What the hell is Ditch the Tiara?

Redefining the word beautiful...one dirty, sweaty, bruised up mile at a time, with a few downward dogs along the way...

Sunday, September 14, 2008


It has been a full week and I have digested everything that happened to me on September 7, 2008. It's still surreal to think that I actually completed an Ironman...2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of cycling and 26.2 miles of running, all while I had the biggest smile on my face. I waited a year for that day to come and in the blink of an eye, it was over.

Race Morning
I woke up at 4am and slept suprisingly well. I was less nervous than previous races, I'm not sure why. In typical race morning fashion, I jumped up and went right to the window to check out the weather. Clear skies and no rain... *sigh of relief* A sensation shivered into my bones that I never expected to feel that morning that I dreamed about for so long...tranquility. I was not afraid anymore...I was simply. Ready. We arrived at the race start and it was still dark out. Thousands of triathletes were milling around like zombies, getting body-marked, making last minute checks on their bikes, peeing for the 3rd and 4th times... The air had a chill of nervousness and I felt it on my skin. I took care of my business and had plenty of time to hang out and take it all in. This is it. Showtime...

2.4 Mile Swim
Mike and I were chilling out at the base of the helix as I got my wetsuit on and took my rescue remedy and mentally prepared for what was about to happen. At the last second, my parents arrived and I said my good-byes, got my good lucks and walked towards the water. It was a sea of pink and blue caps and I started choking up ridiculously. I put my goggles on so that my feelings were safe with me and that no one would see my eyes. I pulled it together as my toes entered the water and that was it... no more fear, no more hesitation, no more nerves. I relaxed and swam to a good spot that I felt I wanted to start in. I treaded for a minute, flipped onto my back and let my feet come out of the water in front of me. I giggled and then high fived another Ironvirgin and within seconds, the canon boomed and my Ironman journey began. The water was warm and I felt loose. I kept a nice slow and steady stroke, and worked my way around swimmers that were slower than me. For most of the swim, I had my own space and didn't get knocked around too much. Since I was so far in the back, the first turn buoy wasn't too bad but I did get so wide right of the buoys that I knew I was swimming extra distance. It didn't seem matter too much the first loop but that second loop was an entirely different story.

As I made it around the first loop, relief fell over me. 1.2 miles to go, easy..,I can do this. I could hear Mike Riley's voice booming through the air and heard the loud roars of the crowd with every breath I took. It was overwhelming. About 1/3 of the way around the second loop, the effects of the sleevelss wetsuit started to take its toll on me...I wasn't swimming fast enough to generate more body heat and my right hand started to get numb. Slowly, the water didn't feel so warm anymore. I was chilled and my teeth started chattered.  Get me the hell out of this water. I tried to stay calm and just move forward, one stroke at a time. I saw the final red turn buoy and started kicking harder and a bloody calf cramp set into my left leg. It was ridiculous and funny now when I think about it. It hurt so bad but I couldn't let it stop me. I was almost there. I was freezing at this point and couldn't feel my fingerss. I hit the sand with my hands and tried to stand up...nope. And down I went. I was in a haze and had no clue how I was going to make it up the helix. I stumbled to the wetsuit stripper and just laid down. Take it off I said, I can't help you do it, you just need to take it off. Somehow I was back on my feet with my wetsuit, cap and goggles in my hand and with a push, I shuffled forward, one step at a time. Waved to my parents and Mike and got to T1 as quickly as I could.

It took me 17 minutes to get ready for the ride. I was so cold, I had to warm up and it was as if I was moving in slow motion. I was completely out of it but relieved to be in warm clothes. Spent a little extra time in there with Jackie and after many hugs, headed to my bike which was ridiculously easy to find. It was one of the last ones out there. I chuckled because this is not unusual. Saw my friend Eric perched overhead and waved. Couldn't remember his name at the time and this would become a recurring theme throughout the day.

112 Mile Ride
Rolled down the helix and was so excited for this part of the day. We drove the course a few days before and it looked FUN. Hilly and beautiful, green meadows and big blue skies. Got a ways out and the wind really picked up. Oh well, at least there was no rain. I overheard that the winds were 20mph from another rider...I believed it. Got 15 miles out and was ready for the first 40 mile loop.
I had the best time with the crowds. There were spectators everywhere and they were wild and fun. They made the steep climbs enjoyable and being from Colorado, I had no problem getting up them. The downhills were even more fun and I was able to get into speeds in the 40's... I made up a lot of ground on the ride and passed so many riders. I almost wanted to start counting...I'm bad, I know. I stopped once to adjust my seat height - took it down a smidge so that the backs of my knees would be relieved from some pain. This did the trick and I felt great again. Saw my family somewhere around mile 45?! and this really lifted my spirits. I was pysched to get through the second loop and into my running shoes.

As I headed back into town with about 3 miles to go, I started choking up again. I laughed at how scared I had been of this day for so long, and here I was now in the middle of it, having such a fantastic time! I made it this far and started thinking about the run. I kicked it up a notch and hammered it all the way back to transition, passing even more riders who seemed to be lollygagging. Move it people.  I have a marathon to do. I was so excited to get to the run, why weren't they? I rode up the helix like I was being chased and handed off my bike as I dismounted. Was it really that simple? I got pushed in some direction unbeknowst to me and suddenly I was in transition again. Really? This is it?

