My Worst Nightmare Comes True…..

It’s odd how for a couple of weeks now I have been debating returning to my blog.  Well it looks like that time has come, not quite for the reasons I would have hoped, but nonetheless.

Since the Ironman I’ve been taking it much easier then when I was training for the event (and the scale sure does show it, sigh). I’ve enjoyed the lack of pressure though to follow a schedule. I have learned though that I do much better when there is a plan to follow. I’ve run two marathons since the big day…. The Steamtown Marathon on in my current residence (Scranton, PA) and the Atlanta Marathon (took advantage of being in Atlanta for work and stayed the weekend). I definitely had some challenges during both races but really just tried to enjoy the day and not care about my time. Both times ended up being fair given the challenges that the day held. I was just happy to finished my 12th and 13th marathons and add another medal to the collection!

This past week I decided I really wanted to start getting back in it and knock off a few of these pounds I had put on. Monday I hit the treadmill at the gym for a few miles (which I never do) but it was late after work by the time I got back and I also wanted to do some lifting at the gym. Tuesday morning I woke up early to hit the streets of Buckhead (part of Atlanta) near my hotel. It was still dark out but there was a ton of other runners and cyclists out on Peachtree Road. I caught an awesome sunrise at the end of my run as well! That same day after work, I hit up a local Planet Fitness to spend some time on the Arc Trainer. I also did some weights after as well as some ab work (even though you would never know lol). Wednesday morning I had to be at work early so a morning workout was just not in the cards. I thought I would force myself to workout when I got back after work, but I just couldn’t help but passing out in my bed. I was so exhausted. I went to bed at 6pm that night and pretty much slept until my alarm went off the next morning. Knowing that I hadn’t gotten a work out in the day before, I had my alarm set for 5am.

At about 5:30 am I threw on my running clothes and laced up my sneakers. I was wearing a pair of black Lululemon shorts and had on my bright yellow race shirt from the Steamtown Marathon which was designed to honor the victims of the Boston Marathon. I LOVED that shirt, one of my all time fav run shirts. I left my hotel room and started to head to the elevator. I got half way down the hall and realized I still had my engagement ring on and debated whether or not to go put it back in the room. Although I was in a relatively safe part of town, I still thought I shouldn’t risk it. I went back to my room and put it in the room safe. Ok, I was ready now. I took the elevator down to the lobby and walked outside. It was obviously still dark, which I expected, but what I hadn’t expected was the ground was wet. It clearly had rained over night and was still misting a little. I debated to myself going back up to the hotel gym and running on the treadmill. I remembered how much that sucked on Monday and told myself I was already outside and to toughen up and go. So once that pep talk was complete, I turned on my Garmin and waited for the satellites to acquire.

At 5:43 I hit the start button on my Garmin and headed down Lenox Road towards Peachtree. That entire stretch is uphill and enough to get your heart pumping. I reached the top and made the left had turn onto Peachtree Road in front of the Lenox Mall. I then approached the intersection. The intersection where my worst nightmare would come true. I was about .65 miles into my run and my guess is about ~6 minutes. It all happened SO fast but I will share what I do remember. It was a long intersection in front of the W hotel. The intersection had a crosswalk and a sign to indicate when it was the pedestrians turn to walk (this is a heavy pedestrian area). I looked up and saw I had the white walk sign, I also glanced both ways in the intersection and there was no sign of any vehicles. I entered the intersection and I’m pretty sure I made it at least half way through the intersection before BOOM! I honestly had no idea what had just happened. I felt a huge thud, and heard one too. I soon realized what was happening and that I had been hit. I smashed my head and then rolled off the car onto the road.

I don’t think I lost consciousness but a lot of things are still pretty fuzzy. A guy jumped out of the car and started yelling. I was already in tears and just trying to process what had happened. I remember standing there with my phone in my hand (which I always try to run with just in case) and trying to unlock it and call 911. The guy kept saying it’s ok, it’s ok, you are ok. I clearly knew I was not and kept trying to dial 911. He kept trying to touch me and I kept pulling away. I was definitely hysterical and he tried to calm me down but I had zero interest. I think I now know why I wasn’t able to unlock my phone, i kept dialing 911 as my unlock passcode rather than the actual passcode. It never phased me to hit the emergency button, clearly I was shaken up and not really thinking logically. I remember the guy kept telling me to get into his car and wait. I was at least smart enough to know that wasn’t a good idea. He kept asking and asking and I kept yelling no. I wasn’t about to get in a car of a guy that just hit me so he could drive my body away and dump me in a ditch somewhere (my thoughts at the moment). In true endurance athlete fashion, I remember then reaching down to stop my Garmin from recording my run (because obviously my time mattered, lol).


Evidence of my epic fail of a run 😦

I was thankful then that a couple of cyclists riding by stopped. I believe they are the ones that finally called 911. The one cyclist brought me off the road over to the sidewalk to sit and wait. He really tried to calm me down, which was no easy task. Especially as I looked down and saw my shirt covered in blood. I then touched my head and it was completely soaked in blood. It was then that I realized I was severely bleeding from my head. My hand, wrist, and arm were pretty scraped up too from where I finally hit the road. The kind biker told me to stop touching because it was only getting me more worked up. A few other runners had stopped too by now and were standing there looking at me. Eventually someone went to the hotel and got me some towels to wrap around myself to try and keep warm. I was really starting to stiffen up and the pain was really becoming unbearable. While we sat there waiting, the cyclist asked me if there was anyone I wanted him to call. I said Jason and dialed my phone for him. He told Jason I had been hit by a cab while running (I definitely don’t remember it being a cab, in fact I couldn’t even begin to tell you what the vehicle looked like, other than it was a car). Jason remained very calm when he handed me the phone and he asked if I was ok. He told me to stay calm and follow what they told me to do. I think this is when the ambulance arrived. (I never got a chance to thank the cyclists for all they did for me, I’m hoping that when I get the police report eventually I can figure out who they are so I can thank them myself).

The paramedic asked me my name and age and then moved me into the ambulance to look at me. After just a couple of minutes, he told me we needed to go to the Emergency Room and asked me if I had a preference. I asked him to use his own judgement since clearly I didn’t know any differently. I remember asking about a police report, but he told me the police hadn’t arrived yet. I asked if we could wait, but he informed me that I was heavily bleeding from my head and there was no time to wait. He said the police would eventually meet me in the ER with additional information. On the way to the ER I called my parents house to let them know where I was headed. My dad answered and I told him what happened, clearly they were still sleeping. Eventually he put my mom on who was very worried (by nature). I tried to calm her down. I even had the paramedic in the back of the ambulance talk to her to tell her I was going to be ok. I told them I would keep them posted as I knew more.

Eventually we arrived at the Atlanta Medical Center Emergency Room. I was wheeled into the hospital and suddenly surrounded by numerous cops with guns. Hmm, ok. I guess this is “normal” protocol in their ER. Please. Get. Me. Out. ASAP. I was wheeled into a room and a doctor came in to talk to me. He already knew what happened and starting to examine me. He pressed on all different parts of my body and I was in so much pain. He laughed and told me, if you think this is bad just wait until tomorrow. Awesome. He then started to move my hair around to look at my head. He responded with oh man. You got it pretty good (gee, thanks buddy). He was like we may need staples. Staples? in my head? Are you friggin kidding me? He said ok, well I can’t get to your head like this, so i’m going to get someone to shave some of your hair. Oh great, this keeps getting better.

