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Oh Darling, Let’s Be Adventurers!

May 27, 2017 Fear, Freewheeling, Fun 1 Comment

We are nothing if not adventurous, Greg and I. Booze and snacks aside, I’d say that adventure is somewhat of a defining quality in our relationship. From running and kayaking (and faulty spray tans!) on our first date, to SCUBA diving the day before our wedding in Belize, to our triathlon escapades, to pretty much every trip in the van. Who am I kidding? Relaxing in our backyard hot tub turns into an adventure around here.

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10 years of adventure: 2003 – 2013

It’s something I really like about us. Greg has brought out the adventure in me, and I like myself more because of it. It requires one to have the “I’m up for anything” mentality, which is sometimes hard to come by. Finding happiness in being up for anything requires that you not let yourself attach too much expectation to the outcome. I think that’s where people get hung up.

Remember how fun this was? Me either.

Remember how fun this was? Me either.

I was feeling stale with things at the end of 2015. Everything seemed to be the same-old without any big prospects on the horizon. Don’t get me wrong; I wasn’t looking to sign up for another Ironman or have kids or anything crazy like that. I was considering volunteer opportunities. I was considering learning a foreign language. I was considering looking for a new job.

I mentioned my feelings to Greg and he confessed to feeling the same way. I shared my ideas and he introduced another: taking a year off to travel. I paused and spent about 23 seconds to consider all of the possibilities before yelling, “AREYOUFUCKINGKIDDINGME?!?!? YESSSSSS!”

And then I remembered who I was dealing with. So I reined it in, like, “I mean, that would be fun. If you think so. I’d be game. I don’t know. I mean…”
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His first idea was to buy a boat and sail the Mediterranean, but we quickly abandoned that plan and opted for traveling around Europe in a new, custom-built (by him) campervan. He said it was something he’d been giving some thought to for a while. He was about to celebrate a milestone birthday and it might be a fun way to shake things up.  It would take a lot of work, a lot of planning, but could really be fun. I think I cried happy tears, then I started making lists.

The adventure has begun, as you have seen with the new van being built. We’re also riding the documentation roller coaster with having our birth certificates and marriage license apostilled, trying to finagle a long-term visa without a residence/address, getting all of our adventure gear over there (four bikes, four sets of skis, kayaks, necessary clothing/helmets for these sports, etc.), and making sure Miles has the appropriate authorization. We’ve said from the very beginning: If Miles doesn’t go, we don’t go.

And then there’s the adventure of what to do with the house while we’re gone — to rent or to sell? We’ve decided to rent and are working to find renters within our network (rather than the scary Craigslist universe). Things look promising after calling upon my Facebook network for help.

Everything is falling into place, as it tends to do when you research and plan like crazy. After more than a year of scheming, it feels surreal that it’s actually happening. We bought three one-way tickets to Germany today.

Here we go!
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The Best $12 I’ve Ever Spent

January 24, 2017 Family, Fear, Freewheeling No Comments

Dad and I rolled out of Kansas City at 2 PM on Tuesday, September 6. I had mapped out our route, but we had no set plan for the trip. By that, I mean that I didn’t have an idea of how far I wanted to make it on any given day. “As far as possible” is the closest thing I can give you as an answer to that question.

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I needed him to drive the first leg for a couple of reasons:

  1. I was really scared of driving this behemoth.
  2. I needed to go through all my emails with the salesperson at the dealership to figure out how this van could have possibly been ordered without cruise control. In taking possession of the vehicle, the first question I asked when I sat in the driver’s seat was, “Where’s the cruise control?” When I told Greg the bad news, he texted back to say he was “distraught.” Ugh.

Dad drove through the first tank of gas, which was 217 miles. In that amount of time, we realized that it was too noisy to turn on the radio or listen to an audiobook or podcast. It was basically too loud to hold a conversation at all. I was stressed, so was he. Not the super-number-one-good times we had hoped for. On top of all of this, my dad is 72 years old and had a nasty summer cold. Yay.

We stopped at a Casey’s General Store in Kingman, KS to fill the tank and get some much-needed provisions: a styrofoam cooler, ice, Mike’s Hard Lemonade, and Budweiser. The outside temperature was over 100*F coming across the west-facing Kansas plains and the wind was blowing like crazy. Keep in mind, we’re in a black metal box with no insulation or soundproofing.

