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 13, 2009


When the alarm went off at 4am, I jumped out of bed and ran over to the window. It was dark but the parking lot lights were a beautiful sight over the 2700 bikes below. I felt like a kid on Christmas morning!

Mike and I had bagels with peanut butter and jelly but we had forgotten to bring utensils. It became comical as I cut the bagels open with scissors and put on the pb/jelly using a coffee stirrer. We started laughing so hard that I started crying. Then I really started crying as panic had suddenly emerged. Where the hell did that come from? I felt calm up until this point. I was sobbing. Oh. my. god. How in the world am I going to do this? Mike hugged me and told me it would be alright. I had to believe him because all sorts of doubts had now entered my mind.

We dropped off our bags, got body-marked and headed back to the room. Our parents were now here and I was starting to calm down, just a bit. Went back down to the terrace and it was now completely daylight. It was chaos. People everywhere. You could sense the nerves in the air - it was thick and heavy. We were less than 45 minutes to the start of an epic day.

Eric, the Dickerson's, Mike and I headed down to the water. I was starting to loosen up and when I heard Coldplay, I started to dance and sing, in an effort to shed the tension and get excited again. Screw being nervous. I have done this before and I thought, this time, I am going to do it BETTER. I put my goggles on as we shuffled to the water to shield my tears. We hugged good-bye, exchanged good lucks and found our way into the water. I shivered as my face hit the water for the first time. Holy shit. I am doing an Ironman today. yeeeeessssssss.

2.4 Mile Swim
I found the perfect spot this year. Way to the left of the buoys and about 30% back from the front. There were few of us out this way and I knew this placement would make for a terrific swim. Mike found it too. He swam right up to me. It was incredible to have him there for the start of this 140.6 mile journey. The canon went off and so did we. I felt pure joy and excitement as I started to stroke my way towards the other end of the lake. It was a very uneventful first lap. Wearing my long-sleeved wetsuit made all the difference in the world. Nothing was sore. My shoulders, arms and back all felt great.

Lap 2 was more of the same. Staying to the inside was the smartest decision I could have ever made. There was very little, if any, contact with other swimmers. The turn buoys were a little crazy but hey, I was out there with 2700 people. It was bound to get a little crazy? As I rounded the final turn buoy, I could hear the music and Mike Reilly's voice. This year I was in much better shape. My hands didn't go numb and my teeth weren't chattering. My swim cap did start to slide up and I could feel it almost falling off my head. I stopped to take it off and shove it down the front of my wetsuit. I couldn't lose it - it was my "tiara" for the swim.

When I emerged from the water, my legs were solid and I didn't stumble this time. I was even able to run to the wetsuit strippers and help them help me get my suit off. I saw my family and was all smiles. I did it!

112 Mile Bike
I was able to run all the way to T1 - gosh, what a different experience than last year. I changed as quickly as I could and wanted to break 10 minutes in T1. No dawdling this year, all business. I knew Mike was just ahead because I had seen him running to his bike as I came out of the port-o-potty before making my way into transition.

Headed out to my bike and I couldn't shake the smile that would permanently become glued to my face. The volunteers were amazing, the crowd support was phenomenal and I had only two things left to accomplish. Ride 112 miles. and run a marathon. Easy.

It was already a warm morning and so I started dumping water on my head from the first aid station. Hydration and keeping cool would be key to a succesful day. About an hour into my ride, my bike computer stopped working. I no longer knew my speed or time. I used my RPM's and heart rate for the rest of the ride to guage myself so that I wouldn't blow up my legs. Needed to save something for the run.

This bike course is extremely hilly and technical. I loved it! It was a very busy ride and sure made the time pass quickly. Again, the spectators were so much fun and I found that it is very possible to dance on your bike. and fun. My nickname became "Pinky" and "Pink Girl" because my bike is pink and I was wearing pink. Of course, that fueled my fire because the more pink the crowd saw, the more cheering I received. What an incredibly smart race strategy on my part! I started to get a headache too from the smiling. No joke, I really was smiling my head off. Also, I got to see my family about half-way on the bike. That really pumped me up and I got a second wind.

With about 15 miles to go, I started to calculate what my estimated bike time was going to be. Last year I rode a 7:07 and I felt faster this year, but you never know. I was estimating somewhere around 6:50-7 hours this year. Or at least hoping for that. I kept the bike stops to a minimum. With a few miles to go, I actually checked the time of day. 3:11pm. wait. what? seriously? I thought there was something wrong with my watch so I asked a spectator and he confirmed the time of day. I started to choke up. Holy crap. Not only did I smile my head off, I rode my ass off too. This was shaping up to be not only a great day, but an incredible one!

