Sunday, March 18, 2018

Race Recap: Ironman Maryland = IronMacy

"Its supposed to be hard.  If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it.  The hard... is what makes it great."  -Jimmy Dugan (A league of their own)

i usually have some witty, funny comment to start these race reports.  truth is, I'm pretty tired - mentally and physically.  i might even say i'm crabbie.  OH WAIT THERE IT IS - because IM Maryland finishers are "crabs"... okay you got it, *high five*.  at the same point, im very satisfied with how things went down the other day/months ago.  it was far from a perfect day.  it was a nutritional nightmare.  again.  i vomited multiple times.  again.  i felt exhausted for exactly half of the day.  but - there were great points you guys.  so. many. great. points.

but first - the backstory.

the two days after placid were hard - i was disappointed and continued to be sick for a couple days following the race.  two days later, i was lucky to have the opportunity to join adam, devin, rubble, and the gang on a portion of their national parks roadtrip.  nicholle and i flew out to vegas, spent an awesome night in the city, and set out for the grand canyon, eventually making our way to albuquerque before flying home.  early one morning, most of us headed over to the south rim of the grand canyon and watched the sunrise.  we took in the breathtaking view together and separately, taking photos here and there.

for awhile, i sat near the edge looking down and across the canyon, mesmerized by the expanse and greatness of its natural beauty.  i thought about placid and triathlons and life - race day was still bothering me.  before now, i hadn't taken a *true* vacation in years, thanks in part to work and triathlon.  i had really started to dislike training and was ready to call the season quits - and maybe the following year too.  when i sat and truly thought about this tri world and everything in it - i knew i loved it but i wanted a new goal.  "qualifying for kona" was *a* goal, but not a concrete, 100% attainable goal - it never is and never will be.  i didn't want to focus on kona anymore.  i wanted to make a difference - even just a small one.

cut to - my friend molly from undergrad.  she and her husband had a baby - macy - the year before.  molly was one of the inspirations for my first ironman in 2014 - she'd done the race (and kicked ass) and her mom is a true phenom at that distance as well.  i'd been following the journey with macy and her numerous health issues for the past year and had the chance to catch up with molly at reunion the month prior.  i knew she and her family were going through hell trying to do everything they could to help macy but poor baby just couldn't catch a break.  after reaching out to molly, i decided to raise money for their family and for macy.  my race was going to be for #ironmacy.  through the help of my family, friends, and generous others - we raised $1300 in the weeks leading up to IMMD. it was amazing.

i arrived in cambridge late wednesday after work.  in a surprising turn of events, i was in a solid mental space work-wise.  it had been a pretty low stress week - had a handful of cases that i felt good about, a few very successful surgeries including a abdominal explore for a dog that was vomiting pieces of a balance exercise ball that she had eaten nearly a year prior to surgery.  totally crazy, right?  that week i was riding a bit of a work high, expecting the shoe to drop at any time.  by wednesday at 6pm, it hadn't - i left work feeling calm and decided to head to cambridge that night.  many times after work, i feel sheer mental exhaustion but on this particular week, i was good. it was a strange and unexpected feeling but i wasn't complaining.  i grabbed a bubble tea for the road, finished packing up the car, and headed out.

arrived that evening and LL and matt greeted me with lobster rolls and wine (bless their thoughtful hearts).  we had a nice chat and i headed to bed.  the normatec boots were waiting for me and i did a nice 45 minutes in boots as i watched netflix and fell asleep.

we woke up on thursday morning and ate a quick breakfast while LL and matt headed to expo.  i did my customary 20 min swim, 45 min bike, 10 min run and felt solid.  I headed to the expo to check in and check my life. once the wristband of power was put on, i headed home with coffee and proceeded to watch SMASH (p.s. its great, why did they stop after 2 seasons, katherine mcphee you are stunning) whilst singing to it and re-applying bar tape to miss daisy.  why do this 2 days before the race?  because i had the distinct opportunity to borrow holli's aka rinny's (you've heard of her, yes?) disk wheel with teal zipp decals.  the problem was that it looked like a blind person put my bike together - nothing matched.  is this important?  well... yea.  i found teal bar tape in the exact color and it looked halfway awesome considering the front wheel still didn't match.

