Thursday, September 22, 2016

IM Boulder Race Recap 2016...3.0...The Run, The Fun, The Bloody

Although I was in great spirits coming off the bike and leaving Bella for the marathon portion of Boulder Ironman, I was still in a bit of lower back/spine discomfort.  I spent the morning trying to manage comfort and allow myself to be as comfortable as I could be so that the Demons wouldn't beat me to a pulp and call this day before I had the chance to cross the finish line.

I managed to keep myself in the race with, thus far, a solid game plan.  I had just been out on Bella for 112 miles or 7:19:19.  Over the last year and in preparation for this race, the longest I had ridden was just over 3 hours or about 50 miles.  So with the way my injured back and spine have been I was very happy with the outcome.  I felt that if I could just get to this point, to the run, with 7+ hours to go, I would cross the finish line.  Heck, I could walk a 7+hour marathon.  Even with this optimism, I still had to manage my back, the 26.2 miles ahead of me and the clock.  On the bike I had stopped and gotten off 5 different times.  Each time the duration was between 5 -10 minutes.  Even though I had spent somewhere between 30 - 60 minutes resting my back during the bike section, I needed a time out before the run.  I laid down on the grass and brought my knees up to my chest and rocked and rolled on the ground.  Massaging my back and stretching out the sucker.  I organized my food and hydration.  Washed my face.  Changed my clothes.  I put on running shorts.  Three events and three outfit changes for me.  Again, comfort and feeling fresh was paramount.  I've never changed out of my tri kit before while doing an IM.  I have to say it was quite nice.

I saw Steve Seltzer in the tent.  He was volunteering and we chatted for a good amount of time.  I decided it was time to move on to the Boulder Creek path and see what was up with this marathon thingie that was still ahead of me.  After over 22 minutes in TA 2 I decided it was time to move on.  A quick stop at Bullfrog suntan lotion station YeeeeeOOWZER!! the alcohol in the suntan lotion stings.....and I was off.

Exiting from TA 2 and the High School I chuckled to myself.Race volunteers were directing a racer in the opposite direction that I was starting to go.  Why??  Because this racer was running towards the finish line.  It was about 9 hours into the race, he was finishing and I was setting out on the marathon. I called to the volunteers that he was heading the wrong way.  After a moment of shock, they got it , collectively shook their heads and laughed along with me.  Wished me well and I began to head out on the Boulder Creek Path.  I knew I would see Jessica in just over a mile and I began my slow and steady shuffle eastward.  There she was as expected waiting with a huge smile and hugs and kisses. We chatted for a bit and off again I went.  Almost immediately after wards, I ran into Harvey for a high five and over the bridge I went.  Base Salts had a great set up around mile 2.5 with music blasting.  These guys and gals were out there all day dancing and high fiving and cheering people on.

They also had tons of signs that people made at the expo posted along the route.  Again kudos for a great support of the athletes and Boulder IM.  It was during the run (walk) that you really got to see a ton of the local community out there cheering and supporting the racers.  The BTC was well represented for sure. Deiter, Cisco and about a billion other BTCers were high fiving and volunteering.  Cheering us on every step of the way.  I altered an easy jog for a walk depending on the terrain.  Flats and down hills I attempted to jog, up hills I fast paced walked.  I saw Coach EK pretty early on during the run.  He was out there peddling around trying to keep track of his athletes.  It was here that I found out that fellow Teammate Kenny had withdrawn from the race, Ed was hurt but still moving, Conrad had cramped up pretty badly and was struggling on the run but continued to move and Liz was crushing it.

He had to ride ahead because he wanted to catch Liz at the finish line.  Sure enough moments later there she was.  I gave a quick shout out and wished her well as she was on her way.  I made a quick hope for her that she would cross the tape in time to make it to Kona.  I appreciated the updates on the gang and kept just kept my onward journey.  Out to the "flux capacitor" the heat had really started taking effect on racers.  The morning started off pretty cool and ideal but then somewhere midway through the bike the sun came out.  I think a lot of people paid for the early morning coolness and perhaps did not hydrate as much as they should have.  Little by little racers continued to drop as evidence by their bodies along the course.

