So I actually ended up taking the Friday before the race off to volunteer. I was not planning on volunteering on Saturday, just because I wanted to be able to focus on being there for the Hubs and of course, I have two kids to take care of as well. :-) Instead, I volunteered at registration - you know, where this year's athletes can register for 2014. The main reason I volunteered? So that if I had the urge to train for 2014, I could register earlier...not that this race is ever in danger of a quick sell out. But still. I signed up to volunteer back in January, but by May I knew I didn't want to train for 2014. The Hubs and I had already decided to sign up for the 2014 Goofy Challenge and that was going to be all our budget could handle for the first part of 2014. Although, I will admit...when the person in charge of registration wanted to test the system and asked us volunteers if any of us wanted to go ahead and register, I was tempted. But then it passed.
|To register or not to register....|
We decided to book a room for the entire weekend at the host hotel. We figured that it would be nice to have the comfort of a cool hotel room for the kids and the Hub's parents through out the long day. There was a bit of drama in getting to the hotel, but thankfully we eventually made it. I dropped off the Hubs, so he could relax and met up with friends to put signs out along the run course. Yes, while the Hubs was figuring out his special needs and transition bags, I was figuring out our "Team Joseph" t-shirts and how to get the signs out on the course without the Hubs knowing....
|A sampling of some of the signs...|
|Even the kids got in on it!|
The next morning, we were up by 4 am and headed over to the race start. As we were walking along, we ran into another athlete that the hubs had met the day before. We all walked together, sharing race stories. Before we knew it, the Hubs was getting body marked by a team of two and found ourselves just hanging out waiting for friends to arrive.
|I've seen this woman once before, maybe at Oilman? Comic relief before the race!|
|Me and the hubs...almost go time!|
We met up with the Hub's training group, took a group picture, said a group prayer, etc. One of the Hub's good friend from work came to cheer, so we met up with him. Then, we walked over to the start. The Hubs opted to wear his wetsuit, so he had to wait 10 minutes after the start before he could begin.
Finally, he started!
Once the swimmers were off in the distance, Hub's friend and I headed to the swim in and hung out. We were joined by my Sister-in-Law and our two nephews. Spotting the Hubs among the other swimmers was close to impossible. Each athlete has their race # written on their swim cap, but it was hard to see it from the shore.
|The swimmers coming through the canal toward the swim exit...|
We kept looking for his long-sleeve wetsuit, but let's face it - they are ALL black. We'd think we had spotted him and then once out of the water, we realized it wasn't him. Before I knew it, I saw him running towards us from the direction of the strippers. He finished in a great time and looked awesome!
THE BIKE (a/k/a downtime for the kids)
He was out of the transition tent pretty quickly and headed out on the bike. It was so awesome to see him looking strong and confident!
|Head to his bike and looking great!|
|Home base for the rest of the day...shade, toys, beverages..it was all good!|
Once the kids and I made it back to the hotel, I was determined to get the tent up. Luckily, two awesome guys in the tent next to us gave me a hand. They even let me use a couple of their stakes to keep the wind from blowing the tent away. I found out they were from Mad Dog Coaching, so if you're looking for a coach in the DFW area, look them up! They rock! I am so glad I staked my claim on a spot early, because the space filled up super fast. We were directly outside of our hotel and in a spot where we could see the Hubs 2x per lap (except for the last lap).
With our cheer-space secured, I felt like it was time to take the kids to the pool. Yes, they were there to cheer for their daddy, but I wanted them to have fun and feel like they were on a mini-vacation. As the kids swam, I saw the trees blowing in the wind...I thought to myself that that wind was going to make for an even tougher ride.
|My little fishies enjoying their mini-vacay|
|Spraying each other with water...yes it was hot, even in the shade!|
The walk was pretty long for a 5 and 8 year old, but the kids only gave me a few complaints. There wasn't any shade along the way and it was hot, so I couldn't blame them for being a bit grumpy. Hell, I was getting grumpy! I strategically placed up in a spot where we could see Hubs bike in and then we could walk quickly to the transition tent to see him run out. Unfortunately, there was almost no shade. I think I may have mis-calculated the Hubs best and worst case scenario times, because it felt like we waited for quite some time out there in the sun.
And yes, the whining, bickering and crying began. So much so, that I had to separate the kids and stand between them. I received lots of sympathetic looks from other women...probably moms who had been there and done that! Finally, when someone else moved on, the kids were able to find a great spot to sit and gained a much better outlook on the situation.
|No, we weren't fighting just 2 minutes ago...really!|
We had friends coming to meet up with us - a couple and their two boys. They texted me and said they were walking towards us, but decided to stop and watch the athletes cycling by. About that time, I received a text from my sister-in-law letting me know she was back and had my inlaws with her...they'd be meeting us at the tent. A few minutes later, I received another text - they just spotted the Hubs! He would be coming in just a minute or two!!!
