Friday, October 16, 2015

Ironman Kona 2015 race report

Finishing chute.

Words. They aren't coming to me as I sit here and try to write a race report. But it was the race of a life time and I want to share it with you. Kona. It's what so many dream of doing and yet I had the privilege of participating. I qualified at my sixth Ironman last year in Wisconsin. A year of training later, here I am in Kona. Competing. Against the world's best triathletes. Alongside so many inspirational stories. It was truly a humbling experience. I arrived in Kona Monday night and decided to go for a run to begin acclimating to the heat, it felt good. The next four days I spent most of my time outside in the shade and my family was kind enough to keep the air conditioning off in the hotel so I could continue to acclimate through the evening and into the night. They are the true unknown heroes and I do not give them enough recognition. 

Race morning: 
Race morning started at 3:15 with breakfast. The norm, apple sauce mixed with a banana and protein powder with Gatorade to wash it down. Then the walk to the start. We stayed about 1.5 miles from transition which allowed me to fully appreciate what I was about to do. There is a lot of mental discipline that goes into competing and this was my last chance to focus that energy. We arrived at the race start where I was corralled through body marking and into transition to pump my bike tires. I was able to see my family momentarily before the start. They were all smiles!! It was game time for me. 

Female swim start.
2.4 mile swim: (Split- 1:09:02)
The women started at 7:10 with a cannon and then chaos. I was really looking forward to the swim because of the clarity and beauty of the water. That did not happen. There were bubbles all around from other athletes, the entire swim. This was new for me as typically I am out in front of the pack, but since all the athletes were elite, the pack was faster. The swim was over before I knew it and it was time to get ready for the bike. 

T1: (Split- 3:25)
After stripping my skin suit off, I rinsed off in the hoses and ran to the tent. The changing tents were not very big which made it a bit crowded. I threw my shoes on and ran to my bike where I would spend the bulk of the race.

112 mile bike: (Split- 6:02:34)
Getting ready to transition to the run.
My coach told me to go easy on the bike. Easy?!! It's a race!! That's not the case. An Ironman is all about the run. If you can't run, you can't compete. I followed my race plan and took it easy on the bike, for the most part. The heat was intense and the lava fields didn't help mask it. Honestly, I didn't feel the heat as much as I though I would during the bike though. Close to the turn around it started sprinkling and before long it started raining super hard the next five miles. It was a welcomed relief from the sun before I headed back to Kona where the sun and over 120 degree road temperatures were in full effect. 30 miles out from transition the wind picked up. I embraced this since I was racing Kona and that's what the venue is known for. I actually said a prayer thanking God for allowing me to experience every aspect the race had to offer. I'm being serious when I say I smiled when the wind started blowing harder. I rode more aggressive than I should have the last thirty miles because I felt strong. My coach did a solid job of preparing me for the bike as he had me do numerous 90-100 mile rides and two 120 mile rides in training. I finished the bike with a smile of relief, even though I enjoyed it. The race was ready to begin. 

T2: (Split- 3:13)
I left my shoes on the bike, so this transition was really quick. In the tent I put on socks, shoes, a hat, and race number and flew out of there as quickly as I could. 

26.2 mile run: (Split- 4:21:30)

Side cramps. My nightmare. This never happens! I got the worst side stitch of my life and it stayed with me the entire run. I went too hard on the bike. Or maybe it was hotter than I gave it credit for. Either way, I was hurting. The first ten miles were in town with people cheering all around. It was easy to push the pain aside, except for the looming Queen K highway ahead of me. In a marathon, 20 miles is mentally half way, I was in trouble. I saw my family a few times in the first ten miles. Seeing them is always a relief, it's helpful for me to connect with them and exchange a smile as their presence reminds me to dig deep. On the way out of town, the course took us up a big hill, I walked. It hurt so I ran. At that moment I remembered what a marathon felt like. I went into my memories and felt the pain of my second and hardest marathon. It hurt just as much to walk as run, so I might as well run. I did. I pushed through the marathon. With the cramps I was not able to eat so I took in liquid at every aid station. My coach came out and gave me some words of encouragement at mile 22 which helped me put the race in perspective. He reminded me how challenging Kona is and that I'm doing it. Then, suddenly, out of no where my dad appeared! He had been following my progress online so he knew I was hurting. For at least a mile, my dad stayed with me while I slowly made my way to the finish line. He didn't get to see me finish in person, but him being out on the course with me was more important, trust me. (Thank you for sacrificing that, dad.) I finally made my way to the finish line. My family was all there cheering me on, taking pictures, and crying (maybe?) as I ran past them. It was an experience of a lifetime. Even though my run was not what I had hoped for, my end time was respectable and the experience will be with me forever. 

