Friday, November 25, 2011

IMAZ – an IronSherpa Report

I am almost caught up on vacation laundry, so I figured I really ought to get this spectator report written... 

IronMan Arizona was an absolutely amazing event, even as “just” a spectator.  IronHubs’ training cycle had gone exceptionally well and he was ready to throw down an awesome day.  We loaded up Big Boy and Little Boy into the family truckster – which was mostly full of race gear – and set off on the 12+ hour drive to Arizona.  Thankfully, my dad lives pretty close to Tempe, so we were able to make a little racecation out of it.

IMAZ and Grand Canyon 010

IMAZ and Grand Canyon 008Loading up on M-Dot merchandise.  I wish I had taken a picture of the line inside the tent!  I grabbed the first shirt I saw and stood in line while IronHubs went to the athlete check-in.  He had time to do the whole check-in process and meander around the merchandise tent (racking up a triple digit total, of course!) before I made it to the cashier.

IMAZ and Grand Canyon 020They were putting out the Ford Ironman buoy while we were scoping out the swim start – Photo Op!

IMAZ and Grand Canyon 066A view of the transition area during bike check-in from the Mill Avenue bridge.

IMAZ and Grand Canyon 060Taking a selfie for Facebook.

IMAZ and Grand Canyon 064We met Coach Troy!!  And by “we,” I mean IronHubs.  Coach Troy was so ridiculously good-looking in person that I instantly turned into a chubby, awkward teenage girl and couldn’t say a word.  Fail!

IMAZ and Grand Canyon 070The transition area at about 6:30 am on race morning.  IronHubs may or may not (my bet is on “not”) be in this picture – the spectators were six or seven deep down near the water, so I was standing on my tiptoes just to catch a glimpse of IronHubs before the race start.

IMAZ and Grand Canyon 079When the athletes started swarming out of the water in huge groups, I thought for sure I’d never see IronHubs, but I did!  I was standing near the wetsuit strippers, who had one of the toughest volunteer jobs of the day.  Most of the people coming out of the water were frozen and disoriented, but also in a hurry to get on with the race.  Yikes, talk about pressure!  I saw more than one person hit their head on the ground while getting stripped, quite a few people whose day was probably over from hypothermia, and one very funny full-frontal when a swimsuit came off with the wetsuit! IronHubs’s swim time wasn’t fast, but it was just about what he expected, 1:33:37.

After a rather lengthy T1 (including a full change into warm, dry clothes and a stop in the porto-potty), IronHubs was out on the bike course!  This whole race course was exceptionally spectator-friendly, with a three loop bike and run.  After I saw IronHubs leaving T1, I knew I had a little less than two hours until I’d see him again.

IMAZ and Grand Canyon 127Looking serious but riding strong at the first turnaround.

I updated Facebook, grabbed a bite to eat, chatted with the other spectators and rang my cowbell for all the athletes riding by.  What an inspiring parade!  So many people of all different sizes and ages, accomplishing something amazing.  Loops 2 and 3 of the bike took about the same amount of time as Loop 1, then IronHubs cruised into T2 ready to run a kickass marathon.

IMAZ and Grand Canyon 157Finishing up 112 miles on the bike in 6:05:48.

At last year’s Silverman, IronHubs looked awesome going into the run, but stomach troubles kept him from finishing quite as fast as he would have liked.  I have to admit, I was a little bit nervous about that happening again.

IMAZ and Grand Canyon 168All smiles at the start!

IMAZ and Grand Canyon 181Yay, still smiling at Mile 3-ish!

IMAZThis is a pretty good representation of how I spent my day:  loaded down with a backpack and camera, clapping and cheering for everyone while nervously waiting to see MY athlete.

IMAZ and Grand Canyon 202The three loop course was sort of a strange figure-8, so we were actually able to see IronHubs twice on each loop.  As the miles piled on, he definitely slowed down, but still looked great and was still running strong. 

It got darker, it got cold again after being very warm in the middle of the day.  The kids ate race expo food instead of dinner and I kept looking at my watch.  I had spent the entire day feeling anxious and sick to my stomach – What if the water is so cold he can’t warm up?  What if he crashes?  What if he gets a flat?  What if he has stomach problems?  What if, what if, what if? – so there are almost no words to describe how wonderful it felt to see IronHubs at the end of a 4:15:25 marathon, happy and strong, running into the finishing chute and hearing those immortal words:


*whew*  It’s tough work being an IronSherpa, but somebody’s gotta do it.


Lisa said...

How exciting, impressive, exhausting, stressful, and tear-jerking that day must've been for both of you!! I'm so impressed with a finisher of any race - but Ironman, whoa,,,,that's somethin!

ajh said...

Great report! It's a very tough job being an Iron Spectator and it's impossible not to worry! Awesome job on your hubby's part too!

CautiouslyAudacious said...

Congrats to Ironhubs and you were a great spectator! I was there too taking pictures of the volunteers... It was awesome!

bobbi said...

Outstanding!! Congratulations to IronHubs!!

Kate said...

This is so cool! You and your kids must be so proud of your husband, and I know having you all there to support him must have meant the world. Keeping watch and keeping the kids more or less cared for all day long under those circumstances is a marathon in itself!

Char said...

Congrats to your hubby. He's one fit man!

I had to giggle about the full-frontal nudity after the swim section. It would have been totally unimpressive I'm sure with the water so cold.

Julie Arts said...

What a great race!!

Rose @ Eat, Drink, and Be Meiri said...

Yay for IronHubs. And race spectators make races for me, so great job to you, too.

ratherthecouch said...

I can't believe how strong he looks coming into the finish! I am so impressed! Also, great to have you back!

Aimee said...

That was an awesome report! After the race, my husband and family said they had just done "the Ironman of spectating!" What a long day for you and them! Congrats to your hubby! He did awesome!!

Teamarcia said...

I love this and I loved your FB updates on race day. What an amazing accomplishment! Impossible without such an excellent IronSherpa! Congrats to both of you!

JenWa098 said...

Wow! You are such an awesome family! I love it!

RockStarTri said...

Sherpa-ing is sooooo hard. Every athlete should do it from time to time. I sherpaed for my daughter for a Turkey trot.

Congrats to him and congrats to you!

coach dion said...

Nice report and well done to Ironhubs, and well done to you. My wife tells me it's a long day to be on the road watching.

Amber said...

Congrats to Iron Hubs and Iron Sherpa! I ofter call my hubs a sherpa on race day. :)

The Jesse said...

Awesome report. I saw your updates on FB :)

Congrats to Iron Hubs!!!

Tortuga_Runner said...

How exciting and that you all were there for the big day. Great job all around to IronHubs, IronSherpa and IronSupport crew kids.