Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year's!!!

It has been an amazing 2007...last year, I never would have imagined the great places I would visit, the experiences, and awesome friends made along the way! I'm ending the year on a happy note- family is together and healthy, I have caring and supportive friends, school is going well, and I'm extremely pleased with how I've developed as a triathlete and am optimistic about my future in the sport.
Today's a day OFF so I'm plannning on staying in bed watching the Myth Busters marathon on Discovery Channel, only to leave for a short trip to the airport to pick up my brother in the afternoon.
Everyone in my family is a 'homebody' so our New Year's, like most holidays are spent modestly at home. Tonight my coach's kids invited my bro over to play so we'll hang there a while and then call it a night- who knows, maybe I'll make it to watch the ball drop on MTV...haha, not likely as my eyes usually shut automatically by 9.

I hope everyone has an awesome 2008!

"Some people dream of success while others wake up and work hard at it."

Sunday, December 30, 2007

coaching my brother

Tomorrow afternoon my brother will be coming to stay for a week before he resumes school. I'm really excited because when he comes alone, I treat him like my little training experiment- sort of boot camp for the kid- hehehe (evil laugh)...I made him a training schedule where he'll be doing some things that match my routine and others where I'll be able to watch him and tell him what to do.
So, New Year's day we'll both be running the White Rock 5 mile race, and then I'll be dropping him off at masters. He'll do two weight sessions with me and then this week, ironically ha, I don't have track so it will be awesome to sit on the sidelines with Ahmed and see him and the others hamster-around in the cold. Sunday we'll both do masters in the morning and run drills in the afternoon. He can't bike because the road bike he got like 3 years ago for some "kids- tri" he outgrew dramatically. In fact, he's taller than me and obviously a bigger shoe size so I can't even lend him mine.
Aside from training, we'll definitely be hitting the movie theatre- there are a bunch of movies I want to see and we both have similar tastes so that works. Also our favorite pizza place, Campania is a must and a new gourmet burger joint downtown that I'm dying to try called Twisted Root!

Saturday, December 29, 2007


I'm an IDIOT!...Yesterday I decided to clean out as much crap from my computer files as possible, thinking that would somewhat solve the problem of it running so slow. Well, inside "my documents" was a folder titled "my music", I deleted that folder thinking it was the music data that comes when you buy the computer and did not relate whatsoever to my actual i-tunes files. WRONG!!
This morning (at 3:30 haha cuz I went to bed at 8) I got up to hop on the trainer and set my computer as always, on the table nearby to crank my playlist from i-tunes. Well, to my lovely surprise I had zero songs :( Immediately I rememberd my genious idea from the day before so I went to the trash can but, as I suspected, it had been emptied.
My solution: YouTube! Every 3-4 minutes for 2 hours i would stretch out my right hand and as best I could, would type titles to play another song haha...all while trying to maintain my cadence and power. This was ok for the first 30-45 min but after it became terrily annoying.
I don't know what I'll do after hundreds of my favorite songs have disappeared. I definitely won't buy them all again so that will probably leave me with asking a friend to burn me a cd or let me download from their files onto my nano.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Lead Legs

By the time Sunday is over, I'll have put in 10 hours of training pace cycling for the week. So what, right? Well, that's two hours for 5 days ALL on the TRAINER. Today was the third day, and after a great massage last night, I actually felt pretty loose. But then came track at 6pm and that's when I felt it- my legs weighing about 200lbs each!! I'm glad I pushed through it though, and more so that I managed the frigid temps quite well :)Now some heavy movie watching and looking forward to a great swim tomorrow morning !

Tatiana the ferocious tiger?!

