Friday, September 7, 2018

Deja Vu: The RyBread Racing IMWI Lineup

I can't help but feel like I've been here before. Four years ago I packed up all of my triathlon belongings and embarked on my first Ironman journey, naive and full of nerves and uncertainty. This time around, I'm what most would call a "veteran" with some upgraded equipment over the years. But I still can't shake the same emotions I had four years ago.

Pre-Bike check-in 2014!
Please note the borrowed race wheels and road bike

Sometimes I wonder, if I wasn't so naive going into Ironman Wisconsin in 2014, would I have even attempted something like this in the first place? Would I EVER have decided to attempt an Ironman? I remember dismounting my bike on race day, very vividly. I stood still without moving for the first time since the race had started. The volunteer grabbed my bike from me and we made eye contact. "Do me a favor, sell it, " I told him. He laughed. Less than a year later, I owned bike number 2. But in that moment, I swore I'd never ride a bike again.

I might have also LOOKED naive.
Crooked helmet and all 

But here we are, 4 years and 6 full Ironman later. I'm heading back to the land of nostalgia. Looking over the lake from Monona Terrace, that left hand turn onto Witte Road on the bike, wondering "where exactly will the clown show up?",  and cruisin' down State Street with a view of the capitol building. And so.much.more.

IMWI 2014 Swim Start
I'm in there somewhere

Four years ago, I raced alone but had a great deal of support. My family, Rob, many friends, and Ryan (Coach Speedy, who will still tell you to this day, "I fought back tears watching you find that finish line!"). We've used the word "lab rat" over the years to describe my training that summer, and it's damn fitting. Back in the day, RyBread Racing wasn't even a thing. Coaching was still something Ryan "wasn't sure about" for a full time gig. The day I signed up for Madison in 2013, I called him up and told him I wasn't about to do this alone. And the rest is history.

Back when he pulled double duty
Powerbar Tent by day, Coach in the background
This time around, the racing crew looks a little different. In fact, I was the LAST to join the party. Unsure what would happen at Grandma's Marathon in June, I left the 2nd half of 2018 wide open. Once I took care of the major goal of qualifying for Boston, I could do whatever I wanted. And here I am, with my RyBread crew. Don't worry, I'll re-introduce everyone in case you forgot.

The 2018 RyBreading Racing IMWI Lineup

Mr. Tomato
Nathan Tamayo - #mrtomato

Nate gettin' some support from his dad on the run course!
Once again, we haven't broken the trend. I have raced ALL of my Ironman races with the Tamayo's since Ironman Lake Placid in 2016. Still living the vampire life with the Mrs, Nate continues to show up on race with his guns loaded and ready to tackle whatever comes his way. Living life opposite of the rest of society isn't a piece of cake, but this guy always makes it look easy. Nate raced Ironman Wisconsin as his first IM back in 2012 so he's ready to see what kind of progress he's made over the years. 

Mrs. Tomato
Trina Tamayo - #mrstomato

IMCHOO 2017 Swim exit
This is the first year since 2015 that the Tomatoes and I haven't raced 2 Ironman in one year. I decided to take the running route the first half of 2018, while the Tomatoes decided to donate some of their Ironman funds to their tattoo collection. This year when Trina exits the water, she'll be sporting TWO fabulous sleeves. Of course this passion of theirs cost them some valuable time in the pool. But not to worry, the RnR did them both a solid because I sense some fast swims out of these two! Living the night life makes it hard to find a common time for the group to get together with the Tomatoes. So if racing an Ironman once a year means I get to laugh until my cheeks hurt (which cheeks, eh Trina?! 🤣) then so be it. I don't get nearly enough time with this fabulous couple and I can't wait for more memories in Madison with these 2!

Mr. Speedy
Ryan Giuliano - #speedygiuliano
Aka - Da Coach

IMTX 2018
Overall Amatuer Win
North American Champion

This guy, you know his story. His limits are meant to be pushed on a daily basis. Between him and his wife, they work harder than anyone I know. The amount of work ethic, dedication, and commitment it takes to race at his level for as long as he has is something most can't even fathom. He'll tell you his training has suffered the last few months due to work, life, being sick, stress, and more work. And he's not wrong, I've witnessed multiple training cycles out of his man. But at the end of the day, his willingness to take the mind to that whole separate level is what separates him from the mere mortals of the world. You gotta be willing to really hurt, and that's what this guy does best.