In the meantime, a police officer came into the room and wanted to update me on the scene and provide me the case number. She was super nice. She told me that they had already reviewed the video camera footage on the scene to confirm that the driver of the car was at fault. It was nice to hear this confirmation, even though I was confident that I had the walk and there were no cars in sight when I looked. Now that I look back, I don’t even remember ever seeing any headlights coming or even hearing the car. Which is super weird since the streets were pretty calm given the time and I wasn’t listening to any music or anything. So weird. He must have really approached fast.


I’m not sure why I thought a selfie shot was a good idea. I was going to send to Jason, but after looking at it, decided I looked awful…. Not a good idea 😦

After some more time went by, a nurse walked in that had gorgeous long brunette hair. I was thankful to see that she would be shaving my hair because I knew she would understand the impact and be cautious, or so I hoped. I heard the buzzing sound of the razor for at least three minutes. If I told you I was FREAKING out, that would be an understatement. When she was done she showed me a handful of hair and told me she tried to take off the least amount possible.  i thanked her.

Later the Dr came back in to close the wound. Once the hair was removed, he was able to determine that the cut was longer rather than deeper. Because of this he decided against the staples (he said they would be more uncomfortable) and was going to stitch my head instead. Next thing I knew though, I heard him cutting. I instantly knew he was cutting more of my hair! I was like umm, hello? He said he needed to cut more because the cut went down further than what got shaved. He said the cut was pretty decent and just over two inches long. He kept telling me what a nice “goose egg” I had got. I should probably mention here that I have never gotten stitches before and this was about to be the first. Sigh.

He told me he was going to numb my head and I would feel a little pain. Well apparently my definition of a little and his are VERY different. After a few minutes he said ok, done. I was like done? That’s it? It’s over? He was like oh no and laughed. He then told me he was done numbing it and not stitching it. He hadn’t even started that yet! Ugh! So the stitching was awful and feeling the “string” going through my head as he pulled it tight was the weirdest feeling in the world, of and very painful. I swear it took forever. Then to make things even better, he was like, I will be right back, I ran out of string. WTH! Oh good, I will just hang out here since clearly i’m not going anywhere! So a few more minutes go by and then he starts back up again. Then another doctor came in and asked if he needed help. He said he was almost done. She then said, oh, I wasn’t trying to rush you. And I responded with, oh don’t worry, I am! Let’s get this over with! FINALLY he said he was done! I’m not sure how long it actually took but it felt like an eternity. Did I mention pain is not my thing? Nor needles? Yuck!

Since I mentioned I was going to fly home that day (my flight was already planned and at this point home was the ONLY place I wanted to be) the doctor said I needed to get a CT scan (this would also be my first). In addition, I got a tetanus shot as well. I again was sitting there waiting to be taken to the scan. At one point I lifted my head off the bed and looked backed. OMG…. there was blood everywhere that I was laying in. I nearly passed out. I started yelling for one of the nurses to come get rid of all of the towels and sheets. I must have yelled for five minutes. NO ONE responded. Mind you, I was the first room across from the nurse’s station. Finally this guy walks in and was like can I help you? I asked him to help me and then learned he was actually going to be the one wheeling me for the scans. He was so nice and helpful. I was so grateful.

Once we got to the CT room, I learned I would need to move from the bed onto the platform. WOW. I could barely move. I was so stiff and so sore. I suddenly understood the phrase “I feel like I got hit by a truck,” and yet it was only a car 😉 The CT was pretty fast. He told me it would be up to an hour before the radiologist would read the results. He took me back to my room and gave me the remote for the TV. He was truly a blessing.

It wasn’t too long before the Dr came back and told me that the results from the CT were fine and that I could go home. He again told me how much worse the pain would be the next day and to take it very easy. He instructed me that I should get the stitches taken out in a week. I asked a number of follow up questions but he confirmed it was ok for me to fly home. I got up (very slowly) and took my bloody shirt with me and asked if I could take the blanket with me (oh and my bag of earrings that I had to take out for the scan). He said yes. I also asked if he could call a cab for me to take me back to my hotel. (I’m thankful I didn’t really know I had been hit by a cab because I probably would have been more hesitant to get in a cab again). The Dr brought me two numbers to call and I called for a cab.  I was then off to fill out the release paperwork.

This was an interesting process. I didn’t have my license. I didn’t have my insurance card. I mean, I have to imagine that happens, but it was like the end of the world here. Finally I was on my way and when I was done the cab was already waiting. When I stood up I nearly feel over. I was so lightheaded. I did not feel well at all. However, the only thing I could think about was getting home.

I got in the cab and told him he would have to wait for me to get my credit card once we arrived at the hotel. Again, he was less than pleased. Can’t a girl get a break? I felt like crap the entire drive back which took FOREVER because of the AWFUL Atlanta traffic. When we got there, I had an odd exchange with the valet guy, I learned more about this later. I slowly made my way to my room to get my credit card. Once I made it back downstairs and handed him my card, I was about to fall over. I told him I needed to go sit down. He told me to wait and I said I couldn’t. He then walked over and handed my card back. I was so frustrated with how un-accomodating some people were. Ugh. I sat there for a few minutes to pull myself together before I tried to make it back up to my room. I was in rough shape and I knew it.

I got back to my room and had about 90 minutes before I would need to head to the airport if I was going to make my flight. Given how I just felt, I had zero idea how I would ever make it through an airport. That is a lot of movement. I forced myself to drink some water and eat grapes thinking maybe I was dehydrated. I laid down for a bit but was hesitant about falling asleep while i was alone given the head injury I had. Before I knew it, it was time to pack my stuff if I was going to go. I sat up and really didn’t feel much better. I was so torn. I knew I was weak and wasn’t sure I could make it but I REALLY just wanted to be home with Jason. I decided I would try. It took me about 40 minutes to pack what should have taken 10 minutes. I also had to figure out what to do with my rental car. I will spare you the details on that one, what a mess, again, some people are just not helpful and accommodating.

I eventually made it to the lobby all packed up and hopped in a cab to head to the airport. I laid down in the cab because all of the bouncing around was just killing me. I quickly became exhausted while navigating through the airport, but nonetheless I made it. I had some help with my luggage since I had zero strength. I still can’t lift anything to this day. I was thankful for my first class upgrade that day. I was told by the Dr to ensure I told the flight attendant about my accident and where to find my emergency contact info in case something was to happen. Of course I then had to to tell her what had happened. She was so kind and brought me 6 pillows to stick everywhere. She was so kind. I was fortunate to have a nice guy sitting next to me that talked to em most of the flight to ensure I stayed awake. I eventually made my connection in Philly and was on my final flight home. I was glad to see a few familiar faces on that flight too which made me feel better just in case something was to happen.

When I got to the airport at home, Jason was outside waiting for me. I was sooooo glad to see him. As much as it hurt for him to hug me, there was nowhere else in the world I wanted to be in that moment. Seeing him made me grateful that not only had I made it home, but grateful for so much more. I was grateful that I was alive. I was grateful that I didn’t break any body parts. Although I was in so much pain and the pressure in my head was unbearable, I knew I was lucky. As my mom said, an angel was watching over me 🙂

Well, the Dr wasn’t kidding and Friday was very painful. I had a rough night and constantly kept waking up from the pain. My neck, shoulders, and back were in so much pain that no matter how I lied there, it still hurt so bad. I tried to get up and move around throughout the day but that proved to be a challenge. I was overwhelmed with so much love and support from family, friends, and coworkers. My support system is truly the best and I am so grateful. My phone was full of messages all day long, notes on Facebook, edible arrangements delivered from family and friends, and even flowers from work. That all really helped to put a smile on m face during some challenging moments. Every time that I wanted to complain about the pain, or cry when I found more hair that had been cut/shaved off, I thought about all of the kind gestures and couldn’t help but try to smile.

