Friday, June 12, 2015

Pinch Me - Ironman Australia

This pretty much sums up my feelings as race day approaches!
-photo credit for ALL images on this post: Darrell Nash/Nashyspix
Yes, it was a very good day when I landed in Port Macquarie. The entire town embraces Ironman and truly pulls out all the stops to put on a tremendous race. There is simply a difference between racing an inaugural race and one that's been around for thirty years. The race crew and volunteers turned this little Australian town into an absolutely magical place. Leading this crew was my amazing homestay. Darrell picked me up from the airport and from then on I received nothing less than their red carpet treatment. So, before I get into the race report I must give a heart felt thank-you and bravo to them!

Darrell Nash/aka: Nashy has a killer photography and framing business. He was incredibly gracious with his time both leading up to the race and during. It is with great honor, to his work product, that I provide my race report mostly through his lens.
Despite the monsoon rains that started five days before race day, I really enjoyed training in Port Mac during the lead up to the race. I was feeling better than I had any other day since IM Taiwan, and believed I was capable of pulling off a dominating race. My head and heart was in it!
Photo by: Darrell Nash:
During our recon of the bike course we stopped for an impromptu photo shoot. I surely wasn't "model ready" in terms of hair, make-up, etc. but Nashy knows how to capture a great shot. 
Photo by: Darrell Nash:
The scenery certainly doesn't disappoint here! The photo backdrop below overlooks the southern tip of the bike course. I enjoyed looking out at the course with nothing short of complete anticipation! 
Photo Credit: Darrell Nash:
Before the race I had the opportunity to speak to kids at a local elementary school. It was the highlight of my trip! Let me tell you, the questions these kiddos asked had me laughing for days! I told them their job was to make me smile during the marathon. Despite my frustrations out on the run course these kids lit me up. I have already forgotten my spits and race time, but this experience will remain embedded in my heart forever. THIS is what it's all about! 

Race Day: 
The rain finally let up a few hours before the start and we absolutely lucked out with weather on race day.  (PS: I learned that in Australia they say "lucked in" to express being lucky, whereby "lucked out" means unlucky. Seems more logical than our reasoning). 
After a solid warm up (yes the fear of bull sharks entered my mind while out there solo), hugs with friends/competitors, a few adjustments and prayers full of thanks I was ready to rock.
2XU/ Pre-race:
Left: I swear I can never get my timing chip on right the first time. Quick adjustment before go time.
Top: good luck hug with Christy Sym. Great to have you back healthy and racing again my friend!
Bottom: Legend, former champion, and rockstar gal Lisa Bentley returned to celebrate the race's 30th anniversary.  
ROKA: The water was incredibly disgusting (and likely polluted) from all the rain, but no complaints here- I was thankful to be out there. I got out in front quick and then faded a bit before hitting the stairs that we had to go up and order (twice). 

From this point on I just sat in with the chase group and remained there through the rest of the swim. Nothing exceptional, but was in a fine place as we set out on the bike. 
Check out that clean water!?!?
Specialized: I tried to stick to my race plan for the first 30 miles. Unlike in Taiwan I was able to get my heart rate and power on track. I felt I was riding well and pushing hard. I reacted well to people as they came by and things seemed to be clicking by just fine.
The course is two loops with some good rollers and one steep short climb. I made the final turn around at the far end of the course and started to feel the effects of the poor road quality. I was warned about the rough road and trained on similarly surfaced roads in Noosa. The chip seal and rough ride certainly takes it's tole and with 1+ hour to go my legs and gluts were on fire! 
Thankfully the Cobb fifty-five saddle kept saddle comfort in order.
 With 20miles to go my stomach started to rumble. I was ahead of my fluid needs so slowed consumption through the duration of the bike. You can see in my face (and bloated stomach) that things were not all smiles over the closing miles.
Overall my feelings about the bike are abysmal. I was riding very well a month+ out from race day but since leaving for Taiwan my output was sub-par. I am determined to make things click on the bike when race day rolls around...sadly it just wasn't happening here. 

