Ironman Lake Placid: The Why, the Data, and the Photo I Carried

So, it’s been over 3 months since Ironman Lake Placid and I finally got around to uploading all my data from my GPS devices for the day. Better late than never, eh?

The Why

I’ve never really come out and said why I wanted to do an Ironman. For a long time I never thought I would want to do an Ironman. The miles and time involved to complete an Ironman seemed impossible, especially for a mediocre athlete like myself. Swimming, cycling, and running over 140 miles in under 17 hours was ridiculous and best left to the crazy, ripped and lean athletes. Even after my first Half-Ironman in 2011 I didn’t want to do an Ironman. Then, I watched the 2011 Ironman World Championships tracking my coach and a few fellow Maine triathletes and watched Chrissie Wellington not only come from behind to win, but with broken bones and serious road rash. I realized that there was something special about Ironman. My resistance against the idea started to turn into curiosity and finally the seed was planted. I was determined to become an Ironman someday. Ironman no longer seemed impossible, but a major goal that I was seeking to reach. Perhaps I was crazy to think little old me with my overabundance of injuries could hear Mike Reilly say that “You are an Ironman.”

I’ve always been very self-critical of myself. My father was very hard on me growing up and often pushed me to my breaking point with harsh, uncalled for comments. But, it formed who I am today. I am stubborn and I don’t give up easy. I will die trying. I hired a wonderful and supportive coach in 2012 to help prime me for my potential debut Ironman in 2013. I was still on the fence about it until I went to training camp and realized that I could do it. The impossible became the possible. I chose to do an Ironman to prove to myself that I am capable of what I put my mind too. I’ve always strived to be the best and worked hard to achieve it. I’m competitive by nature. I know I’m not the best. Many people are stronger and faster than me, but I strive to be the best and strongest person I know I can be. Completing Ironman Lake Placid this summer allowed me to put the little voice in my head that is constantly telling me I’m not good enough to rest. Ironman, the holy grail of triathlon, is achievable to anyone who is willing to take the leap and put in the work.

The Data

As I mentioned above, I finally uploaded all my Garmin devices to Training Peaks. During the race I used my Garmin 910XT and my Edge 800. Of course, being the technical idiot that I am, I messed up my 910XT and had the longest transition one of 112 miles! 🙂 Luckily, I had my Edge on my bike to catch a majority of my bike leg.

I felt like I had a good swim leg. I stayed off the cable to avoid the flailing arms and legs, but I guess I also swam an extra 0.26 miles by doing so! But, that also brings my pace down to 1:38/100 yards!

My awesome ability to swim a straight line...

My awesome ability to swim a straight line…

My bike data was fun to view. According to Training Peaks I gained 10,423 feet! I’m thinking there is a major glitch in their elevation algorithm since I know I didn’t ride my bike a few times up and down Mt. Washington! I averaged a cadence of 80 rpm, which I’m happy with since that includes all the zeros from the 10k downhill section riding into Keene (that happened twice!), thus my cadence is actually higher. Winning! My power VI was 1.15, which is good for me, especially with the ups and downs of the course.

My run data was kind of sad to view, watching my declining pace over the course of 26.2 miles. But, I knew it inevitable. Darn, knee…

Declining run pace

Declining run pace


The Photo I Carried

I knew my first Ironman would be special. I also knew it would be a long, long day that might involve some mental negative talk. I needed and wanted some motivation over the course of the day. My father refused to come to Lake Placid to watch and cheer me on and I was definitely disappointed about that. My mother was always one of my biggest cheerleaders in life and I knew that if she was still alive that she would have been there, getting up at the crack of dawn to drive me to transition and been there until I crawled across that finish line. On race day I carried her in spirit and also a picture in a little baggie tucked into my sports bra. When my thoughts turned negative and the little voice started whispering that I couldn’t do it, I thought about my mother. I was able to find my strength again and proceed onwards to the Olympic Circle. When my knee gave out at mile 18 of the run I thought back to her battle with CJD and realized the last 8 miles of the run was nothing compared to what that disease did to her.

