Sometimes Life Throws Lemons At Your Head - by Matt Miller

August 07, 2018 35 Comments

Sometimes Life Throws Lemons At Your Head - by Matt Miller

“When life throws you lemons, make lemonade. And when even more lemons get thrown your way, find a friend, find some vodka or tequila, and throw an epic party”

Here is my journey from Saturday August 4, 2018. Race Report: Ironman Boulder 70.3

Backstory: BASE is the second company I have owned and operated. Each and every day new challenges and pitfalls rear their ugly head. Welcome to the world of Entrepreneurship. We are often tasked with decisions, putting out fires, fixing problems. Etc. The going seems to always be tough. But it makes the reward that much sweeter. Such is triathlon. Very few of us compete to win. We train and compete to challenge ourselves. We may never stand on the podium or earn a paycheck, but we push ourselves to our limits and don’t give up so as to challenge ourselves to our core. We have an opportunity each time we lace up our shoes or zip up our wetsuit to prove to ourselves that we can accomplish certain things that we set out to do.

 

Personally, I completed my first triathlon in 1988 when I was 12: The Maryland Farms Sprint Triathlon in Nashville, TN. And I have completed at least one Triathlon every year for 30 years. And in 30 years, I have never had a DNF (Did Not Finish). Meaning, when the going got tough, I have never pulled the plug and not crossed the finish line. Boulder 70.3 probably should have been my first. Here is the story.

Race Morning:

Lemon Throwing #1

The alarm was set for 4:15 AM. I awake at 4:17 to an email and some texts from Ironman Stating “Last night at the IRONMAN 70.3 Boulder Village Expo, we had horrendous wind storms that caused massive amounts of damage to many of the vendors tents and booth spaces.  We are sorry to announce that we are not going to be having a vendor expo today but the expo grounds where the expo took place will still be open such as merchandise and athlete food tent.  Please see me when you arrive on-site today at the Boulder expo. Every tent at the reservoir was damaged. Not just the expo, but all over the race site. The race is still a go but expo is not.” Now for me, I was the only vendor at the expo who was also racing. And since BASE is headquartered in Boulder, I made the decision to bring ALL of our T-Shirts (100%) to the expo, as well as MOST of our product over from the warehouse, and almost ALL of our tents, walls, banners, flags, etc. My intention was to get it all organized in the open field post race, and then take it back to the warehouse. Once I saw the pictures, I realized pretty much everything we owned was gone.

 

5:00 AM– I arrive at race site to inspect the damage. Figure out what I’m going to do. Our stuff is everywhere. The tents were destroyed. Items down near the lake. Stuff broken. Not a pretty sight. Omar (From I Love My Bike Transport) helped me get the stuff a little organized and into a pile. I decided to race anyway although this was weighing pretty heavy on my mind.

7:20 AM. Swim: 27:01 – I tried a different approach. Wanted to take it easy and really go for the bike and run. Never pushed too hard. Came out like 5th or 6th overall. Had no idea where I had placed my wetsuit so I borrowed one from Nick Granet who is staying with us. 

Bike: Goal – 2:12. The ride was going great. Kept heart rate in the low 140’s. Plan was to negative split the 56 miles. Was holding about 25 mph. Nothing too crazy. Hit mile 40 ish and everything was going to plan. The night before, Lauralee had told me she wanted to cheer me on from the house as I passed by on the bike (Our backyard is literally at mile 40 of the bike course) and then she would come to race site for the run.

Lemon Throwing #2

As I was nearing our house, there is a short punchy hill. So as I always do, I’m about to crest the hill, cruising at probably 27 or 28 mph, I pop out of the saddle to punch over the top. As I do, my power meter says I applied 682 watts of pressure to the pedals. At this time, my pedal snaps off of my crank arm and down I go. I land groin and chest down on the bike and then fall head first superman style onto the road. Not having a clue what happened. I look down and my pedal is attached to the bottom of my shoe. My derailer is in my rear spokes. Blood is EVERYWHERE and just pouring out of my finger. My friend Charlie Perez from RMTC happened to be right there and helped me out. Thanks to all the athletes who stopped to offer help. I wish I knew who you were, but I was out of it. Of course I tried to get back on my bike, but my pedal wouldn’t go in, my body wouldn’t work, and I couldn’t hold the handlebars. Charlie wanted to call someone from the race, but I told him “Lucky me, I live in that house right there so I’ll just ride home and figure out what I need to do next.” So I one leg pedaled to my house and of course freaked Lauralee out. Blood all over me, my bike. Everything. Charlie helped me out. I get inside, and the pain was pretty unbearable. My finger was swelling up like a polish sausage and my wedding band was cutting off my circulation.

