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Ironman California

Ironman California


Started the day with Ryan’s IronKids race! We signed him up for the ½ mile race this time around since he wanted to keep running after the Toddler trot at his last IronKids race. He started off so well but once he saw another little boy crying and being carried, he stopped and wanted me to hold him. So, I ran with him for a while and tried to get him to run again. He did a couple of small bursts, but I mostly ran with him. Once we got to the finish line I set him down and he ran toward the finish line bubbles, gave Mike Riley a high 5, and crossed the Ironman finish line! His reward? Post-race Halloween sprinkled pancakes!

I met with the Coeur team girls after Ryan’s race for a shakeout ride. Then I got some lunch and packed my gear bags.

Next, we headed to the Sutter Health Park for a Coeur team picture and then I checked in my gear bags and bike into transition. The AAA baseball stadium was huge! Transition took up the entire field. It was very unique but the routes in and out of transition were really long.

For dinner we ordered Olive Garden. I had some soup, ½ serving of pasta, and 2 breadsticks. I had a packet of Skratch Hyper Hydration after dinner and finished it within 45 minutes as planned.

We were in bed by 8pm but probably didn’t fall asleep until 9:30. Then Ryan woke up at 11:30pm and was up until 12:15.

Race morning

4am Wake up, eat a bagel with cream cheese and protein shake

4:30am Leave the Airbnb and head to transition at the stadium

4:50am Park and head into transition. I must say that my favorite part about having the stadium as the transition was the number of bathrooms that we had access to. I made it down to my bike (mind you, it took 10 minutes to walk from the stadium entrance to get down to where my bike was) I then pumped-up tires, filled up bottles, and choked down a banana. I started drinking my Skratch hyper hydration mix around 5am and finished it 45 minutes before race start, as planned. I ran into Amanda in transition, and we walked to the shuttle busses together. I am so glad I ran into her because it helped calm my nerves.

6am We made our way onto the shuttles. There wasn’t a specific line formation yet, so we shimmied our way onto the next bus that arrived. After the race we heard that the bus lines ended up around the block, and rumor was they only had 5 school buses to shuttle 3500 athletes to the start. So glad that Amanda and I got there early!

The shuttle to the swim should have been a 10 min drive, ended up taking over 30 minutes. Our bus driver got lost! Finally, someone brought out their phone to help the bus driver. I started panicking as I was already very nervous about the race. Amanda opened the window for me so I could breathe some fresh air which helped calm me down and helped me from passing out.

6:30am We got off the bus and had plenty of time to use the porta potty and turn in our morning clothes bags. I overheard a guy that was on our bus emphasize the positives of the situation, as we got to sit on a warm bus and not stand in the cold at race start. I really respected his positive attitude on the matter as it set a good tone for how the rest of the day would go!

6:40 We lined up in our projected swim start times. I finished my water and discarded my flip flops. The sun was just starting to come up as we worked out way down the riverbank down to the water. 5 athletes entered the water every 5 seconds.


51:59 minutes

8th place female 30-34

I dove into the river and started swimming to the first buoy. It was a quick left turn and down the river we went. I was taking long strokes and pulling my hands through long thick river grass. It was super eerie especially since it was almost still dark out. I tried to stay just inside the buoys. A mixture of the wind and the downstream caused the buoys to move all over the river. Several times I veered too far to the left and met a kayaker telling me to stay right. There was a lot of congestion at the buoy towards the American River. If it wasn’t for a volunteer kayaker, I would have just kept going straight. The last half of the race was a lot more congested. Thankfully, I was able to find my own lane and only got grabbed one time. The end of the swim was very confusing. When I was sighting, I could see people swim to the side in-between some pillars but couldn’t tell If that was the finish, as not everyone was swimming in that direction. I then ran into the last black buoy with a kayaker telling me to stay right, this seemed to be a common theme. I saw the ramp and swam as hard as I could to the exit. I felt very disoriented during the swim. I would do a lot of things differently the 2nd time around, but you don’t know what you don’t know. I guess I can’t really complain with a 13-minute Ironman swim PR :P

T1 14:01

Longest transition ever! I exited the water and found the wetsuit peelers, which I am so thankful for! Then it was across the street, to the opposite side of the stadium, around the stadium to the gate to my bike bag, around the concourse to centerfield through the changing tent, to my bike at 3rd base, back through left field and then to the bike shoot!



