Category Archives: Running

My first shirtless race

Dozens of questions coursed through my mind at mile 6.7 of America’s Finest City Half Marathon. Did I need to take my next GU? How was my knee going to hold up? Was it time to take my shirt off? And that’s when my race got interesting. That’s when it became my first race with no shirt on.runningshirtless

It wasn’t something planned or premeditated. In fact I based my decision primarily on comfort more than anything else. Drenched in my own sweat, my race singlet became sticky and heavy. Like wearing leather pants on a piping hot day. Sweat happens when you’re running in 90% humidity and temps well over 80 degrees.

It was one of those “fuck it” moments after running 6.7 miles completely exposed to the sun. The AFC Half does not afford many opportunities for shade. As I peeled off my leathery shirt it was like a thousand angels sang from above and my skin breathed a deep sigh of relief. This changed the tone of my race from heat and humidity suppression to light and fancy free running through the streets of downtown San Diego … shirtless!

This was not an act to draw attention. This was, as I mentioned before, largely for comfort. And then it turned into so much more. For the rest of my race, the remaining 6.4 miles, I thought about how over my endurance career of nearly 6 years I had not completed a single race shirtless. It’s not that I always wore a more breathable shirt. No, I can recall many a time I wished I could take strip down to just my sports bra and shorts.

The reason I never dared to bare was because I felt so ashamed of my body. Completely and utterly ashamed of my imperfect, puffy belly and the way the bulge gathered right above the waistband of my shorts. Not to mention the armpit bulge. I know – I probably sound like a total asshole to some of you, feeling shameful about my body. But listen – this is something we are conditioned to feel regardless of what we may look like to others. And for me, I simply couldn’t stand the thought of what my race pictures might turn out to look like or what onlookers might think as they saw me jiggling by. (And who says “jiggling” is a bad thing, anyway?)

This year for the first time ever I trained several times with just my sports bra and shorts and while it took a great deal of self-talk to get the point of ditching my shirt, it was the most liberating feeling of all time. I not only trained for the mileage but also the courage to bare my body in a way that was meaningful and powerful to me.

It’s important to me that I walk the talk, put my money where my mouth is, and so forth with everything I am trying to encourage others to do. Loving, even simply accepting our bodies as they are is really challenging work. And there are so many layers that we have each developed over time based on experiences and teachings that we are conditioned to believe without ever questioning – what’s wrong with cellulite anyway? Who made up that rule?? Because, can somebody PLEASE tell me who made up the rule that cellulite is the devil?

I am inspired when people are unapologetically themselves. And maybe that’s why this particular experience was so empowering. Running without a shirt on comes with practical purposes like staying cool but it’s something I have only dreamed of doing. In previous years I would stop myself because I wouldn’t want anyone to be offended by my body. It feels like stepping even more into who I am – and it’s a part of myself that I am still starting to uncover. And it’s insanely cool to continue getting to know this unashamedly bold and brave part of myself that I always knew was somewhere down there in the adorable cushions of my belly.IMG_3697

Still I cringe sometimes when I see the race photos from AFC Half Marathon. But I remind myself that part of the work is going through this process with the ability to start to change perspective. So I then go back to the photos and look at them instead with approval rather than criticism. It doesn’t have to be exuberant love, Just looking at ourselves with acceptance.

If running without a shirt helps me unveil the boldest parts of myself and learn to love my body, then by god I’m sticking with it. (The same holds true for yoga without a shirt on!)

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Triggers: Our Bodies Speak Volumes

Chin up! Photo credit: Ellie Tonev

Chin up! Photo credit: Ellie Tonev

When I hear the word triggers I automatically think of my migraine triggers: stress, the weather, excessive heat, excessive cold, tomatoes, eggs, pork, nitrates, msg, to name a few.

But I never truly considered triggers in that the way in which I hold my body has profound affects on my emotional and psychological health. That when I spend my day with my chin down, shoulders slumped – let’s call it the “I GIVE UP” posture – well, I feel like fucking giving up.

I never considered these triggers until my teacher Tracy really took us down that path Saturday afternoon in Bowspring class. When we meditated on our triggers.

Bowspring (for me at least) is all about holding a steady posture where you feel both solid and light, sturdy and at ease, confident and at home in your own body. We hold the Bowspring posture during a class so that we can find it with greater ease during life.

The triggers we notice are things such as:

  • Do I drop my chin and always look to the ground?
  • Do my shoulders curl forward?
  • Do I draw in my belly so as to feel smaller?

