10.19.2014

Special Thanks MMRF Charity Ride & MYZONE

Ironman Lake Placid MMRF Team for Cures events

Huge thank you to the Sporting Club Bellevue and instructor Robby “The Spin Dr” for hosting the first MMRF Team for Cures Ironman Lake Placid 2015 charity event with me to support the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. 

This morning’s Charity Spin Class kicked off a two day event to raise awareness and funds for the research and development of a cure for cancer. Multiple Myeloma is the second most common form of blood cancer and has one of the lowest five-year relative survival rates of all cancers. I will race the 2015 IRONMAN Lake Placid on the MMRF Team for Cures and will swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, run 26.2 miles and raise at least $5,000 for the MMRF. I’ve shared more about the MMRF and my goals ahead here. A BIG thank you to each and every person who took time out of their Sunday morning to ride with us and donated to this cause that is so dear to my heart. Your support means so much to me. Thank you for letting me share a little piece of my story and the story of many faced with the challenges of MM. If you were unable to join us I hope to see you at upcoming MMRF Events to support the cause. Donations go direct to the MMRF and your donation is tax-deductible.

MYZONE reviews

And finally a huge thank you to MYZONE, who has kindly donated a MYZONE device to our raffle for our all-day cycling charity event tomorrow at the Sporting Club Bellevue. My chest strap and monitoring system keeps me motivated throughout rides and workouts. I’m aware of how hard (or not hard) I’m working and it’s awesome motivation. MYZONE transmits heart rate, calories and effort in real time to a live display and uploads data to a logbook accessed online or through the free app. MYZONE monitors display your effort levels live in real timewhen used in a class or it stores your effort levels in the memory of the belt when you’re working out independently. It is the only exercise tracking system that provides real-time feedback of exercise intensity. The device also offers a social and group ‘game’ based features to encourage friends to be active more together.

Hope to see some of you tomorrow as the charity event continues! I will ride 100 miles and there will be spin bikes on each side if you’d like to join me.  Stop by for a ride or just to keep me company. There will be raffles to win a MYZONE, and gift certificates from Tria Wine Bar, Down Dog Healing Cafe, Advocare, yoga and more!

10.17.2014

Considering Ironman Maryland 2015? Letter from a reader

Ironman Maryland 2015

I still get goosebumps every time I receive an email like the one from Robert today.  My blog is an online journal for me and it’s just one of the reasons I love to blog. It’s a place to track my yoga studies, triathlon training and races, progress and experiences. After racing Ironman Maryland I took a look back at Ironman Los Cabos and chuckled reading my thoughts from the day I signed up for my first Ironman. It’s awesome to be able to look back, learn, and grow through my experiences. But then there’s something else. Perhaps it’s something even bigger. I realize as I continue to grow that I’m reaching more and more people out there. To be able to share my journey through yoga, fitness, health and wellness is truly meaningful to me.  To be able to learn from followers is also pretty amazing. Thank you all for encouraging me to continue. You make Yoga Peach that much more worth it. xoxo Keli

Subject: Thank You

Message Body:
Aloha Keli:

Thank you for taking the time to write a race recap for Ironman Maryland. I have a group of friends that have signed up for the 2015 race and I’m contemplating signing up as well. In 2015 I am scheduled to race the New Orleans 70.3 in April and possibly Lake Stevens in August. I haven’t done a full Ironman YET, but want to do so in 2015. Anyway, I read your report and appreciate all your tips and you sharing your experiences. After reading your blog I immediately opened my book “Your Best Triathlon” by Joe Friel and started developing a solid plan to be successful. In addition, my anxiety went through the roof with your experience in the water. YIKES!

You taking the time to write has probably helped a lot of people all over the world; I’m writing you from Kauai, HI.

Thanks again and good luck to you in 2015.

Robert.

Dear Robert,

You made me smile and brought more joy to my day than you know. I’m happy you introduced yourself. How did you happen to stumble across my blog? We all have a different reason and story for why we challenge ourselves to an Ironman. I would love to hear the driving force behind your curiosity and determination to perhaps cross the Ironman Maryland 2015 finish line. Most people who consider Ironman find some sort of anxiety or fear when looking at everything they will face over the course of 140.6 miles. Just this morning I posted THIS and want to share it with you. I truly hope if Ironman is something important to you that you push that CONFIRM REGISTRATION button and begin the special Ironman journey. Thank you again for your kind words.  I am so excited that reading my race report inspired you to dive into your triathlon book and start your plan to succeed. This makes blogging that much more worth it when readers like yourself take the time to reach out. Best wishes at New Orleans 70.3 and in your journey ahead.

Keli

p.s. Hope you reach out again when you hit that button for IMMD 2015! p.s.s. See you at IMMD 2015… I’ll be there at teaching yoga and volunteering. And who knows… I just may be racing!

 

10.15.2014

Anjali Gratitude Project Class to support Multiple Myeloma

Ironman Lake Placid Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation

Come join us next Saturday at Anjali Power Yoga Philly for an all levels power yoga class taught by my dear friend and instructor Alain to support the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. Class is by donation and all proceeds from class go directly to support the research and development of a cure for cancer.

If you are unable to join us you are still welcome to make a tax-deductible donation. Every amount helps. Thank you for your consideration.

10.11.2014

MMRF Ironman Charity Race at Sporting Club Bellevue

Ironman Lake Placid Multiple Myeloma

Hope to see some of you at the Sporting Club Bellevue on Sunday, October 19 and Monday, October 20 at the first event to support the Multiple Myeloma Team for Cures.  Non-members are invited too so please come out, check out the Sporting Club and support the MMRF.

Sunday, October 19 Robby is leading a 75 minute spin class. Robby is one of Philadelphia’s greatest instructors and has hugely influenced my Ironman training. If you haven’t taken a spin class with him this is a great chance to check him out.

Monday, October 20 Join me on a spin bike while I ride 100 miles on my bike between noon and 7:00pm. Workout with me, keep me company, and learn about yoga, triathlon, Ironman and the MMRF.

The goal of the Ironman Charity Race? I will be participating in the 2015 IRONMAN Lake Placid on July 26, 2015 on the Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) Team For Cures.  Multiple Myeloma is the second most common form of blood cancer and has one of the lowest five-year relative survival rates of all cancers. My commitment is to increase awareness and raise at least $5,000 for the MMRF.  Learn more about the MMRF and my goals ahead here.   

If you’re unable to join us and would like to donate to the MMRF, your donation is tax-deductible and will go directly toward the research and development of a cure for cancer. I appreciate your consideration and support. I am really looking forward to being part of the team for MMRF 2015 Ironman Lake Placid.

10.9.2014

Crybaby

yoga teacher training

Congrats to one of my favorite people who signed up for yoga teacher training 200 RYT tonight. What an amazing experience ahead of you. So happy for you.

I’m having a flashback of my first day of yoga teacher training now. Trainings were 8 hours a day so I’ll just share a highlight.  The short version of day 1 went like this…  Five seconds after meeting my first yoga partner I was instructed to lead her through Integration. Balasana…Adho Mukha Svanasana…Uttanasana.  I was shocked that I was asked to instruct a yoga sequence right from the get-go although now it makes sense. I looked down at her in child’s pose with her forehead pressed against the mat, her arms extended long, and I don’t think any instructions came out of my mouth before I ran to the bathroom and CRIED! Yes, I was teary eyed and my heart was beating faster than ever. I wasn’t sure that first day that I could ever teach yoga. Makes me laugh now thinking back to that experience. Now? It’s one of my passions. I want to continue progressing as a yoga practitioner and instructor.  That’s one of the beautiful things about yoga. You never master it. Not as a student and not as an instructor. There’s always more to learn, ways to deepen your practice, and you’re always developing as an instructor.  Just two weeks ago I was dreaming about what certification I’d like to dive into next.  Maybe another yoga teacher training will happen sooner than I expected. Hmmmmm….. Tempting. Thanks to my friend for inspiring me tonight. I can’t wait to hear about your journey ahead.

