Thursday, October 2, 2014

Ironman Tahoe, Chattanooga, and One Happy Girl

Ironman # 1

... I had just finished putting on my wetsuit when I heard the announcement, 'today's event has been cancelled.'

Nothing like sending thousands of athletes into an emotional frenzy.

Now typing this I feel very selfish.  In the moment it did not feel so trivial.  I focused my entire season on this day.  Not just completing any Ironman, but succeeding IN Tahoe.  I felt fit and ready.  All the extra climbing on the bike, altitude swim/bike/run's, course plotting, mental prep, details on my competition, months and months of training simply smothered in smoke.  It left me feeling angry... so god damn angry, and upset, and sad, and initially with the 'all that training for nothing' outlook.  I choose Tahoe because it was known for being The Challenging Ironman.  I wanted Tahoe and I felt cheated of it.

I read an article on the cancellation that said 'a triathletes disappointment may be compounded because of the feeling of loss of control - a challenge for a sport whose athletes are typically very meticulous and control so many aspects of their environment.'   Lack of control was exactly it.  This fire flared up unhealthy comping mechanisms... when we got back to our condo, I immediately isolated.   Went for a very hard run.  In the smoke.  No eating.  etc etc etc.
Good thing I have some great people in my life to smack me back into reality! My dad asked me... 'are you going to let this wall keep you out?'.  That was all it took.  Pity party over.  Accepted the fact that the Ironman Dream was going to have to wait until 2015.

But that was only the start of the adventure...

Driving home from Tahoe I had a quick decision to make about the opportunity to jump into IM Chattanooga.  Teresa was game for Chattanooga... she ensured me I was fit and ready, I just had to believe and trust in my training!  I talked with my Zoot Team Captain and he gave me the added confidence that I've trained my ass off and was ready to be competitive... that if my heart was in it, go with my gut and race!


We got home from Tahoe on Monday night.  I tried to catch up at work, completed a few last minute workouts Tuesday/Wed and then Wednesday night, we were back on the road.  30 hours later we arrived in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  

Pre Race

Teresa REALLY wanted me to concentrated on rest.  The emotional roller coaster of Tahoe and lots of travel takes a lot out of the body.  

Athlete check in, few workouts, some yummy food, rest rest rest rest and before I knew it, it was race day!  This Sunday, I would become an Ironman!  I had no nerves.  Sounds lame, but emotionally I had exhausted all the nervous/ excited/ pissed/ happy/ sad feelings 
and was just ready to freaking race.


'Fearless Acorn'

Swim 59:35, 22nd

While setting up transition they announced this would be a non wetsuit swim.  I need every advantage I can get in the water, so I was a little bummed but knew it was still going to be FAST ---> Hello Tennessee River! :)

Unusual swim start.  They had us line up in the order we arrived.  As the race started, we would walk out onto the dock, jump in and work our way through the point to point course.  This method moved quickly and I was pretty excited I did not have to experience a mass start.  I do think they should have had us self-seed in that line... I know a few super fast swimmers did not arrive early and ended up at the very back!

Wes had told me to be aggressive in the swim.  That was my only focus for the swim portion.  My dad gave me a little pep talk to not let people push me around right before I entered.  Usually I let people trample over me and just move out of their way.  Not today.  Today, I did the trampling.  

First half I took comfortably hard and then the last portion I made it feel like 70.3 effort. 
Ticked off the buoys which I stayed nicely in line with. With 3 buoys to go, I was feeling my arms starting to burn so I knew I had to concentrate on keeping that turnover quick! As soon as I saw the finishing arch, I focused on that, climbed up the stairs and was off to T1.

T1 3:43

Because of the late Tahoe transfer, I got the 'left over' transition spots.  Everything still went smooth though.  I think people forget about rehearsing transitions.  They are still very much part of the race.  It amazes me seeing super long T times... wonder what people do in there? :)

Anyways, pushed my way through people walking up the ramp.  As I entered I counted 
1st - 2nd -3rd pole which was where my bag was located - perfect!  Grabbed the bag and ran into the tent to the very end.  Dumped everything out.  As I put on my shoes, I asked the volunteer to put my Gu's in my back pocket.  Grabbed my helmet and put that on as I ran to my bike!

Counted 1...2...3...4...5...6....7th pole and there was ROCKY!!

Bike 5:40, 5th

My main concern this entire day was pushing the bike too hard!  (Rocky is hard to hold back sometimes :D) Teresa set me up a solid plan with my watts, HR, cadence, nutrition, etc etc etc.  All I had to do was execute. 

