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You Learn

I think I can sum this race up with the chores of Alanis Morissette You Learn “You live, you learn, you love, you learn, you cry, you learn, you lose, you learn, you bleed, you learn, you scream, you learn”

I think training for Ironman St George has been one of the biggest learning experiences of my life, thus far. I lost myself, I found myself, I learned my limits and how to push them but also know when I pushed too far and need to dial back, a first for me. I learned to set more boundaries with how others and how to expresses my emotions in a better manner. Ok so let's get to it.

Danett Crespo at St George, UT

Pre-Race May2021- April 2022. I signed up for St. George after my epic DNF at Tulsa. Yes without a doubt angry impulse sign up because my training partner and coach said it was one of the most grueling half’s he has ever done. BOOM done signed up, shortly after it became the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP!!! At that point, I was given the option to duck out for another race or go with the flow and race with world athletes …. DUH obvious choice, bring it on the hills, heat and winds! I always wanted to go to world championship but never thought I would make it till 70’s or 80’s. I knew it was going to be hard I and grueling I prepped I trained like a beast. I got a sports dietitian, Fly Nutrition, to help me with my nutrition and dialed that in good. I did the long rides, several 9 -10 hours on my bike, cold/heat I was getting it done. However, I had some MASSIVE setbacks; this is where I learned what my limits were and how to dial back when needed. While racing IM North Carolina 70.3 I got kicked hard to the point I fractured my rib/cartridge and punctured my lung. This was DEVASTATING, 5 months out from one hardest courses in the world and I couldn’t take 10 steps without pain. But with a great coach and family and friends support and a lot of patients I don’t have, I was able to learn to breath better, keep my heart rate down and focus more on my swimming form…. so in reality all that madness helped. 2 months prior my grandmother (She was one reasons started Neuro Endurance) passed away , I strained my planters fasciitis and was restricted to a boot, no swimming or biking for 2 weeks, this is where I learned again that I need to stop, breathe and rest the body no matter how much I wanted to push on. Three weeks out I did first open water swim and BAM double ear and double sinus infection I swear all things holy was telling me something, but I am too stubborn and determined, nothing was going to stop me! I felt like I went to war preparing for this race and most people feel like that when doing Ironmans, because its true! Its not just about toeing the line it’s the massive journey just to get to said line

Race Week. First off my intake of fluids was insane and on point, drinking constantly and incorporating Tailwind every other bottle to combat the heat was great. Also I highly recommend always arriving at least 4 days early, wow its so much better and less stressful! Arrived in St. George after two very turbulent flights, 2nd flight had me super nauseated. Did arrive earlier than expected so was able to do check in a day earlier than originally planned which was GREAT because I was able to get all the gear. Following day I was still feeling super sick but went for a practice swim, that was rough…. super rough it was cold outside, super cold in the water and people were FLYING by me. Also almost got hit by a dang safety boat which was MASSIVE PTSD from Wisconsin. It's weird how you don’t realize how much something like that affects you until faced with it again. I came out of water in tears because I just felt slow, I was and just didn’t feel right. But then I quickly remembered my shake out swims always suck so whatever moving on. Driving the course was amazing its so beautiful and although the hills were intimidating …. REALLY I know I put the work in I was ready for them I knew to keep my head one hill at a time and I felt good. I did get to go out to Zion with my best friends Thursday, felt great to be out of car and moving around, next race I would like to do a lil more walking my legs needed it. Race brief with Ironman was upsetting, only English brief was 8pm and packing 3000 people in one spot was not cool. On top of that there was a major blow to transition times that was never announce. I like to take a lil time in transition just to make sure I am good, when they announced this I was really taken back, but then again I signed up for a World Championship these are super next level people so they expect them to be moving. As upsetting as it was I couldn’t do anything about it and just moved on mentally. Bag check in was another blow, no tape allowed… wait WHAT! I spent 3 hours making my bags pretty and packing and now I have to REPACK last minute. We spent a good half hour trying to figure out what to do and how to fix it. We weren’t only people with problem but it was very nerve racking. The rest of day was good. With more friends arriving this was most spectators I had at an event to day, was awesome. Had a great conversation with a volunteer about the Foundation which was needed, good reminder of why I do what I do.

Danett Crespo at St. George, UT

Race Day Morning. Wow talk about overcoming a lot of anger, fear and frustration. I rode out early on the all male shuttle so was first female in transition, THAT WAS COOL! What wasn’t cool was the several volunteers telling me I am not allowed in the transition area its only for athletes. When I showed the my band they literally said “well you don’t look like an athlete” that hit hard, I work my butt off, I eat healthy, I literally check all the boxes to include I got blood work done…. and nope still am my short stumpy self…. and I try to be ok with that but still hits hard. I had this happen three more times as the day went on. Instead of letting it bring me down I started responding “I may not be tiny and skinny but I have more heart and determination then any of these people” Nutrition I had 2 servings of SiS Recovery, 4 Kodiak peanut butter jelly pancake sandwiches and a bottle of Tailwind, and 1 sis gel right before start. I had a 3 hour wait and I felt good and ready for the swim, I was motivated I felt good and I was going to take on the world…. and then came the swim…. my nemesis.

