What the hell is Ditch the Tiara?

Redefining the word beautiful...one dirty, sweaty, bruised up mile at a time, with a few downward dogs along the way...

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

2015. girl refined. girl redefined.

2014?  It had quickly come and gone. and it was one hell. of. a. year.  It suffered the good, the bad and the ugly.  2 torn hamstring in 3 separate places.  3 Ironmans. 2 marathons.  My parents moved to Colorado.  I myself moved 3 times...fuck, I feel like such a gypsy. Cruise to Mexico. Lost my wonderful grandfather. BUT...the best part?  The part that simply amazes me...leaving me in complete disbelief, amongst the wonderful things that did happen, despite the massive bumps in the proverbial road traveled? The best part was that I fell in love. Not the teeny bopper kind of love, where I am smitten and in lust, and I will move on in a few days, if not sooner. But the kind that made me think, How in the world did I live my entire life up until this very moment without him kind of love. The kind that happens only once.

He puts the smile on my face, and the beat in my heart. He completely embraces my silly~glittery~pink~girly~sparkly self. He is my best friend. He is willing to take "gangstuh" selfies with me and flash <<< jazz hands >>> at races. He makes me feel appreciated. adored. admired. for all of who I am, for all of who I was, and for all of who I want to be. He makes me feel ALIVE...and he is the very reason that I have found the inspiration to start writing again...he has given the Tiara Ditcher a heartbeat...and she is refined. she is redefined. and she feels alive...

...and the second best part?  Is that he is totally H.O.T.  yup, the Tiara Ditcher is definitely alive! 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Betty Designs DISCOUNT

I am going to be sponsored again by Betty Designs for 2015.   I am thrilled to represent such wicked cool gear, designed by the Queen of #badassisbeautiful, Kristin Mayer. She has done it again and is offering up a big, fat 20% off discount now, through Midnight on Sunday November 30th! 

Please use DISCOUNT CODE welcometeambetty15 at checkout and you'll absolutely love how early the Black Friday sale has come! #bettydesigns

Happy Thanksgiving y'all!  

Sunday, November 2, 2014

2014 ~ The Year of the Betty

Despite some devastating hardships this year, both financially and emotionally, I feel like I can finally see the light that shines oh-so-brightly from the end of the tunnel.  I sincerely do my best to keep my chin up and stay positive, as my pops has always told me to do when times are tough. But there are just those days that I can't even get out of bed, let alone *lift* my head. I imagine you would never believe that at one point this year, I had $15 to my name. literally.  Or that on more than one occasion, I cried myself to sleep, wishing to never wake up. I try to keep this out of the public eye, but it is my reality and I cannot pretend to be someone I'm not. All that glitters isn't always gold. Just because I am always caught smiling on camera, doesn't mean that my life is a fairy tale...

It has been three years since my life was seemingly torn to pieces. Divorce and the loss of a baby consumed me for a long time, as I felt like my heart had been ripped out of my chest.  Experts say that it takes approximately two years to recover from a divorce. Well, throw in the loss of a life, and you most certainly can add one more year for good measure.  Three years. It has been three long ass years, but I feel like I can finally say that everything feels like it's finally falling into place. slowly. As Marilyn Monroe once said, "Good things fall apart, so better things can fall together." 

2014 helped things fall together for sure.  It has been such an exciting year, for so many reasons. Despite being hurt for most of it, my racing season was truly phenomenal. Nothing short of a miracle if you ask me. In just five months, May - October, I did more physically despite having torn my hamstring in March, than I ever have in a year! I raced three iron distance triathlons, as well as an olympic, and ran two marathons.  I'm stubborn and headstrong.  Rest?  Yeah, that will happen when I die.  But in all fairness to my body, to which I owe countless hours of gratitude, I will "rest" this winter.  and by rest, I mean I will spend a lot of time in the gym strength training and stretching.  I owe it to myself if I want to have a successful 2015 racing season.  and by successful, I mean NOT INJURED.  