My mom and Duke riding in Acadia National Park circa 1998

My mom and Duke riding in Acadia National Park circa 1997

My advice to anyone doing an Ironman is find something (a photo, a pin, a quote, etc.) to either carry with you physically or mentally throughout the day that will remind you why you are doing the race because there are times that your thoughts will go dark and you start to doubt your fitness, ability, and training. The mind can often push our bodies far past its breaking point when we believe we have a reason bigger than ourselves to be doing the crazy things we do.

One of my favorite quotes! (Source)

One of my favorite quotes! (Source)


~ Happy Training!

Lessons from “The Eighty-Dollar Champion”


Recently I read the book The Eighty-Dollar Champion by Elizabeth Letts. I originally saw the book awhile back when it first came out and meant to pick it up soon after, but forgot about it. A couple of weeks ago I was wandering around in the clearance section of BAM and saw the book for $5.00 and picked it up. I’m a sucker for books with horses on the front! Old habits die hard…

The book is based on a true-story of the National Horse Show Champion Show Jumper named Snowman. Snowman was an old plow horse that was rescued by the Dutch immigrant Harry de Leyer for $80 from the slaughterhouse truck at an auction. Harry brought the horse back to his small farm on Long Island to be used as a lesson horse at the girls boarding school where he taught riding lessons.

Snowman was a gentle-giant. He wasn’t the thoroughbred Harry was looking for to be a solid show jumper. He made a good lesson horse and Harry was able to make a few dollars off of him when he sold Snowman to a neighbor. However, Snowman had other ideas. During lessons Snowman had no potential as a jumper. He would hit his hooves off poles on the ground. But, much to Harry’s surprise, he would find Snowman back in his stall the next morning with a fence board in tow. Snowman could jump.

Harry re-purchased Snowman and put the gelding into training. The horse could fly. Harry would bring him to all the big shows on Long Island during the summer where the wealthy showed their expensive thoroughbreds. Snowman and Harry would be laughed at until he won against some of the top horses on the East Coast. Show after show Harry and Snowman brought home the blue ribbon qualifying themselves to compete at the National Horse Show held at Madison Square Garden in November. Snowman was the underdog. No one expected him to win against the top horses in the world in show jumping, where the fences often reached over 5’6″ high!

It was 1958. America was in the midst of the Cold War. Snowman won the title that year and in turn inspired a nation. He was deemed the Cinderella Horse. He won again the following year. Snowman and Harry de Leyer changed the sport of Show Jumping for the United States and succeed in inspiring the “common people” that anything is possible.

The story begins with the quote by Christopher Reeve:

“So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”

Lesson One: Nothing is impossible

Snowman was a plow horse. He did not have the fancy, expensive blood-lines of a champion Thoroughbred, but the horse had heart. Harry was able to see the potential in the little horse that jumped pasture fences for fun. The rich elite that ruled the Equestrian lifestyle during the 1940s and 50s laughed at Snowman at shows. However, Harry and Snowman showed the world that with a little heart and faith, anything is possible. 

Lesson Two: There is something extraordinary in all of us

One of my favorite quotes in the book is “Snowman and Harry showed the world how extraordinary the most ordinary among us can be. Never give up, even when the obstacles seem sky-high. There is something extraordinary in all of us” (page 280). Snowman was an ordinary horse with an extraordinary talent. The story of Snowman teaches us that even though most of us consider ourselves to be average, there is always something extraordinary in all of us. Perhaps it’s our ability to sing, or play a sport, or even to care for others. Find that extraordinary quality in yourself and own it.

Lesson Three: Hard work trumps everything

One of the main reasons Snowman became a champion was Harry’s hard work and dedication to his horse, his family, and to the sport of show jumping. Harry recognized something in Snowman, but his talent and skill was only able to appear after Harry put in a lot of hard work. Harry had to teach the horse how to be ridden first before he could even become a jumper. During the National Horse Show the other horse farms had hired grooms, riders, etc to care for the horses, but Harry only had himself and his family to clean and braid Snowman for the show. Hard work really does make a difference and can get you far in life. Money can only buy so much.

It’s not every day that a champion is born. But, nothing is impossible. We each have a unique gift that with a little hard work can shine though. Harry de Leyer and Snowman showed the world this during the 1950s. I enjoyed the book and would recommend it if you’re looking for a fun read.

~ Happy Training!

