Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ironman Texas: Spectating is Hard!

This picture is from when Jeff was on his 6 hour bike ride.  I had been up since 3am and was a nervous wreck. At this point I had no idea what to do and was running around like a chicken with my head cut off.  Ruth Ann made me sit down and have a beer.  She and her husband Patrick (who was seeing Thor at this time) had been at the race since the swim start.  Thank goodness they were there, to keep me somewhat sane.  I am using the term sane very lightly.  But let’s start at the beginning.  Ha, what a relative term as well.  The beginning could be the start of the race, or about a year ago when Jeff told me he wanted to do an Ironman……….
Anyway, Friday night after a nice dinner with some friends Jeff and I headed to bed.  We set 4 alarms and crashed.  Before I knew it the alarms were going off and it was 3am on 5/21/11.  A date I felt like was never going to arrive.  Jeff got up and ate his pre race fuel.  I had some coffee as I had made plans to have breakfast with the wife of our friend who was also doing the race, and our friends who were coming to tough the whole day out spectating with me.  While Jeff went back to sleep I made sure I had my entire “race gear” ready to go.  My phone, check, Jeff’s phone, check I-Pad (for twitter updates), check, camera, check, video recorder, check, sunscreen, check.  Jeff got up, got ALL his stuff ready, and we were off to transition for him to check on his stuff.  For me, Jeff had an awesome spot in transition.  At the end, near the gate where I could get great pictures and see him totally.  Even stand there and talk to him.  So while I thought he was just going thru normal checks on his bike I was snapping away with the camera.

At one point I asked Jeff to smile for the camera, when is when he informed me that he had a flat tire.  I can’t imagine how he was feeling, because at that point I almost threw up. He changed his tire, and was pumping it up (I had walked over to the trash to throw away the first tube) when I heard a loud boom.  I thought, man that sucks for someone.  That someone was Jeff.  At this point I really had to hold the vomit down.  Thank goodness his friend Patrick was there to help change the tire.  Crisis averted!!!  We then headed over to the swim start.
The mood lightened up a bit on the walk over and we snapped some pictures, the boys got body marked and then it was time for them to head off.  I told Jeff good luck (not that he needed it) and have fun and he was on his way.  While I was waiting for my friends to get there I had to go to the bathroom so bad.  The line for the bathroom was like 30 mins long, which just wasn’t going to work.  So, let’s just say there was some off roading (the first of many times) into the bushes.  Though the other times were to get good spots to watch the hubby!

We headed off to watch the swim start, which was crazy and exciting.  When the gun went off the fact that this was happening finally sunk in.  At this point in the day I decided to hand my camera over to our friend Patrick (not to be confused with the Patrick racing) who takes awesome pictures, and had a much steadier hand than I did at that point.  We watched for a couple of minutes and then started our trek, off the beaten path to watch him come out of the water.
I can't believe you made me walk thru the brush!

When the time he predicted that he was going to be out of the water approached I told Patrick to point and shoot.  I had showed him what Jeff was wearing from a picture on my phone, you know because we weren’t going to have enough pictures that day, to which he replied everyone is wearing that same thing Annie.  Jeff was about 5 mins past his time when I kept asking Ruth Ann, do you think I missed him, maybe I missed him, oh crap, I hope I didn’t miss him.  To which, she later told me, she was thinking.  Oh crap, maybe he got a cramp, I hope he isn’t out there hanging on to a canoe somewhere, or worse.  I am very glad she kept those thoughts to herself!

When I saw him get out of the water I experienced so much relief, and pride.  I took off and saw him grab his bike gear bike, then headed over to find a spot to watch him head out on the bike.  Ruth Ann was right behind me the whole time.  We staked out a spot, and and waited, and waited, and waited.  I had no idea Jeff was going to take his sweet ass time in transition.  Then finally we saw him.  At this point I was trying out the new Kodak video recorder we bought for the day.  It is pretty cool, but my movie making skills need some work.  I soon as I saw Jeff I got so excited I started jumping up and down.  Not such a good idea if trying to focus on one person!  

So he was off, and we had 6 hours to kill.  And even though I knew I had 6 hours to kill I felt like I had no time at all, and if I didn't get back to transition I would miss Jeff coming back in from the bike.  So, given how crazy my thoughts were at this point we met up with racing Patrick's wife and a couple of friends that were volunteering and had breakfast. 

After breakfast I went to charge my phone, I had twitter updates to send out after all, and then met back up with Ruth Ann, and that is when she decided I needed a beer to calm down.  If it hadn't been for her I probably would have been standing at the bike in staring off into space for 6 hours.
After the beer I felt  a little better, and we walked back to the hotel to get our signs and drop them off at our tri club tent. A quick side note on the signs.  I came up with some signs, and my friend Elizabeth helped me make them, but Ruth Ann definitely won the best sign award for the day.  Here are her signs

1. Hurry up, the world is ending
1.Jeff Irvin, do you still heart TX?
3.Specating is hardwork.
4. People are sweating out here
5. Run slower, get your money's worth.
6.Thank you Hilary Clinton, Love Jeff Irvin
7. Jeff Irvin: Fat Ass to Bad Ass.
Most of these are inside jokes, but thanks to her we all had a sign to hold at some point for him.