10.8.2014

Fear

Fear.   It’s one of the most powerful factors that holds us back and can also drive us to achieve our full potential. Fear is a feeling, not a fact. It’s just an illusion that doesn’t exist. We create most of it.  It’s all in the mind.  We often experience it as a result of our past, the unknown future, and our current thoughts and emotions. Work on the inside and the outside will fall into place.

Fears are completely normal. We all have them at one time or another. They’ve come up for me at times recently. Yep, they have. They can sometimes be a good thing when we acknowledge them and chose to use them as a vehicle to get to where we want to be. When our barriers are up because of our fears, however, that is when our lives become limited.

We often use our fears to protect us from something. So what is it that we are afraid of? Being wrong? Failure? Rejection? Being hurt? Being judged? Starting a new hobby?  A career change?  Taking steps to improve our health? Making new friends? Commitment?  Being taken advantage of?  Are we afraid of taking the steps that could lead us to something completely incredible? What could we learn by moving through fear even if things do not go as we hope for? What are our fears holding us back from?

Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.” Know this. Rather than allowing your fears decide your future allow your dreams and goals be bigger than your fears. Make your actions larger than your fears. The road we travel may be a bit scary at times. We can allow our past experiences and current fears to work their way into our future or we have the choice to learn from them and steer ourselves around the fears and uncertainties as they arise. It’s okay to be afraid. Take a look at your fears though and work up the courage to see what’s just beyond the door in front of you. Walk through it.  Keep walking….

Happiness and love to all,

Keli

You never know which door leads towards your dreams until you have the courage to walk through it… Lillian Vernon

let go of fear

10.7.2014

Ironman Lake Placid 2015 Multiple Myeloma Team for Cures

Ironman Lake Placid Multiple Myeloma

MMRF 2015 Ironman Lake Placid Team for Cures

I am so excited to continue another year of triathlon and my journey though Ironman.  I am grateful for all of the support and encouragement I’ve received over my first year and hope you’ll continue to share this experience with me. My goals in the upcoming year are incredibly important and special to me.

I will be participating in the 2015 IRONMAN Lake Placid on July 26, 2015 on the Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) Team For Cures. As I watched friends and athletes cross the finish line over the final hours of Ironman Lake Placid 2014 I felt incredibly inspired and realized that Ironman Maryland was not going to be my second and last Ironman after all. It occurred to me while volunteering and supporting friends that I am eager to keep learning, growing, setting new goals, and I want to pursue my Ironman passion for something larger than myself. I look forward to taking the next step to continue something I have fallen in love with to make a difference. While I was at Ironman Lake Placid this summer I learned that the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation is the official IMLP charity partner. I knew that day that I wanted to race with the MMRF Team for Cures 2015.

One of my family members lives with Multiple Myeloma and I will race with the MMRF team for her and everyone who is faced with the challenges of MM. Multiple Myeloma is the second most common form of blood cancer and has one of the lowest five-year relative survival rates of all cancers. While there is no cure, great progress is being made. My commitment is to increase awareness and raise at least $5,000 for the MMRF.

The goals ahead of me? Swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and run 26.2 miles and raise at least $5,000 for the MMRF. Training and fundraising for this event is a challenge, but I know it is nothing compared to the challenges faced by those who live with Multiple Myeloma.

I’m looking forward to the upcoming events I am working on to support the Multiple Myeloma Team for Cures. I will teach donation yoga classes and organize a number of exciting fundraising events. I am grateful for the support of the Sporting Club Bellevue who will hold my first events with me on October 19 and 20, 2014. All fundraising and event ideas are greatly appreciated so please contact me with your suggestions. I am so incredibly excited to be part of the MMRF team and to have the opportunity to make a difference with Multiple Myeloma. I appreciate all of the support and encouragement that I’ve received throughout my triathlon and yoga journey and hope you’ll follow along and help support MMRF 2015 Ironman Lake Placid Team for Cures. You may follow my training and fundraising progress on my blog and on facebook.  

Thank you for your support. Love, Keli

 

10.5.2014

Sweet Potato Peanut Bisque

Sweet Potato Peanut Bisque

I know what you think this looks like but it might be one of the most delicious soups of the season! Wish I could share some with you. I’ve been terrible at cooking and blogging new recipes these past few months but now that triathlon training has (temporarily) slowed down I’m looking forward to more time in the kitchen! Oh, and of course more yoga too!

Ingredients

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon peanut or olive oil (I use the peanut oil from the top of the natural peanut butter jar)
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2-3 clove garlic minced
  • 1 15 ounce can vegetable broth
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger minced
  • little bit of fresh jalapeno (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 cup natural creamy peanut butter
  • Top with Greek yogurt and cilantro

Directions

Cook sweet potatoes in microwave or oven.

Heat oil in a pan and add onion, garlic, ginger, jalapeno, and allspice.

In a large pot add the above ingredients to broth and tomatoes.

Peel the sweet potatoes and chop. Add half the ingredients from the pot and of the half of the sweet potatoes to a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth, Add the puree back to the pot with the remaining sweet potatoes and peanut butter. Stir well. Garnish with Greek yogurt and cilantro. Add some peanut on top if you like some crunch.

10.4.2014

Forgiveness

I reflect on my actions over the past year and ask for forgiveness. I’d like to think that I try to see the best in people. For the most part I believe those in my life who at times chose less than desirable actions did so unintentionally. And so even though it’s not always easy…I forgive. The hardest person to forgive, however, is often yourself. Asking for forgiveness can sometimes be even more challenging. Nothing that I do makes me feel more sad than when I’ve affected or hurt others. People matter to me. And people’s feelings matter…my own as well.

A person does not have to commit a major wrongdoing to have regrets and ask for forgiveness. To have treated our friend unkind or to have offended someone we care about is enough. People sometimes underestimate the power of words and actions. It may seem like the smallest thing to you that leaves a scar that necessitates forgiveness and atonement.

As I put my spiritual needs before my physical needs today, I reflect on my actions over the past year and ask for forgiveness. I know that I can not say a prayer, go through rituals, or simply say “I’m sorry” for just one day for this to have true meaning. This is a time of reflection, introspection and atonement. Was I good? Was I good enough? Was I being good a daughter, sister, and friend? Who have I hurt? Who have I offended? Where could I have been better and where can I be better in the future? What do I want to change? How can I grow as a person? How can I help the community? How can I do my part to help those who are healing? And how can I be kinder…even to myself? So I will try to reach out more, be more thoughtful, and be considerate of other people’s situations. I want to be even more understanding and to be truer to myself.

This day is about forgiveness. It’s all about personal repentance and forgiveness and then extending forgiveness to others. I think about how I can make today part of my every day life and how to live each day with great intentions, compassion, love, and forgiveness. I love this quote that I found in the footnotes of the Mahzor today…

“If we can be courageous, one more time than we are fearful…

Trusting, one more time than we are anxious…
Cooperative, one more time than we are competitive…
Forgiving, one more time than we are vindictive…
Loving, one more time than we are hateful…

We would have moved closer to the next breakthrough in our evolution.” 

