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The BEST thing about Ironman...

I am not a big one for quotes. In particular, movie quotes. BUT, I will say that I saw this one probably 8 months ago and it has stuck with me. It encapsulates how I feel about some of my goals exponentially.

I was watching Tangled with my kids. For those of you who don't know, Tangled is the story of Rapunzel as told by Disney. At one point, Rapunzel - who has been locked in a tower for 18 years - escapes with her only dream being to see the "festival of lights" - a yearly celebration of lanterns launched into the sky on her birthday. Flynn Ryder (a Prince Charming of sorts)  takes Rapunzel out on a boat to see the lights and right before the first lantern is launched, Rapunzel worries about finally seeing the lights. And what captured my attention was the response Flynn gave to Rapunzel...

Flynn: "You okay?"
Rapunzel: "I'm terrified."
Flynn: "What? Why?"
Rapunzel: "What if it's not everything I dreamed it would be?"
Flynn:"It will be."
Rapunzel: "And what if it is? What do I do then?"
Flynn: "Well, that's the good part I guess. You get to go find a new dream."

And, of course, it was everything she dreamed it would be - plus she got the guy.
This touched my heart and I thought about it for awhile. When training for goals, that is sometimes all you think about and focus on. Post-IM, post-wedding, post-any goal being reached, I have heard people having some sort of let-down. What do I do now? How do I go on? I have reached my goal - now what? 

I am lucky to have lived my dreams repeatedly over the past few years...
Ross and I completing our first Ironman with the support of family and friends around us.

Traveling to South Africa and going sub-9 in Comrades!
Qualifying for and running the Boston Marathon with the support of family, in particular, my dad.

Doing IMCDA with many, many friends - here is just a smattering of us all the night before!

So while some feel a let down after Ironman (or meeting any goal), I think the best part is now.

Now it is time to go find another dream... 

Ironman Coer d'Alene 2012 - The Aftermath

After getting into the finish line shoot, a volunteer comes up to me, sees I am totally fine and moves on to the next.

I am good. I am done. I just want to see my family and get some food. I even feel good enough to try on my finisher's shirt to make sure it fits!

I go off to find Yon, take some token Ironman pictures and see Candace finish the race. :)
RMTC representing
 Off to food tent where I reunite with even more friends and recount our races.
Keith, Beth and I taking a tiny moment to stop inhaling our pizza and take a pic
My AMAZING support Crew
Finally, it is back to the hotel to shower up and put the kids to bed. Hunter insists he can stay up to midnight. "But, mom, the guy on the microphone said that tonight, TONIGHT the kids get to stay up until midnight." And, if I had had a slower race, he probably would have been right, but not this time, not this year, Hunter. {One year, I will take them to the finish. It is something to see!}

Ross is gracious enough to stay in the hotel with the kids while I head back down to the finish line with Andy and Madeline to meet up with others. I had asked Ross ahead of time if it would be ok for me to go, since I had never seen the actual midnight finish. He was fine with that and was just wanting to get to bed. He was tired and I don't blame him! Spectating an IM is a lot of work and adding in two kids has gotta triple that!!!

We get down there around 10, just in time to see Beth, Cory, Jeannette, Tim and Jen cross!!! Here is my video I took of Jen, sorry babes, I am NO videographer (this proves it).

{Not finish photo, BUT...} Props to this super-couple who did the WHOLE thing together on their 4th anniversary!
Go, Team Nardin! (ie, Beth and Cory)
IronJen and IronTim
After checking up on Tim and Jen, I find Nina, Yon, Jess and Charley to add to the party!

Slightly before 11, I notice that Mike Reilly (the "voice" of Ironman) takes a break. At 11 o'clock, on the dot, he is back and ready to rock out. For the whole last hour of Ironman, he is pumping up both the crowd and those who are coming in. These rockstars have been out there 16+ hours at this point. Oy vey! The things they must have gone through, demons they challenged in their minds, all day long, moving forward. Wow.

I check my Facebook real quick on my phone, only to see that someone posted to "send good thoughts to Carla". I look up at the clock. YIKES! It is 11:42 and I have not seen her finish! I text Yon, who had gone back up the course to see if he has found her yet. (A group had gone back to help encourage her in.) "No", he texted back. Double YIKES!I hold my breath. If Yon, Katy, Nick, Melissa and Jess are going back to find her and they have not, then will she have enough time to get in? Thankfully, they had missed her and at 11:49, we see her in the shoot. We are SCREAMING our heads off. It was SO EXCITING to see her finish!!! I am so, so, so very proud of her. This course was one tough cookie and she made it! (Later, she told me how one of the biggest challenges was 'not getting in that golf cart' they had out to help support her. Good girl!)

