September 12, 2022

Stories & Strategies from the Back of the Pack

Every triathlon finish is special – whether you won the race, finished among your fellow competitors, or were just in time for the after-party. Today’s episode is dedicated to the “back of the pack” triathletes. TriDot Coach Joanna Nami, along with athletes Shannon Cranson and Simon Williams, share stories from longer days on the race course. Additionally, the three discuss training considerations and the logistics of being on course for a longer duration. Listen in for helpful information on calculating the time cut offs, proper fueling, gear considerations, mental toughness, and more!

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Intro: This is the TriDot podcast. TriDot uses your training data and genetic profile, combined with predictive analytics and artificial intelligence to optimize your training, giving you better results in less time with fewer injuries. Our podcast is here to educate, inspire, and entertain. We’ll talk all things triathlon with expert coaches and special guests. Join the conversation and let’s improve together. Andrew Harley: Welcome to the show! This is an episode that I’ve been wanting to do for a hot minute now, excited to get to it! The tri experience at the front of the pack, the middle of the pack, and the back of the pack are all very different. Today is dedicated to my back-of-the-packers. We’ll talk all about the training considerations, preparing to be on course for a longer duration, calculating the time cutoffs, and more. We have one TriDot coach and two TriDot Ambassadors here to help us. Our coach joining us for this conversation is Joanna Nami. Joanna is better known as Coach JoJo and has been coaching athletes with TriDot since 2012. She is a co founder of Hissy Fit Racing, a third-year member of the Betty Design Elite Squad, and now has 17 IRONMAN finishes on her accomplished triathlon résumé. That number is growing all the time, so I should just stop saying it, to be honest. Coach Jo has qualified for two IRONMAN World Championships, and will be racing in Kona here in October of 2022. She is now officially on staff with TriDot as our Coaching Community Manager. Coach Jo, welcome back to the show! Joanna Nami: Thank you for having me, Andrew, I’m super excited for this episode! I love Shannon dearly, she’s been an athlete and bestie friend forever. Super excited to chat with Simon, and it’s going to be a great show! Andrew: Yep, our first athlete joining us today, as Joanna just teased, is Simon Williams. Simon is a father of four living in the San Francisco Bay Area. I first connected and met Simon when I raced Escape from Alcatraz with him just a few years ago. Simon was diagnosed with Stage IV throat cancer in June 2016, and that’s what led him to triathlon kind of in a roundabout way back in July 2017. After riding from San Francisco to Los Angeles to celebrate his 50th birthday and still being alive after cancer, he was looking for another epic event for 2018, and just so happened to see that IRONMAN Santa Rosa was on his birthday. Mike Reilly was the one that called him to the finish line there at Santa Rosa in May of 2018, and after that he became slightly addicted, racking up four IRONMAN finishes, a couple DNFs along the way which we’ll talk about, two half IRONMANs, and numerous local sprint and Olympic races on his résumé. To fund his triathlon addiction, he is the Chief Technology Officer of a health care company. Simon joined TriDot during the Preseason Project in late 2017. Simon, thanks for joining us today! Simon Williams: Thanks Andrew, it’s a real honor to be here on the podcast with you! Andrew: Our second athlete joining us today is TriDot Ambassador Shannon Cranson. Shannon’s athletic career began early. She started in ballet at the age of three, and retired from a professional ballet career at age 23. She then turned all of her athletic energy to running, completing 21 individual half marathons and three marathons before trying triathlon. She is an IRONMAN finisher and a member of the Betty Design Squad. Shannon is a communications professional, focusing on employee and community engagement for her company. She’s also a volunteer with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. She is the wife of Trey, mom of R.K., and has been training with TriDot since 2018. Shannon, welcome to your first episode of the TriDot podcast! Shannon Cranson: Thanks! I am so thrilled to be here. I’m excited about this topic, and I’m excited to talk with this group in general about something that I’m ridiculously excited and passionate about, which is triathlon. Andrew: I'm Andrew the Average Triathlete, Voice of the People and Captain of the Middle of the Pack. As always we'll roll through our warmup question, settle in for our main set conversation, and then wind things down with our cooldown. We have the coolest opportunity lined up for December of this year, 2022, to end the season racing Clash Daytona. The team from Clash Endurance is giving TriDot Nation our own portion of the RV camping area. So basically you register for the race, you book a campsite, you get yourself there with an RV, and you hang out with other TriDotters all weekend long. We’ll be staying right on the shores of Lake Lloyd; that’s the lake INSIDE of Daytona International Speedway. You can bring your own RV, or you can rent one from one of the partner RV rental websites. I rented an RV for TriDot coach Jeff Raines and myself from RVshare.com, and the coolest thing is Jeff and I will show up on Thursday and our RV will be there waiting for us in our camping spot. No RV driving required. It will no doubt be an adventure, camping, hanging, racing, and cheering each other in Daytona. You can register for the race at Clash-USA.com using the code TRIDOTDAYTONA for 10% off any and all of the races you’ll be doing. When you register, make sure you put down that you are with TriDot if you plan on camping with us. I plan on racing the sprint on Saturday and doing a relay for the middle distance on Sunday. I may even throw the Friday night Jingle Jog 5K in there as well, who knows? Either way, this is going to be a special weekend. So consider this to be your invitation to the TriDot party. Warm up theme: Time to warm up! Let’s get moving. Andrew: Attending a triathlon camp is a very cool experience that every triathlete should consider doing at some point. Swimming, biking, and running with a bunch of friends in a dope location, it simply does not get better than that. At the time we’re recording this podcast, our last TriDot triathlon camp was in St. George, Utah in May 2022. But let’s talk about the next one. Shannon, Joe, Simon: if you were in charge of choosing the location of our next TriDot training camp, where would you take us? Shannon: So in my dream world, our next TriDot triathlon camp would be in Germany. I absolutely love to travel, and I know that we have a huge set of athletes in Europe, and I think it would be utterly fantastic to go and travel, meet with them, and honestly an athletic event is a great reason to travel, so why not go somewhere fun? Joanna: And you love big beers, so… Shannon: I mean, I’m never one to turn down a liter of beer. Yeah, that would be my dream answer. Realistically, honestly I would just love to go to Colorado. I think it would be great to train where some of the elites train – Andrew: Yeah, a lot of them are there in Boulder. Shannon: – and learn how to ride up a mountain, because Lord knows that this Texas girl does not know how to do that. Andrew: Yeah, none of us have that but Simon. Simon in San Francisco definitely has some hills that he can climb on his rides. The rest of us are out of luck in that department. Yeah, it’d be cool to go a training