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Team THINK STRONG - Veronika Patty
Team THINK STRONG - Veronika Patty
I am a triathlete! I am also a mom and a wife, a boss, a coach, a student, a friend and a motivator and in every aspect of my life I choose to THINK STRONG! I am committed to control my thought process and choose to think only the thoughts that are productive and that will strengthen my spirit. I am dedicated to energize, empower and support others despite any circumstances.

I am an "Ironman"!

teamthinkstrongby teamthinkstrongSep 13th 2010
I have been preparing myself for this day for months now and it was hard to believe it was finally here! I was excited, anxious, ready, confident and very emotional the morning of the race. There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to finish this race, but still I knew my body and mind would be pushed to places it has never been pushed before. The unknown is always a little scary I guess, but exciting at the same time!
So off I went to swim my 2.4 miles and other than the usual bumping and pushing it was as easy as a 2.4 mile swim can be. I didn┬'t mind at all going in for a second loop and got out of the water feeling great. I was little creped out by the seaweed floating in the water and occasionally landing on my arm or face, but plants are nothing compared to water creatures that live everywhere else!
Out of the water and onto the bike! And what a bike it was! This under 3 mile loop was basically flat with a few little inclines. This was great because there were no up-hills but also no down-hills. This meant basically no free speed and constant pedaling. A few things I learned on the bike course were that:
1. I should have gone on more group bike rides
2. I am not really that great of a technical rider (although after a few laps I felt like I was getting hold of the turns)
3. It is not a good idea to stay behind one rider for too long, because eventually they will either blow their nose out (and I don┬'t mean the tissue kind! I mean the one where you hold one nostril and blow whatever is in the other one! Yeah pretty gross right?) or they will spit whatever they decide they don┬'t like in their mouth I guess!
After about 4 hours on the bike dogging spit and snoots I was thinking that this is getting a little too long and that I can┬'t wait to get on with the run! Later on when I was running I was wishing I could hop back on the bike. It is sooo much easier then running!
So as you can see it was pretty easy going for me so far, no big struggle, just keeping nice and steady. My back and neck were a little sore, but nothing out of the ordinary. But don┬'t worry the struggle part is coming! 
Now bike is done and all I have to do is run a stinking Marathon? Yeah now I get it! The race starts here! First 4 laps of the 9 lap run were alright, running exactly the pace I wanted too! Still I am thinking this is really not so bad! Then just after I entered my 5th lap and had a little run with Noli my legs started to get pretty heavy and my pace dropped significantly. I thought ┬"Ahhh this is why not everyone finishes this race┬"! It sneaks up on you big time! I kept focusing on each step and tried to ignore the pain, just ignore it! As I went on it got harder and harder to smile and I knew the hardest part is yet to come!
So as I am approaching the midpoint of my the 26.2 mile run another runner started to run along with me. It was quiet for a little while, then I asked how many more laps he had left? Well coincidently it was 4 just like me! So we kept running, at this point it is better referred to as the ┬"shuffle┬" since my hip flexors were just not working anymore! It was quiet again; just occasional deep breaths and I think there was a little bit of moaning as well. I remember just feeling so grateful that I did not suffer alone as funny as it sounds I just needed this guy to stay with me no matter what.
I felt that we were stronger together then we were alone! Then we talked a little and started to complain to each other I guess; ┬"I can┬'t feel my feet┬" or ┬"my back is so tight┬"! Then I thought, well our bodies gave up on us hours ago, so there is no point in listening to it, all we got left now is our mind! That┬'s the only thing that will bring us to the finish line! So I share that thought with my ┬"running buddy┬" and he said ┬"you are right┬" and I knew I was so, we just ran/shuffled our way through the next lap. Walking the aid stations and getting back to running in between. Now we have 3 laps left and my stomach is not doing too well, I can┬'t put anything else down but sips of water and a bite of fruit at each station. And I am hurting big time now; the image of just ┬"sitting down┬" is so tempting at this point that it┬'s hard to keep my mind focused on anything else. I could stop right now and all the pain will go away! I thought. ┬"I just don┬'t want to do this anymore┬"!!
Then I looked down at my ankle and the timing chip started to dig into my skin. I thought oh great ┬"another┬" thing! I reached down to try to look if I can turn the chip so it stops rubbing at the same spot and as I am turning it I see the anklet my friend made for me! I wore it to remind myself to keep going even when all I wanted to do was to stop! And it downed on me right there that so many people go through much bigger torture then I am going through right now, and they don┬'t have the choice to just ┬"sit down┬" to ┬"give up┬"! So it just didn┬'t feel right to stop, at that moment I felt like I had no right to give up!
Now we are on the last lap and the last adrenalin rush is here, I am almost done! I did it! We say a quick thank you to each other for the support and just now introduce ourselves! Then I saw Noli in the distance wearing her TTS jersey and just let go, I couldn┬'t stop the tears even if I wanted to, so I just let them roll down my face!
Here was the finish line! I started this journey months earlier, and there is no better feeling then knowing you earned the title! I am an ┬"Ironman┬", it still seems a little out there but I guess within few days I will get used to it! I know there are thousands of athletes that accomplish this (and many in much shorter time then I did) but it┬'s hard to explain how very intimate this experience has been! There were 77 of us competing in the Ironman distance with 5 athletes not finishing the race. Each and every single one of us with our own story, our own reasons and motivations. There was the guy who called it quits after his 1st lap in the water, only to get back in when he thought of his dear friend┬'s recent passing. The group of friends who have been racing together for years and have one of them come along to just watch the rest of his buddies this year due to his dealing with cancer. Whatever our story was or where ever we traveled from, there was a great uniting sense among us during the whole race!

