I wanted to wait to post my pics and story of IMmoo until my fellow athletes had the opportunity to tell their stories. Go read Tri Geek Dreams and Chris's race reports, then come back for the spectators view.
Oh, and I had a little extra iron in my blood so I ran 15.75 miles in 2:10 yesterday- which is good because my first ever marathon is only three weeks out. Now on to the report.
We arrived in Wisconsin's capitol city Saturday night about 8. The capitol was lit and beautiful although I swear the streets of St. Paul were laid out by the same drunk irishmen (of Gov Ventura's fame) as the ones who designed St. Paul.
We pulled into the hotel parking lot and of course the first thing I saw was this which might be the only other exception I could make to the no bumper sticker rule.
Our fellow team from the local bike club were no where to be found so we planted ourselves in the pub of the hotel for a beer and to watch Ohio State choke, leaving just a splinter of room atop the Big 10. (at least for a week-the Gophers are still beating up the local high school teams and have a 2-0 record) Much to our delight all shots were $3.00. I had to ask, does that include eeeevvveeeerrrry bottle on the shelves. Yes it did. How unfortunate for my training that the dusty old bottles of tequila and scotch were included. We each indulged in a generous shot for the sake of frugality.
There were several loud gatherings outside our room that night, the final one at about 4:30 am. I woke up and realized it was race day and that I could sleep another hour. Somehow my fear of being eaten by a shark slipped into my dreams and I was at IMFL '06. To combat a shark attack I was going to swim in a shark shaped micro sub. A true evolutionary miracle that, a shark with bilateral breathing.
Of course there are no sharks in Lake Monona and it was a beautiful day for a swim. I'll warn you in advance I was such a bundle of nerves most of my pictures are blurry. There was quite a procession of athletes as they made their way through the swim arch to the lake.
Every few minutes the announcer gave the count of how many were in the water. The intensity on the faces was palpable.
This couple kindly posed for a picture as they readied themselves for the swim.
The national anthem was sung as the final athletes entered the water.That always tears me up but more so on such an inspiring day--9/11 Ironman.
The last swimmers crossed the arch and entered the water as anticipation filled the crowd and athletes alike. The official race number was just under 2100 athletes, an amazing spectacle all in the lake at once. Chris mentioned the lake water was 72 degress. I wonder if that was before or after the line up. Hundreds of spectators were on hand and a great cheer erupted with the firing of the starting canon. They say the start of an Ironman race is like a washing machine, I can believe it. The elites get a little starting area to themselves, but the other 2050 swimmers churn the water at the same time. I was amazed at the arm turnover speed for the leaders. 2.4 miles in 47 minutes. That was just plain amazing. The swim was a double loop, so I couldn't help but think what it was like to be finishing your first lap when the leaders swam past you and exited the course.
Among the first swimmers to exit was a young man who had been cut from his college swim team for not having enough endurance. Oops.
The transition area was set up at the top of a parking ramp which meant you ran a good 1/4 mile up the ramp helix to get to your bike. The ramp was lined with spectators and there were tons of "crews" with signs and shirts. My favorite of the day was this woman.I'll look for her next year. We watched the first several hundred swimmers exit the water and then scrounged up a cup of coffee. The most agonizing story of the day was the guy who shared our bench calling home to his mom to let her know he wouldn't be racing. He had strained his back golfing the week before and couldn't get it to go back in line to race. How disappointing. We extended our sympathy--he'll be out there again. We reported to our aid station a little before 11. The pirate thing turned out to be fun and we had great station captains. We handed out soaked sponges as the runners piled through. The run is also a double loop and our street was a 2 way run street so we saw the runners 4 times. That got a little chaotic about 3pm. I've also easily seen some of the most creative uses for ice in cooling down that I could ever have imagined.
Now, including my stint at Lifetime, I have absorbed the sweat of some of the worlds truly most gifted and inspiring athletes, my shoes were soaked with water and sweat as we made our way home. I hope a little of that grit and determination find their way into my blood for this next year, but for now it's just enough to say I saw it all unfold.
Great race to all of you 1/2 and Ironmen, it was a fun and truly an inspiring day