camp where we actually get to ride our bike uphill for once, that would be kind of neat. I totally get that. My one time in Germany, Shannon, I had a layover in the Frankfurt airport, and I had to have a German pretzel in the Frankfurt airport just to know that I’d had a German pretzel. I love pretzels, they’re great. Anyway, kicking this over to Simon, where would you take us if you were choosing where to go for a TriDot training camp? Simon: I’d be going in the same direction as Shannon in taking everyone to my home country, which is Wales. It’s a colder, wetter version of St. George, so Shannon would get all the hills that she could possibly want. The IRONMAN Wales route has a 16% grade of climb – Andrew: Oh my goodness. Simon: – so I think that fulfills what you’re looking for. It’s got an amazing swim in a natural kind of amphitheater bay, then running through a small coastal seaside village. Andrew: Shannon, a 16% grade sound fun? Shannon: Might be a little bit more than I was looking for, but really what was in my head was I might need a different wetsuit. Andrew: Coach Jo, where would you take us for a triathlon training camp? Joanna: Simon, you lost me at “a rainy St. George”. I’m still having PTSD and nightmares about my experience there. I’ve actually looked into IRONMAN Wales, I think it fell on my birthday a couple years. I looked into it and saw that grade, and I was like, “No. That’s not gonna happen.” I’m definitely a warm-weather girl, so looking so forward to Kona. My favorite IRONMAN I’ve done a couple times is Cozumel. I am always a fan of a Mexico vacation. I know that Andrew and his wife have vacationed there. Andrew: We sure have. Joanna: It’s a fantastic IRONMAN. I absolutely love it. I love the hot weather, I like the flat, windy course. But also I think for a training camp, there’s some amazing beach clubs that we could partake in. Everything else you can imagine, fruity drinks, we’d have to circle the island about twenty times on the bike, but I think that would be a pretty fantastic Ambassador camp. One for the books. Andrew: I agree with that. That sounds like a blast. I would do any of these, to be honest. But Cozumel – like you said Jo, my wife and I were there earlier this year with a couple other married couples that we’re friends with. And it was kind of funny, because we had a taxi van taking all of us in the same taxi to our resort from the airport. And on the way there I’m geeking out, because I’m pointing out to everybody else in our taxi, “Oh my gosh, right now we are driving on the bike course! This is the bike course for IRONMAN Cozumel!” And we passed by the little marina area where the swim course starts and I’m like, “Guys, right there! This is the aquapark where the IRONMAN swim course starts.” And no one else remotely cared at all, they were just excited to get to the resort and start having those fruity drinks you talked about. And I’m just geeking out because I’m on an IRONMAN course. My answer here – I’ll keep this brief so we can get on with the show – but I’m not one who likes to repeat a trip. I like traveling places that are new. But for this, I would love to take our TriDotters to a training camp in Taupo, New Zealand. I loved that town. I loved my experience racing half-IRONMAN New Zealand. Just the friendliest people, great fruit, and that town sitting right there on Lake Taupo is just such a cute little town. There’s some great places to stay. Everybody for IRONMAN week is riding their bikes to and from all the little cafés and all that jazz. It’s just a great, bikeable city. That lake to this day is my favorite place I’ve ever gone for a swim, just crystal clear water. So to get some open water swimming in Lake Taupo with our TriDot crew would be fantastic. That’s my nomination. I’d love to connect with some of our Aussie and New Zealanders. We definitely have some folks who listen to the podcast over in that region of the world, we have some TriDotters in that region of the world, so to bring the TriDot community to that corner of the world to me would just be awesome. That’s my pick, is going back to Taupo. We’re going to throw this question out to our TriDot audience like we always do. Make sure that you are part of the I AM TriDot Facebook group. Find the post asking you: if you are in charge of where the next TriDot training camp was going to take place, where would you take us? Main set theme: On to the main set. Going in 3…2…1… Andrew: Extremely excited to have 2Toms as the anti-chafing partner of TriDot. 2Toms is always working on revolutionary new products designed to prevent chafing, blisters, odors, and sweat. Their passion is to keep you moving. As triathletes, we can certainly have our training and racing thrown off by not taking care of our skin. So when the folks at 2Toms told us that they had the best chafing and blister protection products on the market, we had to give them a try. In fact, we took a huge goodie bag of 2Toms anti-chafing towelettes with us to our last TriDot ambassador camp, and we asked for honest and candid feedback. The reviews from those 70 plus TriDot athletes were just immensely positive. Many folks placed orders that day and made the switch to using 2Toms. Ever since, I’ve been using SportShield in my own training, and have just great results with happy skin in all the right places. 2Toms has SportShield, BlisterShield, ButtShield, FootShield, and StinkFree odor-removing spray and detergent. So whoever you are and whatever skin protection you need, 2Toms has you covered. 2Toms is in the Medi-Dyne family of brands, so go to medi-dyne.com to pick up some 2Toms today. And when you do, use promo code TRIDOT for 20% off your order. You can be fast and be a triathlete, you can be slow and be a triathlete, and you can hang out with me somewhere in between. We are all triathletes, and we are all out there doing our best with the bodies and the fitness that we have. When we expect to finish towards the back of the pack, it’s important to be prepared for all that entails. That is what Coach Jo, Simon, and Shannon are here to help us with. Now Shannon, you’ve had three cracks now at 70.3, and one crack at a full IRONMAN. Your half-distance PR was a 7:48 finish at 70.3 Lubbock, and your full was a 16:38 in Waco. As you reflect on that journey to becoming an IRONMAN, what are some of the moments from the prep and the race that stand out to you? Shannon: There are so many moments on my entire triathlon journey that stand out to me. But when really looking at these longer distances, some of the moments that really stand out to me were the long rides. There is a great group here in Houston that I had the opportunity to train with. And when we start we usually start together, but then we break up pretty quick because we’re all different speeds. There were times that I spent most of the ride by myself, because I was one of the slowest in the group. Then there are times that people would hold on, wait back with me, but then they’re like, “Okay, well I’m gonna go do my speed work now.” And you know, it was like, “Well great, I just finished my speed work, so I’m gonna be a little bit slower now.” Andrew: So you're doing the best you can, and you’re getting dropped by people that are just chilling. Shannon: Yeah, they’re just going around. And you know, at the end of the day, for me, that really helped in preparing for those distances. Because when you are my pace, my speed, and at the back of the pack, you end up riding a lot by yourself and/or having people pass you. So it’s just learning. For me, it was learning how to have a positive attitude about that, and how to handle that time by myself. What musicals was I singing in my head? What songs were stuck in my head? All these things. Andrew: What ballets were