My dad and I at the finish.

Summary: (Total time- 11:39:44)
Kona was an incredible experience. I can't say it enough or even begin to describe it. I want to thank everyone who was part of the process for me making it to Kona. Thank you mom, for coming to every Ironman I have done so far and always supporting me with your endless love. Thank you dad, for giving me the endurance to race such a challenging course and always being game for training with me. Thank you to my brother Eric and sister in law Lindsay for spending her 30th birthday spectating and always bragging on me (you both always make me feel like a star). Thank you to my sister Kelsey and her husband Jake for never questioning why I do what I do and instead make me smile and laugh, even when we are not together.  Thank you to my cousins, Kevin and Jeff, for getting me into the sport of Ironman and following through with your promise of coming to Kona if I ever made it, to Jeff's wife Raelene for her patience and love of spectating for such a long day, and a very special thank you to Kevin for all the pictures. Thank you to my coach, Chris for pushing me harder than I thought possible and believing in me. I also want to thank my many friends who came to Kona on race day as well as everyone who followed along online and in spirit. 
Bike is racked and ready to race.

Thank you sponsors and local supporters:
CBRC #mycbrc
Chris Bagg Coaching #cbcg

Additional pictures:

My mom, Lindsay, and brother with me at the finish.
My cousin Jeff and me.

My cousin, Kevin, who took all the pictures!
My beautiful momma!

My brother and me at the bike turn around.

My cousin Jeff and Raelene

Thursday, January 15, 2015

IM Wisconsin Race Report 2014

Flowers from my brother. 

              2014 Ironman Wisconsin Race Report

This is the third time I have done Ironman Wisconsin.  It is one of my favorite Ironmans because of all the fans and the course is absolutely beautiful.  To date, this was the best race I have had yet!  I ended up finishing 4th in my age group which earned me a ticket to Kona!  For those of you who do not know what Kona is, it is the world championship of Ironman, kind of a big deal..  I am super pumped!!  Let me tell you about my race..

Before the race
My bike had major problems..  The derailer hanger on my bike was bent during transit..  This would not allow for me to shift during the race and would put me out of the competitive field if I was not able to get it fixed.  THANK GOODNESS FOR MY BROTHER!!  After numerous phone calls and two days of searching, a shop in Milwaukee got ahold of the BMC dealership who took a hanger off one of their bikes and overnighted it to the hotel.  My brother put the new derailer on and made sure my bike was good to go.  He is literally the best bike mechanic that I know and I am convinced that without him at my race it would have been a different result.  Thank you so much, Eric!!  You have to come to all my races from now on! 

Race start. 
Race start. 

 2.4 mile swim (1:05:32) finished 7th in age group (1 loop)
The swim was one of the more physical swims that I have done.  People were all over me.  Typically during the swim you get hit and then people move over but that was not the case for this swim.  I felt like I was getting hit on all sides at least two or three times by the same person!  Totally nuts.  I was really disappointed in my swim, but I ended up with a respectful time.  The conditions for the swim were great with comfortable water temperatures and no wind or waves.  

Half way through the run.  
T1 (5:48)
The transition for this race takes you up to the third floor of a parking garage where you are forced to run through a matrix in the building.  It is a long transition and my time is competitive even though it looks like I took a nap and had some coffee..  Nothing exciting about this transition other than I could not get my wetsuit off!!  I saw my family at the exit of transition and tried my hardest not to show them my disappointment from the swim.  Turns out, the clock was wrong and my swim was better than I thought..  

Finish line with the capitol in the background.  
112 mile bike (5:46:04) finished 4th in age group (2 loops)
The bike was better than I remember it being.  This being the third time I have done this race, I have some experience with the course.  It seems that historically the roads on the bike course were kind of rough but that was not the case this year!  The roads were great and I was happy.  I was able to stay in aero position nearly the entire ride and only got out of my saddle to climb hills or stretch.  The course is full of rolling hills with a few punchy uphills but mostly a solid ride.  Wisconsin is unique in the beautiful landscape and amazing support fans that come out in full force on the more challenging hills.  I saw my family half way through the ride and was relieved to see them.  Having the support they give me is encouraging to me and keeps me focused on the goal at hand.  I finished the ride feeling good and ready to run.   

