THIS IS GOING TO TAKE LONGER THAN I PREFER. Those were my words to Michelle as I passed my crazy crew at mile seven-ish - near the end of the first loop.  I wasn't feeling so hot and the same feeling that I had had on the bike was chasing me on the run. I didn't want to do this loop two more times. It's too early to feel this way. It's hotter than I prefer.  This gum has dirt in it. 

My first four miles had been great. I stuck to my plan of a four minute run + 30 second walk. But, somewhere on the out and back spur I made the mistake of worrying about the outcome. This was not going to be the run I wanted (4:45ish for my 45th triathlon), my friends were going to have to wait so long for me to finish. I was not going to finish in under 12 hours. Worry. Whining. Wimpy. Whipped. Walking. Not 4G philosophy. Not Wonder Woman words.  I could barely hear the sound of my friends cheering for all the whining in my head.

This was my mini Wrunder Woman. She was in my back pocket for the swim, bike and run. Here she is protecting my Emergency gels.

This was my mini Wrunder Woman. She was in my back pocket for the swim, bike and run. Here she is protecting my Emergency gels.

But, as soon as the words left my mouth, I was able to let it go. I need a reset, I thought. I pulled out my mini Wrunder Woman (yeah, I spelled that right) and walked for two minutes. I danced through the BASE SALT energy tent (they were playing Lady Gaga -- loudly -- and dancing). I made my way up out of the greenway and into the fan zone: three blocks of spectators, plus special needs and an aid station. I was back on it and ready for loop two. I danced back through the BASE SALT zone (Gangam Style) and past my crew. Sunshine was screaming U2 lyrics at me, Ace was taking pictures and cheering and Boss & Jess high-fived me.

I loved the run course. There were parts that were in the sun and parts that were packed gravel and the return lap is up a gradual hill. But most of it was paved and shaded. It followed Santa Rosa creek and felt far away from downtown. It was quiet and there were places I could hear the creek below and see the runners on the north side as they headed back in. I saw wild turkeys (including three minors), I spotted a musical performance of Much Ado About Nothing in the park and saw Mr. Push-It again. This time, he was wearing only a sign (or so he made it look with his bare chest and exposed legs). I think his sign said: IF YOU WALK, I DROP THE SIGN. As I passed with a group of women, he said: eyes up here, girls! Eyes up here! And pointed to his own eyes.

I had been dreading the second loop but it actually flew by. I admit it:  It may have been the Red Bull. I had waited until mile 8 to drink one and it was worth the wait.  Plus, I liked ticking off the spots that I'd only have to see one more time. I only have to go up this ramp one more time. I only pass by this aid station one more time. I passed my crew, then the BASE salts [I wanna say DONTCHA by the Pussycat Dolls], then the fan zone, then the BASE salts [Baby, You're a FIREWORK], then my crew. They headed to the finish line and I finished up my last loop. This loop was even better. I could tick off every spot that I was going to see for the last time.

I played leap frog with two other runners who were also run/walking. I made up six new mantras and repeated one for every four-minute run interval. I counted to 100 in French. I ran my secret goal pace (9:30/mile) for two of the four minute intervals and it did not feel great so I quit looking at my pace. I read the signs that my crew had written on the sidewalk: HI! WANNA BE FRIENDS? and IT'S NOT A HILL. IT'S A SUNFLOWER and 4G: GUSTO GUMPTION GRUEL & GRACE and UNC GIRLS ARE FAST. Hey, wait a minute!

I came up out of the greenway and was ready to finish. I knew not to start too early because it is about 1200 meters to the finish (three times around a track), but I picked up my cadence and tried to propel myself forward with a bit of a pick-up. I made it past the bike transition, around the changing tents and towards D-Street on the heels of two runners - one much older (he was 75) one younger (she was 26). Go Get that Finish, she cheered as I passed. C'mon, let's go! I shot back. I bolted up the finish chute which was so long - and not long enough. I started yelling my fool head off. YES! I shouted. I AM AN IRONMAN. I DID IT! I started prompting the people on the sidelines to cheer back - fists pumping, arms raised - WOOO HOO! I heard Ace and Jen cheer on my left and high-fived Michelle and Jess on the right. I practically jumped across the finish line, faced the cameras and did my best Wonder Woman pose.