So, yesterday and today my name fills every news cast...Tatiana the tiger from the San Francisco Zoo attacked and killed a 17-year old boy. I feel horrible for this boy's family. Yet, I couldn't help but laughing as I was riding my trainer this morning and repeatedly saw "how did Tatiana escape?" written accross the bottom of the screen. It's also pretty weird that I've always answered the random question of "if you could be any animal what would you be?" as nothing but a Siberian Tiger :)
Anyway, if tiger and my name do link, I hope I continuously unleash that strength and ferocity into my training and races hehe.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Albeit the cold weather, I love this time of year..good food, family & friends, no school, presents, more training, and sleeping. I've slept more in the last week than I probably did in months. It's been relaxing to just lay in bed after a hard workout and watch movies or read.
For Christmas I didn't want any gifts that did not relate to triathlon so I told my parents to save any money they planned on spending for my 2008 season expenditures. I'm happy to be getting a new PowerTap hub for my road bike and enjoying some sweet training camps including Hawaii at the end of January.
My mom's boyfriend actually gave me a cool gift card to and though I could buy some bike components or the like, I have a few books in mind that I really look forward to reading during this down time.
The weather has been quite pleasant for running- mid 50s by the afternoon so thankfully I've stayed away from the treadmill :)
I hope everyone had a merry Christmas!! I can't wait 'till New Year's...that morning I'm doing my first race- 5 mile run at White Rock Lake. It should be fun and it's awesome they scheduled it for 10am.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Winter Break!!!!

Yes!!! This afternoon I walked out of my last exam- actually the last exam on the University's final exam schedule. Most of my friends were done since early this week or even last week, but me, nopes I had a class scheduled for a final Saturday 11:30-2:30. Thankfully, it only took an hour and was fairly easy.
Grades have been posted for my other classes and given all the material I missed in lieu of IM Hawaii and my training trips, I pulled out just fine- 3 Bs and onlt Bs in any semester in college!! Oh well, the GPA's still solid :)

My plans to go to San Diego or Austin for winter break have been canceled. I've emptied out my wallet for the year and my coach wants me to stay as well, so I'll just have to deal with the weather Dallas throws. My family should be arriving next week as soon as my brother gets out of school. Right now we're getting through our first freeze...30s for the past couple of days and through early next week!

What's great is that for track thursday evenings, the weather has been pretty good-never below 50. I'm really enjoying our track workouts. Roberto and I stick together the whole time and it's awesome to be able to pace off him and dig deeper than I probably would by myself.

So, yea, training is going really well. I'm taking weights a lot more seriously than last winter and I'm slowly starting to feel the benefits. I also decided to go back to plyometric exercises which we did a lot when I played tennis- they help enormously. Strength and power are key for me to build for next season so bike workouts have mainly been centered around this- doing shorter rides (2hrs or less) with plenty of hill and power-specific work.

I'm out- stay warm!

Yerba Mate

If ya'll haven't tried out this tea...go get some right now!! It's awesome. I've never been one to drink tea, viewing it as gay and old fashioned ha, but a friend barista at my fav coffee shop told me I should try it out. So I did, but before I researched the hell out of this "wonder tea" on google ;) All I found was praise on the health benefits of this Latin American plant and its stimulant effect (as it does contain some caffeine) without the jitters often associated w/ coffee.

Needless to say, it's been 3 days now without coffee and instead a tea bag fills my mug w/ some steamed milk :)I did have coffee withdrawals and won't abstain from it forever but I think staying off it and trying Yeba Mate for a while is good.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Best B-Day Gift Ever!!

Yesterday was my 20th birthday....I'm planning on posting a reflection of my first two decades after I get through finals week.

I just wanted to thank Cervelo for the coolest birthday present- in a couple of days my brand new Soloist road bike will be arriving!!!!!!!!!

Thank you sooooo much to Joe at Richardson Bike Mart, Betsy Hilton and Dave Taylor and everyone else at Cervelo, I can't wait to ride it and claim many great races with it!!!


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

What will you do with your one wild precious life?

Today, our marketing professor posed this question as a topic for discussion on our last day of class. I sat there staring at the screen in front, feeling sure about myself and my future. Some of my classmates quietly whispered their indecisions on interniships, careers, marriage, etc. Ha, I thought, I'm glad I've got it figured out- I'm going to be a triathlete, pouring all my energy after college into training, eating, sleeping, and racing with hopes of a successful career. If it doesn't go as planned, then I'll take my degree and find a job (where, and in what exactly....I'll figure that out then).

