Anything’s Possible.

As the orange moon begins to descend behind the red rock canyons, the sky becomes a pallet of red and yellow. “Athletes, please make your way to the swim start”, a voice booms. With green swim caps and black wet suits, an army of matching determined warriors make their way to the base of the water. Functioning off of 3 hours of sleep and a small bowl of fruit, I take a stand next to my comrade.  I take a moment to soak in my surroundings. I see thousands of determined faces. Everyone beside me has dedicated the better half of a year to this race. Blood sweat and tears. The day no one thought would come, has finally arrived.
“Athletes, please make your way into the water.” the announcer commands. With a deep exhale, Steve and I meet eyes as if to say, “let’s do what we came to do.” I clench a  tight fist and throw it toward Steve. He meets me half way and our knuckles bump. We make our way slowly into the bone cold water. 15 minutes go by of simply wading. For a moment, everything goes silent. I can hear the thumping of my heart beating violently in my chest.
 and then…
*BOOM*
the cannon explodes. Surging with energy, we swim. What started out as a calm still water, became a violent whirlpool of flailing arms and legs. blood began to flow from my lip, as a powerful leg smashed into my face. Impossible to maneuver. The water raged vigorously. Constant hands and arms hit my back, feet, and head…all I could do was deal with it.  Then, when I thought the worst was behind me, an old enemy returned. No one saw it coming. In an instant ferocious winds formed an infantry of gigantic waves that came barreling through the water. Everyone was being thrown back and forth, left and right, and off course.  This being my first open water swim, I didn’t know what level of difficulty this was. Later, I was told it was the toughest swim in the history of Ironman. I was having an absolute blast! “If it was easy, everyone would do it.” I road the waves up and down, smiling all the while. Often gulping down large quantities  of water, which caused me to gag and choke. Off to the right, I could see dozens of people hanging on to the rescue kayaks, clearly out of energy. Had the wind started before the race, the swim would have been canceled no doubt.
After about 2 miles, I was done having fun and was ready to reach the finish. I was becoming dizzy and making slow progress as the massive white caps forced me backwards. Finally, the finish was in sight, and I cut through the raging water with all my might. “Show them what your made of.”After 1 hour and 45 minutes of fighting,  I climbed up onto solid ground and nearly fell over. I was extremely dizzy, everything was blurry for a moment. The crowed was booming and smiles filled my sights. I stumbled over  to the wet suit strippers and laid down. That’s when I noticed my tracking chip had been knocked off. I knew someone had pulled  it off in the chaotic blue water. “If you lost your tracking chip, you can pick one up at the ‘bike out’ I heard announced. Hundreds of people didn’t complete the swim course. Disqualified. I got my chip, got my bike, and busted a move.
It all happened in an instant. My body didn’t have time to adjust to the bicycle. The first 5 miles were treacherous trying to adapt, but soon enough I became one with my carbon fiber chariot. Finally, I was able to think well enough to come up with a plan. “Remember, save your strength for the run”, I thought to myself as I cruised passed another cyclist. I cut through the first 20 miles of hills with ease. “Ahead is an aid station” a man shouted as I passed by. In the distance I could see dozens of people lined up along the side of the road with extended arms. As I got closer, I realized they were handing out nutrition. I was riding with only one water bottle cage, because my other ones didn’t fit. This put me at a large disadvantage. I knew I had to get as much water as possible. “Perform! GU! Banana! Water!”, the volunteers shouted. I grabbed a water bottle and a banana from their helping hands and kept on cruising. The bananas were cut in half to make them easier to consume. With the cap of the water bottle pinned between my teeth, I used one hand to steer and the other to pinch the banana out of it’s peel. That golden treat disappeared in a single bite. I then chugged the entire bottle of water and tossed it to a volunteer. The sweat dripping down my hand caused me to slip off the handle bar. I became dangerously close to going off road, but I regained control and made it a point to just get to the next aid station. Now, about 30 miles in, I was approaching the scenic 2 loop portion of the course. AKA: the hard part. The first loop was gnarly. The suns rays beat down like a fire on my tender skin. The relentless uphills and powerful headwind caused agonizing pain. “Just keep moving forward.” 15 miles later, I reached the next aid station. This time, I had to stop and relieve myself of bodily fluid. “BIKE UP!” the volunteers shouted as they took my bike from me with a  smile. “Need me to get you anything!?” I was so amazed by the willingness to help from all the volunteers. Constantly trying to aid in anyway with encouragement.  Once my bladder was empty, I filled the single bottle attached to my frame and chugged the remainder liquid. OFF I GO!
