Monday, September 27, 2010
So if you saw my status over the weekend you saw that I’ve caught the racing bug once again. Let me lay out for you what transpired.
I signed up to be a volunteer this year at the Redman Ironman that takes place in September yearly. My original goal (prior to my triathlon in August) was to race the ˝ Ironman distance next September as my 40th birthday present. As you may or may not know, I’ve been doing some soul searching trying to find some balance and I decided that triathlons weren’t for me (I despise the swim) and that I was going to “quit” doing racing. Never say never (isn’t that a James Bond movie?).
So here I am Friday night, watching the thousands of bikes hanging from the racks, athletes of all ages and all sizes check in, drop off their gear, listen to the pre-race meeting, etc. I start getting the itch. I felt it start in my feet and rise up through my legs and radiate through the rest of my body like Gu does when you suck some down for more fuel during a long run. At this point my mind told me to run, run like the wind. Run far, far away. But my heart started beating faster and my feet stayed riveted to the ground. That’s when I knew, the stinky racing bug had bit me! Immediately my mind started racing (no pun intended) with a game plan. I had 365 days to prepare. I could do this, it can be done, it must be done.
Saturday I returned around 11:30 to start my volunteer duties. The race had officially been ongoing for 4.5 hours. Not only was this a full and ˝ distance ironman but there was also a full and ˝ aqua bike (swim and bike only). So there were some of the ˝ and even full aqua bikers finishing. You could feel the excitement in the air. I checked in and made my way to the supply tent. I did various things throughout the day including cheering some of the ˝ Ironman athletes on their run loops. I can so relate to them being out there in the heat, just trying to keep that forward momentum. “Stay Strong Runner” is what I yelled! I also got sent on an emergency sponge roundup. They ran out of sponges and it was getting hotter (with humidity) so since the majority of the athletes would be running in the heat of the day as well as just needing to be cooled off throughout the day, I ran to Wal-mart to buy every sponge they had. I later heard they went through all of those too!
The highlight of my volunteer duty was handing out the finisher shirts. Much like you get at the end of a marathon. Has the distance with FINISHER real big on the back. They had blue for boys and pink for girls, really nice shirts. I loved seeing the pride that beamed from every athletes face when I handed them their shirts, and then I would say “Congratulations”. Wow, it is really un-describable the look on their faces! On the flip side, I saw pain and disappointment. We ran out of ˝ Ironman shirts for the ladies. Well unless you are a small. I felt horrible, I could so feel their disappointment and I tried my best to have them not focus on it but I knew how they felt. We did take their information and hopefully the president of the event will make true to his promise of a re-print but still not to go home with a finisher shirt is a true disappointment.
Two people that stood out to me, while handing them their shirts was the overall male Ironman (full distance) who finished with a new course record of 9 hours 20 minutes. He didn’t even grabbed any water or food he hobbled all the way up to where we were to get his shirt, with the nurse right with him. We offered him water and a chair right away. When I handed him his shirt he found out he had set a new course record. I helped him take his shoes off and noticed that he was actually trying not to cry. I could feel myself trying not to cry right along with him. What an accomplishment! The second person was a lady that any one of use could relate too, especially me. She had finished ˝ the distance as this previous person I spoke of time. When she walked up my heart fell to my stomach because I knew I couldn’t hand her a shirt. When I confirmed that she was a ˝ Ironman finisher I broke the news to her. She grabbed the table and yelled out, “No! I just finished!” and immediately broke out in tears. I know you are probably thinking I should have just handed her a men’s shirt but I couldn’t, director’s orders, my hands were tied. I got her to put her information down, apologizing my heart out, telling her it is okay, that she did awesome, that it isn’t about the shirt, that she finished strong and that is what matters. Of course she knew this but she was so upset and rightfully so! I tried my best to console her while trying to fight my own tears back. I could see the defeat in her as she walked away. I just thought how wrong it was. Luckily later one of the other staff members (who I really like and is very supportive) came and got her a men’s shirt. I kept her on the list for a pink one because I think she deserves it! My day ended there shortly after that.
So you might ask if I have a plan. Why yes I do. I plan on taking the next ˝ year to lose the remainder weight I want to lose, to tone up get some base miles in on the bike as well on my feet. To take a few swim lessons or hypnosis to get over my distastefulness in swimming. Then come April of 2011, start training for my first ˝ Ironman. In conjunction with that I plan on completing 40 races by the time I’m 40. This race is usually around my birthday, give or take a week or so. That will be my 40th race! I have completed 25 races so far so I only have 15 to go.
So here is to the start of the transformation into a Ironman, or at least a ˝ Ironman well IronWOMAN!