Ironman. It Happened. Part 4

After grabbing my transition bag and running into the tent, I told myself that I had to take my time here, and not rush. Never mind that I had just completed a 116 mile bike ride, that was the PAST. Now it was time to carefully, expeditiously prepare for the marathon, and  earn my new, coveted title, IRONMAN.

So there I was, entering the tent to change into my running gear, suck on my Albuterol inhaler, and carefully prepare my feet and toes with moleskin, so that I could not only endure, but ENJOY the final 26.2 miles of this incredible day.

Dump out the bag, take off bike helmet, shoes and socks, take off all my clothes, put on new, dry clothes, dry my feet, apply 3 strips of moleskin, change my socks, put on running shoes, visor, sunglasses, and down a bottle of GenUcan. THEN run outside and use the porta potties. This took FOREVER! 9:13 and I was off. Just outside of the tent, before I hit the course, I saw my kids, waving and yelling my name. I ran over to them, and gave them all a huge hug and kiss. I was surging with adrenaline. I ran out the exit, down the path, turned around and started running the course…UPHILL. Yep, the mean people at Ironman love to throw hills at you when you least expect it. Just then, I saw Mike (my son) running down the grass, encouraging me, and smiling ear to ear. Nothing could have made me feel better! I knew I was in for a long afternoon, so I relaxed and just started running, with no stress on how fast I was going.

My “loose” plan, was to run to an aid station (one at every mile), walk through the station, then run to the next. The first few stations came and went more quickly than I imagined. Within what seemed like minutes, I was at the 3rd one. My body felt great, but my right foot didn’t. The blisters were already roaring at me. Knowing I had 22+ miles to go, I played it safe and stopped, took my shoes off, and inspected my feet. Sure enough, there were three ugly ones’s already forming. I asked a volunteer for some tissues so I could pop them quickly, clean them and get on with my run. I got up and headed out. I managed to rally for a while and enjoy the scenery.

Feeling great early on.

Feeling great early on.

I continued my plan of running to the next aid station, and started partaking in the “water, no ice” offerings. I had my nutrition loaded into my back pockets, so I never accepted any of the Gatorade, Gu’s, potato chips, fruit, coke or chicken broth, although I did have a few grapes along the way.

Coming up on mile 8 or 9, I had to stop again, to adjust my socks, and try to calm down my feet. It was starting to warm up considerably, so I also grabbed 2 ice-soaked sponges at each aid station-one to  tuck in the front of my shirt, and one to tuck in the back. These sponges were absolute life savers.

A few other things started happening about this time. I got my first wave of Nausea. Since I had my Base Salt vile tucked into the leg of my tri shorts, I started taking some, and this quelled the nausea. I also started to walk more often, since the running jostled my stomach too much. My spirits were still high, though and I never let a negative thought enter my head.

The scenery along the river was SWEET

The scenery along the river was SWEET

While crossing over the river to the hilly side of the course, I saw my coach, SheriAnne, on a bike. She rode next to me for a while and we talked about how I was doing so far. I told her about the blisters, and nausea, and that, despite these things, I still felt great and was enthusiastic about finishing strong. I think she was not prepared to hear that, based on some of my recent race challenges!

The miles on the other side, are pretty brutal. Up, down, long slow up, short down, rollers, and then Up up up, down, and across the river, to pass by the finish, and start the second loop all over again. They positioned the “Bike Special Needs” aid station just after you start the second loop. By now, I wasn’t feeling so great, so I only ate a small portion of the Fritos, and took some sips of GenUcan. I was a little unsteady on my feet at this point, and the volunteer cheerfully held me up, while I paced in circles around him.

Off I went for round 2. By now, the nausea was taking it’s toll. I tried to use the salts regularly, and it helped stave off the inevitable.

Where is that Salt vile?

Where is that Salt vile?

Oh there it is!

Oh there it is!

Walk, jog, walk, jog…just keep going. Faster. Take a break. Ask for band aids, drink water, walk, jog….at the second bridge crossing, I saw my kids again, and I was running! Seeing them motivated me to keep going! They repeatedly told me how proud they were, and that was enough to shove the pain back into the recesses of my head. Once I got into the hills again, I conserved my energy, and did a lot of power walking. I kept looking at my watch, however, because, while I had no reference point for really setting a hard time goal, I did hope to finish in under 14 hours.  I stopped at an aid station around mile 22 and asked for some mole skin. A runner shouted, “I have some!”, and gave me whatever I wanted. By now, I knew it was only a short time before I would hear my name at the finish.

I’d like to say that I rallied and ran my heart out at the end, but at mile 25, I was toast. I actually accepted a cup of coke, hoping to stop the desire to throw up all over the place. One sip told me that was not a good idea, so I just kept going. By this time in the race, I no longer had the energy, or ability to smile, thank people, or be in any way jovial. I stopped looking volunteers in the eye. A nod and a “thumbs up” was all I could muster. Heading across the last bridge was quite the experience of torture.

