Ironman Recap

Ironman Recap: So I am finally in a place to write this! First off, I want to say thank you all to everyone who donated to Team Edith. We raised close to $100,000 for cancer!! So thank you to those who donated. I know you have made a difference. Initially, I signed up with Team Edith to honor my mother who passed away from Ovarian Cancer 10 years ago. So I truly thank everyone who donated money to help find a cure for cancer.

This journey has been incredible and one I will never forget. I am so grateful for my training partner Robin. We have spent so much time together, I feel like we are married! I have included some pictures of our training trips and goofiness pre-Ironman. Love this girl to pieces and I couldn’t have done it without her.

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Pre Race: Thursday: We drove from Tulsa to Chattanooga on Thursday. Brady, Robin’s fiance, was our chauffer while Robin and I made every attempt to stay awake. I took 3 naps on the way to TN! Robin could tell how nervous I was because I wasn’t my quick witted self. Our SUV was decked out in shoe polish to let everyone know just what we were about to do! We arrived in Chatt around 7pm and went straight to our awesome hotel, the Chattanooga Choo Choo! Of course we danced in the lobby and went and found some Choo Choo’s to play on. The lobby was the old train station and it was hella cool! After we got checked in, we went back to our room for more nervous talk and unpacking. We realized neither of us had brought our bike pumps so we went to Academy for a cheapo depot pump. I laughed because Brady had been carting all of our 500 bags around and then when we went to get the pump and none of us were carrying anything, Robin told him to carry the pump. I was cracking up because she totally could have carried the pump….all ½ pound of of it! My anxiety was running high because the pump was not fitting on my tires, so I am sure I was quite a delight to be around. After fiddling with our bikes that night, we hit the hay.

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Friday: Robin was part of the Crohns and Cholitis team, so we woke up early to go for a short ride then run with her team. This was the first time we saw the Ironman Village. As we rode our bikes we took in the site of the river to our right and trees to our left. It was really beautiful. After stopping several times and asking where everything was, we ended up on Ross’ Landing to meet her team for a short 20 min run. Brady was so sweet and stayed with our bikes and manned our gear while we were gone. I met Kat, who was the race director for C&C. She was very peppy and reminded me a bit of Miley Cyrus. I also met a guy wearing an Ovarian Cancer Hat. His name was Robert Sneed. He was a very funny gentleman in his 50’s and his wife had OC. We bonded instantly over the OC, well, that and the fact that we both ran about 12 min mile pace J He told me how this was his second time to do Chatt because last year he didn’t finish. He said how mental all of this was and his mind had given up on him…so he was back for redemption. We crossed over the blue bridge and took in the town. The little down town area was very cute. I also met Luke on CC who was racing on behalf of the team with CC. It was great to be meeting people and I began to feel less nervous. After our run, we went into the Village and I stopped at the Team Edith tent where I finally got to meet Captain Thad and race director, Christina Ray. There was pink everywhere! In fact, they had these pink blow up air pillows that looked like labia. I had to make the joke that we were supporting all the lady parts. Surely, I offended someone, but hey, we gotta have fun right? Captain Thad is not only an Ironman, but also a member of the Grammy winning band Sugarland, whom I have seen in concert in Tulsa. I had to show him my running play list because I have 3 Sugarland songs on there J Robin and I then made our way through the check in line where we got our IM wristband, race swag and instructions. The guy in front of me was wearing a TX shirt so I asked where he was from. Woah buddy, he turned around and I was like dang hottie patottie! He was also in the 35-39 age group and his name was Matt and he was from Dallas. We tried to see if we knew any of the same people. The gal behind me was totally killing my mojo telling me I needed to snag him as a boyfriend. I was like, woman, hush your mouth! After check in, we moved into the best tent…the MERCHANDISE tent where I purchased a few IM mugs, a new hat, a tri top and a hook for all these tri medals I keep accumulating. We were then ready to drive the course! Dear sweet Brady put Robin and I in the car and drove the bike course with us. It was very scenic and beautiful and we even went into Georgia on this route. It was such a peaceful ride that both Robin and I fell asleep!! LOL. Poor Brady knew what the course looked like and Robin and I were both fighting sleep. At one point Robin asked me a question and I was completely gone. After our nice nap…I mean ride, we went to pick Robin’s daughter, Whitney up at the airport. When we got to the airport we took tons more pics of all the Ironman signs everywhere. I saw a guy wearing a TCU ball cap and of course, I had to accost him. We took a Horned Frog Pic and it turns out he used to date my friend. What a small world! We got Whitney then headed back to the Ironman Village for the Opening Ceremonies. During the Opening Ceremonies, they announced statistics like how many people there were from each state, etc. They also showed some insanely inspirational videos on a big screen. They had chosen about 3 people to interview and do stories on. The first video was a story about a guy my age who had been training for an Ironman. He had a stroke which has left him with some cognitive functions to where he cant convey in speech what he wants to say. During the interview, they asked him why he wanted to complete this Ironman and all he could say was “medal, finish”. Well, I was in tears. It was truly gut wrenching to see other people’s stories and I soon began to realize we all had a WHY. The next video was of Aaron Pendergraft. He had lost his mom to cancer, but had taken on these races as a way to live life to the fullest….so much so that he dresses up in outrageous costumes like a zebra speedo with fringe. Hearing all these stories just made me want to cross that finish line so much more. After a good sob session, we went to eat dinner and then went back to the hotel to pack our transition bags. I want to say it took a good 2 hours to get everything packed in those bad boys. Then it was time for lights out.

