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Virtual Coffee Date: Strong Fitness & Race Entries

Good morning babes and happy Monday! I hope you all had a wonderfully active weekend! It's been a while since I've posted a virtual coffee date and the last one was so much fun. So, today, I thought we'd get caught up over a virtual cup of coffee! I'll be sipping on a Vanilla latte (my fav).

If we were having coffee today, I'd tell you all about my latest sweat date with the Dallas Fitness Ambassadors at Strong Fitness. This was the first group workout I've done with them since tearing my ACL. I was so wrapped up with Ironman training earlier in the year that I didn't have very much spare time for funsies like this. Post Ironman I was all kinds of beat up and honestly, I was a bit scared of doing one of these group workouts not knowing how my knee would hold up. Since we decided not to operate and reconstruct my ACL I've realized that I just need to get back out there. I've been incorporating more and more weight bearing exercises the last couple of months with the help of my knee brace. So, I thought it was about time I came out of my shell and had some fit fun with the girls again. I'm so glad I did too! This event was so much fun!

Strong Fitness is a Crossfit style gym. They offer much more than crossfit though. For our workout we did some interval work mixing things up between cardio on the bike and treadmills with TRX workouts and free weights. It was very similar to what we've done at Orange Theory Fitness and Beyond 500. I really love these interval style gym classes! Lizzie lead our class and really had us sweating. Seriously, I was already sweating during our warm up. They outfitted everyone with a heart rate monitor which displayed our heart rates live throughout the workout. I was in Zone 4 in the first fifteen minutes.

We began with intervals on the treadmill, mixing it up between periods of jogging, sprinting and walking. Then we moved on to floor work. Doing mountain climbers and Burpees. I hate burpees! I hated burpees to begin with, but I especially hate them now. It was really hard to get down on the floor and pull my knees up to my chest with my knee brace on. After the first few, I switched to a modified burpee that allowed me more flexibility with my knee. I was pretty proud of myself for doing them at all tough. Lizzie was great at giving us modified versions of each workout so that we could do them at any fitness level.


After the floor work we moved on to the spin bikes, one of my favorite activities! Again, we mixed it up doing a high cadence spin on low resistance, high cadence sprint with high resistance, and then taking it all the way back down to low resistance at a slow cadence for recovery. We did about 3 sets like this before moving on to the TRX bands.

Now, by this point I had sweat dripping down my back, into my eyes, and onto the floor. I was so tired already and could tell I was getting a great workout. The TRX portion of the workout was probably the hardest. Not just because I was tired but also because, well TRX bands require a lot of stability and support.

We alternated between squat jumps, chest press, low rows, and knee tucks. This whole portion of the workout was so challenging for me. Squat jumps are really hard for me to do because of my knee. Again, I had to move to a modified workout for the squat jump to put less pressure when hitting the ground. I also found it really hard to do the knee tucks. Not only do I have a really weak core, but my knee brace got in the way again. Just like with the burpees and mountain climbers. I was at least able to do the chest press and low rows without any modifications but my arms were sore for days because of them. I guess that's the point of a good workout, I am right?

Overall, it was an incredibly challenging workout. Not challenging in a bad way, but challenging in a good way. This was my first time doing workouts like these since my injury and I think its important that I learn how to stay fit without an ACL. Just like training for Ironman, I need to learn how to push myself in a safe way and build my strength back up, even if that means modifying an exercise so that I can do it safely.

I'm so grateful to Strong Fitness and coach Lizzie for ensuring that their workouts are inclusive for athletes with injuries and all fitness levels. It really helped build my confidence to be able to get a good workout in and hang with the rest of the group. Not to mention I learned a lot about how to modify certain exercises. I can now take that knowledge into the gym with me anytime I need it!

Post workout we had cold pressed juices from Substance Juice to re hydrate us. They also brought mixers for mimosas which were delicious! I spent some time chatting with the ladies from Substance juice and learned that Megan is actually a registered dietitian. It always makes me feel better when I know a company is operated by someone with a REAL nutritional background. Megan told me that they also offer delivery for their juices through Ubereats which is amazing. You can get anything delivered these days which leaves little room for excuses when making healthy choices.

If we were having coffee today, I'd also tell you that I finally committed and signed up for a couple of races to end my year! My husband and I worked the Wounded Warrior Half Marathon for Nuun Hydration a while back. The kids are on summer break and we thought it would be fun to take my daughter along with us to the race expo. Boy, did she fit right in! She was busy talking to all the vendors and getting freebies. She even signed us up for the St. Jude 5K in September. Little did she know she set me up for a race entry shopping spree.

After that the gears in my head just started spinning out of control. I signed up for That Dam Half in October and figured, "What the heck! Let's do a full too". So, I signed up for the Dallas Marathon in December also. That's pretty much how my brain works all of the time. Why sign up and train for one race when you can fit so many into one training phase?

