The adventure known as our third IRONMAN finish began with quite a whirlwind. Brent, Erica and Caroline headed down the Sunday before the race to get acclimated to the altitude and, from what I hear, traveling with a toddler can be an adventure in itself.
My buddy Ian and I flew out together on Wednesday, just a couple days before the race. Ian has been a good friend for a few years, but has never taken care of me, so this could have been an adventure for him as well. I knew he would do a great job though, so I wasn’t worried about it. I was, however, worried about my wheelchair making the trip all the way to Colorado. My everyday wheelchair is not made to fly. There’s a lot of things you have to do to get it from point A to point B and it weighs about 500 lbs. Ian and I took all the extra precautions to make sure it made it out safely and so it would arrive in one piece undamaged.
Prior to the flight, everyone told me to drink a lot of water. So I did. I won’t go into too much detail, but something really funny happened on the plane. Because I drank all that water, I eventually had to use the bathroom. If you’ve ever been in an airplane bathroom you know what two guys crammed in one could be like. I’ll just leave it at that...
After we landed and got settled into the hotel room, we went out to dinner with Erica, Brent and Caroline in the hotel restaurant. On Thursday morning, Brent, Ian and I went to the IRONMAN village to get our bibs and everything else that we needed to get ready for the race.
In between all of this, we did some interviews for a video that IRONMAN Boulder was putting together. It’s always fun to do interviews, but once that was complete the focus turned solely to the race, and the preparation for what would turn out to be a crazy day.
(I think all that hard work with the interview turned out great.)
On Friday, we got to hang out and meet Miranda Carfrae. We chatted for about five minutes. It was so amazing to be able to talk to and connect with one of our sport’s greatest athletes. She is basically the Michael Jordan of women’s triathlon. Although, I was a little starstruck, it was an honor to meet her.
As race day came closer, we tested the equipment out to make sure that everything was good to go. By that time I felt pretty acclimated to the altitude and water intake. All of our transition bags were packed and ready to go. Mentally Brent and I were laser focused and ready to compete in our third IRONMAN distance race together.
The morning of the race, Ian woke me up at 3:30 AM. I quickly drank some water and ate a little something to keep my pills down. Then, just like that, off we went to the starting line. We had about an hour and a half once we got there to do our final preparations. I like to listen to music with headphones in my ears, trying to get some quiet time and ease my racing mind. I was getting some nervous and excited energy.
As the minutes got closer to the start, I went to the transition docker, which lead me to the boat. We met up with my dad, Ian and Jason (Jason was the third member of our crew helping with transition). My dad whispered some encouraging words, Brent kissed me on the head and we were off!
The swim started calm on the way out, but on the way back, we had a bit of a tailwind. It was a little choppy, but it really helped us out. I ended up getting a lot wetter than usual because of all the people surrounding us (IRONMAN Boulder is a big race). We were out of the water in 1 hour and 7 minutes - our fastest swim yet!
When I got to transition, Ian picked me up and we were off to the bike. The bike is our equalizer, it’s our biggest obstacle. During transition, we were going a little too fast and I almost fell out of the jogger. It was scary and things were kind of hectic, but once I saw Brent things calmed down. We were off on our 112 mile bike. Wait, IRONMAN Boulder is actually 114 miles!
Once we were on the course, the bike has three racks. We had 17 people supporting us on the course throughout the race. They were all amazing. We did the first loop in 2 hours and 31 minutes. The second loop got a little bit harder. There’s a stretch in the course called Nelson Road, a heartbreaking six mile climb. We were cruising at about 28 miles per hour downhill, then stalled to 5 miles per hour going up. Nelson Road was seriously crazy. I never want to experience it again.
On the end of the second loop, Brent started to get fatigued. I had to reel him back in and try my best to give him encouragement. “We got this, come on buddy, we can do this.” Our support team followed us throughout the bike course and Brent said we need everyone out there with us on the third loop to give us the inspiration we would need to complete the course. I could tell that we needed all the help we could get. And boy, did my family, and our loved ones show up in a big way.
