I’ve been on all sides of Ironman…spectator, volunteer, 2 time athlete/finisher, and now 3 time girlfriend/Sherpa. Over the past 6 months I’ve been at 4 different Ironman events ALL over the world. I’m beyond lucky, I love that this is my life…love doesn’t even come close to describe what I’m trying to say. Each Ironman is a different experience, different venue, and plays a different role in my life…but it always has the same effect on me. It fuels me, inspires me to keep being a better athlete, and always motivates me to sign up for another Ironman. To answer your question…NO, I have not signed up for another one yet, but plans are being made for 2015 😉
Truth…I love playing ANY of these roles. More often than not, I’m the athlete…but I don’t always have to be, nor do I think it should always be that way. It truly takes an army to get someone to an Ironman, and I think at some point all Ironman athletes should experience not only being a spectator, but also a volunteer and Sherpa. It really gives you an appreciation for what others do for YOU when it’s your turn to play athlete. The more I see the other side of Ironman, the more thankful I am to have support from my family, my man, and friends. Especially from those that don’t DO Ironman events…you know they are just supporting your dream because they really care about you, event though they don’t understand WHY in the world you would put yourself through it.
Being a Sherpa/partner/family member doesn’t just start race weekend, it starts the day you even think of signing up for the event. A lot of thought, planning, and conversations happen around just registering. Then comes a year of training, money spent, early weekend nights, even earlier weekend mornings, social life compromises, travel (to other races), tears (or maybe that’s just me??), then more conversations about Ironman…I mean, this list could go on and on. Let’s just be honest and say it’s life changing. If you ask me, it’s for the better and the life I CHOOSE. So when I had the chance to Sherpa for my man in Los Cabos, I was in 🙂 #dontgottaaskmetwice
The weeks leading in to Los Cabos were typical…lots of food from a slow cooker (don’t judge me, I’m training too), really early weekend nights (yep, someone may have passed out on me before 8pm a few times…not naming any names), encouraging text messages during trainer rides from different homes (so cute), “dates” that included 5am weekday runs together literally in the freezing cold, and a ton of excitement about our “vacation” to Ironman Los Cabos. Wouldn’t have it any other way.
After what seemed like forever, we were in Mexico. The nice thing about being a Sherpa in Mexico is just that…I wasn’t racing and I was in Mexico. Alls this girl had to do was some open water swims in the ocean and run in 80 degree weather in San Jose del Cabo…life could be worse. Oh, and make sure my man was all set to race on Sunday. Duh. I got this.
The days leading in to the race were super easy, fun, and relaxed. We did everything we needed to do so he was ready on Sunday, and enjoyed the rest of the time eating, relaxing, eating more, and getting some sun in Mexico. All of a sudden it was 4:30am Sunday morning, and we were up…well I was (another plus of not racing…”sleeping in” by race morning standards), he was up well before that eating, drinking coffee, you know the drill. We quickly got on to the shuttle, him to T1, then to the beach start with plenty of time to spare. After he took off, I watched the swim start, then went up above the swim area and did my own little strength workout…
I went down by the swim exit around 8am to get a good spot and keep an eye out for Ed. If I needed any type of reminder or validation for why I was there (I didn’t, but just sayin’), I got it the minute I saw him exit the water. Let’s start out by saying swimming is his weakness, by far, and he has been working really hard at building his fitness and technique for months. He took 8 minutes, yes 8 minutes off his swim time from IM AZ just a few months ago, crazy awesome. Seeing the excitement on his face when he ran up to me screaming that he swam a 1:19, gave me a quick kiss, then went on to T1 was it, that’s exactly why I’m here. I want to be a part of him achieving his goals (not just on race day, but also continually supporting him during the daily grind of training), I want to be there to share in that excitement…I wouldn’t want to miss it for the world. Why you might ask? When you really care about your athlete, when you’re fully invested in them having a great day, when you see them reaching their goals…it’s as though you are as well. The feeling is almost as good as if it were your own race, at least for me it is.
After that it was back to the shuttle, roughly a 75 minute ride back to the hotel (it was 3 miles away), and time to see Ed as much as possible. Anyone who has spectated an Ironman knows this is no easy feat, especially alone in Mexico with no way to get around but my own 2 feet. Luckily the bike and run course were 3 loops, so I had a plan to park it at a few places, take pics, walk to the hotel and upload those pics to FB (the only place with WiFi), then go back out to see him…and repeat…and repeat. It’s exhausting spectating an Ironman, in a much different way than actually doing an Ironman (obviously), but it’s logistically hard. I managed to see him 6 times on the bike course, and then another 5 on the run course = success. I got to see some really high points…feeling great, having fun, and a huge bike split (and another huge PR over last year #beast). I also was there for the dark moments we all have in Ironman…truth is I’m glad I was there for it. We had a minute together, he worked it out, and finished with yet again, another PR for his run split on this course from last year. So proud of my mans.
Point is, I loved every minute of being a part of this race…the before, during and after. It isn’t exactly the same experience as when you’re the athlete, but it comes a close second. Next up, a new Ironman experience…we’re going to race one together. #cantwait
Some awesome pics from the swim. Mountains next to the beach make me happy.