we headed to Base team dinner that evening and had wine and pizza which really hit the spot.  a bit more wine at the house and i happily fell fast asleep.

friday morning brought a short spin and run.  mom and dad showed up (huzzah!) and we headed to brunch.  super sherpa adam met us at brunch and i finally had my crew together and felt ready to race.  adam helped me sort my transition bags as i talked out loud - both to him and myself.  we brought miss daisy and the transition bags over to great marsh park, checking off the last big to-do on the proverbial list.

for the first time in awhile, i felt relaxed.  i wrote out the names of the donors to IMMD #ironmacy on a slip of paper and placed it in a ziploc bag so i could carry it in my pocket from swim start to finish line.  mom and dad came over to make dinner - chicken parm - and we all ate together and watched the Nats game (GO NATS GO), followed by a "a league of their own" - hey LL - WHY AM I THE ONLY PERSON ON THIS BUS?

sports movies are obviously the only reasonable things to watch in the days leading up to races.


normal 3:45 am wake-up.  mom and dad were miraculously already in the kitchen - god bless them.  i drank coffee, had my thomas blueberry bagel and peanut butter and nearly cried when i was able to eat the whole thing.  by 4:15 am, things were already looking better than they had at placid.  i putzed around and gathered my stuff and by 5:15, we were walking to transition.  it was cool and dark outside.  i was buzzing on the inside and getting excited to get the show on the road.  for the first time in a long time, i didn't feel the pressure on my shoulders.  kona wasn't in the picture.  i didn't have an outward time goal.  it was mostly just, "don't suck prochnow".  people were going to be paying attention after raising money and exposing macy to my world.  i was going to make them proud.

deep breaths.

i checked on miss daisy, said hello to justin who was racked near me, and enjoyed the stir and buzz of transition.  i made the portapotty line and reunited with mom, dad, and adam.  they were holding a sign with lifesize jazz (and the office cat that they thought was monster) that read: "Go Mommy Go - The couch is waiting for you!  You can DO it!"

i love them.

i wrote #ironmacy on my arms in permanent marker - a reminder of my "why" and a way to commemorate her - and double checked to make sure my ziploc bag of names was secured in my pocket.

i put my wetsuit on and downed a gel and some water.  the music was pumping me up, i was smiling, and i felt like wiggly puppy about to explode into zoomies when -

i threw up.  what the actual F.

i heaved a few times and looked up at my family as they stared back, obviously concerned.  "i'm totally fine," i said, laughing.  it was 6:35 am.  swim start was at 6:45 am and lord be damned if i wasn't going to position myself near the front.  i was peeved that again, i was starting out this race with a less than ideal calorie intake but, whatever.  cue national anthem.

i waved to jan as she took photos of me putting my goggles on and i swung my arms around a few times to loosen up.  it was time.

i pretty much held my breath for the first 100-200m, taking delicate, gentle strokes but ready to mentally attack whatever panic thing happened in placid.  once i realized that i was still swimming and could breathe okay, i started to actually swim with focus.  i drafted, i played games, i kicked a couple people and i started to enjoy the view.  we started before the sun came up and it was awesome to be out with 1200 buddies chasing the sunrise.

two loop swim.  i wasn't overly exerting myself and i could tell i was slow.  i hadn't been swimming as much as i should have (sorry Jess!) leading into the race.  i just prayed that everyone in my age group had the same anti-swimming mentality that i had going into the race.