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Saturday: We woke up around 7am and headed to meet up with my charity team, Team Edith for a morning swim. I met a lot more super awesome team members and we swam a short 500 meters down the river. Robin headed to her team banquet and I went to mine. Captain Thad discussed race day info and Christina went over some of the fundraising efforts. I actually came in 2nd place for top earners and won a Bose sound system. I also had the opportunity to try and blow up the pink vagina pillows. It was a lot harder than it looked! I didn’t succeed and after running around with the pink labia balloons for 5 minutes I gave up. During breakfast, I ran into Matt Bacon, fellow Tulsan, who had stopped by the river to get a swim in. After breakfast, I hitched a ride back with a teammate and she dropped me off at Robin’s Chrons and Cholitis banquet. I got to listen to Kat speak about how much money they raised and Robin was a top earner for C&C as well! We sat with Luke at the table and he got up and gave a speech about what it is like to have C&C and to race with it. He wore a poop hat, which I loved. Poor guy told his troubles of how frequent he has to stop during a race. I can’t even imagine! After her banquet, we headed over to the Ironman Village to drop off our bikes. I said goodbye to Ivy and told her I would see her in the morning for some quality time with her. Then we went and drove the run course. The hills were merciless and all on the back end of the loop. We grabbed some grub then Robin and I went to meet Dee in the Ironman Village. Dee was so sweet coming from Tulsa to cheer us on. We went into the merchandise tent and I saw Aaron Pendergraft. I was super excited because I had followed him on FB and wanted to meet him the night before, but didn’t have the chance. I might have interrupted his conversation with Jerry. My bad! I introduced myself and started chatting. His story had really touched me because it seemed so similar to mine. I asked what kind of cancer his mom had and he said ovarian. I told him that was the same kind my mom had and he got goosebumps. I really felt a strong connection with Aaron knowing he had gone through what I went through and has taken life by the horns and is living it to the fullest. I love his goofy sense of humor and how he dresses up in costumes for all his races. Anyhow, we all chatted about it being my first race and all the nerves that went with it. Then, Dee arrived! Yay Dee!! It was so great to see her. We walked over to Ross’ Landing and sat in on a little prayer service then headed back to the hotel for a nap. I slept about an hour and then got up and we went to a great pizza/pasta joint downtown. Candis and her family came into town to be our sherpa as well and we met up for dinner. The garlic knots were off the hook and the pasta was homemade. It was delicious. Then we headed back to the hotel, but not before Robin and Brady dropped off their extra people to a homeless lady. Once we got back we laid our stuff out for the morning and packed our extra special needs bags. We also put our super awesome tattoos on. I had a mom tattoo I ordered so I could look at my arm and see my inspiration every time I looked down. I was super emotional that night. I think I was so nervous that it was all just coming out in tears. I went out into the hall to call my dad and ended up sitting out there crying. Brady had come to check on me, which was very sweet. I knew it was bed time, but I stayed out there for a bit collecting myself. When I got back into the room, all the lights were off and everyone was asleep! I crawled into bed and I am not even sure I slept.