For most of my life, my answer to pretty much all of the above has been a resounding YES. Yoga and especially Bowspring Practice though have slowly helped me find my way out of these patterns and triggers. This path out has not only helped me feel stronger and eliminate pain, but also has given me a newfound sense of confidence – where I feel more at home in my body.

Growing up I was taller than a lot of the kids in school. I would wish every night to wake up skinnier and shorter. My tallness and gargantuan feet were a travesty at the time. While classmates were still shopping at Gap Kids, my mom started bringing me to Eddie Bauer and The Limited.

To say that I did not embrace my tallness and size would be an understatement. All I wanted was to feel small. I was desperate to fix:

  • my tummy so that it would quit sticking out (before I learned about the birds & the bees there was a period where I questioned “am I pregnant?”)
  • my feet to stop growing already (I’ve been a size 10 since about 5th grade – there, it’s out there, I have big feet!)
  • my thighs to not rub together when I wore dresses or shorts (they still rub together somewhat and when I run long distances, they chafe, ah well!)
  • my boobs to disappear (I wore baggy tops to conceal them until some of the other girls caught up)
  • and somehow I thought if I slouched enough, I would be shorter like the cute short girls.

I notice that even now, as I make my way into my early 30s, I still hold onto some of these beliefs that have manifested as triggers in my body.

Like the tummy trigger – oh the amount of time I have spent trying to suck that darn thing in! I spent years in high school and college perfecting a posture that would make my tummy appear concave or hollow. And I wonder why my back started spasming…

At the time the only part of my body I probably loved were my shoulders because there I noticed – bony protrusions! Ah-ha!

I’m not going to say that I have fully addressed all of my triggers. I’m not sure I ever will. But I notice them, oh do I ever notice them.

For instance when I was running the other day, I spotted my reflection in a window and immediately said to myself “EW, GROSS!” I said it out loud, right there on Knight Street. Why? Because I noticed my belly was sticking out.

So what did I do? I first tried with all my might to suck my belly in to make it go away. As I did this I started feeling totally uncomfortable in my body, realized “there’s a trigger for ya!”, and decided fuck it, who cares, I’m going to let my belly be free. Breathing feels better that way anyway and – cool fact – I have also noticed that when I let my belly be free and stop trying to suck it in when running, it is MUCH easier to lean into the run and to keep a faster, steady pace.

The greatest gift is that when I pay attention to my triggers, I feel a greater sense of “I’m at home” in my own body rather than wanting to fix or escape it. I give myself permission to be exactly as I am and to honor the very shape of me.

I encourage you to notice how you are sitting, standing, walking right now. How are you HOLDING your own body? Do you feel empowered in your own body or do you feel diminished and small? Perhaps simply try this cue: keep your chin up. And just see what happens when you make that your mantra throughout one day.

With Love,


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3 Reasons Endurance Athletes Benefit from Health Coaching

Why Do Endurance Athletes Need Health Coaching?

Ironman Lake Placid 2012 – just before the finish!

I have been fortunate to coach some pretty incredible endurance athletes over the last few years. And we aren’t talking professional endurance athletes: we are talking the athlete who has a family, a career, hobbies, and somehow manages to integrate a training schedule with enough hours to constitute a part-time job.

I love working with these people because of their intense drive and motivation – and also because I speak their language. I understand feeling like the “crazy” one who leaves a dinner party at 8:30PM because you have a 5AM training session.

So I was thinking about this – why DO endurance athletes need coaching? There are a myriad of reasons so I’ll start with three that really stick out in my mind:

Don’t ignore the basics: food and hydration.

Are you feeling drowsy every afternoon because of that 5AM brick workout, or because you are low on your water intake? Or could it be that skipping lunch because you are “too busy with work” is finally starting to catch up on your energy level during evening hill repeats? Proper hydration and nutrition seem simple enough but when we are juggling training for an endurance event PLUS everything life throws our way, we need to make sure we don’t ignore the basics.

It’s training for your mind and soul.

We spend so many hours every week fine tuning our body in preparation for race day. But what about preparing your mind? In coaching we confront all of the fears … the “what if’s?” of race day. One of my biggest fears around Ironman Lake Placid (and this is probably a popular one for many of you) was “What if I don’t finish?” I worked with MY coach and confronted this fear and came up with a mental game plan for how I might feel or react if I didn’t finish. And when I explored the what if’s instead of ignoring them, it felt like I got all my worrying out of the way. Like I had just “cleansed” myself of worries and had an (almost) worry-free race day!