Brooks: The three loop run course is fairly flat with only one slight climb on each loop. The first loop proved most difficult for my stomach. Sadly I was in and out of the port-o-potties. "Shut up stomach, what is your deal?" Digestion problems are not typically an issue for me.
After the first 10k things started to improve a bit and I was able to put together a decent pace. Michele Wu caught me and I sat on her shoulder for almost a full loop. The pace honestly felt too slow, but I figured the top 3 had too much of a gap on me so I had to secure my position. With five miles to go I got ahead of Wu at an aid station and before I knew it had put in three minutes on her. I was feeling better over the last 10k than I had in hours. My typical run pace and cadence started to click...better late than never?? 
I remember telling myself that if I could hang on to 5th this would be a finish to be proud of.  I was humbled and reminded how grueling this race is and the roller coaster of emotions that comes with Ironman racing. I had big goals for this race, but in the end fifth it shall be. Indeed I am proud to have made it to this electric finish line!
It was sad that this Australian adventure had to come to an end. I am so thankful for the time I spent in this beautiful country. I met some absolutely amazing people during this journey and will forever hold them in my heart. I can't thank the Nash family enough for your hospitality and friendship. 
...and with that it was back to reality...

Friday, May 22, 2015

THE Land Down Under. Australia Part I

The sport of triathlon has brought countless amazing Aussie's into my life. They truly are some of the most warm and inviting soles of whom I'm fortunate enough to have as close friends...I mean mates.  I feel incredibly blessed that 2015 was the year I got to spend 3+ weeks touring the land down under.

Ironman Taiwan didn't go as planned, but I didn't blink twice...I had another great opportunity standing in front of me. I left Taiwan and headed straight to Noosa, a quaint beach community 1 hour north of Brisbane. Noosa is the home to many of triathlons legends, both past and present.
During the 10+ days I spent in Noosa I spent as much time resting as possible. Eat, train, sleep- that's the dream, right?!?!? Oh no wait, it's the life of most other pro triathletes - aka: my competition. Time to embrace the opportunity!
While I was riding high and completely content in the moment, the emotional and physical tole of recent life events started to get the best of me.  I found myself dragging through training sessions, and unable to hit training metrics that should have been easy.  Looking back I think I only had one good ride and one good run while I was there. Coach Tim was back home scratching his head and asking "why?" Meanwhile I just kept sleeping and trying to get everything aligned for the race ahead. 

I absolutely loved my time in Noosa. Every ride was a new adventure to spot Koalas and kangaroos.  After the first few rides I started to focus more on the power versus simply searching for Koalas and Kangaroos. My surroundings were breathtaking indeed.

Many sunsets spent doing TRX at the beach
Love Australia - where long course is the norm!

 The weather was spectacular the entire time I was there. The birds sang every morning to wake me up to get my training day started. I enjoyed the time spent with Mel and Jared and am so appreciative of their amazing hospitality! Thanks mate!
Afternoon coffee with Mel and Jared
1mi open water swim race on the beach
where 70.3 worlds will be in 2016

Training was pretty off, but I tried not to let it get to me. Instead I rested when my body craved rest and pushed when I was able to. On my last day there we drove down to Mooloolaba for a 1 mile ocean race. I knew the Aussies were amazing ocean swimmers and enjoyed seeing their ocean skills first hand. The kids race was beyond adorable! Their love for the ocean is contagious. I had a strong race and felt things might just be ticking in perfect time for the real race the following weekend. Time to head to Port Macquarie. Ironman #18 awaits...and this time I was surely going to find that finish line!

Up next: Port Macquarie and Ironman Australia race report. All part of my journey! Thanks for reading.  Cheers to you.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Relish In The Moment...Despite The Odds

The past month has truly been a dream come true.  While it didn't start out that way I did my best to turn it into everything it could be. Here's the story...and the deep-down-honest back story.

