This week, I was inspired by this e-mail from Caroline Gregory - Congrats Caroline!
Around November of last year one of my favorite training buddies said to me: you CAN qualify for Kona. It was something that I just didn't think would be possible- especially with how tough it is getting and how fast the times are these days! Oh and never mind the fact that I was beginning my career in an incredibly demanding and stressful field! I then went off to Clearwater and had an ounce of reality as to my true potential. I realized I had become a lot faster on the bike, and had finally regained some of the running potential I had in my college days. Thanks to Vickie I kept telling myself: "you can qualify for Kona, you can qualify for Kona, you can bike faster, you can run faster...oh and in swimming you can race to your potential."
A month ago I just missed qualifying at a half Ironman on the big island. I was now 100% convinced I really could qualify and I was way more determined than I had ever been. So I signed up for the last chance to qualify at a half- Buffalo Springs 70.3 in Lubbock, Texas. I had 4 weeks to recover, find some speed and taper. I was feeling great and way faster than I felt going into Honu. Then one week before a van turned right in front of me while I was out riding my P3 and I went down hard.
The whole week I could hardly peddle or walk. What had been the day before a very easy 30 minute bike ride now killed my knee. I decided I would give it my all and I never stopped reminding myself how bad I wanted to get to Kona. The conditions were ridiculous for TX! Very windy (oops I brought the wrong wheels!!!), and it was pouring down rain for the entire bike. I thought TX was supposed to be hot and humid!
I FINALLY had a great swim and came out of the swim with another girl from my age group- 26:10. The bike ride was so tough. I was scared to death of crashing (after all it was my first time back out on my bike and riding with any kind of speed). I handled the wind ok considering I was riding a deep dish front wheel and a disc. My knee was throbbing and like I said, I didn't want to go down. I was holding my own but had been passed by another girl in my age group and thought I was in 5th. That wouldn't cut it!! Then I got a flat with 10 miles to go.
I slowed down quite a bit but kept riding to T2. I told myself the whole way back that no matter how my knee was feeling I was out here to race...so I better run my ass off to make up for the bike. I hit the ground so thankful to be safely off the bike! And run my ass off I did! I have never been so tough in my life. My knee was better than it had been that entire week but at no point did the pain go away.
When a girl in my age group tried to pass me I tucked behind her and stayed with her until I could make a pass and run away from her. Unlike Honu, I raced every girl, guy, dog, cat, buffalo, and flea on that course. We turned the half way point and the girl still didn't notice I was right on her ass. She stopped for water and I couldn't just stop so I took the chance to run away. I thought for sure she'd be right back with me, because she was running holding me to a faster pace than I thought I could hold and she looked so smooth. But I looked back and 2 more girls were out of sight! I realized I could break 1:40 on the run for the first time so I just ran every mile as fast as I could. I refused to look back and regret not giving it everything (like I did after Honu). I knew there was one or two girls ahead of me. I couldn't find the finish line soon enough. My legs were thrashed! And that is how it ended: 3rd. I went to awards and enjoyed making the podium for my first time (at a major Ironman event) in this age group.
Then there were 3 spots left for the females (65-69, 70-74 and the hand cyclist spots went unclaimed). The first went to the 40-44 2nd place girl. She earned it and was elated! The next two spots went to a girl from the 35-39 age group..... AND MEEEEEEEEE! I took it and RAN to the table to pay. I didn't believe it was really true. I was in total disbelief and shock! I got the paper work, they wrote down my entry, the check was paid in full AND I QUALIFIED FOR KONA!!!
I am still in shock and just can't believe this dream has become reality. I knew in the swim God was telling me that he believed I could do it and He knew I could tough this out! I crossed the line and knew I was as tough as I could be...and then some. I wished the rain would have let up and I could have hammered more on the bike- but then again everyone else wished for the same thing. I couldn't sleep at all last night and have had a permanent smile on my face! I'm going to race in Kona!!!!! For all those I know who have been, I have so much respect! I know that the course and the Kona conditions will require this same degree of toughness...and I now believe more than ever that I will be ready!