The first 30 miles, I guess I was so caught up in the race that I was not controlling myself - shit! 30 mile marker I made myself dial it back. I think I said out loud 'Rocky, slow it down.'  (Now looking back at my overall numbers, I think I pulled back too much!)

Being prepared for Tahoe, I found this course to be super fast!  It consisted of rolling hills, no long straightaways (which I prefer).  You ride out of town 10 miles, then do 2, ~50 mile loops, and then head back.  

The first 10 miles through town do not have the best roads and quite a few turns.  Once you get out into the loops through Georgia, roads were great.

Second loop the drafting got bad. I could care less when I see the men drafting together, but when I see ladies right smack in the center of the draft packs that really pisses me off. I mean come on ladies... you have to know something is up when you are easily cruising that fast.  

When I would see someone sucking on my tire, I might have spit to the right of me... just sayin', if you are so close that it hits you Not My Fault :)

The bike course was 116 instead of the typical 112.  Many bitched about this.  Especially the great swimmers.  Any extra time on the bike is a huge benefit for me though so I took those extra 4 miles with a smile!  And smiling was the common theme of the entire bike ride.  No real low points.  My only 'issue' was towards the end, my stomach did not want anything to do with another GU.  Grabbed a bonk breaker which did the trick!!

T-2 2:15

Another seamless transition. 1-2-3-4th tree was right by my bag.  Into the tent, I went to the very end again.  As I put on my socks/shoes, the awesome volunteers put on my race belt and shoved salt pills in my kit.  As I ran out I put on my visor/sweat bands and was off to run a marathon with a huge ass smile on my face!

Run 3:59, 4th
'Just keep moving forward'

Miles 1-4 

First mile there is a climb out of transition.  Between being happy to be off the bike and all the crowd support, you do not even notice that climb.  The rest of this section is flat along the parkway trail and I was feeling good.  Even holding back - I kept saying (out loud), keep the pace back Christie, you have a long ways to go!

Also want to note what a brilliant idea my dad had to use sweat bands.  Every aid station I would use the last of my ice water to soak them... it was keeping my core temp down perfectly!

Miles 5-9 

This section is along the highway.  Rolling/false flat and boring. I was still feeling relatively good and spirits were up.

Miles 10-13 

MY LOW of the day!

I saw my dad around mile 10 and then as soon as I approached the bridge to cross over to the North side, my legs felt like lead! Slowed down big time but concentrated on moving forward.  These miles are at the end of the first loop and it is hilly.  I'd compare it to the climb at mile 3 of the St George 70.3 course that takes you up to Red Hills Parkway.  You get the pleasure of doing that 3 times per loop. Up down, Up down, Up down, then back up over the bridge to start loop 2!

Miles 14-18 

Saw my dad again around mile 14.  He started running with me for about 30 seconds which made me smile big time! He shared words from Teresa and gave me some encouragement!  Body started getting life back into it during this section.  Although my pace was so much slower than I expected it to be, the time was passing by quickly.

Miles 18-21  

I wanted to walk so many times during these miles.  I felt like I was bi-polar... about every quarter of a mile my mood would change.  I kept hearing Shane say, keep moving forward... that helped, A TON.  At aid stations, when I would slow down to grab whatever my body was craving, I made a point to at least 'shuffle' along instead of stop/walk. NO STOPPING. Also this was when the rain started... I LOVE running in the rain so I did not mind this one bit.    

Miles 22-26.2 

Hilly Hell section again. :) Up down. Up down. Up (I'll admit I walked for a minute here) and then the final down.  You'd think those downs would be a relief but by this point in the race, they just served as quad punishment - ouch!  Then I saw the Mile 25 Marker.  I remember thinking, holy shit... this is happening... Ironman is happening.   Energy was zapped into my body.  There was a Zoot cheer section there that helped a lot too.  I gave everything I had that last 1.2.  Everything.

I don't even have words to describe the finishers shoot. 
I never ever, 
ever ever ever ever EVER cry.
and when I saw the finishing shoot ... #ALLTHETEARS

So many emotions and joy and ... I don't know how to describe it but it felt incredible!

As I approached the finishers arch, I heard Mike Reilly say 

'Christie Krompel from Price Utah, 

you are an Ironman!'

Post Race

Volunteers were exceptional at this race.  The lady let me basically hang on her while she got me food and to my dad.  Gave him the biggest hug!!!! We enjoyed our post-race sashimi tradition... and I just might have allowed myself an ENTIRE PINT of Ice cream :)


Still sporting a huge smile. Definitely one happy girl!!!


  1. Congrats!!! That is so amazing!!! You go girl!! You are an inspiration.

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