So why did I blog about this? Was it for sympathy? Absolutely Not. My goal was awareness. Awareness that every time we enter the road rather it be by foot or by bike, this is a real risk. It’s every runner and triathletes worst nightmare. But it happens. Unfortunately. It doesn’t make it right, but it sure makes it real. Do I wish I hadn’t gone for that run Thursday morning? Absolutely not. I was out doing something I love. Out trying to live a healthy lifestyle. Out to inspire others to chase their dreams while also being inspired by so many other athletes that I follow. I will not let that man that wasn’t paying attention that morning rob me of my dreams. He’s already taken enough, I refuse to give him more.

Love you all! XOXOX ~Jackie


From my amazing coworkers 🙂



The Big Day & A Special Surprise

WARNING: You may need a beverage in hand for this one…. It’s a long one!
And the alarm goes off. Hmmm 3:45. Awesome. Well the good news is I was out solid all through the night and I did manage to fall asleep at a reasonable hour. Oh and getting out of bed was made a little easier when I thought about what the day held. This was it. I have been training since March. Yes, it is now July 28th. I have had endless days of multiple workouts and early wakeup calls. Actually, I woke up earlier than this before to train in Orlando, so actually this isn’t too bad 😉
I had done a pretty good job of having everything for the morning prepared so that there was minimal things to think about. Of course, for the things that were left to do that I needed to remember, there was a list for that! My bike and gear bags were already in transition. I needed to take with me my bike pump to top off my tires, bike special needs bag, run special needs bag, morning clothes bag which would have my clothes for after the race as well, all of my stuff for the swim including my wetsuit, and my bottles filled for my bike to place in the holders. I put on my first set of race clothes that I planned to wear for the swim, my Garmin watch, my road ID, and my timing chip with a pair of flip flops. My family did a pretty good job of hustling to get ready as well before we all hopped in the car.
We had a quick drive to one of the parking lots where we would then take an even quicker bus ride down the hill to where all of the action for the day would be. When we got to the parking lot there was plenty of volunteers directing us where to park. It was still dark outside so we were guided by flashlights. I gathered all of my stuff and we hopped on the bus with other athletes and spectators. As we were getting on the bus it started to sprinkle. Hmmm well, this should be interesting I thought to myself. When we got off the bus I said good bye to my parents as they went to head over to the swim location to get a spot to spectate from. I told them I would see them once I dropped my stuff off in transition, etc.
I headed over to transition just to learn that I had to go back on Main Street to get body marked first. I waited in a line of a couple people for a nice young lady to body mark me. She had super nice penmanship which is always a requirement for me! As I was waiting to be body marked I looked around me at all of the tired straight faces of all of the athletes. We all pretty much shared the same look. Once I got body marked I headed into transition to my bike. I pumped my tires to 120 psi one last time and put my bike bottles on the bike. I also realized that the sprinkling had stopped. Yay! I knew that rain was a real possibility for the day given the forecast. They called for temps in the low 70’s and scattered thunderstorms with an 80% chance of rain. If I rewind to Syracuse 70.3 when they called the race early due to thunderstorms, I couldn’t help but pray that the same wouldn’t happen today. My first triathlon we didn’t swim. My first half Ironman we didn’t swim. I was not ready to not be called an Ironman at the end of today because of Mother Nature. I was worried about rain on the bike course because of the steep fast descent into Keene. This would be even scarier on a wet road. I told myself that if it rained on the run, so be it, but just not thunderstorms so that the race would be cancelled. But again, I knew I had no control over this and I needed to focus on what I could control. With this is mind, I headed out of transition once I dropped my morning clothes bag off next to my other bags that were already there (run and bike).
Getting Body Marked

Getting Body Marked

I walked out of transition and met Jason at the meeting spot we has agreed to (thank goodness because there was so many people). At this point he had found my friend Matt. We walked over towards Mirror Lake Drive to find the bike special needs drop off bag. The volunteers were awesome in helping to facilitate and direct all of the morning activities. I handed my bag over and hoped that soon enough I would see it again. We then retraced our steps and headed further out on Mirror Lake Drive to drop off my run special needs bag. This was a bit further of a walk and this whole process of dropping off bags really took much longer than I had thought. I looked over to the swim area and already saw so many athletes in the water warming up with their wetsuits on. I was still a good distance from the area and carrying my wetsuit. Suddenly I felt behind. Once we reached the athlete split off I kissed Jason good bye and told him I loved him in case I couldn’t find him again before the start. At this point I had no idea where my parents were.
On My Way into the Mass

