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:

IMAZ Finish“YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!”

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

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Update

Thank you all for your kind thoughts and comments on my last post.  I wish I had a happier update for us all, but my dear friend’s son passed away September 28th.  The injuries he sustained after being hit by a car while riding his bike home from school were simply too traumatic.  There are no words for a devastating loss like this.

My friend is one of the most generous and kind-hearted people I’ve ever met.  She is establishing a public awareness campaign about driving safely in school zones in loving memory of her son, Team T.O.M. (Take One Minute).  Accidents like Tom’s can be avoided if drivers just remember to be vigilant and cautious in school zones.

TT Ribbon

As for me, I’m doing what I can to help, which never feels like enough.  Everything else in my life is taking something of a back seat right now, which I know you totally understand.  At some point in the near future, I hope to get back to reading and commenting.  I’ve missed you.  In the meantime, hug your kids.  Treasure them.  And please, please, PLEASE drive safely!