I came out of the changing tent in T2 and jogged my way out of the high school area. The transition exit popped us out on the Boulder Creek Bike Path, and I immediately saw two of my friends on the side of the path, cheering their heads off.
So far, I was feeling good! I had no idea how my foot would hold up, but I figured I would run for a bit and find out.
The sides of the bike path were crammed with spectators, making the run very loud and fun. Boulder definitely knows how to spectate a run!
The run is a two-loop course that’s shaped like a Y, so there are three out and back legs, and you do the whole thing twice. This did get a little monotonous, but it was also kind of nice to just focus on the out and back at hand. It broke things up quite a bit. I still have mixed feelings about this setup.
I ran along for the first two miles and was feeling pretty good. The constant ups and downs on the bike path (underpasses) were tiring, but not insurmountable. Mostly just annoying. Everyone was very happy and chatty, and I started to find myself settling in with certain people.
After two miles, I started to notice that familiar tightening in my right foot, and knew it was decision time. I had absolutely NO intention of DNFing, so stopping wasn’t even an option. It was all about managing the foot for the next 24.2 miles.
I settled in to a run/walk situation. I knew that if I just walked, my foot wouldn’t get any worse. I also knew that if I ran too much, it would blow up on me like it did at the Colfax Marathon in May, and I wouldn’t even be able to hobble my way into the finish. Time goals were now out the window. This was all about managing.
Around this time, I also settled in with a nice guy named Paul, who was also doing a run/walk system. We ended up chugging along together for most of the rest of the night. We pushed each other when the other didn’t want to run, and we kept each other occupied by chatting as we went. Sometimes, one of us would be feeling pretty decent, so we would run ahead, and the other one would chase for a bit. It definitely made the drudgery of the Ironman Shuffle more entertaining.
I decided to try something new this time around, and started grabbing a cup of Coke at each aid station. I had heard good things about it from others, but never drink soda myself. But man oh MAN, that stuff was like the nectar of the gods on this day. I may have said exactly that to several of the volunteers throughout the night. I will definitely do that again.
One other thing that was nice about the Y shaped course was that you had a lot of chances to bump into friends who were also out there. I caught most of my training buddies at least once. Including… Molly! She had made the bike cutoff, and when I saw her coming in the other direction, I may have screamed, and sprinted to her to give her a big hug. She looked tired, and terrified of being pulled off the course, but she was doing fantastic!
I caught several of my friends out spectating on the course throughout the whole run. They are the best!
The out-and-backs continued into the darkness. At mile 20, I came to the big screen that the Newton Running Lab had set up, and my friend Laura popped up with her pre-recorded cheer. It definitely brought a smile to my face. I can’t even imagine the waterworks that must have caused for the first-timers. I would have been a mess! It was definitely a nice little touch. I hope they do that again next year.
The last 6 miles were fairly quiet. We were bringing up the rear, but the course definitely seemed more crowded that normal. I think a lot of people ended up getting hit hard with the altitude, sun intensity, dryness, heat, and deceptively challenging bike and run courses. At this point, Paul and I had picked up a couple other guys, and the four of us were bringing it in in a group.
We worked our way back toward the high school, and then past it for the final out-and-back. Up to Eben G Fine park, and then the final (gradual) downhill to Pearl St. We had been obsessively checking the time all night, and knew we had plenty of time to spare, so there were no worries there.
At this point, my feet were on FIRE. It was the only problem of the day (aside from managing the tendonitis). I had stupidly forgotten to change my socks and bodyglide my feet in T2, and now I had blisters on blisters on blisters. It was AGONY. Every step made my heels feel like they were on fire. But that was okay. I only had one more mile to go. Then I could pop those suckers and get even.
Perhaps my favorite sign of the day was the one I saw as I came to the high school. It said “To the finish” with a big arrow. I happily followed it.
I looped around, off the bike path, and up onto the street. It was here that my friend Laura caught me – cowbell a-blazing.
Laura ran up 13th St. with me for two blocks, cheering and cowbelling. I entered the barricaded area, and into the bright lights of the finish chute. To my left, a guy who was just about to finish stopped and was about to propose to his spectator girlfriend. Mike Reilly was freaking out and sprinting toward them, but still managed to squeak out “You did it! You are an Ironman!” as I crossed the finish line.
I crossed the finish line with a big grin, got my medal from the female pro winner, Danielle Kehoe, and proceeded to hobble my way to Laura, and her boyfriend, Nick, who were waiting for me just a few feet away.
I sat on the sidewalk and started taking my shoes off. It was AWFUL. I was horrified. After several minutes of just sitting and enjoying the feeling of being shoeless, Laura, Nick, and I rolled my bike (which they had awesomely collected for me) back to my car, so I could go home, shower, and sleep.