 

We decide to go to the hospital down the road and figure out what is going on. The first hospital takes xrays and attempts to cut my ring off to no avail. So they then move us to the ER across the street. 90 minutes later my ring is off after everyone including the Janitor brought in their power tools in an attempt to remove it.

 

Lucky for me, the ER Doctor is an ultra runner and cyclist. So of course I ask him if it will hurt me to go back and finish the race (I mean, I was still in my kit and and I did have my chip on). He says not a problem at all.

 

4 total hours in the 2 hospitals, 5 total hours away from the course. LL understood why I wanted to go back and finish what I started. So, I zip my kit up. I switch my race numbers from my Triathlon bike over to my road bike and I head out (Yes I know that is not legal but whatever, It wasn’t about that)

Note: In the Half Ironman, athletes are given 8.5 hours to complete the course from the time the last athlete begins the swim. I knew that the last athlete to start the swim went in around 8:00 AM, so I technically had until about 4:30 PM to cross the finish line. Although I would get a DQ for taking longer than the allotted 8 hours and 30 minutes to complete the course, this was for me.

We returned from the Hospital at about 1:45pm. So I knew if I hauled some tail back to the rez and ran a sub 2 hour half marathon I could cross that finish line before they officially closed the course. Although I knew I would be the dead last athlete, it became a personal challenge. 

As soon as I rolled into transition, my Buddy Tim the race director was standing there, looking a little confused. I told him what happened, and what my plan was. At this point in races, if you don’t make the bike cutoff, they take your chip and you are given a DQ. That was fine. I was doing this for me. We chatted, I gave Tim my chip, he called it in, I racked my bike, and off I ran.

 

Bring out the party.

Run: 1:58.42 – this was fun. I mean TONS OF FUN. Lap one nobody really knew what was going on as there were tons of other athletes out there starting lap 2 of the two loop run course. So I just fell in with everyone else, except I was kinda running a lot faster than them. My friends who had seen the updates on Facebook from the Hospital were very confused and I told them I’d fill them in later. This was a race for me to cross the finish line before it closed. Off I went.

In 30 years, I have never been a participant on the run course with this group of athletes. These athletes are the ones who inspire me. They work full time. They have kids. They fit training in when they can, yet they go out there and push themselves during these races for themselves. I was out there with them and I was encouraging them. High fiving them. But trying to not kill too much time as I still had a ticking clock to beat.

 Lap one. Great. 56 minutes. Lap two. Holy moly was it empty. I passed 16 runners on lap 2 who were still pushing themselves to make the cutoff. I gave many of them all of the salts and nutrition I had in my pockets as the aid stations were closing and they needed it more than I did. When I passed each athlete, I counted, and then ran ahead to each aid station. I told the aid station volunteers how many athletes were behind me on the course and encouraged them to please stay open until that last one passed them. They assured me they would.

 

"Don't stop. Don't quit. Never Give up." - Dave Downey. My finish pic is for you.

 I chatted with people, made some new friends. Encouraged athletes. Helped some who were struggling.

 

In the end, I finished. I finished in a total time of 9 hours and 13 minutes. My slowest finish ever by far. 5 hours slower than my goal time. But one of the most rewarding I have ever done (Ironman CDA 2005 with Heidi is the most rewarding of all time).

 

The day started out bad. And then went from bad to oh my god can it get any worse. And then turned into something unexpected and magical. I pushed myself to not give up. I pushed myself to a new limit and inspired others.

 

Life is about challenges. Life is always going to throw lemons at us and push us to our limits. I never give up. Not in Triathlon. Not in Business. Not in life.

