Tuesday, September 21, 2010

140.6 minus 26.2 = 114.4

It took me a little while to be able to sit down and write without completely breaking down but here goes nothing.

The days leading up to race day were pretty stressful. I booked my ticket to Wisconsin for the wrong day and had to rebook it for Thursday (thanks Sunjum for pointing that out!). I ran my rental car into a cone on a construction site on the highway, causing some damage and had to deal with reporting it and exchanging the car. Between packing all my bags, making sure I rested and ate, trying to hang out with my friends and mom, it was pretty hectic.

Race day was upon us pretty quickly and I was nervous and had gotten pretty much no sleep the night before. After putting my wetsuit on, I saw my teammates who have been so supportive throughout the entire year and broke down a little bit but I had to keep it together so I wiped my tears and kept going. Val walked down the helix with me and lent me her Shuffle for a few minutes. We both love dance music to keep us going during workouts, so that was pretty perfect.

Getting into the water took a little while. I think I had maybe 3 minutes in the water before the gun went off. I waited about 10 seconds and went. I kept to the side and just kept my strokes consistent. Yeah there were the few pushes and kicks but overall, not such a bad experience. The second loop was a lot easier for me because there were fewer people to deal with and I was able to sight without too many issues. The water was absolutely beautiful. I got out and knew I needed to be on the bike by 9 AM to have ANY chance of finishing the bike.

The volunteers are amazing. That is pretty much all I have to say about that.


I was at 4 hours and 5 minutes for the first 56 miles. It went pretty smoothly but slowly and was uneventful. Those three hills that are the hardest on the loop were lined with people, Tour de France style. It was pretty awesome and even though I was going slowly, I felt like a rockstar. The only two people I remember for some reason on the entire ride are Donna (passing me on the bike at the very beginning) and Mike Stevenson passing me on his way to the bike finish...DURING MY FIRST LOOP. I just kept thinking "how in the world do people get that fast...and how can I get there??".

My second loop had to be perfect in order for me to get through the bike on time. At this point, I had convinced myself that I most likely was not going to make it back to Monona by 5:30 but I had accepted the possibility of not making the finish months ago. After speaking to Ed one day on the phone, I knew that the time cutoff is not something I can worry about. It's about doing my best and I did do my best that day. Most of all, I was having fun...on the bike....wait what?? That second 56 miles was difficult but I knew each turn from having done the loops 3 times before during training.

That second loop tested my patience a couple of times. At around mile 70, I stopped quickly to ask a volunteer how I was doing in comparison to the sweep vehicle. There were two guys waiting there and I figured that it couldn't be that far behind. That was dumb on my part because this woman (unlike every other volunteer out there) was not very positive. She told me I was pretty much last out there and that the sweep would catch up to me soon and I should probably just wait. I asked if I could borrow her phone quickly because at this point, I thought the sweep vehicle would make me get off the road. I tried calling my mom to tell her I might not make it to the Team Z tent. I waited a couple minutes and just decided I would keep going until the sweep stopped me. So off I went.

Mile 75. A SAG vehicle pulls in front of me and the driver gets out of the car and says "Okay you ready to pack it in...". I told him I guess I had been waiting for him to catch up with me but after a little discussion he told me I didn't have to get off the road...I gave him a confused look and said "Well I have somewhere to be! Until that Sweep vehicle makes me get off the road, I'm gonna keep going".