It makes race day that much more meaningful.

One big reason I love coaching endurance athletes is that these folks have giant hearts and they aren’t afraid to dream big. They have an internal drive that pushes the envelope and is constantly curious what the human spirit is capable of. When you find tune your intention and reason for racing it’s like giving yourself an unlimited stash of mental GU gel. It’s a natural burst of energy that keeps you going through challenging training days and culminates in that final push on race day. Every race, every year, the reasons may change – they shift because we go through different obstacles in our lives. But when we cross the finish line, it’s so much more than just a PR or just a race – it’s a celebration. And that race can become one of the greatest learning experiences you’ll endure.


If you are interested in health coaching in preparation for an endurance event, or have any questions about what coaching might be like for you, please don’t hesitate to email me at Your first 30-minute session is on me!


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A Feeling of Everything-is-alright-ness & Philadelphia Half Marathon

I think I love doing these races so much simply because they make me feel more alive. Just getting to the starting line last Sunday for the Philadelphia Half Marathon was a total well of emotions. And when I crossed the finish line … well you will just have to read on to find out what happens.

This year has been a big old wake-up call for me, most especially pertaining to my health.

I have been practicing yoga for nearly 15 years, teaching yoga for 8 years, and health coaching for 3 years. I am also a perfectionist. Or at the very least have some major perfectionist tendencies. This perfectionism has kept me from coming clean, or being totally honest not only with myself but with every person in my life – from those who I see on a daily basis to those who sometimes peek at my social media presence.

My migraines took a turn for the worse around Christmas last year. They became more frequent, longer in duration, and the symptoms were more severe than I had ever experienced. I was getting a migraine every 7-10 days lasting 2-3 days and, without fail, I could not hold anything down; vomiting regularly and spending at least a day recuperating and rehydrating. I am still dealing with these severe migraines but I have taken several steps to make taking care of them a top priority.

I didn’t want to tell anyone what was really going on except for a select few because I thought admitting that I was having a challenging time meant I was a failure – in so many ways – including a failure as a yoga teacher and health coach. It hadn’t dawned on me that being truthful with myself and giving my health the attention it needed was a huge part of being the best teacher/coach I possibly could.

Since December 2013 I had to say no to so many people and events: from endurance events to weddings to teaching … it started to become so very apparent that my health was not in a good state. Not only that but I was not giving my health the attention it deserved.

I would be struck with a migraine and on top of the physical pain and discomfort I would sink into a state of depression. I am now learning to transition into migraine-mode with more forgiveness and compassion for myself. It’s is tough work, but I am learning to let go and let the migraine just take me into the migraine-state for however long it needs to process through my body.

So what on earth does this have to do with a half marathon? Well, I was hesitant to even sign up for the Philadelphia Half Marathon. What if I got a migraine on race day? It was something I thought of every time I laced up my sneakers and went for a run. The list of what if’s ran through my mind endlessly. I finally came to peace with the fact that a migraine might happen on race day, but I also accepted the exciting possibility that it might not.

The very last run I went on before we left for Philadelphia, I said to myself “I’m going to run this thing” – that became my mantra and I visualized approaching the starting line with my friends and imagined what it would feel like to get back into doing this thing that makes my heart sing.

And guess what? I ran that thing! I got to run the Philadelphia Half Marathon and even set a personal best at 1:57:43. This was the first race for me in about a year which, if you know my history with triathlon and running, is a pretty big deal as I have spent the past 4-5 years filling my calendar with races.

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 3.54.42 PMSo what happened when I crossed the finish line?  My eyes filled with little tears, I got that knot in my throat, and my heart swelled up. (I think I’m officially a “Finish Line Cryer.” Is that a thing?)

The days that I have spent on my couch in more pain and discomfort than I can come close to describing … those days have given me a greater appreciation for the days without a migraine. Where I am grateful just to toe the line at a race and be amongst the running community. Where I am grateful to share race stories with my friends, our teeth chattering as we make our way back to our hotel. Where I am grateful for that hot shower after a race, the water washing away the sweat and soothing my aching muscles.

It’s a feeling of lightness, of “everything-is-alright-ness” … and maybe migraines have given me more awareness of its existence.