—Jonas Salk

 

10.2.2014

Ironman Maryland Race Report 2014

Ironman Maryland Race Report

Swim 2.4 miles. Bike 112 miles and run a 26.2 mile marathon. Ironman. The world’s most challenging endurance race… except it’s so much more than just a race.  I’ve opened this screen over and over only to stare at a blank screen. For those who are just joining me for the first time I will quickly catch you up. This month marks one year since I completed my first triathlon. One year ago the thought of an Ironman never entered my mind and 6 months ago I crossed the finish line of Ironman Los Cabos.  IMLC was supposed to be my one and only but 16 days later I signed up for the inaugural Ironman Maryland my third triathlon and “second and last” Ironman. Why another Ironman?  I felt eager to apply what I learned from my first to another. I understood what was ahead of me this time and curious to experience a second close to the first. I wondered how much more I could possibly grow. You’re here to read the race report though but if you’d like to know more feel free to ask me. I think much of this race report will be weird to read and I’m not sure it will make sense. I want to remember as much as I can though when I look back several years from now. I will probably write as though I am in the moment for most of it. It will be messy, I write in the present and past tense, and will need to edit and reedit. It’s pretty hard for me to put this into words. There are a lot of emotions going on as I begin. It’s time to flash back to a very significant and special experience in my life…

4:30am I wake up after 5 hours of rest and eat a cinnamon raisin bagel with natural peanut butter, a banana and drink Spark and a half cup of coffee. I always pull one Zen Card before a race but this morning I decided to pick a handful. Final thoughts posted with the picture “I can not wait to dance down the chute. See you tonight at 140.6.” and I was out the door.

5:00am I should have brought a flashlight. I walk 10 minutes in pitch dark until I get down to the path along water. I arrive in transition at 5:25am. I know I should fill my own tires or wait for a tech to pass by but instead I have a guy who’s filling other people’s tires do mine. He and his wife are cool and what happens next wasn’t intentional. It was a reminder, however, that I should trust myself. I eat a Clif Espresso gel at 6:15am and head towards the bathrooms. The excitement is increasing over the loud speakers and with just 15 minutes until transition closes I hear my name. “Keli…#380 from Philadelphia, PA… please return to your bike, your tires are flat.” What???? I still had to get body marked too and go to the bathroom. Jeff hears the announcement and comes over to my row to check on me. He hugs me or maybe I hug him and he helps keep me calm. I also meet Michael (IMLC) and Robin for the first time right here. I take my bike over to Eric at TriCycleandRun and they help me instantly. Thank you, Eric! I had a flat shortly before the start of Ironman Los Cabos too so maybe this is going to be a regular thing?  I’ll be triple checking my tires now.  Imagine how this would have affected my energy (and time) had I discovered this after coming out of the swim.  Thank you #433 for reporting it. I am now getting body marked and in line for the bathroom when they say “8 minutes until transition closes.” Shit, I have got to get moving.

Pour yourself a glass or two of wine.  My race is just beginning and something tells me this is going to be long. Perhaps I should join you too. I have this ritual, you see…I do not drink for 30 days to an Ironman and somehow it was 56 days leading up to this race. I know…I’m a wild one. I hope you’ll stick with me through the entire report but if it is too long then the read swim, bike, run, finish, post-race, recovery and reflections like chapters each night. If you only read one part I’d like to suggest you read my race reflections where I will share a little about my training, what I felt going into the race, and what happened to me after my second Ironman. I had no idea on the morning of Ironman Maryland that I was about to have such a life impacting experience.

Ironman Maryland

Swim  6:40am I seed myself in the 1:11-1:20 group. Ivan notices me, hugs me and tells me “Keli, you are going to do this.  You are already an Ironman.”  I repeat that in my mind, stand on my toes to hug him again and go back to take my place. The National Anthem sends a sensation through my entire body. As I look up at the flag I take deep breaths. 6:50am BANG!!!!!! I smile, give thanks, and think something like “Today is the day. You are here. Today you will become a 2X Ironman. Keli.”

I feel the Choptank River water touch my feet and it’s officially started. Within minutes 1500 of us are shoulder to shoulder and in the water headed out into the unknown. The 74 degree wetsuit legal water feels perfect on this beautiful sunny morning. The course takes us from Great Marsh Park (start and transition area) towards Long Wharf Park (where the finish line is).  The swim is surprisingly more violent for me than my first Ironman but nothing unheard of for this race. Are we swimming slightly against the current? The bigger issue is the athletes that surround me. Some found things spread out while others were not so fortunate. 5 minutes into the swim I feel a little beat up and thrown out of rhythm. Arms are grabbing people and people kicking one another. What could have been a foot-to-head collision isn’t when some guy kicks my nose and pushes my goggles into my face. I readjust and I’m fine. Rock your swim, Keli. I think about much I enjoyed swimming as a child and how amazing it is to be doing this. I’m frustrated with all of the ankle grabbing though. I feel like someone just yanked my left leg.  I can’t control what’s behind me and all I can do is keep moving forward. My wetsuit no longer covers my timing chip so I reach down a few times to make sure it’s there. I’ve only gone a few hundred meters and I realize I need to get my breathing under control. The best way to get through these kind of swims is to relax and bring my attention back to my breath.  It took me the first half of the first 1.2 mile loop to settle in. Why are people more aggressive at each of the turn buoys? Is it really this way or in my head? A girl hits me and I remind myself not to waste of energy getting frustrated. No harm done. Just take the punches as they come, swim as strong as I can and continue to bring awareness back to the breath. I look up and ask someone treading water if we’ve just finished the first 1.2 mile loop. He tells me no and I realize it doesn’t matter where I am. Just follow the people and keep swimming. Fumes of gasoline from a rescue boat takes my mind to Belize for a moment. That smell makes me almost nauseous but know in a few seconds it will pass. The second half of the swim goes much better. I hear my breath even out and feel smooth through the water. I seem to have a little more space until we get to the last few hundred meters.  I can see the swim-out ahead and the energy around me picks up. I kick it up a notch up and join the herd to exit the water. I swim until my feet hits the bottom and climb out relieved, knowing that although this was the shortest leg of the race I made the cut off and am almost to my bike.

Swim:  1:30:26 (Goal 1:25)

T1: Swim-to-bike 6:46 (Goal 8:00)  I strip out my wetsuit and realize I must not have noticed the clock coming out of the water. I ask a volunteer what time it is and she tells me 8:20. I bolt into the changing tent and shake my head slightly disappointed it took me almost 10 minutes longer than I expected. I swam 1:20 in my first Ironman. Some people claim the swim was longer than 2.4 miles but I highly doubt that’s accurate. Get over it, Keli. Move forward. I change, sip water, slather vaseline around my legs, apply sunscreen, thank the volunteers and transition from swim-to-bike. I grab my bike and it’s time to hit the bike course! Yessss!

Ironman Maryland Ironman Maryland

Bike The course consists of a two loop segment in the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and an out and back to the loop which starts at the local high school. This will be my third century ride and we biked through through farmland, marshland and back roads.  Some say that flat roads make for an easier course while others do not agree because you’re constantly pushing the pedals and there’s no downhill respite. What is said to be tricky on this course is the wind although I didn’t find the wind to be that bad. It did not compare to the wind on my third loop at IMLC. There were just a few short stretches in Maryland where I felt we had to really push through wind. My computer said I averaged 18.3 MPH for the first 56 miles, although the athlete tracker tells me it was actually just a little slower from mile 30-57.  I think I rolled through 4 of the 11 aid stations. Big improvement. I probably stopped at all of them in IMLC.