I broke down when I saw the Team Z tent at mile 82. I wasn't crying out of sadness, I was crying because I actually didn't feel like crap. Because my mom and two of my closest friends were watching me do something athletic for the first time in my life. Because she was proud of me. Because I couldn't stop thinking about how amazing all my teammates and Ed are. Because for the first time in a long time..I was proud of me too! Everyone thinks I was crying because I probably wasn't going to make it but that really wasn't the case. I had two hours and 20 minutes or so and 30 miles but I knew that last 30 miles was the toughest on the course. Jill, Mary, and Cat ran with me and told me to ride like I've never ridden before. And I did. Until I got to the hills. The ones that had been covered with people were completely empty. Not a soul was out there except for a racer in front of me. I had to get off and walk my bike a couple of times because my leg was cramping so badly I couldn't get it to unbend enough to complete a stroke. At the top of the third hill, the sweep vehicle caught me. He was going the other way and stopped me to ask if I'm ready to pack it in. I still had an hour and had 20 miles left. I thought maybe miracles can happen so I told him when he turns around and comes back, I'll get off the bike. I booked it. The whole time I kept looking behind me because I felt like a fugitive. The Wicked Witch's theme music kept playing over and over in my head. I think I maintained around 17 miles an hour, even uphill but it wasn't enough because finally at mile 107, he stopped me and told me it was 5:30. I accepted the fact but told him I wanted to finish the ride. I wasn't going to get a ride back in the truck...I actually felt physically okay and felt like I could keep going. I signed the waiver, he gave me directions for riding on the road because the course had been taken down, and off I went.

By now, almost everyone knows my (first) Ironman journey did not end with "Rohini Kashyap....You Are An Ironman!!". Instead it ended with me walking barefoot up up the Monona Terrace helix, with my shoes in my left hand and my bike in my right. I came to the top of the 3 level parking garage only to find that a gate had been put down preventing me from getting to the bike transition area. A few guys were tearing down a stage and helped me get my bike over the gate while I climbed under. I walked to the right and my mother and friend Sunjum were waiting for me with the Race Director. My mom ran to me...and my mom does not run...screaming 'Henna I'm so proud of you!" and hugged me for what seemed like hours until I stopped crying. But I kept telling her that I wasn't crying out of sadness. I was happy that I tried. That I didn't give up. That I gave it my best and above everything, that she was there to see it.

The week after was hard. The sadness of not finishing settled in and I cried at least 3 times a day for almost a week. I am trying to keep the feeling of pride with me but there's always that uneasy feeling that something was not completed. However, I know I'll try again. I'm going to spend the next year getting faster. I'm going to continue training and do shorter races so I can push myself with speed work. I can't gain the ability I need to get faster if I continue training at such long distances. 2012 will be my year to get that medal.

As for this year...I would not be the person I am today without the journey. Ironman is about a medal at the end BUT that medal it not rewarding only the race...it rewards countless hours of training and emotional exhaustion and physical pain. Not just one day.

Congratulations to every single one of my teammates. Whether you made it or not, you all are an amazing group of people. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of my journey and supportive. I didn't know if I would finish when I signed up last year but in the wise words of our fearless leader Ed....

"You Never Know Unless You Tri". :-)


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Crisis Averted

Already! I can't believe I did this, but apparently I booked my ticket for FRIDAY not THURSDAY!!

Thank you Sunjum for noticing!! Phew. That would have been quite disastrous. Re-booked for tomorrow afternoon. Baltimore to Milwaukee then driving to Madison. Woohoo.

I also got two cards from Holly and Emily. Thank you so much ladies. I will be putting both of them into my special needs bags. :-)


Tuesday, September 7, 2010


I'm starting to have nightmares. The other night I dreamt I left my T1 and T2 bags at the hotel room (which was a 20 minute walk away) and that I forgot to rent my Wetsuit. I realized this all 45 minutes before the race while everyone was lining up to get in the water.

I kept running to get everything together but there just wasn't enough time.

Not gonna lie...I'm scared shitless.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Thank you.

As Sept 12th creeps closer and closer, I cannot help but keep reflecting on a year of self-imposed mental confinement. I exposed myself to mental feats I thought I would never get through. It was just me and my thoughts for hours upon hours of running, biking, and swimming. I know I will cross that finish line on my own, with the sheer mental and physical power of my own mind and body, but I am not crossing that finish line completely alone.