as a blurry vision of the arch started to come into view, i started to pick up speed.  i could feel some mild chafing on my neck from the wetsuit (this is nothing new - i have a permanent scar) but it wasn't too bad.  as i hit that point of "do i stand or do i keep swimming" something stung me on the right side of my neck.  "YOWSWA" i said (jk, i said all the actual f-words) and i stood up to run in.  wetsuit was stripped and i ran into the tent.

swim: 1:07 - whoops.  was i floating or swimming?

dang, i almost avoided the sea nettles!  the tent was relatively empty and i sat down to put socks and shoes on.  "they got me!" i said dramatically to a volunteer. "where?!" she replied and i pointed to the right side of my neck.  before i could say something, she sprayed something cold right on my wetsuit burn.

i damn near leapt out of my seat and shot through the roof of the tent.

holy shit, that freaking burned.  apparently alcohol takes the sting right out of a sea nettle kiss.  on the flip side, it does not improving wetsuit chafing.


T1: 4:32

i'm riding along and i'm eating my food and i'm not feeling stellar.  it felt like i'd just banked a 45 minute ironman swim and my legs and arms were lead.  i attempted to eat - i'd reverted back to honey stinger waffles - and i ate one but my guts were unhappy already.  i reverted to drinking BASE rocket fuel in an effort to at least stay hydrated as the weather was starting to heat up but i was very aware that i was quite low in the calorie department.

this would not bode well for the next 4 hours on the bike and the run.

i reached 20 miles on the bike, trying to think about other things, daydreaming about what i would eat and drink that evening.  i started to feel really warm on the inside and s-l-o-w-l-y started to decrease speed and cadence until...

i shook myself into consciousness - holy hell, some dude had just blazed past me and i realized id almost fallen asleep.  something was wrong and i didn't know what to do about it.

as if the ironman gods were watching over me, the aid station appeared in the distance and all i heard was "red bull".  i pulled over and proceeded to chug a red bull - as ive heard it gives you wings - and eat some food while i was at a standstill.  i knew the calorie deficit was biting me in the ass but it was going to take time to replenish the tank.

it would take another 30 plus miles before i felt more energized, but i swear to this day that red bull saved my race life.  daniela, jodie, angela, sebastian  - im on team redbull all the way with you guys.

thank goodness for the 100% flat course because i did a lot of soft pedaling throughout that first loop.  i loaded up on mountain dew and the customary EL Fudge cookies, as one does in special needs, and i begrudgingly got back on miss daisy.

halfway, baby.

shortly after special needs, octavio flew past me with a small group of people surrounding him.  he yelled over his shoulder as he biked away from me and i felt a small surge of energy return.  i sped up to keep up with his gang and before i knew it, i had caught up and was feeling stronger with each pedal stroke.

the energy returned and i started to feel infinitely better.  i had group to follow and before in knew it, i re-passed octavio, giving a wave as i rolled by.

i continued eat and drink, slowly refilling the internal tank and gearing up for the, thankfully flat, marathon ahead.

naturally, as fate would have it, my stomach problems returned and for as long is it took to take that food in, it only took a second to lose it all over the side of the road.  Again.

solution?  more redbull.  i swigged it and uneventfully cruised into T2.

bike: 5:37

so, my guts didn't feel great, but i was doing better than placid, so i went with it.  it had warmed up significantly and i was so thankful for the cooling towel that lori had supplied us with at mini camp.  i soaked it in water and draped it around my neck.  i let the sunscreen people slather me up and away i ran, 26.2 miles away from cold beer and chicken broth - the only things my stomach desired.

