Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I sat in the T2 tent changing and trying to regroup for the run. My garmin was messed up so I only had an estimate of the time that I had to run the marathon. I thought it was alittle over 7 hours. I headed through transition to run and TriSharkie was walking toward me. I knew she was way ahead of me but did she finish? No, she had chest discomfort on the bike thus spent an hour in the medical tent. After an EKG, she promised to "walk the marathon". We both headed out on the run course. TriSharkie moving much faster than me.

My plan for the run was to do a 5 minute run : 1 minute walk. The bike had taken much more out of me than I had hoped. From doing previous marathons, my fear was to bonk and not finish. I wasn't sure how much was left in the tank. I reversed the ratio to a 5 walk: 1 run. My nutrition went out the window also. The thought of any more Infinit flipped my stomach. I ditched my fuel belt and used the aid stations that were well stocked with bananas, oranges,grapes, pretzels, flat Coke, chicken broth, and water. It was like a buffet.

The run course was an out and back half marathon done twice. I liked it alot. The first loop I never felt like I was by myself. I absorbed everything along the route. I saw House, Bino, and Hooch all at different points on the course. The course went past the Hilton (host Hotel) 4 times. Each time that I went by there and the crowd that was there, I gained new energy.Everything was good except the clock was running out. Unlike the bike course, I was not hitting any low points.

After the turn to my second loop, I grabbed my special needs bag. Luckily, I had thrown in a jacket as the temperature was starting to drop. I also grabbed my glow sticks and reflectors that I had packed. I ran across the bridges toward downtown Wilminton. It all looked so beautiful lit up at night. The darkness of the run and quiet of the night was calming. Maybe too calming.

I reached the turn around in the park to head back to the finish. Now I knew it was game on and I had cut it way too close. When I reached mile 20, I looked at the time on my cell phone. 90 minutes was left to finish. A phrase from an IM Kona came to mind, " I am like Rainman counting toothpicks". With 5 miles left to go, I knew that I had to run the rest of the way to the finish. Although not panicking, I now was on a mission and needed to focus.

As I was running, I fell into a steady pace. I was running back into downtown and past the Hilton. There were still people there bundled up and cheering. It was just what I needed. I still felt good and pushed on still knowing I could make it.

It was with 3 miles to go when the most amazing thing happened. There was a guy on a bike that appeared out of nowhere. He introduced himself as Brent the director of the run course. He told me he would be escorting me to the finish line. I would be the last offical finisher of the race. Holy Penguins!! Here I am with 3 miles to go, 45 minutes left on the clock, and 2 big bridges ahead of me. At this point, I knew I had to dig into a place that I had never been before. Brent called the finish line and let them know that we were on our way.

There were still people on the course cheering. I passed the final aid station with 2 miles to go and did not take anything to save time. I crossed the first bridge with the metal grating. No Problem. Then came the second bridge. It was a steeper, higher incline. I had only walked this and no had no choice but to run up. Brent told me to breathe and focus. He talked me all the way to the top. Once there I looked to my left and could see tha Battleship lit up. He called into the finish line to update our location. He looked at me and said, "You are Iron. I don't know who will cry more at the finish, me or you. At the bottom of this bridge is mile 26. You have time." Chills spred across me body. A certain realization of what I had accomplished came across me. Every emotion of the day flashed in front of me.

I ran down the hill and got to the turn into the park for the finsh and there were my 2 kids waiting with flowers to run me in. Tears started coming down. Brent's voice told me that I had 7 minutes left and to look ahead see the finish lit up.Brent disappeared at this point. I made the final turn with my kids and could see the finish line. There was House, Snips, Sharkie, and Ed waiting for me. I crossed the line and the time was 16:56:16. The announced said, "Karen Mehrbrodt, From Bolingbrook, Illinois- You have reached the Battleship!" I DID IT!!!!!! Less than 4 minutes to spare. And there was House with the finishing medal to put it around my neck! It was the high of a lifetime. Something that no one could take awy from me. I am Iron!!

I learned alot about myself out there on the race course. I travel through every emotion possible. But most of all I found how deep that I could really dig into my inside to achieve something that I really wanted. I know this journey will not end here. It is a new beginning.

