Monday, December 3, 2012


Sometimes the best laid plans just don't turn out the way we want them to go.

It's been a few weeks since the Ironman, and I've spent this time in reflection, tears, disappointment, and just good ol' sitting on my pitypot. Well believe it or not, the sun has continued to rise, the calendar keeps turning, and the clock keeps on ticking.

The morning started as planned, woke up with enough time to eat some oatmeal and coffee. I even stirred in some blue corn meal to give it some extra Diné umph. Night before I had everything packed and ready to go. Enzo was already parked and just needed a water bottle.

Michelle, Ella, and Cole drove me down to see me off. Traffic to the parking area was crazy, and while waiting for cars to move it dawned on me that I didn't pack an extra swim cap. Y'see, I chose to pass on a neoprene cap and use two swim caps instead. luckily Triple Sports was open, so while the car wasn't moving, I jumped out and bought another swim cap. ok...crisis diverted.


Got to the transition area...Wow the portapotty lines are long! First stop - Bodymarking

Had my special needs bags that needed to be dropped off. Nothing special, just a PBJ in each, but dang the drop off area is far! Got back, waited for the potty - check.

Wha?! already calling pros to swim start, and I still need to get in my wetsuit. Am I forgetting anything? Am I forgetting anything? Am I forgetting anything?

Gosh, I sure hope not.

Here's how I'm hoping the rest of the world sees me

.....but, here's how I'm REALLY feeling

Ha ha!

Time to head down to the swim. I was hoping to find the other Ironmoms, but I was also trying to keep from having a panic attack too. Luckily I ran into Melinda and stood on the side watching the rest of the group jumping in and swimming out to the start. I was really scared. Well, here goes nothing and I jumped in. DAYUM that's cooooold! Easy swim out to the start under the bridges. I got there just in time to tread for a couple minutes then BANG!!!!! Time to go!

I intentionally seeded myself toward the back to avoid the punching, kicking, pulling, and getting swam over. My race plan allowed me a good two hours to complete the swim. I started my Garmin when the cannon went off so I could track the day.

Dang its cold.

I'm in there somewhere.

I was probably sighting and checking my time too many times and the big crowd was pulling away, but I wasn't alone so its still ok. There was a mixture of kayaks, canoes and motor boats in the water. Somehow one of the police boats decided to stay in front of me so I spent a lot of time breathing in the exhaust fumes.....YUCK! Checked my time, still on track...ok.

FINALLY get to the first turn buoy, make my turn and thankful to get the sun out of my eyes. Second turn buoy and heading back, check my time....awesome right at one hour! Plan is on track. Stroke, stroke, stroke, breath. Stroke, stroke, stroke, breath. Stroke, stroke, stroke, breath. HOLY CRAP!!!!!! What the hell?!?!?!?!!! OWWWWWWWWW!!!!!! Hamstring cramp.....NOOOOOOOOO. I popped up screaming and a kayak came over to help. I was pulling my "toes to my nose" and trying to activate my quads to release the cramps. I was asking, more like pleading, for salt or Ironman Perform. The lady in the kayak let me know that she only had plain water. No, no, no.....I NEED SALT!!!!

I'm not sure how long I held on to that kayak. Kayak-lady asked, "Do you want to give up?" Oh HELL NO! Ok Brown, c'mon and get yer arse in gear!

Face down. Stroke, stroke, stroke, breath. Stroke, stroke, stroke, breath. Stroke, stroke, stroke, breath. Just keep swimming dammit! That IS NOT a muscle twinge. Relax, don't tighten up, it'll pass. Stroke, stroke, stroke, breath. Light posts are going by. Stroke, stroke, stroke, stroke, breath. Thanks old guy on the SUP for keeping me on track...just stay there on my right. Stroke, stroke, stroke, breath. Stroke, stroke, stroke, breath. More light posts going by, a little quicker now.

You can make it, you can make it.

Stroke, stroke, stroke, breath. Lost count on the number of light posts that went by. I've gotta be getting close by now, but don't want to take time to check. Just let SUP-man guide you in. Stroke, stroke, stroke, breath. No, no, no....that is NOT a muscle twinge. relax. relax. RELAX! I'm starting to hear the crowds and music! You can make it, you can make it!

BAM! NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Toes to the nose.....toes to the nose!



SUP-man is right there. "More cramps?" He asks. Yes! "Where?" Calves. "That's it," he says, and calls in the Tempe PD boat. I can see the last turn buoy. Ow, ow, ow, ow. Check my watch - 02:12 - Yup, that's it.

"Hang on ma'am, we got you." I'm pulled onto the boat sobbing, cramped, devastated, sobbing.

