Thursday, November 24, 2011

Ironman Arizona Spectathlete

I have to thank my friend Molly for signing up for Ironman Arizona right at a perfect time when I could really use a mini-vacation! With Scott just starting vacation and the girls being off for Thanksgiving week, it was a perfect time for me to get away and spectate Molly as she raced her second Ironman event. For those of you wondering, Ironman is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 bike ride and then you go run a marathon, 26.2 miles.

I arrived in Arizona early Friday morning and got to have lunch with a bunch of other Ironman participants, many whom had already done Iron distances already this year! Saturday we arrived at Tempe Town Lake for Molly to get a practice swim in and drop off her bike and transition bags.

It pays off to be the early bird when there are 2640 other people dropping of gear. We ended the evening with a supper yummy dinner at a place called Nourish where the owner came out to wish Molly good luck for the big day. Oh yeah, and there was some Hockey and College Football viewing as well, but lets not talk about that sob story!

Race morning came early, 4am to be exact! I slept pretty good and was ready for a big day of spectating. Molly and I headed out first and once we arrived she entered to transition to get her bike ready and get some body marking. Once she got suited up it was time to say our goodbyes. After parting ways we headed up to the bridge to watch the swim start.

Beautiful morning

Ready to start

And they're off! 

It looked like a blender out there, it's not just being able to swim at this distance in a cold lake, but it's focusing and not being bothered by the mass start!

We had the chance to go up in the Microsoft building and got some great views of the entire transition area.

That's a lot of bikes. These are some of the pro's coming in.

We headed back down to transition to try and get a good spot to view Molly coming in from the swim.

Looking strong! 

Then we ran over to the bike start to cheer her on as she heads out on her 112 mile bike ride!

This is the point where the spectathlete gets to rest for a little bit. We headed over to a restaurant and managed a patio table so we could work on our nutrition. Fueling consisted of a mimosa and some eggs with potatoes. Okay, there was lots of water consumption as well  (at least for me, I can't comment on my teammates). The bike course is 3 loops and Molly's online tracking wasn't working too well on the first loop so we had to guesstimate when we thought she would be coming back in. Jeff and I headed out to go cheer her on as she came back and headed out for the second loop.

112 miles and she never got off the bike! 
After we caught her we rushed back to actually eat our food. Once the gps started working better it was evident that there was a strong headwind out on the course. At one point she would be going 21 mph and than 14. We knew that would make for a tough 112 miles on the course.

Once Molly was headed in from the bike course Jeff headed to transition and I headed out past transition to the run start to greet her as she started out on her marathon (her happy place!). Getting down there early proved helpful, I watched lots of other athletes and this would help gauge where she was later in other spots on the run course. People that were easy spot to were a woman in a pink running dress and batman (who she ended up passing later as he slowed down).

Heading out on her 26.2 mile run
The rest of the evening was spent running back and forth on the the run course to catch Molly and yell senseless words of encouragement at her!

After this point I ran back to the car grabbed my sweatshirt, charged my phone and got ready to head to the finish line. I headed to the bleachers to hang out and hope that by the time Molly came through I would be able to be down on the bottom level. Being at the finish line is probably the best part of the entire day. Being out on the course you watch these athletes, some looking in pain, some smiling, some saying thank you as you cheer them on and some not able to spend the extra effort on anything other than one foot in front of the other. So when it's finally their turn and you are cheering them on as they cross the finish line you finally see them smiling you can't help but feel huge elation for them as they announce "You are an Ironman!". As I stood there, in front of me was a Grandmother with her granddaughter and the Grandfather was behind me. Clearly they were waiting for her son to cross and for the little girl to see her Dad her cross the finish line. As he came through the chute a total stranger who was in front of them lifted up the girl so she could her so her Dad come in as they screamed their heads off for him. The look on his face and the act of kindness from the stranger brought tears to my eyes. That's what it's all about, these athletes have gone through months of training for this day, there's been blood, sweat and tears (maybe some urine) left out on the course and it's all for this moment, the lights, the music, the crowd cheering knowing that you are an Ironman! As I sat and soaked it all in and felt so many moments of being proud for those athletes, it was Molly's turn.

I saw her coming and I heard them announce her name. I knew she was hurting but she looked so strong, I screamed my head off and cheered her in to the finish line.

There she was an Ironman for a second time. I was so proud to be there and experience it with her. I know that there are people out there who don't get it but I do. To set a goal for yourself, to train hard for it and meet milestones and accomplishments along the way and then to execute it and get it done has got to be a pretty amazing feeling. While it's not something I see myself doing it sure inspires me to get off my butt and set and meet goals for myself.

Molly set a personal record from her 2009 Ironman of 1 hour and 15 minutes, she shaved time off the swim, bike, run and both transitions. Pretty amazing indeed.

1 comment:

  1. You were an awesome spectators, thanks so much!!!