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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

FL Ironman

Finally! Man, I wish I could post every day!  I have so much to say, so many cool things we're doing, but just not enough time to upload photos, and sit down and write it out.  When baby's awake he's forever hitting SLEEP on my keyboard, and when I try to wait till he goes to bed, I'm too tired!!!

So, the main purpose of our trip to FL was my husband's participation in The Fl Ironman 2008.  It is held annually in Panama City Beach.  While Chris has always been a runner, biking came later in life...and swimming, truthfully was on the backburner. He did his first Ironman in 2005. That was also his first triathlon, and also his first race, since we've been married! Talk about jumping into something!

That year at Panama City he looked like he had died, afterward.  He probably wished he had. Gray doesn't look very good as a skin color!  But. he finished the race, just over 14 hours.  Yes, 14 HOURS, you swim, then bike ride, then run, consecutively, till you are done with the course. There are cut offs..he was 3 hrs under the final cut off, so by far not the first, but also not the last!

He skipped 2006, but signed back up for the same Ironman FL race for 2007.  That race went really well!  He shaved more than 3 hrs off his time! He signed up for the 2008 race the next day. 

The 2008 race should have gone better than it did, but 10 weeks out Chris got a leg injury. Luckily he found this great Dr.  (Thanks Dr. Nick!!) and he really worked with him to get through it. Happily, Chris was recovered enough to participate!

So....we start race morning off early.  Chris woke up way before us, getting his transition bags ready and to their checkpoints, and just being all -around nervous. Then he woke me up...come hell or high water I need breakfast!  So I ate quick and dressed warm!  As a point of reference...we  were plenty nervous, not just about the sheer length of the race, but because for 2 consecutive years someone has died on this very course, in the swim part. What's Chris' weakest part? Yup, the swim.  Of course, neither one of us is speaking about this, but we're both thinking it.

Oh, this picture....I couldn't determine where it should go, so here it is...This is from the day before the race, Elias was running up the "swim chute". You're supposed to run FROM the water UP the chute towards the bikes, he's going the wrong way.  Oh well, he was "pretending to be an Ironman".  He was so thrilled and so looking forward to this race. He loves finishing the race with's "their thing".

So, here's Chris in his wetsuit and goggles. No, he's not Chinese, everyone looks Chinese cause those goggles stick on tight and pull all the air away!

At 7am the Announcer sends this giant pack of crazy insane people into the water. Like about 3,000 people!  All fighting to get in first. I couldnt get a good shot, you need to see the arial shots that pros's pack mentality. Chris says it's like being thrown into a washing machine. One of his buddies got a busted nose. Someone in front of Chris kicked Chris' wrist and stopped his stopwatch  (a big UHOH for racers!!)  People literally get seasick swimming because of all the swimmers churning the water.  Here's a bunch of them out there.

So the idea for the swim is, it's a total 2.4 mile go out for a 1ish mile swim, come back to shore, cross the timing mat, walk/slosh/run through the water towards the deeper water where you can restart swimming your 2nd loop.  That's what these folks below are doing. These are random people..not Chris. They all look alike at this point!'

After they finish the swim part, they run up that chute, there's an area with volunteers who help yank their wet suits off, then they go up to the transition tent to change into their biking gear. They retrieve their bikes and off they go for a 112 mile bike ride.   Chris finished his swim in 1h 30 minutes.  He expected his bike to take about 5 hrs 15 min.  (It took 5:24)

What do me and the kids do while he's racing? Well, they slept in this time for the swim's brutally cold and early!  I went up after he got on the bike, and we went out to the beach for awhile, then came back and ate lunch, then went down to wait for Chris to come in off the bike. Here're the cuties waiting for a glimpse of Daddy.  We all were wearing our "Ironman shirts".

We caught sight of him after he exited the transition tent (from bike to run).  Here he is, after a 5 + hr bike ride, on his way to a 26.2 mile run

We let the baby nap for a bit, then ran down to meet him at the 1/2 way mark of the run. Conveniently it's right in front of our hotel! Here he is during the run.  He had a pretty rough 2nd half. He was hurting.

Then we ate dinner quick and went back out to the finish line. Total run time was 4 hrs 36 minutes. He made it! He did it slightly over what he had hoped for, but still beating his own Personal Record.  Elias ran the finish line with him..what a great moment!!  11 Hours, 42 Minutes!!!

Here's his attempt at smiling, through the pain.  His first year this picture is HILARIOUS, because he was so not with it. This is at least a decent attempt at a smile!

And here he is, walking to the Medical Tent.  He needed some salt and some rest. After a few bowls of chicken broth he was ready to get moving.

And this year, he signed up for next year, the day BEFORE the race.  Can you say CUCKOO CUCKOO?!?!?!

While I don't always willingly give him the time he needs to practice, over the years we have come to a great understanding that if he uses his time wisely I will b*%^$ less. Give us equal time to training and it won't be a problem.  Over the past year he's done GREAT spreading himself around. 

I'm so proud of my husband. His sheer will and determination won't let him quit. He's made up his mind on several things in the last couple of years and there is nothing that will stop him once he's decided. While choosing to do an Ironman is slightly nuts, other life changes he's made and stuck to, are fabulous.  Way to go Chris!  Looking forward to 2009!

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