taking a run down marathon lane: IRONMAN EDITION

I gave this little “gift” to myself for my 30th birthday.

I’m not a strong runner, but I am even less adept at swimming and biking.

My strongest skill when I signed on for this was believing in myself.

Or maybe it was blissful ignorance.

I had only done two sprint distance triathlons before the IronMan but I figured, hey, I’ve done two marathons already and the running is the hardest part, right?


An IronMan is all hard, and all consuming. There are no two ways about it. I put it on life’s to-do list and it has been firmly crossed off. Done. Check. Next.

I did this before I had my daughter. When an entire Saturday could be spent doing anything your heart desired. My life is much richer with her in it, but I no longer have the luxury of spending eight hours training and then the rest of the day recovering in the fetal position.


Here I am after the 2.4 mile swim. And also, here’s a random spectator doing his stretches.

Here I am on the 112-mile bike course, contemplating life, the candy bar I just dropped on the ground, and the next hill.

The year I did this race was the event’s inaugural year and there were a few kinks that needed worked out.

Like the weather.

The race director had no idea it would be so windy out on these open roads. We faced 35 mph head- and side-winds all day. Add to that the fact that each leg of a triathlon has a time limit. If you don’t make it, you’re disqualified.

I burst into tears about 10 miles from the bike finish, and cried the entire way in.

I also had to pee. BAD. But how could I stop? I was barely going to make it in as it was.

So, I peed my pants.

And I crossed the bike finish line with one minute to spare. 60. Little. Seconds.

I gave an exhausted “Thank You” to my trusty little bike. The Engine That Could.

Here I am on the marathon portion of the race.

Can’t see anything? Me neither. The organizers didn’t take into account how long people would be out on the course, and what that would mean for visibility.

As a desperate measure, they started setting up some of those portable flood-lights every few miles for the runners, but all this did was blind us as we approached and left us seeing floaty spots in front of us for the next few miles.

Vision impairment be damned! I had a race to finish.

Here I am, crying to my mom. The same lady who changed my wet diapers as a baby. And my wet bike shorts as a 30-year-old.

When I look back sometimes, I still can’t believe that this novice runner, fearful swimmer, and timid biker had enough courage and respect for herself to DO IT.

read to be read at yeahwrite.me

74 thoughts on “taking a run down marathon lane: IRONMAN EDITION

  1. What an experience!!! I almost cried just reading this. I cannot even imagine doing an iron man. I’m pretty tired actually after reading it, I should probably go refuel and then take a nap, I deserve it after reading it, no?

    What do you do for eating during something like this?

    • Thank you, Kelsey!!! I was tired just writing it. 🙂 For food, I didn’t eat anything on the swim. Unless you count the lake water. Super yum. On the bike, I had made several PB&J sandwiches the night before and packed those, along with Snickers bars and some gel fuel. But, I dropped most of it along the way because I am REALLY unstable on a bike. My husband and mom laughed because they could follow my trail like Hansel & Gretel. On the run, it was typical marathon fuel: gels, sports drinks, and those amazing potatoes at mile 13. My tummy was a little funny after the race. I’m not sure why.

      • Well, I didn’t hold the tears back at all as I read this! Really brought back the memories of watching you struggle at each event but onward and upward (pun intended) you went…that’s my girl. SO proud of all you do!! XOXO Mom

  2. Kinda amazing that you could do this. I’ve always said that I could do a marathon/iron man. Only it would be about 1/16 of the Iron Man and about 1/4 of the marathon. Do they have those???

  3. In case I haven’t told you lately, you are my hero!! Truly. James and I look up to both you and John soooo much. Not just because of the amazing, blessed life you lead, but because you two are raising an amazing, little person to share with the world – by being such awesome examples of human beings. I DID cry reading this because it touches my heart to see your strength. Right now, I find myself in a space of weakness and your experience reminds me to never give up. Thank you for sharing. I miss you tons – more than you know!!

    • My lovely friend, I think I have read this message 5 times already today and it still brings me to tears. Thank you for your kind, honest words. I miss you SO MUCH. Please, let’s catch up soon on the phone, if not in person. I need to hear your sweet voice! Love you – M

  4. Great post! My major goal is to finish a century ride in July…its something I have wanted to do for years and this year I’m finally going for it…I’m super excited but quite nervous. Reading a post like yours is a good reminder that we can do anything we put our mind to…so thank you for that!

