Here's What Happened in 2012 (Part II)...

The big day in 2012
After finishing a triathlon in St. Louis for the 2nd year, another Olympic race and summer training, I was ready for the big day. It was September 22nd in Oklahoma City! It’s a day I will NEVER forget. Strangely enough, I wasn’t as nervous as I had been for all the other races. The only thing I did think about was the headwind. Headwind can make you feel like you are pushing a rock up a hill. Redman Triathlon in Oklahoma is known for their red clay and winds. Plus, it was a flat course that makes it more difficult especially if you don’t have a tri bike or aero bars. Secondly, I don’t wear my hearing aids during most of the races due to the swim, heavy sweating, and possibly splashing water on my head or face. Hearing loss presents a challenge when announcements are made. So, you could imagine the additional stress or some anxiety. Needless to say, I did pray and read a few Bible verses early that morning for calm nerves. I believe God sent me peace and was wishing me luck.

The Swim (1.2 miles)
It was my first race in a wetsuit. My buddy and I signed up for the safety coral since we were new to the mass wave start. My husband Skyped my parents on his phone while I nervously waited on the red clay bank. That was pretty cool and quite calming knowing they were keeping an eye on me and praying for me. Swimming is my favorite of the 3 sports.  My 1.2 mile swim started the day off just right. In fact, as I got out of the water, my buddy tapped me on the shoulder and I turned around to see her super stoked…her enthusiasm was contagious and made me even more excited about the rest of the race.  I had so much energy when I finished the swim that I felt I could have swam faster but, better to save the energy for the run because that’s the last leg and often the most challenging.

A teammate caught me having fun
The wetsuit was a whole new experience for me and as I ran up to the transition, we had “strippers” waiting for us which was quite fun. You just lay down and they pull the tight skinned suit right off. Takes literally seconds! They also had a bucket of water to dip your red feet in to rinse off the clay. When it comes to the transition layout, I tend to be a bit OCD. I read up on forums about how to prepare for this race. Most wrote about how the red clay gets everywhere. Luckily I came prepared. I packed 3 sweat towels! One for the feet, one for the face, and just an extra. I hopped on my bike and was well on my way. I was prepared for my teammates to fly past me so my mental state that day…was to have fun!

The Bike (56 miles)
One thing that is good about the Oklahoma triathlon is that it is vertically challenged. That is that the course is flat. There were a few hills, but none that were tiring. Overall, I continued to smile, thank God for the beautiful day and hardly any wind!! However, He did use some humor on my route. I noticed something in the road about 3 bike lengths away. I knew I could either dodge to the right or left. There are so many rules on the bike course that biking becomes more of a multi-tasking sport! While keeping the rules in mind and paying attention to bikers around me, I was planning to dodge to the right giving me about a foot between the “thing” and the edge of the pavement. This decision was made in approximately 5 seconds! This “thing”…had a head poking up…it was a SNAKE! Little of my preserved energy went to muscle tension and gripping with white knuckles. If you could imagine being clipped into your pedals and trying to curl your body into a fetal position on the bike when riding by the snake. I thought, “it just might latch onto your leg!” Whew! Then, minutes later, a big bug slammed into me and I screamed so loud my heart rate leaped! I couldn’t help but laugh and look around to see if anyone just saw that. My exact words, “Funny God, just funny.”   

Everything in Between
Nutrition was new to me and presented another challenge. My experience consisted of eating chewy, gummy-like squares called Shot Blocks about every 30 minutes and drinking electrolytes and water every 10-15 minutes. It was very hot this day as well and I knew I needed to stay hydrated and consume extra sodium and electrolytes. My race pouch was packed with more of the chewy goo but by the time I was off the bike, I was so sick of that stuff! It’s strongly advised and recommended to never try anything new on race day. In fact, I’m superstitious about certain things I only wear what I usually wear in training. Well, this day…I didn’t care about what nutrition I’ve tried during training!

Secondly, I’ve always wondered when these people go to the restroom. To be honest, some go in their shorts because there is either not a porta-pot or they take the time to stop. I took my chance when I saw the porta-pot in transition. I didn’t care about time nor did I care about germs…I cared about not trying to go in my shorts!

Last Leg, the Run (13.1 miles)
When you get to the last leg, the run, you know you’re almost there. I never once thought about how many miles I’ve ran or how many I have left. I remember passing by what seemed to be a buffet of food at every other mile and thinking, “thank goodness!” This is where I took the chance and ate bananas, grapes, oranges and saw they were even handing out Coke! At one point, I grabbed what I thought was Gatorade and the flavor of pickle juice shocked me. Surprisingly, my body either liked it or really needed it. Later, I attempted Cola and peanut butter graham crackers. This is when I decided to stick with softer or liquid nutrition. I can’t tolerate texture when in action. The homestretch was amazing and seeing my teammates at the end on both sides with my husband waving his phone at me yelling, “it’s your mom and dad” (via Skype) was enough to send me weak to my knees. I even shed some tears! I was last to finish on my team, but I didn’t care. I was overwhelmed with what I just accomplished and met 4 others from my team who also finished their first half. To top it all off, our club placed 3rd in our division! Wow, what a journey, what a summer, and what a day!

Post 70.3
After 70.3 miles, I wasn’t necessarily thinking about an ironman. I learned something about myself. I reaped valuable awards: a whole new me with confidence and strength that has been applied to everyday life including my academics. Nevertheless, after reflecting on the amazing experience, tracking my cousin in her first ironman, hearing others attempting their first ironman in 2013. I rethought things. Because it’s strongly advised to get medical clearance prior to any endurance training, I got an “okay to go” by a cardiologist. Everything looked just fine and I was even more excited to start the journey. I was set to tackle a new goal for 2013. In May 2013, I graduate with a clinical doctorate in occupational therapy. I say, having an ironman on my 2013 calendar is a great way to celebrate graduation and end my years of hard work with a bang! Cheers to the new year of firsts and…accomplishments!

My husband captured my misty-eyed moment

Quote of the day: What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.  ~ Henry David Thoreau 

Bible verse of the day: "I press on toward the goal to win the prize..."
~ Philippians 3:14


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