I’m still in shock, my first IRONMAN is complete. It was a day full of emotions, triumphs and challenges. IRONMAN Boulder was a race that I will remember for the rest of my life. This race was a big deal, because of the distance and the sheer amount of training that went into it. This was all part of a roughly four year plan that came down to one day.
In the month leading up to IRONMAN Boulder, I had been suffering from some unexplained GI issues. Not only was this holding me back from my training, but I didn’t know if I would be able to race. I dropped out of the Colfax Marathon after a particularly bad episode that brought me to Urgent Care. I even contacted IRONMAN to see if I could defer my race, but it was to late. I knew I’d not be 100% for IRONMAN Boulder, but I became determined to do it. I switched up my diet and in the week before the race I finally started to feel ready.
2.4 miles of swimming, 112 mile bike ride all followed up by a full marathon, and IRONMAN is an extreme endurance feat. Why people do it, I don’t know, why I decided to do one, I’m still not sure. But this is something gratifying about pushing yourself to the limits. And IRONMAN does just that.
Despite the lack of recent trading I was excited for IROMAN Boulder. Dreams of an amazing finishing time had dwindled, and the goal to just finish became the priority. I had to check in for the race the Thursday before. I drove up to Boulder in the morning, after a great bike workout, leaving me primed for the race. IRONMAN Village was located at Boulder High School, and other than struggling to find parking, it was quite an amazing process. The village was large and bustling with triathletes. I checked it and got a nice backpack filled with lots of swag.
I then attend the athlete briefing, which filled in a lot of questions I had about the race. I was pumped and ready to race! There was also a large merchandise tent where I had so spend a few buck to get a race t-shirt and some water bottles.
The day before the race I had to drop off my run gear and bike gear bags, along with my bike. It was a little bit of a struggle to get up to Boulder in time to get that done. Lauren and Jacob helped me out. We first stopped at Boulder Reservoir to drop off the bike and gear. Jacob got to play at the beach as I racked my bike. It was really nice how the bike racks were numbered so you knew exactly where to put your bike. And I got a great spot right at the end of a row.
The next stop was Boulder High School to drop off the run gear. Again parking was a little hard, but we found a spot and just had to walk everything in. It was super hot at that point and I was worried the race was going to feel the same way. I got everything in with about 5 minutes to spare! I was time to go home, eat dinner and get to bed early in preparation for the race.
My plan was to go to bed at six, but it was more like seven before I could get everything done. My air conditioner was broken so it was extremely hot inside too. I didn’t get the best night of rest, but it wasn’t the worst.
Race morning I woke up at 3am, knowing I’d need to leave by 4am. I wanted to make sure I had enough time to resolve any stomach issues and could find decent parking. Driving up to Boulder that early was nice as there was no traffic at all. The planned parking spot I had was unavailable, but I was able to find a spot just around the corner. I got to walk by the finish line, what a surreal experience. I knew I had a lot of work to get back there that day, but I was determined to do it.
I was a little nervous that I switched my bike and run gear, so I went to check that everything was correct it my bags. It was!
We had to be bussed to the swim start at the reservoir, so I hopped on a bus and off I went. When we arrived I checked all my gear, although forgetting to check my tires. Got my wetsuit on and proceeded into line to wait for the swim start. It was a rolling start so you lined up in your projected finish time. I had figured about an hour and a half, so I got in the 1:31 and over line. It seemed to take for ever before we got down to the water. And then it was time to swim.
The water was nice, just the right temperature and really clear. The swim went well, people all around, but it didn’t feel crowded. The excitement started gong through my veins, I was swimming in an IRONMAN! I was feeling good about the swim and it went by really quickly. I had glanced at my watch and realized I was going a little bit faster than expected. The buoys were placed close together which made it so easy to sight.
As I approached the finish arch I was ready to start the bike leg. I ran out of the water and over to the wetsuit strippers. I think that must have been the fastest I’ve been able to get out of the wetsuit. I grabbed my bag and headed into the changing tent. It was nice to have a chair to sit on to get ready. Once I was done I headed out to the sunscreen station. Two older ladies rubbed me down with sunscreen, what a fun job that must have been.
I ran to my bike and stared my IRONMAN bike journey. I had previewed the course and ridden those roads many times, so there was no surprises along the way. I knew where I could push it and where to take it easy.
The fist loop of the bike course felt the longest and I was killing it. I was doing all the passing! Well that was until the pros started coming by. I thought I was booking it and they just flew right by me!
I was very proud of my bike effort and I started realizing that I was making really good time. Better than expected. At one point I thought I might be able to break the five hour mark, which is an impressive time. I started doing the math in my head and realize that wasn’t so much a reality. I did however ride one hundred miles in four hours and forty two minutes, which is something I’ve very proud of.
The bike course was three loops, I wasn’t looking forward to this, because I thought it would feel repetitive. But it actually was very nice. There were two hard sections on the course. One leaving the reservoir and the other heading back west. Both were followed by a nice down hill section were I could go fast!