PhilaHalfI am grateful for my experience with migraine. Migraine has given me a deeper understanding of debilitating pain and discomfort; it has given me greater appreciation for the days WITHOUT migraine – what a sweet blessing those days are; migraine has taught me to accept the help and support from loved ones when it is offered, and to ask when it is needed; and migraine got me to get my butt in gear this year to make my health a priority. We should never be so busy that we cannot take care of ourselves.


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To Toe The Line

Newport Half Marathon 10.13.13

Newport Half Marathon 10.13.13

Sunday will be my first half marathon in over a year. Which, given my track record (no pun intended) over the past 4-5 years – a tendency to sign up for road races on a whim, compounding multiple half marathons in the same year as an Ironman – says a lot.

This year has been challenging to say the least and I limited myself quite a lot because of the severity of my migraines.

Sunday is the Philadelphia Half Marathon. I am most definitely undertrained, but I know that once I toe the line I will finish.

For me this race is much less about finishing, or finishing in a certain time (I have no doubt this will not be a PR race). It is ALL ABOUT toeing the line.

I just want to wake up Sunday morning, migraine-free, and get to that starting line. That will be enough for me.

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Running for Moments of Stillness

3 mile run, 10 minutes of yoga, and 5 minute meditation. What a way to start a Monday! Have you ever tried meditation after your run?

My Monday started at 5AM with the sound of my alarm. Time to start the day with some early-bird yoga students immediately followed by a doctor’s appoint. Was I kidding myself when I planned my day? I sometimes operate in this “go, go, go!” mentality and forget to stop and pause for a minute …

Luckily I blocked out a 2 hour chunk of time to work from home and squeeze in a quick run, just to get the blood pumping. I left for my run as I normally do at the beginning of the week – the mantra is usually “just go easy” or “run as you feel.” It sets the tone for the lowest pressure possible which is helpful at the beginning of the week.

On this particular Monday my stride felt strong and purposeful (could have been those new running shoes I just purchased) and I even found a new route near my home – with minimal hills! (This is a challenge as we live on a very steep hill.)

When I returned home, instead of my usual routine of email check, Facebook check, second email check, stuff something in my face, drink some fluids, OK time to shower!, I sat on the floor and set my phone timer for 10 minutes. I did 10 minutes of yoga which always includes my favorite post-run stretches. And then something pretty cool happened. When I was done with the yoga I just felt like sitting.

I set my alarm again for 5 minutes and sat for a meditation. Sweat was still dripping down my face and I could feel the uncomfortable dampness of my shirt but it felt so sweet to be in stillness after this incredible exertion of energy and effort. Yin and yang. One extreme to the next. But in that meditation I observed: the energy from my run still pulsating through my body, how warm I felt, my stinky sweaty run clothes, and even while sitting in stillness how motivated and energized I felt.

When we can sneak in these little moments of stillness for ourselves and just be witness to all that is going on within us, we start to move forward in life with a little more clarity and steadiness. Maybe when we learn to fit in a short meditation after a run we start to appreciate all that we have accomplished up to that very moment, despite our grander goals. Maybe then we can fit in a short meditation before a work meeting or a challenging conversation with a loved-one.

I don’t normally do this after a run and I would like to make an effort to do it regularly. We are all pressed for time, ALL THE TIME, it seems. But even if you can take 1, 3, or 5 minutes after your run for this meditation I think you will begin to be a little kinder to yourself and appreciate all that your beautiful body is capable of. Even on those “bad run” days.

Interested in adding a little meditation into your running routine? Follow these simple steps or email me for a little extra guidance!

  1. Run … for any amount of time you have planned or just run for fun for as long as you feel!
  2. Yoga … set your timer for 5-10 minutes and go through some basic yoga stretches. Think hips, quads, hamstrings, and back. Or just do legs up the wall.
  3. Meditate … find a comfortable seat, legs up the wall, or lie down. Set your alarm, close your eyes, and focus on your breath and your body. Notice each and every little sensation. Give yourself a pat on the back for getting out there today!

Let me know how your run + yoga + meditation experience goes. What was easy? What was challenging? Post your comments and questions here!

XO Maggie


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Going Gluten-Free and a New Recipe

Usually my Saturday post-run ritual includes a scrumptious quinoa cookie from SoNo Baking Company. During that last mile I start to daydream and it’s the thought of that cookie that gets me up that final hill on South Maple Ave. Today however, that changed. It dawned on me that a gluten-free diet does NOT include my most favorite cookie.

