Ironman Wales


I guess I’m back to blogging. I always debate whether writing it all down is worthwhile, or could even be considered oversharing, but mostly I wanted to recap this race because E V E R Y T H I N G went wrong and yet I continued on and had a day I was still extremely proud of myself. This is a prime example of persevering through a shitty day and making the most of what you have.

I barely trained the last 5 weeks leading up to Ironman Wales; instead, I was working 60-70 hour work weeks, barely training or sleeping and missing workout after workout. I averaged ~11 hours/week of training the last 5 weeks heading into Wales, which is about way, way, way, wayyyy below where I should have been.

This is pretty par for the course for me when work gets hectic, unfortunately, and why I’m so used to rolling with the punches—I’ve been through this before, so I tried not to worry too much about this even heading into one of the hardest Ironman courses out there.

An overnight flight where I slept like a baby (thank you accumulated exhaustion) and 3-hour drive later, I arrived in Wales and immediately fell in love with the beach, the rolling hills and the small town of Tenby. I felt wonderful running up the incredibly steep run course during my shake-out runs, laughing the entire time at the absurdity of what I was going to tackle (it was steep, real steep, y’all).

Race morning was a bit of a debacle. You see, in most North American races it’s assumed you can add things to your transition bags in the morning. So I had not added my watch, nutrition or expensive sunglasses to the bag, expecting that I would just throw them in there on race morning.

Instead, at 5:30am, I was told I did not have access to my bags and so ended up having to adjust on the fly. To top it off, I forgot ALL of my nutrition back at the condo rental and so got an extra 4k jog as I ran back to get my cut-up CLIF bars. I ran back to the bike, crammed them into the top tube storage with moments to spare [ed. note: foreshadowing] before dodging my way down the crowded walkway to the swim start.

The swim was amazing, mostly because I just sat on the feet of eventual winner of Simone Mitchell plus Manon Genet for a bit and let them guide me through the two-loop course. I’m pretty amazed at the outcome given that I only swam 5-times in the last two months thanks to that hectic work/life schedule but managed to sit on feet and keep up without burning any matches.

We ran through the Australian exit and back for the second loop and then I followed Simone through the crowds for the second loop, finishing my swim in an Ironman PR for me of 58 minutes.

Somehow, after the 1k uphill slog (talk about getting your heart rate HIGH early on in a race…. but the crowds!!) to transition and passing Simone and Manon in the change tent, I left T1 in second place—everything was going exactly to plan. Was this finally the day where everything would finally fall into place?

Within seconds of leaving transition on my bike though, my elation turned to despair: I repeatedly pressed the buttons on my Di2 set-up and did not feel my gears shift at all. I ripped my visor off to get a better view, threw my nutrition (balled up Clif bars) down my sports bra so I could see what was going on with my cables and started a freak-out of monumental levels to try to figure out why I was stuck in my 4th hardest gear. Meanwhile, the entire field was passing me by.

Long story short, I never got the bike to shift. Honestly, I cycled rapidly through the five stages of grief in the first ten miles before I decided that there was no way I was giving up and I was just settling in for a suffer-fest of epic proportions.


Mood, the entire race:

First stage, denial: I kept repeatedly pushing the buttons, hoping they would miraculously respond. No response.

Second stage, anger. There was some cursing. Some “why me?!?” Some tears. Some berating myself about why I wasn’t better prepared mechanically for this race.

Third stage, bargaining: “It’s a two loop course so if I make it through the 18% climb on lap 1 without having to walk my bike past the crowds, I’ll continue on. Otherwise, I’ll just DNF my way into transition.”

Stage four, depression: there is nothing more upsetting than blaming yourself for every single mistake, missed workout and opportunity for mechanical mishaps leading up to a race.

Stage five—my specialty—acceptance: let’s just keep spinning out or mashing away and see where the day takes us.

I loved this course, even though I was riding it like a total newbie: it was right up my alley: technical, hilly and reminded me a lot of riding back in Asheville. But there was nothing I could do with it: I was either mashing up a climb at 40 rpm in an inappropriate gear or spinning out and unable to pedal on any of the descents.

