THE DAY WE MADE LEMONADE
Where to begin. Oh maybe with the worst thing possible to start a long race!! We woke up at 2:45 and left the hotel at 3, we dropped bags in Boulder and made our way to the reservoir to get everything set for the race day. When we arrived, we got our body markings and went in to transition… then the fun began.
I walked up to my bike and looked at it, something wasn’t right. It had rained the night before, so I had covered my handlebars and seat, but my handlebar bag was taken off…. I thought “whatever it was just the wind” and unwrapped my seat. I looked at my gears and thought I should maybe move 1 more gear over for when I hop on it out of transition in the race, so I clicked for it to shift…. Nothing happened. I have electronic shifting which for those of you that don't know, it is little electric wires and a battery that shift for me. you need to charge your battery and all shifters and the derailleurs (piece that shifts the chain around) are connected to each other and the battery. It is a great thing to have in most instances but when you have problems, it is a big issue. I checked connections and tried again. Nothing. I thought maybe water got in my battery somehow and it shorted out which was (what I thought) worst case scenario. I brought it to the bike techs and explained everything, they thoroughly questioned me to which I gave a 100% certainty answer to each one ruling out possibilities like old battery, wasn’t charged, Etc. We did not have a charger to run diagnostics so finally he said he was 90% sure it was a battery shorted out and without the charger we couldn’t know for sure. They did not have a backup battery or anything to help me at that point. I prayed hard and ran into Bonnie who is simply the sweetest person ever. I asked her to pray hard for something good to happen and to have an incredible day in case I couldn’t. I rushed over to Mike Reilly and asked him to announce that we needed a charger and headed back to the bike tech tent in hopes someone found one. I called my parents with the bad news, that I either was going to need to borrow one of their mountain bikes, or I wouldn't get to race. I also helped Alexa get ready for her race, but we were both furious and in no mental position to prepare for a race. As we were prepping her bike, the bike techs found a spare charger in one of their cars! We ran up to a generator and plugged the bike in, Nothing happened and an error reading came on. “yup, battery is shot” he said to me. I started to tear up thinking my day had ended before it could begin but something told me to try again. I asked him to try a couple more times. Error reading..... then another error reading...... then CHARGE LIGHT!!! This meant I had power so we tried shifting the bike…. But nothing happened. He double checked and confirmed I had full power in the battery so we went back to the tent to keep looking for the problem. He thought it could be the wires inside the bike around the crankset that were missing a connection or got wet, so he pulled off my crankset, bottom bracket, bottom bracket shell, and pulled out the wires from there. I could tell he had found something and he asked “how competitive are you? Like are you competing today?” I thought it was a funny question and replied we are all here to compete today! He asked a little more sternly if I was competing for kona to which I said absolutely. At the sound of this he looked me in the eye and said
“well someone tried to stop you, because this wire has been cleanly cut”
I stared in disbelief. He showed me the cut, clean and right in the middle and it was put back to make it look the same as it normally would so I would never notice. Furious, frustrated, sad, a mix of emotions came over me as I asked what he could do and what we could do. We came up with a plan to not have a front derailleur so I could have a rear. I would be stuck in a 55 tooth chainring all day (one of the biggest used on the road, you use big rings to go fast and little ones to climb hills) meaning the hills were going to be brutal today but I at least had a chance. We would have to re-route the whole bike, tape the battery to the outside of my bike, and hope it lasted for 5 hours. As he set it up for me I called my parents with the news and checked the time. It was 5:45 and the races began at 6:05. It was going to be tight. He finished up just in time and I began to fill my water bottles to prepare the bike as he finished the final touches. For some reason today I took a sip out of my bottle… I never do this but for some reason I did today and this AWFUL taste hit me. I spit it all out and tried again. Same awful taste. It was like the WarHeads sour apple spray you got as a kid had been dumped all over and inside of my bottle. I told Alexa just to confirm and she said she could smell it just standing there. WHAT THE HELL. ?!? I rinsed out my bottles 3 or 4 times and filled them with the proper liquid. Then we headed off to the start line after pumping up the tires. Because time was so tight, i never had time to put my bike back to where it was, the seat was not right, seat post was not right, who knows what else wasn't, but if i wanted to do this i had to get to the start line immediately. I didn’t know how the day was going to go…but I was going to finish this damn race
We started the swim and it was time to compete again. Using this anger to fuel the day. I raced a conservative but a good swim at 1:07 or so. Nothing really happened as I swam alone the whole time along side of a few other guys (sorry yes theres a boring part in here)
Transition went well and I hopped on the bike, immediately freezing. For the first few miles I just sat there while my whole body froze. The air was barely 50 and while riding around 23mph it was absolutely freezing, I held great power and found my groove. Being stuck in the 55 tooth I knew I needed to conserve some energy for the 3 big climbs in the course. I headed into the first one and it was not too bad, I joked with a few racers as I went up and it didn’t phase me much. I rolled along holding great power and came to the second one. Legs frozen and fingers not working right, I knew this was gonna be a challenge. This one required 400 watts for around 45 seconds just to get up the hill. Took a huge toll on my legs as I was aiming to stay around 180-200 today for watts. I took off on the downhill and then saw my family! Dad gave me splits to my age group guys and everyone cheering kept me going strong. I came up to the third and final hill…. This was brutal. It was a gradual increase in incline and kicked you in the face at the end. I got up to almost 500 watts just trying to stay upright on my bike. I kept clicking my shifter hoping there was another gear but it never came. I reached the top and used the next 3 miles of downhill to recover. I was out of it already and although I had been fueling and pacing great, the hills were just too much for my big ring in the front. But we pressed on to lap 2.
