Monday, November 21, 2011

No, I haven't stopped biking. . .

Mrs. Ironman Bob shows her love and support.
It's been several weeks since I've been able to post or even think about blogging due to a number of distractions in our life over the past couple of months coming to a head.  Among those distractions, the Arizona Ironman!  No, I didn't race but the Planner Guy did - or should I say Ironman Bob!

Last year at the Louisville Ironman, the warm waters of the Ohio River got the best of Bob.  He pulled out of that race when he faced the fact that he wasn't ready for a 2.4 open water swim after race officials determined the water too warm for wetsuits and disallowed them.  I am grateful for a husband who recognizes his limitations so that I am not now a widow.  Last years, dozens of triathletes were pulled from the Ohio due to becoming overheated and sick; this year, under similar conditions, a man Bob's age died during the swim segment.

Not one give up and accept set backs, Bob trained smarter and redoubled his efforts.  He signed up for this past weekend's Arizona Ironman in Tempe shortly after the Louisville defeat.  The race location made much more sense because he would be competing under weather conditions similar to those in which he normally.


The bike transition area at Tempe Town Lake.

For those who haven't participated in an Ironman or just love someone who did, the event consists of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike race and a 26.2 run - back to back.  Bob's favorite segment of the race is the bike portion for which he trained both on stationary bike and on his Kestrel on Lake Mary Road, supplemented by his regular bike commutes to and from work.  When he first started training on the Kestrel two years ago, he frequently called me to ask me to come out and pick in him up on Lake Mary Road due to blown tires and other issues.  Since then Bob has become quite the bike mechanic and is more prepared than any Boy Scout for whatever could happen on the road - tools, CO2 cartridges, bike tools, hydration systems and nutritional snacks.  And all very light weight of course.  Watching the pleasure he takes in this attention to detail might tempt me to take up bike racing but I doubt we could afford two competitive road cyclists in one family.


Special needs bags area for extra gear, hydration, snacks. . . .

The Saturday morning practice swim.

I wish that I had photos the bike race but unfortunately, the Athlete Tracker on the Ironman website wasn't working properly  so I had a hard time locating where Bob was on the course.  Regardless, the Arizona Ironman was a memorable event.  For three days we mingled with people (athletes and their families) on the same journey as ours. 

Bob, post practice swim, feeling good despite the cold water.
For athletes, there is the intense physical effort and commitment to adhering a strenuous training schedule, one that seems beyond possible for mere humans, followed by the emotional peaks and valleys that go with forecasting one's chances of success. 

Post swim victory hug.
For the loved ones, we are charged with supporting the sacrifices required by the athletes to commit to a grueling training regimen while also recognizing when it's time to remind your would-be Ironman that even world-class athletes must take the day off and enjoy a piece of chocolate cake with family and friends.  

No, he's not proposing, just chatting about the value of insulated swim caps.
Being around others who have gone down that road, especially those who have traveled it multiple times, truly validated my experience of Bob's Ironman quest over the last two years, especially the pride we all shared in our athletes' achievements (and sometimes the feeling of helplessness we experience when we can't take away the disappointment felt when goals go unmet).

Presenting Ironman Bob!
Like most average-guy triathletes, Bob's goal was to finish, hopefully, still on two feet but to finish even if he had to roll across the finish line (crawling is not allowed but rolling is).  Now to put the race in perspective, the professional triathlete who won the race also broke the 8 hour record but don't assume those who took twice as long trained half as hard.  One of the things that impressed me so much about the Arizona Ironman was how prepared and well-trained most of the amateur athletes were.  Bob finished the Arizona Ironman in 14:15:38. He ran through the finish strong, with a smile on his face, exchanging high-fives with cheering spectators lining the finish.  Yep, my man is an Ironman!  If you want to check out his race stats just go to Athlete Tracker on Ironman.com, and enter his bib number, 2294.

10 comments:

Cherilyn said...

WOW! Congrats to Bob and to you for supporting him! He looks fantastic after that huge event! Hot Husband did medical support for the Ironman in HI severla years ago, and many of the athletes were (understandably) staggering.

Looking forward to more posts when life allows it!

She Rides a Bike said...

Cherilyn:
I was so impressed that I saw no staggering athletes or anyone rolling across the finish.

Sam said...

Very impressive Ironman Bob! Congratulations! I can't even imagine how grueling it must be.

She Rides a Bike said...

You know, Sam, I think the same thing. I've run about 5 marathons and numerous half marathons. I gave up marathons after moving to Flag because training at high elevation is just so much more grueling and requires a different kind of focus than what I prefer (I don't care what anyone says about acclimating to high elevation!). From what I understand most first time Ironman competitors don't go out and do a close to full length practice run w/ all three segments back-to-back so when I think about doing one I'm just sort of in awe. Bob probably did about 6 or 7 events prior to this but the longest one was an Olympic. I'm really proud of his success and how great he looked at the end.

MamaVee said...

very very cool.

I love the tri. It has always been three of my favorite sports all together. I am impressed. I did a sprint and I think I will stay at that distance. mainly b/c I really can't do anything for over 14 hours!

BB said...

Being an utter couch potato, I am so impressed. Congratulations!

aabner58 said...

Certain parts of a cruiser will rust if left out in wet conditions, especially the chain, and if the chain rusts you cruiser will not ride as smooth as it should.

kids bikes

SS:Mntbiker\Olskoolrodder said...

HUGE congradulations on his accomplishment!!! He has my admiration :D I enjoyed the read,and learned just enough about these competitions to now "have to" Google and read up on them,sounds interesting,thanks :) (of course,as a "disabled cyclist",I won't be attempting any of my own,but am interested in them now none-the-less ;) )

Steve

She Rides a Bike said...

SSLMtnbiker:

I really wish I hadn't forgotten my regular camera and had more of a chance to capture shots of the other athletes. There were many athletes with physical disabilities at the Ironman. I think many of them were recent war vets due to their ages, mostly 20's and 30's. I saw a cyclist on a tri bike w/ two prosthetic legs, the new kind you see with the curved steel "feet" that you can run with. I saw several men who had lost one leg and were competing w/ one prosthetic leg. Another man in a drag-race style wheel chair racer. They were very inspiring yet just a cocky as your average Marine (my dad was a Marine, so I feel comfortable saying that)/endurance athlete. It was very cool. So maybe there is a way for you to do it? Who knows? Glad you enjoyed the post.

inspiredcyclist said...

Congrats to Bob for his magnificent feats, and to you for being so supportive! Totally impressive!