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SCTA Race Reports: Little Debbie is an IRONMAN!

Two of our awesome SCTA members competed in Little Debbie IRONMAN Chattanooga on Sunday, September 30th. Deanne Ortiz McLendon and Nikkole Pauss have dedicated a lot of training time for the past months leading up to their race. As with all races, we must be ready for any change in race details. In this case, due to unsatisfactory water quality in the Tennessee River, the swim was cancelled.

IRONMAN Chattanooga Race Facebook page reported:

“Water quality readings for E. coli have also come back at 2,416 (CFU per 100mL of water), more than 20 times higher than safe levels for swimming. Additionally, due to a considerable amount of debris, murky water and the water flow, IRONMAN would not be able to deploy several of the water safety assets that are necessary to ensure a safe swim.”

Regardless of this change, racers put on their game face for the bike and run legs of the race and successfully completed IRONMAN Chattanooga! Below are their personal accounts of the experience:

Deanne’s Race report:

“Redemption was mine but I paid, mind body and soul (as I internally told myself all the volunteers from the last aid station were of the devil, so I wouldn’t stop to relive my crash four years ago. I fought those demons until I passed the mile 100 marker.

I had a solid steady bike, but then my plan to race with gratitude quickly spiraled into self-pity as my run unraveled. I spent much of the run nauseous, speed walking. Anytime my heart rate went over 145 my head started pounding (anyone else dealt with Pulsatile Tinnitus? Been a few months and getting worse). I had visions of my race ending again with my being taken in an ambulance to the closest hospital.

I was thankful to have Nikkole Pauss out there! She was my beacon to keep moving forward! IRONMAN is definitely a humbling experience. It has a way of stripping everything away. In the dark alone, I felt physically and mentally raw. I cried a few tears until I finally told myself aloud , “Pull it together woman! You are an Ironman!”

One never knows what race day has in store, just like we can’t control the weather or canceled swims. I tried to “control the controllables ” and proceed with what I had at that moment and thankfully that took me to the finish line!

It was a hard day. I greatly missed having my family at the finish line. I have definitely taken their help and encouragement for granted.To shake myself out of my pity party, I spent time watching others cross the finish line. I felt gratitude again. No matter what our times were, we had had the same persistence, drive and determination to get finish line, that is IRONMAN! The other things we might share in common:an epic race kit tan and impressive chafing!

Thank you all for the positive wishes, prayers and support!”

Image: Deanne, race ready in front of the Tennessee River.

Nikki’s Race report:

“Quick race report as promised (this IS the TLDR version)

Boom! Probably one of the few races I’m actually happy with the way it went as far as following my plans and seeing the results fall into place. Was stressful training up to this day since at any given time I was going to have to abandon for family but told to continue with the plans so I got it done.

Swim: cancelled to due flood conditions—NOOOO! That was a PR swim! Just throw us in and set up a giant net... That current was scary on the day of the first briefing and the bacteria was high so I knew it was the right decision. That means a 142.2 mile event which is still more than the standard 140.6. Plus dry and dressed for the bike with no transition getting in the way? Game on!

“Bike for Show” went pretty smooth with good speed maintenance and consistency, proper fueling (go potatoes and Precision Hydration). Took advantage of any opportunity for “free speed” on straights and descents. The rolling hills heading out were sneakier than the climb out of town. Had issues with my neck starting on the second loop which made aero more difficult and frustrating since in aero I became the Mario bullet and hated having to get out to stretch. Though I used some of the little climbs for that. Had good songs in my head to make the time and effort more smooth.

“Run for Dough” started with my right foot being sore and strained from the pedal pressure on the ride that I didn’t expect. Thought I was going to lose my run if I couldn’t shake it off but thankfully it was better in about a mile and a half walk out. Plan was to walk the aid stations and run the rest. Went well until mile 9 when the hot sun sucked my energy dry (soooo humid) and was juggling nausea on and off the rest of the time. Had peed twice in the bike and once on the run so the hydration was there but no matter how much I salted it was not enough to match my loss. My broken math confused my finish time with midnight instead of 10 pm which made me push my run more. Ran the flats, walked the hills and aid stations. So glad to run into Deanne midway through the run and relieved to share the struggle of that crazy humidity. She was there for her redemption from the last time and damned if I was going to let her NOT get to that line. Stuff is always going to come up that you can’t control but IM’s are not supposed to be easy and was awesome to see her dig deep and make it happen. About a mile out, I got to the bridge and felt the searing pop of the blister on my toe that made me start to limp. NOOOOO NOT NOW. Sucked it up for the run through town and so excited to get to that line. Right after seeing Deanne cross I started to get light-headed and almost passed out. Dragged to the tent for rescue broth!

Thanks Dave for the great prep, plan, and mantra!

Thanks Wade for all of the adjustments and your patience

Thanks Curtis and Nikki for keeping me from pretzeling

Thanks Brian and A.J. for Sherpa duty

Thank you all for your support

Got your medal, dad. You are an Ironman.”

Image: Nikki crossing the finish line!

Congratulations to Deanne and Nikki on your victories!

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