Monday, June 22, 2015

Ironman Hawaii 70.3 Race Report

Kapoha, Hawaii


T1, Hapuna Beach

If you're going to do a 70.3, Kona, Hawaii might as well be the place to do it.  

The fam and I planned a vacation adventure around this trip this year for lots of reasons:  1. It's the perfect time of year - end of school/beginning of Summer  2. The course is challenging yet not outrageously hilly  3.  It's, well, it's HAWAII?  

My race recap is short and sweet:  go do this race.  It's not easy, but really, what Half Ironman IS easy?  There is a long (mile 19-23) climb up hill called Hawi, on the exact route of the REAL Ironman (full), which takes place in October.  You'd think that would make up for the climb with plenty of downhill as your reward.  But there are crosswinds coming down the climb that prevent any real serious speed gain here but plenty of amazing views of the Pacific.  

I digress.  Let's cover the Swim.  Beautiful, warm, clear, tropical fish, coral reefs, a bit of an undulating swell but no serious barrels to swim against.  This was my all-time favorite swim course of my career.  I loved everything about it from the white-sand beaches down to the crystal-clear water.  The race is a wave start so you're not clogging the sea with 2500 swimmers who take off at the same time. It's also warm, too warm for wetsuits.  There is lots of room to move around, yet one could enjoy the line and suck of the draft.  

Bike (again): No Alpe D' Huez here, just an uphill out-and-back course on the lava fields of the most famous road in triathlon history.  No shade, no relief, but nice, wide shoulders that were passable if you could navigate through the rumble strips that line the entire bike course.  Man oh man it felt good to turn around and head back to the Transition 2 (did I mention that there are two transition areas? ).

And the Run.   Well, let's just say it's not super fun to start a half marathon with 80 degree temps and 70 percent humidity.  This course is HARD but quite beautiful and kept me interested due to it's twists and turns and out-and-backs and ups and downs.  Aid stations were set up every mile providing plenty of relief for runners with endless buckets of ice and handy chilled sponges to squeeze over your head or push down into your tri top.  Thank you, Ironman Hawaii, for being so cognizant of those runners' needs out there.  Hot, no shade, and lots of running on grass -- even the pros add five minutes to their expected run times here due to the squishiness of the golf course conditions.

The race course ends on the grounds of the Fairmont Orchid Hotel, a spectacular locale for a finish line.  The emerald green grass of the golf course butts up to the pristene waters and white sand beaches that surround the Fairmont.  Polynesian dancers are entertaining the waiting crowds and there is plenty to eat for athletes and spectators there.  Nothing was as delicious as the shaved ice for sale by the food vendors.  I loved the tropical flower finish line -- so Hawaiian and perfect.  

If you decide to do this race, I'd recommend Tri Bike Transport to ship and haul your bike for you. Post race, I just wheeled my bike up to the nearby tennis courts and dropped it off to the waiting wrenches for home delivery.  They require your bike to be at their partner shops about two weeks before your race, so it's most handy if you have a secondary bike to train with before and after the event.  (My bike is still not back home three weeks after the race.) 

Another recommendation is lodging at the following hotels:  Fairmont Orchid, $$$ but so convenient  since that is where the finish line and expo is located.  Marriott Waikoloa $$, a beautiful spot less than five miles from the expo and finish line.  Hilton Waikoloa $$, same exit as the Marriott so just as handy for all the event.  

I had no clue Kona was as desolate as it was going to be.  I figured all of Hawaii was tropical and jungly.  But Kona sits on the lava field on the east side of the island.  While the resorts are quite wonderful here, the scenery on the course was similar to the Bush country of Africa (or so my daughter who has been to the Bush country says), very little vegitation, dry and hot.  We loved spending time after the race on the opposite side of the Island, near Hilo.  Our daily outings and adventures were truly breathtaking views of this dreamy place.  

Two thumbs up for Ironman 70.3 Hawaii.  I'd love to return here, if I can afford it.  Aloha and Mahalo to this wonderful place.  The race was great, and the memories will remain forever in my heart, and in my Shutterfly scrapbook. 

This rainbow bid us aloha on our final day in Kona. 


