Ironman Louisville Part II: Be Strong and Courageous

The one thing I anticipated before race day, was the last half of the marathon to be both mentally and physically tough.  Therefore, I had over 30 family and friends send me verses (some sent the same verse) and quotes for each mile of the run to keep me going strong one mile at a time.  Regardless of what could happen.  The day turned into night making it the most difficult challenge I have ever faced…

The Run (26.2 miles)…the land of Zombies:
My plan for transition 2 was to simply remove my bike shoes, put on fresh socks, running shoes and stock my pockets, reapply sunscreen, and use the restroom.  As I was on my way out, I realized I forgot my verses and quotes!!! I HAD to have them to get me through each mile of the run.  Needless to say, I spent a little over 20 minutes just trying to find my bag in the pile of hundreds of run gear bags.  I finally gave up and left to start my run.  The volunteers were relentless, and found my bag as I was turning the corner to start the run.  A guy came running to me holding up my bag!  I was SO relieved and ready to go!  Needless to say, my transition time was not very good.  By that time, my daddy was worried and came to the outside railing of the transition area to check on me.   My husband was even worried that I injured myself on the bike.  I reassured them every thing was ok, and I started to read my first verse to start mile one!  I know I shouldn’t have spent the extra 10 minutes in there but, I knew I’d be bothered for the last 26 miles without them. 

Running out of transition I thought, “this is it!”  I was getting excited.  Not once did I think about how much I biked or how much I swam.  My legs and mind were going forward.  I had no expectations about the marathon (remember, I have never ran a marathon), except that I was going to try to run at least half of it.  Well, I did and was hoping to make it to at least 16-18 miles.  I saw my crew at the halfway point, cheering loudly after I grabbed my pickle and juice out of my special needs bag.  Yes, I packed a pickle.  The have high sodium which aids in water retention.  I also grabbed my hearing aids from my best friend, my personal nurse and assistance.  I wanted to hear my named called at the finish.  I smiled trying to mask my pain and hear my husband say, “Baby, you’re halfway, we’ll get you new IT bands after the race but this is the biggest accomplishment you’ll ever achieve…you got this!!”  My daddy and momma were also running along side of me.  I knew I had to keep pushing. 


Along the route, I saw people dropping out.  They either had physical ailments, were just exhausted, or simply needed immediate medical attention.  I saw an older gentleman running somewhat sideways with a bloody face.  I prayed over each injured athlete as I was running by.  One older man I saw was in severe pain with both knees wrapped in ace bandages while running or should I say a “limp” run…I prayed for God to give him strength to fight it through.  Another guy had on a boot…like a boot for a foot fracture, seriously!!  Needless to say, I finally gave up on running after mile 15.  Each time my right foot would hit the ground, I could feel the friction of my IT (iliotibial) band grind against the joint sending pain signals to my brain telling me to stop.  I started a run/walk/run.  I thought I could push through it like I did for my last half-ironman (where I PR’d my run!).   I was wrong.  So I finally decided to run/walk each mile (half and half).  Until I got to mile 17…it was unbearable with each stride.  No matter how much I adjusted my stride or my running form, I felt the grind.  I finally told myself, “okay, I will walk until mile 20 and start picking it up from there.”  My positive thoughts were going downhill and all I had was the Word of God.  Walking is mentally tougher because it takes longer and it only makes me more anxious.  My friends from the club (the newlywed couple, my angels) who were with me on portions of the route, described this point as a dark place (around mile 18).  We were mentally draining.  While walking, I’d chat with strangers and we all agreed this was the TOUGHEST thing we’ve ever done.  In fact, one guy said, “nothing compares to this (Ironman).”  Some even said it was harder than they expected…I agree.  Then I thought about Jesus on the cross…NOTHING can compare to what he suffered so I have no room to complain!  I thought about my patients, this is nothing to them.  It was getting late and darkness fell.  We had a helicopter shinning a spotlight on the streets making it look quite creepy especially with most of us walking strangely, compensating for our weakness and pain.  My friends (as spectators and participants) explained it well…like we were in a Zombie movie. 

My cousin was there at mile 18…checking on me, giving me pep talk.  At that point, I was getting a little worried because I was getting really nauseous feeling I could vomit at any moment and had no idea what my body would do against my will.  Again, I kept hiding every discomfort I was facing because I felt it would make me weaker.  My nausea couldn’t have been from nutrition because I was sick of eating at the halfway point.  In fact, the pickle was the last thing I ate.  Mile 20 was the turn around for the last 6 miles to the finish.  All I needed to do was get there. I felt this would give me a mental boost.  By mile 19, my mind was fighting and body was struggling.  I asked myself several times, “am I really going to make this?!”  It took everything to not panic for another meltdown would definitely stir up my stomach even more and probably put negative thoughts in my head.  I kept telling myself, “I didn’t train 9 months, sacrifice my time, my life, and neglecting my family and friends to quit!”  My husband said he knew that regardless how much I may have hurt, I would finish.  He knew I wasn’t a quitter.  My cousin knew that I would finish even if I walked the entire way back…so I had to keep believing in myself, my body.