As if that weren't enough. I worked the TWU Pioneer Power Sprint Triathlon at the end of July. That was a pretty fun race. Check out the highlight video I made.

While there, I was chatting with the race director and found out they'd purchased the Cooper Sprint Triathlon previously own by the Cooper Institute. It's now called the Craig Ranch Triathlon and owned by Dallas Athletes Racing. I've heard really great things about the swim and bike course for this race. The gears in my head started spinning again! It's clearly a problem people. Can you guess what I did next? You betcha! I signed up for a sprint triathlon in September. This triathlon is more just for fun considering I haven't done any real triathlon training since Ironman in April. I just had the sudden urge to swim, bike, and run after attending the TWU Power Sprint. I blame it on Dallas Athletes Racing. I mean, their races are always so well run and such a good time. C'mon their official slogan is "A workout and a party" How could I not sign up?

If we were having coffee today I ask all about what you've been up to and what's on your upcoming race calendar. So, be sure to share with me in the comments!

Happy Running,
Priscilla


Tropical Nuungria - DFW Summer Potluck

Hey there babes! Wow! It has been a while since I’ve checked in. If you’re reading this, thanks for stopping by! Since Ironman things have been pretty slow in my life. I’ve been laying low, not training or doing anything really. I’ve actually been working on a few blog posts, but my computer died a couple of weeks ago and I had to buy a new one. That thing was on its last leg! We sure did make it last as long as we could, but with two kids, it became saturated with viruses and….CAPUT! I’m back up and running now and hope to start posting all the goodies I’ve been working on. I’ve got some really fun things coming up and I’ll be SURE to share all of that with you.


A while back some of my fellow Dallas bloggers and I got together for a summer potluck hosted by the fabulous Dixya from Food Please and Health. Dixya sure knows how to throw a party! She really made things easy for us. Be sure to check out her tips on how to host a potluck.

Everyone brought a dish or two to share and we had some really awesome sponsors. When I first walked in I was in awe of the magnificence of the food displayed in Dixya’s dining room. It’s a bit intimidating when you’re joining food bloggers, but MAN was the food worth it.

We had the most delicious lamb from Nourish with Lamb. Dixya prepared two dishes for us. Lamb meatballs with a delicious yogurt dip and the other was loin chops prepared in on a cast iron skillet. I tried so hard to watch her every move while preparing it. I’ve been learning how to cook with cast iron since before I started Ironman training. The doctor wanted me to get more iron in my diet and I knew that, in addition to making some dietary changes, adding a cast iron skillet to my kitchen would be one great way to do it. I will definitely be attempting to recreate this dish!

We also had a beautiful cheese board sponsored by Sprouts  that Dixya also assembled. She is so creative! Emily from Zen and Spice baked these amazing Parmesan tomatoes. They were mouthwatering. The smooth flavor of the parmesan mixed with the tomato made for a great treat.

Erin over at The Speckled Palate made Grilled Peach Bruschetta which I've never had, but knew I would love immediately. I have a thing for contrasting fruit and cheese flavors. One of my favorite pizzas is Pear & Gorgonzola. There is just something about salty cheeses and sweet fruits. YUM! Erin's bruschetta did not disappoint.

Ginger from The Ginger Marie Blog made the most outstanding bacon wrapped mac n cheese. As if mac n cheese isn't already comforting enough, she went and wrapped it in a savory blanket of warm delicious bacon. I may have had a few too many of these things, but how could anyone resist?


Great Harvest Bread Company also provided a spread of the most decadent breads including cinnamon chip, garlic cheddar jalapeƱo, popeye bread with spinach, red pepper and parmesan. As well as the most giant oatmeal cookies I've ever seen! I took a few of these home to my kids and they were gone instantly.

Speaking of desserts check out those cupcakes and pastries from Stir Crazy Baked Goods. I've been working on my cupcake game and have some fantastic inspiration after inhaling a few of these. Can you tell there was a trend at this potluck? Me stuffing my face.

Holy Kombucha provided a selection of delicious drinks as well. I have to say that I'm not a huge fan of kombucha in general, but I did take home the Berry Passion and Green Apple Ginger which were AMAZING. I was so glad to have them after eating all of this food too. My stomach was bit sour the morning after the event, but I felt great after having the Berry Passion kombucha.

For my dish I decided to share the Nuun love…as always! I can’t cook quite like these women, but I sure can make a mean cocktail. So, that’s what I did! I created this Nuungria recipe with summer in mind. This is a great poolside cocktail! It combines a refreshing sparkling wine, two delicious summer Nuun flavors, and the fresh citrus juices really give it a kick. It’s perfect for all things summer!

Tropical Nuungria

3 tabs Nuun Energy Mango Orange
3 tabs Nuun Active Tropical
1/2 Gallon water
2 - 6oz cans of Pineapple juice
2 bottles of sweet sparkling white wine (I used a Mascato D’Asti)
1 bottle Malibu Rum (750ml)
Fresh oranges, limes and strawberries

Instructions:
Dissolve all six Nuun tabs in 1/2 gallon of water. In a large punch bowl or party pitcher mix Nuun drink, wine, rum, and pineapple juice. Thinly slice oranges, limes, and strawberries and add to Nuungria in punch bowl or party pitcher. Top with ice and let chill until ready to serve. Serves 10-15.