It was great to see Dave out on the course.  A year earlier I had passed him during the run as he was having stomach issues.  He looked much better this year.  I was happy for him.  I ran into Jeff who just a week earlier had completed IM Vineman.  People say I'm nuts for doing two or three in a year.  Jeff is on his way to complete 2 in two weeks.  Oddly enough I ran into two other racers who were completing the same feet.  Pretty cool.

I saw fellow 303er Bill out there.  He also had hopes for a Kona birth but like many others with those inspirations, today would not be the day.  Ben was moving along.  I had seen Ben a couple of times on the bike during my stop and start ride.  He took the lead on the bike and never relinquished it.  I ran into Natalia who just months earlier was learning to ride a TT bike and now was on her way to completing her first IM.  Great to see Pam completing her "last" and 10th IM out there too!

Just after I crossed that initial bridge in the beginning of the run course I saw Susan and Ken.  They were waiting for my arrival.  Two absolute great people that I had the privilege of training and running IM Boulder '14 with.  They "walked" with me for a good number of miles.  We laughed, shared stories and kept moving.  

I later learned that Susan was concerned for the way I looked.  Although I felt pretty good on the inside, I guess the 12+ hours of racing at this point in the day had its effect on how I looked from the outside.  Again my longest training session before today was about 3.5 hours.  Now my body was moving/exercising/training for half a day.  I didn't realize how I looked until the photos afterward and totally got how Susan felt as my face and body did look drawn and tired.

Jessica joined along in the parade at about mile 10 or so and the 4 of us walked and talked as we made our way through the course.  At some point Susan and Ken dropped off and I caught them both again later.  Jessica stayed with me for a good while, then ran out for dinner and came back for more support.  She's the best!!!  For sure!  I am lucky and blessed to have her in my life.

I am sure I ran into 500 more people who at this point in time a month and half later I don't recall who and where I saw them.  What I can say is that it was a great feeling to see and be with so many wonderful people in the community.  One of my concerns about the run (Walk) section of the course was that people would see me walk and be like "Get Moving Marty"  "Pick up the Pace"  It may seem odd but people said that to me last year when I was doing  IM Boulder '15 injured.  It annoyed me and I really didn't feel like hearing it this year knowing what I went through with my back and spine to even get to the starting line of this race.  Not a peep.  I didn't hear one comment like that all day.  I only felt the love and support from the community. It was a wonderful thing.

My hug and kiss count was way high.  I had to have hit 1 million easily by now.  Jen contributed to that total, I am not even sure how many times.  I saw that woman everywhere on the course.  One time, she and Susan went by on a golf cart, delivering pizza to volunteers and another time driving by picking up trash along the course.  Always a hug and kiss from my gals and dear friends.  Now lest you think it was all rainbows and Unicorns for me out there, that is far from the truth.  I had in my head that 12am, midnight was the races end. Problem was that 17 hours would actually be between 11pm and 12am.  So not having my Iron Buddy Hal by my side to do the math and give me updates, I was trying to figure it out in my head.  Jess and Susan were trying to find out the rules and regulations I was trying to count back to when my actual start time was so that we could figure out how much time I actually had left on the course.  When did I exactly start?  It was a rolling start so what time did I enter the water?  What was 17 hours from that point?  When did the last person in the water?  So if I entered into the water 15 minutes before the last person, the finish line would be open 15 minutes longer then when I should cross the line.  It was truly confusing for my head to figure out at this point.  I had thought I had 17 minute miles for the 26.2 to do for the  marathon when I started.  I was keeping about a 15 min per mile pace but had slowed down to 17 min for the last few good number of miles.

Now with the understanding that the race would not be open till midnight but actually closer to 11:20 for me, I began to panic.  I now felt I needed to make up 40 minutes with less than 10 miles to go.  I wasn't sure how I was going to do that and was kicking myself in the ass for the 16 min TA1 and the 22 min TA2, for the 5 times I stopped during the bike and rested for close to 45 minutes.  If you added those "rest times" up I could get back 1:15 easily.  Now I am concerned that I wont cross the finish line in time for being merely 2 or 5 minutes behind.  What a shame that would be.  I put my head down and tried to muster up the energy with the caution of my spine/back to run.  I spent a considerable amount of time and energy worrying over this fact.  How could I have been so careless as not to manage my time properly?  This whole entire race had been about managing my injured back/spine and managing my comfort.

