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...

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Redman 2014

...and 48 days after Ironman Boulder, on September 20th, I did it all over again.  One last hurrah for 2014, completing my iron journey...three in as little as four months, four in 13 months.  140.6 miles?  Yup.  I'm addicted to the distance.  I guess there are far worse things to be addicted to, believe me...but I'm pretty sure I am addicted to those too...

This fun little baby to Oklahoma City (OKC) was born last winter, when my friends Jennifer and Jeffrey, ten year veterans of announcing this small town race called 'Redman', invited me to be their guest athlete.  OKC in September...  hm...  It could be super hot, humid and windy that time of year.  It may have taken me about 20 seconds to decide.  I'm in! 
So on September 18th, I set out for a 10+ hour drive with my biggest fan (my mama!) and off to OKC we were. Did I mention that I HATE road trips that involve being in the car for more than 4 hours?  The destination is always Ugh City. Population: One pissed off ME!!! Anyways, upon arriving to our final destination, I could feel the moisture in the air as my overly-processed, forcibly straightened hair instantly curled...yesssssss! And my skin was glowing. AND I could breathe...we had made it.  Hooray! The weather was absolutely perfect for this Midwest girl.  Hot. Humid. Windy.  I was going to be right at home. and we all know ironman *is* where my heart is.
World's best Ironmom
I had the perfect day-before-the-race day, as I chilled out with my mom, leisurely getting my gear (and ass) ready for the next morning. It's just crazy that nothing about racing gets me nervous or anxious any more.  I am totally in my comfort zone come time to hit the water.  It's as if I was born to do this. for FUN of course. Lord knows it's not to make a living!

As expected, I slept like a rock.  I sprung out of bed, excited as hell that I was going to be able to spend the day doing something amazing.  I ate, suited up in my skulls and butterflies, and headed to the start.  As we arrived at the lake and made our way to the beach, I watched the flags whip around wildly and knew immediately that this might (ok, would) be the most challenging swim in my seven years of this sport. Oh. my. mother flippin' god.  My swim goal was immediately reduced from 1:19, to just hang-the-fuck-on-for-dear-life-and-finish.

So.  with jazz hands in tow and a freakishly positive attitude, a dude in a kilt playing bagpipes lead us to the water.  It was go time.  and somewhere around 7:25am, off I went.  for about 100 meters.  and I stopped.  breathless and with the feelings that I had been in a college bar fight. with a linebacker. a MASSIVE linebacker.  Unfortunately, I only breathe to the left and guess which direction the wind was coming from for 2/3's of my first lap? Let the prayers ensue.  and each one started with, "Dear God - please don't let me die today.  It would so not be cool to die on a Saturday."  I swam a few strokes.  Tread some water.  Got pounded by waves. Doggy paddled forward as best I could.  Stopped.  Swam some more strokes. Tread some more water.  Got pounded by bigger waves. Doggy paddled forward as best I could. Repeat. and this little routine I got into lasted for two hours.  TWO BLEEPIN' HOURS.  and the moment I emerged from the water, a good 2.6 miles later as confirmed by every single person with one of those fancy water-proof Garmin watches, I made my way to the sand.  triumphant.  victorious.  and so grateful that I survived.
T1 was a blast.  There was something like less than 45 women doing this race...did I mention that under 250 (if that) athletes did the full? Yeaaaaaaaaah...this was quite a difference than the usual 2500+ field I battle against. So my point of T1 being fun was because there was just one volunteer manning the tent the whole day...and she was I.N.C.R.E.D.I.B.L.E!  Best energy in a volunteer that I have ever felt, and she was on top of her game.  I entered T1 exhausted and starving, as that was the longest time I had ever spent in open water.  She already had my bag open and all of my things neatly laid out.  It was pretty easy for her considering I was one of the last ones out of the water. She gave me serious words of encouragement and a big hug.  I got out of there as quickly as my body would allow me to, and FINALLY made my way to my bike.  It was easy to spot considering there were about 4 other bikes left on the racks.  ahhh, just like the good ol' days.  