After a series of towering hills, came the toughest one of all. It’s nickname: The Wall. This is a mile steep rock face. I remembered taking this beast down in training, so I was prepared. I lifted off my seat and began to pedal hard. The taste of salt filled my mouth as sweat streaked down my face. Gritting my teeth, I began my acsent! I passed every single cylist in front of me. “That’s the way!” I heard a pro athlete shout to me as I passed him. Everything in my being wanted to stop…but I knew I couldn’t. “You rock the bike!” another athlete exclaimed searching for breath. These words of encouragement carried me the rest of the way. Once I reached the top, I was in for a break. After one more long uphill, I would have a 15 mile stretch of pure downhill relaxation. I pedaled fast through the canyons topping out at 50 mph. Still, the pros blew right past me. I was in the highest and toughest gear and couldn’t accelerate. I didn’t understand how they were. Finally, I reached another aid station and poured the water down my back. I took out some gu I was storing in the back pockets of my tri suit and gulped them down. The 1st loop was done, one more to go. “How am I ever going to do this?” I began to doubt myself. The heat and wind really began taking a toll on my brain. It was fried and I was dizzy. “Just keep pedaling.” the second loop consisted of less wind and lots of bananas! The time came when I reached “the wall” again. “I’m going to walk this time…and I’m going to be okay with that” I thought to myself. However, by the time I got to the base of the rock, I changed my mind. “Go big or go home!” As I cruised up the hill even faster than before I heard many athletes praising me once again…which was so uplifting. “Holy Sh**!”  About 600 feet from the top, I pulled off to the side. The cyclist I had just passed encouraged me, “Don’t stop! Keep going!” …It worked.
I powerhoused the last 17 miles and finally came to “Bike Finish” I stumbled off the bike and found my way into the changing tent to gear up for the run.
I sat there, on the verge of vomiting, and wondered how I was going to finish this race. All the naked old dudes changing around me certainly didn’t help my nausea. I poured several cups of ice water down my neck, for just a moment of refreshment. I dropped my head into my knees. I thought of what life would be like after the race if I failed . How could I let all my friends, family, IronMan Company, and most importantly myself down? That’s when I lifted my head, tied my shoes, stood up, and marched out into an ocean of smiling, cheering, raging spectators. It all happened in slow motion. “Failure is not an option. Push that envelope.” I knew I didn’t have to do it fast, but I DID have to do it.
Jason: You know what they call the last man to cross the finish line?
Me: What?
Jason: An Ironman.
Blinded by cameras flashing in my face, I walked through the running shoot. “Let’s go Taylor! Looking great!” I heard a voice shout. That’s when I began my slow jog. My stomach churned and my head spun wildly. I barely held my balance. “God, I know I’ve done a lot of wrong in your eyes in this life. I know I don’t deserve to beat this, but please give me just enough strength to finish this.” I pushed foreword.
“Perform! Gu! Ice Water! Wet Sponge! Pretzels! Fruit!” Thank the Lord for those aid stations. I emptied several ice waters on my face, had a few grapes, and pressed on. It was about this time that my heartburn began. “Great…this is the last thing I need.” I began to stumble and slowed to a power walk.
It was at this moment that I met the man who carried me the last 20 miles. His name is Jason. He’s a father of 5, and this was his third St. George Ironman. He’s a true inspiration. The previous year he walked the last 22 miles of the marathon due to heat stroke and a sour stomach. He was feeling lousy again, and we agreed to tackle these last 20 miles together. The hours ticked slowly by. Jason kept my spirits high and promised me we would make it to the end. “Pain is temporary. To finish is forever” The sun fell behind the mountains, and the brightest full moon of the year lit up the course. A few times I heard “Trailing The Sun” shouted at me followed by words of encouragement. It certainly helped. “Looking great!”