I followed my game plan exactly as I had promised EK I would and now at the final few hours and miles I find myself in jeopardy of not finishing in time.  I was not happy with myself.  Each step was now about making up time.  I noticed somewhere around mile 18 that it was getting dark.   I had another 8 miles to go in the dark with my glow stick that the race volunteers handed me.  I hadn't experienced that happening to me at my two previous IM Boulders till close to mile 24.  Oh well, so be it.  Before you knew it I hit that point where a mere 7 hours earlier I had played with a few volunteers and a racer for going the wrong way as he was making his way to the finish line and I was just starting out on the run.  This time that area was pretty desolate. Except for Jess and Jen.

There they were waiting for me.  I got to spend a little time with them as I approached the final turn.  Jess took off to get into location to see me cross the finish line and I hugged and kissed Jen one last time.  I turned the corner and took flight.  Flying to the finish, my traditional finisher chute approach.  There he was waving his towel and calling me in.  The Voice of Ironman Mike Reilly.  "Look at him having fun" he stated about me.  I was.   I was having a blast and the weight of the last 14 months of injury and a failed IM Cabo attempt was lifted off of my shoulders.

I made my way to Mike as I wanted to thank him.  We shook hands as he called to the crowd to proclaim...MARTY...YOU ARE AN IRONMAN.  What a treat.  I've heard those words now 3 times in English, once in Spanish and once in Portuguese for a total of 5 Ironman Finishes but that was the most enjoyable rendition.  I thanked Mike again and made my way the last hundred yards to the final finish line.

What am I going to do??  What's my finishers pose or what am I going to do to cross the line?  The first 3 IM finished I did a heel click.  Last year, injured at Boulder, I simply crossed the line as there was no celebration of that magnitude for me.

But I have to honor this race with something......Hmmm Jaclyn has requested I twerked in the past.  Nah, I'll probably throw my back out trying that.  What to do ? what to do?  The finish line was approaching very quickly and I had no more time to think.

Oh boy here we go.  Can I get my body up for another heel click? was ugly but I did it.

I crossed the line and was immediately met by an eager volunteer.  I assured her I was fine an appreciated her help but she put my arm around  her and she wasn't going to allow me to walk un aided.  We came up to the next volunteer and I realized that she was collecting the ankle timing chips.  I bent down to take it off and they both were like "NO"  we got it.  This was too funny.  I felt fine.  I wondered how I looked.  This was a wee bit too much for me.

I looked around as in the past this is where I saw my Mom & Dad, my Aunt Maria, Cousins Paulette, Loren & Karen, teammates Ana, Jessica, Coach Eric & Lindsey Dear friends Nick, Pui Fong, Chris & Erin.....but that was not to be this year. There was no family and friends or fanfare at the finish line.  Just a couple of over zealous volunteers doing an excellent job with a guy who did  really did not want much to do with them.  And then I  saw Jessica on the other side of the barrier and her smile and the world was good again.  I snuck away from the volunteers as they "chased" after me and went to my girl for the best moment of my day.  We did it.

After a few kisses and photos, I went back to my personal body guard as she escorted me through the maze of finisher photos, finisher T shirt pick up and finishers pizza slices.  She pointed out to me where the medical tent was and finally delivered me to the family and friends reunion zone where she officially turned me over to Jessica.

I thanked her for her service and Jess and I just went an sat by the amphitheatre.  What's next?  I had half expected to see a bunch of people I knew and head out for our post race Bloody Mary as we did last year.  I did see some 303 teammates in the distance covering the finish line but didn't want to really disturb them.  I grabbed Jessica's hand and we went to the finishers shoot to cheer on the final racers.

We waited till the last one officially came in and decided to grab Bella and the rest of my equipment and head home.  We each had to drive and sucking down a finishers Bloody Mary at this point in time wasn't going to happen.  Till the next day.....where we went to the best place to gather a Finishers Bloody Mary .......... Murphys Tap House.

Now that I have had a month or so to forget more than I remember about the details of the race, I thank you all for joining me along in my journeys. I am very proud of finishing 5 Ironman races in 32 months of racing.  It would have been nice for it to be number 6 and not be injured but oh well, that's life.  This race was very different for me than the others.  I barely told anyone I was even racing.  The cat was let out of the bag when I went to register.  I felt going into the race that I was alone with Jessica doing this race.  Literally and figuratively.  But Boulder stepped up and supported and cheered and hugged and kissed me all the way to the finish line.  Never leaving Jessica and I alone.

