October 14th, 2017 is the 35th anniversary of my 1982 Ironman debut. With less than 2 months to race day, the bulk of my training is over and baked, with just the final phase to go. The last time I raced Kona was 2012. While I trained hard for that visit, there is a big difference between then and today. I’ve NEVER trained this hard and felt this GOOD.

The 35th Anniversary dream actually started five years ago in 2012, when Kathleen McCartney reached out to me to reconnect our friendship after a long hiatus. Kathleen is the woman who passed me in the final yards of the 1982 Ironman to be crowned champion, while I crawled to the finish line 29 seconds later to claim my unique place in Ironman history. Very quickly into our renewed friendship, Kathleen planted the seed for us to celebrate our 30th anniversary together in Kona and the concept for an Iron Icon team was born.

We were thrilled to have TriBike Transport sponsor us for our autograph signing at the Ironman expo - TriBike Transport even had a special trucker hat made with the logo, “Transporting Legends.” TriBike Transport was giving a nod back to 1982 when I wore the trucker hat all the contestants received in their registration bags. Because of that connection to the past, my commemorative trucker hat has become one of my most prized mementos from all my years in the sport. Trucker hats are now back in fashion, and as much as I’d like to take credit for the revival of the trend, it was just a matter of time for the style to recycle.

It was also just a matter of time before Ironman’s siren call recycled back into my life. Deep within, I still felt that I had one more standout Kona performance in me. Kona defined my life at an early age and continues to define and inform my life today.

I started thinking about how I wanted to end my Kona career, to put a punctuation mark on my decades in Kona that felt right to me. But more importantly, I wanted to craft a love letter to Kona, and I was willing to invest the time required to let it unfold. From the start, my vision was clear. I wanted to combine all that I’d learned and experienced over the past 35 years and have it coalesce in a standout race. My goal would require training with passion and tenacity. I would be committing to months of long days, fueled by guts and gratitude.

It's worth repeating, I’ve NEVER trained this hard, for this long, and had it feel this GOOD...knock on wood.

My vision for Kona is simple, personal, and steeped in the rich history of Ironman. It’s my chance to revisit a pivotal moment in my life. My goal isn’t to rewrite my Ironman history but rather to celebrate it. It’s taken me decades to understand my unique place in the sport. I’ve learned to appreciate my moment and I’m always honored when someone tells me they were inspired to do their first Ironman after seeing the video of the 1982 Ironman. Just when you think your fifteen minutes of fame is up...along comes YouTube(ha ha)!

So for these final months, I’m most concerned with getting the final key workouts done and not getting too obsessed with the numbers. Just because I’m strong enough to log big miles, doesn't’ mean I have to. At this stage in my training, less is more. My focus is to protect the investment that I’ve banked and take advantage of the time I’ve freed up to appreciate and enjoy the final steps of the journey. Take time to smell the roses and soak up love and support when it crosses my path. Now it’s time to book an extra massage, spend a little more for the highest grade of sushi, maybe cut a workout short to connect with friends over dinner and let my support team know how much I appreciate them.

The training is banked and the hard work is paying dividends. There was a classic ad campaign for a hair color product that challenged women to purchase the very best because “you’re worth it”. That sentiment sums up my feeling of getting to this final phase of training for Kona. I’ve worked my butt off and “I’m worth it”.

In April when I booked my travel with TriBike Transport to Houston for Ironman Texas, I opted only for the extra gear bag option... I didn’t feel I deserved to have valet service. After all, Ironman TX was just a mid season race and I wasn’t sure of what to expect. But after another 4 months, and hundreds of hours of training, I know I’m worth it.

For Kona, I opted for not only the extra gear bag but the FINISH & FLY VALET SERVICE...I earned valet service. I get to leave my bike in transition and let TBT do the rest! They will collect my bike and bags (T1 and T2) from transition after my race. They'll pack my bags and pedals into a gorgeous TBT duffle and transport it, with my bike, back to Nytro Multisport (my local TBT partner shop). I don’t have to do a thing after the race. I deserve the very best because I’m worth it, and so are you.

So, whether it’s your first Ironman or your 21st you’ve worked your butt off too. Trust me, you’re deserving of taking advantage of the perks along the way to help ensure your Ironman vision and create your own unique place in Ironman history as you celebrate the journey to the finish line.

I hope to see you out on the road training, and if you’re in Kona, please come by TriBike Transport and say “hi”. I’ll be the one wearing the trucker hat.