Due to the gearing issues and super punchy course, I left with a pitiful average power of 130w and a normalized power of 170ish. Clearly this is not how you should race a bike race.

I got passed quickly without any reasonable gears and set up shop at the back of the race. I knew I was going to have a bad result and time but I wasn’t injured and there was nothing to keep me from finishing so I made up my mind that I would finish no matter what. Climbing up the steep inclines without any gears also left me tweaking my back, so this meant I was fully prepared to walk the 26 miles—if needed.

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I came into T2 after the most pitiful bike ride of my entire career and fell over in transition—literally, pulled down a barrier with me trying to stand up for the run—as I tried to find something to keep my back from spasming in pain. The first three miles were pure pain: I was running forward, hunched over, trying to get the pain to work itself out.

I had no clue how I was running or even running the pace I was but I just kept moving forward. Miraculously, things seemed to work themselves out in my back; somehow I think the downhill gravity helped and the pain receded near the end of the first of the four loops.

And then I had one of the best runs of my life. It was long by half a mile but still ran a 3:26 on one of the hilliest, straight-up and straight-down and twisty-turvy on the cobbles through the village courses I have ever run. I thought I was too far back to make a difference in the race so I made the most of it: high fived little kids, smiled widely the crowds, thanked every aid station and cheerleader, etc., etc.

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I normally go way too hard during the first half of races but this one I managed to make the first my slowest (I blame the back problems) with the last and the second the fastest and second fastest laps—totally out of the ordinary. I was resigned to my 7th, and out of the money position, thinking the closest rabbit was 20 minutes ahead, but heading onto the final lap I was running through town and these two incredibly drunk girls yelled to me.

“The next girl is just a minute ahead”, they screamed, shaking their respective pints into the street, “FINISH HER!!!”. I felt like I was courtside at a WWE match and loved every ounce of their passion.

But I though they were just drunk or confused because I had seen multiple turn-arounds and there was no one (in my mind) within striking distance. But we approached the next climb and I saw a double-digit pink bib ahead of me and, knowing it was a fellow pro, turned on the burners and proceeded to finish lap 4—the final lap—in the fastest of the day. I ran like there was someone chasing me and practically pushed people out of the way on the narrow course to make sure I was not caught.

I’ve always struggled to accept that I was “good” at hilly run courses and yet here I was holding my own on one of the toughest out there. Fifth place was only 5 minutes ahead. Looking back, I kick myself a bit: I could have gone faster on the run. If I had figured out my bike and avoided mechanicals, I could have actually pedaled more than 40% of the race and gone an hour faster. What if, what if, what if.

But I stayed in the game. I did not give up when 95% of other athletes would have and I ended up having a phenomenal run and learning a ton of invaluable lessons about myself as an athlete. I loved this course and this race even on one of my “worst” days. You can get I will definitely be back.

What’s next?

  • Get the bike fixed

  • Get back to training

  • Los Cabos 70.3

  • Ironman Argentina

  • Sell the Felt and get a new ride

On that note, if anyone has any hook-ups, suggestions or advice for the new bike, I am all ears. As much as I have enjoyed being a brand-less free agent the last few years, I’m open to exploring quality options.

The joy of finishing when you weren’t sure you would.

The joy of finishing when you weren’t sure you would.



Looking back on 2018

This first month of 2019 has been about retreating a bit and focusing on myself. I had one week where I travelled to California for work Monday - Wednesday, flew home late that night and arrived at a client down in Denver the next morning, less than 6 hours between arriving and leaving. Naturally, as someone who lives in the kid-free Boulder bubble, I got deathly sick.

There are few worse ways to start your year than a 9 day stint spent mostly in bed or on the couch with the flu. So I became a hermit mid-January and just maintained the trend throughout the rest of the month as I recovered.

As a result, I got a little stir-crazy and found myself in a little bit of an internet tiff this week—though as an opinionated individual, that’s not an entirely new thing—but I found it annoying that athletes today are policing whether other athletes should be able to call themselves a “professional triathlete” based on their financial earnings in the sport.