I will be forever grateful for the memories of IM Boulder 2016.   I guess each IM has its own story line.  Making each one truly unique.  It goes along with why my Blog is called Chapters and this was just another great one in my life.

Upcoming Chapters......

15Days....8Hours...8Minutes...32Seconds to Kona and my own World our Wedding Day.

37Days...1Hour...58Minutes...12Seconds to IM Los Cabos  



Monday, September 19, 2016

IM Boulder Race Recap 2016... 3.0 The Bike, The Back...The Beautiful Bella

I really liked the bike course design.  I thought is was laid out really well and hoped that I would be able to make it through.  I was particularly worried about the, I'll say, 5 hills that were out on the course.  My back truly feels the extra strain when climbing.  I wasn't sure if I'd get through the 1st hill let alone being quite concerned for hill #5, going up Nelson Road for the 2nd time. I was pretty confident in my strategy to manage the course but it all means nothing if those Demons catch up and my back begins to seize up again.  The bike section for me was going to be the real test if I could finish or not.  I was happy with my calorie and hydration intake during TA1 and planned on drinking every 15 minutes on the bike with extra endurolytes every 30 minutes on the 15+45 along with more calories every 30 minutes on the 30+00.  Exciting stuff right??  A similar game plan has worked very well for me in my past races.  I tweaked my calories and electrolytes for this race increasing them ever so slightly.  Any extra water in my bottles when I get to a fuel zone gets dumped on me to keep me cool and my bottles get refreshed with new fcool iced down water.  Again, this was all part of my comfort plan.  I did not want to have a deficit in the slightest bit with my nutrition.  I couldn't afford a mistake in this category.    At each Aid station, I would refresh myself by pouring water over my head and gathering up 2 more bottles of iced water to carry around as a pack mule to drink and cool myself off a little later.