Anyway, sufficient to say I left class with an empty, desperate feeling. What the discussion about our future individual lives, and that of our entire generation, led to struck a desire in me to make a difference and find opportunity in areas that in the past I had felt too miniscule to effectively influence.

So what was it that caused this?....

Professor began by showing us slides on the state of America in 1968, with Nixon as President, the Vietnam war, the Hippie movement, racial riots/crime, etc. We had a bad President (some would say the worst), a war in a country that more than half of Americans probably could not point to in a map...sound familiar?

Are we any better off today? Are all of our technological advances really making life better? Next few slides: Take for one the sky rocketing population nearing 7 billion, 70% of which resides outside of the US and developing countries. It was 3 billion in 1960- we've more than doubled in only 4 decades! Our resources clearly cannot and will not support this exponential growth.

We all had our opinions on the key areas of concern, namely hazardous waste and alternative energy sources. If everyone lived at the US prosperity level, our resources could only back up 2 billion people. But if we all lived at N. Africa's level, it could support 40 billion!!!

So what can we do? You're probably thinking "duh, this isn't news". True, no one can claim ignorance to this problem. We are all going to be affected by it, either directly or indirectly. Already many celebrities and politicians like Al Gore have pointed to "going green". But as class went on and we talked about profit maximization and the fact that we are all, as individuals, selfish survivors, the incredible danger we're in became clear.

Before, I had rationalized that, in time, enough people would want to change and cut down that extra use of gas or bag of groceries, begin to recycle, spend only on material things that are, who was I kidding? When would this likely, if ever, happen? We could potentially be dying off as a civilization by the time everyone concurred.

No, this is not meant to be a bottom-up solution, but rather top-down. Capitalism leaves little room for improving our current situation, yet it's not really the system itself that's to blame, but the characteristics of the people who influence our economy the most. It's not in the best interest of CEOs of oil companies to improve on solar energy; nor in the manufacturers of all our modern commodities to tell us to buy less. How about the food industry cutting supply to the US' more than 2/3 obese population? Maybe then we could feed countless villages in third world countries.

If there's going to be change, it has to come from regulations, restrictions, capping the supply- changes that affect everyone because as self-maximizers we're not likely to sacrifice if we think others aren't doing so as well.

Hence, the thought of big powerful names and businesses that are truly the ones that can effectively begin the process toward a better world for us, our children, grandchildren, etc, overwhelmed me. In the past it didn't bother me to feel like my one self would not make a dramatic difference because numerous others were already in the process (bad, I know...reminiscent of the rationale behind those who don't vote). But to realize that even those many "tree-huggers" won't effect sufficient change because bureaucracy rules- that impacted me inmensely.

Lesson of the day: where there's a problem, lies great opportunity. I have yet to figure out by what means I will make a difference and focus on this problem. One thing, however, is for sure: I know micro scale changes like collecting cans will have little to no tangible effect, so whatever I do, or anyone else does, needs to be at a macro scale. My generation has better education and enhanced awareness relative to age (ironically thanks to the information era- its mechanisms and existence supporting the problems addressed), so it is up to the diligent leaders/entrepreneurs to seek business opportunities that better our disposal and usage of hazardous waste, that promote alternative sources of energy and put pressure on oil/gas other words it takes a small number of us to find our way to the top of capitalism's hand and wave it in another direction.

A long spill, but really, aside from the benefit of "making a living" that hours behind that desk or in my case hours on a bike yield, what will, or do, you do that contributes significantly not only to your life but to future ones? It's leaving a mark vs. leaving a legacy....I'm fueled to find a way, no pun intended ;)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

It's gonna be a looong night

I started drinking coffee last year and was immediately fascinated with the ability to be twice as productive and effectively handle training with 18-hour semesters. Today I decided to try a latte. Before I had stuck strictly to 2 cups of black and the occasional "misto" or coffee w/ steamed milk or soymilk. Well, my conclusion is this wasn't the best idea. The latte obviously had a yummier taste especially in the cold weather when there's nothing like sipping something hot and frothy. I really underestimated the power of espresso because I had read that its caffeine content was less than drip coffee. Therefore, at mid-day, knowing I had track this evening at 6 (I'm used to eating dinner at that time to be in bed no later than 8:30), I ordered another one!!!!