Individual drinks:

1/2 tab Nuun Energy Mango Orange
1/2 tab Nuun Active Tropical
24 oz water
1/2 - 6 oz can of Pineapple juice
2 shots of sweet sparkling white wine (I used a Mascato D’Asti)
2 shots Malibu Rum
Fresh oranges, limes and strawberries

Instructions:
In a large cup dissolve Nuun tabs in water. Add wine, rum, and pineapple juice. Stir well and pour evenly into cocktail glasses. Use thinly slice oranges, limes, and strawberries as garnish. Top with ice and enjoy! Serves 2-3.

Let me know if you try this Nuungria and how it was! You can use the hashtag #nuungria and tag me so I can share in the awesomeness!

Well babes, I hope your week was a good one. I hope you're out there getting ready for a sweaty weekend and crushing those goals as always. I'll check in with you soon.

Happy Running!

Race Report - Ironman Texas 140.6


This post is dedicated to my husband, Jason Askew.  Without his support, I wouldn't have been able to do any of this. Credit for all pictures in this post also goes to him ;)

Oh my gawd Becky! I am an IRONMAN!!! Ahhh! I still doesn't feel real. There is something so humbling about achieving a goal you once thought was impossible. It's like, you totally feel like a badass and proud because you know you worked your butt off to get there, but at the same time it just feels like you were given a huge gift and you're just incredibly overwhelmed with gratitude.

I used to think of Ironmen athletes like they were the unicorns of endurance sports. Just to be in the presence of one made me excited. They felt celebrity-like! Today, I look at myself and know how silly that is. I'm just a normal person. I'm not a super athlete. I'm not exceptionally fast. In fact, I'm just your (sub)average back-of-the-pack age group athlete, but I am an Ironman! Ordinary people CAN do extraordinary things.

I'm so incredibly excited to be sharing this post with you and I hope it brings confidence and inspiration to some of you out there who may be feeling like those big scary goals are out of your reach because believe me, they are not.

So, without further ado, here is my 2017 Ironman Texas Race Report. It's a long one so grab a snack and enjoy!

Pre-Race

Thursday 04/21

Ironman Texas is held in The Woodlands about 4 hours south of DFW, where I live. We planned to drive down since it was so close. One thing I never new about Ironman is that most full-distance races are on Saturdays and there is NO FRIDAY check-in. Which really stressed me out in the beginning, but actually turned out to be a great thing. We drove down for Ironman Austin 70.3 the day before the race and it was a whirlwind! There was so much to do and only a day to do it in. This go around we left bright and early Thursday morning which gave us two whole days to get things done.

I was pretty surprised at how well I planned it all out too. I had itineraries with specific times on them and we ACTUALLY stuck to it. I'd pre-planned everything, even down to meal times and what time we needed to be everywhere when we got to the Woodlands. We left right at 9am Thursday morning and the drive was just beautiful!



The sun was out, the road was scenic and as we got closer to the Woodlands there were so many beautiful trees! That area is just so green and gorgeous. I loved spotting fellow athletes down I-45 too. You can always spot a triathlete by the tri bikes and bumper stickers! I remember after Austin 70.3 I-35 was just packed with athletes heading home and we were all stuck in this horrible traffic. It was like a really awful post-triathlon party, but it was still really neat to be together and it felt special.

Anyway, Thursday was athlete-check in day. It's the day the athletes arrive, receive their official wrist bands and complete packet pick-up. It's also the day shit gets real! I was so nervous in the days leading up to our departure, but I knew if I could just make it down to the Woodlands I'd switch into race mode and the nerves would subside. Sure enough as soon as we got in the car things got better. That's when the excitement starts and when you arrive it's like you're home and ready to get down to business.

The family and I booked a hotel just a couple of miles from the finish line. I knew I wanted to be close so that my family had the option of going back and forth on race day. We stayed at the Drury Inn which was still incredibly close to the finish, but was so much more affordable than the Marriott (the official hotel for the race). When we arrived we headed straight to the hotel to drop our bags off and unload. The woman at the front desk was already familiar with us and even congratulated me on my first big race!

Bike check-in wasn't until Friday and I didn't want to drive around with FeFe (my bike) in the back of the truck in a strange city so it sounded best to unload and then head out the athlete check-in. I also wanted to meet up with my friend James who was staying at the same hotel as us. He would be racing Saturday as well so it was super nice to have a fellow athlete with me on this trip. My family gets tired of hearing me talk non-stop about the technical stuff. Having James there was flippin awesome!