I started lap 2 with one goal, conserve energy so I don’t need to walk those last 2 hills. I was REALLY starting to feel the bike position was not correct. my hips were pinching, my knee was starting to hurt a little, and my ankle was not feeling good. I backed off my power and really forced myself to hold back and make sure I was eating enough. Around mile 60 I warmed up and everything started to feel better. I came to the first hill and got up with just a little extra fatigue. I used the downhill to heavily reduce my watts and recover I came to the second hill. I told myself “just two to go. Two really F)#*@ing hard minutes and you can recover the last 10 miles” I approached the hill and asked my legs for one more minute. They did not have much of a kick in them but we made it up the hill, much slower than before but we made it! Again using the downhill to recovery I took some nutrition and deep breaths. I saw my family again which was really needed as my legs were starting to feel these giant surges. ONE. LAST. HILL. I came to it knowing this would be the hardest part of my day. I started up the hill, asking the legs for one last minute. There was nothing there. No answer. I literally screamed out loud in pain as I climbed this hill. Nothing left in the legs, 95 miles in, and I was asking everything I had from my legs. I crested the hill and let out a big scream. i also cried a little because I was so happy i made it and was done with these hills. I did not pedal for almost 2 miles after this. I had nothing left. I coasted and pedaled easy for another 5 miles just trying to get home. I was over being on the bike and didn’t care about anything but getting off it. The last few small hills felt like they tripled in size as I struggled to climb anything. I slowly crept into town and made it to transition. 4:57:44. Good enough for today haha
Now for the “run” I came out of transition and felt decent. The legs were weak, and not stable. I took a few bad steps and my hip began to hurt. I knew I was in for a long day. The first few miles I was able to run and jog but around mile 3 the pain began to be too much. I walked basically from mile 3 to mile 26. Miles 3-6 I tried to run at least a quarter of each mile to keep times decent and not be on course too long. By mile 6 I was having no part of that running thing. I decided to just get my moneys worth of food and beverages on course and had a 1 mile picnic 20 times! Each aid station grabbing coke and Gatorade, cookies, pretzels, chips, grapes, and just munching until the next one! I also made it my goal to say something positive to every single person I passed for the next roughly 4 or 5 hours. Just because it wasn’t my day didn’t mean I couldn’t help make someone else’s! so I cheered loud and hard for every amazing person around me. Walkers, runners, limpers, or anything in between, positive words do wonders, and everyone no matter the speed could use them. So on I went, eating, cheering, pumping people up, and limping inch by inch, foot by foot, mile by mile. I saw dad around the corner finally and he walked with me for a bit. I told him my racing day was done but I was going to be an ironman later today, that’s for sure. Just getting my money’s worth of time on the course 😉 it was nice having the company and he told me Alexa was just a couple miles back so I would probably see her in just a few more miles. Mom also walked with me for a mile and we talked about the day and she kept me company as I continued on, I gave her a hug before heading off towards the half way mark. I continued my goal of cheering on every single person and eating as much as possible, also having a blast with the volunteers and joking around all day long. At the turn around a medic asked how I was doing, I told him some ibuprofen and Tylenol would be life changing. He told me all he had was infant asprin and I said load me up! I walked while he made sure doses were right and when I returned he asked if I was a pro or trying to get to kona, I said not a pro yet and at this point kona is nowhere to be found, even if I were to skip the whole second lap. He informed me that taking this made me ineligible for a kona slot and I responded to that by asking “so how many can I get” . I was focused on finishing now. Hopefully a little less pain, not kona, not winning, just finishing. I confirmed I was not disqualified, only ineligible, which he said correct and I downed those baby asprin so fast. And off I went! Since it was a u-turn I saw Alexa was about 1.5 miles back and gave her a big hug and kiss. I and figured I would have to go a little faster if I wanted to have a chance of making it to the finish with her which i thought would be super cool since we were both having off days. I decided to run a little bit. My watch was set to give me splits every half mile, so I decided I would walk 0.4 and run 0.1. which was about all I could manage. I kept this up until mile 14 and my hip slowly started to loosen up, so I stretched it to 0.12, then 0.15, even got to 0.2 miles. But every time getting shut down by the pain. I had some great watermelon and jogged a little more until I came upon a table on the side of the path, I yelled out “ RED VINES?!?!?!?!?!? I LOVE RED VINES” the lady at the table laughed and said take them all! To which I gave an evil grin and said “don’t you tempt me. I got a 3 hour walk still. I’ll kill em all” She decided to change it to take a handful which I agreed to and walked off in heaven.