Screen Shot 2014-07-12 at 1.35.47 PM

Allow me to back-track just a little: two weeks ago I had another debilitating migraine that lasted over 48 hours and almost kept me from missing a very important family event. I was left feeling defeated and disappointed: I missed time with family visiting town, canceled several yoga sessions, and had to sub out my Saturday morning class.

Here’s where gluten-free enters the picture: by chance I had several conversations at this family gathering with family members and long-time family friends about their experiences with a gluten-free diet. One in particular about how it transformed someone’s experiences with … debilitating migraines. It was then and there that I decided I would give it a try (after of course I indulged in a mini goat cheese tart) for one month.

Today is Day 11. I can’t say there are any noticeable effects on my migraines, it is too soon to tell. But I am willing to give this a shot, I am up for the challenge. And while I cannot indulge in my beloved quinoa cookies, there is plenty that I still CAN eat – like this easy and delicious roasted chicken legs recipe I found on Bonus: it also has kale!

Now to find a quinoa cookie gluten-free substitute. Any suggestions?

Roasted Chicken Legs with Potatoes and Kale

  • 1 1/2 pounds tender, young kale, stems and inner ribs removed
  • 1 1/2 pounds medium Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 8 whole chicken legs (about 10 ounces each)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Lemon wedges, for serving
    1. Preheat the oven to 450°. In a very large roasting pan, toss the kale, potatoes and onion with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and spread in an even layer.
    2. Set the chicken on a cutting board, skin side down. Slice halfway through the joint between the drumsticks and thighs. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with the paprika and set on top of the vegetables.
    3. Cover the pan with foil. Roast the chicken in the upper third of the oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and roast for 30 minutes longer, until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender. Transfer the chicken to plates and spoon the vegetables alongside. Serve with lemon wedges.
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URF (also known as – “Ugly Run Face”)

My URF post is in part inspired by one of NYC Running Mama’s recent Facebook posts, a reminder that not all race photos are smiles and happiness. I share with you my URF photo from last weekend’s Newport Half Marathon.

Newport Half Marathon 10.13.13

Newport Half Marathon 10.13.13

Normally I would hide this out of shame that I am not smiling, beaming, laughing, and looking my absolute best. But something has shifted and I realize a photo like this perfectly summarizes the theme of Sunday’s race: being comfortable with being uncomfortable. We are talking every moment past mile 5 fearing I was going to hit the wall,  wanting to vomit, crazy ridiculous uncomfortable.

But do you want to know something? The discomfort was totally completely worth it. I had a silent goal for this race that only a few people knew about: a sub-2 hour half marathon. I kind of feared that if I started blabbering to everyone about this goal that I wouldn’t reach it but do you want to know something else? I did it! My net time was 1:58:45. This came after over a year of hovering in the 2:02-2:05 zone and also after Ironman. (In case I haven’t shared this with you yet, Ironman has kind of made me feel like I can do anything which is both a blessing and a curse.)

I held on through the discomfort, kept my goal in mind (ok I totally obsessed over my pace and time the entire race), held Clara in my heart to keep me going for those last few miles, and shrieked when I saw the clock at the finish line still reading below 2:00:00. Bottom line: I embrace my Ugly Run Face! In fact I think it’s rather gorgeous.

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Simply Strength

I’m not a huge fan of working out at the gym. I would rather jump on my bike or go for a run in the park. Even in extreme weather conditions. Any chance I get, I would rather be outside.

That said, I know my body benefits greatly when I incorporate regular strength training into the routine. #snore. I know, it bores me to think of walking into my gym, awkwardly finagling free weights and bands and equipment and then leaving after 45 minutes feeling like I got absolutely nothing accomplished.

Thankfully, I have some folks in my life who are less awkward when thrown into a gym or weight-lifting environment. Take the trainers at Sherpa for example who provided this strength routine for me. It was a totally different feeling walking into my gym with a PLAN. I completed it this morning in 35 minutes, with just enough time for some stretching and foam rolling. I know my running, cycling, and nagging hip injuries will thank me for this. Now to make sure I keep up with it on a regular basis…

Here is my strength routine from this morning. If you don’t know what something is, ask me or you can reach out to Sherpa. I have provided videos which are also regularly updated on Sherpa’s Facebook page.