T2: 4:25

i saw my family and friends shortly after starting the run and i flashed them a relieved smile and my #ironmacy clad arm for the pictures.  my mom and dad, liz, adam, brian, and others were out in full force and it. was. amazing.  unbeknownst to me, the sunscreen latherers hadn't quite rubbed in the good stuff on my face and it looked like i had applied a homemade facial mask of eggs whites.  if anything, it definitely made for some excellent race photos.

i started off watching my HR creep up - it was hot, my stomach was empty and i wasn't feeling the best, but it was coming along.  the vision of sub-4 hour marathon vanished after a handful of miles - i had the same low energy feeling from the first half of the bike and i just couldn't shake it.  i had a couple of gels, holding off the cola as long as possible but around mile 8, i succumbed and it was glorious.  seriously, nothing is better than cola during the marathon.  #nectarofthegods.

the first of half of the run was a struggle - I couldn't get the energy up.  i'd think about the list of names in my pocket and i'd perk up a little, knowing they were counting on me.  my battle on this day was nothing compared to macy's, and i kept on keeping on.

i loved running past the BASE tent with the music and my friends.  LL gave me updates on my place and somewhere around mile 16, she told me to hang on because "girl, you're in 5th".

waaaaaaait, what?  this was not a great day - it was an okay ironman day, but it didn't seem like a top 5 AG race.  suddenly, my legs found a new gear.  i wanted it.  i wanted that podium spot, come hell or high water.  ironically, there was no high water this year, but the temperature was knocking on the door of the lower realm and i was grateful for my chill towel.

I hit the turnaround in town and saw friends - including super sherpa adam - at the brewery.  i felt a another surge - one more out and back and I would be at the finish.  one more time running under the redbull arch (in that direction).  one more time running past the BASE tent (in that direction).  I kept hitting the check marks and trying to maintain speed in the heavy legs.  Brian was dancing at the BASE tent and he ran with me for a second - thank goodness for awesome, supportive teammates.

i hit the last far turn around and it was on - less than a handful of miles to go.  the sun was still high in the sky and the sun was out and it was really awesome out there.  i entered great marsh park and ran through the BASE group.  LL told me i was still in 5th but one girl was coming on STRONG.  "you have to run HARD," she said as she ran with me down the block, "go get it!"

i groaned and ran harder than id run all day.  just over a mile to go.  i thought of macy.  i thought about how no one wanted that 5th place finish more than me and no way was i going to let that go without a hell of a fight for the next mile.  the struggle in a rolling start is you can't physically race your competitors because you usually can't see them.  i was running blind.

my lungs and legs were on fire as i ran down the street.  i hit the last right turn up the street to the brewery, knowing there was less than half a mile to go.  i saw the group cheering and i tried to run even harder.  i saw lester and he told me to "eat the pain" and he ran with me back down the street for a few strides while he pep talked me.

suddenly, i was in the chute and the bright lights of the arch were in my eyes.  i ran through the line with my arms up and didn't even attempt a jump - my legs were cramped and burning.  i saw my family right away and walked over to them at the fence.

"did i make it?"  i asked them.  they excitedly said yes and i demanded to see the phone with proof.  once i saw the results, i collapsed into the arms of my parents and cried.  "i wanted it so bad," i told them as i sobbed for a minute.  shoulders heaving, ugly crying sobbing.

phone in adam's hand...

ugly cry.

happy cry.

you guys, its march 2018 now and i can't even write this without tears in my eyes.  it was the best way to finish a race - i had my family and friends there - both physically and via phone - and i was surrounded by so much love and support.  i pushed myself and it paid off.  i felt satisfied and that in itself was awesome because i hadn't felt like that in a long time at an ironman race.

the rest of the night was really fun.  my shower was glorious, we headed back out to the BASE tent for dancing and cheering with to-go shots of Fireball and beers capped off with a trip to the Taco bell drive-thru.  I didn't watch the midnight finishers in the chute, but i did watch on the side of the road near the house (about mile 25) from 11 pm and on and cheered for the athletes.

my parents and adam and i went to awards the next day.  by some small miracle, i was first out of the water in the age group and won some Roka money again (i still hadn't used all of mine from Vineman so I bought new goggles AND running clothes).  I got my award for 5th place and couldn't stop smiling.  it was no Kona - that may be in the cards in the future - and there are still SO MANY kinks to work out in my racing - but i was content and proud of what i had pulled out of a not so great race.

im excited for this year and what it will bring.  while my motivation ebbs and flows as the work and life stress make an impact, im already feeling stronger and excited about swimming, biking, and running.  my squad is strong and inspirational and motivating - i can't imagine doing this without them.

stay tuned y'all - i have a feeling 2018 is going to be amazing!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Race Recap: Ironman Lake Placid - "Take a good look gentleman, because they're the ones getting off easy."