Ohm, it's getting ugly now

Oh, it’s getting ugly now

My emotions all surfaced on this bridge and I started crying. Spectators yelled my name, told me how awesome I was, called me “Ironman”, told me how strong I looked, and basically carried me the entire distance. I knew they had been out here for HOURS, doing the same for every athlete that passed. You have no idea how that felt. I still get chills!

Within minutes, I was rounding the last turn, and heading towards the finisher’s chute. Me, 56, late-blooming athlete, novice triathlete, a nobody, with asthma, bunions, GI issues, and a lot of self doubt, finishing an Ironman. 144.3 miles, to be exact! I can still hear the crowd. I can still see the blinding lights. I can still hear SheriAnne and my kids screaming my name,and I can still see Jeff standing at the finish line, waiting for me. Most of all, I can still remember hearing, “PATTY BROCKMAN, YOU. ARE, AN. IRONMAN”,

I can see the finish line

I can see the finish line



My official time 13:37:55. 15th in my Age Group

My official time 13:37:55. 15th in my Age Group

Jeff  me my medal and  my kids and SheriAnn showed up and gave me all the love and happiness I could handle. what a day. What an experience. What an accomplishment. Pinch me.


There are no words. There will never be words enough. However, there is more to the story, if you care to check back.

Thank you for taking this journey with me.


Race Season Rules for the Road. (The Pleasure and Pain of the Porta Potty Visit)

Now that race season is in full swing, I am presenting my first installment of Race Season Rules for the Road. Well, specifically, for what happens on the SIDE of the road. In the Porta Potties to be specific. There, I said it. Yes, the Porta Potties. (The modern version of what we used to call “Stink Peuw Houses” when I was a kid….you know-the fly infested Out Houses you’d use when camping?)

Oh yeah, there they are. Me first, please.

Oh yeah, there they are. Me first, please.

One thing I am aware of in public places is the consistent lack of hygiene in the public bathrooms. Germ-a-phobe that I am, I can’t tell you the number of times I have held my breath and cleaned up after someone, or forgone the pleasure of relieving myself in a public bathroom due to the unspeakable nastiness that I have found lurking in, on, and around public toilets.

When did mothers stop teaching their children to flush? If your child is too young to tend to themselves, then for the love of Mary, please assist them.

What the hell are people eating?

Why don’t they do that before they leave home?

RUNNERS!!!! PLEASE! Head my prayer! At group events and organized races, I know you LOVE your port-a-potties, but please pay attention to the Race Season Rules for the Road!.  Porta Potties are put in place for everyone’s comfort and relief. Be courteous!

Leave unto others that which you would leave unto you.

If you sprinkle where you tinkle, please be neat and wipe the seat!

If you splat where you shat, please be kind, and clean up that!

OK, enough poetry.

God knows I refused to step into a Porta Potty until I became a runner. Though they are disgusting little sweat boxes, when I am running a race I have been known to thank the Almighty when I finally see one on the horizon, and fall to my knees weeping for joy when there isn’t a line waiting outside one. But how many times have you opened the door and wish you could poke your eyes out with your own ear buds, or wished you had a hazmat suit to don before entering? Time stands still as you weigh the decision: “Do I enter and close the door, or just keep running and hope I make it to the next one before shitting myself?” Am I the only one that cries when the hand sanitizer dispenser is empty? Yuk, don’t touch the door handle!!!

So here are my Race Season Rules for the Road:

If it FALLS out of you, is PULLED out of you, PROJECTILES out of you, RICOCHETS off of your running shorts, or otherwise leaves your body at rocket speed, PLEASE take a few precious seconds and clean it off the seat, back, floor and walls of the “John”. Whether it is snot, vomit, pee, poop, or blood, nobody wants to navigate around it when they too are desperate to make their OWN emergency deposit. Sure you might be on your way to a PR, but this is just rude and crude, and makes you a bad sports person.

As someone with Celiac Disease and the lovely gastrointestinal “issues” that go along with it,  I am fully aware that there are many times when the body does things to us that we could never imagine, admit to, or ever want to remember. I am not criticizing those that are truly sick, in pain, or otherwise shouldn’t have eaten that last double chili bacon burger 2 hours before their marathon. All I’m saying is, please, please be aware that there are other people in the world besides you and they deserve a more sanitary place to potty. Thank you.

Stay tuned for my next installment of Race Season Rules for the Road in the coming weeks. Do you have pet peeves regarding runner etiquette? Care to share?  Be well. See you at the starting line.