This transition was much easier for me and much shorter. I could not wait to get out there in my and kick it all over town... I told my volunteer that I had run 36 marathons before and I already knew this would be the best and most favorite one ever.

26.2 Mile Run
Did I mention that my HR monitor/watch crapped out on me during the swim? I had NO concept of time and as I made my way out onto the run course, I didn't even know what time it was. and you know? It was more fun that way. The spectators were so loud and so awesome. I am sure their throats and hands hurt from the screaming and clapping. I loved them all. Every single one of them. I was running and they were cheering for me. and yes, I was running. My legs were tired and heavy but I made a promise to myself to run this final part of my journey. I would not walk. and for once, during a marathon, I kept this promise to myself.

I met so many wonderful people along the way, and as I picked off each mile, I became amazed at how many people I saw walking. Everywhere, they were walking. I pulled out the blinders - don't look at them I told myself... you keep running, that's what you do. I stopped at all the aid stations and took whatever I needed... I may have walked through 5 or 6 of those but as soon as I was past the last volunteer, I started running again. As the sun started to set, I now had  a concept of the time of day. It was definitely tough heading out on the second loop, just meters away from the finish, watching every one enter their final moments of glory. I would get mine too, soon enough...soon enough....patience though?  Never my thing.

I slowed down a little on the second loop but I still felt strong. I again was passing so many people as they walked. I had a few that would pass me, then stop, then pass me, then stop. I wanted to urge them on but felt I shouldn't. I had no idea how they felt... I just know they had the same goal I did, cross that damned finish line. With about 4 miles to go and at this point in the night skies, I saw a clock and realized that I had been out there for over 13 hours. That lifted me up because I knew I was going to finish, with hours to spare from the 17 hour time limit. I had a spring in my step now and everything started coming together. I was a measley 4 miles from becoming an Ironman. Oh dear where was the kleenex?

As I approached the final mile, the once crowded streets were desolate... spectators had packed themselves in for the final 1/4 mile of the finish. I was approaching the brightly lit Capitol building, the trademark of this race and I could hear "it." It was as if I had been deaf all day and suddenly was given the ability to hear... "it" was faint at first but grew louder with each step. As I rounded the corner and made my final turn of the day, "it" was everywhere, inside me, around me, above me, beneath me and I heard "it" over and over ...My skin was tingling and my heart was pounding and I suddenly felt no pain... "IT" was the sound of my own voice and it was saying "you did it Kristina...you ARE an Ironman..." I didn't need to hear Mike Riley tell me that I was an Ironman because he did not spend the past 6 months with me as I trained and worked my ass off, sacrificing so much of myself to get to this very moment, these final seconds of my 140.6 mile journey... the crowds melted away, the noise faded... and it was just me and my dream... and I did it.

I became an IRONMAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Total time: 14:05:42
Swim 1:41:46
T1 17:00
Bike 7:07:30
T2 9:17
Run 4:50:12

Naturally, NONE of this would have been possible if it wasn't for my amazing and supportive husband - thank you Mike, my wisdom-filled and wonderful friends (especially SBF and psg) and Skirts - who always encouraged me and told me to SIUB and HTFU and RELAX and STOP COMPLAINING AND JUST DO IT when I needed to hear it, - my incredible family who endured life of a spectator for over 14 hours - and last but not least my dear friend and Coach - Craig Howie - whom I admire and appreciate so much for believing in me when I didn't. Get ready gang, because I am doing this all again next year!!! IM MOO 2009

However, next year - I will NOT be in medical for over an hour with dehydration issues, 2 IV 's and ridiculously low blood pressure. Oh? Did I forget to mention that in my race recap? Shoooot.



Go.2.Belle said...

HA! You got the tatoo! Congrats again....love, M

Cristen aka Payne D. Spencer said...

You. Kick. Arse.

Congratulations on becoming an Ironman!!! You are really an inspiration to me and many of my fellow rollergirls-in-training! I'm sorry I couldn't join Belle to watch you cross the finish line, but we were all cheering for you here in Chicago!!

knopfler said...

wowza! nice reading. Way to get 'er done.
Congratulations again. You rock.

(smart move on the seatpost)

Jackie said...

It was such a joy to be a small part of your day.

RunnerChick said...

Congratulations! I so enjoyed reading your race report! Only now I'm crying and my lunch break is over...crap! LOVE the tatoo! I am a chicken.. did it hurt?

Chris GW said...

Jeez Girl - gotta warn us before we start reading to get the tissues!!! I am so proud of you - you let it all go out there on the course - can't wait to start training with you in 09! Keep smiling girl!!! Love Ya!! Chris

beej30 said...

Congratulations on your FIRST ironman, many more to come? Great job getting through it, and the mental toughness to stick with that swim. It's never easy, and your mind wants to bail it seems all the time. So great job. Now what?

SkirtChaser said...

Congrats Kid!!
It was great to catch you at the finish line. I am not sure who was more excited, you or Mary!!!
You coming out to AZ in NOV to watch and catch me? This will be my 3rd IM tis year, and this will be THE ONE!!! I missed my Kona slot last time by :11 seconds!!!
Congrats again,

Deanna said...

Great job on the blog. I loved reading it. However, I am now crying at my desk. Congrats Twin...you are amazing and an inspiration!! xoxoxoxo