Four Years…


Four years and it doesn’t get any easier…

Yesterday was the four-year anniversary of my mother’s passing. March 24th will always be a tough day, but it’s also a day of remembrance and celebration of a great woman’s life. Perhaps I’m bias, but my mother was an amazing woman whose life was tragically cut short by a horrific disease. I’d be lying if I said that it gets easier with time, but it doesn’t. Losing a parent is never easy, especially at a young age. There was so much more that I wanted to learn from her and experiences to share.

I was lucky that I was close with my mother. For most of my life she was a stay-at-home mom and then as my sisters and I got older she began to work from home as a stitcher. She worked from dawn to dusk in what we dubbed as her “sweat shop.” Some of the things that she sewed were not her favorite, but she did it so she could afford my expensive lifestyle, aka my horses. She was the one that would wake up early in the mornings to walk down to the barn to feed and clean the horses stalls and often did evening feeds when I was busy with school work. She spent many years and thousands of dollars to cart me and my horses’ butts around New England to compete every weekend. Those are the days that I’ll never forget. Those are the days that I miss.

Honestly, what truly makes me sad is what my mother will miss as my sisters and I get older. She wasn’t there to attend any of our college graduations. She won’t be there as we shop for our wedding dresses or see us walk down the aisle. She won’t be there as we start families or give us parenting advice.

It sucks. There is no other way to describe it. I miss her everyday. But, life goes on. We must put our best foot forward everyday and live life to the fullest. We are placed on earth for a short time and I believe that it’s our responsibility to do something meaningful with our time and hopefully leave this planet a better place.

In the past few weeks some exciting news has been released about Creuzfeldt-Jakob Disease, the disease that robbed my mother of her life. Creuzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) is a rare and fatal brain disorder. It occurs about one in a million persons worldwide and is 100% fatal. In the United States there is about 300 new cases each year. My mother was one of them in 2009. There are three types of CJD: sporadic CJD, familial CJD, and acquired CJD. CJD is caused by prions, which are an infectious agent composed of misfolded proteins. Recently, some great news came out of Case Western University, the hub of CJD research within the United States. Studies has indicated that prions might play an important role in iron metabolism in the brain. The researchers also have developed a new more accurate test for CJD through a spinal tap. This is a huge breakthrough. I know when my mother was diagnosed, it was done mainly through the process of elimination. One of the main problems we had with my mother was that her first MRI and tests all came back normal, but her second set of tests a few weeks later were positive. Of course, the blood and CSF samples from my mother that we sent to Case Western for testing didn’t come back until after she passed. For more information on CJD then please check out the CJD Foundation website:

My mother, my sister and I (1989)

My mother, my sister and I (1989)

My mom and my horse Duke in Acadia National Park

My mom and my horse Duke in Acadia National Park

My High School graduation with my parents (2005)

My High School graduation with my parents (2005)




I hope I’ve made you proud dear Mum
For there will never be another.
Cause there is no love greater,
Than a child has for their Mother.


RIP Mom <3








Race Support – We Can’t Do It Without You!

I grew up riding horses competitively for over ten years. Over those years I had three horses that were kept less than a mile down the road. Horses are a lot of work. Mucking stalls, grooming, feeding, throwing hay up in the loft, etc. You get the idea. Luckily, I had tremendous support from my mother. She did all the morning chores while I got ready for school and we often split the evening chores. She carted my and my horse’s butt around the state and New England just about every weekend for shows and events. She was my number one supporter during those years. And I certainly miss her and her support everyday…

Getting ready for showmanship

Duke, Phoebe, and my Mom

Triathlon is an individual sport. We swim, bike, run all by ourselves. Our loved ones often think we are crazy to get up at the ass crack of dawn for an early swim workout, ride our bikes for 5+ hours on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, or run any where up to 20 miles for fun! They wonder why instead of putting thousands of dollars into our children’s college fund we invest that money into expensive race wheels that will make us five minutes faster. They complain they never see us or when they do we are the walking dead because we are hungry, sore, and tired.

But, at the end of the day many of them still love us and support us. While at Lake Placid this year I saw so many athlete’s family members wearing team shirts and carrying signs to support their athletes over their 140.6 mile journey. Some family members were glad when the day was over because they get their athlete back. Others have been through the drill numerous times before and still do it over and over again. The atmosphere at an Ironman is insane and very contagious!