I took over the wheel and got us to Texhoma, another 230 miles, which involved a late night thunderstorm and crazy cross-winds. It was not an easy drive, to say the least. But I am goal-oriented to a fault, and it felt good to check the boxes crossing from Iowa (my parents’ house) to Missouri (dealership) to Kansas (lunch with aunt and uncle) to Oklahoma (60 miles across the panhandle) to the Texas border in one day. We stayed at a very clean and comfortable hotel and got a good night’s rest to continue on our journey.

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We were up early the next morning for more of the same. There was a strong cross-wind, but we got lucky that it was an overcast day. I drove 12+ hours that day — 865 miles without cruise control — taking us from the Texas/Oklahoma border to Boulder City, Nevada.

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We were, of course, on Route 66. We knew we needed gas at some point, and there were hundreds of billboards littering the highway advertising their wares (as well as fuel, though prices were not always given). The highlight of that stretch was pulling into the Flying C Ranch, only to find that the gas was at $0.56/gallon higher than it was elsewhere along the route. Blasphemy! We saw that and I hit the gas on our way out of there, unintentionally spraying other weary travelers with the muddy water from a puddle. I legitimately felt/feel bad, but that gave us a much-needed laugh!

We stopped down the road at Clines Corners (where we probably paid just as much for gas). We also secured some M&Ms and a Mexican blanket that served as a barrier between the cockpit and the black hole that was the rest of the van. It helped the situation so much. We honestly couldn’t believe how much “soundproofing” this very primitive solution provided. That’s the best $12 I’ve ever spent. I’m sad I did not get a picture. We probably looked like fugitives driving down the highway in a windowless van and a Mexican blanket behind the cockpit!

Handy little compartment for my M&Ms.

Handy little compartment for my M&Ms.

Dad splurged for rooms at a historic hotel in downtown Boulder City, Nevada that night. We were hoping to meet up with Greg’s uncle and aunt, but they were otherwise detained. I made some wrong turns on my run the next morning that sent me farther than I wanted to go, and that set us behind on our plans to meet up with Dad’s 92-year-old sister in Las Vegas. Visiting with Maureen and her family was the most important stop on our trip. While we got there late, we had a very nice visit; it will possibly/probably be the last time we see her. What a blessing!

I’m going to add this tidbit here, mostly so that I remember it: We were sitting at an outside cafe in Boulder City, having a nice dinner and enjoying the fresh air. Dad made a point of stopping me in conversation to tell me he was proud of me. That he never once felt scared with me behind the wheel, and that I must have felt scared when he was driving (which was true, making me even more scared to drive). That it’s a tough rig to drive in these conditions and that I was doing a good job. I may be 42 years old, but sincere praise from my dad still goes a long way.

From there, it was more of the same for the next 600 miles. Me driving, Dad looking happily out the window and remarking as he saw fit:

“Why is that fence there?”
“Who put that highway there?”
“Why are there so many trains going this way?”

“That mother fucker doesn’t know what he’s doing. Get around him, and quick.”

So what I’m trying to say is: I own the highway. I am at one with the truckers. But only because of my dad. In all honesty, this was the best thing that could have happened. As not-fun as it was for either of us, I got really comfortable driving a really uncomfortable and out-of-my-comfort-zone vehicle. If Greg had taken possession of the van and driven it home (even if I was with him), I would not have driven it because I would have been too afraid. I needed to do this.

My dad’s words: “I’m never going to drive this vehicle again. You need to learn to do this.” He was right, of course, as dads are. He taught me, and he did it in a way that didn’t make me feel stupid or inferior or that I should somehow know how to do this already, having never done it before. He taught me to use the mirrors for maneuvering on the highway, to park in less-than-ideal situations, to park the rig in my own very tight driveway!

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Vans aplenty!

Greg wasted no time getting to work. Dad and I rolled in on a Thursday evening and Greg got to work the next day. We’ve documented the process, which I’ll share here, of course. This is where the real fun begins!