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Sunday (Race Day): We woke up at 3am. Brady dropped us off at the transition area and we waited in line to be let into transition. We added some sandwiches to our special needs bags, aired up our bikes and then made our way to the bus. We got on one of the first buses and arrived 2.4 miles down the river where we parked our butts on the side walk for 2.5 hours. I laid down and closed my eyes for a bit and then realized I needed to poop. I walked to the porta potties and they were hopping. It took forever to get into one, but success was mine! I also ran into Matt Bacon in line, so it was nice to see him before the race. Olga was sitting with me and Robin and we all just chatted and ate. Then the nervous pee set in. I didn’t want to walk back to the porta potties so we all just walked in the grass and peed. The sun was starting to peak out and it was almost time to start the race. Robin took our morning bags and dropped them off and we began putting our swim caps on. The line started to move forward and we could hear the announcer and music. We crested the Ironman sign and I peed in my suit one more time. We walked down the ramp and I looked at my watch and shouted to Robin that it was 7:30am and then jumped in.

Swim: The swim was nice and relaxed. It was supposed to be a straight line, but the buoys didn’t seem to be in line with anything. People were swimming on each side of the buoys, which was a little chaotic. The water was a warm 83 degrees. I just did my thing. Soon I was near the island which meant I had about 750-1000 left. They said we would go under 3 bridges but I swear it seemed like 10 bridges! Ha. I couldn’t really tell where I was in the pack but soon I could see all the volunteers standing knee deep in water on the stairs ready to help us out. A man grabbed my arm and pulled me up and I ran up the stairs. I looked at my watch and it said 53 minutes. I was very happy with my swim time. People were hanging over the railing cheering and I had to jog this long walkway up a steep ramp. I saw my Team Edith Peeps at the top of the ramp and gave them a rock star hand signal and tongue out. No, it was not the Texas Longhorns sign. I am a Horned Frog girl! A volunteer handed me my bag and I was into the tent. Final Swim Time: 53:19

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T1: A volunteer immediately started pulling everything out of my bag. She helped me change and I loaded up my pockets with food and spread the who ha jelly on my lady parts. I put my helmet and shoes on and then it was off to the bike. Final T1 Time: 7:33

Bike: I came upon the mount line and got on good old Ivy. It was an 11 mile highway stretch before we got to the first loop. I was feeling pretty good. The scenery was amazing. Once I got to the 47 mile loop the hills came into play. I thought most of the hills were on the front end. I passed the 15 mile aid station with plenty of water and Gatorade on me. I made sure to follow my nutrition plan and took in salt and liquid every 15-20 min. At mile 33 there was a booger of a hill. People were standing at the top of it cheering because they knew how rough it was. After I made it to the top of the hill, there was a sharp left turn. I continued on and decided I needed to dive into my back two water bottles. Let’s just say I accidentally dropped one of my Camelbaks and it went directly under my front wheel. It scared the beejeezus out of me but I stayed upright…more annoyed that I had lost a good water bottle. From then on, it started to get hot. I began stopping at every water station to fill up on drinks and shove ice down my jersey. Jeff Degarmo passed me at one point and said hi. I then made it to Chickamaunga and it was like a crazy dance party! There were people everywhere and you could just get a high off of all the people. I stopped briefly at special needs and grabbed a few more items and then was off. There was a super awesome big downhill and it was shaded. I totally welcomed this. Now it was time for my second loop. I had been holding over a 16mph average but the sun really came out. It was getting miserably hot and you can tell in my splits where the sun came out. Around mile 60, there she came! Robin started talking to me from behind. It was so great to see her. We were both alive and doing this thing! She passed me because she is super speedy and I held onto her as long as I could. I began talking to my mom bargaining with her that I needed some help in this heat. I chanted a few times, Om gum ganapataye, namaha and I sang Thy Word. Soon I was at the top of that booger of a hill headed back. After I made that sharp turn again, it was like everyone was dropping like flies. People were pulled over cramping and crying. It was a sad sight to see. You could tell the frustration in their faces knowing they had worked just as hard as you did and they just couldn’t go on. I came upon a guy who appeared to be nude because he was holding a sign. The sign read something like “if you don’t go faster, I will drop this sign!” When I passed through Chickamaunga, all the people were gone. Right about that time, Matt Bacon came up behind me. It was so great to see him! When I hit the highway it was a nice flat 11 mile stretch back to the transition. I dismounted and handed my bike off to a volunteer and ran to get my next transition bag. Final Bike Time: 7:25.03

