This week blog is going to be pretty wordy. Reason being, I’m taking a different approach on the process of how I’m writing it. The difference this time, I’m writing in over a couple of days so you can know how exactly I’m feeling at the moment. So if you don’t like reading that much let me give you the gist, I LOST!
Right now I’m in the recovery ice bath that I made myself in my house. Six bags of ice from the gas station, a bathtub full of cold water, and Pandora playing on my IPOD, who needs a fancy health facility? My legs are completely numb, and these skeletal muscles are shaking, i.e. I’m shivering. But let me take you back to how I got to this point.
Friday (June 15): I just left the gym and seems like everyone knows that my race is coming up. I’m finally on the tapering part of my training and it feels good to do a “cruise” type workout. After my swim was over, I was bombarded with tips, advice, and everything else, from what it seems like 100 people. Eat this, drink this, do this during the transition, wear this, don’t wear that, etc. I don’t know if it was good that I actually tried it all. Every single person I bumped into had to mention my race as if I didn’t know the day was coming. But it felt good to know that people were almost excited as I was. Right now I’m chugging an old milk jug that I rinsed out and put water in. I’ve been hydrating myself like crazy this since Monday. I even bought two HUGE things of Pedialyte, and it taste great! Well I’m off to bed, after I read this great book: The Ant and the Elephant. Check it out; it’s a easy and good read.
Saturday (June 16): I woke up this morning to 19 text asking me what time my “wave” started tomorrow. Its crazy because its 3am and I’m getting ready to go to the hospital. Boy it must feel good to be able to party all night long, til 3am. It was a pretty calm day: I went to the farmers market here in Boulder to just relax and do some “sight seeing” if you know what I mean (lol). One thing that was pretty cool/awkward was a couple of people came up to me and my friend and asked was I Ty. They told me that we have a mutual friend and they knew I was doing the triathlon tomorrow, and that two of them were doing it too! We chit chatted for about 10 minutes, and we were on our way. My friend looked at me and said, “Oh man, look who’s famous.” After the farmers market I went to go get my haircut. Its crazy how Denver is only 30 minutes away from Boulder, but seems like a whole world away. While getting my haircut I wasn’t asked once about my race, which was really good, at first. It was a break from answering the same questions and it also calmed my nerves a little bit. On the other-hand it did feel a little bad that I wasn’t’ asked because it kinda let me know that I was somewhat disconnected from where I come from. After getting a bald taper, it was back to highway-36 and back to Boulder. While back in Boulder, I went to register for the race, I had to officially check-in. The walk up was exhilarating, I paused for a minute to just think about how I’m actually about to check-in for my first triathlon. The process wasn’t hard, stand in a couple of lines, get some paperwork, a wristband, tracker, and a t-shirt. The moment I got to the section of getting my wristband I began to get nervous. Not because of the woman putting my band on, but more because it just sank in that I’m racing tomorrow. I was somewhat embarrassed because my hand was shaking like the lone leaf on the tree during the autumn months.
Its approximately 10pm and I can’t sleep. My heart feels as if though its going to jump out of my chest. Literally, as I lay on my back I can see my necklace bounce from my heartbeat. I just checked my heart-rate and its 146bpm! I have to do something to take my mind off of this race. I thought about going to Pearl street (a local region of town that has bars), but it would be a waste of time. A) Because I don’t drink (that usually doesn’t’ stop me from going to go dance), and B) I’m not trying to stay out til 3am. So I decided to do something I always did whenever I couldn’t sleep, play basketball. I walked over to Coors event center (The University of Colorado men’s basketball team arena), entered, turned on the lights, and shot my nerves out. Ironically til 3am(lol). Afterwards, I went home, took a shower and fell asleep. Well maybe its better to say took a nap.