Mile 0-12  Yes!!!! I’m on my bike and feel happy.  This opportunity is truly amazing. I smile and think about what I’m doing…Ironman is really happening. It occurs to me that the bike that is my favorite part of the sport right now. I think about how much I am looking forward to focusing more on the bike when I train for next year’s Ironman. I know that mentioned earlier that IMMD is my second and last Ironman but there’s been a change of plans. While volunteering Ironman Lake Placid I decided I want to do a third and final Ironman and take training more serious in 2015. Next year’s IM is pretty special to me and I’ll tell you about that next week.  I remind myself to enjoy the moments today. I expect to be on the bike for almost 7 hours. It sounds like such a long time but it depends on how you look at it. I’ll break it down into 30 minute goals since every half hour I’ll fuel myself with Clif Espresso gel shots, 6 natural dried apricots at a time, bananas, an energy bar (half at a time) somewhere around the middle of the ride, salt tablets on the hour, Raspberry Rehydrate and water.  I start with a gel 10 minutes into my ride.  I settle in quickly and I feel awesome. I see Kathy, a friend from the IMMD 2014 Facebook page I started. We run into one another throughout the entire day. Somewhere around my hip flexor I notice discomfort and think it could be from when that guy pulled my left leg in the swim. It’s just a little annoying but probably temporary. I stretch out my hip as I continue pedaling. I do something like a seated pigeon pose. It’s still there several miles later and I wonder if it gets worse will I be able to run? I need to keep a strong mind and focus on the bike right now. Worrying about the marathon won’t fix my current situation. Somewhere within the first 30 miles that discomfort completely went away. I’ve always said the first and last 12 miles are the hardest but that’s not the case today.  I can’t believe how quickly these first 12 miles flew by. Only 100 more to go. Yessssssss!!!

Mile 12-33  I’m having a blast and it feels easy so far. As I pass the bike ahead of me I notice an Ironman Los Cabos sticker. The guy tells me he thinks IMLC was gorgeous but that it was also his toughest Ironman course. We chat on and off as we run into one another over 20 minutes and then I was on my way. “Kathy! Hey Kathy, how’s it going…” There’s Kathy again!  A few people yell “Philly tri club!!” as they pass me and it motivates me. At Mile 20 the tape on my left aero bar starts to unravel. It’s completely off within a few miles. This could get annoying. A few miles later a guy wipes out and he’s laying on his side. Noooooo. He looks like he’s in pain. I slow down to ask if I can help him. He tells me to keep going to the aid station right ahead and to ask them to send help. My heart sinks. I hope his race has not ended. I roll through the aid station and they head back to assist him. Positive thoughts. It’s time to re-focus. You’ve reached 33 miles. You’re 1/3 through of the way to 100 miles and once you reach 100 you’ll just have 12 more to go. Chopping it up like this helps me. I constantly did math during my first Ironman and I feel relieved I’m not doing this so long as I maintain my current pace. I know I will make it to the finish line tonight.

Mile 36  Something just flew off my bike and I turn my head to look behind me. I’m going too fast, swerve and almost lose control. What the fuck is the matter with me? I hop off my bike and see my water bottle laying in the grass.  Not sure how that happened.  I grab it, get back on the bike and tell myself to take a deep breath and focus. Another 30 minutes pass by quickly and it’s time to fuel myself again. Dried apricots are my favorite thing to eat on the bike.

Mile 40 Oh shit. I’m passing a guy who is pissing on his bike. The badass guys pee on their bikes but I’ve never seen anyone do it before. To see pee fly was both gross and impressive. Good thing it didn’t hit me.

Mile 42  Did the wind just pick up in the 40 mile stretch or am I making that up in my head? People around me confirm we are pushing harder through the wind. It’s just a condition though which we can work through. It probably won’t last the entire time and it will feel great when it lets up. Some people complain of the wind but weather is just part of the course. It’s an Ironman and it is not supposed to be easy. Pushing through challenges makes the race interesting. I hear”Keliiiii!!” It’s Mark from IMLC and I’m happy to see him!  He tells me his swim sucked, we chat 5 seconds and he keeps himself moving. Something tells me I’ll catch up with him on the run.

Mile 45  I still feel great and time is going by quickly although it occurs to me once I hit 56 miles I still have to do this same loop one more time Wow. I wonder how I’ll feel at that point and will I start to get tired? Stay in the present. You feel great right now. There’s Kathy again.  I hear “Go Philly! Go, Philly!!” as some guy passes me and it gave me an extra boost. I wonder if the girl passing me knows her shorts are see-through. Maybe it’s intentional since her butt is perfect.

Mile 48 “Keli! Hey, it’s K—- Looking good!” Who is that guy flying by me? Is that Ken from Philly Tri Club? I have to catch up to him because I don’t want to wonder who that is throughout my ride. Pick it up, Keli….pick it up. Let’s go!!! I keep my eye on him and push myself 24 MPH. Getting closer, closer and closer. I hear and feel my breath recognizing this probably isn’t wise but I’m just so close to catching up to him. I catch up, say hello and sure enough it’s Ken! I’m impressed he knew who I was and recognizes me. Fun to meet him for the first time on the bike. I tell him I’m totally out of breath, just wanted to know who he was and wish him well on his race. He’s out of sight in less than a minute. Stop looking at your distance and time and just keep up a 17-18 MPH pace. You’ll be fine.

Mile 50-56  50 miles already?  I still feel awesome.  I remind myself that the mind tells the body what to do and to keep it moving!  I don’t even think I need my special needs bag in a few miles and I’m pretty sure I’ll skip it. I planned to stop to go to the bathroom just once on the bike and figured it’d be around mile 56 but I still do not have to go.  It’s weird because I’m drinking a lot of water and Rehydrate at least every 15 minutes. I finish the first loop and it looks like there’s a party going on in the penalty box by the high school.  It’s overflowing with people. What did they all do to get in there? I really want to know but this is none of my business and I need to stay focused on my race. I’m now at 56 miles. Half way. Yes!  That went FAST!  I don’t need my special needs bag and feel happy I packed my bike and body well. Great work, I am feeling such progress from my first Ironman!! I am smiling huge.

Mile 60 or something like that The guy passing me asks if I’ve noticed some people are swerving. Their concentration is either fading or they are getting tired.   What is more important is my left knee. I’ve never had any issues with my knee. Shit. I have 50 miles to go. My mind and the rest of my body feels great. I have the energy to push harder but if I push too hard will I be able to run a marathon or is it better to ease back?  Darn it. I decide to ease back a bit.  I massage my left knee and move my leg around in circles. I’m comfortable on my aero bars except for when I go over big bumps and the puddles pictured above from high tide today. As I go around a curve with lots of spectators a guy in a Maryland flag speedo is holding a sign that reads “Smile if your crotch hurts”  The sign brings awareness to that area and I realize for the most part I was pretty good down there.

Mile 70  I feel inspired or maybe I’m bored. The guy who peed at mile 40 has made me think it’s a good day to learn how to pee on the bike. I sort of want to be one of those people but also wonder if it would make the rest of the ride uncomfortable. Wouldn’t it just make more sense to lose 3 minutes getting off the bike, stretch out and going to the bathroom the proper way? I realize that peeing on the bike just isn’t in the cards for me and considering it has slowed my pace down. I’ll wait until I finish the bike course. I really want to keep my momentum going. I will stick to using the bathroom when I have to go.