I appreciated how the course set itself up after getting into the saddle at TA 1.  You had close to 7 miles of warming up on the newly paved Diagonal Highway before making a right onto Highway 52 in preparation for the first hill of the course.
About 2 miles into the hill, I noticed a gal walking her bike.  As I approached, I asked if she was ok and if there was anything I could do to assist.  "Nah, just gotta walk my bike up this hill.  Once I get to the top, I'll be fine" was her retort.  You'll be fine??? I thought.  Fat chance in hell.  If your walking your bike up Hill #1 what's gonna happen at mile 80 when you're making yourself up Nelson Rd for the 2nd time?? I figured this gal A) is under prepared for this race and B) is going to have a very, very long day.  I wished her well and kept on peddling by.  In the aftermath, I wished I would have caught her bib number.  I would have loved to see how she finished her day.  I thought I handled the hills on Hwy 52 and then again on Lookout Rd at miles 10 & 15 very well.  Once I felt a bit of an incline, I would get out of the areo position and ride straight up and down to relieve some of the pressure from my lower back.  Most of my rides leading up to IM Boulder had been straight up and down and just recently, I started to put myself in the more aero but also more back/spine stressing position.  In the past I would have ridden these hills in the aero.  But my race management mindset had me be as comfortable as I could and I took it nice and easy on these inclines.  
Pack mule with 4 bottles of water
Soon there after, I thought about stopping as I started to get that feeling that perhaps I needed to let out some of the fluids that I have been ingesting. I opted not to, thinking I could hit the next one in about 15 miles or so.  TMI????  Nah.  A left turn put us on 57th St and hill #3.  This is the shortest hill on the course but perhaps the steepest grade.  I pulled my psoas muscles on this hill during IM Boulder 1.0 at mile 100 or so.  Ever since then I have had this slight fear of this little hill though I've ridden in a gazillion times over.  But today is different, I am back in an IM, injured and trying to manage my way through the course.  For all my worrying, the incline by the airport, was in my rear mirror and I was about to start the 2 lap loop section of the course.
IM Boulder 2015~ Family & Friends at Jay & 36
I turned right onto 36th at Jay Rd and I had my first Boulder IM flashback.  This is where I saw my family each loop of last years course and I was hoping that I might see Jessica's face here this year.  I made the turn.  No Jessica, no smiles, no hugs or kisses.  I was a little sad but I kept on riding.  I wonder where and when I will see her on the course.  Oh well, I put my head down and kept peddling about 5 minutes later I looked up and what did I see???  On a relatively abandoned section of the course at approx mile 23, there she was, all smiles and standing next to two other people that I had no clue who they were.  The three of them were cheering and shouting at me.  I pulled over for some kisses and hugs.  I learned that the elder couple was from Oklahoma and usually scout out the race course the week prior but didn't have the opportunity to this time around.  They just got into town and pulled over on the side of the road as they didn't want to miss their racer ride by.  Jessica saw them and joined along.   So there they were.  We all chatted for a few minutes I said my goodbyes, grabbed another set of kisses and hugs from Jessica and Bella and I were off with smiles on our faces.  
Jessica & I at mile 23ish
Passing my old stomping grounds in the Holiday section of N Boulder, I noticed the car traffic starting to back up.  I thought traffic must be building up for people heading up to Rocky Mtn National Park and Estes.  Another moment later, I understood why.  There on the ground was a fellow athlete (Michelle Walters).  Two or three cars were pulled off the road and an athlete or two were also standing over her body.  I saw the pool of blood and immediately thought it was her head.  I've taken a knock to my noggin before and new how vascular it was.  My next thought was to stop.  There was already 5 or so people around her and I wasn't sure exactly what I would/could do.  I was sick and saddened to my core.  Not knowing what to do I felt like quiting. Getting off my bike and call it a day.   Emergency personnel must surely be on their way.  I wondered how she got hit and I thought that she was behind me.  I recognized her kit and knew that we passed each other a few times but last I knew, I was in front of her.  I then thought of my stop with Jessica just moments before and realized she must have passed me at that point.  What if I didn't stop?  Would that have been me?  Would I have witnessed what had taken place live?  I said a prayer and asked for God to look over her, her family as well as anyone else that witnessed the actual occurrence.  Bella and I solemnly peddled off.
Heading down Neva Rd
We zipped down Neva and turned onto 63rd.  Another aide station was coming up.  I have to say that this may have been the best functioning aide station that I have ever seen.  I remember peddling up to it thinking it was being hosted by the Marines.  Then I realized it was younger boys and a few families and fathers or troop leaders.  I wish I could recall the name of the group, ROTC, or Scout Troop but they were kind, encouraging, efficient and kept the area free of debris and bottles from the ground.  I still hadn't taken care of business but needed to since I hopped on the saddle.  I've never stopped at an aide station while on the bike to relieve myself.  I've heard stories of people going while peddling but I couldn't bring myself to do that.  I figured this was a different kind of race for myself and stopping at around mile 33 or so might be a good thing to keep my back/spine loose.  To alter my bodies position and get off of Bella for a few minutes.  Waiting on line, I saw many of the people I had passed , now passing me.  I got anxious for a Milli second.  Let it go, I thought.  Let them ride and you manage and ride your race.  So I did.  I released them and went back to chatting with a few of the gracious volunteers.
Hanging Loose