you reciting? Shannon:I tend to stay away from those. But musicals, you would probably find me going through Wicked a few times. During the race itself there’s a couple of examples, but the one that I’ll stick with was at the very end. We were in the last mile and a half. By this point I knew I was going to make the cutoff, and I was just going the best I could, keep putting one foot forward, and I passed a gentleman who definitely was in a lot pain. So I just slowed down for a minute, and I was like, “Are you doing okay? We got this, we’re gonna finish!” and he was like, “Yep, it doesn’t have to be pretty, it just has to be official.” And I was like, “Heck yeah.” That was it. That’s all it has to be. So yeah, just knowing I wasn’t going to be the fastest in my age group, and as long as I made it in the cutoff that’s all that mattered. Those were just some things that really stuck with me. Andrew: I want to revisit your talking about being on a group ride for your training ride. I’ve been on that ride before when I’ve been visiting down in Houston, all my Houston tri friends. I’ve gone on that ride that y’all do out of Pearland over towards Alvin. I know that exact road, I see it on y’all’s Strava feeds all time. So Shannon, while you’re out there with everybody and you are getting dropped and you're riding by yourself, did that ever do anything to damage your morale along the way, or did you find, “Okay, I was able to stay positive, and just know I’m going the pace that I can go.” Shannon: A hundred percent there were tears. There was one time I came back, and by that point everyone had already made it back to where we refuel. Everyone was ready to go, and I was just coming back. It had been super windy that day, and I just was broken and I was like, “I am so tired of being the slowest in this group.” At the end of the day, it was hard. And as I get stronger, as I get faster, so does everyone else. But it also gives me a little bit of compassion when we have new people join our group and they don’t know where they’re going, or they are also around my speed. It’s, “You know, I’m gonna hang out with you for a little bit. I’m gonna make sure you know where you’re going, and keep checking back in it with you.” Just to make sure that if they’re having a bad day, they’ve got someone that they can turn to and just be like, “This sucks,” and I’m like, “Yep, I know.” Andrew: Simon, you are a four-time IRONMAN finisher, and that’s part of why I wanted to have you on this episode. You’ve also finished two 70.3’s. You’ve crossed the line in Alaska, Santa Rosa, and Wales. Your PR at the IRONMAN distance is a 14:03 at Santa Rosa in 2019, and the rest of your finishes were all kind of in that mid 15 hour range. So arguably, Simon, you are faster than a back-of-the-packer. But even as a solid multi-time finisher, what I like about your story is that it really reminds us that no finish line is guaranteed. You’ve had two DNFs in there. Earlier this year you DNFed the full IRONMAN in St. George. But then you got sweet, sweet redemption with a great race at IRONMAN Alaska. So tell us about your day out there. What did you think of the inaugural IRONMAN Alaska? Simon: Yeah, the short version is I absolutely loved it. I think they put on a great event. It was an inaugural event, and there was a lot of chatter on the IRONMAN Alaska group and the run up to it: “How are we going to get our bikes there? There’s what, six or seven hotels in all of Juno?” It’s not somewhere you can drive, it was an interesting location. But I think the people of Juno, and the support that they showed throughout the day with the torrential rains that we had – there were people out until the late into the night – just amazing support. I think the venue was just so special, that I think everyone should go to Alaska and try this place. Andrew: Yeah, when I saw it added to the calendar I hadn’t done Waco yet. I was signed up for Waco, but in my head I was like: if Waco were to get cancelled – for my third IRONMAN cancellation – and they gave us Alaska as a deferral option, I would have been super interested. Unique location – when else can you swim, bike, and run in that kind of a location? I was very excited. It looked like we had a good TriDot crew up there, did you get to connect at all with some of the other TriDotters racing the race? Simon: Just waving as we passed each other, or to be honest as they passed me on the run and coming back on the bike. Andrew: Okay very good. So with that swim, bike, and run, I know it was a chilly day, it was a rainy day. You did get the job done there, and you weren’t necessarily sure you were going to after the DNF earlier that year. Was that DNF in your head at all, or did you go into the race just with a fresh mind, “new day, new race”? Simon: It was there. My first DNF was Wales in 2019, then I DNFed in St. George in May, 103 miles into the bike, the infamous Snow Canyon. I ended up doing the last nine miles in an ambulance, which then didn’t count for me to do the run, obviously. But that was handled well. I got to see the behind-the-scenes medical facilities at an IRONMAN, so that was a new experience. So yeah, going into Alaska it was definitely something in my mind about, “If I DNF this can I still call myself an IRONMAN?” Yeah, there was a little bit of pressure, but at the same time that mindset of “nothing is guaranteed”. Show up and do the best on the day, and if all goes well you get to cross the finish line. Andrew: Jo, I have you in this episode as well just to help drop some coaching knowledge. I know you work with a lot of athletes who are in the back of the pack, trying to make those cutoffs. But you actually now have experienced racing at the back of the pack at IRONMAN. You usually are an 11 to 12 hour IRONMAN athlete, and you went 16:18 at the IRONMAN World Championships in St. George. That was the one Simon mentioned getting to hang out in the ambulance on the way back. Did that experience being in that 16 hour range shift your thoughts on being a back-of-the-pack athlete at all? Joanna: Very much so. In every race I choose, or every experience I take on, I often think about how that’s going to affect my coaching, and how I’m going to better be able to prepare my athletes physically, emotionally, mental fortitude-wise. And my experience in St. George, that 16:18 was much harder than some of my 11 hour IRONMANs. But I had suffered a stress fracture of the femur seven weeks before the race, so I really like what Simon said, is that nothing is guaranteed. So after a lot of unsolicited opinions, I made the decision to try to get to the start line with a broken femur. So going to that race, there was a lot of different preparation in thinking about, “I’m going to be on that course until the end, and I may not finish,” and I still had to give it a shot knowing that nothing is guaranteed, and knowing that I could not run at all. As to your question, so much was learned during walking that entire marathon, when I wanted to run so bad. But the beauty was that I got to experience so many different things that I hadn’t experienced before. When you slow down a bit, whether that’s in a race or in life, you get to witness a lot of people’s testimony around you. You get to see so many more faces of IRONMAN, and athletes, and talk and share and help, and those were all things that I think I’d taken for granted in the last 15 years of racing, always being in a hurry, and now slowing down and seeing so many amazing people around me. So as far as coaching goes, I have a much better perspective on the mental component of being out there that long, as well as the physical component, and I feel better prepared to help them to conquer those long, long days. Andrew: I know many of the pros have made