Essential Sports Nutrition


New stuff!

I'm happy to be back in Jacksonville and finally caught up on sleep, emails and housework but I sure do miss the Big Island of Kona...and all the Mdots!

Knowing that we get to come home to this little guy made it super easy to leave Kona after the most exciting and memorable vacation for Karel and myself.

Campy nearly teared up when he saw us, even though he was taken care of VERY well by my friends Laura and Jo. Campy has not left my side since I have returned home and he even took me for a fun 2 mile run after my easy 30 mile bike ride this am. Campy and I are super excited for the anticipated cooler temps as we have lots of "campy miles" to do over the next few months.

I'm very excited to announce that TriMarni Coaching and Nutrition, LLC is in the works! It's not an official business just yet, but the process has begun!! And what a process it is!!!
This has been a dream of mine as I consider myself a dreamer and entrepreneur. My life is filled with dreams, which turn into goals. In order to achieve anything in life, I believe in having a plan. I have wanted (planned) to help people pursue individual racing, training and nutrition goals as well as motivate individuals to develop a healthy relationship with food as well as appreciate the human body for what it does on a daily basis but on a more global level. And after crossing 5 Ironman finishing lines, there is no better time than NOW as anything is possible!
I suppose that now-a-day, anyone can start/open a business. And believe me, I have wanted to take my blog to the next level since I graduated with my Master of Science in Exercise Physiology in Dec 2005. But, I found it extremely important that I obtained the right credentials in order to provide factual and realistic information that you, my readers, can trust. There are a lot of "experts" out there and I am proud that I took the time (and spent the money...lots of it!) to cut out a good chunk of my life and dedicate it to becoming a registered dietitian. It took 3 years + 1 1/2 to get my masters, after 4 years of undergrad...but it was all worth it!
Just like the title of an Ironman finisher, no one can take away the MS, RD, LD/N behind my name. So, when it comes to coaching, nutrition, fitness and wellness, it is important to trust the information that is coming from someone that not only practices what she preaches but is passionate about treating people as individuals and focusing on the small pieces that make for a quality-filled life.
I am not here to compete with other coaching and nutrition companies as I respect (and am friendly with) many other coaches and dietitians. I believe that there needs to be more of us, who have the right credentials, expertise AND experience, so that our society is provided with not only the best information but the RIGHT information.

Keep checking the blog over the next few months as I will eventually have website with many services for both nutrition and coaching. I will keep the same email so if you need anything, have suggestions for my business or want to offer your advice, feel free to email! I will be sure to fill you in on anything new that happens on my blog so you will never be left out of the loop. In the meantime, I would appreciate if you would pass along my NEW Facebook page and LIKE TriMarni Coaching and Nutrition (link on the right of this blog page). I absolutely LOVE blogging and writing but my facebook community page will be an easier outlet to provide you with current and groundbreaking research as well as updates on my blog, recipes(yum!!) and anything new and current in the world of triathlon, fitness and nutrition. I also have many recommendations of pages (ex. blogs, websites, companies, etc.) On my fb page that you may want to check out as well.

Lastly, Oakley Women has paired up with the Young Survival Coalition, which is a non-profit organization oriented to support and educate about breast cancer in younger women. If you are a facebook user, please LIKE them on the facebook page as well as LIKE Oakley Women. Also, visit their website to learn more and ways to get involved.
Young Survival Coalition

I am currently raising money for YSC and every donation counts. I will be raffling off gifts from Oakley Women for every $500 that we raise so even if you donate $ will still be included into the raffle!! I will also be donating a generous amount of money from my speaking events on behalf of the group that I am speaking to, so if you are interested in me speaking to your tri/running club, organization/business or company, feel free to email.
Young Survival Coalition - Make a donation and enter a raffle for an item from Oakley Women


Kona race report: The finish

"Obstacles don't have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it."
-- Michael Jordan

As I made my way onto Ali, I could see a massive amount of spectators. Complete strangers cheering my name as if they had supported me throughout my entire Ironman journey. I felt as if the fans had been waiting for me, almost as if they knew about my rough day but believed in me that I could finish.

You see, the journey of the Ironman ends when you make it to the Ironman starting line. Once the gun goes off for an Ironman, you enter a completely different state of mind. Your body and mind will flood with emotions and thoughts and you begin 140.6 miles of self-talk. Despite 1800 other athletes out on the course with you, it is up to you, your body and your mind to make it to the finishing line.
Certainly you are putting your training to the test and using the skills (both mental and physical) that you developed to prepare for the race, but most Ironman athletes would agree that on Ironman race day, you are required to enter a place that is un-trainable.

"The finish line is sometimes merely the symbol of victory. All sorts of personal triumphs take place before that point, and the outcome of the race may actually be decided long before the end."