Despite the very low lows I felt this year, both physically and emotionally, the one thing that I could always count on to get me out of my emotional funks, were my phenomenal teammates from Betty Designs.  Kristin Mayer is a beautiful soul, with an incredible vision. And when she put together the 2014 racing team of Betty's, she carefully selected women who would empower one another, and lift each other up.  She was dead on...I love these women like sisters.  
I. am. a Betty!
simply put, when I wear my skulls and butterflies, I am... 

empowered.  happy.  full of life.  confident.  thrilled.  at peace.  nurtured.  excited.  motivated. inspired.  ready.  humbled.  uplifted.  grateful.  fired up.  honored.  carefree.  loved.  
fortunate. untroubled.  invigorated.  passionate.  connected.  beautiful.  thankful.  playful.  encouraged. triumphant.  gracious.  energized.  supported.  a badass. 
I am all of the things I have spent my entire life striving to be. 


To my dear Betty Sisters...you keep me motivated and inspired to be the best ME I can be.  For that, there is no amount of gratitude that can capture my feelings for you.  2014 was phenomenal and I am beyond excited to see what 2015 holds for us.  I love you girls for showing me just how much #badassisbeautiful !!! 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Redman 2014

...and 48 days after Ironman Boulder, on September 20th, I did it all over again.  One last hurrah for 2014, completing my iron journey...three in as little as four months, four in 13 months.  140.6 miles?  Yup.  I'm addicted to the distance.  I guess there are far worse things to be addicted to, believe me...but I'm pretty sure I am addicted to those too...

This fun little baby to Oklahoma City (OKC) was born last winter, when my friends Jennifer and Jeffrey, ten year veterans of announcing this small town race called 'Redman', invited me to be their guest athlete.  OKC in September...  hm...  It could be super hot, humid and windy that time of year.  It may have taken me about 20 seconds to decide.  I'm in! 
So on September 18th, I set out for a 10+ hour drive with my biggest fan (my mama!) and off to OKC we were. Did I mention that I HATE road trips that involve being in the car for more than 4 hours?  The destination is always Ugh City. Population: One pissed off ME!!! Anyways, upon arriving to our final destination, I could feel the moisture in the air as my overly-processed, forcibly straightened hair instantly curled...yesssssss! And my skin was glowing. AND I could breathe...we had made it.  Hooray! The weather was absolutely perfect for this Midwest girl.  Hot. Humid. Windy.  I was going to be right at home. and we all know ironman *is* where my heart is.
World's best Ironmom
I had the perfect day-before-the-race day, as I chilled out with my mom, leisurely getting my gear (and ass) ready for the next morning. It's just crazy that nothing about racing gets me nervous or anxious any more.  I am totally in my comfort zone come time to hit the water.  It's as if I was born to do this. for FUN of course. Lord knows it's not to make a living!

As expected, I slept like a rock.  I sprung out of bed, excited as hell that I was going to be able to spend the day doing something amazing.  I ate, suited up in my skulls and butterflies, and headed to the start.  As we arrived at the lake and made our way to the beach, I watched the flags whip around wildly and knew immediately that this might (ok, would) be the most challenging swim in my seven years of this sport. Oh. my. mother flippin' god.  My swim goal was immediately reduced from 1:19, to just hang-the-fuck-on-for-dear-life-and-finish.