We arrived at athlete check-in just in time for the 2 o'clock athlete briefing at Ironman Village. Up until this day, the weather in DFW had only reached high 70's, but it was 83 in the Woodlands. We were baking at the athlete briefing! I found James and his fiancee standing under one of the tents just soaking wet from sweat. I panicked a bit as we all sat there sweating our butt's off listening to the details of race day. If this was any indication of the weather on race day, I'd need to adjust my nutrition plan STAT. Luckily, the forecast had been showing some race day showers so I knew, at the very least, we might have cloud coverage and/or rain. The thought of rain scared me until I sat in the blazing hot sun on Thursday.

After the briefing the real fun started. We headed over to the check-in tent to pick up my packet and swag. When I arrived at the packet pick up table, the lady took one look at my packet and yelled "First time Ironman!!!!!" and rang a cowbell. The whole tent started cheering! So cool!

We headed out to Ironman Village after that to check out all the cool stuff for sale. The kids were pretty tired and hot at this point so I tried to keep it short. I'd rented a GPS tracker for race day that I needed to pick up and I made a quick stop at the Base Salts tent to pick up some extra sodium for race day. We headed back to the hotel around 4pm and spent the remainder of the night resting.

I had a quick call with my coach later that night as I was packing my transition bags. She wanted to go over an updated nutrition plan that included more than double the sodium intake I had originally planned for in order to compensate for the heat. I was pretty nervous about making that kind of change, but I knew I would need to stay ahead of dehydration or risk over heating and ruining the day. I was so grateful to have my coach there to advise me! Honestly, I have a degree in nutrition, but I feel completely lost in situations like these.

I spent a few hours that night packing my run and bike transition bags and then I got FeFe stickered race day ready and headed to bed.

Friday 04/22

Ironman hosted a swim practice on Friday morning before bike check-in started. I woke up a little early and headed down stairs at our hotel where they were serving a full self-serve breakfast. When I opened the door, I saw this little note waiting for me. How amazing! It's really the little things that have the most impact on your experience.

After breakfast, I went back upstairs to grab my gear and head to the practice swim. I knew I needed to go and get a feel for the water. Just two weeks before this I'd attended an open water swim with my tri club and totally freaked out! I had some sort of breathing spell because of my wet suit and had to be carried back to shore by a kayak. The following week I went back out, but this time took off my wet suit and noticed a HUGE difference. I knew this practice swim on Friday would be all mental prep and I just needed to shake those last minute nerves. I couldn't have been more right! The water temp was a warm 76 degrees and it was calm, even with hundreds of athletes in the water. I made two short loops around the middle buoy (appx 1500 yards) and came back in to shore. It was a perfect swim! I don't think I've ever felt more comfortable in the water.


I went for a quick run while I waited for Jason to pick me up from the practice swim and then we headed back to the hotel for a quick shower and change. Seriously, choosing a hotel close to the race location was SUCH a good idea. We were never more than 5 minutes from anything that had to do with the race.

We met up with James and his fiancee before leaving for bike check-in and transition bag drop off. I honestly didn't think it would take very long to drop my bike off in transition and then set up my bags, but it took a good couple of hours. The walk from Ironman Village to the transition area was a good 15 minutes and it was the same walk we would have to make on race morning plus and additional walk from transition to swim start.

There's something so amazing about a transition area. Could it be the millions of dollars in bikes all in once place? Nah! But seriously, this was the last time I'd see my PIC (partner in crime) FeFe before the race was well on it's way. I started to feel a lump in my throat and tried to not let the nerves get to me. It helped to finally see how things would be laid out. The Ironman transition is a well oiled machine! They have perfected every last detail. Bikes are the only thing allowed in the actual transition area.

Then, you have two transition bags which are not left in transition, but are lined up by number on the path leading into transition. So basically, you get out of the water, run down the path, find your transition bag that's lined up in numeric order, then run to the changing tent, run out of the changing tent into transition and off you go! It's designed so that there is no traffic and no clutter in the transition area.

After drop off was complete we walked downtown for some lunch. We found a local which-which sandwich shop and decided to pop-in thinking it would be fast and inexpensive. Every other athlete must have thought the same thing because this place was packed with M-Dot wearing people. We sat down at the table and I asked the kids, "What do you think of Ironman?" they both looked at me, looked around and just smiled. It's so special to have an entire town of people packed in together for one awesome event. After lunch we followed James and Jen back to our cars and agreed to met up again for dinner.

We headed back to the hotel and took my daughter down to the swimming pool for a bit. It was a much needed distraction. As the afternoon turned into evening I could tell my mind was drifting toward race day. I started to feel like that dead line was inching closer and closer. We met up with Jen and James around 6 pm for a carb filled dinner at the Olive Garden and talked race morning strategy. It's felt so surreal to be sitting there about to be racing Ironman.