My reward was a tattoo on my right shoulder blade because this day was something that no one can ever take away.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009



After the swim, I was feeling great. The hardest part was done. Or so I thought!

The first 20 miles on the bike were a perfect ride. I had a nice groove going. I was comfortable at 16-19 mph. Which was great but only meant one thing- I had a tailwind. I remember the first aid station was around 25 miles and I was looking forward to a pit stop. It finally showed up at around mile 30. Same break and off I go. Still feeling good. Noticing a cross wind.

Somewhere along here came the "Big Chicken Crossing" . I know-What the hell? Is it alot of chickens that run across or 1 big one? It was a gigantic chicken statue by the side of the rode in a driveway. I am so glad that it did not run out in front of me! Whew.

I divided the course into 10 mile segments. It helped my mind to digest it better. Around mile 50, I knew that in 6 miles I would pass the halfway point and I was still positive. Things would change soon.

After passing mile 60, my stomach was growling. I was ready for that sanwich that was in my special needs bag. I got to the area and a volunteer looked at my number and grabbed my bag for me. I was suprised that there was around 7-8 others still there. I had warmed up alot and threw my arm warms in the bag.Feeling a few minutes of recovery, it was time to get back on the bike and finish this thing.

Now after passing mile 70, there was a right hand turn. Just ahead I saw a sign that read Wilmington 38 miles. Not bad. The other thing that I quickly noticed besides the sign was the cold head wind and gradual incline of the road. This would continue the next 40 mile back to the battleship.

At mile 80, I began having back spasms. There was no way to find a comfortable position. I stopped and leaned against a tree to stretch. My cell phone went of with my hubby's ringtone. I answered and he asked why I had stopped. I was confused. How did he know that I stopped because my tracker quit working. He replied that he was on google earth on real time and saw me pull over. Talk about Big Brother watching. I felt better and rode off again.

The next 32 miles is when every demon came out. I thought that I would be facing these on the run but low and behold here they were. My mind wanted me to quit and dbegan to think of excuses that would sound good. Spin Coach Nick popped into my head telling me to switch the channel in my brain. As much as I tried, I was in a very low spot. I told myself that if I could get off the bike maybe I could just forget the marathon. It went on and on for miles with the lowest spot being at mile 100. I was just so tired and my back hurt.

I saw the bridges ahead that cross the Cape Fear River and knew that the Battleship was nearing. At the top of the second bridge, I could see it and knew that final I would be off this damn bike. What I thought would be the best part of my day became the lowest points.

I saw Bino and Snips as I entered transition. Big hugs and into the changing tent I went. Amazingly there were still people in there. I wasn't last. Again, I took a huge amount of time but made sure I had everything before I headed out.

Bike time including T1= 8:02:43

IronWaddling into the run...


I decided to write this race in 3 parts just as there was 3 distinct parts of my day and I did not want to miss anything.

I had a great nights sleep and my alarm went off at 330am. Wow, the night went fast. Snips was already downstairs and dressed ready to take me to the buses at the Hilton that would take the athletes to T1. We did one more double check of all my bags. It was 4:45am and we went and picked up Tri-Sharkie then to the Hilton. We were the last 2 people to catch the bus. Everyone was very chatty on the bus an it was a quick ride.

First body marking, dropping off special needs bags for the bike & run, then setting up T1. Everything was going smooth until I looked in my Swim-to-bike bag and did not see my Army Bike Jersey. Major panic. No shirt for the ride. I ran back to where I dropped off my other bags and went through everything. No Jersey. As I was trying to think of options, I called Snips back at the house. She calmed me down and sent me back to my Swim-to-bike bag because she saw me put it in there. I took a deep breath. Emptied the entire bag out on to the wet ground. I looked up to see a TV camera coming around the end of the rack. NBC was there filming a ex-Biggest Loser Contestant for a TV special. Great and there I am panicking with my crap all around me. But the good news-there was my Jersey ! First crisis is over.

I went back to setting up my T1. ShirleyPerly stopped by with a tidbit she heard on the bus. When doing the swim the best current was near the right of the channel. When you got near the WigglyMan that marked a left turn you need to get over to the left side otherwise if you were not a strong swimmer you would not make the turn. Great advice as several people last year had to DNF because of this. Mental note made and I went to drop my new beige slippers with flowers off at the swim exit.