Below photos are all of Hilo's side of the Island.  
So many waterfalls and swimming holes

Rainbow Falls 

Shangri La, Pahono

Black sand beaches of Hilo

Sunset on the Red Road

The Red Road - a hidden gem near Pahono 




Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Evolution Of An Age Group Athlete

Athlete 1.0   
It all started with kids.  I gained weight, and my husband did too.  Those endless sleep-deprived nights,  drive-thru Happy Meals, sitting in the car for hours, all resulted in not enough mommy time and limited work-on-ourselves-time.  At the mercy of hectic schedules and too much indulgence on the weekends -- I'm talking full leaded soda with Junior Mints and a large popcorn at the movies -- we became soft around the middle and rounder in the cheeks. ;)

Then one day fitness sounded fun.  With a desire to "get back in shape" and compete in the local Turkey Trot, running and step aerobics became the exercise de jour.   My husband instantly slimmed down and could hold his own in the marathon pack.  But I never quite put together that after an hour at the gym with my kids in the daycare, that Pink Cookie and Dr. Pepper reward did nothing for weight loss.

Athlete 2.0  
Big changes came along once the kids were in school and we bought our first road bikes.  Instantly the weight dropped and we started having staggering fitness improvement.  We entered races and almost always finished in the top percentages of the field.  We finished century rides and charity rides and tour de whatevers!  It was fun.  We were thin again.  We were doing it!

I started competing in triathlons and drank the Kool-aid.  Before one Ironman was done, I had signed up for another, times four.  Over and over and over again - marathons, 200-mile rides, and open water swims -- if it sounded like a challenge, we were up for it.  Interestingly, after those initial huge gains, though, things leveled off.  It was like our bodies said "Ha! A four hour bike ride, no big deal!   You got this. Why dip into those fat stores?"  Some might call it a plateau.  But speed/pace/weight loss all came to a crashing halt.

So what now?  With a little more money to spend and more time on my hands with kids on their own, how would we make the best use of our new situation?  Well, how about a lighter bike, a more expensive pair of shoes, a professional coach? All good choices.  But gadgetry and those pricey bikes only get one as far as the engine that is propelling it forward: aka, me.  I'm a sucker for the latest, greatest nutrition supplement, wetsuit and electronic shifters, you name it!   But I was not improving leaps and bounds like I thought I would.

Athlete 3.0  
Recently, I have found the secret to a new, better Me.  And it all has to do with nutrition.  It seems like all those years, hubby and I  were working very hard to reward ourselves with a pint of Haagen Dazs on the daily, or homemade cookies after dinner, and then half the bowl of cookie dough in the fridge ready to snack on throughout the day.  We went heavy on food for the weekend date nights because, hey, we deserved it!  We rode 75 miles today!

I'm not saying rewards should be abolished.   I still LOVE my Vanilla Swiss Almond.  But I started working with Katie, my Licensed Dietician with Sigma Human Performance, and she has given me a new perspective on portion size and what my body really needed before, during and after a workout.  She trained my body to be more efficient at burning fat by (crazy enough) incorporating more healthy fats into my diet.  I now buy the bulk of my food from the outer edges of the grocery store:  tons of veggies,  fresh meats, high quality cheese, less bread and dairy.  I stock up on natural almond butter and avocados.  My cutting board is on the kitchen counter every evening chopping and dicing fresh veggies.  I feel less bloated and more lean.   My fitness is improving and I am running faster than I have in years.

This fitness evolution took me awhile to figure out.  But if you've ever seen the photo of the iceberg that shows 30 percent of it above the water and 70 percent below -- my new perspective is that diet is that hidden 70 percent.  If we can put premium fuel into our tanks, our bodies will thank us by becoming fat burning machines.  It's not about a high protein/low fat diet.  It's about a healthy balance, using fat to satiate the hunger and allowing us to use that fat to become a fuel source when we exercise.

The test comes at the end of the month.  Ironman 70.3 in Kona, Hawaii awaits.  I'm working against age and a "challenging" race course.  But if I can see any gains in my times and how I feel while racing,  I will credit diet for those results.  Stay tuned, blogger world.  I'll be baaack.... hopefully with great new and results!  And if you've gone down a similar path, leave a comment.  I'd love to hear about your fitness journey, too!




Sunday, April 19, 2015

Meb For Mortals

Just finished Meb's book on how to run, think, and eat like a champion marathoner.  Impressive, is all I have to say.  He values goals, commitment and hard work, not only in his marathon training, but also in life.

If you don't know Meb, he's the American runner who most recently won the 2014 Boston Marathon (first American since 1985 to do so). and the best spokesman I know for advocating the importance of running for a better YOU.  His book succinctly explains how to train better, run stronger and eat healthier in a way that will improve your overall health and your running capabilities.

