Wow, what a weekend! My journey started on Thursday. I was up at 5am and out the door shortly after. My travel destination? Penticton, BC and Ironman Canada 2008. You'd think I was racing I was so excited to get there!
The days leading up to the race were busy, but a total blast. There was the Team Legend dinner on Thursday night, the Underwear Run with Jenn and the kids on Friday morning, hanging with my Parental Unit, swimming, waterslides, sushi, Tickleberry's, poster making, and much discussion about the race. It's a bit of an understatement to say I didn't get much sleep, or rest. I loved every second of it though.
Race day started very early for me. Even earlier than when I race! I was up at 3:30 am, collected my goods for the day and headed out to Main Street where I would be a body marker. Once there I met up with Chuck, who was also part of the 'Sparks Support Crew'. It wasn't too long after 5 am that the first athletes started to make their way to get marked.
It was so much fun being the first in line to see the athletes! I was very good at identifying the first timers based on their response to my question 'How are you this morning?!' It was great chatting with them and finding out where they were from.
Chuck and I had a great system going - we'd each mark one arm then he'd write their number on their shin, and I'd write their age, or a 'P' if they were a pro, on the back of their calve. Note to all male triathletes, shave your darned legs! It makes it much more pleasant for the body marker. :) Chuck and I both agreed there were some mighty fine legs out there! I apologize to all the athletes for my cold hands too, it was a bit brisk that early in the day.
At one point I heard a voice say 'There's only one person in this group that is allowed to body mark me and that's the girl in the cowboy hat!' When I looked up I saw my buddy Darryl, aka Runningman. He was looking cool as cucumber! After we got him covered in Jiffy Marker we gave each other a big hug. Well that set off a string of hugs for other competitors!
After we marked up the next guy in line he was like 'Hey, where's my hug?!' Needless to say I was happy to oblige! Chuck had a good chuckle over this. This went on for a few more athletes too.
There was one fellow that came up and told us his number. It was a low number so I had a sneaky suspicion he was a pro, so I asked him. Then I repeated that just in case - this he didn't find amusing. It was apparant I had insulted him and I guess was supposed to know who he was. In my defense it was darn early in the morning and I hadn't had my tea yet!
Just as he was about to leave, the body marker beside me said 'Hey Gordo, how are you?' Oh shite, I just asked Gordo Byrne if he was a friggin pro, not once, but twice!! DOH! Ah well, we got a good chuckle out of it. Sorry Gordo!
Finally Jenn got to us. This was my first tear up of the day - there would be more to follow. I was so excited for her! It's always a challenge to get to the start line, but Jenn had had a rough three weeks prior to the race. There was not an ounce of nerves showing though, she was so calm it was wonderful to see!
We marked some of the other Team Legend and my other buds from Team Tri Life, but I missed Greg, Kelsey, Julie and a bunch of others. It's pretty hectic in there though so not a big surprise that I didn't see them.
Once body marking was done, Chuck and I took off to go watch the swim start. We used our passes to get us onto the beach with the competitors. This was the second tear up, haha. I was SO excited for everyone! I had really wanted to see some of the gang so I could give them a good luck hug, but it wasn't to be. I did see Greg though - I was so thankful for that.
It wasn't long before the cannon went off and everyone's day started.
It was a brilliant day for all the athletes. I had so much fun hanging with the Sparks Support Team (Terri, Larry, Alex, Kiki and Chuck). We cheered and yelled and walked and had a grand old time. The kids were real troopers as it was a long day for them. We managed to spot most people at least once during the day. It was hard when they were on their bikes, but not as bad when they were running.
The parental unit were so amazing that day too. I had taught them both how to text on their mobile phones the day before...needless to say my Dad was the text king that day! They were stationed at their hotel which was midway up Main Street. They had everyone's race numbers and Dad, who had been tracking everyone online, calculated everyone's ETA's for each segment. (Yes, he's a bit of a math geek.) He then would text me so we'd have an idea when we'd see everyone. Then as he spotted people going by he'd text me again to let me know. It was AWESOME!! I love that my parental unit get so involved - even if I'm not racing!!
It was just after the 9 hour mark when Dad sent me the text that Greg had just passed them. I think I may have held my breath for a while as I waited for him to come by where I was, which was near the last turnaround before the final stretch. Finally he did! I could see in his eyes that he had given everything for this race. Words can't even describe how proud I was of him. I think this was my biggest cry of the day as I knew he was going to get in under 10 hours. Absolutely amazing!! Finishing Ironman is an amazing accomplishment, coming in under 10 hours though?! WOW!
It was after this that we decided to go to OK Falls so we could try and catch Jenn on the marathon turnaround. It was super soggy by then! I was wearing my toe shoes and my toes, by then, looked like shriveled little cocktail sausages. The parental unit and I just got to the road when Jenn ran by! Talk about perfect timing.
We all headed back to the hotel for a bit to dry off and get some warmer clothes on. I managed to see Julie run to the last turnaround before the finish. I was so happy to see her as I hadn't seen her all day and wanted to know she was ok. I ran with her for a bit and asked how she was, she said great but she couldn't talk so could I entertain her? Well of course! I gave her the scoop on everyone that I'd seen. What a great day for her as well!
I didn't get to see many others on the run, but caught my friends Angie, Darryl, and Kelsey, which was cool. For everyone else out there my thoughts were with you!
At long last my mobile phone beeped and I got the message we'd been waiting for, Jenn had passed the parental unit at the hotel. We were all so anxious to see her! It was long before we spotted the dude that juggled, yes juggled, the entire marathon. He had been in front of Jenn so we knew she wasn't far behind. Talk about screaming when we saw her!! She looked so strong and happy, it was fabulous!
I ran to the finish and with the power of my volunteer wristbands I got into the finisher's area. I was frantically looking around at all the faces - it's amazing how everyone looks alike with their space blankets and running caps on. Finally I spotted Jenn and she saw me. I gave her a huge hug and asked how she was doing. The words that I heard were music to my ears. She said 'I had the perfect race. There is nothing about today that I would change!'. YAY!!
We walked for a bit then made our way to the porta potties. I knew Jenn was in great shape when she said to me 'If I can't get off the seat, I'm going to kick the door open and then you are going to have to wipe my ass and help me stand up!' Classic! Just as she was in there her Mom called. She laughed when I told her her timing.
It was a long day, but an inspiring day. I am proud of everyone who raced - you are all incredible athletes. I truly hope that everyone's goals were fulfilled and that they enjoyed every moment, even the tough ones.
As I hit the hay later that night I couldn't help but think to myself, 'I LOVE THIS SPORT!'.
Peace out my beautiful friends!
Postscript: Apparantly I was cheering quite a bit as the next day my voice was that of a pre-pubescent boys. It alternated from a whisper to a croak. Today I sound like a 1-900 Operator. Ah well, it was worth it!