comments before about how the folks in the back of the pack, even some of the slower middle-of-the-pack – which is probably more of what Simon is than a true back-of-the-packer – they say those athletes are absolutely amazing. I mean, we look at the pros and are like, “Oh my goodness, what they can do is absolutely amazing. They go IRONMAN sub 8, sub 9 hours, oh my goodness they’re so impressive! They’re so inspiring!” And they look at the average age groupers and the back-of-the-packers and say, “Oh my goodness, to be out there doing that for 15, 16, 17 hours, they are so amazing!” It’s cool to see that the pros in our sport and some of the elites in our sport recognize that and see that, and truly believe that. I remember myself being on course at IRONMAN Waco those last couple run miles. I was somewhere in the 12 hour range, it was clear I was going to finish in under 13 hours, and I just remember a couple things. I know a goal for a lot of stronger athletes is to try to finish before the sun goes down, because that means, “I had a good day out there, I had a strong day. I’m a fast athlete, I finished before the night fell.” And where I was sitting, that was an inward goal somewhat, was to be one of those athletes. But I actually liked that I was out there long enough to experience the IRONMAN course under the night sky, once the lights go down and the headlamps are out. It’s just a different experience, and a unique experience that I’m glad I’ve been a part of before. I remember being in that 12 ish hour range, a couple miles to go, and just thinking, “Oh my goodness, I just want to be done. I’m sick of being out here, I’m sick of being on course.” And to know – Shannon you were out there for another 3½ hours – just the mental fortitude it takes is unrivaled in our sport. So I’m excited to talk about it more. Shannon: Yeah, well, and I think to that point of when the sun goes down, that’s actually when you see the best people, and the best in people. Now I could be wrong because I’ve never been in the front of the pack, but I see them trying so hard, and they’re so focused on their goal, and their concentration and their grit of getting to that finish line and that goal. I hear the pros talking about how they’re talking to each other – they’re not talking to each other, they’re grunting probably – but those last couple of hours you’re talking to every single person you’re passing by. You’re encouraging them. You're like, “Hey, how you doin’? You need salt? I got extra salt.” That’s when you really see the best in triathletes, because they’re helping each other, they’re encouraging each other. They’re not trying to beat you, they’re trying to help you along the entire journey. Andrew: In my eyes, everyone out there on that course, though, is a triathlete. That’s the beauty of the sport. With my 12:49 finish time at my IRONMAN, I don’t feel any less of a triathlete than a TriDotter ripping off a sub 10 hour finish. I admire faster athletes, but I feel like I belong at the same table, hanging out, talking triathlon. So Simon, Shannon, I’m curious to hear from y’all: do you feel like you are just as much a triathlete as a more elite age grouper, or do you feel like you’re kind of in a different class of athlete? Shannon, what do you think? Shannon: I do. I feel just as much an athlete as Joe, for example. I saw a shirt recently, it was fantastic. It said, “Same race, same medal.” It doesn’t matter. But what I have found is, it’s not my perception that makes me feel like a triathlete, it’s other people’s perceptions. I’ve had people trying to compare, “Oh well my dad finished his IRONMAN in 12 hours,” like trying to show that their dad was a better athlete, and it’s like, “Okay, great! Happy for them!” Andrew: Good for him! Shannon: But I am an athlete just as much as the pros, just as much as the middle-of-the-packers. Andrew: Yeah, I feel like in general most of the triathlon community views each other as triathletes and doesn’t view each other as lesser or better than. I think too, now that I’ve finished IRONMAN, my next goal in my tri career is to go sub 5 hours at a half. That’s what I want to do next. Well guess what, we were at Clash Daytona last year, and TriDot software engineer Cory Gackenheimer went 4:40 something at Clash Daytona. And I was pumped for Corey. “Well guess what, that’s my goal!” And he got there before I did. I could easily have animosity of, “Ah, Cory’s faster!” No, I was pumped for Cory, and feel like as a community, that’s typically how we see each other. We get excited for each other. Like, “Okay, your dad’s a 12 hour IRONMAN and I’m a 16 hour IRONMAN? Well cool, good for your dad, that’s awesome!” Shannon: We’re both Ironmen! Andrew: Yeah! Simon, how do you feel about this? Simon: Yeah, I’ve been back and forth on it. I think I suffered from Athlete Impostor Syndrome – Shannon: Yes! Yes! Simon: – because prior to 2017 I was most definitely not an athlete by any stretch of the imagination. It’s a fairly recent thing for me. If you’ve crossed the IRONMAN finish line, you’re an IRONMAN. That’s it. You’ve met the rules, you beat 17 hours, you get the same medal, the same T shirt. So I’m more comfortable calling myself an athlete, triathlete. Like Shannon said, I think looking within our triathlon peers, I think there’s definitely some people that think the cutoff should be 15 hours, or make it more stringent to make it harder, but I think the pros and the support just seems to generally be, “Yeah, we’re all triathletes.” But when you look outside this little microcosm of triathletes, your friends who don’t do this, they clearly see you as an athlete, as a triathlete, and wonder why we do this stuff. Yeah, I’ve become more comfortable with calling myself a triathlete. Andrew: Good! Yeah, I definitely think obviously the title of IRONMAN is earned. You’ve got to finish that IRONMAN, like you said Simon, in under 17 hours. To me, if you toe the line at your local sprint tri and DNF it because your fitness wasn’t there yet, you’re a triathlete! You went out there on race day and you started that race. You’re part of the club, and you’re every bit as much a triathlete as someone who’s finished 17 IRONMANs like Joanna Nami has. You’re not an IRONMAN yet, but the tent of what makes you a triathlete to me is very, very wide. Anyway, I want to get to some actionable items, kind of give some active coaching here today to folks that consider themselves a back-of-the-packer. One thing I want to note before we even get to race day, we have to do the training. And Shannon, like you said, the training as a slower athlete is a little bit different, and the longer you’re going to be out there on course, the longer those training sessions have to be to help you build the stamina you need to finish the race. So Jo, what should our back-of-the-packers expect to see in their race prep phase as they’re getting ready for a race? Joanna: I really love this question, because when you’ve coached a lot of different athletes, athletes with different goals, athletes with way different predicted finishing times, monitoring the mental strength of my athletes that I know are going to be out there quite a long time is very different than those that I know are going to finish quicker. We’re all fortunate to be part of the TriDot platform in that we’re looking at shorter speed work, shorter workouts during the week. But I am completely honest with a lot of my athletes and say the bike rides are going to be long, and they’re going to get REALLY long. In all honesty, there is no replacement for sitting in the saddle for a very, very long time. Physically, you’ll probably get through it. The mental games you start playing with yourself when you’ve been on a trainer in your kitchen for six to seven