As I was nearing the finishing chute, I tried to bottle up all the feelings that were with me on my 140.6 mile Kona experience, in order to carry them with me until I crossed the line. The thoughts of shuffling my way down the 2007 Ironman World Championship chute, in agonizing pain, stayed with me for a moment but then went away. All those stops in the port-o-potty (I'm thinking at least 5 stops), were a distance memory. As I thought about my quads seizing up in the last 3 miles, this suddenly became a past thought as my body amazingly felt rejuvenated. A fantastic PR on the bike, after experiencing the most exhausting and brutal swim of my life - well, that one stayed with me. Running consistent 8-8:30 min/miles throughout much of the marathon, despite having to stop to relieve my tummy - well, that was the best feeling in the world. Knowing that I spent the last 14 weeks focusing on what I CAN do, allowed Karel to design the best possible training plan for THIS current time in my life.
I entered this Ironman in the best shape possible, with 14 weeks of training and an entirely new outlook on life and how to be a balanced athlete. With only 1 "triathlon" under my belt in the last 13 months (IMWI in Sept 2010, where I qualified for Kona), I continued running closer to the finishing line and I remembered telling my best friend Jennifer in March "I am so tired of all these hip problems and I am just too stressed and overwhelmed with my internship. I think I am going to retire from the Ironman and not do Kona....I just don't know how to balance it all."

Despite swallowing a vast amount of the Pacific Ocean, which lead to my unfortunate tummy problems, I felt like I was about to cross my first ever Ironman finishing line..the feeling was indescribable. I saw my mom just before I entered the finishing chute and she yelled "I'm so proud of you!!". I couldn't help but feel water in my eye..and it wasn't from the Pacific. I was over the moon that I had made it 26.2 miles, let alone 140.6 miles. With the biggest smile on my face, the 11:02.14 finishing time felt like I had just won the race.

"You also need to look back, not just at the people who are running behind you but especially at those who don't run and never will...those who run but don't race...those who started training for a race but didn't carry through...those who got to the starting line but didn't get to the finish line...those who once raced better than you but no longer run at all. You're still here. Take pride in wherever you finish. Look at all the people you've outlasted." - Joe Henderson

As I saw my time and entered the line, I jumped in the air - something that I have never done before. Typically I hold my hands up high when I cross the line, but I felt the feeling of "I did it" around mile 20. Nothing was going to stop me..not even an upset tummy, horrible quad pain or the voices in my head telling me to stop.

After crossing the finishing line, I bent over in relief...with a sore body. The volunteers, as always, were amazing and walked me over to get my medal and t-shirt. The medal was TOTALLY worth it - AMAZING!!! I found my parents and Karel and they all told me how proud of me they were. I suppose I couldn't help but give them the look of "well, I tried my best...but I wish...." but Karel was quick to stop me saying anything when he said "Marni, I am so proud of you. I really thought that was it at mile 2 of the marathon. I don't know how you did it. You just kept on moving. And wow - what a bike time!".

I grabbed a "heat blanket" and took my finishing pic and after Karel and myself grabbing my bike and transition bags (IM gives you a ticket so a family member can enter transition after the race to get your belongings) we eventually made our way back to the condo.

I can't thank my family enough for spending ALL day on the race course. My parents started their day with body marking and Karel even managed 5000 feet of climbing during my race.

After a piece of pizza, a few glasses of milk and a Hammer Fizz (to get back my electrolytes), I showered, put on compression and rested my tired body. Around 10:30 it was time to head back to the finish line to give some cheers to the last hour of finishers.

Once again, thank you everyone for your support. A big thanks to Hammer Nutrition, 110% Play Harder, the Trek Store of Jacksonville (aka - hubby for his magic on my bike) and Oakley Women. Also, to Louis Garneau clothing (a big fan of them!) for making the BEST clothing ever!!!

I suppose many athletes consider a PR finishing time the best way to validate "success" in sport. In other words, in the case of an Ironman, to improve your time for 140.6 miles, you have confirmed that every ounce of your training "worked". Perhaps we need to take a step back and realize that 140.6 miles is a LONG way. So much training, dedicated to one event. For me, I am just like everyone else that I love seeing a personal best time, knowing that I gave it my all. But in an Ironman, getting to the starting line is the successful part...the finish, well, that is just an added bonus. Purely, a dream come true.


Kona race report: 26.2 mile run

"It's very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit."

As a coach, exercise physiologist, dietitian, 5x Ironman finisher and 2x Ironman world championship finisher, I respect the human body for all that it allows me to do on a daily basis. Throughout this Ironman journey, I have developed a deep relationship with my body and with the right balance of my lifestyle of triathlon with my passion for living my life to the fullest and helping others, I feel I was able to enter this Ironman in the best mental and physical shape of my life.
What I find so amazing about the body is that for many of us, we have a gift. Regardless of finishing time, those of us who reach an Ironman starting line have a gift, comprised of mostly perseverance. This is a gift that many people don't recognize and for others, that many people would love to have, but lack the desire, motivation or means of wanting to train for a 140.6 mile event.

