Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Timberman Ironman 2011 AKA Amanda The Rockstar!

Andrew and I woke up in the wee hours on Sunday - I'm talking 4 a.m. (yikes) to drive up to Gilford, NH to watch Amanda compete in the Timberman Ironman, which is half-Ironman triathlon.  We're talking a 1.2 mile swim in Lake Winnipesaukee, 56 mile bike ride and 13.1 mile run - 70.3 miles in one day.  That's incredible when you think that most people get tired after driving 70.3 miles!

We were trying to time our arrival to catch Amanda before her wave hit the water.  We parked at the Gunstock Resort without a problem, hopped on a shuttle right away, and walked around the site to figure out where the swim start was located...turns out, it was on the other side of the beach, separated by a fairly deep inlet (see people wading through in the picture?)

There apparently was a pedestrian bridge set back from the site but it would've taken us another 20 minutes to find it. So we missed Amanda entering the water but could see her wave (age group) in the water, identifiable by their white caps.

After a failed attempt to cross the bike path (inept crossing guard wouldn't let anyone cross) to get back to the swim finish, we positioned ourselves around the bend from the swim finish so we'd be able to catch Amanda coming out of the water.

This turned out to be a highly entertaining place to stand, we were right in the area where the triathletes transitioned from swimming in their wetsuits to getting on their bikes.  The organizers had a team of people (including some young kids) to help the athletes get out of their wetsuits as quickly as possible.

The triathletes would start getting out of the wetsuit by unzipping the suit to their waist, which left just the bottom half still on.  They would approach this area, drop to their backs, and then the team members would spring into action, each grabbing a side of the wetsuit and pulling it off (most times) in one smooth motion.

I can't tell you how vigorously the kids were tackling these wetsuits - the word that comes to mind is gusto - they would yank with gusto, get splashed with water and were cheerfully anticipating the next person to drop down in front of them.

Finally, our first glimpse of Amanda (my only clear shots showed Amanda in awkward poses/expressions, so I settled for a blurry shot) - for most triathletes, swimming can be the toughest part (which is why triathlons are organized with swims first, so participants aren't too tired, thus decreasing the likelihood of drowning).  Not for Amanda, she kills this category and was ranking around 50th in the her age group when she came through.

I didn't take pictures at all the transition points, since it was an option to either take pictures or hold a sign and cheer, so I alternated between the two.  I did catch Amanda coming in at the end of her 56 mile (incredible!) bike ride and she was still looking cheerful and fresh as a daisy. 

Sidenote: Apparently a piece of advice that triathletes share on the bike rides is that if you've got to pee while you're on the bike, remember to move your water bottle first. Words to live by!

At this point, all that was standing between Amanda and the finish line was a 13.1 mile run - I certainly wouldn't have been smiling at that point but Amanda was pumped and ready to go!

What did Tom, Charlotte, Andrew and I do to entertain ourselves for the hours between Amanda's transition? We did enjoy homemade ice cream complete with jimmies for lunch to help beat the heat!

Due to Timberman's excellent online tracking system, we were able to see when Amanda hit certain checkpoints, which gave us a good sense of when we needed to be positioned by the sidelines to catch her running by.  We got a little worried during the last six miles of her run, because the triathlon organizers had announced that severe thunderstorms were an hour away and they would start pulling runners from the course for their own safety. Imagine being within miles of the finish line and being told that you can't actually do it.  Luckily for Amanda, she made it in the nick of the time - she's the second woman you can see in a red shirt/black shorts that is slightly to the left of the woman in front.

It was incredibly exciting to see her cross the finish line and the surrounding crowd was amped and cheering loudly for everyone that made it through.

As the sign proclaims, Andrew and I are truly in awe of Amanda's athletic prowess, endurance and competitive spirit - she is truly a rockstar in our eyes! Andrew played the role of proud brother all day, convincing people on the sideline to help him hold the sign so it was positioned in a way that Amanda could see it clearly!

Even though she was sweaty, we were both glad to give her congratulatory hugs after the finish.

Thankfully, Tom, Charlotte and Amanda were able to give us a lift back to our car before the heavens opened up - we're talking sheets of water that dropped visibility down to almost nothing.

We made it home by 7 p.m. after experiencing a little end-of-the-weekend summer traffic in NH and taking a shower never felt so good!

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