I am an IRONMAN! Last Sunday I completed the race that I had been focusing on for over a year, and it was everything I could have hoped it would be and more. Instead of writing it out in sections, I'm just going to post one post with all of my thoughts and reflections. It won't be short, but then again, neither was the race. I'd like to add here, after having finished this whole post, that it defines the word 'lengthy'. If you read it all, thank you. If you're looking to skim, just be sure to read the last half of the run section. It's my favorite.
Heading to Chattanooga
The weekend before the race Tim and I drove up to Johnson City for one of my high school best friend's weddings. I took my bike up then so that I knew it was safe and could stay at my parents' house in Chattanooga for the week. It proved to be a smart idea, as I was able to drive a lot of stuff up then that I wouldn't have been able to carry when I flew back up to Chattanooga on Thursday.
The week before the race was spend being nervous about anything and everything. From twinges in my foot to sneezes to nutrition to liquids, I stressed about it all. When Thursday came I couldn't have been more thrilled. My school did such an awesome send off and called me up to the stage in front of all my students and gave me a bunch of school stuff to wish me luck. I did tear up, and I felt really special.
My flight was on time, and my mom and dad picked me up in Birmingham for the drive up to Chattanooga. We just missed athlete check in on Thursday, so we just went home and hung out and ate dinner and sat around. I went to bed early to prepare for an exciting day on Friday.
On Friday morning, Tim and I went down to athlete check in at 8:30 to get in line early. If you ever plan on doing an Ironman, one thing I'd like to note here is that you should always expect a line everywhere. When they opened at 9 I suddenly realized I had forgotten my ID! I had my insurance and USAT card, but I had to panic and solve the ID card situation before I could get checked in. When I did get checked in I read a waver far too long for comfort. And when I say I read it, I really mean that I looked at it and assumed that it meant if I died they wouldn't take the blame. I knew I was going to have to sign it, so I just took photos of the paper in case I needed to refer back to it later.
I waited in line for my bib and swim cap, and I saw a family friend Carolyn, who was volunteering for the race. It was so nice to see so many familiar faces all weekend, and I think it really helped this race feel even more special than it already was to me.
After that I waited in another line for the backpack and then grabbed some non-finisher's stuff to purchase. If I hadn't finished I still would have worn the gear, because I trained my butt off for it and would have been a competitor in it. That was all the rationalizing I was doing in buying some early.
I then met up with Beth and Nick and met a few new faces here. We walked around the tents, got some free stuff, and then I made the biggest and best decision of that day: I bought an aero bottle for my bike. That will be mentioned time and time again later, but I thought it was worth noting here that, though they say not to do anything new on race day, I knew this was going to be a good decision.
Beth and I walked over to a tent where a pro was signing autographs, and we asked him every question under the sun. As he was finishing writing out his mile by mile nutrition strategy (kidding...but not my much) we decided it was time to give other people a chance to
accost talk to him.
It was time for the athlete meeting! We heard from one of the announcers all about cut offs and rules and times and information, and we each had our own freak outs about the things we were nervous about. Beth noted bike cut off times, I noted run cut off times, and we assured each other that we really did definitely want to get to the race at 4:15 before transition opened so that we could be in line early for the swim start.
After that we were off to drive the bike course. The course was nicely marked so we didn't miss any turns, and I was glad we took the opportunity see (for me the second time) what we were facing on race day. It was just like I remembered it; the hills were rolling, and there wasn't anything that was any worse than hills we trained on in San Antonio. I knew we were well prepared, and Beth didn't get more nervous, which she says is a good thing and shows that her mind was in the right place.
I dropped Beth at her hotel and Tim and I headed back to my parents house to get dinner. I also spent a lot of time eating over the course of those two days. I ate lots of carbs and salt, and I drank a lot of water. I ate my biggest meal on Friday night, because I knew I wouldn't want much sitting in my stomach Saturday night. I went to bed early again because I've also heard two nights before race day is even more important sleep-wise than the night before.