In honor of Boston 2015, I salute you Meb, and also all the runners who will take to the streets tomorrow morning in the most exciting marathon in our country.  Run like the wind, everyone!  You're amazing.  And hopefully one day, I'll be back to run with you again.



Thursday, March 26, 2015

Taking The "Chore" Out Of Running

Recently l had a friend ask me how I take the monotony out of running.  "What can I do to run without it being such a chore?" she asked.   I've thought long about how I keep running exciting and fresh -- and it's all because of the ingredients listed below:

My daughter, Abby, smiling for the camera at her latest half marathon.  
1.  Run in the dark.  Almost all of the runs I do start before the sun comes up.  I like to run in the dark, quiet, empty streets of my neighborhood.  I like not being able to look up and see how far that mile may be ahead of me.   It's almost as if I'm dreaming while I'm running because I lose myself in my thoughts instead of watching my feet hit the ground.  And before you know it, I've finished six or eight or even 10 miles!   I especially like running into a sunrise.  There's no better place to be in the morning than watching the sun crest the sky in all it's pink, purple, orange, yellow glory.  Simply amazing.

2.  Run with a friend(s).  It's hard to get up in the morning and run alone.  Believe me.  I can see why people who don't have a running partner call it a "chore."  But if you've got a friend who will meet you at the corner, in the dark at 5am, then all excuses for staying in bed just got a little harder to make.  A running buddy with a story to tell is solid gold on a long marathon training day.  And someone who can push you just a little bit harder on a track workout is the best kind of  friend. I've got a great group of ladies who are die hard runners.  We usually sent out a mass text about with details of our  start time and distance the night before we meet up.  If they're going to be there -- without a doubt I will be there too.

3.  Run with music.  Sometimes those same friends drift in front or in back of me when I'm running.  Paces vary, after all.   And it's at times like these I push PLAY on my ipod and start listening to my favorite running playlist.  I've chosen songs on that list that are upbeat, energetic, and get me smiling!  When I turn my Ipod up I stop listening to how hard I am breathing and start enjoying the music.  Turning my thoughts away from being tired or heavy footed, usually brings me to a better cadence and I forget all together that I'm exhausted.  I save this time with my music for those times I have to be alone, though.  Nothing worse for me than people who shut others out with their music when they're supposedly on a group run.

4.  Buy a new running outfit or shoes.  Retail therapy.  It's a real thing.  Often all it takes for me to get re-excited about running is a trip to Lululemon.  I know, I know, it's a very superficial statement.  I'm just shallow enough to know that a new running tank top or pair of shorts will get me out the door a little happier and a little more excited to get outside.  I also use Tide Sport for all my athletic clothing.  It got a great scent that smells a little different than my other loads of laundry.  I love it.  And some days that's all I got.

5.  Get a race on the schedule.   Running without training for something specific is a bit of a cluster for me.  I need a goal.  I crave a schedule.  I love a training plan.  Without that - why/how far/how long/ ugh -- there's just too many questions for me as to why I am waking up in the 4's to go run instead of staying in my comfy bed.  I need an event to keep me motivated.  I need a reason.  It's the best way I know to stay consistent with training.  "To stay in shape" just doesn't cut it for me.  A runner, with a goal, and some friends with that same goal is the key to becoming and staying a lifelong runner.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

IF

Just finished Chrissie Wellington's book, A Life Without Limits. Wow, what an amazing story.  From a virtual unknown to Ironman World Champion, Chrissie tells her story of triumph over adversity.

I particularly loved her mantra, the inspirational poem, "If" by Rudyard Kipling.  Chrissie read it before every race as her guiding force of power and grit.  I'm including it here:

IF

If you can keep your head when all about you
  Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
  But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
  Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
  And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
  If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
  And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
  Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
  And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
  And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
  And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
  To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
  Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
  Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
  If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
  With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
  And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Friday, December 12, 2014