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Raccoon Underground Railroad

March 25, 2016 Fear, Fun 1 Comment

I got home around 10 PM last night after having dinner with a friend. It was late-ish for me, but Thursday is my Friday and I’ve had a particularly momentous week and life is good right now, so I wasn’t quite ready to join Greg (and Miles) in bed. Instead, I opted to sit in the hot tub and listen to one of my meditation podcasts to end the night. After undressing, I put on my fluffy robe and went out to the hot tub. I disrobed and lowered myself into the 104* water. Ahhhh.

As I was getting out, I picked up my robe and my phone managed to slip down the crack between the tub and the deck. What are the chances?!

I’m a problem solver, so I instantly thought of the “grabber gadget” someone had given me when I was broken. I knew right where it was in the basement (even in the dark) and retrieved it quickly. Only problem? My phone somehow landed several inches away from the space and I couldn’t reach it with the grabber. Fuck.

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I thought about my options:

  1. Go into the garage and try to find heavy gauge wire and stick it down the slats of the deck to try to scooch my phone to where Greg created an access point for the sprinklers, a distance of about two feet and a corner.
  2. Leave my phone overnight and get it in the morning. Leave it on the wet ground underneath the deck, with the meditation podcast still running.
  3. Crawl under the deck to retrieve it.

I chose Option 3.

I donned a headlamp and nothing else to army-crawl under the deck in the very dark night to retrieve my electronic device that I apparently cannot live without. SOMEONE MIGHT TEXT ME BETWEEN NOW AND 6:30 AM, YOU GUYS.

There were probably raccoons under there. They run rampant in our neighborhood and like to taunt the dogs, so I’m pretty sure our under-deck area is a rest station on the Raccoon Underground Railroad. There were certainly spiders and maybe even snakes and slugs and snails and rats and mice and I don’t even want to think about what else. I made myself one with them. Me and my headlamp, army-crawling toward the soothing voice of the meditation podcast. I made eye contact with none of these things, thankfully.

Of note: when I say “army-crawling,” the actual maneuver was more like a forearm plank, tip-toeing myself forward to the phone and then backward to get the fuck out of there. So basically it was a bonus workout for the day. No wonder my abs are sore today.

My phone and I were reunited and at this point, and I was bare-ass freezing. I needed to get back into the hot tub, obviously. But I couldn’t get in with under-deck dirt and muck all over me. It would be a waste of precious water and time to come into the house to take a shower, just to get clean enough to get back into the hot tub.

Being the problem solver that I am, I turned the hose on and “showered” with freezing cold water in my driveway. Then I got back into the 104* water and giggled at my antics until my soothing meditation podcast was over and I went to bed.

P.S. No one texted me.

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Looks Are Deceiving

October 23, 2014 Fear, Fun No Comments

“I don’t want to do this. I HATE a free-fall.”
“It will be fine. It isn’t a free-fall. It’s a swing.”
“No. Look. These people free-fall and then it catches at the bottom and they start swinging. I hate the free-fall. You just look at the ground until your line catches. No.”

This has been the dialogue between me and Greg for the last two years regarding the Xtreme Skyflyer at Great America. We are lucky guests of GoPro for the launch of their new cameras (this year, the Hero4). I was so relieved last year that we chose not to wait in the 45 minute line to do this crazy free-fall “ride.” This year, we were basically bored with the other rides (you can ride Flight Deck and Gold Striker only so many times) and were willing to stand in line as long as we had full drinks.

My stomach was clenching the whole time. Greg was fine. It’s fun! It’s not as bad as you think it is! 

We fiiiinnnnnaaaallllyyyy got to the place where they suit you up. Greg and I looked at each other with a slight lack of confidence when he couldn’t get his suit on correctly and the twenty-something worker used gestures instead of words to help. Then we got to the loading area. More instructions, including, “Put your hands on your harness and don’t touch anything else.” Then they put tension on the cord holding us so we were suspended in the air, face down. Instinctively, Greg reached out to hold the barriers around us.

First rule in whatever-the-fuck-this-is? FOLLOW THE RULES. They are about to drop us from 153 feet at 60 mph. Do as these twenty-somethings say! Hands on your harness, not the barrier!

It was our turn. I’m nervous. I had been nervous for two years. I need to pee. I disclaim that I might pee during the fall.

