It was a big ole DNF on June 27, 2021. We started in the lake too late in the morning and got on the road too late – it was HOT. Brutally Hot. Not a cloud in the sky all day long.
The Swim – the water was perfect. The first 300 yards I struggled to breathe. I couldn’t catch my breath and couldn’t figure out what was wrong. My wetsuit was perfect and the water temperature was perfect, but I couldn’t breathe. Was it anxiety? I’m not sure. Somehow I self-talked my way to getting into a rhythm. My first lap was 50 minutes. The second lap was glorious. I was breathing well, my arms felt strong and I made it to the shore.
The Bike – the first part of the bike felt really good. I drank so much lake water that I thought I was hydrated pretty well however, even after 10 minutes on the bike I needed to drink. The aid stations were great and I stopped and got off my bike every other one. Towards the end of the first loop I poured ice down my top and bottoms, and water over my head. The highway section of the loop was pure torture. So boring and so hot. The bike course in 2009 was rural roads, just glorious. This course – awful. The climbs were long, and hilly and mind numbing, with cars rushing past you. As I headed back to transition after the first loop it was tough to imagine doing that loop again. There were sections that were so steep on the downhill you weren’t permitted to pass and you couldn’t be in aerobars.
After the first loop and seeing Bethany and Gabe cheering I got my second wind and knew I could finish the last loop. I felt positive and ready. I stopped at the aid station before the first big climb and realized my legs were burnt to a crisp. I got some sunblock but knew it was too late. I poured water all over me and ice down the shirt. I started to climb up the narrow lane and saw a man on the ground, off his bike moaning in pain. Two intersection workers were trying to help and the man yelled “don’t move me”. It was bad. One man was calling 911 on his phone. I kept biking and then about one minute later I turned around and headed back to transition – I was done. I notified the police who were near the accident before getting back on my bike to be done, and then turned in my chip.
Bethany and Gabe picked me up from transition to take me back to the hotel to cool down, shower and come back to cheer on Mark. While we were at the hotel Mark was back in transition and needed to be picked up. He DNF’d on the bike too.
Such a disappointment but we both did the right thing. We would’ve been zombies on the run, and doubt we would’ve made it to the finish in the heat of late afternoon – it just kept getting hotter and hotter. Some said on the highway they had temperature readings of 112. That is just too hot to race. A big congrats to all who made it. What an amazing feat to cross that finish line.
Traveling post-pandemic was a nightmare on Southwest: cancelled flights on both to and from Spokane. Instead of staying in Spokane for two days (the earliest they could fly me out) Bethany and Gabe offered to drive me to Seattle to fly out from there. I got a one way ticket, non-stop from Seattle to Boston on Alaska Air. The drive west was spectacular: high desert, mountain passes.
We stopped to have a beer on Snoqualmie Pass and then take in a scenic Seattle view. It was the hottest temperature ever in Seattle and we were beat. We fell asleep shortly and I flew back to Boston the next morning.
It was a great trip. I love going west. My friends are amazing people. It was a trip of a lifetime of endurance, racing, being out west, spending time with your true friends and seeing the world.
The world is getting hotter and hotter. We need to take action to change this. It will not be easy but everyone must play a part.