At 1:30 in the morning, after having ridden the bike for 3 hours and 18 minutes (estimated as a 2.5 hour bike ride), all I really wanted to do was sleep. We left Melissa behind on her 8 plus mile run so that we could try and get some sleep for the three of us in the Suburban. Jared had 14 mile bike ride. Then Ammon had a 23 mile bike ride. Then Melissa had a 4 mile straight uphill run. Then Julie had her monster 10 mile bike ride up the mountain to the summit. Julie had gone with Jeff to wait at the end of Melissa’s first run leg so that she could sleep when I started my bike leg. So we would see her shortly. Before we headed to the transition point at the end of Melissa’s leg we wanted to make sure we had eyes on her and assure ourselves that she was doing well. We passed all the people who had already left on that run leg and didn’t see her. So we turned around and headed back to the transition point from my bike leg, afraid that she had taken a wrong turn. We still didn’t see her. So I called her. She answered her phone, told us that she had seen us pass, then seen us double back, and would undoubtedly see us again as we headed towards the end of her leg. She said she was running behind someone with bright flashing blue lights on their back. So as we turned around again, we finally spotted her and felt more comfortable that there was another person close by. Another person meant another team vehicle that would be around. So we headed to her end point.
Legs 20 – 24
I laid down on the back seat, and felt like I was shivering. I wasn’t cold, but I was shivering. Over the course of the last six months worth of training, I have learned to listen to what my body is telling me and figure out what I need to do for it. As I lay there shivering without being cold I focused in on exactly what was happening. I realized that it wasn’t a teeth chattering shiver like you think about when you’re cold. You know how that type of cold where you are hugging your arms together and can feel them shaking as your teeth rattle in your head? It was not that. It was…. different. I could not pinpoint what the problem was and that bothered me. I didn’t feel like I was going to throw up, but I felt nauseous. I laid there for a little bit longer trying to figure out what my body was trying to tell me. My outer extremities did not appear to be in any distress. The “shivering” was coming from my core. It felt like my internal organs were expanding and contracting. Every bit of the shivering was coming from my belly region. I immediately sat up and wracked my sleep deprived brain to figure out the best course of action. I knew that I was severely calorie deficient and had to eat something. Jared had stopped along the way to get me a new and fresh burger from Wendy’s since the original one that Sara had handed to him was in pretty bad shape. I knew it was there but was afraid to eat it because of the nausea that ensued with the original one. I knew that the hoagie rolls had been settling my stomach during my bike ride and felt safe eating those. So I reached for the closest bread type item and grabbed a bagel. One bite. Chew. Chew. Chew. Water to force it down. So dry. I’d have probably killed for some cream cheese at this point, but knew there was none to be had, so I continued to choke down the bagel. Half a bagel down. A bottle of water down. All my Nuun was in the van, which was at the top of the mountain, so I tried desperately to rehydrate with only water. In a normal world, water is the best way to stay hydrated. In this situation, all the water was doing was flushing out more and more of my already low levels of magnesium, potassium, and sodium. But I didn’t have a choice. Eat my bagel. Drink my water. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Finished one bagel. I felt like such a huge success. I found my hoagie rolls. They were less dry feeling than the bagels, but holy hell, I was getting tired of hoagie rolls. But I ate it anyway. I really wanted that burger. So badly did I want that burger. But the burger still scared me. As long as there was nausea the burger would scare me. More hoagie rolls. More water. As we worked our way to Melissa’s end point my stomach stopped quivering so much. So I continued what I was doing. More hoagie rolls. More water. More hoagie rolls. More water. A cheese stick. A hoagie roll. More water. Some nuts. A hoagie roll. More water. I did this instead of sleeping between Melissa’s run and Jared’s bike ride.