10th place F 30-34

I like to start all my century rides and Ironman races with a mindset of breaking the bike into 25-mile quarters with the last 12 miles being over time! It helps me mentally break down a long day into mini sections. So, the first quarter of bike portion started with a nice tail wind. At first, I thought my power meter wasn’t collaborated correctly as I was barley pushing 100 watts and my bike was just effortlessly moving forward at 23 MPH at some points. Then we took a right turn and met our first crosswinds of the day. Luckily these sections weren’t as long, though they felt like it and took a lot of energy to stay upright. It was very challenging to grab nutrition as I had to keep both hands on my bars in order to not fly away. I would wait for a big gust to pass and then quickly grab my bottle or bar. I tried to stay in aero as much as possible through the crosswinds but there were some gusts that I had to go onto the hoods to ensure that my day wouldn’t end.

I took advantage of the tail winds to hydrate and eat my bars as I had more control on my bike. Once we turned around at mile 28 (2nd Quarter) the head winds were just brutal. I had to push my watts into Zone 3 just to stay moving forward and not blow away. Even then I was maybe going 12 MPH! At mile 41 I pulled over the aid station to use the bathroom. This meant I was doing okay with my fueling/hydration, so I was happy with that.

At the halfway point we started the 2nd loop (3rd quarter!). I grabbed my special needs bag and told the volunteer about how I had to take advantage of this stop to get some calories in me since it was so hard to eat and ride in the wind. All the spectators and volunteers looked miserable. Everyone was bundled up in jackets and hoodies. The aid stations were full of volunteers chasing after water bottles that were blowing around the fields. Over the course of the ride, I saw 2 grown men who looked to be elite riders fall off their bikes in the crosswinds.

The winds were much worse the 2nd loop. The tail wind disappeared, and I was just getting beaten with cross winds. We turned around one last time and entered the 4th quarter! The wind was now at its worst, but I knew I was almost done and that helped mentally! I tried to stay in aero as much as possible, stay hydrated, and stay fueled. 12 miles left to go, and it was now overtime! I was out of water and only had one bottle of Skratch left and doing the math that had to last me 40 minutes. Over the course of the bike, I ate all my bars, one Maurten gel, 2 packets of Salt Tabs, and 4 bottles of Skratch. I probably could have used 1-2 more bottles of Skratch but was mostly happy that I had no cramps on the bike!

T2 10:58

I got off my bike and ran into the stadium. I racked my bike and grabbed my run stuff. I was about halfway out when I realized I didn’t have my watch! I ran back and went through my run bag and couldn’t find it! I freaked out for a moment and then realized it was in my flip belt that was already on my waist (face to palm*)! As I was running out, I saw April from TCB who was volunteering! I gave her a big hug and she hooked me up with some sunscreen!