We headed back to the hotel after dinner with about an hour to spare before bed time. I wanted to be in bed no later than 8:30pm so that we could be up no later than 4:30am. I started my bed time routine as soon as we got back. A hot shower, to calm the nerves, then we started putting on my tritat race numbers and finally I set out my race day nutrition and special needs bags along with my tri kit and morning clothes bags. Jason and I put the kids to bed and then made it to bed ourselves around 8:25pm with a few minutes to spare.  It didn't take me long to fall asleep either, I was worn out!

Race Day

My alarm went off at 4:00 am. I usually have a hard rule about waking up before 5am, I never do it. Unless it's race day! I allowed myself to hit snooze a few times and finally climbed out of bed around 4:20am. I started getting dressed and making my usual two pancakes with Nuun for breakfast. I got a text from James around 4:40am, poor guy couldn't sleep and had been up since 3am so he was heading down to transition early. I wanted to leave the hotel by 5am but didn't make it out until 5:08am. James text me just as we were leaving to let me know there was zero traffic, but that the line for transition was already crazy long.

The age group swim start was at 6:40am so the plan was to park at the Lake Robbins parking garage near T1 at Towne Green park, drop my bottles and nutrition, check tire pressure and then go pee-oop before heading to the swim start. I still had my morning clothes bags, run and bike special needs bags that I needed to take with me to North Shore park (swim start) which was a 20 min walk from T1 and drop those off before lining up for the swim start. It was a TON of stuff to do in just under two hours.

Luckily, my husband and I decided to let the kids sleep in and it was just him and I rushing around all morning. Even now as I write this, I'm still feeling the anxiety of it all. We made it down to the swim start with just minutes to spare. My other family hadn't arrived yet, but we managed to find James and Jen. James had much more aggressive swim plan than me and was going to enter the water just behind the elite athletes. We had just enough time for hugs and well wishes and I watched him head to the water.


I took a moment to try and do a few warm ups while Jason and I anxiously waited for my family to arrive. Just as I thought I was going to miss them, they came running up! We had a few seconds for a quick pic and then I too headed down to the water.

The Swim

This race was self seeded, meaning you positioned yourself to enter the water, preferably with people who had the same swim pace time as you. The only problem was I never saw the pace times! I expected to see signs like you do at half and full marathons, but I couldn't see them. Before I knew it, all I could see were people in wetsuits which was a problem because this race was wetsuit optional and anyone wearing a wetsuit had to go LAST. I kissed my husband goodbye and waved to my family and darted into the water. It was so warm! I was actually grateful because it was calming and I'd managed to really work myself up in those last 10 mintues.


2017 Ironman Texas Aerial view of the Age Group Swim Start.
Posted by Digital Knight Productions on Monday, April 24, 2017

I wanted to get a position out to the left side of the pack where there would be less congestion. I started out very slow so that I could warm up a bit more and find a sweet spot. Just as I passed the second buoy the sun began to peak out from the behind the clouds and the water lit up. I knew right then that I was going kill this swim.

Things were going great, I was breathing and sighting well and counting the yellow buoys. Before I knew it I saw a red one! The only trouble was, I couldn't remember what that meant! I remembered the guy at the athlete briefing saying something about buoys changing colors from yellow to red to orange and that signified the half way point or something like that. I was so hot during the briefing that I wasn't paying attention. Crap! I kept thinking, "Just keep swimming!" and then I realized Ithe red buoy was the first turn buoy. I felt a bit of relief because I knew that there were only two short left turns and then a right turn into the canal. I had to be half way, right? I was still feeling great so I just kept swimming and rounded the second left turn buoy and then the orange buoys started. I thought, "So I'm not half way or I am?!" I knew this was last stretch before we reached the canal, but I didn't remember how far that was. Why didn't I study the swim course more?! I started to stress a bit about where I was. I could feel my hand going numb like it did in Austin. I tried to shake it off, but it was still there, just a nagging numbness.

The more I focused on my hand and the distance the more I lost focus on the swim, I started to veer off to the right and into the middle of the pack. I lifted my head up to sight and realized I was dead center of the pack. People were all around me and swimming into me. I could see what looked like a black buoy a few hundred yards out and knew that the canal was coming. I stayed where I was in the center of the pack to try and conserve energy, but that was a bad idea.

As we started entering the canal the space narrowed. everyone had to funnel into this tiny little canal and we were all over each other. I saw a group of people standing on the corner and thought it was my family so I sat up a bit and waved furiously at them. Suddenly, I realized I didn't know these people! I put my head back in the water feeling a bit silly and also realized I'd made myself tired trying to get their attention. I started to slow down so that I could catch my breath when suddenly an arm came crashing into the side of my head. It startled me a bit and pushed my goggle into my eye. I could feel there was a heavy suction now on that one side and my vision was SO distorted. Rather than try and fix it, I kept swimming thinking I was so close to the finish that it wouldn't matter.