"Great moments... are born from great opportunity. And that's what you have here, tonight, boys. That's what you've earned here tonight. One game. If we played 'em ten times, they might win nine. But not this game. Not tonight. Tonight, we skate with them. Tonight, we stay with them. And we shut them down because we can! Tonight, WE are the greatest hockey team in the world. You were born to be hockey players. Every one of you. And you were meant to be here tonight. This is your time. Their time is done. It's over. I'm sick and tired of hearing about what a great hockey team the Soviets have. Screw 'em. This is your time. Now go out there and take it."
-Herb Brooks

my thought process in signing up for IM Lake Placid was four-fold. 


4. Iconic Ironman race.  

i've always wanted to go to lake placid and visit this two-time olympic town.  its the site of one of my all-time favorite sports stories - miracle on ice, when the 1980 USA hockey team defeated the Soviets, who were nearly undefeated in the previous 7 olympic games (they won gold 6/7 games).  

theres a movie.  its awesome.  please watch it now, whether you've seen it 39 times or not.  watch it... AGAIN.  and while you're at it, watch cool runnings too because i'm feeling very olympic today. 

(im so proud of how i put that last paragraph together.  if you understood all of it, you are my spirit animal and i just virtually high fived you.)

momma flew into DCA late wednesday night in prep for us leaving early thursday morning.  my chiropractor, dr. taylor taylor at full motion life and sport in arlington, virginia (seriously, now go there) graciously agreed to meet mom and i at 6:30 for some last minute work on my wonky neck and then we headed to the great green north that is upstate new york.  

3 starbuck stops later (with a short layover at panera), we arrived in the town of lake placid.  i fell in love immediately with its adorable adirondack decor as mom and i headed over to the conference center (AND THE SITE OF THE HOCKEY RINK) to register and check it off the to-do list.  mom took pictures, i waited in lines, and we reunited at the hockey rink.  in my frantic, overly-excited state, i had mom take too many pictures at the ice rink, never realizing how small it seemed compared to all the pictures and video i'd seen of the 1980's games.  

yep.  this isn't it.  please don't tell the freak in the picture.

guys - this is because it was the 1932 rink, not the 1980 Herb Brooks Arena - which i didn't realize until monday afternoon.  but i was ignorantly happy for four days, so who cares. 

oh hai Mark #2.

we headed to expo to grab the signature IM backpack and then i decided to squeeze that 45 minute run in before the BASE team dinner.  I ran part of the bike course on the fairly flat and shaded area along the lake.  so freaking beautiful, i couldn't stand it.  i couldn't keep my HR down, i just wanted to GO FAST!  

Dinner with the BASE team was delicious - went to the Three Bears - highly recommend.  had a bloody mary with my salmon and potatoes - SO GOOD.  we finally made it to the house where everyone was staying, unpacked and got settled and went to bed fairly early.  

there was a cat.  hi, CAT. 

up at 6 am for 7 am swim.  met up with matt and angela - who i didn't realize was angela naeth until 5 minutes into the swim because im a moron.  

watch out - the claw will get you.

beckie and i, SOAS sistas 4 life

had a quick 20 minute dip in mirror lake - felt awesome - followed by 45 minutes on the bike and a 20 minute run.  i biked the run course which was beautiful and goes past the olympic ski jumps and ran a short 10 min out and back along the end of the bike course along the lake.  was feeling solid and pumped to be done with everything before 9 am.  