On My Way into the Mass

I started to eat my bagel and peanut butter realizing that it was already a bit later then I had hoped. Once I finished that I quickly put on my wetsuit, sunscreen, and body glide. I then realized I still had a bag of stuff and nowhere to put it. Shoot. I looked around for Jason and couldn’t find him. I asked some nice lady to borrow her phone so I could call Jason and have him meet me, which he did. It was also nice to see him one more time as nerves were really starting to kick in. I then heard them announce they were starting to move people out of the water and into the swim corrals. Sh*t! Time to get out of the water? I didn’t even get in yet! Now I am officially panicking and pushing my way through hundreds of people so that I can literally run into the water quick. I didn’t want to swim, but I wanted the water to get into my wetsuit so that my body could adjust to the temperature.  I had went with my sleeveless wetsuit to wear after the debacle at Syracuse 70.3 and feeling claustrophobic with my full wetsuit. I knew that I needed to get my arms wet and feel the water to feel comfortable. I made in quickly as I continued to keep fueling with a package of Honey Stinger chews. The majority of my fuel for the day was Honey Stinger products.  I no sooner got in the water, and got back out again. It was time to head over to my coral but first I was missing something.
I couldn’t start this race without saying goodbye to my parents and they were nowhere to be found. I again asked a random spectator to use their phone so I could text them. As I started writing the text all of the emotions that I had been controlling for days suddenly just all hit me all at once like a ton of bricks. As I wrote the text I wanted my parents to know that I loved them in case anything had happened. I’m a realist. I know that people die at triathlons, I have witnessed it first hand. While I have never let it stop me from doing them (I’d rather die doing something I love than the million other worst ways that people die), I still know that it’s real. Suddenly I found myself in tears writing the text. Partly knowing that there was a chance it could be a last goodbye but more so because I wished I had got to see them in person and say goodbye before starting the race. But at this point it was what it was. The spectators with me saw me get emotional and tried to comfort me. Another spectator wanted to take a picture of me to send to my mom, so she did. So great, as if my mom wasn’t already worried about me doing this (which I knew she was), now she’s going to get a picture of me crying looking scared to death. Nonetheless I felt better knowing that I had gotten to communicate with them. I thanked the spectators and went to get in line.
Swim 1:25:16
It was now time to focus. Time to focus on my training. I am ready for this I told myself. With the new rolling start this year I had decided to put myself in the front of 1:30-1:45 corral. I had planned on swimming around a 1:30 and I wanted to be around those with similar paces to try and reduce getting swam over and kicked, etc. After getting in my corral it wasn’t long before the pros were off! It was about 15 minutes after the pros started before I made my way to the swim entrance and over the timing mat. This was it. 140.6 – Here I come! As I walked over the timing mat and entered the water I looked left and was able to spot Jason and Matt as well as both of my parents! Everyone was cheering and smiling and having them there to support me meant more then they will ever know. I slowly walked my way into the water a bit until the water was up to my shoulders and then it was go time. I put my face into the water and started to swim. It was a bit congested in the beginning but honestly it really wasn’t that bad. I’ve been at other swim starts that were way worse. I officially became a fan of the rolling swim, self-seeded swim start. I started a bit to the outside of the buoys but found myself making my way to the line. I had heard over and over again to stay away from the cord because it gets congested, but it was just so nice to not have to spot and I felt really comfortable. Stroke after stroke I just took the race one buoy at a time. One thing I did learn quickly from staying on the string was that this resulted in you coming head on with the giant buoys if you didn’t veer slightly off. I ended up taking a couple to the face but they really weren’t bad – just a bit of a wakeup call.
We had 9 yellow buoys going out before hitting a red buoy to indicate the turn. There was then maybe 100m before the next red turn buoy to start heading back. The way back had I believe 9 yellow buoys before hitting another red buoy to indicate a slight turn around the dock to head to the swim exit. Ion the first loop of the swim I truly had one of the calmest most uneventful swims I’ve ever had and I was really enjoying it. There were a couple of times it go congested and I just crossed the line and swam on the inside for a few minutes until people passed by. This happened a bit more towards the end of my first lap as some of the faster swimmers were already coming around to complete their second lap since they had started much sooner. I was a bit jealous to think that they were completing lap two before I even completed lap one. But I didn’t let that bother me and I stuck to my race plan – calm and steady. Before I knew it I was headed towards the swim exit from lap one and I could hear Mike Reilly’s voice over the microphone cheering people on. Hearing his voice brought so many thoughts to my head and it was easy to get emotional. Again, I kept telling myself to stay focused on the moment that was in front of me. I swam as far as I could to the swim exit before standing up to walk out the remainder of the water to the beach. It was amazing to hear all of the fans cheering us on. The night before we had discussed me making a signal by forming a heart with my arms over my head as I got out of the water so it would be easier for people to spot me. Well, it worked because I was able to see my parents when I got out of the water! I was so glad to see them for those few feet that I walked along the beach before reentering the water for lap two. I looked around quick but couldn’t find Jason. I headed back under the inflatable swim start to get back in the water and could hear Jason screaming my name. I looked around back in the crowd but couldn’t see him anywhere. He continued to scream my name but again, I couldn’t find him. Then I turned my head and there was Jason – right next to me in the water standing with water up to his shorts! I was so happy and all smiles! He snapped a few pictures and I told him I loved him and then it was face in the water for lap two.
For lap two I knew exactly what to expect from having completed lap one. I felt really good. I wasn’t tired and I was ready to get this swim done! I went back to focusing on one stroke at a time and one buoy at a time. The second lap was even calmer than the first lap as people were even more spread out by now. I felt good on the way out. On the way back I started to feel my arms getting a bit sore, nothing extreme but just sore. I wasn’t really surprised. 2.4 miles of swimming is A LOT of strokes. I have tiny bird arms. But I knew those arms could do it. On the way back I decided to try and speed up my stroke a bit knowing that I was on the homestretch. I later learned how apparently this really wasn’t true as my first loop was actually faster than my second loop despite me thinking and feeling the exact opposite. I guess I really was tired. Both of my swim loops were just under what I had predicted which I was thrilled about. I will say though on the second loop the buoys felt further apart although obviously that wasn’t true.
Soon enough though I was back to being able to hear Mike Reilly’s voice and I knew I was almost there. I headed in to the inflatable swim exit knowing that in fact this time it really was the exit. I had made it. Three years ago I couldn’t swim the length of a pool and now I had just swam 2.4 miles. Wow! As I got out of the water I once again saw Jason next to me in the water cheering me on. I was just absolutely glowing! The swim was now behind me! I “ran” over to the wetsuit strippers (apparently the PC term is now wetsuit peelers) and gladly sat down on the ground as they ripped my wetsuit off (if only it was that easy to put on). I thanked the awesome volunteers and headed down the chute for about a 2/10 of a mile run to transition. On the way I caught a glimpse of Andrea, Doreen, and Erica cheering for me! What a great surprise! I was just glowing at this point! I had also worn my Team in Training tri top so I had lots of people shouting the infamous “Go Team” at me. I remember thinking to myself I wish I had worn my TEAM gear for the whole race. I jogged up Mirror Lake Drive and headed into transition.
T1 11:55
It was very slippery running into transition from everyone before me being wet but the volunteers did a great job of telling us to slow down and be careful. I headed over to the rack that had my run bag, grabbed it, and then jogged over to the woman’s changing tent. This is the first race that I have ever changed clothes during or that even had a changing tent so I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. I will say, I wasn’t quite expecting what I had encountered.
I entered the tent and it was PACKED! There were women changing everywhere and all of the chairs that lined the tent were taken. There was barely even any space on the floor. I managed to find a tiny space to squeeze into as I opened my bag and started to get my stuff out. I took all of my wet clothes off and changed into my dry bike clothes. I was reminded of how hard it is to put spandex bike clothes onto a wet body. What a train wreck! I struggled through and had to not care that my naked butt was basically right on top of a number of other athletes. As I continued to struggle I could feel my body heating up. It was super hot and humid in the tent and just overall gross. I tried to remain focused so that I wouldn’t forget anything. Despite the overcast skies, I still applied sunscreen. I put my helmet on and threw all of the rest of my stuff in the bag to get out of there. I didn’t even put my bike shoes on because I just wanted to get out of the tent. I had to ask a volunteer what to do with my bag because I wasn’t sure where to put it. She took it for me. Once I exited the tent I swear it was instantly 15 degrees cooler. I stopped on the side and put my bike shoes on. I then headed down the chute slowly jogging as a volunteer announced my number so that another volunteer could grab my bike. When I got to my bike rack I saw that my bike was still there and a volunteer didn’t grab it, so I went and grabbed it myself. It was interesting to note that my bike was wet, apparently it had rained during the swim! I definitely had no idea but I was glad it had stopped! I was then off to the bike exit where I would hit the mount line and get on my bike.
Bike 6:49:03
Upon mounting the bike there was a steep couple of down hills with some tight technical turns so the volunteers told us to take it easy. As I came around the first turn I saw Jason and Matt cheering for me and taking photos! It was great to see them again since I knew it would be another 56 miles on the bike before I got the next opportunity to see them. I knew that the roads were wet and I needed to be cautious. I really just focused on one piece of the bike course at a time. I knew the course started out pretty simple until we got to Olympic ski jumps and would start doing some climbing. The climbing wasn’t bad because I knew what to expect. I followed what I was told and put the bike in a low gear and just took it easy and slowly spun up the hills. This really was my strategy for any of the hills on the course. Once we got past this it leveled out a bit before we would eventually make the steep descent into Keene. We hit the first aid station on the bike and my day almost quickly came to an end. There was a girl just seconds in front of me that went to grab a bottle from the aid station and completely lost control of the bike and hit the ground, hard, really hard. I swerved at the last minute to avoid hitting her and also being taken out. My heart was suddenly racing as I knew how lucky I was and I was so worried for her. I knew her day was probably over and I prayed that she was ok.
Heading out on the Bike

