A 1,152nd-place finish has probably never felt this good.
Pancreatic cancer survivor Molli Serrano, 39, covered the 140.6-mile course of the Ironman World Championship triathlon in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, in 11 hours, 31 minutes, 38 seconds on Saturday, finishing more than 2 hours and 15 minutes behind female champion Leanda Cave.
For Serrano, who lives in Plantation, Fla., with her husband, Juan, and their 8-year-old twins, Nick and Ella, it was a clear-cut victory. "What a great day. It could not have gone any better. I was pleasantly surprised at how well I did," she told Playbook on Sunday. "During the race, I kept reminding myself why I was here. I was so thankful. I was thanking God I was in this race. I said to myself out loud: 'Cancer, look what I'm doing. I'm competing in the Ironman World Championship in Kona.' I shed a few tears. It was everything I expected it to be."
This was Serrano's third Ironman triathlon and her first since undergoing surgery in June 2011 that removed half of her stomach and pancreas, her gall bladder, and a large portion of her intestines. Several months of radiation treatment and chemotherapy followed and she has since been declared cancer-free.
Serrano felt no adverse physical effects from her surgery and treatment while covering the "hot, windy, hilly" Kailua-Kona course, which included a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run and termed her performance "flawless." She was, however, a much different competitor emotionally than she had been in the past. "I wanted to enjoy the moment," she said. "Every time I saw my family -- I stopped and gave my husband a hug and kissed and hugged my kids. I stopped to talk to people, give people high-fives and took pictures. The old Molli would have never done that. My son looked at me when I stopped and gave him a kiss and said, 'Mom, people are passing you,' and I said, 'It's OK.'"
A little past two-thirds into the run during the so-called "Energy Lab" portion of the course, Serrano said she started saying, "Ha! Ha! Cancer" once she realized she was going to finish and do so in a healthy fashion. "I was like 'wow' -- I am at Mile 18 and I felt good. Nothing is really hurting me."
Serrano (who finished 49th in the 35-39 age group) and her family will return to Florida on Wednesday after spending a few days enjoying the paradise that is Hawaii when you're not competing in the World Ironman Championships. But there won't be much time to rest as she and her husband will be competing in the "Escape from Alcatraz" triathlon in California in March. "I'm just so happy right now," she said.
Timothy O'Donnell, who was featured in Playbook last week along with Serrano, also had a good day Saturday, as did his fiancee, Mirinda Carfrae, who finished third overall among the women:
— Timothy O'Donnell (@TOinTRI) October 15, 2012
The complete Ironman World Championship results can be found here.
• Second-year cornerback Richard Sherman and the Seahawks had plenty of reason to talk trash after rallying from 13 points down to beat Tom Brady and the Patriots 24-23 on Sunday in Seattle. Sherman celebrated the win on the field, in the locker room and then after the game on Twitter:
Brady sure looks like a man who turned the 12thMan against us twitter.com/RSherman_25/st…
— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) October 15, 2012
He later tweeted an Associated Press photo of himself yelling at Brady with the caption "U MAD BRO?" Photoshopped on it under the Twitter post "he told me and earl to see him after the game when they win ... I found him after ..."
That Twitter post has since been deleted.
• Now that Felix Baumgartner has broken the world record after jumping out of a balloon 128,097 feet above Roswell, N.M., and free-falling at a mind-boggling speed of up to 833 mph, his next mission is simple:
"I want to inspire the next generation. I want to be in mission control with someone younger than me wanting to break my record." Felix
— Red Bull Stratos (@RedBullStratos) October 14, 2012
• Jeremy Shockey tweeted this message at Jonathan Vilma, referring to Warren Sapp's accusations in March that Shockey was the whistle-blower in the Saints' bounty investigation:
@jonvilma51 great seeing u last night buddy!! Pls tell the world I'm not the snitch!!Lol
— Jeremy Shockey (@JeremyShockey) October 14, 2012
— Jonathan Vilma (@JonVilma51) October 14, 2012
Guess Shockey's off the hook.