Now, here is the tear jerker side of Ironman. This video will give you a sense of the rocking party, but also the dramatic finish. In this instance, it is a little of both and an AWESOME outcome for someone who is not "officially" an Ironman. (No spoilers here, you gotta watch if you want to see...)

Wow! Wow! Wow!

So, there you have it folks! One long day, with the 2 most dramatic parts being the start and the finish. It is hard to imagine that WTC envisioned this is what it would become when they started it, but it has. It is a brand, a race and much, much more ... for everyone involved. From spectating to completing, you don't want to miss it.

Ironman Coer d'Alene 2012 - The Run

Into the actual changing tent this time. I roll in right after a lady in my age group and I can tell she is out for blood. OK, maybe not really, but she certainly was serious. I changed quickly and went out to see my boys. The were waiting right over by the side, so I went over for a kiss and hug to all of them.
Out of the changing tent
Kisses for mommy
Then out on the run. This is where it counts and I started running. And everyone around me was running. And you run into the street and people are everywhere and as I run, my back starts to seize. Full on pain. Oh NO! This has got to be the most disappointing time of the day. After my good bike, by back was... well, it was going to hinder me to say the least.

I make it to aid station one, just over a mile, run-walking. Ask for some ibuprofen. They don't have it. They can't tell me where to get it. They say they will "try" to have it on my way back. That's 11 miles away with no guarantees. But one volunteer says she has some in her pocket. I wait patiently as she digs and digs (and digs) in her pockets and comes up with... nothing. Bummer, just keep moving forward. Somewhere between mile 1 and 2, I see someone sitting and I ask if they have any ibuprofen. If I wait, they will go into their home (right behind them) and get some. What's a few minutes in a long day like this? I wait and it seems like forever, but when she emerges with a cup full of tiny pills, I am elated! (I later realize this is illegal but IM rules, no outside help. Oops!)

The rest seems to have helped my back. I am now running. But only till the pain creeps up again and my back starts to seize. Then it is too painful and I am stopping, stretching and walking till it is loose enough to run. Running till it hurts too much. Stop and repeat. 

That's pretty much how the first 6 miles went. Thankfully, by the time I hit the turnaround, the ibuprofen had kicked in and my back was staying loose. Whew! Now, it is time to run.

And I did. Running. Thank goodness!!! Oh, but it's hot. So, now I am starting to fill my water bottle up at EVERY aid station. A little on my head and plug, plug, plugging along. It helped (a lot) that miles 7-13+ were (mostly) downhill. Like the bike course, it is an out and back that is rolling (but mostly up) on the way out and rolling (but mostly down) on the way back.

I got back into town and there (again) was EVERYONE! Having EVERYONE around makes you RUN even when it hurts so bad. In particular, I was excited to see my boys. Again, more kisses and hugs. I stopped to talk and the boys said, "Mommy! Daddy said we can take you for ICE CREAM when you are all done!". I smiled and said, "Daddy is bribing you to stand out here for 12 hours. Good job, Daddy!" and off I went. Down to the turn around and back up and out of town.
Heading back out of town.
Ugh! It was at this point where my legs were really feeling it. REALLY feeling it. And not from the endurance, I can handle that. I have run long, long, long amounts on these bad boys (my legs). In those instances, I can take it, but my pace slows. In this case, I can tell it is from the biking. My quads are just cashed. Every time I try to run uphill, it's a no-go. This is when I REALLY realized I had maybe done a *tad* too much on the bike. First it took its toll on my back and now my legs. Double whammy! I was finding it hard to run the "ups", which, if you were paying attention, was pretty much miles 13+-20+. Great.
So, I did what I could. Reverted to the ultra-running tactic of walking the ups, running the downs, and made my way mile by mile. And that's how I made my way through the second loop of the marathon. Slowing A LOT, but just happy to be making it through. I had many-a conversations with people along the way. I saw everyone along the course. Cheered along my friends, as they did me. I wish I could say that it was a "great" last half marathon, but the truth is, I was sad I wasn't running. Happy to be finishing an Ironman, but sad that I was only running parts of it and not the whole thing. I am a runner. I run. VERY frustrating not to be doing so to the best of my ability. The best I can take away from this is.... lesson learned.

Mile by mile, it ticked down till finally I was almost home. Saw the finish line and off I went, but made sure to take it ALL in. Hi-fives for everyone!