On Saturday I went down to ride my bike before bike check in and make sure all my gears were working. I went for a little 1 mile run in my neighborhood, and then Beth and I checked our bikes in. I had strapped my aero bottle on, and it was ready to go. I put it in transition, said goodbye, and knew the next time I would see it would be when I was running out of the swim and onto it for a long 116 mile ride. Beth and I went and had our last big lunch and then headed over to the practice swim to hop in and see how the river felt. We had to walk .25 mile up river to jump in and swim, and once we jumped in the water felt great! It wasn't wetsuit legal at the time, and I was starting to feel like it wasn't going to be for raceday either. The swim was quick, and I was hearing everyone chatter about a strong current. Good news for everyone!
After that we parted ways and I headed home to relax, panic, and make sure everything was in order. My gear bags were check in with my bike, but I still had access to them on Sunday morning, so I double and triple checked that there wasn't something I was missing. I also packed my special needs bags with more than anyone could have possibly wanted! I ate dinner of pasta around 4:45 and went to bed at 8. I knew 3:00 am would come early.
I woke up in the middle of the night with stomach cramps, and that made me nervous for what the morning would be like
When I woke up on Sunday at 3, I spent a lot of time in the bathroom. I never get a nervous stomach, but I was having all the nervous stomachs from past races catch up to me all at once here. I was so panicked about it. I took Immodium and Advil and hoped and prayed that it would go away. I only ate a piece of sourdough bread that I brought with me in the car and finished waiting outside of transition. Luckily, my stomach started to settle with the second Immodium, and I hoped that would be it for the day.
Setting up Transition
Beth and I did meet at 4:15 as agreed, and we were early enough to be some of the first 100 or so people into transition. We got our arms and legs marked, and it felt real. I teared up a few times, as that was the theme of the weeks preceding the race, and then I high tailed it to my bike to setup my water bottles and nutrition for the race. I taped two PowerGels to my bike tube, crammed more stuff than necessary into my bento box, and dropped the rest of my stuff into my bike gear bag. I setup my aero bottle with skratch/carbopro and had three other water bottles, one each of skratch/carbopro, gatorade, and plain water.
I asked a man to borrow his pump, and he came and helped me make sure my tires were okay. I asked him if this was his first, because I had told him it was mine. He said it wasn't and that he had done 27 other ones. I asked if he was excited for Inaugural Chattanooga, and he paused. Because there was so much controversy surrounding the race's long bike course, late swim start, and sub-17 hour cutoff, I was waiting to hear him mention something about that. But instead, he told me that his wife had passed away six weeks prior and that this was his first one without her there by his side. I bit my cheeks to keep from crying, but as soon as he walked away the floodgates opened. I walked over to Tim and Beth to prepare to board the shuttle to the swim start and hugged Tim and cried. They didn't know what was going on, but I told them and they understood. Tim and I said our final goodbyes before I started my journey, and Beth and I boarded the shuttle.
It was a 10 or 15 minute ride up 2.4 miles to get to the swim start, and I got teary part of the way just thinking about the man, the fact that we were about to do what we had spent an entire year preparing for, and because of nervousness from the day. When we got off we found that we weren't too terribly far from the beginning of the line, but we weren't as close to the front as you'd think we would have been considering that it was 5 am and the race didn't start until 7:30. We spent the time chatting (not about the race...we had done enough of that), using the bathroom, and meeting people around us. Everyone was excited, and as the line inched forward as they consolidated us it became more and more and more real. Before we knew it we were taking off our outer clothing to put into morning clothes bags, putting on our cap and goggles and heading down the ramp to jump off a dock and get our day started.
I kept looking at Beth and squealing and squeezing her arm and saying "This is it! Good luck!" The line moved very quickly, and right as I was about to jump in I looked back one last time and said, "Bye Beth!" Then, I started my 144.6 mile journey (I'm tearing up just writing this).