So.  with jazz hands in tow and a freakishly positive attitude, a dude in a kilt playing bagpipes lead us to the water.  It was go time.  and somewhere around 7:25am, off I went.  for about 100 meters.  and I stopped.  breathless and with the feelings that I had been in a college bar fight. with a linebacker. a MASSIVE linebacker.  Unfortunately, I only breathe to the left and guess which direction the wind was coming from for 2/3's of my first lap? Let the prayers ensue.  and each one started with, "Dear God - please don't let me die today.  It would so not be cool to die on a Saturday."  I swam a few strokes.  Tread some water.  Got pounded by waves. Doggy paddled forward as best I could.  Stopped.  Swam some more strokes. Tread some more water.  Got pounded by bigger waves. Doggy paddled forward as best I could. Repeat. and this little routine I got into lasted for two hours.  TWO BLEEPIN' HOURS.  and the moment I emerged from the water, a good 2.6 miles later as confirmed by every single person with one of those fancy water-proof Garmin watches, I made my way to the sand.  triumphant.  victorious.  and so grateful that I survived.
T1 was a blast.  There was something like less than 45 women doing this race...did I mention that under 250 (if that) athletes did the full? Yeaaaaaaaaah...this was quite a difference than the usual 2500+ field I battle against. So my point of T1 being fun was because there was just one volunteer manning the tent the whole day...and she was I.N.C.R.E.D.I.B.L.E!  Best energy in a volunteer that I have ever felt, and she was on top of her game.  I entered T1 exhausted and starving, as that was the longest time I had ever spent in open water.  She already had my bag open and all of my things neatly laid out.  It was pretty easy for her considering I was one of the last ones out of the water. She gave me serious words of encouragement and a big hug.  I got out of there as quickly as my body would allow me to, and FINALLY made my way to my bike.  It was easy to spot considering there were about 4 other bikes left on the racks.  ahhh, just like the good ol' days.  

I made my way out of the lake area, with some sweet-ass cross and head winds that decided to be my number one spectators for 112 miles.  yay.  As I exited the dam, some complete asshole ran me off the road.  He wasn't paying attention as he made a three-point turn, which involved the back of his car coming right at me. I popped off the road, thankfully able to hold on, as I rolled down the grass and into some rocks.  Near death experience number one of the ride (unfortunately it occured twice!)  I swear my heart rate jumped over 200bpm, right after it stopped...holy shit, that has never happened to me before.  112 miles is a long way to ride, and so rather than give you the play by play of how awesome it was, [ENTER: WICKED SARCASM] I will tell you this: it WAS my slowest 112 mile ride ever, as in EVER ever, as I stopped at every single aid station to graze, pack ice down my jersey and shorts, stretch and pray. Did I mention yet that it was over 100 degrees with the heat index and the winds were 18-20mph?  Um.  that was pretty sweet.  Like praying-for-your-life-to-baby-Jesus sweet.  I did my best to keep my chin up though, and stay positive.  and let's not forget those prayers to baby Jesus...please get me off this bike alive!  

T2. I made it!  The lil' guy upstairs came through. and T2 was even MORE fun than T1.  Again, all of my things were neatly laid out by our transition angel, and I think I spent almost 20 minutes just "messin' around."  I visited with my friend Jennifer, as I told her all about my super FUN bike ride. I even had a chance to call my boyfriend (don't ask how) to let him know I was still alive, despite the Day of the Dead poster mocking me on the tent wall.  Alright.  It was time to test out the legs.  Would they work?  and the pretty persistent glute and hamstring injury that had no issue sticking with me all summer long...would it limit me to another kick-ass 6 hour marathon walk?  Well, it was time to find out. and off I went.

and...they worked.  my legs actually worked.  slow and steady at first.  It's pretty typical for me to take 8-10 miles to get warmed up.  Having been hurt (like, all year), I hadn't spent a hell of a lot of time working on my run transition off the bike. I spent more time just trying to *run.* It hurt for sure.  My glutes HURT. But I didn't care.  I didn't. care. at all.  I let my passion take over and for 26.2 miles, I smiled.  and I ran.  and stopped at all the aid stations. and made friends with volunteers and spectators. and smiled. and ran some more. and flashed copious amounts of jazz hands. and smiled. and started picking off all the people who crushed me in the swim, and kept ahead of me on the bike. and I passed them... one by one.  Not competitively though.  I just dug deep and ran. Despite the heat, the wind and the humidity...the hardest iron-distance triathlon of my life was becoming my absolute favorite race ever. as in EVER ever.