Swim. I was dead last out of transition, I thought it closed one time and it was actually 10 min earlier, ooopps. I was pumped but for first time NO ONE ELSE WAS, it was dead silent other than the speaker, these woman were out for blood! For first time in all my full races, I didn’t cry before the swim, I was oddly calm and ready to do this, I have done it many times I knew I was going to be good. Into the freezing water, it actually was a lil warmer then Tulsa which I now wish I would have brought short sleeve wetsuit and worn it, future reference anything above 62 degrees wear short sleeve wetsuit. With the wave start just being my age group it wasn’t a mad house like a lot of races. So it was easier to draft and follow people beside me, which was great because by now the sun was DIRECTLY in our faces making it almost impossible to see buoys so my depending on others to sight for me was important first section, which sucks. Goal this summer is more open water and sighting practice. It didn’t take long for my group to be gone and next group coming up, and then another group and another. I was struggling by my 1000 yards, I wanted to stop and just give up and be done, everyone knows my swim is my most hated event if I DNF’d there it would be ok right?! No no it wouldn’t …. this is the battle I had for almost the whole swim. But I knew I could do it, I knew no matter how slow I can make it, so I just took it one stroke at a time. I wasn’t in pain shoulders and back felt the best they ever had they were just going slow, so it was me vs me in the swim and wow that was one hella battle and I was going to win no matter what! I took turn three one more turn to go and it was like all hell broke out…I don’t know honestly how I did it, I was rolling with the waves, I actually stopped to see if there was a boat around, nope, the wind is picking up, crap crap crap. As scared as I was from my PTSD in Wisconsin waves I also learned from Wisconsin how to handle those big roller waves and just went with it pushing harder, this is the first full ironman I didn’t puke in the swim, WIN! I did eventually get out, 1:52, 7 min behind my plan, but that was ok I made it, omg I MADE IT!! I have never had so much doubt in a swim, so much urge to give up and quit, I almost started crying (I have done that in my past two Ironmans) but I didn’t have time for that I had to haul it through transition with that time cut off.

T1. I got into the tent and just started bawling because I was so overwhelmed with emotion of the swim, the time cut off and just everything. But I cried and moved cried and moved, I feel like a lot of people, especially woman, can really relate to this. Like most things in life I have never had the ability to just break down and lose it, I have too many people that depend on me to keep going strong…and that’s what I did. Grabbed my stuff and took off running. My bike was close but the bike out was far, so I left my shoes off and ran to the arch to make sure I got there in time and BOOM fasted T1 I think I have every had for a full, 11 min…. I MADE IT!!

Bike: If you ask my training partner and coach he would tell you the bike is my nemesis, although I feel its more the swim because it’s a huge mental block, the bike is where I always DNF. Rolling out onto the course I was ready mentally to take one hill at a time, I felt good. As I was going one way there were a lot of athletes coming back from turn around and they looked like DEATH. Wow that was hard to watch because I knew I was coming back to that. I am not good on the down hills, but I went in knowing my ups are going to be epically slow so I would have to really get out of my comfort zone and let it go on the downs. Let me tell you what I did, I was FLYING, at least for me down some hills WWWEEEEEEE. There is nothing scarier than flying down hills on a tiny bike with tiny tires that hitting a rock can make you go flying head over heels. I was doing good first 25 miles, it was rough and slow up the hills but I was actually going faster than anticipated ups, problem was the wind was really picking up so the downs that I needed 27+ were now becoming 23 and below. I did see my best friends at the top of one of the hills that I was struggling on because the wind was really bringing average down. I don’t remember which hill or what mile I just remember being out in the middle of nowhere and there they were, like they have all my life there they were cheering me on, insert tears as I started down the next hill in direct wind. I have never pushed so hard on down hills, I usually cruise to take a break, but that was not an option. At one point, I was going down a 4% grade hill and I was pushing 10mph, my bike was wobbling and I was peddling as if my life depended on it, a couple times, I felt like it did. I was scared beyond anything when being hit by cross winds going 20+ down hills. By far this is the hardest I have every pushed myself out of my comfort zone on the bike, and that’s with the rain, mud, carnage and getting hit by car at Tulsa….. I was so determined so focused I was going to make the cut off come hell or high water. I knew I was cutting it close at this point, I was happy I packed extra tailwind in my pocket, suggestions from another great friend, so that I was just going to fly through special needs. Me and two other riders approached transition same time, I had 1:30 min till cut off I MADE IT HOLY CRAP I MADE IT!!! And then it all went down from there…. I stayed to the left to keep going without stopping, another woman stopped to get her special needs. The course marshal jumped in front of my bike to stop me, almost making me wreak, yelling I missed cut off. I looked at my watched said no sir I have over a min, he looked his watch and said yes but they called the cut off. I again said no sir now I have 45 seconds. He radio the head marshal and they said done no more are allowed to go. I again said Sir I have 30 seconds it’s not much but I made it and should be allowed to go! At that time the other lady who I rolled in with said hold up I was in transition I made it can I go, and he said ok go. I won’t lie this is not one of my better moments in life, I said this is bullshit I am going I was here you confirmed I was here I made it I’m going! I went to take off the marshal grabbed my bike and said get off or I will take the bike from you! I instantly started sobbing, I mean like uncontrollably sobbing. I failed again, I failed myself, my family, my friends, my coach failed failed failed. I felt so bad for the wonderful volunteer that had gotten my bag while I was arguing, put all my water bottles on was now trying to help me move off the road as I sobbed. Over the next hour as waiting for bus and ride back to town, a lot of others who got pulled and volunteers tried their best to tell me its all good it was wicked morning course. It didn’t matter I failed, they had no idea what hell I had gone through to get here or on the race and I just hated everything about myself and life. As I road back to T2 I decided I was going to get on the run course no matter what, I will get my gear and I will just go, I wasn’t about to miss out yet again. Nutrition wise I felt like I was pretty on point, I did one bottle per hour of 2.5 scoops tailwind and one fruit packet or one mashed potato every hour. Note to self NEVER do mashed potatoes again, they were like mini potato bombs from the heat! I did later find out that a lot of people, almost 100, were pulled from the course well before original posted cut off times after the times changed when they got everyone in water sooner than expected. Also if they allowed ladies to start when they wanted rather than an hour after the men, they would have same advantages as the men to making cutoffs.