Mrs. Speedy
Jacqui Giuliano - #thecomebackkid

Grand Rapids Half Ironman 2018
Overall Female Champion

I could go on and on about how much these 2 impress me. But until you witness their commitment to the sport, day in and day out, month after month, year after year, you won't truly understand. Winning is the name of their game in that house and together, they do everything the can to make sure that the rest of the pack is chasing them. This summer, Jacqui brought home her first W in the 70.3 triathlon world in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her smile says it all. She oozes joy whenever she's on that race course. Her passion and love for this sport is infectious. It's been an entire YEAR since we've raced a triathlon together (to the day actually, 70.3 Worlds on my birthday last year was our last tri together) and I'm ready to see that smiling face somewhere on the run course on Sunday.

Mark Hode - #bfg

Showin' off for the family

BFG. Brother Bear. Pain in the a$$. He's about to embark on Ironman #3. His training has been.... incomplete, to say the least. Working and flying (yes, flying) has COMPLETELY taken over Mark's day to day life. He's about as close as you can get to sinking his teeth into his private pilot's license and he works his ass off everyday (starting at 5am) to pay for it, because the good Lord knows it ain't cheap to do that. So Mark has taken a different training route for this Ironman. His motto is something along the lines of "Well, I'm gonna get my money's worth at this race and push the 17 hour time limit." He knows what he's in for. He knows it's gonna hurt and that it's gonna be far from pretty. He knew when he signed up for this race he'd be testing his fitness luck due to life.  But he also knows that there's not much that can top that feeling of crossing the Ironman finish line, and he wasn't willing to go an entire year without. 

Nathan Jeffrey
Nathan Jeffrey Vannoy - #amijeffreyoraminate

Post Race IMCHOO 2017
"Ironbae, come at me" - Nathan Jeffrey

So I have to start you off and immediately tell you that unfortunately, Nathan Jeffrey is not racing Ironman Wisconsin. He was the first to sign up for the race, way back when. But as of 48 hours ago, his Dr. officially put him in a boot and told him the race was out of the question due to a stress fracture in his foot. I can tell you 100% that this is the right decision, racing an Ironman with a stress fracture could mean so much more damage in the future. He's still trying to find a way up to Wisconsin for race day, he's told me many times he misses his RyBread family. And we can't imagine race day without our favorite Southern Gentleman. 

Yours Truly
Megan Hode - #mightymouse

Grandma's Marathon 2018
BQ - 3:30:27

Had you told me back in December when I had dedicated 2018 to "Boston Or Bust" that I'd be spending my birthday on the IMWI race course because I already checked BQ off my list, I would have given you a laundry list of reasons why your prediction was wrong. But here we are. This is my 2nd year in a row I've decided to celebrate another trip around the sun in the Ironman world. It was a no brainer, really. Once I knew my body was going to be recovered and ready to go in time to race, I really didn't have to think about where I'd want to race this fall. Madison stole my heart 4 years ago and I've ALWAYS promised myself I'd go back and race one day. One day. I never imagined that "one day" would be with a team of people I've grown to call family on my birthday. My emotions reach an all time high when I think about everything I get to experience in the next 72 hours, and I simply.cant.wait.

I promise you I'll take all the pictures. I'll make all the mental notes. I vow to soak up every moment of the day. I wholeheartedly promise that I will cherish the entire weekend. I'll make sure to bring my words to life for you in my next post about the race. Because we all know, NOTHING ever goes according to plan. And I certainly didn't plan this race into 2018.

And because this race wasn't on the calendar, this guy may or may not be making an appearance because of his work schedule. Of course I WANT him there. But I can't be selfish. I can't throw these curveballs and expect everyone to cater to me. But, I've got my fingers and my toes crossed, all in hopes we'll be able to snap a similar photo at the finish line on Sunday, my 31st birthday. As a side note, if he can't make it, the new Garmin 935 (birthday gift from him! Spoiled, I know!) I'll be sporting on my wrist will serve as a nice little reminder that I know he wants to be there as well.

IMWI 2014 finish line

But we'll have some friends and local triathlon acquaintances there on race day to help us when we need it most. All in all, it's gonna be a great day. Well guys, I'll see ya'll on the other side.

Running on Camp Randall Stadium

IMWI 2014 Finish line


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