For most of us, we are age-groupers. The Ironman event series gives us a challenge, a way to feel successful and a way to see the body become something that we never thought was possible. We surround ourselves with people who support us, believe in us and are inspired by our decision to sign-up, train and compete in an Ironman but then there are those who are in our lives, that call us "crazy" for putting our body through such pain and torture. When it comes to race day, our reasons for getting to the finishing line include a raffle of thoughts and ideas. While we shoot for personal bests and an inner strength to dig deep, we also consider the time, money and personal and emotional investment that we contributed to the last x-months in training for this Ironman event.

Although I feel the 140.6 mile Ironman distance fits my body and personality the best, out of the many available triathlon distances, I do not take for granted that anything can happen on race day. Sure, anything is possible on race day, but I see my body as this amazing machine that should be taken care of as if it was glass.

This Ironman journey included much more than "training hard and long". Actually, I feel as if the training was beyond hard because it forced me to break down the sport and focus on the little things that would make for a great race day performance. With only 1 ride over 100 miles and my longest run of 16 miles off the bike, my goal with my training was to develop the confidence that I needed to believe in myself that I could put my training to the test.

I believe that anyone who sets out to do an Ironman, needs a solid base. Once that endurance base is built, he/she must focus on quality training, in addition to focusing on a goal with the right attitude. I believe that Ironman training should be fun, but it isn't without its up and down moments. Because we often question the reason for participating in the most self-fulfilling, one day endurance triathlon event, we must have a goal. This goal allows us to be consistent with training, to rest when the body can no longer perform at an optimal level and to go into the race with a practical plan.
With every training session in my 14-weeks B4KONA training plan, I saw myself in the Kona race...I could see myself crossing the finish line with a specific time and every interval in Jacksonville took place - in my mind - in Kona, on the Ironman course. I was not afraid to "RACE" Kona because I had believed in myself that I could race my plan. I recognized that obstacles would be thrown my way on the amazing BIG ISLAND of Kona but I always plan to race within my stretchable limits.

The Ironman is an indescribable accomplishment because it is more than just a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run. Because we can't compare race to race, season to season, event to event, you are always forced to put your current training to the test and be one with your mind and body on that given day. The deciding factor on race day isn't how far you swam, biked or ran or how much money you spent on gear or how much body fat you have on race day. When it comes to racing or participating in an Ironman, you have to want it....bad Although many people want that finish or best time...."PR or ER" as some may say, I believe that the Ironman should explore our boundaries of what we are capable of achieving.

One thing I have learned in my triathlon and Ironman career is that athletes are not made in season, nor are they defined by one race. Many people look at results, rather than what happened within the race.

On October 8th, 2011, I did not have the race that I dreamed of having. On paper, my time did not reflect what I had trained my body to do. But after relishing in my accomplishment of finishing another Ironman over the past few days, I have done plenty of reflecting to decide that this was the best race of my life. This was a true test of my ability to overcome obstacles and this is what will drive me, motivate me and will allow me to succeed in the future. This race forced me to use the most significant training tool that I had included in my 14-week training journey. For if it wasn't for my mind and ability to listen to so many conversations in my head, I would have left KONA as a DNF athlete.

"Determination, patience and courage are the only things needed to improve any situation."

After leaving transition, I started my Garmin and ran up half of Palani hill. The legs were feeling remarkably good and I made a rt turn onto Kuakini and then ran down a short hill on Hualalai. Once I made my way onto the infamous Ali drive, I headed away from town (and the finish line) and found my grove. I had a lot of energy but as I mentioned before, I felt a little off.

The first aid station came and I cooled myself with water and sipped on a water as I had a swig of perform. It was a quick walk through the aid station and then I started running again. As you may or may not know, walking is part of my training and racing strategy for long distance races. I even "tested" the walk strategy in a half marathon where I walked for 10 sec every mile for 10 miles of the 13.1 mile race. I ended up having a 4 minute PR to run a 1:32 half marathon w/ 1 minute and 40 second of walking during the race. My philosophy with walking is that you are not "resting" but rather postponing fatigue. Many athletes run until they physically can't run any more and although there is a point of digging deep even when you choose to walk or don't walk, I believe that putting in planned walked breaks will allow athletes to be more consistent over the course of the IM and have a great attitude throughout the race because walking will not seem as a "failure" but rather part of the plan.

When I approached the second mile, my stomach was turning. There was a sudden urge that needed to go to the bathroom and it wasn't to pee. I decided to just slow down at the next aid station, take in only water and ice and to try to keep moving forward. Somewhere in the middle of mile 2 I saw Karel and started walking. This was the first walk/stop of this questionable 26.2 mile race.