Mile 80 The point where people’s energy levels often start to fade and they want to throw their bike into the river. My body and energy were great although my knee still didn’t feel right. I am thinking about the marathon and would it be possible like this?  Focus on your knee and the discomfort will increase. I envision the Fear-Tension-Pain cycle I go through with birth doula clients.  Fear (or stress) causes tension throughout the body and tension causes pain. Stress hormones released by the body (catecholamine) can interfere with blood flow and a number of other things increasing pain throughout the body. Relax and focus your energy elsewhere.

Mile 92  Sweet, 8 more miles to 100. Keep yourself moving at least 17MPH and you will be there soon. I pass one of the many funny signs my IMMD friend posted along the course. It just wasn’t as funny as it was on the first loop. I am in no mood for humor at this point. My mind just can’t process funny right now. I’m feeling really full this last hour. I’ve pretty much stuck to my nutrition exactly as planned but never felt so full when I’ve done this before. I feel over fueled. Is that even a term? I know it means I probably need to adjust my nutrition plan in the future but for now it just feels like over fueling. I should have listened to my body and made an adjustment a half hour ago.  I decide not to eat my final hour and promise myself I will once I start the run.

Mile 100  Yessssss!!!! I love seeing 100 on my bike computer!! I’m starting to feel ready to hand off my bike. It’s pretty quiet right now and cyclers have spread out. I only have TWELVE miles to go! But I am looking forward to getting off the bike. Somewhere around here my knee discomfort must have gone away. It’s really windy here. I tell myself to keep a pace between 16-18 MPH and I have just under an hour to go. I can do almost anything for an hour. Did I mention how full I feel? Of course I did. That’s what I keep thinking about.

Mile 110  Yesssssssss!!  I’m in a cluster of people and we have to slow down. You’ll be in T2 with less than 6 1/2 hours on the bike. Yay!  I am ready to get off the bike but still feel great. Progress from my first IM. I wonder if I had followed a training plan how much faster I could have gone or would go next next time.

Mile 112  I hop off my bike at the dismount line and hand off my bike. I run to my red run gear bag #380 and head for the changing tents. I feel like I am running totally normal but who knows if I really am.

Bike:  6:28:10 (Goal under 7 hours)

T2: Bike-to-run 4:08 (Goal 8:00)  I quickly change my shorts, socks, leave my top on, throw on my running shoes, hear music and I’m happy as I head of out of T2.

Ironman Maryland course maps

The marathon.  I’m on my feet and feel phenomenal as I begin the run. Both my body and my mind. Yessssssss!!!!!!! I am certain I’m running totally normal which surprises me. My body can not tell that I’ve been on a bike for 6.5 hours. I wonder if it’s the yoga or if I am lucky. I know this isn’t typical for a triathlete (hi, I’m not typical) so maybe you will find this interesting or maybe you will judge me. It doesn’t even matter though because it is what it is.  I have never looked at a course map before signing up for a race. Not even before race day. I don’t go in totally blind though and I do make sure to learn what to expect on the course while training. Second embarrassing confession.  I do not own a fancy watch and don’t wear my watch until I get to the marathon. I have no way to tell my pace besides keeping track of the time mile by mile. Except…the night before Ironman Maryland I broke my watch band and there was no way to wear my watch. Carrying it in the back of my top would be my only option. Taking it out of my back pocket to glance at it occasionally to make sure I’m on track for with my goals was my only option. I speed walked through every aid station to drink water and pepsi (soothing) at most of them too. I ate some pretzels within the first few miles just like I did at IMLC. It brought back moments that were special to me. For the most part I just didn’t need to consume too much for the marathon and pretty much stuck to just a few gels.

0.25 miles  I’m thirsty.

0.5 miles  I’m really, really thirsty and I really have to pee.  I’m really full and have way too much in my belly.  Just a half mile to the first aid station.

1 mile  Approaching the mile 1 marker sign but there’s no aid station.  Didn’t they say the run has an aid station every mile? I am really fucking thirsty (and short tempered) and I have to go to the bathroom soooooo bad!  I start asking the people around me if there’s supposed to be an aid station every mile but no one responds. Relax, you know there’s got to be one coming up soon. Wtf, but I have to pee so bad.

Between mile 1 and 2. THANK GOODNESS for an aid station and two porta potties, both occupied. I’m doing a happy dance to keep myself moving and probably to prevent peeing myself too. I feel like they are taking awhile. “Wtf… are they doing their makeup in their or what?” comes out of my mouth and as I turn around Ivan is passing by laughing at me!  Phewwwwwww.  It’s my turn to pee.  It’s my first and only potty of the race. Drastic difference from my first Ironman where I went to the bathroom 3 times on the bike and twice in the marathon. I just don’t see how once is possible because I know I was very well hydrated.  I think it’s a combination of the excitement and yoga. Yeah, I always seem to find a way to credit yoga, don’t I? Think strengthening the pelvic floor…

Mile 3  I’m frustrated I can barely run these first three miles because something has happened on the right side of my stomach and I’m still “over fueled” as I call it. It’s time to admit that maybe I have nutrition issues for the first time ever. I am so disappointed in myself. My physical body feels awesome, my mind feels strong, I FEEL like running but do I push myself to run like this? I feel like I gained 20 pounds since my day started. I ask myself if I push too hard now will I get a stomach ache, get sick, or puke, and if any of these happen will it set me back? I think of yoga in this moment. Not the physical aspect of yoga but ideas from the discipline of yoga. I know I must push myself to my edge today but also recognize when it’s time to ease back. It is hard for me to admit to myself when it’s time to ease back but I know in this moment it’s time to ease back. Accept where you are right now. Have you ever had a belly ache that doesn’t go away? No.  Take care of yourself now and you’ll probably be fine within a few miles. I speed walk with very short periods of running in between.  I can revisit how my belly feels at the next mile. A few people yell “Hey Philly cheesesteak” on the run. A cheesesteak is the last thing I want to think of right now. It is hard to take my focus off my belly and I take deep breaths as I continue to walk quickly.

Mile 4  “Looking good, Keli!” Yes, it’s Hugh!  “Hughhhhhhhh!!!!” One of my Iron boyfriends!  So I started the Ironman Maryland 2014 Facebook back when they first launched the race. Several of us supported and got to knowone another through training. A few of us really connected as friends through the final two months leading up to the race. Somehow four of the guys became my “Iron boyfriends.” All in good fun. John, Jeff, Hugh, and Ivan are just my friends. Eddy, if I could have 5 Iron boyfriends you’d be right up there too. Enough silly talk. Let’s get back to the race. Gosh I’m so happy to be seeing familiar faces and new friends along the marathon course. Hugh and I exchange huge smiles as we pass one another in opposite directions. Oh, there’s Kathy again….and again…and again. I see many familiar faces along these next few miles.  The tension on the right side of my stomach has not improved. My belly is bigger than I’ve ever seen it. I totally want to run but I alternate between speed walking and running.  I feel the pavement under my feet and wonder if I am only at mile 4 what will it feel like as the miles go on. My feet were fine by the next mile. I hear Maroon 5.  Actually both times I pass a tent with music it’s Maroon 5 playing. I am smiling. If spectators set up a stereo at every single mile I swear could finish sub-13. Music motivates me to go harder.