They start hoisting us up. And up. And up. And up. It’s SO. FUCKING. HIGH. By now, it’s also dark. Other than the “splat zone” below you and the roar of the Gold Striker coaster nearby, there’s nothing.

Over the loud speaker: BETA: 3-2-1- GO!

Greg pulls the ripcord and we — you guessed it — FREE-FUCKING-FALL 153 feet until the cable catches and then we start swinging.

I did not pee my pants. I also did not ever let go of the full nelson elbow-hold I had on Greg. He did not seem to want to let go of me either, so we were good there.

We got done with the ride (~2 minutes of “fun” for 40 minutes of waiting in line) and walked out of there. Assessing what just happened, we were talking over each other with the following:

Greg: That was WAY worse than I expected.
Molly: That was WAY better than I expected.

I couldn’t believe it! For me, the worst was them pulling us up to SUCH GREAT HEIGHTS on the cable. Falling was scary for sure! But since the catch wasn’t so jarring, the experience exceeded my expectations. Maybe it was that my anticipation of the free-fall-into-the-catch was going to be much more abrupt. Maybe it was that I had enjoyed a number of glasses of wine before going on this ride. The world may never know.

The real surprise was that Greg’s experience was so much worse than his expectation. Greg said he HATED the free-fall, looking down onto one spot on the ground at such a high rate of speed with no tension on the cord. For whatever reason (??), he did not think there was going to be a free-fall at all.

So, what I’m trying to say is: I was right.

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Because it’s 90 degrees in October

October 13, 2014 Family, Fear, Fun No Comments

We have had summer-like weather here for the last two weeks. Actually, with temps in the 80s and 90s, it has been even hotter than our typical summer. Truth be told, as much as I love hot weather, I am ready for the season change. And by that I mean I’m tired of my summer clothes and am ready to pull out the skinny jeans and boots.

Hot weather is best enjoyed on a boat with a cold beverage in-hand. Better yet, find someone to tow you behind the boat so you can enjoy the cool water in the hot air. That’s exactly what we did in Okoboji in August!

My niece and her friend are — how can I say this without making them sound like pansy-asses? — not thrill seekers. They loathe things that go fast or are unpredictable. It was with much trepidation that they got onto the huge two-person tube and saw Greg getting behind the wheel of the boat to drive. Muah-ha-ha-ha-ha! Their fear was warranted. 

Turnabout is fair play, obviously, so Greg willingly jumped in to take his turn on the big tube. It being a two-person ride, all eyes were on me to join him. I wasn’t planning to get in the water that day, so much so that I was not wearing a bathing suit. I wouldn’t let that ruin everyone’s good time, so I yanked off my shirt and jumped in with my shorts and bra on — all in the name of fun and spontaneity!

I like roller coasters and enjoy a controlled adrenaline rush like a haunted house, but I will admit I was scared. I think what scared me most was that a 12-year-old was behind the wheel of the boat and she was out to get Greg. She knew it would take a lot to scare that adrenaline junkie and she was going to find his edge.

Mission accomplished.

We would be giggling along and everything would be scary-in-a-fun-way until she would make a very big turn at top speed (30+ mph), sending us out of the wake of the boat. The giggling would go from fun to HOLYFUCKWE’REGOINGTODIE in one ha-haAAAAAAAAAGH!

Thankfully Greg was calculating physics in his head amidst all the fun. More than one time, I’d be giggling/shitting my pants and he’d call out, “I’m going to kill you!” Which wasn’t to say that he was revealing his long-term plans for our relationship. He was being literal. Lauren was sending us over the wake (and out of the tube) in the direction that Greg and the tube would be hurtling over me. Applying the particular law of physics that mass * acceleration = force means that he could literally kill me. Now that’s just family fun right there!

Using all of his might and limbs, Greg was able to get himself out of his side of the tube every time Lauren did this and we were uninjured. Seriously, there’s nothing this man can’t fix or (in this case) prevent!

The most surprising thing of all was when Lauren wanted to get back in the tube to ride with me — under the condition that her mother do the driving. Smart girl! I coaxed her into going a little faster than she was originally comfortable with, and she found that faster is better than slower. It makes for a much smoother ride!

We gave Mendy the thumbs-up, which she took to mean “GO FASTER!” (Which was my plan all along!!!)

Shit got real. And fast. AIRBORNE!

