Ironman Boulder Sherpa Report: Part Two

Read part one first!

I left off with the finish line. He looked so strong coming across the finish line, but looks can be deceiving.

A few moments after he walked into the medical tent, I was able to ask one of the attendants how to get information about him. He led me over to the spectator side of the medical/food tent. I could see Mr. Neon inside the tent. He was sitting in the “good chairs” where I was told the athletes usually only stay for about 30 minutes before being released. They told me that he was just dizzy and a little nauseous. At that point, they thought some zofran and chicken broth would perk him up.

I had to stay close because I had to wait for him to come out of the tent. There was no other way for me to communicate with him. I was so tired. I had been awake for nearly 20 hours at that point. I hadn’t eaten dinner and had barely eaten lunch. I just kind of wandered around in a daze, glancing up at the tent every few moments. Several spectators and other BASE athletes checked on me. Again…thank you, Ironman family.

After about 30 minutes, I noticed that Mr. Neon was no longer sitting in the “good chairs.” I asked again about him and was told that he had passed out. They had taken him to the back for fluids. The medical director came over and spoke with me. I let him know that Mr. Neon has vasovagal syncope episodes when his stomach acts up. He told me he would find me in about 20-30 minutes with an update.

The next update was more of the same. He couldn’t stay conscious sitting up. They were going to give him another bag of fluids. I found a tree and parked myself underneath it. I managed to choke down a Honey Stinger waffle. Thankfully my family had handed two bottles of water off to me before they left. Hydration is good.

Speaking of family, shout out to my amazing mother. She took the boys and went to get Mr. Neon’s bike from transition 2. She hauled it and all his gear bags back to the car. When it became clear that Mr. Neon wasn’t leaving medical anytime soon, I sent her and the boys back to the airbnb. She’s a rockstar. I could not have done this trip without her. She took care of my boys (McDs and iPads for the win!) when I needed to take care of my Ironman.

Nephew and his Pam. He learns names quick. She melted every time he said it.

After about 20 more minutes of waiting, I heard my name being called. There was a man calling to me from the fence around the food tent. He said Mr. Neon told him to look for the cute, tiny wife in a pink tank top. Apparently I was the talk of the medical tent. He was the doctor in charge of caring for the athletes and told me that the second bag of fluids was still being administered, but Mr. Neon was still getting pasty when they tried to sit him up. He would come find me again soon with an update.

Another twenty minutes later, I was still sitting under the tree, zoned out in exhaustion. This time the doctor came around to me, sat down in the grass across from me, and told me he had good news and bad news and which did I want first. I told him the bad. He said they had exhausted everything they could do for him in the tent and that it was time to go to the ER. What on earth was the good news?! He looked at me, smiled, and said, “I get to take you to him.” He told me that keeping the two of us separated was awful. He said we clearly needed each other. I braced myself to see my Ironman. He really didn’t look too bad. He was pasty and tired, but he smiled at me. I don’t think he ever stopped smiling. We took a quick ambulance ride to the hospital. I will say that Ironman is thorough. Within moments of the ER decision, I had two phone calls from Ironman making sure I knew about the situation. Frank Lowery, the regional director, checked on Mr. Neon twice in the hospital and kept in touch via phone and text in the week after.

Medical director Jeff thought this moment needed to be documented.

The ER doctor was very reassuring despite using some scary words. Rhabdomylosis (google it.) and acute kidney failure was the diagnosis. The only solution was fluids and hospital observation. I also found out during our time in the ER that Mr. Neon had a syncope episode between mile 24 and 25. That’s why it took him 45 minutes to go 1.5 miles. He said he felt the episode coming on and sat down before he passed out from standing and hurt himself. He had two medical personnel with him then. One wanted to pull him. The other one wanted to let him continue. Thankfully the second one won and got Mr. Neon moving. After all the ER paperwork was signed and all of his issues were addressed, Mr. Neon sent me back to the airbnb to sleep. I went back to the condo and fell into bed. I had been awake for 23 hours.

