Ironman Arizona pt 2

Ironman started for Austin around 3:30am. Me – I chose the lazy route and woke up round 5:30am to make it to the grounds by 6. I’ll be honest – that was still a bit late. It was dark and cold, and yet the expo was swarming with contestants and their loved ones, ready for the long day that was starting to unfold.

We waited by the bikes for Austin until 6:30am, then made our way up to the bridge to get a good spot for the swim. 6:30 is too late people. Be on the bridge at the latest by 6am. Otherwise, you’ll have a hard time trying to peek between shoulders and heads.

Austin wore a GPS unit last year so we could track him on our smart phones. This is the only way to go folks. We hang out on the bridge for about 45 minutes watching for everyone, then walk down to the transition area for the bikes. We see him take off, participate in our dutiful cheering, and then set off in search of mimosas and breakfast.

It was cold.

Mill Avenue is reminiscent of 6th Street in Austin, and so I thought this was our best choice for a little brekkie.

I was wrong.

Nothing but bars. I saw 2 breakfast places: one was a packed restaurant; the other was in a hotel – the Mission Palms. This proved to be our best, and most expensive bet at $14 a pop for the buffet. Skip this hassle y’all. I would advise to newbies to just eat breakfast at the expo or bring your own. A thermos of piping hot coffee and some flasks with champagne to add to fresh-squeezed OJ would have been deeeeelightful, and actually tasted much better for a fraction of the cost.

The bike segment was an adventure. We walked quite a bit away from the crowd in order to find an opening to cheer him on. The second time we came round, the clouds rolled in with a menacing growl and the freezing rain dumped on us quite ferociously. But only for about 10 minutes. Thanks to however, we anticipated this unwelcome storm and were armed with .99 ponchos. What?!

Ominous clouds

After his second pass, we head to Rula Bula for lunch, an Irish pub that has become a regular haunt when we are in town, as the Guinness is always flowing. Yum. Guinness.

And check out our special t-shirts! Yay Austin!!!

The run segment requires the most attention as his passes are much more frequent than the bike. So drink up at lunch and replenish your flasks – it’s gonna be a long afternoon. Once you figure out the track, you can bounce back and forth all over the place catching your special little racer at multiple points. Trust me, they appreciate all the encouragement and enthusiasm you can muster.

sammy in case you got hungry

Mica and I found ways to distract ourselves while we were waiting for Austin.

I can’t believe these people run full blown marathons AFTER swimming AND biking. Ridiculous. And inspiring.

Time for the finish line!

Here he comes, that rascal

a happy finisher

His final time: 10:19.

That’s 1 hour and 7 minutes shaved off his time last year. Amazing!

Other stats:

10th in age group out of 126

145th total out of 2371

I’m just glad he made it worth our while.

Congrats Austin! You are fantastic.

Do Ironman right. This is how:

1. bring a backpack full of clothes (hats, gloves, sweatshirts, poncho) for any kind of weather
2. bring breakfast with you, including a thermos of hot coffee. you will want it during that cold morning swim.
3. bring a flask of champagne, to make mimosas
4. make t-shirts in bright colors so your competitor can easily spot you in the crowd
5. have cow bells for noise

It’s easy to keep the majority of things in your car until you need them, and then you can just pop over on a break to get what you want.

Austin is doing another race in The Woodlands in May. Oy!


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