Anyway, after dropping off the signs  we headed back to transition and waited for Jeff to come in.  It was very exciting and inspiring to watch racer after racer finishing the bike.  When Jeff came in off the bike I ran along with him on the side of transition to his spot and caught him starting the run.  He came over, gave me a kiss and was off.  He was still looking strong, and I knew at that point that all the months of early to bed early to rise, of not making social events with our friends, of all the sacrifices, of all of his training had paid off.  I never doubted that Jeff would be an Ironman.  Not for one minute.  But seeing Jeff still smiling when he was about to start the marathon sealed the deal for me.  I can not express the pride that I felt in that moment.  And even though there were hundreds of other people around, just for one second I felt like it was just the two of us.

At this point we headed over to the run course.  The run course was so awesome.  I was able to see Jeff a total of 6 times.  He had a smile on his face each time.  It was so inspiring to watch him.  And even though I am pretty sure that I did at least a 10K if not more that day, it was so worth being there for every second of the day.  The rest of the Team Carrot support crew showed up for the run, and in between his loops we had a few beers and cheered for other racers.  They tired to get me to each, which I hadn't done since breakfast, but just couldn't seem to do.  To them I seemed very nervous and anxious, which I am sure I was, but I was also just so excited for Jeff that I couldn't stand still.  After seeing Jeff for the 5th time, which was the start of his third loop, and getting a great big kiss from him we took off for the finish.  As most of you know, he really picked up his pace at the end, and we made it just in time.  I saw him coming around the corner and tears started streaming down my face.  In my flip flops I ran along side of the finishing shoot with him and heard the announcer say "Jeff Irvin, you are now an Ironman."  And even though he was a sweaty, disgusting mess I gave him a huge hug and kiss.  It was such and awesome day and awesome experience, and I can't wait until he does his next one!

I know that Jeff had and extremely hard day that day.  But I know he was prepared for it and am so extremely proud of him, not only for that, but for toughing out months and months of training.  At one point towards the end of his training Jeff expressed to me his guilt for all the time he was putting in training, and that he felt like he was neglecting me.  I never once felt neglected and I hope he knows that.  I hope he knows how extremely proud of him I am.

Me and my Ironman!

And finally, some things I learned about spectating.

1.Don't forget tennis shoes, flip flops do not cut it for walking and running around for 12:19:51.

2.  Have one of your very good, very logical, and very structured friends there with you to keep you as sane as possible.

3.  Don't bring a book under false pretense that you will be able to concentrate and read it.

4.  Wear your Garmin.  I would love to know how many miles we did that day.

Thank you to all of our friends, Ruth Ann and Patrick, Jim and Elizabeth, Ann and Chris, Yvette and Steve, Dave and Jenn who came out to support.  You guys are so awesome, and may even see Jeff again now!



  1. It's so nice to get it from your perspective! Jeff's race report was amazing, but you did quite the job of heading the support crew, too! Congrats to you both!

  2. That is a great race report! I am so happy that Jeff had such an amazing support group to get him through the training and race!

    Annie, you are an Iron Sherpa (in my best Mike Reilly voice!)

  3. great report !!!
    thanks for sharing your emotions and day-super cool
    Its a super long day isnt it! I volunteered in MAdison last year and it struck me just how long of a day it is even tho NOT racing!

  4. You and the gang were awesome out there on Saturday! Your nervousness made me less nervous if that makes sense?

  5. Great post, Annie!! I didn't see all of Ruth Ann's signs...hi-lar-ious! I especially like the one about the end of the world and the "Do you still heart TX?" Awesome.
    And your advice at the end of the post for spectators is priceless.
    Congrats to Jeff! I'm sure he and Patrick are already planning their next one.

  6. Great recap from a very different vantage point. Loved the signs and the idea of wearing your Garmin as a spectator. Priceless!

  7. you

    He was able to do this amazing thing with YOUR help. Don't discount YOUR role in his successful day.
    You are awesome.

  8. Awesome spectator report! I'll have to share this with my wife so she knows what is in store for September.

  9. Great recap! I will pass this along to my family for when I race in July.

    You should market yourself as a personal professional Ironman spectator. Fee: Free Beer and Food.

  10. Thanks for a great spectating recap! :)

    I laughed when I read " that point I almost threw up." Yep. I'm pretty sure that I'll get to that same point when my hubby, Kevin (Ironman By Thirty), races in September. ;)

    Congratulations to both of you!!

  11. I spectated for Tom's first Ironman and it took so much out of me that I signed up for the next year so I wouldn't have to spectate again! :)

    Thanks for keeping us updated throughout the day. And this report was awesome!

  12. wow. Both of you guys rock!