Randy: About 11months ago, Amanda and I decided I’d sign up for Ironman Tahoe. Just signing up for this race was a big deal! I had paid for Ironman Canada and Ironman Coeur D’Alene and failed to make it to the start line of either. Amanda allowed me to sign up for this one with the promise of starting the race!
Amanda: About 11months ago, Randy heard about Ironman Lake Tahoe. He has always wanted to go there, so I was like, sure sign up. Although he did get a bit of a speech…he WAS going to RACE this time! I kept calling it his $2000 Ironman, since we had previously paid for 2, which both ended up being DNS (Did not Show.)
Randy: About 11 weeks prior to the race we moved back to Boulder, CO from Oklahoma City and my training began. My physical activity had been almost non-existent for several years up to that point. My weight had crept up to about 220 at it’s highest but on day one I weighed 216. By race day we had brought that number back down to 186. The Day I stepped on the scales, I thought that my smile my joy would not be topped on race day even at the finish line! Now onto Tahoe…………..
Amanda: In January, I started working with Siri Lindley and at that time Randy was far from doing ANY training! I remember as we worked out my season schedule, I asked if it would be OK to go to Lake Tahoe with Randy before Kona (it’s only three weeks out, and that would be a big training weekend!) She cleared it and so I was full on support. However, no training ever began! In June, we made the move to Boulder and Randy still hadn’t started training. The race was getting close…it was time to get in gear. Thankfully, two things happened…1) We were in Boulder, the triathlon mecca, if you didn’t’ get excited about training there, would you anywhere? And 2) I had just come off winning Ironman Brazil and Randy realized, maybe I did know a thing or two about Ironman and asked me to coach him, why of course honey!!!
As the pounds started to shed and Randy started training, it was so cool to watch the transformation. He kept getting thinner and more fit…and the best part, was the sparkle in his eyes came back. He was happy! We were happy! Grateful for the life we had and lucky to be able to do this together!
ARRIVAL in TAHOE
Randy: We arrived Thursday. The drive to Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful drives I have ever been on, and I’ve been around the world 2 times! While unpacking the bike one of my shifting cables did break and had to be fixed. Eric, thank you for saving the day!
Rumors, rumors, rumors……. We all love rumors. Rumor is there is snow in the forecast. Amanda and I half dismissed this talk as people freaking themselves out days before the race. Saturday, much to our surprise the rain started and then wait for it!!!!!! SNOW!!!! No freaking way! This was a twist I knew could happened but wasn’t really ready for. I walked over to the swim start just as the sun was setting the night before the race and saw all the buoys were placed nicely right there on the beach. Where we really going to swim? With the air temps 27 degrees colder than the water temps of 57 degrees??
Amanda: WOW! What a spectacular place! Lake Tahoe exceeded all expectations…well, that is until the snow came! People kept talking about snow, and I was like are you all crazy?! And then it came! However, the first full day there, on Friday the sun was out and you could see how beautiful the course was going to be, tough for sure, but so many incredible views! We went over to race registration and when Randy came out of the tent with his numbers and goodie bag, he was like “Are you okay?” “Yah, why” “Well, you look lost!” Haha, I guess I was a bit lost…this was going to be a different weekend for sure, rather than being out on the racecourse, I was Randy’s support crew. I was excited to see the race from the other side and get a new perspective on the race. The days leading up to the race, I became the ‘annoying’ person, “Do you need anything” “Get off your feet” “You need food” “Drink” “What can I do to help?” Now, I know when Randy asks those questions, they are purely out of concern!
The evening before the race, when it was snowing, I went out for a long run. Man, it was so peaceful. I feel in LOVE with running and feel in love with our sport again. This is so cool! Tomorrow is going to be such a great day. I get to see thousands of people challenge themselves and reach goals they had only dreamed of! Also, while out on my run, I realized just how cold it was going to be on race day. I was freezing and I had my full winter gear on! This would be interesting for sure…
Randy: Mike Reilly’s tweet says. “Business as Usual” Swim is on!!! Amanda and I decided to go ahead and put my wetsuit on before leaving the condo for the walk to the swim start(keep in mind the air temp is 29 degrees at this point) We get to my bike to put my water bottles in the cages, my bike has Icicles………… I look at my wife, a professional triathlete, her face said it all “I’m glad it’s you and not me”.
It was seriously freezing, but I didn’t even notice. The views of this swim start are like none I’d ever seen at Amanda’s races or mine. There was steam coming off the lake and snow capped mountains that surrounded us. I didn’t even pay much attention to the frozen sand I was walking on that led to the water’s edge. Now what I am going to say next still doesn’t make much since to me. The warmest part of the day was about to start-THE SWIM. Off we go! Diving into the 57degree water was a relief, it was warmer than the air!!!!! Yes read that sentence again! What I didn’t know was that really was going to be the hottest part of my day. Turning the buoys proved to be difficult because as more bodies hit the water the steam from the lake became thicker and made sighting very difficult. Horizontal views were difficult, but looking out and across I could see with every breath snow capped mountains!