Saw my boys (again!) at the end. As I entered the finish shoot, I slowed to make sure to absorb it all.
Coming upon the finish, taking it in.
More finish shoot love!
"Randi Strand, from Centennial, Colorado, YOU are an IRONMAN!!!" says Mike Reilly.


No matter what the conditions of the day - or the time you yield - that never gets old.

Ironman Coer d'Alene - The Bike

Out of the water and onto the beach and there they are, yes! Strippers! I love help getting my wetsuit off. I pick a male/female team (kinky, I know) and shimmy my suit down around my hips, lay down, they each take a leg and boo-ya! Like that, my suit is off. I stand up and they say "booties, too!" and take my booties off - while I stay standing - these volunteers rock!

Grab my bag, into the changing tent - WOAH! It's dark in there! And FILLED with people. So instead, I pick a spot outside of the tent and get on my socks, race belt, etc. good thing, too, cuz sitting outside is Ross and they boys. I got constant cheers from them while I.... change? I think the kids thought this was the coolest. Oh to be 6....
Snapping on race belt in transition
Shoes on and off I go!
I get changed, get my bike and out on the course. The course is technically two loops, and each loop has 2 out and backs. Confusing, I know. Anyways, the first 16-mile "loop" is rolling hills along the lake and it feels GOOD. I am going fast (for me) and having fun. You start off through town and see everyone. I mean EVERYONE. I circled back through town and saw Ross - yay! (the boys were there, but too short to see).
Melissa caught me riding through!
Then, the climbing started. The new course goes basically up 20 miles with 4 climbs - turnaround - and then basically down for 20 miles with 3 more climbs, but not as much. I actually continued to feel good through it all while climbing up, up, up. I felt relaxed and energized and kept my heart rate in check the whole time. And, a strange thing happened, I was passing people. Like, lots of people. I am  sure this a combination of my slow swim time (putting me behind a lot of people) coupled with the fact that I climb a lot here in Colorado, also coupled with the fact that I was probably doing more than I should. But, it felt good at the time. So off I went.

As I was climbing, I made friends with those around me as much as possible. It was quite a happy bunch and for that, I was happy. As you climb, you are on a divided highway with all the traffic on the "other" road - this was nice - and I heard a semi slowly plugging up the other side of the road. I put my arm up and did the token 'tug-tug' with my arm and he honked for me! It was awesome!

Got to the turnaround at mile 36 and from there it was down. Thank goodness!!! I like descending. As I was going down, though, I could feel it in my legs like maybe I had gone out too hard. I will slow down for the second loop I told myself.

Got back to town, more people. Yay! I had 8 miles to special needs. What did I need? I thought. Got to the special needs and the volunteer had my bag ready. Two Rice Krispy treats please and ka-bam! there they were. I devoured one right there and took one for the road. Man, real food and substance do taste good in the middle of one of these things!

Back through town. Yay! Yay! Yay! Lots of cheers for me and my RMTC jersey!
Now to the climbing part of lap 2. Take it slower. Yes, ma'am. That really wasn't an issue, as the wind had picked up. A lot. So off I went. Climb, climb, climb. The first climb is the steepest, but, by golly, I don't think it is the worst by any means. You climb for 2 miles. Flat - downish for 1, then descend for 2. After this is all over, you still have about 12 miles of pretty steady up, up, up until the turnaround. THIS was the grueling, "just-get-there-already" part. Add in the wind and, oh boy, this made for a longer 2 loop. I think I have never been so happy to see a turnaround in my life!

Down, down, down I go! And this is where I feel "really cool". One guy had complimented me on my descending on lap 1 and asked what I topped out at. I had never really checked. This time I peeked at my watch at some point and it read 39.2 mph. I smiled at myself. (My garmin read I maxed out at 0:23/mi - still trying to figure out what that converts to for mi/hr.) As I was going down one descent, I yelled "on your left", the guy didn't move or acknowledge me, so I yelled again. He yelled back, "just pass!". As I was going by him, he yells again, "Is that a girl???". "YEP!". Just to note: he didn't pass me back.

After you bottom out, you still have a few miles back to town. Some of which are slightly up, but nothing too bad. I was just glad to be there.

I arrive towards town and see Ross and the boys there at transition just smiling - and it makes me smile, too! No matter how the day turns out, I had a pretty good bike for me. That was one mother of a course and I felt like I did a decent job on it. Looking at the results, I passed almost 400 people, so I must have been doing something right (or maybe it was just my slow swim....).

Either way, into the changing tent for me!!!! Only 26.2 miles till I am an Ironman!