(MIND-NUMBING ALERT – this is LONG!!!!)
After finishing (YES, FINISHING) my Leg 14 run that turned into a hike/walk/slodge/crawl, I was spent! Completely and totally spent. Don was feeling MUCH better after his experience during his swim leg, and headed off down Provo Canyon on the bike. I pulled out my yoga mat so that I could get my fatigued muscles stretched out well enough that I’d be able to get on the bike in under two hours. I needed to roll out my calves so badly, but couldn’t find my foam roller. Julie had a liter size bottle of Dr. Pepper and handed it to me, assuring me that it would work well. So I rolled with a much smaller rolling device than I had anticipated. It probably worked out better this way because I had such small muscles to roll (calves) as opposed to my butt and quads that would have needed the larger roller, which by the way, was right where I said it would be, but kids don’t search as well as adults do. It turned out fine, though.
Legs 15 – 19
Once I rolled out my legs and stretched out as well as my tired body was able, my focus turned towards my bike ride. After Don’s ride down the mountain there was a 300M swim in the Provo Rec center (Sarah), an 8+ mile bike ride to the Springville Rec Center (Madison), and then a 300M swim in the Springville Rec Center (Jacob) before I had to get on the bike. The nausea was so intense and I was a lot concerned about my bike ride. My original plan was to get done with my run, eat a sandwich, have a protein shake, and re-hydrate during those three legs between my run and bike. That original plan went right out the window. I couldn’t even fathom the thought of eating anything, but I knew that I needed to. My stomach was also roiling from that second Gu I had taken during my run. I have learned that I’m a One-Gu-Girl, and for the future will need to learn how to manage my nutrition without having to do two Gu packets. That will be a trial and error for another time.
We passed Don on our way down the mountain and he was flat-out flying! He was going so fast. His bike leg 15 was originally supposed to be Madison’s. She would have ridden her brake for a good portion of the ride down and given me probably an extra half hour. Don, I think, does not believe in brakes. We got to the rec center to wait for Don so that Sarah could get into the pool. I went straight-way into the bathroom to try and empty out my bowels and hopefully appease some of the nausea that was just raging. Both vehicles were at the rec center so my teammates were all hanging out in the parking lot visiting and laughing. Julie spotted me as I came out of the rec center and asked what I needed help with to prepare for my ride. I told her that I really needed food. I was so calorie deficient and knew that I needed to eat something, but I was so close the edge of puking that I was afraid to eat anything. It was the biggest catch-22 of my race.
The overwhelming urge to ask someone else to take my bike ride had me right on the verge of tears. I did NOT come on this adventure to just ride around in the van and watch someone else take my spot. There was no way that I was going to even voice a fear that I couldn’t do it. If I had to ride the bike puking the whole way that’s what I was going to do. Melissa is the one who seemed to sense my fears and said, “Just get on the bike. If you are struggling, don’t push yourself to the point of total exhaustion. One of us can step in and finish for you.” I knew that was not an accurate statement because we were sending Mom and Don to the hotel to sleep, and the rest of the team (except those with the overnight legs) to the top of the mountain (Julie’s bike leg end) to sleep until we got there. So the available racers would be those team members who had monster uphill runs and bikes. But somehow, having Melissa assure me that someone could step in gave me courage.
Don arrived on his bike, and as much as I wanted to support Sarah during her swim, I knew that what I really needed was to find some food. Something a little more substantial than the sandwiches I had been eating throughout the duration of the race. Don was also pretty famished so he and Sara took me to get a hamburger. Don did a google search for a close hamburger joint and we headed there. When we arrived, we all looked at the building (I wish I could remember the name of it), and all three of us went, “Oh, no freaking way!” It was a tumble down, ramshackled, hole in the wall place. Under normal circumstances, I’m willing to try the hole in the wall restaurants because they’re usually gems. But with 33+ miles on the bike, I couldn’t risk getting sick because of a bad burger. So we went to Wendy’s.
I went to the bathroom AGAIN – thanks, Gu,and then ordered a small hamburger. As much as I knew I need something really substantial, I didn’t dare get anything more than a normal sized burger. No fries. No drink. Just a burger. I got back in the car with Don and Sara and opened up the foil wrapper around my burger.
Oh. My. GOSH!!! The smell of the burger sent my stomach into complete flip flops. It was the most nauseating smell I’ve ever smelled. So bad. And it wasn’t because the burger was rotten. It was just my interminable state of nausea from being overheated and underhydrated. I took in some deep breaths to try and settle my stomach and then took a bite of the burger. Trying to force myself to chew that hamburger was excruciating, but I managed to get it down. And more importantly, keep it down. I sat there in the car holding my hamburger, concentrating on not barfing up the one bite that I had, drinking water, thinking about my bike ride, working up the courage to continue on. I can’t recall a time when I’ve had to dig so deep into my heart and soul to find the gumption/energy/will power to continue on.
