I’ve spent the last few days thinking about what to say in the wake of my second Ironman title, trying to recap the moments that unfolded throughout the very long day, but all that comes to mind is “thank you.” While attending the professional athlete press conference before the race in St. George this year, I was struck by something Chris McDonald said while describing what he thinks about when things inevitably get really tough in an Ironman. He said that he remembers all the people who have made sacrifices so he could be out there racing, and that comment was particularly poignant for me. After coming to St. George to train during spring break in college, logging a training camp before the inaugural race in 2010, and then competing there for each edition of the Ironman, I felt especially invested in this event. And when the going got tough for me this past weekend (which, by the way, was about 1500m into the swim), I called on all the people who have been a part of this incredible journey, dedicating sections of the race to each team or individual as I battled my demons, the weather and course, in what would be the hardest race of my career. Although I am the one who gets up to do the training each day, none of this would be possible without the support of so many people. From pushing me in a workout, to providing a place to live, sending a well-timed care package, a phone call, massage, supplying top-notch equipment, making me laugh, cooking me a meal, flying halfway across the country to see me (multiple times), or just telling me that it was possible, to continue dreaming…
Without further ado, a partial list of those people who won this race for me, whether they knew it or not. Undoubtedly, there will be some that I miss, but you know if you have played a role in my success, and I thank you:
David, Bethany, Lillian, Kana, Kelsey, Grandma, Elliot, Brian, Lynne, Bill, Donna, Ken, Wattie, Mallory, Tim, Jake, Dave, Brendan, Trace, Sara, Linsey, Bill, Jim, Chris, Geoff, Jesse, Jeff, Susie, John, Ben, Dave, Kevin, Paul, Joe, Myron, Tim, Alex, Vinu, Dylan, Greg, Brian, Eric, Owen, Paul, Maik, Steve, Pablo, Dan, Emily, Nick, Phil, Adam, Randy, Colleen, Molly, Pete, Aimee, Guillermo, Vanessa, Kristen, Kathryn, Jake, Sean, Kirk, Leanda, Bridget, TJ, Jon, Bryan, Jamie, Charisa, Pedro, Francisco, Scott, Stephanie….
As for my day on the course, I came prepared for a difficult Ironman, but had no idea what was in store. As soon as the sun rose, we were hit with gale force winds in the swim, and battled 3-4 foot chop that seemed to come from all angles at times. I laughed at the ridiculousness at first, but then became concerned for my safety, and especially that of the other racers. Exiting the swim though, I smiled again to be done, and knew that the day had just changed in a major way. With a quick transition, I came out in 3rd ahead of Maiki, and went to work battling the intense, gusting winds. By mile 35, it was clear that the ride would take at least 5 hours, and I settled in, monitoring my power and taking in extra calories to be ready for the run. When I sensed some weakness in Maiki around mile 70, I took over pace setting for the remainder of the ride, and broke away after mile 100. With a small gap into T2, I quickly got to work on the run and put distance between us that would only grow throughout the marathon. My darkest times were battling the surf, headwinds up to Gunlock and Veyo, and suffering through the final miles of the run, but I always had people nearby to encourage me onward, and I have never wanted a win as bad as this one. Hearing my name called out as the champion in the finish chute, I was overcome with emotion, but that was quickly replaced by celebration with family and friends… I can now stand as the perpetual defending champ at Ironman St. George!
Now it’s some downtime as I transition back to Boulder for another summer of training and racing. Can’t wait to get back and set up shop with everyone on the front range! Going to be a great year… THANK YOU!