The volunteers far out-numbered the amount of us traveling 140.6 miles.  It was magnificent.  I don't think I have ever felt such a strong camaraderie among athletes either.  We were all suffering, at varying degrees, but we all did our best to encourage each other on.  As the sun set, the heat and humidity remained, crushing egos and destroying souls.  But as you may now know, I LIVE for these conditions.  I flourish in them.  Not in speed, but in spirit.  and for 5 hours and 15ish minutes (I have NO idea what my time was), I smiled. and had the time of my life *running*...

and then it happened.  after a 15+ hour day, left feeling like a small rag doll that had been tied to the back of a semi-tractor trailer, traveling across the country's rockiest roads at 400mph, I became a 9X Ironman. And you want to know something? (as sick as this sounds)  I had a fucking blast. Sadly, there were only 129 finishers - 34 females and 95 males.  Something like 38% of the field DNFd.  Do you know how lucky I feel?!?  LUCK. EEEEEEEEEEEEEE! And the moment I crossed that finish line, I am pretty sure I uttered the words, "I will never do this race again!" Um.  never say never?  

I really need to say THANK YOU you to my mom, Jennifer and Jeffrey Kragh, Betty Designs because #badassisbeautiful and to every single person, both on and off the course that day, for making my dream of snagging another 140.6 mile finish come true. I love y'all to death!  This was a  CLASS ACT race, despite the tough conditions, and I would recommend it to anyone that wants to prove to themselves that they are so much stronger than they think...

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Iron Tiara: A Rough Patch - Published on 202triathlon.com

Most recent 303triathlon post!

Iron Tiara: A Rough Patch
The weeks following IM Boulder were filled with some pretty disheartening moments. I expected to be riding the highs from ironman for awhile, as the day had brought me so much joy. As I celebrated with my family the following weekend, a quick trip to the grocery store turned out to be a long ass nightmare. I was involved in a serious car accident, t-boned by a mother of 5 (thankfully minus the 5) in a mini-van. I spun out a few times, ending up facing oncoming traffic, after slamming my head and shoulder into the driver's side window. When you hear someone utter the phrase, "my life flashed before my eyes," I assure you it's a very real, and very frightening sentiment. Thankfully I walked away with only a bump on the head, a bruised shoulder and a mildly stiff neck. My car, however, suffered over $10,000 in damage, and spent 32 days in the shop. Yes, I kept track ... I love my Jeep (lol, guess it's a *Jeep thing*!)
Three weeks following the accident, I received the most tragic news. My sweet, adorable and loving grandfather had passed away very unexpectedly. I was devastated. He was 94 years young, and the wittiest and most brilliant person I had ever met. Thankfully, I had spoken to him the night before IM Boulder so at least I felt like I had gotten to say good-bye.
I have always attributed my wild sense of humor and passion for life to him.
Through all of this, I had the support of my friends and family, the strength of the most amazing man, and the saving grace of...training. You see, my season was not ending with Boulder. With my larger-than-life, thrill-seeking attitude, I committed to a third iron-distance triathlon in 2014; Redman in Oklahoma City. My fourth 140.6 in less than 13 months, my third in just four. Crazy? Absolutely! But this is the kind of sh*t I live for, and I'm sure it surprises no one anymore.
So on Saturday, I will race my final triathlon of the season, having trained for 49 weeks, ready to attack the loftiest goals I have EVER dared set for myself. Based on the previous year's finishing times, I'm not only seeking out a top five female finish, I want to win my age group. Who the hell do I think I am? I'm the proud granddaughter of a successful Danish man who taught me to "go big or go home", that's who!
I've put in the time. Holy H-E-L-L have I put in the time. I've done the work. I've sacrificed so much. I've endured the tough times. Now it's time for this iron tiara to celebrate the precious gift of life...this one's for you Grandpa!

Iron Tiara: Anything is Possible - Published on 303triathlon.com

Today's 303triathlon post!