6 Things That Make Running Enjoyable For Me (Well, at least LESS PAINFUL)

It’s no secret that runners typically can endure numerous set backs, whether it be due to scheduling issues, mental meltdowns, unsupportive partners, or a myriad of other issues and injuries. Trust me, I am no stranger to all of the above. Be it GI issues linked to Celiac Disease, nagging Achilles Tendonitis, periodic Migraines, or a spouse that actually wants to see me once in a while, I have been through the wringer. None of this matters, however, because I am a RUNNER, and no matter what Mother Nature or Father Time, or hormonal imbalance throws at me, I will figure out how to get a run in-even it it means limping around all day afterwards.

I have a few people to blame for this addiction, AND YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE. I love you to death.

1.) Suzanne Kruse. I have mentioned this before, but it was Suzanne that unintentionally planted the marathon seed in my head in 2011. Suz ran her first marathon in the Fall of that year, and as I watched her complete that milestone, I made the decision to give it a try. Suzanne is a fasthole that just keeps on going no matter what. We haven’t run together in a while because she and I are trading injury woes right now, but we’ll push through them.


2.) Coach James Mattern, and Coach Jim’s Elite Runners in Training. (check it out on Facebook) Jim, you brought the world of group training to me, met with me one on one, and customized a plan that took me from beginning runner to Marathon runner and beyond. I love you for this, but DAMN, now I have another addiction!  Jim ROCKS! looking forward to the Saturday morning long runs, and all the posts from attendees, keeps me on my toes, eager with anticipation, every week. Even when I was sidelined with my 3 month injury, I faithfully followed the team training posts and  ran vicariously  through all the smiling faces of the weekly runners.

The Ladies of the Honey Badger Elite Running Squad, are the one’s that sealed the deal to my membership in a spaztacular cultish love fest. Oh God, I’m in deep here. “Honey, stop the car, Patty’s gone to the other side.”  HB’s are insanely intense, irresistible, and indescribable in their love of each other, of running, adventure, and of life itself. I don’t think there could possibly be another group of women (and one man-badger) that has the depth of core-support and accountability for each other than this club. We have a motto of “Leave no badger behind” and this rings true throughout the tough training, silly escapades, and  while nursing one of it’s “Cobra” inflicted members through a tough time. Although I am not as fast or experienced as many of these ass kicking lunatics, I still know they have got my back, and I theirs.

                                          Here is our logo. Yeah, we're Bad Ass!

Here is our logo. Yeah, we’re Bad Ass!

Suffice it to say, without these inspirational and supportive individuals and groups, I wouldn’t be running, and I certainly wouldn’t be blogging about running at this stage of my life. I know that on any given day, I can call on any of the above to keep me company on a run, give me advice, share my fears, tears, and joys, and most of all, a deep belly laugh.

Before I share the next three things that make running enjoyable for me, I have a confession to make. I have Schrek feet. Big, fat, gnarly, ugly ass feet. Bunions, toes shaped like light bulbs, and a very high instep…oh yeah, that Shrek’s got nothin’ on me. The scene in Cinderella where the ugly step sisters try to fit their honking feet into the glass slipper is a little too close to home for this gal.

If you fast forward to around 2:52, you can see what my usual shoe trying-on experience is like. Not pretty. (Although hilariously portrayed here!)

Because of this malady, the next three things that have me all warm and fuzzy right now are:

4.) My Correct Toes

5.) My new Brooks PureDrift shoes

6.) My new Smart Wool Toe Socks . My feet have never felt better. OOOH, just thinking about it makes me all giddy inside.

2013-04-01 12.19.18I have been wearing the Correct Toes for over a year, but rarely with shoes, because, well, they just don’t make a lot of cute shoes wide enough to add toe spreaders in them. Most running shoes are barely wide enough for me as well, so I couldn’t wear them while running either. According to Dr Ray McClanahan, my Podiatrist: “returning the feet to their natural shape eliminates existing foot problems and prevents new ones from arising. This is done using a Correct Toes spacer, which spreads the toes to their natural and correct position. This improves proprioception, which then allows the brain to better promote balance and optimal muscle function.”

All I know is that they make my feet feel wonderful, my bunion is getting smaller, and I am not having the sharp searing pains I used to have after approximately 4 miles of running. I bought the Smart Wool toe socks last week, and found that I could wear them WITH my Correct Toes, INSIDE my new Brooks PureDrift shoes. I have run over 20 miles in these shoes so far, and every day feels better than the last!

The Brooks shoes are a minimalist shoe with two split grooves that let your toes spread out. They are super light weight and feel delicious. A word of caution, though. If you haven’t run in a minimalist shoe or a zero drop, don’t jump right to this shoe from your full on stability shoe with a big heel to toe drop. I’ve been transitioning for about a year, and there’s no way I would have been able to run in these last year. Be kind to your feet and legs, and transition gradually. There are all sorts of conflicting reports on whether minimalist shoes are better or worse for you. I’ll stay out of that controversy and just say that for me, I am happy with them.