The hill up Nelson Road was next and one I was a little nervous about just because it went on for a few miles at varying degrees of inclines.  I went back to my game plan of getting out of areo to relieve some of the lower back pressure and took Nelson predominately upright with a few times getting out of the saddle and standing up just to mix it up a bit.  That wasn't all that bad I thought to myself.  I managed it much better than I had anticipated.  Passing aide station #3 and mile marker #40 brought me back onto Hwy 36.  The next section is a great ride.  Almost 10 miles of  decline or "flat" road.  A chance to air it out, recuperate, hydrate, take in nutrition.  Just a real nice fast section of the course down to Route 66, east to 75th St and through Hygiene.  More kudos to DC and his race crew as the train tracks through Hygiene were covered with mats.  The last two years this area was a yard sale with water bottles, nutrition and anything else not tied down to your bike all over the road from that "bump" going over the tracks.  This year it was nice and smooth and nothing on the floor.  As I passed aide station #4, I thought to myself, I think that was the 303 Sno Cone tent.  Dang, I wanted to stop but I wasn't going to turn around at that point.  For some reason, heading south on 65th (Approx mile 53) is maybe my favorite part of the course.  The foothills and Flat Irons are to your south and west and the road is just a nice rolling country side road.  Esthetically a great part of the course for me.
Hmmmmm....what a lovely day for a ride.
On the slight hill of 75th and Plateau Rd, I was passed by a fellow EK Endurance Athlete.  I realized I was being lapped on this 2 lap course.  I immediately thought it was Kenny but in the aftermath of the race, I don't think I saw a Fu Man Chu Beard and believe it may have been Conrad.  Perhaps Ed??  This is pretty funny because they all have very distinct looks and body types. It is still kinda silly that I don't know who it was to this day.  (Hey guys....if you read this and remember passing me, let me know!)  I cheered to whoever it was on as they past me.  
Winston "A celebrity along the course."
I gave another shout out this time to Winston and soon I was pulling into the bike special needs  area.  Here I knew I was going to see many fellow  BTCers.  I saw Patricia and continued to add to my daily hug and kiss total.  Of the 6 IM's that I have done only on my first have I ever stopped at the bike transition.  Today is a different plan and it was part of my race management.  I had stuck a sugar free Red Bull in the freezer last night and thought it might be a cool refreshing drink and break at this point in the race.  Stealing a page from Coach EK, as I believe he always does a Red Bull in his special needs bag.  It was a far cry from cool and refreshing as it was a HOT Red Bull at this point.  Note to self......don't do this again.  I  had gotten off of my bike and just sat along the fence and chatted a bit with AiT Director Dennis.  I started to laugh at myself at this point.  Here I am in a "Race" and I am sitting down chatting with people and truly enjoying the company and companionship of our Boulder Triathlon Community.  I typically enjoy myself in a race but this was definitely different.  As I sat there, I watched all the people I passed on the bike, pass me once again.  I let it go and laughed to myself again.  I got up, shook some hands, gave my deepest gratitude to the volunteers and away Bella and I were again.
Silly face at the cameraman time
Down the Diagonal, west on Jay I was now on the second loop of the course.  I said hello, high fived people, yelled for more cowbell and had a blast with the spectators.  Always mindful of thanking the volunteers, police offices and fans for being out there.  Mile 66  or so was where a few hours ago, I saw a young woman lying in a pool of blood along the side of the road during lap #1.  She was gone, but a few Accident Investigation cars were still there.  I saw her mangled bike off to the side.  I sensed she was no longer with us and said another prayer.
Hwy 36
Whipping down Neva and Niwot a left turn and I was back at the aide station of the day the ROTC/Boy Scout/Marine Aide station.  Offering my thanks and gratitude.  No bathroom break for me at this time.  Hello Nelson Road for a 2nd time.  Fingers crossed, riding in the upright position, back don't fail me didn't.  Then back to the fastest section of the course.  Through Hygiene and turning onto  St. Vrain.  If this is where the 303 Sno Cone tent is, I am going to make sure I stop and chill with my peeps.  Mile 93 it is them!  Hugs around and I chat with Nicole and Khem for a bit.  As I sat under the 303 Snow cone tent relaxing and stretching out my back/spine at mile 93 of the bike section of Boulder Ironman, I thought to myself, I am living proof that you do not have to be physically in shape to complete a Full Ironman.  I've said it before, that anyone that sets their mind to it, can finish an Ironman.  Today, I thought, I am that experiment come true.............Piece by piece, I have thus far taken this course apart and managed it and my back/spine to work with one another to be as comfortable as I possibly could.  I had gotten word that while I was sitting there Jessica was at mile 95 waiting for me. Hugs and kisses around to the 303 staff and off I went.  My girl is just a few miles away and it's been over 70 miles since I last saw her.  
It's time for some KISSES!!!!
I sped down the road and there she was at Nelson & 65th.  I spent a few good minutes with my gal.  I was feeling great.  We made a plan to see each other on the run course and away Bella and I peddled.  Mile 95 or so, the IPA guys were great in cheering folks up the little hill.  High Fives with my buddy John.  Another shout out to Winston and I was at the special needs area.  I didn't feel like stopping at this point.  I have a great rest at the 303 tent and then again with Jessica just a few miles ago.  I noticed that my power output was much higher than it normally is during an Ironman race and could only attribute it to the amount of rest I was getting.  My time all in all was a little slower but my wattage was greater.  Through the special needs station, whoops  I suddenly make a u-turn.  Susan, Kerry and the crew were like, What the???????  I realized I had passed Patricia up with no hug or kiss.  I get off my bike and run back to her for one more along the bike course.
"You da man" pose
Heading down the Diagonal I have a nice conversation in Spanish with a racer from Mexico that I had continued to leap frog with during all my stops and starts.  Jay Road to Folsom.  Heading into town and the High School.  Tons of cheers and spectators and cowbells.  One can never have enough cowbells.  I remind them of that and they roar.  Bella and I did it.  We avoided the Demons for 112 miles.  We had a great managed ride.  We enjoyed every moment, every peddle.  After 10 months of having that failure in Los Cabos and having to dismount and quit after 5 hours in the saddle with almost as many hours struggling with back/spine pain, we just spent 7:19:19 together in harmony.  No pain to really speak of.  Some stiffness/tightness but I will easily take it over how I felt getting off the bike last year at IM Boulder '15 having raced injured and then having to quit in Mexico because of that injury.  Not this time.  Not in IM Boulder 3.0.  No Demons, just love and support and smiles.
Gun show...."I'm da man" pose