From Injured to Ironman Cozumel by Jessica Elliott


My journey to Ironman has been an arduous, five-year adventure riddled with injury and discouragement. After my first triathlon in 2008, I was hooked. Sprints and Olympic races followed, as did a severe knee injury that knocked me out for a year — and later, a second year. Three tries at a half-Ironman distance resulted in disappointment — a stress fracture, shoulder impingement syndrome, knee issues — and multiple doctor visits and PT appointments. And numerous desperate attempts to find solutions, from PRP injections to acupuncture.
Not to mention a doctor telling me I should never run long distance, and a beloved coach who thought it best to discourage me from endurance racing because of these injuries.
Finally, in 2014, I’d gotten my recipe right. I needed an overly abundant amount of rest, a fruit- and veggie-filled diet, compression sleeves, and the ability to tell my body that it ISN’T injured when it is (which I don’t normally recommend). And, my new coach, Lorie Tucker.
After dealing with a serious bought of elbow tendonitis that came out of nowhere and hampered my swimming, I dealt with shin splints and posterior tibial tendonitis through ALL of my Ironman training.
But with Lorie’s help, my husband Adam’s encouragement, and my persistence, I made it all the way to Ironman Florida. That morning, my family gathered on the beach amidst freak weather — 38 mile-per-hour winds, 30-degree temps — only to hear the announcer say that the swim was cancelled due to riptides.
Tears and debate ensued. Given my injuries, I decided to back out of the race and shoot for Ironman Cozumel. Four weeks of tough interval workouts, rapidly planning an international trip, and loading up on advice from athletes on the amazing Ironman Cozumel Facebook forum —including a scheduled ride from the very cool Alison Fowler (a 10-time Ironman) — I was off.

Skipping ahead to the night before IM Coz

While my husband and I had rented a beautiful condo, I probably slept four hours the night before the race. A faux pirate ship party boat (yes, really) that floats alongside the northern end of the island at night woke me up multiple times with the thump-thump of club music and a ridiculously loud Spanish-speaking deejay. Each time I woke up, my stomach was in knots, and from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. I begged myself to sleep — to no avail.
At 4 a.m., I made breakfast. I managed to eat a banana, a hard-boiled egg and some oatmeal — barely. I was so nervous I could hardly eat! My husband, Adam, and I then hopped a taxi to Chakanaab Park, or T1 (IM Cozumel is a point-to-point race).
I gleefully ran into my amazing new friend from the Facebook forum, Gina, and after putting Infinit fuel in my Speedfill, getting my tires filled at the pump station, and thankfully discovering my brake was rubbing my rear wheel, I joined the mass of other athletes in the long shuttle bus line.

Swim — beautiful, pristine and magical

After piling in, we headed to Marina Fonatur, the start of the swim. I’d heard amazing things about this swim — turquoise waters, unscathed coral, abundant wildlife — and during a short practice swim the day prior, I tested the delightfully warm waters. I was nervous, though, about the age group wave start — only because the male waves were slated to start after the female waves, and I was paranoid about getting run over.
The pros took off, and my group, purple swim caps, shuffled down the boat doc and waded in. I moved far to the right of the buoys, hoping the impending faster guys could just breeze by me on the left.  
The fog-horn blew (no cannon), and right away, I was having a blast. It was a little crowded, but nothing like the washing machine I’d mentally prepped for.
The water was the perfect temperature — not too hot, but not wetsuit legal — and I immediately focused on counting my strokes (“one, two, breathe … one, two, breathe”). The clear water and seeing straight to the ocean floor was incredible and I loved seeing the mass of athletes in tri suits swimming around me. I remember thinking, “This is badass.”
Apparently, I was so focused on my bad-assness and breathing that I missed seeing the amazing coral and wildlife I’d heard about!! I noticed brown coral and a mass of small silvery fish at one point, but otherwise, nada. I just swam. Judging by the amazing pictures from the scuba-diving photographer team set throughout the course, I might as well have been swimming with my eyes closed!
I also felt the jab of jellyfish stings — seven times. I’d been warned about these, and had even invested in some anti-sting sunscreen lotion, and while I was told they didn’t hurt — um, they do. Like a rubber-band smacking your skin. Caught one on my cheek … ouch! I swam faster.
About 40 minutes in, I had painful chafing around my neck, and because I’d been swimming at my “forever” pace — quick without heavy breathing — I decided to kick it up a notch. (Though apparently, this is also when the current against us shifted in our favor.) I started forcing myself to count to 20 stroke sets before lifting my head, to hopefully avoid neck pain on the bike plus chafing, AND to keep me moving quick.

Swim: 1:14:36 or 1:55/100 -- my fastest swim to-date!