When I first conceived the idea of racing Ironman Taiwan and Ironman Australia three weeks apart I am not sure I really thought it would happen.  It was more a figment of my imagination.  Time, money, logistics, work, training for back to back early season ironmans - it all needed to be accounted for and factored into the equation. After returning from our QT2 pro training camp in Florida I wasn't sure the fitness piece of the equation was accounted for. I needed a few solid signs to make me believe I was (2x) race ready.  During my final training block things really started to click. With the flick of a switch my heart began to sing and I knew it was time to commit to my first attempt at back to back Ironmans.

The original plan was to fly over to Taiwan, back to San Francisco, and then over to Australia 2 weeks later. However after considering the tole this would take on my body (time changes), and discussing things with my coworkers we decided I would head straight from Taiwan to Australia and work out of our offices there. The puzzle was coming together and with it my mental state turned from self doubt to complete confidence and excitement. Up until now the idea of training and racing over in Australia was only a dream. I was so excited that the packing and planning started two weeks out from my travel day.  My spare bedroom turned into piles of cloths, tri gear, and (an insane amount of) food.

After completing my final training block I just needed to get through the work week, by day, and find a way to fit all of those piles into my suitcase and bike bag, by night. The thing is, life has a way of always keeping us on our toes, keeping us guessing, and testing our character.  I walked into the office Monday morning knowing I had a mountain of work awaiting me. My body was exhausted, but I couldn't let that get in the way of what my mind had to accomplish before jet setting.
I hadn't settled into my work day too long before a strange buzz began around the office. One by one employees were given the "thank you for your service, let me show you the door" speech. You could hear a pin drop in the office. Those remaining stared blankly at each other. We were suppose to be celebrating the acquisition of two new companies. "What the H.E.L.L is going on?"  I wasn't first, so when the text message came through asking me to head up to the executive suites I knew what was coming...I was next.  I've never been part of a large lay off before. Accela was very different than the law firms I've worked for in the past.  Together we built this product and company from the ground up. My co-workers were true friends of mine. This is simply part of the process and casualties that come with acquisitions. It's all part of the game when working in hyper growth software industry. However this didn't make me feel any better. I was quite simply devastated.

I called my parents, but couldn't even get the words out of my mouth. My high and excitement for the races and travel ahead came crashing down. In the matter of five minutes I went from cloud nine to red lined. I didn't care one ounce about triathlon. I cared about my friends who were out of work. I cared about my career and my next steps. Yes, this career is the one that is first and foremost in my life. It only takes a second to remind me what is truly important in life. Sorry, triathlon I love you with all my hear, all my sole, and every single tiny muscle fiber....but you aren't the be-all-end-all for me. You aren't my whole life. As "Lunch Money Louis" sings "I've got [law school debt] bills, I've gotta pay"..."I got [triathlete hangry] mouths I gotta feed."

Pack, fly to Taipai,  2  days in Taipai
before heading south to the race site in Kenting
So those who follow my training and race journey know I obviously did make it to Taiwan, and from there Australia.  It wouldn't have happened without my adoring family and closest friends.  The days between the lay off and departing CA were anything but easy. I prayed every second of every day that God would tell me if I was intended to travel to Taiwan and/or Australia. I have to thank some very special training partners who sat and prayed with me after finishing our weekly 10x400m swim set.  This act of kindness and unselfishness truly made my heart start believing I could get on that plane in two days time.  To my friends who came over to pack my bags for me and drive me to the airport, you rock! I spent the next 3+ weeks thanking each of you for the experiences.  It made sure to embrace these experiences with a "clear eyes, full heart, can't lose" mentality.

Pack up. Ship out. One job... Ironman racing was it.  Once in Taiwan I was greeted by the a member of the Cobb Cycling family, Winston Tam and fam.  I am absolutely positive there couldn't of been a better welcoming after the week I just went through. I hadn't slept much and on the way to the airport threw my back out trying to load my (way) over weight bag into the car.  After a few days settling into the time and climate change in Taipai I packed up again and jumped on the train to Kenting (far south end of Taiwan).