I flew through the reservoir a fourth and final time. The crowd that was watching us has subsided, but the IRONBAND was still playing. I waved at them as I rode by, excited to finish the bike course. It was strange the last lap, which I had expected to be crowded was quite empty. But I preferred it that way.
The final stage of the bike course was making your way through Boulder via a bike path to Boulder High School for T2. This was a little crazy, there were many twists and turns along the way. But I finally got there. There were a lot of people around cheering. Then I hear a soft voice say go Jared. I looked up and it was Lauren. She wan’t supposed to be there yet and I was so excited to see her. I ran up to her and quickly gave her a kiss, then made my way to transition.
Since I had never done an IRONMAN before, I wasn’t sue exactly how T2 worked. I grabbed my bag and just started running. There was no one in front of me to follow. But as I was running I saw the sign for the changing then. A volunteer helps me dump out my back and got my ready to go run. At this point I decided it was worth it to take the time to pee so I stopped in the porta potty. My shoulder were covered in bugs from the bike, so I tried to wipe them down with toilet paper. I figured a few extra seconds couldn’t hurt to much.
And then I started the run. I was tired for sure, but feeling good. My original plan was to stick to MAF and get the run done. Well I just started running, not evening thinking about pace. There was a large crowd cheering and it really pushed me along. I felt good about my position so I just went for it.
Like the bike I was passing people on the run, until I got passed by a pro. This time it was a female pro, Rachel Joyce! I looked over a little surprised to see her. And for a few seconds I was running her pace caught up in the sheer excitement of the moment. People were cheering her on! Then I realized I couldn’t run that fast and I let her go. She would go on to be the first place female.
I ran though the first two aid stations grabbing water and trying to get some in. That’s when I hit a wall. My speed started decreasing, I got a pain in my knee and I was getting tired. I decided to walk through the aid stations at that point. There were about every mile, so it was a good distance to pace myself. Unfortunately I was not feeling much better and the walking became more and more.
I started doing the math in my head, what would it take to finish walking, maybe six hours. I started getting dizzy and my stomach was turning. I had push to hard and was paying for it.
There was a long period that I just walked, knowing I had given it my all. An older man came up next to me as I started on my second lap. He was on his first and he motivated me and we ran for a little while. There were some great people like that out on the course, but the one thing I noticed is there were a lot of people walking. I wan’t to finish fast, but I was okay with that at that point. One lady told me only 10k left to go, that was something I new the end was in sight and I could make it through. Then it was only 5k left!
I started jogging as I headed back towards the High School. There were a lot of spectators and that made me feel like I had to at lest jog. There was one more out and back left that would take up up a hill towards Boulder Canyon (where all the hippies were smoking pot). As I passed by close to the finish line I heard my name again. Now people were calling that out all day as it was on my bib, but this was a familiar voice. It was my Mom. I didn’t think she was going to be there. I reached out and gave her a high five as I passed, and then I saw Lauren’s Parents and my brother in law. That motivated me.
I had less than 5k left and I was going to be an IRONMAN.
I pushed myself, but still not feeling great I devised a strategy. I knew it was a climb up to the turnaround. I would walk the remaining aid station and the hill, but I would run the rest of the way back. Once I hit that turn around point. I had a new found sense of energy and I went for it. Now I wasn’t not running super fast, but my pace increased and the pain just faded away. Maybe not all the way away.
I ran back and turned off to where it said finish. I looked at my watch and I had run twenty six miles. I was nearly done. I winded my way around and suddenly I was in the IROMAN finish shoot. The emotions filled my body and tears rushed to my eyes. I had done this!
I heard to pace yourself and take it that feeling are you run to the finish. I did just that. I looked to the left and to the right, still running but like it was in slow motion. I heard Mike Riley call out my name and I through my arms up as I crossed that finish line.
Volunteers ran over to give me my finisher medal and take my timing chip. One lady reminded me to stop my Garmin. And just like that I had become an IRONMAN.
I was feeling surprisingly good considering the 140.6 miles I had just raced. And I didn’t even know my time. My family came over and Jason told my that my time was 12:06, I had wanted to be under that, but given the day I was very happy with that. Especially for my first IRONMAN.
I was surprised that my sister and Jason showed up, they had a wedding to go to so it was nice to see them. They brought my flowers and champagne. Also it was such a surprise that my mom was there. I guess Lauren had driven back to pick her up after the bike. And then Lauren’s parents were there too. It was so great to have people support me.
My sister and Jason had to run to the wedding, but the rest of us walked over and had a nice Italian dinner. A great way to end an epic day.
Throughout the run portion I kept telling myself that I didn’t think I would do another IRONMAN. The distance was too much and I would just stick to shorter races. Now that a few days have passed I’m already thinking about doing another one. I now know the importance of the run, and more importantly being able to run off of the bike. Given my stomach issue leading up to the event and the fact that I couldn’t train as plained I wonder how much better I could do. So yes, I think I will do another IRONMAN next year, but I also think later in the season.
Boulder was amazing, but it was intense and I’m so happy I was able to experience all that IRONMAN provides.