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Ironman Arizona 2012 Post Race Report.


My Ironman happened @mile 52.9, I am reflecting back on the awesomeness of it all.

I landed. I landed in Phoenix Arizona on November 13th, 2012 looking deeply into  the eyes of Camelback Mountain. Oh my dear beloved desert, how I have missed you every single day for three years. In my heart, I was coming back home to this place I love with all I’ve got.

Upon landing, I was not aware that this was going to be the beginning of a new “phase/beginning” of my life. Truly. This is how I feel today reflecting on these amazing events.

As I mentioned in my pre-race blog, I believe very strongly that a spiritual event/commitment like an Ironman race is not based on being fit. In fact, it has little to do with fitness. It is all about believing. I have experienced and journeyed through events, this way all of my life and it is what I call:  LIVING! Sometimes it is fun. Sometimes it is sad. Sometimes it is so intense that you can’t breathe. Living. In the moment. That’s what I do best.

As I was driving down to Tempe to get my athlete bag and race gear, I started feeling awfully strange. What was going on? Not sure. I parked. Walked down to a very familiar race site that I have seen so many times and a lake I have tasted so many times. I sign the papers, get my envelope and the wonderful volunteer who puts my bracelet on asked: are you excited? Why are you doing this? Is this your first? ...and there I feel it. I say to her that I chose this as a turning 40 present for myself. Then I see my kids in my heart as as I spoke, every single moment of the year flashed before my eyes in a matter of seconds. She is very touched. She is almost crying seeing me losing it... and I need a hug. Big time! Thank you to my dear friend Sheila who showed up precisely at that moment in the merchandise tent where I could no longer hold my tears back and to the gentleman next to me happy to see that he was not the only one feeling that way! 

This was so much more that a triathlon. It is like childbirth. You don’t get it until you go through it.


November 18th, 2012. Race Day.

I woke up at 3am that morning eating a complete breakfast and gathered my last items spread over the home of my Sherpa - The best Sherpa one can hope for. I had turned the place into WTC /  Ironman Headquarters and criticized your “Lego” bike rack. Thank you Mark. I will forever be thankful.

I drove with dear friends to Tempe and everything was as smooth and perfect as could be. The transition. The walk all alone alongside the river wetsuit in hand. The power of emotions. It was dark. I could feel the frenzy behind me. People laughing. Crying. Running. Stressing. I was raw and that morning, I would have given anything to hold my children. Anything.

In the water standing on the ledge, the National Anthem starts and I suddenly feel like a celebrity. So many cameras/people taking pictures of complete strangers to captured the moment. The overwhelmability factor of “the beginning”.

The gun. Off I go. Then I am done – 2.89 miles (really? boo me) after smiling to volunteers in kayaks and telling them I was doing an Ironman. I swam an Ironman. Me. Pffff who would have thunk it. I did and enjoyed every minute of it except the 8 leg cramps I had from hypothermia. We all had them along with blue lips and a feeling like a seriously frozen popsicle due to 60 degree water.

Cluster! So many people. Uneventful. I do my thing. Run in to transition to hear a snap: the left arm of my sunglasses snap in half. I grab the piece, stuff it in my bra top and my aero helmet help the glasses in place for the ride. I figured I was going to be able to find tape at T2.

What a BEAUTIFUL DAY. I had disposable arm warmers (long black socks from WalMart :) stylishly cut with thumbholes and everything. It took one full loop of the bike to warm up. My bones were cold.


At mile 50 on the bike, it happened. My Ironman happened.


I thought that my sunglasses were dirty. I could not see well, so I took a moment to remove my sunglasses to realize that my left eye sight was completely GONE. 14 years ago, I lost my left eye to 16 holes in my retina. My eye has since been seeing lights and gave me some depth/perception. My eye degenerated very quickly due to all of the surgery I received years ago, therefore I had a cataract surgery after my first Boston Marathon 3 years ago. From mile 52.9 until about mile 62, my mind was 100% focused on the disappointment and little on the race. I was very emotional thinking I would not be able to finish the race as the retina is a medical emergency. I could see myself on a hospital bed in Scottsdale missing this great adventure / week ahead. Then I started thinking clearly with a cold head: this is not the retina. It feels like a 100% opaque cataract issue again except I see black. This is not the retina. I decided it was a eye surface issue. It was painfully burning. I still had 50 something miles to go. I had to significantly reduce the 19-20 mph maintained to a 16-18 as I could not see and the new goal of the bike went from doing it as fast as I could to finish the bike leg as safely as possible without crashing. As the course was loops, I had to focus on hearing wheels of those who passed me (pros/faster riders). 