Thursday, September 15, 2016

IM Boulder Race Recap Version 3.0 The Beginning

I walk under the arches and start my way down the boat ramp.  Once last check on my Garmin, goggles down, deep breath.... Back/spine don't fail me now......I say Nokk three times to keep the Demons at bay and I walk into the water.  The Drive for Five has begun.

A much different start than IM Cabo, where my back was killing me before I even began the swim. I picked my favorite inside line on the cones and began swimming.  Boulder 2016 is underway for me.  My 3rd Boulder IM in the 3 years of the races existence.  The Drive for Five Ironman finishes attempt #2 since the dismal day in Mexico a few 10 months ago.  A long journey to get here over those 10 months.  More a mental battle than anything else really.  I mean, there is the physical component to being injured and unable to perform and to do.  There is the aspect of gaining close to 20 pounds since the injury occurred and your mind watching the weight go one and your body morph into something you've never seen before.  Having the patience to allow the healing to take it's course.  The daily watching of your teammates and others around you excel while you're trying to just find happiness out of riding pain free on your bike for an hour or to train two days in a row.  The roller coaster of emotion being able to have a great ride for 3 hours on a Saturday afternoon only to not be able to swim for 30 minutes pain free a few days later and then sit out of the pool for the following 10 weeks.  I never truly got deeply depressed.  I was unhappy.  Many times.

But I am blessed in soo many ways in my life and am humbled daily by all that goes on around me.  How dare I complain or sink so low when I have it so good.  So what if my back and spine hurts.  I am fortunate that they work, aren't I?  Boo Hoo poor me, I can't ride my bike for 2 hours or more than 2 days in a row without pain.  I can barely "run"  for more than 30 minutes without having to stop and walk.  I am fortunate that I can walk or am even able to get on a bike and peddle it right??  So yeah it did take a little to overcome some obstacles with my injury to get me to the starting line but here I am for my 6th time trying to finish #5.  Doing what I love, in my home town, surrounded by thousands of people just like me.  Many who have overcome insurmountable obstacles to get here.  So for me, I just have this nagging back issue and a great game plan to manage my spine so that I can take on this Ironman for as long as I can......and I swim.