I will have with me the memories of countless friends and family who have provided me support and guidance throughout the year. I know I've stated this multiple times but one can never say thank you enough to people who voluntarily give their time and energy in helping you realize a goal.

So thank you to:

1. My mother. Although I know sometimes it's hard for you to express how proud of me you are, I looked forward to calling you and shocking you with my latest bike and/or run mileage. I don't think you can ever understand why I do this, but part of it is due to the determination you showed me growing up. Love you.
2. My friends. How am I so lucky to have friends who think I'm crazy but yet still accept that I couldn't go out on the weekends or meet up for dinner/coffee because I literally couldn't walk or keep my eyes open.
3. Team Z. Ultimate support system for such a lofty goal. Especially when I don't think I'm capable of finishing. People on the team, both friends and acquaintances, have picked me up countless times, helped me brush myself off, and made me keep moving.
4. Last but not least...my fellow Ironman trainees. You all have shown me the true meaning of determination, strength, courage, and dedication. Thank you for waiting for me as I came in after 9.5 hours on bike rides. Thank you for the pats on the back. Thank you for cheering for me even when you have as much, if not more, to think about than I do. While I will be behind you for most of the day, I look forward to crossing that finish line and congratulating you all!

You all have given me so much strength. And I can only hope to repay a fraction of the kindness you have shown me.

Race day is now 8 days away. I've completed my packing plan, nutrition plan, packing list, to do list, race plan, and finally, post-ironman plan. Bring it on IM Moo. I'm ready. 


Monday, August 9, 2010


Sunday's ride was a long one...115 miles. The ride was nowhere near as hard as the 101 miler the week before (Culpeper) but just the sheer distance is overwhelming. We did two loops. 65 miles and 50 miles. The 65 miler was tough but I finished in a tad under 5 hours. There were NOOOO bathrooms the entire way and I think I had to pee for like 55 miles of the entire ride. As soon as I took a pit stop at a gas station towards the end, the 50 miler didn't seem too bad. The second loop was much easier than the first. I think I did the first 25 miles in an one hour and 50 minutes which was AWESOME. I was flying (well felt like I was). The last half was not so great. The heat and wind were getting to me but I pushed through and finished.

At about mile 76, I started crying....what a shocker I know...but this time it was different.

By mile 76, I had been in my own head for almost 6 hours. Once I had gotten through the 'to do' list, 'goals' list, 'crap I forgot to _____' list, I got to, 'thoughts on the last year'. This weekend was the culmination of a year of training so it was actually a good time for that last list to pop up.

First on the list..."Why I signed up for Ironman"
I thought about the dark place I was in when I signed up for Ironman. I had gained a lot of weight, my ex had just broken up with me, I felt like my dreams for my career were going nowhere, I hated DC, I did not like my job, and physically, I just felt like I wasn't capable of doing anything. Above it all, I missed my family terribly and hated being so far away. I think I hated everything at that point. It was horrible.

Second on the list..."How I feel now"

I can't say it was all solved because of Ironman, but I thought about all I've accomplished. I was at mile 76 of a ride and I wasn't in pain...I wasn't exhausted. It feels so good to feel alive and one with my body (as cheesy as that may sound). Being active has always been meditative for me and I finally had that feeling again. It was amazing. I was crying and smiling as I kept pedaling forward. I've lost almost 15 lbs, I have a renewed sense of optimism with my career (and future goals), and while I still miss my family, I know one day I'll be able to be close to them again. And DC, well I've started to love it again especially since I know so many amazing people in the area.

Third on the list..."The amazing person I've met"

That's right! During the last year, I met someone I am absolutely in love with. Beautiful. Kind. Forgiving. A good friend. Intelligent. A work in progress...but hey who isn't? That person is...me.

I think that's why I was really crying. Because I've finally accepted myself for who I am and can finally see what my friends and family see. I believe in myself as much as they do....And I could not have gotten to this point without them. So thank you. Thank you for saying 'I belive in you', 'I'm proud of you', and of course, my motto for the year, 'HTFU!'.

