Scatter my ashes here...

Scatter my ashes here...
scatter my ashes in the desert...

Sunday, August 4, 2013

A Day at The Rez: Watching Ironman

Perfectly clear mornings on Colorado summer days usually mean it will get hot, but later the sky will cloud up and dump rain, hail, and maybe even a few tornadoes in the afternoon. That's how it's been lately, which is actually the norm, instead of the hot, relentlessly dry summers we've been having in recent years.

I looked forward to this day all week. I think it was Shannon's enthusiasm about competing in his first triathlon, a Half Ironman of 70.3 miles, and the fact that I have never actually watched a triathlon, except inadvertently as a motorist or while innocently out for a run when a triathlon happened to be going on.

Anyway, Shannon, a.k.a. Wheaties Boy, for those who new to the blog, is one of those high-energy, unstoppable people who has a contagiously upbeat and positive spirit about all sports that involve human-powered forward motion of the ultraendurance variety.

I planned my week so that I'd have nothing else to do on Sunday except go to Boulder and watch the race, leaving me free to see the entire event from start to finish. I arranged to meet Megan, a.k.a. Mrs. Wheaties Boy, at Boulder Reservoir, which is known to locals at "The Rez", a very different kind of "Rez" than the one Arizona people like myself refer to when talking about the northeast part of Arizona which is the Navajo Reservation.

I happened to wake up on my own, extra early, and sent Wheaties Boy a text, which is customary for our communication when one of us has a race. At 5:03 am I texted "Game Time!"

And eerily, I did not hear anything back from him. He's always connected. I thought, for a second, should I call? Should I call Megan? Did they oversleep? I decided against it, thinking he was probably caught up in preparation for the race, or in the bathroom, or something...

As it turned out, they DID oversleep! They woke up at 5:30 in a panic and made it down to Boulder in time, but what a way to start!

When I arrived at the Res it was late enough that traffic had slowed down, and there were 6 parking spots left in the lot next to the reservoir, one of which I snagged, before they started diverting traffic far away. I texted Megan and we found each other on the road.

We headed to the start where Wheaties Boy and our friend Eddie Metro were lined up waiting to start the swim. It was so hard to find anyone, they all looked alike in their black wetsuits and green or pink swim caps. We found them and waited until they hit the water.
Wheaties Boy predicted 42 to 46 minutes for the swim, and it looked like 42 minutes to us on our watches. He looked good coming out of the water, even though later he said he was cussing his wetsuit because he couldn't get it off and almost tripped on the way to the bike.

Megan and I both wore our Pearl Izumi shoes, which looked great against the backdrop of sand, if I say so myself.

We caught Eddie as he was starting the bike segment, just a few minutes behind Shannon.

We sat on the grass on top of a high spot above the water and watched as the leaders came in from the bike ride and started the run.

The air was so clear it looked like the flatirons were jumping out of the hillsides. Megan's parents came out to watch too, but they got caught in the faraway parking so it took them a while to get there. They did see him on the bike and run segments, though.

While we were waiting around I went over to the medical tent to check it out, just out of curiosity. Despite the hot day, they had very few customers. It wasn't until after Shannon finished that I saw any bags of normal saline being hung. That dispelled the myth that I'd heard of everyone rushing on the medical tent for IV rehydration after these events. I was glad to see it wasn't standard practice, which was the rumor I heard.

Wheaties Boy looked great as he started the run. It was getting hot, and I yelled at him to hydrate. The run was two 6.5 mile loops.

He came through the first loop in about 42 minutes and ran so fast I only saw him from behind. He looked strong.

Megan and I went to the finish line to wait for him. He came through comfortably under 5 hours, in a little over 4 hours and 50 minutes, looking strong, with an even run split. Awesome job, he really kicked butt on his first triathlon. Congratulations, Shannon!

Eddie came through to start his second lap of the run a little before Shannon finished, so he was not far behind.
Of course Megan got a big sweaty hug from Shannon.

It was fun to watch, and Shannon already has signed up for the full Ironman at The Rez next year. I have to admit though, after watching the whole event, I still have no desire to do triathlons. It just doesn't appeal to me. I like all three sports, but I'm content to stick to running, and keep the others as cross-training or recreation.

I'm looking forward to getting Wheaties Boy back as a training partner soon, though!

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