we went to the expo to buy things and visit people.  i got to hang with angela's dog, zoey, as well as the race wheels dog.  DOGS.  

mom and i went grocery shopping and stocked up on snacks and meals to tide us over for the next few days and headed back to the house.  i napped for awhile in ellen's normatec boots (stellar) and relaxed watching tv on my ipad. 

while hanging out in the afternoon, i decided i needed to try the infamous descent into keene so mom and i drove out and i borderline survived my quick 7 mile trip down everest the hill.  
pasta primavera for dinner with a small salad and it was early to bed again.  no issues sleeping, but do i ever?

similar morning for saturday - 15 min swim sans wetsuit preceeded by a photo op with angela, 45 min spin on bike (run course again), and 10 min run.  weather was awesomely cool.  we checked out the expo and the pro panel.  cynthia was on the panel (WHOA celeb status) as was shawn booth (the bachelor dude) plus the pros.  i loved hearing andy potts talk - very humble and professional, he seems like a really cool guy.  we should be friends.  somebody tell him.

customary pre-ironman big breakfast

angela and i 

cynthia, ann marie, and i 
(ann marie did IMNC last year when the bike course was cut to 56 miles - cynthia and i met her because she did the second 56 miles at the BASE trainer party while we cheered her on after she completed the swim, shortened bike, and run - total bad ass lady. so awesome to reunite with her!) 

it was back to the house after the panel because my brother was arriving!  SO EXCITED.  he stayed back in the house and napped while mom and i dropped off transition bags, checked in bike, and drove the bike course.  it didn't seem as bad as the elevation map made it seem so that boosted my confidence a little bit.  i didn't even realize we'd driven "the three bears" until we were past them!
dinner for the evening was the standard chicken parmesan - which has been the go-to meal for most of my races in the past couple years.  

I had a Stella, as is customary, that i spilled on the table when i got excited that MARK MHLEY had arrived.  its true, i can no longer do ironmans without this man.  he's been present, either racing or spectating, at 4/5 races i have done now.  thank goodness for this human. 

we went to bed - chris and i turned on miracle (duh) and i fell asleep pretty soon after.  


up at 3:45 am and didn't feel stellar.  the goal was to get out of the house by 5:15 am which we easily accomplished.  i ate 1/2 of a blueberry bagel with peanut butter and a banana, but my stomach was feeling strange and i was not at all hungry - which is weird.  each bite felt like i was chewing cardboard. 

mom and i headed to transition - she dropped me off and i checked my bike and loaded it up with water bottles and nutrition.  tires were full, put in a low gear and bid daisy good-bye.  i walked out and met up with mom and did a short 10 min shake out run.  i felt terrible.  i was sluggish and my stomach was jumping around.  as soon as i finished, i wanted to cry, but instead i attempted to eat more of my bagel.  i was getting stressed that i couldn't eat a solid breakfast.  when mom went into subway, i sat on the curb and dry heaved a few times but nothing came up.  

we walked over the swim start, i put on my wetsuit and got ready to go.  i wasn't excited, i was dreading the day that lay in front of me and just had a bad feeling in my gut.  literally.  i lined up with the 1 hour group and before i knew it, i was running into mirror lake to start the day.  

i swam about 100-200 meters before i felt like I COULDN'T BREATHE.  i've had panic attacks and asthma attacks before, but never while wearing a constricting wetsuit in deep water surrounded by a mass of neoprene-wearing humans.  i put my head up and breaststroked a few times and decided that this was where i would die.  i struggled to get to the first kayak (yep, i was that person) and held on for dear life.  she asked if i was okay, i attempted not to continue drowning.  a minute later, i decided i was good and set out only to discover not only was i decidedly not good, but i was, in fact, worse

kayak #2 (yes, thats as far as i made it the second time) asked if i wanted to pull out of the race.  i honestly paused for 5 seconds and considered it.  "nope.  i'm good now," i responded, lying through my teeth.  i slowly swam away from the kayak, staying on the tow-line which was surprisingly not crowded.  i knew i was swimming slow, but it was forward motion, so i made peace with that.  i made it back to the beach in this fashion, looked down at my watch and saw 35 minutes.  oh hell.  at this rate, it was going to be a 1:10 swim, my slowest by many minutes minutes.  i ran out and back into the water telling myself i was on the homestretch, not even thinking about the majority of the race that still lay ahead.  the second loop was uneventful.  the water temperature was lovely, i didn't encounter anyone significant and it was easy, clear swimming. 