hours, or out in the wind out in Alvin, Texas getting blown all over the place for long, long periods of time like Shannon said, alone, feeling alone. Mental prep is huge. If we’re going to do that in the race, we’ve got to do it in the training, and we’ve got to do it lots of times. And in doing that, every time you surprise yourself. I think, Shannon, there were some moments. I just loved watching her when she was training for Waco, for her to have these moments coming off the bike that were like, “I cannot believe I did that. ” Then knowing she was saying that to herself in training, I knew she was going to have the ability and the mental strength to get through it on race day. That is part of the training, and a very important part. It’s similar on the run as well. It’s being out there a very long time. We need to train like we’re going to race, and if that means you know that athlete’s going to be walking a big portion of that marathon, then I need them to do a run walk interval for training. I need to get a system in place that they’re going to get extremely comfortable with, so they’re not facing a daunting 26 miles when they come out of T2 and are like, “Oh goodness, I’m going to be out here for a very long time.” Instead, they’re going to say, “All I gotta do is get through a three-minute jog, and then I’m on to my first interval.” There’s a lot of mind games we can play when we know we’re going to be out there a long time, and it’s really important to have that preparation in place, knowing that we’re going to be 15, 16 hour IRONMAN. It’s all very helpful. Andrew: So planning for those big long workouts – whether it’s a two ish-hour bike ride getting ready for your Olympic or a four ish-hour ride to get ready for a half, or those seven ish-hour rides that we just talked about, because you have an impending IRONMAN – it is an event sometimes, to get ready for and get through those workouts. Man, it can eat up a whole day in some instances. Simon, Shannon, I’m curious to hear from y’all what were the longer sessions like for you while you were getting ready for your IRONMAN, and what tips do you have on getting through those long sessions? Simon, what do you think? Simon: Very timely, I’ve got a seven-hour ride tomorrow, race prep for IRONMAN Wales. Yeah, what JoJo said, you have to spend the time in the saddle. There’s just no alternative. What I try to do is perhaps go somewhere different, so it becomes more of a sightseeing exercise, try to take my mind off of doing the same course over and over again. I think the thing I struggled with was how do I carry seven hours’ worth of nutrition. So I’d stage the car somewhere, do a loop, come back to it. Or I have packed my pockets full of Precision fuel. Yeah, I looked a bit like some sort of marsupial cycling down the road. Nutrition is the fourth discipline, so I want to make sure when I’m out for seven hours that I’m not relying on Starbucks, because they’re few and far between on race courses. I take my nutrition with me as much as I can. But if you want to do longer distances, you just have to spend the time in the saddle. Andrew: I want to see Simon out there on the road, on his tri bike, in aero position, aero helmet, aero kit, aero everything, with one of those toddler bike carriers behind him full of his nutrition. That’s what I want to see coming up next. Shannon, what are your tips and tricks? That was great stuff from Simon. Shannon: Yeah, well just to build on that, the time in the seat is absolutely required, but so is learning what to do afterwards. Some of my tips are to clear your schedule. Just know that you’re going to be out for the day, and it’s not just the six hour bike ride, Then it’s the recovery, it’s cleaning your bike, it’s getting your nutrition, and your post-ride nutrition and stuff taken in. My family got really used to my routine of I came in, my husband gave me my breakfast taco, I had my beer while I was soaking in a salt bath, and then I took a two hour nap. Andrew: Nice! Shannon: That was my Saturday! I’d wake up, watch a movie with my kid, and then put him to bed. So it’s clearing your schedule, but also having that support system. It became a family affair in the Cranson household as those rides got longer. There’s one bathtub in our house, and my adult stepchildren use it. So they knew that, “Shannon’s going to be needing the bathtub when she gets back.” I would block the calendar on our family calendar of “Shannon’s riding from 7:00 to 2:00,” so Trey knew he was in charge of the kiddo that day and all of the other activities. That’s off the ride, but it’s also during the ride. I had some great training partners that were racing Waco with me. Even if we were at different speeds, sometimes we would stay together, but we were always checking in with each other. So if other people left because they only had a two hour ride and we had six, we were still there together, pushing other and encouraging each other. Andrew: Now once we get to race day, I think the two big variables for us as athletes are fueling and pacing. If we fuel correctly and we pace correctly, it should come out to be a good day. We’re controlling at least what we can control. Coach Jo, how does our strategy for fueling and pacing change when we are going to be on the course for a longer day? Joanna: So much for this question. I like what Simon said, “the fourth discipline”. Fourth discipline might be transition, fifth discipline might be nutrition. Sixth discipline might be recovery, Shannon. But when we’re talking about being out there for a very long time, it’s all in the numbers. I provide a nutrition plan for a half or full IRONMAN pretty early on in training for my athletes, which we continue to tweak/modify depending on how they react to being out there that long. Practicing that nutrition plan on every long bike and run is absolutely essential. That is where we learn. That’s where we pivot. That’s how we make modifications to see what works. Sometimes we think we can handle a product for a very long time, then we get halfway through the training and the body starts to say “No thank you, not doing this anymore.” The longer an athlete is out there on the course, the more stress we’re putting on all our body systems. That’s heart, muscles, joints, neuro – every body system gets stressed completely. So we need to experience that when we’re out there in training. And as far as our fueling, we need to know what’s going to work for us on that day. The other thing I talk a lot about with my athletes is as far as pacing, we can have a great plan set in place. We can think “I got it, I’m going to hold those watts until 155, I’m not going to waver.” Then weather comes in. Then you have a flat that takes you 30 minutes to change. A lot of things can throw off pacing. There’s funny commercials I’ve watched that are like, “Pivot!” Time to change the plan. Sometimes you’ve got to make those changes in a moment’s notice. Wind can increase – Shannon, we’ve been there – and then all of a sudden, you’re not going to hold that power any longer, and if you do you’re going to wreck the rest of your race. That’s a lot of discussions it’s important to have, a lot of brainstorming to do before a race. What if this happens? What if I encounter this? What if I have GI trouble? What if I’m not feeling well? What if I get a headache? All of these things that can make you need to change your pacing and fueling. The good thing is you’re going to have a lot of time in training to figure those things out. Again, a number of things are going to need to be taken into consideration. If you’re going to be out there longer, you need to practice that nutrition, and know what you’re going to do if certain situations arise. Andrew: So a theme of the day for many