I finished the bike in 6:30. Way slower than planned but you know what? My goal was to become an Ironman. So I focused on that. I ran into T2 and started crying and being silly, talking way too fast when 2 volunteers held me and Kelly (I love you Kelly) told me I am in one piece. Strong. I will do this. I asked another volunteer to go get my T1 bag as I had a eye contact spare set. Deep down, I knew it was not my contact. Kelly helped me get prepped for the run. Took my shoes off (thank goodness she did not know how many times I peed on the bike to keep track of hydration - I am a desert girl at heart, I know how to deal with the conditions). Then Kelly looked at me as I took my contact out, took her radio and called in 2 doctors to meet me in the medical tent. She tells me: Nancy, your eye is completely grey. She was so calm. My thoughts were racing as I have such deep knowledge of the eye due to my medical history. I am ready to run after 15 minutes, but they take me into the medical tent. The doctors have me take my contact out. We take time. We do an eye wash and I take time for peace of mind. I asked a gazillion questions. Then we do another wash. It was painful and my vision was ZERO. They then say to me: there will be no marathon for you!

Yeah... Right!

Good luck with that one. I knew it was not the retina. I made a clear choice to keep on going. The situation could wait 4 hours. Off I go!

Oh and Kelly, thank you for taping my sunglasses!

So many things had just happened. I was a good hour behind. Behind what exactly? Nothing at all. I was right on time! MY time. MY day! There were so many supporters for me on the run. First and foremost, my family from Canada. It was the most amazing experience to have them there, It would have not been the same without them. Then, Team Anthem. That outfit was the ticket. I became a triathlete with Team Anthem. I became an Ironman wearing the colors. Hundreds of friends/Ironfans. I felt like a rock star. The marathon went by like a flash. 4:10. Not the fastest but considering I could not see a thing in the dark, I will take that. I could have kept on running forever. I was so mentally strong and ready for this. Not once did I ever think: 10 more miles, one more loop. I did not count once. NOT once.

Then, I hear it all. The music. Mike Reilly. I am done and I don’t want it ever end. Ever. In many ways, it will never be.

I took the time to strategically think about speeding up to be alone in the chute. I was not going to share that glorious moment. I speed up the hill, see Mike and hear him say my name and then I turn to take over the finish chute, see the line and hear the screaming spectators. I could see them all and I could not see anything at the same time. It is unexplainable. This moment and the emotions are mine forever. No one will ever take that away from me. Ever. I had enough left in the tank to jump at the finish line. I was laughing. So happy!

Eye update:
An ophthalmologist was in the medical tent for me. It took a week to get my vision back. Antibiotics and creams returned my cornea to a normal state. It was not pretty but I am so thankful. My eye just wanted a piece of my Ironman. Well, you got it buddy. We are an Ironman!

This will forever by my very first Ironman. This will forever be PERFECT in so many ways in my head and heart. No one can ever take that away from me. I will forever be the one who believed I could. Who knew. Who let nothing get in the way of a goal despite so many distractions.

Was it my one and only? Nha... Just like childbirth, I’ll do it all over again!

Arizona is not where I belong anymore. I was traveling into the past where I actually found my future in my thoughts along the way. Thank you. Thankful.


Nancy Murray, Founder

Emma & Owen ~ The greatest inspiration of all! 

Ironman Arizona 2012 ~ The Race Report BEFORE the actual race! 

This is a serious title isn’t it? A race report for Ironman Arizona 2012 before the race? Yes. Since I do not do things the normal way, my race report is ready.

I have come to believe very strongly that a spiritual event/commitment like an Ironman race is not based on being fit. I can say with firm conviction that confidence and strength from within are the only two elements of this race. It is self power and just truly knowing that you are able to do anything. I can do anything.

It goes beyond the ironman. It goes for anything. I know that my only competitor out there is me. My thoughts. My mind.

I chose to do this challenging event because I know that I can of course and most importantly, to me, I live and breathe passion. I always have. I always will. It is my fuel and my mantra.

Ironman Arizona is my “Turning 40” present to myself. I chose this goal years ago and embraced a long training journey, the highs and lows of training mixed with life in between. As a single mom living in Pittsburgh with not-always-so-ideal road/weather conditions, it was going to be a challenge to keep the pace and stay mentally strong and focused on the goal. Karma put wonderful people on my path that helped me, one way or another, achieve a race-ready feeling.

This year, in addition to Ironman, I wanted to compete in four races to celebrate each decade of life. 

