The Norseman XTreme Triathlon is just that – extreme. So, naturally, Headsweats Athlete Penny Comins had the 5,000 meter ascent race on her list. Daunting and a challenge, Penny describes each section of the race. Here’s a brief description of Isklar Norseman XTreme Triathlon:
“The course runs point-to-point – or fjord to peak: Starting at sea level, with a 4 meter drop off a ferry into the Hardangerfjord, crossing the starkly haunting Hardangervidda mountain plateau, finishing at the rocky peak of Gaustatoppen, at 1,850m above sea level and 220km away, Norseman is a long day’s journey through some of Norway’s most spectacular scenery. The total ascent is 5,000 meters. The water is cold, clean, and comes lightly salted. The weather can be anything from brilliantly beautiful to blasting blizzard. If you’re really lucky, you may see porpoises, orcas or reindeer – or, more likely, baffled locals who think you are nuts, but will cheer you on anyway.”
But did Penny rock it? Yes, yes she did. Here’s her full race account:
“Dubbed the toughest triathlon in the world Norseman Xtreme Triathlon is on everyone’s tick list who are serious about long distance. The coveted black t-shirt, awarded to the top 160 finishers, is what all are racing for. The finish line is the mast on top of Gaustatoppen at 1,850m, the tallest mountain in Sweden.
Arriving in Eidfjord I felt strong in body but not in mind. The sheer size of the landscape gripped me. Race morning started at 3am. I refused to think of it as early and just stuffed in breakfast and then chatted insistently with Kris (Texan and winner of the BlueSeventy competition) and Melanie (Black Line London athlete) as we walked on to the ferry. We all gasped in realization that this was going to happen when the lights of the hotel became twinkles in the distance.
I had many fears coming in to this race and top of the list was the water temperature. I worked closely with BlueSeventy and used their thermal range to abate the cold. Wax ear-plugs were a key to keeping the cold water from getting in to my head too. Freezing patches of water were in front of the waterfalls feeding in to Hardangerfjord. These didn’t last long and I was thankful that it wasn’t this cold for the entire 3.8km
Taking in the huge lakes, moss green land dotted with bright red houses brought it home to me just how special this race was. Having a head wind the whole way was acceptable as the sun shone through the clouds. Life was good. I was ahead of my predicted times and finding a lot of the course fast and flowing despite what the profile had indicated.
My jubilation was quickly quashed as a lady with a flipchart informed me I was in 191th position leaving T2. Knowing I needed to be in 160th or less to be allowed to the top of Gaustatoppen I put the foot to the floor and ran as hard as I could. Playing Pac Man in my mind I chomped each athlete in front of me, counting down from 191.
Crossing the timing mat I was in 157th place. I had done it. I had actually ran myself in to contention for a finish on the top. I couldn’t see the mountain as it was still covered in cloud. I wondered if it was even open at the top and more importantly if I really wanted to get to the top!
I made it to the top, all a little wobbly from my poor nutrition strategy, exhaustion and altitude. It was a white out and not the usual rock star feeling you get on the red carpet of an Ironman event. I didn’t even know my time until I got my phone and the messages came through from everyone following me. It all didn’t matter. I had completed the journey. The feeling of achievement is still with me today. I have had that finish line proud feeling for five days now and it isn’t wagering like most do after you get your medal.
The family feeling is what makes Norseman so special. You travel over such raw landscape in every element the environment can offer. Athlete and support crew feel this journey and want everyone to finish. No-one asks your times or splits. It is all about survival and completion.”
It’s been 11 days since Headsweats Sr. Account Manager, Lisa Maloney, and her husband, TR, completed the first full IRONMAN in Boulder. It was an amazing feat and we are so proud of what they accomplished. Here’s a recount from TR of the rigorous trainging and day of event, enjoy.
My first Ironman event was back in 2009, and once I could walk up and down stairs again I swore I would never do another one. You know, “one and done.” Late in 2013 there were rumblings about an Ironman in Boulder. My wife works at Headsweats, so sporting news is common at the dinner table. She and I began talking about the event that night, and before I knew it we were both signing up for the big day.