Iron Tiara: Anything is Possible
By Kristina Jensen

IM Florida
As the countdown towards Ironman Boulder dwindles down, and we find ourselves within just days of the big race, one thing has become very evident. My iron family has grown ten-fold. It’s most obvious on Facebook, where at any given time my newsfeed is buzzing with thoughts (or rants) from my friends about August 3rd. Whether it’s nervous chatter about the weather, or the meltdown-inducing bike course, the latest topic of discussion most certainly contains an explosive energy that is ALL consuming. If you are one of the “3,000,” then I imagine concentrating at work is becoming a bit of a lost cause. If I were to check your browsing history I bet that I would find searches like, “how to keep your legs from cramping in the heat,” or “wetsuit legal water temperature limits,” or “how to avoid severe chaffing and sunburn,” or perhaps even “how can I get my spouse to love me again.” As you can probably guess, the speculation is that Ironman Boulder is going to be a hot, Hot, HOT beast of a race, and that’s exactly what everyone is preparing for. Or trying to at least. It’s better to prepare for the worst, and hope for the best, right? However, let’s not get carried away here and obsess over things you can’t control. No matter how many times you refresh the weather channel, the forecast remains the same: IT’S COLORADO SO WHO THE HELL KNOWS WHAT THE WEATHER IS GOING TO BE. With every Ironman finish, I am continually being reminded that anything is possible on race day. ANYTHING.

Crappy IM Florida Weather
When I did Ironman Florida in 2010, I knew only three other people doing it and so it was pretty lonely out on the course. And all I had ever heard about this race was how it was so fast, and the weather was always sooooo perfect. [ENTER: LOUD BUZZER NOISE WHICH ELIMINATES SHOCKED GAME SHOW CONTESTANT] What a lie. It was grey and rainy all week. It was 38 degrees and windy when we started the swim, and the water was somewhere in the mid-70s. Standing in the sand was like standing barefoot, with open cuts on said bare feet, on dry ice, smothered in salt. OUCH! Once my feet went completely numb, the pain thankfully dissipated and I was good to go. Except the part where my feet stopped working…yeah, that part had its disadvantages. At one point, I kneeled down in the sand, partially to try and get some circulation back into my toes and partially to…well, um, uh, you know…pee! and apparently, it didn’t look that way to the guy standing next to me. He glanced down at me and said, “You don’t have to get down and pray honey, it won’t be that bad out there.” Oh brother.
As a self-proclaimed non-swimmer, I actually didn’t want the 2.4 miles to ever end, despite having been punched twice in the head, kicked in the chest AND the stomach. (Most gorgeous yet roughest IM swim, EVER.) I guess I wasn’t really looking forward to freezing my ass off on a windy 112 mile bike ride, on roads that were considerably less than smooth (that’s me describing them VERY kindly), unable to feel my toes…which were still numb. Somewhere around mile 80, the infamous KJ meltdown occurred, with body shaking sobs, and f-bombs colorfully radiating from my mouth, at the top of my lungs. I may or may not have thrown my bike down on the ground too.


Demonic Clown
OH, and let’s please not forget about the demonic clowns that came to taunt me. Those little bastards like to hang out on my back and feed my brain with all sorts of self-deprecating thoughts. I can just hear that creepy, maniacal laugh now. gah! That same meltdown happened at IMKY last year too (minus the bike toss), as clearly seen in my slowing bike times as I rode through each checkpoint. One thing is for sure, I can always count on my worst part of my day being on the bike, always. So, I guess no matter what, there is always an upside to the marathon!?
Once I got to the run at IMFL, I was so relieved, as running is “my thing.” Unfortunately, I had gotten completely sea sick from the salt water, and couldn’t take in any nutrition once I was upright and moving on my almost UN-numb feet. My stomach was a wreck and chicken soup was all I could keep down. And despite the insanity of that entire day, from the frozen sand, to the fists to the face, to the demonic circus clowns, I somehow managed a PR, which remains to this day. I race so much stronger in the heat and humidity, so I am still baffled with my finishing time there. (((sigh)))