The swim was the part of the race that I was the least nervous about leading into race day. It's my strongest discipline, and this swim had very little to be nervous about. It was straight down river for 2.4 miles, and there were no sharks, which for some reason still make me nervous when swimming in the ocean. I knew I'd just be going straight for a very long time and wouldn't have to worry about too much besides keeping the buoys on my left.
So, I swam. And swam. And swam. And then I looked up and was a little far to the right. So I swam left. And swam left. And swam left...and then, magic happened. I was right back in the pack and a girl swam up next to me going not too much faster than I was. For the most part the swim was well spread out and I was able to find paths around people really easily. When this girl came up and we swam next to each other for 15 or 20 strokes, I thought to myself, "Alright! This is your chance to take it a little easier." So I eased up for a few strokes, let her get in front of me, and then drafted for the next ten or so minutes. I never touched her feet and did my best not to annoy her, but she never kicked too hard or turned around and clocked me, so she either didn't know I was there or didn't care because I wasn't bothering her. Eventually she got a little too far ahead and I let off and kept swimming at my pace. We were going under bridges pretty quickly, but I always resisted the urge to look at my watch and see my pace or overall time. I didn't want it to affect how I was swimming. We passed by the dock we had used for the Chattanooga Waterfront Triathlon I did in June, so I knew I was .9 from the finish. It seemed to come pretty quickly at that point.
There is one turn to the left to head to the swim exit, and when I got there I saw a clock that said 58 minutes on it. I didn't know if it was started when the pros started ten minutes before age groupers or when age groupers started. I also didn't know how far back I was from when the first age grouper got in the water, so I picked it up a little bit hoping to make it to the swim exit in under 1 hour. That had been my goal for the swim. Much to my shock I was very far under one hour. I swam the swim in 46 minutes. Thank you current, you made me feel like a rock star!
Swim Time: 46:34 Division Rank: 3/35
I ran a bit to transition along the Riverfront Path and saw SO many spectators. That part was awesome. The whole run there was lined with people, and they were three of four rows deep. I saw Beth's boyfriend Nick, my family, and everyone I was looking for. It was exciting to get to see them all through so many people. I then ran past the gear bags and grabbed my bike bag and ran to the transition tent. Because I had lined up in the front part of the line and swam past a number of people, there weren't a lot of people in the transition tent, and I had two volunteers all to myself! They were incredibly helpful. They helped get my swimsuit off, get sunscreen off, get socks on, get all my junk shoved in pockets, and before I knew it I was on my way.
I called out my number, but 803 was coming through at the same time, so the volunteer thought that the initial number had been a mistake calling out 813. I ran past my bike a little and backtracked. Someone helped me grab it off the rack and I was on my way. I ran down a chute and saw Tim and my mom at the end, turned the corner, jumped on the bike past the mount line, and I was off!
Transition 1 Time: 7:06
After starting on the bike I immediately felt fantastic. My legs felt so fresh, and the weather was perfection. There was a small hill coming out of transition to wake the legs up, and then I hunkered down and got in aero. There weren't a lot of people near me, but I knew the normal game was about to begin. Because I'm a stronger swimmer I always get passed on the bike for the first 20 or so miles of a half distance triathlon. Well, this was a world of difference. I pretty much spent the entire bike ride getting passed. I may have passed 5-10 people total over the course of the whole day that would be a permanent pass. I passed people going up hills, but they'd soon repass me on the way down, as the descents aren't my strong suit. The people that passed me at first were riding monster bikes with insane wheels and helmets; I was waiting for someone with a motor to come by. People were flying!