 

Every weekend I am on Ironman run courses cheering on the final finishers. These athletes who don’t give up. They keep pushing on and on. I thought about them on Saturday. I have respect for them. I have respect for this sport. I have respect for myself and for Lauralee. I won’t start giving up today. Saturday was a test. It didn’t get me down.

 

In closing. Life is tough. Business is tough. Sport is tough. Marriage and family can be tough. But when the going get’s tough, what type of person are you? Me. I’m the type who will bring out the vodka and tequila and add it to my lemonade and bring the party. You have to hit me with something harder than that to get me to throw in the towel.

On the positive side. Home BASE is now open for business in Boulder. Come see us. I am the first person to hang my bib number on the wall for a meaningful race for me. I hope you will come do the same.

 





35 Responses

Jon Goodman
Jon Goodman

August 12, 2018

Awesome story. I am impressed by your perseverance and am glad that you accomplished the most important goal — you finished with a smile on your face! Thank you for your support of the sport and all of us age groupers finishing late in the hot sun!

Keith Shireman
Keith Shireman

August 10, 2018

Nice job Matt finishing up! Your an inspiration to us all for that finish.

Carol
Carol

August 10, 2018

Wow! That was some story. Very inspiring. Thanks for sharing

Robin White
Robin White

August 10, 2018

I love this! Thanks for writing and sharing your story. What a perspective on perseverance and encouragement!!

J.T. Thompson
J.T. Thompson

August 10, 2018

Great story – more impressive is the dedication to finish. Would have been easy to call it a day, but now it’s a finish you’ll never forget. Well Done! As a side note, raced that day as well and believe I counted 14 hits of Base Salt – totally bailed me out and helped me hit the podium – so thanks for a great product. Recommend it to all….

Brandon Reimer
Brandon Reimer

August 10, 2018

Matt,

This is one of my favorite stores ever (sorry it had to happen to you). It makes my super proud to be allowed to be part of the Base Team and proudly wear the Base logo while I race! Thank you, get well and return to kicking ass! See you soon. Lots more racing left in 2018!!!!
Gaye Beckman
Gaye Beckman

August 09, 2018

I loved reading your story. As one of those back of the packers who benefited from your music and cheers in the dark at IMLP (I’m the “Denver girl, lol), I really appreciate your commitment to staying out there for us. My friends and coworkers tell me all the time how impressed they are by what I do and my response is always this…I’m not good, I’m not fast, but I am stubborn. The one thing I’ve got going for me is that I refuse to quit. I’m not sure I would quite go to the lengths you did on Saturday, but then again, I wouldn’t have enough time left! Thanks for being out there for us and congrats on gutting it out to finish what would have been a crazy tough race last weekend, even without a bike crash and ER visit!

Jennifer
Jennifer

August 09, 2018

Glad you’re okay. And way to go! On the same day as your lemonade day, I had a lemon day of my own. I set out to do my first 100 mile training ride that morning. Things were going so well! But 38 miles in my water bottle cage was rattling, I reached down and reached around the frame of my bike, my hand got caught between frame and wheel, and it sent my handle bars violently to the left, throwing me to the ground. I ended up with a really bad abrasion on my elbow and knee and abrasions all along my left leg, plus my fingers had a layer of skin removed from rubber burn of wheel. But, I got back on my bike, got back into my aerobars (painful as it was on my elbow) and kept going. At 50 miles I was able to wrap my injuries and was able to finish the 100 mile. Then followed it with a 5.5 mile run/walk. Though I hate being injured now, the test of perseverance was fulfilling. It’s what triathlon is…particularly Ironman.

Kris Rovell
Kris Rovell

August 09, 2018

What a great race recap! As a 56 yo age grouper who is usually near the back of the pack, welcome to the club. Wishing you a complete, quick recovery and many successful races in the future.

Eric Rueppel
Eric Rueppel

August 09, 2018

Awesome Matt! Totally you, totally inspiring.

Laura Strutz
Laura Strutz

August 09, 2018

You stomped the snot out of those lemons!!! Color me proud, impressed, inspired!

Michele Potter
Michele Potter

August 08, 2018

What an incredible story. You made me cry and laugh. You inspired me to never get give up regardless. I love lemonade with vodka!!

Lynette
Lynette

August 08, 2018

Wow… just wow! Love this story and your perseverance!!