Other couples thought we were nuts. It’s bad enough having one tired and cranky IM athlete in the house…why would you want two? We brushed aside those thoughts knowing that we make as great a team as we do a couple.
Long before the last snow we were prodding each other out of bed at 5am to make our way to the pool for morning swims. We rode together and ran together whenever we could. Most of all we recovered together and made sure the other was eating right and stretching.
Before we knew it the race had arrived and we were ready to go. We woke up, had breakfast together, grabbed our race bags and headed out the door. There we were, ready to go and sitting in the car looking at each other as the engine would not start—more drama for race morning!
After remedying our car issues, we were there at the start of Boulder’s first Ironman, marked and ready to enter the water. We held hands and strolled down the ramp and wished each other well. As soon as Lisa’s foot crossed the timing mat she was gone! She entered the water so fast I thought she was being pulled by a jet-ski.
The swim seemed to take forever! I know Lisa wanted to get on her bike (her strength) and I wanted to get on the run (my strength). Before we were even out of the water we both had our issues to deal with, she had to deal with broken goggles and I took a nice kick to the face and sternum. Seeing the exit arch was pure heaven.
After a quick trip through the transition tent, I was on the bike wondering if Lisa was ahead or behind me. Little did I know, she was a full 6 minutes ahead of me! Even with broken goggles full of water, she dominated on the swim.
Once we were on the St. Vrain out and back, I caught a glimpse of her and we both smiled from beneath our dorky shaped helmets and went back to work. It wasn’t until mile 80 that I finally caught her. She was having a great bike leg and it was impressive watching her pass guy after guy. Finally I pulled up next to her, cheered her amazing effort and made my way forward.
Right around mile 85 the heat began pressing on us and I was pushing the pace to finish the bike. It was then that I realized the insanity of hurrying a 112-mile bike to run a marathon. Luckily the crowds on the course were picking up and the screaming and fun signs lifted my spirits to keep at it. During the hardest climb of the day, I was greeted by the Headsweats crew and I can honestly say it is the only time I have ever smiled on that climb.
Off the bike and into the running shoes is when the real shock came. There were SO MANY PEOPLE CHEERING ON THE PATH! It was insane! I knew Boulder would come out pretty strong but this was like nothing I have ever seen. All racers have their names printed clearly on their number and soon I had what seemed like 5,000 fans.
With the 3-part out and back two-lap course I knew I would see Lisa soon. This was the whole goal of the training and picking Boulder Ironman as our event. We would see each other multiple times throughout the day. Speedy Lisa was 8 minutes behind me when I saw her running down the path. We slapped hands and kept going. Soon I would see her again and we would yell words of encouragement.
During the run my stomach started giving me trouble and I knew I would miss my goal but at that point I didn’t really care. I saw so many friends that I decided to make the last 6 miles a party and started jumping in photos with friends and stopping to give my step-daughter a sweaty hug. At one point, I even ran up to a cooler and grabbed a beer. Boulder knows how to party and Ironman is no different.
Running down the finishing chute I heard the words all Ironman competitors want to hear from Mile Reilly – “You are an Ironman!” Not only did I hear them I was there to hear them for Lisa. Our journey was complete. We dreamed together, trained together, were tired together and finally raced together. Congrats Boulder for putting on a great race. The scenery, the tough course and the amazing Boulder community made it a special day that we will never forget.
Headsweats, leader in perspiration technology headwear, is excited to be a partner of the Santa Barbara Triathlon! Established in 1981, the Santa Barbara Triathlon is one of the longest running triathlons in the world and will take place this year on August 23rd.
While at this year’s race, be on the lookout for “Headshots for Headsweats” – photo stations where you can get your photo taken by one of our professional photographers and receive a 25% off discount card at Headsweats.com. Your pics will be available on their website after the race! And if you enter the #SBTriHeadsweats Instagram Photo Contest, you’ll be entered to win 2 free entries to the 2015 SB Tri and a Headsweats collections of 6 pieces of headwear for you and a friend.