I was really glad that those passes didn't start happening in big numbers until I got out of the city, though. The roads in Chattanooga on our way down to the loop was a little technical, so I was happy to have clearance to slow a little for turns. When I finally got out to the loop (about 12 miles in), bigger and bigger packs of people were passing. I felt like I must have been going so slowly, but I wasn't going to let it change my goals or how I was riding. I was averaging around 18 or 18.5 at that time, so I didn't get discouraged. I did, though, get a little annoyed with some of the packs that were forming. That was helping a lot of people! I just sang "I'm a speed bump! Speed bump!" for 10 or so miles to myself. Occasionally someone would say "On your left!" and occasionally I'd feel witty and would respond "You and everyone else!" I meant it to be funny, and the two or three times I said it the person got a laugh out of it. People complimented me on my swim, because they knew that must have been why I was out in the front early.
I ate a Gu in the first 5 miles of the bike to make up for swim hunger, and then I drank my aero bottle full of Skratch and Carbopro. I didn't dilute it enough, so it was a little strong for my liking. As I passed the first bike aid station on the loop, I added a bunch of water to my aero bottle, and I was immediately thankful for having purchased that bottle. I won't mention it again, but I pretty much refilled it at every aid station. I drank A LOT on the bike. I also ate quite a bit.
The first loop was moderately uneventful until I got down to the bottom of the loop. I started seeing a lot of people flatting in one area, and I didn't think it was normal for that many people to get flats in one place. I wanted to ask someone, but I wasn't really close to anyone so just watched carefully where I was going in case there was something wrong with the road. I got down to the Hog Jowl turn that was really sharp on a down hill; I had been worried about that turn for a full year since driving that course, but luckily I yelled "Slowing!!" and the lady behind me yelled "We're clear! Take it easy! I'm not trying to run over anyone today!" It worked out perfectly, and I was so glad to be around that.
The hills were never anything bigger than what I rode in San Antonio, and I felt like it was much more rolling. The back half of the loop felt like we were going downhill a lot of the time. I loved the feeling of going fast and the wind blowing onto my face. I knew special needs was going to come up around mile 52, and I didn't know what that was going to be like. As I got closer it made me a little nervous, because it was just on the side of the road. Someone told me "813 you're in the front!" But I didn't know what she meant by the "front", so I went to what I thought would be the front like a car's front, furthest down the road. I guess I was wrong. I had to wait 20 or 30 seconds on my bag, and my watch autopaused (this will come back later). I grabbed a few things and made it on my merry way. The climb out of Chicamauga wasn't too terrible, and the descent was FAST! I made the turn onto the second loop, and I was still feeling pretty good!
I knew now what to expect, so when hills or turns came they didn't surprise me. They did seem to take a little extra push this time, though. I was getting close to what I thought would be the Hog Jowl turn again, when all of the sudden a different turn popped up in front of me, and I realized I was about 10 miles behind where I thought I was. Crap! I didn't want to be there. And that was when I started getting a little tired of being on the bike and also a little nauseous. At the next aid station a girl that I went to high school with shouted out to me, and I took a banana and a water, and it started to settle my stomach again. I rode the rest of the second loop and made the final turn to head back to transition.
It was about mile 80 when I was really really tired of being on the bike. I kept telling myself things that were longer that I had done than what I had left. "This is shorter than Anderson Snow and back!" "This 20 miles is the same as a weekday ride." Etc. But when I got on the flat stretch back to the final hills in Chattanooga, I realized that my eyes were really burning. I hadn't worn sunglasses the whole time, and I was worried that I had windburned my eyes. I don't usually wear them during training because they made my vision a little messed up, so I didn't think it would effect me any. I put them on for the last stretch in hopes that covering my eyes would stop the burn and I wouldn't be effected on my run. I guess they were just dried out, because by the time I got back to transition they felt better.
The last bit through St. Elmo was really fantastic. Though hilly and dragged out, the people were energetic and fun. It made me nervous when I passed a girl who had crashed at mile 112 of the bike and was face down on the road not moving. Medics were there and people were helping, so I didn't stop or do anything. I found out later that she had run into a telephone pole after losing control of her bike going over railroad tracks. She is okay now. I had four miles left, and I knew that if anything happened in those last 4 miles I'd just run back or ride my bike on flats back. 116 miles is a long way!