So, my point. Crap, is there one? er. Give me a second while I exit my google search for
“how to keep track of thoughts during taper” and “stringing words together to form sentences.” Got it. ok, OK. my point? I have one. MY POINT!!! is that anything can happen on race day, despite your incessant worrying, and your planning, and your obsessing. You can’t rely on anything happening the way you have “outlined” it, or “excel spreadsheeted” it or “bullet pointed” it to. The one thing that you CAN count on though come August 3rd, is that your iron family will grow by 3,000 in the friendliest and most triathlon-oriented venue in the world, with the most sensational spectators out there. I’m sure that I’ll have my massive meltdown at mile 80, but I know that words of comfort and encouragement will be thrown my way by my “iron family” as they pass me, empathizing with me, and hopefully slapping those circus clowns off my back (little bastards). And since anything is possible, if I am superly duperly lucky, I will find a new home for my ironman PR…in good ol’ Boulder, Colorado, USA.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Ironman Boulder 2014

After having raced my speediest swim since 2009, and fastest bike split *E.V.E.R.* at Ironman Texas in May, I was ridin' a wave of awesomeness all summer, despite what I am currently referring to as, my "bum leg." Running is not fun nor easy, but I endure the pain and push forward, as that is inherently a part of my DNA. And despite this seemingly never-ending setback, my confidence had soared, and I continued to bust my ass off on the road, and in the pool.

When the morning of August 3rd finally came to fruition, I woke up feeling well rested and very confident that I was going to see some sort of PR that day.  My (incredibly hot and supportive and did I mention like, super HOT?) boyfriend was completely baffled as to how I can sleep so well, and stay so calm the night before an Ironman. Or any race for that matter.  Despite being an insomniac, my best night's of sleep are always the night before a race.  I have no idea how that's possible but I dare not question it.  The alarm was set for 3:45am and as I very slowly got up, it hit me - I had to start eating.  GROSS. The thought of eating was foul.  I felt like I had barely begun to digest last night's dinner, which of course consisted of my absolute favorite food in the world.  Can you guess?  It starts with a "p" and ends with an "izza."  Somehow I managed to ingest (and succesfully digest!) almost 500 calories before even leaving the house with my overly admired a.m. Ironcrew.  These three kept my nerves in serious check.
Arriving at the Boulder Rez at sunrise was absolutely breathtaking.  This was the birthplace of my triathlon career back in 2007, and it was so fantastically symbolic to finally be racing my favorite distance here.  I felt so at home, and continued to feel so relaxed, while managing to get more excited than I think I ever have about a race.  My heart was so happy, as I spotted friends every few minutes.  Despite what my day was going to deliver, I already knew it was going to be the best energy ever felt during an IM.
After several high-fives, many hugs and absolutely the best pre-race kiss E.V.E.R., I made my way down to the swim start and confidently nestled in with the 1:00 - 1:15 group.  Apparently, I came back from Texas with more than a self-esteem boost, I came back with big-ass kahunas...because everything IS bigger in Texas, right?!? However, where I parked myself was justified, having swam an unbelievable 1:20 in open water just two weeks earlier. My strategy was to start towards the inside back of this group to keep myself moving at a pace that was more than uncomfortable for this turtle. 

The course was pretty simply laid out.  We entered the water and swam counter-clockwise, starting off by swimming north. And because I suck at bilateral breathing, like SUPER suck, and only breathe to the left, I spent more than half of my swim looking at the mountains.  It was the most beautiful open water backdrop in the history of ever. I managed to make physical contact with only two swimmers as I swim in my  very "secret race place." As I approached the shore and spotted the massive red swim exit arch, this infamous leg dragger started to kick - fiercely and powerfully. I could care less that I couldn't breathe and that my legs may cramp.  I was fighting for a PR, or at the very least a faster swim time than the 1:31:48 I laid out in Texas (reminder: SEA LEVEL) just 77 days earlier.
As soon as I hit the boat ramp, I stood up and my jaw dropped.  I think my eyes even teared up. Shocking, I know.  I imagine a few joyful f-bombs danced off my lips in this fashion, "Are you f*cking kidding me?! F*CK YES! I f*cking did it!!!" At this point, my IM swim PR was a 1:26:39 at Ironman Wisconsin waaaaaay back in 2009. With blurry eyes and a heart bursting at the seams, I managed to make out the tiny miracle that had just taken residence on my wrist...1:21:14. WHAT? A five minute and 25 second PR. At this point, I could care less how the rest of my day would play out.  After a heartbreaking DNF after 1.2 miles at IMCdA and a 1:55:21 at IMKY last year, this was a moment that I felt like I had been waiting for, forever...  [ENTER: DREAM COME TRUE]