Sunday (June 17): I woke up around 5am, and got my stuff ready. Shoes (check), Backpack (check), Wetsuit (check), Bike (check), Helmet (of course), etc. When I got to the Boulder Reservoir it wasn’t as packed as I thought it would be. But looking at my watch, I was extremely early. After about an half hour the masses began to come. Car after car, bike after bike, a endless line of people started to gather behind me. I started observing how people interacted: you could see the serious people, the people there to have fun, etc. With my eavesdropping I heard people comparing the prices of their bikes. But not the whole bike itself, but piece by piece: frame, brakes, tires, etc. Doing the quick calculations in my head I totaled some bike just south of $13,500! I thought my bike was somewhat expensive, but compared to these people, I could have been on a Big Wheel and it wouldn’t seem that different. By this time my heart was coming out of my chest so far it resembled a Pepé Le Pew when he would see the female black cat. I quickly started to put on my wetsuit, that way it wouldn’t be so noticeable, but also the festivities we about to start. The first wave left off at 7:30am and my wave was at 7:45. I took this time to get warmed up (which is funny because the reservoir is cold water) by swimming with the other people waiting for their wave to take off.
SWIM –Two minutes til the race my wave began to line up. We were in a mosh pit type of atmosphere on shore. What amazed me was that being in the water made all my nerves go away. I was cool as ice. If you seen me, you probably would have thought I’ve done hundreds of these. I guess you can say I had my game-face on. Ready, set, and then the loud air horn goes off. People ran immediately, but not me. I didn’t want any of that craziness. I counted to 10 and began to swim. I was doing pretty good the first 150 meters. My stroke was great, I was breathing normally, and I felt comfortable. Strangely enough, it seemed silent. The only thing I heard at that time was the deep inhale of myself getting air. Suddenly I hear a pounding, somewhat like a drum noise. It was a person in a Kayak telling me and another person to lookout. I stopped my momentum for a quick second to glance around and SMACK, I get hit in the bridge of my nose. At this point all my technique went out the window. I wasn’t prepared for such a blow (somewhat like Victor Ortiz when Floyd Mayweather knocked him out). I began to see little stars, so I rolled on my back and tried to gather my thoughts. As I did that, I was placing my goggles back on my eyes which were down my lips. Right before I put them on I noticed blood on my lenses. I almost lost it! I began to do breast stroke and backstroke. I was super tired by this point and I still had half the swim to go.
“Ok Tyler, get it together, only 400 more meters, you can do this”. That what my mind was telling me, but my body was saying something completely different. My arms were burning, I had a shortness of breath, and I started to CRAMP. This wasn’t good, I had all these things going on and the wave behind me was starting to catch up. So now I was in another sea of people. Nose bleeding, nose hurting, cramps, can’t breathe, people swarming me, were just the beginning of my problems. I wanted to stop by I quickly remembered that I couldn’t touch the ground like I could in the training pool. So I had to hold on to a Kayak (which many were strategically place around the course) for a couple of minutes to calm down. After the calming, I began to swim again, this time focusing back on my technique and slowing down. But I began the battle with cramps once again. This time they were getting worse, so I had to hold on to yet again another kayak. While holding on I tried to stretch my back the best that I could.
On the kayak, the safety boat came up and asked me did I want to quit. I looked at the driver and asked “you can’t be serious. How much further do I have to go?” she responded about 250meters. I let go of the kayak and began to swim, with the shore in sight. Once again my lower back began to tighten up, and now my quadriceps was really fatigue. But I was determined to finish, so I kept going. My logic was the faster I finish, the quicker it would be over. Eventually I finished the swim, better yet, SURVIVED the swim. When I got out the water I felt a sense of tiredness that I haven’t felt before. But I also felt a sense of accomplishment!
While running and ripping off my wetsuit as if I was some sort of superhero about to save the world, I made it to the transition stage I made sure I hydrated to the best of my abilities, and then it was on the bike.
BIKE — The bike, my strong suit. I had complete and total confidence that I could make up some time on my race, which I did. But it didn’t come without a price. About four miles out of the gate I was pumping so hard my calves started to cramp, especially my left. I didn’t want to stop, so I unclipped my left foot (unclipped because most bikes have pedals that you have to have “special” shoes that clip you in, so you don’t have to just push down, but you can also pull-up, which is more efficient) and pedaled with my right leg. After about a mile of this, my leg felt good enough that I could become a normal cyclist again. During my life I have thought of myself as pretty coordinated, but once again I proved to be wrong and let me tell you why. While riding the bikes they have these stations so you can refuel with water, Gatorade, etc. But the whole ten weeks that I have trained I haven’t practiced grabbing water while riding. The first time I did it, the woman (I assume she was approx 20 years old) held the Gatorade bottle out. I was deadlocked on this bottle, Hawk-eye engaged and I was ready to quench my thirst. When I grabbed the bottle, or at least tried, I took the woman with me. Either I grabbed her, or she was dead-set on not letting go of that bottle. It was so fast I can’t remember which one it was, but no matter the case, she spun and flew about eight feet!