As I made my way down the hill back to the dismount line, I saw my family. They were waving and taking pictures. I hate the dismount line, so I dismounted a little early. A volunteer came running and asking if I was okay and said I needed to go a little further. I wasn't riding my bike any further (I stopped maybe 15 feet before the dismount line because it was crowded), so I just got off and ran it to the volunteer who took it. I was not sad to see it go.
Bike Time: 6:28:41 Division Rank: 13/35
Transition 2 was more crowded and a bit different than transition 1. I had run in with my bag and found a spot, and I had heard a volunteer yell, "Holler if you need some help." All the volunteers were busy helping other people, so I just dumped out my bag and starting doing my thing by myself. For some reason I also got a little sad that no one was helping me. It was an odd moment. Eventually someone came and helped me. I also am now thinking I was a bit looney because I actually put my socks and shoes on before changing from bike to run shorts. I can't explain that, and it was awkward making that change. Soon enough I was done changing and was heading out onto the run course, but first I had to stop at the port o potty. I was hoping this was going to be the only time.
Uh. Yea. It wasn't.
Transition 2 Time: 5:23
Shortly after exiting transition we went down a ramp to the riverwalk that was the same ramp (I think) we had come up from when exiting the swim. I was worried about slipping, and my parents said they saw a few people slip. I saw them cheering there, and they told me not to fall and to be careful. Then they cheered me on. Soon I saw one of my best friends from high school cheering on the Riverwalk. I was so bummed that I had shoved a water bottle in my sports bra and was doing my hair, but it did make for some funny pictures. I then saw her husband a few people down.
The first mile out of transition went by so quickly! I couldn't believe it, because we also had to run up a hill (the first of many). I turned left at the first aid station to stay on the Riverwalk, and then I ran the first half the two loop course. The first 8 miles of the course were fairly flat, though even they had some slight inclines and declines compared to what we Floridians define as flat. I talked to a guy for a few minutes about his favorite triathlons, and he told me that though Chattanooga was fast, the Hudson River was a lot faster. That got me through mile 3, I think. Then we drifter our separate ways after an aid station. I was keeping my friend Hugo's advice; he told me not to make friends on the run course--it could slow me down.
I kept running along the Riverwalk and took salt tabs every mile or two, and I drank water at every aid station. I was running right around 10:00/mile for the first 5 or 6 miles, and I felt really great. Running the back half of that first loop on a highway wasn't fun, as there wasn't much scenery to look at. I ate some grapes and kept running and focusing on just keeping everything steady. I don't remember what I was thinking through this period of time, but I think I was getting to the point where I was having to go to the bathroom again, because somewhere around mile 6 I stopped again to pee.
At this port o potty I ripped the hole of my bib from my race belt, so it was flapping; and true to form, I was so concerned that I was going to lose my bib, not for legal or race purposes, but for sentimental purposes later. I kept tucking it into the race belt and hoping it would stay. Soon enough I was turning onto the Veteran's Bridge and saw my parents, sister, and Tim for the first time. That was uplifting! They cheered and took photos, and I kept running. I met a Rev3 teammate, Susan, as I was running over the bridge, and that was nice! I also saw my cousin Matt while I was crossing the bridge too. Seeing people was so helpful!
The next five miles were really hard. It was the massive climb up and down Barton Avenue and then through the Riverview neighborhood. I had run a 17 miler in training through some of it, so I knew what to expect. That was beneficial. I also started talking to another guy during this period that was running at a pace close to mine. I yelled over to someone cheering asking if they had a safety pin (to fix my bib) and they said they didn't. The guy said he'd stop at the next aid station to give me the one he had on his timing chip, which was really nice of him, so I picked up my pace a little to stay with him, because I really wanted that chip. He was trying to hold a 9:30, but he said he was fine with the 9:45-10:00 we were at. The next aid station came, he stopped and got the pin, then I said thanks and sent him on his way; I knew I couldn't keep his pace.