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T2: I got my bag and headed into the tent. I was a little frazzled and the tent was super chaotic with women everywhere. A lot of the volunteers were getting ice for people. People were dropping like flies at this point and the volunteers were doing their best to aid to all the people over heating. I dumped my stuff out of my bag and immediately put my tennis shoes on…only to realize, I hadn’t changed my pants yet. Oops! The tent smelled like urine…as if everyone who went in there just sat down and peed. I made sure to fill my water bottle in hand with ice and put water in my carry-ons. I refilled my snacks and then it was time to head out. I saw Olga on the way out, so that was very welcoming. Final T2 Time: 11:51

Run: I felt like a million bucks. I was determined to run this sucker. I took off running and we passed by everyone cheering. Once I rounded the corner to the river, I saw Team Edith. I waved and got some encouragement. I came upon Matt Bacon again and said hey. I looked at my watch and it said 11min pace. I was like, dang I am gonna rock this. Note: for all your runners, 11 min pace is great for me! I am obviously a swimmer:) And then I rounded the corner to see this giant hill where I said, I think I need to walk. I walked up the hill and then tried to run again and the sun was just blistering down on us. So my goal was not to get over heated. It was about 4:30pm right in the prime of the heat. I remember Jana telling me to walk the first few miles because it would be so hot. I got to the first aid station and almost had a panic attack. I was hot and I needed ice to cool down. There was a tri coach who was volunteering and he was giving me tips to cool myself off. I was glad I grabbed an extra water bottle I could fill up and carry with me in order to spray on my head when I got hot. From then on, I decided I would stop at every station, every mile to fill up on Gatorade and ice cold water. The first 4 miles was a stretch of high way. When we got to the end of the highway, the course turned into the trail by the river. I loved being on the trail because it was somewhat shaded. I started doing jog/walk again because it wasn’t as hot. A guy started walking with me and asked if he could do what I was doing. I welcomed the company until I realized he was a Debbie Downer. He just kept saying how bad it sucked and how hot it was. I told him it didn’t and that it was awesome what we were doing! On our next jog, I told him I was going to walk and he needed to go on. I didn’t want to be around that bad juju. We passed mile 6 which was about where we started our swim course. I got to an aid station and they had chicken broth and I downed that stuff. There was a high school band playing and I was digging that. I kept looking at my watch trying to figure out if I walked the whole rest of the marathon would I make it? Trying to do math at this point was very difficult! Up ahead there was this giant hill. I saw Christine from Team Edith whose husband was doing the race and she cheered and took pics. That was a nice little boost before going up that hill. Once at the top of the hill, we were able to turn right and cross the pedestrian bridge. Now we started our second half of the loop in the hilliest neighborhoods imaginable. I walked up the hills and ran down them. There were people outside in their front yards drinking and partying. It was hilarious. Lots of people cheering for us. I got to the bottom of this hill and someone came up behind me and gave me a big ole hug. I thought I knew him….turns out, he was just being friendly and wanted to walk with me. His name was Chris and he was from Dallas. About ten minutes later, we were still chatting and I see Dee and