Transition 1

After running through the showers and drinking the full cup of water provided (this would come back to haunt me), I grabbed my bike bag and ran into the tent. It was hot, humid and I felt like I was moving like a turtle. I’m as naturally ghostly white as it gets, so I wore sun-sleeves, a jersey, bike shorts, calf sleeves, and full gloves. That is a LOT to put on while wet. I’d gone with this setup at a full aquabike in September (sans sun sleeves) but here, it felt like it was taking me FOREVER. Slow motion.
With all of this clothing on and stuffed pockets, I looked pretty funny. And I’m cool with that.
I drank water, slathered sunscreen on my face, and took a few pumps of my inhaler for exercise-induced asthma (which I have also never done mid-race, but wanted to proactively). Heart rate monitor on, fuel in pockets — go, let’s goooo. I ran to my bike, took a few sips of water in the bottle provided (why?! I think I felt like I couldn’t leave a bottle untouched, so figured I’d waste it with one sip?), and ran out.

T1: 13:59, and I didn’t mind.

Bike — crisis management while pedaling through a tornado

As I crossed the bike exit, Adam yelled, “Goooo Jess! You’re beautiful!” in the sweetest, proudest voice. I choked back a few tears and hopped on.
I felt great right when I got on the bike. I like starting with a high, easy cadence, then pushing into a tougher spin. The bike is my thing. Running is great, but I absolutely LOVE to hammer on the bike. I had completed a full aquabike in September in Oklahoma, which was hot, hilly, and windy, and I’d managed a 6.5-hour ride, or roughly 17 mph. I aimed to duplicate this.
Aimed.
About four miles in, I got a big side stitch on my right side. Was it horrible? No. Was it enough to freak me out? Yes. I’ve had side stitches once on the bike, and they lasted the whole ride — and juiced my legs.
After a few more miles, I started panicking. What if I deal with these for 112 miles? What if my stomach gets even worse for the run? Oh, geez. The run!! What am I going to do?! Was this caused by too much water after the swim? My inhaler? What does my body want right now?
Then I took a few deep breaths. I usually eat a Cliff Shot after the swim, and I hadn’t. I thought maybe a little shot of sodium from it would help. It didn’t. So then I tried backing off fuel for 30 minutes (drinking water instead of Infinit). Bad idea. Fuel is necessary!
I came up with a plan — stop at the first aid station to grab Gas-Ex from my bike bag — even though stopping was the last thing I wanted to do. Once the plan was in place, I felt better.
The Gas-Ex worked for about 15 minutes, which is about when I hit the backside of the island. We were all warned about this grueling 12-mile portion — it’s windy but manageable, people said. And having biked in higher winds during my practice ride, I had agreed. That was a mistake. On this particular day, the island gave us 35 mile-per-hour headwinds.
I allowed myself to topple into heart rate zone three for a bit in this stage, but, given my stomach, tried to stay in zone two. I knew it would be a long day, and I didn’t want to burn out.
On the first loop, the wind didn’t feel so bad, and I enjoyed this unscathed portion of the island, with palm fronds blowing in the wind, waves crashing and the smell of the salty ocean air.  
Once I hit the left turn to non-windy freedom, it felt like I was flying. I came into town and saw Adam, and throngs of amazing spectators jamming to music and cheering me on, yelling “Yeah go, Texas!” in a nod to my jersey — huge boost — and went back out.
The remaining two loops were all about survival. My stomach went back and forth from stitches to bloating. I could feel the energy being drawn from my legs to my stomach. I kept telling myself, “one pedal at a time, one step at a time. Get out of your head.” I reminded myself that I wasn’t vomiting, I didn’t have a flat tire — things were actually really good! I did a little bit of fuel miscalculating and got behind, so I worked to keep up.
When I didn’t see the special needs bags at mile 56, I remembered that volunteers said it would be at a designated KILOMETER spot … so in reality, around mile 62. Given that I normally re-stock on Infinit at this time, I resorted to eating the Cliff Shot in my jersey, which I never eat mid-ride. I ran out of water at mile 58  — which was actually a good thing because there was an aid station at mile 60 (where I kept asking “verde bolsas?? Green bags??”), but NO water at special needs. This meant I stopped at mile 60 AND special needs.
At special needs, I ate some honey stinger blocks and got more fuel. So many people were just sitting — it surprised me!
In all, I sadly can’t remember how many times I stopped. It might have been four or five. I gave a 70-plus-year-old some pepto as he was pulling out of the race. I actually even reapplied chamois cream at a stop. I was clearly loopy because I normally would never do that!
The winds picked up — I mean, really?! — and on the third loop, the windy stretch was 18 miles. 18! So, I consciously forced myself to slow down and refused to look at my Garmin to evade disappointment. I was bummed! I even started wondering, while fighting through the wind, if I’d missed a turn (there are no turns on that stretch).
As I came into transition at MILE 113 (I mean, really!?), I thought I felt OK — better than I had on other longer rides, with no neck pain, but I was already bummed with my time.