I probably took this a little more personally than I should have but literally every new or aspiring professional triathlete that has ever reached out to me in the past four years (~7-8?) has mentioned that she was worried about not fitting in, or that she did not “belong” in the professional ranks (it’'s always a she, isn’t it?).

And yet at the same time we have seen more male triathletes taking their (rightfully earned) pro cards without hesitation and the occasional pro race where the women’s field is not as deep as expected. I think we’re seeing a full-blown case of professional female imposter syndrome and we need to do more to support women taking the leap.

(BTW, I think I may be the poster child for “amateur who turned pro but kept her day job and has maintained spotty and/or back-of-pack results since”… feel free to reach out to me if those are your lowly aspirations: I have plenty of feedback, both good and bad).

I myself have felt the very same, and struggle with the sense of belonging. The interesting thing about being a back-of-the-field female pro is that you don’t feel like you belong in the pro ranks, but also feel like you would not be welcomed if you dropped back down to race amateur: literally living in no-woman’s-land.

I haven’t yet renewed my USAT pro license for 2019 so still have the option to race as an amateur—but I’m committed to racing pro in 2019 once I free up enough time in my schedule to submit my results to USAT.

The fact is that racing as a professional:

  1. saves you money: ~$1000 for the year versus $3000+ if you like to race as frequently as I do. And that’s not even counting home stays, which I have yet to do.

  2. raises the level of competition: it is an entirely different race, on multiple levels. As an amateur, I could sit in a swim pack and swim 60’ in an Ironman, no problem—now, that’s an all-out solo swim effort that detracts from the rest of the race. Don’t even get me started on the bike slipstream effect

  3. You fail quicker and faster. And get better as a result. As tough of a pill as this is to swallow, this is a wonderful thing. The most athletes who I see not cut it in the professional ranks are those who cannot acknowledge and learn from failure.

That last point is key. I have come to embrace that “failure” is a faster method of evolution and growth, as long as you learn and adjust accordingly and are not too hard on yourself.

Even though I only got to toe the start line for two triathlons and one mountain bike race, my 2019 was a terribly rough yet wonderful year of “evolution” on all fronts: athletic, professional and personal. And I’m a better person because of it.

At the end of the day, I think we all rise to the expectations that we set for ourselves, or that others set for ourselves. I’ve always performed best when I or my coaches have expected the best from myself and my performances. While realistic can often be good, I think it sometimes sets an upper limit on what is possible. As an aspiring Professional, whether capital P or little p, whether in work or on the race course, we can learn the most by being the right ratio of realistic and ambitious that keeps on moving forward as much as possible.



This is 31.

I like spending my birthdays doing something challenging and, as I’ve come to learn, prefer tackling these adventures alone. It gives you ample time to reflect on the past year’s lessons and start dreaming up what’s in store for the next 365.

This birthday tradition started a few years back, with a standard HPB-assigned 100x100 birthday swim. Soon after followed 128 mile and 129 mile rides for my respective 28th and 29th birthdays. Last year it was a crazy mountain bike ride up Kenosha Pass. This year I was worried my birthday adventure would be a little boring, thanks to a recovering broken ankle, but Lucy and I have been hiking a lot for rehab, so a double 14’er sounded like just the right adventure to take on.

For the uninitiated, a 14er is a mountain that peaks over 14,000ft; there are 58 in Colorado alone. I had one under my belt and wanted to add to my list. Lucy and I started at sunrise to hike up Grays Peak to 14,278’, where we took our obligatory peak-bagger photo, before walking down, across and up a steep ridge to Torreys Peak at 14,275’. Six hours of hiking, scrambling and tail wags later, let me just say: Colorado, you are might pretty.

Looking back, thirty came and went with plenty of struggles and set-backs, but also some new adventures and significant growth. It felt a little like a two steps forward/one step back kind of year. Here’s to more leaps forward this upcoming year, because I had a full day of dreaming and scheming and planning today and let me tell you, thirty-one sounds great.

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The Healing Process

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The Healing Process

After I found out I broke my ankle, there was a 10% chance I would be able to still race Ironman Wales (this upcoming weekend). I took my doctor's very hesitant prognosis and got inspired. I ran (well, hobbled) home and started researching all of the ways to speed up the healing of a broken ankle. Or, at the very least, how to ensure my best odds of a successful recovery. 