The hours ticked slowly on. The heartburn didn’t let up, the dizziness got worse, the churning in my stomach became chaotic. If I stood still, I couldn’t see straight. However, Jason and the rest of the spectators kept my spirits high.
Me: Hey man, it’s swim, bike, run… it’s not Swim, Bike, Run, Walk… is this really going to count?
Jason: Listen, when your body is falling apart and you have every reason to quit, and you keep moving forward you’ll have truly earned it. That’s true strength.
With one hour to midnight and still 3 miles from the finish, the pressure was on. Under other circumstances, I could bang out those miles in 20 minutes easy…but not now. Not when I was moving at 4 miles an hour and falling apart fast. We kept moving forward and made  a couple friends along the way who were also burnt out. We encouraged each other the whole way.
Then, I saw the 25 mile marker…Something inside me ignited. The last 4 and a half months flashed through my memory. leaving home a naive kid, and ending up here a man.  I felt the iron begin to pulse through my veins.  Jason reached out his hand and I grabbed hold. “Let’s finish this thing like real IronMen”, I said. “You got it” Jason and I turned on full speed and I ignored my feet littered with blisters, I ignored my melting brain, and ran toward the sound of the crowd. Before I knew it, I cut the corner and saw the flashing of hundreds of cameras and the cheerful faces of thousands. I extended my arms and slapped hands with dozens of raging fans. I raised my fists to heaven with the biggest smile anyone could make. As I crossed that line, my body exploded with iron. It was over. I did it…at long last. I defeated the toughest IronMan course of all time.
Thank you Jason…thanks for it all!
Thank you Jesus. Thank you for it all.

The Last Battle of a Climactic Ending.

124 days ago with shorter hair, lighter skin, and fresh clothes free of rips and tears, we left our humble homes in Sutton Massachusetts. Over the last four months Steve and I have waged war against our simple suburban lifestyle. Heat, Wind, Rain, Snow, Hunger, Thirst, and exhaustion are all foes we have had to face.We’ve conquered every conflict…except one. As this journey ends, we approach the last battle. The climatic ending to this cross country epic. The battle that determines the outcome of this war. The Ironman. However, this isn’t just any ironman. This is the toughest the world has ever seen. So tough, that this is the last year St George will host one. Steve and I will make history. I am the 9th youngest male competing in this race. The only thing standing between me and the finish line is 140.6 miles of physical agony. I’m determined to finish. I will use all the mental strength I have gained on this trip as a lethal weapon to this race. I will not lose. It’s gonna be one heck of a good time!

 

My first road race was the Boston Marathon, my first bike trip was 4,000 miles across the country, and my first triathlon will be the St. George Ironman. Go big or go home.

 

 

With God at my side, there is no way I will fail.

 

Stay tuned for an after race post! Send prayers and positivity our way!

 

God bless,

 

Taylor Thibodeau: future iron man.

I Can Go The Distance!

With arms raised high and a look of shock and excitement, she jumps in front of my bike. I quickly veer left and pull firmly on the breaks. The old soft very very weak breaks I might add. She says something with a smile, but I can’t tell what. I turn my head around and smile back, “what was that?” I ask.

She pulls out her headphones… “I know you!”, she exclaims. “You’re from Trailing The Sun! You’re doing the Ironman. I added you on Facebook.”

I am now in a state of shock myself. I feel like a rock star. I’ve been recognized!