The canal just kept getting narrower and narrower. Every few hundred yards felt like a mile. People were all over me and I was all over everyone else. At one point, my hand hit someone and drug across their wetsuit and I could feel my Enso wedding band slip off my finger.  I was glad it was my Enso ring and not my diamond wedding ring! I started to get a bit frustrated as the congestion became worse. Just then, I saw my family on the side lines! There were cheering so loud! It really gave me the boost I needed and I kept pushing through hoping that the end hurry up and get here already and I could hug them. The relief was short lived. Someone kicked me in the face as we swam under the bridge and I could feel an instant headache. I was now starting to get nauseous, I still couldn't see, and it felt like my eyeball was going to pop out of the socket from the suction.

Was this ever going to end?!

After what felt like a million years, I finally sighted the exit stairs and the transition area. I couldn't have come soon enough. That kick to the head made me so sick and I was honestly beginning to wonder if I could keep my stomach down. I walked all the way through the bag pick up and to the changing tent to try and ease my stomach. I plopped down in the changing tent and one of the volunteers brought me water. So good! I downed the whole cup and my stomach felt a little better. I threw on my bike shoes, helmet and sunglasses and ran out of transition.  I made a quick stop at the sunscreen sprayers and realized my tri top had rubbed my neck RAW during the swim. I let out a scream and tried to sincerely thank the volunteer as I ran off in pain. He laughed the whole time.

Swim 1:37:57, T1 00:12:31
Bike

I grabbed FeFe from transition and headed out of T1. My stomach was finally feeling good again and I was pumped for the bike. The temperature wasn't too hot and clouds had come out so I felt like we were set for a great ride. The bike course was about 20 miles of city roads leading out to the hardy toll road and then we had two 40(ish) mile loops around the toll road before finishing up on city roads and heading in to T2.
The ride out to the toll road was spectacular. There were people cheering everywhere! It was cool and there was very little wind. Even the first 20 miles going out on the toll road was superb! I was pacing much faster than I'd expected, 20-25 mph and my nutrition plan started perfectly. Around mile 40 there was the first turn-around on the Hardy Toll road. Boy was that a rude awakening! We'd had a tailwind the whole way out and were now facing strong head winds. I looked down at my Garmin a few times and realized I was only going 10 mph. I'd hoped it was my GPS was malfunction due to the clouds. In fact, I was able to convince myself that it was definitely the clouds until I made the second turn-around going back out on the toll road. The wind stopped completely! I was so relieved not to be pedaling directly into a wind tunnel anymore, but it also woke me up to the pain I'd have to face again when I made the next turn-around. I knew special needs was coming up just after the turn around (near mile 60) so I decided to fully stop to refill  my nutrition. This would give me a few minutes to break, potty, and stretch. Normally, I wouldn't consider stopping completely, but these head winds were proving to be extremely mentally and physically taxing. The break would be a welcomed sight.

I finally reached special needs and got off my bike. I was much more tired than I thought I'd be. I pulled my bike off to the side of the road next to a guy who'd actually laid down and kicked his feet up on the side wall. I couldn't tell if he was sleeping or just trying to prepare himself for the next round of head winds. I took my time, went potty, filled my nutrition, and slowly made my way back out on the course. I knew I'd lost a lot of time with the winds so I made the next 20 miles count. I pedaled my little heart out. I didn't want to over exert myself so I watched my heart rate and only made moves that were easy.

Finally, the last turn around came around mile 83. I just kept telling myself, "just a few more miles of pain. It's just a few more miles and then its over." what I didn't realize was how mentally tired I already was. My lower back muscles were starting to wear out and I could feel a dull pain setting in. Around mile 95 I made the decision to stop at an aid station to try and stretch my back out. I thought it would be a good time to try and nibble on my glukos bar too. They're hard to eat in the aero position and hadn't really had any solids on the entire ride.

I took one bite and my stomach revolted! I couldn't even chew it. It was immediate nausea. I spit it out and asked a volunteer what else they had at the aid station. One woman came up with sample cup of pickles on a serving tray. They didn't sound good in the least bit, but I knew I wasn't getting enough salt either so I figured, "What the heck, pickles are my favorite food!" I wasn't actually able to eat the pickles, but the juice tasted like heaven! I grabbed two more from the tray and slammed them like vodka shots on my 21st birthday. Hallelujah! The lady just stared at me.

I headed back out on the toll road knowing that I was pretty beat. I just needed to make it a few more miles and we'd be off this God-forsaken hurricane highway. I got to mile 100 and saw the last turn around and toll road exit. I began cursing and really found myself just pissed which was odd considering I'd finally reached the end of the toll road. I remembered my coach mentioning that extreme emotion would be a good indicator that I needed to eat. ha ha ha Hangries anyone? I gulped down as much of my Tailwind nutrition as I could and exited the toll road.

The remainder of the ride was so beautiful. There were still some strong winds, but the city roads leading back to transition were flat and fairly easy after the wind tunnel. I finally reached T2 and felt my eyes water up. I was looking frantically for my family. Any sign of them would have been exciting all on its own, but I was so overwhelmed by the crowd that I just sat up out out of the saddle and started yelling, "Whaa Hoo!" and gave the hugest fist pump. The crowd went WILD! Man, and Ironman crowd is like no other.

