By Bill Plock
Do you have the Ironman “blues”? Do they happen or even exist? I’ve decided the blues are a result of losing a very predictable slice of life in the form of calculated training replaced by general life with full unpredictability. Now we are left with a void of something known transformed into the unknown and the anxiousness that happens. Is it that??
Each race, each event teaches us something. For me, Ironman Boulder came with a few surprises and one dark moment that almost resulted in a DNF next to my name. An unusually relaxed and well navigated swim led to a good start on the ride. But then the wheels fell off.
About 65 miles in, I just wanted to lay down and sleep. I kept looking at each shady spot on the side of the road like it was the most amazing bed to ever greet my eyes. I became obsessed. I slowly crawled into a dark space of quit and craving sleep. Just quit. Go away. Be quiet. Rest for another day. The bike is where I usually do my best. My legs wouldn’t push, my heart began to slow. My speed dropped.
Then my guardian angel, and as it turns out, a baby was born to her only 7 days after, saved my race.
303’s long time ambassador and Kona qualifier Kirsten Smith, obviously quite pregnant, stood on 65th just north of Nelson road. She greeted me with a cheer and uncharacteristically I stopped to say hi. Just an excuse to stop, I was looking for any excuse. She crossed the road and grabbed my shoulders felt my gritty hot skin caked in salt but with no moisture at all and told me to get going—emphatically! I think she wanted to slap me noticing I had a bottle and a half of water on my bike that could’ve been used to douse my body. The next aid station wasn’t that far so why have so much water? She urged me to continue and use that water. She shook me from delirium and onwards I went. I clipped in and continued, head pounding and feeling frustrated but so thankful for Kirsten’s intervention.
This is where the dry air deceives you. I was hydrated, but with humidity of less than 10% and 96 degree heat with a hot wind blowing in our faces, our sweat immediately evaporated starving our bodies of any way to cool naturally. I decided to stop in the shade and took all that water and drenched myself. Then I started to ride. I started to cool and feel more normal. The next aid station, an oasis only a couple of miles ahead greeted me. I loaded up, drenched myself more and continued on regaining my normal pace. I had done it, I crawled out of the hole and knew, even if I had to walk, my day would finish hearing Mike Reilly proclaiming my name as an Ironman.
I’m confident I now have more confidence when adversity strikes. Now I have Haute Route in three days with its daunting week long, 523 miles and 52,000 feet of ascension staring me in the face. The ride starts in Boulder, heads to Winter Park, then to Avon, off to Breckenridge with a final stage riding up Pikes Peak.
Seven days of early starts, possible cold rain, steep roads, and who knows what else will greet us. I’m hoping my “dig out” from Ironman’s pain cave will push me through any difficulties and hopefully I won’t need a guardian angel, but if so, I hope there is one somewhere. Kirsten is a little busy being a first time mom, with all kinds of unpredictability!
We at 303 send her our best wishes of course and I’ll sprinkle those with an amazing amount of gratitude I’ll never forget!
Onwards….and upwards! Stay tuned for daily coverage of the Haute route and a course preview in the next couple of days