November 19, 2015

Ironman Arizona 2015

What just happened? Race week came and gone just like that. I describe it as it's just like planning your wedding. You spend about 9 months preparing and the day is over in the blink of an eye.

Want the short version of the day?...

It rained.
I froze.
I am an Ironman.

But I know you are all here to read (in detail) what went down that day and how I was able to cross that magical finish line. Here goes, it's a long one, get comfortable.

The weekend started off great. I went down by myself on Friday morning after the kids gave me hugs and good lucks before they went off to school. I decided it was best to have them stay home and stick to their normal routines. Standing around at races is not their favorite thing to do and certainly not 16 hours of standing around. That afternoon I arrived at Tempe Beach Park to Ironman Village where picked up all my gear. I was able to bypass the extra long lines since I was racing as a Team IMF athlete. That made it so quick and easy.
Ready to get this party started in Tempe!

My name on a shirt.

Later on I met up with Team IMF for the kick-off luncheon at Culinary Dropout (so good). We got to hear all about the Foundation and where the fundraising money is going and had a few guest speakers speak to inspire us! After the luncheon I spent more time walking around the expo, shopping in the Ironman tent and visiting with friends. I didn't buy a whole lot of M-dot merchandise because I was feared that if I didn't finish the race then I wouldn't want to wear the logo. Later that afternoon I met up with some of the other ladies from my Coeur Sports Team. This was the first time meeting my other teammates but I've been on the team for a few years now and I feel like I have really had a chance to know the ladies on a personal level. I had some nice conversations with a few of the pro ladies on the team and I loved the encouragement they gave me. They had some good advice for me and eased my anxiety about this race.
Team IMF Luncheon

My fundraising peeps!

Coeur Sports Ambassadors

That evening I had a nice quiet dinner to myself at the hotel. As much as I love being around people, spending this time alone allowed me to gather thoughts and mentally prepare myself for race day. One tip I took to heart was to picture yourself doing the race (as if you were a drone flying above watching yourself), executing all the plans you have in place and to see yourself crossing the finish. Then repeat over and over.
So many bags.

Trying to get organized.
Tat me up.
My adorable nephew putting his tattoos on as well. Heart & Courage!
The next morning was the practice swim in Tempe Town Lake. This was the only time you were allowed to swim prior to the race, and both my triathlon coach and my swim coach recommended that I get in the water. I'm so glad I took their advice. The water temperature had been dropping fast the last week or so and it was expected to be around 62-63. I got my wet-suit on and jumped in the water. My initial was panic and shock. It was cold, even with a full suit on. But I was prepared, I remember Coach Frank telling me that my body would freak out but ignore it and trust that my wet-suit would keep me warm. He was right. Once I got in a groove I started swimming. We were only allowed to swim a few buoys but it felt good to get a feel for it. My initial thoughts were "shit I'm tired just after a few buoys how am I going to do the entire thing?" Those were the doubts that always seem to creep into my head before big events. Later that evening I was able to meet up with my husband (Paul) and my brother and his family. We had a nice dinner together at the hotel and since my brother and sister in law are both Ironmen they helped me check over gear bags and get ready for the busy day ahead of me. I said goodnight at 8:00 pm and was in bed by 8:30. I got about 5 hours of solid sleep that night. The rest of the time I sat and stared at the clock and dark ceiling.
Swim practice in Tempe Town Lake.
Swim practice, gorgeous day!
Pre-race: Woke at 4:30 (well stood up at 4:30, already awake at the point). Paul being the pilot and weather buff checked the weather radar one final time that morning for me. Forecast: 73 partly cloudy, winds 10 mph and 25 % chance of rain later in the evening. Perfect! I'll throw a rain poncho in my Run Special Needs bag (which you are allowed to access at mile 13 of the run) and maybe some gloves just in case. I even considered putting my nice cycling jacket in my Bike Special Needs bag but the only bad thing about SN bags is that you don't get anything returned to you. So if you don't use it, you lose it which really sucks! I wasn't willing to take that chance on such an expensive item.