I jumped off my bike and handed it to one of the volunteers. I took the time to walk all the way to T2 rather than risk injuring myself from running in my cycling shoes. As I headed down the path, picked up my T2 bag and entered the changing tent, I could tell parts of my body were pretty well chaffed. Chaffing isn't usually something that I have to deal with in training so, I was pretty surprised.

I quickly threw my knee brace on, grabbed my Tailwind single sticks, and filled the Nuun water bottle and headed out of T2.

Bike: 07:37:39, T2: 10:15

Run

The run was a three loop (roughly 9 miles each) course. It's incredibly spectator friendly so I knew I'd have lots of support. I still hadn't spotted my family and began to worry that I wouldn't be able to find them. All the same, I was still incredibly grateful to be off the bike and in my running shoes. I knew coming into this race that the run was going to be the slowest of the three sports. I'd come to terms with the fact that my knee just wouldn't allow me to run at the pace that I'd wanted to. Heck, the longest training run I'd done was only 9 miles so I knew that much of this run would be unknown territory. I just decided to let myself take it one mile at time without any expectations.

I started out in great spirits. The crowd down at the waterway was so alive! There were music stations everywhere and people were packed like a concert. I swear I had the biggest grin on my face. There was so much energy and so much happening that you didn't even realize you were so tired. I looked everywhere for my family, but it was so densely packed in some areas that I figured they may have been stationed on the back end of the course.

As the course exited the waterway path there was a bit of a short (but steep) uphill climb out of pathway. One of the female volunteers stationed here was helping athletes climb up in her sexy nurse halloween costume. She was all boobs! I couldn't help but chuckle as I passed her the first time.

After we exited the waterway path the run course took us out to the roads and neighborhoods of the Woodlands for about 6 miles or so. There were a couple of sections where the course ran down a wooded pathway which offered complete coverage from the sun. I felt so nice in those trees! Around the first 5k I had the pleasure of meeting the Catapult racing team. Chris and Jarrett were leading blind athlete David. It also just so happened that they were running at the perfect pace to keep my heart rate where I needed it to be so I decided to hang out with them for a while. We ran and I learned a TON about being a race guide. Did you know that they run with a blocker? Which is what Jarrett was. The blocker runs in front of the blind athlete and the guide who is tethered to him with a rope. He just basically blocks the way so that the athlete and guide can run unobstructed. Team Catapult was a welcomed distraction the first loop. I never saw my family and was trying to stay focused on my pace and heart rate instead. I knew I had another 18 miles on the second and third loops to find them.

Before I knew it we were coming back down to the water way and all that energy again! I saw my friend James as I was passing the finish/second/third loops split. He was headed into the finishers chute. While I was incredibly proud of him, I also realized that I had TWO more loops to go. UGH!

Around half way down that the waterway I FINALLY saw my family! I just ran toward them with open arms. I stopped and hugged each one of them and took my time. It's such a relief when you finally get to the see your support crew and those few seconds can really energize you for a while.

I stayed near team Catapult as much as I could on the second loop, but I could feel my feet beginning to get sore and had to take a few walk breaks. The back end of the run course was all streets and neighborhoods. People were all over the place just cheering in the their front lawns. The sun was starting to set and the more I saw people out on the course the more I wondered who would still be out there on my final loop. More importantly, I wondered how much light there would be.

We headed back down to the water way to start our final loop of the run and that's pretty much where things started to fall apart for me. I'd maintained my target pace up until this point and I still felt really great. The sun was finally setting and the street lights were coming on. All down the waterway people were beginning to become scarce. I don't know what it was, but I could feel a deep fear and anxiety sinking in. I knew that once I left the waterway and headed back out on the street there would be dark wooded paths and empty streets where there had been loud cheering people before.

When I got to the last stretch of the waterway just before the steep climb with the sexy nurse, I spotted a familiar kit. I looked a little closer and saw a Love the Pain/Mojo race kit and yelled, "Mojo!". It was Jesse from my Mojo race team!! We'd never met in person, but I knew the kit and I knew he was a fellow teammate. It so awesome how you can connect with people on the course like that. We both headed up the hill and I noticed that something didn't feel right in my knee. I stopped and noticed that it had begun to swell. I still wasn't hurting very much, but I could tell that it felt stiff and little wobbly.  That anxiety/fear I'd had felt earlier was sinking in even more. One of the spectators saw me examining my knee and yelled, "Last lap! Get out there and crush it!" Just then a lady ran by me putting a head lamp on. The spectator yelled, "There you go! Run with that lady!" so, that's what I did! ha ha ha I had to gallop a bit side to side to get going, but I caught up to her. I introduced myself and we made friends! Her name was Julie and she was my run buddy for much of that last lap. I  needed her right then. People were scattered all over the place and the course wasn't nearly as congested this last loop. I'm grateful I met Julie out there in the dark because she was just as chatty as I was and needed to walk as often as I did.