Thank you for being such wonderful people and being part of my entire Ironman experience.

I don't know if I'll make the time cutoff. It's not really something I can worry about on race day bc I have no control over it. However, I can leave it all on the course and do whatever I need to do to make the cutoff. I will have no regrets either way.

Okay enough. Stop making me cry! :-)

Next up. I should probably sign up for Luray Sprint on Sunday..... :-)


Tuesday, August 3, 2010


This morning.

1 hr 20 minute swim: 2900 yds (1.65 miles)

Just going with the flow

Warning: it's a long post because I have a lot of notes that I need to keep track of. :-)

So last week was pretty stellar...I came back from a wedding and something just clicked with swimming:

Tuesday - 1950 yds/55 minutes
Thursday - 2100 yds/55 minutes

I only did one bike ride last week - on Thursday - because of mechanical issues (I had to get a new tire and apparently my chain was stretched which explains a lot - my chain got stuck the week before when I was on the Crit and I fell over not once but twice). While it wasn't much at all, 3 loops at Hains Point, it felt pretty good and I could really feel a difference in my bike! I still need to get the handle bars wrapped again but I'll do that after the long ride this upcoming weekend so she's all shiny and new for Ironman!

Moving on to Saturday's long ride. A lot of this is boring nutrition stuff but I need to document it so I can keep it in mind for race day.

I'd been having stomach issues the entire week and it was hard to eat enough food so I was a little nervous that I didn't get enough calories in on a daily basis to support the approximately 9 hour ride I was going to attempt the next day. I went to bed at 6:00 PM on Friday night. I know it was a little overkill but I needed the sleep so badly so I popped a Unisom and off to bed I went. Got out of bed around 4 AM.

Pre-ride Nutrition: I had an Almond Butter sandwich on the drive there and a bottle of gatorade. Right before I left I had a bowl of cereal. I think the calories were just right. (Probably around 400-500).

First loop. 16 miles (Culpeper Triathlon course). It felt pretty good. I passed a couple people, people passed me. It was just a warm up loop and then towards the end I actually kept up with people I know are faster than me without feeling like I was going too hard. So I was feeling pretty pumped. I didn't think the hills were too bad except that first hill right when we rolled out of the parking lot. It was tough mainly because I wasn't warmed up yet. Took a couple wrong turns but nothing too bad.

Next, the Old Rag/Culpeper ride. Susan G. sent us an elevation chart that looked like this:

73 miles. 6370 feet of climbing.

I basically said 'shit' and cried myself to sleep. Jk. :-) I was excited for the challenge.

Madison elevation chart.

Total climbing: I can't seem to find it anywhere....but I know it's less than Culpeper.

The Culpeper ride was....exhausting, hard, but I did it. Now I'm not gonna lie, some tears came out at one point (Mile 74ish of the entire day) and I thought I wouldn't make it. Ed had just passed me so I got him to come back and he talked me out of quitting by pouring ice water on me and giving me coke and chocolate.

I finished. That's what I was happy about. That even with thoughts of quitting, I pushed through with Jodie and we came in together.

Then we went out and did another 10 miles. :-) For me, that was a total of 101 miles. The longest ride I've ever done.

Nutrition: Almond Butter & Jelly (changing this to PB & J) every 15 minutes every other hour; shot blocks on the even hours; gatorade throughout; Cheetos at rest stops; and coke for the final 2 hours. I tried pretzels but they just taste gross to me while riding.

Things I need to put into my special needs bag:

Coke, Cheetos, Chocolate (mmm Snickers bars!), extra PB&J

Today I'm going to order the PowerBar perform and see how that works out for me because it'll be on the course. This will really save me from having to mix my own gatorade.

Next up. 120 miles on Sunday. Keep your fingers crossed for me! :-)