Things I learned while spectating a Half Ironman

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1. Sunscreen and bug spray! I’m quite a bit browner than I was when I got to Lawrence. Thankfully I’m blessed with olive toned Lebanese skin that happily soaks up the sun and rarely burns. My fair-skinned brother-in-law ended up a little pink. Sunscreen would have been a good idea. Also, Clinton Lake is a state park and a tick mecca. Bug spray is a must. Our tick count was only 6. Two on the dog…one attached, one dead but stuck to his hair…yay, Vectra 3D. John had a tiny one attached to his shoulder. I found one dead in my blankets the night we slept at the lake. I slept next to the dog though, so yay again for Vectra 3D. And I had one crawling on my shirt while we watched the runners go past the trailer. If we hadn’t used bug spray, the count would have been much higher.

2. Be prepared to cry, not only when your athlete crosses the finish line, but when others do too. War veterans, cancer survivors, badass old people…so many awesome athletes battled 70.3 this weekend. Right before Noel finished, they announced a 65-year-old male finisher. He crossed the finish line and put his hands on his knees, relaxing his breathing and smiling so big. Then I heard a voice behind me happily yell, “DADDY!” A women not much older than myself vaulted herself at the finishing gate, just next to where we were standing. He ran over to her, and they hugged HARD. She said, “You did it!! Happy Birthday, Daddy!” Tears flowed freely from yours truly and my eyes are watering up again just thinking about the beautiful moment.

3. Good shoes are VERY important. I initially had on a pair of my more sturdy flip flops, but I changed into my running shoes because it was chilly at 5am. I’m glad I did. I walked and ran A LOT. During both transitions, we only had about 3-4 minutes to get to the new spot where we could best see him off on the next leg. My Vivofit goal is now up to 12000+ but I did only 15000 steps while watching Noel. The run course had lots of turnarounds, so just by walking/running a bit we could see him multiples times. I think I ended up seeing him close to 8 times on the run. And he said that’s the one thing that really kept him going during the very tough run.

4. Patience! Triathlons take a LONG time. Noel’s unofficial time was 6:47:26. Noel’s brother and I watched him get in the water, walked around the outside of T1, waited for him to get out of the water, walked around T1 again, watched him get on his bike, and then headed back to the campsite. We took naps until the pros started coming by. We kept our eye on the mobile tracker and headed up to T2 to wait for him to get off his bike and on to the run. Then we ran around the campground catching him as he passed different places along the run course. Then we had to wait for him a bit at the finish line. I was pooped by the end and still had to drive us all home! Spectating is a sport in itself!

5. Be prepared to put your needs LAST. When Noel was done, he needed hugs, then he needed food, then he needed beer, then he needed to pick up his gear, and then he needed a shower. He’s slept a lot since then. And I’m used the “evil” stick on his shoulders and legs multiple times to roll the soreness out of him. I feel a bit like a recovery nurse…an Ironman nurse.

But it’s all worth it to watch your spouse, your best friend, your training partner finish a race that he had trained very hard for and was very ready for! I secretly can’t wait to watch him do the next one!!

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