#SBTriHeadsweats Instagram Contest
Here’s how to enter:
1) Take a photo of you in your Headsweats hat or visor
2) Post it to Instagram
3) Tag @Headsweats & @SantaBarbaraTriathlon
4) Use the hashtag #SBTriHeadsweats or #TriHeadsweats
5) That’s it! You’re entered to win. We’ll announce the winner on Instagram Tuesday, September 2nd.
Headsweats’ Ambassadors are a part of our extended family. They have a passion for what they do and a love for Headsweats. We are proud to announce our new 2014 Ambassador Program. You’ll notice some familiar faces, along with some new ones. Some of them are runners, some are triathletes, cyclists, ultra-runners, adventure racing teams, but all have one thing in common – the desire to challenge themselves physically and mentally. We want to give all of our Ambassadors a big, warm welcome to the Headsweats family!
Our Ambassadors are our inspiration – to get out and battle the elements, to challenge ourselves, and to push harder to meet our goals. We’re confident they will provide you with all that and more. In fact, each Ambassador has their own customized discount code that gets you 25% off any online order at headsweats.com.
Click here to check out our 2014 Ambassadors to learn more about who they are, what they do, and what makes them special. And feel free to give them a shout out on Facebook, a follow on Twitter, or connect with them on Instagram.
Are you interested in becoming a Headsweats Ambassador? Click here to find out how to apply and see if you’re a good match!
Which one of our Ambassadors inspires you the most? Tell us on our Facebook page!
Pruhealth ITU London Grand Final Sprint Distance Championships
Our Headsweats-sponsored Athlete and Ambassador Erin Lockwood got back from London this Fall after competing in the ITU London Grand Final Sprint Distance Championships. It was an amazing experience for such a young athlete…here’s her recap of the race:
What an incredible and amazing experience. I could have done without the cold water temperatures, but hearing people from all over the world yelling my name and Team USA as I biked and ran past them, it went above and beyond my expectations.
My trip to London started on Wednesday September the 11th when my mother and I arrived with bike in hand at Heathrow airport. We took a shuttle to our hotel which was located right at Hyde park where the race took place, so that was very convenient. After we checked in I went to pick up my race packet at the expo which was full of booths, people practicing in the pond and of course biking and running.
Some people had been there since Friday. I however couldn’t take off because of graduate school classes. once everything was taken care of, mom and I began to wander around, and by wander I mean go to Harrods and Burberry. By 9 pm I was in bed exhausted since i didn’t sleep on the plane over.
The next day, we got up wandered some more, it had rained overnight so the roads were slick. I practiced biking and running before I had to drop off my bike at 6 pm and went to bed early prepped for the next morning. I heard from some folks at bike check in that in the morning when the U23’s raced that many crashed because of the roads so I of course was more nervous than before.
Friday morning, it was raining, 61 degrees but kind of humid and oh the water temperature was 61 degrees. THAT WAS FUN. I have never swam in water that cold, prior to that it was 68 in wisconsin. The transition area was huge (ie more to run) and they did not allow towels inside…. so no drying off after the swim. It was very cool being with my fellow USA’ers and how our bikes were all racked together. We also had a lot of room at our transition spots which was lovely. The race started at 8:00 and my wave went off at 8:45. Everyone was so friendly and nice and cheering each other on. It wasn’t mean or rude.
This is the first installation in a several-part series that will attempt to answer the question: “What does it mean to be a young professional triathlete?” Over the course of the 2013 season, we will follow Chris Wiatr, a 21-year-old, second-year pro, as he deals with the ups and downs of training, competing, working, managing relationships with sponsors, and more. Chris is a Headsweats-sponsored athlete, and this article was originally published on TriTrackers.com.