Paul dropped me off at the start and I was able to add a few last minute water bottles and nutrition to my bike. The good thing about Ironman is that you already have all your gear set up the day before. There is no laying out all your items on the ground, everything is packed in different bags and handed to you before you enter the change tent. Before I knew it they were calling for the athletes to line up according to their estimated swim finish time.

Swim: IMAZ has always been a mass start (where everyone gets in the water at once and the cannon goes off and you start swimming). This was the first year they used the Swim Smart initiative. Which we would begin at 6:50 am (before the usual 7:00 am) and line up based on how long we think the 2.4 miles will take us. I went back and forth with this in my mind and after discussing this with Coach Frank we decided I would line up in the 1:15-1:30 hour swim time. In my mind I thought I would swim more like 1 hour and 40 minutes but Coach Frank was adamant that I stick to this wave and just go towards the back. As I was lining up I was surrounded by lots of green caps (men). There were a few pink caps in my wave and it started to worry me. I began to worry that this wave would be too competitive for me. The cannon went off and I was surprised how quickly the line went. There were four entry points and stairs going down into the water. You jumped off that last stair and just had to swim. I did just that and reminded myself that the water was 62 and it would be a shock at first but move past it. I jumped in and just started swimming. I was trying to get around a few slow guys and was getting kicked and punched left and right. I expected this and told myself not to freak out over it. Within the first 100 yards, I pulled my head up to sight and saw a guy coming (head on) at me in full blown panic mode. I stopped to ask if he was ok and he didn't look like he was. I signaled and waited for a kayak to come get him and they did right away. It was then that other swimmers started running into me and felt the need to crawl over me. That pissed me off because all I was doing was stopping to make sure this guy was ok. I swam another 200 yards and was continuing to get beat up in this pack. My head hurt, my ribs hurt. I was ready to fight back. So I did. I swam angry, I kicked, I made sure I always had one hand stretched out in front to protect my face. If I felt someone crawling over me they got a hard kick in the gut. I swam alongside the buoys as I tend to pull a lot to the left. I tried swimming out farther to the right where perhaps it wasn't crowded by my darn stroke just kept pulling me left. I finally made it to the bridge which was near the turnaround. That was a huge relief as it meant it was halfway over. I was still stuck in combat zone at this point. By the time I could and hear Mike Reilly at the swim exit is when things finally let up for me. I exited the water at 1:32:50. I was pretty happy with my time and just elated to get out of the water. I got my wet-suit ripped off me and despite the cold water, I was pretty comfortable. I'm so glad I wore the full wet-suit and doubled up on my swim caps (silicone thicker one on the bottom-tip from Coach Frank). I ran out of the water and was handed my Bike Gear Bag.

T1: For the swim I wore a bathing suit top and my Coeur tri shorts. I wanted to be able to put on a dry sports bra and dry tri top. I quickly found a place to sit and loved how helpful the volunteers were. They were there to help you unpack your bag, hold items for you, pull down the back of your sports bra (not easy when you are wet) and put your shoes on you. I dried off as much as I could but noticed an athlete next to me who was really struggling to get warm. She had a small hand towel and that was it. I gave her my beach towel and told her to keep it. I put on my Coeur tank top and was a little cold because my tri shorts were wet but I knew how fast they dry on the bike. Besides it looked like the sun might be coming out! I also grabbed my arm sleeves and put those on since they were dry. I hopped on the bike and saw my cheering section (my husband, Wes, Katie and my sweet nephews). Only 112 miles to go! I was feeling good as I rode the course a few weeks before and I knew exactly what to expect or so I thought...
Now where's my bike?

