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  



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