It all started on sat after I warmed up on the bike for an hour and followed it with a 10 minute run. After making myself a good carb-breakfast, I finished any last minute packing and I was out the door around 10:30am. To keep myself from getting too stressed, I turned up the music in my car and tried to forget about the race. The past week has been a mess for me, with my nerves attempting to get the best of me. I am not a good traveler when it comes to races. The first year when I started tri's (2 years ago) I was all about spending time at expos or at the race site. I.e. lots of time on my feet. Now I want to get to the expo, pick up my stuff, check my bike in and get into a hotel or off my feet. Well, most of that was true for Disney this year, except for staying off my feet. After I checked my bike in, I met up with my good friend Christie and she walked me back to the Wilderness. I meet up with my crew of friends and we had lunch at the Wilderness Lodge. I organized my stuff in the room and before I new it, I was walking around the hotel trying to meet up with friends doing the race. The cops that I coach (Dan and John) were there, Sarah, Hunter and Art were also staying there. It was a busy afternoon. Karel arrived around 6:30 and not too long after, my parents arrived with some yummy food!!! Seeing that I have the best family, my mom, bro and dad brought me a sweet potato, rice and 2 loafs of bread from Outback...yummm!!!!! We sat by the pool and we all had a nice dinner. It was up to the room and lights were off by 10:30am. No surprise-I didn't sleep but maybe 4 hours!! I'm getting use to the fact that I don't sleep before a race. Oh well-Friday night was a good night sleep for me. There were 4 of us in my room on sat night, with a friend of Tim's sleeping on the floor. It was a fun morning getting ready with everyone and I don't think I've ever laughed harder in 24 hours!! Combine carlos, mike and Karel and you have one funny bunch for me!!! Sunday morning I was up at 3:30am and started eating my already oatmeal, 1/2 banana, a few raisins, a little protein powder and a little PB (in the oatmeal) and drinking my coffee by 4am. We were out the hotel doors by 4:45am and we walking to the race venue. Transition set-up was quick and so was body marking. All that was left was waiting for my wave which left around 7am. I didn't feel too nervous but I was enjoying the moment of just sitting on the beach with all the athletes. This was the first big race for my brother too watch and he had a great time. Nothing new for the parents-they are always there! The swim felt good and after the last left turn to head back to the beach, I checked my watch and it said 24 minutes. I looked up and noticed that I had quite a bit of swimming left but I felt really strong. The water was a mess of people and I found myself passing so many people and being kicked my so many people. I was a little bummed with my swim time of 34 minutes but I heard from a lot of people that the swim felt a little long. Not sure if I can complain at the start of a long day, but I did the best I could and I was hoping for a 29 minute swim time. I was running out of the water for a quick transition and seeing that this race has a long run to T1 I was running fast to get my bike. In around 3 minutes, I was pushing my bike out of T1 and I was off for a 56 mile bike ride. I felt strong during the whole bike ride but I did feel some tightness in my rt. quad during the beginning of the bike. I felt the same thing during my Ironman in Nov and I was too concerned. When I race, as long as I know I put in the training and prep, I try to live in the moment and not get worried about my body. It is going to hurt somewhere when you push hard but I felt good the whole bike ride. I couldn't believe my average of 20.5 when last year I was 15 minutes slower with a 18.8 minute average. This year I pulled off a 2:43 bike time, even with the rolling hills (which I love!) and the crazy winds. It wasn't until mile 30 when I started to feel good and mile 50 when I started to feel great! I was off the bike quick and I couldn't wait to RUN! I was a little nervous for the run since I was concerned that my run speed wasn't there. I did a little self-talk before I got off the bike and I told myself to stay confidence. If there is anything I can do, it is run long. I love to zone out during a long run and I broke this race down into 3 laps. First loop was warming up to see what pace I could hold and get into the zone. Loop 2 was a catch-up lap, now that I knew where the 5 girls were that I saw ahead of me and loop 3 was all or nothing lap where for the first time, I left EVERYTHING out on the course. Thanks to Karel yelling at me telling me that there is no tomorrow and I have to push-it and my family telling me to push-it, I was doing everything I could do to not loose pace. It wasn't until loop 3 and after an hour of running, that I started passing the girls who passed me on the bike. I couldn't catch the 2 girls ahead of me but I put myself into 3rd place with 3 miles left in the run. Old marni would have sat comfortably in my running pace but I didn't give up. I still pushed and I think my 11 minute lead off 4th place showed how much I pushed. I knew I couldn't catch anyone else, but I wanted to give it my all and leave everything on the course. I felt strong and it really helped to have people cheer for me. Please don't be affended if I don't talk back but I really do like it when people on the course are cheering for me-It helps so much! Another highlight during the run was running with Karen Smyers!!!! How cool was that. I heard someone cheering for her as she was on her last lap (my first) and she came up right next to me. Heart rate was sitting comfortably at 150 until she came along and I ran with her for over 3 minutes with a heart rate close to 165. It was SO worth it! I felt so cool! To sum up the weekend, I first want to thank the MANY people who congratulated me and cheered for me during the race. It means a lot to have so many supportive people. Especially since I train and race long-distance, there is a lot of time I put into my training and I appreciate everyone for putting up with my crazy schedule. Still hurting today (mon morning) I am proud of my 3rd place finish and 5:09 finish time. I PR'd by 21 minutes and PR'd in the bike by 15 and the run by 10 minutes. Last year I was 9th and this year I was smiling proudly with my 3rd place plaque. More so, I qualified for the Clearwater World Champs! Oh my-what I year this has been and is going to be. Not sure how I can pay for everything but I'm looking forward to TWO World Championships in one year! This may not happen again, but with the focus on Kona and Clearwater just to finish, I am counting my blessings for such an amazing year! Thanks to everyone for your support and congrats to those who finished!!!!!