DNF (really means Did Not Finish), I prefer, Did Not Fail

This post is not the one I had intended to write and it will not read as I had planned. It was suppose to be about how I conquered something I never imagined I would ever be able to do.

Sometimes our goals take a detour. A detour does not mean we will not ever accomplish our goal but the date of our goal will change. I am not the person who, “things just come easy to.” If I want something I have to work for it. It does not matter what it is, I cannot take shortcuts. It is not fun but I am thankful for that because it forces me to appreciate hard work, earn what I accomplish and most importantly it allows me to recognize that God gives me any ability I have.

I never even dreamed of training for a full Ironman.
My perspecitve changed after I completed Ironman 70.3 Miami (a half Ironman, 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride and 13.1 mile run) on October 26,2014. I realized I was not dreaming big enough.
I had a set back in November 2014 that would eventually require surgery. I had a herniated disc in my neck. This was not a result of my training, just part of the fun of being over (barely) 40. After my surgery in February 2015 I decided once I was cleared to train I would begin training for a full Ironman. I started training in late May. My coach Skye Johnson got a plan together and off I went. The longest bike ride I had done was about 60 miles and the longest swim was 100 lengths, aka 2,500 yards, 1.4 miles. I had a long way to go.
My training plan was detailed and gave me a great way to keep up with my workouts. I spent the next 5 months working really hard to keep up with my training while maintaining my family life. In triathlon world we are the “age groupers,” as in the people who have regular lives, families, kids, jobs and other responsibilities besides training for an Ironman. June and July were nice because as a teacher I had the time off. The summer was crazy hot but I managed to get it done. Once school/work started in August I had to balance work, kids and family with the training.
To make it more fun I was determined to FINALLY pass my P.E. test so if a miracle occurred, and a P.E. job came available I would be prepared. Miracles happen. I passed my P.E. certification test on July 31, 2015 and I was hired as the P.E. teacher for K-5 on August 26, 2015. God is good. My first day was September 8, 2015.
My training really started to pick up in September so it was a very tiring month. But as I say, it was “the good kind of tired.” I was doing all this cool stuff and thankful beyond measure to be doing it, there was just A LOT of it. I completed multiple Century (100 mile) rides, the swim distances were increasing and the run miles doubled. I was starting to feel that I might actually be ready for this awesome race.

Race week came. Lets just say I was a nervous wreck. I tried so hard to not be stressed. I was mostly stressed about making sure the family had what they needed for the trip and that everyone was happy, prepared and ready. I wanted my family to feel a part of the experience and that this life event was not just all about me but honoring them as well. They had made sacrifices too.
We made our way to Panama City and began the check-in process. When you run a marathon you get your race packet complete with timing chip, race bib, fun samples and ads for future races. You put your bib on your shirt, lay out your outfit, shoes, and nutrition and then you are done. Not the case for Ironmnan. They give you 873 bags and you are suppose to figure out what to put in them. You then make a spreadsheet, put everything you need in each bag, but not too much, mark your bag so you can find it among the other 3,000 bags, drop it off the day before and hope you remembered everything and put the correct items in each bag. Simple enough right. 🙂

Race morning.
I walked 3 miles (not really) to drop off my special needs bags, went to the transition area and checked on my bike to make sure she made it through the night. Next, I made my way to the beach and stood there still debating if I should wear my wetsuit. IMFL is almost always wetsuit legal but of course this year, it was not. The weather was fabulous but not wetsuit legal. If I wore a wetsuit I would start later, but the benefits of a wetsuit are worth it. I met up with some of my training partners and that was super encouraging. The National Anthem began and I stopped to soak in that I am about to compete in an IRONMAN!!!!! Wow!!! How on earth did I get here?

1. I am the girl who is not big on getting in the ocean much passed my knees, forget going underwater, and no way would I ever go passed the break. Swimming, ha! I knew how to swim but not the cool Micheal Phelps style, with goggles and the whole form thing breathing to the side, looking all cool and athletic. Salt water, yuk, makes you feel all sticky. Sand on wet feet not my favorite.
2. The bike. Ha! Wearing shoes that clip onto the pedals, are you kidding me?! Riding in aero without falling over. Grabbing a water bottle WHILE riding. I used to have to pull over to do that.
3. The run. Well, that is my favorite. I have ran since high school. I never said I was fast, but I LOVE to run.
I am the PERFECT candidate for a triathlon, and of course an IRONMAN.