So now it's almost 9:30 and I'm absolutely wired. I have a couple of DVDs to return to Blockbuster so will probably get that done now and rent some more- maybe that will put me to sleep by about 3am. I've been on such a high all day that I managed to get a weekend's worth of homework/studying for final exams in about 3 hours.

The great thing is, track went awesome. It definitely didn't feel like 6pm- more like 6am...I was ready to roll. We did 800s, I don't remember how many. This guy, who happened to be from Mexico too ha, and I stuck together pretty much throughout the workout. We were doing different efforts ranging from 70-90% per 400, coming in from 1:20s-1:35 (per 400 duh). Nowhere near blazing haha yet it was good to work with speed again! I love track :) cuz it just kicks your butt and then makes you feel awesome after.

Alright I'm gonna go pick out some more movies. I'm returning Mr. Brooks, The Pursuit of Happiness, and Open Water. The first one was really good- a true thriller but the ending sucked! The second was super motivational, I even cried :( The last one is about a couple left out at sea by a scuba diving boat and their struggle to survive amidst sharks, dehydration, starvation, etc....I love survival/wildlife movies. OK well there you have my movie reviews.

Good night!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!!

I thought I should write today in appreciation of the incredible life I've been blessed with. As previously stated, this has been an amazing year for me- meeting great people and going through life changing experiences.

Thank you sooo much to my family, friends, and sponsors- everything I've accomplished and have the confidence and motivation to strive for in the future is possible because of you.

I'm happy to be here with my parents and brother whose love and support exceeds anything one could ask for.

It's freezing right now- 37F!!!!!!! and we're still undecided about where to go for dinner mom and I made reservations at two different places so will pick one probably 5 min before heading out the door. In the meantime, this is the perfect day to go back to bed :)

Hope everyone has an awesome day!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

BRRRR....a cold day and my trip to the courthouse

Hello winter. I dread this time of year so when the weather peeps announced we would be in the 40s this morning I prayed that they'd be wrong- as they are 99% of the time. Well, nope, they hit it spot on.

Because of school and a court date to pay a ticket I got before leaving for Kona for my expired State Inspection Sticker, I had the choice of riding my easy 2hrs on the trainer from 5-7am or outside after the trip to see the judge. I decided to wait, as it was predicted to be in the low 60s by noon and I can manage that weather.

So, my court appointment was for 1:30 but that would mean I wouldn't be riding my bike until about 2:30 so I thought I'd get there a little early- 1pm. That didn't do me any good because they do everything "by-the-book" and if your appointment is at a certain time it doesn't matter that it's not busy at all- you can't see the judge until then. GREAT! So as I imagined, I was walking out of the court at 2:15, to be on my bike at 2:30.

Was my trip to see the judge in person vs. pay the full ticket by mail worth it? NO!! Instead of $143, I paid a mere $118 haha they only took off $25 because "the rest are court fees ma'am". The last thing I do is check my inspection sticker. If it were a sticker on my bike- that would be different. My car though, let's just say it's a miracle it still works. Whatever.

I'm proud of not getting on the trainer even in the afternoon because 60s with freezing wind is not fun. But I have brainwashed myself for months that winter has to be my friend until I win the lottery and can afford to live part time in Australia or Hawaii :)

People from cold places would have laughed if they'd seen me riding with undershirt & underpants (my awesome Hot Chilis undies that I wear snow skiing!), long sleeve shirt, jacket, pants on top of the undies, gloves, and double socks. My feet still got numb!

As for now, I'm enjoying the warmth of my condo and my bowl of hot oatmeal! It would be cool if global warming actually had a literal effect on my section of the earth.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Wow, I'm weak!

So this morning we did weights...first day back in the weight room for me after about 2 months! I knew not to expect much, but really didn't think it would be that bad. When you can't do more than a couple of push ups without your arms shaking, that's a big problem!