As I ran wildly towards T1, I started scanning the crowds for any and everyone I knew to share my news.  I couldn't stop beaming...my face already began hurting from all of the smiling. I got in and out of transition as quickly as I could, and getting to the bike rack was absolutely the most victorious feeling I have ever had...my bike was not alone. 
Jeff (the earlier referenced hot boyfriend who also happens to be an Ironman) had given me some very sage advice on how to attack the first  25-30 miles of my ride, which was...do NOT attack the first 25-30 miles of my ride.  In the past, I was always exiting transition like a bat out of hell to catch up to everyone, as I typically finish the swim in the bottom 10-15% of the field. I would immediately spike my heart rate and rack up that lactic acid. Clearly, he had a confidence in my swim that made him urge me to just take it easy, to the point where I was growing increasingly annoyed as I was being passed. by  everyone.  I was crawling out of my skin with anxiety as I feared this strategy would not work.  I made it to about mile 20 where I (ever so slightly) started to increase  my efforts.  I'm unsure why, but at around mile 30, that weird sleepy/heavy eyelids sensation started to kick in like it did last year at Louisville.  OH HELL NO, "please no!" was all I could think, as this feeling was hitting me about 40 miles earlier than the last time.  I started to take in more nutrition and started speaking mantras out loud to avoid that growing sleepy sensation.  When I crossed the first timing mat at mile 44 and was averaging 17.37 mph (according to IMtrackr), all I could think about was everyone who was tracking me, and what they would think if my speed declined with each and every split.  Somewhere around mile 50, it all came together and I started to liven up, especially knowing I would be seeing my family somewhere within the next 20 miles or so. 

Having ridden most of this course at least nine or ten times, there were two stretches of road, each about 30 minutes in length, that were incredibly unforgiving and the cause of a couple of my massive meltdowns prior to this day.  We're talking MELLLLLLLT. DOWWWWWWWWWWWWNNNNNNNNSSSSS-UHHHHH.  you know the kind - *massive tears, shaking shoulders, hard to catch breath, couldn't speak* type of meltdowns. Ok.  maybe YOU don't know.  But I certainly do.  as I entered Meltdown Prone-Zone I, somewhere around mile 60, I noticed that I was growing increasingly stronger.  My cadence was picking up, my eyelids were staying open, and I was finally starting to pass the people that had passed me 40 miles ago.  I may have even given myself a double fist pump when I hung that left onto Hwy 66.  Holy early Christmas present!  I was being handed a gift that I  had wanted since Coeur d'Alene. Well, not so much handed, as I really did earn this.  The next check point was at mile 75.  Between miles 44 and 75, I was now averaging 18.12mph.  and it didn't end there. My power increased, my mood skyrocketed and I rolled into Meltdown Prone-Zone II. At this point, I had yet to see Team Iron Tiara, but I had a sneaking suspicion they were somewhere along this second stretch that I loathed. 