Amanda: OMG! I think I woke up more nervous for Randy’s race than he was…he was calm as a cucumber! And it was cold! I checked the forecast and the temperature was supposed to drop the first few hours of the morning before it started to warm up. There was rumor that the swim would be canceled or shortened, but Ironman didn’t make any changes, go Ironman! We walked down to the swim start with Randy in his Freak of Nature wetsuit…I was so cold, I thought to myself, I should have worn my wetsuit too! But I couldn’t make a peep, it was all positive and warm thoughts! We got to Randy’s bike and his top tube was covered with Ice! I’d never seen such a thing…then I check his wheels, and there is a thin coating of ice there too, I tried to wipe them down, but it would just re-freeze. Randy was like, don’t worry about it…I’ll be fine. Um, ok?!
As we were walking down toward the swim start, the cannon sounded for the start of the pro race. It was so strange to see what actually goes on with all the age-groupers while we are already out there racing: last minute preparations, dropping morning clothes bags, lines at the porta-potties, and people scurrying around. But it was so cool to see and feel the energy of Ironman on race morning! The excitement was electric and the backdrop was amazing!
It was time to say good-bye and good luck to Randy, give him a quick kiss and let him know I’d be there every step of the way…and most of all, “Enjoy the day Randy!” Off, he disappeared into the sea of athletes on the beach ready to run into the steaming water…steaming because the air temp was so much lower than the water temp!
As Randy was swimming, I headed over the VIP area, we had access to a pier, which was great! And I also got a good viewing spot at the swim exit. The lead men came out and then my teammate, Dede, led the women out of the water, whohoo! Then my first ‘stress’ of the day started…age groupers were coming out in large groups, would I be able to find Randy? What if I miss him? Is that him? Or that? But…it all turned out good, I saw him come out of the water and run up the beach with a huge smile on his face!! I grabbed my bags and Randy’s pump and ran around to the Bike exit. Yes, I was running, as I didn’t want to miss my chance to see him. And then I waited, and waited some more. I knew his plan was to stay calm and take the time to dry off and put dry clothes on…but 10 min? 15min? 20min? Oh no! I must have missed him! So I started walking back towards the hotel, which was along the bike course. The whole time I was waiting for him, I’d had my camera out, ready to get the perfect shot to post and update everyone with. Well, when I started walking back…I put my phone up, and of course within 30sec, Randy comes flying by on his bike! Relief flooded over me! There was my Randy…GO! GO! GO!
Randy: 1st let me back up to the “changing tent” I have always heard about the Romans sitting in steam rooms with a bunch of naked dudes. I think I got a 1st hand look at this scene on Sunday morning!!! There was standing room only in this room and almost everyone was naked and steaming! HAHA. Butts to Butts, nutts to nutts and wall to wall!! Because of the ‘warm’ temps, maniacal laugh, we decided it best to swap into dry clothes for the bike. I had a bike kit and a Macklemore purchase: a $9 bike coat from the thrift shop, that I could toss if needed. 21 minutes later I exit T1 and head to the bike rack, where a volunteer was there waiting on me. She said, “here you are sir, I’ve already knocked the ice off your seat… you’re good to go”. What????
My wife had prepped me for a hard bike course, she had me riding mountains back home. Ironman put together a healthy dose of bad ass on this course! It was truly the hardest ride I’ve done and I loved every minute of it. Forget the fact that the temps never reached the 50’s, or that we climbed in excess of 7000 feet. This bike course was for real! I don’t know what it was: the course, my nutrition, the cold or any # of the elements that presented themselves out there, but at mile 101’sh I hit a wall, bonk territory. Get to the run I kept telling myself. I hurt therefore I knew I was still alive and still able to move on.
Amanda: After I saw Randy start the bike, I watched for some other Oklahoma athletes racing, Corrie and Patrick, along with Tommy, who I coach, but with the layers and layers of clothes everyone was wearing it was hard to recognize anyone. So, I decided I would go back to the hotel and warm up a bit before heading out on my bike. Well, the room was so warm and the bed looked so inviting, I just had to snuggle up under the covers and get a quick nap in! I kept checking the athlete tracker to see where everyone was, and slipped out the door. I decided to ride the course backwards until I ran into Randy and that way I could cheer for anyone else riding by too.
Within 5min, I was climbing and warmed up, thinking, this isn’t too bad. Well, once Randy came rushing by the other direction and I turned around to descend, I realized just how cold it was. I was clothed head to toe and had those hand warmer packets you use for skiing in my gloves and cycling shoes, brrrrr! There was a little out and back section that I bypassed, so I was able to catch up with Randy and check in with him. He was in good spirits and told me everything was great. I followed him for a bit and then he got to special needs. Ocky and Shannon were volunteering there and helped him out, Thanks guys! And he was off again. I asked Ocky, how he was doing and he said Randy’s hands were cold. “Why didn’t he tell me that?” “Didn’t want to worry you.” “Whatever!” As Randy was doing his second loop of the bike, I went the opposite direction and looped around the part of Lake Tahoe where the race didn’t go. It was nice to get out on some quiet roads and put my head down for a bit and just ride!