I , once again wonder why I didn't take notice as to how many buoys are out there before the turn and how many back to shore.  I'm not sure how many times I've said that to myself in a race.  So if you are reading these time you are aware that I am racing, remind me to count the buoys before I get into the water.  Oh well.  I look for another swimmer that is going my pace or a touch faster so I could tag along for the ride.  No such luck.  I do notice someone swimming completely sideways as they just swam over my body. I keep swimming but take a peak to make sure I am on course.  I am.  I wonder if that is what I am like when I typically swim about 2.7 miles in an Ironman race.  This fine gentleman literally crossed my path at least 4 more times before I exited the reservoir.  I few times while swimming I tried to stretch out my back while not collecting too much drag to slow me down to a crawl.  I was worried about my stamina and how would I do.  I had only swam over 2 miles once in the last 10 months.  A few weeks back I did a BAM  Bare Bones 2 mile swim and did it in my usual 2.25 mile fashion.  I felt ok with that swim but not sure if I would have felt ok with following that up with an 112 mile bike and then a marathon after wards.  I made sure prior to the race that I was well nourished.  I believed that my nutrition would play the biggest role it ever had during an ironman race for me.  I could not get that wrong.  I could not suffer any set backs if I was to keep those demons away.  I needed my nutrition to lift me up and not be a detractor for me.  I hydrated more than I normally do prior to the race.  I figured if I took in too much, I could just leave a trail behind me in the water.   I knew when I came out of the water, I did not want to be dehydrated and try to play catch up on the bike.  All in all, I felt like I had a decent rhythm.  I did not feel fast but I felt consistent and that was important to me.  I felt a slight tightness in my back but no real pain.  I felt like I was spotting pretty well, especially for me and I felt my buddy swim over my legs one more time.
What 20 extra pounds looks like stuffed into a wet suit.

As I made my way towards shore, I went through my mental check list.  Do I go on or do I call it a day?  Do I head back home to Arvada for breakfast and a nice Sunday afternoon with Jessica and celebrate my swim with a tall Captain & Ginger?  Do I sit in the saddle and take Bella out for a spin?  Let me get to my feet and see how I feel with all the weight on my spine and we'll go from there.  I got out of the water and a volunteer immediately unzipped my wetsuit.  I thought that was awesome as that had never been done to me before.  I made sure I stopped the swim on my Garmin and set it to Transition 1.  I looked up and saw the crowds and heard the cowbells and I was happy.  Fist pumping for more cowbell.  
More Cowbell!!!!

Two strippers immediately removed my wet suit and off for my gear bag I went.  I packed differently than I had ever done in an ironman race.  I didn't pack for speed in the TA but for comfort in the race.  This was part of my race management/strategy.  To feel as good as I could, as long as I could.  I wasn't worried about seconds but about how many miles I could last.  I didn't have a full tri kit on under my wetsuit as I normally do but just a swim suit.  This way I could put warm dry clothes on after wards.  I gathered my bag and stayed outside the changing tent.  I went under a tree and sat down.  I hydrated and ingested liquid calories.  After a few minutes of just being, I then went into child's pose to stretch out my back, then into pigeon pose for each hip.  I sat and gathered myself.  I took out a towel and dried myself down.  I put on my 303 Cycling shirt instead of a tri top to increase skin coverage to prevent possible sun burn and to allow me to store more food & drink in my shirt pockets.  I put on all my gear and then went into the craziness of the changing tent to change out of my swim trunk and into a pair of cycling shorts.  Again, deviating from my normal tri shorts, cycling shorts have a thicker pad in the crotch.  Staying with the theme of going for comfort in this race and in the saddle I wanted my crotch to be as comfortable as long as it could be.  The most I had ridden in the last 10 months was 3hrs and 23 minutes.  A great day around Carter Lake a few weeks prior.  I knew if my back held out, I would be with Bella for double that time today and most than likely a fair bit more.

I left the changing tent and made my way to a line of volunteers smearing Bull Frog sunscreen on to those athletes that desired.  More hugs and kisses as Susan was one of those volunteers.  It was great to see her there and brought a huge smile to my face and heart.  I kept my shoes off as I had a fairly decent distance to go to get to where Bella was.  Right by the bike exit.  I hobbled my way across the bike staging area and ran into Dana.  Yep, more hugs and kisses.  I have to think she must have thought I was delirious as I could not find Bella.  It was odd because I went right to were she was but I couldn't see her. I think she was playing with me and hiding.  I told Dana my number and should promptly pointed Bella out to me, about 2 feet away from where I was standing.  We took some pictures.  She was shooting a video and I was about to hop on my bike and then realized it would probably be best if I put my shoes on first.  Seriously, I felt like a newbie.  Dana held my bike while I put on my shoes.  Another hug and kiss goodbye and away I went.  All in all I spent a little over 16 minutes in T1.  16:36 to be exact.  It prompted my buddy Ken to ask me later if I fell asleep in T1.  So far so good.  No sight of the Demons.  Back is stiff but no pain.  I'm working my way towards 1 millions kisses and hugs on the day.  I now have a date with my Bella.