Sunday, October 10, 2021


It doesn't get easier, you just get stronger. I can't even begin to say how much that saying simultaneously frustrates me and also describes the last 4 years for me. After IM Tulsa's crash, I really questioned if I was even capable of ironman anymore. Not only was my body in pain, my soul was absolutely crushed. Laying there on the pavement, there was a moment that crossed my mind that I couldn't do this anymore. Let's recap as to what caused that brief moment of quit:

1. I DNF'd Ironman Maryland in 2015 after passing out off the bike. My day ended in ambulance trip to the ER.

2. Dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer just 5 days after my last ironman finish at IM Wisconsin in 2017. That race really does mark a turning point in my life. 

3. Dad passed away in April of 2018. My world was shattered.

4. I do what I always do, push down my grief and try and move forward. I signed up for Ironman Boulder in 2019, just a week after my dad's interment into Arlington National Cemetery. What I suspect is a combination of grief, exhaustion, and being sick results in yet another DNF and ambulance trip at Ironman Boulder.

5. 2020 - COVID. In some ways COVID and quarantine was good for me. It forced me to face reality and come to terms with my grief. I finally felt the racing bug again and signed up for Ironman Tulsa.

6. Coming into Ironman Tulsa I was in the best shape I have been in for ironman racing. There was no doubt in my mind I was in for a huge breakthrough there. Unfortunately, the universe had other plans and I was involved in a crash on the bike. Another Ironman that ended in an ambulance. 

7. When I found out that I had no broken bones, my mind immediately went to planning my recovery and salvaging my season. Once again, I underestimated the emotional and physical toll this would take on me, but I persisted. I shoved down that hurt and fear and got back on the bike (not the healthiest way to go about things, but this seems to be how I deal with trauma).

8. Going through all the above while managing my normal bipolar symptoms and trying to remain a functional human being. It's a lot. 

And yet, I somehow found something in me that needed to do this. Again. Maybe I put too much of myself into this sport, but this sport is therapy for me. The highs and lows associated with this sport are almost spiritual for me. Well I guess they are spiritual. There is something to be said when you are deep into the marathon of an ironman and your body is barely functioning anymore, and your mind is what is keeping you upright and moving forward. I love that feeling. And of course, the finish line is worth the 10+ hours of hurt every single time.

The hardest thing coming into Ironman Maryland was knowing I wasn't in the shape I was in before Tulsa. My body had been through a lot and mentally, it was difficult to keep going when I was still dealing with crash pain and to be honest, the emotional trauma. I came to terms with the fact that I may not have the best race ever, but I could still have a great day out there. I'd been waiting for so long for this race, there was no way I wasn't going to do it. Also, I convinced Liz to come out with me and race since Kona was postponed again. So honestly, it was a really fun week. My mom had gotten a sweet room at the Hyatt in Cambridge, so we definitely enjoyed our time lushing and soaking up the race atmosphere. And eating all the crab.

Race day is a blur to be honest. I woke up with an upset stomach, not so much from nerves, but  for the fear that I end up in an ambulance again. I had told my mom and Adelaide that if I made it off the bike, I would finish. I would crawl if I had to. Ultimately, I think my biggest goal coming in was "just f*cking finish." The swim was jellyfish noodle soup. Thankfully, I don't seem to react to the stings and they were more annoying than anything else. I got stung in my mouth twice which was interesting, but otherwise I had a decent swim. The bike course is something a cyclists dream off - fast and roads in great condition. It is so rare that I get to ride fast here in NM, so I loved every minute of this course. I did actually off road a bit at mile 80 and almost crash, but somehow remained upright, and finished a relatively uneventful bike. Coming into transition, I had total deja vu from when I passed out in front of my parents in 2015, but luckily this time I was coherent and my mom told me I was first in my AG. Well shit. Guess I better hope that my run is there. While I didn't have a great run, I didn't have a bad run. All things considered, I was really lucky to be even starting the race, let alone running. It got ugly, I quit Ironman about a dozen times in my head, but I ran it. For the first time ever, I actually never walked except for the aid stations to take on fuel. I don't think I've ever been able to push through that much pain on the run before, so that is a win in my book. There were more than a few moments where my quads started to give out, but I found a new level of suffering and since I am a sick person - that's why I do this shit. 

