Sunday, August 31, 2014

Ironman Louisville - One Week Later

What a week! Does anyone else feel like this month just flew by? During every day this week I've been dragging and then out of nowhere it was Sunday. But I can't let another moment pass without gushing one last time about Ironman Louisville.

As you may or may not know, this was the last year the race would be held in August and also the last time there would be a pro field. There will definitely be a big difference in the way the race feels next year which is sad but change isn't always bad so we'll just have to see how it plays out.

Two guys from church were racing and a few others I knew so we went all out making signs for them. The night before was really rainy so we had to get up super early to place them along the run course.

This year my sister and I volunteered it up again and worked in T1 and then the bike special needs station up in Buckner. There was a heat advisory all weekend which is pretty normal for August in Louisville but we've had a pretty abnormal summer with very few crazy hot training days. The heat index was in the 100s but early in the morning it was cloudy and foggy and actually kind of cool and we all crossed our fingers it would stay that way.

I love working in T1 because most of the people are so elated to see us after having survived the swim. We got to our post early and then all billion of us volunteers just stood there staring at the river and waiting for the flood. (See what I did there?)

Guy Crawford was the first out of the water followed by our local pro Mike Hermanson which was really exciting! It wasn't long before the trickle opened to flood gates and the athletes started pouring in. I love the organized chaos of it all and after seeing our guys come through I switched from being outside the tent directing traffic to being inside the tent dressing and helping. I didn't make it into the tent last year so this was new but it was really fun. The women were so grateful and I think my obsession with Ironman over the past few years helped me to recognize all the different things they had packed in their transition bags and how to help them put it all together. The time flew by and with such a strong current from the rain the night before just about everyone made it out of the water with some fast times. Once we had everyone onto the bikes my sister and I headed to the car to make the drive to Buckner which is about 25-30 minutes away.

I've never spent any real time on the bike course so this was another new but really exciting experience for me. The sun had come up by the time we got there and had really burned off a lot of the fog. It was heating up fast and I was lucky my sister packed us a cooler for the day. We'd done a long run the day before so I was hurting for hydration all day almost as much as the athletes. The special needs station also took great care of us with food, drinks and ice so I was able to keep cool. We lined up between numbers 1600-1700 and whenever they'd call out a number in that range we grabbed their bags and held them out for them. Most of the athletes pulled over and stopped to go through their bags but there were a few who just wanted a hand off and kept moving. This time I dealt with all men and they were just as grateful as the women in the tents although a lot less chatty. Not sure if that was because they were men or because they were 50-70 miles into their day but none of them were grumpy or rude which made it so much easier to help. Most of the time at special needs is a lot like other parts of the course where the volunteer's job is to help them articulate what they need and get it to them quickly. We're also responsible for having those fine motor skills many of them are lacking after so many hours.

I could go on and on about how great of a day I had out there in 110 degree weather cheering on mostly strangers and a few friends, getting soaked in other people's sweat, rubbing down bodies with sunscreen, opening wrappers and bottle caps and standing. Doing so. much. standing. I feel lame for saying it since obviously it's not like I did an Ironman but volunteering is really quite hard too! It's just as hot and we have to fit in time to eat and drink between when the athletes need us. It's very physically demanding (depending on your location) but so incredibly rewarding.

After we finished at special needs we went back downtown to watch the finish line and some of the run. I knew by then that I was fading fast and my legs were starting to cramp. I was getting so frustrated with myself because the whole day I kept saying "You're not even racing! Why are you tired/hot/sore!" I'm not great at recognizing my own life when I compare it to others but I'd gotten up at 4 am too, was out in the heat too and had run a measly (ha!) 14 miles the day before in the heat advisory. I actually weighed myself Saturday morning before my run and Sunday night after Ironman. 4 pounds lost! And that was with me hydrating like crazy or so I thought. I was allowed to be tired too ;)

I've spent this week recovering from my Ironman hangover but was apparently still drunk because I decided not to volunteer next year. Instead, this happened.


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