I made my way out of the lake area, with some sweet-ass cross and head winds that decided to be my number one spectators for 112 miles.  yay.  As I exited the dam, some complete asshole ran me off the road.  He wasn't paying attention as he made a three-point turn, which involved the back of his car coming right at me. I popped off the road, thankfully able to hold on, as I rolled down the grass and into some rocks.  Near death experience number one of the ride (unfortunately it occured twice!)  I swear my heart rate jumped over 200bpm, right after it stopped...holy shit, that has never happened to me before.  112 miles is a long way to ride, and so rather than give you the play by play of how awesome it was, [ENTER: WICKED SARCASM] I will tell you this: it WAS my slowest 112 mile ride ever, as in EVER ever, as I stopped at every single aid station to graze, pack ice down my jersey and shorts, stretch and pray. Did I mention yet that it was over 100 degrees with the heat index and the winds were 18-20mph?  Um.  that was pretty sweet.  Like praying-for-your-life-to-baby-Jesus sweet.  I did my best to keep my chin up though, and stay positive.  and let's not forget those prayers to baby Jesus...please get me off this bike alive!  

T2. I made it!  The lil' guy upstairs came through. and T2 was even MORE fun than T1.  Again, all of my things were neatly laid out by our transition angel, and I think I spent almost 20 minutes just "messin' around."  I visited with my friend Jennifer, as I told her all about my super FUN bike ride. I even had a chance to call my boyfriend (don't ask how) to let him know I was still alive, despite the Day of the Dead poster mocking me on the tent wall.  Alright.  It was time to test out the legs.  Would they work?  and the pretty persistent glute and hamstring injury that had no issue sticking with me all summer long...would it limit me to another kick-ass 6 hour marathon walk?  Well, it was time to find out. and off I went.



and...they worked.  my legs actually worked.  slow and steady at first.  It's pretty typical for me to take 8-10 miles to get warmed up.  Having been hurt (like, all year), I hadn't spent a hell of a lot of time working on my run transition off the bike. I spent more time just trying to *run.* It hurt for sure.  My glutes HURT. But I didn't care.  I didn't. care. at all.  I let my passion take over and for 26.2 miles, I smiled.  and I ran.  and stopped at all the aid stations. and made friends with volunteers and spectators. and smiled. and ran some more. and flashed copious amounts of jazz hands. and smiled. and started picking off all the people who crushed me in the swim, and kept ahead of me on the bike. and I passed them... one by one.  Not competitively though.  I just dug deep and ran. Despite the heat, the wind and the humidity...the hardest iron-distance triathlon of my life was becoming my absolute favorite race ever. as in EVER ever.

The volunteers far out-numbered the amount of us traveling 140.6 miles.  It was magnificent.  I don't think I have ever felt such a strong camaraderie among athletes either.  We were all suffering, at varying degrees, but we all did our best to encourage each other on.  As the sun set, the heat and humidity remained, crushing egos and destroying souls.  But as you may now know, I LIVE for these conditions.  I flourish in them.  Not in speed, but in spirit.  and for 5 hours and 15ish minutes (I have NO idea what my time was), I smiled. and had the time of my life *running*...




and then it happened.  after a 15+ hour day, left feeling like a small rag doll that had been tied to the back of a semi-tractor trailer, traveling across the country's rockiest roads at 400mph, I became a 9X Ironman. And you want to know something? (as sick as this sounds)  I had a fucking blast. Sadly, there were only 129 finishers - 34 females and 95 males.  Something like 38% of the field DNFd.  Do you know how lucky I feel?!?  LUCK. EEEEEEEEEEEEEE! And the moment I crossed that finish line, I am pretty sure I uttered the words, "I will never do this race again!" Um.  never say never?  

I really need to say THANK YOU you to my mom, Jennifer and Jeffrey Kragh, Betty Designs because #badassisbeautiful and to every single person, both on and off the course that day, for making my dream of snagging another 140.6 mile finish come true. I love y'all to death!  This was a  CLASS ACT race, despite the tough conditions, and I would recommend it to anyone that wants to prove to themselves that they are so much stronger than they think...

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