It's quite comforting to know that for the next couple of years I'll be able to race hard numerous times throughout the year and not be backtracked by such long recovery times. I definitely need to regain my strength and speed.

Mondays are busy for me as far as school and interning so after weights I had to either get my swim or run in. Thankfully I went swimming since that helped loosen everything up and also it started to rain. This afternoon it should be sunny and humid so that will be awesome. The weather in Texas right now is a lot better than last year- we're still in the high 70s by mid-afternoon.

Anyway, I can't wait until I feel comfortable in the weight room again...patience is a virtue ;)
Back to paying attention in class!

Friday, November 9, 2007

ideal semester

Ha, one more week until yet another break from school- Thanksgiving. The geniouses behind the academic calendar decided it was best to eliminate our fall break (2 days off at the beginning of October) and opted instead to add those days to our Thanksgiving holiday. Perfect! So, that plus no classes on Fridays yields 10 days of training heaven.

Since my family is from Mexico, we don't celebrate Thanksgiving- that is in the strict sense of making it a requirement to get together. It was enough chaos when I was little to head down to Mexico City for x-mas and partake in the drama that unfolds as my hundreds of family members unite...Irish, Spanish, and Italian get the picture. My parents, little brother, and I do however take advantage of the excuse to eat the massive piles of turkey and stuffing and usually do so at a restaurant as my mom can't scramble an egg, my dad can't exceed grilling, and though I pride myself in thinking I could pull off a decent turkey, would rather have it made for me.

Last year, a group of my friends from S. America (who also obviosuly don't celebrate Thanksgiving either) got together at my apartment in Dallas and had our own version of this holiday consisting of 80% wine 20% food :)

This year, my family is comng up to visit me (they live in San Antonio) for a couple of days- I've convinced them all to do the Turkey Trot with me that morning. So nothing too exciting, which is good- more training time.

After the break the semester nears the end as follows: 1 boring week, my birthday week (yes, I celebrate my birthday all week!), finals week....END!

Looking back, it's been an amazing semester, I haven't been in school almost at all. Not because I'm lazy....I had Ironman going on people, that justifies everything ;)

I started school at the end of August, then spent 4 days training with my friends Lisa Preeg and Sierra Snyder in Austin (also Kona qualifiers and stellar finishers!!). That was followed by a week back out in San Diego training at the end of September- not the greatest of "vacations" as I got the worst case of food poisoning, actually sickness in general, that I've ever had. But, still, it was time off. Finally, came the 10 days in Hawaii- my absolute favorite place!!!

So, I really can't complain, it has been an awesome year, particularly since summer. Now I just have to fight my way to good grades given all I've missed, and head to Austin for winter break!!!! I'll be staying with one of my good friends and her roomates who all go to UT. Yay, can't wait!!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

"Off Season"

Well, after two weeks of r&r after Ironman, Hawaii, I finally started to move my lazy butt this week. The race definitely took a hard toll on my body and I know that those two weeks, if not more, were the right prescription. But, after being in such great shape for months, and having the daily routine of multitasking everyday life with training, it's hard to fall back into absolute nothingness and pure school work.
Mentally, I was beginning to worry about getting used to not working out, and seeing (or at least feeling) like you're turning into play dough after all that hard work is not comforting haha.

Anyhow, I had heard of post-Ironman depression so wrote out my goals for 2008 well before the race. This was good and bad. Good in that it provided something to look forward to after IM, but bad in that after 4-5 days of rest and feeling human again, I was dying to kick start my training.

It was sad to have Hawaii be over. For me, the great journey that I was so lucky to experience leading up to the race, was the greatest loss of all. As well, this Monday I heard from Heather about my request to have her continue coaching me for the coming season. Unfortunately, she is really busy with other jobs and her own training and racing- something that I totally understand and respect. So, this added to my sadness, but my desperation to find a coach a.s.a.p. who was willing and has the skills to help me fulfill my aspiration in triathlon, made me move quickly and efficiently without dwelling on what I cannot control.