Heading out on the Bike

On the way out to Keene the views were just absolutely breathtaking. The water and the mountains were just amazing. The descents were fast but not too technical. On the first loop the course was a bit more congested so I braked a few times during the descents just to be on the safe side. I think I was also a bit extra cautious after still being shook up from the accident I just witnessed. There was actually a lot more cyclists around me than I had anticipated. I thought we would have been a bit more spread out by that point. I continued to walk myself through each part of the course and focused just on that section. I was very cognizant of my watch to ensure that I was drinking at least every 15 minutes and eating something at least every 30 minutes. My bike nutrition consisted mostly of Honey Stinger chews and Honey Stinger waffles. I also had Cliff kids bars which are delicious! I will admit it was hard to force myself to keep eating even when I didn’t feel like it, and I knew this would be a challenge, but I also knew how important it was to keep my energy up from fueling properly.
Before I knew it the pseudo flat part and descending parts of the course were over and it was time to start climbing. Now, I generally bike a good amount of hills because of where I live so I didn’t think any of the hills were too bad. Were they easy? No, but I was ready. There were some smaller hills spaced out a bit that people refer to as the “cherry’s.” After this section, probably around maybe mile 48-50ish I stopped at the aid station to use the restroom. It felt weird to get off my bike but I felt so much better. (I def haven’t mastered, nor even attempted, nor plan to, going to the bathroom on the bike. Gross. Don’t know how people do it).
Then the hills got a bit more intense and I asked the guy next to me if these were the “Bears.” He said he wasn’t familiar with the course. But just then, painted on the side of the road, it said Momma Bear. Alright these are the bears I thought to myself, just get through this and then lap one will soon come to an end. Momma Bear was annoying but nothing too bad. I didn’t think it was nearly as steep as some of the climbs at Syracuse 70.3. Next came Baby Bear which was barely a blurp. Once I got past that I looked ahead and saw Poppa Bear. Hmm, ok, this one was a bit bigger. However, suddenly I found myself feeling like I was in the Tour de France. Spectators had lined both sides of the hill and were literally screaming their faces off at all of us. I was so wrapped up in all of the support that I forgot I was even climbing. It was freaking incredible! Man, those fans were AMAZING! Before I knew it I had crested what I thought was the top and we made a quick right turn where I learned we were still climbing a bit. But the music was still going and the cheers were plentiful. I then truly crested the hill and knew the worst was over and I was headed back towards transition for lap two, but more importantly, to see my fan club first!
I headed up Mirror Lake and before I knew it I could see my entire fan club! They were just as excited to see me as I was to see them and all of the cheers brought a huge smile to my face! I suddenly got a huge rush of adrenaline! Simply amazing! They even had their signs out and were trying to sneak a few photos as well. I waved to them while being cautious to still watch my surroundings, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the moment. I continued on a few feet down the road to the bike special needs area. At this point a great volunteer greeted me with my bag. I refilled my bike bottles with the gatorade that I had in the bag (i’ve gotten use to what I trained with). I also attempted to take a few bites of a peanut butter sandwich I had made. My hope was to get some “real food” in me given all of the sports nutrition I had been eating. I also refilled the bento box on my bike with more honey stinger products and a bag of trail mix. At this point I welcomed some variety. I also pulled out of my bag a notecard that I had asked Jason to write something motivational for me so that I would have something to keep me going. I read the note – “Jac ~ You are almost there! So proud of you as your dream is about to come true…..” And then he drew an Ironman symbol on the bottom. I teared up reading it and got a bit emotional. The volunteer saw this and asked what I got. I said a few words to keep me going. He took the note from me and read it and was just as touched as I was. With that I set off to get back on the bike for lap 2.
Loop 1

Loop 1

Bike Special Needs Bags - 661

Bike Special Needs Bags – 661

Lap 2 fortunately was pretty uneventful. It was good in the fact that I knew what to expect from the course from the first loop, but I think that also made it feel longer. This time on the decent into Keene I was flying! I barely braked as we were far more spread out and I had plenty of space. My max speed I hit according to my Garmin was 39 mph! Wow! Pretty cool and scary all at the same time! I continued to keep forcing myself to eat and drink despite not really feeling like it. I also kept trying to get myself to focus on the moment. There were a few times on the second loop that the sky got really dark and prayed for the rain to just hold off a little longer until I got to the run. Fortunately, the rain did hold off. There is a section of the bike that is a longer out and back. On the way out I was starting to wear down a bit. It wasn’t necessarily that I was sore, but more so just kind of bored of pedaling. I told myself that when I got to the turnaround of that out and back section that I would read the notecard that my Mom had left me. When I hit the turn around point, which also had a chip sensor to capture my split, I pulled out the card from my bento box. It read “Dear Cupcake ~ We wish you the best of luck today. You are the sunshine of our life!! There is no doubt in our minds you will be an IRONMAN! We are here for you on your long journey! Keep your head up high. We love you!” More emotions over took me at this point and I stayed focus on just pushing through the bike.
With about 20 miles or so to go on the bike, I came up on a woman biking that had an Ironman Kona jersey on. I quickly recognized here as Tara Costa from the Biggest Loser. I had seen her at the expo a couple days before. I told her job job and what an amazing inspiration she is. She was super grateful and thanked me for my words. I pushed on past and was determined to just finish up the bike. I finally came up to the 100 mile marker on the ground. Wow! I have officially now completed a century ride. If you remember back, I had hit 98 miles on my longest training ride and decided to save the 100 milestone for a special day. Well, today was it and that moment was special. After that the last 12 miles dragged on for what seemed like forever. Sure, they are the hardest 12 miles of the course, but still. This time coming up on the Bears wasn’t nearly as exciting. With the threat of rain and people burning out from a long day, there was a A LOT less people out there cheering the second time. This time the hills were a bit more challenging due to fatiguing legs. I kept telling myself to push through them and then it was all flat before handing my bike over for good! I once again then headed up Mirror Lake Drive to see my family and friends! I knew exactly where to look for them as I figured they would be in the same spot as before. I saw Matt first as I came around the corner and he signaled for the rest of my family. They seemed kind of caught off guard to see me. I later learned that this was because my splits weren’t coming through in a  timely manner. In fact, they hadn’t gotten any of my splits from the second loop and had started to worry. They looked up and started cheering and I could tell they were glad to know I had made it back through 112 miles on that bike without incident. I was also beyond grateful for this as well. I waved again and headed about another 1/2 mile to a mile to transition.
Loop 2 - Almost There

Loop 2 – Almost There

T2 7:46
Coming around Main Street was amazing and all of the cheering was just incredible. When I pulled into the dismount area I was so grateful, and ready, to hand my bike off to a volunteer who would place it back on the rack for me (have I mentioned how amazing the volunteers were?!?) I then had another volunteer ask me if I wanted help getting my bike shoes off before heading into transition so I wouldn’t have to run with them on. Heck yea! He told me to put my hands on his back as he bent over and yanked my shoes off. Wow did that feel good to have those off! I thanked him and then headed for my rack to grab my run transition bag. I slowly jogged, grabbed my bag and then headed back into the dreaded changing tent. On the way I caught a glimpse of Matt and Jason across the street and yelled to them to get their attention! It was nice to catch a glimpse 🙂
Quick Glimpse in T2