T2 (2:13)
A quick transition.  I put my socks, shoes, and hat on and ran out of there with the hope my marathon will go well.  

An incredible race, what a feeling!  
Finish line with my cousins.  
 26.2 mile run (3:52:17) finished 4th in age group (2 loops)
What an amazing run!!  This was my first time breaking 4 hours for a marathon during an Ironman, so of course I was super excited!  It was also the first time during the run portion of a race that I was able to hold my position in my age group!  As expected, the crowds were amazing on the run course and I saw my family numerous times!  Again, seeing them always puts a smile on my face!  That is actually my secret weapon..  smiling..  but I will save that for another blog post.  I followed my race plan on the run which was my heart rate.  I have an incredible coach who has taken me from a 12+ hour Ironman to two sub 11 Ironmans in one year!  The hardest point in the marathon was around mile 10.  I was really disappointed in how my legs felt, they were acting like it was mile 20 of the race..!  If you have ever ran a marathon, you know how discouraging that can be.  A marathon is won and lost in your head, so I put that thought out of my mind and dug deep.  The rest of the run was great.  I focused on my training, my family, and what the finish would feel like.  It worked.
Finish line with my brother.  
Race start with my dad.  

Awards ceremony with my brother and ma.  

My Kona ticket.  

Finish 10:51:54
The finishing line was incredible!  My family was there to bring me in and I knew that I  had just completed the best race to date.  I followed my race plan and used my strengths to take me to the finish.  This race would never have happened if my family did not support me to the extent that they did.  My brother, cousin, and his wife all came out from California and my parents came with me from Washington.  I truly am blessed to have such a strong support base.  Thank you all so much!!  Finishing 4th in my age group gave me the opportunity to go to the Kona roll down where I secured my spot for the 2015 Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii!  

Thank you all for your support!  I am looking forward to this next year of training and racing!  

Please support me in raising money for Kona and this years training by following and sharing this link.. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

2012 Ironman Wisconsin race report (a year late..)

My summer uniform, sunglass tan and all.  
This was my third Ironman, and also my best. I followed my race plan outlined by my coach, Chris Bagg ( and stuck to it as best I could. What made the difference in this race was I ate a lot more then I have in the past and I trained my heart out as well. I'll take you through the race and add my commentary as I wish, since this is my blog..

An example of how many spectators were at the race.  Such great support! 
The swim was a deep water start which was great because it spread the field out. I seeded myself towards the front of the line. Ok, let's be honest, I seeded myself at the front of the line towards the outside of it. It was the perfect place to line up! The swim went well, not too much trashing around until the back side of the loop. It was a one loop swim course, I'm not sure why it started getting aggressive halfway through the swim. So weird. I came out of the water happy it was over and ready to bike.

The transitions are all indoors at a convention center in Madison, we had to run up the helix (circle ramp in a parking garage) for two floors. I was almost dizzy by the time I got to my bike. The spectators were awesome and totally lined the outside of the ramp cheering the athletes on!

Leaving the transition getting ready to ride 112 miles.  
I made a rookie mistake on my bike. The night before the race, I put my sports powder in the bottom of the container I keep between my aero bars and drink out of with a straw. The problem? Well, when I put water in the container it didn't mix the powder up so it left me with crunchy/ clumpy sports drink! It even got stuck in my straw! It was really gross. Besides that, there were no malfunctions as far as nutrition was concerned the rest of the race. The bike was two loops of very bumpy Midwest roads. I'm really serious on this. My pelvis was numb by mile 30 because of the rough roads! It was a hilly course, but I stuck pretty close to my race plan and was able to flatten out the ride. My bike split was slower then I've had at previous Ironmans to hopefully allow me to have a better run. Again, the spectators were awesome at this race and cheered us athletes on throughout most of the ride! I even saw my family out in the middle of some town cheering me on! Such a spirit lift!! At the end of the bike we had to go up the helix before going to the transition and was totally dizzy when I reached the top. Thankfully one of the many awesome volunteers took my bike for me at the top and I only had to make my way indoors to where my running shoes were waiting for me.

