I am happy to let you know that the wife finished 5th in her age group in her triathlon this weekend. There were over fifty women in her age group, and she finished 273/2900 overall. She was pleased with the result, especially because it was her first ironman-distance race.
Our day began at 3:00 a.m., when she got up to start eating. She had to consume 1200 calories before the race began at 6:30 a.m. and allow herself enough time to digest it before the starting gun. From there we made it to the swim start at about 4:45, when it was still plenty dark, and I found myself wondering why I hadn’t brought a sleeping bag to snooze on the beach while she applied sunscreen, body glide, junk jam, and her skin suit. It was exciting when the athletes finally got started, because all ~3000 of them rushed into the water at once. It looked like a chaotic mess of flying elbows and brightly colored swim caps all splashing about, but somehow they all made it out into the water to start their 2.4 mile swim.
I puttered around until she made it out of the water, approximately the 15th woman. She quickly stripped her skin suit and hopped on the bike. I managed to take my only worthwhile photo of the day of her leaving on the bike. For five hours and 45 minutes she pedaled around the county. I zigzagged with the car, catching her at a few locations before heading to the marathon course. There, I met up with my bestie David and his parents where we volunteered at a water station, handing out water, gatorade, coke, and general cheering. It was really fun seeing the first racers come through at breathtaking paces.
N came running by surprisingly early, which meant she had a strong bike ride. She was on pace with her goals, and in seemingly good spirits as she flew past our water station the first time. Because of where we were positioned, we saw her two more times over the next 90 minutes. It was clear that she was losing steam, but she was more than halfway done with the marathon. At mile 18, I was slightly concerned that she couldn’t hold her position without getting passed. She was wilting fast and had a lot of uncomfortable aches, pains, and hot spots. Plus, it had been about 10 hours since she had eaten anything solid, other than a few energy bars. These triathletes train their systems to thrive on powders, gels, and chewy bits, but frankly, I would just want a pb&j. David and I departed our water station after our shift and headed to the finish line. It is always so painful waiting for her to re-appear. I can calculate, based on pace and tracking points along the course, when she should arrive at the next location, and I also recognize the racers who have been near her all day, so it’s excruciating when I am waiting for her to appear and fearing that she has suffered injury, illness, or just stopped running. However, she did eventually round the corner and head down the finish chute amidst much cheering and high fives from random children. As we caught up to her in the finish area, she was surprisingly upbeat, although her eyes were only about halfway open. She finished just under her goal of 11 hours and 30 minutes, so the day was a success.
She was three places away from qualifying for a spot at the Ironman World Championships in Kona. And frankly, I’m happy she didn’t qualify this year. That race is in two months, and although we would have gone, I would rather spend money and energy on making a baby this year. Her finish also made it clear that she definitely has the capability to qualify, and we’re both pretty confident she will do it next year.
I was EXHAUSTED at the end of the day, and I (embarassingly) think I am more sore and stiff than she is today. She took the day off work, so she has enjoyed a leisurely day of sitting in the spa, drinking coffee, hanging out with the dogs, and over-analyzing race statistics. I’m hopeful that when I get home she’ll tell me we are done with triathlon for the season, but part of me thinks she’ll squeeze another half-ironman into the fall or early winter. Regardless, I’m super proud of her results this weekend and excited to see what next race season beings.