After our encounter, Erin Harding, the young vampire weekend-listening mom, went on to finish her 50k (31 mile run) 

With one hand steering, I brush my hair back and readjust my earbuds. Pressing firmly and twisting until snug. I am now 30 miles into the toughest ironman course ever created. The majority of this course has been a gradual incline. I reach down and grab one of my two water bottles. Before I take a sip, I know by now the sun has surly had its way with my water. At 95 degrees in direct sunlight, it doesn’t take long for ice to melt and water to become stale. “Yup. Gross…gross, but necessary.” As I move, I find it difficult to keep my eyes on the road. Instead I place my vision to my surroundings. The red rock canyons cannot be compared to anything else. I lose myself staring at the bright orange menacing formations. I am an ant in a big big world. As I make a winding turn, I am presented with a  great challenge.

Ahead of me is a mile long accent up a winding cliff. “You’ve got to be kidding me…”I think as I increase the volume on my iPod. “Good song” Beads of sweat roll down my cheeks collecting filth as they plummet to the tar. As I drop my head forward droplets fall into my sunglasses slightly impairing my vision. More of an extreme annoyance than a real hinderance. I take notice of my thighs as they tense up and enlarge while I press my feet down on rusted pedals. As I make my way up, I remind myself of all the other climbs I’ve made on this trip. I have never once gotten off my bicycle to walk up a steep incline. Never once. “I certainly won’t do that now!” I shift my gears. click. click. click. click. Four times. I hear the chain shifting. Clank. Clank. It gets stuck for a moment, but eventually corrects itself. I’m panting heavily as I raise myself off the seat to get a more efficient climb. Slow going. “This is harder than the big climb in Steamboat Springs”, I thought to myself. This was possibly the toughest climb I’d ever done. I’d have to do it twice if I wanted to be a made of iron. “I should have taken a longer sip”

Finally, after much exhaustion, I reached the top. Steve had done the course the day before and had informed me that there was a food mart not to far after the FIRST big climb. As I raised my bottle to my lips, I took a big gulp of warm water. “I need a cold gatorade.”

A couple miles later, I was inside an air conditioned food mart. While here, I talked with many other ironman competitors as they were training on the course as well. I also had a lovely conversation with my wonderful mother!

The smile left my face as I pressed my thumb and fore finger against my back tire. “No…not now!” Sure enough, I had severe flat tire. Just ahead of me was another mile long climb. “This is going to be fun.”

I spent the rest of the brutally hot day fishtailing and swerving my way home. I did make it though. SUCCESS!

I stumble into the house and fall on the couch. I press my finger against my red arm. As I pull away, I see a pale white fingertip-sized mark return to lobster red. The suns rays burn hot  here in Santa Clara.

____________________________________________________________________________

Things are all beginning to come together.

1)My tri suit and new helmet came in today.

2)Aquasphere hooked us up with some excellent free wetsuits which we will receive in a few days.

3)Steve’s Uncle Ben is shipping me his exctremely gnarly time trial bike to ride.

4) I bought new shoes.

 I suppose that is all I have time for at this moment. Stay tuned for a post about Jordan and Avalon. They have been allowing us to stay with them and are really great. We’ve had some super cool times with them…
“A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams”-John Barrymore
I encourage you to pursue your dreams as I have. When all is done and white has taken over my head, I will look into the mirror with aged eyes and say, “I dreamt it & I did it!” How about you?
God has blessed my life.
Sincerely your friend,
Taylor

Photo Catch Up!

Leave it to Steve and Taylor to sign up for the worlds toughest Ironman. St. George is home to the triathlon with the lowest percentage of finishers. This is sure to be a gnarly experience!

While we train, you should enjoy the photos below!