Quick Glimpse in T2

This time upon entry into the tent it was a completely different scene! There was space galore and tons of open chairs. I got greeted by my own personal volunteer that helped me every step of the way. I cannot say enough amazing things about this woman – she was on top of everything. She dumped my bag out and helped me sort through what I wanted. She put my socks on top of my sneakers for me, she got out the food I wanted to eat, she even chipped my api belt around my waist once I was done changing my clothes. She rocked my world and was so helpful and patient. I was very grateful for a much smoother transition than what I had experienced earlier in the day. I took a few bites of a granola bar and then headed off! On the way out of transition I grabbed a cup of water to hydrate before hitting Main Street. It was now time for a marathon!
Run 4:46:13
The marathon wasn’t really what I referred to the run as. That just seemed too long. So I stuck to calling it a run. A run that had a few different segments to it. When I first came out on Main Street I saw all of my family again and I waived like crazy. I was seriously so full of smiles every time I saw them. No matter what pain I may have been feeling, it all went away when I saw them. I continued down Main Street which was lined with spectators. Such a great sight.
Heading out for the Run

Heading out for the Run

I then made my way around the first turn down to the aid station. My friends Andrea, Doreen, and Erica were volunteering at this aid station and I as able to see them. They were a bit surprised I think to see me so soon. They cheered me on and I remember Andrea telling me to take it easy and walk the rest stops and hills. It was a good reminder as I had a fast first few miles (I think I was just on such a high to be off my bike and finally be on the run, plus all of the excitement of everyone cheering). It wasn’t before long though that the cheering became more scarce as we headed deeper into the run. The aid stations were every mile and I tried to stop at every one to drink at least something. My ability to eat was getting more limited as my stomach starting catching up with me. I stuck with fruit (grapes and oranges) during the first loop of the run. I even tried to eat a couple of pretzels. On the first loop of the run I ended up running into random Buffalo guy that I ran close to during most of the Buffalo Marathon. Apparently we really did have similar paces, not just on the run. We laughed a bit and then proceeded on. I actually didn’t do as much socializing as I would have thought during the run. Everyone around me just seemed very focused. So, I went back to my focus of one mile at a time. It seemed like forever until we got to the turn around of the first out and back section, perhaps because of how lonely it was out there. I will say that the volunteers did a great job of calling us out by name (on our bibs) and cheering us on. That little extra boost really helped. Eventually we made it back to civilization and I was so glad to see people. I was happy until I saw this couple in the back of their car sitting on the ledge eating soft serve ice cream with rainbow sprinkles. What a tease! I joked with them that the sight was simply cruel and evil. I wanted ice cream! No such luck though and I pushed on.
I finally got to Main Street and saw my family. I told them all I loved them and stole a kiss from Jason. These guys were started to look tired too as it really is a long day. There is then a short out and back section on Mirror Lake Drive which is where the special needs bags are. I really didn’t need much from my bag as I hadn’t ate much. I grabbed some body glide and some licorice to give me a sugar boost. I also grabbed the other note that Jason had left me. It read ” …Now finish strong my Ironman and see me at the finish where I have something special for you! :)” It also said Jackie = (Ironman symbol). Aww how sweet! I instantly throughout of the Ironman necklace that I had picked out. So sweet! I must admit for a split second I thought maybe it was “THE Ring” but I thought there was no way he would write that on an index card. Additionally, we had talked plenty about this during the months leading up to the event when others questioned us getting engaged there, and Jason was passionate about it not happening. He didn’t want to take the day away from my accomplishment when I had trained for so long for that moment. Nonetheless I loved the necklace and was excited that it would be at the finish line for me!
Almost Done with Loop 1

Almost Done with Loop 1

My Inspiration

My Inspiration

I continued down the road to the turn around point before heading back towards Main Street. At this point of the road you could hear Mike Reilly’s voice announcing people as Ironman coming through the finish line. I teared up a bit knowing that I was one more loop away from hearing my name and my dream coming true. Wow. Crazy. At the end of the road it was marked on the road to head right to the finish line and left for the second loop. I wish I was heading to the right but I told myself soon enough. It also helped knowing that my family was over to the left and I would see them again. I went by them again as they were all smiles. I knew next time that I saw them would be at the Finish Line.  This time I headed off and noticed my friends had already finished volunteering at the aid station. I figured I would see them along the course and zoo enough I did. They were kind enough to jog with me for a bit and talk to me about the day and how I felt. At this point my stomach was really starting to feel like crap. All of the crap I ate all day was starting to catch up with me, “Iron Gut Rot” if you will. Andrea suggested trying to drink some Coke at the next aid station (which I eventually did but it didn’t really work for me – but I was willing to try anything at that point). I t was so nice to have their company for 5-10 minutes and then we said goodbye. I was then off on the lonely section again. I have to say at the this point I was ready for the run to be over. I really tried to focus on one mile at a time and just making it to the next aid station but my stomach was awful. One the second loop I didn’t eat anything. My stomach literally couldn’t handle it. I knew I was running the risk of bonking out from no energy, but at this point I knew I had enough time that I could walk and still make it to the finish line with plenty of time to spare. I finally made it to that first turn around and headed back. At this point it started to get really dark and eventually rain. The rain actually didn’t feel bad given my body being warm. I was just grateful that we had made it that long with no rain. At this point with about 7 miles to go I just hoped that it didn’t thunderstorm and they called the race. I had made it this far. I would finish. No matter what.
IM Decorated Front Lawn on the Run Course