My biggest obstacle to overcome: At one point on the run I thought ┬"something must be seriously wrong with me, why would I voluntarily put myself through this?┬" I just could not understand, why I kept running, when my life did not depend on it, I could stop at any time, no one forced me to do this! I guess the blood flow to my brain was restricted, so I could not really reason that well! 

The funny moment: One ┬"giggling┬" moment I got was on the bike course. I saw a guy wearing his black tri suit and apparently no one told him when he bends down it is totally see-through! And you know once you see something like this, you can┬'t look away! So I was just hoping he would take off so I didn┬'t have to ride staring at his butt cheeks and giggling the whole way!

The biggest emotional moment: This was definitely on my 2nd loop of the run. I still felt alright but had not seen Tommy and Nola for a while now. As I was approaching the 2nd loop I heard Noli cheering her usual ┬"GO MOMMY GO┬" and that just hit the spot! I was so happy to see them and do my ┬"high five┬" with Noli.

Thanks: To Tommy my awesome hubby who was there with me right from the start. When I said I wanted to do an Ironman at the end of last season, he was nothing but supportive! There is no way I would be able to pull off the training schedule without him taking on lots of extra responsibilities! Thank you Hun!
To all of my swimming, biking and running buddies for adjusting your schedules to accommodate my training plan. It was great to combine training and friend time (especially during our 2 awesome relays this year) and you were all great and an important part of this journey!
To all of you who encouraged me along the way! Thank you for my little notes left on my desk at work once in a while, all of your FB messages that carried me all the way to the finish line! This race was all about personal achievement and meant a great deal to me! I am totally committed to help you achieve whatever goal you set for yourself my friends!

The biggest discovery: During the toughest time, when I was trying to THINK STRONG, to focus on something positive, to get inspired and motivated again to finish what I have started I realized that I do that the best by supporting others! Through encouraging others on the course I encourage myself. Seeing my fellow athletes suffering and wanting them to succeed was like looking in the mirror! I was that athlete too! I wasn┬'t able to speak directly to myself, but speaking the words of encouragement to others helped me as well when I realize I am that athlete!

One word that describes it all: vulnerable

Regrets: NONE!

.. and for my type A friends here are the stats! Remember it┬'s all metric system! I most certainly DID NOT run 7:26 miles/min pace! Haha ;)

Veronika PATTY
12:15:08 F30-34 1/2 1:22:18 (2:10) 5:31:07 (32.6) 5:13:25 (7:26) T1 2:41 T2 5:39
IMnadineby member: IMnadine, Sep 16th 2010 15:50
Congratulations! An amazing feeling to hear those words as you approach the finish line " You are an Ironman". Let me tell you, you have a strong mind! An ironman with that many loops! Amazing! Now you can conquer anything just remember how you tapped into your mind over your body during the hardest parts of your race. Fantastic Job!
mdvcostinby member: mdvcostin, Oct 9th 2010 17:51
"all I wanted to do was to stop! And it downed on me right there that so many people go through much bigger torture then I am going through right now, and they donĺt have the choice to just ôsit downö to ôgive upö! So it just didnĺt feel right to stop, at that moment I felt like I had no right to give up! "

Very similar to how I feel as well. So many who are not able to do anything because of: age, poverty, handicaps, and young lives cut short. What right do I have to ever say "I can't". If we have breath in our lungs and blood in our veins we have to go on. You are a real inspiration and an awesome Ironman!
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