At the end of October, I was lucky enough to join Brian on his first IRONMAN 70.3 race. It has always been a future goal of mine to one day be “fit enough” to compete in an IRONMAN, ideally doing a full 140.6. I remember years and years ago watching footage from one of the races in Hawaii and being glued to the TV, cheering on these incredible athletes from a distance — so you can imagine my excitement when I got the opportunity to drive to Miami to cheer on one of my own!
We arrived in Miami on Saturday, the day before the race, so we could go through bike check-in and packet pick-up. When we pulled into the city, parked, and started walking our way to the IRONMAN Village — you could just feel the energy. There were bikes everywhere — really REALLY nice road bikes I’m sure cost thousands of dollars. Most of the people I saw had a mixture of nerves, determination, and excitement on their faces. There was this… buzz.. it’s hard to describe or explain, but I can say it was contagious. After about 5 minutes of looking around, I leaned over to Brian and said, “Ok, so.. what are the chances of me being able to actually jump into this race with you?!” I was more than half serious — but given the fact I had ZERO training time, no bike with me, no gear, and c’mon, let’s be real.. I’d probably drown in the bay during the swim — I knew it just wasn’t possible. At that moment, I pushed away my inner competitive (
amateur) athlete and decided I was going to be the BEST FREAKING CHEERLEADER EVER. Whatever B needed, whatever I could do — I was going to be at every transition, I was going to be consistently updating social to let our family and friends know how he was doing. Team BA, all the way!
After we checked in, parked the bike in the lot, browsed through some of the booths in the Village, we made our way back to the hotel, went for a swim, and then decided to head to South Beach for a “carbo-load” dinner — PASTA! I’m sure I was an annoying little girl talking about her schoolyard crush when it came to that evening, everything was IRONMAN, IRONMAN, IRONMAN. Little did I know, my schoolyard crush was going to grow into a full blown “love at first sight” the next morning. But first, REST — and by rest, I mean Brian rested — I made use of the hotel gym and ran a good 5 miles on the treadmill and did some strength training. Too much energy — and 5AM would hurt me if I didn’t get some training in to wear myself out.
Oh, and 5AM — there you were! It was early, but like a kid on Christmas morning, we were both PUMPED (although I think my cheerleader spirit kicked in a little too early.. I was literally jumping up and down with excitement). The “buzz” and energy we felt the day before was x100000000 that morning — everyone was in their swim gear, ready to jump in the water and swim 1.2 miles, then bike 56 miles, and finally run 13.1 miles. As the announcers prepared everyone for the start, B and I sat by the water and watched the sunrise.
And then, before we knew it.. B was off and in the water.
I wanted to time it out perfectly — Brian and I are very analytical and time-oriented people. We both discussed that in training, he was completing the swim in roughly 48 minutes or so, give or take. I knew that around the 45 minute mark, I wanted to be near the transition area to catch him running by as he made his way out of thewater and running toward getting his bike. And I made it, able to cheer him on as he ran. Cheerleader – 1. I knew it would pretty much take him 3-5 minutes to get all of his gear on and out the gate to start on the ride, so I ran (yes, RAN) all the way around the blocked area, climbed over and scaled some walls (kinda), and caught him just as he was clipping in. Cheerleader – 2. The bike was going to take longer than the swim (naturally), so I figured I had a good 4 hours to kill — so I jumped into the Village, shook some hands and kissed some babies — and had the birth of a brilliant idea, which I will get into a little later.
After about 4 hours I made my way down to the transition area where most people start their 13.1 mile run. Running is my favorite, so watching these incredible people who just SWAM 1.2 miles and RODE 56 miles begin a half marathon — whoa. Talk about chills and goosebumps! Talk about #FITSPIRATION. And then, there he was. Smiling. My heart fluttered. Cheerleader – 3. He said he got two flat tires on the ride, and ended up riding the last 5 miles on a flat. Brutal! But, he was feeling great and that smile… pretty phenomenal. TOTALLY #IRONinspired.
Brian had huge goals for this race, but the biggest one was to finish in under 8 hours to have a qualifying time. I was anxiously waiting at the finish line for him, as I watched to clock tick closer and closer to 8 hours. I started to worry a little — was he okay? Is he hurt? How will I know if he’s okay? I was watching loved ones around me cheering their athletes on, and it was so amazing. All of these people, all doing the same intense physical challenge — all of these cheerleaders, just like me, cheering them on. So much pride, so much unity, so much energy.. it was infectious. People were cheering, crying, hugging, loving, and were just so… happy.
And then, there he was.
He swam, he cycled, he got two flat tires, he ran his little tail off, and somehow, someway — he finished in 7 hours 57 minutes. I was so proud of him, like seriously brought tears to my eyes. I couldn’t stop smiling. I just kept saying to him, “Whoa, dude! You just FINISHED 70.3 MILES, consecutively, of a freaking super intense challenge!!” You are a rockstar. You are an inspiration. You.. are.. you are just incredible. I hope you know that. 🙂
7 hours, 57 minutes — and this pretty freaking sweet medal. He was tired, but not too tired to take me out to a burger place that evening (and for the record, I totally failed and got a vegetarian burger at a burger place.. what was I thinking? It wasn’t terrible, but damn — I should’ve decided to be a normal omnivore that night). What’s even more sweet? The next morning, before driving home — B took me to a soulCYCLE class — because he knows how much I love it. Cheerleaders get treats, too!
I chatted with SO many people about IRONMAN while Brian was biking. I was learning more and more — and started to have questions I never thought of before — why do you need a special bike for racing? How many IRONMAN competitions are there? There are different levels of racing — even a kids race?! If you were to travel to a race that isn’t in driving distance, is there a way to properly ship your bike? WHOA, THEY MAKE SPECIAL CASES?! How do you find out all of this stuff if you are just starting out?!
I am no extreme athlete — I am competitive, but I compete not for placement but for fun. Running is my favorite but I could be stronger, biking is super fun but I could be faster, and swimming — whoa, I need some serious help! What I do know I am is… real. And, I’m a work in progress, starting and made from scratch. What if, I start to document my own journey as I become and IRON(wo)MAN and become an inspiration to those people who are sitting there doubting whether or not they could actually do this. Be the example. Set the example. It’s what I preach everyday to my clients — and in the process continue to remind myself.
And so, #IRONMOM has been born. I will be documenting my tri-training journey from the ground up. Covering everything from proper gear to training days, from picking the right race to purchasing the right bike — I want you guys to be there with me from the start! So, stay tuned, friends! IRONMAN Fall 2017 will be here before we know it!