The race organization pulled out all the stops to welcome the professional athletes. I greatly enjoyed some much needed days of relaxation at the Howard Beach Hotel (pictured on left). By race day I was ready to rumble. Let the past sit in the past. Time to live in the present.  The race itself was quite the experience. I have now learned you have to expect the unexpected when it comes to racing first year races especially when they're in a second/third world country.  I'd survived IM Fortaleza for heaven's sake. I would be just fine with whatever came my way here in Taiwan. The course was no joke! Wow, it is the craziest ironman bike course I've ever raced. Narrow roads, plenty of climbs followed by winding descents, and more three legged stray dogs than you an count. Hold on TIGHT! Let's do this...
The swim was a very sub par performance for me. I lost the feet of the front two, and found myself pulling four of the male pros for the rest of the swim.

Once on the bike I fought through the very hilly first half of the course. While the course spiked I did anything but. By all measures (heart race, power, perceived effort) I was flat.  Furthermore my aching back wasn't really enjoying all of the climbing.  Once into the final 60 miles my legs decided to join the party and I finally was hitting AND holding my target power numbers. The last 60 miles was a three loop section close to transition. I built each loop and entered T2 feeling confident for the run.

Sadly the run went backwards. It just never came around. I assessed things and realized that even if I threw down a great closing 10k I wouldn't of been happy with my finish. With that I decided to call it quits. 6 miles away from the finish my heart was already in Australia. I don't walk off an Ironman course - that isn't who I am! But I also didn't come to Taiwan to finish 5th or 6th. It was time to cut my looses and regroup for the next opportunity in 3 weeks time.

I don't always air my "dirty laundry" via blog posts. However this is what makes me real. This is why I can relate to the challenges so many of you face on your way to your Ironman starting line.  We all have obstacles in our lives and carry so much on our shoulders. Once the gun went off I know I gave it my all.  While it wasn't the race I was searching for, Taiwan truly allowed me to relish in THIS moment. THIS challenge. THIS opportunity!  The memories leave me without regret. I have a deep appreciation that God's love drove me to fly across the world with my eyes wide open.    I mean where else would you see signs like this:

Really? Good to know!
A huge thank you to Winston Tam, Margaret Wang and their adorable son Wesley! Your hospitality truly made my time in Taiwan so special. Thank you Judy and Greg for all the memories of our beyond crazy course preview via Taiwanese taxi.  That 3 hour car ride will keep me laughing for years to come. Thank you Shiang Tsao and your unbelievable Ironman staff for easing the stress of traveling solo half way across the world to a non-English speaking race destination. You were amazing! To my sponsors who acted more like family that ever, you own a piece of my heart.

It's all about the journey!  This was far from the end of this journey. Stay tuned for chapter 2: Ironman Australia.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Down for the Count

This was my office for week one of the off season.
In comparison to the length of the "season" my time off is incredibly short.  That said when you go from training 25+ hours a week to ZERO, three weeks is closer to eternity.  QT2 athletes get very serious about the off season. It isn't a time to swim, bike, run, jog as you want. It is a time to do none of this - not easy, not light, not at all. Get the drift?! I know the body needs serious time to heel but I certainly created havoc for Tim. No matter how many times I begged to go for an easy jog the answer was always the same: "no." I never got an explanation, just a "no" or sometimes he'd spice things up with a longer "absolutely not" response.

For the first week it was very easy to chillax. Following Ironman my brother and I took off for Cumbuco.  Cumbuco is a very small beach community with fierce trade winds that draws in kite surfers from near and far. Besides one post race recovery float (how could I resist - check out the pool/scenery at our hotel) the entire week was dedicated to making sure the beach chairs didn't fly away.