Lauren quickly changed her tune on the merits of going fast. The next time Mendy started accelerating, Lauren was very clear about her thoughts. Check out that scowl!

All in all, it was a super fun ending to a great visit to Okoboji, and one none of us will quickly forget!

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Yeah…so

February 7, 2013 Fear, Fitness, Fun No Comments

That whole Wildflower thing. Yeah.

You know what slapped me in the face last year? Everything is relative. When I battled the Wildflower Long Course last year, it was The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Done (–> at that time). I got to Mile 12 of the run and declared to my friends, “I want to die.”

Now, Wildflower is only a 70.3 triathlon. That run — as brutal as it is — is only 13.1 miles. My whole frame of reference since the day I completed Ironman Canada 2012 is, “As long as I don’t have to run a full marathon after [whatever it is you want me to do], I am good to go.” And you know what? Almost no one asks me to run 26.2 miles in addition to their original request.

The race is May 4, so I’ve got ~12 weeks to train. I’ve stayed active through the off-season, especially with HIIT workouts and running. Swimming and long-distance biking? Not so much. In fact, Monday was the first time I had been swimming since September. But that’s the beauty of the human body and mind. There is muscle memory, and all those muscles do remember.

Plus, the party that always ensues at Wildflower is worth it!

 

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Eating My Words

February 5, 2013 Fear, Fitness No Comments

I’m eating a few words I spoke last year, and it’s going to be a big meal.

How many calories does fear burn?

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38

December 4, 2012 Family, Fear, Friends No Comments

the number gets bigger. older.

it’s better than the alternative.

i’m so grateful for all that i have — my health, my family, my friends, my work, my accomplishments.

what matters? what doesn’t matter?

these are not rhetorical questions.

GO.

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5 Years: Invalid to Ironman

September 18, 2012 Fear, Friends 2 Comments

It’s a little hard to believe that in five years, I went from this:

To this:

Also, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO RYAN!

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Ironman Canada – RUN

September 17, 2012 Fear, Fitness, Friends, Fun 1 Comment

Read about my Ironman Canada SWIM and BIKE first!

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I rolled into the Bike In area and was able to dismount from my bike without falling. I looked at this as a good sign. The very nice volunteers were there in a flash to take my bike for me. I had my wits about me enough to remember my pill bottle before they whisked it away. I knew I’d need those salt tabs!

A volunteer was ready with my transition bag and I headed to the women’s changing tent, contemplating what was ahead of me. Who am I kidding? I had been contemplating this for all of the last year: running a marathon. I had never run a marathon before. There had never been a desire to and I can honestly say that my sentiments had not changed, even as I was staring it in the face. It was 3 PM. I’d been racing for almost 8 hours already and still had the hardest part to finish.

A very nice volunteer named Heidi was helping me. She got me a cold water. I had lost my Chap-Stik somewhere on Richter Pass and really wanted something to soothe my chapped lips. She brought some Vaseline. As she helped change my shoes, just like a mother does, she said I was doing great. “You are killing this! There haven’t been very many women through here yet!” I looked right at her and started to well up, admitting I was afraid of how bad the marathon would hurt. She said, “You are doing this. You are going to be an Ironman!”

I believed her. I knew I would finish, and probably ahead of my expected time of 14 hours — unless the wheels totally came off during the run. It has happened before. I tend to fall apart on the run. I stood up and bent over into a downward-facing dog pose, stretching out my hamstrings and back. I did a ~30-second pigeon pose on both sides to stretch my glutes and hips. I’d been seeing an ART specialist to help the pain and fatigue I was having and I knew this run would put that work to the test. I took off my extra pair of cycling shorts. I donned my visor and grabbed my handheld water bottle. Heidi hugged me and I exited the tent. I stopped at the bathrooms and made my way out of the transition area onto Lakeshore Drive. Here we go!

Official T2 time = 8:00
Greg’s T2 time = 3:08
Kidder’s T2 time = 7:03

26.2 26.6 MILE RUN
The run course travels on Main Street toward Skaha Lake. The streets were lined with spectators and signs; the sounds of cheering and cow bells filled the air. There’s so much excitement for these first 2.5 miles that you kind of forget you’re running. This is a good thing. The course winds through city streets and back to Lakeshore Drive to add distance, and as a precursor to what is to come at the finish line. It feels like you’re going out of your way and you are.