My girlfriends that I trained with during the summer biked the run course to cheer me on every 3 miles or so, and at mile 19, when my mind was about under negative pressure, they pushed me by yelling that I’m well over halfway and played “blurred lines” on their cell…so I started shimmying.  My spirits were lifted.  My mom sent me a verse that was PERFECT at mile 21 (see below).  In addition, my cousin met up with me again and talked me through mile 22 assuring me that I’m going to make it and telling me I look good.  My friends met up with me again at mile 23.5…exclaiming how proud they were and that I looked strong…”you got this!”  The looks on their faces were serious. They had no doubt in their mind that I could do it!  At mile 24, I saw my daddy walking towards me!   I yelled, “Daddy, what are you doing?!”  He ran two miles from the finish to check on me, said he was worried.  According to my tracker, my time was extremely slow.  I told him I feel great…I could keep running and want to run it in. I had a lot of energy but my knee doesn’t work.  I couldn’t even jog at that point…barely walk.  My feet were numb, I felt like the bottom of my feet were soaked in blisters.!  My sister and her boyfriend met up with us at mile 25 hooting and hollering.  Then she yells as we progressed, “.6 more miles…you got this, just around that corner under the overpass!”  Oh it seemed so far off and felt like the last 3 miles were the longest 3 miles of my life!  As I turned the corner they were getting excited, I was getting relieved.  I said, “I’ll jog in the last .2 miles!”  I did.  I saw very bright lights at the end of the tunnel, literally.  I heard the announcer, the crowd was roaring, my family and friends were on the sidelines and right then…I teared up knowing that I fought a good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7).  People were holding their hands out and I was high-fiving strangers, my family, my friends!  I stepped across the final time mat and held my hands up to God…praising Him for EVERY ounce of faith and strength.  My PeePaw always said, “Patience is a Virtue.”  My patience was tested and got me through 140.6 miles.  I looked down and saw a coach from our club at the finish, he points at me holds up my medal and he said, “you look strong, you must have kept up your nutrition well” and draped the medal around my neck then said, “Did you have fun?!”  I smiled with tears in my eyes, gave him a big hug and said, “My knee hurts so bad, but I can’t believe I just did this!”

He escorted me to my family and I couldn’t wait to hug them all!  I didn’t have much sodium left in my body to produce a flood of tears, (I think I released it all during my tire blow), instead I was relieved and JOYOUS that I accomplished the hardest thing I’ve ever tested myself to achieve…I’m an IRONMAN!

We all walked back to the hotel to celebrate with a late in-room buffet, reflecting on stories.  I felt like the luckiest girl in the world surrounded by love and support of my family and friends.  I finally laid my head on a pillow at 1:30a (nearly 24 hours later).  I barely had time to think, “I'm an IRONMAN” before I went into a deep sleep.  

Fighting through the Ironman is not just about physical strength and endurance, it’s a test of your faith.  It’s not about winning or crossing the finish at a certain time…it’s about playing smart the entire day just to simply finish regardless of your time.  I can do ALL things through CHRIST who strengthens me! (Philippians 4:13). 

Goals prior to finishing:
1)   To simply finish strong and with a smile.
2)   Attempt to finish sub 15 hours
a.     Swim: 1:30
b.     Bike: 8:00
c.      Run: 5:00-5:30

Finish time 15:35:33
Swim: 1:11
Bike: 7:34
Run: 6:16
Pretty close to my secondary goals considering my circumstances.

26.2 Bible Verses with quotes/personal notes
(names, except for immediate family, and personal prayer requests have been omitted):

Mile 1:  "but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run (bike/swim) and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." – Isaiah 40:31
Believe you can and you’re halfway there. –Theodore Roosevelt

Mile 2: "The Lord is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life - whom shall I be afraid?" – Psalm 27:1

Mile 3: Have I not commanded you?  Be Strong & Courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged; for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.  – Joshua 1:9
I do not think for one second that you will be afraid or discouraged but just always remember that God is with you every step of the way and He will guide you through your race. Give him the burden when you feel tired.  He is there next to you to carry your load.
IMAGINE with your mind BELIEVE with your heart Achieve with all your might

Mile 4: I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance. – Ephesians 1:18