Russell Caffey
Russell Caffey

August 08, 2018

Great write up and great story.

Trish Hart
Trish Hart

August 08, 2018

Amazing! Congrats on a hard earned finish. The fastest ones aren’t usually the most rewarding. It’s the ones that push us to our limits that show us what we’re made of. Thanks for sharing your story and inspiring all of us to keep going even when we think we can’t!

Cindy Christensen
Cindy Christensen

August 08, 2018

What an inspirational story. While most would quit and give up, you showed true grit. Going forward, this is a story I’ll think of when I do my next race, as I am one of those last runners on the course. Thank you for sharing.

Pam Kassner
Pam Kassner

August 08, 2018

Incredible man! Incredible company!

christine matthews
christine matthews

August 08, 2018

Matt!
What an epic day for you! I’m so proud to say you are my teammate at BSC. Thank you for the kind words about ‘my people’ the back of the pack. We all strive to be up front, but we all can’t be there, but i"m working on it! So bummed about your tent and the products and holy cow the crash! After seeing the wedding ring, I’m rethinking about wearing my rings in future events! It’s performances like this that inspire me to keep going. Thank you for sharing all the details. See you at the next Bat Camp if not sooner!

Danny Bernier
Danny Bernier

August 08, 2018

This is very inspiring. Most people would have thrown in the towel before the race even started. You took it and literally ran with it. You didnt let the speed bumps(and bruises) derail your race and finished NO MATTER WHAT. BTW…What is Home Base? New offices?

Tonia Cunningham-Olsen
Tonia Cunningham-Olsen

August 08, 2018

Incredible grit… a true leader, and a great athlete. So proud of you and your determination to finish what you started. AwEsOmE story…

Kate
Kate

August 08, 2018

Truly an inspiration!! Thank you!

Mauricio Sanchez
Mauricio Sanchez

August 08, 2018

Holy Cow, Matt… this story, your story embodies determination, perseverance and true grit; an example to many of us who on a daily basis question ourselves and our own abilities. Thank you for sharing, thank you for th courage you displayed. I’m proud to know you. Mauricio

Matthew Woodhall
Matthew Woodhall

August 08, 2018

Matt, it is stories like this that drew me to the BASE Team. You are a great example of perseverance and I am proud to be a part of it. I will carry this mindset onto the course when I finally arrive at that first Ironman……Thanks for sharing!!

Chad Michaelsen
Chad Michaelsen

August 08, 2018

Once again, you show your amazing attitude and love for the sport of triathlon, even after a misfortune that would have shaken any small business owner. Your story is inspirational on many accounts, so thank you for sharing it. Kari saw you running as we were leaving the race – and was confused…. I was baffled but wasn’t thinking strait after the race. Glad to know that you are alright and even more impressed that you finished what you started, especially under the circumstances. Kind of crazy – I’m impressed but not surprised… You’re a special man. Thanks for sharing.

Craig Clark
Craig Clark

August 08, 2018

Matt you amaze me bro, I am so proud to be apart of this amazing team with you as our leader. You were haveing a crappy day and just continued to get worse the average person would have thrown in the towel but you me friend are not average and you helped encourage others that were having a tough day proud to call you a friend and have you as our leader!!

Terri Friel
Terri Friel

August 08, 2018

This was my post to my athletes this week. You prove my point. Hi guys,

back from sunny Portugal and in town until this coming weekend when my A race in Cleveland USAT Nationals occurs. Although I did manage to qualify to race, I’ve done that before and I know the field is always very competitive. I’ve never done that well on these races as I’m not a fast runner. Usually hold my own until then. I planned to train hard this summer but I’ve had tendonitis, fallen off my bike and done some damage to my knee (still numb) and a rib, fell at the pool twice on both knees, and then fell on a run and skinned up my knees again and my face. I have not been very pretty all summer! :)

But I was thinking today on my Brick ride and run that it’s important to have some perspective on such situations.

Yesterday a runner I know posted about being slow, being in his head and hearing from people that he was too slow and maybe shouldn’t be doing a marathon. Say what?