The mind games begin.

From there, the course is an out-and-back along the lake. Once you get out of this section of town, there are several blocks where it’s pretty quiet. My mind seduced my body into walking “just for 30 seconds” to bring my heart rate down. Walking felt great. I started running again after 30 seconds, but I was like a junkie waiting for the next hit. I couldn’t stop thinking about the next aid station, where I had already planned to walk. I made it there and blissfully squeezed ice cold sponges over my head and wiped my face. I drank a cup of water and convinced myself to start running again, though I already knew I wouldn’t make it a full mile before giving in to walk.

I saw a sign up ahead that was very clever, and I smiled thinking of how it described me perfectly. And then I realized it was my cheering squad and they had made the sign for me! Kirsten was a good sport and ran with me for a few yards, saying I looked great. There was a lot of energy at that corner and it helped to propel me forward.

There were aid stations at every mile and I walked through them; I tried to keep walking to a minimum (30 seconds or less) in between the aid stations. Around Mile 5, I began to have the sensation of needing to pee every time I was running. If the bathroom at an aid station was open, I went in to go to the bathroom. Nothing would come out. I’d start running again and the sensation would come back. Dehydration.

I was taking salt pills every 3-4 miles, I think. I didn’t have a strict plan. I was eating watermelon at the aid stations. I had a few glasses of Coke and salty chicken broth, just trying to stay hydrated. I even had a cookie at one aid station. It was probably a horrible cookie on any other day, but right then it tasted like the best cookie I’d ever eaten.

Running by Skaha Lake, the crowds dwindle a bit. The scenery is gorgeous, but it’s when those mind games start to really fuck with you. As you can see in this picture below, Greg (and every muscle in his body) is on the threshold of his pain cave.

When I was running, I’d look at my Garmin and see that I was running at an 8:30-8:45 pace. In this situation, that pace just isn’t sustainable. So then I’d have to walk more often. I would give anything to be able to drone out a 10-minute-mile and call it good. I was contemplating this during a walk break as my biking buddy Tory passed me. I acknowledged him and we ran together a bit, discussing the allure of the 10-minute pace. He was rocking it. I was failing. As I shamefully began walking again, Kidder caught me! I ran with him and we chatted awhile, commiserating and questioning our sanity for embarking on this in the first place. I just wanted to be done.

That was Mile 9. Remember Wildflower and me saying, “I want to die” at Mile 12? Well, I was pretty much reliving that scenario now and I still had 17 MILES TO GO.

All the time I’d been running, I was looking for Greg on his return trip. It was here that I saw him and yelled. We met each other on the center divider of the highway and hugged. He was coming into the home stretch! He looked good, though said he was really losing steam now. I could relate…

I don’t really remember getting to the turnaround, other than I’m pretty sure there was a big hill somewhere in there that everyone was walking. Our Special Needs bags were at the halfway mark and I used it as an excuse to walk even more. So pathetic. In my Special Needs bag, I’d packed a lightweight long sleeve top, an extra pair of socks, and a Ziplock full of more salt pills, pain meds, and Band-Aids. I tied the shirt around my waist, refilled my pill bottle, and discarded the rest.

The turnaround point is a mental milestone and I tried to use that to my advantage. I caught up to a guy I saw on the way out and started chatting with him. Jason. Jason is from Kansas City, so we had even more in common than just the craziness of completing our first Ironman. We were working together on our run/walk breaks to keep each other honest in running longer than we were walking. We’d go through several minutes of silence and I’d suggest we focus on the positives. “What are some good things right now, Jason? We have to focus on the good things.”

It isn’t dark yet.
It isn’t raining.
Neither of our nipples are bleeding (like the unfortunate man who just ran past us).

Around Mile 19, I looked at my Timex for my overall race time.  11:35. With ~7 miles to go, could we finish under 13 hours? It would be close. Jason suggested we discuss our chances while running instead of walking. I concurred.

As we passed the 12-hour mark, another athlete looked at me and said, “This is such a long time to be exercising.” Truer words have never been spoken.