Seeing Karel across the street, I didn't want to tell him but I mouthed that I had really bad diarrhea. My apologies for TMI but I believe that to prepare athletes (and future IM athletes) for similar experiences, I want to be as detailed as possible as we must remember - it's not about preventing nutrition-related problems but knowing how to deal with them when they arise. I told Karel that I just couldn't take in anything and that I really had to go to the bathroom. Karel was on the other side of the road on his bike and I didn't want to yell this information to him but in a soft voice, I yelled to him "Should I just quit now?"

Karel, reminded me that I have dreamed of this run. He told me to take my time and to walk as much as I needded. He kept saying the right things and at times, he would say nothing. Because spectators can not assist athletes on the course, I was not able to fully have a conversation with Karel but I couldn't help but I wanted to so badly just run across the course and fall into his arms and call it a day. He was on his bike and covered most of the course, cheering for so many athletes and for our friends but just knowing that he was around kept me going. Perhaps Karel riding along on his bike, moving forward and saying nothing, was his way of showing me that he believed in me to keep moving forward.

After a rough 4 miles of walking, stopping and hitting 2 port-o-potties, I was nearing the turnaround and I was really struggling with the conversations in my head. Part of me wanted to quit. Part of me wanted to walk. A big part of me wanted to run but no matter what I tried, my tummy was no cooperating. After I made the turn around, my stomach got worse. Because I was still trying to take in calories to keep me fueled, I decided that it was time to shut down sports nutrition.

Knowing that I was losing a vast amount of electrolytes every 2-3 miles (my port-o-potty stops), I was sure to take my pills, similar to what I took on the bike. However, I knew I needed something but I just couldn't stomach the thought of eating anything solid. I kept myself hydrated with water and ice (ice over the head and down my shorts) at every aid station but stopped taking in any calories. I was kinda in a lose-lose situation because no calories = risk for medical issues but losing electrolytes = risk for medical issues. Therefore, my strategy was to continue running but to walk a lot in the aid stations. Again, my body felt energized and well-fueled but I was unable to keep anything inside of me. What went in, came right back out. And at times, it was tough to even make to the aid station so I was forced to walk in the middle of the miles just to prevent discomfort between the miles.

Slowing down was the best strategy I could do for myself and I always recommend this to my athletes. When in doubt..just slow down!

Once I made it close to Palani, I made a LONG walk up the hill. I figured I lost a lot of time walking up this hill but with only 16 more miles to go, I could not risk anything by trying to "tough it out" when it wasn't worth being tough.

I kept checking my Garmin between the miles and I was crusing along at 8:05-8:10 min/miles. This was a very comfortable pace and it was hard at times to stop at the aid stations. A big part of me wanted to continue running but I recognized that at some point, my body would say enough due to the issues of losing electrolytes and fluids and not taking in adequate calories to fuel an average pace of 8 min/miles for 26.2 miles.

Once I got onto the Queen K, I decided to try pretzels which worked for me in my first IMFL, when I had similar tummy problems for the first 4-5 miles. The aid stations were well-stocked with gels, oranges, cookies, powerbar perform, coke, water and ice so I would take advantage of sponges, ice and water and eat a pretzel or two when I felt like it was a good time.

I started to feel a bit better on the Queen K and knowing that this would be the most mentally challenging parts of the course, I just broke it down mile by mile. Just keep moving forward. I started to get into a grove and felt like I was coming back around but after making the mistake of sipping a Hammer gel w/ water, my tummy was active again and it was back into the port-o-potty. I figured this was 5th stop in the port-o-potty and at this point, I was just in survival mode.

I still felt good while running so I was just trying to think of what it was going to feel like to cross the finish line. I saw my friend Kim out on the course, who was dealing with some dehydration/cramping issues and I stopped to walk with her for a minute or two. At this point, I was doing anything I could to just enjoy the moment and to forget about my issues.

Once I entered the Natural Energy Lab around mile 16, I started to feel really good. Fueled on about 5 pretzels, ice and water, I was focusing on my form as it was really hot and the body was getting tired. Around mile 18, in the energy lab, I saw the big screen that has our names and a message and I smiled when I saw "Go Marni. Campy says GO Mom!". This gave me an extra boost but once I left the energy lab around mile 19.5, my quads started to really hurt.

I spotted Karel on the other side of Queen K, too far to communicate with him. However, my run was starting to slow as we did a lot more climbing on the way back into town. My quads were tight and I was really focusing on staying cool w/ ice..all over. I recognized that my nutrition contributed to my run but I was trying to be as smart as possible. Certainly, if I was experiencing similar symptoms at home, I would not train or work and I would just sleep and rest all day. However, when you are in an Ironman, you hacve two options. Be smart and finish or take risks, suffer and hope to finish. I choose the first option.