18th place F 30-34

One of my BIG goals for this race was just to be able to run without any side cramps. I wanted to test my run fitness and not feel like I was getting stabbed in the side. I got off the bike slightly dehydrated and the side cramps were surface level. I had Salt Tabs on me but needed water and the first aid station was still 2 miles away. I moved as quickly as I could in the heat and wind. The first part of the marathon was by the water, and we were fully exposed to the sun and wind. My hat blew away and I had to chase after it! I finally got to the first aid station, and I got 2 waters, one for my head and one to drink, some pretzels, and continued moving forward. The wind had taken a serious toll on me, and I had to resort to taking 30 second walk breaks every 3-4 minutes. At mile 8 I saw my family, and my friend Tommy who drove in from San Francisco! I gave Ryan a kiss on the cheek then we ran into Discovery Park for a majority of the marathon. At mile 13 I was just feeling tired, so I grabbed my first coca cola of the day. My stomach started to feel queasy. I ended up not eating any of the gels I brought with me and survived off pretzels, potato chips, and an orange slice. At mile 14 I used the bathroom for the one an only time during the marathon which was a big sign that I was dehydrated. At mile 15 I had some chicken broth in hopes that would help my stomach. It did the opposite. At mile 16 I ran into Michelle from the Coeur team! She asked if I was okay, and I said “Yea” trying to trick my mind into thinking I was indeed okay. A couple of steps later I found a bush and puked. After that I felt much better! I told myself 10 more miles, lets get this done!

At mile 22 we neared the State Capital for our 2 loops. We were all so delirious at this point. I could have sworn they told us it was only 1 loop and then the finish. One guy had a near freak out when he saw the mile 24 marker and asked if he had taken a wrong turn. The streets were dark, and the volunteers handed out glow sticks. Around the turn around for our 2nd loop a man tripped on a sidewalk lip and ate it hard. I stayed with him until he got back up, but honestly, I wasn’t much help. It was now mile 25 of the Ironman and this man was very tall! He got back up and the spectators cheered loud for him! I started to pick up knowing I would be done soon! When I reached the 3rd loop a volunteer confirmed with me what loop I was on. I said “I am going home!” I was ready to be done. Running down that red carpet with the biggest grin on my face and tears in my eyes after a very long day! I heard Mike Riley say my name for the last time before he retires. “Kelsey Ramberg, you are an Ironman!”

Finish time


11th place F 30-34 / 49 total

95th place Female / 615 total

760th place/ 2609 total

After I crossed the finish line I received my finisher medal, hat, and flag. The race did a great job with having the morning clothes ready right at the finish. For our post-race food, we had the option of 7 different food trucks! I was very impressed. They also had unlimited fruit, water, pop, and chips set up right in front of the Capital. I got a Gyro and it was

delicious, though my sensitive stomach could only tolerate about half of it. It was so special to have all my family at this race with me. Spectating is not easy, especially at this race with all the wind, so I really appreciate all of them.

Things that went well:

1. One of my big goals for this race was to nail my nutrition on the bike so that I could run the marathon. This was the first Ironman in a long time where my stomach cramps did not impede me from running the marathon. While I could have used another 1-2 bottles of Skratch on the bike, I was still able to run stomach cramp free!

2. This was my first time running with a flip belt. Nothing new on race day right :P Well, I absolutely loved it. It carried a lot more than my tri kit pockets could and it was very secure. I just need to remember what I put in there 😊

3. While I could have swum a little straighter, my swim was right on pace with the top athletes in my age group and I am pretty happy with my strength and endurance in this discipline.

4. One of the big things leading up to this race that I did differently was not drinking any alcohol for 2 months. I could tell a huge difference in my recovery from big work outs, body composition, and less fatigue throughout the day.

Things I need to work on:

1. I am super proud of my bike split. I got 10th place in my very competitive age group, and I am ecstatic about that. I also still have a long way to go! I need to get stronger so that I can go faster! Time to lift heavy this off season!

2. While I am thrilled to not have gotten stomach cramps on the run, my run endurance wasn’t where I would have liked it. I had a great build up into this race and my performance during the marathon did not showcase that. I think this was largely due to over biking in the wind and coming off the bike dehydrated. The bike totally drained me. I also have a lot of work to do on my running mechanics.

3. The lack of sleep leading up to this race was not ideal. As much as I love having my 2-year-old son watch me at these races, sharing a bed with him hinders my sleep and recovery. The night after my race he accidently head butted me in the middle of the night and gave me a black eye!

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Kelsey, you are amazing -your perseverance and dedication are to be admired. Much love, great grandma Diane

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