Good luck kiss.
My Fans aka Amanda's Fandas
Bike: I encountered some headwinds on the first lap maybe a little stronger that 10 mph like the forecast but nothing too outrageous. It just slowed me down. I am a really slow climber and throw in a headwind and snails could pass me. I remember cruising along and looking up at the sky and thinking: "wow those are pretty dark clouds not at all partly cloudy." I finally hit the turnaround at Shea and this was the part I liked. I had a nice tailwind and I could fly back into town. I was really good about taking in my carefully calculated nutrition. I aimed for around 325 calories an hour. I had my calories in my bento box on my bike, a few taped to my bike and would pick up the remainder from the aid stations and my special needs bags. The bulk of my calories came from Infinite Nutrition which was a custom blended powder that tasted like grape Kool-Aid. Sounds gross but I trained with this on all my rides and I knew it sit well in my stomach, even when the drink got warm. I carried the powder in baggies on me and would just need to add water to my aero bottle when needed. As I was heading back down the hill I looked toward Tempe and saw the clouds were now even darker and I could see that it was raining. "Looks like I will get a little wet today " I thought to myself. As I got closer to town the temperature starting dropping fast. I started to worry as all I had on was a tank top, shorts and arm sleeves. As I came onto Rio Salado ending lap one it really started pouring. The spectators were running to find shelter. The rain came down hard. But there was my family cheering their heads off and getting drenched but they didn't care. They were so excited to see me. And I was happy to see them too! The loop was taking me around 2 hours and 40 minutes so I calculated in my head what time I would see them again. I was also wearing a rented tracker by Beacon Athlete Tracking so they knew exactly where I was at all times during the race. It worked very well much better than the Ironman tracking service. It still continued to rain. I wondered if it was going to stop. By this time I was drenched. Wet socks, wonderful. It was still windy and now I was getting cold from being so soaked. I made it to the top of the turnaround at Shea. I passed up several aid stations because now I wanted to hurry up and get out of the rain. I knew Bike Special Needs was coming up at mile 66 and I made sure I stopped. I hadn't packed any additional dry clothes but for some reason I hoped that maybe there was SOMETHING DRY in that bag that I could put on. I called out my number as I came in and a guy stood there holding my bag. I just stared at the contents of it. Frozen water bottle...ummm nope won't need that. GU, extra Infinite, Sour Patch Kids, band-aids and a CO2 cartridge. I stood blankly at the items and didn't even know what I wanted. I grabbed the powder but was worried because I hadn't even go through all my other bags yet. My nutrition plans were failing and I worried. I also looked at how much water I had consumed and it was still almost full. Not good. I pressed on and it was still raining. It never stopped I was getting pounded, drenched and some even said it started to hail. I just saw huge wet rain drops. You had to slow way down on the turns as the ground was covered in puddles. I peddled and made it back to Rio Salado and was sad at how deserted the streets were. In years past this is where all the fans stand and it is just so inspiring. There were a few die hard's seeking shelter under EZ-UPS and I was grateful for them but for the most part it was just a wet ghost town. As I reached the turnaround I saw my family (plus my three best girlfriends who just arrived). By this time I was frozen wet and started crying and shaking my head. I forced a smile but my husband knew I was suffering. I heard him say "she's not doing good." I had just spent a few hours getting beat up and rained on, I knew the direction of the storm and here I was having to turn around to head back right into it again. I didn't want to suffer for another 37 miles. I wanted to quit. But I didn't. I thought about my kids. I thought about how disappointed they would be if they didn't get to see my medal because to them it's all about the medal. I thought about how far my family and friends traveled to watch me race and couldn't let them down. I thought about my friends and family members tracking me online and for all they knew it was 73 and partly cloudy. And would be wondering why I stopped! So I kept going. I finally stopped at the next aid station and tried to take in food. My teeth were chattering and I seeked shelter in the porta-potty. I was so sick of the rain. Sadly the porta-potty was warm and it was dry and I stayed in there for about 5 minutes. I thought the rain would stop. It didn't, so I hopped back on my bike and chanted my mantra over and over JFTFT (Just Finish The F***ing Thing). I continued on to the top of Beeline and went to grab my water bottle to force some liquids in me and it flew right out of my hand. I couldn't make a fist to grasp it. I couldn't feel my fingers. I tried to open a Honey Stinger packet and the same thing happened, my fingers wouldn't move. It was late in the day and saw racers seeking shelter in stopped police cars, ambulances, spectator cars, anything just so they could warm up. I also saw lots of racers wearing trash bags around their core to keep warm. I would ask for one at the next aid station. When I got to the aid station I needed help getting off my bike because my legs had locked up and feet were so cold it was hard to move. A few of the volunteers came over and bear hugged me for a few minutes to get me to warm up. I asked for a trash bag and was told they were all given out. Back in the porta-potty I went to seek warmth. Once again I stayed in there for about 5-10 minutes to warm up. Once again I contemplated quitting and just catching a ride back down the hill. When I came out a volunteer had tracked down a clean trash bag for me and made a poncho. That trash bag (as annoying as it was in the wind) became my security blanket. I was wet underneath but it did help keep my core temperature warm up especially on that downhill when I wasn't working as hard. I finally made it back into the transition area and have never been so happy to get off the bike. Bike time 8:11:13