Brady! They ran up to me, gave me hugs and took pics. It was so great to see them. That was the first time I saw them on the course. That gave me an extra boost. There were more hills upon more hills. I finally made the turn to head back over more hills and cross that beautiful blue bridge. Jerry caught me on the bridge and yelled out to me. It was great to see another familiar face. I just had 13 teenie weenie miles left. The sun was starting to go down so it was nice that the weather was finally cooling off. Before the second loop, there was the run special needs stop. I really only needed to get more candy out of my bag and my socks. I didn’t want to stop and put new socks on because I was worried about sitting and not getting back up. So I grabbed my socks and stuck them in my pocket. I began the second loop and I had to poop so bad. By now I was able to do more jogging than walking because the temperature had cooled off, but I couldn’t jog at the expense of needing a porta potty. Captain Thad rode by on his bike and kept my spirts high. I met a guy who I walked with for awhile who was from Tennessee and lo and behold, I made it to the porta potty. Do you know how hard it is to try and not fall over in the dark in a porta potty? I was dizzy and I sat down and took care of business. Luckily, I was able to get up okay and continue on. Soon I was back by the river walking with another guy. We shared a few stories. I kept looking at my watch trying to do the math and figure out if I would still make the 16:15 cut off. I could feel blisters starting to form on the bottoms of my feet. Next thing I know, I was at mile 18. Somewhere in there Christine (Team Edith) who was taking pictures saw me and began walking with me. Praise the Lord for her! Even though I was staying positive in my head, I was starting to become loopy. Thanks to her positive reinforcement I made it up the big hill and was turning to cross the bridge for my final decent. Captain Thad and Brady both found me on the bridge. I barked at Brady to just talk to me! I was beginning to start swaying like a drunk woman trying to walk the line. I could tell my balance was off but I only had 6 miles left…and they were the hilliest 6 miles. I tried to occupy my thoughts with the drunk people partying on their lawns. They were pretty entertaining. One family even had their dogs outside. I wanted to stop and pet them, but I kept going. I managed the hills okay and it was all downhill from there. I was at about mile 23 when I was heading towards the bridge for the last part of the course. I saw Aaron pass by me in all his costume glory and gave a shout out. Brady and Xavier caught me at about mile 24 where they walked the last 2 miles in with me. They were so encouraging. I had to poop again, but I knew if I stopped, it would be for good. We walked into the cute town and people were cheering that I was almost home. A gal saw me and said she had been watching me from the beginning and was so excited for me. I finally got to the big blue bridge where Dee and Candis met up with us. I asked Dee to just talk to me and she did. They were taking pictures of me and cheering me on. I turned after the bridge and it was my final stretch. I could see the carpet and the bright lights. I started running down the IM carpet and everyone was screaming my name. I started bawling like a baby. I couldn’t hold back the emotions of what I had just accomplished. And then it happened. I crossed the finish line, sobbing and I heard over the speaker, “Melissa, you are an IRONMAN!” Teresa LaMora gave me my medal (FB Friends). I had a good little cry and I was ushered over to take a post pic.

Final Run Time: 7:12.03

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Final Overall Time: 15:49.49