I walked the following 2 miles just cheering hard for all around me and saw my family again, I gave them all hugs and went off on my beautiful walk! A little later I saw someone familiar run by, it was Sam that I coached a few times in a cycling class! I caught up and felt good enough to run with him for a while (baby asprin kickin in) and we talked and caught up. We chatted about our days and helped each other along through 2 or 3 miles. My hip acted up again so I sent Sam off to go become and Ironman and rooted him on as he ran off. I knew I was finally far enough ahead where I would meet Alexa at the finish, which would be a blast and be a decent end to our not so great day. I saw Alexa at the turn around again and she was slowing down too so I gave her another hug and kiss before heading toward the finish…slowly. Still cheering on every single person I made my way to mile 23 when I saw dad again, he said I was somehow still in 4th place and if I wanted to be on the podium I probably just needed to jog it in! Honestly this was so far out of my mind and I was completely over the podium, I just wanted to finish with my girlfriend which would mean so much more than a sad 4th place time. He said she was just behind me so he ran back and jogged with her up to me! We walked/jogged together the final two miles before coming to the most memorable finish I could’ve asked for. A couple of rough days, coming together to finish together in an incredible moment crossing the line together.
Because hey, when life gives you lemons.... lots and lots of lemons..
Today had taught me so many things. It has taught me to roll with the biggest of punches. Pray when life gets hard. It taught me to fight harder, look for solutions not excuses. Finish what you started no matter what it takes. And most of all, laugh. even in the hardest of times, find that happiness. My marathon took me 22,000 more steps than usual, it was more painful than anything I had ever done. But I did it. I walked/ jogged/ hobbled 54,467 steps to be and Ironman again. Today has taught me a lot, and today is a day to remember, no matter how it started. Because it ended in a victory in my mind.
Congrats to Alexa and her dad Brett for becoming an Ironman again!! Was a blast watching you guys race and hearing about your days!
Thank you Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, Hunter, Miranda, and Eva who came all the way out here to almost not watch me race, your unwavering support is amazing. I cant express how much this means to me.
Thank you Ayla and April for running around like crazy all day for us too!!
Thank you all for your prayers, thoughts, support, love. I am so beyond grateful to have so many of you out there that truly care about me. Your prayers were heard and felt throughout the long day. Thank you to all my sponsors that made this day possible, even with the problems you guys are just another support system I am so grateful to have picking me back up and getting me going again!
Scheels, Bell Bank, Bicycle Makeover, Sanford Health, and American Family – Chris Heise agency. You are all awesome! i was so proud to represent you for those 12 long hours.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope you enjoyed the read as much as I enjoyed being out there!
I have filed with the regional director of ironman to have this thoroughly looked at and it will have severe punishment for the person that did this. Probably (and hopefully) never race ironman or any USAT race ever again. For those asking, there is security at the event and especially at the bike racks. Only athletes are allowed in, which means it was done by a competitor. As for how closely they are watching, there are over 1000 bikes there and we were ALL in and out working on our bikes all day, it would be very easy for someone to pretend my bike was theirs and pretend they were “working on it” and it would look totally normal. We are looking into this in the coming weeks and again we have narrowed it down some, so ironman will be helping me figure this out. I have nothing but the greatest respect for anyone that attempts anything like Ironman and I hope I have not wronged anyone to the point where they feel vandalizing my bike is justified in any way, and in turn ruining the thousands of dollars I have spent on this race in time, entry fees, hotels, transportation, time off work, etc.. I will keep you all posted on the results and updates on what is going on with this.
Thank you again for taking the time to read all of this!
This winter i have been spending my months in the sun running and riding all around Tucson with Alexa. I put in way more miles than i have before and created a great base for the year! being able to train with the best and in the nations best facilities has made a huge impact in my training and fitness! unfortunately a few weeks ago i had a bad crash and ended up hurting my shoulder pretty hard. Lately my shoulder has been better but still sore and tight so getting to the start line of Chattanooga was a win! unfortunately i was sick leading into the race as well so it was a tough build up into this one.