My reminder, when I considered giving up.
Photo credit: Harrison Shao, California Triathlon
Oh my god! Get me off this bike course.

Sponsored by Hefty trash bags or Waste Management.
T2: T2 was a muddy mess. When I ran in I thought I was in the medical tent. I saw so many people just sitting there with space bags wrapped around them being fed hot chicken broth and shivering uncontrollably. The volunteers were bear hugging them and rubbing everyone's arms to keep them warm. I was handed my Run Gear Bag and started pulling out the items I was going to change into. My hands and feet were still frozen so I needed a lot of helped getting dressed. First was my warm dry compression capris. I didn't think I would need these but so glad I packed them. Now most of my legs would be covered and warm. I had dry socks in there and hooray my tennis shoes were dry (thank you to volunteer Olivia who guarded my bag for me to make sure it stayed closed and no rain seeped in- love you for that).

Run: Just as I came out on the course I noticed the sun had come out. Thank goodness maybe I'll warm up on the run. I came running out with a smile on my face and saw my family and friends right away. I was so relieved to be off that bike course! My legs felt good and I felt like I could run a fast pace but I knew I had 26.2 miles ahead of me and I needed to slow it down. Also I was behind on calories and hydration from the bike so I had to be careful. The first 6 miles were great and flew by. Then it started getting dark but it didn't matter there were still a lot of people on the course. Most everyone was on their second loop so it was a little depressing when folks would say "only 4 miles to go and we will be Ironmen!" "Yeah nope not me, I'm on lap one." Whomp-whomp. I know in their heads they were saying "sucks to be you." But that's ok I was still feeling good. My stomach was a little messed up and I actually wasn't hungry or thirsty. I wasn't taking in much fuel at any of the stations. I tried the chicken broth, it was ok, not warm so I couldn't say it was heaven like everyone says it is. I tried a GU, nope didn't want that. Clif Bar? Nope didn't taste good either. Maybe I'll just stick to the Gatorade offered on the course. Yuck that was too sweet. Instead I found my stashed Nuun Hydration  tablet and broke it into small pieces and dropped a piece in a cup. It was a familiar taste and my stomach was ok with it so I sipped on that for a few miles. I saw my family and friends in several different spots throughout the run. They would cross over the bridge and meet me underneath it, then go back so they could catch me on the flip side. This time my Mom and Dad joined up with the group and I was elated to see them. I loved the look on my Dad's face when I saw him the first time. It actually brought tears to my eyes. His smile was huge and he waved his fist and said "all right there she is!" He was so proud of his daughter, I could tell. My mom had the biggest smile on her face as well and gave me a huge hug. It was nice and that kept me going for quite awhile. Just like my brother said: "Amanda you will find something on that course that will make you smile, hold on to that and go with it, as long as you can."