The conversations in my head got louder and louder as I was nearing mile 23 of the run. My quads were hurting so bad that I had to stop and rub on them every few minutes. Karel left at this point to head to the finish, so it was up to me and pure determination to keep on running like I had dreamed and trained to do.

Throughout the entire run, I kept an eye on the time of the day. Knowing that 6pm would ensure a 11 hour finish, there were many times throughout the run that my thought to walk/jog and to just finish was overpowered by the thought that I could still break 11 hours. With around 4 miles to go, I remember a girl running next to me, telling me that if we keep up this pace, we will break 11 hours with no problem.
I wanted to tell her what I had been through but instead I just told her "go get 'em!".

When I got to the top of Queen K and started my steep descend down Palani, I could hear my body yelling for me to stop and to walk. At any moment, I was fearful that my legs would just give out on me as each step became an mindful effort as my body was getting close to giving up.

When I made a turn off Palani onto Kuakini, the crowd was large and I could hear people cheering for me..telling me that I looked great. Haha - if they only knew. The last mile was so super special and before I got to the turn to Hualalai, I heard a cheer from a girl who yelled "Go Marni...I love your blog!!". Talk about an instant burst of energy. I contemplated stopping and talking to her and thanking her but I just kept on running. I was looking for any excuse to stop but with Mike Riley in the background, calling out names of Ironman World Championship finishers, I just kept on moving.

At this point I was nearing 6pm and I told myself to just enjoy this finish line. In 2007, I was in pain and it was the worst finish line experience of my life. I wanted to remember this one so I really soaked it all in as I made my last turn onto Ali.......

Kona race report: 112 mile bike

"We must look for the opportunity in every difficulty instead of being paralyzed at the thought of the difficulty in every opportunity.”

After exiting the transition area, I made a left turn on the "hot" corner and went on Malaka, toward the old airport and made a short, steep climb to Queen K hwy. This would be the only time I would bike down Palani, from Queen K hwy, so as I made a right turn onto Palani, I found myself flying down the hill. I made a sweeping left hand turn and onto Kuakini. Kuakini is the street that we are staying off of and I heard a lot of cheers from the crowds, both from people that I knew and spectators. As I was making my gradual climb to the turn around on Kuakini (a few miles up the road), I totally forgot about the swim and I was feeling fantastic. My riding legs were on and I was feeling super good.

I made the turn around on Kuakini and enjoyed the gradual descend down to Palani. I changed gears to my small chain ring and enjoyed the steep climb to the top of Palani. Although less than 15 miles into the course, I was feeling really comfortable and forgot about my exhausting swim.

For nutrition, my goal was to take in calories and fluids every 15 min, primarily a sip of my Hammer sport drink and then when an aid station came (every 7 miles), I would grab a water and take a swig of my gel. I had a coin purse of Hammer anti fatigue, endurance aminos and endurolytes (1 of each, wrapped in plastic wrap) and I took 1 of those packages every hour).

My body was feeling really smooth on the bike, a similar feeling to my warm-ups leading up to race day. Knowing how much Karel had trained me for this race, I was sure to keep an eye on my power and being as efficient as possible during this race.

I ended up grabbing a Powerbar bottle filled with Coke at the first few aid stations, which really gave me a refreshing, cool "boost". I did not grab a powerbar perform drink until the last 30 miles in the course, which was about the time when I was alternating my last bottle of my pre-made sport drink and Perform.

I had trained with 1 bottle Perform(2 bottles hammer mix) during my training rides, although I prefer to use just Hammer. I wanted to be sure my body could tolerate what was on the course (which I was fine with Perform) and I had also trained with sipping a coke during a few long rides. All of this was "practice" to prepare my mind and body for race day. I believe in training with the best nutrition possible in order to train the body to perform on race. But on race day, you must understand that your body is putting all the pieces together from training and that there will be times when the body craves or desires something different. You may also drop a bottle, drop your electrolytes/pills or miss an aid station. All of these should not freak you out or concern you but rather, you must have a plan or thought as to what to do when something "controllable" happens. Practicing "race day" nutrition is extremely important in training so that you can prevent nutrition related problems, but when all else fails on race day, just slow down and DO NOT calorie-overload.

Once I got into a grove on the Queen K, my body told me it was ready for intervals. It was around 38 miles on Queen K until I would start a windy 6 mile climb to Hawi (pronounced HAVI) so I decided to break down the course into 15 min "tempo" intervals w/ 3 min recovery/easy spin. As you may know from reading my previous blogs, every single training session on the bike was an interval. Some were short and intense, some were super long and controlled. I have worked so hard in the past 14 weeks on my cycling and I was ready to prove to myself that I could handle this extremely challenging bike course.

