wanted to win so badly for everyone that wanted it for me. I knew I only needed top 5 to secure a Kona slot but leading an Ironman makes you want to hurt yourself and dig deep and experience those intense emotions so you can break that tape at the finish. It makes you HUNGRY to accept the pain.

Chasing my lead biker. She was AWESOME by the way. Totally made my day.

At mile 130 (20 miles into the marathon) Sara passed me. I tried to hang on with every fiber of my being but it was a losing battle. She was the strongest girl on that day. I crossed the line 100% depleted.

 Finish interview: 2nd at IM Mont Tremblant

Huge congrats to Sara Gross. She pushed me so far into the pain cave and for that I OWE HER.
And then you know what I thought??  KONA BABY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Time to hug some sea turtles and race the best girls in the world at the Ironman World Championships come October....


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Just keep smiling

Here is the thing that makes life so interesting. The theory of evolution claims only the strong shall survive...  Maybe so. But the theory of competition says, just because they're the strong doesn't mean they can't get their asses kicked.  That's right. See whatever long-shot-come-from-behind-underdog will tell you is this: the other guy may in fact be the favorite. The odds may be stacked against you. But what the odds don't know is that this is not a math test. This is a completely different kind of test, one where passion has a funny way of trumping logic. So before you step up to the starting line, before the whistle blows and the clock starts ticking just remember out here the results don't always add up....suddenly we've got ourselves a game!


The above quote and link is from the motivational video I listen to before every race. I think I watched it about 100 times before Ironman Lake Placid. It gives me chills every time.  And to my surprise, the wonderful people at FitWerks PLAYED the speech for me every time I ran by their tent during the race.  This is just one of the bazillion reason Ironman Lake Placid is going to be a tough race to top.

Let me do things a bit differently and start from the finish. Here is my speech from the awards ceremony:
The Speech

I always told myself that if I ever won an Ironman I would try to give everyone in the audience hope that  anything is possible if you have a little determination and big, crazy dreams. 

Thanks Brent Doscher for the awesome photos!

Just over 4 years ago I was  toeing the start line of my first ever full Ironman: Ironman Wisconsin. When I initially signed up for the event I had raced just 3 triathlons. They were sprints, and they were ugly. I think I may have finished ahead of the 75 year old with the fanny pack but my memory eludes me. 

What I do remember thinking when I finished was that if I can do a sprint - I can definitely do an Ironman! Not surprisingly, many people questioned my sanity.  But I showed up to my first Ironman raring to go even though I had no clue what a disc wheel was, I didn't own a wetsuit and I really couldn't quite balance in my aerobars yet. But I was determined and I had big, crazy dreams.  I bonked multiple times on that day subsisting on just one gel the entire bike ride.  I did eventually learn I needed more fuel to race well but I also learned that good race,  or bad race, big bonk or big breakthrough racing Ironman is a great way to spend a Sunday.  

 One of my very first races as a professional was here at Ironman Lake placid in 2011. I remember sitting in the audience listening to the pro winners speech and I thought wow I want to be up there one day.  So off I went setting another crazy goal. Along the way some goals were met and some I didn't quite reach.  However, throughout  the process I grew as an athlete.    Each experience was an accumulation of learning's from the previous time. And this became a self-fulfilling prophecy of success. 

Not to mention, I was having the time of my life. Ultimately, what it really comes down to is that it truly is about the journey, about loving every minute of your life, smiling, laughing and giving thanks.  And of course having big, crazy dreams. 
Photo Credit: Brent Doscher. He has talent. 

Every time I cross the finish line I say I really don't deserve to cross it alone. I have a HUGE support system. My mom and dad were out here today and I want to say thank you for loving me even when I show up a little late to every family get together dressed in spandex, and really, really sweaty. 

My sister Deidre and my good friend Myles chase - I heard you guys yelling and it powered me more than you know. Thank you Myles for the belly shot.

To my great friend Ryan Kelly: Thank you for putting up with me during my melt downs on 6 hour training rides. You told me a few days before the race that when I made the pass for 1st on Sunday make sure to smile because all  of the hard work has payed off.

To my coach  Kurt Perham.  The brains behind the operation. You turned a very rookie pro into an Ironman champion. You are one talented dude and I am so lucky to be working with you.   

And to  Danny Ferreira. My partner in crime. The one who believes in me more than I believe in myself. He told me I would win Ironman before I even knew what one was.  It is amazing what can happen when someone believes in you. This life is not long enough for me to return all the favors Danny. But I will try...

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to the town of Lake Placid and to the amazing volunteers and congrats to all who crossed the finished line.  I know the Ironman journey well. This is my 11th go at it and its a brutal process. Too many 4 am wake up calls, too much chlorine, way too much Gatorade, leg cramps, spandex up the wazoo, the realization that your biker calves have now out grown your calf sleeves, dumping more money into your bike then your car, outrageously sore muscles and blistered feet. But it's a great way to spend a Sunday. This is your life. Love every minute of it, laugh deeply, encourage others and follow your big crazy dreams.

Now, if I haven't lost you yet, here are some juicy details on the race.  
The Juicy Details
As I mentioned,  Ironman Lake Placid is a special race for me. I qualified to race at the world championships as an amatuer here and it is where I qualified for my Pro licence . Placid is also my hometown race and it was absolutely amazing to have my family there as well as the crazy crowd support.  I have participated in numerous training camps at Placid and subsequently have bonked more times on this bike course than I would like to admit. It is these dark moments in training  that define you, that better you as an athlete. I've had dozens of dark moments at Placid. The moment when you hit rock bottom and 99% of you knows you are done but that 1% of you finds a way to push on. To push past your limits and realize you are stronger than you ever could have imagined. Just like in life, it is the darkest moments that award you with the most potential for growth. 