Often times athletes forget to tell their friends, families, volunteers, and complete strangers how grateful they truly are for their support, encouragement, and smiles on race days. Many spectators don’t realize what a simple smile or “good job” can do for an athlete when all they just want to do is curse the world, puke, and lie on the side of the road and die. It can completely change an athlete’s perspective of the race and encourage them to finish.

For me personally, seeing a friend or family member on the side line means to world to me. Rev3 is on Sunday. I’m lucky that the race is on my home turf so I know a ton of people racing. Seeing a familiar face is always a wonderful thing. I’m really hoping that many people will come out to support me and my fellow racers. I know I have been working my butt off for the past 8 months to train for this race. It’s my big race and I would love to see my friends and family at the finish line for a smile, a hug, or a simple slap on the back and a “good job.” I know many others feel the same way so take a few hours out of your days and come support ALL the athletes racing on Sunday in OOB. Your smile or “you’re doing great” can really make a difference in an athlete’s mind!

~ See you all Sunday! 🙂

Weekend Rap Up!

I took a long weekend this past weekend because I had a very busy Friday schedule. On Friday May 18th I got hooded a la Harry Potter style (I have never read or seen any of the Harry Potter books and movies. It’s not my style, but have you ever noticed that graduation garments, especially in the graduate degree fields look very wizard-like?). I don’t actually finish my Master’s in Public Health until December of this year but I was able to attend both the Hooding Ceremony and the Graduation Ceremony. However, I chose not to attend the graduation ceremony on Saturday because I preferred to race a triathlon and I also did not like the chosen commencement speaker. The Hooding Ceremony was actually kind of exciting because a) I did not attend my undergrad graduation so this was my first college graduation, b) I got a cool hood that I paid $55 to wear once (must find other uses for it. Ideas?), and c) I got to meet in person some of my classmates since my degree program is online.

A few of the 32 MPH graduates from the class of 2012

On Saturday I raced the Tri for the Y at the Freeport YMCA. It was a 325 yd swim, 13 mile bike, and 5k run. I’ll have a full race report later this week, but I did not do as well as I was hoping for. I missed 3rd in my age group by almost 30 seconds and it was mostly due to the fact that I couldn’t get my darn watch on and I stood there playing with it! Stupid mistake! However, it was nice to get the first race over with for the year. It was a beautiful day, many of my tri group members were volunteering, and bike shop boy was able to come watch (and pass out flyers for my Women’s road ride out of Allspeed Wednesday nights at 6pm) so overall not a horrible day.

Sunday was spent doing an easy recovery swim in the pool, an awesome self-butt kicking strength training session outside in beautiful weather in my front yard, and also doing a lot of reading for my personal training certfication. It was a super productive day!

Who doesn’t love a little TRX?

Yesterday I had an appointment with the chiropractor who I have been seeing for over six months about my pelvis that was unaligned and also my super tight calves. She was very pleased that my pelvis has remained in place for the past couple of months and that my calves were not very tight even after racing on Saturday! She was especially impressed that my body is relatively injury free. She told me that many of the athletes she treats tend to become injured or their body’s are more broken down going into taper for the big race. Mine body is in great shape going into taper for Mooseman in 12 days! I guess I can’t use that excuse for my race… But, I’m pleased and I feel great!

I’ve complained many of times recently about my lack of bike fitness and confidence this year. A friend emailed me yesterday to ask how my race was and I told her my bike was okay, but I was still disappointed by it. She asked me if it was due to fatigue from the intensity of my training. No. I know it’s not because overall I feel great and I make sure that I focus on proper recovery and nutrition in my training. I told her that I believe it’s due to the fact that I have always muscled my way through my rides with lower cadence and grinding gears. Through working with my coach I have learned that riding this way is actually very bad. It’s best to push lower gears while maintaining a higher cadence because it will save your legs for the run. My coach also emailed me Monday after analyzing my powermeter data from my race to inform me how to ride in my future workouts and also in Mooseman. I need to be more consistent in my riding. This is very important in riding long course triathlons. I tend to have power spikes in my data, which is not good. As she put it, I only have so many matches to burn. If I burn too many then my legs are toast on the run. My goal is to remain consistent and also pedal the whole damn time. No coasting, expect whenever absolutely necessary. I feel like I’m learning to ride a bike all over again. I’ve been very frustrated by this because I don’t have the strength I use to have, but in the end, I know it will pay off because I will be a stronger and more efficient rider.