swim: 1:08 something.  oh christ - slowest swim ever.  

T1: out of the water.  thank god.  i ran to transition in a blur, thankful to have survived the swim - what a crazy new concept.  grabbed my gear and headed out to miss daisy, crossing my fingers that the day would improve.  

i saw my family as i headed out on the bike - YAY!  i started off awesome, taking in the calories i had depleted earlier, staying on top of my game for the first two hours.  i wasn't breaking any personal speed records, but i was biking a smart and conservative race.  the descent into keene was a little unnerving due to the wind - i was thankful i had done the descent prior to then and knew what to expect.  by no means was i in aero for more than a minute at a time - no, no, no - too scary.  rubber side down prochnow.  the psychological wheels started to come off between 2-3 hours when my gut started to act up.  

crap.  literally.  

i dry heaved a couple times, but things were staying down, so i was hopeful.  kept HR low in the climbs and before i knew it, i was back in town.  i hit a small bump and i felt some rubbing on the back tire.  in my head, i had a rear flat and i was not happy about this.  i kept going for another mile and it seemed to be consistent - i could feel and hear a constant rubbing.  i looked back and my bento box was cockeyed and i reached back to grab just as it started to fly off the back of the bike.  

so now im in town where the crowds are, carrying this large, hard plastic QR bento box in my right arm and steering the bike with the left for two miles, looking like a damn fool.  i head into special needs and try to re-attach it, but the plastic piece is busted so i throw it in the special needs bag, not thinking to grab anything in case of a flat tire.  i chugged a mt dew, ate a couple EL Fudge cookies and headed out for round 2.  

the next three hours are blurry.  i vomited multiple times.  stopped in the porta-potty for liquid lava to pass through my body.  literal crap.  i ate food only for it to come right back up.  i was a mess.  i was miserable and angry as i watched my avg speed decline.  i was hungry but i couldn't chew my food.  it was one of the least fun 3 hour stretches on a bike i have ever endured.  as i cruised back into town, i started to feel a little light headed and i almost cried thinking about the marathon that still lay before me.  

eff this bike and eff this helmet and eff these shoes.  i lubed up my toes and put on happy socks.  i grabbed my hat and sunglasses and water bottle and headed out, dizziness still present.  

i realized i still had bike gloves on.  i heard someone yell, "go heather" and i whipped around and took off my gloves and handed them to... a complete stranger.  "you're not my mom!" i wailed in the face of this random lady, confused about the situation.  i looked down and realized this nice, innocent spectator was only reading names off of bibs and did not, in fact, know who i was.  i turned around and started to run, figuring i would just throw the gloves away.  i then saw my mom and chris and threw my gloves and an assortment of wrappers from my kit at them.  "i feel TERRIBLE!" i cried to them, and my brother, supportive as ever, ran a block with me as i lamented about my day thus far.  "i'm so proud of you sis" he said, and i straightened up and attempted to run.  

i saw the rising tide gang and mark at the bottom of the hill and when they asked how i was i said, "terrible!  HAHAHAHA!" with a panicked laugh and lisa ran with me while i shared my day.  at the first porta-potty, i stopped and realized i had actually gotten my period, since the day just couldn't get better.  i had an inkling it would happen that morning and lisa - bless her heart - gave me a tampon that morning which i shoved in a side pocket.  "HALLE-FREAKIN-LLUIA".  Also, more lava.  GREAT.  

