Then foot pain resurfaced in both feet. I stopped again and took my other sock off. Then my right foot swelled further, and it became intense. I undid my shoes and shifted my weight to find ways to cycle that I could bear. Then the inclines got tough and despite my feet, I managed to ride up in my lightest gear – still at high power. I ran over a dead rattlesnake. Then I was at the top.
The ride down Snow Canyon was phenomenal. Topping speeds of 44 mph. Big gusts making me wobble but zooming past people at an insane pace. I was grinning from ear to ear. This was amazing!! Almost 10 miles of flat out was pure joy. But the time at speed meant I was unable to drink. As I entered the second loop, unknown to me, I was getting dangerously dehydrated.
Back in the Reserve, I was feeling extreme foot pain again. I tried to think my way out of it. I thought of my bike buddies and felt them riding with me in spirit. I thought of my family. Then I thought of Leo, my baby who died at five weeks.
I put Leo on my aero bars in my mind, and he rode with me for a bit. I sobbed for him. I thought the reason I do all of this is because I lost Leo. This endurance sport helped me endure the grief. I will never fully get over it, but I have come so far because of it.
The heat, the lack of fluid, the lack of salt gave my thoughts intensity. The faces I’d imagined in the mountains became much more vivid. The brightness of the sky. The road winding ahead seemed to meet an aeroplane trail and continue into the sky. The bright redness of the sand. The landscape so familiar from cowboy movies.
The second climb up Snow Canyon is much steeper. And I was dehydrated. My legs started twinging. I was flickering in and out of a cramp, with only a half-bottle of Gatorade to stand between me and a full-blown cramp that could easily finish my day. I had a half bottle of water too. I asked the marshals how long to the next water station. They said two miles. I inched up the incline, spinning to avoid a cramp. A girl was hyperventilating so I asked a marshal to send help.
I saw the water station, but it was a mirage – just a van. It was so hot. I doused myself in water and sipped Gatorade until I was all out.
Then I was at the top and zooming back down Snow Canyon. The water station was way further than two miles, but I charged down, back having fun. At the station I grabbed more Gatorade, forcing myself to guzzle it. I shoved Ice down my tri suit. I drunk and doused myself in water. Then I was back on the road, flying down into St. George for the run. I hit the transition. Phase 2 done.
I took my time in the transition. I was fully aware the next piece was going to be very, very hard. A marathon, after a gruelling bike ride, and a long swim, at 90-degrees Celsius.
I trotted out, remarkably in nowhere near as much foot pain as I’d become used to. The start of the marathon is a 2.5-mile climb, which I attacked positively. Then I felt the twinge of a cramp. Then it was a full cramp. In the back of my leg, the front. If I lent to move it, it was in my abdomen. I could only move forward stiff legged at less than a walking pace.
I’d done less than a mile.
I hobbled into the first feed station and downed Gatorade. I started again, this time managing a little trot. Then the cramp was back with a vengeance. An Irish guy saw my predicament and asked me if I needed salt. I said yes and he gave me a small tube. I thanked him. My guardian angel!
Then I ambled forward, licking salt, downing Gatorade. The sun beating down on me with a slight desert breeze as I tackled the St. George streets. The race is basically four hills. The first sapping my exhausted body of energy.
I was seriously sun burned on my back where I’d misapplied lotion in my race frenzy which was impacting my temperature control.
Then I don’t know what happened. Whether it was the heat, the burning, salt overdose, lack of sugar, exhaustion or a combination of all of those things. I’ll never know, but suddenly I was seriously ill. I felt sick. My head was spinning. I had done barely any of the marathon.