Friday, August 30, 2013

Volunteering, Spectating, and Working at Ironman Louisville!

This past weekend I had the opportunity to volunteer and then spectate at Ironman Louisville.  I had hoped Cristina would come down to race so I could be her Sherpa, but she opted to stay in Michigan and race in the Grand Rapids Michigan Titanium full distance tri, and she WON it.  Like first place female WON it.  So, it was a good call for her that she stayed there.  Her kids got to break the tape with her too.  I had gotten a call from Kari around dinner time that she was getting text updated from Cristina's husband, and that she was in first on the run, and held onto it!

Back to the race at hand...  I had wanted to work the swim start so that I would be down at the start, give back and be part of the event, but then be done early so that I could go out on the course and do what I wanted to do.  Also, I couldn't completely abandon my family responsibilities for a race that I wasn't even doing. 

I got up early to go to the transition area to pick up my shirt before going to the swim start.  The thing about Louisville is that the transition is about a mile away from the start.  Last year, since I was racing, I was able to get a ride to both transition AND the swim start.  True valet experience thanks to Jen's husband driving us both down there.  I was glad I parked over by transition, because I knew I would want to head back over there after the swim was in progress anyway.  Before leaving it, I saw Becky getting her bike worked on.  I also met Julie, a woman from MI who knows a lot of people I know, and I saw her at the Triceratops Tri but didn't introduce myself or get introduced because I think everyone thought I knew her already.  I also saw Sonja.  This would be her first IM.  I had a real mix of very experienced friends and friends new to the distance racing today.  As the day played out, I found it easier to track my MI friends around my family's schedule.

I headed down to the swim start,  Working swim start was super fun because I pretty much got to see everyone racing that I knew.  The only people that I missed where people that were in the bathroom lines or having spots held for them by other competitors when I was in their area, but for the most part, every athlete except maybe 50 walked right by me.  My job was to keep the athletes separate from everyone else, so that the line wouldn't have lots of gaps in it.  For the most part, it was really easy, however it did get difficult when lots of people decided they wanted to be in this grassy area on the other side of the line.  There really should have been fencing up to keep people out of there if that is really want they wanted.  We couldn't do it ourselves, and just tried to keep the line of competitors tight so that people couldn't break through and cross them, and eventually gave up.  Wetsuits were allowed for people who didn't want to be considered for awards or Kona slots, and there were a several people that chose to go this route.  They had to start at the end, two minutes after everyone so that they could be kept out of awards.  I had to pull a few people out of the line and send them to the special wetsuit only area.  What really surprised me were the people that were just getting there as the line was dwindling.  They made a last call for athletes, and a couple people came out of no where running to get in line.  I am sure these people didn't plan for this, but wow, I couldn't believe how stressed it would be to be in that situation.
Here are my pictures:
 Debbie and I
 Heidi, Erin and I
 Me and Jillian.  Her race report is here
 Me and Mark
 Terri and I, both volunteering this time around!
 Rhonda and I!  She was the first lady I rode with after moving here!
 VO2, Rhonda, Jeff, and Heidi
 MI crew- John, Mark, and Julie
 Me and my ironsister, Jen
 Becky and I
TA teammate Guadalupe and I
Once everyone was in the water, my job was done, and I walked to transition.  I didn't stay to long, and headed home. 
I did take these pictures on the walk:

Then, I discovered our internet was out once arriving home. WHAT??  Internet CANNOT be out on the day of the Ironman!  Thanks to 3G, I was able to figure out who to call and get it fixed before heading out on the bike course.  It was super hard to take pictures here.  Everyone was just going to fast, but I did get to see a lot of my faster friends go by on their first loop, plus the pros were fast enough that they went by twice before I had to head home to resume my regular Sunday responsibilities of getting the kids ready for church and teaching Keira's primary class. 
This sign is where I decide to do more IM course or go home.  Everyone today headed to LaGrange :)
 Rhonda getting ready to make the turn.

After church, I made a quick dinner on the grill and we decided that the whole family would go down to the finish line.  I had mixed feelings about this. We all had to get up early on Monday.  Keira had school, and Soren needed to be up early so I could work in the Ironman Store.  However, we did go down and I didn't hear as much complaining as I thought we would from everyone.  We saw my friend Mark cross, but the iron trac app stopped working (which is typical, I  guess, this was the first time I used it), so we didn't know when anyone was going to come through.  He kind of surprised me.  I just looked up and he was right in front of me.  Of course, Ryan had just walked away and said to not go anywhere.  Fabulous.  Thankfully we didn't lose any of the kids as I walked down to the other end of the finishers chute, but Mark was super sick after and got taken to medical for an IV, so I didn't really get to chat with him at all.  After that, there was a decent amount of complaining, but we got ice cream while we waited for Becky.  The kids were really struggling, but we got a text from our friend Dave who told us that it wouldn't be long for Becky.  I really wanted to stick it out.  We moved a bit further away from the 4th street live area, right before the turn to do the second loop because the barricade ended and the kids could at least see something from their level.  We saw Debbie finish, and a few people we knew on the other side starting their second lap, while we waited for Becky.  She did a great job!  I did get a text from him saying he was all good now, but I didn't see him again.
 Debbie finishing strong!  Her bright shirt really helped her stand out.
 Becky coming into the finish!
 Becky looking fabulous. Someone on the course saw her in her team gear and asked her if she was me!  That was funny.  They must be someone I don't know super well, but enough to know that I always wear my blue TA shirt like that!
 Becky and I post race

It was so fun being out on the course.  I sort of wanted to go back downtown to the finish at midnight, but it had been a long day, and between working for Ironman, the underpants run, a volunteering, I had already been back and forth so many times, and needed to be up early again the next day still.  One of these years I will make it for midnight.  As a mom, I can't do everything, and I was thankful I was able to be as involved as I was with the day.

Also, I thoroughly enjoyed working for Ironman.  First, it is pretty cool to be an employee of Ironman (WTC).  I know some people like to hate on them for being a big company, but hey, I used to work for Ford, and Ryan still does, so you really don't get much more big business than that.  I was treated really well, the pay was decent for what I had to do, and the hours were flexible enough for me.  Monday's work was different than Wednesday's.  Monday was operating the store and selling the finisher gear, as well as packing up the store.  I couldn't stay until the completion of it due to the kids, but it was fun to be on the sales floor mingling with the athletes and helping them find their jackets and other finisher's gear.  I got to see several people I didn't see finish last night, and I was on lunch with my tri club when they announced that they won the largest club for a club their size.  Packing up the store was much easier than unpacking.  Sort of like when you go on a trip, it takes forever to decide what you need and where it will go, but once you have it all out, it just goes back into the suitcases (bins, in our case), and that's that.  Hopefully I can do this again because it was a fun change.  Everyone was pleasant to work with, and I was able to get new shirts for the kids with my discount.  They needed them since they had been wearing the same shirts since 2011 and they have grown a lot since then!

Congrats to everyone that finished!  Sorry I didn't include everyone.  Sonja and Heidi both finished.  Heidi finished alongside of Rhonda, who had a PR as well.  Becky had her second fasted IM time. 

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