  5. I have a vivid memory of you sitting on the ledge in my cubicle, telling me you were training for an Iron Man. I thought you were nuts!! 🙂 But so impressive.

  6. I can remember being so proud of you. That is the most exciting sporting even I’ve seen (yes even after 16 hours and walking up at like 4:30 in the morning and standing in the cold). Never doubted you could finish Love. Had to laugh at the “snickers” bar in the road, especially after getting hit in the face with chunks of your cookie while training with you. No doubt in my mind that said snickers was yours and even remember commenting about it to my car mates at the time.

  7. Pingback: F R I D A Y | Ready Set Feast!

  8. Pingback: taking a run down marathon lane – #4 | just begin from here.

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  10. Pingback: taking a run down marathon lane – #6: THE PR EDITION!!! | just begin from here.

  11. I could never imagine doing any of this. If I am to ever run again in my life I have no doubt it will be for my life (being chased by zombies or something). However this is because I know how hard it is!! So i’m so impressed by anyone who does marathons of any kind!

    Nice job finishing the race!!

  12. That is an amazing accomplishment. Sometimes you just have to pee. I know you aren’t the only marathon participant to make that choice. Love the pic with your Mom at the end.

  13. Can I curse on your blog? I hope so because you are fucking amazing. who just up and does an Ironman? Holy crap, lady. I am dying. I am runner, though not fast and not very good and I did a marathon or two and then had to retire because of that whole “stay in the fetal position” for days afterwards. Anyway, I am in awe of you and I really do want more. DO you have other posts on this? How much Gu did you ingest? This has me so pumped up…..Thank you. Great post.

  14. That is AWESOME! Good for you for having the courage to try and the gumption to finish! I’d have curled up in the fetal position and died somewhere around mile 1 of the swim. Ha! I’m seriously impressed.

  15. Girl, this took GUTS. I hope you are so proud of yourself, for making the time to accomplish something so huge at a time of your life when you could. Like you said, things are different for you now, and what an uhhhhhmazing check mark to have on your life list. Kudos!

  16. Oh my goodness, that was so inspiring. I cannot believe you made the bike portion by 60 seconds. Wow! I really do have chills. Truly. I am happy to meet you, Melisa. Once again, truly. Ellen

  17. Too cool! I watched my brother-in-law train for and complete a HALF Ironman. As he finished the run and therefore the end of the ordeal his first words were, “I’m never running that far again.” And this was a half marathon. He doesn’t remember saying that. He was so spent. I am so impressed I cannot begin to tell you. Though I will still not be placing this on my to do list, I am truly inspired and when faced with something I think I may have trouble with I’ll remember your story.

    • Thank you so much! I really appreciate your kind words. Your brother’s race was no small feat, either! My husband trained with me too (just for support – he wasn’t racing) – it takes a village to get through something like this.

  18. I am so in awe of you right now. Wow. Iron Man…that is huge. You’ve inspired me to get my butt in gear!

  19. I had a five year stint a few years ago that I was really into triathlons. Then my children got older and like you said it is “all consuming.” But to do an Ironman — that is huge. You are to be congratulated. I can only imagine what an emotional journey that would be.

  20. Your story is amazing. I can’t even imagine doing a marathon, let alone the Ironman!
    I’m sharing this with my husband as we speak. He just finished his first ever 5k run for charity and loved it. I think you will inspire him as much as you’ve inspired me.
    I’m so glad that you shared this!

  21. You amaze me. You look powerful and strong. And a little crazy, in an awesome “I can do anything” way. 🙂

  22. Ok. I feel like such a lump right now. I can’t even get myself to Zumba! Holy cow! But, the picture with your head on your bike?? All I can say is, “Oh, Honey, lift your face up off that bike…Remember?…You just peed on it.”

  23. Bravo! I see you kicked the procrastination demons in the gibblies and checked off that little box. Congratz! If it were me… I would have totally turned around for that candy bar. I’m just sayin’…

    Nice read, enjoyed it!

    Michael A. Walker
    Defying Procrastination

  24. Pingback: taking a run down marathon lane – #7 | just begin from here.

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