My friend Michelle and her cute sign. 
Photo credit: Harrison Shao, California Triathlon
Doesn't everyone look like they are having a blast?
Sister in law Katie
Hubby and my brother
Love those smiling faces and cute signs!
Christy, Hilary and Michelle, my girls!
Seriously more rain?
I finished up the first lap and it was hard to make that left turn at the junction of "second lap" and "finisher's chute" but I pressed on. Soon after I hit 13.1 miles (halfway) and stopped to get my Run Special Needs Bag. Inside I had band-aids which I really should've used because I could feel the horrible blisters forming on my toes and bottom of my feet. I attribute those blisters from having wet feet for 5+ hours. I took out some GU chomps, Base Salt, gloves and my stuffed my plastic rain poncho (just in case) in my top. I was then informed by my husband that "he thinks I need to get to mile 20 by 9:30 to make the cutoff." "Wait what? That's not far from now. So I took off and ran hard. My heart rate was sky high at this point and I quickly slowed down remembering that I blew my nutrition earlier that day. And then it rained...again and I thought "are you kidding me?" Before I could get wet I quickly pulled my rain poncho out and stuck my arms inside to stay warm. I slowed down to walk and watched my pace creep higher and higher. Mile 18 I hit a wall. This was yet another dark place my mind went to and now my stomach was objecting. My gut was not happy with anything I wanted to give it. I'll spare the details but my body began to shut down. I finally made it to mile 20, and at mile 25 I picked my pace up back to a run. A few people were shocked that I started running. It surprised me that I still had a little left in the tank. I got up to about 300 yards from the finish and stopped because it was crowded. I remember hearing that you want to pause before the finisher's chute so you get it by yourself and Mike Reilly will announce your name (too many people and he can't get them all). As I stopped and waited a few seconds more and more people came so I just sprinted. I didn't get the finisher's chute all to myself but at least Mike Reilly said the words I have been wanting to hear for five years: AMANDA REMLINGER YOU ARE AN IRONMAN! 

This finish-line of an Ironman (especially at 11:28 pm, everyone returns to see the last hour finishers) was so much more than I imagined. The lights, the thunderous cheers, all eyes are on you for that brief moment. And the sense of relief and accomplishment that you CAN DO ANYTHING! 

That moment will stick with me forever. 

Run: 6:22:14
Finish time: 16:28:36

Joy & Love.
Mom hugs!
And those famous words:

Thank you for believing in me.

My husband... Most importantly thank you to my number one supporter, my rock, best friend, my husband. He believed in me from the very beginning and encouraged me when the times got tough.  When I had a long 6 hour ride on schedule they were always there to help take care of the kids. When my husband came home on his days off, he would always ask: "how can I work my exercise schedule around yours?" He knew he'd be the one to have to stay with the kids when I was gone but he never objected. And not once did I get a call on those long rides asking; "when are you coming home?" He was there for me during the darkest hours of my race and continued to breathe life into me when I just wanted to give up. Thank you honey I am grateful for you.

My family... From handling child care duties, to inspiring calls/texts, to cheers on the course or virtual cheers in front of the computer screen; my family believed in me and they made sure I knew it. I am truly blessed.

My friends.... Thank you to those amazing friends who encouraged me along the way. Whether it is was just a simple email, post or text, I appreciate what you did and cherish that. You know who you are! Big hugs to Christy, Hilary and Michelle for making the journey down to Tempe and for standing for 16 hours in the rain just to catch a quick glimpse or high five of me during the race.  "The greatest gift of life is friendship, and I have received it." -Hubert H. Humphrey

To Coeur. Thank you Kebby and Hailey for believing in me another year and I am honored to be to represent your gear for another year. It took a lot of heart and courage to get to the finish that day!

To my social media friends. I know there are many of you I have never met in person but there's a large group who encouraged me along the way whether it was on Facebook, Tri groups, Twitter, Instagram. Those people continued to comment, post and send helpful messages when I needed it most. Thank you for that.

