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.............
My last entry in here, I talked about why not?? and How The Day May Go..... maybe I'll be able to finish the swim and set out on my bike. Maybe after the swim my spine will be aching and I'll have to call it the day. Who knows?? I truly didn't have a clue. The only thing I was 100% certain of was that those Demons would get me.
They would hunt me down, tap dance on my head and mock me for attempting to do Boulder IM without any consistent training. No runs longer than 45 minutes, no bike rides longer then one 3+ hour ride up and around Carter Lake and having a span of no pool for over 10 weeks. Most likely they would get me by noon for sure. I would be home with my family and being thankful for another day out there. Another day of a healing my back and spine. Another enjoyable training day of 14 miles or 140 miles. The big money was on the 14 miles.
The funny thing.....those bastards were no where in site on race day. I didn't realize it until just this second as I type these words. As I waited for the cannon to go they weren't there. Not like Cabo, when I felt them in my back while standing on the beach. This was the first Iron distance race that I've entered that the Demons didn't catch up to me at some point. Did they have the wrong address? Where they still at IM Lake Placid from the week before?? No, they were out there in full force. I watched and observed them as athlete by athlete call it a day and grimace in pain. But they stayed clear of me.....Perhaps they took pity on me for enduring a year plus of back, spine, glute, hip and hamstring pain. So f*cking bizarre.
The months leading up to Boulder IM were filled with travel. It was none stop Engagement parties, bachelor parties, graduations, wedding showers, weddings, business trips. Take each of those events and pretty much multiply it by two, as Jessica and I are blessed to have family in New York and Louisiana equally eager to be a part of our special event. So, it was double the fun. What wasn't fun was the lack of training because if the increased back troubles, the lack of perceived results or getting better, the doubt that started to creep in my head of forgoing prolotherapy for the non invasive all natural slower healing process and gaining about 20 pounds during the span of this injury. Although I wrote those words in my last blog entry that I was going to participate in Boulder IM and just see how the day goes and I truly meant every one, I doubted that decision every day, 50 times over each and every day. I went back and forth a gazillion times on whether I should or shouldn't do IM Boulder 2016 even though deep down inside I wanted to try. I knew I was in trouble. The patience that Jessica showed to me and the number of times she heard my story over those last few weeks, would be unbearable to anyone else and she is a truly a saint to me. Mother Teresa was recently canonized but I think Jess deserves a strong runner up nomination. She supported me if I said I didn't think I could do it. She supported me if I said I wanted to go for it. I knew deep down she preferred that I didn't race but she wouldn't let on. She'd smile at me and tell me that she fully understands and supports my decision, no matter what it may be. Dang I think I ought to marry me this woman!!
With all the was set against me entering Boulder IM, I truly tried to do my best to juggle pain, healing, training, traveling, wedding planning, new home organizing and anything else that came my way. July1st was when I proclaimed to the world in my last blog entry that I was going to do Boulder IM. I was in the midst of very little training due to my back/spine.
As I look back on my Training Peaks calender I see a sea of Red. Red dates for all the workouts that I did not do. Prior to June 4th there was a few Green (good) or yellow (So So) training session sprinkled in but then June 4th came and The Colorado Sprint Tri was on my calendar. A sprint race that I almost quit midway through the bike because of the feeling I was having in my back. I felt that set me back months. I pretty much ceased training as I was instructed to allow pain be my guide as to how much I could or could not do. I did virtually nothing till July 10th when I tried my hand back in the water for a swim. The following week, I picked up the number of training opportunities as the month+ off seemed to allow the pain to leave enough to train again.
Saturday July 16th is a date that turned things around for me. I posted a BTC Saturday B ride and I went out for a ride with some great people. The following week I rode back and forth to work a few times and the next weekend I rode up and around Carter Lake with Boulder newbie Kerry. We had a great ride. I saw a ton of friends on this beautiful day out on the roads. It was great to be with Kerry as her newness and open eyes to our playground was refreshing and helped to remind me that I train and enter into Iron distance races for the pure joy and love of it all.
I was fortunate to lead a couple more weeks of BTC Saturday rides and with each week was reminded how much I love just getting out there and surrounding myself with great people. Kevin, Harvey, Kerry, Natalia, Ben, Eddie, Jennifer in particular went along for the rides. With each week and with each ride we'd discuss......"So, you gonna do Boulder IM?"
Coach Eric has been with me for my 2+ years of racing. The only tri coach I have known and trust explicitly, even though it may not always appear that way. (See thick headed comment above). He has coached me to cross 4 IM finish lines in 22 months with a DNF in attempt #5 because of my back seizing up at IM Cabo forcing me out of the race. He has watched my very slow progress in healing to try to get to another Ironman starting line. He knows of my of lack of training and how out of shape I am as compared to where you "should be". He taught me about the demons that are always out there looming. Would attempting to do IM Boulder set me back with all the work and most recently the progress I was finally starting to show? Why risk it and have to sit out for another year?? As a coach, does he view me as making a mockery of Ironman training? Does he see me as being reckless or wonder if I even care or do I just care about my ego? I don't know but I knew I needed his blessing and we needed to chat. It's the Thursday before the Ironman and I call EK on my drive home from work. Almost an hour goes by and we run through it all. My thoughts, his thoughts. The potential consequences of participating. The cost/benefits of starting this race. The typical ego of a racer. My thoughts on a race game plan/strategy. It wasn't a good conversation. To this athlete, it was a great one between himself and his coach. At the end of the conversation, I heard the words I have been craving to hear from Coach EK for weeks since I first brought up the idea of "I'm gonna go for it" like a young child seeking approval from his parents......."After an hour of talking, you've finally convinced me and I support the idea of you entering. IF and only IF you can execute the game plan we've just discussed". My reply....."Come on man, I had you at Hello."
A huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and I'm excited to share with Jess the news that I'm racing. I know she's heard it a billion times before but this would be the last.
T-minus 3 days to Boulder IM....but who's counting. #warriormode #letsdothis