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

90 Days on the Road.

“Every man dies, not every man really lives.” -William Ross

Today is the 90th day of our crusade.  A 1/4th of a year ago, Steve and I left the comfort of our small town and ventured into the unknown. When would we eat? Where would we sleep? Who would we meet and how would they become a part of our story? Could we actually ride our bicycles day after day after day for thousands of miles through treacherous conditons? Could we fight the bone-chilling cold, the ferocious wind, the scorching heat, the soaking rain, the frozen snow, and the relentless hills and mountains? Could we actually spend 24 hours a day  for 4 and a 1/2 months with another person? The biggest question was: are we stong enough? Through perserverance, tough decisions, confidence, brother-hood, and pure strength, we found answers for all our questions.

Utah is truly beautiful. It’s home to the most spectacuar scenery I’ve seen, yet. Mountain sized rock faces brightly colored orange, red, and beige tower all around us. The photos I take can never do it justice. We are ants in a big big world. As we make our way along the winding road, prairie dogs run to their homes standing straight right like a soldier on duty. Never flinching. Though this has been the most delightful to-look-at state, it has also been the most energy obliterating. The hills never end & only seem to climb to the sky. The wind is relentless and has not let up since we arrived. Actually, that’s not true…the wind ceased while we slept. (pointlesss) On March 31st, as we made our way to St George, we felt like salmon attempting to swim up river. The wind was more difficult than ever before. We slowly pushed our way through about 50 miles before pulled off to the side of the road and collapsed. Exhaling deeply, I laid back against the gravel and set my gaze to the bright blue sky. For a moment I thought about where we were. It felt surreal knowing that I got where I was all on my own mental and physical strength. No one was there to hold my hand. No one helped me or told me how to do it. Steve and I did it alone. Forced into independent adulthood. “Let’s bike another hour and find a campsite”, Steve suggested. I agreed. We biked that hour through tormenting gusts, until finally we saw what looked like a nice place to set up camp. Beside a small pond filled with anxious ducks that flew away as we neared, was a small grassy field. We set up our tents and decided to climb one of the rocky mountains. We slowly inched our way up loose rock and gravel. Carefully placing our hands and feet, we made it to the top. Eyes grew wide and jaws dropped as we peered across the landscape. This was my favorite camping site yet! See our tents and bikes way down there? They looked like toy trucks. Animal tracks imprinted into the stone. We were quite high up! When we got back to our camp, we decided to build a fire and cook some rice and beans. It was our first hot meal while camping. It was succulent. Following dinner, we laid back on our sleeping pads and did some star gazing. We laughed and reminisced about our trip up to this point. April 1st began lovely. The wind had calmed and the sun was shining brightly. However, this was just an an April fools joke on us. Right as we began to pedal, the sun disappeared behind the clouds and the wind returned. I had little water on me, so I created a schedule. I wouldn’t take a sip for the first ten miles, and then I would allow a drink every 3 miles following. This day will forever be in my memory as the most brutal riding I had done up to this point. After 18 miles of climbing straight up the side of a mountain with the wind forcing us back, we pulled over. We laid out our sleeping mats and pulled out our sleeping bags. We cocooned ourselves and took a break. It felt like we had gone 50 miles. As we laid there, we saw a white cloud coming fast toward us. The temperature dropped rapidly and then it came. A bitter blizzard. We quickly packed all our gear and substituting socks for gloves we pressed SLOWLY onward. We faced the cold, the snow, and wind head on. As the snow flew into my eyes, I was blinded momentarily. 3 miles later, we took another break. We kept trudging until we hit about 23 miles up the mountain. We were only 4 miles from the summit of 9,000 + ft when a pick up truck passed by. It stopped and headed reverse toward us.  A truck full of greasy guys offered us a lift, and we decided it was the smart thing to do. The snow was coming down harder than ever. We threw our bikes in the bed of the truck along with ourselves. “This was one of the most insane experiences of my life”- Steve Kerr. I had to agree. We stood in the back of the truck climbing the mountain with ice crystals flying fast into our faces. I covered my face with my hat it became so painful. The truck flew up the mountain at an alarming rate. It was exhilarating and terrifying. Our way down the summit was the most horrifying. As the truck zipped down the curves and turns, we looked along the thin road and noticed we were above the tree line. One slip, and we would be off the mountain. It gives me the shivers just reflecting on that moment.