Lastly, my Smart Wool Toe Socks, are the coziest, cushiest, kissable socks I have ever worn. I love love love them. My massive toes feel so good tucked nicely inside them. They are the perfect thickness, don’t get too warm, and don’t bunch up or slide down when I run in them. I am hooked! I have tried other toe socks and have been so bummed by the fit, the bunching, and the sliding into the back of my shoe. THAT makes me a crazy woman. These stay put and are the absolute BOMB.

Here is what a happy post run Patty looks like:

Not exactly a Cover Girl, but happy to be running again.

Not exactly a Cover Girl, but happy to be running again.

My rehabilitation is coming along, with trial and error, and most RECENTLY, trial and SUCCESS. I am running my first half marathon since last year, and this will be the longest distance in 4 months, so I am a little freaked, but I’ve got the great advice from months of training with my Coach, the support of my friends and Honey Badgers, and I’ve got the first class foot package to keep my going.  So if you are in Yelm, Washington this weekend, I’ll be running the first day of The Double Half.

What makes your runs enjoyable? Do you run alone or in groups? With or without music? I’d love to hear about it. Have a great week.

5 Do’s of Athletic Club Treadmill Etiquette

Have you ever noticed how the treadmills and other aerobic fitness equipment is positioned so closely together in athletic clubs that at any given time an errant sweaty elbow might invade the space of the next door participant? It has been a few years since I had a membership at an athletic club, because I prefer to run and bike outside where I can breathe fresh air and have Mother Nature’s scenes unfold before me. Now that I am rehabbing my foot, I am supposed to do repetitive short spurts of running, mixed with walking, on a stable flat surface, so I have ventured back into the community gym. It didn’t take long before I remembered why I prefer the outdoors. I have come up with 5 do’s of athletic club treadmill etiquette.

1. Manage your space. Most clubs have a row of several treadmills along a wall, window, or other area where you can watch the goings on of TVs, people, or traffic. Unless you are superstitious or have a favorite one, DON’T mount the treadmill next to the ONLY other runner that happens to be working out. This is creepy. It messes with their rhythm and disrupts their concentration. Runners have all sorts of rituals and for most of us, if we are running on a treadmill, we are miserable. We only want to get it over with and any slight change in our little world will send us into a complete psychic breakdown.

2.Manage your volume. OK, it’s awesome and wonderful that you love Flo Rita, and I’m so happy that you’re a Wild One, but, seriously, keep it to yourself. Turn down your ipod. You are not the DJ of the day, sent here to cure me of my treadmill boredom by spinning your favorite tunes. And while I’m at it, DON”T sing along with your music maker! I might have to punch you.

3. Stop grunting. What’s with the people that think they need to grunt, moan, and otherwise make obscene noises while working out? It’s a treadmill buddy, NOT the International Weight Lifting Championships.I think if you are in that much pain, you shouldn’t be running so hard. See a doctor or something. Better yet, shut up and slow down. You are not impressing anyone.

4. Check your odor. It never ceases to amaze me how I manage to end up next to the person that has eaten nothing but onions and garlic, hasn’t washed their work out clothes in weeks, and didn’t shower after the previous night’s alcohol and sex marathon. Seriously! It’s earth shattering how disgustingly nauseated I get while trying to continue breathing while inhaling your vile, fetid stink. Here’s a suggestion: if you notice the posters on the walls starting to curl, and people around you turning away and dry heaving, take a quick sniff of yourself. Go to the locker room and at least take some soap and wash your arm pits. While your in there, check your “undies” to make sure you are not carrying around some extra surprises, and when all else fails, take your work out OUTSIDE. Next time, consider some good deodorant, and clean clothes. You are rude and inconsiderate!

5.Tread lightly. I often wonder about people that relentlessly stomp on treadmills. Why do they do that? What is the logic? The other day, I was next to this guy who made so much noise hammering away on that poor machine, that I thought he was going to break it. The whole room was shaking. (See #3 above. OF course, this type of runner also seems to be guilty of making every noise possible as if he is running for his life from the mob!) How does that feel? How’s your back? Don’t you hear yourself?

I hope to take my running outdoors permanently very soon. In the meantime, I will endure the claustrophobic challenges of using an indoor treadmill. If you happen to see me on one, my best advice is to steer clear. I am not happy here. I am not well. I may be prone to sudden outbursts of tears. I may start yelling at the machine and accusing the time clock of being broken. But take heart, I will be gone soon and you can have your safe haven back. Then you can stink, sing, sweat, groan, and slam all over the place without me.