Below, I outlined a number of strategies I tried to give myself the best shot at healing quickly. While (spoiler alert!) the body had different ideas and I'm still at least 1-2 weeks out from running, I believe the strategies below helped heal relatively quickly/correctly and gave me something to strive for while my triathlon goals were put on hold.

Keeping me sane during this time has been a refocusing of my goals and not worrying about not being able to run or bike or even keep up with my lane mates—but focusing on the little things that I could keep in my control. In a way, this is the complete opposite of the typical way I approach triathlon (I'm great at executing the swim/bike/run portion, but try to get 8-hours of sleep and do all of the small yet critical things? Not so much). 

If there was ever a silver lining to this injury, it was that it has taught me how to treat my body during times of stress. Maybe you don't have to wait until you're sidelined with an injury to have that knocked into your head—at least, for your sake, I hope you can learn a little from me.


Strategies to Heal Broken Bones

(That also happen to be good take-aways for any training athlete)

Nutrient Rich Diet: Focus on lots of nutrient- and anti-oxidant rich foods. Research the AIP diet (auto-immune protocol) and get some ideas for ways to decrease inflammation while allowing your body to heal. While I didn't stick to this 100%, I did use it as inspiration for ways to focus on ways to heal naturally and maximize my healing through nutrition. For me, this included extra protein, bringing more colorful veggies into the house and a focus on Calcium, Vitamin D and Iron supplements. I am usually wary of supplements and even usually failed to take my daily Centrum multi-vitamin prior to this, but I made it a priority during the healing process. Although I typically don't drink milk or eat yogurt, I added them back in during this time.

Feed your body: This one was hard, as I was well aware that I was burning far less on a gimpy leg than my previous 18-25hr training load. But it is still critical to make sure you are giving your body enough calories to promote the healing process. So while I certainly didn't lose any weight while injured, the few extra pounds were worth the peace of mind that my body had what it needed to heal. 

Avoid Ibuprofen: (Or any other anti-inflammatory drug for that matter). These both delay healing—some natural inflammation can be good in the repair process!—but also limit the amount of feedback your body can accurately provide if you're just shutting down your pain signals.

Quality Sleep: While I can't say I hit the gold standard of 8-hours each night (thank you, crazy workload), I did try to prioritize sleep. As we all know, this is critical healing time and should be a non-negotiable for anyone looking to maximize their healing and recovery, whether from a broken bone or a 5-mile run.

Exercise/Movement: Yep, you heard that right: surprise, surprise - injured people don't have to spend 5 weeks parked on the couch! Shortly after I joked about screwing a bike cleat into the bottom of my boot, someone posted a (likely unrelated) tweet shaming people trying to exercise while still in their boot. Well, for starters, you likely don't know the specifics of their injury (e.g. weight bearing was not an issue for me—I just couldn't re-roll my ankle for fear of undoing the damage, hence the boot) and, secondly, the more you can maintain or increase circulation and (doc-approved) movement, the more quickly and correctly your injury will heal. I'm not saying this is for everyone, but odds are that if the person is in a boot, getting the heart pumping and the blood flowing is not a bad thing. 

Make your life easier: This comes in a variety of solutions: I kept a chair in my shower (will definitely be setting this up the night before each Ironman from here on out!), I brought everything I needed upstairs from my bedroom at the start of the day so I could avoid trips up and down the stairs, I wore a running shoe (Hoka!) with semi-equivalent height to my boot, even while puttering around the house to avoid any imbalances. 

Treat Yo Self: Similar to the above, but don't forget to take care of yourself while down. For the first week or two, I got my groceries delivered and ordered delivery (thank you GrubHub!). I hired a cleaner the second week to do a one-time clean and handle the things I could no longer easily do myself. I also enjoyed a few epsom salt baths and Amazon'd a few new books to keep me entertained during my down-time.

Limit Alcohol: Said to also inhibit healing, plus if you only have so many calories in the day, you'll want to focus on adding quality and the nutrients suggesting above, rather than filler junk.

