Sometimes Life Throws Lemons At Your Head - by Matt Miller
Here is my journey from Saturday August 4, 2018. Race Report: Ironman Boulder 70.3
Backstory: BASE is the second company I have owned and operated. Each and every day new challenges and pitfalls rear their ugly head. Welcome to the world of Entrepreneurship. We are often tasked with decisions, putting out fires, fixing problems. Etc. The going seems to always be tough. But it makes the reward that much sweeter. Such is triathlon. Very few of us compete to win. We train and compete to challenge ourselves. We may never stand on the podium or earn a paycheck, but we push ourselves to our limits and don't give up so as to challenge ourselves to our core. We have an opportunity each time we lace up our shoes or zip up our wetsuit to prove to ourselves that we can accomplish certain things that we set out to do.
Personally, I completed my first triathlon in 1988 when I was 12: The Maryland Farms Sprint Triathlon in Nashville, TN. And I have completed at least one Triathlon every year for 30 years. And in 30 years, I have never had a DNF (Did Not Finish). Meaning, when the going got tough, I have never pulled the plug and not crossed the finish line. Boulder 70.3 probably should have been my first. Here is the story.
Lemon Throwing #1
The alarm was set for 4:15 AM. I awake at 4:17 to an email and some texts from Ironman Stating ‚ Last night at the IRONMAN 70.3 Boulder Village Expo, we had horrendous wind storms that caused massive amounts of damage to many of the vendors tents and booth spaces. We are sorry to announce that we are not going to be having a vendor expo today but the expo grounds where the expo took place will still be open such as merchandise and athlete food tent. Please see me when you arrive on-site today at the Boulder expo. Every tent at the reservoir was damaged. Not just the expo, but all over the race site. The race is still a go but expo is not. Now for me, I was the only vendor at the expo who was also racing. And since BASE is headquartered in Boulder, I made the decision to bring ALL of our T-Shirts (100%) to the expo, as well as MOST of our product over from the warehouse, and almost ALL of our tents, walls, banners, flags, etc. My intention was to get it all organized in the open field post race, and then take it back to the warehouse. Once I saw the pictures, I realized pretty much everything we owned was gone.
5:00 AM. I arrive at race site to inspect the damage. Figure out what I‚Äôm going to do. Our stuff is everywhere. The tents were destroyed. Items down near the lake. Stuff broken. Not a pretty sight. Omar (From I Love My Bike Transport) helped me get the stuff a little organized and into a pile. I decided to race anyway although this was weighing pretty heavy on my mind.
7:20 AM. Swim: 27:01‚ I tried a different approach. Wanted to take it easy and really go for the bike and run. Never pushed too hard. Came out like 5th or 6th overall. Had no idea where I had placed my wetsuit so I borrowed one from Nick Granet who is staying with us.
Bike: Goal - 2:12. The ride was going great. Kept heart rate in the low 140's. Plan was to negative split the 56 miles. Was holding about 25 mph. Nothing too crazy. Hit mile 40 ish and everything was going to plan. The night before, Lauralee had told me she wanted to cheer me on from the house as I passed by on the bike (Our backyard is literally at mile 40 of the bike course) and then she would come to race site for the run.
Lemon Throwing #2
As I was nearing our house, there is a short punchy hill. So as I always do, I'mm about to crest the hill, cruising at probably 27 or 28 mph, I pop out of the saddle to punch over the top. As I do, my power meter says I applied 682 watts of pressure to the pedals. At this time, my pedal snaps off of my crank arm and down I go. I land groin and chest down on the bike and then fall head first superman style onto the road. Not having a clue what happened. I look down and my pedal is attached to the bottom of my shoe. My derailer is in my rear spokes. Blood is EVERYWHERE and just pouring out of my finger. My friend Charlie Perez from RMTC happened to be right there and helped me out. Thanks to all the athletes who stopped to offer help. I wish I knew who you were, but I was out of it. Of course I tried to get back on my bike, but my pedal wouldn't go in, my body wouldn't work, and I couldn't hold the handlebars. Charlie wanted to call someone from the race, but I told him "Lucky me, I live in that house right there so I'll just ride home and figure out what I need to do next." So I one leg pedaled to my house and of course freaked Lauralee out. Blood all over me, my bike. Everything. Charlie helped me out. I get inside, and the pain was pretty unbearable. My finger was swelling up like a polish sausage and my wedding band was cutting off my circulation.
We decide to go to the hospital down the road and figure out what is going on. The first hospital takes x-rays and attempts to cut my ring off to no avail. So they then move us to the ER across the street. You can see in the first pic below I am still wearing my timing chip around my ankle and my race kit around my waist.