Part I: First-Year Struggles
Ask the average American to name a professional athlete and you’ll hear “LeBron,” “A-Rod,” “Peyton,” maybe even “Danica.” Recognizable by first name alone, these icons of sport are synonymous with American culture. They, along with their teams, provide thousands of jobs nationwide, create countless secondary markets, and drive fashion trends (sometimes questionably).
The names Craig Alexander (“Doesn’t he work down on the second floor?”) and Julie Dibens (“Is she that pro golfer?”) aren’t likely to inspire recognition, even among well-rounded sports fans.
How about Chris Wiatr? Nothing?
He is a 21-year old senior at Lake Forest College, a small private institution located outside Chicago from which he will graduate in May. He was born in California but speaks with a slight accent that hints at his Polish ancestry.
Wiatr is also a professional athlete, one of the growing number of young pro triathletes across the country.
In a sport that has, until recently, been dominated by converted runners and “swimmers who can run,” Wiatr found triathlon at the relatively young age of 14. By the time most triathletes his age signed up for their first local sprint, Wiatr had been training and competing for five years. He enjoyed a successful junior elite career, finishing sixth in the USAT standings in 2009, but soon aged out of the division and began looking for a level of competition that local events couldn’t provide.
Three years, pro card in hand, Wiatr found himself sitting in the pre-race meeting at the 2012 Lifetime Tri Minneapolis with a who’s-who of U.S. triathlon: Hunter Kemper, Andy Potts, Bevan Docherty, Cam Dye, Sarah Haskins, Gwen Jorgensen, among others. An underdog story if there ever was one, the narrative of Wiatr’s pro debut did not feature a storybook ending. In a 20-man pro field, he exited the water 15th but overreached in the early miles of the bike and was spent before the run ever started. Wiatr finished in 2:05:51, last among the pro men and over 18 minutes behind the winner, Kemper.
For Wiatr, the result was less important than the experience. With the rest of his professional career ahead of him, Wiatr was already counting down the days until Lifetime Tri Chicago, full of optimism.
The field in Chicago was again stacked, but Wiatr was markedly less star-struck. Wedged in between Cam Dye and Greg Bennett at the start of the swim, Wiatr wasn’t fazed and managed to stay in contact with the second pack. Despite heavy rain and cross winds, Wiatr rode well and finished the bike in 1:00:30, improving on his Minneapolis split by five minutes. Wiatr struggled uncharacteristically over the final 5K of the run, but his performance was good enough for 14th among the pro men – a positive note on which to end his first season as a professional triathlete.
What makes Chris Wiatr’s story interesting, however, is what we’ve yet to see. In 2013, for the first time, Wiatr will have a coach. He also began his training in earnest several months earlier than he did last year. And no longer competing for Lake Forest College’s cross-country team, Wiatr can devote his entire year to triathlon.
Last year, “uncharted territory” was a phrase that signified Wiatr’s inexperience at the professional level. This year, that same phrase describes his untapped potential.
Who watched the NBC broadcast of the 2012 Ironman World Championship this past Saturday? To all those who’ve been following Ironman religiously over the past weeks and months, Headsweats is happy to share one athlete’s personal story. Brady Murray shares his personal race recap along with some incredible photos of this year’s Ironman. Brady races to raise money for RODS (Racing for Orphans with Down Syndrome). Check out his website here for more information.
It’s hard to believe the Ironman World Championship has come and gone. What an incredible experience! Everything couldn’t have gone better and I’m thankful for the opportunity to race. I want to thank Headsweats for your support on my journey to Kona and especially for getting the RODS visors to Kona in time! That was huge!
Ironman and this year’s presenting sponsor did some remarkable things for RODS Racing and the child I was racing for. I’m excited to see this story told. Read on for my full race report:
Race day started at 3:20 a.m. when the alarm clock welcomed me into the days activities. The normal race day jitters and nervousness was strangely not there right from the beginning. Instead of nervousness I was feeling excitement! It was time for the big dance and I couldn’t wait. I knew I had done everything in my power to prepare for this race and I was ready.
