Triathlon (Ironman) - Thank you Spectators and Volunteers!
Think of your favorite triathlon events or memories. More than likely they will somehow involve other people, family, friends, the cheering crowds, the super volunteers. You get to relive your favorite memories because of the pictures and videos someone else patiently waited to capture for you. You were able to finish that Ironman because of the many volunteers that also endured a day-long endurance event.
Triathlon and multisport events would not be without the support of others. Without the support of family, friends, and volunteers all you have is another day of training!
When scheduling your training this season, be sure to schedule time to thank all those whose support you'll need along the way and on that special event day!
Watching a triathlon can in itself be an endurance event as shared by Victor Robin's IronMom.
Thank you Patricia for sharing. Enjoy and be thankful for spectators!
Simply Watching an Ironman is an Endurance Event
By Patricia Curren
It's hard being the mother of an Ironman. Oh sure, I know the participants of an Ironman have to endure a certain amount of discomfort as they swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and run 26.2 miles, all with set time constraints, but just once I'd like a show of empathy for the spectators, especially the moms. Let me fill you in on the difficulties I suffered at my daughter, Robin's, first Ironman in Penticton, British Columbia.
The day of the race I was up at 4:00 a.m. in order to be showered, dressed, made up, and coifed for the family photo shoot before the 7:00 a.m. splash off. Watching Robin fight back tears of anxiety and anticipation did little to quell my fear of her being knocked unconscious in a mass of writhing arms and legs as over two thousand swimmers plowed into the water at once. I so wanted to ask if anyone had ever drowned at an Ironman, but instead, I forced my quivering lips to smile for the camera. I couldn't help thinking this was as much fun as bathing my cat without benefit of body armor.
At the starting gun, we watched the swimmers, donned in black wet suits, and pink or blue swim caps, depending on gender, race down the beach and into the lake. "There she is!" Jeff, my son-in-law cried. "No, there she is!" shouted Robin's dad. How could they possibly tell? It was like looking at an anthill, picking out one ant, and saying "There's Cousin Betty!" After straining my eyes at the pummeling arms thrashing frantically about for a few moments, I decided instead to focus on the lifeboats stationed over the course, and pray the lifeguards hadn't been partying the night before.
As soon as we learned Robin was well into the course, I took my eighty-two year old mother by the arm as Jeff instructed the others to gather up lawn chairs, snacks, cameras, blankets, and binoculars. We set out for what would be one of several spectator stops throughout the day and evening. It wasn't long before we saw Robin whiz by on the first part of the bike run, her former anxious look now replaced with something closer to mania.
After a breakfast stop, we piled into Jeff's rental car, and headed out of town for the biking segment. Unknown to us as we exited the car, Robin's grandma had removed three diamond rings to apply hand cream, and in her excitement, forgot to return them to their rightful place. We were ensconced in our lawn chairs when she let out a squeal of discovery. I rushed across the road, dodging cyclists as I went. Two of the rings were readily found in the car, but the third eluded me. Crawling on hands and knees in the gravel and weeds, while desperately hoping mom's trip from Las Vegas to Penticton wasn't going to cost her an additional $5,000, was nerve-racking. Just shy of my knee caps suffering permanent pebble indentations, I found the bling.
I arrived back at the cheering section in time to take up a sign rooting Robin on, making certain I had the lettering right side up. During the Seattle marathon, I'd held the sign reading "ROBIN - YOU GO GIRL!" upside down.
Jeff had the binoculars trained far in the distance. The heat came off the pavement in waves; my stomach lurched as I imagined Robin's thigh muscles screaming in pain as she pumped her way over hill and dale. Tell me that isn't torture for a mom. Finally Jeff gave the alert she was about to ascend our hill. Incredibly as she approached, we could see she was smiling! Something inside me loosened, and I told myself maybe everything would be okay after all.
We clambered back into the car for our return to town, and the next checkpoint, to welcome Robin as she completed the bike segment. By now it was late afternoon, and fatigue was setting in, but no one acknowledged it. How could we, when Robin and her fellow athletes were enduring so much more? We got word of one of her teammates crashing and suffering injuries taking him out of the race. A year of training down the tubes.
There were others who suffered minor and major setbacks: flat tires, sunburn, bee stings, dehydration, missing the time requirement to continue to the next leg, etc. We were caught up in the drama, the determination, and the gut-wrenching drive of these athletes, male and female, young and old, disabled and not. Yes, my osteoporotic, scoliotic, arthritic back screamed, and my ample stomach growled, but I felt so humbled to witness such a spectacle.
As Robin began the marathon part of the race, I ran out to high five her. Unfortunately, someone snapped our photo. Now some would ask why complain about that? How would you like to see an outstanding view captured for posterity of your 44" derriere next to your svelte daughter as she loped by?
The last part of the Ironman is a blur. I know I had eye strain from peering through binoculars. I know I never want to see another lawn chair in my life. I know it got very, very dark, and we had no idea where Robin was. I know I lost my favorite progressive lens glasses somewhere along the route. I know it was quite cold by the time Robin finished in fourteen hours, thirty-three minutes and thirty-seven seconds, well under the required race finish time of seventeen hours, zero minutes and zero seconds. Yes, they even keep track of seconds. I know in the official family photo taken after Robin crossed the finish line, we all looked like Saddam Hussein the day of his capture, except Robin who looked like she'd just returned from a short stroll.
But I wonder how far these super athletes would swim, bike, and run without us to cheer them on? Yes, I know they say they do it because they love it, and want to be fit, but isn't it a lot about the lavish recognition we shower on them? Just a simple medal fashioned of tin foil for we lowly spectators would be nice.
IronMom Patricia Curren has recently relocated to Arizona from the Pacific Northwest. She holds her Lifetime Certified Purchasing Manager accreditation from the Institute of Supply Management. Patricia is a member of the Arizona Authors Association and the East Valley Writers Workshop in Mesa, Arizona, as well as a volunteer for the Mesa Public Library. In addition to freelancing for newspapers and magazines, she has a young adult novel in progress.