Mile 4-6  I pass John for the first time. We’re heading in opposite directions towards one another. I’m so happy to see him as we both extend our arms out to almost high five one another except we don’t. I see John, Hugh, Ivan, and Eddy four or five times each on the run. The entire race I think they are all one lap ahead and it took me until mile 21 to figure out it was just Hugh ahead of me. I light up every time I see one of them. Except the time I pass John while I am holding my stomach. He tells me I’m doing well and to just keep going.

Mile 6  You’ve just run a 10K.  It’s 5:30pm. Keep going.  The bike sweeper is heading towards me although he’s on other side of the road.  He’s yelling something at the bike in front of him.  I look at my watch. It’s 5:40pm and my stomach sinks. I’m sad to see her miss the cut off.

Ironman Maryland

Past the first turn around with the cute crab inside the M-dot. “Oh Fuck, I’m so f–ing pissed” comes out of my mouth. I was still frustrated with my stomach. As soon as I drop my first f-bomb a lady behind me says “Hey, hey now! Is that necessary?” I had no idea what she was talking about but it was the swearing. She mentions there are children on the course except there was no aid station or spectator in site. I feel bad for a second that I offended someone until she asks me again is the swearing necessary. “Yes, yes it is. I feel swearing in an Ironman is necessary and exciting. I swear when I watch football too. Feel free to run past me if it’s a problem.” I was surprised by the comment but whatever. Luckily I see Brian in black and green and my energy always sparked up when I saw people I knew! We chatted maybe a minute. He’s much faster than me. I saw him a few times on the course.

Mile 7  The one mile of the entire 140.6 miles where my attitude is sour. My self talk is horrendous and offensive. I am disgusted and angry with myself.  I also wonder throughout this entire mile what I could have been capable of over first 7 miles of the marathon had I listened to my body when fueling. Would I have run more? Would I have run faster? I have not been shy to share details from my race however I think it’s inappropriate to share the what I told myself at mile 7 which was mile 121.4 of the race. I could probably share it in person. I will never forget the hurtful words that went through my mind and the setting that surrounded me at mile 121.4. What I will tell you is how I worked through it.  In my Pre-Ironman report I mentioned that life isn’t always perfect. Falling down is normal but staying down is a choice. When you feel like you are falling apart it could actually be that you are falling together. I learned through my work at age 21 that it often takes a breakdown in order to break through. Overcoming tough times takes conscious effort, action and you can’t just sit back and expect things to magically happen. It takes work. I also said that I know this is a time where I can find my own strength even when some things around me seem to be falling apart. I asked myself if I would think about a friend like this or talk to a friend like this and my answer was no. I told myself that I am my best friend today. I told myself I had just one goal today and that was to become an Ironman for the second time and nothing else mattered in these moments. There was never one moment in the race where I didn’t think I would make it to the finish line but knew it could be a very long ride if I kept up this attitude. If I want to makes changes I am able to start tomorrow. Right now you have only one task to focus on. I asked myself if Ironman was hard and the answer was “No, I do not think it is hard at all but I do not think any of it is easy” I reminded myself that personal growth happens through new experiences…and that new experiences aren’t always easy, just like Ironman. Embrace where I am today, give myself credit for how far along I have come and continue to set new goals for tomorrow. We have all been worn down at one point or another but isn’t it beautiful when we grow through life’s difficulties?  I do not regret moments that hurt because I enjoyed many of those times and learned from them. In the end, it’s not just what we have been through but how we got through these times that matters.  Michael Jordan said ”Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”

Mile 8  Phewwwwww. Glad that mile 7 shit is over. What the fuck was up with that?  I’m running now and my stomach is close to normal! Half way through mile 8 I take out my watch and calculate. I think of my finish goal…to cross the finish line by 9:59pm in 14 hours and 59 seconds. But wait a minute. If I keep this up it looks possible to finish in 13 hours and 59 minutes!  I am allowed to change my goals especially if I up the goal. Keli, aim for a finish time of 8:59pm now. Wow. I visualize finishing before 9:00pm and keep my feet moving. This is sweet.

Ironman Maryland race report

Mile 9  The signs at the second turn around (pictured above) read “1st/2nd lap turn right” and “last lap turn left” I take a right completing my first lap and can hear the music and “You are an Ironman” as people are already finishing and the sun is still shining. As I make my next turn running down the cobblestone road I see the finish chute. The music and crowd has me pumped up.  I’m smiling and running strong envisioning myself running down the finish line in just 17 miles. I loved running past the chute twice before it was actually my time to run down it. It was exciting to calculate how many miles I’d have left until I got there. I make another turn and run right past where I am staying. A lady in her yard is standing there with a hose spraying people with water. I do NOT want to get wet and move as far away from her as I can. “Go Keli!!! Go Keliiiiii” some good looking spectator is screaming my name. I smile, say thanks and tell him he’s hot. Keep it moving, Keli. The mind tells the body what to do!

Somewhere in the middle. While I’ve been writing my report Edward sent me a message asking me to give him a shout out on my blog. Our conversation on Facebook went just like this. “Edward, We did not see one another once on the course, right? What shall I say? Mile 130 I am still looking out for and wondering where Edward may be on the course?” “Keli, I saw you a few times. We even gave each other shout outs. Dang. I feel neglected. You were smiling and so happy each time I saw you. You gave me hope. That’s the blessing.. giving others hope when you don’t even realize. That’s why you are an Ironman” My heart sinks. Thank you. I am sorry you were so blurry to my memory. In some ways I really do remember seeing Edward at least twice but on the other hand I don’t really remember seeing him at all. I know it sounds weird but weird things happen along the course of 140.6 miles. I’m sorry you are blurry to me Edward but I did enjoy getting to know you at our group dinner on Thursday. Turns out I had another blurry moment with someone else. You see…I ask everyone for permission to use their first names before I write about them in my blog. When I told Kathy I mentioned her multiple times in the bike she sent me this. “Lol…you are too funny. Don’t forget that we also saw each other in the changing tent and you were concerned that your swim time was slower then your last and I told you don’t worry about it as you will make that up later.” Uh, Kathy…Yes, I DO remember this moment but had no idea who I was having this conversation with when I was trying to blaze through T1. Thanks for letting me know you were there naked with me in T1.

Mile 13  Yes!! You’ve ran a half marathon, Keli! Feeling GREAT! I think about how I’m really enjoying the second half of the run. I think back to 1 1/2 years ago when I said “I can’t run but I want to love running. It’s feels awesome to think just 9 days before IMMD I realized I’m starting to enjoy it. Right now it’s pretty cool to think about my progress over my first year of triathlon. I still feel happy to be running even though I’m supposed to be doing run-walk intervals right now I just want to keep running. Somewhere on the second loop I’m running and see John coming towards me.  ”John!! I up-ed my goal, gonna do this faster!!” I remember him saying ”Sub 14, Keli…sub 14!” I am enjoying the run as much as the bike. The entire experience fascinates me.

Mile 14  I spot Ivan from a distance. He’s tall and hard to miss. I still had great energy and was thrilled to approach him. Hi Ivan!! He asks if I wanted to walk with him for awhile. No thanks, Ivan, I’m gonna keep on running. We exchange a few words and he tells me “You’re talking too much, get running and go get your PR!” off I went. That was a wise decision because apparently he was constantly farting now. Post race via Facebook he sent me this… “Well, I’d check wind direction, then look around me and warn people around me accordingly. I’d try to just be mindful. I would say it almost as a joke at times if people were hurting and needed a funny break. Folks in the back often are struggling, and I try to provide a bit of levity when possible-farts or any other way possible. I’d also like to get the credit for being the first dude to tell you with conviction that you easily had a sub-14 in you.I have a knack for seeing the potential in certain people.” I forgot this until he reminded me.