  • Always start with a warm-up … like this! 
  • Split Lunge (8-10 each leg)
  • Row (heavy weight – 10 to 15 reps)
  • Lateral stepping with elastic band (20 reps each leg)
  • Scaption (10-15 reps)
  • Bridging (elevate feet on box or bench – 15 reps with 2 sec hold)
  • Push-ups (I aimed for 15)
  • 3 core exercises of your choice (I chose side plank with leg lifts, forearms on a medicine ball moving the arms in and out, and navasana or boat pose)
Repeat all exercises 2-3 times.

Ironman Lake Placid Race Re-cap

And so it begins…

3AM on Sunday July 28 my alarm goes off. Ok, to be totally honest, I didn’t sleep at all the night before my Ironman. I tossed and turned, switched beds, meditated, went through a roller-coaster of emotions until that alarm went off and I could jump out of bed and get this momentous day started. I guess on the upside, not falling asleep meant not fighting with waking up at an ungodly hour. I took a shower, put on my Sherpa kit which I would wear for the swim, braided my hair, and started prepping my 1000+ calorie breakfast. I walked outside my room to find 3 gorgeous signs that my hero Clara and her family had made and affixed to my door, offering their final words of confidence.

Team CTF arrived at transition to get body-marked, set up water bottles and nutrition on our bikes, and drop off our special needs bags. I found Brett and walked with him to the swim start where he helped me get into my wetsuit and then we said our final goodbye for the day which was far more emotional than I had anticipated. Suddenly tears welled up in my eyes, and I’m pretty sure I caught a glance of tears in Brett’s eyes too – but we can pretend this didn’t happen :) I then managed to find my sister Grace, a great surprise, and said a final goodbye to her as well. It’s a funny thing these long course races. You say goodbye and you are on your own for the rest of the day, there’s no one there to hold your hand after a certain point.

Coach Bob led the team in a final pep talk. I think we were all in awe that the day had finally arrived and we were standing there about to do this. Bob sent us off to find our places in the swim start. I found myself alone. Well, technically I wasn’t alone because I was one swimmer squished among thousands. But I kept scanning the crowd of wetsuit clad triathletes to find a familiar face. As if by some miracle out of the crowd I saw Reamonn, Laura, and Andrew all heading toward me. I don’t think they know how THRILLED I was to be able to stand with them as we awaited our turn to head into the water.

Final CTF and SSTC Team Pic

Final CTF and SSTC Team Pic


I have always compared the swim portion of a triathlon to walking the plank. Once you enter that water, there’s no turning back. Your day has started. But for some odd reason, despite all the bulls (i.e. people who swim into and over you), I felt so calm and at ease during my 2.4 mile swim. Anytime sometime pulled on my ankle or hit me in the rib, I laughed to myself and imagined it was Coach Bob doing this during one of our open water swim practices. Yes I swallowed some water, got pushed off “the line” a few times, and peed in my wetsuit but the swim felt like a breathing meditation – it calmed me down in preparation for what was to come…

Sherpa Kit!

Sherpa Kit!


I exited the swim, excitedly ran up to Bob to help strip my wetsuit and then off I ran to the bike transition. I grabbed my transition bag and headed to the changing tent where I was immediately greeted by a volunteer ready to help me get my swim clothes off, bike clothes on, and prepare for the bike. I wish I knew her name because she was so patient and helpful even getting my arm warmers on for me. I started putting items BACK in my transition bag and she insisted I just leave it, that she would take care of it. This was just a sampling of what was to come with the amazing volunteers all along the course that day.

The bike was challenging but felt better than when I rode the course back at training camp in June. When I was out on the course (and not in town) I felt like I was on a long training ride and, the best part was that all my fears about mechanical issues just melted away. I told myself “you are going to do this, even if you get a flat, you are going to be ok, you are going to do this.” As the ride started to hurt at about mile 90, I tried a little experiment of focusing on gratitude. Instead of thinking about how many hills remained to climb or how my right quad felt like it was going to snap, I focused on how grateful I was to finally be experiencing this day that had been years in the making. As I climbed back into town after the final lap, I saw my family cheering me on and I knew I was ready to run.

Thumbs up for cycling

Thumbs up for cycling


Again with the helpful and ever patient volunteers helping me change in transition 2. I took my sweet time getting changed, figuring out exactly what I needed to bring, and then headed out to start my (first ever) marathon. As I exited transition, immediately people started cheering “Yeah Maggie! Go Maggie!” and I thought to myself “Wow, I guess a lot of these people must know who I am but I am having Ironman brain so I must not recognize them…” And then I realized my bib clearly says my name and it’s kind of a thing with Ironman that you cheer people on — it provides the utmost in support and motivation as you approach the end of a long day.