Limit Excess Coffee: It's both dehydrating and could affect Calcium levels. I wasn't so sure about this one (thanks Dr. Google), but figured I'd still limit my caffeine intake and stuck mostly to green tea during this time. Plus, it's not as if my stress and cortisol levels couldn't also use a little coffee break.

Collagen/Bone Broth: I've read a lot about the ways additional collagen (whether via bone broth or the powdered supplement) can help promote tissue and bone growth. I added in both traditional bone broth as well as some of the unflavored Vital Proteins powder that you can add in your tea or water. I also got my hair cut last week and my stylist said it was the healthiest she had seen in the last few years, so at least something good definitely came out of it!

Challenge Yourself in New Ways: One thing I haven't done in years? Any significant upper body strength. While there were a few limited lower body exercises I could still do, I found the best way to keep me motivated was to keep myself challenged and that was by moving my body in different ways. I took on an upper body and core routine and was the crazy person hobbling around the weight room in my boot doing a lot of seated or standing upper body moves. 

Quantum Healing Meditation: Yep, you heard that right. I figured this one was more on the woo-woo end of the spectrum but since I was already spending time meditating daily, I figured it wouldn't hurt to spend a few of those minutes imagining my bones and ligaments healing themselves. Some say thoughts still can promote certain chemical reactions in your neural pathways... kind of understand, kind of skeptical, but really no hard in a few extra calming minutes of daily meditation. Read more about it here.

No Smoking: Well, duh, you shouldn't be doing that anyway—broken bones or not. 

Things I didn't do, but wish I had: access to a bone stimulator or other more high-tech ways of healing, acupuncture (I had it on my list but never got around to it) and access to an alter-g instead of my aqua-jogging.

If anyone else has anything in their healing toolkit, whether for a broken bone or just smashed legs after a hard week of training, I would love to hear it! My goal is to add it to the list, as well as to my list of "new habits" that I get to take away from this recovery process. 

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Dog Days of Summer

Just over five weeks ago, I broke my ankle. After several weeks of my best ever training, I had put in several 7-hour days on the bike and that very day, I ran a total of 22 miles, plus an easy swim, and felt amazing throughout. I have never felt more confident in an Ironman prep than I did those last few weeks, and Ironman Wales was still over eight weeks away. It's my kind of race and I was already ready. My goal was top five.

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I was just about to tuck myself in for an early bed that Sunday when I took Lucy out for one last potty time. In the condo where I'm living, I don't have a fence, just a few little flagstone steps out to a common shared area. I leashed Lucy up, walked her out and tripped over one of the big steps out to the grass. I went flying, completely bruised my left side and startled Lucy (she ran off—but not far), and heard/felt a very loud and painful pop from my right ankle. After some screaming and lots of sobbing, I crawled on my hands and knees down a flight of stairs and went to bed snuggling a bag of frozen peas.

The next day, I tried to stand to get out of bed and immediately fell down into a worthless puddle. I couldn't put any weight on the ankle but figured it was a really bad sprain. Still, not one for excuses, I thought I should just go "get it checked out" before I had to email Michael to let him know I skipped the easy bike on tap that morning.

There wasn't a lot of swelling. I could kind of/sort of walk on the edge and so hobbled my way to an urgent care doctor the next morning, driving with my left foot, about 7 Advils deep (next time I'm calling a friend or taking an Uber). The initial exam was fine and no big deal based on my pain levels; everything I told the doctor pointed towards just a sprained ankle and quick recovery. 

So I was in shock when the radiologist told me I had broken my ankle. Knowing my high pain tolerance, I should have guessed better but I didn't start crying until I left the office and got back to my car, now with a temporary fiberglass cast cutting off circulation to my right foot and a pair of crutches to help me get around. I didn't start calling doctors until later that afternoon; I was still heavily in denial.

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Thankfully, I managed to roll my ankle inward, versus outwards—which is what 99% of people do (clearly I'm special). Because my avulsion fracture was of the medial malleolus and not the lateral side of the ankle, my doctor said I didn't need surgery. Had I fallen the other way, I would have needed surgery and it would have been a much bigger deal. #silverlinings.

