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I'm a LEGEND!!!

Not really - that's a joke. It comes from the triathlon I did this weekend which was called... LEGEND.
 BUT, in all seriousness, it was a serious distance with some serious hardware at the end.

When scheduling out this season and training races and such for IMMOO, I did have trouble figuring out what to do, what would be the best path, AND what would excite me. I'm not gonna lie... the thought of returning to Kansas didn't really excite me. BUT, when Kansas 70.3 sold their rights to Legend and then added the option of doing a 100, a new distance did excite me!
2 mile swim + 80 mile bike + 18 mile run = 100... YIKES!, I mean YAY!

We arrived in Kansas on Friday night and the first thing I thought was, "OMG... I can't breathe!" That's right, humidity was at it's finest and I had been away from it for way too long. We checked in to the race on Saturday and it was HOT! but again, I signed up for this, right?

Being a new distance, the one good thing that it had going for it was that I was gonna PR no matter what AND being a new distance, course, etc. I wasn't completely sure what to expect. The one thing that I did want to do was give the course my all.  I had raced a 70.3 3-weeks earlier and felt like I wasn't really giving it everything I could, like I was just going through the motions... and I wanted this one to be different.

Race morning hit and a 4:30 a.m. wake-up call for the kids (their first). You want to know that magic word to get kids moving at that time?
Got to the park and the sun was coming up...

Got into transition, got set up, and I felt like I had everything covered. There wasn't too much time before the race to get nervous, and I was racked by Matt and Molly, so it was good to see familiar faces. And it was off to the start.
Trying to get in for a warm-up swim... No dice. Too late. Had to get right back out.
Me and Molly at the start. Man it was good to have her there!
Off we go!
The thing that I have always battled is hyperventilating at the start. I consider myself a strong swimmer, not a fast swimmer, but I have never felt like I am going to die in the water, so I don't think it is the mental part as much as the physiological part of the swim that causes me to hyperventilate. To counter that, I have been swimming in REALLY cold water (51-55 degrees) at home. This water was around 68, so it felt so warm. Additionally, I started out slower and sped up as I got used to it (instead of going out at a full sprint) and... BAM! No hyperventilating. That helped me immensely get through this swim, both mentally and physically.
Coming out at the 1/2 way mark before heading in again for lap #2.
Additionally, coming into the swim, I was a little worried about the distance because I hadn't been swimming that far or that much lately. But, about 1/2 way through I thought "No biggie, I am up for another lap" and it was a great feeling to have!  On top of that, Ross was there and told me my time -- which was right where I wanted to be. It made it nice to know I was on target and I shot for another lap at about that pace.
Coming out of the swim on time target - yay!
Next goal - nail the transition. In my last tri, I had dawdled a bit in transition. Even stopped to pose for pictures. Now, it was time to get a move on.
Coming through transition
  Having the kids around during this time is also always fun.
Hunter (left) riding with me out of transition for the first ten feet.
And then I was off on my bike. The thing I had going for me with this bike course was that it was going to be hilly and windy -- just like the course I practice on ALL. THE. TIME. Although, I will say, the wind was mighty strong this day.

The first thing that threw me was my back started cramping up right away. I am not sure why or what happened, but it was something that wouldn't go away through the whole ride. I had never had that happen before, so I didn't really know what to do about it, so I just kept riding through the pain. On some of the smaller hills I would stand up on my bike and power over them trying to loosen up my back. It helped a bit, but not much. As the ride got longer (we WERE doing 80 miles after all), I did stop and stretch my back and hips twice. I knew that would add to my time, but it was either that or give up and giving up... well, THAT wasn't an option.

Overall, the ride was hilly and windy and I was going slower than anticipated, but I kept a positive attitude because (1) the course conditions were harder than anticipated and (2) nobody was passing me. Usually, if I am bonking or slowing down, there are people passing me and that wasn't happening so all I could think was "yay me!"
Ross and kids were there as I entered back into the park!

So, off the bike and... I didn't exactly nail that transition. By this time, I was tired and I hurt.I spent some time stretching in transition and just catching my breath. The one good thing about feeling like crud -- I knew I gave it my all on the bike. The bad thing, I still had 18 miles to go on the run.

The run is essentially 3 6-mile loops, so I thought it best to break it down mentally by loop. From transition, you had a short out and back in the woods (shade!) and then up a looooong hard hill - that we would have to run 3 times that day, oy! Once up the hill, you hit a campground where you run the majority of the  6-mile loop. Entering the campground was Pete with a tent and the majority of people I knew at the race (Michelle, Bill, Andrew, Kim, Mike and more!) who had done different distances and already finished racing. Having them there was motivation enough to run into the campground. Then around the campground were plenty of campers there to cheer everyone on - many with sprinklers and hoses, for which I was forever grateful for! (About halfway through, the campsite, an aid station was within Pete's tent's eyesight and there I would hear cheers, too! Boy, tri-friends know the right level of embarrassment/encouragement to keep you going. Thanks, guys!)

Ross and the kids found me about 1/2 way through my first loop and would ride ahead, stop and wait for me to catch up for bits and pieces of the course. This helped and it was fun to have someone to run "to."
You can see Hunter behind me and Linc ahead of me in this pict.
This went on for the first loop (where at the end my tri friends saved me with some salt in my water) and then it was out of the campground, an out-and-back, down the hill and repeat the loop (2 more times!).  Once I made it back up the hill, the boys were hanging at Pete's tent for much of lap two (thank you, Pete, for being there and letting them use some of your shade). For lap three, they were in the car to cool off (I don't blame them!).

I ain't gonna lie, it was a lot of run, run, run, walk, walk, walk, run, run, run, but it was all I had in me to keep going. And keep going I did. It was at an aid station in the campground where my watched had clicked over to 16 miles and I thought 2 MORE MILES (it seemed like a loooong way), but then I thought "hey! I am 98% done, I can do this!"

And do this, I did. When it came time to finish... I was more than ready!
Not pictured: Linc coaching me into the finish line shoot and Hunter doing everything he could to smile cuz the heat really had got to him. I have the BEST family.
And done!
"Official" finish line photo

This day was LONG, HOT, and HARD, but I am so glad I did it. By no means, was this race a fast race, but it was just what I needed for a fantastic training day. Since the end goal is a great day at Ironman Wisconsin, this race prepared me for it physically and mentally. If I get a hot and humid day in Wisconsin, I'm ready. A windy day? I've done that. If it happens to be nice weather, I will be able to think to myself, "I've done this in worse." So, Kansas, thank you for giving me your worst -- I beat it!

And, while it was Kansas, there was one thing Legend promised (and delivered) that made it worth traveling for:
World's largest race medal!



-  Special thank you as always to my friends and family, for which I couldn't do this without. It was a pleasure racing with everyone on the course, to Matt for coaching me, to Pete for bringing the tent and being on the course for both me and my family. Ross was SUPERMAN this trip, not only did the conditions test me, but they tested him, the kid's patience, moods, and just about everything else. He pulled through and went above and beyond, even retrieving all of my gear (including bike) from transition and toting it all 1 mile uphill to the finish line, where I was recovering...not to mention making that drive with me. And to everyone who listened to me in the weeks leading up... you know who you are. It takes a village people and I am so lucky and proud to have you in my village. I hope I am part of yours. :)