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Please help us in our quest to help those afflicted with Parkinson's Disease live better today!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

112 miles......Chuck Norris never rode 112 miles....

As I pedaled my way out of T1, getting loud cheers from the small crowd, I focused on my new tasks at hand. Don't eat or drink too much these first 10 minutes. Allow my body to switch from "laying down" to being more upright. Let my legs get used to this new feeling. My last big swim to bike transition was about a month before, during the Boulder Peak, and it took my legs about 10 miles to not feel like Gumby. Today, I was happy that during the swim I focused on getting blood flow to my legs early so I wouldn't have this problem. I felt great! I again kept super calm and just focused on having a great ride, being alert, getting no flats, and taking things a mile at a time.

Before I knew it, I was about 8 miles in and saw my fan club! They had made these great shirts to go with their "Where's Waldo" theme and I could see them for what seemed like miles!  Merrill, Jill, Laura, Nancy, Rebecca, Chris & Avi (God, I hope I'm not forgetting anyone!!) were screaming their hearts out, ringing their cowbells, jumping up and down and gave me the boost I needed to keep going. As I rode by, I reflected on how lucky I am to be riding on the course I knew backwards and forwards, being cheered on by my dear friends. As I turned the corner to St. Vrain Road, I knew I was coming up on my first aid station and an opportunity to see my friend Daniella. Once she realized it was me, she also cheered and gave me another boost. This was awesome! I'll knock these miles out in no time, I thought!

The first part of the ride is gorgeous as we roll through the foothills near Boulder, riding through farms and the rolling hills. I love it. Then I turned East. Ugh. I was just about 40 miles in and enjoying the day when I hit my first wall. I panicked. This is not good. I cannot hit a wall at mile 40 of the bike. I was trying to work my way out of my funk when I looked up and saw a familiar silhouette. Could it be? Was it really she? Yes! It was my "oldest" friend Julie! We've been friends since we were 2 and she surprised me by coming out to cheer me on! I held back tears as I screamed at her. She was exactly where I needed her. I immediately got out of my funk and was ready to tackle the plains! A few miles down, my fan club appeared again!  But alas, my spirits weren't lifted for long. A couple more miles down, I got into my funk again. So, I decided to find my happy place. I tried going to Maui, Ireland, scuba-diving, bed, Iowa, nothing worked. I ended up finding my happy place in high school,  at Ground Zero, dancing on the box with my BFF's Heather and Jill. Um, what? I hated Ground Zero! But if this was my happy place for the day, then so be it! So I played a game with myself and thought of every song we danced to, what we wore, the crazy boys we danced with, etc. Unfortunately, the only songs I could think of were "Electric Avenue" and "Safety Dance". So those two songs became my soundtrack for the next hour.

As in the swim, I broke up the bike not only into half, but also into the time cut-offs. I had to be at mile 56 (special needs) by 1:30pm, I had to be at mile 86 (going under I-25) by 3:30pm and I had to be completely off the course by 5:30pm. I'm a slow enough cyclists that I knew I would have no time to dilly-dally on this course. You can stop and get off your bike at any time, but the clock does not stop until you cross the finish line. Knowing this, I would allow myself to stop once-at special needs, which was exactly half-way through.

I pulled into special needs, shouting out my number for my bag. The volunteer couldn't find it. No worries. Luckily, I didn't pack anything in my bag I couldn't do without except sunblock. A volunteer found some left over, sprayed me down, and I was on my way as I saw my friend Molly roll in. I yelled that I was proud of her, she looked great and I'd see her soon, and I continued on my way, looking ahead to the giant hill in front of me. About halfway up the hill, I saw two girls who looked like they were naked, only covered by large signs. The first girl's sign said "Ironmen are sexy". A little ways up was her "naked" friend with a sign saying "But not as sexy as Ironwomen". They were hysterical. They were screaming at the top of their lungs and were making me crack up. I wanted to hang out with them all day! And just like that, I was in the plains.

Pretty soon, I saw two more crazy women dancing and cheering. It was Lisa and Tina from my running group! I had no idea they would be out there!  Lisa yelled that I looked awesome (I paid my friends to tell me that) and that they would see me in a few miles. To which I groaned as I'd assumed she meant she'd see me on the run, which was still about 50 miles away. A couple miles down the road, there they were again! And again, she said "we'll see you in a couple miles!" And they continued to leap-frog me every few miles for what I'm guessing was a good 20 miles! It was awesome!