When I started my interval, I was feeling great but made sure I was holding back. Because 15 min was "short" compared to some of my training intervals, I was sure to keep my power in the zone that Karel had prepared me to hold for this IM. When I got to the 3 min recovery, I was likely climbing or descending (due to the rolling terrain of this out and back course) so if I was descending I took advantage of the down hill and soft-pedaled enough to pick up speed but not kill my legs and if I was climbing (which I love), I got out of the saddle and kept my upper body relaxed.

I really enjoy this Kona course due to the changining terrain but it is really easy to lose sight on being consistent throughout the entire 112 mile ride. The wind was starting to pick up as I neared Hawi and throughout the entire ride, I saw a lot of familiar faces which made me smile that we had all made it to this day and that we were all "racing" for our personal dreams.

Still feeling good, I made a left turn toward Hawi, although the climb does not truely start until around 53 miles. For around 8 or so miles (I am guessing), there are several rolling hills, shorter than on Queen K but a bit steeper. This is when I started feeling really good. My legs were still feeling amazing and my strategy of doing intervals for the first section of the ride seemed to work in my favor.

My goal for the most challenging part of the course (the climb to Hawi and the last 40 miles) was to stay focused, fuel for the run and to be confident. After several up and down sections, I made a slight right hand turn and I knew I had started "the climb". I could see the wind swirling in the trees and bushes and a few random spectators along the course, holding onto their hats and belongings. The wind was loud and would hit you at random times and I felt as if I had no control over my bike. I wasn't sure if I should stand, sit, be aero or just cry and get off my bike, so I choose to do a little of each and rather than cry, I just laughed at myself and said "this is just crazy!!".

The windy was super gusty and as I made my gradual climb to the top of Hawi, I didn't mind the 8 or 12 miles per hour pace that I was holding. Although I was seeing athletes flying down the other side of the road, holding on for dear life while feeling the same gusts, I just kept telling myself to get to the top of the climb.

Because this course has so many elements including fast descends, rolling hills, steep climbs, long climbs, no shade, hot pavement, etc etc, I tried to avoid any thoughts such as "this is a fun down hill, oh my I have to climb it on the way back". I had studied this course and knew what to expect and just like any IM course, I knew it would be tough from start to finish and I made sure I was staying in my power zone.

One of the most exciting things as seeing the pro's on the course...the same course as us. Knowing that we are racing for personal reasons and the pro's are racing for a paycheck, I couldn't help but think that our sport is amazingly special. Where else can you truely "race" with professional athletes??? Although this course was super challenging, I couldn't help but smile, knowing that I had done the work to have a great race as well as prepare my mind for this Ironman day.

So far so good as I made my turn around on the top of Hawi. The crowds were great, once again and I found myself feeling in control of my bike as I made my way down from Hawi. The climb and descend is not super steep, as if I was climbing a mountain, but with the gusty winds pushing you towards the ocean, you really have to engage the core and upper body to stay on your bike.

Karel wanted me to stay aero as much as possible on the descend down Hawi but it was a bit scary at times. I grabbed onto my aero bars as I was leading hard to the left and tucked myself down for much of the climb. There were a few bumps (mini climbs) on the way down but overall, the work from climbing was given back with a fun, fast descend.

Well, know that the fun was over, it was time for the most challenging part of the course.

With just a little over half way completed, the temperature was rising, the wind was really picking up and my tummy started to feel a little off.

I decided to slow down on the rolling section toward the Queen K which gave my body time to settle. The legs were feeling good but I was starting to feel rather hot. I think the hardest part about the climb and descend to and from Hawi is being a little off with nutrition due to the elements and trying not to fall off your bike and keep moving forward. I did the best I could with my sports drink but I wasn't grabbing water like I had been throughout this ride. I made sure that I was grabbing water at every aid station and cooling my body, calf sleeves, head (through the vents in my aero helmet), face and arms.

Once I made it to Queen K, athletes were really spread out throughout the course and it was time to stay in my zone. Knowing that my tummy was a bit rumbly at this time, I knew that I needed to do my own thing. As much fun as it was to try to "race" with others along the course and pass some guys on the climbs (too bad they pass me on the descends), my goal now was to ride consistent and not cook myself for the run.

Still keeping up with my nutrition (calories and hydration), I battled the winds as I did a lot more climbing on the 40 mile stretch back to the town. I told myself that I had done so many though 2-2 1/2 hour rides before in the past and after looking at my watch, seeing the time of the day, I told myself that there was a chance that I would still have a great bike ride.