Running through Riverview was cool, because we ran past the pool where I learned to swim and the swim team I had been on from the ages of 6-18. I also ran past one of my mom's best friends who was cheering and also my middle school swim coach. That was uplifting. A guy said to me, "Are you from here? You know a lot of people." So that sparked another short conversation that lasted a mile or two. He was from NC, but he had lived in Tampa before, so we talked about that. He said he was going to go ahead when we got to the hills, but I kept up with him and he complimented me on being good on the hills for running all the flats in Florida. I then explained to him the bridge loop that Beth and I did every weekend. We were prepared!
I split with that guy when he stopped at special needs and I kept going. I soon came upon my safety pin friend and chatted with him again for a mile or two. I learned that he is a preacher from MS and all about his training with working on Sunday mornings. That helped keep my mind off of running. By this point I was at mile 14 or 15. I was starting to feel a little less comfort in my legs, so I told my new friend that I needed to slow a little to keep from walking. I had still been around 10:00-10:30 for most of the first 15 miles. From that point on, though, the pace felt just as hard, but it was slower.
I walked through my first aid stations on the Riverwalk, and I also stopped to pee again. It was here that it hit me that I had been drinking too much on the bike and on the run. Still, though, I took water at every aid station. I made the turn onto the highway, kept running, and I saw a girl with a 29 on her leg! I love chasing people down that are in my age group, so I just focused on that number and picked it up EVER so slightly. Eventually I caught her, but as soon as I passed her she picked it up, dropped the person that she had been talking with, and caught me again. I decided not to be competitive and instead decided to just chit chat with her. We talked about our training for a bit and that it was both of our firsts. Then, because I wanted to just enjoy the day, and also because I had to pee again, I stopped at a port o potty and wished her luck.
It was then that I made a decision not to worry about being under 12 hours. I thought I'd have to push too hard to make it, because I didn't know how long my watch had been autopaused at bike special needs, and also my math wasn't happening correctly at this time. I thought I'd have to hold 10:30s, which was a push at the time.
I saw my family again in the same place, and I mentally readied myself for the last 5 miles of serious hills. I hadn't walked anything besides aid stations to this point, and I said I wasn't going to walk any of the hills on the back side either. I took shorter steps and put my head down and ran slowly up the hills. I got to an aid station at mile 22 and saw a girl hold a foil pack of kettle chips, and I said, "THOSE!", grabbed a handful, and went on my merry way. They tasted amazing. By the time I got back around to go over Barton for the last time, I just really wanted to be done. I started thinking maybe I'd just walk a little bit of it, but as I started up it, after seeing two friends from high school Rachel and Blaes, I heard Eye of the Tiger, which was my high school's pump up song. It inspired me to keep running. It was the last hill!!
So, I made it to the "summit" (it felt like that because it was that big of a hill), headed down, made the turn onto Frazier, made my way over the walking bridge, and I turned left. This was where the split for second loop or finish line was, and this was when I started beaming! I turned left at the split to head down the hill to become an Ironman! Everyone was cheering and shouting my name, and I felt famous. I had half a mile or so to go, and there were so many people cheering along the way. It was my favorite moment of the whole day; it made the hundreds of hours of training worth it. Adults were high fiving and telling me they loved the smile on my face. Kids were high fiving, and parents were sticking their kids' hands out shaking them so that we would give them high fives. I hope some of those kids know they can do this one day. I hope we inspired them.
I got to the chute to head to the finish, and I was overjoyed. Everything around me was silenced, and I just high fived and ran to the bright lights and the red Ironman finish carpet. I didn't hear anything; I looked around to make sure I was going to be able to finish by myself, but I couldn't hear much besides my thoughts. It was surreal. This was my moment. I have watched so many people have theirs on the live stream. This was my time! I raised my hands up and was so thrilled. I shouted "YESS!!" as I crossed the finish line. I had done it! I was an Ironman. I am an Ironman. And then Erik, my friend Emily's husband, was there as my catcher.