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Post Race: As soon as I stopped moving is where things went very wrong. I was worried going into this race knowing the temperature was going to be very hot. Last year at Redman, I had to get an IV because it was so damn hot outside. My body just doesn’t cope well with hot weather because I am a sweater. So many times in training I have puked and I kept telling Robin that it better not be this hot on Chattanooga in September. She reassured me it would be a cool 81 degrees. Ha, we were so wrong! Anyhow, I was so lucky I finished the race because there were a lot of people who didn’t. But when I stopped moving, my body started to rebel. Instantly, I felt like I was going to puke. I ran to the first trash can I saw in the medical tent and began violently vomiting. A volunteer sat me down and gave me a barf bag where I kept spewing. I told them I needed and IV, but they told me the doctors were being very picky about who they gave IVs to. After more rounds of vomiting, I convinced them to give me an IV. The last thing I remember is 2 volunteers carried me to a cot where I laid down. Now here is the scary part. I don’t remember the next 24 hours. I have brief moments of opening my eyes and seeing Robin’s face, but that is it. I had no idea how I even got to the hospital. I thought Robin drove me in her car. As it turns out, I went by ambulance. I remember being in the hospital and the doc explaining he had to put an IV in my coratid artery and I remember him putting plastic over my face to do the procedure and feeling like I was suffocating. But other than a few brief moments of ins and outs, I was out cold. When I finally came to the next day, Robin mentioned Brady had taken Whitney to the airport for her 4 oclock flight. I asked why she scheduled her flight at 4am. Robin looked at me and said, “Melissa, it is 4pm!” That is when I knew something had gone terribly wrong. I felt so guilty and sad for Robin. We missed celebrating the finish, we missed going to the finisher’s tent and buying finisher’s gear, but more importantly, I felt terrible because she too had just done an Ironman and had taken me straight to the hospital and stayed the whole time. Let me remind you, we got up at 3am for that race…had a good 14-15 hours of racing in the heat. We were sweaty and gross and smelled like urine and my friend, my lifesaver, stayed up with me at the hospital. God Bless her. Thank goodness for Robin! If I could change anything, it would be how all of that ended for her sake. I was diagnosed with exercise induced hyponatremia. Apparently, I drank too much water, which flushed out all the sodium from my body. By taking in water, it was cancelling out the base salt and Gatorade I was taking in. On the run I used a water bottle to spray myself in order to stay cool and I guess I was guzzling the water as well. The doc checked my kidney function and said I had some brain swelling so they did a CT scan as well. My sodium level was at 121. A normal sodium level is btwn 135-145. My level was at 121! A severe level is below 125 in which seizures and comas may occur. I am so lucky I didn’t have any long term damage. The odd thing about this whole ordeal is I felt great during the race! It wasn’t until I stopped being in motion that it all hit. Robin was getting tons of messages and my friends and family knew something wasn’t right because I hadn’t posted any celebratory pictures. Robin ended up calling my dad and my coach. The docs wanted to move me from the ER to the ICU and keep me until Wednesday. This totally blew our plan of driving home. She kept telling me my dad was flying in because she needed to drive home Tuesday and I just couldn’t understand this. I was still a little out of it but eventually I came to and started making poop jokes. That is when Robin knew I was okay:) Brady brought us a Chick Fil A Sandwich around 4pm and I swear it was the best damn thing I had ever eaten. Keep in mind, we raced, I threw up everything in my system and hadn’t had any food since 11:30pm the day before. Brady could have brought me a turd nugget and I would have eaten it. Robin and Brady went back to the hotel to wash all our pee and vomited infested clothes and then packed everything. Nothing says friendship like handling my urine soaked bike pants! God bless them. They are saints. I seriously owe them my life! They saved me and took such good care of me. The plan was for my dad to fly in the next day and they were going to take pack al of my stuff, including my bike, and head back to Tulsa on Tuesday. They came back to the hospital around 7pm and brought me cupcakes. Saints I tell you! We said our goodbyes and they were off back to the hotel. I woke up Tuesday morning and felt a lot better. They took my catheter out so I was now forced to get up to use the restroom. My legs were like solid bricks weighing me down and I had some serious blisters on my feet. I had to call a nurse every time I wanted to get up out of the bed for a potty break. If that isn’t a vulnerable feeling than I don’t know what is. My dad got there around 1pm and it was so good to see him! Robin had already called me about 10 times by then and she sent me a pic of the empty back seat of the car where I was supposed to be:( My dad was nice enough to get me some real food because I still don’t know what they were trying to serve me in that hospital. I got moved to a regular floor Tuesday night. Thank God my new room had a shower! Let me just set the stage for you. I had done an Ironman. I was covered in sweat, had urinated on myself several times and puked all over me. I went straight to the hospital like this and had been sitting in that nasty stench for 3 days! Hallelujah, I finally got to take a shower. It felt glorious. After washing up, I got back in bed and was feeling fantastic. They wanted to keep me over night so they could draw my blood work in the morning one more time. The evening nurse came in and I asked her for some ice and water. She said she would be back in with it in a minute. She never came back. I giggled and told my dad, “don’t they want me to drink? I wound up in here for dehydration!” The nurses came in and out all night long drawing blood and waking me up. But soon it was morning. The doc came in and said I could finally be released! After all the paperwork was done, I took another shower, because I couldn’t get clean enough, and blew that joint! My dad and I caught a flight home to Tulsa and I finally got to feel normal again. I am so grateful to all the nurses and doctors at Erlangers Hospital. I had a very pleasant stay and everyone was so nice. They were very on top of things.