Mile 16 or something like that I recognize Mark’s calves and hair. Hi Mark! Bye Mark! We saw each other often during IMLC but only shared 20 seconds on the bike and 1 minutes of this marathon together this time. I smiled all three times I saw Hai-Ping as well as Kiley, Conway and Paul as we cheered one another on. Oh, and Kenny too who says “You are the smiliest triathlete I have ever met.” So funny. He probably did not see me over the first 7 miles. By the time that it registered I had just passed Jenn it was too late to give her what I was carrying in my pocket. It lit me up both times I saw Iron boyfriend Jeff looking strong on his first Ironman. I enjoyed running into so many people around these miles. Some were heading onto their second lap and others to their third. “The hot guy again!” He laughs and says “Go Keli, Go!!!” Remember the hot guy from mile 9?  Yeah, I see him again at the same spot on my next loop around.

Mile 18  The sun is setting. I ask the time as I run past a girl who is looking at her watch. I turn back to thank her and glance at her bib. It’s Erika, a blogger I connected with a few weeks before the race. Erika DNFed Ironman Lake Placid and just 8 weeks later Erika is racing IMMD! Talk about determination. I’ve chatted with her since IMMD and wow, she’s pretty awesome. Congratulations, Erika!  You…are an Ironman!  Ken and Emily called my name somewhere around here while I was focused and unable to form words.  All I could do was simply put my hand up and sort of wave.

Mile 19.  There’s a few minutes of daylight left as I run down Holly Street and hear “Keliiiiiiii!!!!!” ”Michael????? It’s Michael from IMLC wearing his awesome storm trooper kit. I’m confused and thrilled to see him with me at mile 133. We speed walk, speed talk, run a few minutes and chat about our race. I ask if he’s seen Robin. He asks me to compare IMLC and IMMD. I shake my head and tell him I can’t begin to go back to IMLC right now. My mind is focused and I feel good right now. That’s an important conversation that we’ll save for another day. I just can’t think that hard right now. “Let’s run some more. Omg, I can’t believe I am running with you, Michael.  So happy to be running with you.” I think we stuck together for about a mile and then I keep going. I wonder who will finish first even though it doesn’t matter. I’m on my third lap and the new guy next to me is on his second.  ”I’m not sure I will do this” he tells me. I smile and tell him “Except you ARRRRRRRE doing it! Right now!” He smiles back and runs with me for two minutes when I ask him to.

A new goal.  I feel confident at mile 19 I will meet my new goal of finishing in 13 hours and 59 minutes. But now I wonder if maybe I could finish in 13 hours and 45 minutes so I calculate. Do-able. Good work, Keli. The new goal is 13:45.  I am trying to comprehend how this happened.  Was it just this morning that I did the swim?  This has all happened today?  I will most likely finish within the 13th hour. I can feel my smile and I hear this voice inside my head…Keli, you are doing awesome.

Mile 20 I am running 2-3 minutes then speed walking a minute. My body feels awesome, my mind focused, I feel happy and then some chick says to me “I had no idea it was going to be THIS hardddddd, did you?” Ughhhh. I’m feeling so focused and positive in my mind so I wasn’t up for hearing this. After more than 11 hours my hand goes up and I tell her “No negativity right now. Positive!” I have heard people use the word “suffer” to describe Ironman. I do not understand how anyone can suffer (unless something medical happens) when they make the choice to do this on their own and are moving forward in the process. I want to stay in my groove so I start rolling and keep it moving. Time to run. “Be vigilant; guard your mind against negative thoughts.” Buddha

Mile 21 Only five miles to go! “Second or third lap?” I ask a guy as he looks at his watch. He’s ecstatic as he tells me it’s his third lap and that he’s going to be a 12 X Ironman tonight. I’m thrilled for him and want to hear more. He’s excited to share his journey through triathlon with me and excited yet surprised when I share mine. “Are we going to make it into the finish line by 8:59pm, Chuck?” He calculates and promises me we will so long as we keep running 2-3 minutes and walking a minute. We’re able to run a little longer sometimes. We agree to stick together for awhile and stick to this plan. I’m surprised I am able to keep up a conversation, laugh, and run after 135 miles. Time is passing quickly with Chuck. We pass special needs for the third time and I still don’t need it. Except wait….my lipgloss. I put lipgloss on one mile to the finish in my first Ironman and I intend to do the same thing this time. I tell Chuck I will catch up in a minute as I approach special needs saying “380!! 380!!” I dig quickly for my lipgloss and catch up with Chuck. Wow, we’ve made it 135 miles. John passes by in the opposite direction and I’m puzzled because he’s been ahead of me all day and thinking he should be done by now. Chuck confirms that all of the guys who I thought were ahead of me all day were actually behind me. Except Hugh, who finished in the 12th hour. It occurs to me at this point that my three Ironboyfriends who told me they’d be waiting for me at the finish line won’t be there when I arrive! This is totally awesome. I’ll take it. 

Mile 23.5  “Hey Chuck, did I miss the 24 mile marker?”  It’s really dark and it seems like we should have past it by now. We are both pretty sure they forgot to put out the marker. It’s probably just 0.1 miles before I ask him if it’s possible we haven’t actually hit 24 miles.  He’s pretty sure we passed it awhile ago and tells me we are probably almost to mile 25. Mile 25? Really?  Yes!!!!

Mile 24.  Nope. We are now at the 24 mile marker. What?  That was one long mile. With just 2 miles to go though I am happy and have energy to run. “Come on…Let’s run, Chuck!” I can’t wait to see the finish line. I’m pumped to pick things up at mile 25 and run the last mile.

Mile 25.5  People are lined up on each side of the street clapping and screaming.  I hear “Keliiiiiiiii!!!!!!! Gooooo Kelllllllli!!!!” as spectators scream as athletes run by. I love the energy and support. I approach the final turn around and this time I get to take a LEFT at the sign that reads “TO THE FINISH!” I quickly put on some lipgloss. Music is blasting and I hear “You…are…an Ironman!” over and over as people are finishing. I feel a huge smile on my face. It’s 8:30pm and I am almost there. I fucking did this. I run down the cobblestone road on High Street…the final street that felt like a movie scene leading us to the chute. Someone screams “Keli Englesonnnnnnn!! It’s me, so-and-so from—-” I never did figure out who that was but it was so awesome to hear someone who knew me cheer me on with less than a mile to go. I would love to know who that was and thank them. I see the lights, the chute and the blue finish line in the distance. It went by so quick.

The finish chute  I approach the chute and pick up my speed carried by the euphoria of what is about to come. I enter the chute dancing and remember to give a few high fives this time. Spectators are cheering and banging on the both sides of the chute walls. The atmosphere is electric and I am aware of the music this time. ”Hey honey you could be my drug. You could be my new prescription. Too much could be an overdose.  It started with a whisper…And that was when I kissed her…” The guy next to me tells me to go ahead. “Ladies first” and I tell him “You go! I’m dancing!” I’m aware of everything going on this time and hear them say “We’ve got dancing! Everything going on in the finish chute!” Twirling in circles I hold up two fingers as I run to the finish line. “Keli Engleson….you are…an IRONMAN!” I look up and confirm I’ve finished in the 13th hour.  Just after I cross the line I hear them say “Congratulations to Yoga Peach.”  Surreal.

