My new favorite town is Boise Idaho! What a great place. Justin said it best; "small town feel with big city touch." It was absolutely delightful. Of course it helped that the weather was perfect, people were hospitable and we were excited to race. We got up there Friday afternoon and had to check in at the Qwest Arena. We walk into the stadium and guess who's standing next to us? The one and only Ironman Champion (two years standing) Mr. Craig Alexander! I didn't believe Justin at first but when I looked myself and saw those trademark yellow Newton running shoes and that overly tanned face I knew it must be true. He was right there in front of us and we froze like deer in the headlights and couldn't speak! I have never been starstruck before and we missed out opportunity for a picture. So no one will believe us now :-( but I tell ya he was right there! Seriously, I love this sport and what other sport do you get to race/compete with the best in the world? Hmmm...do you get to throw passes with Tom Brady? Shoot hoops with Shaq? Serve it up to Venus Williams? NO! No you don't but in triathlon you get to swim the same course as Chris Leito, bike through the same head winds as Julie Deibens, and run through the same aid stations as James Lawrence (not as famous as the others but more on him later).
After picking our jaws up off the floor we did manage to get checked in and drop $200 bones on Ironman merchandise. Then it was off to drop our bikes at T1. Only 10 minutes from downtown Boise is this fabulous lake. Lucky Peak Reservoir. T1 was HUGE! So many bike racks it was daunting and so many nice bikes adorning them. We were a bit depressed and intimidated by the unreal bikes that we saw....ohhh how we long for a tri-bike. There must have been a million dollars worth of bikes.. or more. I looked at it like my usual optimistic self and said to Justin; " well at least we know that no one will steal OUR bikes!"
After drop off it was time to party! This race doesn't start until 2pm (and that's for the pro's). So it was now 6pm and we had over 20 hours to eat, relax and sleep. We woke at 7 and just laid there and watched the World Cup soccer match until about 10. It was so weird not getting ready early and being in that crazy race morning rush. We headed down to T2 to drop off our shoes and we were starstruck again! This time it was Justin's "man crush" James Lawrence. What an incredible guy doing incredible things. He is behind the "Tri and Give a Dam" project, which is raising monies to build dams in Africa. What a guy! He let us take his picture (with Justin of course) and wished us luck. Not only is he out promoting change in our world but he is an amazing athlete to boot! Go James!
Then it was time for lunch? What! We are eating lunch on race day? You bettcha! We boarded the bus at 12:30 and headed back up the canyon to Lucky Peak. We had enough time to set-up T1, apply sunscreen, get body marked, potty, wetsuit and socialize (my favorite) then it was time to line up with your swim group. Justin was the 4Th wave of swimmers to go and I was 11Th. It was so exciting to see the pro's go first. They are so fast but at the same time looked so human. When Justin's group went i said a little prayer that he was not the guy out there doing the backstroke in circles! It wasn't him but poor guy!
The swim waves were set 4 minutes apart and it was my turn before I knew it. Once the gun went off it was show time. I loved the swim. It was longer than I expected but I felt pretty good. I had no idea where I was at in the field but just wanted stay focused on my swim, form and pacing. Swam in 37.12
Off on the bike with head winds galore! It wasn't windy when we started the swim but now it howled. For 45 miles it was wind, wind, wind! Give us a break. I tried to stay on top of my nutrition but at mile 40 I was thirsty. Uhhh ohh! Too late. This is never a good sign. When your thirsty your already dehydrated and there's no point of return (for me anyways). All I could think about was getting off this damn bike and heading to the med-tent for some TLC. Finished the bike in 3.27.43
While in transition I thought to myself; "why not at least try and walk some of the run?"Maybe I'd feel better being upright and my body could function better at absorbing all the drink sitting in my belly. I walked/jogged the first few miles and felt like complete garbage! I really should just pull out but then why not just walk it and still finish? It was so hard to watch the amazing athletes flying on this pancake-flat course. i know I could rock this course any day of the week, just not this day. At mile five I met my good friend Ralph. I love Ralph! Whenever I'm feeling sick or nauseous all I have to do is put my fingers down my throat and walla, Ralph is here! I did it behind a tree and it felt good so I started a slow jog and finished my first lap. Justin joined me for the second lap. It was very sweet/annoying that he was by my side my final 7 miles. I think secretly he was worried that I'd push myself too hard and end up flat-back on the pavement. I wasn't much company that final stretch and Ralph would show up every other mile. I just wanted to be done. I started beating myself up for not being able to run and for not getting my nutrition straight. All these negative, self-defeating thought popped in my head. Why was I doing this? This is what I do for fun? Why? Why? Why? You'll never be fast. You'll never be good at this sport. I remember looking up at Justin after the 10Th time I puked and hearing him say; "at least this will be memorable." I think I smiled at that and kept chugging my dehydrated body along. Finally, with the sun setting and crowd-lined streets I made it down for my final 100 yards. People cheering and the announcer saying "Michelle Anderson from Draper Utah, way to go Michelle!" It was a feeling I'll never forget. I did it! Wind, snot, puke and tears; I did it! In 7.12.55 that's with a (3.01 half-marathon) YIKES!
The volunteers put the finishers medal around my neck and sweet Deb said "honey, your not lookin' so good. Your not sweating." To which I replied "take me to the med-tent." i spent and hour with great volunteer doctors and nurses who made me drink until it would stay down. I laid on the most comfortable cot and while Justin went to pick up our bikes I fell asleep for about 20 minutes and dreamed of Abbi and Ty running on the beach. It was so peaceful. If this is heaven then I want to stay! But no, the next thing I knew Justin was rubbing my back and dropping keys on top of my head. "Are you ready to go? How do you feel?" Back to reality but I did feel better thanks to the chicken broth that kept Ralph at bay. I thanked the kind medical staff that treated me and we headed back to our hotel at midnight. What a day.
I've always said how triathlon is a lot like life. How you react to things, persevere and push yourself as hard as you possibly can. Life is the same way. What do you get when things don't go as planned? You get an experience. And what is an experience? Experience is what you get when you don't get what you want. That is what its all about.
I'll be back next year for redemption and of course another experience...