That was weird. After rushing forward as fast as physically possible for 12 hours, having someone come up to you and stop you is strange. It took me a minute to realize what was going on. I looked and stopped my watch and saw 11:59. I was excited but also nervous for a minute, because I knew that it had autopaused during bike special needs, and I also didn't know I was going to be this close to 12 hours. I got my finisher's shirt and hat, got some chocolate milk, and got a piece of pizza.
I made my way to the end of the finisher's area and saw Tim and my family, and I went and immediately started crying and hugged Tim. I said, "I did it! I did it!!" I saw my family, and they were so thrilled for me. In a little bit I asked, "What was my time?!" and they were so excited for me; they knew I beat my goal by a lot. They said, 12:00:36! I was insanely happy; I had wanted to go under 13 hours and I had just gone 12 hours. For a second, I still thought, "All those port o potty stops! Those darn 36 seconds!" Ha!
Run Time: 4:32:52 Division Rank: 13/35
And I guess this is where it ends. It seems strange that after months of training, over a year after signing up, days of counting down, hours of anxiety, tears, nerves, panic, and excitement that this is it. It all just stops. The sun rose on September 29th, and I didn't have this monumental life event in front of me. I drove home; I returned to work; I continued living. I am an Ironman.
Total Time: 12:00:36 Division Rank: 13/35
I'm going to post separately with the things I learned, what surprised me, and what my biggest tips and takeaways are. If you have questions, let me know and I'll include them.
Tim, I love you for "letting" me sign up for this and go through this whole experience. I'm sorry that I loved it as much as I did and that I want to do it again. I know it was tough. I know that the long hours on weekends that I was gone made it difficult to spend time together, and I know that I wasn't always carefree and upbeat when I was home. Thank you for putting up with me (most of the time) and also for not ever taking me too seriously when I would panic and ridiculous things. I'm very lucky to have you as my partner, and I appreciate your patience with me and also your support. You're a tireless cheerleader and my number one supporter; I love you.
There are so many people that helped me get to where I did. I can't say thank you enough for the support I got from the blogging community and from friends and family. Though I didn't blog through most of the training, I tweeted and posted photos, and I got such great support. Thank you!
To all the people that I trained with through this mess, thank you.
Chris and Heather, thank you for coming to San Antonio for so many training rides and providing fun stories and camaraderie along the way.
Hugo, Kari, Pete, and Teresa, thank you for planning rides and bringing some fun to some fairly miserable weekends. And thanks for the advice along the way. Teresa, thanks also for the several bridge runs. Sorry about that light incident.
Stephanie, thanks for texting non-stop anti-panic messages after you completed IMMD with pictures included. And thanks for meeting us to run or bike or both. Congratulations to you on an amazing race at Maryland! I'm looking forward to training together more, but first to sharing our experiences.
Tori, thanks for being a constant source of calm through this training. Though I know you went through a lot this summer, you were always the first one with positive words of encouragement and a voice of calm when I was freaking out or worrying about one of any number of things. I wouldn't be a triathlete without you. I remember when you took me to the mock triathlon in Dunedin last year and had to essentially teach me everything about how to do anything with triathlon. Thanks for helping me get to that start line and finish line in Chattanooga. I am so excited for you for IMAZ so soon. You're going to blow your expectations out of the water. I'm glad to have you as a friend.
Beth, I could write a book of jokes and events from our training. I have never gone through an experience like this with anyone before. Thank you for not killing me any number of times. I'm so glad to have experienced everything we did together. I am glad we mutually hate bridges in Clearwater and hills in San Antonio; I still do want to go drive them though. You have been a constant motivator to me, and I couldn't have done this without you. I'm thankful that we signed up for this race, trained together, and became such good friends. You are such a strong person, and I'm so glad that you demolished your goals. I look forward to seeing this next marathon training cycle and the end result. It will be great.
And that. Is it. Thanks for reading!