Ironman Blues and Emerging from a Dark Place to Tackle Haute Route

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

Kona Recap by 303’s 719 Rep Nicole

(Originally published on

I feel extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to travel with 303Triathlon to the 2016 IRONMAN World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i. While it was a “working trip,” that work was about reporting on the event experience. In order to do that, I had to participate in as much as I could!

There was a lot packed into my week there, so I’ll share the highlights, observations, and some general thoughts on the experience.

  • I treasured the opportunity to swim in Kailua Bay. This is the starting point of an event that tests even the best of athletes. In addition to it being a beautiful swim, to know that the legends of the past, present, and future swim here is inspiring.
Athletes doing a practice swim at the starting point of IRONMAN World Championships in Kona,.
Where it all starts. Dig Me Beach in Kailua-Kona.


  • The athletes that get here put in a tremendous amount of work to do so. The commitment to do what it takes to be in the IRONMAN World Championships can be applied to any aspect of your life.
Athletes in transition making final preps before the race start of the 2016 IRONMAN World Championship
Athletes in transition making final preps before the race start
  • It is truly an international event, and great to see where everyone is from in the Parade of Nations. 64 countries were represented this year, including a female from Iran. Walking around the streets of Kona you hear many different languages.
German athletes in the Parade of Nations at the 2016 IRONMAN World Championships.
The Germans may have been the most enthusiastic bunch!
Two athletes from Iran, in the Parade of Nations at the 2016 IRONMAN World Championships, including the first ever female.
Two Iranian athletes in the Parade of Nations
  • There is a lot of tradition in this event. It’s an opportunity to learn about Hawaiian culture in addition to racing. And eat some new foods. The way tradition and ritual is built into the event makes it more than just another championship race.

    • There are educational opportunities in addition to social activities. (It’s possible to do too much, but if you choose events and rest times carefully, you can make it work!)

Dana, Coach Nicole, and Michelle of at the thank God I'm Not Racing Party hosted by Bob Babbitt

Dana, Coach Nicole, and Michelle at the Thank God I’m Not Racing Party with our medals!

    • There are different levels of athletes racing here. I’m sure there were a few exceptions, but it seemed everyone was thankful and appreciative that they had the opportunity to race on the big island.
Patrick Lange celebrates with the crowd at the 2016 IRONMAN World Championships after coming in 3rd.
Patrick Lange celebrates with the crowd after coming in 3rd place
    • Volunteers are critical for this event. Thousands of them! They didn’t seem to mind getting up at 3am or standing out in the heat for long periods of time. Without volunteers there couldn’t be an event.
One of the many volunteers needed for the 2016 IRONMAN World Championships.
One of the many transition volunteers
  • The energy of the finish line is incredible. People stay and cheer for hours, all the way until the final finisher crosses the line.


  • My final thoughts: Work hard for what you want, play hard, and be sure to enjoy the opportunities that come your way.
Coach Nicole and the team taking a lunch break at the 2016 IRONMAN World Championships
Coach Nicole and the team

Kona Thursday – 24 hour recap: Prep for Ironman World Championships

media60 Seconds in Kona! Today D3 athlete Brian Lambert hits the hot Hawaiian pavement for one last workout… Check out the video!

303’s Nicole Odell took an in-depth look at the Stryd running power meter, participating in a practice run Tuesday morning and then sitting in on a panel conference yesterday – check out her story on this revolutionary new device that is changing how athletes run, around the world.

Our Colorado Athletes in Kona series features our EIGHT D3 Multisport contenders!

Colorado’s favorite Honey Badger – Mary Beth Ellis – announced she is retiring, to “raise some honey badger cubs.”

303’s Khem Suthiwan continues to add Celebrity Selfies to her star-studded Facebook album – take a look!

Cobb Cycling held an event just for women, addressing the fine line between aggressive position and comfort… Cobb says you can have it all. 303’s Nicole Odell reports.

The Pro Panel opened with a “State of Ironman” address by Andrew Messick, who told us this year brings the largest field of women for Kona at 30%. This press event brought together pro athletes Daniela Ryf, Mirinda Carfrae, Julia Gajer, Heather Jackson, Melissa Hauschildt, Kaisa Lehtonen, Sebastian Kienle, Brent McMahon, Tim O’Donell, Andy Potts, and Tim Van Berkel. Check out the Facebook Live videos – lots of fun banter among the men: “I’ve missed him (Sebastian Kienle) all year. I’ve had to pay for my own dinners…” – Jan Frodeno. #bromance #IRONMAN

303 Ambassador Mercedes DiCarli was featured in the local media!

Photos have been added to our Facebook Race Week album, including stills from the pro panel, exclusive shots with Rinny from last night, and assembly of the finish line.

Training Peaks has made their pro bike split predictions – be sure to check this article, as it has lots of weather, wind and course info.

Be sure to read yesterday’s recap capturing the last week of pre-race activity!