When I was walking, it was a fast walk. Somewhere in the 12:30 pace. I’d wait for Jason to start running again and catch up to me. I got a little bit past the Mile 22 aid station and turned around to coax Jason to start running again. He waved me on, “Leave me! You go! I’ll see you at the finish!”

It was very soap opera-like (in my head). At this point, everything was overly dramatic. I was on my own.

I just kept doing the same thing. Running as far as I could, then walking as little as I could before running again. Our race bibs had to be on our fronts for the run, so all of the spectators and aid station volunteers were encouraging me by name. “You’re almost there, Molly!” By this time, it was dusk. The reality of the finish was *right there* and yet so far away. The volunteers at these aid stations were phenomenal. I made a point to thank them as I walked through.

You just keep going because there’s nothing else to do. I didn’t want to be doing this anymore, but the only way to not be doing it was to cross the finish line. It was as simple as that — almost. Remember that dehydration problem? I had several major muscles that were threatening to cramp up on me. Quads, hamstrings, calves. At that point, walking would be the only option and I’d be lucky if I could walk if one or more of those muscle groups seized me. I just kept sipping the water and broth at the aid stations and hoping I could make it 2 more miles. A runner collapsed in front of me, overtaken by a cramp. The volunteers helped him. He kept hobbling on.

By this time, I headed back into the gauntlet of downtown Penticton. When I ran through this at the beginning, I knew it would suck ass on the return trip and I was not wrong. By sucking ass, I mean we all had to go out of our way to get to the fucking finish line. Let me be clear that the spectators were AWESOME. They brought so much energy and enthusiasm, and I’m pretty sure I would have sulked to the finish if it hadn’t been for their belief that I CAN DO IT like they promised me I could.

I willed myself to run through this section just so I didn’t look like a total asshole in front of all these people who were out here cheering me on. Of course, I was keeping an eye on my watch to see where I was compared to my 13-hour goal. I got to the T-intersection where I soooooooo wanted to turn RIGHT and go into the finish line… but the course route took us LEFT for another six blocks. We then did a tight U-turn in the middle of the road, so we were looking at finishers on our way out and looking at those behind us as we were on our way into the finish line. I saw Jason there and we high-fived each other. Comrades!

I had passed the 25-mile marker and looked at my watch thinking could easily break 13 hours in 12 minutes if I only had 1.2 miles to go. But my watch said I was at 24.6 miles. It became very clear at this moment that the course runs long. These are probably the worst four words that have ever been uttered. I had been planning on a certain trajectory and I knew I’d have to over-compensate because of this.

Fuck.

The spectators were screaming at me. I wanted to scream back, “I’M DOING THE BEST I CAN!” But at the same time, I knew they had already moved on to the next athlete and I needed to focus on what I was doing. So I focused on running. I looked at that finish line and focused on it. I watched that clock ticking down and mustered every ounce of energy that I had no idea was there. The crowd was tremendous fuel to my fire.

I love this sequence of pictures:

And of course, Jeff’s video:

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MOLLY SWEENEY, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!

Things went downhill from there (see also: dehydration), but crossing that finish line was a glorious moment. I told the people catching me on the other side that I WOULD LIKE TO SIT DOWN NOW, PLEASE. They asked if I wanted to get my photo taken first. Yes. Yes, I would like to document this moment. So I went from bent-over, near-vomiting to this:

I’ve got the trying-too-hard-to-look-happy crazy eyes going. Otherwise, not bad… all things considered. Greg’s finisher photo looks more like a person actually feels: relieved and happy to be done! And why not, with a 10:51:57 time?! I’m so proud of him!

** of note, we both bought all of our (respective) professional photos taken on the course. These are legit! **

Many of you have asked about the recovery. Alas, the recap of the run has been a saga in itself, so I will save that for another post.

Thanks to everyone who came on this journey! I loved knowing that every time I crossed a timing mat that you would know I’d made it to the next level of the game. Since I finished an hour ahead of schedule, I love that my mom was tracking me from Iowa and *happened* to be watching the live finish as they said that “Molly Sweeney — all the way from San Mateo California” was going to be the last finisher under 13 hours.

Official run time = 5:05:43 / 11:41 pace
Greg’s run time = 4:04:21 / 9:20 pace
Kidder’s run time = 4:31:10 / 10:21 pace

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