Don and Sara visited with each other as we headed to the hotel to drop off Don. I sat in my own little world. I couldn’t talk with them because I’d have started to cry, and that wouldn’t do. Not again. I needed to start a leg of my race less fearful than I started my run leg. I needed to keep it together.
We dropped Don off at the hotel and headed to the Springville Rec Center. AND….we got lost! I knew that Madison would be well on her way from Provo to Springville. I knew that it wouldn’t take Jacob very long at all to finish his swim leg. I could feel my chest tightening up at the thought that they’d be waiting there for me to get on the bike. And worse than that, if I wasn’t there I was fairly certain that someone would just jump on the bike and head out for Leg 19 if I wasn’t there. Sara was doing her best to follow the navigation and I did my best to not freaking right out. I took another bite of my burger and tried to focus on getting that down and settling my stomach.
It seemed like an eternity! But we got to the rec center before Madison arrived on the bike, and for the first time since I left on my Leg 14 run I relaxed. I tried to take another bite of the burger, but couldn’t. The nausea whenever that burger got close to my nose was too much. I handed it to Sara and began getting my camel pack and fuel belt ready to go. I went in to use the bathroom again. Because of course I did. When I came back out of the bathroom, Julie and Madison pulled up on the bike so in went Jacob to swim. Less than 10 minutes before I could get on the bike. Julie found me and asked what I needed for my bike leg. I expressed concern about the lack of nutrition. I had a big bag of Kind Bars and I knew that they would be fine on my stomach, but the vehicles were both in such upheaval after having been travelling with a bunch of people for a full day – over 15 hours by this point. Sara was right there, “I have a Kind Bar.” The other Sarah was there, too, “I have Clif bars.” Everyone jumped in to action and started filling the pocket of my camel pack with food of any variety. I nibbled on some crackers while I waited to see Jacob coming out the door of the rec center. I felt like I needed to potty again, but knew that at this point, it was just my nerves and once I got on the bike I’d be fine. Nauseous, but fine.
And here he came out the door, running towards me. Julie and Melissa were hugging me as someone (no clue who) put the baton on my ankle. I said, “Well, here goes nothin’!” And I mounted up and headed out.
The air was a little cool and I had considered putting on my long sleeved shirt, but ended up sticking with my tank top. I know from past experience that being too warm makes me feel nauseous, and since I was already feeling so queazy that I’d better go for the cooler option. So I left the long sleeved shirt untouched in the van.
I pedaled along in the pitch black. I knew that there was a switch-a-roo happening with the vehicles so I expected it would be a few minutes before the Suburban would be there to support me, so I rode along in the dark trying to keep my mind off the fact that I was pretty much alone for a bit. I noticed that my legs were not fully extending as I pedaled and said out loud to NOBODY, “Shit! They didn’t raise the seat after Madison’s ride.” I knew that I’d need to adjust it, but had no intentions of stopping along the side of the dark road. So I kept pedaling. It was only ten-ish miles to Spanish Fork and I knew there would be well lit roads and a safer space for me to stop and adjust the seat. So I kept pedaling.
“On the road again. I just can’t wait to get on the road again.” Not sure why this is the song that came into my head, but I was singing it. Out loud. In my best Willie Nelson voice possible. Other random songs I sang while I waited for roads lit up enough to adjust the bike seat included, but were not limited to: I’m a little teapot; I like big butts; Renegade; and I wanna be where the people are. I’m fairly certain that I was the hit of the road as a couple bikers passed me with a huge thumbs up and a “great job.” I’m pretty certain they were referring to my stellar “middle of the night” singing voice. Because what else could it be?
There was a four-way intersection with a stoplight and NO CARS to be seen, which means that the motion sensored lights were never going to change. Despite the rule of “following the rules of the road as you ride” I ran the red light and continued on towards the lights of Spanish Fork. I pulled off onto a sidewalk and dismounted to adjust my seat. The seat stem was marked with fingernail polish to show Madison and Sarah’s seat height versus my seat height. It had already been adjusted. So I cursed for no good reason (except nausea, fatigue, strange head-space). When we originally determined the height the seat would need to be, I did not take into consideration that it might be different post-run versus the immediately “I am in love with this bike” feeling of riding it for the first time at Jackie’s house. I raised it probably just over a quarter inch. While I was adjusting, a vehicle from another team pulled up beside me. “Are you doing alright? Do you need help?” Well, THAT was a loaded question. I said that I was just adjusting the seat height and that I was fine. So they continued on their way to support their own rider. Since I still had not seen the Suburban, I can’t even describe the relief of knowing that there were other race vehicles on the road that were looking out for ALL the bikers on the road. It was comforting.