By the time Melissa got done with her run, Ammon was about a zombie. Julie and Jeff were waiting there when we arrived. Julie got out of the Escape and instructed Ammon to get in there and sleep and she would come with Melissa and me to support Jared on his trek up the mountain. Melissa. I don’t even know what to say about her except that she is a total and complete BEAST! She is so strong. She got done with her run, put the baton on Jared’s ankle, and off he went. Jared’s bike leg was my favorite time in the dead of night. Me and my two sisters, finally together! Having them both in the vehicle with me was the best medicine I could have had. We have been on this journey together, and the saddest part to me during the planning is that with all that we had done together, we would do most of the race in separate vehicles. I should have slept, but more than I needed sleep, I needed to be with my sisters. The idle chit chat. The laughter. The sleep deprived goofiness. It’s what my soul needed. I was still pumping in food and water, but my soul needed a recovery, too. And my sisters were the perfect medicine for that. As we were going up the mountain, you’ll be surprised to know that my one hour bladder was on the prowl. We had passed Jared and were leap frogging to the next point where we would let him pass us, so I told Melissa to find a safe spot to pull to the side of the road. And there I am again, in the dark of night, popping a squat by the side of the van to relieve my poor old lady bladder. The girls were doing much giggling over my lack of care about whether anyone saw my shiny white ass hanging out by the vehicle.
Jared is a rock star on the bike. He can climb so well. But what he really loves is the down hill. I thought Don had no use for brakes, but Jared….he’s on a completely different level. As Julie, Melissa, and I visited we commented on how fast Jared was on the bike and realized that we were nearly to the transition point, and had not left enough time to get Ammon awake and ready to ride. We hurried to the transition point. Julie popped out of the Burb and over to the Escape and pulled Ammon from a dead sleep to the cold out of doors. She’s putting on his helmet. Melissa’s unloading his bike. Julie’s helping with his shoes. Ammon is just standing there in a complete fog while my sisters were prodding him along. Water ready. Helmet on. Shoes on. Bike ready. And here comes Jared. Not a moment to spare. I’m fairly certain that Ammon was still asleep when he got on the bike to start his 23+ mile climb up the mountain. Julie got back into the Escape with Jeff so they could head to her Leg 24 and hopefully get some sleep. We got back on the road to shadow Ammon and make sure he didn’t ride off the side of the mountain in his barely awake state. We were all a little concerned about the temperature because it was COLD outside. Every time we’d pass, we’d ask Ammon, “Do you want Jared’s jacket?” Each time he shook his head. Jared was driving. Melissa and I were dozing off and on. At one point along the road, Jared pulled along side and rolled down Melissa’s window to ask if Ammon needed anything. He needed a shock block and Melissa sat bolt upright. “THAT’S ME!” she exclaimed and handed him the little blast of energy, and helped refuel him as he rode. Then we all laughed and laughed that Melissa went from a dead sleep to being wide awake with fuel when Ammon needed it.
We pulled up to the transition point to wait for Ammon and to let Melissa wake up and get ready for her practically straight uphill run. It was only a four mile run, but the climb was STUPID! She had already run/walked with me on my 7.62 mile super hot leg. She had just completed an 8.06 mile 3% grade uphill run. And now she was going to run 4.06 miles of 6% with spots of up to 10% grades. The sun wasn’t up by any means, but the sky was starting to get a little bit lighter so we were able to keep an eye on her. Being able to see her as we passed put my heart at ease. I knew that this leg was the one that was concerning to her. Just like I knew that the next leg – Julie’s 10 mile uphill bike leg to the summit was the one of concern to Julie. So I rode along in the Suburban, happy to be able to SEE Melissa as she ran. The elevation at this point was dumb. Started at just under 6000 feet, and ended at just over 7200 feet. The elevation was a trial for those of us riding in the vehicles. But for those active racers, it was nearly unbearable. But Melissa is a beast and made it look easy.