Mile 5: Cast your burden on the Lord, he will sustain you.  – Psalm 55:22

Mile 6: God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at the break of day.  – Psalm 46.5
"The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare."
-Juma Ikangaa, 1989 NYC Marathon winner

Mile 7: For God so loved the world… - John 3:16

Mile 8: And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, "Which commandment is the most important of all?" Jesus answered, "The most important is, 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." – Mark 12:28-31

Mile 9: But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him.  The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7

Mile 10: Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. – Jeremiah 29:12-13
“If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together... there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart... I'll always be with you.” ― A.A. Milne

Mile 11: For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:14-19

Mile 12: Be still and know that I am God. – Psalm 46:10.
Although you will not be physically still in this journey. Your mind can be still in the lord. Finding a peace that passes all understanding in the stillness and comfort of the holy spirit that dwells within your heart. We love you. Best of blessings on this journey.

Mile 13: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance, the race that is marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:1-2

Mile 14: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground. Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it.  They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground – everything that has the breath of life in it – I give every green plant for food.  And it was so. – Genesis 1:27-30, John 3:16

Mile 15: So do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will hold you with my righteous right hand. – Isaiah 41:10

Mile 16: Be joyful in hope, patient in suffering, and faithful in prayer.  – Romans 12:12 
This will and has certainly been true of the effort you have put towards this race.

Mile 17: For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. - Colossians 1:9-14
For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. – 1 Timothy 4:8
It is more than just a verse, but it should be so applicable for you as you race to encourage you to press on, and to have perseverance.  I will pray that you remember this motivation and encouragement as you face trials in your life that you will apply these principles of our faith in Jesus for each daily choice you make!

Mile 18: He is his image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead so that in everything he might have the supremacy. - Colossians 1:15-18

Mile 19, PeePaw: "The Lord is my light and my salvation: whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life: of whom shall I be afraid?” - PSALMS 27:1

Mile 20, MeeMaw: "For I know the plans I have for you; declares the Lord:
plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  - Jeremiah 29:11
I think this sums up all of life!  God desires to be a part of all we do and say!
"Comparison is the thief of joy".Theodore Roosevelt

Mile 21, Mom: “We rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”  Romans 5:3
While this verse was intended to encourage persecuted Christians who knew the end prize, the meaning holds true for you today.  You’re rejoicing in suffering right now, not because you like pain, but because you know that through your training (and pain) that you have learned to persevere.  Through your perseverance, you’ve strengthened your character.  And now your hope lies in crossing that GREAT finish line.  See you there!!!

Mile 22, Daddy: “The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.  You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”  Isaiah 58:11

Mile 23, Tilden: “The man who finds his life will lose it, but the man who loses his life for God’s sake will find it.”  - Matthew 10:39
You may have once thought that you were running this race for yourself, but stop and realize that by living your life for God this race has become a witness for Him.
P.S. As you cross the finish line stop, stand up, and look around to see how many sons, daughters, nieces, and nephews are here at this race. Then listen to God and see if it’s time for you!!!!

Mile 24, Clayton: "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Deuteronomy 31:6
I'm still amazed by your strength, endurance, and dedication! I wish I could be there but can't wait to check in on your tracker. I'll be praying for you!

Mile 25, Mallory: "Don't you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize?  So run to win!...So I run with purpose in every step.  I am not shadowboxing."  - 1 Corinthians 9:24, 26

Mile 26, Andrew: I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. – John 16:33

Mile 26.2, Aunt Cookie: I fought a good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith.  – 2 Timothy 4:7


  1. You are amazing!!!

  2. Alicia and I are so proud of you. You have grown to be a wonderful example of what it means to be a Christian.Congratulations on such a wonderful achievement.

  3. What an inspiring story!! Brought me to tears for you and your family!! What an accomplishment, but more than that, what a testament to your strong FAITH!! Meade County is proud to call you OURS!!...Edie Harper

  4. God is working a beautiful piece of the Kingdom with your willing, strong, and courageous heart! You inspire me. My husband and I are overweight and we started training with "team in training" to wall a half marathon. Each step that we go is more than we have ever done in our lives! Just this past saturday we walked 7 miles. I was in pain and fighting through the last 2 miles or so, but I finished. Its nothing compared to an ironman race, but God is using this training to teach me so much about Him. I will be sharing this article with my husband. Thank you for finishing the race and fighting through to the end. Praise God for giving you the endurance with His Word. Thank you!

  5. Thank you all SO much! It makes me smile to see how many lives have been touched or changed through my story and my training :-) I get so excited to hear about how much people's quality of life has improved through lifestyle changes. I pray that He will continue to enter hearts and lives of those that do not know Him! All things are possible through Him! Thank you!

  6. You are such an inspiration! An amazing woman!


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