It was not long after this that Suburban caught up to me after juggling the other teammates and getting them on their way to Skyline Drive.
Still quite nauseous. Still drinking water. Still eating Kind Bars. On and on. But once the Suburban caught up to me I relaxed a whole lot and settled into my ride. So I kept pedaling.
And Julie’s bike, for as much as I loved it, was just a titch too small for my frame, and my back was beginning to feel the strain of riding a bike that was a little short.
And my back was killing me. The Suburban pulled alongside me for what felt like the hundredth time, “You doing alright? You need anything?” I said that my back was killing me. They said they’d get me some advil, so they pulled ahead and when I saw their brake lights, I knew they had found it. I pulled to the driver’s side of the car and Jared handed me Advil and a water bottle. I swallowed the pills, handed back the bottle, and kept on pedaling.
The Suburban pulled ahead of me. Out of sight for a very long time. I could see the freeway (I-15) and felt like I would be going under the overpass right away. For some reason, going under the I-15 overpass is where my brain told me I was almost there. This was a HUGE ERROR and miscalculation. HUGE! Plus, seeing I-15 and getting to the underpass were so far separated that I felt like I was riding forever before I actually arrived. The Suburban was parked at the intersection where I was to turn right and head down under the overpass. They asked how my back was, and it felt great by this time. The Advil had kicked in. I was still nauseous, but still focusing on taking a bite of something here and there, and continuing to drink. I feel like I road with the nozzle from my camel pack in my mouth the whole way. I didn’t, but at times I felt that way.
The road to the other side of I-15 was downhill. And I’m pretty certain I began belting out the Hallelujah Chorus! Down. Down. Down. My legs were able to have a very much needed reprieve. Coasting, coasting, coasting. Keep those bikers coasting. And then….
CHINK CHINK CHINK CHINK CHINK. What the hell is that sound? Something was terribly wrong. I was going downhill, trying to focus on the road ahead of me so that I didn’t hit anything that would send me flying from the bike, while trying to scope out the bike to see what was causing the chinking sound.
Mile 20.43 and the tire popped. I got off the bike the moment I figured out what the problem was and walked it a block to a well lit gas station that was just ahead. I knew the Suburban was not far behind me and figured I would see them before I made it to the gas station. I was wrong. I had to call them on the phone and tell them I had a flat tire. Jared said they’d be right there. So I pulled out the spare tube and tools, turned the bike upside down, and then waited for them to arrive. When Julie was showing me how to change the tire she said if I found myself in that situation to call the vehicle and then start removing the tire while I waited. I flat out disobeyed. I waited for the boys to take care of it. I was too tired for my brain to focus on that task. Once they got there I headed into the gas station for a MUCH NEEDED potty break. Remember my hour bladder? It’s no different on the bike. And it had been OVER an hour. I had debated where I needed to stop and take a potty break. And I knew that the options were running short because I was about ready to turn off the main road onto the Old Mona road, which is a DESOLATE stretch of road. The flat tire forced me to take a potty break, so I can’t really complain too much about it, except that it was a royal pain.
Ammon and Jared are rock stars! I was so happy to have them change my tire. I could have done it myself but it would have taken me an hour. Even though it felt like an eternity, they had it changed (based on my Garmin pace) somewhere between 10 and 20 minutes. I paced along the parking lot of the gas station as I waited. Melissa was asleep in the Suburban. As the tire was almost ready to go, I opened the suburban door to find one of my hoagie rolls. I was still so nauseous and nothing I was eating was helping the nausea to go away, so I wanted to try some bread. I swear, I took one bite of the bread and it was an instant relief. I wish I’d have tried the rolls sooner. So I got back on the bike and continued pedaling while holding a roll in my hand so that I could take the occasional bite. When the roll would be too dry to eat, I’d toss it and get another one. It was a nutrition plan that I had not anticipated as an option, but it was the plan that helped to settle my stomach.
I kept on pedaling. Playing leap frog with the Suburban. They’d go way ahead of me and then wait for me to catch up. They’d touch base with me to make sure I was still doing OK and then off they’d go again. When the Suburban was way far ahead of me, one of the other team vans would slow down and ask how I was doing and visit for a minute before they go find their biker. The Old Mona road was a dark and desolate part of the route, but it was the final stretch and once I hit it, I knew I would be able to finish the bike ride.