About 30 minutes into the bike portion all I wanted to do was get off, but I knew I had to be there for my brother. On that third loop I started to get hot. I had on a jacket and long sleeves, so when we saw our mom, she helped me get my jacket off. When we stopped, Brent noticed one of our wheels was a little wobbly. While I was getting changed, Brent gave our tire a solid and thorough inspection, but everything looked good. After this slight interruption, it was go time.
I knew that it was on me to keep Brent going emotionally and on his incredible ability physically, but no matter what we were going to get through this bike course. To me, one of the coolest things about IRONMAN, is that they have cut-offs. If you don’t make it through a certain point of the race in time you’re disqualified for the race. There was a 5:15 PM local time cut-off. We were out just over eight hours when the race official came over by us and said we had about 42 minutes left. We both mumbled about that and we just said, we gotta go, let’s go! One more time.
The rest of the way, I was whispering so Brent could hear me, “I think we can, I think we can.” And we did. When we hit mile 112, with 2 more miles and one more big hill to go, I was there whispering to Brent, encouraging him. Like we said in Wisconsin, I made follow Brent’s legs, but he follows my spirit. I think that’s what helped us conquer the bike portion in 8 hours and 51 minutes, 24 seconds.
I’ve never been more happy to get off the bike. When I got off I yelled…some not so nice words, because I was so sore. By this time, Brent was getting ready for the run. When Ian started pushing me, I told him we gotta go slow, (to avoid almost falling out again). When we got to transition, they laid me down on the towel to change and get ready for the run.
I laid there for a minute and collected my thoughts. You see, it was our own will, and our tenacity to get us through the bike. We didn’t execute the bike plan the way we wanted to in regards to nutrition, but that was behind us. We had to get some nutrition to end on a high note. It was our moment to shine. It was our moment to feel what we were about to accomplish.
Once we got onto the run course (after about a 12 minute transition) we started slowing down. Then we walked for the first couple miles until we got some food in us. When we finally got to eat, at an aid station, Brent dropped me with the volunteers so he could get as much food as possible. Once we were fueled up, we started to pick up the pace. And pick up the pace we did.
We started to get a little pep to our step and saw all of our family and friends as they were out there in numbers for the run. Every time we saw them they’d be dancing or yelling with vuvuzela in hand. They were with us every step and wheel throughout the 26.2 miles. We stopped at every aid station to make sure that we were well hydrated and well fed before we came to the famous red carpet and the finishers shoot.
We were at mile 25 and we started to celebrate! I told Brent how proud I was of him. As we inched closer to the end, the emotions started to pour out. They were emotions of pure elation. Pure joy. As we rounded the final corner the crowd was deafening. They were raucous. The music was blaring. I told Brent to slow down so that we could shake every hand that came to see us finish and complete our third IRONMAN together.
We started with our bike mechanic Curtis, his wife Jen and then Wayne (who drove all of our equipment from Atlanta to Boulder). We moved to the next set of friends. By this time we were on the red carpet.
Then a roaring noise came across the PA, “Kyle Pease you are an Ironman. Brent Pease you are an Ironman. Brent and Kyle, this is one of the best stories of Ironman this year. Kyle, you pushed Brent across the line,” the PA announcer said.
Brent kissed his wife, and hugged our good friend Betty. I got a big hug from my dad, then Ian, Jason, Danny, Helen, and everyone that was out there from the KPeasey crew. It was amazing. Words cannot express my gratitude and my love for each and everyone for the sacrifices that you made to get to Boulder. Thank you. To our sponsors, to our friends back in Atlanta, thank you. To Mom and Dad, thank you for giving us the gift of our family. To Ian and Jason, thank you. Ian was so great that he decided to stick around and be a part of my team and my caretaker. I’m so appreciative of you and Jason. To Erica, thank you for your continued support and I can’t wait until Caroline gets a little older so we can explain to her what her dad and I accomplished. Thank you for your continued sacrifice for your passion and love. Last, but not least, Brent. Thank you for giving me the ability to be an athlete. To be an athlete with you is so, so awesome. Thank you and I’m so proud of you. What you did on that course, what you did on Mountain Road and what you have done for the Kyle Pease Foundation... I love you and I’m so proud of you.
Together We Wheel,