I am barely half a mile in and I hear Meghan Newcomer, who raced Hawaii 70.3 for Children’s Tumor Foundation and is kind of a triathlon mentor for me as she’s got her pro card but also has a full time job. Oh and she’s also one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Meghan yells out to me “Maggie! You look great! You look so strong!” And I was like “yeah man, I’m really doing this!” Well, I round the corner to the steep downhill (which would later be a steep uphill) and who do I see but CTF family (Sarah and Alissa) and my hero Clara and HER whole family including her two sisters Isabella and Nora. Clara’s mom was beyond excited to see me, in fact I believe she was jumping up and down and screaming my name at the top of her lungs. That provided a good laugh and I got to high-five Clara, giving me the boost I needed as I headed further out into the quiet that is most of the run course.

High-fives all around

High-fives all around

You see, about 10 miles of each loop of the run course is an out and back referred to as River Road. Technically you’re not alone on River Road – you have volunteers and other runners and you make friends and talk to each other – but boy does it get QUIET. The first loop I remember being almost too easy, I had to remind myself to SLOW DOWN. As I made my way back into town and rounded the last corner before IGA hill (the super crazy ridiculously steep and long climb) I felt a rush of energy and powered up that hill. Dude, I don’t think I’ve ever run up a hill with such tenacity in my life. And of course, there was miss Clara and her family cheering me on again! I ran through town and literally felt like a rock star. It’s as if everyone I have made a connection with from when I signed up for my  first triathlon in 2010 until now was out there either running or spectating and everyone was rooting for me. As I was making my way out of town again for my 2nd loop I ran into my teammate Laura who was about to FINISH her 2nd loop, about to become a 3rd time Ironman.

It was pretty emotional knowing everything she has gone through in her life, living with NF, and also in this training season with a bad hip injury. I was so happy to see her just before she crossed the finish, looking strong as can be, and she left me with some serious words of encouragement that helped push me through MY 2nd loop.

Powering up IGA Hill

Powering up IGA Hill

As expected, that 2nd loop was harder than the first. I had the occasional bout of nausea and started feeling an unfamiliar pain in my lower back, but I maintained a steady pace and focused on gratitude. Just before I started to head back into town with the cheering, music, and noise I took some time to reflect on what was happening. I only had a few miles to go and it finally dawned on me that I was going to be an Ironman. All the hard work had worked. All the support from family and friends along the way had worked and had helped me reach this point. I was about to accomplish one of my biggest dreams and I also was doing it with the knowledge that I was making a difference in a family’s life. I thought about the letter Clara’s mother had given me the day before, the letter that really hit home as to how much of an impact I had made on their lives. I had no idea and felt grateful for this gift, this new connection, that they had given to me.


The finish chute and finish line of Ironman was more than I could have ever imagined. I got choked up even before entering the Olympic Oval. See, what happens is, the run spits you back into town and you can hear Mike Reilly calling people Ironman as they cross the finish, but you still have 2.2 miles left to run out and back. You finally start to approach the Olympic Oval and when you enter it people are lined up against both sides. You make that final turn and then BAM – bright white light, blaring music, people are screaming your name! I spotted my mom and dad, my sister Grace, I spotted Clara, I spotted Brett. They were all bunched together waving and screaming for me. I ran by them then quickly realized there was no need to rush now. I turned around and gave them all (ok almost all of them) hugs and kisses. I knew the day wouldn’t have been the same without all of them there. I then made my way to the bright light, to the finish line. Before crossing I heard my name … I heard … YOU ARE AN IRONMAN. I crossed the finish, gave Dave a high five, and there was my coach Bob who placed my medal around my neck. What a perfect end to a perfect day. We hug, I cry even more. He asks if I am ok and I just say, over and over, yes and that I can’t believe it. I can’t believe I did it.

And that my friends, is the story of my first Ironman. And if you’ve made it this far and read my whole race re-cap, well then you deserve a medal too. Or at the very least an ice cream cone or a quinoa cookie. Don’t you worry, there is still more to come from this journey, the lessons learned and the people that have come into my life. And the biggest secret of all: what’s next?

My Mom kind of caught the finish on video:

Bright Lights Big Finish

Bright Lights Big Finish

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