Race morning I was relatively calm. Per usual, Danny lived up to his sherpa extraordinaire name and helped me have a flawless day.  I tried to savor the energy from the crowd at the swim start and just get psyched to race. 
This is moments after Danny almost wrestled a security guard just so I could take a tiny sip of the water that I so desperately needed. :) Thank you Danny!

Me and Andrew. What a maroon he is ;)

Swim: 57:xx

Bottom line: I swam like a turd. But I cut myself a little slack due to the fact that on the second lap I was trying to zig zag my way through 2000 age group athletes.  This head-out-of-water, zig-zag-style of swimming all while dodging arms and legs was for the birds. Two point four miles could not come fast enough. Not all was lost!  At least I excited the water looking like a stud muffin: 

You know the photographer is good when he can make you look like Andy Potts :) Thanks Brent Doscher for the great pics!

Bike: 5:19:xx

As soon as I jumped on the Argon complete with the Enve wheels and Q-rings I found my rhythm. The Q-rings were amazing on a course like Placid as I felt myself really powering up and over each hill. I had a mission and that was to catch the 2 girls that beat me out of the water.

Photo Credit: Brent Doscher

Photo credit Liz Kreutz

The bike was absolutely nuts for a variety of reasons. We road through thunder showers and lightening, heat, humidity, sunny skies and then more heavy rain. I pushed my limits on the bike and was very aggressive at times but also focused on staying on top of eating and chugging the Infinit.  I totaled 7 bottles, 12 gels and 3 bananas on the bike.  I may have gained weight after the race. Which, in my opinion, is a bigger feat than winning the race.  

After 20 miles I moved into the lead and in all honesty for awhile I just tried to savor it. I had 7 more hours of racing and anything could happen.  I had never been leading an Ironman before and I guess I thought once I moved to the front I would develop super girl powers and it would be smooth sailing. Quite the opposite! Being chased by some of the fastest girls in the sport for 7 hours was nerve wracking to say the least.  

However, as the hours passed something funny happened.  I began to really get attached to the lead. I did NOT want to give it up.  There was a point at mile 90 on the bike when I was feeling very low on energy and in a dark place.  I was light-headed, my quads were on FIRE and my thoughts were scattered.  An awesome volunteer was handing out bananas at the aid station so I grabbed on. From mile 90 to 112 I managed to consume 3 entire bananas. And just like that I was back in action and still had the lead.  Leading actually made me to push deeper that I ever have before. Climbing through the notch back into town the excitement started to build. I had 26.2 miles of my favorite leg to go and I was leading Ironman! And my stomach was full of bananas. Nothing can stop me now.

Even before I dismounted my bike some pretty deep emotions started to creep to the surface. Every personal battle I'd fought in training and on a personal level this year bubbled up (or was that the bananas?) I felt so lucky to be able to swim, bike and run my way through 140.6 miles. I was so grateful that Danny and my family were here to cheer me on. I knew right then this would be a day that I would never forget, regardless of the result.

Run: 3:08:xx

The run was simple. Run like you stole something.  Kim Schwabenbaur ( capable of a 3:01 marathon off the bike) and Lisa Roberts (capable of a 2:58 marathon off the bike) were looking fierce and chasing hard in 2nd and 3rd. 
So I ran and drank...

Ran and gave some nervous smiles...

I am happy to report I only splashed myself in the face with Gatorade twice. This is a huge improvement for this girl.

Run like you stole it...

Still running and smiling (on the inside) :)

Still running.

I hit mile 20 and saw the ski jumps, and did the math and felt like maybe I really am going to win this thing.

And then it happened. I rounded the corner of the olympic oval and saw the finish line tape. I was going to win Ironman.  I spent 9 hours only half believing it, fighting more than I ever had and now it was happening. I tried to give some high fives but the tears were flowing and it was all I could do to stay upright.

And the moral of this story is to keep SMILING.  There has been numerous studies done on athletes and their self 'explanatory style' - basically whether their internal dialogue was positive or negative.  What the studies found was the athlete that was the optimist - that believed in themselves - even if they had failed numerous times was eventually going to kick some butt. Saying "ok, I just failed but next time I will do better" and giving you all will lead to great things....    

To my sponsors: I am totally in debt to you, thank you for choosing me. Big thanks to Maverick Multisport, Argon Bikes, Rotor, 110% compression, TYR, Smith Optics, Infinit Nutrition, Enve wheels, Zoot shoes, Cobb saddles, Champion System, and Biotta beet juice.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Brief Update

Wow! It has been a busy few months since I wrote last. After coming in 8th at the US Mountain Running Championships, I had my mind set on Ironman Lake Placid hoping, beyond hope, that a top place would allow me to qualify for the World Ironman Championships at Kona. You can read Danny's summary here (I promise I will write a race report soon).

 As you probably know, despite my win, I came up a few points short which meant I had to have a quick turn-around to prepare for Ironman Mont Tremblant three weeks later. Yikes!

Mont Tremblant was tough! I gave it my all on tired legs and am happy with my second place finish. (I promise I will write a race report soon for this one too). The points I got from that race was enough to secure a Kona race start so I am doubly happy because of that.

Until I get around to writing up something, here's the official Ironman video with a quick little synopsis.

Just wanted to let everyone know I am still alive and on my way to recovery with my sights set on Kona in October. Yippee!

Just in case it is a while before I write again, always make sure to check out the blog I share with Danny as he is more consistent with his reports.