As I was coming back into town, I rolled through a traffic light and the cop that was directing traffic hollered at me, “Did you get your wallet?” “Huh? I don’t carry a wallet!” “Are you from Oklahoma?” “Yes” “Your name Amanda Stevens?” “Um, yah!” Turns out I’d dropped my Ziploc ‘wallet’ with my license, credit card, and cash. I thanked them a million times and told them I was amazed they caught me with all the racers and spectators. “Not many people have a BRIGHT orange bike and helmet, you were kinda hard to miss!” So…thanks to Rudy Project and Blue for making me stand out!!!
Not too long after that, Randy came by again, this was around mile 90 and he was still looking good! He gave me a thumbs up and I told him I’d see him in Squaw Valley for the run. I made a quick stop at our room to grab backpacks and his post-race gear and headed towards Squaw Valley. Time for the run!!
Randy: I entered the T2 changing tent with a lot less naked butts than T1. (For those of you that experienced it you know what I am talking about) Again, I planned a complete change of clothes due to the cold. Out the door in 10min or so I was running. The last few miles of the bike I was pushing with everything I had just to get to the run leg. I knew I needed calories, so I downed Snickers, Powerbar Gel and a full 12 oz Coca Cola. With every step through mile 1 I knew it was going to be a long day, it hurt. There were already people out on course I made it to mile 6 and this is the 1st place I noticed almost everyone was walking. In all my experience with Ironman racing I have never seen this many people walking a marathon and yes it happened to me too. It was a true true struggle to keep running. I set my Timex Ironman watch to an interval of 3mins and 1 min. My race day plans changed right there, I was now on a 3min run and 1min power walk. The strangest thing, every step hurt, every breath was a struggle, but every minute only 1 word came to my mind and it came frequently. “GRATEFUL” This word came to me so much it was like it was coming from somewhere else. I don’t know if it was because my wife was following me like a hawk making sure I was safe, or if it was coming from a higher place. But I was super happy to be in this moment and moving forward.
Amanda: I parked myself at about mile 2 of the run and anxiously waited for Randy to run by! I got to see lots of the pro girls run by and it was fun to cheer them on. Then Randy came by and I was so happy to see him. I updated everyone with Facebook, Twitter, and text and then headed off to catch up to him. I got my routine down and it was crazy how fast the time flew by. I followed him for the entire marathon. He went through some rough patches, a few times he wasn’t thinking too well, but all in all he was positive and kept pushing through. I loved seeing the determination and the effort! As the sun started to go down, it got dark and cold! He kept on moving forward and ticking the miles off. I tried to get as many pictures of him as I could, and I gotta admit, that is a hard job! Especially when I don’t know all the tricks of the trade.
1 MILE TO GO!!
Randy: I mentioned earlier my 3×1 approach to the marathon; this had slowed to about the exact opposite 1min run with a 3min walk. Something in my stomach hurt so bad I couldn’t really raise my hands/arms up to keep running form. I could see the lights of Sqauw Valley, but it hurt so bad to even jog! I did manage to get one last charge about 300-400 yards from the finish and run through that finish gate.
Amanda: At mile 23, I told him, I’ll see you at the finish line! I checked my watch and headed that way. The headlight I had on my bike had died, and although I still had one on my helmet, it was a dark ride back. I didn’t want to take any risks, so rode ‘smart’…but also knew I didn’t have tons of time. I made a quick stop by some friends of our’s room (Thanks Kelly and Greg!) to drop my bike off, change out of my cycling shoes, and get Randy’s post race clothes.
Randy: My wife was screaming her head off it was impossible to miss her waving arms and volume. (Afterwards she asked, “could you see me?” My thoughts “who didn’t”” Mike Reilly said something about both of us as I crossed that finish line which was appropriate because this finish was about both of us reaching this goal together, not only finishing an Ironman but becoming once again healthy, loving life and being in the moment!
Amanda: As I headed to the finish line, it was a maze! I kept glancing at my watch and trying to find my perfect spot, no way was I going to miss this! And then he came around the corner and into the finish chute, I was SO EXCITED! That’s my baby! That’s my husband! Go, Randy, Go! And then I heard Mike Riley, “And we have Randy Sadler, you are and Ironman!” Yes, yes, he is!!!
Randy: Now most of you know (or should by now) my wife is “Doc” Amanda Stevens-professional triathlete. I first want to say thank you to her. She helped me through all my training and preparation for Ironman Tahoe. She also help me in the lead up to race, she kept my family updated with my progress and was waiting for me at the finish. It is very rare for our roles to be reversed on race day and her following me instead of me following her. We thought it would be fun to do a race report from both sides of the racecourse: me racing and her spectating. Enjoy!
Amanda: Randy, I am SO PROUD of you! You did it! On what is being called the toughest Ironman course, with tough weather conditions, you persevered and finished! Your positive ‘can do’ attitude was impressive! You have inspired and amazed me! I love you!
Randy Sadler and “Doc” Amanda Stevens