And there he was!
He dismounted his bike, gave us hellos and hugs and made his way to T2. Relief! I texted a few people to give them the status update - "Joseph is off the bike!!!"
|Thanks to friend, Rachel, for the early run pics! Hubs looks strong!|
The kids and I headed back to the tent where we met up with our friends and family. The kids played and cheered for runners, the adults gabbed. Before we knew it, it was time to start looking for the Hubs on the opposite side of the Waterway. The Hub's friend came back to cheer some more, so our little crowd was growing! And there he was...we were cheering and screaming so loudly, there's no way he could have NOT heard us.
|Our first sighting...yes, he heard us all the way over there!|
Now we knew it would be about a 1/2 hour before he made it to us. So we cheered and gabbed some more...
|"Team Joseph" cheering, gabbing and keeping ourselves entertained!|
The funniest thing we saw from our area was a group of women dressed as cheerleaders. They were lined up on either side of the run course and slapping each athlete's butts as they ran past...FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC!!! Apparently, there were men dancing in speedos a bit further down, too.
Time seemed to fly by, because in no time the Hubs had made his way towards us. I'll admit, between looking for Hubs, taking care of the kids and visiting with our friends and family, I missed a lot of my other friends out there on the course.
|Here comes the Hubs!|
We took advantage of the time between laps to grab some pizza and cheer some more. The in-laws took the kids up to the room to cool off and veg a bit. I was so thankful that we had the hotel room! The Hubs made his way around to us again and was still smiling. He was at mile 17 and told me that he may be slower on the next lap...while he still felt strong, the heat and blisters were taking their toll. I ran with him for a bit here. He really did look good and I was confident that he was going to make it. When we saw him come around for the final time, I think we all took a collective sigh of relief...it was almost done, he was almost an Ironman!!! And, I was constantly receiving texts from friends checking on how the Hubs was doing...I have some amazing friends!
|"Team Joseph" during the final lap!|
We started packing up our chairs, toys, etc. and I finally felt more at ease. It was about this time when I felt like I could finally have an adult beverage and truly relax. We had put everything away, with the exception of a few chairs and our cowbells, and we continued to cheer. At this point, the athletes were starting to show their exhaustion from the day...we hoped our cheers would give them some fuel to keep the fire lit and keep going. Somehow, even with the cowbells and cheers, the Munchkin had fallen asleep. The inlaws took him up to the room, so he could go to bed.
We finally made our way over to the finisher's chute. Right before that, I went to Grimaldi's to fetch the Hubs a pizza...that was his request for post race food. I was giddy with excitement! Unfortunately, about 10 minutes before the hubs made it to the finisher's chute, an athlete collapsed just a few feet away from us and began to seize. It was a scary thing to witness and a huge reminder of how difficult an Ironman distance race can be on the body. Paramedics made their way over, finishers where guided around the scene and an ambulance made its way through the crowds. Obviously, I was concerned about the well being of the man...but I was also concerned that the ambulance was blocking our view of the finish line. Is that bad?
I had a friend who was working at the medical tent around mile 25, so I asked him to text me when he saw the Hubs. And he did - the Hubs was coming!!!!
If you've never been to the finish line of an Ironman race, you have to be there at least one. It's one big party - music, Mike Reilly, dancing, cheering - you can feel the energy in the air. We finally saw the Hubs come around the corner! He made his way to us, gave us high fives and kept going....past the ambulance.
|And here he comes....our Ironman!|
That was it. He was done. And we didn't see it. I have to admit, while it was so exciting, it was anti-climatic. I wanted to SEE HIM FINISH DAMMIT!!!
But alas, he did finish - HUBS WAS AN IRONMAN!!!!
We navigated our way through the crowds to get to the finisher's area. Somehow, we lost the Hub's parents. We found the Hubs, gave our congrats hugs and kisses and tried to find everyone.
|Most of our family with our awesome Ironman!|
We finally met up with everyone. The hubs had some pizza and a shower, while I went to transition and picked up his bike. Yes, I am nice like that! Once the bike was safely in our hotel room, I went back out to see those last few finishers...to me, this was the 2nd best part of the day (the 1st best part was seeing Hubs finish, of course!). There was a finisher who made it in with only a minute or two to spare. But, Mike Reilly announced that there was one more man on his way. Mike Reilly really gets out there and gets the crowd cheering at this time of the night! The man, who had recently lost around 200 lbs, just missed the cut-off. It was both inspiring and heartbreaking at the same time!
Afterwards, I went back to the room where the Hubs was relaxing and the Kiddo was still watching TV. Surprisingly, even after the long day, we stayed up talking about different parts of the day for the next hour. What an amazing, exciting, fun day for the both of us!
Tomorrow - The Hubs give his perspective with his race report!