90 minutes later my ring is off after everyone including the Janitor brought in their power tools in an attempt to remove it.
Lucky for me, the ER Doctor is an ultra runner and cyclist. So of course I ask him if it will hurt me to go back and finish the race (I mean, I was still in my kit and and I did have my chip on). He says not a problem at all.
4 total hours in the 2 hospitals, 5 total hours away from the course. LL understood why I wanted to go back and finish what I started. So, I zip my kit up. I switch my race numbers from my Triathlon bike over to my road bike and I head out (Yes I know that is not legal but whatever, It wasn't about that)
Note: In the Half Ironman, athletes are given 8.5 hours to complete the course from the time the last athlete begins the swim. I knew that the last athlete to start the swim went in around 8:00 AM, so I technically had until about 4:30 PM to cross the finish line. Although I would get a DQ for taking longer than the allotted 8 hours and 30 minutes to complete the course, this was for me.
We returned from the Hospital at about 1:45pm. So I knew if I hauled some tail back to the rez and ran a sub 2 hour half marathon I could cross that finish line before they officially closed the course. Although I knew I would be the dead last athlete, it became a personal challenge.
As soon as I rolled into transition, my Buddy Tim the race director was standing there, looking a little confused. I told him what happened, and what my plan was. At this point in races, if you don't make the bike cutoff, they take your chip and you are given a DQ. That was fine. I was doing this for me. We chatted, I gave Tim my chip, he called it in, I racked my bike, and off I ran.
Bring out the party.
Run: 1:58.42‚ this was fun. I mean TONS OF FUN. Lap one nobody really knew what was going on as there were tons of other athletes out there starting lap 2 of the two loop run course. So I just fell in with everyone else, except I was kinda running a lot faster than them. My friends who had seen the updates on Facebook from the Hospital were very confused and I told them I'd fill them in later. This was a race for me to cross the finish line before it closed. Off I went.
In 30 years, I have never been a participant on the run course with this group of athletes. These athletes are the ones who inspire me. They work full time. They have kids. They fit training in when they can, yet they go out there and push themselves during these races for themselves. I was out there with them and I was encouraging them. High fiving them. But trying to not kill too much time as I still had a ticking clock to beat.
Lap one. Great. 56 minutes. Lap two. Holy moly was it empty. I passed 16 runners on lap 2 who were still pushing themselves to make the cutoff. I gave many of them all of the salts and nutrition I had in my pockets as the aid stations were closing and they needed it more than I did. When I passed each athlete, I counted, and then ran ahead to each aid station. I told the aid station volunteers how many athletes were behind me on the course and encouraged them to please stay open until that last one passed them. They assured me they would.
""Don't stop. Don't quit. Never Give up."" - Dave Downey. My finish pic is for you.
I chatted with people, made some new friends. Encouraged athletes. Helped some who were struggling.
In the end, I finished. I finished in a total time of 9 hours and 13 minutes. My slowest finish ever by far. 5 hours slower than my goal time. But one of the most rewarding I have ever done (Ironman CDA 2005 with Heidi is the most rewarding of all time).
The day started out bad. And then went from bad to oh my god can it get any worse. And then turned into something unexpected and magical. I pushed myself to not give up. I pushed myself to a new limit and inspired others
Life is about challenges. Life is always going to throw lemons at us and push us to our limits. I never give up. Not in Triathlon. Not in Business. Not in life.
Every weekend I am on Ironman run courses cheering on the final finishers. These athletes who don't give up. They keep pushing on and on. I thought about them on Saturday. I have respect for them. I have respect for this sport. I have respect for myself and for Lauralee. I won't start giving up today. Saturday was a test. It didn't get me down.
In closing. Life is tough. Business is tough. Sport is tough. Marriage and family can be tough. But when the going gets tough, what type of person are you? Me. I'm the type who will bring out the vodka and tequila and add it to my lemonade and bring the party. You have to hit me with something harder than that to get me to throw in the towel.
On the positive side. Home BASE is now open for business in Boulder. Come see us. I am the first person to hang my bib number on the wall for a meaningful race for me. I hope you will come do the same.
We have all had races / events (mine are more in the “event” column…because, well “race” just implies that some sort of speed is involved😏) that have gone off the rails. This race report is next-level kinda “yard sale” explosion followed by epic re-grouping and maintaining your composure, your bearing and your drive!!! Outstanding!!!
Just make sure to do whatever you have to in order to get a big-old scar on your ring finger; coolest wedding band EVER!!!
And, absolutely world class display of guts and sportsmanship! Congratulations!