IM Decorated Front Lawn on the Run Course

I tuned out for awhile on the run and just went into auto pilot. The second loop of the run contained a lot more walking than the first and my pace had slowed drastically. All of the miles that I had put my body through started to catch up with me. I then remembered that I still had my last note card from my mom in my belt. I pulled it out knowing that I could definitely use a pick me up. it said ” Remember there is always light at the end of the tunnel! Hopefully by now your journey is going smoothly. Think of happy moments. Keep your pace and don’t think about time, it’s not important. We will all be there at the finish line with open arms and tears of happiness! We love you!” Her words were exactly what I needed at that point and I pushed on while trying to smile. I eventually saw my friends again walking but I just wasn’t in a good place because of my stomach. They cheered me on and I tried to smile and push on. Eventually I made it back to the section that was more populated with spectators. I then eventually saw my friend Matt. I was so glad to see him as I needed to take my mind off of things. He jogged along side of me and I tried my best to hold a conversation with him despite my stomach hating me. I will say that having Matt next to me forced me to run a bit more than I would have if I had been alone – there would have a lot more walking. He told me that Jason was ahead waiting and that made me push on to get to Main Street. When i finally did see Jason I started to break down a bit and Jason saw it written all over my face. He told me to stay sting and stay focused and keep it together. I thanked Matt for running with me and told them both I would see them soon at the Finish Line. The “short” out and back on Mirror Lake Drive seemed like forever and was a  huge tease as once again I heard Mike Reilly’s voice. Soon enough I reminded myself, soon enough. Before I knew it I hit that turn around and was headed back. The spectators were great and the music kept me going. The rain had stopped awhile back but I hadn’t really noticed. I was clearly pretty out of it. As I once again reached that magic marking in the road of 2nd loop and finish line, I instantly smiled knowing that this was it. It was time for the finish line.
The Finish
As I veered to the right the fans were INSANE! Everyone was cheering and instantly every ache and pain I had was gone. Every long training day – gone. Every early morning wake up call – gone. I was overtook by emotions. This was it. This was what I had worked so hard for, for so long. My dream was real. This was it. I entered the Olympic Oval for that final 1/2 loop around the oval. The cheering, the lights, the photographers, it was all unreal. I came around the last turn and I saw the finish line!! Fortunately there was none right around me so the moment was all mine! As I came around Mike Reilly announced “Here she comes!   Jackie Stevenson from Mountain Top Pennsylvania…. Jackie…  YOU ARE AN IRONMAN! (Yes i’m sitting here balling my eyes out AGAIN typing this). I remember just taking in the moment. I could hear my family screaming for me but I couldn’t really see them because of the bright lights. I crossed the finish line and the “catchers” came up and grabbed me and walked with me. I burst into tears. It was real. It was true. Dreams do come true to those that work towards them. Hard work does pay off. I am an Ironman.
Stevenson Ironman Lake Placid Results
The catchers put my medal around my neck (some pretty amazing bling!) They handed me a bottle of water. They asked me how I was feeling and I was still glowing. In that moment, nothing hurt – it had all vanished. They asked me what size finisher shirt I wanted and went over and grabbed it for me along with my finisher hat. They asked me if I was ok before letting me go on my own to grab my photo and food. I thanked them for everything as they congratulated me once again. I was still all smiles and just overtaken by emotions. I went and got my photo taken then went to scope out the food. They had pizza which had been my go to food while training for the Ironman. I grabbed a piece and took a bite before quickly being reminded that in fact my stomach still felt awful. I then caught a glimpse of my friend Brett and went over and hugged him. I gave him pizza as I’m sure he was starving and I had zero interest in eating. We chatted for a bit before I attempted to make my way out and find my family.
Once I finally figured out how to get out of transition, I looked around and couldn’t find my family anywhere. I then asked a nice guy if I could use his phone. We ended up chatting and oddly enough he knew someone I knew from the Scranton Running Company. What a small world. I used his phone to call Jason and then finally ended up spotting him. I hung up and headed over. My family was so excited to see me and I started to go through them one by one hugging them and thanking them for being there. I started with Jason’s family, then made my way to my parents, before ending at Jason. I was just so happy. My parents were so proud of me, it was written all over their faces and that meant the world to me. I eventually made my way to Jason who hugged me and kissed me.
He then reached in his pocket and pulled out a box. He told me “I hope I got the right one.” At this point I had been so distracted by everything that I had forgotten about what he wrote on the notecard. At this point my mind was still on the Ironman M-Dot necklace. He opened the box and I literally screamed. There it was. The ring I had dreamed of for the 7+ years that we had been together. He dropped down to one knee and asked me to marry him. We were both in tears at this point and I was just so completely surprised. I of course quickly rushed to say yes! Both of our families looked on as this special moment unfolded. He then took the ring out of the box and slid it onto my finger as it sparkled in the moonlight glow. It all happened so quickly. We grabbed each other and held each other close as we shed tears of happiness. It truly was perfect. We were officially going to spend the rest of our life together and I couldn’t be more happy. Our families clapped and cheered along with random people that were around us and had witnessed our special moment. One guy even whispered to Jason that he was making him look bad to his girlfriend. As I look back now, it was perfect. Everything about the proposal. It couldn’t have come at a more special time and created an unforgettable day that I will always cherish. Jason has always been my biggest supporter in all of my athletic endeavors and now I would have his support for a lifetime.
We all gathered and took a few group pictures to cherish the special moment. It was then the conclusion of what had been a long and exhausting day for everyone. Jason’s parents headed to their car for an hour drive back to the hotel. I went and grabbed all of my stuff from transition which took a decent amount of time. Eventually I had all of my stuff and I made my way back to the shuttle to return to the car. There were no bikes allowed on the car so Jason was kind enough to walk my bike to the car. In fact, he ended up back at the car at about the same time we did. The road that our hotel was on was still closed due to the race (it was part of the run course). We ended up taking a back way to get as close to the hotel as we could and then park the car. We later went back at midnight to move the cars to the hotel. As we walked to the hotel from the car I saw the true athletes out on the course – the ones that were still going strong and pushing forward to the finish line. I cheered a good amount of them on before heading into the hotel. Their determination was truly inspiriting. I was grateful to have finished much earlier than anticipated and to be back at the hotel earlier than anticipated. At this time now I was starting to get hungry. I also knew I needed to eat or the next day would be rough. We ordered a few menu items to go from the Courtyard bistro before heading up to the room to unwind.
One Last of Transition & the Finish Line

One Last of Transition & the Finish Line

My phone had exploded with messages. I was overwhelmed with all of the love and support from afar of people that had tracked me all day long on my journey. I had well over 100 messages between Facebook, Instagram, text messages, voicemails, etc. My sister had been an absolutely amazing supporter throughout the day. She thought I had my phone with me during the race, which I didn’t but kept posting awesome pieces of relevant inspiration. I knew she had wished she was there so that was her way of being part of the action. So thoughtful and greatly appreciated. Brett had also been posting updates to my Facebook page all day long including pictures that Jason had taken. There was lots of great comments that people left me. It’s funny. Sometimes when I posted about my Ironman journey on Facebook, or Instagram, or even my blog, I felt like people were sick of hearing about it. But really I didn’t do it to brag, I did it to keep myself motivated and hold myself accountable. So when I saw all of the kind messages and how many people told me I had inspired them, that was really the kindest feedback I could have ever gotten. This has ben a long journey, no doubt, but I have learned a lot. I’ve learned a lot about myself, and i’ve learned a lot about others. I’ve learned about who those people are that truly support me, and those that don’t. If I have convinced a single person out their to follow their dreams like I did, and not quit, and not doubt yourself, then it was all worth it. You really can do anything you put your mind to. And yes, I AM AN IRONMAN! XOXOXOXOXOXO

Boilermaker Weekend Recap, Week in Buffalo, & 1 Week Countdown!

Hello blog followers! Please note, only 2 weekends and one week have gone by since my last post, i’m getting better ;)So after my last post I headed on Saturday morning to Utica, New York for the Boilermaker. Having lived in Syracuse for some time, it was always on my want to race list. The race also frequently appears in Runners World as one of the best races to do. Having now done it, I couldn’t agree more. What an amazing experience!

Upon arrival we headed to the expo to pick up our packets. For being a 15K race, the expo was much bigger than I expected with lots of vendors. With our packets we got a special Boilermaker Pint Glass, pretty cool! I found it a bit odd that you had to purchase your own medal if you wanted one (they only did finisher pins at the finish line), but then again it really was only a 15K. But nonetheless, of course I had to have one to add to the collection! Probably the highlight of the expo for me was getting to meet Danni from the Biggest Loser (last seasons winner). After waiting for a few minutes, we got a picture together and chatted about my upcoming Ironman. She is doing her first one in 2014. She wished me good luck and I was all smiles. Anyone that knows me knows how much I love to watch the show and how inspired I am by all of the participants. It was nice to know she felt inspired by me too 🙂


Danni from the Biggest Loser!

The rest of the afternoon was spent hitting up the Saranac Brewery. We took the brewery tour and indulged in some beer tasting (I was carb loading!) I had such a great time and was excited to know that the post race party was also hosted by Saranac and promised a great time! After this we headed to the hotel to change quick and grab dinner at a great Italian restaurant at the Turning Stone Casino. My visit to Turning Stone brought me back to my college days and my roommates love for the dollar wheel!