By this time my knee brace had started chaffing the sides of my knees as it continued to swell. I could feel my hip flexors getting intensely sore and the soles of my feel just ached! The bones in my foot felt like they were spreading apart. I knew that I would hurt on the run but I'd never felt like this on a run before. Julie and I stayed close to each other as we went down the wooded pathways. The miles seemed to pass so slowly. I'd averaged the last two loops in about 2 hours each but I'd slowed down so much now. I walked most of that loop and when I did run, I had to wobble side to side to get my momentum going and it didn't last long.

The wind stated to pick up and the temperature dropped. I knew i needed to keep moving or I would get cold but I just couldn't make my body move. Everything seemed to stop working. As I entered the neighborhoods I stopped at one of the porta-pottys and realized I lost control of my legs and everything below the waist really. It felt like I almost pee'd my pants and I couldn't control my legs or hips to sit. I just plopped down on the seat! Ewwwww!

After the bathroom break there was an aid station. One of the volunteers yelled, "Warm chicken broth!" and ran toward her like cat running to tuna. I'd heard that the chicken broth would come out after dark and was told that I should drink it. I believe the exact phrase was, "Don't ask questions, just drink it!" so I did. oh em gee!!!! It was like heavenly nector! I'd been downing sweet tailwind all day and this warm, savory and salty broth was just what I needed. For those of you doing your first Ironman....
As I made my way back to the waterway I could tell I was getting tired. I could feel myself getting cranky and kept hearing my coaches voice telling me to eat. I was so cranky at this point that I didn't care! I just wanted it to be over. I wanted to cry  but I didn't. I was too afraid the loss of fluids would do me in so close to the finish line. 

The last couple of miles of the run were pure torture. Literally. There was no joy on my face, there was no smile and I didn't want a single person talking to me. One of the younger volunteers ran a bit with me and just cheered for me. It was just me and her running along side me (galloping) and she was so sweet and so encouraging. In my head I was thinking the WORST thoughts but I kept thanking her. Everyone kept yelling, "You're almost there!" but it felt like I wasn't and it was making me even more frustrated. Eventually, I got to the last half mile and I knew I'd made it. I was hurting so much but I knew that I could walk the rest of the way and be just fine. I started to smile again! I could hear the crowd cheering as I neared the finishers chute. All of a sudden I felt a bit of energy again and I started running. It hurt like hell! I didn't care though. I knew I'd see my family, I knew it would finally be over and I knew I'd be an Ironman. So I ran. I ran with all my heart. 

As I rounded the corner to the finish line I felt like the light shined so bright. There were people standing everywhere. I felt like I was entering the gates of heaven and I (jokingly) wondered if I'd actually died out there on the course. My eyes welled up with tears and I just stretched my arms out and high fived everyone in the crowd.

I cried and ran all the way down the carpet. Just before the finish line I saw my family. They yelled at me to push on and finish. Then, there I was, under that ever sought after Mdot finish line archway and I heard Mike Reily, the voice of Ironman, say those magic words,

"Priscilla Askew, YOU are an Ironman!!!"

I just cried. That's all I could do. As I walked past the finish line, one of the volunteer catchers came running up with a foil blanket and water. I was so dazed at this point that I didn't even know what I was doing. Thank goodness for that volunteer! My family made there way to finish line and all I did was look back at them and wave. I was so out of it. The volunteer said, "Is that your family?" and I said, "yea". She laughed and said, "Do you want to go say hi to them?" and I replied, "No its ok." I quickly snapped myself out of it and realized what I was saying. I turned to walk toward my family and just cried. I was Ironman! I hurt more than I ever thought a human body could hurt. My knee was swollen, my feet felt broken but my heart had never been so full. 


Run: 06:23:44

Finish Time: 16:02:06

I still can't believe I did it! Here is a quick recap of my day composed by FinisherPix


And of course, you know I had to get the tattoo!

My take away from this race was to have persistence and be grateful every single day. Especially when things get tough. With everything I've been through since tearing my ACL on new years, I never once gave up. As long as the doctors told me I could do it, I kept pushing on. I'm so thankful that I did. Everyone has a special journey to Ironman and mine was no different. It was special. It was a gift. I can't explain it. To be able to do something of this magnitude is a HUGE gift. You work so hard and there are so many times that you just feel tired and like you just want to give up. But you don't. You learn lessons, you push yourself, and you learn so much about what what your capable of. Likewise, I've come along way in my journey through life. From depression, self-harm, and addiction to medication. I've learned to be persistent in my pursuit of happiness and I've learned to be grateful for this gift of life. If you had asked me 10 years ago if I'd be here today, I wouldn't have even imagined it was possible. That's what's so beautiful about the journey to Ironman. Anything is possible!

Happy Running Friends and may your wildest dreams become a reality,
Priscilla

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