back-of-the-packers is simply beating the time cutoffs. We’ve alluded to that. Sprint to IRONMAN, every race has them, and there are usually separate cutoffs for the swim, bike, and run that you have to beat throughout the day to keep going. So your eye has got to be on the clock, and you have to do some math while you’re on the course to make sure you’re on pace. So Coach Jo, particularly for those 70.3s and for those fulls, what do you say to prep athletes to beat those time cutoffs? Joanna: That’s a great question. You know, this is all part of your preparation and training. When you know you’re going to be out there awhile, you need to know what those hard cutoffs are for the bike and run, and you need to how to work your Garmin watch and computer. You need to know how that triathlon function works on that, and you need to be monitoring that time for each segment that you’re out there. I often get athletes and I say, “Read the athlete guide. Read it again. Go to athlete briefing. Ask the questions. As about the cutoffs.” That is very important information. I had an athlete, Cathy Beavers, who did Kona a number of years ago. We knew it was going to be close. She had that time of day, she knew exactly how long she had on the bike, that was taped in masking tape to the top of her bike. That was very important for her to be watching that clock the entire time, knowing how much time she had left. The other thing I talk about with my athletes is, aid stations can be so very tempting. We get out there at IRONMAN and it becomes a social event. “Oh, I’m going to stop at every aid station on the bike, and it’s now a buffet, and now we’re going to have full conversations.” No. My words are, “No lollygagging. Get moving. We need to be moving at all times. Do what you need to do and get going.” Shannon has heard this: when we’ve done those long rides, we are minimizing stops. We are minimizing the duration of those stops. You need the restroom? Use the restroom and get going. We need to mimic race conditions, and we need to make sure our stops are short at those aid stations, a minimum amount as possible. The other thing – last thing, I like to talk – is knowing you get out on that run, real comforting for me in St. George was my husband looking at me, my coach John Mayfield looking at me and saying, “All you have to do is a 16 minute mile.” Which sounds crazy like, “Wow, I can run a lot faster than that.” But it’s very comforting, and it took the fear and anxiety out of it for me to know each, every time that Garmin beeped, what did it need to say. And I was blowing that out of the water. I became an Olympic power walker, I think I got down to a 13 minute mile during that race. Andrew: Oh yeah! That’s not a walk, that’s a trot! Joanna: John Mayfield walked a lot of that last loop with me, and his shins hurt so bad the next day. He was so sore, because he said he has no idea how I can walk that fast. But I was dead set on making the cutoff. So I encourage athletes, if you know and have somebody with you reporting, “Hey, you’ve got plenty of time, you just need to make sure your mile is here,” it’s just running the numbers. That makes the whole experience more enjoyable for you. You’re not feeling overwhelming anxiety the whole time on that run thinking, “Am I going to make that cutoff.” You know you’re going to make it, you just need to manage your time. Andrew: Shannon, I know that on the run course in Waco that 17 hour deadline was definitely in your head. What was going through your mind as you worked towards that finish knowing that you could be cutting it close? Shannon: Well, to what Jo just said, know your cutoff, know your times. That went out the window about the time that my bike ride went off the rails. When I finished the bike I was still like, “Was the cutoff 7:30? Was it 8:00?” I couldn’t remember what the time was. So when I got off the bike and John was there I kept asking him, “Can I finish? Will I finish?” And he just said, “All you have to do is keep moving. Keep moving forward.” I’m like, “Okay.” Andrew: John is so good in those moments. That’s where John really shines, to be honest. Shannon: You know, he’s like, “That’s done, get moving. Stop crying, just get on the run.” But the problem was my watch died while I was on the run at Waco. Andrew: Perfect. Shannon: So here I am in the middle of a dark park with very little light, I have no idea what time it is. I just know that the people I’m seeing on the switchbacks are kind of staying the same, so I was like, “We’re all moving at the same pace.” Then my darling husband Trey came up to me, this was his first triathlon to ever attend – the second to attend, but the first to really sherpa and be there for support – and he looked at me and was like, “You’ve got to start moving faster.” I’m like, “What?? I’m moving as fast as I can, are you telling me I’m not gonna finish?” He was just like, “No falls, you just need to keep moving.” I was like, “I don’t trust you.” I literally told him this. I’m like, “I need you to call John, or Don,” who was my other training partner, and I’m like, “I need them to tell me that I am going to finish. Because I do not want to start this third lap only to be told I’m not gonna finish. I need to hear it from them.” So Trey is running next to me, he pulls out his phone, he starts texting – Andrew: What a champion. Shannon: – and then a minute later he was like, “Okay, they said you’re fine. Just keep moving. They said you’re fine.” The next day I found out they never responded to his text, and he totally lied to me. He said what I needed to hear just to keep me going. That’s what it was, I needed to keep going. I was making that pace, but I didn’t have a watch, I didn’t know. So having that support crew who knew what was really going on and what I needed to hear really was what kept me going. Andrew: A nine-hour IRONMAN athlete may wonder why so many of us pack a headlamp in our run bag at an IRONMAN, and that’s just one example that comes to mind of the gear needed for a longer time on the course. What other gear considerations should we be prepared with when we’re going to be out there just a little bit longer? Coach Jo? Joanna: Oh, lots of things. You can’t have enough chammy cream. My go to is – Andrew: 2Toms! Joanna: Yeah, 2Toms! My go to is to put some in baggies. I turn them inside-out. All my athletes do this. You can be very inconspicuous and reapply chammy cream, it becomes a talent when you’re out there on the road. Shannon: Best trick ever! Seriously, best trick ever. Joanna:Yeah, that’s a go to. We’re used to the hot climates in Texas. Going to Kona, extra salt. You need to always have extra salt in prep for that. Gear is very important. I love very easy access. Bento box, adequate room on the bike to have extra nutrition, meds, anything you might need, very easy access to those. Same way on the run. I like a good fueling belt. It doesn’t mean you’ve got to carry bottles on you, but I love when you can have extra waterproof compartments to carry things you might need on the run, whether that’s Vaseline, lube, anything you’re going to need. Also very important is we never know what weather’s going to do often, so extra run shoes, socks in your special needs bags on the run. That can feel so amazing to put on new socks and run shoes when you’ve had ten pound bricks on during a rainy race. The last thing is I encourage my athletes – Shannon mentioned this about the Coke she guzzled when we were at that stop – having treats. What are you going to really want? Really, eating something or drinking something mid way through the bike or run can change your mental status in about 2.5 seconds – Shannon: Hundred percent. Joanna: – whether that’s Lay’s potato chips or chocolate chips. I’ve seen some really