Jellyfish noodle soup 😂

Regardless, as the miles ticked down, I reminded myself why I was here. I thought about how lucky I was, to be there and in that moment. I had two functioning legs and I was doing something I love. My body was in horrific pain, but I felt so lucky. And while I am not the most spiritual person around, I felt like my dad was with me, helping my legs keep churning forward. Coming down that finisher chute with dad's picture in my hand and my legs physically failing, literally opened the flood gates. Everything just came out. Four years of grief, the stress and uncertainty of my crash and how my body was going to handle an ironman, and the frustration of my last few ironman races - it all just came out. It sounds weird, but a weight lifted when I crossed that finish line. I can't put it into words how much it meant to me - probably because I didn't even know how much it meant to me until that moment. And I broke. I finally broke. I let everything out I have been holding in for so long. The immense gratitude I felt overwhelmed me, the grief overwhelmed me, the magnitude of what I have overcome overwhelmed me, and what I had just accomplished overwhelmed me. And it felt so, so good to finally let go. #ironmantherapy

I had this laminated shortly after dad died so I could tuck it in my race kit. Knowing it was in my pocket gave me comfort when it really started hurting.

I raced with so many of you held close to my heart - my family, my friends, my Coeur teammates, my SISU-IRLAG teammates. Seeing some of you on course absolutely made my day. I know for a fact I could not have done this without any of you. There are so many people to thank and all of you are amazing in your support. I need to call out a few people though! To Claire - picking up my bike and driving me home from Tulsa and reminding me that I can do this - I don't know how I would have survived those first very painful days without you. To Liz - I'm just calling you my ride or die at this point. You're unwavering support and friendship, especially the last 4 years, has meant everything to me. I don't know many people that think Everesting on a random Saturday is a great idea (spoiler alert: it's not), but I'm here for it. Having you in Maryland was a very calming presence for me and a reminder of how "fun" this can be. I wouldn't have improved so much in the last few years without you pushing me to be better. And let's be honest, post-race donut day is the best thing ever. To mom and Kari - I'm not sure how we have made it through the last 4 years, but somehow we have. We got dealt some shit luck, but in true Jim Seaman spirit, we have "shook it off." While we can never fill the gaping hole dad left, we have learned to live our best lives in honor of him.  To Adelaide - it's amazing to see all the progress we have made in the last two years, not only from a physical standpoint, but in my mental game. I'm also glad that you like to do stupid stuff too, like ride through mountain passes for no reason. I'm glad I can count on you as a friend and to push me to be a better version of myself. And to Logan - from your very blunt "run faster" comments to your worry about me doing these things, I am forever grateful to have your support and belief in me (and begrudging willingness to let me disappear for 8 hours on a Saturday to train for my hobby!).

While Maryland wasn't the best race I could have had, I'm actually at peace with the Ironman distance for now. It was still good in terms of execution and a 70 min PR, but I know there is more in the tank. However, I am good for now. It's a bit of an odd feeling since I feel like I've spent so long chomping at the bit for that finish line, but I'm ok with not doing an Ironman next year. I feel like I need a mental break from that kind of training and I need to get my body behaving physically again. So next year I'll focus on 70.3s and let myself have a winter without the crazy training load that is Ironman training. 

Letting it all out. Also, everything hurts and I'm dying.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Lubbock 70.3.

 Sometimes I question my sanity. It's been a hard month mentally and physically since Tulsa. As much as it doesn't seem like the crash didn't affect me so much mentally, I had many fears about getting back on a bike. The good news is that I have a great support team and they were here for it. For the first two weeks after Tulsa, I basically just let my body recover, but I still remained active. That first week was tough on me. Claire drove my doped up self back from Tulsa (thanks a million times over Claire) and that was probably one of the more painful experiences I've been through. My body did not want to be folded into a car and my muscles/bones were pretty damn bruised so it hurt to sit, and stand, and well, just exist at that point. Thankfully, lots of gentle yoga got me walking 2 miles with my amazing friends Therese, Nadia, and Claire by that Friday, 5 days post crash. I spent that weekend walking up a storm up and down County Road 84 😂 By the next week, I was back on the trainer, then I did a very uncomfortable walk/jog by the end of week two. My biggest accomplishment was that 2 weeks post crash, I was able to ride outside on my road bike with Liz to TVM because delicious breakfast will tempt me to face fears any day. Since I was at least jog-walking again, I naturally decided to sign up for Lubbock 70.3 which was only 3 weeks later. Definitely a bold move (insert Dodgeball reference here) since I was no in the best of shape and not even running! Luckily, 2.5 weeks before the race I did my first run, so I knew I would be able to finish even though the run was going to be very uncomfortable. I finally got back on the TT bike the week before the race and did a little mini brick run that didn't feel amazing, but at least I got back on the bike. So with my 2.5 weeks of prep, I was off to race.

