Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Ironman Brazil

Off to Ironman Brazil but first the roller coaster of life. Our family, Todd – I and the kids had a great weekend which included a beautiful rehearsal dinner for our friends Ryan and Mary, Sammy’s Run and a wedding (see previous posts). Sunday afternoon I was supposed to leave for Brazil. Todd and the kids drove me to the Tampa Airport. I hurried in line all excited to go (my friend Morgan was going to meet me in Atlanta) and we were going to fly the rest of the way together to Brazil.

So I handed the clerk my Passport (I have been to South America 5 times previous to this trip). Just this past January I won the 70.3 in Pucon Chile – I love it there!! Well, the clerk looked at me and asked if I had a VISA. I replied, “no, just a Passport” She left, came back and told me I could not travel without a VISA. WHAT !!! Ok, I asked quickly how do I get a VISA Sunday night? The quick answer – YOU DON’T!Ok well Monday happens to be a Holiday – NO Go there either. I was told that the normal process takes 7-10 days but if I went to Miami to the Brazilian Consulate – it may be quicker. “MAY be quicker did they not realize I wanted to try to get a Kona spot and this was the race I had been training for now for MONTHS!!”

What can I say – I was in shock and at the same time mad at myself for not knowing this. How did I not know this? Why didn’t any of the race officials mention it? I was terrified that I may not get to go. I was so bummed, as I was looking so forward to this. Tears began to well in my eyes as I talked things through with the clerk about my options for the VISA. I was so stressed, stomach in knots, I just had to get there, this was the IM I had planned. Meanwhile, my sweet son Joshua over-hearing this entire exchange went to my wallet, pulled out my VISA card, tapped me on the shoulder and said “Mom, here’s your VISA” Kids can be so sweet. It made me smile and was a quick reminder as I looked into his sweet eyes of what’s important in life.
We pulled my luggage to the side, got out the laptop computer and logged on to find out quick info on the Brazilian Consulate. Apparently Brazil is the only South American Country that requires a VISA and the application process usually takes several days – UNLESS there are “special circumstances” unfortunately competing in an Ironman was not listed !!

I was so disappointed and sad but it was time to give a life lesson to my kids. We talked about how life throws you curve balls and things often times do not go as planned or how you would like them to. Life can be a series of ups and downs but it’s all about how you handle it that matters. I think the hardest part was continuing to feel that way as I was back home , kids in bed and I was staring at my luggage and packed bike box sitting in the living room in Florida when I was supposed to be in Brazil.

Well I must move on as we made plans to get me to the Miami Consulate(4 hrs away) so I could be there when the doors open to try to get a Visa quickly. Unfortunately, Monday was a holiday so I would have to wait until Tuesday, so the bags and bike box sat waiting to hear if they would get to go to Brazil or not. The nerves of not knowing if I would make it was killing me but I had my friend Eric Kahl who lived in Brazil and my brother in law Michael Egge who’s law firm works a great deal in South America on the task of getting a hold of someone and explaining the situation, in hopes of getting a visa in two days versus 4 or 10!!!

Thankfully things worked out and I eventually got to Brazil as most of you know from my results.

Latin sports and Ken Glah’s Endurance Sports Travel took care of the rest. The transfer from the airport, the hotel, they had a bike mechanic… all the little logistics making it easier to arrive much later than planned.

Well onto the race…

Race morning was dry but very windy, the water was by far the roughest I had seen in awhile. I got up at 3:45 and ate the usual breakfast I brought from the states and took an early bus over to the transition with plenty of time. It always seems that no matter how early I get to the race venue, somehow I always seem to be rushed. Is it my nerves? the Adrenaline? Or my endless port o potty stops. I saw some friends and we walked over to the start, the chatting seemed to calm my nerves. The gun went off and the swim was tough!! The waves were rough for everybody but my body did not feel great. Usually within a minute or two after the gun goes off, you get a feel for how your day may go, how the body is feeling that day and how it will let you perform. The swim is in the shape of an M and you get out and around the main buoy on shore and head back out. At this point I saw a few athletes I recognized but unfortunately ones I am usually ahead of at this point. But I forged on and back in for another part of the M shaped course. I exited the water in about 9th for the women and over 4 and half minutes back. I was happy with the time being just over 56 min for how bad I felt.

The swim was over and it was time to concentrate on the bike. My legs felt good right away, and usually within a few minutes you know how they will perform in that discipline. They were not heavy like the days prior and I was off to catch some of the women in front of me. I kept cycling hard passing one girl and then another but up ahead the race leaders Dede Greisbauer and Charolette Paul were riding very strong and putting time on me. It did rain on the bike, but it was not a really hard or cold rain. It was a fast bike course and with all the work Coach Paul from Lifesport has had me do on the bike I was pleased with my new Ironman bike split PR (5:07)

I came of the bike in fourth and was looking forward to the spectator filled run course. As I said within the first few minutes of a discipline you get an idea of how you will do based on how your body reacts right away. “oh please don’t be true!!!” I didn’t feel great but I am fortunate I can usually push through it mentally. I practice these scenarios in training, getting off the bike in fourth I knew how hard I needed to push. My goal was to be top 3 and get that coveted Hawaii Ironman slot. Once finding myself in third place I was able to relax a bit and enjoy the race. Dede won the race with a 9:10-she was so strong in all three disciplines. I was really happy for Dede. I did not know her real well before the race but as I got to know her more this week she is a extraordinary person and athlete that is humble and sweet ( and normal-she even ate chocolate with me) so I was happy for her and thrilled I got my Kona slot-I am Thankful to all of those that helped me get to Brazil or along the path to race day. Also to all of my sponsors: Trakkers, K-Swiss, Quintana Roo, First Endurance, Fuel Belt, Gu, Village Bikes, Zipp, Oakley, Lifesport and the Center 4Massage – you are the Best!!

NOW… onto the BIG RACE-the REV3 triathlon in Connecticut which my husband Todd and I are involved in. Watch for a fantastic race on many of the popular tri sites including Triathlete Magazine, Slowtwitch and of course http://www.rev3tri.com/


  1. Totally loved stalking your race on Sunday; had NO IDEA about all of the problems that you had with the VISA thing until Sondra & spoke with Tracy on Monday! Thank goodness you were able to get there and get that slot! So very happy for you!

    Wishing you and the rest of the Rev3 crew a very successful inaugural event in CT this weekend! It's going to be great! :o)

  2. Wow! you really had to earn your slot in more ways than one! So happy to hear you had elves that were able to help get you to Brazil. As a mom, kudos on recognizing the life lesson for your kids. It isn't always easy to remember their watching and learning.

    Great race, Congratulations!! Good Luck with Rev3!!

  3. As always, your true character and mental toughness shines through. Many people would have crumbled under the pressure of trying to get to Brazil with no visa to race as a pro!!! Congrats on the Kona slot, and I love the sweet story about how your kids put it all in perspective.

  4. Heather - you are amazing - rock solid all the time, even when you get so many loops thrown at you. And rev3 was a huge success! rave reviews all around, I loved watching the coverage. ANd next year you will be in Ohio - that's right next door to me!

  5. If I havent told you yet, I am SO happy you got your Kona slot! Well done Heather, and you put on a GREAT race!! (more events should use you to show them how to do it!!)

  6. Oh my gosh-you totally inspire me like no other. You are amazing. Christine

  7. Happy belated congrats. Same thing happened to me 15 years ago on business... a WHAT? VISA?? Luckily I had a week to get it and the Houston consulate was very giving.