Even with the encouragement from Lisa and Tina, I was soon dragging again. I was tired, I was sick of eating bananas, and I just wanted off the bike. Once again, I looked up and saw a new set of fan club members-Natasha, Krista, Sara, Drew and my youngest cheerleader for the day, Jonah! Once again, I was not expecting them to be out there and once again, had to choke back tears for all the love I was feeling. Apparently, this was Jonah's first time watching so many bikes go by and he loved it! He was clapping like a pro!

After passing them, I headed west and was thankful to be heading in the direction towards home. I was beginning to see more and more people struggling and bailing completely off the bike. It broke my heart to know that for some, their day was over.

Pretty soon, off in the distance, I saw the most beautiful sight I'd ever seen. I-25! And there was no sign of a sag wagon behind me! And here it came. The ugly cry. I bawled. I knew I was home free after I went under the interstate. There were a bunch of spectators under the bridge and I felt re-born. I allowed myself to get all my tears out for a short time. I didn't want to waste any energy! And then I had a mild panic attack. Oh shit! I still had to run a marathon after this ride! In all my compartmentalizing, I had completely forgot about the marathon! I guess that's good and bad. I learned I'm very good about compartmentalizing, but the thought of doing a marathon made me want to vomit.

As I pulled into the last aid station at around mile 90, I saw a volunteer look at her watch. She clapped her hands and yelled "yeah, you've still got time to squeeze this out!". WTF?? I wanted to kick her in the head. I know she didn't mean it as bad as it sounded, but it pissed me off. Enough to lite a fire in my belly for the run ahead.

Laura, Jonah & Sara. The greatest cheerleaders ever!
Mile 92'ish, I saw my trusty fan club again and this time, Jonah was holding a great sign. It made me smile all over again.

Aga holding some random guy's bike while he answered a call of nature. I think this bike looks pretty good on her!

Mile 96'ish, I saw two people standing next to each other off in the distance. I knew one was my Julie, but who was the other? As I approached, I saw it was my friend Aga! She and Julie were standing next to each other for an hour but didn't realize they were both waiting for the same person until I came by!

I knew I had 3 monster climbs left before I descended into Boulder. The race called them "the 3 sisters". After riding them on my training ride, I renamed them "the 3 bitches". They weren't awful, but at the end of a long ride, they are not a very welcome sight. At the turn for the 3 bitches was my fan club again! As I passed them and made the turn for the climb and could hear them screaming behind me. There were two very fit guys in front of me on very fancy tri bikes and they were struggling. So much so, they decided to zig zag up the hill. Not good as I knew I was strong enough to take a straight line up the climb. So, I quickly thought of how I could get their attention (i.e. move out of my way so I could power up) without being a total bitch. So I yelled "you got this boys-this is the worst of the 3!". They both looked back at me and responded in stereo "3!!!????" and with that, they quickly got out of my way while I scooted right on up without a problem. Aside from all my cheerleaders, this was the best part of my day!

The closer I got to Boulder High School, sight of T2, I allowed myself to start thinking ahead to the run. The night before, at the athlete party, one of the elites said that after he rode his bike, he had the privilege of running a marathon. I thought he was high. But I kept repeating this to myself "I get the privilege of running a marathon".

I rolled under the arch and into T2. And I saw more running friends, Karen and Kandy, cheering me on. I could hear the thunderous cheers coming from the bike path below (where the run would take place) and I got excited. Maybe this run would be fun, after all!

After passing off my bike to a volunteer, I walked through transition as my feet were on fire, saw only a handful of bags left on the track and knew that while I was cutting my time very close, I had made it! I walked with my bag into the changing tent and was greeted by another very friendly volunteer who walked me over to a chair and started unpacking my bag, laying everything out neatly for me. The lady across from me did not look good. She had a bad day on the bike and was calling it a day. I looked at her and wanted to shake her-she had come so far! But I decided to leave her be and focus on my volunteer. I asked her what time it was. She told me "5:10". Whew! I had 20 minutes to spare! I knew I could walk a 6 hour marathon, so I was fine with that! She was so sweet that I didn't want to leave, but I was SO close to the end of my journey, I thanked her and headed out the tent. I had the privilege of running a marathon next. Oh goody!

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