The mini sherpas slept HARD!

The next morning, I woke up to a text from my guy. They had gotten him into a room around 2:30am. He asked if I could bring him shower stuff, clean clothes, and some breakfast. I brought him a McDs sausage mcmuffin with egg (no cheese). Our favorite post long workout treat. He looked a lot better that morning. I helped him shower. I wish I would have taken a picture of his tri shorts. They literally stood up on their own from the salt. He had been wearing them for 30 hours at that point. Gross and yet hilarious. I also got my first full body post race Ironman hug. Man, that felt good!

The smile never faded! It’s hard not to smile when you are an Ironman!

I had two BASE team members (including Mr. Base Matt Miller) reach out to me during Mr. Neon’s stint in the hospital, making sure we had a place to stay. BASE Performance…YOU ROCK!

The rest of the day was spent visiting him at the hospital, napping, walking the halls, and figuring out our next plan of action. We had to wait for all his bloodwork numbers to start trending back down. Unfortunately by the end of the day that meant one more night in the hospital. Poor Mr. Neon. Leaving him that night was hard on all of us. The boys wanted their daddy home with them. We cried as a family more in three days than I think we have in our entire 13+ years together.


140.6 was meant to be the end of a long 168 day journey, and we all felt a little cheated out of the recovery side of things. The next morning, Mr. Neon was deemed fit enough to go home. Mom, the boys, and I grabbed some lunch from the hospital cafeteria while we waited for him to get discharged and get copies of all his records to take home to our regular doctor, who we had been in contact with the entire hospital stay. Boulder Community Hospital is top notch, by the way.

The Ironman and his watermelon balloon!

First stop after getting out of the hospital…Whole Foods for vegan chocolate chip cookies! You can see here how swollen his calves were from the fluids.


As badly as we all wanted to get home, we decided to take the rest of Tuesday to rest and get a good night’s sleep in the condo before heading out the next morning. Poor Mr. Neon was still dealing with some indigestion, queasiness, and lots of edema from the nearly 13 bags of saline they pumped into him over the course of 40 hours in the hospital. He slept really hard Tuesday night and about halfway home on Wednesday, but then he woke up and looked and acted much more back to normal. Mr. Neon has a knack for sleeping away all ailments, including apparently Ironman-induced rhabdomylosis.


So that’s the story of Mr. Neon becoming an Ironman. He spent the next week in recovery mode, following up with our doctor and drinking lots of water to flush out the horrible edema he had in his feet and calves. So far, he hasn’t had any adverse side effects. He’s even started slowing easing back into training. He’s run a couple of times…very slow and very easy. He did my long bike with me over the weekend and said it was the best bike ride he’d been on all year. But when you get to ride 19 miles at 14mph on your road bike with your wife…well…that is the best bike ride of the year!

As for the future, I think Mr. Neon is ready to stick to the shorter races. 2017 will see lots of sprint triathlons and hopefully an increase in speed at the shorter distances. There are a lot of half Ironmans every year and lots of opportunities to volunteer at Ironman events. It sure would be nice to take a vacation without a race in the middle too!

And since I’m sure people will ask. We don’t really know why this happened to Mr. Neon. All the doctors had different theories. It could have been the altitude. It could have been a lack of fueling on the bike or run. It could have been Mr. Neon’s specific body chemistry. He has genetic high cholesterol and takes a low dose statin, which could have caused some issues too. It could be that he simply found his physical limit. His case of rhabdo was mild compared to others we were told about. All that matters is that he’s ok and HE’S AN IRONMAN!

Thanks for reading. And as always…stay neon!

2 thoughts on “Ironman Boulder Sherpa Report: Part Two

  1. What an amazing story to tell! I can’t imagine how you were feeling the whole time not being able to see or talk to him while he was in medical! I’m glad he’s all recovered and an IRONMAN!! Amazing!


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