“When an idea’s time has come, it cannot be stopped.” – Ram Dass
I was in pain. I had been in pain for 24 hours. I was 32 ½ hours in. My butt was raw, even though I had an extra wide gel seat, and two layers of bicyclists padding on my undergarments. My upper back and shoulders ached, and my hands hurt. My legs – everything hurt, and yet it didn’t.
I prioritized what I value most, finishing, over what I wanted now – to get off this bike. That’s a formula for any of us.
It’s amazing what you can do. Your body can do more than your mind wants it to. Your potential is far greater than the mind wants to allow. Your mind’s job is to protect your survival. It avoids risks and wants you to take the easy way. It does not want you to drain your body’s resources like this. You have to hijack these natural tendencies with powerful conscious thought.
The sun was high and the landscape in Uruapan was beautiful. Hostile in places, but beautiful. I raced up the hills and down the descents. I tried to keep a rhythm – a flow in the whoops between the golden boulders and outcroppings.
The team put a tiny audio recording device in my helmet. It was the size of a flash drive and recorded for 50 hours. I talked to it during the race. I dedicated sections to my daughters Autumn and Chloe, and to Tanner and my wife Wendy. I talked to my Dad, and my Mom. Both of them are gone now – but I talked to them. I gave commentary on what was happening, and how I felt. I talked a lot here.
This was the last of the really challenging terrain, and I was moving through it with precision and speed. I summoned strength from somewhere. I was getting faster and making up more time. During the entire race, now, 32 hours in, I had never ridden better.
Baja wasn’t going to give me anything. It beat me the last two years and it couldn’t care less if I never came back. But I did, and if I was to beat it, I must beat the old version of me to do so. We must believe in ourselves and take bold action.
I came out to a familiar dirt road outside Ojos Negros. I thought I had it made for a while on this road but had forgotten the course drove me back into the whoops and up the mountains for another cycle. I emerged again and raced to my last van stop where Javier and Oscar were waiting for me.
The other vehicles with Victor and Arturo, and Kevin and Bobby had gone to the finish line to wait for me. I had 33 miles to go. Javier went over the bike. Oscar refilled my hydration pack while it was still on me. A woman and her husband were next to us waiting for their vehicle to come in. They knew I was an Ironman and congratulated me.
She took over for Oscar and rubbed out my shoulders and hands wanting to help in any way she could. 33 miles to go. “I am going to be the oldest Ironman finisher ever,” I told her. A spurt of emotion welled up in me. I hid it in my helmet.
The stop was only a few minutes as usual. I rose again. The last time. I threw my leg over the bike. Javier and Oscar encouraged me. I recalled what Oscar had said earlier.
“Remember, this is very important for your life.”