strange things. I saw a guy huffing down a Chick-Fil A sandwich time in the special needs portion of a run during IRONMAN. I was amazed that he was able to consume it that fast, but whatever it takes to give you some go go, some uplift. Those are important things when you're going to be out there a long time. Make sure you have extra supply of everything. I do the head-to-toe check on the bike and run, thinking what at any time am I going to need extra of? Of course we’re talking about sunscreen as well, reapplying. I’ve seen some pretty horrific sunburns in certain locations, so reapplying those things is very important. Andrew: Simon, anything to add here, from your experience? Simon: I would just second the chammy cream. Andrew: Don’t be shy with it! Don’t be conservative with it! Joanna: It could be your worst injury at an IRONMAN race! Simon: I think, like at Alaska, I was wet from the moment I walked down the ramp into the lake and for the entire day with the weather that we had. It had rained overnight and the gear bags were out in the rain, so I started off the run and the bike with wet shoes. So having a pair of dry socks in special needs bike and run, that was heaven even though the shoes were wet, to just get into some dry socks. Then some warmer clothes in special needs run just to get an extra layer when things are cooling down. When you’re at the back-of-the-pack, you’re out there and it’s getting a little bit late, an extra layer is always good. Andrew: Shannon, any extra insight there? Shannon: I would say never trust aid stations to have what you need or what you expect when you’re at the back-of-the-pack. They run out. It happens. So have your absolutely necessary nutrition on you, know what your Plan B is. Andrew: As a spectator, I feel like for short course, the later in the day it gets the less electric the finish line becomes. Everybody finishes and moves on to the after-party. But then at long course, the later you get into the day, the MORE electric the finish line becomes, as people are waiting for those midnight finishers. Talk to me about your finish line experiences, from all sorts of different distances, different races, from the back of the pack. Coach Jo, what have you seen? Joanna: Well, my longer races – definitely doing Coeur D’Alene as my first IRONMAN, three girls from Texas, no business being up there, that was a long time ago – but finishing in the night under the lights. There’s probably nothing that replaces that first IRONMAN finish, it’s just magical. You’re kind of in disbelief. Then to come full circle 14 years later to do World Championship at St. George, and not knowing if I’m going to get to the start line, not knowing if I’m going to get off the bike, not knowing if I’m going to get to the finish line. In your mind you have like a fairy-tale ending of what could happen that I had thought about. “What if I finish really, really late into the night, and what if Mike Reilly calls my name, and what if Daniela Ryf is there medaling people at the end?” Then you have this moment where you walk through the finish line, and Mike Reilly calls your name, and you totally are so out of it that you don’t even know he’s talking to you, and you turn around and plant one on him, kissing him, and then turn around and Daniela Ryf is standing there with a medal, and you’re literally like, “Am I dreaming, or is this really happening?” That moment has really come full circle for me, and in that moment I probably wouldn’t have traded being a back-of-the-packer for anything in the world. Andrew: No, that’s great. Shannon, how about you? Shannon: So this is one of the many things that I love about triathlon. I finished a marathon once towards the end of the cutoff. I got to the finish line, there were two volunteers who were not paying attention, they almost forgot to give us our medals, and the only thing left in the finish line area was the beer stand. Andrew: At least that was there! Shannon: True story! But then I get to my IRONMAN finish, where I literally had 18 minutes left to finish. There were two volunteers standing at the top of Cameron Park Hill, which is so famous in Waco. They had been there for SEVEN HOURS cheering every single athlete up. Andrew: I remember them. Shannon: They did not leave. I mean, they didn’t leave until 1:00 in the morning, cheering every single person up, encouraging them. So when I got to see them the last time, I’m like, “Peace out! I’m not seeing you again,” and they’re like, “Great! Go enjoy your finish!” So then I get to the finish line, and it was just so amazing having so many faces: my people, not my people, seeing my 7 year-old son up past midnight going, “What is going on, Mommy, will you just finish please so I can go to sleep!” It was utterly amazing. The lights, the music – fortunately there’s video of it, otherwise I probably could not even tell you that it really happened, because it just felt so much like a dream. Andrew: Shannon, I remember leaving the race venue. My wife and I, we went through I think a CVS and got me a chocolate milk and an orange juice and whatever looked good to me at the time, and my plan was to hop a quick shower and then go back to the finish for you and Jeanette and some others that were still on course. And once I took that shower and sat down on the bed for a second, it was like, “Nope! Sorry Shannon!” Shannon: Yeah, because you’re normally out there with all of the other TriDotters. I know every race you are at you wait until the very last TriDot finishes, and I so am thankful for you and people like you who do that. So I’m gonna forgive you for that – Andrew: Thank you. Thank you so much. Shannon: – because it was your one and-done IRONMAN. Until you do another one. Simon: Simon, what’s your experience at the finish line from the back end of the pack? Simon: Yeah, I did a full IRONMAN in Santa Rosa and then a few months later I did the 70.3. And yeah, the 70.3 finish was kind of “meh”. Compared to finishing in the dark at Santa Rosa, and the crowds were bigger, it’s almost like, “There’s no one there, help yourself to a medal and T shirt,” and it was just a completely different experience. My first was obviously very memorable. I walked down the chute. That’s one of the things I would say to anyone: although you want to finish that race, you want to be done, just enjoy that last minute or so. Just walk, high five, just enjoy it. Somebody thankfully told me about that, so that’s what I did in all of my finishes so far. But when I finished in Wales, Lucy Gossage, who had just won the female pro race, she was there. She was one of those people that said, “I can’t believe you’re out there for so long.” She passed me on the bike like I was stopped. Andrew: Hours and hours before. Simon: Yeah, many Reef many hours. Yes. I think as the night goes on, it just brings people out to see that those special characters in the back of the pack, “Yeah, are they gonna make it?” and I think Shannon mentioned earlier, when you’re walking in that last hour or so of the marathon, you meet the greatest people, and they come in all shapes and sizes, and the dedication to just get there, and the joy when the cross the finish line, it's something special. Andrew: So to close down our main set today, give us a heart-to-heart message from you to your fellow back-of-the-pack athletes. Specifically, I would just love to hear your words of encouragement for us all to just enjoy the experience, to drink it in no matter how long we’re going to be out there on course. Simon, what would you have to say to another athlete? Simon: I would say keep moving forward. It’s not easy. There will be moments where you’re questioning why you’re doing this. We all have our why, and I think you just have to remember that even in those