( We arrived in Chattanooga early to make sure we were all set for a fast weekend, everything went well in the lead up and before we knew it, the bikes were racked! Race morning we arrived at transition as it opened to pump up the tires and set up everything that was needed. We said our goodbyes to our parents who had made the long trip out, and hopped on the bus to the swim start. At the swim start i was feeling full (usually race morning i'm hungry). I was feeling heavy and sluggish so i went for a run to clear my head and try to get things moving. I stood in line FOREVER for the portapoties and as i came out i heard the national anthem starting (we were late)! Alexa and i sprinted to the front of the mob of people. We threw the wetsuits on and walked down the ramp to the dock and stood around for a while before realizing they were changing the swim. The pros had swam upstream and then back down but they were taking this out of the race for us. Our swim would be cut short by quite a bit and would be all down stream.
As the gun went off, we went into the water! I swam around Ayla and on to Alexa's feet but got caught while passing some people and ended up back behind Ayla. I sat on her feet until around half way when we went under the big blue bridge when i flipped upside down to wave at my parents!! Once i flipped back over she was gone so i swam by myself the remainder of the swim. On the way out of the swim my wetsuit was caught around my ankles for a few seconds, but other than that T1 went great!
Just out of transition i saw Alexa and yelled out to her as i went by. I found my cadence and power and went right to plugging away. Out of town i was a little high on my power numbers but overall felt strong. I was easily catching people up the climbs and powering through the descents. I got out to the far part of the bike and went up a very steep hill called Andrews. All of the climbing Mt. Lemmon showed as i put 20-30 seconds on anyone that was around me on a climb that was only a minute or two long. After the climb was a fun decent and I felt great. A little longer and i hit the 35 mile mark and my body started to tank. i had pulled too much power the first half of the bike and my body was fading. A couple larger packs started to pass me and my morale started hitting lows. I struggled back into town barely holding what i should have easily been riding at. Almost into transition just a mile out an older guy passed me as i'm preparing to take my feet out and yelled out " kid, you need to learn to corner faster". This lit a fire in my belly and i yelled back " you realize we still need to run right?" in my head all i could think was how fast i'm going to run past him. coming into transition i saw a 3 minute difference in my bike time from last year... but not the difference i was hoping for, i was well behind pace.
Out of transition 2 i could not find my legs. Literally might have left them back home because they were NOWHERE to be found. I passed the rude cyclist wasily but others were going right by me, I watched another person or two run away from me and my morale just kept going lower and lower. i shook my head "nope" at my parents and knew it was not my day, Dad yelled out that i need to find 3:45 to get to first place in the Age Group. I pushed on but I was just getting slower and slower. more painful and even more painful. Around 4 miles in, someone yelled out my name. As I turned around I saw Ryan coming up on me. Ryan was in my age group, he talked to me a little bit and said if he were to beat me (which he was blazing by me so it was fairly obvious he was going to) he wouldn't be taking the slot to worlds. For some reason, even though I was practically walking, this lit a fire in my belly. I sped up enough to run with him for a mile. I almost dropped off but he kept me going each time. just a mile later heavens doors opened, My legs loosened up and everything felt right again. I sped up some and quickened my cadence, I kept urging Ryan to keep going but he was fading and insisted I should just go on
At the end of lap 1 my dad said I still needed over 3 minutes to find the lead. It was here I realized that Ryan was the one leading and he was the one I needed to find 3 minutes on, I took off for lap two hoping I could pull out 6 miles like i should be running. I tore through the first few aid stations and my pace started to speed up. i got faster and faster as the lap went on, every u-turn I was gaining some space between myself and Ryan, every minute gaining a little speed and confidence back. Over the bridges a second time I was opening up my stride and passing some more pros and age groupers. Over the final bridge dad said I needed 45 more seconds to win but was only getting 30 seconds per mile back. I opened up but didn't have much more to give. I tore down the finish line with a big smile and a "thank you" to the big guy upstairs for keeping me safe and upright throughout the day. I had finished!! Within minutes we got the word i had taken over the lead and won by a few minutes!! the second lap i finally felt like myself and i will be looking for how to make this come earlier in Blouder on June 9th.
I will be competing in Nice, France in September at the 70.3 world championships, the challenging course will bring out the best in the climbers and the fastest run splits possible, and im excited to come back stronger and faster than i showed this last weekend. But for now the focus is on Boulder just over a week away!
thank you so much to all my amazing sponsors
American Family - Chris Heise Agency
for making this all happen and possible!
thank you mom and dad for supporting me, coming all the way to cheer and eat amazing food, and giving me a trip to France for an early birthday present! thank you Alexa for the countless house of support and training with me and being my rock!
And thank you all of you for reading this and supporting my dreams!