Again, the transition was indoors. I felt like I was running through a maze! The volunteers were great and saw me through to the light where I had to run.

The run is where the race is won. Or lost. My plan was to keeping putting one foot in front of the other at an increased pace and eat enough calories to sustain my pace. I feel as though I was successful in this. The bike was a bit faster then it should have been, so my legs were not as fresh as I would have liked, but it's an Ironman.. No one has fresh lefts after swimming 2.4 and biking 112. Marathons are such a mental game, so I decided to play it. I had a smile on my face the entire run! Seriously! 10% of the run I was smiling! It was so much fun! I ran the first look of the marathon and felt strong, the second loop is where it became more challenging. Having ran over 15 marathons through, I knew that the pain is only temporary and continued to run finishing with a huge smile on my face with lots of tears in my eyes.

The finish line!  
My dad holding me up at the finish.  

Trying to laugh at the end of the race.  It hurt really bad.  

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Flying High

My awesome compression socks that I wore in preparation of my race Sunday on the airplane.  

Had a layover in Seattle before flying to O'hare, Chicago.  Mount Rainier was beautiful!  

It's funny how so many things that are otherwise socially unacceptable suddenly become the norm in an airport. Yesterday I flew out to Chicago with a layover in Seattle and took note of some of the things I never see, except when traveling by air. Here are some of the things I observed:

1.  It is ok to ask a stranger to watch your purse while you go to the restroom.
2.  If you fly out before 9am or after 5pm, you can wear your pajamas... Or actually any time of the        day.
3.  You can sit or lay down in the middle of the walkway.
4.  You can have your pillow with you and use it anytime anywhere. (see 3 above)
5.  You will take your shoes and belt off without question when asked.
6.  Personal space means nothing.
7.  You can lay your head on a complete stranger and even drool on them without them saying anything.
8.  You can tell your life story and history to a creepy looking guy without worrying that they are taking note and could later possibly come after you, because they can afford a plane ticket and would never do that... (but really girlfriend be careful, you had me worried)
9.  You can park in the middle of the street if you're anywhere close to the airport.
10.  Shoes are optional, apparently even in bathrooms..

Do you have any interesting airport stories?

Where did you fly to last time you were on an airplane?

Are you ready to watch me race Sunday in the Madison, Wisconsin Ironman?!  If so, follow me here: or remember to go to the results section and search for Sarah Shadle.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Sarah vs Sally

Sally or Sarah? with Buddy and Morgan.  
What the heck were my parents thinking when they named me Sarah but have always called me Sally?  If I told you the real story, my parents would deny it, so I'll tell you what they will never admit.

You know how writers will often times have a different name for themselves when they sign their writings?   It's called a pseudonym. I believe my parents knew I was going to be a star from birth.  They saw me and thought to themselves, "by golly, look at that Star!  We must give her a pseudonym to protect her from her fans when the world meets her!".  That is where the name Sally originated; so that when I go by Sarah no one would know who I was.  Although legally I am Sarah, you would never find me because I go by Sally!   Seriously though, my parents legally named me Sarah just in case if I were to become a professional (ie: lawyer or doctor) my name would sound as such as well.   So, my legal name is Sarah and I go by Sally.  (sometimes I am confused by my name as well)  If you look up in the dictionary you will find these definitions:

Sally: a sudden rushing forth or activity (dictionary link to Sally)
Sarah: princess (dictionary link to Sarah)

I think they both fit me rather nicely, and therefore would not be able to choose if I were forced to.   I tell you this because I go by Sarah on paper . I sign up for races as Sarah.   My paycheck is Sarah.  My drivers license is Sarah.  Everything I own is owned by Sarah!

In less then a week I will be racing in Ironman Wisconsin.   If you're anything like I am, you will be glued to your smartphone or computer following the race online and cheering on all the people you know who are racing!   That's what I do almost every Sunday.  When you see me on my phone, I'm either following a race or catching up on my favorite athletes on twitter. (follow me on twitter @skeetss)   If you're interested in following my race progress follow this link, or maybe this link, Ironman Wisconsin and search for Sarah Shadle in the results section.

I'll see you at the finish line!

Game face!  Although I race as Sarah, cheer me on as Sally!  

Are you going to be following the race?

