Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Arizona Ironman 2011: a peek inside my head.

This post is accompanied by very sub-par photos, which is unfortunate considering it is documenting an amazing event but I am only capable of so much.  When we have taken on the Ironman before, we have had, at a minimum, one aunt and two grandmas in tow.  This time, you’re looking at it.  Me and my mini support crew, taking on the duty of getting Dad through this day. 

It started at 4:15 when D’s alarm went off, just 15 minutes after I had put Beckham back to bed for the second time assuring him that when it was time for dad’s race, I would be sure to let him know.  We climbed out of bed and put on layers quickly, trying not to think about how chilly it was outside and me quietly grateful that it was not my body that had to jump in the water.  After last minute food preparations for both the athlete and the team, I transferred the littles from their beds to their car seats and we were off.  Despite my efforts to get another hour of sleep out of them, they were ready to roll, assuring dad that he would indeed win the race today (Beckham) and noticing that we were the only car on all of the roads and it was still night-time (Seneca). 

We dropped D off with an abundance of well-wishes and went to grab some breakfast before parking it in D’s office to eat and get dressed.  Once we were ready, we made our way down to the bridge, which would have been a brilliant idea had we been there an hour earlier.  The kids were troopers as we were stacked 4 people deep, hearing all the excitement but not being able to see much.  My efforts of the day started there, with a backpack on my back, a child being held in front and a camera floating around trying to save these moments for future’s sake.  More than 2500 bodies were bunched in the water as we listened to the National Anthem and then the starting gun.  The water was so crazy… flailing limbs and green and pink swim caps stirring up the calm water, whacking each other in the face as each strived for open space and an opportunity to get into a rhythm that would take them through the next 2.4 miles. 


Cooper and Beckham at the swim start


swim start.  madness.

We then did as the pioneer children did and we walked, and walked, and walked, and walked.  This race was set up differently from what I remember and it was difficult to get to the places I wanted to be.  There were more barricades, blockages and hopped-up-on-authority guards that made for lots of walking for the little legs I was with.  Again, we were smashed in with other anxious folks at the swim exit trying to catch a glimpse of our guy as he completed his swim.  Despite my best efforts, I missed him.  Can you feel it?  The stress of not knowing?  Is he out?  on the bike already?  if so, how long has he been riding?  how will I know when he’ll be around for his second loop.  this day is all about timing and doing math in your head constantly.  If he’s not out, what’s wrong?  cramping?  Oh, please, let him be out.  After his goal time came and went and then kept going, I finally asked Katelyn, via text (which saved my life all day) if she could look it up and see if he was out.  She replied that he had a great swim!   Oh, thank heavens.  After figuring out where he should be now, we ventured back to the office for a bit. 


his office had left a message for him.  from the inside, then outside as seen from the run course by the water.

Note:  having D’s office at the site of the race is major.  I stashed food there and we went back in between sightings to eat and use actual toilets.  These breaks proved huge for the kids as well as for me as I didn’t have to carry everything with us all day.  Bonus that his windows overlook the water and the run course.  After a quick break, we went out to catch him on the bike.  Rio Salado was packed, the energy was so great.  I’ll be honest and say that the first time I saw his new red aero helmet, I might have thought it was a little tacky.  Don’t tell him I said that.  However, yesterday I was so grateful he was not wearing a white helmet.  They are flying by so fast that it’s a game of super-concentration to notice if the blur coming at you is your athlete or not.  I appreciated the red helmet and am proud to say that I didn’t miss him once on the bike.  Go me.


I didn’t say I got great pictures.  I just said I didn’t miss him!  Some day I might get a pic of the front of him! 

Second loop, Bonny and her kids came to watch with us.  It was so nice of her to bring the kids- my kids love hers and they played on the grass so content while we kept our vigil.  It was such a nice distraction for them.  It was about noon after he passed and headed out for his third and final loop on the bike.  We headed inside for pizza and a little ipod movie action and then it was onto the run.


waiting to see dad.  starting the marathon.

We camped right at the run start and gave him a loud send-off then moved to the last camping spot of the day, right on the sidewalk about halfway between each run loop.  Ruby, Cole and Bonny showed up again and again I was so grateful they were there.  I kept doing my math thinking that if the first half of the first loop is 3.5 miles then we should see him by 2:30.  The second half of the loop is longer and would probably take about an hour.  I had to make adjustments as he got tired and slowed a little but seeing him down the path always made me so happy inside.  He was amazing. 


my children live for high-fives on a race course.  this is the sole reason the run is the best part for them.

