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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Village people

Hannah, me, Molly, Melissa & Freddy before our run along Boulder Creek
I don't subscribe to the whole "it takes a village" to raise a child BS. But in the case of training for an Ironman, nothing could be more true! It is, in fact, taking me an entire army to get ready for August 3!

While most people enjoyed a nice, relaxing long 4th of July weekend, Freddy and I were experiencing our toughest training weekend yet. Friday morning we awoke early to head to Boulder to run 3 hours on the Ironman route (which is on the Boulder Creek Trail). I had done this route many times with Runners Edge, know it like the back of my hand and since I've done so many marathons, a 3 hour run is kind of not a big deal to me. Freddy, on the other hand, was pretty nervous. He had never run that far before and had never run the Boulder Creek Trail. We got really excited when Coach Marco gave us a special treat-he invited his wife Hannah and said he'd be out there on his bike cracking the whip on us! Giddy-up!                                                  

Hannah and Freddy took off like bullets while me and my girls trotted along at a nice, comfy pace. All the while, Coach Marco shuttled between us, Hannah and Freddy to offer encouragement, advice and every now and then, a squirt from his water bottle.  The IM route does a modified 13 mile out and back, so we were able to run the entire route to see what we are in for. The trail is great-very shaded (although by the time I'm running, it will be dark), pretty and cool as it runs along the creek so there are plenty of places to take a little dip for some relief as Freddy found rather quickly!  Another bonus is you can get an awesome contact high from all the Boulder Hippies lining the route. I'm sure this will come in handy around mile 130.

Totally worth all that effort!
Me and my girls enjoying some girl talk!
Don't ask me what he is doing. 
Our reward at the end-a Rocky Mountain Ice Bath!

We thought we'd try Freddy's trick. It hurt......
After 3 hours, Freddy logged around 18 miles and me and my girls came in just shy of 15. Freddy was thrilled to have this milestone behind him and I was thrilled to have some great company! But I was dreading what was to come.....

Sunday was a big day. The monster of all demons for me. The dreaded "entire IM bike course" training day. I did a century bike ride a few years ago and hated it. I also swore I would never do one again. So, don't ask me why I thought riding 112 miles in an Ironman is a good idea. 

We met up with our group bright and early at 6:00am on Sunday morning to begin our journey. Luckily, my girls were there with me and we decided we would hang together. We also were able to rope my dear friend Laura into being our sag wagon for the day, providing us food, water, encouragement and direction. I'm not sure she entirely knew what she was getting herself into!

We took off and were greeted with a nasty cross-wind on Hwy 36. UGH. I hate wind. It totally blows. No problem. This is all good training. Around mile 35, we came across signs saying "road closed ahead". Odd, but whatever. We are on bikes. We're good to go. More signs warning us to turn around. Surely they aren't talking about us. Then we saw it. The orange fencing and on the other side, no road. It had collapsed into the river below! WTF?? We all looked at each other going "how are they going to have this road fixed in 3 weeks? This is crap!". After pondering our situation for several minutes we decided to call Laura who informed us we were way too far north and missed our turn. After figuring out where to go, we all turned around in silence. A detour did not make us happy. But no one complained. We just continued on course. 

We all had maps but quickly designated Lehiwa as our trusty guide. I was too anxious about the ride to focus on anything but pedaling. She did awesome and made sure we were on track. She also knew of detours for bathrooms! About 60 miles in, we were low on water, burning up and pedaling to get to Laura when all of a sudden this man with no shirt on and Richard Simmons shorts started running towards us in the grass. We pretended not to see him but pretty soon he started flailing his arms saying "ladies, we have treats for you one block ahead! Come on over!". Then we saw it: an oasis in the plains. The most beautiful sight we'd seen that day. There was a tent with about 6 people, all of whom had ice-cold rags in their hands that they quickly put around our necks. Others grabbed our bikes and water bottles and started to re-fill them with ice cold water. They had candy, food, sunblock, anything we wanted. Turns out they were just some nice folks knowing there would be a ton of people training that route and they wanted to help. It was awesome!

As we pedaled through the corn fields, we encountered horrendous heat, head winds (that mysteriously switched direction every time we turned), hills and more hills. Having Laura on the course was a life-saver. If she wasn't out there, I truly don't think any of us would have made it. 

Close to the end of our ride and about 10 hours into our day, Dan, Frank and Ian came out to cheer us in. Frank had even bought us some goodies to eat for the final stretch. We asked for rides back to the cars, but they never acknowledged our inquiry. Jerks. Finally, after 8 hours of pedaling, 11 hours out on the course, and 115 miles, we arrived at Boulder High School-site of T2 and our start/finish spot for the day. After literally one minute of celebrating, Frank grabbed our shoes and pushed us onto the Boulder Creek Trail. We still had a run to do. So, Ashley, Molly and I headed out on our short 20 minute run. And it felt great. 

Sunday was a huge day for me. It proved I can do anything I set my mind to. It eased my fears, ever so much, about August 3. I learned a lot and know that race day it will all come together. And I cannot wait!
My Iron Village: Melissa, Molly, Laura, Lehiwa & Ashley. You ladies are the best and I cannot wait to cross that finish line with you!!

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