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!
Taylor Thibodeau: future iron man.
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.
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!
“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
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.
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!
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,