I made my way down to the start. I was among the first athletes to arrive. One of the first things they have us do is get a number stamped on your arms. The energy was huge from the very beginning. With race number 137 successfully tattooed for the day I then stepped on the scales for a weigh in. I’ve never actually been weighed at a race check in. I wish they would have weighed me after to compare. I bet I lost a few pounds in water weight.
I then put my race nutrition on my bike that had been carefully calculated to give me the correct amount of calories at the right time of the race. This is such a huge part of the race and cannot be overlooked. Regardless of the amount of hours trained, without enough gas in the tank it doesn’t matter how well tuned the engine is.
By now there were a lot of athletes starting to pour in. About this time is when I was introduced to an NBC Sports camera crew. They started filming me prepping my bike. It was a little uncomfortable at first, but then I found it to be kind of fun. The other Kona Inspired athletes started to arrive for the day as well. We have all become very good friends. I feel like I knew them all from their videos. To get to meet them in person was great. To get to race with them was even better.
As the horizon started to brighten, I knew it was time. I put on my speed suit from Aqua Sphere and checked in my morning clothes bag and made it back to the start just in time for the pros to start the race. With the pros gone, it was time for all of us to enter the water. 25 minutes until the cannon goes off!
Stepping into the ocean increased the excitement even more. I swam out so I could see if I could see my family sitting on the cement wall that was lining the bay. Sure enough, I saw them all there with their RODS Racing shirts on. I got their attention and then made my way out to the starting buoy. I’ll never forget looking back at all the spectators lined along the bay. There were also many hundred athletes still filing into the water. Mike Reilly, the voice of Ironman, started to give us the estimated time before the start. 10 minutes, then 5 minutes, then 1 minute. By this time I was like a 10 year old on Christmas morning waiting to open presents. We were all stacked in there which made it impossible to tread water without having contact with other swimmers. A warm up of things to come. Then the countdown, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, BOOM! Instantly the blue ocean water looked like it was boiling. All you could see was white water and arms flying all around. Immediately I started hitting into other swimmers all trying to make forward progress. It was utter chaos! I had never been in a swim start quite like that one. I found myself trying to avoid being kicked but at the same time, not backing off one bit. This lasted for a few minutes before things started to normalize and the rhythm of the swim strokes started to settle.
Within 5 minutes of starting I got behind a swimmer who was going slightly faster than I was. Perfect! I slipped in right behind him and started to draft. Drafting in the swim is perfectly legal and can be a big advantage to conserve energy and pick up a few minutes as well. It’s amazing how much it helps having someone break the water in front of you as you focus on staying right on their toes. I stayed so close to this swimmer that I found myself tapping his toes every time my arms came forward in my stroke. I worried that this might be annoying for him, but he just kept on swimming and I kept on following. The other advantage of doing this is you aren’t required to site as much. As long as the swimmer you are following is going straight, you can keep your head in the water. This was also nice because I loved looking at all the fish during the race. It was a nice distraction.
The entire way out I stayed right on this swimmers feet. There is a big sailboat at the turnaround which gets pretty congested. I had to work hard to stay behind him, but I managed and before I knew it, we were on our way back after having just swam the first 1.2 miles. Heading back into shore was much faster. The current was pushing us and I think we all were excited to get on the bike. The entire swim seemed fairly congested, but I later found out from Andrea that I was swimming in a group of 15+ swimmers and there weren’t any other swimmers in front or behind us when we came in.
Getting through transition was quick. I had a camera man following me which I wasn’t necessarily ready for, but it was fun. And just like that I was on the bike riding up the infamous Palani Road. The first 10 or so miles weaves through town where there are hundreds of spectators all cheering. You honestly feel like a rock star in this race with all the fans cheering. My legs felt great and all systems were checking out well. After weaving through the city streets there is a steep climb going up Palani and then on to the Queen K. Once you make it to the highway it settles down and you can get into a groove for the remaining 102 miles.