Two days later I made it to CU Sports Medicine and got a second evaluation and left with a boot and what felt like a life sentence: 4-8 weeks in the boot and no running, biking, hiking, leaping—pretty much everything that brings me joy, you name it. 

But I could swim! So that's what I've been doing. Plus some pool running and some lifting and this week I started to take my boot off and try to bike (in a brace) and hike and will be working on strength exercises to ease back into running. I am already a master at modifying exercises to be single-leg-friendly (hint: a bosu ball is key).

Running "laps" in the neighborhood pool

Running "laps" in the neighborhood pool

So yet again, I am starting from zero.

I debated sharing my story this time around, but I know that we all tend to share the gold-tinged experiences—the smiles, the podiums, nothing but the good times. To be honest, the last few weeks have sucked—big time. The accident has been isolating. I've dealt with some serious depression. I've thrown away hundreds of dollars due to the accident (hospital bills, cancelled race flights, unused coaching bills). I got bumped down to a slower lane at masters and at Siri's swim. I can't run and can barely bike right now. .I took all of my progress the last few months and tossed it into the flaming dumpster.

A few weeks back, I showed up to swim practice after a short break and Michael joked that he "missed me". Honestly, my only response was, "I miss me too". Because you take someone away from something they love so much and something that makes up so much of their life and honestly it's debilitating. I don't recognize myself without sport in my life. 

I watch everyone with the consistent builds, the high TSSs and productive off-seasons and kick myself for one freak injury after another. I keep telling myself: at least my set-backs have not been chronic injuries? It's been stitches from a bike crash, a weird slipped saddle and subsequent hamstring injury, a broken ankle... walking the dog of all things. I try to stay positive and focus on the fact that this last incident has taught me to treat my body more carefully and to take my vitamins, add the protein powder to my smoothies, get eight hours a night, meditate a little more and stress a little less.

So once healed, can I be more confident in my come-back? I'm hoping so. Either way, if anyone knows any ways to human bubble-wrap people when not training, I'm all ears. Let's add it to the ever-growing arsenal.

Thankfully you can still cheer while injured: spectating Boulder 70.3 instead of racing.

Thankfully you can still cheer while injured: spectating Boulder 70.3 instead of racing.

What I'm Reading

"‘Should I Quit My Day Job to Write a Book?" - except replace with "turn pro", "start a full-time blog", "become a triathlon coach"

"Never grow a wishbone, daughter, where your backbone ought to be.”

"Habits of Highly Effective Athletes: Stay in Your Lane" ...duly noted. 

"You’re not world class if you’re not actively about inclusion." Steph Curry on empowering women and girls in sport.

"How to Turn Your SUV into a Camper" Wanderlust and car camping is on my mind. Maybe I should just buy a tent? 

What I'm Cooking

Something amazing I've been doing for the last few months is making more meals in advance, whether actual meal prep, or just a buffet style prep where I cook rice, roasted veggies and chicken ahead of time so I can throw together a quick and healthy meal during or after a busy day when needed.

Most often, I try to set aside two hours on Sunday to make a few days worth of meals (typically three) and it usually includes overnight oats, a salad and then a dinner. This week it was: Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Chick Peas and Lemon Tahini and Pineapple BBQ Chicken with Broccoli and Coconut Rice. Both are A M A Z I N G. The first is vegan, btw, if you're into that.

What I'm Doing

Last weekend I got to crew for two friends racing the Leadville 100 Run and met a few awesome internet friends in the process, but other than that... not a whole lot. However, I did start back with my coach and structured training this week and Sunday was my first time on a bike since the accident. It was painful but boy does it feel good to get out.

I have a whole lot of PT exercises to keep me entertained and I've weirdly been enjoying a lot of rowing and strength training, since those are some of the things I can do without bothering my recovering broken ankle. My strength training had been spotty prior but honestly I have I loved it so much, I can see that being a practice that sticks around, even after recovery. See—silver linings to an injury!?

Thanks for reading! I'll see you next week... or maybe not.