darkest moments. You’re not alone. There’s a lot of other people around you going through the same thing. Have a conversation. Talk to the folks around you, but just keep moving forward. Whatever that pace is – if it’s on your hands and knees – just keep moving forward. Andrew: Coach Jo, what would you say to back-of-the-packers listening today? Joanna: I think I said this to Shannon and other athletes before: no one’s finish, no one’s race is more valuable than anyone else’s. Andrew: Absolutely. Joanna: I don’t care if you finish in 16:50 or you finish in 9:50, your race, your experience, your life, your journey is as valuable as anybody else’s. No one knows what mountains you had to climb to get where you are, or what struggles you’re dealing with in daily life. I always talk about their mantras, things they’re going to think about. Usually the last conversation I have with an athlete before they’re going to start IRONMAN the next morning is, “You are going to experience about a thousand moments where you think, ‘I can’t do this. I’m not going to finish. I want to give up. I just want to quit so bad,’” and I tell them, “Just give me five minutes, and I promise you things are going to look better.” That’s kind of how I preach to my kids in life, is that you’re going to encounter things in life that are going to seem unbearable or that you’re not going to be able to get past, but you’ve got to keep going. Like Simon said, it’s one foot in front of the other. You have to keep moving. Perspective, mindset, feelings, all of those feelings are going to pass and change, so you’ve got to keep going. So I think back-of-the-packers need bigger medals. I think they need to be far more rewarded. I think they need to be put on a different platform, because they have to endure a lot more, and they’ve got to deal with a lot more of those dark moments, and I think that’s pretty special. So I think they need their own special podium. Shannon: To build on what Jo was saying, every athlete’s journey is their own, and one of the things that, as humans, we get caught up in doing is comparing ourselves to other people. And one thing I learned a long time ago, especially in my dancing career, is you are right where you are supposed to be. So don’t compare yourself to others. One stroke, one pedal, one step forward, and just keep going. Cool down theme: Great set everyone! Let’s cool down. Andrew: The inaugural IRONMAN Alaska happened in this, the Year of Our Lord 2022. We mentioned it a little bit earlier on the show that Simon was there. He raced it, he finished, and he got the shirt and the medal to prove it. We had a good group of TriDotters make the trip up to Juno, Alaska for the race, and we had one TriDotter from Alaska race it as her home state IRONMAN. April Spilde, shout out to her, she is a Coach Joanna Nami athlete. Jo, how did April do on her very first IRONMAN there in Alaska? Joanna: Oh. I have chills. I still have chills thinking about that night. I know so many people were tracking her, and I know, Simon, conditions were so rough. I could feel for y’all. April holds a very special place in my heart. She’s just an athlete – I’ve had a lot of athletes like this, but she really touched me in helping her with her journey – beautiful spirit, beautiful attitude, and she has such the heart of a fighter. I didn’t have to say, “Fight, girl, fight!” too much to her, she just lives it daily. Watching her throughout the day, I was channeling my energy. I was like, “Take it from me, give it to her, let her keep fighting.” And that finish line photo…I’m getting choked up talking about it! That finish line photo where she grabs at her heart – Andrew: That was a great photo. Shannon: She called me after the race, and she said, “Jo, I grabbed my heart because you said, ‘Race with a grateful heart every second of today,’” and she did exactly that, and it was such a special moment, and I was so happy for her that she got that IRONMAN finish. She is one, I think we’re going to see big things from her. She’s definitely going to have some big races ahead of her. Andrew: Well, I mentioned April today because she’s not only a fellow IRONMAN finisher and a fellow TriDotter, but she’s a fellow podcaster as well! She has the “Break the Ice” podcast, where she interviews and highlights the airmen, movers, and shakers within the community of Eielson Air Force Base. She dedicated Episode 11 of her show to sharing her experience racing IRONMAN Alaska. You can find her show on Spotify to her whole story, but April was kind enough to share a clip from her IRONMAN Alaska story from the “Break the Ice” podcast. April Spilde: I had one moment where I came through on my second lap that I saw Mom and Peter at the high school, and they gave me an encouraging word. It was totally out of surprise that I saw them. I didn’t expect to see them, so again it just lifted my spirits. They passed on a few words to me from my coach, and that just came at the perfect time. I felt like all the different people and advice and encouragement and cheers that I got were at the exact moment that I needed it the most. So I’m really grateful. I also thought about what my coach, Coach JoJo, shared with me about finding gratitude in the moments of despair. That really was what helped me through those most difficult, challenging parts. But finally, about a mile out, I could hear the announcer, Mike Reilly, who is known as the “Voice of IRONMAN”, one of the best people, one of the best advocates for this sport, and just a genuine, wonderful man, I could hear his voice. I was like, “Just get to Mike!” So I knew when I heard his voice still calling people in that I had made it, and that I just needed to keep one foot in front of the other, and then I was going to walk through the finish line. I walked up the hill and then started jogging, and then started running as I was getting closer to the finish line, and I just remember (1) it was dark out, and the bright spotlight made it a little hard to see, so I was looking for Mom and Amy and I couldn’t see them because I literally was blinded by the light. But I just remember feeling so overcome with feelings of joy and amazement that I did it, that I made it that far. I was high-fiving people as I was coming through, and then I slowed down and wanted to absorb the moment, because you only get that moment once. So for me, I wasn’t just going to run through, sprint through a finish line that I only get to experience for the first time once. So I walked, I heard Mike Reilly call out my name, “April Spilde, you are an IRONMAN!” And he didn’t just do that, he called out the fact that I’m United States Air Force, and it was very special, and made me feel like he did this special, personal call-out for me. And Peter was there, and I just remember I grabbed by heart and so grateful, I said to myself, “Thank you for overcoming this, for going, for continuing to move.” Then I hugged Peter, he put the medal around me, and then I whispered, I talked to his ear and I said, “That was really hard.” So that’s all I could muster at that point, and then I saw Mom and Amy, and I’ll let you talk about this, Mom, but I just remember just seeing that proud look in your face and getting the biggest hugs, and just feeling like a total rock star. Yeah, that was a rock star moment. The whole day was phenomenal. Andrew: Well that’s it for today, folks! Big thanks to Coach Jo and TriDot Ambassadors Shannon Cranson and Simon Williams for talking about life in the back-of-the-pack. A big thanks for 2Toms for partnering with us on today’s podcast. To make the switch to 2Toms, head to medi dyne.com and use the code TRIDOT to save 20% on your entire order. We’ Outro: Thanks for joining us. 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