Official time:  13:35:11 (Goal 14:59:59 and then 13:59:59 and then 13:45)

Post-race  This feeling can never duplicated.  We all do this for different reasons and something different happens to each one of us over the course of 140.6 miles as we run down the finish chute. A volunteer put my medal over my head and I was given a finishers hat and t-shirt. The chocolate milk I down in two sips tastes outstanding and I’m thrilled I have an appetite after crossing the finish line this time. I stay at the finish line to wait for some friends and Iron boyfriends who were going to be waiting for me. Ecstatic to be the one waiting for them. Volunteers ask how I have the energy to be dancing while I wait. Chuck is my first hug and high five crossing the finish line 38 seconds after me. I will always clearly remember finishing those final miles and crossing the finish with him. “I’m very glad I was able to run the last five miles with you! Prolly the best last five miles of the 12 IMs I’ve done! That was completely unexpeceted and amazingly incredible. Will never forget it. Chuck” Two minutes later Sabrina (IMLC) and then five minutes later Eddy 5. We all hug. Ten minutes later Michael (IMLC) and on and on people roll in. Totally awesome seeing so many people at the finish line. I wish I had thought to get pictures with people.  I don’t want to miss anyone by heading over to the finishers food tent so one of the volunteers brings me two pieces of pizza. So nice! I eat an entire slice in 60 seconds and within minutes am eating the second slice even though the volunteer suggests I wait few minutes. I totally impress myself eating TWO slices of pizza and a chocolate milk within 10 minutes of finishing. 17 minutes later… I see Iron boyfriend John heading into the chute and then Ivan minutes later.  I am so happy to congratulate and hug them both. I can not describe the excitement and energy that filled the hour after I crossed the finish line. I have my finisher picture taken, skip the finishers food tent, and chat with the other Michael while we wait for our massages. The massage…is amazing. Victor asks me if I stretch a lot and claims I was one of the most flexible people he massaged after the race. Yesssss! We discuss yoga and the importance of stretching for flexibility, injury prevention and recovery. After my massage I continue to run into people. At the end of the night I walked two miles down to transition to pick up my bags and I biked 1 mile back to where I was staying.   Surprisingly it felt good to pedal slowly on my bike.

Ironman Maryland

Recovery None of us were able to get rest the night of the race. After a restless few hours of sleep I was up by 6am and headed to meet friends at Ironman Village. Just my calves, thighs and hamstrings felt sore but no pain. My upper body and feet felt normal. No blisters or bruises. I was even able to dance a little while purchasing finishers gear. I was impressed yet also disappointed that I was able to walk normal. I felt like this after my first IM too. I am not sure if it’s the yoga or if it means I could have gone harder. Less than 72 hours post-race my body was completely normal. I wanted to bike and run right within 3 days but knew to give my body downtime. I found myself back on my yoga mat less than 36 hours post race and the only thing I did for 7 days was 30-45 minutes of yoga. 9 days post-race I ran just three mile and today, 11 days post-race, I went to spin class. I was full of energy and Ironman high for 7 days following the race. But the Ironman Blues? I don’t think it happened to me however 9 days post-race something hit me and I seriously came down from the high. That’s a separate blog post for later.

Post-race reflections  So I’ve become an endurance writer. Writing an Ironman race report is far more challenging and exhausting than racing an Ironman. I thought no race can match the feelings of finishing my first Ironman but I was wrong. My two 140.6 experiences were quite different and both very special. It is possible that this experience exceeded my first Ironman. Ironman takes a lot of training, discipline,, motivation, passion and curiosity to push your limits. To see yourself move forward from mile 120 to mile 121 to mile 122…and to know that you will soon each reach your goal…it’s a feeling inside I just can’t describe.

Training I trained hard and stayed focused although I did not follow a training plan during this first year of triathlon. In no way am I suggesting to do this but I am happy I chose to do it for my first year. One of my sisters thinks maybe that’s what worked for me. Maybe the uncertainty of my plan was what worked for me. Sometimes we become a slave to the plan and we’re just doing the motions.  I felt less pressure this way and really enjoyed learning as I went.  Being aware of what felt right to me each week and being in touch with the spiritual self and the connection between the mind and body worked. There were times I missed training for days at a time while traveling for work and attending births throughout the summer. While I know my schedule wasn’t always ideal, my head and heart were in the right place. I look forward to taking things more serious next year, following a training plan, shedding the extra weight I carried this year, and focusing on nutrition. Part of me wonders if I wouldn’t have been faced with the stomach issue from mile 1-7 would I have been able to push harder or would I have pushed too hard too soon and perhaps been set back? It doesn’t matter either way and I’m grateful for the lessons learned. Life doesn’t always go as planned and it’s about how we get through it and what we chose to learn from it. Just like Ironman. The mind plays such an important roll in Ironman. Our inner strength has little to do with how fast we can run. The real strength comes from having a will to not give up, no matter what. Earl Nightingale said “Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” If you really believe in what you are doing and it comes from the mind and heart, don’t let people tell you it cannot be done. Almost anything is possible. When we push ourselves and step outside of comfort zones that is when we grow.

Trust yourself. Believe in yourself. I have gone back and forth on whether or not I should share what I’m about to. I generally feel my personal things should not be shared on my blog but I would be withholding something very signifiant to my race if I did not include this. The day before departing for Maryland I found myself in a very difficult place. The weeks leading up to race day were incredibly difficult. Less than 72 hours to race day I asked myself if I had the strength inside to make it through this race. I felt weak. Tears poured down my face. I’ve always shared how much I believe that the strength of the mind is an essential part of an endurance race. I envisioned a DNF and crossing the finish line all in one thought. I knew a year from now I would regret not knowing what the experience could have been like and told myself to pull it together and go for it. It didn’t matter what happened so long as I gave it my all. My spirit, mindset and confidence completely changed the moment I arrived in Cambridge. I knew I would cross the finish line. 72 hrs post-race I found myself in a completely different place, exceeding my expectations and goals, a new personal record and with incredibly special new friends. I learned so much over 13 hrs, 35 minutes and 11 seconds that I could probably learn no other way. People say there is nothing like your first Ironman. That’s not true. My second was a life impacting experience. A truly incredible day. I wanted to see what my body and mind were capable of doing. It turned out to be about so much more than I expected.

No risk, no reward. No pain, no gain. You’ve heard this before. Trust yourself. Believe in yourself. Do the work. Train hard. Welcome the challenge and opportunity. Be good to yourself in the process. If we wait for all the right conditions we would never end up doing anything great. Once we begin something we often find things do start to fall into place. So start now. I never thought I went to IMMD for anything but the race but I fell in love with so much more than just the race.

Thank you. My utmost appreciation to race directors Gerry Boyle and Jason Chance, the Ironman Maryland team, all of the volunteers and spectators of Cambridge. IMMD gave all of the athletes everything they had and then some. IMMD was well organized, exceeded everyone’s expectations, and I highly recommend it. A huge thank you to my friends, family, Philadelphia Triathlon Club, Sporting Club Run Group, gym buds, the yoga community, and of course those who follow and support my blog. Thank you to my IMLC friends and new friends who raced IMMD. I am amazed and grateful for the incredible friendships made through this experience. My eyes were glossy saying goodbye to a few of you. Thank you to everyone I have swam with, biked with, ran with and everyone who shares their triathlon passion with me. You have all been incredible support and encouragement. Without this support, triathlon wouldn’t be nearly as fun or rewarding. I look forward to setting new goals and everything ahead in the next 12 months.
With love and gratitude,
Keli
 
Ironman Maryland
Ironman Maryland finish chute
Ironman Maryland
Ironman Maryland finish chute
Ironman Maryland race report
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