Saranac Brewery Tour


Post Tour Sampling


Dinner Overlooking the Kitchen

Sunday morning we were up early to head to the race. We parked at the finish area and hopped on a bus to the start. We got there early but it worked out for the better as we got a better position within our corral and no waiting for the bathroom. There was so many people, well 14K to be exact. The race attracts some of the fastest international runners from Kenya, Ethiopia, etc. so that was pretty neat to see as well. I had seen the elevation profile for the course and it looked pretty challenging. However, the long climbs also had long downhills so in the end, it would balance out a bit. My plan for the day was to use the race as a training run. I didn’t want to push and risk anything, but rather I just wanted to take in the scenery and enjoy the day. I did just that! I didn’t run with music (good practice for Ironman Lake Placid) and I just listened to the cheers and course bands. The streets were just lined from end to end with locals cheering us all on, it was truly incredible how the community lives for this event. I was so wrapped up in the entertainment that I really barely felt like I was running up hill (an awesome surprise later when we started going downhill). It was a VERY hot and humid day, after all it is the middle of July. However, the race was well prepared with water and ice stations every half mile. Yes, you read that right, every half mile. On the course I also had a first. I consumed by first race popsicle ever! Wow! I need to do that more often, what a great cooling sugar boost 🙂


At the Start!

About an hour and 23 minutes later and 15K under my belt, I crossed the finish line! I felt great at the end. I could tell that I took it easy early in the race and still had a ton in the tank towards the end as I passed a lot of people, without even trying to. One thing that I found unique about the finish line (and each of the mile markers) was that they are permanent establishments in the community and exist year ’round. Just goes to show how this community really embraces this event. I got my finishers pin and then waited for Jason to finish. when I started standing was when I realized just how hot and sweaty I was. I was dripping sweat and my clothes were absolutely drenched. I was ready for the post race party!



Jason finished (despite barely training) and we headed to celebrate. Saranac provided their wild hop pilsener for the party. They also had a band and was just a great environment. Since this year was Saranac’s 125th anniversary, after the traditional flyover, they conducted the worlds largest toast. The sun was baking us! After a couple of beers and grabbing some snacks, we headed to the car to cool off and head back to the hotel. It would be a quick stop before heading to Buffalo for the week!


Finished! XOXO!




Awesome flyover!

We got to Buffalo early Sunday evening and were pretty exhausted. We headed to bed early so we could have a better day Monday. Monday was a rest day for me so we decided to do something fun. We headed to Becker Farms to pick blueberries and raspberries! What a blast, even though it was VERY hot out in the fields. We cooled off afterwards in the brewery with some beer and wine tasting. We walked around the farm a bit to check out all that it had to offer. It even provided a possibility of a future event venue 😉 We then headed back to my parents house to relax in the pool.










Monday evening I met a great friend from high school that has also gotten into triathlons. She introduced me to her tri coach and group she trains with. I really enjoyed the experience and got to meet some great people. Her coach has done Ironman Lake Placid before so I picked his brain a bit on what to expect and some of the lingering questions I still had. One part of our convo really stood out to me. He asked me when was the last time that for 17 hours straight, everything went as you planned? Of course my response was, never! He then said, well then why would you expect race day to be any different? Hmm good point. He was highlighting that stuff will go wrong, things you didn’t plan for will happen, and you need to be ready to just move on and put it behind you and focus on the path forward. I thought it was a good perspective and something I will definitely take with me on race day. My friend also let me borrow her pool card so I could swim, awesome!

Tuesday morning I got up and headed for my swim and bike ride to get it out of the way before spending the day with my mom for her birthday 🙂 I swam at the University of Buffalo which has a great facility. The water there was much cooler then what I’m used to but the water was so nice. It didn’t have the heavy chlorination smell that the Y at home as. It was a nice change of pace. My ride was also great as I enjoyed riding out in the country a bit with super wide shoulders and the cars giving plenty of room, also a nice change of pace. The rest of the day was filled with with relaxation and celebration.


UB Swim Workout


Dinner with B-day Girl – MOM!

Wednesday I had another ride to do, about 90 minutes with some ladder speed work built in. Again, nothing too eventful here. Wednesday night I met the Buffalo Tri Club for their open water swim at Lake Erie. Oh my goodness. I was so glad that I went as I met so many great people. Some of them have done Ironman Lake Placid before, some are doing it this year, and some are also headed their to volunteer and cheer. It was great to share stories and meet some awesome people to have an eye out for in Lake Placid. I really wish we had a solid group like this where I live to train with. Made me want to move back to Buffalo, well maybe just for the summers 🙂


OWS with Buffalo Triathlon Club!

Thursday I had a quick 40 minute (HOT) run in the AM before headed to Toronto for the day for some sightseeing with Jason (his first time). We had a blast despite the heat. I finally went up the CN Tower and took in the beautiful views. We also hit up the St Lawrence Market for lunch, the Distillery District, the Steam Whistle Brewery, the Eaton Center, and some leisurely walking around the city. While the day was exhausting, I was glad we did it!


Upgrade for IMLP?








Friday was a longer bike ride for me, 3 hours. I got up early to beat the heat and the wind that built up throughout the day. Although the riding in that area is pretty flat, the wind created a challenge for the day. I pushed through though and then spent the rest of the day relaxing with my bestie from home poolside. We caught up and it was just really nice. Reminds me that I just don’t go home to visit often enough. Late Friday afternoon I headed to a special meeting for an hour or two. More on this to come in an upcoming post (stay tuned!)





Friday night we headed to Duff’s for some Buffalo traditional wings before the storm came. I knew there was a storm coming but never predicted it to be as bad as it was. The rain was insane and the lightening was even more so. Oh my goodness was it scary. Even scarier was the devastation to the area that we viewed the next morning. Our phone rang Saturday morning to let us know that the high school was being used as an American Red Cross disaster center for anyone that needed it. We were lucky that we didn’t lose power and damage was minor. Others were not so lucky 😦

Saturday was another rest day for me and I gladly took it! The weather was still pretty yucky until early in the afternoon. I got up early and hit the Farmers Market to grab some great fruits and vegetables (I’m addicted to smoothies in the ninja lately!) After, I went with my mom to the local craft show, it’s one of our traditions that I love. Again, the weather didn’t really cooperate but we made the best of it, two trips later. Saturday afternoon the entire family hopped in the car to check out a local ice cream place i’d been dying to try. Everyone loved it! We even walked around a bit afterwards and took in some of the Erie Canal history on the lock system.


Lake Effect Ice Cream – Yum!

Saturday night was a chill at home night with some great pizza from my fav pizza place in the world. I also watched the bike video of the Ironman Lake Placid course so that I could know what to expect. I felt kind of guilty watching it from the couch rather than on my bike trainer, but better than nothing.


“Experiencing” the Course at IMLP

Today I got up early, well tried to, in order to take advantage of the cooler morning (lower 70’s). I had a solid 90 minute run and felt good. I even kicked it in at the end. I knew I would spend the remainder of the day stuck in the car for the drive home. We stopped in Syracuse for a quick lunch. We got home around dinner time and spent quite a bit of time unpacking the car and dealing with other unexpected tasks (I will spare you the rant). I sit here now blogging and reflecting on such a great trip. It was a great week with family and friends, as well as focusing on my upcoming event and remaining preparation. I realize there is a ALOT to do between now and when I leave for my even first thing Thursday morning. However I look at the clock right now and get goosebumps. At about this time next week, give or take, god willing, I will be crossing the finish line at Ironman Lake Placid and checking off an Ironman from my bucket list as I heard Mike Reilly announce “Jacquelyn Stevenson, you are an Ironman!” (Yes, I’m now in tears!) Wow. Stay tuned, almost there!


Post Run Smoothie