It was on this road, that I saw a few of my friends and chatted a bit before passing them.  I could tell this was a tough area for them and my heart went out to them, but having been able to ride this section over and over because my sister lived out this way, I knew what to expect and conquered.  One more turn and it was the home stretch baby! and just before that turn, there "they" were...Team Iron Tiara!  That sealed the deal...and all I could think now was, "I GOT THIS!"  Gradually climbing uphill towards the most beautiful view of the foothills, Hwy 52 became my bitch and I slapped it, hard. I may have even back-handed it a few times.  And at the highest point of 52, my beloved 303triathlon angels were there in full force, wings spread wide, flanked by encouraging signs, and emitting the most heavenly sounds of melodious cheer and encouraging words.  I had already been smiling knowing that I had a shot at a bike PR, but my pearly whites flashed brighter, as I approached Dana, Jennifer and everyone else out there. Nicole slapped my hand and it was if she said "It's your time...you go get it girl!" OMG. The worst was behind me and I only had 12 miles to go,  and they were all downhill.  Well, mostly.
All I was focused on now was getting past the most challenging part of the course at mile 99 - the dreaded "3 sisters" - three short but insanely steep climbs.  Descending into this climb at almost 40mph, I got into my small ring, made the sharp left hand turn, got out of the saddle, and dug as deep as this skinny-legged, 128lb cyclist could. My legs were jello and I honestly thought I was going to tip over, as I was going just a touch under 4mph. Mantra: dig, Dig, DIG! flooded my brain. There were local cyclists very familiar with this terrain  lined up on both sides, cheering us on and I saw the absolute best sign of the day, "DON'T SUCK" (I am certainly going to have to use that one for future races that I spectate!) Somehow, I managed to get up these nasty girls and made my way home. I turned it up in the final two miles and hit T2 and came to find out that I did the unthinkable.  I PR'd my IM bike, at 5300feet above sea level, on the most challenging IM bike course I had ever ridden, with a net elevation gain of an arguable 4400+ft.  My final bike split, between miles 75 and 112? 18.2mph. What. the. WHAT?!  I freaking negative split my bike. Having ridden over ten centuries while training for this race, and my weekly intervals up Deer Creek Canyon (thank you baby!) I just about screamed! 6:16:36 ... a two minute and one second PR over IMTX just a couple of months earlier. This tiara ditcher was chasing down her dream...
The run into T2 was by far the worst and longest transition, ever.  I am not alone on this one. I got into the changing tent and immediately scanned it for my dear friend Jeannete, whose past year had been by far the most challenging of her life, but somehow left her with an even more positive attitude.  Gosh, do I look up to this woman.  She found me and helped me get into the right frame of mind for the run.  Which would end up being my slowest run out of the 71 times I had tackled this distance of 26.2 miles.  Six hours and 24 seconds. and you know what?  All throughout this final leg of my journey, I didn't give a rat's ass about my time, or my inability to run at several points due to my bum leg, the weather, and whatever else you wanted to throw in there.  I chatted with friends and my family along the way, stopping almost every single time to hug, high five and share my day with everyone out there, competitors and spectators alike. Imagine my delight when I saw my first coach that cultivated and helped grow my insane and downright CRAZY passion for this sport.  That was the icing on the cake, and I jokingly said to him, "You know, this is ALL your fault."
As I made my way into the final moments of my day, my arms raised high to the sky, my smile taking up more real estate on my face, and my heart growing fonder of this sport that I just LOVE so much...I was surprisingly caught by a wonderful friend and shortly after passed along to the woman who helped me learn how to swim back in 2007, just 6 weeks before my first triathlon. The swim, which was the only thing that kept me away from triathlon for years...I couldn't believe how this day had come full circle... from 2007 until now.  Wow.  It was...magical.  When asked by my family afterwards if I will ever do this particular race again, I responded with a resounding and deep-bellied, "OH HELL NO!" I'll train in this heat and altitude, but I am pretty OK with racing at sea level. (advantages people!)  Would I recommend it to others though?  Absolutely! The energy and magnificence of Colorado could be felt for the entire 140.6 miles.  Boulder is called the triathlon mecca of the world for. a. reason!
Finishing time: 13:56:05... final thoughts? As I continue to race proudly for Betty Designs, my team's motto fills my soul now more than ever, and is one that I have so deeply believed in since the beginning of Ditch the Tiara ... and that is that ... "Bad ass is so damn beautiful!"


So. What's next you ask?  Well, that's easy...another 140.6 of course...in 38 days...look out Oklahoma City, this girl is on fire and is ready to take on REDMAN...Bring it #9!!!