I went into deep thought for hours in my house wondering who I could contact that would match Heather's incredible experience, care, and attention to me during my training. I did not want to pay an online program as most, if not all, are generic schedules and as well, I knew I needed someone who could monitor my training constantly and in detail.

So, I arrived at Ahmed Zaher's door. Ahmed is an extremely well recognized coach in Texas, as well as around the nation. I knew him since I started triathlon but never sought his help 1) because I thought he was too busy with other clients and 2) because, as many of us often do, I didn't think what I had in my own backyard was the best- I thought I needed to seek the big names in the industry in order to get good coaching.

After going to his house, a lost mess that I was, we went over everything that has happened in my triathlon life thus far, and have set new plans/goals for my future. As such, I will take this next season and focus on shorter races (running, du's, swim meets, olys, sprints) to gain speed, strategy, and mental toughness. Though I had planned to do this for 2008, I will now continue on this path for a good 4-5 more years, hoping to develop into a solid ITU athlete.

I love the Ironman distance, but for that reason I think it's smart to put that on hold and save my body so that when I do return to Ironman I can achieve what I aspire to in that field.

Well, it's Halloween today, and I'm off to celebrate.
Just thought I'd update as I slowly begin my off season training.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

IM Kona 2007

Saturday, October 13, 2007, the day I had been dreaming about for over a year had arrived… After completing my first triathlon in May 2006, I entered every local race over my summer vacation. Triathlon had filled the void that had been left after I quit tennis- a sport that had been a part of me since I could walk and yell “match point”. My desire to be a professional athlete was shut down as my burnt out body and stressed out mind refused to rally another ball.

This new sport revived my motivation by its challenge, and success came quick as I dedicated myself more and more. In September, I decided to attempt a half-Ironman. I went out simply wishing to finish and upon doing so the next step became racing my next half with the intent to win. I knew that if I put the training in, the desired result was possible. So, the race of choice was the Hawaii 70.3 in June 2007.

Dreams of participating in the Kona World Championships started to creep in as I imagined myself the winner. Through each day of training, rest, and recovery leading up to the 70.3, the thought of toeing the line in Kona became so vivid that it was as if I had made it a reality before it even occurred.

I strongly believe that when we set our minds on something and put in the effort we can achieve anything. So, it happened for me- I won my age group in June and was headed toward the most prestigious race in the sport! Had I not qualified for Kona, I would not have done an Ironman this year. In fact, I would not have done an Ironman until I qualified. I wanted Hawaii to be my first experience simply because it’s the only one that not anyone can enter. I love to compete, and more importantly, I love to compete against the best.

My training for Kona was one of fairy tales. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to be given the opportunity to train for my first Ironman with the greatest names in the sport in the region where triathlon was born. Two days after returning from the half in Hawaii, I made my way to Encinitas, California where I spent the entire summer- until late August.

As part of my preparation for the Hawaii Half, I had contacted Heather Fuhr in November of 2006 in hopes of truly getting the best help to reach my goals. She agreed to my request and at exactly the right time, my dad was able to get me sponsored by his friend’s company, Protexa, so I could make the trip during my Spring Break.

Long story short, Encinitas and the people there had me at hello. Had it not been for the wonderful care and coaching I received from Heather, there is no way I could have had such an incredible race in Kona. As well, from the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank Kristin and Dan Mayer for welcoming me into their home and putting up with my “teenage stubbornness” and “know-it-all-ness” ;) Three other amazing people that helped get me to that finish line through their advice, training, and support- Roch Frey, Paula Newby Fraser, and Chris Huxley, I cannot thank ya’ll enough!!

It’s hard to explain what it feels like to be involved in something for such a short period of time and suddenly be immersed into its core. Before beginning the training for Kona, I repeatedly told myself that I could and should treat this race as a long training day and learn as much as possible from it. Every experienced Ironman triathlete that I spoke to gave me the same counsel. But, no, my subconscious would not accept this no matter how hard I tried to pound in that I had no pressure and was a true beginner in triathlon. After all, I was going into a race with the best 18-24 year olds in the world of Half Ironmans and Ironmans (whichever distance granted them the slot). I wanted to compete, to go into the race as I had always entered every tennis match since elementary school- treating it like war and as such, sacrificing all I could give.