After he passed us going out for the last time, we regrouped one more time and headed to find a spot at the finish line.  I remember praying distinctly that we would find a great spot where the kids could see their dad finish and not be smashed behind people.  After smushing through several crowds, we claimed a spot on the bleachers and due to my vigilant watch, pushed our way to the front as others left.  front row, yipee!  It was nearing 7:00, these kids had been going since 5 and only then did I hear Beckham say, “mom, I’m sooo tired.”  Me too, buddy.  And so is daddy, so let’s cheer him in and we can all take a rest.  Ok.  These kids were troopers.  As the 12-hour mark approached I was a bundle of nerves.  Come on, Babe, round that corner.  Dig deep.  Give it everything you have left.  Come on.. just get here!  I get so nervous for him!  Finally it was him and we went crazy, as did all those around us.  He did it!  As we were climbing out of the bleachers and hustling to find him, Cooper said, “mom, I said a prayer.  I kept saying, ‘let the next one be him.’  And then it was!” 

Due to the not-so-functional-in-my-opinion set up of the finish area, we couldn’t find D.  We looked and looked and the little legs that had been so great all day were ready to be done.  I thought if they laid down for a minute I could keep an eye out for him.  Just a little issue when they both fell asleep and I still couldn’t find him!  Think, Amberly, think.  You are only one person.  You can not carry two children around this whole park searching and then attempt to be any help to him retrieving his gear.  Dang it, Lindsay… where were you?!  So, we trekked back to the office, one in my arms and the other sleep-walking and I laid them on the floor with a movie and strict instructions to not go anywhere!  Cooper was a little uneasy about this plan, but it all worked out.  The security guy at the building probably thought I was crazy, but he simply didn’t understand that even though I am amazing, I really couldn’t do it all.  So I went back and searched.  and searched.  and finally found him.  we gathered his stuff and went back to get the kids and head for home. 


wiped out.

And in case you were wondering how the actual race went…. he nailed his swim goal time, man, I was proud.  And he killed the bike.  like killed it.  He said he could have done better without the wind and I decided he’ll never be fully satisfied.  He claims he crashed a little on the run and  simply didn’t have anything left.  Frankly, I’m amazed he even ran the whole thing.  I hereby declare that it is not fair to be hard on yourself when completing an Ironman.  Especially when you’re doing nearly an hour faster than last time on this course.  Finishing just after 12 hours, he’s a rock star.  My very own rock star. 

And in case you’re wondering the best way to drop 10 pounds in 12 hours… have I got a plan for you! 

And lastly, a major shout-out to those who made me feel that I was not alone in my efforts.  I had family and friends calling and texting me all day long checking in on Dent and his progress and several more who were tracking him online.  It was so nice to know that others were thinking of him and following how he was doing.  Some of my favorites:

“he’s tearing it up…” –ryan stokes, during the bike

“has dent finished his 2nd loop?  if so he is haulin.”  -wade during bike

“D is throwing the hammer down on the bike!”  -katelyn

“I’m sending vibes for light legs and no cramps!”  -katelyn, during the run

“we don’t care about time just as long as feels good about his race.  he is doing great!”  - D’s mom during run

“he is doing awesome!  it’s killing me not being there.  I belong at these things!”  -lindsay, during run

“he’s done 8 1/2 miles a million times.  he just needs to hang in there, he’ll be great.”  -katelyn, with 8.5 left in the run

“saw him!  he looked strong!  my family all gathered around the computer, FUN!”  -kate rosier, watching the live feed online



I will be courteous and not enlarge this photo, but just in case you showed up for people-watching alone, you would have not been disappointed!  taken from d’s office.

Another one in the books. 

We’ve got ourselves a three-time Ironman. 


Tutz said...

Great Post. Wish I could have been there. He is awesome! You and the kids are awesome! How you keep the kids motivated and happy all day is a Christain Mystery.

Katelyn & Wade said...

I may or many not have teared up 4 times while reading this. D, someday I will be as cool as you. And AB, someday I will be as gracious and supportive as you.

The Silly Witch said...

I whine when dragging the kids around to watch a mere marathon. Next time I think I'll just tell myself I'm amazing like Amberly and enjoy the time.

kimmalee said...

Wow. D is amazing. That's all there is to it. It's also amazing that you and your three kids hung in there all day to support him. What an awesome family experience. Those kids will never forget all the times they watched their dad be an absolute rock star. I sure admire you guys!

Julie said...

So exciting - for the whole family! Way to keep it all together, Amberly. I know that stress. There's only so much you can do with so many little ones in tow. I hear you! Congratulations, Denten!

Emily Malinka said...

So freaking amazing to do an iron man... and ALSO you are even more amazing to be prepared for and keep up with three kids PLUS be married to a rock star! Go big D