Anyway, Lubbock was amazing this year. We had pretty much the best weather you could ask for in terms of temperature. Normally this race boasts triple digit temps on the run, so a high of 77 was unheard of. I went into this race with absolutely zero expectations and feeling more relaxed than I ever have pre-race. It probably also helps that I was just having fun with Liz and Amber and meeting all my Coeur teammies. Side note - TLC is pretty much the best prerace prep. Liz and I actually had to force ourselves to go to bed the night before and not stay up watching You, Me, & My Ex all night. We actually got a decent nights sleep, and for once I actually felt rested before a race.

My mom dropped Liz and I off at T1 and then headed back to the hotel so she didn't have to stand in the rain, but promised she would see us coming into T2. Cue my anxiety. It really is only fitting that it was raining and cooler just like in Tulsa. When I was standing with Liz at the swim start, I actually mentioned that this was making me nervous. I knew I just had to get through the bike, but getting there was monumental. The swim was decent - well I guess it was good since I was the first female overall out of the water, but my mind was basically just focused on getting through the bike.

I always take the most flattering pictures coming out of the swim 😄

Once I got to the mount up line with my bike, I faced one of my bigger challenges - getting on the bike! Since I hurt my back, I've lost some mobility/strength in my side, so getting on the bike is actually tough. I took a deep breath, got on my bike like an 80 year-old, and off I went. My legs actually felt pretty bad and my back was not thrilled with me at all. Then I started panicking a bit because the roads were wet and the men were of course not yelling "on your left" when passing, so I really started to go to a dark place. My HR was getting high at 170 bpm and I was getting scared. I looked at my race files and it looks like I was riding pretty timid the first part of the race until the turnaround. Two things happened there that helped me: 1. I was close to halfway done. 2. I saw Liz about a mile after the turnaround. I don't know why, but seeing her reminded me that I can do this and that this is just another day on the bike. I guess it helps that we train together on the bike all the time, so that bit of comfort gave me a boost. At that point I knew I had to try and beat Liz to transition since this was just like training where I am holding on for dear life trying not to let her catch me. I started passing the men back and finally fell into a race rhythm. The rest of the bike flew by. I finally let myself glance at my time and promptly said "holy shit" because I was riding faster than I ever had. I honestly had no idea I could put down a bike split like that and I'm still shocked, but that is a testament to the work Liz and I put in over the pandemic, as well as all the Zwift racing. When I came into transition and after my geriatric dismount, I yelled to my mom that I didn't crash and breathed a huge sigh of relief. It was also the first time that I've ever come off the bike at the pointy end of the female race in a big race, so that was super motivating. 

I'm glad my mount up was capture on camera and please excuse my bloated stomach on the second bike pic. I wish the sun was out to get all the pretty colors in Rainbow 2's paint! Also, Scott Flathouse is awesome - I was so stoked to see that mount up pic made his Insta stories!

The run was obviously the big question mark. I knew if I was having the run I was capable of before Tulsa, I would be close to breaking 5 hours, if I didn't, I still was going to have a huge PR. Turns out that my body wasn't capable of pre-Tulsa pace, but that wasn't much of surprise. I came off the bike feeling pretty flat and my back was like "seriously wtf are we doing," but I settled into a pace that I knew I could hold as comfortably as I could and that minimized the back pain. I am actually super  proud of this run - it was consistent, I didn't walk except to take on nutrition in aid stations, and I remained tough even when my back was telling me no more. Other than an unfortunate port-o-potty emergency at mile 2ish, it was an uneventful run. My pace was consistent and I just focused on my nutrition since it was good test to see how I would handle it at IM Maryland in September. I ran into one of my TCB teammies on my 3rd lap and she was on her second, so we got to run a good chunk of that together before I headed into the finish line. I was pretty shocked to see 5:07 as my final time for the race. Two years ago, I would have never dreamed that I was capable of that. I was 6th in my AG (damn 35-39 for being so competitive) and 14th overall, which is still unreal to me. This was my first time at an Ironman race racing at the top end and I can't wait to see what I can do fully healthy and at peak fitness. Ultimately, I just feel relieved and incredibly lucky that I was even able to race on Sunday. Finishing was the biggest win, everything else is just icing on the cake. 

All the feels.