I am very appreciative for my time in Cumbuco, as it allowed me to experience Brazil outside of Fortaleza.  There were several more "is this for real" moments, but by weeks end we were no longer taken back by the sights and sounds that are Brazil! I mean it isn't every day you seen painted donkeys on the beach, or chilling next to the market.

After playing Ironman sherpa for a week it was fun watching Matthew surf in the open ocean - it is after all where he feels most alive.

Despite the 30+ hours of taxi's, flights & trains I was ready to get home by weeks end. United States of America, you sure are a wonderful place to call home!

I had two more weeks to get fat and out of shape.  I fought Tim over and over but he was there to remind me that my body gave me 3 Ironmans in 7 months. So like-it-or-not it was time to repair and rejuvenate.  As Thanksgiving neared I finally got Tim to crack and let me run a turkey trot Thanksgiving morning. I drove down to San Jose to toe the line in the Silicon Valley Elite 5k road race. I warned the race director that my performance would be ugly, and even if I was still fit I had no business racing professional runners who specialize in races with a duration of under 15minutes.  They insisted I join them so I jumped on it, swallowed my pride, and gave it my all. After all, I was after all finally moving again.
My performance was just as pathetic as anticipated but I loved every second of it. These girls are the real deal!  Thank you to the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, and race director Carl. From the second we arrived Wednesday evening they rolled out the red carpet. (If only Ironman showed this kind of love towards their professionals).   This short 3.1 miles hurt like hell. After a short cool down it was back to the couch for a few more days.

My time off made me realize how many hours there actually are in a day! It isn't easy for me to kick back and chill, but it sure is nice to have energy and not feel like I'm part zombie.  I offer you 10 things that are different during the off season:

1) I read more over the last 3 weeks than I have all year;
2) Slept in until 8 or 9am every morning! That's 4 hours longer than normal. If only we could stock pile sleep;
3) Stayed up past 9pm. (maybe this is why #2 was possible);
4) I finally unpacked boxes from my move 2+ years ago and turned my second bedroom into a bedroom/office instead of a large storage closet;
5) Shopped in real stores. Amazon is my savior, but it sure is nice to actually see what I am buying before it shows up at my doorstep;
6) Found time for arts & crafts and baking fun things I never would of indulged in while trying to make race weight. Who am I?!?!
7) Ate a normal volume of food - as in 3 meals a day instead of 8;
8) I had enough energy to walk across the grocery store parking lot vs circling 10 times waiting for the closest possible place to park;
9) Enjoyed daily coffee and wine dates with friends. Let me tell you, I soaked this up, and enjoyed time to just relax without rushing off the my next workout or work....all the while thinking "so this is what normal people do;" and
10) I found time to update my blog twice in one week!

With that's it's time to get back to work. Tomorrow my 2015 season begins. Goals are set. Time to DWIT (do what it takes) to reach them!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

An Adventure for the Ages - Ironman Fortaleza

This post simply can't do justice to my recent trip to Fortaleza Brazil.  It was an experience for the memory books & quite the adventure, that's for sure!
Professional athletes have different criteria for choosing races than age groupers. ,The first two criteria I look at is race timing and predicted conditions. Fortaleza promised many conditions that typically play in my favor: non-wetsuit rough swim, extremely hot and windy bike, and brutally hot run. The timing of this race gave me enough time to get in a few solid training blocks after IM Louisville, and enabled me to finish my season before late November (which then opens up early season racing options for 2015).
One thing my brother and I do not have in common is our
tendency for adventurous eating. While Matthew sampled the
local cuisine pre-race I stuck to cooking at home &
fresh coconut water every chance I got. 
I knew what I was signing up for when I entered this first year race. So...let me first set the scene: Fortaleza has a population of 3.5 million (= significant traffic) with a per capita income equivalent to $6,000 US dollars.  Now do you think this combination leads to a society ready and waiting for Ironman athletes to take over their roads?  Another key element is that I don't speak Portuguese.  In short, I knew I had to pack my patience and brace myself for what could very well turn out to be a complete "shit show."  This approach turned out to not only be beneficial but vital!
Downtown Fortaleza
The week leading into the race was relaxing and calm. I owe much of this to my rock star bro. It is easy to get frustrated when you can't speak the language, don't know your way around, and question your safety within your surroundings. Having him there was incredibly helpful at navigating the logistics leading up to the race.
Don't let the calm water behind me fool you.
That only lasted for about 200m.

