Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Worlds Here I Come

In case you forgot, or missed a post somehow (shame on you!) I was in Chattanooga in May for the 70.3 Half Ironman. When I left without a World's Qualification slot, I was sold on the fact that September would be reserved for the full Ironman on September 24th with a solid group of friends. But, plans change..

When I took this picture in May, I never suspected I'd be back TWICE in September

It's been quite an adventure to get where I'm at today. So let's take a look back really quick..

  • June 23rd, 2013 - The day of my first ever triathlon. A sprint triathlon in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. A race I had 0 preparation for. I had a bike, I could swim enough to get me through, and I'd been running since I was in grade school. But put it together? Back to back to back? Nawwwww. That's not me. I signed up for this race 90% out of peer pressure from my Strugglebus friends and 10% out of curiosity. I wonder how I'll do? I raced in a swim suit and a borrowed 15 year old wetsuit. Tossed a pair of shorts on in T1 and called it a day. Oh, and bike shoes, what are those? Yea, I was that girl. I crossed the finish line and it was ugly. But.. I wanted a bit more. 

::face palm::

  • September 9th, 2013 -  My 26th birthday. Also the day that I signed up for my 2nd triathlon. It just so happened to be a pretty big one. Ironman Wisconsin to be exact. Nieve would be an understatement. But I knew it was something I desperately wanted to do. I told myself I'd find help. That fast girl from high school, Jacqui Aubert. What's her name now? Giuliana? Something like that, she married a freaking fast Italian guy. I'll call her and ask if she can offer me any tips. I wish I could say I made this up, but it's true. Still did not own a wetsuit. Still had no idea that bike shoes/clipping into a bike would be something I'd learn to do. But why can't I just wear my running shoes on the bike? 

Legit clueless about what I was signing up for

  • July 20th, 2014 - My first Half Ironman. I tackled a few bumps in the road. I had started a new job in early June. My father suffered a heart attack and underwent bypass surgery only days later (the week before I started this new job). Thank God Mark was home from school that summer to help me take care of 2 parents while I trained for this Ironman business in the dark when I wasn't working or helping around the house. Oh, did I mention I fell off my bike a month before the race and sprained some tendons in my right arm (my braking arm on the bike, NO BIG DEAL GUYS)? I literally had no idea if I'd see the starting line, let alone the finish line. But.. I did. As well as the finish line. 


  • September 7th, 2014 - The day I became an Ironman in Madison, Wisconsin. With BOTH my parents at the finish line. And brother. And Rob. And that fast girl from high school, Jacqui, and her speedy husband, coach Speedy Giuliano. To say I was emotional that day would be an understatement. 
I owe this photographer for capturing such an amazing raw moment

  • June 11th, 2017 - IMWI 70.3. A whole lotta heat, wind, & hills. Oh yea, and a World's qualification for your truly. 
And damn, it was an ugly day...
  • September 9th, 2017 - A look into the future. Four years to the day that I signed myself up for my first ever Ironman event, (lacking all the necessary equipment and knowledge) I'll be racing in the Pro's arena, side by side with them and best in the sport, from all over the world. All while I say Farewell to my 20's, a decade I'm emotional to say goodbye to. But I can't imagine a better way to welcome my 30's. I mean, how often do you hear of someone getting to celebrate a milestone birthday doing something like this?

And that fast girl, Jacqui Giuli-something and her super fast Italian husband? Remember them? They've grown into 2 of most amazing friends a girl could ask for. They're more than coaches and mentors. Over the years the 3 of us have laughed until we've cried. Ryan's wiped some tears from both our cheeks. We've raced side by side. We've spent countless hours next to each other on the trainer ALL WINTER LONG. We've found each other's strength in times of doubt and injury. Our sweat sessions/pool sessions have bonded us in a way that's almost indescribable. Because when we're able to share the course together and I spot one of them on the road, I get all kinds of emotional. I think of where I started and how far I've come. All thanks to this amazing duo. So would you believe me if I told you that they're joining me on race day as well? Talk about coming full circle.