I can't thank all of you enough for the outpouring of support I have gotten since Tulsa. It takes a village to train and race these things and even more support is required coming back from an injury. Thankfully, I have the best coach, great friends and teammates, and the best family. I am not super spiritual, but I know dad was with me too. I think the reason that I came away from that crash with no serious injury, was because he kept me (and the bike 😆) safe. Knowing how hard I was hit and the cracking in the helmet further confirm that for me. Needless to say, keeping him in my thoughts Sunday helped get me through that bike mentally and I only wish he was here to tell him about my bike split. I can see the face he would make and the same "holy shit" that came out of my mouth when I saw it 💓


Tuesday, June 8, 2021

One More

I basically only dust this blog off when I am feeling waxing poetic, and lately, I have been. It's been an interesting and tough few weeks to say the least. 

There are many swim sets that I've done in my life that I still remember to this day. Mostly because I couldn't believe I could physically complete them and because I found a new gear in myself that I never knew existed. I can remember how I felt during them, the intervals we went one, and the paces I held. But there is one set that stands out over all the rest, and that is One Mores. Every year in the fall at UNLV we did this as a team bonding workout. It was one of the few times a year where we would have a women's and men's only practice since we swam coed most of the time. The premise is brutally simple, fast 25s from a start on coach's go. Brutal because you didn't know when the set would end and there were no intervals - you could get some rest, no rest, or something in between. I very much remember being halfway out of the water to dive in when I heard my coach yell "ONE MORE!" And off I went. The set starts with endless amounts of 25s and ends with elimination rounds. The goal for me was to always try to be one of the last few standing. I am proud to say that I made it to the final two women twice over my 4 years of college swimming (thanks distance swimmer endurance). Anyway, few sets have really challenged me mentally more than one mores did. It really was a team and individual challenge. If you fail, the team fails. So as the set goes on, the rallying cry of "ONE MORE!" echos across the pool deck between gasps for air and tears shed that were washed away in the water. 

I have done 7 ironmans - finished 4 and DNF'd 3. All 3 DNF's ended in an ambulance. Ironman Tulsa was supposed to be my masterpiece. I finally felt like I had all the pieces of the puzzle - lost nearly 30 pounds, nutrition, fitness, mental toughness - clicking together. What I didn't see coming was a crash. I was completely blindsided literally and figuratively. It was scary and if I really let myself think about what happened, I freak out a little. The witnesses said it looked "horrific" and "terrifying." I've been feeling guilty that I wasn't more seriously injured if that makes any sense. I also feel extremely lucky I've avoided any serious injury besides whiplash, multiple contusions, a muscle pull, and a likely minor concussion. Someone was definitely watching over me and my bike (thanks Dad 😆). Any time I look at my damaged helmet, I freak out, but because I am recovering so well it is hard to believe the crash was serious. Basically, I am kinda a mental shit show about it. 

So how do one mores relate to this?

As I was laying on the road, literally watching my Kona aspirations ride away, several things were going through my mind. The crash itself happened in slow motion. As I was airborne, the first thing I thought was "this is going to hurt." Sure as shit, it hurt. The first thing I felt was pain in my back. I knew this was not good. I was almost starting to panic because I thought I might be paralyzed. I could only feel the pain in my back (for a split second my mind went to that I could get into handcycling if I was paralyzed). As the witnesses to the crash got my helmet off and I started to take some deep breaths, I realized I could feel and move my arms and legs, but I remained on my side in case there were fractures. And let's be real, I was in a lot of pain, so fetal position felt the best lol. One of the volunteers called 911 and the minutes waiting for the ambulance ticked by excruciatingly slow, so naturally, I had some time to think. My first thought was to ask about my bike, but as the adrenaline started to wear off, I kept asking myself "how is this happening again?" My train of thought started to derail as I watched each rider ride by and I sunk lower and lower. Why me? As my thoughts start to go to darker places, there was one part of my brain that screamed "ONE MORE." And in that moment, everything changed mentally. I would come back from this, whether I needed surgery, had broken bones, or if something else was seriously wrong - I would come back from this. So what if this was my third Ironman ending in an ambulance?! I was going to come back from this. Because ONE GOD DAMN MORE. 

In the two weeks since, "one more" has become my mantra. I've been making little goals with the big goal of finishing Ironman Lubbock 70.3 at the end of June. I don't really have goals for the race, just to get out there and enjoy it as I am not sure where my body will be mentally and physically at that point. I am healing quickly enough that I have to remind myself that my body went through a pretty traumatic event when I get down on myself for not hitting a certain power or pace. I think the thing that I am most proud of is that as soon as the ER doc said there were no fractures, I looked at him and my mom and said "I am walking to the bathroom and back on my own." It took FOREVER and it was excruciatingly painful, but 3 hours post crash, I went from backboard to walking and that was my finish line that day. Because just one more.