I did the work. I followed my training plan. I listened to my coach, Skye Johnson.

1. I finally quit doing that funky kick thing when I swam. I improved my form and did not stop swimming every time I took a breath. I almost looked legit in the pool. AND, I love it. I actually started to like doing the swim workouts. I got way more comfortable in open water. I decided fear would not overtake me and I just put my face in the water and swam.
2. I did 6 century rides! I got more comfortable on the bike and increased my speed a little bit. AND, I started to love riding. It was fun. I got brave and did some group rides.
3. I started doing my long runs with the fabulous Heather Davenport and since she is a beast I got faster.

Everything was looking like a great set up for a fabulous race.
I also managed to get my nutrition right and figure out what works.
The gun went off and into the ocean I went. There were 4 million people, the waves were 8 feet tall and getting kicked in the face was part of it. The water felt great. I was determined. The turn around buoy was about 100 feet from Mexico so I knew it would be awhile before the turn around. I swam the first 1.2 miles, made and it to the shore then got ready to go back in for round two. I then realized, I will make the swim cut off with no problem! Even though I felt like I was swimming on a treadmill I managed to complete the swim in 1hr 42 minutes. I was most concerned about making the swim cutoff which is 2hr 20min. I was ecstatic to make it way under that. I made it to T1, transition from swim to bike.
The volunteers at IMFL were AMAZING!!!! I made it to the bike.
I was starving!!! From the moment I got on the bike I was tired. I was slow from the beginning. I was having a hard time getting my nutrition right so I know that had a lot to do with why I was so off. I was struggling but I made up my mind that the only way I was exiting the course was if they took me off. I knew I was going slow but I thought I was doing fine with time cutoffs. The time of day cutoff was earlier due to the time change the week before. I had no idea what time it was and I had no idea I was so close to not making the bike cutoff. I got to mile 81 to turn around and that is when it all changed. I rode up and the official said, “this is the intermediate cutoff,” I thought ok great, now I will turn around and keep going.
Then the dreaded words, “you missed it by 11 minutes.” What?!!! I just stood there. Frozen. He took my timing chip off and handed me a cell phone to call my husband. I called Paul and told him the news. He later told me I sounded like a robot on the phone. Still in shock I was not sure what to do. I just stood there not knowing what to do next. Other athletes were coming to the cutoff and would be told the news. One girl rode up, heard the news and just lost it right there. Complete disappointment. I felt so bad for her. So I went up to her and said, “I don’t know you, I’m sweaty, you are sweaty, but we are going to hug and cry together. And we did. She is an amazing girl. This was her first IM as well. We have become friends and we have encouraged each other since race day. After I had my “moment” another athlete who was in the same boat as me, asked me why I was so upset. I told him about the 3 little youngins waiting to see mom finish. I did not want to disappointment them. I did not want them to think their mom was a failure. He said, “this race does not define you.” Great advice. Even though I still felt like a loser, I kept thinking about his words. I will not lie and act like I just let it go and did not let it affect me. But it did. I went through all kinds of emotions. It made me mad that it bothered me so much. I did not think I should be this upset about something like this. There are so many other things in life much more important and I did not want this to affect me like it did. Over the next few weeks I went through a variety of emotions complete with “I quit,” “I’m selling my bike,” I’m selling all my Ironman stuff I bought the day before the race,” “I am quitting triathlon altogether,” “I’m a loser, etc…
Once I ended the pity party I decided…
I am not finished.
I WILL not quit.
I WILL get faster.
I WILL conquer this.
I WILL complete an IRONMAN!!!

So here we are in 2016. I have 2 races scheduled. I have a new plan, a list of changes for this training, and a determination to get better, faster and stronger. Everything happens for a reason. God does not allow us to go through anything without being there with us every step of the way. If we allow Him, He can be glorified in any and all circumstances whether the outcome labels us a Finisher or DNF.
I am ready to train and ready to learn.

So, what are your goals for 2016? Decide what you want to do, set a goal, determine your plan to get there, enlist friends to help you and hold you accountable, then go do it!!!
What are you waiting for?

Here is a video link from the beginning of my triathlon races which started in May 2014. It includes training, races, a bunch of firsts, a surgery, a few set backs, a supportive loving family, amazing friends who are also training partners, and a ton of learning experiences.
Triathlon Video

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