[Whoever (or is it whomever?) that woman is, and if you’re reading this, just to let you know that I am very sorry!]
Ok, back to the story. The rest of the bike ride wasn’t that eventful. The uphill portion was hard, but nothing compare to what I have already done. This is the section of the race where I felt my training really paid off. The cool part about this portion of the race was I could take somewhat a break going downhill. This is where that 192lb frame + gravity paid off.
RUN –“I’m almost done, I’m almost done, one more part. You got this!” That is what I was saying to myself as I was putting on my running shoes. Hopping off the bike and going into a jog is harder what most people may think. Imagine if you were running in rice and your legs were part concrete for the first 300meters. But after that initial run, you start to get the normal feeling back. I got a boost of encouragement from a friend Eric Marcum who ran onto the beginning of the course to slap me high five as I was on the last stage. I don’t know if thats legal, but thanks Eric! Usually I brag about the beauty of Boulder Colorado, but not today. This is the one time I dreaded the clearness of the skies. While running it felt as if me and Devil were racing and he was right behind me. And behind the Devin was the Sun. It was extremely hot, and I know this may be hard to believe, but I got some tan lines! While in a three way tie with the Sun and Satan, I had another opportunity to redeem myself with the hydration station. This time I wasn’t going to take out someone. Here is comes, here it comes, success! I grabbed the cup! Now how do I drink this without stopping? Another part that I wasn’t used to doing. How many people actually run and drink from a CUP at the same time? Water bottle, yes, but cup, no! With the full cup they gave me, approx. 1/4 of it actually made it into my mouth. Then I grabbed another one, but only for the cool points. I have always seen these runners on TV grab water and throw it in their face, so I wanted to be cool like them. 1….2…..3…. I grabbed another water, then SPLASH! And I see why they do it, it felt GREAT! During this whole time I was on autopilot, my legs were pumping, I was sweating to a point that my earlobes were dripping. I didn’t know earlobes could sweat (lol). Sooner than I thought the finish line was in sight. I began to smile from ear to hear, but as quickly as that smile came, it went away. Reason being, my old nemesis “Cramp” was back to say hello. This time she was here with a vengeance. She said, “you got rid of me the first two times, but this time I’m here to stay!” I wonder can you get a restraining order from Cramps, because she has been harassing me! Anyway, she was in both quads at this time and actually caused me to stop running. But me wanting to finish so bad, I made a compromise with her and said if she goes away right now, she can have me for the rest of the night. Which at that time seemed great and later that night I found out was horrible. She told me as long as I run faster she would go away. So I turned into Usain Bolt, well a jogging version of Mr. Bolt. As I started to get closer to the finish line it sounded like the Coliseum from the movie ‘Gladiator’. The roar of the people and the clapping made my face and my heart smile. A really cool thing that happened is that the announcer said my name as soon as I approached the finish line. With the overwhelming happiness I felt, I was distracted from my pain. Seems as if that arch that I passed under was magical and dismissed every physical bad feeling I had it the time. I guess “pain is temporary”
When the race was over it was great to see my friends there waiting and cheering me on. Also it was good to see the Triathletes (who finished way before I did) waiting also to give me a pat on my back. Finishing the race was very good for me. It gave me a sense of self that I didn’t know existed. Starting from ground zero and actually doing this was one (if not THE) hardest things I’ve ever done. A lot of people say that I have the itch because I have kept my training up since the race. But I feel this journey has helped me so much, not just physically, but mentally as well. I will talk about that the next blog, I feel this one had gotten long enough. Hopefully you keep reading, because I’m going to keep writing.
Until next Thursday……
Oh yeah, after that long morning, I had class right afterwards. So technically I did a Quad-athlon!