Sunday, May 22, 2011

IMSG 2011

No racing IMSG this year, hadn't planned on it at all, planned on having a baby, well that didn't work out, and just not enough time to train like I would want to.  That's ok, it wasn't on the plan.  But we, ok I, wanted to go down and watch for sure, so we made a little trip out of it.

Played at Sand Hollow Friday.  

The water level is so high we were able to venture out on the the big rocks the swim goes around.
The water felt great and the air was HOT!  Friday was the first in a string of painful sunburns.  As much as I would love to have raced Ironman again had I been in shape, it was so nice to relax and play with my kids and not freak out because this or that still had to get done or I was out in the sun.
We rode our bikes towing the trail a bike and Chariot from the far campground into the main one to play on the rocks (I LOVE getting around like that, think it's so fun), and found this handy little spot on the way back to play at, complete with shallow kid friendly water, shade, a hammock and good friend Michelle Anderson!
Friday morning I also got a Facebook wall post from a sweet friend and very talented coach and athlete Lynda, asking if I was busy Saturday from 11:30-4pm, because she needed an extra lead bike escort!!!
Um, yeah, sure am available!  Thank you honey for letting me do that
You can bet I got a hold of here asap an set things up.  Ironically we had the mtn bike down there which is not fancy, even has a kickstand ;) but it tows the trail a bike and we didn't want to fight getting the attachment off.  You have to have a mtn bike to escort as to not lead road biking racers off course, all I had left was to buy a sweet $5 Bell brand bike bell, you know the ones that go "ringgg ringgg".  It was sweet!

So anyway, Friday and Saturday night we camped at an RV Camp there in SG only a mile from the finish.  It was great actually, yeah more $$ than regular campgrounds, but it meant no driving, a clean bed, real restrooms and showers, and a swimming pool!  Score!  Worked great.  Talked with a few athletes while we were there including Bart Preston.  We did the kids race Friday night, but my 3year old was the only one happy to end up doing it, it was really hot out.

So Saturday morning came and I wanted to share outdoor time with my husband, so he went for a run and I got the kids up and fed, threw em in the trailer (yep, all 3) including the still asleep 7 year old, and hauled tail  the 2 miles uphill to mile 22 on the bike course.  Whew!  I was late so riding as hard as I can, and pulling 100+ pounds behind me and on a mountain bike without clipless pedals, that was a workout.
Yep, still warm.  Slurpee time by 10am.
Then it was time to meet up with Jer (my husband, I'm just going to use his name from now on) and hand the kids off so I could get ready for my job.
Finally got everything together and sunscreened up as best I could, found my group after worrying I'd be too late and waited for about 25 minutes before our pro's came in
The sweet set up.  Cool Ironman plate, pink Fuel Box, purple cowbell fastened onto my shifter thanks to my 5 year old little guy.  The bike bell was on, but fell off at mile 13 and spent the rest of the ride in my shorts
This was the lead bike escort team.  Great people!  Lynda two people to my left, and my good friend Jana to my right
Waiting to go while my pro is in T2.  

I won't lie, I was nervous.  Yes I know that course like the back of my hand, but I was still nervous I might somehow lead him off track.  Mostly though I was concerned about knowing who to stay with if a pass happened since I was in charge of leading the 5th place male position, not the 5th place man out of T2 necessarily.  But it actually went fine.  I started with TJ Tollakson, who was then passed by Mike Aigroz, who was passed at one point by Paul Ambrose I believe, and then it kind of went in reverse with TJ moving up again (and he was hauling by that point, I was doing my best to keep my distance up the hills), and then I finished the last 10 or so miles with Mike Aigroz again.
So the rules are you stay about 20 yards in front of them and use your bell to alert media or aid stations or other racers they are coming.  You don't talk to them, don't inform them how close their competition is, and you don't lead them off course  :)
Oh yeah, forgot, so we're headed up Pioneer Park's steep hill for the first time, I shift like an idiot, and the chain locks up!!  AHHHH!!  I can't end now!  Jumped off the path, fiddled with it, watched my pro go by and like an idiot told him to just keep going (what's he going to do, hang out and help me fix it?  No ).  Got it back on, jumped on, it locked again, I freaked out.  Got it on and it held, took 2-3 minutes to race up to my pro and resume my job.  Whew!  Never did shift down to the small chain ring again though  :)
Mike was doing great those last 10, but everyone gets tired and I could see it a little bit, so I'd ring my cowbell and look back at him as we were going up big hills to encourage him.  Our last mile or so were exciting, he started putting his jersey back down and zipped up, visor on, getting ready to finish, and he was smiling -he was never bad to look at though ;)  I parked my bike in the round about before the chute and gave him five on his way in.  The footage I've seen shows him super smiley and excited, it was great!
And then all the fanfare went away, I exited the course, and my great amazing day was done.
I was able to meet up with Mike after the race and tell him good job.  He thanked me for my cheering and cowbell skills for him.  It was neat.
It really was so cool!  I had a ton of people ask me if I was doing IMSG again this year, if I was disappointed not to be, etc, and sure I'd love to do it, but I really did ok.  It was crazy hot out there (no longer really have any idea how to train for the weather on that course, it's nuts), I am in no way trained to do close to what I did and would want to do better next time I hand over $600 to an organization that won't answer my emails anyway (grrrr, hear that Ironman?  A little customer service by the 5th email would be nice!), and I got to watch a ton of friends, and participate in what I think may be one of the coolest ways!  I tell ya, that's how you see the course, forget actually doing it ;)  And I fully intend on doing that any year I can that I'm not racing if I'm asked again.

So that's that.  Witnessed a ton of friends do so well in such adverse conditions whether they hit their goal times or not.  It was really brutal out there.  I'm sure I'll be back at some point, just don't know whether it will be next year, or a year or two down the road.  Jer and the kids and I rode around Diagonal St (the last couple miles for most folks) for a while cheering, then I came back at 11pm to watch what I could.  Man, the feeling down there is electric!  So.  Much.  Energy!!  I wish there was a way I could still race fast and satisfy that part of me, while still getting to finish at night like that, just a whole different pumped up atmosphere.  I definitely shed a few tears.  Congrats all you new Ironman finishers!  What a great trip!


Jarvis Family said...

What is it about Ironman that makes me cry like a baby every time I watch? :-) Well, we know what it is but it still surprises me how powerful it really is.
I am so excited for you to have had that experience! Yay for good friends and connections! Glad you had a good day!

Tri and Run Couple said...

That is so cool that you got to follow the 5th place pro! What a neat experience. Thanks again for sharing your awesome beach with us. It was great to see you and your cute kids. How fun that they got to play together.

We will see you out there in the tri-world!