We met up with Julie at the transition point between Melissa’s Leg 23 and Julie’s Leg 24. We pulled the really shiny new pretty red bike off the Suburban and did everything we could to help Julie get ready for her monster ride. This ride that has caused her an untold amount of stress. It was this leg of Julie’s bike ride that kept my brain at ease about my 33 mile bike ride. I had 3% up and down hills at the most. That is NOTHING compared to what Melissa ran and Julie biked. Julie got on her bike at 7244 feet elevation. The sky was light enough to see very clearly the steep drop off at the side of the road. The road that had NO GUARD RAIL on it. Riding along in the Burb, I was a bit freaked out about Julie’s bike. Melissa was back in the Burb with me, Jared, and Ammon. I think. Do you know it’s only been a week and I can’t remember if one of the boys went in the Escape with Jeff to sleep. I’m sitting here wracking my brain trying to remember if I had to share the back seat, and for the life of me, I just can’t. I do remember heading up that mountain and seeing the very steep, very SCARY drop off on the side of that mountain.
Jeff said that he would support Julie up the mountain and that we should head to the next transition point to meet up with the van and to rest. As we headed up we passed Julie and she looked like she was struggling. Melissa and I, every time we’d hit an uphill part of the road, would go, “Oh, Julie.” I think I can speak for Melissa when I say that our hearts hurt for Julie on that leg of the race. We were so concerned. When we’d hit a part of the road where it went relatively flat or downhill we’d cheer because we knew that Julie would get a bit of a reprieve. But then another uphill section and it was, “Oh, Julie.”
We got to the transition point, located the van, and got out to stretch our legs. I was so hungry by this point and Mom and Donny had arrived. They both got some good rest the night before at the hotel and I was ecstatic to see Mom looking so refreshed. She came up to me and handed me a yogurt/fruit/granola thing that she’d bought from McDonalds. She didn’t ask me if I wanted it. She just pushed it at me exclaiming, “You need this more than I do.” I didn’t even argue. I gratefully took it and scarfed it down. And it WAS exactly what I needed. The shakiness in my core stopped almost immediately. It wasn’t until later on during the day that I had the sudden thought that I had taken Mom’s breakfast from her. And oh, my overactive guilt complex. Taking food from an old lady. Geez!
Mom was a complete rock star during this race. She has major issues with high elevation because of her heart issues. She is fine if she’s sitting in the vehicle driving, but any sort of activity in the high mountains causes her shortness of breath. We all looked after her to make sure she wasn’t trying to do too much. And I think that Mom was so happy to be able to be a part of all this craziness. She loves her children fiercely and is our greatest cheerleader.
Having been ordered to get to the top of the mountain and sleep, the sun was up when we got there and for me, that means there is no sleeping. So I got out of the vehicle and enjoyed the brisk mountain air and waited for Julie to arrive.
Now, I’ve said that Melissa is a beast and she totally is. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Julie’s strength and tenacity. She is the Iron Mama. She completed her first Iron Man a year ago at the age of 48. She has a work ethic that puts most people to shame. She is determined. She is strong. She is smart. Oh my gosh, so smart, especially when it comes to sports nutrition. She is beautiful. She is FUNNY! And she’s crazy. So crazy! After her monster Leg 24 bike ride, she went straight into a 4+ mile run at Leg 25. Melissa (also smart, beautiful, funny, and CRAZY) left with Julie on the 4 mile downhill run. She felt that it would help her loosen up her legs.
Julie arrived at the mountain summit on her bike all smiles! She was so happy. We worried needlessly because she said that after the first two miles (which were hell), the rest of her bike ride was easy. I was so happy to hear that, and to see the smile on her face as she entered the transition point. The worst of the race was over. We had made it through the night time legs in tact. We had successfully made the adjustment when our alternate driver (my best friend, Carrie) couldn’t make it because she had been puking for two full days prior to the race. We overcame the obstacles that came upon us last minute, and the obstacles that we knew we would have to face during those over night hours. And while we were not quite finished with the whole race yet, we had a mountain top celebration KNOWING that we would finish, and that we would finish within the time parameters set by the Doxa Threelay party planners.