I found it extremely hot and windy on the way back but surprisingly, my riding legs were still on and excited. As I got closer and closer to town, I knew I wasn't meeting my 220ish liquid calorie goal per hour but I was doing the best I could. My tummy was feeling a little off and I knew that I needed to slow down if I wasn't taking it the appropriate amount of calories. I have trained my body to be as efficient as possible during training and to not need a lot of calories (or solids) but when it comes to race day, I know that swimming 2.4 miles and running a marathon after a 112 mile bike, will require fuel if I want to meet my goal time of 10 hours and 34-37 minutes.

After slowing down for about an hour, compared to the pace that I was holding, I was feeling good again and picked up the pace for the last 20 or so miles. The course was well marked with kilometer and mile signs every 5 miles/K and it was great to see so many volunteers helping us have a great day.

When I got closer to town, I started getting really excited about my bike ride and without looking at my power meter and switching to average function, I just looked at my watch and couldn't believe that with a not-so-ideal swim, my time was fairly respectable in order to continue putting my training to the test.

I spotted Karel as I did my last climb to Malaka, gave him a wave and I think his mouth dropped open as he did not expect me to ride as fast as I did. I suppose I made my coach proud...and shocked him a little :)

Finishing the bike, I was feeling great. As much as I didn't want it to end, a big part of me was saying "OMG - that was the hardest bike ride of my LIFE!" It's funny how the mind and the body can have so many conversations during an Ironman. I suppose this bike ride was bitter sweet because it was a challenge that I had prepared for, but in a large way, I don't think it is possible to prepare for the elements and conditions of the Ironman World Championship 112 mile bike course.

Stats/check points from bike:

5.5 mi - 22.12 mi/h
28 mi - 20.36 mi/h
59 mi - 19.74 mi/h
88 mi - 20.08 mi/h
112 mi - 18.34 mi/h
Total time: 5:40:37
Average speed: 19.73 mi/h
Division place: 17th
Overall rank: 1015
Gender rank: 132

As I neared transition, I switched my bike into the small chain ring, spun my legs, did a few stretches out of the saddle and finally approached the roaring crowds as I dismounted my bike. The voluntter grabbed my bike, I thanked him and I then bent over to take of my cycling shoes as I made a LONG jog around the entire pier, to grab my T2 Run bag.

I entered the women's transition changining tent with my helmet off and a great volunteer cooled me off with water as I took off my jersey, put on my fuel belt (w/ gel in flasks) and grabbed another gel flask (I like to hold things when I run) and put on my running shoes. I noticed when I left transition that I forgot my Hammer visor but oh well, just keep moving forward.

My body was feeling good, with a good amount of energy, but something didn't feel right. I started to question myself "did I do something wrong? Did I push too hard on the bike". I couldn't really figure out what was "wrong" until I hit mile 2.5 of the run. After ticking away two effortless sub 8 min/miles (even while walking the first aid station), I spotted Karel on his bike and told him that there was no way that I could finish this run. I needed to quit.......


KONA race report: Pre- race + 2.4 mile swim

"Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another."

Although I struggled with a restful night of rest on the days leading up to this IM, I never seem to have trouble sleeping on the night before an Ironman. In my opinion, heading to the start of an IM is much more simple than going to any other triathlon because almost everything is done on the day before the race. On race day, you just show up.
Around 6pm, Karel and my dad picked up Outback and I enjoyed the fresh brown bread, along with a sweet potato, broccoli (and shredded cheese) and scrambled eggs - which I made in my condo. I did a great job eating throughout the day, eating small meals every few hours after my morning race warm-up (20 min swim, 1 hr bike, 15 min run) so I didn't need to "stuff" myself in the evening.

Kevin Grogan and his wife (Kim who is racing in Kona), are staying in our condo plaza so while Kim and I relaxed in our seperate condo's, the "guys" went out for a beer. I suppose to "carbo load" before a LONG day of spectating.

I went to bed around 8:30pm and I think I was quick to fall asleep. Karel let me have the bed to myself and he slept out on the pull-out bed in the condo. The alarm went off at 4am and my entire family (and Karel) were up. We started a full pot of coffee and my parents left around 4:15 to walk to the pier for body marking and Karel stayed with me as I ate my typical pre-race breakfast (toast w/ PB and banana slices, oatmeal w/ protein powder, raisins and nuts) around 4:15am. I had a bottle of water to sip on with my breakfast and made my 3 bottles for the bike. I decided to freeze 1/3rd of the bottle of water, the night prior, and then add water w/ powder on the morning of the race. I then stuck the pre-made bottles in the freezer as I waited until 5:30am to head to transition.

I carried my "swim" bag which included my wet suit, cap, goggles, sunscreen, body glide, water bottle w/ Hammer fizz and a gel and put on my race day outfit and timing chip, along with my compression sleeves.

Karel made our quick 10 min walk to the pier/race venue and we headed to body marking. I got stamped by some fabulous volunteers and then I said hello to my parents, who were also volunteering at body marking. After I let the paint dry, I put on my Oakley Women jacket and yoga pants and headed to the transition area to pump up my tires and put in my bottles.