"Pull around, we got another one over here." An exhausted older lady is also pulled on next to me. She's shivering and coughing and coughing and coughing. She turns to me and says, "We are going to be ok! We will do this again! We'll come back and do this again!"

Next thing, pulled up at the dock, and lots of people and hands. They try and stand me up to get out of the boat. OW OW OW!!! Muscles in legs still cramped, I can't stand. A blanket is brought and I have to roll on it, then I'm carried up onto the dock. What the heck, I have to climb over a railing to get into the medical tent? You're kidding right?

Suddenly, my best friend Traci appears! "Annette! Annette! I'm here, I'm here!" I'm still sobbing. I'm uprighted enough to strip the wetsuit, and Traci takes it. Lifted over the railing, and slid straight into a tub of warm water. sobbing, sobbing, sobbing.

"Here's some warm chicken broth" Thanks. Needed this an hour ago.


Lots of rushing and people bringing in another guy for the warm tub next to me. He was in pretty bad shape. Thrashing about, incoherent, vitals being called out - pulse ox 78 - holy crap! "Get an IV line started!" "Someone call his wife!" "We're going to have to transport!" "Sir! Sir! can you hear me!?"

Can I have some more chicken broth?

I finally look around and there's at least six people huddled under blankets in beach chairs. Traci is still there, holding my hand, letting me know she called Michelle. They were already out on the Beeline for the bike leg. "Did I want them all just to meet me at home?"

No, no, I want to go out there! I have to go out there...the rest of the Ironmoms are out there. If I'm not going to race, I'm going to cheer on my friends. My day is not over yet!

Yes, I need one more chicken broth. Yes, I think I can move over to a beach chair now. I try standing. Pretty wobbly. "Sit down, you're not ready yet." Ok, no I don't want anymore chicken broth. Yes I'm still crying because I can't go on anymore. No, don't cut-off my wristband! That's too final, too day is not over yet!

Finally in my beach chair, huddled under a blanket. Gurney comes in, the other guy is loaded up and buckled in. Thankfully I can hear him responding to their questions.

Not sure how much time went by, but I'm finally feeling like I can stand and move around. I need to go collect my T1 and T2 bags. My glasses are in my T2 bag. I have no dry clothes other than what's in my bags. I'm still cold. Traci and Amanda were there to watch the start. Little did they know, little did I know, that I'd be riding to the Beeline in a car, and not on my Enzo.

I'm thankful for the cheers, and "good jobs". It was great to see the other Ironmoms, new friend Linda, Peter, Caroline, Doran whizzing by! My dad came upon a couple cowbells, and we rang them non-stop until Caroline went by going north on her last loop. She'll make it. It's okay to go home now for a shower, a bit of a rest, and change to head back down to the finish line. My day is not over yet! 'sides, there's still the business of collecting Enzo.

Michelle and I went back down for the finish line. I was tracking everyone with my IronTrac app on my phone. We got back down to the finish line and just missed Kristen's finish line dance. dang.

The Ironman finish line has to be the funnest place on earth! Dancing, cheering, dancing, yelling, willing your friends to make it! "YOU. ARE. AN. IRONMAN!" I tell ya the energy is amazing!

Collected Enzo and put him in the backseat of the car. Got some yummy noodles, and met up with Kate to wait for Kim and Linda. Peter and Caroline finished. YAY!

I was tracking Kim, and knew that any minute we should see her coming around the corner. Then all of a sudden, there she was! "KIMBERLY HOLST...YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!!!" Hooray!

Linda, where's Linda? Ok, she made the third loop cut-off. Just gotta wait. Dancing, dancing, and more dancing. Here she comes! "LINDA CATALANO....YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!!!" Hooray!!!!

One of the best finishes was the last person. Linsey Corbin (Montana girl who won) and the second place finisher run down the chute and practically drag her, sprinting down the finish chute to just make it! AWESOME!

Found Linda with her friends and gave her a hug!

Time to go. NOW my day is done.

I'll be back.


  1. Of course you will be back..with lessons learned. Congrats on the journey..that is the most fun and rewarding part. Hope to follow you for your next big goal. Have a great 2013!

  2. You did the scariest part of the race. You started. Do you know how many people don't even start?! You are going to do it! You will. I just know it! Big Hug.

    1. Totally agree--the start was the worst!! Now that you know you can do that, the rest will be easy peasy. :)

  3. You have the heart of 100 Ironmen!! Next year is your year and I can't wait to hear them call out your name!!!! :)

  4. I was tearing up reading this!!! I know you will do this. I was so sad that you were pulled this time, but I am so glad you came out to cheer. It was definitely a boost I needed. Here's to continued training!!!

  5. Annette, I am so impressed with your IM zeal! My heart broke for you, but I know you'll come back and do it. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us, and for cheering everyone on.
    Rock on Ironmom!!