I thankfully linked up with (english speaking) Luciano at Barcellos Sports (bike shop).  He took me out to drive the bike course so I was better prepared for race day.  I tried not to be nervous when he told me that his car was equipped with bullet proof glass. My response: "wait a second. I certainly won't have bullet proof protection around me when I'm out there on Sunday." I'm all about expecting the unexpected, but..... I left this exchange out of any conversations I had with my parents pre-race.

Due to the extreme wind and heat the race started at 5:50 for the professionals and 6am for age groupers. Thankfully I adjusted to the time change quick and was ready to roll.

Swim:  The swim was the most vicious I've ever done.  Current, swells and constant chop.   I got off the line well and fought to hang with the guys surrounding me. After the first 200m we were out into the open ocean.  The instructions were to swim out to a "boat" since they weren't able to keep a buoy in place that far out on the course. Once there I severely questioned whether we had gone off course. This said "boat" was more like a piece of wood with a stick coming out of the middle, holding a piece of cloth (the sail).  We made the left turn in search of one more turn buoy before heading back to safety.  While out in the vast open ocean I realized there was no other sign of life out there. No kayaks, no paddle boarders, nothing - just us amongst the elements...hoping to survive (yes this sounds dramatic, but talk to anyone who did this race and they'll agree).  The middle of the swim was about staying calm and not letting mind run away from me.

ROKA definitely impressed me. I  swam better than ever this year &
capped it off will a killer swim in Brazil. 
I lost feet and was swimming alone towards the swim exit.  It felt like I was in the water for 1:10 not :52!  I was absolutely clueless where I was in relation to the other girls.  I jumped on my bike and heard Matthew yell:  "2nd, less than 2 minutes down." I knew it was swimming superstar Haley Chura ahead of me, but couldn't believe I kept the gap so close.  Rock on!

Bike: The bike course took us through town before making our way to a 4 lane divided road. Imagine riding through New York City with only an orange cone every 100 yards separating you from impatient crazy drivers.   We completed 2 loops there before heading back into town. The wind was howling from the beginning, but I'd been training in strong winds in the weeks prior so felt right at home. My heart rate monitor wasn't working so I relied on my power and perceived effort to guide me.  Not ideal. Stay calm.  I felt comfortable (thanks to a recent change to the Cobb Fifty Five saddle!) and strong.  I sat in 2nd until Mette Moe passed me around mile 30.  Matthew was out there yelling at me (and my American cohorts of course).  I have to admit that at times my mind wandered to the fact that he was driving amongst this mayhem.  It was great to see him periodically and know he was still alive.
Thanks Kevin Brooks for finalizing my look with a sweet
CLIF Bar custom helmet!
We were told at the pro meeting that we shouldn't worry about traffic because there wasn't much traffic on Sundays.  Well, I sure hope they have a differing opinion now.  Instead of giving bikes one side of the divided road and cars the other they had us riding on the left/inside lanes and cars on the right/outside lanes.  Traffic was bumper to bumper, often swerving in and out of the designated bike lanes.  20 police officers and an orange cone every 100 yards just wasn't cutting it.  You can't blame the locals for their frustration. I really think the City just isn't equipped to (safely) put on an Ironman and there wasn't enough time to educate the community about what was to come.  I have to believe that Ironman sold Latin Sports the license but no one from IM went out to examine the race site. There is no way anyone with an ounce of sanity would believe this was a good idea. (Yes, I thought about leaving this out of my report, but I'm always one to state the truth! I have a lot of patience for new races, and all the hurdles race directors have to jump through but not providing a safe bike course is something I have zero patience for).  There were areas with unavoidable broken glass and shredded water bottles (from being run over by cars after discarded by the athletes).  Despite having to slam my breaks and scream bloody murder no less than 6 times I never lost my cool or let the chaos affect my performance. It really was pure comedy! I point all this out not to complain, but to display how essential it is to expect the unexpected and stay calm no matter what.  I was prepared for this. Maybe I couldn't really imagine the exact obstacles and dangers we faced, but I was ready for anything that came my way.  I was calm the entire ride and had a level of focus and execution I haven't had in the past. It was great to later see my power file confirmed this. Whoop whoop.
At mile 60 I saw that teammate and friend Jessie was moving through the field and closing in. I  held her off until around mile 95 and rolled into T2 in 4th.  I flew through transition with complete confidence that this would be MY race.