OH MY!! I forgot my bottles. I couldn't believe that I did that (first the first time ever), especially since I always remind my athletes ****DON'T forget your cold bottles in the fridge on race day morning!!

Karel, being the lifesaver that he is, ran back to the condo as I pumped up my front tubular tire (back tire didn't need it) to 120psi and put on my power tap (cleared it to zero). I decided to save time and put on my speedsuit and grab my cap and goggles and then headed to a meeting spot to find Karel waiting for me. Pheww, what a relief - Karel saves the day!

Karel told me it was a good thing that I forgot my bottles because it allowed me to take my mind off the race for a minute and to shake out some nerves. I suppose he was right because after I put my bottles on my bike, I felt extremely relaxed and fresh.

I said my good-bye to Karel and headed to the race start to wait in line for the port-o-potty. I had been sipping on my FIZZ and after one more stop at the restroom, I was ready to stand for the national anthem and here the cannon for the 6:30am pro start.

Right after, they let the age groupers into the water and I found my good friend Ange. We chatted for a few minutes and then I slowly made my way into the refreshing water (I'm guessing around 77 or 78 degrees) and swam around 40 yards to the official swim start.

Knowing that I would be out there for a while, I held onto a surf board until 6:50 and then occupied my time by looking underwater at the NBC video crew. A few of the guys kept popping up and videoing us above water but they spent most of their time swimming underwater with the fishies. The water is amazingly clear and that made for a great view for 2.4 miles.

I always wear a watch (in addition to garmin during the run) during my IM's because I like to know the time of the day. There are only a few "total time" clocks on the IM course so it is helpful to know where I am with my splits, since I am covering a lot of mileage in a 10+ hour day.

I noticed the official clock on the pier, next to Mike Riley, so I synced my watch with the official time and around 6:57, I could feel the crowd of people getting tighter and tighter. With 1 minute to go, it was almost as if you could feel 1800 heart beats, beating faster and faster...all the anticipation and training, leading up to this very moment.
5, 4, 3, 2, 1, ....BOOM!!

The cannon went off and to no surprise, the most brutal race start of my life.

The water felt extremely choppy, in addition to swimming over, around and under so many people. I was getting hit, swam over and pulled down but that is all to be expected. I just stayed calm and focused on spotting for a pocket of empty swimmers. It's amazing how we can all be in a huge body of water but constantly swim on top of one another. I was near the middle of the mass of athletes but as I was swimming I was getting closer and closer to the buoys. I stayed right on course, but having my goggles knocked off (luckily I caught them), pulled down and not being able to take full strokes at times, made for an exhausting swim.

It was a bit choppy in my warm-up swims and Ange and I had discussed focusing on smooth strokes, really reaching through in the water in order to not waste energy.

I avoided looking at my stop watch before the turn around but when I noticed 33 minutes at the turn around, I knew this was a really rough swim for me. I hoped that we would get a little push by the waves on the way back, considering that it was a tough swim to the turnaround, but that was not the case. I managed to find some smooth water but then I found myself working hard with no one to draft off of. I suppose it is a tough scenario - draft and swim with the masses, or swim by yourself and possibly expend more energy. I choose to draft..but it certainly was not my best swim as I was getting more and more exhausted as the swim went on.

As I neared the pier and passed my goal time of 1 hour, I knew this would not be a best time for me. Because the Ironman is a long day, I removed any negative thoughts from my head and focused on ways to regain some energy (calories on the bike) and focus on a quick transition.

As I exited the water (very slowly up the stairs), I jogged through the hoses to cool myself and rinse off and headed to my bag. I spotted my bag quickly, due to my bright colored ribbons on my bag and pulled it off the hook and headed to the transition tent.

The women's changing tent was extremely crowded and I managed to find a chair. A volunteer emptied my bag and I asked her to open my shoes and my cycling gloves. I slipped on my buckled race belt, put on my goggles, put in my nutrition into my pockets and put on my socks, shoes and gloves. I thanked the volunteer that was helping me as I exited the transition w/ a cup of water as the volunteer put my swim belongings back into my bag.

I made my way around the edge of the pier, then ran down my bike lane towards my bike. I grabbed my GIRO aero helmet, buckled it, turned on my power meter and ran with my bike to the mount line.

There were people everywhere and it was super exciting to hear the cheers from the crowd. Also super excited to be done with the most exhausting swim of my life!

I knew this bike would be tough so I re-focused, had a quick sip of my bottle and climbed up a short, yet steep climb out of transition.

As soon as I started riding, I felt amazingly good on my bike yet incredibly tired. The riding legs were on and it was time for the most challenging 112 mile bike ride of my life....