What nick names were you called as a child?  

Monday, August 20, 2012

Today's Lesson

Driving to meet the start of my ride on Sunday.  I thought this blog was in need of a self portrait.  
I rode on the bike path for a short portion of Sundays long ride.  This is the Columbia River looking at the Blue Bridge.  

I had a fantastic run this morning!  It's my last big workout before tapering for Ironman Wisconsin on September 9.  Yesterday I had a long bike ride coupled with a short run afterwards then today I ran.  I thought I would share some things I learned during my run today with you:  

1.  When a parent starts counting they are serious.  1... 2... 3... 

2.  People appreciate you saying "morning" when you go by if it's before 9am.  

3.  People look at you like you have two heads when you say "morning" after 9am.  

4.  More men than women walk their dogs on this particular bike path.  

5.  When doing an 11 mile loop twice, the second time around is always longer then the first time around.  

6.  A lady biked past me and said, "you're obviously in shape, you're my hero!"  I am someone's hero.  

7.  I can run faster than I thought.  

8.  Most people wear headphones, I do not.  

9.  Having worship before a run makes everything better!  

10.  22 miles is a long ways to go without having a conversation.  (if you've ever ran or biked with me, you know I don't shut up)

For those of you interested, here are my two longest workouts up to this point in preparation for my race that I completed this past weekend.  You may find it interesting, inspirational, boring, or confusing.  I totally geek out on this stuff, so if you're one of my admirers, now you know what gets me..  Just kidding.  But seriously, follow the links to my workouts.  Real quick, Sunday I biked then went for a short run and Monday I ran.  

What are some of  your long workouts?  

Have you ever pushed yourself harder than you thought possible?  

Do you enjoy people watching?  

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Childhood Scars

First day of school, I must have been in 3rd or 4th grade.  

Yes, this is me.  I kind of look like a guy.. Ugh.. 
One of my terrible hair cuts.  Yes, I really posted this..  

Growing up I received two really bad haircuts that left me looking like a boy. Seriously. I was asked to use the boys bathroom twice in one week! How depressing is that? I was in elementary and then middle school when I had these terrible hair cuts.  (see above photo's)  In fact, half way through my 7th grade year I transferred to a new school and was the new "cute boy" until all the girls found out I was in fact a girl.

Do you see how bad my hair must have been? I'm sure it didn't help that I was very active growing up and refused to wear dresses, but that's not the point. I was a girl and did not like being told to use the boys bathroom or being thought of as the cute guy.

Three weeks ago at about 7:30am I set out to begin my long Sunday bike ride. There are very few cars on the roads that early in the day which makes it a great time to ride. This Sunday I was in for a surprise. As I was riding on a neighborhood road, I heard a car horn behind me. I looked and saw that there was plenty of room between him and me, so I stood my ground and didn't move over. I should tell you, this road has huge shoulders, so there was plenty of room. The car went past me with no problem, although closer to me then it needed to be. No biggie, cars don't like bikes and I understand that. As luck would have it, the car and I were both stopped at the stop light. (Seriously, there are no cars! How is the light red?) The driver was pretty heated, so he rolled down his window and let me have it-

Cadillac driver: what are trying to do, get yourself killed?!

Me: there's lots of room for you to go around.

Driver: you stupid son of a bitch!!!

Me: enjoy church!!

The driver was 70+ years old, dressed nicely and had his well dressed wife in the car with him. He was totally going to church! Zing! I remained calm throughout the entire reaction and wonder what he thought as he drove off. I like to think he regrets what he said to me after I called him out on going to church wondering if he maybe missed a chance to witness to me. I felt sad for him and his wife as they drove off because the driver was so full of anger. I mean, who yells at a biker early Sunday morning on a neighborhood street?

My point of this story? He called me a son of a bitch! I've worked so hard to remove myself from my younger years by growing my hair out long and being more feminine, (besides from burping, I totally burp like a guy) and he called me a son! I had my hair down my back while I was riding, so I know the driver saw it. How could he have mistaken me?

Making fun of people can be so harmful. I would like to challenge each of you to not hurt people with your words and to think before you speak asking yourself what the other person will hear.

Where you ever made fun of growing up?

Have you missed a witnessing opportunity recently?

Do cars bully you when you ride?
Do I honestly look like a "son of a bitch"?  I didn't think so.