More of a grimace than smile at this point.
Run: I started the run with a water bottle that was frozen when I dropped it off pre-race.  Sadly it was now reaching it's boiling point so I discarded it.  Although I got my heart rate back for portions of the bike it never clicked on during the run. Time to run by effort and pace.  Usually I have to relax and hold myself back through the opening miles. This wasn't the case and quickly I had reason for concern. Half way through the run I gave in to my stomach discomfort and made a few quick stops to relieve myself.  I prayed this would turn things around, and willed myself to put in a solid effort to try to narrow the gap.  It didn't help that aid stations were way too far apart considering the heat and intensity of the sun (2k).  While I never felt dehydration I found myself constantly craving more fluids to cool my core temperature.
The conditions were brutally PERFECT for me. Heat, humidity, no cloud coverage, and some wind mixed in there. Sadly my legs never came around.  Every fiber of my being wanted to get back on the podium. Sadly not a single fiber was willing to fire in order to get me there.  Matthew was there giving me splits and trying hard to motivate me. He was all over that course. Eventually I confessed to him that my only goal was to make it to the finish.  26.2 miles sure is a long way to run when every single second is a battle of wills.  I finished 5th and soon after collapsed.  I gave it everything!

The day did not end as I had hoped it would. I was fit, strong and ready for this race. The reality is somethings we fall flat despite not having any real answers for it.  This is part of Ironman racing, and the reality is we only get a few shots every year to put all of our hard work to use.
Matthew and I escaped the city and spent the rest of the week on the beaches of Cumbuco so he could enjoy what he really came for: the kite surfing.  I spent this time searching for the positive take aways from my race - and there were many.  For the first time I was in a position to compete off the bike.  I was possessed with focus and execution on the bike that was vastly different from any prior races.  Coach Tim was quick to remind me where we were one year ago.  I'm back in the mix and have a lot to look forward to next season. Most importantly, I BELIEVE in myself now more than ever!  and this, my friends, is huge.
Ironman Fortaleza Champion: Haley Chura. HECK YES!
She absolutely crushed this race from beginning to end.
Inspiring & Impressive! So stoked for you my friend!
Brazil was quite the adventure and something I wouldn't take back for anything. The race had it's faults but I made the most of everything that came my way.  Thank you Brazil for my craziest race experience to date! I now know I can handle anything that comes my way on race day.
Standing on stage with friends, teammates, incredible athletes and amazing
women is something I will NEVER take for granted. 
I'm now in the thick of my off season! When I say "off" I mean off. Nada. Nothing. Zero athletic activity.  I'm 2 weeks in and have one more week to sit on my butt. It is not easy and I'd do anything to go for a run but know once I start the season it's game on! So, sit I shall.
Congratulations to everyone who completed IM Fortaleza. It was brutal out there.
2014 is a season I am ridiculously thankful for! I'd say the 2014 season is one to smile about. When it comes to my excitement for the year ahead, I think this picture sums it up.
All laughs and smiles from that podium. We earned it! 
To my sponsors who supported me all year I am beyond grateful! You make this sport about so much more than myself, and in turn motivate me to dig deeper, find faster, and believe!