I use to have extremely strong legs, which I think is the main reason I could always muscle my way through tough rides. The reason my legs were so strong was growing up riding horses. I had a riding instructor who use to make me post without stirrups and hands on the reins for my entire hour-long lessons. BELIEVE ME, that is no easy feat! It hurt like hell, but it gave me a super strong seat and I could ride just about any horse and stay on, including my off-the-race track Thoroughbred who seemed to think he was a bucking bronco at a rodeo. He never dumped me! Ha!

This is what a posting trot without stirrups looks like, except I would be on a lungeline and have no use of my hands. You definitely learn balance very quickly!

This is Mystery Knight, my crazy Thoroughbred. His grandsire was Seattle Slew, who is one of the last horses and the only horse to win the Triple Crown while remaining undefeated. Myst was a dud on the track, but man did he love to jump!

Happy Training!

My First Love

People say you’ll always remember your first love. Perhaps it was the little boy in the sandbox with freckles? Or the pig-tail girl with a big ice cream stain on her shirt? My first love was was big, hairy, and had a major gas problem. No, he was not Larry the Cable Guy! Although, if he was human, he would probably be very similar to Larry the Cable Guy.

I started riding horses when I was 7 years old because my best friend at the time started riding so naturally I wanted to too. When I was 9 one of my friends was looking to buy a horse. My Uncle told us about Duke and we went to go look at him for my friend. I got to ride him too and my mom had videotaped us riding him. My friend’s mom decided Duke wasn’t the right horse for her.

I rode in the Cumberland Fair about a month after we went to look at Duke. After the show when we were back at the barn, my parents kept looking around at the horse trailer and my father’s truck. I asked them what they were doing and they both kind of looked at each other and were like “should we tell her?” My Mom said “we bought you a horse!” My reply was “No, you didn’t. Don’t lie to me.” I didn’t believe them at first because we had never talked about buying a horse for me. Well, they surprised me with Duke! It was the best $900 my parents ever spent on me.

Duke came right out of a pasture in Caanan, Maine. He was a great horse. He had his issues though. He was literally scared of his own shadow. At the old barn I use to keep him at my father built him his own stall complete with fancy rubber mats. Well, the first time he ever went into his stall, he saw his shadow and ran back out into the pasture! He also had an issue with his canter leads. A horse’s canter is a three-beat gait. When a horse goes in a circle he will lead with his inside front leg. Some horses can only lead with the same leg, kind of like being right or left handed. However, horses need to be able to lead with either leg or else their balance will be off (and they can fall over. I was riding a pony one day when that happened). Duke had a problem picking up his left lead. Eventually we fixed his problem. Ask any who has met Duke and they will probably remember his gas problem. Duke could fart. I mean he could fart for 5 minutes continuously! He had talent that’s for sure! It never smelled, but it was just one of those very loud, almost musical farts.

We had Duke for close to 10 years. We sold him to a young girl in 4-H in 2004. I’m not 100% what ever really happened to him after that, but I’m positive that he’s now frolicking in the fields of Heaven now. When I first started dating my last boyfriend we played 20 questions one night. He asked me who my first love was and my answer was Duke. He told me that doesn’t count. Of course he does! That horse was the love of my life. I have yet to meet a man that matches that love (although I am taking applications). Duke taught me about unconditional love. I loved that horse and he loved me. We were partners. He trusted me with his life and I trusted him with mine. We had our disagreements, but no matter what the outcome was, we still loved each other. I personally believe that trust is the most important part of a relationship, whether it’s with a horse or a human. Without trust there is no foundation to build upon.

So in honor of my first love, here are some pictures of my past life! And for the record, I will not date any man who doesn’t love (or at least tolerate) horses because I plan on having at least one in the future. Horses are my blood. There is nothing better than being on top of a 1000 pound horse flying over fences!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

PS – If anyone (perferly cute men who swim, bike, run) want to get me chocolate, I will gladly accept it! 🙂