Finally, when we safely made it halfway down, the truck pulled over. After unloading the gear and passing out bracelets we were on our way again. The snow had subsided greatly. As we cruised down the mountain, I noticed my front wheel was acting “funky”. Turns out most of the spokes were loose…AGAIN. THIS WAS A NEW WHEEL!!! So, I guess it got damaged from being brutally loaded onto the bed of the pick up. We pulled over and Steve began digging for his spoke wrench, when a man pulled up to us. “You guys alright?”, he asked. We explained the situation and he offered to set us up in his yard for the night. He then offered to bring us to a bike shop in the morning. His name is Eric Allred. He is a kind and generous man. He raised a handful of boys and is now raising a 7 year old girl. We had fun chatting and hanging out.

Steve and I spent a lot of time in the garage for a  next to a warm fire. My partner in crime cooked us rice and spaghetti over the fire. When time came to sleep, the wind shook our tents violently and I got maybe an hour of sleep. It was brutally cold.

In the morning, Eric cooked us hash browns, eggs, and bacon. We also enjoyed some home made salsa and raspberry jam.

Now, I am off to the bike shop to see if we can’t get ourselves back on the windy road.

Thank you for reading!

“Don’t let fear stop you. If you do, you’ll never know what it’s like” -Eric Allred

Take Care,

Taylor

Silverthorne, Hot Springs, & Chef Steve.

Today  Steve, Jen, Colin, and I took a 90 mile drive to the town of Silverthorne. With an elevation nearing 9,000 ft, my ears were popping. Jen had to do some shopping, Steve planned to cycle his way home, and I planned to do some swimming. We arrived at the rec center around 1:10. Steve quickly began his 90 mile trek home, while Jen and I created a plan for the day. I had until 2:30 to get my swim work out done, and then I would take Colin off of Jens hands so she could make her purchases without worrying about her little boy.

My workout went well! I completed 100 laps which comes out to one lap over a mile. After my workout, I met up with Jen and took Colin to the mens room to get him swim suited up. I’m getting a small dose of fatherhood. The two of us splashed around in the 1 1/2 foot swimming pool for about an hour before it was time to go. I asked Colin, the 2 year & 10 month old, “Will you remember me when you are older?” “Yes, Taylor”, he responded as if the question was a silly one.

Changing the little blondie back into his dry clothes proved more interesting than the last visit to the mens room. It was difficult for me to put on a dry diaper with him screaming for his mother the whole time. Older gentlemen chuckled as they walked by, thinking he was my own son. They offered me tips on how to best approach the situation. After he was dry and found his precious mother, the smile returned to his young face. So, begins the journey home. We stopped at a small plaza to grab a bite to eat. My eyes lit up with I saw Qdoba was among the restaurant options. The other two ate at a place called “Noodles”. Colin simply had a massive cookie.

About 20 miles from Steamboat Springs, we saw Steve in the distance. He was doing great!

After a solid work out day, I think we will sit down and enjoy a movie. As it turns out, Jen is a movie buff! We had a fun conversation discussing films on the way home.

PICTURE TIME!

1: Hot Springs- The other day, Steve, Jen, Colin, and I enjoyed these pools of naturally warm water! It was so cool. Check out that steam!

2: Steve, Colin, and Jen at Hot Springs.

3: Jen and Colin at the hot springs

4: Mushroom and vegetable root pot pie cooked by Chef Steve

5: YUM- Good job Stephen

6: Cool Colorado Sky

7: When the sun sets, it changes he color of the mountains!

So, let’s review the resume.

1: We have shown strength, endurance, and maturity while cycling across the United States.

2: We can cook delicious meals. Well, Steve can. I can cook waffles.

3: We are honest, hard working, and self sustaining.

4: We can change diapers.

So, the question that remains is: What more do girls want in men? Seriously…

Single and ready to mingle,

Taylor