February 25, 2020 - Ultraman Florida is a 3 day stage triathlon consisting of a 10k swim, 263 mile bike, and a double marathon (52.4 mile) run. I finished 2nd place female and 12th overall during the best race and event of my life. This was hard and challenging, but also completely worth it!
This race was everything I had hoped it would be and then some. I was surrounded by people I love (that love me) and I did what I went to do. Race. Hard. I haven’t “raced” a whole lot. I have spent 2.5 years getting ready for this weekend (3 years total if you count when I first said I wanted to race UMFL). It was mostly slow and steady miles...some intensity for sure… but not a huge amount of time pushing anywhere CLOSE to what I did this weekend. It was all leading me to this moment. Everything had purpose. Jeremy is in the works of writing some articles if you have interest in learning more about this.
I wanted this race more than anything I have ever wanted in my whole life. I have been eating/sleeping/dreaming about this race for as long as I can remember. Why was I so drawn to it? The people, the scary distance, the immense mental and physical challenge, the look of satisfaction on everyone's faces when they are done. Probably other things I can’t identify. When you know, you know. And I knew I wanted this.
It wasn’t too long ago that the goal changed from “let’s get across the finish line” to “let’s see what you got--- let’s go for it!”. I had a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that I had a chance to be at the pointy end, but Jeremy believed in me and I believed in that. I would imagine it happening, what it would feel like, and what it would take. I knew Dede was going to be there and that this was going to be a fight for 2nd place-- but that fueled me. I spent every training session mentally preparing the best I could for what it would look like to push for HOURS every day for 3 days. ‘No time for lazy’ I told myself… and that every moment counted. I wanted to race well and be successful. For myself. For my coach. For all the people who follow my training/races and believe in me.
Day 1: I love swimming. I didn’t care about gators. It became windy and my training prepared me to be able to push hard into the waves and get through it. I never thought I could swim that fast for that long, it was a PR on my 10k swim by 31 minutes or so. I have been battling some shoulder/rotator cuff issues the last month or so… so I was really nervous about the swim. I was just so glad to be out there pain free. I got out of the water and I was told I was 2nd female out of the water. I couldn’t believe it. I had hoped, visualized and trained… but I couldn’t really believe it was happening. I laughed and cried as I started my bike ride. I had ugly saddle sores (some going into the race) and I was uncomfortable. But we carry on. I pushed pretty much as hard as my plan allowed the last 90 minutes. It was very important to stay within my plan, no matter what, so I didn’t sabotage my next 2 days. I was determined to hold 2nd place. I did. I crossed the line and just about collapsed. I was in shock that 1 day was over. I honestly didn’t know what to do with myself. The race was going by too fast!
Day 2: I had a feeling I couldn’t hold my place on this day. Cycling isn’t my strongest and there were some ladies out there with some serious skills. My goal was to try to keep the gap as small as possible. Around mile 5 the knee pain started. Oh shit.166 miles to go. Ok then. By mile 140ish I was just screaming and yelling positive things to myself to keep myself on my bike. It was the hardest day for me. Between the saddle sores, the pain in my neck and shoulders, my right knee with the sharp stabbies, and my now raw throat (hahaha) I just barely survived that bike ride. I crossed the line, staggered over to the shower to wash the blood, sweat, tears, and pee off myself...got my massage… and went home to struggle to eat for the 2nd night in a row. Eating is hard during this type of event! I asked if I could throw my bike in the lake and I meant it. I was grateful to have finished the bike ride safe and sound. I love my bike...but 263 was apparently the exact number of miles that I don’t want to ride my bike for a long time after. I was terrified of the knee pain I experienced. ****Note to self-- learn to U-turn.
Day 3: I had been looking forward to run day. I love to run. In the recent past my run got faster at a low HR and I felt ready to go. I trust(ed) my training and I wanted to do well and give everything I had. This was a fun day because I got one-on-one time with all of my crew. And I super appreciated that. We weren’t even a half of a mile down the road when the knee pain showed up. Oh shiiiiiiiit. I was enjoying my time with Jess and Toni but had to leave them to start all the peeing that happened in the first hour. My knee got worse and worse. Jeremy said it probably wouldn’t get worse than what I was feeling around mile 5-7 and he would get me a strap. He was correct, it never got worse and the strap did help a bit. Walking hurt more. Any change in elevation hurt. Now, listen...I expected to hurt-- but I didn’t expect to hurt the whole time. I figured towards the end everything would get terrible and I was prepared to push through that. This was not in my plan-- but who would ever write “knee pain for 52 miles” into their plan??? I remember being told I was at mile 18 and thinking it was a joke, as it actually all felt easy then. Even after the marathon mark it felt easy (I PR’d my marathon). I wanted to negative split my half marathons, but instead I ended up with pretty consistent splits (2:20, 2:19, 2:20, 2:21). I hit a low point around mile 30. Jeremy started running with me at mile 34 and we decided that minus the knee pain (that wasn’t going anywhere), there was no reason I couldn’t run faster. And we did. It was time to push. It was hard. I went to a super dark place. I lost the ability to form real sentences and to smile, I tried to make jokes that weren’t funny, I wanted to stop… a lot. But we kept running. I asked for longer breaks and tried to make deals with Jeremy. And we kept running. I knew my friends were at the end and I had to get there. My toenail started to become a problem… it actually out-hurt my knee at the end. I guess that was good? Ha! I knew those last 2 miles well… I have paced them 3 times. I have visualized running those last 2 miles on every single hard run I have done. And we were still running. I was miserable and proud and happy and sad at the same time. How could this thing I wanted SO BADLY be ending? How did I complete this distance? Why don’t I like anyone right now? What the actual fuck is happening? I hear Steve King. My crew tried to cheer me on as we ran the last mile and I just needed complete silence. I actually told them to be quiet. I enjoyed their cheering for about 319 miles of this journey… but then I couldn’t handle *anything* anymore. My brain was mush. I was confused by this emotion. It was something I didn’t expect. It was a learning experience for sure.
I crossed the line. It was a blur. I cried. I sobbed. I couldn’t walk. I did the massage table thing and was shaking uncontrollably and my legs spasmed and cramped and it was almost worse than running. Almost.
This was the best weekend of my life. It may not have been all rainbows and smiles… it was dark and hard and painful. However, this race was beautiful and perfect and mine. There is much to learn. Much to improve upon. Also much to celebrate and be proud of. I can’t wait for my next opportunity to throw my whole heart into something like this again. I don’t yet know what that is or when. But when I figure it out-- I’m sure you’ll hear about it.
After my debrief with my coach and fellow TIP member Jeremy Howard today, he said I did exactly what I needed to for almost all of the race. He couldn’t have asked for more from me...except for a 4 miles stretch at mile 47 of the run when I was just a bit slower and struggling. Then I picked it up and had my fastest 1k of the whole double marathon, hahaha! Proof I could have maybe given more during those 4 miles. Or maybe that rest helped me own that last 1k. Either way-- I feel really good knowing I gave this race all I had and exceeded what we thought was possible for me. Jeremy is a numbers guy. I have been told I have the 6th best female time ever. This race is hard. I was inspired and motivated by the honest hard working women out there. Mazel tov to you all!
Thank you Team Infinit Performance and Infinit Nutrition (and Colin Riley) for helping me fuel for 3 days of racing. I used a custom mix, the new protein recovery, and a modified version of the Go Far for Women.