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.
Loading 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.
We 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!
The 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.
When 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.
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.
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.
The 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.