Friday, August 9, 2013

Another Proud Wife Moment

Last weekend my husband and I left the kids behind and headed 4 1/2 hours north to Benton Harbor, Michigan for the weekend. It wasn't for a romantic getaway, or laying on the beautiful beach, or anything like that. Instead, we were there for my husband to compete in his first Ironman event, Ironman 70.3 Steelhead.  For those who don't know what this is, let me explain. Ironman is a grueling triathlon. The Ironman is 140.6 miles total, 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run. Yes, a full marathon is the last leg of it!  Seeing as it was his first long distance event, Chris chose to do the 70.3  This consists of 1.2 mile open water swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 (half marathon) run. He's done other triathlons before, but this is by far his longest distance yet.

We arrived in Michigan late on Friday night and went right to bed. On Saturday we got up late and headed down to "Athlete's Village" as I called it. There were tents set up with different vendors to visit. We spent a few hours there while Chris' bike got checked out for the race, and Chris got checked in for the race. The beach was beautiful! The sand was white and the waves were crashing peacefully on the shore. I could've stayed there all day as it was sunny and warm. After we checked his bike into the transition area for it's overnight stay, we headed down the shore a ways to Silver Beach. We ate at an awesome pizza place and even enjoyed a nice pear cider. (I think that may be my favorite new drink!) After eating, we set out to drive the 56 mile bike course so Chris knew what he would encounter the next day. We drove through some of the most beautiful countryside! We saw vineyards, blueberry farms, gorgeous homes, and so much more! When we finished driving the course we headed back to the hotel to rest a bit and decide where to eat supper. We ended up driving down the road a bit to a place called The Grand Mere. It was overlooking Lake Michigan, and had amazing food. We called it an early night and went back to the hotel to get some sleep.

Our Sunday started out at 3:45 am our time (Michigan was an hour ahead of us).  We got up, loaded up the gear and headed down to the race. We had to park over a mile away, but luckily in the morning they had a shuttle for us (too bad it didn't run all day!).  We got down to the race area and Chris got everything set up. Then we walked the 1.2 miles down the beach, as the sun was rising, to reach the starting line. It was so peaceful walking along the shore in the dark with the waves crashing beside us, even though there were 2000 other people walking the same direction with us.

A panoramic of the morning crowd for race kick-off

He's in that group somewhere!

At 7:52am, Chris dove in the water with his group. I made sure I rushed back to the swim finish to see him get out of the water an hour later, and then watched him in transition. I even caught a picture of him taking off on his bike!

He survived Lake Michigan!

Bye see you in three hours!

Then I waited for three nerve wracking hours for him to come back from the bike ride. He was so surprised to see me standing along the route cheering him on as he turned the next to last corner on the course. I ran down to watch him leave the transition area and take off on his run.

Then it was another 2 hours before I knew where he was. After 2 hours I stood at the finish waiting for him to cross. He never came....finally I found out I could track his progress on the Ironman website. I did that and realized he was struggling on his run and slower than he usually is. While I stood there at the finish line waiting for him, I was overcome with emotions. I honestly stood there and found myself crying.  He had come so far and trained so hard for this and now he was finally achieving his goal.  He had lost 40 pounds training for this triathlon! I quickly wiped away my tears of pride and prayed no one saw me crying. (I blamed the post partum hormones, lol)

I stood there for another hour and a half. Finally, I caught a glimpse of a green shirt coming down the "finish chute" as they called it. I knew it was him. I started cheering and got the cameras ready for his big finish. When he crossed the line I started tearing up again. I was overcome with pride and excitement for him. He set a goal, stuck with it, and now he had achieved it. I couldn't be more proud of him for this accomplishment! I love you Chris, and your dedication to your fitness and health (even if I grumble about it sometimes).

After the finish line, he got his "Finisher" Medal and Hat

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