20 miles into the ride there were a lot of other bikers. Swimming is my weakest discipline which means I typically pass a lot of bikers the first 20-30 miles. It was fun seeing all of the other athletes from around the world. We had a big tailwind heading out which meant that the miles were flying by. Around mile 30 I had another TV crew pull up next to me filming for about 8 miles. I didn’t know what amount of filming would be done while I was racing before the day started. One thing I am thankful for is when the camera is on you it helps you go faster.
By about mile 35 I hit my first difficult part of the race. I had a hard time keeping my wattage up and I was going into a big headwind. I decided it was time to have a peanut butter and honey sandwich and some PowerBar Blasts which really hit the spot. Within 5 minutes of finishing my meal I was feeling much better. When you are exercising for this amount of time the food gets into your system almost instantaneously. By the time I started the long climb into Hawi I was feeling great. One thing I did notice though was the wind was really starting to pick up. By the time I got the the last 3 miles of the 18 mile climb the wind was blowing hard. I looked out over the ocean and it was pure whitecaps as far as the eye could see. Right before I started feeling sorry for myself I remembered back to May 5th, the day I raced Ironman St. George. A big smile emerged as I remembered how much worse the wind and conditions were that day. Nothing will compare to St. George wind. I picked up the pace and started to go faster.
The bike course turnaround in Hawi is right at 60 miles. It felt great to get the wind at your back and have a very long downhill heading back to Kona. By this time it was around 11 a.m. and it was starting to get hot. On my way back to Kona our route took us back through the lava fields. I remember hearing about how the heat would radiate off the blacktop but it was hard to imagine there being more heat from below than from the sun above. Let me tell you, this is absolutely true. It was like somebody turned on a heater on the road and it was blasting you from all angles. One way to combat the heat was while going through aid stations to fill up every possible water bottle cage with full bottles of water. Not just to drink but to pour it all over your body while you are riding. This provided temporary relief, but the heat would just not quit. The good news is mentally I was still very much where I needed to be. Any time I found any negative thoughts come to mind I found it relatively easy to replace them with the thoughts and feelings of why I was doing this. The cause of racing for Orphans with Down Syndrome allows me to mentally stay positive and stay where I need to be in my mind throughout these races. Without that cause I believe I would find it much more difficult to battle through the hard times and ultimately finish.
Coming into town I felt great. I was going faster than I was expecting, averaging 20.2 MPH over the last 110 miles. My heart rate was good and my legs felt good. Time to go run a marathon. Coming into transition I was met by a camera crew. My feet were all wet as I was trying to get my socks on. My right sock went on perfectly. My left sock was off a little bit and I didn’t take the time to adjust it. This would come back and haunt me 3 hours later.
Running out of T2 is always a big test. The test is how do the legs feel? If you go too hard on the bike, you will know immediately. Luckily the legs were feeling fantastic. This was good. I ran out of transition and saw all my family. Their cheers are pure adrenaline and energy. Thank you!
Something different for this race than any other is I had never ran the course before. This was kind of fun, but it was also a little frustrating. Fun in a way because it’s all new. It’s kind of like going for a drive in an area you’ve never seen before. Kind of entertaining. The frustrating part is I sometimes felt like a little kid always asking myself “are we there yet” as I look for the next turn or turn around. The first 10 miles of the run took us through town and right next to the ocean. What a great route! I was feeling great and my pace was holding true. I was sticking with Ironman Perform and water to drink and an occasional gel every few miles. I also saw my good friend Mark Wilkerson as well as Alex and Risa Wight during this portion which helped. After 10 miles you have to climb right back up Palani. I wasn’t ready for this. I went up this in my bike and it was tough, now I had to run up it. Crazy! Getting to the top is when we once again turn onto the Queen K and leave all the spectators behind. The next 15 miles were going to be lonely.