~ New York City Triathlon
~ The Pittsburgh Triathlon
~The Rev3 Cedar Point Half Ironman

Then, when the 8-weeks to race day came with very high volume of training, excitement and anticipation and… an unexpected injury! There I was left with no feeling in me left arm, hand, shoulder pain, misplaced disks (neck) back spasms, nerve entrapment and rotator cuff issues. It felt like it was going to go away in a few days but sitting on the plane to Phoenix 8 weeks later, it is still a problem. I dug deep. Very deep. Doctor after doctor to cortisone, I decided to believe that this injury was a blessing in disguise. I had no choice but to focus on core work and I believe this will save me on race day. The pain was so sharp that I had to do all my rides on the trainer indoor and in one hour increments. I remember sending an email to my wonderful coaches Carlos & Sue asking/telling about pulling out of the race. In addition, I had to move when I was not supposed to lift stuff. Yes. Move.

You dig deep. You find a way. There is always a way. Then there are distractions. The others. Those telling you to listen to your body and how I have to move on and not do this race because it’s not important and that there will be another time and now was not. Then there are a few magical people that unexpectedly appear in your life reminding me that I will do this. No matter what. That people with no legs or arms do Ironman triathlons and inspire the world. People walk into your life to guide you everyday. Listen. Pay attention. They are always there. There is always a way. Some find excuses. Some find a way. Always. Choose your inspiration wisely.

Committing to an event like an Ironman defines who you are as a person. In fact, respecting the commitment (to anything your really want) defines you as a person and the person you say you are and the person that you aspire to be. I have had regrets/guilt in the past and through difficult years/path, letting go was the only solution and redirecting my focus to the now and to who I really am was my way. My spiritual way. Walking/running the talk.

How many times have I heard that training was a distraction from life focus, a distraction from real things and objectives and that I really did not need this race distraction right now. Wrong. Respecting the commitment changed me. It changed me forever. Most importantly, it changed how I view the definition of commitment, view things in general and how I view other’s standpoint also dictates who I want to have around me. I know that I am destined to inspire some and I am mostly inspired to achieve greater things everyday and never taking no or letting road bumps prevail. This, is what my two children saw. There is no giving up. The best parenting I can ever give them, especially when my sweet little girl Emma (8) told me while looking deeply into my eyes: “You will not let fear rule your life Ironmom”!

Who am I?
I will forever be the one who believed I could. Who knew. Who let nothing get in the way of a goal despite so many distractions. Who found a way to get to the starting line (literally and figuratively). This is just the beginning of so much more.

Ironman Arizona will be the most amazing celebration and a journey of deeply changing thoughts, I am sure. I am facing the unknown. I am not as trained as many other athletes. But I am not afraid because I am me. I already am an Ironman.

#IMAZ 2012 is dedicated to Emma & Owen, the two most beautiful children. They are my greatest inspiration.

BELIEVE-NESS: Feel your vision! Set your goals! GO FOR IT!


 Nancy Murray, Founder

Emma & Owen ~ The greatest inspiration of all! 


This one is philosophical... I am forewarning you.

This is about introversion, bursting and renewal. In each word, there are Ironman thoughts weaved in. It is subtile. Have a coffee before you read on!

I have just recently moved to the state of Pennsylvania and for the past 9 months, I was fascinated with a particular tree. I immediately latched on to those trees as they reminded me of the beautiful magnolias of my California backyard. The leaves are round and plump. I love everything green, especially in the Winter.

A bulb?

It was the end of the Summer so I definitely thought that I was going to see what the mystery was sooner rather than later. But nothing... 

I dislike leave-less trees and most of all, I dislike the naked Winter branches. It is not sexy to me. Not at all. As a Canadian girl, I was intrigued. The leaves survived Winter? There was snow and it was not dead? It was still lushy? What were those trees?

Then for 9 months, I looked at the firm closed bulb every day and it became part of my expectation from those trees. A lot of bulbs. Maybe my trees forgot to bloom and my bulbs are“broken”, I often thought.

Strangely, all along, I felt the same. With me, it is all in. I keep thinking it will burst out one day but it never does. In my wild mind it does, but not in reality.

Then, precisely nine months later, I walk out of my home after a thunder-stormy night, there they were!!!! HUGE pink flowers!

The trees are called rhododendron. They are somewhat simple and the flowers are huge! That morning, I was so happy to finally see they had “bursted” into beautiful happy flowers.

I ran.

Then I started thinking (some say I over-think)!

I started thinking about the bulbs. Are they simply introvert creatures? They bursted open. Do they (nature) think that it is beautiful or simply an affirmation of “I am DONE”to burst? Then, to die? Now, is it really dead when it falls or at the bursting moment / event? Who are we to decide that... Maybe it is one last glorious moment before that “thing”disappear. Nature is able to let go so easily and grow from that. Why are we latching on to our anger/past/mistakes? Holding on to anger is drinking the poison and expecting someone else to die. Really.

This is our usual perception. The beautiful-ness of the flowers, should it not be the same with us? I have never heard of someone thinking they will burst into a beautiful thing. It is often a sentence heard when referring to a negative state.