Bike: 7:17:31 or 15.36 mph … turtle power!

Transition 2

Right when I got off the bike, I knew the rest of the day would be rough. I felt good ON the bike — but when I hopped off, I was dizzy, loopy, and just plain out of it. I ambled toward my bag and into the tent. I ate a banana, used my inhaler again, swapped my shorts and jersey, and spent the time necessary to wrap my big toes with blister tape before getting them into my Injinji socks (I had blister issues throughout training, and this was the solution). I wrapped the tape too tightly around my right toe and it hurt, but oh well, I thought.
Since all of the volunteers speak Spanish, I talked to some other athletes to get their take on what I was dealing with. They said it was dehydration.
I walked out of the tent and to Adam, and chatted with him for a few minutes. This was factored into my T2 time, but I didn’t care. I felt so awful! I told him I was bummed and I wasn’t sure how I was going to get through 26 miles like this. I had expected to feel good!
He encouraged me to toughen up and put one foot in front of the other. So I did.

T2 time:  18:52 (maybe record for slowest transition ever??)

Run — an agonizing and gratifying blur

Wow. I’m a week out from the race, and with time, I think I will forget how terrible I felt that first 13 miles. That’s a good thing — I’m already looking forward to toeing the line at an Ironman again — but it was a bad, bad scene, fraught with worry. I was in Mexico — how would I tell the medics what was wrong with me if I drove myself into the ground?
I started to walk, and while I knew I had time to walk the entire marathon if I wanted to, I didn’t want to. So I started my trot-jog.
Aid stations were situated by kilometer, so every .65-mile, and I took water in, took down a honey stinger gel, took some Pepto at the first stop. About 45 minutes in, I took a salt tab. I felt absolutely downright AWFUL for a bit after that — so nauseous. So I backed off the salt until a guy warned me about cramps. I think I averaged one salt tab/hour.
I chatted with some people while walking through aid stations, and ate some pretzels and Pepsi and Gatorade. At one point, I stopped fueling and just ate those because they tasted good. From miles six to 12, I ran a consistently slower (10 or 11-min) pace, walking at aid stations.
Adam THANKFULLY texted my coach, Lorie, despite cell costs and told her about my dizziness and nausea. She told him that I had to eat, no matter how badly I felt — and to aim for bananas and honey stingers. Once I started forcing down the food, I started feeling much better. I was sweating profusely — Cozumel had lived up to its rep for humidity — but I was OK.
At mile 20, I told my husband to head to the finish so I would have to get there. That’s about when met a girl named Lorena, and we would walk/run — mostly walk, because she was waiting for a friend. We chatted and walked. I only hit the port-a-potty ONCE, at mile 23, and only because she did, and I realized I should.
Looking back, I feel as though I might have run more if I hadn’t had someone to walk with. But in the moment, I was blissfully thankful to have her there, and I call her my run angel. When we got to mile 23 or so, I resigned myself to walking until mile 25.5. Could I run? Yes. But my legs were shaky and after five years of attempting this goal, I started to get paranoid that I would collapse and it wouldn’t happen.
So we walked. About a half-mile before the finish, Lorena said, “Girl, you need to run this in.” So I did.
As I came to the finish chute, I heard Adam yelling. I trotted — the blue-carpeted stage was all mine, with incoming athletes off in the distance — and I tried to soak it all in. I thought I would cry, but I really just let out tearful laughs. I raised my arms and pointed toward God in grateful thanks. I hardly remember my name being called — or even hearing, “Jessica Elliott, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!” but I do remember thinking the medal was huge. They also handed me a sweet, handmade shell necklace that I love.

Total time: 14:43:13 — I finished, and now there’s room to improve.

The next morning, I woke up crying happy tears. I DID IT. It is done!! A five-year dream realized. Proof that persistence, determination and a little stubbornness goes a long way. Proof that I could do what others said I couldn’t.

Not only that, but all of this in a race that several high-number Ironman finishers told me was the hardest they had ever done. That the winds were even harder than the winds had been in Florida. I showed myself what I’m made of, and my true inner-mettle. And I’ll be back for more.




Que lindo es sonar despierto.
How lovely it is to dream while you are awake.