About the time I hit mile 13 I could feel another mental challenge coming on. By this time I was 10 hours into the day. I had just ran 13 miles and I had to get my arms doing it all over again. The heat was still an ever present factor and I was starting to feel fatigued. This is when the Ironman secret weapon had to be utilized, Coca-Cola. Most people don’t realize this, but one of the best sources of nutrition in an Ironman is pure Coca-Cola. Not Coke zero, not caffeine free Coke. Only the good stuff! This stuff is magic! I always wait as long as I can before I start drinking coke when they offer it in the aid stations, but it was definitely time! I was able to keep my pace and continue to progress along the course.
Next up on the run course is the infamous Energy Lab. This is a place where you leave the Queen K highway and take a left into one of the most desolate places on the entire island. It’s called the “Energy Lab” because of the huge solar panels and different facilities on the road. What this place does not do is give you any energy. In fact, it sucks it out of you. When I saw the Energy Lab just ahead I decided right then and there that I would pick up my pace when I entered the Energy Lab. I refused to let this 4 mile stretch get me. I went into the energy lab with a chip on my shoulder kind of like a little brother that finally thinks he has a chance at beating his older brother in a foot race. I did pick up the pace. I could feel some deep pain in my quads but I pushed. I knew this was gut check time and I was not letting up. The first 2 miles felt OK. Miles 19-21 were among the toughest faced yet but I lasted and it fueled me when I finally exited having taken on the Energy Lab and won. It was time to take a right back onto Queen K and head back into town.
With only 5 miles to go I kept telling myself, “You got this! 5 more miles! You’ve ran 5 miles a hundred times this year! Keep pushing!” Things were starting to get tough. I could feel a blister on my left foot start to form. I remembered back to the transition area when I didn’t get my sock on right. I demanded that the pain leave my mind and I kept going. My pace was still steady, but my heart rate was increasing rapidly. “Only a few more miles, keep pushing!!” I kept telling myself. The battle that was going on in my head was as intense as it’s ever been. The adversity I was facing on whether I could do this or not was real.
“Keep going!” I kept reminding myself over and over. Mile 22 passed and I celebrated, 4 more miles. I can do this! Between mile 22-24 was the hardest of the entire day. My quads were smashed, my head hurt, and I was spent. Every athlete will face this during an Ironman. This is really the true test in my opinion. It’s easy to race when you are feeling good. It’s when you are hurting, when you’re body tells you that you can’t do this, that you find out what you really are made of. All you want to do is walk. Your mind will start to reason with you. It will say things like, “you’ve done great, just walk a little bit.” Then it will get more aggressive. “This is crazy, why are you doing this to yourself!” it screams. The thoughts of “Why am I doing this” and “I can’t go on anymore” start flooding your mind. It was here where I had to go back to why I was doing this. I remembered Maelie and I remembered the commitment I made to myself to find her family. If pushing through this temporary physical pain meant that she has a family I would do it. If this meant that Down Syndrome as a whole is more widely accepted and that together we can prove that Anything is Possible, I would do it! I kept the pace and pushed harder.
Before I knew it I was on the top of Palani making my way down the big hill I had to run up a few hours earlier. It was here that I knew I had it. Tears started streaming down my face as I thought not just about the day, but this year. Here I was, running the last mile of the Ironman World Championship for these kids that have become such a big part of my life. Last year at this time I didn’t even know Reece’s Rainbow existed or that there were hundreds of children with Down Syndrome withering away in orphanages throughout the world. Now I was getting to represent them at this very moment. I was afforded the opportunity and blessing to be their voice. To stand on their defense and bring hope at that very moment. In this moment I also gave thanks to a loving God. I knew this last year wasn’t anything of my own doing, but more a tender mercy from a loving Heavenly Father.
As I turned down Ali’i drive I could see the finish line in the distance. The pain was gone and I was running on pure adrenaline. Thousands of people lined the streets cheering and high fiving. I came into the final hundred yards under the bright lights and everything went to a blur. As I crossed the finish line I saw lots of people and I saw cameras. Then I saw Alex, he had the biggest smile on his face and I bet mine matched it. He gave me a huge hug and I lifted him up off the ground. Then Andrea and Nash came to me and we hugged a very long hug. I looked into Nash’s eyes and could see that innocence and look that was the source of so much motivation. I then saw my Dad, my Mom, and my Sister Paige and hugged each of them. Then I gave a huge hug to Rob Wight CEO of myList, David Deschenes, Executive Director of Ironman Foundation, and Andrew Messick, CEO of Ironman. That’s when I saw this huge check made out to RODS Racing. I was in shock. It was for $20,000 and it was for Maelie’s adoption. This meant that this little girl has a chance! It was joy in the purest form!
