Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Ironman Arizona

There is something to be said about being a spectator. You get to take in so much of the race, and learn at the same time.

This year, as I watched the athletes at Ironman AZ, I had several emotions. The first one was 'terrified' - there was just something about watching the bike leg that totally freaked me out. I'm not really sure what it was, especially considering I had a REALLY good ride the day before.

The wind was just picking up when momo, her kids & I got down to Tempe. We headed down Rio Salado, just west of Mill where we could see cyclists first heading in to prepare for the 2nd, or 3rd loop, and then we could catch them a second time just a few minutes later on their way back out.

Oh, I can't forget, when we got there we also saw Tim Deboom come flying down mill on his bike. "Flying" might be an understatement. It's SO cool to see these amazing fast men.

We picked a really good spot to watch, although if you ask momo's kids they would disagree. They wanted to stop waiting for all the 'normal' people we were looking for, they wanted to move on to the run where the FAST pros were working on the marathon. I had fun teasing them a little, asking why they weren't interested in the normal people, like US?! Poor kids.. they were just bored, but they were pretty good sports!

One funny moment was when I caught a friend go by. I didn't realize it was her, until she was already going past us, but I shouted out - "GO JEN" as loud as I could. I then told momo that I used to work with her. When I said her name, Jenifer Garner - she goes, "Hey, I saw her name on the Kona Lottery list!" I wish I had known that 1min earlier, I could have shouted it out to her. She had entered the lottery the last 3 years hoping to go. I guess this was her lucky day. Not just for the Kona slot, she also PR'd in the Ironman by 1hour and 9mins!

As we watched the rest of the cyclist go by I just started to get really scared. I had goosebumps as I looked at the faces of some of the potential Ironman. The wind had really picked up & you could see how bad they were fighting it. We saw several people pull over to talk with their families. It almost looked like they were giving up. I did see a few smiles, but for some reason the people that were struggling were sticking with me. I just started to imagine all of the hard work, time, struggles, money, sacrifices that they have all overcome to get to this point. I cheered, and smiled, and hoped every single one of them would make it....

Our next cheering spot was on the run. We were on the Mill Ave bridge. We could see people coming in at about mile 8, heading out for the second, or 3rd if you are a pro loop. Now this INSPIRED ME. Knowing they were so close to the finish. Some looked incredibly strong, some looked like they had just gone through a shower of SALT (must be this time of the year in AZ). One man stopped to talk to his wife who was sitting next to us. He was apologizing, that it was going to be a while. He started having stomach problems on the bike ride & had trouble keeping food down. Can you believe it, he was out here achieving one of the hardest victories one can do, and HE was apologizing. His wife kissed him, and he went on his way.

This almost brought me to tears....

We saw the son of our first ever running coaches, Patrick. He was SO uplifting. He was heading to his second loop of the run, smiling like it was Christmas & giving hi-5's to EVERYONE that was cheering. What an inspiration. The IRONMAN is only 20 years old. When I met him he was 13 or 14. He wasn't even running then. Now, he is a first time Ironman, 12:25:... Pretty impressive, huh?

We also saw several of the women pros go by, including Hillary Biscay. Something about her has really caught my curiosity, my respect & my admiration over the last year. I saw her at Ironman AZ last year, I saw her at Ironman Wisconsin last year... I saw her at the Soma Half-Ironman this year. I've read about her. Most recently, I read this article about her strength, perseverance to finish Ironman New Zealand, with a BROKEN HIP. She is a phenomenal athlete. She is just 6 months younger than me. I can't wait to see how the rest of her season, and years to come are! (picture from http://www.teamtbb.com/)

This year at Ironman AZ, she had a technical bike problem. She was sidelined for 1:20mins. She still finished as the 10the professional women in the field. Now how many people, PROs none the less would do that, and still with such an impressive finish? 11:33:07

Unfortunately, we didn't stay for much longer. Momo had to get her family home, and I had my dogs that had been stuck inside & alone all day. If we didn't get home soon, I think we were both going to be in for a LONG night.

I watched ironmanlive.com off an on checking on friends. I even saw a couple people I knew cross the finish line.

So, even though the day started out not so inspirational, more a fearful one - I ended it on a more positive note. I'm ready to be an ironman. I'm ready for this weekend's race. I am ready for my next 9 weeks of training. I'm ready, ready, ready... Just please, God, NO 20+mph winds :-)


momo said...

for imaz, i did the nowind dance and it doesn't seem to have worked, so i am going to have to figure something else out for this weekend.

maybe the gods will take pity on me since my coach is trying to kill me and we'll have a mild day?

cda will be amazing, girlfriend, just you wait. you are going to rock it!!

Susan Oseen said...

It's too bad that we can control the weather for these type of events...that would make it so much better. I guess it's all about the challenge.

Good luck with the next 9 weeks of training. I am training for that IM CDA...not looking forward to the 5.5 hour bike this Saturday...yikes.

Sherah said...

Uh, tell Momo that the "no wind" dance only works when you do it in the backyard naked. Ha ha.

Hope you have a great race this weekend!! Remember Lake Mead...your first triathlon ever...on the hybrid bike...you've come a long way, baby!!