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Post IM Thoughts: I am back in good health now. I had a check up with the doctor on Tuesday and all my blood work is normal. Other than some bad blisters, I am good to go. I did a short bike ride Tuesday and a short run Thursday morning. I definitely have some mixed emotions about the race. I feel like finishing that awesome race was over shadowed by being put in the hospital. I didn’t really get to enjoy my moment or remember it all too well! But I am so lucky I was able to finish the race. I have seen a lot of negativity and opinions about Chattanooga online and it really disturbs me. If I have learned anything from this whole process, it is that we all have a story and we are all just trying to do our best and perhaps we can forget about the bad stuff in our lives for just a moment by coming together and doing what we love, exercising. It is disappointing to read people post that you are only an IM if you did a certain time or you should only race in an IM if you can complete a marathon in less than 5 hours because it is not impressive to walk a 7:12 marathon. The IM is so much more than the race. It was the journey to get there. I have been told multiple times that I could not do it because I was too heavy. But I learned so much about myself through this journey. I learned I have the will power of steel and that there is no stopping me. I will never give up. I may not be fast and my time is obviously not impressive in the IM world, but I accomplished something far more than a time, but a lifetime of memories and self acceptance. The conditions were brutal and I truly feel bad for all those who didn’t finish because I know there are people out there who trained just as hard as I did. Nobody wants their race to end early due to the heat and had I started vomiting before the finish line, I too would not have finished. I really want everyone in that race to know they are rock stars!

This has truly been an incredible journey and I am so lucky to have done this with Robin. If it wasn’t for her, I might not have had the will and determination to keep showing up. I have definitely grown spiritually and emotionally and this is a journey I will never forget. I have regained my life back and I am proud of what I have accomplished. The IM really did save my life. I hope I have been able to inspire other people who believe they can’t do it. I want everyone to know you truly can do anything if you put your mind to it. A year ago, I could barely run a mile and now look what I have done. I have to say, I have garnered some pretty cool athletic accolades in my life. I have 3 World Records in Powerlifting, I have swimming state records, and I have even pulled a plane before! But nothing, nothing feels as good as finishing this Ironman. Was I a collegiate swimmer? Yes, but sadly the swim portion is so minute in comparison the run and the bike. Finishing this IM means more to me than all those other accolades because I truly had to work on biking and running. They did not come naturally to me. Not to discredit how hard I worked for my other achievements, but I am not a cyclist or a runner. When I started biking, I could barely average 12mph and I could barely run a mile. This IM was so rewarding because I truly gave it my all and worked on skills I was never good at to begin with.

Will I do another IM? The answer is, I don’t know. The training is very time consuming and without my partner in crime, the journey wouldn’t be the same. Yet, there is a part of me that knows I can do better and also hopes I can finish on a happier note, relishing the glory of the finish, rather than remembering sitting in the hospital. So for now, I will just get back to “life” and take things one day at a time. And now it’s time to celebrate this finish! I just got my tattoo Saturday and we are having a party next week. Woohoo!

after-ride

tat

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