The introverted bulb spend all these months growing from the inside to burst into beautiful flowers but was the living done while the bulbs were growing delicately and precisely? The bursting, is it the last moment of glory? Most importantly, are thing really dying afterwards because it seems to have made the tree bigger and new leaves are appearing.

As I am training for Ironman Arizona 2012, I see speed bumps the same way. Every challenge to get to the start line will be overcome and rewarded by multiplied renewal.

Bursting is good and necessary to grow. That is my conclusion. It is renewed energy. A bigger tree with more bulbs parallels the fact that when we are small, we are bursting proportionally to our experience and journey. The more we live and grow, the more bulbs and bursting we must do to renew internally. It makes sense to me.

Nancy Murray, Founder

Emma & Owen ~ The greatest inspiration of all! 

I am an Ironman.

Not yet.

I like to visualize and focus on what I will hear at the Ironman Arizona finish line. The sweet sound of Mike Reilly’s “You are an Ironman”. Yes. i am. 

I will be.

Meanwhile, there is this little thing called life getting in my way. I feel like my training has been purpose-less. This is just like life, without a plan, it’s only going to look good on paper and you will move through it and be fine but you’ll be just “fine”, it will not be exceptional or phenomenal. I was never a planner. Things just “happened” for me easily. The older I get, the more I seem to craft plans.

I am turning 40 in 2012 and this big milestone will be celebrated in big ways: Ironman Arizona... but wait!!! I already feel behind in my training. I can’t get to it. I just squeeze in whatever I can whenever I can. I know better, I really do but there are days where I can’t help but think this was all a big mistake. It’s hard. I keep thinking about circumstances. Wow, it feels like it is so hard to be me! Other athletes have their lives figured out, their children (if any) are a bit older, they can go out to train, they are not single parents, they are not business/start-up owners, they are financially organized for years ahead. They have nothing to worry about. Right? NO WAY! We are all in the same boat.

If this journey to Ironman was easy, everyone would be doing it. This is why I will be
an Ironman.

i am. 

Yes i am. 

I needed to see it. Feel it. Daily. I felt like as athlete, we must have this special “thing” that is a constant reminder of what we do and our goal. A subtile touch  added to your living space where you and only you draws energy from. Looks at it. See yourself. See yourself as the triathlete that you are. The runner that you are. 

You are.

See yourself through the days where you are agitated. Calm days. Effective days. Sad days. Tough days. Good and bad, your days sculpt your journey to your goals and bring you to the start of that special race.

Set yourself up for success. Life is stressful enough as it is, especially as a parent. The stress that you can eliminate, eliminate it. NOW. Eliminate the distractions and stress that you can control. Good in business. Good in sports. 


“A happy athlete is a better athlete” -- Carlos Mendoza, Executive Coaching

“Tough times don’t last but tough people do” - - My last fortune cookie!


BELIEVE-NESS: Feel your vision! Set your goals! GO FOR IT!


Nancy Murray, Founder

Emma & Owen ~ The greatest inspiration of all! 

New Year New You! Really?

Sounds like yet just another 360º change to me!
How many magazine covers do you see each year with that very title?! I have heard about resolutions since I was a little girl. I remember grown-ups making promises they will never going to keep back then... This was the 70s... Weren’t there a lot of not so healthy things back then? 

Have things changed? Do people keep their resolutions in 2012? 
After spending a lot of time thinking long and hard about my life last year, I know that for me, GOALS are the way to go. I have always seen a lot of things that I want to happen in my life but taking the initiative to write everything down and splitting priorities into categories really made the whole thing real. In addition, I wanted to be certain that my goals were going to be kept in check. Therefore, I shared them with loved ones and mentors. Honestly, now that people know, there is a feeling of being held accountable. I have to get going!

2012 is a milestone year for me. I am turning 40.
My athletic year 2012 is super charged! Thanks to incredible support and words of wisdom from Ironman themselves, I am delighted to share the Ironman in the Making: IronNAN!

In 2012, I am going to be an Ironman. It feels GOOD to say it.

For years I have been thinking about “Turning 40 in Fitness Style”. I signed up for my very first triathlon and came in third in my age group. I thought that I was on to something… I have had many achievements in the past few years including qualifying 3x for The Boston Marathon, over 20 triathlons of all distances up to IM 70.3 and crossing Rim-2-Rim-2-Rim of The Grand Canyon non-stop… Goals that I thought were crazy. It’s time to kick it up a notch.

2012 is MY year! Out of my way people!


BELIEVE-NESS: Feel your vision! Set your goals! GO FOR IT! 

Need help setting goals? You don’t know where to start? Here are two fantastic ressources for you:

My dear friend Mark Woods, Author, Attack Your Day!

“You Get what you Goal For!”


Emma & Owen ~ The greatest inspiration of all!