I kept a respectable pace for a few miles and then started to die and slowly came to the realization that i was going to struggle to COMPLETE the race in one piece.  granted, i'd be in under 13 hours - god willing - but that number in itself was a little heartbreaking considering i'd never had a finishing time over 11.5 hours before.  i tried to fake smile for my family and friends but they knew how bad it was going.  the majority of the marathon is a blur.  i ran some, i walked more.  i eavesdropped on conversations around me like the creep that i am.  i made all kinda of portapotty stops.  

as the marathon dragged on and i shuffled in a somewhat forward motion, i began to high five kids.  and smile.  i wanted them to think this was fun (was i delusional?  it was effing miserable).  i was still feeling horrendous, but eventually, there were only a few miles left.  a man with a "63" on his left calf came running up next to me.  his name was chris and he had done this race countless times.  he pushed me to stay with him and i valiantly tried until we reach the last big hill and then... he crushed me.  and my soul.  damn.  i tried to keep him in my sights and i made up a smidge of ground as the streets flattened out but i never quite caught up to him.  we skirted the edge of the olympic oval and before i knew what was happening, the finish arch was looming.  

i remember nothing about the chute, the finish, or anything - except for seeing my mom.  thats when my memory kicks back in.  i saw her, i collected my shirt and hat - all the while keeping eye contact with her.  i don't remember if i even took a finisher photo.  when i made my way to her, i collapsed a bit, and i cried.  i cried in relief for the day being over, i cried for the time spent training only to end the way it did, i cried for just the damn fact that i felt bad.  

so - we sat on the lawn.  moments later, i heaved the remnants of gels and coke onto the grass with my head between my legs, recounting the day in between bouts of vomit.  at least by then, i had almost finished crying.  

its glamorous, this sport.  dead sexy even.  

my brother wandered over and the first thing i smelled was rum.  i love this kid so much, but alcohol was the last thing i wanted to be smelling.  however, the fact that he was pretty drunk took my mind off the odor of Captain permeating the air around us because he always makes me laugh until i cry.  then he gave me a hug and told me he was proud of me... and i lost it again.  i switched from vomiting to bawling.  like kristin bell says, if I'm not between a 3 and a 7 on the emotional scale, i'm crying.  

i was at a solid 12.  

i cried and laughed and cried more.  it meant so much to have my brother and mom there and I really missed my dad.  eventually, i got on the phone with dad and with some friends and they helped calm me down and make me feel better.  it was such a hard day - physically and emotionally. i went to some dark places and really had to push to keep moving one foot in front of the other when i just wanted to curl up around a trash can in sweatpants with my dog.  but those are the moments in time that make you stronger.  just like climbing the wintergreen mountain at camp will forever be emblazoned in my memory, as will that one time i did that one race at lake placid.  

we meandered our way through the crowds to get my stuff and drove home.  that first shower after a race is always glorious and this one did not disappoint.  i put on some comfy clothes and mom and i headed back to town to meet the spectator gang and watch the midnight finishers - always my favorite part.  



the next day was the highlight of the trip - OLYMPIC GLORY.  


Miracle. Herb Brooks.

Nerding out so bad to Olympic everything. 


And then... it happened.  I got to see the actual arena where all the magic happened.  My heart skipped a beat.  I'd waited years for this moment.  


we also luged.

we won medals.

We celebrated the Olympics all morning and ended our time in Placid on a very high note.  Will I ever do this race again?  Nope, I'm good.  But I learned so much about myself and what I'm capable of doing that I have no regrets.  as they say - anytime you finish an Ironman is a good day.  

I did leave New York feeling significantly unfulfilled and - as fate would have it - a college friend and her family would soon leave me feeling overwhelmingly inspired.  So, Ironman Maryland ended up being next on the list for 2017.  Some day, when I get my life together, you can read all about it...