First, in this sport, I came to love it because we always cheer for the last guy on the course. In Michigan each year, I used to do the Sister Lakes Tri. Nice little group, about 200 racers total with plenty of hills on the bike and run. There was a guy who was 70+ that did it each year and the whole group of us waited for him to finish before the medals were handed out. We waited a long time for him but it was worth it. The whole group cheered him down the finish chute. Now that is sportsmanship.

So I posted back to him that he inspired me more than many who were talented and faster. Why? Because when you are DFL (Dead Effing Last) you are in your head, asking yourself: “why am I bothering? I should just quit. I”m not talented at this and nobody cares…nobody is around. The police escort probably hates me…." and on and on.

Second overcoming ALL that negative talk and keeping on, even if you might DNF that race is important. It shows who you are. It shows you that you are not only not a quitter, but you have what it takes to do that whole race even if it takes you nearly twice as long as those talented racers. That’s an important trait. While I don’t say it’s easy for those talented faster racers, I will way that I was once one of those young talented athletes, winning all my tournaments in my 20s and really a bit snobby about it. I did not recognize that I was lucky to have that talent, nor did I have any way to understand what other athletes who were struggling were dealing with. I do now.

Injuries, chronic health conditions, age and many other stressers in life can affect your ability to perform.

What is my advice? Be kind to yourself. Today on my slow brick run I decided to encourage myself in a new way. I talked to my legs and said “you are runninng legs now!” I talked to my body and said “you are a runner now.” I talked to my head and said “I’m here and I’m running well.” I stopped comparing my speed to what I wanted and focused on doing my best at each step and moment. Guess what? My last mile was 1 min faster than my first mile. It worked! I was quite happy with my brick today after focusing on being positive with myself.

I hope you can take a step back from your expectations and decide to be positive and your best cheerleader in your races this fall. You know I’m cheering for you!

Happy Racing! Coach Terri

Rich Shaffer
Rich Shaffer

August 08, 2018

Matt,
I have followed you since you and BASE saved my butt at IMLOU 2017.

I aspire to live my life challenging my mind and body to do things it shouldn’t. A friend asked me once if I ever went to the starting line thinking I wouldn’t finish. My answer, never!

It’s people like you and others I have met during Triathlon’s who continue to encourage me and strive to be better.

I loved your race report and respect the hell out of you and your commitment.

Each day is what you make it, so make it the best day possible.

Shelby
Shelby

August 07, 2018

Matt, YOU are the inspiration, you and LL are the heart and soul of this team and what makes it great. Read this with a tear in my eye when I got to the part about your 2nd run lap. Party on, friend, and well done!!

Manrique Alonso
Manrique Alonso

August 07, 2018

Words fail me. You don’t.

To borrow from something I once read…

An Ironman doesn’t quit when it gets tough. He quits when he’s done.

You sir, are beyond an Ironman and I stand in awe.

Kasey
Kasey

August 07, 2018

Matt Miller!!! I followed your story all weekend. I knew you would make it back out there because that is the athlete and person you are. The best part of this race report though is the selflessness you showed to those other athletes still on the course just trying to make their dreams come true crossing that finish line. I am so proud to be on this team & under your leadership. Now get those Base Qalo rings in production.

Bill Ulmer
Bill Ulmer

August 07, 2018

Life and sport are a journey. BASE it on who you really are. Sometimes you learn more than you expect.

Sarah
Sarah

August 07, 2018

Seeing you come out of the swim was a treat for me – as I normally just see you while racing in the dark of the night, playing your music. I am sorry that your day took such a turn, but will definitely call on your fortitude and grace when stuff gets tough out there for me in the future. Congrats, Matt.

andrew peabody
andrew peabody

August 07, 2018

matt, you are officially THE BADASS! i’ve seen tattooed wedding rings, but your scar will definitely be unique. kudos on pushing to the finish line, buddy. hoping you can salvage enough from the tent to jump right back into your race schedule. let me know if i can help in any way.

Stephanie Lueras
Stephanie Lueras

August 07, 2018

Amazing race report, and awesome point of view. It takes so much mental strength to just keep plugging along. Thank you for sharing this experience!

Jim McBee
Jim McBee

August 07, 2018

I’m impressed. As a former BASE ambassador and an owner of two small businesses, my hats off to you. Good luck on recovery.

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