The day before the race:
Friday morning, I met up with the Coeur team for the practice swim. The water temp was 68 degrees, and the water was calm but dirty. The storm the night before definitely didn’t help at all and there were a lot of ducks along the shore.
After the swim, we went back to the Airbnb, and I did a little shakeout ride and got my power meter calibrated. I did a 10 min run and was sweating from the humidity.
I had a sandwich for lunch and then headed over to transition.
At transition I checked in my bike and gear bags.
We had the usual Olive Garden for dinner and were in bed by 8pm. Ryan did great sleeping on this trip, and we were all asleep by 9:30pm.
4:15am: Alarm goes off! I had a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast and then we headed over to transition.
5am: I got to transition right as it opened. Parking went smoothly and I was feeling really calm. I got my bike tires pumped up and water bottles all set up on my bike. I dropped my watch into my bike bag so I could grab it after the swim. I got everything set up surprisingly fast and was feeling really calm. I was able to eat a banana without feeling nauseous. Then we made the long walk 1.1 mile walk over to the swim start.
6am: Stood in a porta potty line 1 more time and then got into my wetsuit. We started to line up in our corrals, I handed over my bag to Tim and we said our goodbyes.
I saw Isabel and we chatted before the cannon went off. I was so glad to find a familiar face to chat with before we started the race. I also saw Lisa, Steph, and Nicole! We gave fist bumps and then it was time to go!
16th place age group
The first part of the swim was pretty uneventful. I eased into a steady pace and focused on one buoy at a time. When we made our first left hand turn 1/3 the way into the race, we went through this inflatable red tunnel that apparently was a timing check point. It made it really easy to follow and take our next turn as well. At first, I was doing great! I was staying right next to the buoys and even swam right into one. Then I veered way left into some race support kayakers and had to make my way back over. 2/3 into the race we made a right turn into the canal. I got the worst stabbing side cramp. I was gutted, literally. I had to slow down and work it out. Eventually things felt better, and I was able to pick up the pace again. My favorite part of this swim was swimming in the canal because of how close the spectators were. I saw Tim and Jon several times. At one point I saw them looking for me and yelled their names out so they could see me! The canal was very chaotic though because of how narrow it was. I got grabbed a couple of times and one guy swam completely over me. Eventually I made it out and ran out as fast as I could. Not my fastest swim, but it was early, and I had plenty of time to move up the field.
13th fastest transition age group
I ran out of the water and decided to have the wetsuit strippers help me take my wet suit off. I ran into the changing tent and got my bike shoes, helmet, and sunscreen on.
20th place age group
Heading out to take on 112 miles I was feeling pretty calm. I started on my nutrition right away. I loved that the first part of the bike was shaded. I saw Lisa and Stephanie at the first turn, and it was so good to see some familiar faces. I also saw Tim and Jon right before we headed towards the Hardy. Once we hopped on the Hardy the head wind was there to meet us. This course was designed so that when we got on the Hardy it was 20 miles out, and 20 miles back 2X. I stayed in aero the whole time and just focused on my nutrition. My heart rate was right on target and my nutrition was going perfectly. I got to see the Pros go by on the other side of the Hardy including my coach Jess and Katie! My favorite part of this course was seeing all of my teammates on the course. I saw Isabel at the first turn on the Hardy and we ended up playing leapfrog the last lap.
My 2nd favorite part of this course was the tail wind going back into transition. I was averaging 22 MPH! Then it was one more turn around and facing the head wind. At mile 60 I grabbed my special needs bag and reloaded my water bottles. Hit the porta potty and was back out on the Hardy! At mile 90 I started to get a slight side cramp. I breathed through it and took some salt and eventually it subsided. Overall, I finished 6 bottles of electrolytes, 3 bars, 3 gels, and grabbed water at each aid station to take a few sips and to poor on myself.
2nd fastest time age group
I must say this is the proudest of have ever been over a transition. Out of everyone in my age group I had the 2nd fastest time! I was quick to grab my run bag and switch out my shoes then do my hat, race belt, and fuel belt on the go running out of T2.
13th place age group
I started the run and Isabel was right by my side. I checked my watch, and my heart rate was way too high. I could either slow it down and let her go or stay with a friend to help keep my morale high. I was feeling really good, so I decided to stay with her. Around mile 6 I started to cramp up horribly and had to walk for a bit and Isabel took off. I was doing well with my Skratch hydration and salt, so I grabbed a Coca Cola at the next aid station. I started to feel a lot better and was able to ease into a run walk for a while. I really enjoyed the 3-loop course and getting to see my family multiple times.
Going through Hippy Hollow was a big
highlight of the race along with the spectators lined up downtown. Going into my last loop (mile 16) Tim told me that I was 15 minutes from 12th place and people were starting to slow down, it was up to me to push through. I was really fired up after that and picked up the pace.
At mile 22 I saw Tim one last time and he told me that I was 2 minutes from 13th and someone else was a minute behind me. I was completely exhausted at this point but thought of all the sacrifices I had made to be at this very moment and all the sacrifices others had made for me. I ran my heart out and left it all out there. The final turn came, and I didn’t slow down, I knew that every second mattered. I threw up a big heart with my hands and ran through my 7th Ironman finish line. I didn’t know what place I was in or what my time was at that moment. I just knew that I gave it everything I had all day long!
Total time 11:33:29
14th place age group
After I crossed the finish line my Coach Jess was there, and she gave me a big hug. I met up with my family and we took some photos. Jess led me to the athlete food tent. Ryan ate most of it 😊
We headed back to the Airbnb, and I took a bath and sat in my boots. Tim stayed behind to get all my gear. I laid in bed until 1:30am when I finally decided to heat up some pizza because I was starving. I got a whole 3 hours of sleep and then the adrenaline and starvation had me up again at 4am. I laid there and just thought about my day and what might happen at the slot allocation. I knew it was going to be really close to whether I was going to get a slot to Kona.
The next day
9am: I had breakfast at Starbucks. Then we headed over awards early and I sat there in a bundle of nerves.
The Coeur team got a table and we all chatted about the race and what our chances of getting a slot might be. I found out that there were only 11 slots in my age group instead of the previous 13 that we had all thought, and I was in 14th place. I sat at that table for 3 hours with a roller coaster of emotions and uncertainty. The Men’s slot allocation to Nice went first and it was long and chaotic. Then it was the Women’s slots to Kona. The moment I had been waiting for. My age group was one of the last to be called and the room had pretty much emptied out by that point. They went down the list of the 11 slots. The first 9 took there’s. #10 was Steph who declined. #11 wasn’t there. #12 wasn’t there!!!!!!!!!! I had gotten the slot! But I still needed to hear them call my name for it to be real. #13 claimed their slot. #14 Kelsey Ramberg!!! I SCREAMED and ran down to that stage!! I couldn’t believe it really happened. My lifelong dream of going to the Ironman World Championships was now a reality. I got a Hawaiian Lei draped over my neck and handed over my credit card!
All the stars aligned this weekend to allow me to accomplish each of my goals. Everything from great sleep during the leadup to the race, an excellent weather day, the roll down slots making it down to me. I am still in utter disbelief. But I did it!!
“A” Goal: Beat 12 hours!
“B” Goal: Beat 6 hours on the bike!
“C” Goal: Qualify for the Ironman World Championships!
“D” Goal: Leave it all out there with no regrets!