Of course, the primary objective was to have fun and finish. Yet, simultaneously I aspired to go for it and have my best possible race. My idea of an enjoyable Ironman consisted of digging as deep as possible and pushing through as much pain as I could handle so as not to collapse and cross the line with nothing left. It would not have been fun for me to feel good and take it slow. That would actually have made for a disappointment and much regret bringing post race thoughts of “woulda, shoulda, coulda”.

Well, now it’s over, the 2007 Hawaii Ironman is a thing of the past and as I sit here back home in Dallas, facing the reality of being a student with much make-up work and longer interning hours to come for the off-season, I’m happy to say that I have no regrets. I raced with all the passion and competitiveness that defines me as an athlete out of respect for that Island, the race, the other participants, and my family and friends that got me there strong.

I arrived to Hawaii Thursday the 4th to be there well before the race. Every waking moment I spent in Lava Java meeting the coolest people and eating enormous quantities of excellent food! Yum!! In fact, I will attribute the energy I had going into the race not only to my really good taper, but to the 20+ Lava Java milk shakes that I drank before Saturday.

The Most Memorable Day of My Life: A detailed account of IM Kona

Green and Orange caps all around, a river of spectators, cameramen, race officials, legends like Mark Allen, hundreds of volunteers, the cool tropical morning breeze, the smell of ocean as it breaks into the sandy pier, and that knotted stomach feeling you get before riding that infamous rollercoaster that’s been taunting you since you were little...ahhh, race morning!!

I knew I was in for the ride of my life, but how many ups and downs it would hold, how I would feel during them and handle them, and how I would emerge at the end…these were a mystery. I was confident in my training, both mental and physical. I was prepared to face moments when my body would be begging me to stop or take it easy, and looked forward to discovering just how long I could set these aside.

“No expectations of time or placement” I said to myself as we walked into the water. “Not from yourself or from anyone else. But absolutely expect to give everything you have, it’s one day. All the training, the decision of going from pre-law student to hopeful triathlete, the incredible things that have come into your life in one year…you will not just finish, but race like a contender, and leave it all on the course!”

I lined up a bit to the left, looked at my watch- 6:57. “Two to three more minutes” I thought. No, not the case, “BOOM” the cannon went off. I pictured the helicopter view by which I had seen the mass swim start for hundreds of days on you tube videos, and now I was in that blender of bodies. Thankfully, I wasn’t getting hit and this smooth swim continued to the turnaround. After, I guess everyone was just anxious about being on their way back that they became a bit more aggressive haha. But, all in all I have nothing to complain about. The swim was great and, being the first leg of the race, nothing hurt and my energy was still on full.

T1- I can’t understand lollygagging in transition, it’s a gift to your competition. After visualizing my transitions every day since my arrival in Hawaii a week before the race, it was time to execute. I was lucky to have the last bib number and as a result, my gear bags were at the side racks at the very end- no thinking needed.

Now the bike! Yes!!! Off to Hawi. I switched my plan to riding based on perceived effort as opposed to HR values. I just went as hard as I knew I could sustain for that distance. One thing I discovered in training is I can read my body well as far as how much it has left and how long that will last. This is especially true in a race where I try to get my mind to tell my body how it feels and not the other way around. In the first 30 miles I ended up getting rid of my speed magnet on my front wheel. Something was making a tapping noise as if hitting my spokes, so I stopped three times until finally I pulled it out. Ironically, that didn’t solve the problem and the tapping continued- great! Haha. At least it forced me to only focus on cadence and not have the mph flashing at me.