When I hit 23 miles I was having a hard time seeing and noticed the headlight on the bike was flickering. One of the rules of the Doxa Threelay is that between the hours of 8pm and 6am the participant MUST have a reflective vest and a headlight. If they were caught without it, the whole team would be disqualified from the race. So the flickering headlight set me into a mild panic because I couldn’t see where the Suburban had stopped, and I did NOT want to be the team member that got us disqualified. C’mon little headlight – just hold on. Just hold on.
When I saw the Suburban up in the distance I could see that there were people standing around. As I got closer I saw Jared out of the Suburban helping another biker change their tire. I pulled up to the Burb and told Ammon that my headlight was dying. He hopped out of the vehicle and pulled the headlamp off. I am not sure what the problem was with the light, but he took the whole base set off the handlebars and put a completely different headlight on. Another stop. I was feeling frustrated at the amount of time the bike ride was taking, but also extremely grateful for my teammates. I knew I had one more major obstacle to pass before I reached the end.
When Jackie and I drove the course on Wednesday night, there was construction right towards the end of my bike leg. We had to drive a detour around the construction and I was concerned at how they would handle it during the race. At the beginning of the race they explained that Leg 19 had construction, and that UDOT had said they would put a steel plate over the gaping holes in the road. The asphalt had been torn off a mile stretch of road and there were ditches dug at various points, so UDOT covered them with steel. However, the new rule for Leg 19 was that the bike had to be loaded onto the support vehicle, the racer had to get into the race vehicle, and they were to be driven across the construction path. This was preferable to having to do the detour, but it was still a time suck for the total leg. As I neared the construction point of my leg I had lost sight of the Suburban. I knew that it would be waiting for me at the beginning, but I still had a couple of miles to ride alone without vehicle support.
Riding at night is weird. It’s nerve wracking, especially when you have a very overactive, vivid imagination like I do. Every time the Burb would get too far ahead or too far behind my brain would go berserck. All the ways that Utah could kill me circled through my head. But every time, before I could spin out of control, one of the other team vehicles would pull up beside me and check in on me. This is one of the things that I have always loved about the racing environment. The supportive nature between all the different racers (and in this case – teams & support vehicles) is something that the world in general could take a lesson from. So not only did I have amazing support from my own team, but two other teams were leap frogging as well and checking in as well. And I know that my people in the Suburban did the same because I witnessed Jared changing one of our competitors’ tires. It was very comforting to me to know that there were so many people around on that dark ride who had my back.
Up ahead – flashing lights. This could only mean one thing – I had reached the construction point. There was the Suburban and Jared was outside the vehicle waiting for me to arrive. The thought of racking up the bike felt so time consuming so Jared instructed me to just get in the Burb. I got in to find Melissa and Ammon with their windows rolled down. Jared had my bike to the other side of the vehicle in nothing flat, handed the bike up to Ammon and Melissa, and high-tailed it back into the Burb. Melissa and Ammon held that bike out the window while Jared raced through the construction. Melissa and Ammon made sure that the bike wasn’t banging against the side of the vehicle. They got a fantastic isometric workout, and the comments to this point were making me giggle. Or it was the sleep deprivation. Nobody can know for certain, but I was giggling amidst my exhaustion and nausea.
A mile later, the Burb came to a stop, Jared hopped out and ran around to relieve Melissa and Ammon of their bike-holding duties, and I was out the door and onto the bike. And I began pedaling again.
Five more miles. Five miles of darkness and solidarity. The Suburban went ahead to the transition point so that Melissa could begin getting ready for her 8+ mile run to the foothills. I could see the lights of Mona in the distance and aside from the pain in my back that was beginning to flare up again, was able to relax and just keep on pedaling. I found out later that during this part of my trek, I rode right past my cousin’s house. If I’d have know, I would have waved.
I reached the transition point and very happily dismounted for the last time. I didn’t anticipate the number of times that I would dismount through my 33.13 miles of biking. But I was very happy for that final dismounting. I hugged Melissa as Ammon took the baton off my leg and put it on hers. We sent her on her way. I went potty again. And loaded into the Suburban for our drive to Melissa’s end point. I was NOT happy that we were not providing her support, but Melissa insisted that we go to the end point and try to sleep because Jared had to get onto the bike and needed some rest. So, reluctantly, we left Melissa on the side of the road and drove 8 miles to the next transition point, and to sleep.
TL/DR – I completed my Leg 19 bike ride.