The finish line of Ironman Madison - September 7th, 2014
That's right. The 3 of us get to celebrate my 30 years of life by doing what makes us feel most alive every single day.. swim, bike, & run amongst the best of the best. {Disclaimer, the women and men race on separate days. So after Jacqui and I race on Saturday, Ryan will be heading to bed early to prep for his Sunday race, all while Jacqui and I own the town with some liquid courage making sure to tell every foreigner that it's my birthday. If Ryan didn't have some serious potential to bring home a W, I'd make him join us.}

And that's just the beginning. The list of friends that will be in Chattanooga to support me this weekend makes me a bit tearful.

1. Nate and Trina Tamayo (TOMATO). You remember them from Ironman Lake Placid and Ironman Texas, the night owls of the group. It was less than a day after I qualified for this race when Nate texted me, "You know that Trina and I won't miss this, right? We'll be there for sure." The most honest, tell it like it is, "hey, you've got toilet paper on your shoe!", kind of people. I laugh until my side hurts when I'm around these 2, truly a match made in heaven that will go to the end of the earth and back for their friends. "No man left behind." That's their motto. {Unless it's race day of course, then Trina's all like, "PEACE SEE YA LATA!"
Mr. & Mrs. Tomato enjoying some post-race breakfast in The Woodlands in April

2. Lauren and Ben Johnson. Lauren and I go as far back as dorm life in Champaign, IL. (I-L-L!) We were the 2 that would frequent a campus 5k more often than not (sometimes after closing the local watering-hole the night before). Her and her husband (who prefers the sidelines of a race, with his backpack full of spectator liquids) are both chiropractors that live in Nashville. And when they found out that this race was added to my calendar, I believe Lauren's response was something along the lines of, "Can't even think of missing this! I WILL BE THERE!" And I can't wait to celebrate such an amazing weekend with her and Ben. 

Lauren and I running a local 10k in college

Ben, Lauren, Myself, and Rob
Gosh we look like babies! circa 2011?
3. Beth and Jordan Conerty. Beth and I also go back to the college days, living together for 3 of our 4 years on campus. Her and Jordan made the trip to Chattanooga in May (coming from Knoxville) and promised me at the finish line, "let us know if you qualified, because we'll be back in September for sure." Well, I made them wait just a few weeks longer to start looking into travel arrangements. 

Beth, Jordan, and Rookie joined Rob to cheer me on in Chattanooga in May!

Beth runs too! But she's better at the post-race celebrations than I am
Nashville Half Marathon 2014

4. Mark & Rob. I mean, this shouldn't surprise you, right? These 2 amazing men mean more to me than I'm willing to express in words (because this could go on for a while and I don't feel like bustin' out the tissues right now) and their support for me over the years is something I'll never be able to repay. The early Saturday nights. The early EARLY weekends for race day or training. The lifestyle change that Rob hasn't argued with 1 iota. The bad training days that can mentally destroy you and your mood for days. The over-chatty Megan when my runners high just won't go away. The wonderful aroma of chlorine that has become my consistent perfume the last 4 years.The constant need to feed the Megan. {As Rob says, "alright, when was the last time you fed? Just so I know what my window is.} The time that Mark and I have shared next to each other on the road with 2 wheels under us. I mean, how does a girl begin to repay all of this?

Mark and I share a lot of time together enjoying sites just like this

And Rob has actually been mistaken as Ironman staff during a race and given persmission to access parts of the course only athletes (or employees) are allowed to be, all because he wears a traffic vest #bestspectathlete

And of course my support system doesn't end there. Mom and Dad will be cheering from home, along with everyone else that has joined me on this amazing journey over the years. I've had some pretty emotional conversations with a few friends lately. The whole "milestone birthday" paired with "racing with the best in the world" on the same day has me all sorts of high strung and I'm still struggling to find the right words for how I feel. I know I'm happy, grateful, eager, sentimental, and so much more that I can't just seem to pin point it at the moment.

I've been looking forward to this weekend since the second I signed the qualification papers back in June. But at the same time, my birthday weekend always signifies the end of summer, and I'm not quite ready to say goodbye to such a meaningful season.

Labor Day weekend in Chicago - cold enough for multiple layers 
Thankfully, I get to come back to this gem exactly 2 weeks later to double my race distance with my RyBread crew and a couple of my local Old Man Friends {picture above in orange, Bill Gagne}. September has only just begun and I can guarantee you it'll be one I'll tell stories about for years. Starting with this very second as Mark and I peel out of the driveway. 


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