Run-ish. My friends met me to take my bags I was able to pick up, I felt horrible they had come all this way and I failed, and I wasn’t the nicest when I pretty much threw my gear at them and said I was heading out on run. I jumped in the run and took off as planned 4 min run 1 min walk. Well after sitting around for 1.5 hours now that didn’t work out so well and quickly realized running wasn’t going to happen my body had completely seized up. I was happy to be out on the run but overly devastated and cried A LOT ….a lot a lot. I finally met up with Brian around mile 4 for me 7 for him …..was bitter sweet once again to be out there like that. I could tell he was hurting but I still could not keep up with his power walking so he continued. I saw him one more time as he set out to do 2nd loop, at that point I had 7 miles in and just gave up, it was to emotional and I just didn’t want to be around anyone. I do think my nutrient was good for the run, I had tailwind in my pack and packs of gummies that I took every 4 min, surprisingly not melted in heat!

Post race. We sat around waiting for Brian, I have never every not wanted to watch him finish but this time it was the last thing I wanted to do. I wanted to see him finish of course but hearing person after person’s name called knowing I wouldn’t get mine was just devastating and doing this for 3rd time soul crushing. This was MY race, MY time and yet again, I could not just do it and become an Ironman. At this point I did realize I hadn’t gone to the bathroom sense before the swim, I didn’t even pee in the water, I knew this was going to bite me in the butt later. When Brian came through I was over the moon happy for him he did a great job once again. We waddled him back to the car, I got myself some taco bell and went back to house ate, showered went to bed. At this point I was completely numb, numb to everything I felt like I had wasted a year of my life and my family and friends that supported me’s life. Next day I drove my gear into transport and took Brian to get finisher gear, and again it took everything in me not to start sobbing as everyone mad dashed to get all the world championship gear. Its hard being around so many happy people when you feel like your world is falling apart. We all went and spent the morning climbing up rocks in snow canyon, got a beautiful overlook of what I couldn’t get to on the bike, again beyond depressing, my rib was hurting, my kidneys were hurting, I felt at this point I had hit the utter rock bottom. Yes people might see this all as childish, its just a race, its not a big deal…. true! But when you devote so much time, energy, passion and you fail, it's hard to not feel like you lost so much.

Post race after St. George. I had to say goodbye to all my close friends, was so great being with them and having all the love and support, but I was ready to get back to my crew. I won’t say it’s been easy these past couple weeks, I have gone social media dark just so that I could process a lot and heal my body and mind. As I processed I can say I put it all out there on that course. I feel like before during and after I faced so many challenges, faced so many demons and overcome so much more this race then I have any of my other….. and I am still here, I am still fighting and I will never stop. I have always preached that no matter how much life beats you down you have to dust off and get back up and continue on, and now more then ever I believe it. No one and I mean no one in my life has said I failed; no one has put me down for not completing, so why did I beat myself up with all that silly nonsenses and depression because we are always ALWAYS our worst enemies, You vs You! I am going to use set back as a lesson, I will use this set back as a way to move forward to be bigger better and stronger every day!

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