Numerous people had told me that by mile 80 you’ll want to toss your bike into a ditch. But, I was having a ball!! It went by like a 2-3 hour training ride. I kept using beats of my favorite songs in my head and convincing myself I was unstoppable…whatever, it worked. No where in the bike did I feel bad, I had so much adrenaline it was awesome!! Also, I was pleased to find that I could stay aero the entire windy section of the bike course. After riding Hawi the Sunday before the race and feeling pretty windy conditions to the point where I death-gripped my bars, I admit I was a bit cautious when approaching that section race day. One unique thing about the bike is I got stung by a bee on my right shoulder somewhere between miles 40-45. I flicked off the little sucker and managed to get the stinger out. Thankfully it got my upper body ;)

T2- I get off my bike and my legs…haha…they felt like gelatin. But running through the racks and into the tent was enough to get rid of that weird feeling. When I put on my shoes and hit the road there was no doubt I would finish- not a chance left of getting elbowed and drowning, no mechanical issues or flats could arise- it was just my head and my legs.

I started my timer and my mental plan for the marathon was very simple “let’s go, 26.2 miles as hard as you possibly can!”. I would try to save some until reaching the top of Palani and then running as strong as I could to the finish. But first, I had to reach a port-a-potty, I waited pretty much the entire ride to use the restroom and passed the ones in transition (a 4-5 min transition vs. a 2.5 one? you get the point). So when I found one at just past mile 1, immediately I went in. Ok, so now my legs would feel sluggish the first 3-4 miles, I knew this from training. I had to make sure I was getting my calories and sodium in and all would be good. Problem! Just before mile 3- my salt tabs? Gone. I had them in an M&M container and when I tried to pour 2 into my mouth, they all came flying down on the pavement. No way was I going to stop and pick up 20 or so tablets. So without thought I tossed the empty container into the bushes.

I was now left with my flask of carbo pro 1200 holding 300 calories, the other flask I would pick up at special needs. Funny thing is, in the 70.3 race back in June same thing happened with my salt tabs so I actually chuckled a bit when they fell again. From now on I will never carry tablets and only rely on powergels- lesson learned. My taste buds can only handle a certain amount of sweetness so for that reason I chose carbo pro for the run after gels and Gatorade the whole bike ride. But, I took one tiny sip of that carbo pro after dropping the tabs and eeeewww. No thanks. Especially without the sodium, pure carbo pro would mean I probably wouldn’t make it much farther in the race.

So, I remember Heather had mentioned that coke can be a savior. Now was the time to take the risk of running on coke. I had no other alternative and coke sounded very satisfying. Bye Bye to the carbo pro- to the trashcan it went. It was mile 4 or 5 and from then on, it would be coke and water at every aid station and a miraculous 2 salt tabs I would actually pick up from the ground at just before mile 15 out of desperation. I’m glad I don’t sweat much and that my childhood was spent in New Braunfels, Texas at Newk’s Tennis Ranch playing in the heat of the summer sun at 100 degrees with 80+% humidity all day. Thus, I only experienced slight chills when starting out on the Queen K but was able to do without much sodium quite well.

The marathon felt great….that is until mile 20. Here the slightest incline felt like a mountain hehe. What I experienced cannot be described as pain. I had heard of the notorious quad pains in the latter parts of the marathon. Nope, for me it began to be more exhaustion. This actually made me very happy since I knew that when I crossed the line my tank would be on absolute empty.

The most devastatingly painful part of the entire day?? The walk to the medical tent and the attempt to sit down in a chair. It was better to lie down in the “beds” they had and ice my legs. About 20 minutes later I “walked” out and found my mom and my brother, got my finishers medal and shirt, and waited for a golf cart ride back to the condo because no force on earth would convince me to try and walk back.

I’ve replayed the video of me crossing the finish line over 100 times accompanied with the words “Congratulations Tatiana, you are an Ironman!”. However, the reality of this has yet to hit me. I still cannot believe I accomplished everything I set out to do in such a short period of time. Last year, I couldn’t hold say an 8:30 pace in a sprint race. I bought my tri-bike in June and before had ridden a road bike no more than 5 times outside of my first race in May. Four years ago, I hated running even a mile, thought swimming more than 6 laps was tiring, not to mention boring. Moral of the story: impossible is only what we allow it to be.