I want to take a moment to recognize and show my appreciation for Andrea. RODS Racing and Ironman is a team effort. There is no possible way that I could serve these children as I have without her. I can’t stress this enough. She IS the reason why things have worked out. Her level of contribution is huge, but often goes unnoticed behind the scenes. Thank you Andrea! I love you!
After the race I went in the transition area and had a chocolate milk. The adrenaline quickly dissipated. I sat down on the grass in a corner as far away as I could get and put a towel over my head. Piece of mind came over me. I knew I left it all out on the course and gave it everything I had. I suppose doing this race is a lot like life. We’ll face exhilarating highs and extreme lows. Pain always comes but it’s how we handle the pain that defines us. There are a lot of people cheering us on at times and at other times we are alone in the lava fields. It takes a team effort. It’s never just one person, but in the end, the results are dependant upon the one looking back at you in the mirror. I hope that at the end of my life I can go to a far away corner for a moment, put a towel over my head and know that I left it all out on the course.
Final stats on the day were: Swim 1:19:42; Bike 5:33:48; Run 3:51:11 Total 10:51:32 I was able to beat my Ironman St. George time by 1:35 minutes!
Total Stat’s for 2012 are: Swim 152 miles; Bike 5,443 miles; Run 1,194 miles Total Hours 802
At the end of these race reports I always find myself asking the question, so what’s next? Well, I can’t wait to watch the Ironman Broadcast on October 27th at 2pm MST. I have a feeling that Maelie will have a family very soon. My hope is that we can find Megan and Maggie a family very soon as well. I’ve already spent time putting together the plan for RODS Racing in 2012. I will continue to race, but my hope is to continue to develop a network of other athletes and advocates who are passionate about racing and passionate about Down syndrome. In the end, our work is not done until every child has a home and until society as a whole has a better understanding of just how much of a positive impact a person with Down syndrome can have. One thing that I have learned this year that I plan on applying next year is this: ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!!!!
Feel free to visit Brady’s personal blog here, for more photos of the day’s highlights!
Eight time Ironman athlete, Penny just competed in the Berlin Marathon – reaching a Personal Best! Penny heads to Amsterdam to race this weekend. Read on for her crazy training schedule before the marathon:
Leaving the Ironman world for 2012 I wanted to give it everything for the Berlin Marathon. I chose a very audacious training plan and took it day by day. I was scared of the plan but determined to get it done. Some days were harder than others. I saw some amazing sunrises, got some inspirational messages from friends, ran all over the UK in search of perfect trails, wore a different Headsweats visor each day and ate a lot of Maxifuel Viper gels.
I ran 1,168 km in 11 weeks.
Had 5 rest days.
I had 61 days where I ran every day.
The 39th Berlin Marathon was the day to test this crazy plan.
I was ecstatic to be hitting the start line healthy, strong, and in the sun for once. I don’t remember much of the race, just pushing hard at each moment and thinking of all the messages of luck I had.
Each 5 km I had a time written on my arm and I was two minutes below it right the way through. When times got tough I just thought of all the mornings I had gotten up at 5 am to fit in my run before work; I had to make that count. I kept pushing and pushing. Crossing the finish line I knew I had done a Personal Best but tears filled my eyes (there is need for a Tearsweat for racing visors!) and I missed stopping my watch straight away. I had done it. I had really finished the journey I set out on.
I ended up doing 3.05.35 and being the 71st lady back. It was great in the athletes village as I got an ovation from the helpers and loads of help at the ladies tents…even a special photo with them!