Finally to my sweet boys. I know you couldn't be there in person but every encouraging word this past year, to those "how was your run mommy?" questions,  to the sweet drawings/notes you gave me; I took to heart. I carried it all on that course and thought about you both with every step toward the finish. I love you and want you to know YOU CAN DO ANYTHING.

November 9, 2015

Thoughts, Book, Race Week.

One week. How can this year already be almost over? How is it that Ironman Arizona is just 6 days away? Last night just before I went to sleep, I thought to myself "this time next week I'll STILL BE RUNNING?" I can't even keep my eyes open these days past 9:30, how in the world am I going to be able to run? I will be counting on the support of thousands of spectators that night. So please keep me going if you plan to come down cheer!


Last week was a mix of emotions. My last long ride was filled with fear, doubt and worry. I could only focus on the things that were bound to go wrong. This week I am in a better place. I have come to terms that if I do not finish, I will still be proud of everything I accomplished this year. For 7 months I trained and trained and was dedicated to that one thing. For 7 months I put my body through some tough sessions when I could've easily given up. I never gave up. I woke at o'dark hundred in order to get those long training rides out of the way so I could still come home and be a mom. Yes I missed some occasional soccer games and family outings but thankfully I have wonderful people in my life that understand. The majority of my training was done while my kids were at school. A few times I would drop them off with my bike in the car and ride the entire day while they were at school. I'd pick then up from school sweaty and smelly and they'd laugh because they found it amusing that I was on my bike that whole time. 

A good thing that came out of all this training was cleaning up my nutrition. One of the books I read that really stood out this year was Eat To Peak by Chrissy Carroll.  Thank you Chrissy for this book and for educating me on an area I really needed help with. This book helped me realize that if I fuel my body with crap, I feel like crap. The book also explained things like macros, and how many calories I need to be eating (much more than I thought). Once I started to apply all the basic principles the author suggested, I felt so much better. I highly recommend this book to any endurance athlete. You can find it on Amazon.

So here I am staring at the face of my first full Ironman. I'm so nervous I could barf. This week is considered my taper week so workouts are very light. I almost don't know what to do with myself, hence that is why I have time to blog! Thanks to the help of my friends and family I have raised $3605.00! I met my goal and even went above. Thank you, thank you, thank YOU! Money is still coming in this week on the team page but right now it is over 200K! The funds are being divided among the: Salt River Community Children's Foundation, Challenged Athletes Foundation, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Make-A-Wish Arizona, National MS Society (Arizona Chapter), Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS, Tempe Academy of International Studies, Trips for Kids Phoenix, and Lucky Dog Rescue.

Thank you all for your words, encouraging notes, texts, emails, posts, etc. It means the world to me. I'll be thinking of all of you that day and secretly wishing I was watching Netflix on the couch with a glass of wine.

September 24, 2015


My poor neglected blog....and just about everything else. Right now I am in peak training. I'm in the heaviest part of my training with only 51 days left until race day. Last week I spent approximately 16 hours of training. This week should be a little more. It will continue to ramp up over the next few weeks. Then around November 1, I start to taper down (as they call it). I'll give my body a break and then put it all together on November 15. Right now my training hours do not include the time it takes me to get from one place to another. There are times when I have to drive an hour or more to find an open road to ride for 5 hours. Don't get me started on why I don't like riding around our town. That would be an entire blog post on it's own. The training is going well. Sure I am tired and sore but not as much as I originally thought I would be. The biggest nuisance is just the time it takes to get everything done. I'm thankful for my Coach and her awesome training plan. Without a plan I would be so lost! Thank you all for the kind notes you have sent me and for asking how my training is going. I had hoped to update once a month on this blog but as you can see that didn't happen. My family has been completely supportive and I don't know what I would've done if they had not been. They seem to understand that I can't be at every event all the time. Lucky for me, my training is all done during the week and on Saturday). So on Sunday I have some time to spend with them. A huge thank you to everyone who has donated to my Team IMF fundraising page. I met my original goal of $3500 and now I'm shooting for $4000! From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU. In the meantime if you need anything from me that involves my time, you better meet me at the pool.