Now it was 6:05am. Time to get my wetsuit on and catch the bus to the start. No spectators were allowed at the start. The photo above is of the beach where it starts.


The sunrise was awesome over the channel. The announcements were made followed by the national anthem. I was unusually calm. It almost made me nervous that I was not nervous. Does that make any sense? The water temperature was 67 and the air temperature was 40. The gun went off.

I left everyone run off the beach before me. The water felt great although it tasted very bad since it was salt water. I was bumping in to a few people but most were already way ahead of me. I did not actually feel the current but did notice that I swam from buoy to buoy quickly. I heard people cheering and looked to see the half Iron athletes to my right waiting for their start. A quick glance at my watch showed 00:37. Wow. I made the turn OK at the WigglyMan on the boat but found it had to sight in the channel.

I finally could spot the dock at the swim exit. I got out and was a little dizzy. Sat down and took off my wetsuits and put my slippers on. I tell you everyone was jealous of those shoes for sure. I ran toward the street and turned to T1 and there was my family and Snips cheering!!! I was so happy. Emotion overwhelmed me. I completed a 2.4 mile swim !! I was on my way to be an Ironman ! Tears ran down my face and I gave House a big hug. My swim time was 1:23:56.

I grabbed my bag and went into the changing tent. I took forever but wanted to make sure that I did not forget anything. I ran out and grabbed Sugar. I waved at my supporters and headed out for my 112 mile ride.

IronWaddling to the Bike............

Monday, November 09, 2009



We arrived on Wednesday to the most beautiful, sunny and 70 degree weather. After the October weather in Chicagoland, it felt awesome. We rented a house downtown historic Wilmington. It was the perfect place for our family for the weekend. Although this weekend was about my race, I wanted them to enjoy also.

On Thursday night, it was the athlete's dinner. The food was great and the company even better. It was a blogger meet up as you can see in the photo.
From left to right, Shirley-Perly, Vickie,21st Century Mom, Waddler, SW Trigal, and TriSharkie. The main point of discussion was the attire for race day. It was great to get alot of different perscpectives on who was
wearing what gear.

After a good night's sleep, I picked up Sharkie, Shirley and Vickie for an early swim at the beach.We got there close to 7am to see what it was like at that time of the day. As we drive there we saw many others with the same idea going into swim at different points. We chose to swim at the start of the course. Standing at the beach looking out, I was very nervous. Once I got into the water, I felt good.

At noon, it was time for the athlete's meeting. It was over an hour long but full of alot of information. As I sat there looking around the room, it was one of those moments when you wondered if you belonged there. I knew that I had put my time in and earned a chair in that room. I couldn't stay after for a blogger meet up because Sharkie and I had to pick up Snips at the airport. She flew in to watch us and volunteer at the finish line.

The afternoon was filled with mixing nutrition and filling the 5 race day bags with the necessary stuff and trying not to miss anything. I think I went over everything a million times. The sun was getting ready to set and Sharkie and I headed to transition 1 with our bikes before it got dark.

Pizza was waiting for us when we got back to the house. As we were sitting there, I remember that I did not have any sandals to where from the finish dock for the swim to transition. It was about 400 yards on a crappy road surface. Snips and I jumped in the car at 7pm and went to look for shoes. Sounds easy? Ha. Tried several places with no luck. We finally ended up at the Family Dollar Store. No sandal. But I found an awesome pair of beige bath slippers with flowers in my size. When all else fails-improvise. Snips and I laughed all the way back to the house. What a picture this will make on race day.

Before I knew it, the time was 9pm. My family began reminding me it was time for bed. For some reason, I was reluctant to go to bed. Maybe the was some fear of what was to come in the morning ahead. I finally hit the sack around 10 wondering if I had done enough to prepare for 140.6 miles. I soon would find out.

Waddling into writing my race report..........

Sunday, November 08, 2009


I now have a new name----

Race report to come later. It was a spectacular day full of memories for a lifetime. My time was 16:56 with 4 minutes to spare.

IronWaddling with a huge smile............