26.2 Mile Run
Feeling incredibly energized and psyched to have 114.4 miles behind me, I sped up the helix and dismounted my bike as quickly as I could. Running into T2, I grabbed my bag and changed at what felt like lightning-speed pace. I had my dress on and was ready... the marathon? This is my thing... I planned on running half of it, and dancing the other half. You don't think I would bust my ass for 8 1/2 hours to simply give up and be a party-pooper, do you? HELL NO. IT'S PARTY TIME!

Saw my family as I headed out of transition and boy did I choke up *again*. They were all wearing pink (of course) and were easy to spot. They told me Mike was up ahead. I was hoping to catch up to him just so I could tell him how much I loved him. I felt like I had been chasing him all day just to do that.

My legs felt strong underneath me. I knew I wasn't going to be running an earth shattering pace but I could run, and that's all one could hope for. I had so much fun with the spectators! I was cheering, slapping hands, and making many many friends out there. I was in a pink visor, pink sunglasses and pink dress. I was recognized from the bike - "there's that girl in pink." This year? I was the only girl in a dress. I told people I had to meet my husband at party afterwards. I had incredible crowd support - I was a) still running b) still smiling and c) still dancing. I think I said "thank you" one million times. I know I pissed off the runners around me who were struggling to keep moving. Our names were printed on our bibs and when you smile more and look like you're having fun, the crowd screams your name more and louder. It's like they're drawn to your energy and vice versa. When I felt like garbage and wanted to walk, I would smile a little more, pump my fist and the crowd would go wild and I would gain some strength back and find the motivation to keep running. It's so cool. I'm a clown, I can't help it. I couldn't do this sport if I couldn't have fun.

The sun was setting and I knew I would not make my goal of 12:45 but I was completely happy with that. I saw so many of my wonderful friends on the run - they kept me going and Mike and I eventually did catch up and were able to spend some time together. What a dream. He did have to hit the bathroom a few times and so we eventually split up, not being able to rejoin. I knew he was right behind me but I didn't realize how close. If only I had known...

As I hit the final aid station at mile 25, still smiling, still running and still having fun, I started to cry. A good cry though. The kind of crying one does after realizing the accomplishment of doing something so incredibly hard and not knowing how in the hell one did it. I rounded that final street by the Capital and I could see the lights, hear the crowds and feel the joy. I was bursting inside. I was screaming. I was crying and of course, I was dancing as I made my way down the final finishing chute. 140.6 miles. and this time, I heard Mike Riley tell me I was an Ironman... and you know the coolest part of this all? My mom was waiting me for me on the other side of the Finish Line with my medal... wait...what? How incredible is that?!? and no sooner did I turn around to see my husband finishing and his Mom was there to put his medal around his neck. Oh my gosh, 1 minute behind me - I wish I would have known so we could have danced our way in together... next time babe...

2009 IM Wisconsin Results
Swim 1:26:39
T1 9:54
Bike 6:41:21
T2 5:40
Run 4:44:37
Final time: 13:08:08

2008 IM Wisconsin Results
Swim 1:41:46
T1 17:00
Bike 7:07:30
T2 7:17
Run 4:50:12
Final time: 14:05:42

Thank you everyone for your continued support, love, and unbridled enthusiasm for me and my husband. We are indebted to you and will continue to make you proud!


KK said...

Wow, Kristina, what an awesome race report!

Of course you smiled and danced your way through that race, that's exactly who you are and why others are so drawn to you.

I am so happy for you that you PRed by almost an hour, what an incredible accomplishment. You are an inspiration to the rest of us ).

Go.2.Belle said...

Im very proud of you both. What an adventure. xo Michelle ps. where is my mention?? my pic?? :P

Amy said...

There you go again, making me tear up. The part about your mom and Mike's mom? Come on....that is just the best. (enter tears here.)

I am so proud of (both of)you. What an amazing race. You've taught me that a positive attitude makes all the difference in the world.

So proud of you. Now let's get to drinkin'!!!!

RunnerChick said...

Girl, you KNOW how to tell a story.... goosebumps and tears. Thanks!!

Melissa said...

Wow! What a great race!!! You are so energetic and uplifting...and holey cow what an improvement from last time.